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- The Palaces of Saddam Hussein and the Iraq Body Count By Gregory Hilton
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- BOOK REVIEW: “Get Out Of My Life, But First Could You Drive Me and Cheryl To The Mall?: A Parent’s Guide to the New Teenager”
- The Return of the Tax Exiles: The UK's Biggest Export Has Been its Wealthy Citizens by Gregory Hilton
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Category Archives: Deficit Reduction
The Senate today defeated the Ryan budget on a 57 to 40 vote. The “Path to Prosperity” deficit reduction plan had earlier passed the House and it would have reduced the deficit by $6.2 trillion over a decade. The most controversial part of the Ryan plan involved Medicare. Continue reading
Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) is shown this afternoon in the dining room of the Executive Mansion in Madison. He is holding one of the six pens he used to sign the first bill to take back power from greedy public employee unions. Continue reading
The major issue on Capitol Hill this week is Friday’s expiration of the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling. If the debt is not cut or the ceiling raised, the government would have to be shut down on March 4th. The situation is similar to the 1995 confrontation between President Clinton and Speaker Gingrich when the government was shut down twice. Continue reading
Democratic Caucus Rejects Minor Spending Cuts: “We Have Got to Stop This Insanity Now” by Congressman John Adler (D-NJ)
Editorial Note: Freshman Congressman John Adler (D-NJ) and three of his colleagues were rebuked yesterday by a unanimous vote in the House Democratic Caucus. Adler was joined by Reps. Gary Peters (D-MI), Jim Himes (D-CT) and Peter Welch (D-VT) and they were seeking to eliminate $1.4 billion in spending which had been placed on top of President Obama’s budget request. Continue reading
The Third McCain/Coburn Stimulus Report: $700,000 to Study How Cocaine Affects Monkeys & $1.9 Million for Ants by Gregory Hilton
This morning Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) released their third report on Stimulus spending, and it took the White House only two hours to respond. The McCain/Coburn report is entitled Summertime Blues: 100 Stimulus Projects that Give Taxpayers the Blues. It highlights “questionable Stimulus projects that are wasteful, mismanaged, and overall unsuccessful in creating jobs.” Continue reading
Editorial Note by Gregory Hilton: White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs acknowledged today that Republicans could win back control of the House of Representatives. If he wants to know why a backlash has developed, an excellent person to consult is retiring Governor Phil Bredesen (D-TN). Continue reading
PHOTO CAPTION: The President and the Secretary of State are shown celebrating in the White House Situation Room on March 21, 2010. They had just been told the health care reform bill had won a final passage victory by a vote of 219 to 212. The National Security Advisor, General Jim Jones USMC (Ret), is in the foreground.
The U.S. elections are still five months away. While the political outlook could change significantly during that time, the GOP continues to have impressive poll numbers across the nation. The GOP support scores have surged in the three months since Congress passed the health care reform bill without a single Republican vote.
National support for the bill has increased since March from 39% to 45%, but approval numbers in the battleground districts continue to be dismal for the Democrats. In stark contrast to the 2006 and 2008 elections, Democrats are suffering voter backlash on major issues.
The public is now focused on the economy, jobs and deficit spending, and the Obama honeymoon appears to be over. The poor economy resulted in a 2008 Democratic landslide and it is now fueling the 2010 GOP surge.
Previous voter concerns regarding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, global warming and social issues have faded. In addition to health care, the $862 billion stimulus and the $3.6 trillion omnibus 2010 budget are proving to be highly unpopular. The major recent developments include:
Democrats control the House of Representatives by a 257 to 178 margin, but the polling averages now show a huge drop in support for the majority party. If the election was held today the Democrats would have a slim 201 to 199 lead, with 35 districts in the undecided category.
- Democrats were able to pass health care because of their 60 seat super majority in the U.S. Senate. They lost that status days later with the upset victory of Senator Scott Brown (R-MA). If the election was held today, the GOP would gain seven additional seats and the new breakdown would be 52 Democrats and 48 Republicans. Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) tactic of running the upper body with a series of cloture votes would no longer work if the GOP gains strength. Democrats in the 112th Congress will have to compromise with Republicans.
- Probably the best news for the GOP is that they are now winning or are tied in gubernatorial elections in 7 of the 8 largest states. These states represent 48% of the American population and in 2008 they were firmly in President Obama’s column. A switch of even one of these states would be a significant boost to the GOP’s prospects of gaining a 2012 majority in the electoral college.
- Republicans have nominated controversial candidates in Kentucky and Nevada, and the Senate elections in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Colorado and Missouri are all close. The good news for the GOP is that independent voters are continuing to break in their direction.
- It is difficult to see how Democrats will turn the present situation around because so much of the focus is on the deficit. GOP candidates are emphasizing that interest payments on the debt this year are $202 billion, but that will rise to over $700 billion by 2019. An additional $500 billion a year in interest expense would total more than the combined federal budgets this year for education, energy, agriculture, transportation, commerce, homeland security and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“It says to Congress, you have to pay as you go. You can’t spend a dollar unless you cut a dollar elsewhere. … We have to cut where we can, to afford what we need. Congress can only spend a dollar if it saves a dollar elsewhere.” — Statement of President Barack Obama when signing the Pay-Go law, February 12, 2010
The Pay-Go legislation certainly sounds like a common sense tool to rein in government spending, and it specifically promises to pay for everything that is spent. Unfortunately during the past month it has proven to be little more than a public relations exercise. It was created to make it appear our lawmakers are serious about cutting the budget, and it will never be effective because its requirements are so frequently waived.
The Obama administration was very public in its promotion of the Pay-Go (pay as you go) program, and said it demonstrated they are serious about reducing spending. Democrats in Congress reinstated Pay-Go with tremendous pomp and proclaimed their fiscal superiority. Then, almost immediately, Pay-Go was gone. We were told Pay-Go did not apply to a wide range of bills. Now Republicans are simply saying, “What happened to Pay-Go?”
Pay-Go has been discussed for years but it has not had a significant role in deficit reduction. For the past few weeks the news media has been filled with stories about Republicans being the “Party of No,” and how they allegedly caused hardship for various groups. The Democrats have been winning the public relations war on Capitol Hill which is ironic because they are entirely to blame.
They will not use normal procedures. They bring up bills just as the programs are to set to expire and they refuse to pay for them. They just want the programs added to the deficit. The goal of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is to score political points, not to solve problems. His answer is always the same, push the ever increasing debt burden onto the backs of future generations. Republicans always offer amendments to pay for new spending, and the Democrats respond by ruling their proposals out of order.
The recent Pay-Go controversy involved Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY). He agreed to end his opposition to an extension of unemployment benefits in exchange for a vote to pay for them, as Pay-Go required. As soon as Bunning agreed to the unanimous consent motion, Reid broke his promise. There was no Bunning amendment after all. Democrats used a parliamentary maneuver to set his amendment aside and they never voted on the substance of it.
The Democrats will continue to use tricks but facts are stark. Last month, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said our current debt is unsustainable, and this year’s budget will add $1.5 trillion to the deficit.
Unless someone speaks up about this continued deficit spending our prospects for economic recovery are dire. The government can not find jobs for the unemployed. That has to come from the private sector and the Obama agenda is a burden to our largest employer, American small businesses. Once again, Democrats rejected Bunning’s recent attempt to abide by Pay-Go. They did not want to pay for the program from the stimulus or left over TARP funds. An even better solution is to cut back on the boom we have seen in federal employment during this recession.
Why not a federal hiring freeze? Stopping those Congressional earmarks would easily save us $10 billion. Are we ever going to get serious about the deficit? If not now, then when? If not us, then who else is going to do it?When are we going to address the debt crisis? If not now, then when? If not us, then who?
Deficit reduction and entitlement reform have not been wining political issues for the GOP. The Democrats ridiculed social security reform without any plan of their own, and this issue allowed them to recapture the House in 2006. The Democrats are the real party of no, and it has been a successful campaign issue for them. If the Democrats really want to solve our nation’s problems they will either make Pay-Go apply to everything or they will advance programs to spur economic growth.
“If the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.'” — Sir Winston Churchill, June 18th, 1940
Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY), 79, has been on Capitol Hill for 24 years, but yesterday was his finest hour. He was the only Senator to object to the unanimous consent agreement which would have extended unemployment cash and health benefits for 1.2 million Americans.
Bunning doesn’t oppose the benefits. They would cost $10 billion in borrowed money, with interest due in a year. The Senator just wants to bring an immediate halt to any more deficit spending. Bunning is insisting Congress first pay for these benefits because the government should no longer be spending money it does not have.
I sure wish other lawmakers would act in this manner. Were any of these Senators paying attention earlier this week when Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the current long-term deficits are “unsustainable” and they could push up interest rates and place a drag on the economy.
Bunning is the one Senator insisting Congress must comply with the “Pay-Go” (pay as you go) rules they just adopted. Pay-Go was intended to stop Congress from passing any more spending without first finding the money to pay for it. The Democrats often cite Pay-Go to demonstrate they are serious about budget deficits, but the program is worthless because the requirement is always waived.
There are many things all of us would like to purchase, but we can not afford them and we avoid going into debt. The liberal Congress never understands this message.
If these benefits are so important the Congress should find a way to pay for them. “If we can’t find $10 billion somewhere for a bill that everybody in this body supports, we will never pay for anything,” he said. Bunning’s suggestion is to use leftover “stimulus” money to pay for these benefits. The suggestion is excellent, and transfer payments accounted for over 80% of stimulus spending last year.
If his colleagues do not like that idea, then the money can come out of the budgets for National Public Radio, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, green jobs, price supports for multi-millionaire farmers, or those eight new jets the Congress is ordering for its junkets.
The Democrats are resorting to their usual solution. They want to pay for these benefits on credit so future generations will be stuck with the bill. Bunning’s idea is to take away the Congressional credit card. He brought the Senate to a halt by objecting to a unanimous consent agreement, and the liberal news media went ballistic. Time magazine has ranked him among the five worst Senators.
One columnist described him as “loutish, eccentric and mean,” and another said the Democrats ought to make Bunning “the poster boy of the right-wing filibuster.” What they did not say is that this bill was passed by the House six months ago. Why is their anger not directed at Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)?
Reid could have called the bill up earlier so objections could have been dealt with under the regular rules. Instead, Reid waited until the day before adjournment, but then his usual cloture motion trick would not work before the benefits expired.
Furthermore, it has been Reid’s policy to stop the Senate from operating under unanimous consent agreements. The liberals never said anything about this change in long established procedures when it was instituted in 2007. If Reid is so concerned about the unemployed, then why did he kill the bipartisan unemployment bill passed by the Finance Committee? All of the spending portions of that bill were paid for.
“Remember now, this all could’ve been changed had not the leader of the Senate decided that a bipartisan compromise jobs bill was not as important as his partisan jobs bill that just passed just before all of this debate,” Bunning said in his final remarks.
There is always a crisis used by the liberals to increase our debt burden. My sympathy is with the taxpayers. Am I cold hearted regarding the unemployed? No, all 100 Senators are in favor of this temporary extension. The Senate returns on Tuesday, and this bill is going to pass that day.
What Bunning has accomplished is to emphasize the hypocrisy of the liberals. They just passed the Pay-Go bill and the first thing they do is to make a $10 billion exemption. The unemployed are not going to suffer, but hopefully the taxpayer will gain because of Bunning’s courage.
His loud and clear message is how do we pay for this bill? Of course he is correct that the money should come from the stimulus. Bunning’s battle is essential because this is just an opening shot. The next initiative is the longer-term $100 billion jobless benefits package. This is also being exempted from Pay-Go. I am so glad someone is saying STOP to all of this outrageous deficit spending. Bunning is raising the correct question, what reductions can be made to the federal deficit?
The crisis occurred because Majority Leader Reid abandoned the $85 billion bipartisan jobs bill which was paid for. “My gosh, we’ve got over $400 billion in unspent stimulus money,” Bunning said on the Senate floor. “I’ll be here as long as you’re here and as long as all those other senators are here and I’m going to object every time because you won’t pay for this and you propose to never pay for it.”
Pay-Go passed by the House in 2007, and even Speaker Pelosi has used this trick to claim she is a deficit hawk. Pay-Go sounds great until you realize they exempt all of the liberal spending programs. There is a key difference between the GOP and Democratic Pay-Go proposals. Republicans wanted no easy exemptions.
Once again, this bill will be passed on Tuesday and no one is going to suffer. The opening shot has been made and now we are on to the $100 billion battle over the jobless benefits package. All we are asking is how do you pay for these new spending programs. It is a question which needs to be heard over and over again in the reckless Congress.
Senator Bunning is under fire for doing the right thing. He wants Congress to pay for its programs, quit passing bills that aren’t funded, and stop adding to the deficit for the sake of political expediency. He’s trying to bring change to Washington. Didn’t someone promise to do that before?
Writing in the Examiner newspaper, Mark Tapscott says: “Treasury Secretary Geithner is reassuring Americans the huge deficit and spiralling national debt ‘will never’ damage the country’s sterling credit rating because investors will continue to view the U.S. as a good investment. And in other news, Roman Emperor Romulus Augustus reassured citizens they should not worry about those hordes of barbarians gathering outside the city.
“‘Rome is too big to fail, so they will never invade Rome,’ the Emperor said. ‘Besides, if they were to sack Rome, where would they go for our fine entertainments, including the orgies, drama productions with real executions, and, let’ s not forget, our incomparable gladitorial contests in the Coliseum.’ German barbarian leader Odoacer was asked for comment, but would only say through a spokesman that he would soon confer in person with the Emperor about his future status.”
We actually do not have to go back to ancient Rome to see the consequences of our actions. Just look at today’s Greece where the German’s are forcing the Athens government to its knees to completely reform their pension system and raise their retirement age from 61 to 63. That one action stabilized the euro and averted a currency disaster. The debt bomb we are riding is for real.
UPDATE, June 5, 2010
As of Friday, our total national debt – the sum of all outstanding IOUs issued by the U.S. Treasury – stood at a bit more than $13 trillion, or 88% of our projected gross domestic product for 2010. It was at 70% in 2008. The financial markets have been kind to the U.S. because they believe we will eventually get our spending under control.