Bankrupting America’s Spending Daily

| March 22 2013

Spending Daily | March 22, 2013

Airlines Trade Group to FAA: Budget Cuts Can Be Made ”Without Major Furloughs”
The Wall Street Journal reports, “Planned furloughs of air-traffic controllers that could cause major disruptions in air travel are sparking a dispute between the Federal Aviation Administration and airlines over how much discretion the agency has in making its sequester cuts. The FAA, which employs virtually all of the country’s civilian air-traffic controllers, says the furloughs are unavoidable under mandatory federal budget cuts, and it predicts flights could be delayed by up to 90 minutes at busy airports as a result. The airline industry’s leading trade group, Airlines for America, has sent a legal memo to federal officials arguing that the FAA can make the cuts without major furloughs. Representatives of several major airlines said they back the trade group’s position, but declined to comment further. Two airline officials, who wouldn’t be named, said in interviews they think the FAA is making fliers political pawns, as the Obama administration looks to use public backlash over flight delays to force Republicans into a budget deal.”

Senate Set to Pass First Budget in Four Years
The Hill reports, “The Democrat-controlled Senate appears set to approve its first budget resolution in four years. Votes on amendments to the budget began Thursday night, with a final vote set for late Friday or early Saturday. In a sign of caucus unity, only one Democrat broke ranks to support a key GOP motion on Thursday night. The motion simply called for Democrats to rewrite their budget so that it balanced within ten years.”

Senate Dems Oppose GOP Request to Rewrite Budget That Balances
According to The Hill, “Senate Democrats stuck together on Thursday night to oppose a GOP floor motion that would have required them to rewrite their budget to make it balance. The motion was defeated on a 46 to 53 vote. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) joined with the united Republican conference to support it. … The Senate Democratic budget does not project a balance, despite raising $975 billion in taxes and cutting an equal amount of spending using a baseline favored by Democrats.”

“’Vote-a-rama’: The Senate Budget Votes That Tell The Tale”
POLITICO reports, “A big chunk of the upcoming Senate budget vote-a-rama will be a waste of time — like votes on senators’ pet causes or generic partisan issues. But there’s some good news buried in the dozens of amendments that are coming across the Senate floor between now and Friday: A handful of them will matter. None of them will actually become law, but some will test support for important bills to come later this year or beyond. Others could define possible 2016 candidates. And others still could tell President Barack Obama whether he’s got a shot at a grand bargain.” Read more…

Ryan Budget Voted Down in Senate
The Hill reports, “The Senate rejected House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget Thursday night. Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) forced Senate Republicans to vote on Paul’s plan through an amendment she offered, which failed on a 40-59 vote. … ‘Enough is enough. Republicans received a vote on their extreme proposal; now that it has failed once more, it’s time for Republicans to work with Democrats to enact a budget that reflects our values of fairness and opportunity for all,’ House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said after the vote. … Murray’s budget includes $100 billion in stimulus funding that she says would help boost economic growth and workforce training. Her plan has come under heavy fire from Republicans who say it over-estimates the extent to which it would reduce the deficit, and it raises nearly $1 trillion in new taxes. Democrats say their budget cuts thedeficit by $1.85 trillion over ten years through an equal amount of spending cuts and new revenue, but the GOP has said that because it assumes the sequester will not happen, the amount of deficit reduction is closer to $700 billion.”

Lawmakers Cancelling Recess Trips in Light of Cuts
The New York Times reports, “Official travel abroad by members of Congress — trips known universally on Capitol Hill by the shorthand term ‘codels’ — has always been something of a sensitive topic. Critics deride the Congressional delegations as high-flying, taxpayer-financed junkets, while members and their staffs vigorously defend them as critical fact-finding and research trips. Now, the long jet-setting tradition of Congressional recesses just got grounded by the same $85 billion across-the-board budget cuts, which have also canceledWhite House tours and lengthened airport lines and have some federal employees receiving furlough notices.. Normally, Congress’s coming two-week break would be the perfect time for dozens of lawmakers to scurry overseas. But in this time of heightened fiscal discipline, an increasing number of members are eschewing such trips and returning home, to spend the time in their districts with their families and constituents.

Defense Furloughs Delayed
The Associated Press reports, “The Defense Department will delay furlough notices for its civilian employees for about two weeks while officials analyze the impact of a new spending bill on planned budget cuts, the Pentagon said Thursday. The delay comes as defense officials continue to wrangle over how many civilians should be exempt from the unpaid leave requirement, including how much of the U.S. intelligence community should be excluded. A senior defense official said Thursday that as much as 10 percent of the department’s 800,000 civilian workers overall could be exempt from the furloughs. The official said the exact numbers were still being worked out.”

Defense Analysts Warn Pentagon to Start Planning Cuts
Reuters reports, “The Pentagon needs to stop stalling and start figuring out how to cut its budget by $50 billion annually for the foreseeable future in a way thatpreserves national security, defense analysts from across the political spectrum said on Thursday. Warning that the department appeared to be clinging to the hope that Congress and the White House would eventually reverse the cuts, the analysts said the Pentagon needed to focus on factors that drive long-term cost growth, including overhead, compensation and acquisition. … The Pentagon is scrambling to reduce spending by $46 billion this fiscal year after a law requiring $500 billion in defense spending cuts over the next decade took effect on March 1. The cuts came as the department was implementing a $487 billion cut over the same period that went into force last year. … Congress alleviated some of those issues on Thursday when it approved funding for the government for the rest of the year.”

“Pentagon handed out $419 million in improper travel reimbursements last year”
According to The Washington Guardian, “During the recent sequester debate, the Pentagon was among the most vocal federal agencies in describing the potential impact of the automatic spending cuts that took effect March 1. It has not been as vocal, however, about another priority: complying with a law Congress passed three years ago to trim wasteful government spending. While making improvements in some spending areas, the Defense Department was singled out this week for failing to trim unnecessary travel reimbursements. In fact, the Pentagon’s internal watchdog concluded that wasteful travel spending actually grew last year to a total of $419.3 million, accounting for roughly five percent of the Pentagon’s mammoth $8.4 billion travel budget.”

Tax Reform Tied Up in Senate Amid Deficit Debate
The Hill reported, “Prospects for tax reform in Congress are in limbo because of a fight over whether the effort should raise revenue to reduce the deficit.  The dispute has held action by the Senate Finance Committee, which has not begun preliminary work on overhauling the tax code.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is undecided whether it should proceed if Republicans do not agree up front on how much revenue should go to deficit reduction. … A Senate Democratic aide noted that while members of the Finance panel are well-versed on policy options, other members of the caucus need in-depth briefings. The Senate Finance Committee held its first issue meeting on tax reform Thursday, in which members discussed papers laying out policy options. The panel plans to hold these meetings regularly on Thursdays. … The biggest obstacle to tax reform is that both parties are at a stalemate on the question of what to do with new revenues.”

Insurance Companies Warn of Sharp Increase in Premiums
The Wall Street Journal reports, “Health insurers are privately warning brokers that premiums for many individuals and small businesses could increase sharply next year because of the health-care overhaul law, with the nation’s biggest firm projecting that rates could more than double for some consumers buyingtheir own plans. The projections, made in sessions with brokers and agents,provide some of the most concrete evidence yet of how much insurance companies might increase prices when major provisions of the law kick in next year—a subject of rigorous debate. … The gulf between the pricing talk from some insurers and the government projections suggests how complicated the law’s effects will be. Carriers will be filing proposed prices with regulators over the next few months. Part of the murkiness stems from the role of government subsidies. Federal subsidies under the health law will help lower-income consumers defray costs, but they are generally not included in insurers’ premium projections. Many consumerswill be getting more generous plans because of new requirements in the law.

Cyprus Given Monday Deadline for Bailout Deal
The Washington Post reports, “The euro currency union, a centerpiece of Europe’s efforts to knit its far-flung nations into a coherent whole, edged toward a rupture Thursday when the region’s central bank said it was ready to pull the plug on Cyprus.The stark ultimatum came in a terse statement Thursday from the European Central Bank’s governing board, which said that on Monday it would cut off the flow of euros to Cyprus’s struggling banks unless the country’s leaders reach agreement with the International Monetary Fund and other European nations on the terms of a $20.5 billion bailout to save their country from financial disaster. The deadline sent Cypriot leaders scrambling to find fixes, and by Thursday night they were discussing restructuring the nation’s worst-off bank and imposing capital controls that would sharply restrict depositors’ ability to withdraw money, an effort to prevent bank runs. Because Cyprus is small and its banks aren’t so wired into the international system, a failure isn’t likely to trigger the kinds of global problems feared if Greece or another euro nation were to leave the currency union.”

“Senate calls for an end to medical device tax”
The Hill reports, “The Senate on Thursday approved a bipartisan budget amendment calling for the end of a medical device tax enacted as part of President Obama’s healthcare reform bill. … The 2.3 percent tax has proven unpopular since passed in 2010, but was key to ensuring that the Obama health law did not add to the deficit. The budget resolution is not binding, so even if the Senate resolution is reconciled with a competing House version, the device tax would still be in effect.”

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1 comments
Bikramkumar
Bikramkumar

“The Defense Section could wait furlough notices because of its civilian employees for around two days even while officials analyze the influence of the brand new investing bill on top of planned budget cuts, the Pentagon mentioned Thursday. The wait is provided as protection officials consistently wrangle around just how many civilians should be exempt from the unpaid allow necessity, such as just how a lot of the U.S. intelligence community needs to be omitted. A senior defense official mentioned Thursday which just as much as 10 percent of the department’s 800,000 civilian employees overall can be exempt from the furloughs. The formal stated the precise numbers were still being worked out.”