Posts Tagged ‘cuts’
March 1st, 2013 at 2:10 pm
Paul: Sequester is a 5% Cut on a 17% Increase

U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) shines a spotlight on the true impact of today’s sequester cuts:

If the sequester were to take effect, our spending would only be cut by 2.3%. Let me repeat that — these “eviscerating” cuts will leave our country with 97.7% of our current spending, cutting a mere $85 billion from this year’s $3.6 trillion budget.

The sequester barely begins to skim the surface of the problem. Since taking office, President Obama has increased federal domestic agencies’ budget by 17%. This 17% increase since 2008 will have to endure a 5% cut.

Even with the sequester, the federal government will spend more in 2013 than it did in 2012 — or more than $15 billion.

An editorial in Investor’s Business Daily spells out in greater detail just how much federal spending has grown during the Obama Administration:

…here are some examples — using the OMB’s data and projections — showing the growth in spending for various federal functions since 2008 (percentage increases are inflation-adjusted):

• Transportation: up $36.6 billion, an increase of 37.5%.

• Education: up $30.8 billion, or 25%.

• Housing assistance: up $16.4 billion, or 31.4%.

• Community and regional development: up $11 billion, or 36.5%.

• Natural resources and environment: up $9.5 billion, or 21.3%.

• Farm income stabilization: up $6.8 billion, or 39.5%.

• General government: up $5.9 billion, up 26.6%.

This doesn’t exhaust the list of nondefense discretionary spending; it leaves out energy boondoggles and the burgeoning food stamp program, among others.

Other important budget items immune from sequester are federal entitlements like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, to name just the most recognizable three.

While any budgets cuts are going to be painful, the $85 billion on the chopping block now is, to use Paul’s word, a “pittance” when one considers that for the fifth year in a row the federal budget is likely to carry a $1 trillion deficit.

February 25th, 2013 at 1:37 pm
White House Tries to Avoid Sequester by Shaming the Public

As usual, Ezra Klein’s Wonkblog has an interesting series of graphs that show the power of the federal government in granular detail.  Today’s installment, courtesy of the White House, provides a state-by-state assessment of how the coming budget sequester will impact a range of federally-funded, state-run programs.

These include popular spending on initiatives such as teachers and schools, work-study jobs, Head Start, job-search assistance, military readiness, law enforcement, child care, vaccines for children, public health, nutrition assistance for seniors, STOP Violence Against Women Program, and clean air and water.

But while the White House is putting out these details to (ostensibly) convince the public that 10 percent across-the-board cuts in discretionary spending will be devastating to popular programs, there’s also a bit of subtle public shaming thrown in as well.  Reading through the graphs it becomes painfully obvious just how much of modern American life is subsidized by federal tax dollars (and in some cases, also supported by state taxes).  Getting confronted with that reality isn’t comfortable; especially when many people have come to rely on this kind of help.

And yet, something has to change.  We simply can’t raise enough taxes to cover the cost of every liberal social experiment, or even to pay for every good idea.  Instead, we as a country need political and other leaders to think carefully about how to modify the social contract we’ve been under since the New Deal so that the generations to come will not be cheated out of their inheritance.

Much like how they react to any reasonable reform ideas to Medicare (see any number of ‘Medi-scare’ tactics), liberals can’t lead on this modification project because they refuse to acknowledge that America has a spending problem in the first place.  It thus falls to conservatives to improve on what we have, preserving what’s good and making it better.

Part of the reason I’m optimistic about the future is that I don’t believe that details about our nation’s financial problems will shame a majority of citizens into zero-sum taxation.  Rather, I think that once people become aware of how overextended is our current welfare state, they will reward politicians who can show how to scale back the public sector so that the private sector can flourish.

January 7th, 2013 at 12:16 pm
Sizing Up the Hagel Nomination

Former Nebraska Republican Senator Chuck Hagel is poised to be nominated as the next Defense Secretary.  Politico’s Josh Gerstein has an interesting round-up of the five constituencies most likely to oppose Hagel, but I want to see how President Barack Obama’s pick articulates his position on military spending cuts.

After the fiscal cliff mess, Republicans are aiming to reform entitlements, while Democrats would prefer to ax the Pentagon.  If Hagel can give a reasoned defense for eliminating some unnecessary programs – such as projects that serve to stimulate local economic development rather than national security – then a way could be opened for responsible spending reductions over a wider array of budget areas.  Unlike the automatic spending sequester scheduled to reappear at the end of February, a Hagelian contribution like the one I’m imagining could go a long way to getting on the table real cuts that the broader public can accept.

We’ll see if Hagel makes good on the opportunity.

July 15th, 2011 at 5:49 pm
California Higher Ed Cuts Researchers, Funds Diversity Czars

Heather MacDonald of City Journal highlights yet another example of California residents migrating to Texas for greener cash pastures.  (In this case, UC San Diego lost three top cancer researchers to Rice University after the latter offered a 40% increase in compensation.)  Facing a $650 million cut in state funding, the University of California system campuses are shedding faculty and programs, but not, unfortunately, the blizzard of “diversity czars” and their sizable staffs.

UC San Diego is adding diversity fat even as it snuffs out substantive academic programs. In March, the Academic Senate decided that the school would no longer offer a master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering; it also eliminated a master’s program in comparative literature and courses in French, German, Spanish, and English literature. At the same time, the body mandated a new campus-wide diversity requirement for graduation. The cultivation of “a student’s understanding of her or his identity,” as the diversity requirement proposal put it, would focus on “African Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, Hispanics, Chicanos, Latinos, Native Americans, or other groups” through the “framework” of “race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexuality, language, ability/disability, class or age.” Training computer scientists to compete with the growing technical prowess of China and India, apparently, can wait. More pressing is guaranteeing that students graduate from UCSD having fully explored their “identity.” Why study Cervantes, Voltaire, or Goethe when you can contemplate yourself? “Diversity,” it turns out, is simply a code word for narcissism.

MacDonald also highlights how the multi-million dollar diversity industry has embedded itself into plumb positions at UC Berkeley and UCLA.  If UC students are upset about the coming hike in tuition, they should aim their picket lines at the faculty senates and diversity czars whose very existence makes such increases even higher than need be.

April 14th, 2011 at 12:21 pm
Daniel Webster’s Devil Making a Comeback?

Roll Call reports deposed congressman Alan Grayson (D-FL) sent out a characteristically inflammatory email to supporters yesterday accusing Republican budget cutters of murder:

Grayson complained in his email that Republican budget cuts would “kill” 70,000 children by cutting immunization programs that could put children at risk. Of course, Grayson became infamous for extreme rhetoric in general and specifically for suggesting the GOP health care plan was for citizens to “die quickly.”

“I would very much prefer to see these children alive,” Grayson wrote.

The voters of Florida’s 8th District mercifully substituted state legislator Daniel Webster for the toxic Grayson.  If the latter gives Orlando residents another chance, let’s hope they make the same decision in 2012.

February 25th, 2011 at 1:54 pm
Dems Are Wrong to Think Govt. Shutdown is a Win for Them

Not so fast, says Fox News columnist Chris Stirewalt.  An important difference between the 1995 shutdown that empowered President Bill Clinton was the lack of public anxiety over the $4.97 trillion debt.  Now, it’s $14 trillion plus, “a sum equal to the size of our entire economy.”

If Democrats in Washington make the same miscalculation as Democrats in Wisconsin, they will suffer brutally at the next election.  Shutting down the government in favor of public employee unions or unsustainable federal spending is a fool’s strategy.  With President Barack Obama and party leaders like Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) daring House Republicans to stand firm on budget cuts, expect to see thousands of pro-shutdown protestors flood Washington if government buildings go dark.

If dormant long enough, perhaps some of those buildings – and the agencies that house them – will never be revived.  The debt and spending issues are more important now than in 1995.  If Democrats fail to realize that, they may help hasten a reduction in government overall.