Tag: Federal Budget

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Clever minds have been at work amidst Democratic circles in the US Senate to find a way to circumvent the filibuster – that pesky Senate Rule 22 provision that requires a three-fifths supermajority to end debate and bring a matter to a final vote. But the Democratic caucus isn’t unified, at least yet. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) […]

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The latest COVID relief/stimulus bill, now about to emerge from the US House, is a boondoggle on steroids. But there are many more things at stake. How this plays out. Well, there you have it. Some 70% of Americans support President Biden’s and the Democrats’ $1.9 trillion COVID 6.0 relief/stimulus package. That’s right, the 6th […]

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and Rich McFadden of Radio America break down Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s request that red-state Democrats remain neutral on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. They also cannot believe that some Democrats are seriously considering the idea of almost doubling the federal budget to pay for Sen. Bernie Sander’s Medicare-for-all program. And they cannot find any examples of malfeasance in the Boston Globe story about the TSA’s passenger-monitoring program that tracks people who sweat too much and urinate too often.

Richard Epstein grades the Trump Administration’s proposal for tax reform, explains the first principles of effective tax systems, and challenges the notion that progressivity is essential to an equitable tax code.

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Outrage over proposed budget cuts is coming!  A fundamental assumption underlying all such outrage is that critically important missions will be degraded, which implies that every dollar being spent is being well spent.  Any of us who have been employed in the private sector have been faced with situations where expenses needed to be cut:  the […]

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Is Trump Really Committed to Shrinking the Federal Government?

 

This article from TheHill.com today has set conservative hearts a-flutter.

Staffers for the Trump transition team have been meeting with career staff at the White House ahead of Friday’s presidential inauguration to outline their plans for shrinking the federal bureaucracy, The Hill has learned. The changes they propose are dramatic.

The departments of Commerce and Energy would see major reductions in funding, with programs under their jurisdiction either being eliminated or transferred to other agencies. The departments of Transportation, Justice and State would see significant cuts and program eliminations.

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I pondered the big question: is the Federal Government good? Good for the people of the nation, good for the world. To answer that question I looked at the components of the government and made a list with the largest departments first. My list has 28 agencies and institutions. Before I post the master scorecard […]

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While it’s true that Mr. Obama and his fellow Democrats like to spend our money with reckless abandon, it’s also true of all those scoundrels who swarm over Washington like ants formicating over a jelly doughnut. I just returned from Our Nation’s Capital last night. [Aside: I like to call it that; gives the place […]

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On the Debt Ceiling, Congress Should Keep It Simple

 

shutterstock_161578643In the coming days, the federal government will once again run up against the debt ceiling. In recent years, Congress has addressed the need to increase the debt ceiling by resorting to convoluted procedures to make it appear that it opposes increasing the ceiling, while actually enacting laws to do just that. Under the Budget Control Act of 2011, the Congress adopted a procedure of increasing the debt ceiling, while making the increase subject to a later resolution of disapproval. The resolution of disapproval was not adopted. Subsequent to 2011, Congress has suspended the debt ceiling for set periods of time. The argument here is that suspending the debt ceiling does not mean increasing it. The numbers say otherwise, with the federal “debt subject to limit” now exceeding $18 trillion.

This time around, Congress should get back to basics and vote to enact a clean bill to increase the debt ceiling. It should do so by a reasonable amount in exchange for separate legislative actions, both substantive and procedural, that serve to rein in spending and achieve a balanced budget. The main reason for returning to a simple approach is that the debt ceiling is important tool for advancing the cause of federal fiscal responsibility, and the convoluted procedures incrementally weaken that tool. More specifically, the circumstances are now different and the convoluted procedures are no longer appropriate for four reasons.

The first reason is that Congress adopted a budget resolution earlier this year. During the years of the Budget Control Act debate and the suspension of the debt ceiling, Congress was failing to adopt budgets. Fiscal conservatives had little recourse but to use the debt ceiling to try to force the adoption of a responsible fiscal policy. The resulting budget negotiations over these policies imposed some fiscal discipline by imposing ceilings on most appropriated spending, backed by a tool of automatic across-the-board spending restraint on the applicable accounts called sequestration. The convoluted procedures for increasing the debt ceiling followed from complex negotiations stemming from the lack of formal budgets. With adoption of a budget blueprint for fiscal years 2016 through 2025, in the form of Senate Concurrent Resolution 11, Congress can now undertake simpler negotiations on matters of fiscal policy.

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It is no secret that under President Obama, the federal debt has grown to levels not seen since the aftermath of WWII.  Debt (held by the public, as a percentage of GDP, which is the measure used throughout this post) has changed as follows since President Reagan left office in 1988: 39.8%   1988  (Reagan) Preview […]

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Retirement and Responsibility

 

It is generally believed that every able man should work in his youth. The responsibility to work is most obvious when a person fails to support himself financially, but it is commonly asserted that financial debts are not the limit of this responsibility. Even the son of a billionaire would be looked down upon if he was not somehow productive. To “mooch” is shameful behavior even one’s patrons are unaffected.

It is similarly common to believe that an old, less able man needn’t work any longer. We say that he has “earned” his rest and leisure. The point is easy to grant if the man in question has sufficiently saved to ensure his own financial security for decades forth. Many retirees find ways to be active, socially or in isolation; but we do not demand such activity. For the retiree’s relatives and neighbors, retirement is a time of thanksgiving and recompense.

The New Paul Ryan Budget Plan: A Brief Review

 

The annual House of Representatives budget resolution – you may know it as the “Ryan plan” or perhaps as the “Path to Prosperity” — has turned into a weird Washington phenomenon, one that combines analysis fiscal, political, and psychological. Do the numbers really add up? Will it hurt or help GOP election odds? Does it signal that Roman Catholic Paul Ryan or Randian Paul Ryan is the fellow running the budget committee? And, of course: does the budget suggest Ryan will run for president  2016?

Of those questions, I’m confident only in answering the first. (Alert: CNBC and MSNBC bookers. Ignore that last sentence. I am supremely confident in answering any and all possible questions about the Ryan budget, as well as the 2016 presidential race, the Russian annexation of Crimea, the Yellowstone earthquakes, and the new Captain America film. I also know a thing or two about nanotech.)