Tag Archives: cato institute

Bono has the wrong answer for the poor of the world (Part 2)

Bono has the wrong answer for the poor of the world (Part 2)

Bono praises the election of President Obama!!!

_________________________

This is a series of posts that shows that Bono (who I have been listening to since 1983) has the wrong solution to the problem of worldwide hunger.

Max Brantley wrote on the Arkansas Times Blog:

Politico reports here that a group of celebrities, including former Baptist pastor Mike Huckabee, shouted a four-letter obscenity for cameras in a promotion to speak up against famine. Bleeps and labels to cover mouths obscure the actual word.

ONE, the Bono-founded organization, says: 

In the PSA, our celebrity supporters shout out one four letter word that the majority of viewers will find offensive, in order to shine a light on something only a minority seems to be offended by. I know the tone is a bit rough for ONE — that’s no accident. If it feels like a punch in the face, then good — mission accomplished. It’s time for a wakeup call and here’s the alarm. Love it? Great. Hate it? OK. Just don’t ignore it.

 I’m not sure I believe Huck did precisely as described.

_____________

One of the key parts of the solution is economic freedom. It is not the bailout, welfare approach of President Obama who Bono supported in 2008.  Here is the second part of an excellent article from the Cato Institute:

Ending Mass Poverty

by Ian Vásquez

September 2001

Ian Vásquez is director of the Cato Institute’s Project on Global Economic Liberty. This essay originally appeared on the U.S. Department of State’s electronic journal, Economic Perspectives (September 2001).

Economic growth is the “only path to end mass poverty,” says economist Ian Vásquez, who argues that redistribution or traditional poverty reduction programs have done little to relieve poverty. Vásquez writes that the higher the degree of economic freedom — which consists of personal choice, protection of private property, and freedom of exchange — the greater the reduction in poverty. Extending the system of property rights protection to include the property of poor people would be one of the most important poverty reduction strategies a nation could take, he says.

The historical record is clear: the single, most effective way to reduce world poverty is economic growth. Western countries began discovering this around 1820 when they broke with the historical norm of low growth and initiated an era of dramatic advances in material well-being. Living standards tripled in Europe and quadrupled in the United States in that century, improving at an even faster pace in the next 100 years. Economic growth thus eliminated mass poverty in what is today considered the developed world. Taking the long view, growth has also reduced poverty in other parts of the world: in 1820, about 75 percent of humanity lived on less than a dollar per day; today about 20 percent live under that amount.

Even a short-term view confirms that the recent acceleration of growth in many developing countries has reduced poverty, measured the same way. In the past 10 years, the percentage of poor people in the developing world fell from 29 to 24 percent. Despite that progress, however, the number of poor people has remained stubbornly high at around 1,200 million. And geographically, reductions in poverty have been uneven.

This mixed performance has prompted many observers to ask what factors other than growth reduce poverty and if growth is enough to accomplish that goal. Market reforms themselves have been questioned as a way of helping the poor. After all, many developing countries have liberalized their economies to varying degrees in the past decade.

But it would be a colossal mistake to lose focus on market-based growth and concentrate instead on redistribution or traditional poverty reduction programs that have done little by comparison to relieve poverty. Keeping the right focus is important for three reasons — there is, in fact, a strong relationship between growth and poverty reduction, economic freedom causes growth, and most developing countries can still do much more in the way of policies and institutional reforms to help the poor…

 

The Importance of Economic Freedom

The West’s escape from poverty did not occur by chance. Sustained growth over long periods of time took place in an environment that generally encouraged free enterprise and the protection of private property. Today, developing countries have an advantage. By adopting liberal economic policies, poor countries can achieve within one generation the kind of economic progress that it took rich countries 100 years to achieve. High growth is possible because poor countries will be catching up to rich countries, rather than forging a new path. Studies by both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund confirm that countries such as China and others that have chosen to open their economies are indeed converging with the industrialized world.

The most comprehensive empirical study on the relationship between economic policies and prosperity is the Fraser Institute’s “Economic Freedom of the World” annual report. It looks at more than 20 components of economic freedom, ranging from size of government to monetary and trade policy, in 123 countries over a 25-year period. The study finds a strong relationship between economic freedom and prosperity. Divided by quintiles, the freest economies have an average per capita income of $19,800 compared with $2,210 in the least free quintile. Freer economies also grow faster than less free economies. Per capita growth in the 1990s was 2.27 percent in the most free quintile, while it was -1.45 percent in the least free countries.

The Fraser study also found that economic freedom is strongly related to poverty reduction and other indicators of progress. The United Nations’ Human Poverty Index is negatively correlated with the Fraser index of economic freedom. People living in the top 20 percent of countries in terms of economic freedom, moreover, tend to live about two decades longer than people in the bottom 20 percent. Lower infant mortality, higher literacy rates, lower corruption, and greater access to safe drinking water are also associated with increases in economic liberty. Indeed, the United Nations’ Human Development Index, which measures various aspects of standards of living, correlates positively with greater economic freedom.

The implications for the poor are impressive. Economists Steve Hanke and Stephen Walters examined the leading empirical studies on the relationship between economic freedom and prosperity and concluded that a 10 percent increase in economic freedom tends to increase per capita gross national product by 7.4 to 13.6 percent. Since developing countries can still increase their levels of economic freedom substantially, and some have by 100 percent or more in the past two decades, the payoff of enhanced liberty can be seen not only in terms of growth but also in terms of a range of human development indicators. Hanke and Walters found, for example, that an increase in per capita income from $500 to $1,000 produces a rise in life expectancy of about 6 percent. Indeed, high growth creates the wealth that makes it possible for countries to invest in health, education, and other human needs that are an essential part of continued growth. Nor are those benefits shared unequally. The Fraser study found that there is no correlation between economic freedom and inequality, while a World Bank study has found that the incomes of the poorest 20 percent of the population rise proportionately with the average rise in income.

Toward More Effective Poverty Reduction

Although the collapse of central planning forced many countries to abandon inward-looking economic policies in the 1990s, most of the developing world is still far from adopting a coherent set of policies consistent with economic freedom. Russia may have dumped communism, but in terms of economic freedom the Fraser Institute ranks the country 117 out of 123 nations. Even countries such as Argentina and Mexico that have done much to liberalize their economies have clung to policy remnants of the past, with devastating consequences for the poor. Mexico’s peso crisis of 1994-95, for example, resulted from monetary and fiscal policies during an election year that were thoroughly inconsistent with market economics.

Attention to market-oriented macroeconomic policies is well founded, particularly since they benefit the poor. That is especially so of two such policies — reducing inflation and the level of spending — which disproportionately favor the poor. Much less attention, however, has been paid to institutional reforms and the microeconomic environment. Three areas stand out: the rule of law, the level of bureaucratic regulation, and the private property rights of the poor.

A legal system capable of enforcing contracts and protecting persons and their property rights in an evenhanded manner is central to both economic freedom and progress. Indeed, the sustainability of a market economy — and of market reforms themselves — rests largely on the application of the rule of law. Yet the rule of law is conspicuously missing in much of the developing world. The 2001 “Economic Freedom of the World” report, which includes a more comprehensive index of economic freedom for 58 countries, takes this measure into account. It finds that Latin American countries rank especially low in this area. Also at the bottom of the list are transition countries such as Russia and Ukraine. Were reliable data available for African countries, they would no doubt receive low ratings as well.

The absence of the rule of law is especially unfortunate for the poor, not only because they have fewer private resources to protect their rights, but also because the rule of law in itself is related to economic growth. Robert Barro created an index that measured the rule of law on a scale of 0 to 6 and found that a country’s growth rate increases by half a percentage point with each increment in his index. Because the rule of law provides essential protections for the poor, sustains a market exchange system, and promotes growth, it may well be the most important ingredient of economic prosperity.

Another much neglected area in need of reform is regulation. Here again the Fraser Institute’s comprehensive index found that the freedom to operate a business and compete in the market is circumscribed in much of the developing world. The same countries that ranked low in the rule of law area ranked low in this area. To have an idea of the bureaucratic burden with which people in the developing world must contend, consider the cases of Canada, Bolivia, and Hungary. According to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, it takes two days, two bureaucratic procedures, and $280 to open a business in Canada. By contrast, an entrepreneur in Bolivia must pay $2,696 in fees, wait 82 business days, and go through 20 procedures to do the same. In Hungary the same operation takes 53 business days, 10 procedures, and $3,647. Such costly barriers favor big firms at the expense of small enterprises, where most jobs are created, and push a large proportion of the developing world’s population into the informal economy.

The informal economy in the developing world is large due to another major factor. The private property rights of the poor are not legally recognized. Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto has documented how poor people around the world have no security in their assets because they lack legal title to their property. In rural Peru, for example, 70 percent of poor people’s property is not recognized by the state. The lack of such legal protection severely limits the wealth-creating potential that the poor would otherwise have were they allowed to participate within the legal framework of the market. Without secure private property rights, the poor cannot use collateral to get a loan, cannot take out insurance, and find it difficult to plan in the long term.

Ending what amounts to legal discrimination would permit poor people to benefit fully from the market system and allow the poor to use their considerable assets to create wealth. Indeed, as de Soto has shown, the poor are already asset rich. According to him, the assets of the poor are worth 40 times the value of all foreign aid since 1945. The wealth of Haiti’s poor, for example, is more than 150 times greater than all foreign investment in that country since its independence in 1804. In the limited places that poor people’s property has been registered, the results have been impressive. Where registration was done in Peru, new businesses were created, production increased, asset values rose 200 percent, and credit became available.

Extending the system of property rights protection to include the property of poor people is the most important social reform that developing countries can undertake. It is a reform that has been almost completely ignored around the world, yet it would directly affect the poor and produce dramatic results for literally thousands of millions of people.

Keeping the Right Focus

Countries have ended mass poverty only by following policies that encourage economic growth. But that growth must be self-sustaining to translate into enduring increases in wealth. Policies of forced industrialization or state-led development may produce high growth for a time, but history has shown that such episodes are followed by economic contraction. Economic freedom, by contrast, shows a strong relationship with prosperity and growth over time. Fortunately, many developing countries are following that path, producing high and rapid growth and showing that it is good for the poor. Their experience may create a demonstration effect for the majority of nations that are in many ways still economically unfree.

All developing nations can do more to increase growth. Establishing the rule of law, reducing barriers that hamper entrepreneurship and competition, and recognizing the property rights of the poor are three reforms that go beyond the liberalization measures that many countries have already introduced. Those reforms not only contribute to economic growth; they increase the effectiveness of growth in reducing poverty. Policy-makers in rich and poor countries alike should not lose focus on the promise of growth. It remains the only path to end mass poverty.

Uploaded by on Jan 18, 2009

U2 performs Pride: In the name of Love, a song about Martin Luther King, at President-elect Barack Obama’s Inaugural concert on the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. Bono told the estimated 600,000 there that on Tuesday “that dream comes to pass.” Jan. 18, 2009

Brantley, Buffett and Obama: “Stop coddling the rich”

Brantley, Buffett and Obama: “Stop coddling the rich”

The Laffer Curve, Part I: Understanding the Theory

Max Brantley is fond of accusing Republicans of coddling the rich and here comes Warren Buffett and validates both what President Obama and Brantley have been saying. However, will the increase in taxes have the desired result that they are wanting?

Higher Tax Rates on Rich Won’t Increase Revenues

by Alan Reynolds

Alan Reynolds, a senior fellow with the Cato Institute, is the author of Income and Wealth (Greenwood Press 2006).

Added to cato.org on September 13, 2011

This article appeared on Investor’s Business Daily on September 12, 2011.

In last week’s campaign speech disguised as an address to Congress, President Obama said, “Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary — an outrage he has asked us to fix.”

Writing recently in The New York Times, the famed chairman of Berkshire Hathaway complained that his federal income tax last year was “only 17.4% of my taxable income” — less than $7 million on a taxable income of about $40 million.

Buffett claimed that, like himself, other “mega-rich pay income taxes at a rate of 15% on most of their earnings,” but that is not at all common. The average income-tax rate of those earning between $1 million and $10 million was 29.5% in 2009.

Obama used Buffett’s uniquely low 17.4% tax as proof that “a few of the most affluent citizens and most profitable corporations enjoy tax breaks and loopholes that nobody else gets.” That is not true.

To hold out the tax policies of 1977 or 1992 as examples of effective ways to raise more revenue is ludicrous.

Anyone whose income is almost entirely composed of realized capital gains or dividends would “pay income taxes at a rate of 15% on most of their earning.” Investors with modest incomes also pay a tax rate of 15% on dividends and capital gains, although that rate is scheduled to rise to 18.8% under the Obama health law (and much higher if Congress enacted the “reforms” Obama will propose next Monday).

Before 2003, when the tax on dividends was made the same as the tax on capital gains, Berkshire Hathaway was a handy tax dodge — a way to own dividend-paying stocks without paying taxes on the dividends. Buffett is famous for collecting stocks with a generous dividend yield without Berkshire itself paying any dividend.

The dividends Berkshire receives are reinvested in buying more stocks, so the holding company ends up with more assets per share which results in capital gains that would be taxable only if the shares are sold.

Warren Buffett is the second wealthiest person in America, but he reports surprisingly little taxable income for someone who owns more than $50 billion of Berkshire shares. Increasing the tax rate on salaries and interest income would barely affect him.

He pays himself a salary of just $100,000, which explains how he pays less than his employees do in payroll taxes. He dodged the estate tax by donating his wealth to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He doubtless reduces his taxable income with other donations to charity, which explains why he repeatedly refers to taxable income rather than adjusted gross income.

Mr. Buffett ends by appointing himself tax czar and declares he “would raise rates immediately on taxable income in excess of $1 million, including, of course, dividends and capital gains. And for those who make $10 million or more … (he) would suggest an additional increase in rate.”

Since he only reports $100,000 of salary, he has nothing to lose by advocating a higher tax rate on salaries. Nearly all of his income in 2010 consisted of capital gains on sales of Berkshire shares, because those shares pay no dividends. But Buffett could just as easily hang onto appreciated shares rather than selling them, or he could donate them to charity.

Raising tax rates on dividends and capital gains sounds easier than it is. Nobody with substantial wealth can be forced to realize taxable gains by selling appreciated assets. A realized gain is no more valuable than an unrealized gain. On the contrary, it is less valuable by the amount of the tax.

Nobody can be forced to hold dividend-paying stocks either. They can instead buy Berkshire Hathaway shares if the tax on dividends goes up, as Buffett understands.

Despite his personal and professional dependence on capital gains, Buffett nevertheless feigns total ignorance of who pays the capital gains tax and why. He says, “I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone — not even when capital gains rates were 39.9% in 1976-77 — shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain.”

Well, the Dow Jones industrial average was 831 at the end of 1977 — down from 969 at the end of 1965 — so somebody was having trouble finding investments that would still look sensible after paying a 39.9% tax.

In any case, for Buffett to focus on the act of buying stocks or property is all wrong. The capital gains tax is not a tax on buying assets. It is a tax on selling assets. If you don’t sell, there is no tax. And when the capital gains tax is high, very few people are willing to sell.

In 1977, when the capital gains tax was 39.9%, realized gains amounted to less than 1.57% of GDP. From 1987 to 1996, when the capital gains tax was 28%, realized gains rose to 2.3% of GDP. Since 28% of 2.3 is larger than 39.9% of 1.57, the lower tax rate clearly raised more tax revenue.

From 2004 to 2007, when the capital gains tax was 15%, realized gains amounted to 5.2% of GDP. Since 15% of 5.2 is larger than 28% of 2.3, the lower tax rate again raised more tax revenue. The government cannot afford to raise this tax, particularly on those most likely to pay it.

Buffett focuses on the 400 tax returns with the highest reported incomes, which are often one-time capital gains from the sale of a business or real estate.

“In 1992,” he writes, “the top 400 had aggregate taxable income of $16.9 billion and paid federal taxes of 29.2% on that sum. In 2008, the aggregate income of the highest 400 had soared to $90.9 billion — a staggering $227.4 million on average — but the rate paid had fallen to 21.5%.”

In 1992 only 39% of reported income of the top 400 came from capital gains and dividends because those tax rates were so high. With most reported income coming from salaries, the average tax rate was high.

Alan Reynolds, a senior fellow with the Cato Institute, is the author of Income and Wealth (Greenwood Press 2006).

 

More by Alan Reynolds

By 2008, 67% of reported income of the top 400 came from capital gains and dividends because both were taxed at 15%. That diluted the average tax rate, yet nevertheless resulted in much more taxes paid because the amount of reported income was so much larger.

The big change was not in actual income, but merely in what the IRS counts as income. People were hiding more of their wealth in 1992 than they did in 2006-2008, and they were hiding even more in 1977.

It is easy to advocate a higher tax rate on capital gains, but it is even easier to avoid paying that higher tax rate. Simply hold onto assets that went up and sell those that went down, and never realize gains until you have offsetting losses.

The evidence is undeniable that affluent investors and property owners report far fewer gains whenever the capital gains tax goes up. Choosing to pay tax on capital gains and dividends is usually voluntary, and when the rate gets too high we run short of volunteers.

With the super-high 1977 tax rates of 39.9% on capital gains and 70% on dividends and salaries, federal revenues were 18% of GDP. In 1992, revenues were only 17.5% of GDP. In 2007, thanks in large part to a 15% tax rate on capital gains and dividends, revenues were 18.5% of GDP.

To hold out the tax policies of 1977 or 1992 as examples of effective ways to raise more revenue is ludicrous. It didn’t work then, and it wouldn’t work now.

The Laffer Curve, Part III: Dynamic Scoring

Uploaded by on May 28, 2008

A video by CF&P Foundation that builds on the discussion of theory in Part I and evidence in Part II, this concluding video in the series on the Laffer Curve explains how the Joint Committee on Taxation’s revenue-estimating process is based on the absurd theory that changes in tax policy – even dramatic reforms such as a flat tax – do not effect economic growth. In other words, the current system assumes the Laffer Curve does not exist. Because of congressional budget rules, this leads to a bias for tax increases and against tax cuts. The video explains that “static scoring” should be replaced with “dynamic scoring” so that lawmakers will have more accurate information when making decisions about tax policy. For more information please visit the Center for Freedom and Prosperity’s web site: http://www.freedomandprosperity.org.

Brummett still resistant to vouchers because he wants us to save public schools at all cost

John Brummett in his article, “A new civil rights struggle in Little Rock?” Arkansas News Burea, August 25, 2011, asserted the main role vouchers should have is  “providing new models for regular public schools to emulate, not about replacing regular public schools.”

The Heritage Foundation cares nothing about saving the public schools. If the public schools do not adapt then they will fail under the voucher system. That is the point. I am sure that many public schools will adapt and survive. However, those who don’t will be knocked out of business. WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO SAVE ALL THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS?

The cost of public education per student is too high. Over $28,000 for kids in Washington D.C. and over $12,000 in Houston, Texas.

Uploaded by on Mar 5, 2010

What is the true cost of public education? According to a new study by the Cato Institute, some of the nation’s largest public school districts are underreporting the true cost of government-run education programs.

http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=11432

Cato Education Analyst Adam B. Schaeffer explains that the nations five largest metro areas and the District of Columbia are blurring the numbers on education costs. On average, per-pupil spending in these areas is 44 percent higher than officially reported. Districts on average spent nearly $18,000 per student and yet claimed to spend just $12,500 last year.

It is impossible to have a public debate about education policy if public schools can’t be straight forward about their spending.

National Debt will continue to skyrocket unless something is done about entitlements

National Debt Set to Skyrocket

Everyone wants to know more about the budget and here is some key information with a chart from the Heritage Foundation and a video from the Cato Institute.

In the past, wars and the Great Depression contributed to rapid but temporary increases in the national debt. Over the next few decades, runaway spending on MedicareMedicaid, and Social Security will drive the debt to unsustainable levels.

PERCENTAGE OF GDP

 
 
 
 
Download

National Debt Set to Skyrocket

Source: Heritage Foundation calculations based on data from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Institute for the Measurement of Worth, Congressional Budget Office, and White House Office of Management and Budget.

Chart 20 of 42

In Depth

  • Policy Papers for Researchers

  • Technical Notes

    The charts in this book are based primarily on data available as of March 2011 from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The charts using OMB data display the historical growth of the federal government to 2010 while the charts using CBO data display both historical and projected growth from as early as 1940 to 2084. Projections based on OMB data are taken from the White House Fiscal Year 2012 budget. The charts provide data on an annual basis except… Read More

  • Authors

    Emily GoffResearch Assistant
    Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy StudiesKathryn NixPolicy Analyst
    Center for Health Policy StudiesJohn FlemingSenior Data Graphics Editor

Congress unwilling to cut budget deficit to avoid downgrade in credit rating

It is a sad day since the US got downgraded in our credit. Evidently Congress did not cut enough out of the bloated budget.

08/05/2011

NEW YORK — There is plenty to dislike about the recently enacted bipartisan deal to cut spending and reduce the national debt. For starters, it neither cuts spending, nor reduces the national debt. After weeks of federal hand-wringing, taxpayers should hope that our masters in Washington become serious about slashing spending. If not, this republic will implode, not eventually on “the children,” but soon atop today’s struggling adults.

“The budget deal doesn’t cut federal spending at all,” Cato Institute analyst Chris Edwards explains. “The ‘cuts’ in the deal are only cuts from the Congressional Budget Office’s ‘baseline,’ which is a Washington construct of ever-rising spending…The federal government will still run a deficit of $1 trillion next year. This deal will ‘cut’ the 2012 budget of $3.6 trillion by just $22 billion, or less than 1 percent.”

Edwards observes that Washington’s “cuts” rarely reduce anything. President Obama​, for instance, proposed boosting the Corporation for Public Broadcasting from $432 million this year to $451 million in FY 2012. However, handing CPB $441 million would constitute a $10 million “cut” In Washington versus a $9 million increase in the real-world.

Thus, as Edwards vividly illustrates at Cato’s downsizinggovernment.org website, these budget “cuts” actually raise federal discretionary spending non-stop for the next 10 years — from $1.04 trillion in Fiscal Year 2012 to $1.23 trillion in FY 2021.

As for red ink, Washington just extended the federal credit card’s limit from $14.3 trillion to $16.7 trillion. In 2021, the national debt is expected to reach $22 trillion — a figure 54 percent above $14.3 trillion. What debt reduction?

Washington refuses to learn what millions of overextended Americans recognize daily: One cannot escape debt by tunneling ever deeper into it.

Fitch, Moody’s, and Standard & Poor’s monitor all of this and are weighing whether or not to scrap America’s sterling AAA credit rating. A debt downgrade would hammer national prestige, hike interest rates, and heap short-term agony on an already achy nation. However, such a startling development may supply the face-down-in-the-gutter moment that Washington’s bipartisan spendaholics desperately need to hit rock bottom, grow up, and enter rehab. Everything else has failed during the Bush-Obama era of the ever-expanding state.

Meanwhile, the Select Committee that will spring from the debt deal may generate some good news amid these shadows. As it seeks at least $1.5 trillion in spending cuts by November 23, it should act boldly to improve America’s fiscal outlook:

•A staggering $703 billion in allocated but unspent revenues languish in federal accounts. Several Republicans have sponsored bills to shift this K2 of cash from dust collection to debt reduction. I have addressed these forgotten funds so often that my computer keyboard hurts. Will the Select Committee finally listen?

•The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance includes the People’s Garden Grant Program, Appalachian Development Highway System, and 2,182 other federal subsidy programs. Many of these should be terminated rather than trimmed, so they never return to menace taxpayers.

•The Select Committee should padlock entire departments (Agriculture, Education, and Housing, for starters), privatize other agencies (FAA, National Weather Service, NPR), and devolve many more to the states via block grants (Medicaid, Food Stamps).

•The Select Committee should raise and index the Social Security eligibility age from 67 to 68 for those born in the 1960s, 69 for children of the ’70s, etc. Medicare’s age-65 threshold similarly should be modernized for these cohorts. Old-age benefits should reflect life expectancy today, not in the 1930s and ’60s, when they were concocted.

“We are less than three years away from where Greece had its debt crisis as to where they were from debt to GDP,” former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker told CNBC Tuesday. “We are not exempt from a debt crisis,” he added. “We have serious interest rate risk. We have serious currency risk. We have serious inflation risk over time. If it happens, it will be sudden, and it will be very painful.”


Mr. Murdock, a New York-based commentator to HUMAN EVENTS, is a columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University

New Deal promises mythical cuts to be carried out in 2013

I am not too happy with the budget deal because I WANT TO SEE REAL CUTS. I knew when I heard President Obama say yesterday that there would be no cuts during this sensitive time that meant till after his Presidency was over. That means these are mythical cuts that are scheduled for 2013 and may never happen.

Michael Tanner  notes, “those cuts would not go into effect until 2013, after the next election.  Since the current Congress cannot bind future Congresses, it’s entirely possible – even likely – that those cuts will be rewritten, reduced, or done away with altogether.”

Michael Tanner sums up my views in his article, “A Deal, Not a Solution, August 1, 2011, Cato Institute:

The deal that President Obama and congressional leaders may well be the best deal that Republicans could get – and any deal that makes Paul Krugman this apoplectic can’t be all bad – but it should not be considered a solution to our fiscal problems.  

In the face of a $1.1 trillion budget deficit, a $14.3 trillion official debt, and a real indebtedness of more than $120 trillion, the deal would reduce the baseline increase in planned spending initially by about $1 trillion, or an average of roughly $100 billion per year – less than the federal government will borrow this month.   Moreover, the cuts are unspecific – apparently Congress still can’t find actual programs to eliminate – raising the specter that it will employ the same budgetary gimmicks as the Continuing Resolution last May, that promised $61 billion in cuts and delivered less than $8 billion.  Any cuts that do occur are simply reductions in baseline increases, not actual year-over-year reductions.  And most cuts are pushed far out into the future when they may or may not materialize.

The plan also creates a “”supercommittee – there’s an original idea – to propose an additional $1.2-1.7 trillion in spending cuts or tax increases, but few Washington observers expect it to be able to reach an agreement that could actually pass Congress.   Of course, in theory, if that happens, there would be automatic cuts of about $1.2 trillion, split equally between domestic programs and defense.   However, those cuts would not go into effect until 2013, after the next election.  Since the current Congress cannot bind future Congresses, it’s entirely possible – even likely – that those cuts will be rewritten, reduced, or done away with altogether.   Certainly there is no reason why we should count on them occurring.

The net result of this deal is that – if every penny of the proposed cuts actually occurs – our official national debt will rise to about $20 trillion by 2020.  That it otherwise would have reached $23 trillion is scant comfort.  With our country careening toward a fiscal cliff, Congress has chosen to tap on the breaks, not change direction. 

More troubling, the deal fails to deal with entitlement reform.   It is Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security that are driving this country towards insolvency, but this plan does not include any structural reform of these programs.   They are exempt from the first round of cuts, and the level of cuts that can be proposed by the supercommittee are far too small to encompass anything like the Medicare reforms that Paul Ryan proposed early this year.   And both Social Security and Medicaid are exempt from the across-the-board cuts that kick in if the committee’s cuts do not occur.  In that case Medicare would be trimmed, but only in terms of further reductions in reimbursements to providers.

Certainly, this deal could have been worse.  There are no tax increases (yet).  There are at least theoretical cuts in spending.   We’ve moved a long way from when President Obama proposed an increase in spending as part of his 2012 budget.  But no one should pretend that we’ve put our fiscal house in order.

 

Rising Deficits Drive U.S. Debt Limit Higher, Faster

Rising Deficits Drive U.S. Debt Limit Higher, Faster

Everyone wants to know more about the budget and here is some key information with a chart from the Heritage Foundation and a video from the Cato Institute.

Congress first placed a statutory limit on total federal debt in 1917, in the Second Liberty Bond Act. Since 1962, Congress has altered the debt limit through 74 separate measures, raising it 10 times since 2001. Since 1990, the debt limit has been raised a total of $10.1 trillion, but nearly half of that increase has occurred since September 2007.

U.S. DEBT LIMIT

 
Download

Rising Deficits Drive U.S. Debt Limit Higher, Faster

Source: Congressional Research Service and White House Office of Management and Budget (Table 7.3, Historical Tables).

Chart 26 of 42

In Depth

  • Policy Papers for Researchers

  • Technical Notes

    The charts in this book are based primarily on data available as of March 2011 from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The charts using OMB data display the historical growth of the federal government to 2010 while the charts using CBO data display both historical and projected growth from as early as 1940 to 2084. Projections based on OMB data are taken from the White House Fiscal Year 2012 budget. The charts provide data on an annual basis except… Read More

  • Authors

    Emily GoffResearch Assistant
    Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy StudiesKathryn NixPolicy Analyst
    Center for Health Policy StudiesJohn FlemingSenior Data Graphics Editor

Brummett blames Tea Party for debt ceiling crisis

In the article “When a state legislator’s brain shorts out…,” July 28, 2011, Arkansas News Bureau, Brummett was critical of recent statements by Representative Nate Bell of Mena. Brummett was critical of these Tea Party types not only because they sometimes mispeak but also because the Tea Party is taking the country in a direction that Brummett detests. He asserted:

For one thing, and in the immediate term, it may be that our government’s credit rating will be downgraded to the point that interest costs will rise for beleaguered Americans’ mortgages and car loans.

Let me make two points here. First, the term Tea Party is being used by Brummett for any right wing person he does not like.

David Boaz of the Cato Institute rightly noted:

One sign of the tea party movement’s success is that the term “tea party” is becoming an all-purpose smear term for any more-or-less right-wing person or activity that the writer doesn’t like. In fact, I think “Tea Party” is replacing “neocon” as an all-purpose word for “the people I hate.”

Second, Brummett claims it the Republicans who want to default, but is the Democrats who are refusing to cut the budget in a way we can lower this 1.7 trillion deficit for this year!!!!

The huge deficits are the problem. People want the debt ceiling raised, but if the huge deficits  continue then what is the use? The article below shows how our government will have their credit rating devalued UNLESS WE STOP RUNNING UP BIG DEFICTIS EVERY YEAR!!

Dueling Debt Ceiling Proposals vs. the Rating Agencies,” by Alison Acosta Fraser, July 25, 2011 at 10:16 pm:

As the day debt ceiling of reckoning fast approaches, dueling proposals are flurrying around Washington fast and furious.  The latest two are from House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).

Americans, and global financial markets, are watching Washington nervously for a real plan—one that will put the nation squarely on a path to solving our twin crises of spending and debt.  Without strong structural changes in spending, our debt will balloon out of control.

At stake are two issues.  The short-term is obvious – will there be an increase in the debt limit before August 3?  Despite the President and his team practically begging Wall Street to collapse, the markets and the rating agencies believe that there will be an increase and the federal government can safely avoid the chaos of prioritizing its bills in order to service the debt.  Though they warn of the consequences if this doesn’t happen, Standard & Poor’s, has stated that

…the risk of a payment default is small, though increasing…Standard and Poor’s still anticipates that lawmakers will raise the debt ceiling by the end of July to avoid those outcomes.”

The second and even more crucial issue is whether Congress will take necessary action beyond the next year to bring our debt under control over the medium and long-term.  This is where the rating agencies really voice their strong concern.    Again, Standard & Poor’s:

Congress and the Administration might also settle for a smaller increase in the debt ceiling, or they might agree to a plan that, while avoiding a near-term default, might not, in our view, materially improve our base case expectation for the future path of the net general government debt-to-GDP ratio.”

Moody’s response is similar:

The outlook assigned at that time to the government bond rating would very likely be changed to negative at the conclusion of the review unless substantial and credible agreement is achieved on a budget that includes long-term deficit reduction. To retain a stable outlook, such an agreement should include a deficit trajectory that leads to stabilization and then decline in the ratios of federal government debt to GDP and debt to revenue beginning within the next few years.

What the rating agencies are saying is that Congress and the President must pass legislation that immediately begins to rein in deficits and bring our debt down to more acceptable levels, and either keeps it there or continues to drive it down further.

_____________________________

We need more lawmakers like Nate Bell who want to get our country back to the tax level we were at many years ago. Our founding fathers would be SHOCKED IF THEY CAME BACK TODAY AND SAW THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WAS SPENDING OVER 24% OF GDP.

___________________

I agree with Tolbert that it was ill-advised. Jason Tolbert gave us the big picture when he noted:

You almost have to feel bad for Arkansas Democrats…almost. With the last remaining Arkansas Congressional Democrat, Mike Ross, announcing he will not run for re-election, they are facing the realization that the entire Arkansas delagation – save Sen. Mark Pryor who is not up until 2014 – could turn red in the next cycle. They are just coming off a tidal wave 2010 election which saw Republicans in the state capitol close to double in ranks. And with the unpopular President Obama leading their ticket in 2012, it is likely to get even worse for them.

It is so bad that Politico this week had the healine “Arkansas Democrats Face Extinction.” Ouch!

It is almost understandable then that they are doing everything they can to hang on to power – whether it is creative map drawing or trying to seize every opportunity to paint Republicans as crazy extremists. Granted, frequent e-mails circulating the Internet make for easy targets. But the over-the-top reaction to an ill-advised Facebook post from a Republican state representative has been both amusing and a bit annoying at the same time.

_________________________

  • John Brummett Says:
    July 28th, 2011 at 10:39 am ill-advised? understatement, you think? for the record, i care much less whether democrats or republicans win arkansas political races than whether the republican party can extricate itself from the cranks and kooks and affronts to advanced civilization represented by this kind of outrageously ignorant comment — a process a couple of republicans could begin right here right now by denouncing this guy’s outrage on specific merit and in unambiguous terms, not dismissing it defensively for purely partisan motivation
  • ____________________

If you look at the unbelievable comments that Democrats have made the last two years when they have crammed Obamacare down our throats then you could really come up with so crazy comments. Obama says the whole Obamacare debate will be on CSpan then he retreats with Nancy and does it in private and she says, “You will find out what is in it when we pass it.”

I still think that Tolbert has it right. It makes me think that the Democrat Party of Arkansas is acting much like Florida Alantic’s announcer did last year in the ASU game.

I give Florida Atlantic color commentator Dave Lamont credit. The guy is passionate about football, the team he covers, and most of all: THE RULES.

With Arkansas St. leading 37-16 late in the game, Lamont lost his marbles after FAU quarterback Jeff Van Camp scrambled, slid and then took a hit in the head by an Arkansas St. defender.

It should have been a flag. But, as we are reminded on a weekly basis, sometimes officials miss calls. It happens. Well, Lamont was in no mood for oversights. And his subsequent on-air rant was hilariously intense. Here it is:

Florida Alantic was losing at the time and that is why I have compared them to the Arkansas Democratic Party. Jason Tolbert hit the nail on the head in his comments. Is it any wonder that liberal Democrat Michael Cook revealed the Democrats next play in the playbook: “Remarks like the ones made by Nate Bell and Jon Hubbard, without apologies, should be highlighted by Democrats”

I don’t think this strategy of the Democrats will work since it President Obama and the liberals in Washington that have caused the largest pick up of seats by Republicans in Arkansas’ history. IT STILL COMES DOWN TO THE ISSUES.

Here is one of my favorite videos on this subject below:

What Is The Debt Ceiling?

Published on May 19, 2013

What is the debt ceiling and why does it matter? Find out:http://BankruptingAmerica.org/DebtCei…

Congress’s dance with the debt limit can be confusing and, frankly, the details can be a real snooze fest for many Americans. Sometimes a little humor clarifies the absurdities of Washington antics better than flow charts and talk of trillions.

The 31-second video and accompanying infographic “The Debt Ceiling Explained” by Bankrupting America offers the facts, leavened with a dose of levity. The conclusion is serious, however: The country’s debt threatens economic growth, and spending cuts are the answer.

_________________________

It is obvious to me that if President Obama gets his hands on more money then he will continue to spend away our children’s future. He has already taken the national debt from 11 trillion to 16 trillion in just 4 years. Over, and over, and over, and over, and over and over I have written Speaker Boehner and written every Republican that represents Arkansans in Arkansas before (GriffinWomackCrawford, and only Senator Boozman got a chance to respond) concerning this. I am hoping they will stand up against this reckless spending that our federal government has done and will continue to do if given the chance.

Why don’t the Republicans  just vote no on the next increase to the debt ceiling limit. I have praised over and over and over the 66 House Republicans that voted no on that before. If they did not raise the debt ceiling then we would have a balanced budget instantly.  I agree that the Tea Party has made a difference and I have personally posted 49 posts on my blog on different Tea Party heroes of mine.

What would happen if the debt ceiling was not increased? Yes President Obama would probably cancel White House tours and he would try to stop mail service or something else to get on our nerves but that is what the Republicans need to do.

I have written and emailed Senator Pryor over, and over again with spending cut suggestions but he has ignored all of these good ideas in favor of keeping the printing presses going as we plunge our future generations further in debt. I am convinced if he does not change his liberal voting record that he will no longer be our senator in 2014.

I have written hundreds of letters and emails to President Obama and I must say that I have been impressed that he has had the White House staff answer so many of my letters. The White House answered concerning Social Security (two times), Green Technologieswelfaresmall businessesObamacare (twice),  federal overspendingexpanding unemployment benefits to 99 weeks,  gun controlnational debtabortionjumpstarting the economy, and various other  issues.   However, his policies have not changed, and by the way the White House after answering over 50 of my letters before November of 2012 has not answered one since.   President Obama is committed to cutting nothing from the budget that I can tell.

 I have praised over and over and over the 66 House Republicans that voted no on that before. If they did not raise the debt ceiling then we would have a balanced budget instantly.  I agree that the Tea Party has made a difference and I have personally posted 49 posts on my blog on different Tea Party heroes of mine.

_________________________

Obama’s phony cuts will not help, Cut, cap and balance would help

It appears the USA will become Greece. Even the Republicans are not willing to offer major cuts in spending. Ted Dehaven hits the nail on the head.

Washington is the only town where the circus never leaves. Elephants, donkeys, clowns and a ringmaster residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue — our nation’s capital has it all. And what a show they’re putting on for the American people over raising the debt ceiling for the umpteenth time in recent years.

On one side we have a president whose surrogates warn of economic Armageddon if the debt ceiling isn’t raised, despite the fact that he himself voted against raising the limit in 2006 as the junior senator from Illinois. On the other side are congressional Republicans, tasked with negotiating spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling — the same guys who happily voted for big-spending legislation when it was their guy in the White House.

In short, the two sides have a credibility gap on debt reduction that makes the Grand Canyon look like a pothole. That begs the question: What sort of deal will they ultimately agree to?

Tad DeHaven is a budget analyst at the Cato Institute and co-editor of Downsizing Government.org.

 

More by Tad DeHaven

The president doesn’t want to have to rehash this debate before the November 2012 election. That means that the debt ceiling will have to be increased by $2 trillion in order to create enough space through the end of next year. House Speaker John Boehner has drawn his line in the sand: Republicans will only agree to increase the debt ceiling if spending is cut by at least as much. Thus, it is generally assumed that the two sides will have to negotiate a deal to cut spending by $2 trillion.

Here’s the problem: The $2 trillion in cuts would be over ten years, or about $200 billion a year. Suddenly, $200 billion in annual spending cuts in exchange for increasing the debt ceiling by $2 trillion through the end of 2012 doesn’t sound so great — especially when one considers that lawmakers have a storied history of changing their minds about promised future cuts. Therefore, it is imperative that any debt ceiling deal contains real spending cuts.

“Real spending cuts” means terminating programs or reducing entitlement benefits — for example, eliminating programs at the Department of Education and repealing the underlying program authorizations, or changing entitlement laws to reduce the benefit levels of programs such as Medicare. Future policymakers could reverse these cuts, but it wouldn’t be easy given that the government’s finances will probably remain in a precarious state.

Unfortunately, there’s little evidence to suggest that real spending cuts are on the table. Were that the case, we would probably be reading countless articles on the consequent suffering of those who would be separated from the federal teat. Instead, there is a growing indication that the cuts will merely be amorphous reductions against the Congressional Budget Office’s spending baseline, which projects spending over the next 10 years based on current law with an adjustment for inflation.

For example, negotiators could agree to freeze discretionary non-security spending for 10 years, which would “save” about $1 trillion compared to the baseline. However, making sure that future policymakers adhered to the freeze would require a strict budget enforcement mechanism. Such mechanisms haven’t held up well in the past for the simple reason that when it comes to spending, the legislative fox is guarding the budgetary henhouse.

Even if we knew for certain that a $2 trillion reduction in spending compared to the baseline would be achieved, again, we’re still looking at a relatively small sum of money. According to the CBO’s latest baseline, the federal government is projected to spend $46 trillion over the next decade. Regardless of whether the federal government proceeds to spend $44 trillion or $46 trillion, the government will remain on an unacceptable spending trajectory.

Unfortunately, the current state of the debt ceiling negotiations indicates that the stakes holding up the big tent in Washington aren’t going to be pulled anytime soon. On the bright side, perhaps this latest spectacle will cause more of the electorate to question why we’ve allowed so much of our collective well-being to be placed in the hands of so few. If so, there’s a chance we can at least get the animals back in their cages before it’s too late.