Tag: budget

Dec 09

Of Shoes And Ships And Sealing-Wax

The government may be facing a shutdown by the Senate Democrats and with good reason. It seems the House Republicans, in passing a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government operational through April 2017, removed two provisions that could result in a filibuster in the Senate. Those provisions would protect the health coverage of retired …

Continue reading »

Feb 28

The Truth About the Pentagon’s New Budget

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced that the upcoming Pentagon budget would focus on the 21st century realities of warfare with more emphasis on targeted assassinations and cyberwarfare. It also cuts the strength of the Army to pre-World War Two levels relying more heavily on the National Guard.

   Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel plans to shrink the United States Army to its smallest force since before the World War II buildup and eliminate an entire class of Air Force attack jets in a new spending proposal that officials describe as the first Pentagon budget to aggressively push the military off the war footing adopted after the terror attacks of 2001 [..]

   The new American way of war will be underscored in Mr. Hagel’s budget, which protects money for Special Operations forces and cyberwarfare. And in an indication of the priority given to overseas military presence that does not require a land force, the proposal will – at least for one year – maintain the current number of aircraft carriers at 11.

The Guard and Reserves, which proved capable in their wartime deployments although costly to train to meet the standards of their full-time counterparts, would face smaller reductions. But the Guard would see its arsenal reshaped.

The Guard’s Apache attack helicopters would be transferred to the active-duty Army, which would transfer its Black Hawk helicopters to the Guard. The rationale is that Guard units have less peacetime need for the bristling array of weapons on the Apache and would put the Black Hawk – a workhorse transport helicopter – to use in domestic disaster relief.

The proposed budget would also eliminate the old U-2 spy plane in favor of unmanned drones and eliminate the entire fleet of Air Force A-10 attack aircraft. However, it does keep the allocations for the controversial F-35 warplane, which has been extremely expensive and has run into costly delays, that the Air Force says it doesn’t want.

There will be pain for the troops, too.

The fiscal 2015 budget also calls for slowing the growth of tax-free housing allowances for military personnel and would reduce the $1.4 billion direct subsidy provided to military commissaries, which would most likely make goods purchased at those commissaries more expensive for soldiers.

The budget also proposes an increase in health insurance deductibles and some co-pays for some military retirees and for some family members of active servicemen.

The savings on groceries will reduced, costing a military family as much as $3000 per year, and pay raises will be capped:

Besides paring back grocery savings, the Pentagon would also cap military pay raises at 1% in 2015 and trim housing subsidies for families who don’t live on bases. They will also no longer be reimbursed for rental insurance.

Families are likely to feel the sharpest pain every week when they shop for their grocery. By the end of the third year, the savings will be slashed by about two-thirds, a senior defense official acknowledged on Monday.

Currently, a family of four can save $4,500 a year at commissaries on average, according to the Defense Commissary Agency, which puts savings around 30% compared to retail grocery stores. Under the new proposal, the savings for a similar family would be closer to $1,500 a year or 10% of a grocery bill at other stores.

Despite these cuts and the claims, this hardly an austerity budget still exceeding the budgets of next ten military budgets in the world combined.

A better idea, as suggested by DSWright at FDL News Desk would be “to rethink 800 military bases and a $700 billion annual budget to defend against an enemy that no longer exists.” But the fear mongers will persist regardless:

Despite ‘historic’ cuts, the US will still have 450,000 active-duty soldiers

By Michael Cohen, The Guardian

The Pentagon is able to maintain a bloated and extravagant military force even when the US faces no actual security threats

Rather than a reflection of a changing global security environment, the growing and continued obsolescence of inter-state war and the country’s lack of interest in future military adventures, the cuts announced yesterday by Hagel are an indication of something else altogether: how tenaciously the Pentagon is able to maintain a bloated and extravagant military force even when the US faces no actual security threats.

Indeed, what was missing from yesterday’s headlines was some much needed context. For example, “smallest size since 1940” sounds, on the surface, like quite a step back. Did Neville Chamberlain rise from his grave and become president of the United States? Let’s put aside for a second that the size of the army in 1940 was about 270,000 and the Marine Corps stood at about 30,000 – a far cry from the proposed 180,000 today.

The truth is the military budget is still bloated with wasted tax dollars that could got to rebuilding the US infrastructure that would create jobs increasing economic growth and reducing income disparity.

Dec 18

The Rich Get Richer: Embrace the Suck

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The Senate will pass the budget bill that was approved by the House last week. It passes the hurdle of cloture with a “bipartisan” vote of 67 – 33. The bill leaves a lump of coal in the stockings of 1.5 million Americans whose unemployment benefits expire the end of December and future career servicemen and women whose cost of living increases to their pensions will be cut. But the Pentagon will get their due and so will the 1%.

Ryan-Murray Budget Deal Passes Senate Hurdle

By DSWright, FDL News Desk

The truly horrendous Ryan-Murray budget has passed the Senate clearing the way to fully pass Congress this week. The deal restores war spending to astronomical levels while cutting federal pensions and raising airline fees. In other words, cash for defense contractors and groin kicks for the middle class. [..]

Why any Democrat would vote for such an awful reactionary budget is beyond comprehension. According to Nancy Pelosi Democrats had to “embrace the suck.” Otherwise things might not suck? [..]

We truly have the best government money can buy. The naked corruption on display in dumping oceans of cash into the Pentagon patronage den while attacking worker pensions and leaving the unemployed to rot is proof positive that we live in a deranged oligarchy where money is everything and the people are nothing.

“Makes Absolutely No Sense”: David Cay Johnston on Budget Deal That Helps Billionaires, Not the Poor

A bipartisan budget deal to avert another government shutdown comes before the Senate this week. The vast majority of House members from both parties approved the two-year budget agreement last week in a 332-to-94 vote. It is being hailed as a breakthrough compromise for Democrats and Republicans. The bill eases across-the-board spending cuts, replacing them with new airline fees and cuts to federal pensions. In a concession by Democrats, it does not extend unemployment benefits for 1.3 million people, which are set to expire this month. To discuss the deal, we are joined by David Cay Johnston, an investigative reporter who won a Pulitzer Prize while at The New York Times. He is currently a columnist for Tax Analysts and Al Jazeera, as well as a contributing editor at Newsweek.



Full transcript can be read here

Once again the vast majority are Scrooged.

Apr 12

Say No to Cuts to Social Security

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

President Obama formerly released his budget for 2014. As, expected it contained the cuts to Social Security and Medicare that have are an anathema to the left. As has been pointed out before on this site, these proposals for the sake a few dollars in revenue increases and a paltry $50 billion investment for infrastructure improvement. That is bad policy and even worse politics. If you don’t believe that, well here is a sample of the criticism from the right:

Americans for Tax Reform, the advocacy group that asks lawmakers to sign a formal “Taxpayer Protection Pledge,” said Tuesday that chained CPI violates the pledge.

“Chained CPI as a stand-alone measure (that is, not paired with tax relief of equal or greater size) is a tax increase and a Taxpayer Protection Pledge violation,” the group said in a blog post.

Anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist, leader of the organization, criticized the policy via Twitter on Wednesday. “Chained CPI is a very large tax hike over time,” Norquist wrote. “Hence Democrat interest in same.”

The Congressional Budget Office estimates (pdf) that chained CPI would reduce Social Security spending by $127 billion and increase tax revenue by $123 billion over 10 years.

When asked Friday if chained CPI represents a tax hike on the middle class, White House spokesman Jay Carney said, “I’m not disputing that.

Can you hear the political ads attacking Democrats with this? So much for electoral victory in 2014, Obama just sold that prospect for what? Trying to make the point that Republicans are intransigent? American already know that. A few dollars of revenue from tax reforms that will be changed the first chance the Republicans get, like the debt ceiling hostage situation? We seen this scene played out how many times with Obama caving to Republican demands because some vague fear about the economy.

Predictably the left is outraged and there are threats from left wing organizations to primary any Democrat who votes for chained CPI.

A party rift on Obama budget

Warren joins lawmakers in criticizing Obama budget

A coalition of prominent Democrats, including many from New England, slammed President Obama’s $3.8 trillion budget blueprint Wednesday for its proposed changes to the Social Security payment formula and Medicare, opening a widening rift between the president and members of his own party.

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said she was shocked by Obama’s proposal to recalculate the cost of living adjustment for Social Security beneficiaries by linking it to a different version of the Consumer Price Index, known as the “chained CPI.” [..]

“In short, ‘chained CPI’ is just a fancy way to say ‘cut benefits for seniors, the permanently disabled, and orphans,'” Warren fired off in an e-mail to supporters. She related the experience of her brother, David Herring, a military veteran and former small business owner who lives on monthly Social Security checks of $1,100. “Our Social Security system is critical to protecting middle-class families,” she wrote, “and we cannot allow it to be dismantled inch by inch.” [..]

Representative Edward Markey of Massachusetts called “chained CPI” an abbreviation for “Cutting People’s Income, a wrong-headed change that would go back on the promise we make to our senior citizens.”

“Tea Party Republicans may have pushed the president into many of these difficult decisions, but it still does not make this budget right nor fair, especially for those Americans who need help the most,” Markey said.

MSNBC’s All In host Chris Hayes discussed the chained CPI with Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Jonathan Alter, Heather McGhee, and Mattie Duppler, Americans for Tax Reform.

Transcript for this video can be read here

This a direct attack by a Democratic president on our earned benefits. Time to start calling and don’t stop until this deal is dead and buried.

The White House switchboard is 202-456-1414.

The comments line is 202-456-1111.

Numbers for the Senate are here.

Numbers for the House are here.

h/t Susie Madrak at Crooks and Liars

Apr 10

What’s Being Said About Social Security Cuts

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Before we even start to talk about the Social Security cuts in President Obama’s budget in his quest for a “grand bargain” with Republicans, bit the president and House Speaker John Boehner have admitted there is no deficit crisis. As a matter of fact, the deficit has fallen faster in the last three years than it has since World War II

In fact, outside of that post-WWII era, the only time the deficit has fallen faster was when the economy relapsed in 1937, turning the Great Depression into a decade-long affair.

If U.S. history offers any guide, we are already testing the speed limits of a fiscal consolidation that doesn’t risk backfiring. That’s why the best way to address the fiscal cliff likely is to postpone it. [..]

While long-term deficit reduction is important and deficits remain very large by historical standards, the reality is that the government already has its foot on the brakes.

In this sense, the “fiscal cliff” metaphor is especially poor. The government doesn’t need to apply the brakes with more force to avoid disaster. Rather the “cliff” is an artificial one that has sprung up because the two parties are able to agree on so little.

That’s right, the “fiscal cliff”, ‘the deficit” crisis are MYTHS.

Now here is what digby said:

Greg Sargent has frequently made the case that liberals are going to have to choose between the sequester cuts and the Grand Bargain and therefore will need to make the affirmative case for why they are choosing the sequester. [..]

And Greg is probably right that if the Republicans are smart enough to take yes for an answer, the liberals in the House will face the wrath of their Party apparatus and the president (and the liberal establishment) if they end up voting against a Grand Bargain. [..]

This, on the other hand, is a choice between two negatives.  Essentially, as before, the White House and the Democratic centrists are holding hostages but this time they’re basically telling the progressives that a hostage is going to get shot no matter what: Head Start and food inspections today or the elderly, the sick and the veterans tomorrow and they have to choose which one.  Why should progressives bear that responsibility? They didn’t get us into this mess.

I say they should just say no. Republicans do it all the time and everybody just throws up their hands and says, “well, I guess we’d better figure out something else.” They should hold fast and say “the sequester sucks and so does the Grand Bargain and we don’t support either one.” Most of the progressives didn’t vote for the sequester in the first place and bear no responsibility for it.  (And even those who did have no obligation to defend the monster that everyone assured them had no chance of ever becoming law.) This is a failure of the leadership of both parties and progressives are not required to betray their most fundamental values and defend any of these ridiculous cuts to anyone.

Just say no.  The “sequester vs Grand Bargain” is a phony construct made by man, not God, and there’s no reason on earth why any progressive should be forced to own either one. Find another way.

Now matter how you view the cut to Social Security by linking it to the Chained CPI, it is bad policy and even worse politics that will be forever linked to A democratic president, Barack Obama. He owns it. It’s too late to put that back in the can, even if the Republicans reject it out of hand. But worse than that, every Democrat now owns it, too.

Apr 06

Obama Budget: From Bad to Worse

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Pres. Barack Obama has released his proposed budget that include cuts Medicare and linking Social Security payments to Chained CPI in hopes (there is that ugly word again) of gaining “bipartisan” (another bad word) from Congressional Republicans. Never mind that the fact that the majority of voters do not want cuts to the top three social safety programs, the president is willing to sacrifice the disable, veterans and the elderly for a few tax changes that even if passed, would most likely be reversed in the next six months. This is not “compromise,” it is a sell out of the majority of Americans.

Huffington Post‘s Sam Stein has the breakdown of the proposal that will be releases in all its full gory details next Wednesday:

   

  • The budget would reduce the deficit by $1.8 trillion over ten years — $600 billion of this reduction would come from revenue raisers, and $1.2 trillion would come from spending reductions and entitlement reforms;
  • It would change the benefit structure of Social Security (chained-CPI);
  • It would means test additional programs in Medicare;
  • All told, it would include $400 billion in health care savings (or cuts);
  • It would cut $200 billion from other areas, identified by The New York Times as “farm subsidies, federal employee retirement programs, the Postal Services and the unemployment compensation system;”
  • It would pay for expanded access to pre-K (an Obama priority) by increasing the tobacco tax;
  • It would set limits on tax-preferred retirement accounts for the wealthy, prohibiting individuals from putting more than $3 million in IRAs and other tax-preferred retirement accounts;
  • And it would stop people from collecting full disability benefits and unemployment benefits that cover the same period of time.

Dean Baker shows that these cuts over time are worse for seniors than for the rich:

By comparison, Social Security is about 70 percent of the income of a typical retiree. Since President Obama’s proposal would lead to a 3 percent cut in Social Security benefits, it would reduce the income of the typical retiree by more than 2.0 percent, more than three times the size of the hit from the tax increase to the wealthy.

Chained CPI impact on Income photo btp-chained-cpi-obama_zpsdeb1873b.jpg

The congressional Democratic apologists insist that “certain lines won’t be crossed” which translates that if Republicans realize they can get the cuts to “entitlements’ that they want by temporarily sacrificing the tax and revenue increases this is a done deal.

The president is willing to agree to the entitlement cuts only in exchange for tax hikes in other areas.

“The president has made clear that he is willing to compromise and do tough things to reduce the deficit, but only in the context of a package like this one that has balance and includes revenues from the wealthiest Americans and that is designed to promote economic growth,” the administration official said. “That means that the things like CPI that Republican Leaders have pushed hard for will only be accepted if Congressional Republicans are willing to do more on revenues.”

This is political suicide for Democrats up for election. The Republicans will forever blame Democrats for destroying these programs.

As Paul Krugman points out, this makes no sense other than just Pres. Obama’s need to seek approval of the “Serious People:”

So what’s this about? The answer, I fear, is that Obama is still trying to win over the Serious People, by showing that he’s willing to do what they consider Serious – which just about always means sticking it to the poor and the middle class. The idea is that they will finally drop the false equivalence, and admit that he’s reasonable while the GOP is mean-spirited and crazy.

But it won’t happen.

No, that won’t happen because underneath it all this is what Obama has wanted all along and has continuously said so since 2006. It’s not the GOP that is “mean-spirited and crazy” it’s Obama.

Mar 19

The Three Budgets

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Like the tale of the three bears, the congressional budget battle has three budget proposals one from the House Republicans penned by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), chair of the House Budget Committee; another from the Senate Democrats that was worked out by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), chair of the Senate Budget Committee; and a third called the “Back to Work” budget presented by the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Each one has is proponents and opponents and, like that bear tale, it has one that’s too hard, one that’s too soft and one that’s just right.

Paul Ryan’s budget, which is getting the most press, the most negative reaction and is “dead on arrival” so to speak, is a rehash of his last two budgets only worse. The proposal would slash Medicare, Medicaid and repeals Obamacare, which even Fox News host Chris Wallace acknowledges, isn’t happening. It proposes balancing the federal budget with the usual draconian cuts to all non-defense spending and reduction of the already smaller federal work force by another 10%. The Ryan proposal would slash $4.6 trillion over 10 years. The budget plan includes no cuts in Social Security. Pres. Obama has suggested changing an inflation measurement to cut more than $100 billion from the program, which makes no sense since Social Security does not contribute to the debt or the deficit.

The there is the Senate Budget proposal which the Republican leadership insisted the Democrats produce even though, constitutionally, all budget and spending bills must originate in the House. That budget  would seek $975 billion in spending reductions over the next 10 years as well as $975 billion in new tax revenue, which Sen. Murray said would be raised by “closing loopholes and cutting unfair spending in the tax code for those who need it the least.” It includes a $100 billion in spending on infrastructure repair and educational improvements and the creation of a public-private infrastructure bank.

Then there is that third budget proposal from the House Progressive Caucus that is just right balance of spending, revenue increases and spending cuts. The basic plan is the put Americans back to work, by as Ezra Klein explains fixing the jobs crisis:

It begins with a stimulus program that makes the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act look tepid: $2.1 trillion in stimulus and investment from 2013-2015, including a $425 billion infrastructure program, a $340 billion middle-class tax cut, a $450 billion public-works initiative, and $179 billion in state and local aid. [..]

Investment on this scale will add trillions to the deficit. But the House Progressives have an answer for that: Higher taxes. About $4.2 trillion in higher taxes over the next decade, to be exact. The revenues come from raising marginal tax rates on high-income individuals and corporations, but also from closing a raft of deductions as well as adding a financial transactions tax and a carbon tax. They also set up a slew of super-high tax rates for the very rich, including a top rate of 49 percent on incomes over $1 billion.

But to the House Progressives, these taxes aren’t just about reducing the deficit – though they do set debt-to-GDP on a declining path. They’re also about reducing inequality and cutting carbon emissions and slowing down the financial sector. They’re not just raising revenues, but trying to solve other problems. But they might create other problems, too. Adding this many taxes to the economy all at once is likely to slow economic growth.

As for the spending side, there’s more than $900 billion in defense cuts, as well as a public option that can bargain down prices alongside Medicare. But this budget isn’t about cutting spending. Indeed, the House Progressives add far more spending than they cut.

On Sunday’s Up w/ Chris Hayes, host Chris Hayes discussed the various budget proposals released by Republicans and Democrats in Congress this week with his guests Representative Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ); Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY); Sam Seder, host of The Majority Report, co-host of Ring of Fire; and Heidi Moore, economics and finance editor for The Guardian newspaper.

Nov 05

Damn Those Stinking Facts

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The Report the GOP doesn’t want to be seen: “All the hues of a banana republic”

The Congressional Research Service has withdrawn an economic report that found no correlation between top tax rates and economic growth, a central tenet of conservative economic theory, after Senate Republicans raised concerns about the paper’s findings and wording.

The decision, made in late September against the advice of the agency’s economic team leadership, drew almost no notice at the time. Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, cited the study a week and a half after it was withdrawn in a speech on tax policy at the National Press Club.

But it could actually draw new attention to the report, which questions the premise that lowering the top marginal tax rate stimulates economic growth and job creation.

“This has hues of a banana republic,” Mr. Schumer said. “They didn’t like a report, and instead of rebutting it, they had them take it down.”

The GOP was upset that the report confirmed what most of us already know: Tax cuts for the wealthy have no effect on the economy and don’t create jobs. But, hey if you don’t like the facts them bury them. Writing at The Maddow Blog, Steve Benen explained that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell insisted the report be withdrawn because people outside of Congress concerns about the report. Those concerns were raised by conservatives from think tanks such as The Heritage Foundation who oppose tax increases on the one percent.

It’s important to understand that the Congressional Research Service, generally recognized as Congress’ own think tank, has a well-deserved reputation for non-partisanship. The CRS is counted on to provide lawmakers with the most reliable and accurate information available, and the notion that partisan lawmakers can pressure, censor, and possibly even intimidate independent researchers is simply unacceptable.

In other words, we just can’t have public offices’ scholarship being stifled because Republicans find reality politically inconvenient. Our system of government isn’t supposed to work this way.

Nor as Benen continues is the first time a report has been stifled by Republicans because it was politically inconvenient and didn’t fit their policy agenda.

This was consistently one of the more offensive hallmarks of the Bush/Cheney era. In 2005, for example, after a government report showed an increase in terrorism around the world, the administration announced it would stop publishing its annual report on international terrorism. Reality proved problematic, so rather than addressing the problem, the Republican administration decided to hide the reality.

Soon after, the Bush administration was discouraged by data about factory closings in the U.S., the administration announced it would stop publishing information about factory closings.

When Bush’s Department of Education found that charter schools were underperforming, the administration said it would sharply cut back on the information it collects about charter schools.

The Bush administration worked from a strange assumption: if we get rid of the data pointing to a problem, maybe the problem won’t look so bad. It redefined ridiculous governing, but it seemed to make Republicans feel better to bury their heads in the sand. If a report tells you something you don’t want to hear, the obvious move is to get rid of the report.

“If a report tells you something you don’t want to hear, the obvious move is to get rid of the report”, yeah, that works.

Taxes and the Economy: An Economic Analysis of the Top Tax Rates since 1945

CRS Report: Top Tax Rates

Aug 17

How to Kill Grandma and Grandpa Faster; or, Paul Ryan’s Gonads

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

In April of 2011, Rollingstone‘s contributing editor Matt Taibbi wrote a piece about Paul Ryan and budget proposal titled, Tax Cuts for the Rich on the Backs of the Middle Class; or, Paul Ryan has Balls

I heartily laughed at Matt’s description of Paul Ryan:

Paul Ryan, the Republican Party’s latest entrant in the seemingly endless series of young, prickish, over-coiffed, anal-retentive deficit Robespierres they’ve sent to the political center stage in the last decade or so, has come out with his new budget plan. All of these smug little jerks look alike to me – from Ralph Reed to Eric Cantor to Jeb Hensarling to Rand Paul and now to Ryan, they all look like overgrown kids who got nipple-twisted in the halls in high school, worked as Applebee’s shift managers in college, and are now taking revenge on the world as grownups by defunding hospice care and student loans and Sesame Street. They all look like they sleep with their ties on, and keep their feet in dress socks when doing their bi-monthly duty with their wives.

You have to admit that is scathingly accurate.

I thought of my own Tea Party House “Rat”, Michael Grimm. Grimm a former FBI agent and freshman representative from New York’s newly redrawn 11th who is currently the target of a federal grand jury investigation into the fundraising for his 2010 campaign. He fits Matt’s description to a tee.

Although Grimm is not a member of the Tea Party Caucus, he has voted lock step with them. When Grimm voted for Ryan’s first budget plan which called for a fix voucher and cuts to Medicaid that that would hurt the poor and elderly, Staten Island Tea Partiers were vocally upset with him. But I can almost guarantee they will give him a second chance to screw them, and everyone else, come November.

Back to Matt’s article. With his wry wit, he goes on to describe Ryan’s goal to reduce taxes for the wealthiest by asking seniors to cut back on their health care in order to pay for those tax breaks. That takes balls.

Never mind that each time the Republicans actually come into power, federal deficit spending explodes and these whippersnappers somehow never get around to touching Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. The key is that for the many years before that moment of truth, before these buffoons actually get a chance to put their money where their lipless little mouths are, they will stomp their feet and scream about how entitlements are bringing us to the edge of apocalypse.

The problem, of course, is that to actually make significant cuts in what is left of the “welfare state,” one has to cut Medicare and Medicaid, programs overwhelmingly patronized by white people, and particularly white seniors. So when the time comes to actually pull the trigger on the proposed reductions, the whippersnappers are quietly removed from the stage and life goes on as usual, i.e. with massive deficit spending on defense, upper-class tax cuts, bailouts, corporate subsidies, and big handouts to Pharma and the insurance industries.

This is a political game that gets played out in the media over and over again, and everyone in Washington knows how it works. Which is why it’s nauseating (but not surprising) to see so many commentators falling over themselves with praise for Ryan’s “bold” budget proposal, which is supposedly a ballsy piece of politics because it proposes backdoor cuts in Medicare and Medicaid by redounding their appropriations to the states and to block grants. Ryan is being praised for thusly taking on seniors, a traditionally untouchable political demographic .

Medicaid cuts that would deeply effect the elderly are never discussed by the media, even now with Ryan the presumptive Republican vice presidential nominee:

While the Republican vice-presidential candidate is careful to avoid touching Medicare benefits for anyone at or near retirement, his budget would impose immediate cuts to Medicaid, the health-care program for the poor that funds nursing-home care and other benefits for 6 million U.S. seniors. [..]

The proposed Medicaid changes are often overlooked amid the debate over Ryan’s Medicare plan, which has taken center stage in the presidential contest since the Wisconsin congressman was chosen as Mitt Romney’s running mate on Aug. 11. It’s politically important because those 65 and older are a crucial voting bloc. [..]

Health-care policy specialists say it’s politically easier to cut Medicaid because most voters don’t understand it. [..]

Many middle-income Americans who may be unfamiliar with Medicaid end up relying on the program in their old age because they exhaust their assets. Medicare doesn’t cover long-term care so they turn to Medicaid, which does. [..].

Without Medicaid, current and future Medicare recipients would be in deep financial trouble, as would nursing homes and hospitals that would be under obligation to treat them even if they lack coverage. Ryan’s budget would do this just to give the top 2% another tax cut that wouldn’t even be covered by the cuts.

In his last paragraph, Matt say this about Ryan and his budget:

The absurd thing is that Ryan’s act isn’t even politically courageous. It’s canny calculation, but courage it is not. It would be courageous if Ryan were, say, the president of the United States, and leaning on that budget with his full might. But Ryan is proposing a budget he knows would have no chance of passing in the Senate. He is simply playing out a part, a non-candidate for the presidency pushing a rhetorical flank for an out-of-power party leading into a presidential campaign year. If the budget is a hit with the public, the 2012 Republican candidate can run on it. If it isn’t, the Republican candidate can triangulate Ryan’s ass back into the obscurity from whence it came, and be done with him.

All Paul Ryan has are his “balls” because he certainly doesn’t have a heart or a conscience.

So much for obscurity. Little did Matt know.  

Mar 21

It’s Still the Economy, Stupid

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

One of the reasons that the Republicans lost so badly in 2006 and 2008 and the reason the Democrats took such a dive in 2010 was the economy. Since then the job approval rating of Congress has plummeted with the Republicans fairing worse than the Democrats but only slightly. In regards to the economy the public in general doesn’t think that President Obama is doing such a great job, either. People are worried about jobs, good jobs not deficits. Deficit and the national debt are not what is holding back the economy, it’s jobs.

The Republicans in the House seem to be intent on killing more jobs with its latest suicide pact that would cut everything from taxes for the wealthy, food stamps, destroy Medicare, and spending cuts. As Roger Hicky in his Huffington Post article point out, the Republican budget clearly rejecting what the American public wants.

The only thing that could save Republicans would be if Democrats, like Oregon Senator Ron Widen or House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, persuaded their party to ignore American public opinion and join with the GOP in destroying Medicare, cutting Social Security, and slashing public spending in a way that cripples the economy and rewards the wealthy. That’s what the Ryan Republican budget would do, and Democrats — and Americans who believe in majority rule — need to explain the extreme nature of this budget to the American people. [..]

So, the brand-new Ryan Republican budget, so very like last year’s Ryan budget, is already unpopular with the American majority, in all of its major elements. Progressives and Democrats should immediately publicize its many unpopular pieces so the public knows about them all. We should immediately demand to know whether the Republican candidates for president embrace it. And we should keep a wary eye out for Democrats who are willing to give the Republicans cover. When the Paul Ryan Republicans — enemies of everything the American majority believe in — are putting a gun to their heads and are about to pull the trigger, progressives should get out of the way and publicize the results — from now until the November elections.

It is obvious from the results of these kinds of cuts in Europe, austerity budgets don’t work. The Occupy Wall Street movement changed that conversation six months ago.

If Obama and the Democrats are smart, they’ll listen to the American public, sit back and let the Republicans pull the trigger.

Up Date: Ezra Klein, writing in the Washington Post, sums up Ryan’s latest version of a “budget plan” in one sentence:

Ryan’s budget funds trillions of dollars in tax cuts, defense spending and deficit reduction by cutting deeply into health-care programs and income supports for the poor.

The last I checked that isn’t going to win them any elections but you never know when the Democrats will ride into save the day. Calling Ron Wyden.

Sep 12

Toomey’s Supply-Side Extravaganza

When the Senate notoriously voted down both the President’s budget (unanimously) and the House-passed Ryan plan in May, it also rejected a proposal by freshman Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) by a tally of 42-55. With Toomey recently named to the so-called “Super Congress”, we chose to examine his proposal in this week’s episode.

This proposal represented the Tea Party-aligned right flank of the Senate Republican Conference, a group ostensibly led by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), and it aimed to improve upon perceived structural flaws in the plan of ideological ally Paul Ryan. As a result, while this budget leaves Medicare and Social Security largely intact, it contains many close similarities to the Ryan budget. Most notably, its claims of debt reduction rely heavily on draconian budget cuts (without accounting for economic fallout) and tax cuts that spur very optimistic economic growth projections over the next decade. In other words, this budget reflects the supply-side fundamentalism of Toomey and his brethren. It will be interesting to see whether Toomey will push for tax cuts on the Super Committee in order to actually raise revenue.

Also notable in the Toomey budget is its repeal of the coverage increases in the Affordable Care Act while leaving the Medicare cuts, cuts candidate Toomey actively campaigned against, in place.

Without further ado, here’s episode 20: the Toomey Budget.

Aug 02

No Money For You, Suck it Up!

Are you out of work?

Out of unemployment?

Maybe you live off SS thats about to be cut?

Are you sick but cant afford insurance or doctor visits?

Is your Medicaid going to be slashed?

Well too F’n bad. There is no money for your “entitlements” even though you paid into them for your entire working life.

But … we got plenty of money for hospitals and other facilites, just not in the USA. Think we wont have a presence in these countries for years to come?

We have always been at war with EastAsia – Winston Smith

Load more