Posts tagged: budget

On Taxes, Entitlements, and Deficits

By , February 28, 2011 11:25 am

I’m a conservative who leans libertarian, and here’s what I think about taxes, entitlements, and deficits. It all comes down to trust, and Congress has lost mine. Consequently, I will not agree to any tax increase unless and until I see real movement on the budget front. By that I mean I want to see real cuts given the realities of the budget. In other words, I realize that defense and entitlements make up such a large proportion of the overall budget that there is no way we’re going to be able to get real deficit reduction without either making big cuts there or raising taxes or both.

Now I’m willing to cut entitlements, even social security–and I’m on the verge of retirement. I could probably find cuts in the Defense budget as well. And I’m agreeable to raising some taxes. However, I’m not willing to do any of this until Congress regains my trust. And it can only do that by getting serious about cutting what can be cut now. No more political gamesmanship. No more calling $80 billion in cuts “draconian.” No more quibbling about this jot and that tittle. Start cutting now and don’t stop until we’ve eliminated every unnecessary program, all wasteful expenditures, and each and every earmark.

Do that, and I’m willing to talk about tax increases and reduced entitlements. Don’t do that, and I’ll do what I can to see that you’re not re-elected.

It’s all about trust. And you don’t have mine.

Oh Wisconsin: Guess Who Lost the Narrative

By , February 19, 2011 11:38 pm

The teachers’ union in Wisconsin–for that matter, the Democratic Party–will lose their battle because they lost the narrative very early on. From the start, the narrative has been that Governor Walker has a budget crisis on his hand, and one way to fix it is to have the teachers pitch in on the cost of their own benefits. And that’s a winning hand for Walker.

That he also wants to make changes to their collective bargaining rights has been lost in all the noise about benefits, at least until recently. To me, at least, that’s a battle the teachers could win. But they won’t because Governor Walker had them at ‘benefits.’

There’s at Least one Black Man With Tricks Up His Sleeve

By , February 15, 2011 7:10 pm

Megan McCardle has something constructive to say about Obama’s budget. As I read it, I couldn’t help thinking of Herman Cain’s Tweet: “I told y’all I don’t have any tricks up my sleeve.” I’m not sure how many more President Obama has left after this budget.

Quien Es Mas Macho? The New York Times Takes a Stand

By , February 15, 2011 9:41 am

The New York Times editorial board opined on Obama’s new budget today. In the following paragraph, you can get it flavor of how they think it stacks up against the one proposed by House Republicans:

The questions are whether [the Obama budget’s] tough choices are also wise choices and whether it stands a chance in a Congress in which Republicans, who now dominate the House, are obsessed with making indiscriminate short-term cuts in programs they never liked anyway. The Republican cuts would eviscerate vital government functions while not having any lasting impact on the deficit. (emphasis supplied here and below)

Pay attention to that word vital as we proceed, but first, let’s allow the Times to give Obama a hall pass:

What Mr. Obama’s budget is most definitely not is a blueprint for dealing with the real long-term problems that feed the budget deficit: rising health care costs, an aging population and a refusal by lawmakers to face the inescapable need to raise taxes at some point. Rather, it defers those critical issues, in hopes, we assume, that both the economy and the political environment will improve in the future.

That’s a nice–and a fair–assumption, one you won’t see the Times granting those nasty Republicans.

For the most part, Mr. Obama has managed to cut spending while preserving important [read vital] government duties. That approach is in stark contrast to Congressional Republicans, who are determined to cut spending deeply, no matter the consequences.

Again, Obama gets a pass. Not so the Republicans. And let’s see what important government duties Obama preserves.

A case in point: the Obama budget’s main cut — $400 billion over 10 years — is the result of a five-year freeze in nonsecurity discretionary programs, a slice of the budget that contains programs that are central to the quality of American lives, including education, environment and financial regulation.

Got that? Obama’s main cut is not a cut at all. It’s a five-year freeze for Hell’s sake!

But the cuts are not haphazard. The budget boosts education spending by 11 percent over one year and retains the current maximum level of college Pell grants — up to $5,500 a year. To offset some of the costs, the budget would eliminate Pell grants for summer school and let interest accrue during school on federal loans for graduate students, rather than starting the interest meter after graduation.

Cuts and boosts spending within spitting distance of each other. This is rich. And then another hall pass: “To offset some of the costs.” Some? Compare that with what the Times dishes out to the Republicans: “Republicans are determined not to raise any taxes . . .” And Obama is? Remember, he “offset some of the costs” of his changes in Pell grants, not by raising taxes, but by diddling with summer school and student loan interest.

The laugh track continues:

[Republicans refuse to raise taxes] even though investing spending for the future and taming the deficit are impossible without more money.(correction my doing)

Okay, having slapped Republicans up side the head about their refusal to raise taxes, the Times writes–immediately after, and I do mean immediately,

The budget would also increase transportation spending by $242 billion over 10 years. It does not specifically call for an increased gas tax to cover the new costs, though it calls on Congress to come up with new revenues to offset the new spending.

This is a truly cynical editorial about a truly cynical budget. The Republicans refuse to raise taxes, while Obama boldly goes where no man has gone before and passes the buck to Congress? Oh the humanity!

Remember that word vital? Here’s a whiff of what it means:

Republicans want to eliminate forward-looking programs like high-speed rail.

In other words, vital means boondoggle. Amtrack is doing so well, we just have to have a faster version of it.

I have to go, so let’s jump to the end:

Real deficit reduction will require grappling with rising health care costs and an aging population, which means reforms in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, as well as tax increases to bring revenues in line with obligations.

Mr. Obama’s budget does not directly address those big issues, but doing so would require a negotiating partner, and Mr. Obama, at present, does not have one among the Republican leaders in Congress. His latest budget is a good starting point for a discussion — and a budget deal — but only if Republicans are willing participants in the process.

Okay, as if to help me prove my point, the Times editorial ends the fact that Obama hasn’t proposed any tax increases either, he hasn’t addressed the big issues–either. Yet he gets a pat on the back, and the Republicans get chided for not wanting to cross the aisle and stand foursquare on his side. Quien es mas macho? Why Obama, of course.

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