All Articles Tagged "federal budget"
(New York Times) — As Senator Bernard Sanders toured Vermont by helicopter on Tuesday to assess the damage from what he said could be his state’s worst-ever natural disaster, the idea of cutting other federal programs to aid towns pummeled by Hurricane Irene was stoking his outrage. “To say that the only way you can come up with funding to rebuild devastated communities is to cut back on other desperately needed programs is totally absurd,” said Mr. Sanders, an independent, responding to a call by leading Republicans to balance any financial relief with spending reductions elsewhere. “Historically in this country we have understood that when communities and states experience disasters, we as a nation come together to address those. “That is what being a nation is about,” he said in an interview.
(AJC) — When federal budget cuts roll around, Georgia and metro Atlanta probably won’t feel as much sting as other parts of the nation because Uncle Sam hasn’t been particularly generous around here anyway, statistics show. The state ranked third from the bottom in the amount the federal government spent per resident in 2009, the latest figures available. At $8,538 per person, federal expenditure in Georgia was higher than in Utah and Nevada, but far behind the nation’s top recipients — Alaska, Virginia and Hawaii — which got roughly $20,000 per resident, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
(Wall Street Journal) — A backup plan to cut the federal deficit and keep the U.S. government from default gained momentum Thursday even as President Barack Obama and congressional leaders paused their negotiations to determine if they can reach a deal. Ratcheting higher the pressure on Washington to strike a deal, Standard & Poor’s for the first time said there was a 50% chance it would downgrade its rating of long-term U.S. debt within three months because the chances of default were “increasing” and the political debate about deficit reduction and the debt ceiling had “only become more entangled.” The U.S. has had a AAA bond-rating from S&P for 70 years. The so-called Plan B is taking shape in quiet discussions between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) and Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), away from unhappy House Republicans who don’t favor the approach. It would link a package of spending cuts to a plan Mr. McConnell proposed earlier this week that would give the president the power to raise the debt limit through 2012 in three installments, unless two-thirds of Congress voted to block it. It likely wouldn’t include any tax increases, a senior Democratic aide familiar with the discussions said.
(USA Today) — You’re walking across the street, minding your own business, when you look up and see a tractor-trailer bearing down on you. It should stop, you think. Suddenly, you realize that there’s a good chance it won’t stop. What do you do? Investors are getting a similar feeling of impending doom as the deadline for Congress to raise the debt limit approaches. “People are getting more uneasy because of all the rhetoric on the airwaves,” says Lance Roberts, CEO of Streettalk Advisors, a Houston investment firm. What should you do? The overwhelming likelihood is that Congress will eventually act and the U.S. won’t default. Until it does, you can expect increasing volatility in the stock, bond and commodity markets. If you’re tired of the roller coaster, consider moving some — not all — of your portfolio into short-term money market securities or bank accounts. You should have enough cash available for your short-term living expenses, anyway.
(The Hill) – Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) said Thursday morning that government spending cuts will end up hurting African Americans disproportionately. In comments on the House floor, Rangel warned blacks would be disproportionately affected because many African-Americans have sought work in the public sector for reasons related to job security.
(The Grio) — As President Obama hopes for a ”positive” meeting today with top lawmakers from both parties while discussing the budget deficit and the possibility of raising the debt ceiling, there are already rumblings of impeachment before any executive decisions have been made. The stakes in this issue are high, and whatever is decided about the debt limit has the potential to affect every U.S. citizen, which has stirred strong emotions, especially in the GOP party. In less than four weeks, the U.S. government will not be allowed to borrow more money because it will reach its statutory debt limit, or ceiling. There isn’t enough funding to pay the debt and government programs, and the president is attempting to gain bipartisan support to raise the debt ceiling in order to borrow more money and avoid defaulting on these financial obligations.
For all intents and purposes the current budget negotiations have been a dialogue among the wealthy while the rest of us pretty much sit mute on the sidelines.
In one corner you have Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan and the House Republicans’ absurd and vicious attack on the poor and working class 2012 budget plan, also known as A Roadmap for America’s Future, which has basically declared war on Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment insurance, and anything else benefiting people in their time of need. Ryan’s plan also proposes to keep taxes below 20 percent of GDP and keep military spending at about the same.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is the White House’s budget plan, which honestly is not all that opposite, but rather a pacified version of the Ryan plan, which would mean major reductions in entitlement programs and other civilian spending. The White House is also proposing to keep most of the Bush-era tax cuts in place, which means more for the top one percent while the rest of us chomp down on Maria Antoinette cake.
But there is a glimmer of hope, and I’m talking about real hope not that campaign slogan stuff. The Congressional Progressive Caucus, which includes 80 members of both House and Senate, want to institute a little economic affirmative action into the mock budget debate, currently underway in Washington.
It’s called the People’s Budget and it plans to do major great things. Co-signed by the likes of Rep. Maxine Waters and Sen. Bernie Sanders, that the plan concedes that the deficit can be eliminated in 10 years while protecting government benefits to the poor and working class. Among the things promised is a plan to eliminate the Bush-era tax cuts, funding for the wars overseas and corporate welfare for oil, gas, and coal companies. The plan also calls for $1.7 million investments in job creation, education, clean energy and broadband infrastructure. Sounds too good – or shall I say costly – to be true? Well, according to the drafters the plan can be funded by creating a Fairer Tax System, which would create new tax brackets with a range of 45% for earners of $1 million, to 49% for those with $1 billion or more. Moreover, by closing loopholes for multinational corporations and a financial speculation tax on derivatives and foreign exchange, the drafters believe that the US could save an upwards of $5.6 trillion – more than enough surplus needed to pay for job creation and other civilian benefits.
The People’s Budget plan has already been endorsed by world-renowned economists like Dr. Jeffrey Sachs and Paul Krugman and according to the Economy Policy Institute, the plan is not only achievable but could run lower deficits and place public debt on a more sustainable trajectory than either Ryan’s and the House Republican’s plan or the president’s budgets. So why has there been virtually no serious discussion in the mainstream media or push from the Democrats in Washington for the People’s Budget?
Because of what we already know but kind of tippy-toe around admitting: Both the Democrats and the Republicans, particularly so-called centrist Democrats and far-right Republicans, straddle the lines of it’s core values but ultimately bend to the demands of their wealthy campaign contributors. So Republicans and Democrats, who are in a continuous cycle of campaigning, do what many politicians up for re-election do and that is engage in deficit cutting measures, which won’t offend their corporate sponsors, such as spending on the poor rather than raising taxes on the rich and cutting military spending. The end result is always legislative deals, which tend to represent corporate interest over what is most beneficial to the actual tax paying citizens. Not to mention the overall media blackout and cynicism of the plan, including a writer for Forbes who called the People’s Budget a mirror image of the House-passed fiscal plan. “While the House GOP budget shows what happens when you try to slash the deficit with only spending cuts, the left’s budget shows what happens when you just raise taxes and cut defense spending.” However, Ryan’s plan is being met with serious discussion including the bipartisan proposed slashes to Medicare. But what part of the progressive budget has been taken with any serious consideration?
None of it because in the immortal words of Tupac Shakur “they got money for war but can’t feed the poor.” Even as President Obama is expecting to announce a drawdown of soldiers in Afghanistan, we still have two wars, one “humanitarian effort” in Libya and brewing tension in other parts of the Middle East, which will ultimately cost the American people. Which is why it is important the American people take up the fight of championing The People’s Budget. It is remarkable that the budget was able to gain traction in the House the way that it has. Unfortunately, and this just might be the cynic in me, it will probably be DOA in the Senate. But the idealists in me wants to believe that despite the rhetoric that caring for a population was too costly to be realistic, this budget could proves otherwise.
(The Hill) — The Democratic women of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) are urging their Senate colleagues to fight harder for reproductive healthcare rights in the District of Columbia. In a May 3 letter to the Democratic women of the Senate, the CBC members said they were “deeply disappointed” when Democrats agreed last month to a 2011 continuing resolution (CR) that included language barring D.C. from using local taxpayer dollars to fund abortion services for low-income women. The CBC members said those women were “sacrificed” for the sake of a spending deal, which was negotiated by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and the White House. ”The poor women in the District have already begun to feel the terrible effects of the rider,” the letter said. “Abortions are time-sensitive, and scores of women scheduled for District-funded abortions at a Planned Parenthood clinic immediately had their appointments canceled. This paradox cannot be overlooked.”
(USA Today) — President Obama expanded on his fiscal message Wednesday at a virtual town hall meeting at Facebook’s headquarters here. In what felt like a campaign stop, streamed live on the White House’s Facebook page, Obama discussed the budget deficit, fiscal responsibility, investments in technology, health-care reform, the housing crisis and the power of social media. ”If we don’t have a serious (plan) to attack the deficit, we will have an even bigger problem” of investors pulling back when the economy starts to perk up, Obama said. “We could slip back into a recession.” ”The Republican budget put forward is fairly radical, but I would not call it courageous,” he said. The one-hour event was moderated by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who wore a jacket and tie—instead of his customary hoodie. Obama spent as much time talking about raising federal revenue as cutting excessive spending.
(Washington Examiner) — Congress largely insulated the Washington region from $38 billion in federal budget cuts, allowing a plan to restore the Chesapeake Bay to move forward and appropriating $300 million to help ease traffic around military sites in Bethesda and Fort Belvoir. The $1.05 trillion budget deal struck late Friday night — for which details began to emerge Tuesday — saves many of the programs that the Republican-led House slashed in February. The budget deal axes language that would have blocked the Environmental Protection Agency from carrying out its Chesapeake Bay cleanup program. It also further allocates $300 million for road and transit improvements surrounding Bethesda’s National Naval Medical Center and Fairfax County’s Fort Belvoir, areas that are expected to attract thousands more workers and visitors under the Base Realignment and Closure process. The proposal restores $150 million in planned cuts to Metro. Without the federal funding, the Metro system would have lost $50 million in matching grants from Maryland, Virginia and the District.