Bankrupting America’s Spending Daily

| April 29 2013

Spending Daily | April 29, 2013

 “Democrats ask: What debt crisis?”

POLITICO reports, “Call them the debt crisis dissenters. The two parties are miles apart on how to cut the deficit and national debt: Republicans want to slash spending even more. Democrats want to raise revenue. And then there are the other Democrats — the ones who reject the entire premise of the current high-stakes fiscal fight. There’s no short-term deficit problem, they say, and there isn’t even an urgent debt crisis that requires immediate attention. This group could make it even harder for President Barack Obama to strike a grand bargain because they increasingly see no immediate need for either new spending cuts or significantly more revenue, both of which they say could further slow the economy.”

 

“The Democrats Have Lost On Sequestration”

The Washington Post reports, “That’s the simple reality of Friday’s vote to ease the pain for the Federal Aviation Administration. By assenting to it, Democrats have agreed to sequestration for the foreseeable future. Recall the Democrats’ original theory of the case: Sequestration was supposed to be so threatening that Republicans would agree to a budget deal that included tax increases rather than permit it to happen. That theory was wrong. The follow-up theory was that the actual pain caused by sequestration would be so great that it would, in a matter of months, push the two sides to agree to a deal. Democrats just proved that theory wrong, too. In effect, what Democrats said Friday was that in any case where the political pain caused by sequestration becomes unbearable, they will agree to cancel that particular piece of the bill while leaving the rest of the law untouched. The result is that sequestration is no longer particularly politically threatening, but it’s even more unbalanced: Cuts to programs used by the politically powerful will be addressed, but cuts to programs that affects the politically powerless will persist. It’s worth saying this clearly: The pain of sequestration will be concentrated on those who lack political power.”

 

Sequester: Another Agency Able to Make Smarter Cuts, Avoid Furloughs

Bloomberg reports, “The automatic federal spending cuts known as sequestration won’t force the State Department to furlough any employees this year. The State Department is notifying its staff today that new projections show ‘furloughs are not required’ during the year that ends Sept. 30 ‘due to cost-cutting measures implemented early in the fiscal year and a reduction in the sequester cut’ identified by the Office of Management and Budget, the department said today in response to an inquiry.”

 

FAA Flexibility Shows Administration’s Push For Tax Increases Has Failed

The Hill reports, “Opponents of sequestration are losing hope that the across-the-board cuts to federal spending will be reversed this year. The defense industry, health and education advocates and federal worker unions say that the ‘piecemeal’ approach that Congress adopted this week to ease furloughs at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) does not bode well for their cause. ‘All of this is rearranging the deck chairs. I’m not overly hopeful,’ said Joel Packer of the Committee for Education Funding. ‘We are really putting our concentration on fiscal 2014 and beyond.’ … Conservatives said Obama’s decision to accept the FAA fix — which transfers money from airport improvements to pay for air traffic controllers — shows his attempt to pressure Republicans into accepting tax increases has failed.”

 

“Experts: Debt-ceiling increase might not be needed until October”

The Hill reports, “Congress could have until as late as mid-October to haggle over raising the debt limit, according to new expert analysis. The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), which has been closely tracking the flow of the nation’s finances as policymakers prepare to spar over its $16.4 trillion borrowing cap, now believes the government could avoid a default on its obligations as late as mid-October once its borrowing cap is reinstated in May. In January, the BPC said it believed Washington would have to hike the limit to avoid default most likely in August, but there was a ‘realistic chance’ it could be later. Now, with fresh information about the nation’s fiscal picture, the BPC believes the deadline for a debt-limit deal will be roughly a month later, and possibly more. … They caution, however, that there is still ‘substantial uncertainty’ in the debt-limit timeline. The BPC believes the debt-limit deadline could come anytime between mid-August and mid-October.”

 

Congress Exempt from Obamacare?

The Wall Street Journal editorializes, “The Politico website broke the story Thursday morning that Congressional leaders were in hush-hush talks to exempt themselves and their staff from the wonders of ObamaCare. The story succeeded in blowing up the talks, but there’s a bigger story here about Congressional intentions that is worth telling. House Speaker John Boehner quickly took to Twitter after the Politico story appeared, saying that he’s not ‘sneaking any language into bills to solve’ a problem for Democrats. He added that full repeal of the law is ‘the solution to this & other ObamaCare nightmares.’ We’re told that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer initiated the discussions. Mr. Reid now says he’s not trying to exempt anyone from the law. Mr. Hoyer’s spokesman says only that the Maryland Democrat wants the law to be ‘workable for everyone.’”

 

“Editorial: Driving toward bankruptcy”

The Washington Times editorializes, “There aren’t many winners in the current economic climate. Most companies are struggling against the burdens of higher taxes, red tape and uncertainty, and there’s no opportunity to expand and prosper. Some companies, however, have found a shortcut through deep political connections to the Obama administration. This became apparent last week at a hearing by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee examining the collapse of Fisker Automotive. The Energy Department gave hundreds of millions of dollars to this maker of electric luxury automobiles designed to appeal to liberals who can pay $100,000 for a car. Fisker was backed by the investment firm Kleiner Perkins (where Al Gore is a partner) and actor Leonardo DiCaprio, who scouts for left-wing causes.”

 

Stimulus-Funded EPA Project Violated Mandate to Purchase U.S.-Made Products

The Washington Guardian reports, “While helping to clean up America, the Environmental Protection Agency didn’t always buy American. Investigators for the EPA inspector general found foreign-made steel pipes in a stimulus-funded project in President Obama’s home state of Illinois that violated federal regulations, and now they want taxpayers’ money back. But the agency is resisting demanding a refund. … Money handed out under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also known as the stimulus, comes with a provision requiring projects to purchase U.S.-made items, another step designed to help bolster the economy.”

 

Senate GOP Grills Labor Department on Labor Union Payments

Fox News reports, “Senate Republicans say the Labor Department appears to be spending millions in taxpayer dollars to establish labor unions and promote collective bargaining in foreign countries and are asking top Obama administration officials for a full audit. The request was sent by Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, the leading Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, and Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, the top Republican on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. ‘At a time when our federal budget is deteriorating rapidly … it is troubling to us that the department appears to be spending millions of dollars of taxpayer funds to establish labor unions and promote collective bargaining in foreign countries,’ they said in a letter to acting Labor Secretary Seth Harris. The purported activities were conducted by the agency’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs.”

 

Republicans Divided on Internet Sales Tax

The New York Times reports, “Legislation that would force Internet retailers to collect sales taxes from their customers has put antitax and small-government activists like Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform and the Heritage Foundation in an unusual position: they’re losing. For years, conservative Republican lawmakers have been influenced heavily by the antitax activists in Washington, who have dictated outcomes and become the arbiters of what is and is not a tax increase. But on the question of Internet taxation, their voices have begun to be drowned out by the pleas of struggling retailers back home who complain that their online competitors enjoy an unfair price advantage. … The Heritage Foundation and its more overt political arm, Heritage Action, have made no such equivocations. It is making a yes vote a black mark for a lawmaker on Heritage’s conservative scorecard, urging its members to call their representatives and senators, ‘pretty much everything we can,’ said Dan Holler, a spokesman for Heritage Action. Many Republicans have just shrugged. Supporters of the bill include Tea Party conservatives like Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, and Republican leaders like Senator John Thune of South Dakota.”

 

Obama’s Social Security Pledge At Risk

The Associated Press reports, “As the population gets older, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are eating up more and more of the federal budget, squeezing the ability of the government to pay for other programs. Today, the three massive benefit programs account for 44 percent of federal spending. Left unchanged, they will account for more than 60 percent in 25 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Unless Congress acts, the trust fund that supports Social Security is projected to run out of money in 2033. At that point, the retirement and disability program would collect only enough in payroll taxes to pay about 75 percent of benefits. … In 2008, Obama said he wanted to strengthen Social Security by increasing payroll taxes on workers who make more than $250,000 a year in wages. He also laid down this marker, in a Sept. 6, 2008, speech to AARP: ‘John McCain’s campaign has suggested that the best answer for the growing pressures on Social Security might be to cut cost-of-living adjustments or raise the retirement age. Let me be clear: I will not do either.’ … Obama has already offered to break part of his 2008 pledge on Social Security. Twice in negotiations with GOP leaders, he agreed to adopt a new measure of inflation that would result in smaller cost-of-living adjustments, or COLAs, for Social Security recipients. Both deals fell apart. But now Obama has put forward the idea in his own proposed federal budget. If adopted, it would gradually trim benefit increases in Social Security, Medicare and other programs while raising taxes.”

 

“Army: Thanks But No Tanks”

POLITICO reports, “Built to dominate the enemy in combat, the Army’s hulking Abrams tank is proving equally hard to beat in a budget battle. Lawmakers from both parties have devoted nearly half a billion dollars in taxpayer money over the past two years to build improved versions of the 70-ton Abrams. But senior Army officials have said repeatedly, ‘No thanks.’ It’s the inverse of the federal budget world these days, in which automatic spending cuts are leaving sought-after pet programs struggling or unpaid altogether. Republicans and Democrats for years have fought so bitterly that lawmaking in Washington ground to a near-halt. Yet in the case of the Abrams tank, there’s a bipartisan push to spend an extra $436 million on a weapon the experts explicitly say is not needed.”

 

BankruptingAmerica.org is an educational project of Public Notice, an independent, nonpartisan, non-profit, 501(c)(4) organization dedicated to providing facts and insight on the effects public policy has on Americans’ financial well-being.

1 comments
JayGraff
JayGraff

What I like about this is there are many stories here, and this makes it easier for others to see how all these issues are related to each other.