Tag Archives: debt ceiling.

Dear Senator Pryor, why not pass the Balanced Budget Amendment? ( Thirsty Thursday, Open letter to Senator Pryor)

Dear Senator Pryor,

Why not pass the Balanced  Budget Amendment? As you know that federal deficit is at all time high (1.6 trillion deficit with revenues of 2.2 trillion and spending at 3.8 trillion).

On my blog www.HaltingArkansasLiberalswithTruth.com I took you at your word and sent you over 100 emails with specific spending cut ideas. However, I did not see any of them in the recent debt deal that Congress adopted. Now I am trying another approach. Every week from now on I will send you an email explaining different reasons why we need the Balanced Budget Amendment. It will appear on my blog on “Thirsty Thursday” because the government is always thirsty for more money to spend.

You asked for ideas to cut spending, but you voted for the 800 billion dollar stimulus that did not help the economy at all. I have included an article below that makes a very good point about the Balanced Budget Amendment and the stimulus:

Lee believes there are several key components to a balanced budget amendment which he outlines in his book, including making tax increases contingent on a two-thirds vote in Congress so that the option to increase taxes is not the default maneuver to balance a budget. He believes the amendment should require Congress spends no more than it takes in, and in fact should cap the spending at a fixed percent of GDP (the proposal submitted in the Senate caps it at 18 percent of GDP, just about the historical average). There would also be a supermajority vote required to raise the debt ceiling.

And for those who argue that stimulus packages wouldn’t have been possible under the amendment, Lee sees little difficulty responding.

“That’s exibit A for why we ought to have it,” Lee said of the Obama stimulus package.

That is a very good point in favor of having a balanced budget amendment in my view. I have been critical of you for supporting the stimulus in the past.

Thank you again for your time and for this opportunity to share my ideas with you.

Sincerely,

Everette Hatcher

Lee Makes His Case for a Balanced Budget Amendment

By Elisabeth Meinecke

7/18/2011

As Washington spends the summer arguing over its spending addiction, GOP Sen. Mike Lee of Utah has a solution to help prevent the same crisis for future generations: a balanced budget amendment.

The House made news last week when, in the heat of negotiations over raising the debt ceiling, they announced a vote on a balanced budget amendment this Wednesday. Though the Senate GOP introduced a one earlier this year, President Obama has stated emphatically otherwise, telling Americans last week during a press conference that the country does not need a balanced budget amendment.

“Yes, we do,” Lee told Townhall when asked to respond to the president, adding later when talking about simultaneously raising the debt ceiling and cutting spending, “We can’t bind what a future Congress will do. We can pass laws that will affect this year, but there will be a new Congress that takes power in January of 2013, and then another new one that will take power in January 2015. And they will make their own spending decisions then — we can’t bind them unless we amend the Constitution to do so.”

Lee points out that the American people support the idea of a balanced budget – 65 percent, according to a Sachs/Mason Dixon poll from this year – but politicians have been reluctant to wade into the debate.

“The fact that we’re in this debate, the fact that we’re sort of deadlocked, or we’ve reached a point of gridlock in the discussions, is indicative of the problem that we have,” Lee said.

In fact, Lee thinks a balanced budget amendment is so important to the future of the country that he’s written a book on it: The Freedom Agenda: Why a Balanced Budget Amendment Is Necessary to Restore Constitutional Government.

Lee even takes the argument a step beyond fiscal issues, saying a balanced budget amendment safeguards individual liberties.

““The more money it [Congress] has access to, whether it’s through borrowing or through taxation, either way, that’s going to fuel Congress’ expansion, and whenever government acts, it does so at the expanse of individual liberty,” Lee said. “We become less free every time government expands.”

Lee believes there are several key components to a balanced budget amendment which he outlines in his book, including making tax increases contingent on a two-thirds vote in Congress so that the option to increase taxes is not the default maneuver to balance a budget. He believes the amendment should require Congress spends no more than it takes in, and in fact should cap the spending at a fixed percent of GDP (the proposal submitted in the Senate caps it at 18 percent of GDP, just about the historical average). There would also be a supermajority vote required to raise the debt ceiling.

And for those who argue that stimulus packages wouldn’t have been possible under the amendment, Lee sees little difficulty responding.

“That’s exibit A for why we ought to have it,” Lee said of the Obama stimulus package.

Lee also pointed out that his balanced budget amendment includes an exception to the spending restriction in time of war – “not a blank check, but to the extent necessary.” Congress would also be able to supersede the amendment with a two-thirds vote.

“We wanted to make it difficult, but not impossible, for Congress to spend more than it had access to,” Lee said, citing as an example a massive or immediate crisis created by a national emergency or natural disaster. “What this is designed to do is to make it more difficult – to make it impossible – for Congress to just do this as a matter of course.”

Elisabeth Meinecke

Elisabeth Meinecke is Associate Editor with Townhall.com

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Ron Paul “We Just Plain Don’t Mind Our Own Business! That’s Our Problem!” Republican Debate pt 5

Ron Paul “We Just Plain Don’t Mind Our Own Business! That’s Our Problem!” Republican Debate pt 5

MAGGIE HABERMAN comments below on the debate last night: 

Paul also against the debt deal

By MAGGIE HABERMAN | 8/1/11 5:20 PM EDT

With a 12-paragraph statement that came in longer than Newt Gingrich’s, Rep. Ron Paul registers his (unsurprising) disapproval of the debt-ceiling deal, a quarter of which is below:

“While it is good to see serious debate about our debt crisis, I cannot support the reported deal on raising the nation’s debt ceiling. I have never voted to raise the debt ceiling, and I never will.

“This deal will reportedly cut spending by only slightly over $900 billion over 10 years. But we will have a $1.6 trillion deficit after this year alone, meaning those meager cuts will do nothing to solve our unsustainable spending problem. In fact, this bill will never balance the budget. Instead, it will add untold trillions of dollars to our deficit. This also assumes the cuts are real cuts and not the same old Washington smoke and mirrors game of spending less than originally projected so you can claim the difference as a ‘cut’.”

“The plan also calls for the formation of a deficit commission, which will accomplish nothing outside of providing Congress and the White House with another way to abdicate responsibility. In my many years of public service, there have been commissions on everything from Social Security to energy policy, yet not one solution has been produced out of these commissions.”

Congress fails to deal with spending problem as we head to Greece

Steve Brawner in his article, “Congress’ failure not just the debt ceiling,” Arkansas News Bureau, August 10, 2011 noted:

And now, an embarrassing debt ceiling debate that resulted in our country losing its sterling credit rating while China justifiably wagged its finger in our direction. It’s time for voters to get their pink slips ready.

It was embarrassing because THERE ARE NO MEANINGFUL CUTS IN THIS DEBT DEAL. THIS MEANS WE WILL BE WHERE GREECE IS NOW IN A FEW YEARS!!!! If nothing is done about entitlements then federal spending could consume as much as 50% of economic output by the time the Baby Boom generation is fully retired. In 2001 it was 18.2% and currently it has risen to about 25%.

Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute rightly noted:

The hard-core conservatives are upset that the deal is mostly smoke and mirrors on the spending side and that there may be a tax-increase trap on the revenue side.

Take a look at this excellent article:m “The Next Greece” by Daniel J. Mitchell

Daniel J. Mitchell is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, a think-tank based in Washington.

Added to cato.org on August 4, 2011

This article appeared in National Poston August 4, 2011.

America is on a path to becoming a Greek-style welfare state. Thanks to the Bush-Obama spending binge, the burden of federal spending has climbed to about 25% of national economic output, up from only 18.2% of GDP when Bill Clinton left office.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Because of a combination of demographic forces and poorly designed entitlement programs, federal spending could consume as much as 50% of economic output by the time the Baby Boom generation is fully retired.

One symptom of all this excessive spending is that Washington is awash in red ink. The United States is now in its third consecutive year of trillion-dollar deficits and the politicians just had to increase the nation’s US$14.3-trillion debt limit.

But it wasn’t easy getting there. Just as happened with the “government shutdown” debate in March, Republicans and Democrats had fierce disagreements over the right approach. They bickered until the last minute and then finally agreed to more than US$900billion of supposed spending cuts and the creation of a “super-committee” charged with proposing another US$1.5-trillion of deficit reduction.

So which side won this fight? Republicans are bragging that they got spending cuts today, a promise of spending cuts in the future, and no tax increases. Democrats, meanwhile, are chortling that they took the debt issue off the table until after the 2012 elections, protected their favourite programs and created a super-committee that will seduce the GOP into a tax increase.

Ignore that bragging. The easy answer is that politicians of both parties were the victors and taxpayers are the ones left in the cold.

In other words, the budget deal was a victory for the political establishment.

Here’s why Republicans are winners. They get to tell their Tea Party activists that they forced Obama to cut spending. It doesn’t matter that federal spending will actually be higher every year and that the cuts were based on Washington math (a spending increase becomes a spending cut if outlays don’t climb as fast as some artificial benchmark).

They also get to tell their anti-tax activists that they held the line. Perhaps most important, the super-committee must use the “current law” baseline, which assumes that the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts expire at the end of 2012. But why are GOPers happy about this, considering they want those tax cuts extended? For the simple reason that Democrats on the super-committee therefore can’t use repeal of the “Bush tax cuts for the rich” as a revenue raiser.

This means that most Republican incumbents are well-positioned to win re-election.

Here’s why Democrats are winners. Thanks to the magic of government math, despite all the talk of budget cuts, discretionary spending will be more than US$100-billion higher in 2021 than it is this year. And since defence spending in Iraq and Afghanistan presumably is winding down, this means even more money will be available for domestic programs.

In addition to telling the pro-spending lobbies that the gravy train is still on the tracks, they also get to tell the classwarfare crowd that there’s an improved likelihood of higher taxes for corporate jet owners and other “rich” people. Notwithstanding GOP assertions, nothing in the agreement precludes the supercommittee from meeting its US$1.5-trillion target with tax revenue. The 2001 and 2003 tax legislation is not an option, but everything else is on the table.

This means that most Democratic incumbents are well-positioned to win re-election.

It’s worth pointing out that this doesn’t mean all Republicans and all Democrats are happy about the deal. The hard-core conservatives are upset that the deal is mostly smoke and mirrors on the spending side and that there may be a tax-increase trap on the revenue side.

The hard-core liberals, by contrast, are angry that there are any spending cuts, even ones based on Washington math. Moreover, they want higher tax rates on upper-income taxpayers today, not a super-committee that may or may not follow through on soak-the-rich policies in the future.

One group of people, however, unambiguously got the short end of the stick in this budget deal. Ordinary Americans are caught in the middle. They’re not poor enough to benefit from the federal government’s plethora of income-redistribution programs. But they’re not rich enough to have the clever lobbyists and insider connections needed to benefit from the highdollar handouts like ethanol subsidies and bank bailouts.

Instead, middle-class Americans play by the rules, pay ever-higher taxes, and struggle to make ends meet while the establishment of both parties engages in posturing as America slowly drifts toward a Greek-style fiscal meltdown.

President Obama still loves big government policies but our problem is the overspending.

President Obama wants to extend unemployment benefits again and he would love to spend more money, but he says they are not “big government proposals.” He still does not get it. It is the spending and we will not always be a triple A country if we keep spending like this.

Rory Cooper

August 8, 2011 at 10:42 am

On Friday evening, Standard & Poor’s (S&P) downgraded the U.S. credit rating from AAA to AA+. As we and other conservatives warned, the spending reductions in the deal negotiated by President Obama to raise the debt ceiling were inadequate, and S&P reacted as we predicted but sooner. Neither Moody’s nor Fitch, two other rating agencies, have downgraded federal debt yet, but they are not providing much rosier outlooks.

Decades of over-spending and over-borrowing by the federal government have damaged America’s creditworthiness. Congress after Congress, President after President, the federal government spent every penny it took in—and borrowed over $14 trillion on top of that—to try to keep happy the voters to whom the government made promises it could not afford. The government kept shifting the burden of paying the bills forward onto future generations.

Well, the future has arrived, and it is bleak. Our economy is weak, millions of Americans are out of work, and America is so deep in debt that we have lost our good credit rating. Our nation needs to drive federal spending, including our ever-growing entitlement programs, down toward a balanced budget while maintaining our ability to protect America and without raising taxes. That is the sound path forward to a stronger economy with smaller government and more real jobs.

The White House’s first reaction to this news was to blame S&P itself, claiming that their math was wrong as spokesmen pointed out S&P’s past rating failures. Correcting the math didn’t correct the problem, however, and so S&P went ahead with its downgrade. Debating S&P’s credibility misses the more important point, which is there for all to see: Projected deficit spending properly raises questions about U.S. credit quality.

We cannot waste time shooting the messenger when the message itself is impossible to ignore: It’s the spending.

Unsustainable entitlement programs have been built up over many Congresses and Presidents. Elected officials from both parties over many decades helped push us closer to this point. But the last chance to start correcting the problem before damage to America’s credit occurred was during the recent debate over the debt limit.

Regrettably, President Obama and the Senate liberals refused to allow reforms to any entitlement programs and refused to make significant cuts in other federal spending unless they could raise taxes on America. Conservatives rightly resisted increasing taxes, which is a recipe for economic disaster during an economic slowdown. The resulting deal on the Budget Control Act brought little in the way of spending cuts and lots in the way of increased borrowing, and it was the last straw that cost America its top credit rating. President Obama and his liberal allies on Capitol Hill brought America’s credit down

The White House claims that its tax-hike centered “grand bargain” would have prevented a downgrade, yet they still have not told us what was in that “bargain.” Even as Senate Democrats are nearing three years without a budget, President Obama has offered to the American people rhetoric and class warfare, rather than solutions and responsible leadership.

Other liberals went out of their way this weekend to blame this downgrade on the Tea Party, with Senator John Kerry (D–MA) going as far as calling it the “Tea Party downgrade“ on NBC’s Meet the Press. Former Obama advisor David Axelrod echoed that coordinated spin on Face the Nation. Besides proclaiming for all to see that the liberals have no solutions themselves, this argument ignores the facts.

The Tea Party’s primary focus is our nation’s fiscal health. If it were not for the Tea Party’s positive influence, Congress would still be spending, taxing, and borrowing with little regard for the burden it is placing on future generations. Only months ago, President Obama was demanding a so-called “clean” debt limit increase that would allow him to keep on borrowing without any cuts to spending.

As our colleague J. D. Foster points out in his expert analysis of Friday’s downgrade, the debate over the debt limit was the substantive ideas of the conservatives versus empty political rhetoric of liberals:

In the course of negotiations on the debt ceiling, congressional Republicans tried tirelessly to get the President and Senate Democrats to get serious about cutting spending. All Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D–NV) could do was carp about symbolic tax hikes on the rich, oil companies, and their latest silly affection—corporate jets. To be clear, despite the perilous state of the nation’s finances, the President’s sole objective was ideological and symbolic: Even if Republicans had caved on tax hikes, which they wisely refused to do, the revenue gains would have been inconsequential compared to the spending cuts that are necessary. The President played politics while the nation’s credit rating was set to burn, and now it has.

President Obama, congressional liberals, and their allies believe that if we remain silent on our fiscal future, then markets and credit agencies will not notice our perilous future. Thus we heard from liberal pundits and politicians who called the debt debate a “manufactured crisis”—as if everything would be fine with more blank checks. The problem of federal over-borrowing and over-spending was and is real, as the credit downgrade and market reactions reflect. Congress and the President must fix the problem and fix it now.

Liberals this week will try to equate revenue increases with tax hikes. But that is simply not factual. Government revenues increase when we have greater economic growth and more taxpayers in the workforce. That economic growth is impossible with job-killing tax hikes and increased regulation. Raising taxes on taxpayers earning $250,000 or more hits entrepreneurs, small business owners, and investors, thus slowing economic growth still further.

In the next 10 years, once the economy recovers, revenue will rapidly approach and will likely surpass its historical average of 18.5 percent of GDP, while spending is projected to shoot past its historical average of 20.3 percent to 26.4 percent of GDP. Government spending will have increased by 22 percent just on President Obama’s watch.

Yet some liberals were still calling for more debt and deficits this weekend in the name of new “stimulus.” On Friday evening, Obama’s former economic advisor Christina Romer said the first failed stimulus she helped design should have been bigger and argued for a new and larger stimulus saying: “What I want is more now.”

That is, more of what President Obama has given us in the past—fruitless new spending programs. This would give us a bigger problem, not a solution. With America and the world in the grips of an economic slowdown, we need action to create economic growth and jobs and restore America’s credit. We do not need more government.

As dire is the domestic situation, as Foster notes, the consequences for the global financial crisis may be worse:

In today’s global economy, however, the U.S. credit rating downgrade may prove catastrophic. Prior to the credit rating downgrade, Europe was already teetering on the brink. Last week European stock exchanges plunged 10 percent, their worst weekly losses since November 2008. The long-building government debt crisis in Europe, which had been so unsuccessfully papered over just a few weeks ago by its leaders, is reaching the boiling point, threatening to wash over not just the worst offenders like Greece and Portugal but also some of the pillars of the European Union like Spain and Italy.

We cannot improve domestic or global economic conditions by becoming more like Europe. America can do better by adopting better ideas.

Heritage has offered its fiscal plan, “Saving the American Dream,” which would balance the budget in 10 years and lower our debt-to-GDP ratio to 30 percent (from the 100 percent it reached last week). It would accomplish this through responsible reform of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the tax code.

As Foster concludes:

A number of sound incremental reforms can garner strong bipartisan support and can substantially improve these program’s sustainability and the nation’s finances. The President must lead his party to join hands with Republicans in the joint select committee to embrace these reforms and be ready to enact them, saving far more than $1.2 trillion and far sooner than November 23. The objective for the nation, the President, and the joint select committee is clear: drive down spending—including and especially on entitlement programs—toward a balanced budget while protecting America and without raising taxes. Properly done, this would lead to economic growth, more jobs, less government, and a restoration of the nation’s credit rating. It can be done.

It can be done.

US credit rating downgraded

U.S. Credit Rating Downgraded: Now They’ve Done It

By J.D. Foster, Ph.D.
August 6, 2011

Late on Friday, August 5, Standard & Poor’s (S&P) downgraded the United States credit rating from AAA, and really best in class, to AA+. In one fell swoop, S&P sent two separate and powerful messages. First, as The Heritage Foundation and many others warned, the spending reductions in the deal negotiated by President Obama to raise the debt ceiling were entirely and woefully inadequate. Second, the global economy, the national economy, and state finances have all in their own ways been delivered a mighty and frightening body blow.

A Lost Standard of Excellence

For decades past memory, United States government debt was deemed the gold standard of credit quality. Textbooks referred to U.S. Treasuries as the “riskless asset” against which all others were compared. Those days have passed, at least for now, because the U.S. government has rapidly piled debt upon debt and ,on its current trajectory, evidences no inclination to stop. Under the circumstances, without a fundamental policy course correction, a repeatedly threatened credit rating downgrade became inevitable, with only the timing at issue.

President Obama and his allies in and out of Congress do not deserve all the blame for the downgrade. Unaffordable entitlement programs were built up Congress after Congress, President after President, and their imposing fiscal dangers for the future were ignored thereafter. To his credit, President George W. Bush tried to reform the lesser problem of Social Security, spending virtually all the political capital acquired in his strong re-election in doing so, yet even many of his allies in Congress wanted no part of it. And so the basic facts regarding the tens of trillions in unfunded obligations in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid remain and are not in dispute.

While not solely to blame, President Obama and his allies are most certainly preeminently to blame. Facing a rapidly growing budget deficit in 2009, President Obama pushed through a massive fiscal stimulus program followed by a succession of lesser efforts. As the anemic state of the economy attests quite clearly, those programs failed miserably—except in raising federal spending and national debt.

Then the President pushed through his disastrous and highly unpopular health care reform. On paper, these reforms give the appearance of improving the fiscal picture modestly. But as the Medicare trustees’ report has reminded us every year after Obamacare’s passage, this happy picture is an illusion. Aside from the damage it has done and will do to health care costs and services, from a fiscal perspective Obamacare ultimately is just yet another unaffordable entitlement piled on top of those already on the books.

A Lost Opportunity

In the recent debt ceiling fight, the President’s initial view was that Congress should pass a “clean” debt ceiling, allow yet more borrowing, and attend to whatever deficit reduction might be possible later. The reaction by S&P demonstrates undeniably how wrong the President was. And the nation knew it. Rarely have the American people been more engaged in and more concerned about a matter of federal fiscal policy. Yet after ignoring his own high-profile if fatally flawed fiscal commission, and after offering a budget in January that was utterly silent on these critical issues, the President told the Congress: Don’t worry, be happy.

In the course of negotiations on the debt ceiling, congressional Republicans tried tirelessly to get the President and Senate Democrats to get serious about cutting spending. All Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D–NV) could do was carp about symbolic tax hikes on the rich, oil companies, and their latest silly affection—corporate jets. To be clear, despite the perilous state of the nation’s finances, the President’s sole objective was ideological and symbolic: Even if Republicans had caved on tax hikes, which they wisely refused to do, the revenue gains would have been inconsequential compared to the spending cuts that are necessary. The President played politics while the nation’s credit rating was set to burn, and now it has.

Whether the congressional Republican leadership should have forced deeper spending cuts before agreeing to raise the debt ceiling is now a settled question. S&P settled it. Whether they could have forced deeper spending cuts in the face of a politics-playing President and Senate dominated by spenders will never be known. But the nation will soon see the consequences.

Failure Has Consequences

Taken in isolation, a credit rating downgrade will eventually mean higher interest rates on U.S. government debt. This may be hard to imagine given the recent drop in Treasury bond rates in response to events overseas. But higher future rates are certain, and that means that even more federal tax dollars must be dedicated to paying the interest on past government excesses. Higher interest rates and interest cost means greater deficit pressures, which can mean more debt, which can lead to higher interest rates. This is why it is termed a debt spiral.

How will the credit rating downgrade of U.S. government debt affect the states and municipal governments’ interest costs? Nobody knows for sure, but it cannot be good. As a practical matter, U.S. government debt is the foundation of the U.S. financial system, as a point of reference if for no other reason. Interest rates paid by state and local government can only go up as a result of the downgrade, unwelcome news indeed to states wrestling with their own massive deficits due in part to the failure of the economy and state revenues to recover.

In today’s global economy, however, the U.S. credit rating downgrade may prove catastrophic. Prior to the credit rating downgrade, Europe was already teetering on the brink. Last week European stock exchanges plunged 10 percent, their worst weekly losses since November 2008. The long-building government debt crisis in Europe, which had been so unsuccessfully papered over just a few weeks ago by its leaders, is reaching the boiling point, threatening to wash over not just the worst offenders like Greece and Portugal but also some of the pillars of the European Union like Spain and Italy.

This is a European government debt problem on top of a European currency problem on top of a European economic growth problem. But the 2007–2009 financial crisis taught an important lesson about the intense interconnectedness of global financial markets—and that a great many of these connections are little known and poorly understood.

What happens in Europe will not stay in Europe. What weaknesses in global finance and financial supervision will this crisis reveal? No one knows, but what a terrible time for the dominant financial actor in the global financial system, the United States government, to suffer an entirely preventable credit rating downgrade. The dangers to the global economy, and specifically to the U.S. economy, have increased markedly as the U.S. credit rating has been marked down.

Perhaps the Last Opportunity That Must Not Be Lost

President Obama and the Congress have the time and opportunity to change the course of fiscal policy. The United States can recover its AAA credit rating and begin to heal the damage, but it must not delay. The debt ceiling deal included the provision for the creation of a joint select committee of Congress to cut at least $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years. Clearly, that figure is much too low. The committee was to report by November 23. Clearly, that is too late. In the eyes of many, the committee was designed to fail. That must not happen.

President Obama must now do things he has been loath to do heretofore. First, he must lead. No more grand speeches, nor more politicking, no more finger-pointing while criticizing those who oppose him. Above all, leading now means corralling his forces to reach across the aisle to Republicans and work together.

Second, he should give up the ideological fight for higher taxes on anyone. For one thing, even suggesting higher taxes when unemployment is so high and economic growth is so low suggests a man more committed to politics than jobs. As The Heritage Foundation suggested at the start of his term,[1]President Obama should suspend his desire for higher taxes at least until the economy has moved far toward full employment. The wisdom (or lack thereof) of higher taxes can be debated when Americans are back to work.

Finally, the President should forego his inclination to use entitlement reforms for political purposes. Scaring seniors about Social Security checks and related “Mediscare” tactics, which are basic elements of the Democratic party playbook, must stop. The problem is too much entitlement spending now and even more so in the near future. Republicans know it. Democrats know it. Conservatives know it. Liberals know it. The nation now knows it.

A number of sound incremental reforms can garner strong bipartisan support and can substantially improve these program’s sustainability and the nation’s finances. The President must lead his party to join hands with Republicans in the joint select committee to embrace these reforms and be ready to enact them, saving far more than $1.2 trillion and far sooner than November 23.

It Can Be Done

The objective for the nation, the President, and the joint select committee is clear: drive down spending—including and especially on entitlement programs—toward a balanced budget while protecting America and without raising taxes. Properly done, this would lead to economic growth, more jobs, less government, and a restoration of the nation’s credit rating. It can be done. The Heritage Foundation has described in detail how to do it in “Saving the American Dream: The Heritage Plan to Fix the Debt, Cut Spending, and Restore Prosperity.”[2]

J. D. Foster, Ph.D., is Norman B. Ture Senior Fellow in the Economics of Fiscal Policy in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation.


Senator Mark Pryor in favor of debt deal: “We must continue making tough decisions to reduce our debt”

Mark Pryor voted for the Debt Deal on August 2, 2011.  He said, “We must continue making tough decisions to reduce our debt. ” However, I don’t think cutting 22 billion out of projected increases in a 3.6 trillion budget is “making the tough decision to reduce our debt.”

Aug 01 2011

Statement by Senator Mark Pryor In Support of the Bipartisan Solution to Raise the Debt Ceiling

1. “The debate over raising the debt ceiling has been difficult…” After the vote he stated, “This has been an ugly process and an unnecessary process.”

Only because liberals in Congress are addicted to overspending like a drug addict is to his drugs. Have you ever heard a drug say he was going to kick the habit and then you invite him in and he steals your shirt to go buy more drugs!!!!

2. “…but essential to reduce the deficit…’

Are you kidding me. The projected debt will now be over 20 trillion in a few years instead of 23 trillion. Also once our credit rating is downgraded in a few months then all the projections will have to increased because we will be paying more interest. SENATOR PRYOR DID YOU THINK OF THAT WHEN YOU WERE PROTECTING ALL YOUR VOTERS SPECIAL INTERESTS THAT LIVE OFF OF GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS LIKE FOOD STAMPS (34 billion in 2007 but 72 billion today, 40 million people in the USA). We are reaching the point of no return.

3. “…avoid default…”

Why make a big deal about default when your refusal to cut spending has allowed us to rack up huge deficits and possibly get our credit rating downgraded in the next few months. Orrin Hatch makes it clear that the solution is “cut, cap and balance” and his speech on the floor this morning made that point.

4. “…and provide more certainty in our economy….”

THE ONLY CERTAINTY WE WILL HAVE IN OUR ECONOMY IS THAT WE WILL BE JOINING GREECE SOON!!!!!  

5. “We started with harmful, partisan plans and advanced to an agreement on a bipartisan, practical solution.”

The only partisan politics according to you is done by the Tea Party activists that are outside your office shouting: “DON’T TAKE US DOWN THE SAME PATH AS GREECE!!!!” By the way can you say that you disagree with their conclusion? You got the same numbers in front of you.  

6. “While not perfect, I plan to vote for this bill. It makes a nearly $1 trillion in spending cuts…”

You mean it will not raise the debt to 23 trillion in the next 1o years but it will take 12 years before the country goes bankrupt with that much debt.

7. “…and sets the stage for long-term savings…”

Let’s talk about longterm savings. It sounds like you care about our savings accounts. Babies born today have around  $45,000.00 they already owe as their part of the national debt.  In 10 years that “savings” will put the amount owed to new born babies around $70,000.00. That seems that the term “savings” is not a proper term to use in this case.

8. “It does so without dismantling safety net programs such as Social Security and Medicare, which would have been unacceptable to hundreds of thousands of Arkansans.”

The dismantling of these programs is coming if we do nothing. Did you know that the baby boomers will be completely on Social Security by 2029 and all three of these programs will beyond repair by then.  EVEN BILL CLINTON KNOWS THIS!!! 

9. Though it is a step in the right direction, we must continue making tough decisions to reduce our debt.

These are tough decisions but all you want to do is kick the can down the road.

10. “Arkansans have shared with me how truly frustrated they are about the gridlock in Washington, DC.  I agree.”

THE ONLY REASON YOU SAY THAT ARKANSANS ARE FRUSTRATED IS BECAUSE YOU SENSE THAT THIS STATE IS GOING CONSERVATIVE AND YOU AND MIKE ROSS ARE THE ONLY DEMOCRATS LEFT. IN 2012 YOU WILL BE THE ONLY ONE LEFT AND IN 2014 YOU WILL FACE THE FRUSTRATED ARKANSAS VOTERS YOURSELF.

11. “We need to work better together in order to put Americans back to work and earn back their trust.”

PUTTING AMERICANS BACK TO WORK DOES NOT MEAN ALLOWING UNEMPLOYED WORKERS TO STAY ON UNEMPLOYMENT FOR A 2 YEAR PERIOD OR BALOONING OUR FOODSTAMP ROLLS TO COVER 40 MILLION!!! SOUNDS LIKE YOU WOULD RATHER HAVE PEOPLE DEPENDENT ON YOUR GOVERNMENT STIMULUS AND GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS THAN WORKING IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR. OF COURSE, YOUR OBAMACARE IS NOT TOO POPULAR DOWN HERE EITHER. 

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Here are the real facts about where government spending is going:

Debt Deal: Spending in Perspective

Posted by Tad DeHaven

The following chart looks at total projected federal spending according to the Congressional Budget Office’s adjusted March baseline and its score of the debt deal. The chart only considers the reduction in outlays resulting from the deal’s cap on discretionary spending, which the CBO says will save $917 billion over the next ten years.  It does not consider the $1.2-$1.5 trillion in future “deficit reduction” that Dan Mitchell discusses here.

Total spending under debt deal

Excluding outlays for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which are unlikely to materialize, total spending over the next ten years would be about $43 trillion under the discretionary spending caps instead of $44 trillion. In other words, even if Congress holds to the caps — and even if the “deficit reduction” targets established in the bill are achieved — the federal government’s spending binge will continue. If this is a “win” for the limited government crowd, I’d hate to see what the Beltway establishment would consider a “loss.”

Rand Paul against debt deal

John Brummett entitled his article “It is a crafty deal — good too,” Arkansas News Bureau, August 2, 2011, and that is because this deal DOES NOT INCLUDE ANY REAL CUTS TO THE BUDGET IN 2011. IN FACT, IT CUTS 22 BILLION OUT OF THE PROJECTED INCREASE IN THE 3.6 TRILLION BUDGET THAT WILL HAVE A 1.5 TRILLION DEFICIT!!!

Rand Paul hits a homerun with this open letter. That is why he was the number one name in the nation for yahoo search engine searches right now:

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today Sen. Rand Paul issued an open letter on the subject of the debt ceiling compromise facing the Senate. Below is that letter.

To paraphrase Jim DeMint: When you’re speeding toward the edge of a cliff, you don’t set the cruise control. You stop the car.

The current deal to raise the debt ceiling doesn’t stop us from going over the fiscal cliff. At best, it slows us from going over it at 80 mph to going over it at 60 mph.

This plan never balances. The President called for a “balanced approach.” But the American people are calling for a balanced budget.

This deal does nothing to fix the overreaches of both parties over the past few years: Obamacare, TARP, trillion-dollar wars, runaway entitlement spending. They are all cemented into place with this deal, and their legacy will be trillions of dollars in new debt.

The deal that is pending before us now:

· Adds at least $7 trillion to our debt over the next 10 years. The deal purports to “cut” $2.5 trillion, but the “cut” is from a baseline that adds $10 trillion to the debt. This deal, even if all targets are met and the Super Committee wields its mandate – the BEST case scenario is still $7 trillion more in debt over the next 10 years. That is sickening.

· Never, ever balances.

· The Super Committee’s mandate is to add $7 trillion in new debt. Let’s be clear: $2.5 trillion in reductions off a nearly $10 trillion,10-year debt is still $7 trillion in debt. The Super Committee limits the Constitutional check of the filibuster by expediting passage of bills with a simple majority. The Super Committee is not precluded from any issue therefore the filibuster could be rendered most. In addition, the plan harms the possible passage of a Balanced Budget Amendment. Since the goal is never to balance, having the BBA as a “trigger” ensures that the Committee will simply report its $7 trillion in new debt and never move to a BBA vote.

· Cuts too slowly. Even if you believe cutting $2.5 trillion out of $10 trillion is a good compromise, surely we can start cutting quickly, say $200 billion-$300 billion per year, right? Wrong. This plan so badly backloads the alleged savings that the cuts are simply meaningless. Why do we believe that the goal of $2.5 trillion over 10 years (that’s an average of $250 billion per year) will EVER be met if the first two years cuts are $20 billion and $50 billion. There is simply no path in this bill even to the meager savings they are alleging will take place.

Buried in the details of this bill there also appears to be the automatic Debt increase as proposed a few weeks ago. Second half of the debt ceiling is increased by President automatically and can only be stopped by two-thirds of Congress. This shifts the Constitutional check on borrowing from Congress to the President and makes it easier to raise the debt ceiling. This would cede debt ceiling to the President, and none of the triggers in this deal include withholding the second limit increase.

Debt agencies have clearly stated the type of so-called cuts envisioned in this plan result in our AAA bond rating being downgraded. Ironically then, the only way to avoid our debt from downgrading and the resulting economic problems that stem from that is for this bill or the resulting Super Committee to fail, so that a Balanced Budget Amendment can save our country.

This plan does not solve our problem. Not even close. I cannot abide the destruction of our economy, therefore I vigorously oppose this deal and I urge my colleagues and the American people to do the same.

Sincerely,

Rand Paul, M.D.

U.S. Senator

Dan Mitchell tells why this deal may develop into more taxes

President Obama’s balanced approach means he wants more money from you. In the article, “Deconstructing the Revenue Side of the Debt-Ceiling Deal: Yes, There’s a Real Threat of Higher Taxes,”  Daniel J. Mitchell tells us what may happen in the next few months concerning taxes because of this new deal:

Politicians last night announced the framework of a deal to increase the debt limit. In addition to authorizing about $900 billion more red ink right away, it would require immediate budget cuts of more than $900 billion, though “immediate” means over 10 years and “budget cuts” means spending still goes up (but not as fast as previously planned).

But that’s the relatively uncontroversial part. The fighting we’re seeing today revolves around a “super-committee” that’s been created to find $1.5 trillion of additional “deficit reduction” over the next 10 years (based on Washington math, of course).

And much of the squabbling deals with whether the super-committee is a vehicle for higher taxes. As with all kiss-your-sister budget deals, both sides can point to something they like.

Here’s what Republicans like:

The super-committee must use the “current law” baseline, which assumes that the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts expire at the end of 2012. But why are GOPers happy about this, considering they want those tax cuts extended? For the simple reason that Democrats on the super-committee therefore can’t use repeal of the “Bush tax cuts for the rich” as a revenue raiser.

Here’s what Democrats like:

There appears to be nothing in the agreement to preclude the super-committee from meeting its $1.5 trillion target with tax revenue. The 2001 and 2003 tax legislation is not an option, but everything else is on the table (notwithstanding GOP claims that it is “impossible for Joint Committee to increase taxes”).

In other words, there is a risk of tax hikes, just as I warned last week. Indeed, the five-step scenario I outlined last week needs to be modified because now a tax-hike deal would be “vital” to not only “protect” the nation from alleged default, but also to forestall the “brutal” sequester that might take place in the absence of an agreement.

But you don’t have to believe me. Just read the fact sheet distributed by the White House, which is filled with class warfare rhetoric about “shared sacrifice.”

This doesn’t mean there will be tax increases, of course, and this doesn’t mean Boehner and McConnell gave up more than Obama, Reid and Pelosi.

But as someone who assumes politicians will do the wrong thing whenever possible, it’s always good to identify the worst-case scenario and then prepare to explain why it’s not a good idea.

Arthur Brooks on Debt Ceiling

I got a lot of useful information out of this article from the Wall Street Wall Street Journal  The Debt Ceiling ‘Skirmish  

 

MONDAY, JULY 25, 2011

The Debt Ceiling ‘Skirmish’

 
 
We couldn’t help but be impressed with a column by Arthur C. Brooks, President of the American Enterprise Institute which is appearing in the Wall Street Journal.   The column, The Debt Ceiling and the Pursuit of Happiness, probably won’t appear in the local daily but it sure spells out the reality of the current fight and what is at stake.   With that said we suggest the following is mandatory reading for our conservative and liberal friends:
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“The battle over the debt ceiling is only the latest skirmish in what promises to be an ongoing, exhausting war over budget issues. Americans can be forgiven for seeing the whole business as petty, selfish and tiresome. Conservatives in particular are beginning to worry that public patience will wear thin over their insistence that our nation’s government-spending problem must be remedied through spending cuts, not by raising more revenues.

But before they succumb to too much caution, budget reformers need to remember three things. First, this is not a political fight between Republicans and Democrats; it is a fight against 50-year trends toward statism. Second, it is a moral fight, not an economic one. Third, this is not a fight that anyone can win in the 15 months from now to the presidential election. It will take hard work for at least a decade.Consider a few facts. The Bureau of Economic Analysis tells us that total government spending at all levels has risen to 37% of gross domestic product today from 27% in 1960—and is set to reach 50% by 2038.

The Tax Foundation reports that between 1986 and 2008, the share of federal income taxes paid by the top 5% of earners has risen to 59% from 43%. Between 1986 and 2009, the percentage of Americans who pay zero or negative federal income taxes has increased to 51% from 18.5%. And all this is accompanied by an increase in our national debt to 100% of GDP today from 42% in 1980.

Where will it all lead? Some despairing souls have concluded there are really only two scenarios. In one, we finally hit a tipping point where so few people actually pay for their share of the growing government that a majority become completely invested in the social welfare state, which stabilizes at some very high level of taxation and government social spending. (Think Sweden.)

In the other scenario, our welfare state slowly collapses under its weight, and we get some kind of permanent austerity after the rest of the world finally comprehends the depth of our national spending disorder and stops lending us money at low interest rates. (Think Greece.)

In other words: Heads, the statists win; tails, we all lose.

Anyone who seeks to provide serious national political leadership today—those elected in 2010 or who seek national office in 2012—owe Americans a plan to escape having to make this choice. We need tectonic changes, not minor fiddling.

Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R., Wis.) budget plan is the kind of model necessary. But structural change will only succeed if it’s accompanied by a moral argument—an unabashed cultural defense of the free enterprise system that helps Americans remember why they love their country and its exceptional culture.

America’s Founders knew the importance of moral language, which is why they asserted our unalienable right to the pursuit of happiness, not to the possession of property. Similarly, Adam Smith, the father of free-market economics, had a philosophy that transcended the mere wealth of nations. His greatest book was “The Theory of Moral Sentiments,” a defense of a culture that could support true freedom and provide the greatest life satisfaction.

Yet today, it is progressives, not free marketeers, who use the language of morality. President Obama was not elected because of his plans about the taxation of repatriated profits, or even his ambition to reform health care. He was elected largely on the basis of language about hope and change, and a “fairer” America.

The irony is that statists have a more materialistic philosophy than free-enterprise advocates. Progressive solutions to cultural problems always involve the tools of income redistribution, and call it “social justice.”

Free-enterprise advocates, on the other hand, speak privately about freedom and opportunity for everybody—including the poor. Most support a limited safety net, but also believe that succeeding on our merits, doing something meaningful, and having responsibility for our own affairs are what give us the best life. Sadly, in public, they always seem stuck in the language of economic efficiency.

The result is that year after year we slip further down the redistributionist road, dissatisfied with the growing welfare state, but with no morally satisfying arguments to make a change that entails any personal sacrifice.

Examples are all around us. It is hard to find anyone who likes our nation’s current health-care policies. But do you seriously expect grandma to sit idly by and let Republicans experiment with her Medicare coverage so her great-grandchildren can get better treatment for carried interest? Not a chance.

If reformers want Americans to embrace real change, every policy proposal must be framed in terms of self-realization, meritocratic fairness and the promise of a better future. Why do we want to lower taxes for entrepreneurs? Because we believe in earned success. Why do we care about economic growth? To make individual opportunity possible, not simply to increase wealth. Why do we need entitlement reform? Because it is wrong to steal from our children.

History shows that big moral struggles can be won, but only when they are seen as decade-long fights and not just as a way to prevail in the next election. Welfare reform was first proposed in 1984 and regarded popularly as a nonstarter. Twelve years of hard work by scholars at my own institution and others helped make it a mainstream idea (signed into law by a Democratic president) and perhaps the best policy for helping the poor to escape poverty in our nation’s history. Political consultants would have abandoned welfare reform as unworkably audacious and politically suicidal. Real leaders understood that its moral importance transcended short-term politics.

No one deserves our political support today unless he or she is willing to work for as long as it takes to win the moral fight to steer our nation back toward enterprise and self-governance. This fight will not be easy or politically safe. But it will be a happy one: to share the values that make us proud to be Americans.”

Mr. Brooks is president of the American Enterprise Institute and author of “The Battle: How the Fight Between Free Enterprise and Big Government Will Shape America’s Future” (Basic Books, 2010).

Democrats punt the ball on real spending cuts and Boehner doesn’t do much better

The Arkansas Times Blog reported today:

Debt ceiling non-compromise updates

BOEHNER: Screaming Hell no you cant! Ah, the good old days.

  • BOEHNER: Screaming “Hell no you can’t!” Ah, the good old days.

Slate has a running update of the debt ceiling debate in Washington. So far it looks like Speaker of the House John Boehner will have the votes in the House to pass his plan. Sen. Harry Reidhas said the bill will be defeated when considered in the Senate. 

“As soon as the House completes its vote tonight, the Senate will move to take up that bill,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “It will be defeated. No Democrat will vote for a short-term Band-Aid that would put our economy at risk and put the nation back in this untenable situation a few short months from now.”

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Harry Reid and the Democrats have not lifted a finger to cut federal spending and  the markets know it. I am disappointed in Boehner’s recent attempt to get a bill together. It really does not cut spending much either. Chris Edwards of the Cato Institute takes us through the figures.

Boehner’s New Plan Doesn’t Cut Spending

Posted by Chris Edwards

House Speaker John Boehner has revised his budget plan in response to an unfavorable analysis by the CBO. The CBO has examined Boehner’s new plan and finds that it would cut spending by $917 billion over 10 years. Of the total, only $761 billion would be cuts to programs. The rest of the savings would be from reduced interest costs.

Actually, the revised Boehner plan doesn’t cut spending at all. The chart shows the discretionary spending caps in the new Boehner plan. Spending increases every year—from $1.043 trillion in 2012 to $1,234 trillion in 2021. (These figures exclude the costs of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan).

The “cuts” in the Boehner plan are only cuts from the CBO baseline, which is an assumed path of constantly rising spending. If Congress wanted to, it could require CBO to increase its “baseline” spending by, say, $5 trillion over the next decade. Then Boehner could claim that he was “cutting” spending by $5.9 trillion, even though his plan hadn’t changed. You can see that discretionary “cuts” against baselines don’t mean anything.

The way to make real spending cuts is to abolish programs and agencies. But it’s been eight months since a landslide election that focused on the issue of spending cuts, and the Republican leadership hasn’t proposed any major terminations. 

Senator Tom Coburn told us exactly where he wants to cut spending in this 620-page report. Senator Rand Paul has detailed $500 billion in specific cuts. Where are the spending cut plans of the other fiscal conservatives in Congress?

Members need to step up to the plate and tell us where they would cut the budget. (For help, they can look here). The reality of ongoing $1 trillion deficits is that Congress has to start abolishing programs, privatizing activities, and making other lasting reforms. Promising to reduce spending growth a bit from projected baseline increases won’t do the job.