Tag Archives: nancy pelosi

Do the Republicans have the guts to cut spending?

 

Sometimes I truly wonder if the Republicans have the guts to cut spending? This is what I think when  I read articles like this one below. That is also the reason I wrote the series “The Sixty Six who resisted “Sugar-coated Satan Sandwich” series. Some links below.

Will Republicans Choose Sequester Savings or a Supercommittee Surrender?

Posted by Daniel J. Mitchell

The budget fights this year began with the “shutdown” battle, followed by the Ryan budget and then the debt limit. These fights have mostly led to uninspiring kiss-your-sister outcomes, which is hardly surprising given divided government.

Now the crowd in DC is squabbling over Obama’s latest stimulus/tax-the-rich scheme, though that’s really more of a test run by the White House to determine whether class warfare will be an effective theme for  the 2012 campaign.

The real budget fight, the one we should be closely monitoring, is what will happen with the so-called Supercommittee.

To refresh your memory, this is the 12-member entity created as part of the debt limit legislation. Split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, the Supercommittee is supposed to recommend $1.2 trillion-$1.5 trillion of deficit reduction over the next 10 years. Assuming, of course, that 7 out of the 12 members can agree on anything.

There are two critical things to understand about the Supercommittee.

With these points in mind, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that the Supercommittee is designed — at least from the perspective of the left — to seduce gullible Republicans into going along with a tax hike.

In other words, the likelihood that the Supercommittee will produce a good plan is about the same as seeing me in the outfield during the World Series (the real World Series, not this one).

Fortunately, there is a way to win this fight. All Republicans have to do is…(drum roll, please)…nothing.

To be more specific, if the Supercommittee can’t get a majority for a plan, then automatic budget cuts (a process known as sequestration) will go into effect. But don’t get too excited. We’re mostly talking about the DC version of spending cuts, which simply means that spending won’t rise as fast as previously planned.

But compared to an inside-the-beltway tax-hike deal, a sequester would be a great result.

You’re probably wondering if there’s a catch. After all, if Republicans can win a huge victory for taxpayers by simply rejecting the siren song of higher taxes, then isn’t victory a foregone conclusion?

It should be, but Republicans didn’t get the reputation of being the “Stupid Party” for nothing, and they are perfectly capable of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

There are three reasons why Republicans may fumble away victory, even though they have a first down on the opponent’s one-yard line.

If GOPers sell out for either of the first two reasons, then there’s really no hope. America will become Greece and we may as well stock up on canned goods, bottled water, and ammo.

The defense issue, though, is more challenging. Republicans instinctively want more defense spending, so Democrats are trying to exploit this vulnerability. They are saying — for all intents and purposes — that the defense budget will be cut unless GOPers agree to a tax hike.

Republicans should not give in to this budgetary blackmail.

I could make a conservative case for less defense spending, by arguing that the GOP should take a more skeptical view of nation building (the approach they had in the 1990s) and that they should reconsider the value of spending huge sums of money on an outdated NATO alliance.

But I’m going to make two other points instead, in hopes of demonstrating that a sequester is acceptable from the perspective of those who favor a strong national defense.

  • First, the sequester does not take place until January 2013, so defense hawks will have ample opportunity to undo the defense cuts – either through supplemental spending bills or because the political situation changes after the 2012 elections.
  • Second, the sequester is based on dishonest Washington budget math, so the defense budget would still grow, but not as fast as previously planned.

This chart shows what will happen to the defense budget over the next 10 years, based on Congressional Budget Office data comparing “baseline” outlays to spending under a sequester.

As you can see, even with a sequester, the defense budget climbs over the 10-year period by about $100 billion. And, as noted above, that doesn’t even factor in supplemental spending bills.

In other words, America’s national defense will not be eviscerated if there is a sequester.

Here’s the bottom line. The Supercommittee battle should be a no-brainer for the GOP.

They can capitulate on taxes, causing themselves political damage, undermining the economy, and enabling bigger government.

Or they can stick to their no-tax promise, generating significant budgetary savings with a sequester, and boosting economic performance by restraining the burden of government.

 
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Brantley wrong again, Harry Reid’s austerity turns out to be fiction

Max Brantley on the Arkansas Times Blog today asserted:

Politico notes that Democratic Sen. Harry Reid’s budget plan cuts spending more than Republican John Boehner’s plan. Boehner’s two-step plan is calculated on providing a highly politicized two-step plan for raising the debt ceiling.

____________________

After a closer look at Harry Reid’s plan, it is evident that his “austerity” turns out to be fiction. I do admit that the Republican plan is not much better, but it is false to claim that the Reid plan cuts more.     “Some Austerity” by Michael D. Tanner of the Cato Institute examines Harry Reid’s plan closely: 

Michael Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and coauthor of Leviathan on the Right: How Big-Government Conservatism Brought Down the Republican Revolution.

Added to cato.org on July 27, 2011

This article appeared in the National Review (Online) on July 27, 2011.

“It is clear we must enter an age of austerity,” House minority leader Nancy Pelosi mourned as she endorsed Harry Reid’s proposal for raising the debt ceiling. Austerity? Really?

The Reid plan would theoretically cut spending by $2.7 trillion over ten years. Even if that were true, it would still allow our national debt to increase by some $10 trillion over the next decade. But, of course, the $2.7 trillion figure is mostly fiction. About $1 trillion of the savings would come from the eventual end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, savings that were going to occur anyway. Senator Reid might just as well have added another $1 trillion in savings by not invading Pakistan.

Another $400 billion comes not from cuts but from assuming reduced interest payments. And, of course, there are $40 billion in unspecified “program-integrity savings,” meaning the “waste, fraud, and abuse” that is the last refuge of every phony budget cutter. The plan rejects any changes to Medicare and Social Security, despite the fact that the unfunded liabilities from those two programs could run as high as $110 trillion. But those liabilities generally fall outside the ten-year budget window, so Reid — unlike our children and grandchildren — doesn’t have to worry about them.

[U]nder both the Reid and Boehner plans, actual federal spending will continue to rise.

That leaves about $1.2 trillion in discretionary and defense spending reductions over the next ten years. Let’s put that in perspective. This year the federal government will spend $3.8 trillion. Our deficit is roughly $1.6 trillion. Our national debt exceeds $14.3 trillion, not counting unfunded entitlement liabilities. We are talking about raising the debt ceiling to $16.9 trillion. This month alone the federal government will borrow $134 billion. Reid’s cuts would average roughly $120 billion per year.

This is austerity?

Of course, the House Republican plan as announced by Speaker John Boehner is only marginally more austere.

Boehner proposes a two-stage increase in the debt ceiling, with each stage accompanied by spending cuts. The first $1 trillion debt increase would be accompanied by $1.2 trillion in spending cuts over ten years, pretty much the same as Senator Reid’s plan. The big difference is that instead of Sen. Reid’s phony Iraq and Afghanistan savings, the speaker’s plan would appoint a commission — now there’s an exciting new idea — to propose $1.8 trillion in savings from entitlement programs. To be fair, Senator Reid would also appoint a commission — because that’s what Washington does — to recommend additional deficit reductions, presumably including entitlement changes. The difference is that the Boehner commission has teeth. If Congress rejects its recommendations, the president doesn’t get a second $1.6 trillion hike in the debt ceiling.

But $1.8 trillion in entitlement savings over ten years is still too small to encompass real structural reforms of the type envisioned by Rep. Paul Ryan and others. It is much more likely to simply be more tweaking around the edges, perhaps raising the eligibility age or changing the way the cost-of-living formula is calculated. True, changes such as these will have a real impact out beyond the ten-year budget window, but they fall far short of what is necessary to deal with the shortfalls to come.

Making matters worse, both Reid and Boehner are using the time-honored Washington dodge of “baseline budgeting,” meaning that the proposed cuts are not actual reductions in spending from year to year, but cuts from projected future increases. Thus, under both the Reid and Boehner plans, actual federal spending will continue to rise.

With the clock running out, we are now down to fifth- or sixth-best options. But let’s not pretend that this is austerity.