Category Archives: Government Spending

4 reasons President Obama isn’t negotiating with Republicans

Obama and Biden are standing pat. (Getty Images)

The Week

The GOP has blasted the president for refusing to compromise

As the government shutdown enters its second week and Congress hurtles toward a deadline to raise the debt ceiling, Republicans are coalescing around a message that they appear to believe will sway public opinion in their favor: President Obama refuses to negotiate.

Never mind that earlier this year House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) made a big deal about foregoing any budget negotiations with the president. This week, he accused Obama and the Democrats of “risking default by not having a conversation” about a variety of Republican demands, including defunding or delaying ObamaCare and broader cuts to the budget.

The stakes in this fight are high. Not only are 800,000 federal employees out of work, but the U.S. government is expected to hit its borrowing limit in less than 10 days. If the the United States defaults on its debts, economists say the country would likely be plunged into another recession — one that the Treasury Department warned could be even worse than the last one.

But Democrats show few signs of compromising, even as Republicans fight amongst themselves over whether or not to strike a potential deal. Here are four reasons Obama and the Democratic Party are standing firm.

1. They feel they have already compromised
Remember the sequester? The Democrats do. They weren’t too happy about it back in March, when they were forced to swallow $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts because the two parties couldn’t agree on a long-term budget.

Still, on Sept. 27, the Democratic-controlled Senate passed a continuing resolution that kept those spending cuts in place, funding the government at $988 billion — lower than the $1.058 trillion they initially wanted.

The Daily Beast‘s Michael Tomasky explains:

[T]his whole thing started with a significant Democratic compromise. But once the Republicans decided that they were going to use both the shutdown and the debt ceiling to try to defund and/or delay ObamaCare, they couldn’t even vote for a bill that gave them a major fiscal victory. [The Daily Beast]

Yes, some Republicans don’t like the sequester’s defense cuts. But many Tea Partiers “learned to love” the sequester, writes The New York Times‘ Annie Lowrey, while pretty much every Democrat views it as a disaster, since it bites into aid programs that are already strapped. That explains why Democrats view the GOP’s current demands as gratuitous: They come on top of concessions that have already been made.

2. It would set a bad precedent
As Obama himself has argued, if he gives in to the GOP’s demands, then it would set a precedent for any minority party to use the debt limit as a very dangerous weapon to extract concessions.

Even Republicans might not like that, warns The Washington Post‘s Dana Milbank:

Under that standard, a small band of future Democrats could shut down the government if a future Republican president didn’t agree to, say, strict gun controls, abortion on demand, a carbon tax, a higher minimum wage, expanded Social Security and Medicare benefits, or open borders.

Had this been the standard before, Democrats might have shut down the government to try to force George W. Bush to end the Iraq war, or to make Ronald Reagan end his arms race with the Soviets. [Washington Post]

The fact that the shutdown was carefully planned and funded, as reported by The New York Times, by conservative activists means that Democrats have every reason to think that Republicans will try this again in the future — unless Obama draws a line in the sand.

3. Republicans are asking for way too much
Obama obviously isn’t going to repeal or delay ObamaCare, which duly passed Congress in 2010, was upheld by the Supreme Court, and survived a presidential election. And in terms of what Republicans have in mind for the budget, their reported offer skews heavily toward Republican priorities, while barely acknowledging Democratic preferences.

Indeed, previous, torturous negotiations between Obama and Boehner have shown that there is very little Republicans are prepared to accept, particularly when it comes to new government revenue.

While advocating for Obama to offer an olive branch, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat acknowledges that the president has every reason “to avoid making any kind of concessions to an opposition party that’s locked into essentially unreasonable demands.”

4. The public blames the Republicans for the shutdown
To be clear, nobody is coming out of this smelling like roses. Still, the GOP is hurting far worse than the Democratic Party.

The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll shows that a whopping 70 percent of Americans disapprove of how Republicans have handled the government shutdown, compared to the 51 percent who disapprove of Obama’s performance. Even 59 percent of self-described conservatives don’t like what Republicans are doing.

Those numbers are consistent with the theory that “the executive benefits and the legislature is punished” during government shutdowns, writes The Washington Post‘s Ezra Klein. In political terms, that “would suggest that a shutdown would be bad for everyone serving in Congress, but good for Obama.”

That might not turn out to be true. But it certainly gives the president more of an incentive to stand firm while Republicans flounder.

 

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The Big Lie Behind Rand Paul’s Pack of GOP Shutdown Lies

Rand Paul

PoliticusUSA

The GOP, driven by tea party extremism, has shut down the U.S. government, costing taxpayers on the order of $40-$80 million per day at a conservative estimate. Some estimates go as high as $300 million per day. According toShutdowncost.com, as I write this, the shutdown has cost in excess of $1,593,276,000 and it is literally climbing by the second.

Yet Rand Paul (R-KY) writes an op-ed on CNN.com on Fridaywith the disingenuous claim that he doesn’t understand why the WWII memorial isn’t open:

This week, we saw the outrageous spectacle of World War II veterans being told by our government that they couldn’t visit their own memorial. These former service members, who stared down the Japanese and the Nazis, were told that they couldn’t step through barricades arbitrarily placed in front of their memorial because the government has shut down. Some have speculated that it might have cost more to place the barricades there than to have done nothing at all.

This is a tear-jerker, and it is meant to be. But Paul is being as dishonest here as the day is long.

He says putting barricades up cost more than to have done nothing. But Rand Paul doesn’t mention that, the shutdown his party is responsible for is costing Americans more than if the Republicans had done nothing. And the shutdown is costing Americans more than a few barricades.

Let me put it this way: Not only do the spending cuts the GOP demands not reduce the federal debt, but the shutdown Republicans initiated claiming Obamacare is costing Americans too much money, costs more money than Obamacare.

If this makes sense to you, you are probably a tea partier.

Yet Rand Paul says Obamacare makes no sense, because, apparently, giving millions of Americans access to insurance for the first time, and forcing insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions, makes no sense.

He accuses President Obama of being “tone deaf” to Americans, completely ignoring the fact – and it is a fact – thatthe majority of Americans want Obamacare and that the majority of Americans do not want a government shutdown.

I think we know who is tone deaf, and it isn’t President Obama.

Then Rand Paul pulls out the Big Lie, the same one every Republican who began planning for this shutdown in 2010 are all using, that none of them wanted a shutdown. Keep in mind that they shut down the government using Obamacare as an excuse. Keep in mind that Obamacare is the law of the land, and more, a law upheld by the Supreme Court.

No one wanted a government shutdown. Republicans have continued to offer multiple compromises that would keep the government open. I offered an amendment to keep the government open an additional week while negotiations continued. My proposal was rejected. In fact, all of our proposals were rejected.

Paul tells another lie when he claims, “Every attempt to bargain, negotiate or compromise has been rejected by the Democrats.”

Let us be clear: The Republicans have offered no compromises. They refused from the start to negotiate. Their demands – and they can be construed no other way – have been predicated on 44 unsuccessful votes to defund Obamacare, and when that failed, to delay it for a year, when, they hope, a new majority in the Senate will kill it for good. In other words, delaying Obamacare is, from their point of view, no different than killing it. Some compromise. Either way, it’s “kill Obamacare.”

Apparently, Rand Paul yearns to be known as the biggest liar in Washington, D.C., to judge by this next whopper:

Pundits like to talk about dysfunctional government in Washington. This week demonstrated how right they are. Our government is too big, inefficient and incompetent to possibly handle American health care effectively. Why can’t this administration get its act together?

A Republican-dominated House of Representatives rushing down a road to nowhere with no clear end-game in mind save unconditional surrender by the administration, and Paul says the administration doesn’t have IT’S act together?

Paul pulls out one lie after another, each worse than the last, arriving at the tried and untrue Republican claim that Obama is building the deficit at a record pace:

And what do we have to show for this largely dysfunctional government? Annual trillion dollar deficits and a $17 trillion debt than keeps climbing.

The truth is exactly the opposite. In fact, Obama is reducing the deficit at a record pace. It is a fact, as Sarah Jones reported here in May, that the Obama administration has presided over the most rapid deficit reduction since World War II.

In fact, government spending under President Obama has grown at a slower rate than it did under any president since Dwight D. Eisenhower, according to Bloomberg(that’s over 50 years ago, if you’re counting).

Where does that leave Paul’s op-ed? Lie, lie, another lie, followed by more lies. So does Rand Paul have anything to say that is not a lie?

No, sadly he does not. All Rand Paul has is lies.

And so the liar from Kentucky concludes, dishonestly, that because his party has shutdown the government over a law that has been upheld by the Supreme Court, that, “What Americans were reminded of this week — more than anything else — is that big government doesn’t work.”

What doesn’t work is the House of Representatives, which has spent 15+ percent of its time this year trying to get rid of a law that has been upheld by the Supreme Court. A law, moreover, that most Americans want.

The GOP, to nobody’s surprise, is a party these days of liars and shills. But Rand Paul, apparently – and this is saying something when you consider the company he keeps – wants to be the liar of the century.

Right now, he has that award hands down.

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Obama spending binge never happened!

Apparently, when it comes to spending,  President Obama is our most frugal president since the Reagan administration.   However, Mitt Romney and Fox News are saying just the opposite.

Remember this:

Lies!

Market Watch

Of all the falsehoods told about President Barack Obama, the biggest whopper is the one about his reckless spending spree.

As would-be president Mitt Romney tells it: “I will lead us out of this debt and spending inferno.”

Almost everyone believes that Obama has presided over a massive increase in federal spending, an “inferno” of spending that threatens our jobs, our businesses and our children’s future. Even Democrats seem to think it’s true.

Government spending under Obama, including his signature stimulus bill, is rising at a 1.4% annualized pace — slower than at any time in nearly 60 years.

But it didn’t happen. Although there was a big stimulus bill under Obama, federal spending is rising at the slowest pace since Dwight Eisenhower brought the Korean War to an end in the 1950s.

Even hapless Herbert Hoover managed to increase spending more than Obama has.

Here are the facts, according to the official government statistics:

 In the 2009 fiscal year — the last of George W. Bush’s presidency — federal spending rose by 17.9% from $2.98 trillion to $3.52 trillion. Check the official numbers at the Office of Management and Budget.

 In fiscal 2010 — the first budget under Obama — spending fell 1.8% to $3.46 trillion.

 In fiscal 2011, spending rose 4.3% to $3.60 trillion.

 In fiscal 2012, spending is set to rise 0.7% to $3.63 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of the budget that was agreed to last August.

 Finally in fiscal 2013 — the final budget of Obama’s term — spending is scheduled to fall 1.3% to $3.58 trillion.

Read the CBO’s latest budget outlook.

 

Since then, spending growth has been relatively flat.

Over Obama’s four budget years, federal spending is on track to rise from $3.52 trillion

The big surge in federal spending happened in fiscal 2009, before Obama took of to $3.58 trillion, an annualized increase of just 0.4%.

There has been no huge increase in spending under the current president, despite what you hear.

Why do people think Obama has spent like a drunken sailor? It’s in part because of a fundamental misunderstanding of the federal budget.

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Perry seals travel and expense records until after November election

Daily Kos

Rick Perry is currently embroiled in a legal battle to block the public from viewing his travel and expense records, but The Washington Post notes that everything from July of this year forward will remain under seal until after the November 2012 election:

In the meantime, during a special session that ended July 1, the Texas Legislature, at Perry’s urging, added language to a school finance bill that will seal the governor’s travel records for 18 months — until after the 2012 presidential election. The measure would cover the records going forward, not those in the past, which have been the subject of the court fight.One Republican legislator, who spoke on condition of anonymity, described the governor as “extremely concerned” about keeping his records sealed, and said Perry was actively lobbying key legislators to get it passed in the waning days of the special session. The legislator said Perry’s wife, Anita, also was pressing legislators on the issue.

That’s probably the first time Rick Perry has every given a damn about a school funding bill, but given that his travel and expense records probably include more examples of things like this …

…the governor’s critics contend that it has as much to do with politics as safety — especially after the embarrassment for Perry when taxpayers learned that they had been paying for scuba gear and golf cart rentals for officers who accompanied Perry and his wife to the Bahamas in 2004.

… and this …

In 2009, Perry traveled to Israel where he was given the “Defender of Jerusalem” award. According to a local television report, he and his wife flew first class at more than $5,000 per ticket, paid for by an energy company financier. Four security detail officers also went on the five-day trip at a cost of more than $70,000 to taxpayers. The expenses included $17,000 for rooms at the King David Hotel, nearly $13,000 for food and more than 350 hours in overtime pay.

… you can understand why he’d want to keep them out of the public eye. On the other hand, it’s hard to understand why the tea partiers who are his biggest fans don’t seem to give a damn about his use of public resources for private gain.

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Republicans Threatening Shutdown Over Planned Parenthood

This is not about the budget for Republicans.  This is all about ideology!

Huffington Post

The United States government is on the verge of shutting down over a dispute about subsidized pap smears, according to sources familiar with the budget negotiations.

The White House and Senate Democrats have publicly capitulated to ever-increasing Republican demands for spending cuts, but negotiations over the budget for the remainder of the fiscal year have shifted their focus from money to so-called riders — provisions that restrict the federal government from spending money on certain projects or entities.

Riders are used by members of Congress to make social policy without going through the regular congressional committee process, or they are used to benefit business interests by specifically blocking the government from spending money to write or enforce certain regulations.

At a late-night White House meeting between the president and key congressional leaders, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) made clear that his conference would not approve funding for the government if any money were allowed to flow to Planned Parenthood through legislation known as Title X. “This comes down to women’s health issues related to Title X,” a person in the meeting told HuffPost.

The negotiations are dominated by men: All of the principal negotiators in both parties are male, as are most of the senior staff involved. (House Democrats, led by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), have largely been left out of key talks.)

House Republicans have been insisting the roadblock to cutting a new budget deal is not just the culture-war riders attached to the spending plan, but a source familiar with a top-level White House meeting earlier Thursday said most of the discussion in fact was about the riders.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and President Barack Obama met at 1 p.m., and while the discussion started with the numbers, a senior Democratic aide said it soon turned to non-budgetary provisions like defunding Planned Parenthood, Environmental Protection Agency rules — and then some.

Continued after the fold…

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HuffPo: Floridians Are Maybe Starting To Understand Their Governor Is A Grifter

Another case of  of buyers’ remorse?

Jason Linkins – Huffington Post

Despite his being best known as a cartoon villain fraudster who bilked Medicare and incurred a record-setting fine from authorities, Florida Governor Rick Scott outspent and outgunned his primary opponent Bill McCollum and then slipped past Democratic challenger Alex Sink in the 2010 GOP wave.

And now, after three months in office, he’s become the very face of buyer’s remorse:

A PPP poll of registered voters released today shows that in a hypothetical re-do of last year’s gubernatorial election, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) would lose to Democrat Alex Sink by a nearly 20-point margin, 56%-37%. Scott won a squeaker of an election last year, edging out Sink by about one point.

Eye-popping as those figures are on their own, they get even starker when you start making comparisons. In this regard, Scott’s numbers vastly outpace the “do-over” figures of some of the sexier “buyer’s remorse” governors that have garnered most of the media’s attention for their battles with public sector employees and the like. (Though Scott did participate in similar exploits, such as cutting teacher pay to fund corporate giveaways and gutting benefits for the unemployed.)

A big part of Scott’s unpopularity stems from policy decisions that have managed to cheese off lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. His decision to scotch the SunRail commuter train rail project earned him the emnity of both Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Representative John Mica (R-Fla.), who had put years of sweat equity into the project. Closer to home, Scott felt the same bipartisan heat from state Senators.

Beyond the kerfuffle over high-speed rail, Scott’s planned spending reductions in education aren’t flying even with lawmakers in his own party, who see them as inhibitors to job growth.

Aside from engendering a heaping share of bipartisan ill will, Florida’s governor has revealed himself to be the person we warned you he was: the exemplar of a serial fraudster. The end result has molded Scott, in a very short time, into one of the most politically isolated governors in America.

For future reference, here are some ways that you can tell if your state’s governor is some sort of appalling grifter.   Continue reading…

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The Debt Ceiling Issue

Debt Ceiling 101

Question: What is the debt ceiling?

Answer: The debt ceiling is a statutory limit on the amount of U.S federal debt held by the public and the government’s own accounts. The debt ceiling became law with the Second Liberty Bond Act of 1917, which helped finance the United States’ entry into World War I.

Question:  What happens if The Congress votes not to raise the debt ceiling?

On This Week with Christiane Amanpour, Jake Tapper interviews Obama economic advisor Austan Goolsbee about the upcoming vote on the National Debt ceiling, and wonders what will happen if the new Republican Extremists successfully keep it from being approved.

Analysis:

There has been a lot of talk about “The Debt Ceiling” lately.  The Tea Party influenced GOP in congress want to place a limit on the out of control debt spending by capping the “debt ceiling”. 

Most Dems (and some Republicans of a more moderate stripe) want to follow the status quo and continue to raise the debt ceiling as borrowing expands.  The GOP want to cap the ceiling.

Of course, Washington being what it is, some GOP members wouldn’t mind voting in favor of raising the debt ceiling as long as Congress produces serious limitations on future spending.  That would mean Medicare and Social Security cuts will have to be in the offing.

Yes, that’s right!  They are playing their little blackmail game yet again, using Social Security and Medicare as the perineal sacrificial lambs in order to agree to raise the debt ceiling.  

Now, in all honesty, I do see a need for cutting the debt but the experts all agree that doing so would be catastrophic to the American economy as well as global economies.  Borrowing money to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy is not a problem for the GOP/Tea Party.  However, cutting entitlement programs to our country’s most vulnerable segment, senior citizens is in my opinion heartless.  There’s got to be a better way.

There are some serious GOP pundits like George Will and some Fox News pundits who totally disagree with capping the debt ceiling.

It’ll be interesting to see how this “game of chicken” plays out.

Lawrence O’Donnell of MSNBC’s The Last Word does a better job of explaining the consequences of not raising the debt ceiling than I ever could:

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The Anti-Spending Politicians Who Rake In Farm Subsidies

This is typical of all politicians.  It’s really not a partisan issue, in my opinion…

Huffington Post

Many Republicans who swept rural Democrats from office are now confronting the reality of a promise to reduce spending: Should it cover the farm subsidies that have brought money and jobs to their districts – and directly benefited some GOP lawmakers or their families?

At least 13 Democrats on the House Agriculture Committee lost on Nov. 2, and most of then helped steer generous farm support back home. Many of their replacements avoided the issue of farm payments during the campaign as they focused on broader themes of lowering federal spending and changing Washington.

They’ll have to face it soon enough. Congress is expected to begin work on the next five-year farm bill before the 2012 election.

“They are here to represent their districts, and if their district is clearly a strong agricultural district that uses the programs in the farm bill, it may be something where they have to break with what they campaigned on,” says Chandler Goule, a lobbyist for the National Farmers Union.

For some deficit-cutting Republicans, it’s a question that’s close to home.

Consider Vicky Hartzler of Missouri, who courted tea party support and dethroned the chairman of the House Armed Service Committee, Democratic Rep. Ike Skelton.

Continue reading…

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Eight False Things the Public “Knows” Prior to Election Day

Truthout

There are a number of things the public “knows” as we head into the election that are just false. If people elect leaders based on false information, the things those leaders do in office will not be what the public expects or needs.

Here are eight of the biggest myths that are out there:

1) President Obama tripled the deficit.
Reality: Bush’s last budget had a $1.416 trillion deficit. Obama’s first budget reduced that to $1.29 trillion.

2) President Obama raised taxes, which hurt the economy.
Reality: Obama cut taxes. 40% of the “stimulus” was wasted on tax cuts which only create debt, which is why it was so much less effective than it could have been.

3) President Obama bailed out the banks.

Reality: While many people conflate the “stimulus” with the bank bailouts, the bank bailouts were requested by President Bush and his Treasury Secretary, former Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson. (Paulson also wanted the bailouts to be “non-reviewable by any court or any agency.”) The bailouts passed and began before the 2008 election of President Obama.

4) The stimulus didn’t work.
Reality: The stimulus worked, but was not enough. In fact, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the stimulus raised employment by between 1.4 million and 3.3 million jobs.

5) Businesses will hire if they get tax cuts.
Reality: A business hires the right number of employees to meet demand. Having extra cash does not cause a business to hire, but a business that has a demand for what it does will find the money to hire. Businesses want customers, not tax cuts.

6) Health care reform costs $1 trillion.
Reality: The health care reform reduces government deficits by $138 billion.

7) Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, is “going broke,” people live longer, fewer workers per retiree, etc.
Reality: Social Security has run a surplus since it began, has a trust fund in the trillions, is completely sound for at least 25 more years and cannot legally borrow so cannot contribute to the deficit (compare that to the military budget!) Life expectancy is only longer because fewer babies die; people who reach 65 live about the same number of years as they used to.

8) Government spending takes money out of the economy.
Reality: Government is We, the People and the money it spends is on We, the People. Many people do not know that it is government that builds the roads, airports, ports, courts, schools and other things that are the soil in which business thrives. Many people think that all government spending is on “welfare” and “foreign aid” when that is only a small part of the government’s budget.

This stuff really matters.

If the public votes in a new Congress because a majority of voters think this one tripled the deficit, and as a result the new people follow the policies that actually tripled the deficit, the country could go broke.

If the public votes in a new Congress that rejects the idea of helping to create demand in the economy because they think it didn’t work, then the new Congress could do things that cause a depression.

If the public votes in a new Congress because they think the health care reform will increase the deficit when it is actually projected to reduce the deficit, then the new Congress could repeal health care reform and thereby make the deficit worse. And on it goes.

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