budget

Create opportunity, not welfare: Paul Ryan’s new poverty reform plan is a great place to begin a long overdue conversation

After his humbling defeat as the Republican Party’s vice presidential nominee in the 2012 election, Paul Ryan decided to refocus his efforts. He remained the Budget Committee chairman in the House, still producing the annual Path to Prosperity budget request.

But Ryan also dove head first into a project he had wanted to do during the campaign but was denied: visiting inner city neighborhoods to get a first hand account of poverty in America, with the goal of changing how the federal government approaches the problem.

The fruits of that nearly two-year long effort were unveiled in the form of a draft document from his committee called Expanding Opportunity in America, a sweeping anti-poverty reform agenda covering everything from tax credits, criminal sentencing, and occupational licensing.

Ryan unveiled the plan at an event at the American Enterprise Institute on Thursday morning. It’s not perfect, but it is an important first step both in actually tackling the frustratingly stagnant poverty levels around the country and in dismantling the narrative that Republicans don’t care about poor people.

While it is still an outline for federal legislation, in its introduction Ryan makes clear that government alone is not the solution to tackling poverty.

White House Budget Director Refuses to Answer Whether Obama’s Proposal Ignores the Law

 Sylvia Burwell

President Barack Obama appears to have ignored the Democrats’ decision to pass on pushing through a budget and decided to make a move on his own.

Obama’s recently unveiled $3.9 trillion budget would raise more than $1 trillion over the next 10 years and increase spending $56 billion above statutory caps in the next year alone, which means that the President did not consider the spending caps both the White House and Congress agreed to last year before he decided to unveil his plan.

During a Budget Committee hearing yesterday, Sylvia Burwell, Obama’s White House Budget Director, seemed to struggle to answer Sen. Jeff Sessions’ (R-AL) question regarding the president’s budget proposal. While Obama’s plan would increase spending, Burnwell refused to answer Sessions when asked whether the budget would allow more spending than what had been already agreed to previously when the President signed the Ryan-Murray budget.

According to the Budget Director, “there are some questions that are not simply Yes or No questions.” Her justification and defense of the new budget proposal ignores the budget already signed by the president. When asked if she wanted Congress to change the Ryan-Murray budget so that the increased spending proposed by Obama would then become a possibility, Burnwell also struggled to respond.

GOP, crony allies plan efforts to undermine conservatives

The Wall Street Journal ran a story on Christmas which explained in detail how Republican leaders and the United States Chamber of Commerce are looking to diminish the influence of conservatives both in and outside of Congress. This gives us a glimpse at the latest battle, if you will, in the ongoing Republican civil war.

You may remember that Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) lashed out at conservative groups that opposed the budget deal brokered by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). It turns out, though unsurprisingly, that this public admonition of conservatives was just scratched the surface. It turns out, as the Journal explained, that Republican leaders were threatening members with loss of committee assignments if they voted against the budget deal:

Mr. Boehner’s deputies took steps behind the scenes to end internal dissent, including among GOP committee chairmen who had voted against the House leadership in prior fiscal battles. In the run-up to the budget vote, Mr. Boehner’s deputies warned chairmen who were tempted to oppose the deal that doing so could jeopardize their committee posts, said people familiar with the discussions.

The goal was to reverse a trend in which chairmen, who typically earn their post by hewing to the party line, voted against priority legislation. Six chairmen had voted against an initial version of a farm bill earlier in the year, causing the legislation to collapse on the House floor, and 11 voted against the pact this fall to reopen the federal government and extend the country’s borrowing authority into 2014.

Conservatives to Congress: “Spend one dollar less”

A new strategy has emerged from conservative groups over the debt ceiling as they emerge from a fractured fight over the government shutdown. The message to Congress: spend one dollar less than last year.

The coalition of 20 groups, first reported by National Review, has written a letter to lawmakers urging them to take caution in their approach on the debt ceiling and government funding as House and Senate tackling the budget.

“The undersigned public policy organizations are writing to you today about the upcoming debt ceiling debate and our belief that Congress has a moral obligation to pursue additional spending reductions before taking on additional debt,” wrote the organizations in the letter to members of Congress.

“Specifically, we propose the following: If Washington wants to take on more debt, isn’t it fair that they at least be forced to spend One Dollar Less next year than they’re spending this year?” the letter continued. “Most families are reducing their budgets by far more than one dollar, shouldn’t Washington at least do this much? The American people certainly think so.”

Signers to the letter include Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, Andrew Moylan of the R Street Institute, Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and Phil Kerpen of American Commitment.

Congress passes Reid-McConnell funding, debt ceiling deal

Passage of Reid-McConnell in the House

The government shutdown has come to an end and the debt ceiling has been raised after Congress passed the deal worked out between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

The final deal is funds the federal government through January 15 and raises the debt ceiling to February 7. It also allows for budget negotiations between the two chambers, with the goal of coming to an agreement by December 13. Those points were sort of the basic parts of the deal.

Other aspects of the deal include, according to Jamie Dupree, back-pay for furloughed federal workers, reporting requirements on verification procedures for ObamaCare subsidies, and blocks a pay raise for Congress in FY 2014.

A Federated Approach Toward a Federated Approach

a fellow contributor here at United Liberty, wrote an interesting piece yesterday about the wisdom of not passing an all-encompassing federal budget, even in light of the chaos currently surrounding the shutdown over what gets passed as a continuing resolution and what, in the case of Obamacare, gets funded at all.

Some have argued that mandating the passage of a federal budget — and by “mandate” I mean actually tied to consequences for not doing so — is one way to prevent future shutdowns. But as DesOrmeaux argues, this may not be the most effective way to skin — or herd — a cat:

Many say we have to be responsible and pass a real budget. But the truth is the concept of a single federal budget is actually pretty new. While the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 created the first federal budget process, it wasn’t until the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 that the current version of mandatory budget proposals and resolutions was adopted. For the 150-200 years before that, all federal funding was appropriated with specific bills for programs or departments.

Passing a federal budget is neither necessary nor wise

budget

As the partial federal government shutdown enters its second week, the calls for a “grand bargain” to solve all and sundry income and revenue issues have returned. The idea that Congress should pass a single, all-encompassing budget, even a balanced one, is a collective mental plague spread by inertia that must be eradicated.

Congress has not passed a full budget to fund the federal government since April 2009. Since then, unable to reach a deal on a full budget, spending has been controlled by successive continuing resolutions, adjusting total government funding levels for short periods of weeks or months each time.

Many say we have to be responsible and pass a real budget. But the truth is the concept of a single federal budget is actually pretty new. While the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 created the first federal budget process, it wasn’t until the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 that the current version of mandatory budget proposals and resolutions was adopted. For the 150-200 years before that, all federal funding was appropriated with specific bills for programs or departments.

Contrary to what Pelosi says, there are plenty of budget cuts to be made

It might not come as a shock to some of you, but the Treasury Department has announced that, unless Congress increases the country’s borrowing limit, it will no longer be able to pay its bills.

This announcement follows comments made by Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) concerning the efforts of Republican members to restraint government spending. According to the House Minority Leader, the conservative push for any cuts to the federal budget is pointless.

Pelosi stated that “it’s really important that people understand” that there’s no more cuts to make to the federal budget, which has increased to $3.8 trillion this year, as opposed to $1.9 trillion per year up until 2001.

What Nancy Pelosi doesn’t seem to understand is that the American people can no longer afford to cover the expenses of a series of programs that could indeed be trimmed. With that in mind, experts at the Competitive Enterprise Institute decided to make a list of several programs that could be cut or trimmed to give Congress, and especially skeptics such as Nancy Pelosi, an idea of where they can start if they are indeed willing to ensure the American people are no longer forced to foot a bill they never signed up for.

According to the institute, about $1.2 billion could be saved if Congress took aim at the Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The EERE’s goal is to offer training, resources and funding toward “business, industry, universities and others” who are willing to focus on increasing the use “of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.”

Report: Long-term budget issues present fiscal threat to U.S.

National Debt

TL;DR version: This is a pretty long post dealing with a subject that generally fascinates only those interested in fiscal policy. The short of what you need to know is that the CBO expects the economy to perform better in the short-term, with higher revenues and lower budget deficits. But the rising costs of entitlements and the cost of servicing the national debt will drive up spending substantially over the long-term with the public’s share of the national debt becoming equal to the size of the economy (or GDP). As if the baseline scenario isn’t concerning enough, the alternative fiscal scenario is even more of a disaster. All charts below come directly from the CBO’s report.

Forget Syria or the still ongoing war on terrorism. The real security threat is the national debt. That’s what Admiral Mike Mullen warned in 2010. Those words still ring true today, especially after reading the latest long-term budget projections released yesterday by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

The annual report presents the federal budget outlook for the next 10 years (2013-2023) as well as provides a look into long-term projections relative to both current law and alternative scenarios, the latter of which most economists believe present a more realistic view of the United States’ fiscal health.

CBO Director Doug Elmendorf told reporters yesterday that the “federal budget is on a course that cannot be sustained indefinitely.”

Spending Proposals Down in 112th Congress, Fiscal Irresponsibility Still a Washington Habit

It’s no secret that Washington is addicted to spending. Though, it’s true that the budget deficit is expected to decline this year, after four consecutive years of $1+ trillion deficits, the decline is spending isn’t because of any actual spending restraint, it’s a result of gridlock in government.

But declining budget deficits don’t reflect the desires of many members of Congress. According to a new report from the National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF), the net-cost of legislation introduced in 112th Congress (proposed increases less proposed cuts) would have increased the federal budget by $1.3 trillion.

Despite the large increase in federal spending proposed last year, the “BillTally” report has some encouraging findings. Demian Brady, director of research at NTUF, noted that there was a increase in legislation to cut spending.

“The 112th Congress saw a sharp rise in the number of bills to reduce federal spending, with 221 introduced in the House and 127 in the Senate,” wrote Brady. “This is the highest number of spending-cut bills NTUF has recorded since the 105th Congress (1997-1998) when there were 265.” The report also found that legislation to increase federal spending is “being introduced at a much slower pace than in the previous Congress.”


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