Our Common Good
If the United States has entered an era in which mega-storms, perhaps related to climate change, are becoming the “new normal,” it will create new spending pressures at a time when federal revenues every year are falling roughly $1 trillion short of outlays. If you factor in a growing population and development in coastal areas, then storm damage is likely to become even more expensive over time.
NBC boldly takes on the reality of balancing disaster planning with perpetual growth. Let’s embrace mainstream coverage that questions our growth patterns. (via climateadaptation)

But let’s focus on this claim, from Republicans, that Obama only wants to raise taxes and isn’t serious about spending cuts. Here’s an analysis from one senior Republican aide, as relayed to ABC News’ Jonathan Karl:

The White House keeps saying it wants a ‘balanced approach’ but this offer is completely unbalanced and unrealistic. It calls for $1.6 trillion in tax hikes – all of that upfront – in exchange for only $400 billion in spending cuts that come later. Plus, the only entitlement changes they proposed come from the exact proposals in the President’s budget.

The trouble with this analysis is that it ignores history: As part of the 2011 Budget Control Act, Obama agreed to spending reductions of about $1.5 trillion over the next ten years. If you count the interest, the savings is actually $1.7 trillion. Boehner should have no problem remembering the details of that deal: As Greg Sargent points out, Boehner at the time actually gloated about the fact that the deal was “all spending cuts.” 

And now, with this latest offer, Obama is proposing yet more spending reductions, to the tune of several hundred billion dollars. Add it up and it’s more than $2 trillion in spending cuts Obama has either signed into law or is endorsing now. That’s obviously greater than the $1.6 trillion in new tax revenue he’s seeking. (And that doesn’t even take into account automatic cuts from the 2011 budget sequester, which Obama has proposed to defer, or savings from ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.) So, yes, Obama’s proposal is unbalanced—but not in the way Republicans seem to think. If Obama were proposing a truly balanced plan, he’d be calling for even more tax revenue or even less spending reduction.

And now, there’s “numbers guy” Paul Ryan, trying to spin the election results to local TV and newspaper reporters in Wisconsin by explaining that Obama won thanks to massive turnout in “urban areas” (read: places where poor people of color live).

The trouble with Ryan’s analysis is that, besides being racist, it’s just plain wrong.

"Democrats rejected Paul Ryan and his radical plans in key swing parts of our state—not what he might call ‘urban areas,’ and not because of where they lived but because of what they believed," Wisconsin Democratic Party communications director Graeme Zielinksi points out. "Places like Rhinelander and Tomahawk, Eau Claire and Superior.”

“These theories about ‘urban areas’ might comfort Paul Ryan as he confronts the embarrassment of losing not just his home state but also his hometown, but the fact is that Democrats won the war of ideas,” Zielinski adds,

So resounding was the defeat for Republicans—and Budget Committee Chairman Ryan in particular—there is reason to hope that President Obama and Democrats in Congress won’t fall for Ryan’s biggest lie: the need to cut entitlements (while maintaining massive tax cuts for the rich) in order to avoid a “fiscal cliff.”

In an Associated Press interview on Wednesday, Johnson said he hoped he would be able to work with Baldwin in the Senate — as soon as he explained the “facts” of the budget to her.

"Hopefully I can sit down and lay out for her my best understanding of the federal budget because they’re simply the facts,” he said. “Hopefully she’ll agree with what the facts are and work toward common sense solutions.”

"I was a double major in college in mathematics and political science, and I served for six years on the House Budget Committee in my first six years in the House," Baldwin responded in an interview with The Huffington Post on Friday.

"And I am very confident that when proposals come before the U.S. Senate, I will be able to evaluate them as to how they benefit or harm middle-class Wisconsinites. A yardstick of ‘does it create jobs,’ ‘does it lower the deficit’ and ‘does it help grow the middle class’ is an important one. I’m quite confident that I have those abilities," she added.

Baldwin has served in Congress since 1999; Johnson took office in 2011.

Romney’s proposal implies that the Pentagon is essentially an entitlement program that should receive a set share of our total economic resources regardless of what’s happening here at home or elsewhere on the planet. In Romney World, the Pentagon’s only role would be to engorge itself. [On the other hand], if the GDP were to drop, it’s unlikely that, as president, he would reduce Pentagon spending accordingly.

William Hartung | Republican Math and the Pentagon Budget

On Romney’s proposal to set Pentagon spending at 4% of GDP, a number “that would, in fact add up to an astonishing $8.3 trillion dollars over the next decade, one-third more than current, already bloated Pentagon plans.”

(via theamericanbear)

abaldwin360:

Paul Ryan, outlining his latest budget proposal in the House TV studio Tuesday morning, said the policies of the Republican presidential nominees “perfectly jibe” with his plan, which slashes the safety net to pay for tax cuts mostly for wealthy Americans.

“Do you wholeheartedly believe they will accept your budget?” NBC’s Luke Russert called from the audience.

“Absolutely,” the House Budget Committee chairman replied without hesitation. “I’m confident.”

Makes perfect sense, in a way. Mitt Romney, the likely Republican nominee, is on record as saying, “I’m not concerned about the very poor.” And Ryan has just written a budget that supports Romney’s boast.

Ryan would cut $770 billion over 10 years from Medicaid and other health programs for the poor, compared with President Obama’s budget. He takes an additional $205 billion from Medicare, $1.6 trillion from the Obama health-care legislation and $1.9 trillion from a category simply labeled “other mandatory.” Pressed to explain this magic asterisk, Ryan allowed that the bulk of those “other mandatory” cuts come from food stamps, welfare, federal employee pensions and support for farmers.

Taken together, Ryan would cut spending on such programs by $5.3 trillion, much of which currently goes to the have-nots. He would then give that money to America’s haves: some $4.3 trillion in tax cuts, compared with current policies, according toCitizens for Tax Justice.

read more

Read the rest of this article, this rhetoric amazes me. It’s like he thinks (or wants his supporters to think) that he is doing some kind of “moral duty” by taking safety nets away from poor Americans.

Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin chairs the House Budget Committee and is also a follower of the philosophy of Ayn Rand. As he put it, “ I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand” which is why he requires staffers to read Atlas Shrugged. Normally we don’t think of Republican members of congress as super-concerned with the poor, and we especially don’t think of Republican members of congress who are also committed Randians to be super-concerned with the poor. And, indeed, Ryan’s priorities as revealed in both last year’s version of his budget proposal and this year’s new one are to keep taxes low and military spending high. Obviously to do that you need to ax programs aimed at benefitting poor people.

But one of Ryan’s oddest ticks is that along with a passion for reducing spending on programs that benefit poor people and a passion for programs that benefit Ayn Rand, he loves to talk about his devotion to the safety net! This pops up a couple of times in an op-ed he wrote for today’s Wall Street Journal, most egregiously here:

Like last year, our budget delivers real spending discipline. It does this not through indiscriminate cuts that endanger our military, but by ending the epidemic of crony politics and government overreach that has weakened confidence in the nation’s institutions and its economy. And it strengthens the safety net by returning power to the states, which are in the best position to tailor assistance to their specific populations.

What Ryan is talking about here is Medicaid which offers health care coverage to the poor, to the disabled, and to an important class of elderly people. Currently the money for Medicaid comes from both the states and the federal government. States have to meet a lot of minimum coverage standards and get federal financial assistance for doing so, and in addition states have the option of securing additional federal monies for additional coverage if they’re willing to kick in extra money of their own. Because health care is proejcted to grow more expensive over the next fifty years, the cost of this program is projected to go up substantially. One way of preventing that from happening is to just refuse to pony up the money, and make Medicaid beneficiaries get by with less health care. And that’s what Ryan’s plan does. On the one hand, it excuses states from their minimum coverage responsibilities. On the other hand, it reduces the amount of money that’s available to give people coverage. Which is all about what you’d expect from a tax cutting Ayn Rand fan. Keep the money in the hands of the job creators who earned it rather than handing it out to the moochers and looters looking for a little free medicine.

But please God almighty can we avoid referring to this as a measure that “strengthens the safety net” by empowering states to “tailor assistance to their specific populations”? Ryan doesn’t like taxing the wealthy to give resources to the poor and disabled, so he proposes to give fewer resources to the poor and disabled.

kileyrae:

That elephant is adorable though.

kileyrae:

That elephant is adorable though.

pantslessprogressive:

No chance it’ll pass, but you should know about it anyway. Some of the highlights, from The Hill:

  • Aims to cut $11 trillion and achieve a $111 billion surplus in FY 2017
  • Changes to Medicare: ” The lawmakers said they would turn Medicare into a premium support plan that would give seniors the same healthcare plan as members of Congress. They say this would save an estimated $1 trillion over 10 years.”
  • Alter Social Security by increasing the retirement age and indexing benefits based on individual incomes
  • Medicaid, SCHIP, food stamps and child nutrition programs would be funded through block grants
  • Cut discretionary spending to FY 2008 levels
  • No national defense spending cuts
  • Freeze foreign aid spending at $5 billion/year
  • Eliminate the Department of Commerce, Education, HUD and Energy
  • Privatize the TSA
  • Repeal the Affordable Care Act and Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform
  • Establish 17 percent flat tax for individuals and corporations

Read more.

The hard-fought deal that settled last year’s debt-ceiling fight made painfully deep cuts in spending, but it promised one thing: a year’s peace from the destructive Congressional battles that led to threats of government shutdowns and defaults. By signing the pact, Republican and Democratic leaders set spending levels for 2013, putting off further budget wars until after the election.

But now a coalition of extreme conservatives in the House wants to break the budget agreement and cut spending below the agreed level, and the House Budget Committee seems willing to go along.

Reneging on the agreement would not only endanger vital programs like Head Start, but it would erase the thin residue of trust left in Congress. It would clearly demonstrate that the current House cannot be trusted to live up to its own pledges.

squashed:

The Heritage Foundation considers this evidence of a major failure on the Obama administration’s part.1

Ramping up entitlement spending while lowering defense spending. #Fail

Mark Coatney disagrees:

Um, why exactly is this a #Fail? We already spend as much on defense as the rest of the world combined.

The Heritage Foundation replies:

For one thing, this:

As China prepares for the final plenum of the 17th Party Congress, it has announced that the new defense budget would amount to 670 billion RMB (approximately $106 billion), which equates to a 11.2 percent increase. This is in sharp contrast to the United States, which, despite a so-called “pivot to Asia,” is busily reducing its defense budget.
The increase in China’s defense spending, atop last year’s 12.7 percent increase, highlights that China’s defense spending is now larger than that of all other Asian nations combined—a sobering statistic when one considers that this includes the world’s third-largest economy (Japan) and North and South Korea, which remain locked in a Cold War–era standoff.


I hate to see you guys fighting. We must not allow a military budget gap with China. So maybe we can agree to right size our defense spending to, say, two or three times China spends in defense? Or maybe we could anchor it to per capita spending? Perhaps we could add China’s defense spending to the chart and see what that would do with the line?2
But in seriousness, Heritage Foundation, what do you want to do with more defense spending? We’ve got to wars projected to wind down. Hence that initial dip. Are there important (read: non-pork) military projects we can’t afford to have with the projected spending levels? Do you want a recreational war?

Pretend for a minute that this chart isn’t stupid and that you don’t know that the projected increases in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid formulas aren’t set by the Obama administration, that you didn’t notice the immediate dip in domestic spending followed by a very gradual climb that’s more, that this whole set of defense cuts was fought tooth and nail in congress, and that the interest accrual could be reduced by borrowing less money after a tax increase. ↩


For anybody who struggles with multiplication and/or charts, this would amount to a massive cut in military spending. ↩

squashed:

The Heritage Foundation considers this evidence of a major failure on the Obama administration’s part.1

Ramping up entitlement spending while lowering defense spending. #Fail

Mark Coatney disagrees:

Um, why exactly is this a #Fail? We already spend as much on defense as the rest of the world combined.

The Heritage Foundation replies:

For one thing, this:

As China prepares for the final plenum of the 17th Party Congress, it has announced that the new defense budget would amount to 670 billion RMB (approximately $106 billion), which equates to a 11.2 percent increase. This is in sharp contrast to the United States, which, despite a so-called “pivot to Asia,” is busily reducing its defense budget.

The increase in China’s defense spending, atop last year’s 12.7 percent increase, highlights that China’s defense spending is now larger than that of all other Asian nations combined—a sobering statistic when one considers that this includes the world’s third-largest economy (Japan) and North and South Korea, which remain locked in a Cold War–era standoff.

I hate to see you guys fighting. We must not allow a military budget gap with China. So maybe we can agree to right size our defense spending to, say, two or three times China spends in defense? Or maybe we could anchor it to per capita spending? Perhaps we could add China’s defense spending to the chart and see what that would do with the line?2

But in seriousness, Heritage Foundation, what do you want to do with more defense spending? We’ve got to wars projected to wind down. Hence that initial dip. Are there important (read: non-pork) military projects we can’t afford to have with the projected spending levels? Do you want a recreational war?


  1. Pretend for a minute that this chart isn’t stupid and that you don’t know that the projected increases in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid formulas aren’t set by the Obama administration, that you didn’t notice the immediate dip in domestic spending followed by a very gradual climb that’s more, that this whole set of defense cuts was fought tooth and nail in congress, and that the interest accrual could be reduced by borrowing less money after a tax increase. 

  2. For anybody who struggles with multiplication and/or charts, this would amount to a massive cut in military spending. 

abaldwin360:

Now that the dust has settled a bit on President Obama’s proposal – really, a framework – to reform the corporate tax code, let’s see what all the shootin’s fer.

To understand what’s going on here, you need some context.  For years, every tax reform conversation has gone like this:

Conservative: “Taxes are too high – they’re killing growth!”

Liberal: “No, they’re not; and anyway, we need the revenue to support the government!”

Lots of variations on “no, we don’t!” and “yes, we do!” … then:

Liberal: “Look, what if we lower tax rates and broaden the tax base by closing a bunch of loopholes – then you get the lower rates and I avoid losing revenue?”

Conservative: “Well … it is true that Ronnie Reagan himself agreed to something like that back in 1986 …. Of course, RR would be kicked out of the party as a centrist today, but … I might be able to agree to that.”

Clearly, since this ends in compromise, it is a contemporary fantasy. But it’s also the motivation behind the White House’s framework to reform the corporate income tax.

Here’s what you need to know about the mechanics of all this: The statutory corporate rate – what’s written in tax law – is 35 percent.  But, as shown in Table 2 here, the actual rate businesses pay on average is 26 percent.  The reason for the difference is the scads of loopholes in the code.  LIFO inventory (last-in-first-out) is favored relative to FIFO (first-in-first-out) inventory. (LIFO means you sell the stuff you most recently added to inventory; FIFO means you sell the stuff you added a while ago.) Offshore profits are favored relative to domestic profits (which is especially nuts).  Debt financing is hugely favored over equity financing.

read more at Rolling Stone Politics