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Posts Tagged ‘Deficits’
November 19th, 2012 at 4:28 pm
Geithner’s Solution to Debt Crisis: Eliminate Debt Ceiling
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There is a certain logic to this. Why have laws, after all, that exist purely for the purpose of being broken? That being said, it’s telling that the Treasury Secretary (he of “We don’t have a plan, but we don’t like yours.”) seems more interested in eroding even the weakest checks on the national debt than in doing something to arrest — or, heaven forfend, even reverse — it’s growth.

November 5th, 2012 at 4:45 pm
Want to Reduce Public Spending? Make Government More Efficient
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There’s a certain strain of thinking on the right that scoffs at the notion of “efficient government.” The skepticism of what seems to be an unobjectionable goal has a few sources.

First, many pundits point out that the nation’s constitutional design is predicated on checks and balances that make government anything but efficient — the explicit goal, after all, is to slow the lawmaking process in an attempt to ensure some measure of deliberation. They’re right about that, of course, but that’s an observation on the lawmaking process, not on implementing or enforcing the law.

Second, conservatives note (also rightly) that government by its very nature (i.e., the lack of market incentives present in the private sector) has a built-in bias towards sclerosis and waste. That’s true as far as it goes, but arguing that government can’t be administered perfectly is not the same as arguing that it can’t be done better.

For a good example of the potential of reformist public administration, one need look no further than the example that Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels set with that most hated of bureaucracies, the DMV (though in Indiana it’s the BMV — The Bureau of Motor Vehicles). Consider this excerpt from Andrew Ferguson’s fabulous profile of Daniels in a 2010 issue of the Weekly Standard:

The state Bureau of Motor Vehicles, another patronage sump that was routinely ranked one of the worst in the country, was drastically reorganized. “[Daniels] likes metrics,” [Director of the Indiana OMB Ryan] Kitchell said. “He likes to measure outcomes.” Every line item in the state budget has at least one objective formula attached to it to indicate how well each service is being delivered. Regulatory agencies track the speed with which permits and variances are granted. The economic development agency has to compare the hourly wage of each new job brought to the state with the average hourly wage of existing jobs. In the case of the BMV, the two most important metrics were wait times and customer satisfaction. Now each receipt is stamped with the time the customer arrives and the time his transaction is completed. Wait times have dropped from over 40 minutes to under 10 minutes. Surveys put customer satisfaction at 97 percent.

So it can be done. And by the way, it’s also a cracker jack method for keeping government outlays under control. From Walter Russell Mead, writing at his Via Meadia blog:

… By 2025, fully 34 percent of US GDP will be eaten up by the cost of providing public services. Throw in little items [like] interest on the burgeoning national debt and pension and other liabilities, and we are looking at basic governance costs and obligations close to 40 percent of GDP—and heading inexorably higher…

There are two basic drivers behind these numbers: the first is the well known demographic problem that comes from the combination of increased longevity and falling birth rates. Programs like Medicare cost more as people live longer, and reduced population growth means that the workforce grows more slowly than the number of old people drawing on government services and transfer programs.

But the second driving force, which [an] Accenture [study] highlights very usefully, is less well understood: the catastrophically slow growth of productivity in the government workforce. Think of this as “bureaucracy drag;” while productivity in the workforce as a whole is rising by 1.7 percent per year, and in private sector service industries it is rising by 1.5 percent each year, in government productivity is rising by a miserable 0.3 percent per year.

Bureaucrats aren’t getting the job done. And the rest of us are paying the price. It’s time for public sector executives around the country to take a page out of Mitch Daniels’ playbook.

September 6th, 2012 at 9:13 am
Ramirez Cartoon: What $16 Trillion Debt?
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Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

May 23rd, 2012 at 10:07 am
Is America Headed Toward Bankruptcy? CFIF’s Quin Hillyer Discusses the Nation’s Debt Crisis on CBN News
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CFIF’s Quin Hillyer discusses America’s debt crisis on CBN News.

 

January 23rd, 2012 at 4:35 pm
1,000 Days Without a Budget
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Believe it or not, that’s the remarkable reality we’ll be facing when Barack Obama takes to the podium to deliver his State of the Union address tomorrow night: nearly three years wherein the federal government — the largest distributor of funds on the planet — has operated without a budget. That’s a failure that deserves widespread public attention. Happily, the GOP — which usually can be counted on to bobble these kinds of communications opportunities — is doing a serviceable job of highlighting this ignominious milestone:

November 28th, 2011 at 10:51 pm
Chris Christie Takes President Obama to the Woodshed
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We’re way overdue for a Chris Christie video here on Freedom Line. Thankfully, the New Jersey governor is back in the saddle and he’s seemingly competing with Newt Gingrich to see who can blister the sitting Commander-in-Chief more thoroughly. This is a thing of beauty:

November 22nd, 2011 at 6:08 pm
The Supercommittee Fallout Begins
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I’ve been shouting from the rooftops for as long as anyone would listen that the Congressional Supercommittee was (a) a bad idea (b) doomed to failure and (c) destined to put the funding of America’s military forces in danger because of triggered cuts that could add up to more than a trillion dollars.

Now that’s all coming true and the lines are beginning to get drawn in the sand. From today’s coverage in Politico:

Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) vowed to eliminate the automatic cuts, which would take effect in 2013, citing dire warnings from his panel’s analysts and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta about the impact of an additional $500 billion reduction on the nation’s security.

“I will not be the armed services chairman who presides over crippling our military,” he said just before the supercommittee admitted defeat Monday afternoon…

President Barack Obama later said he would veto any attempt to undo the spending cuts. “There will be no easy offramps on this one. We need to keep the pressure up to compromise, not turn off the pressure,” he said.

The president’s callousness is stunning. Fully funding the men and women of the United States military is not an “easy offramp” — it’s a strategic and moral necessity. An easy offramp would be proposing an increase in the debt ceiling without offering any spending cuts during a time of record national debt. An easy offramp would be allowing Congress to grope its way through the supercommittee process without any leadership from the White House. In short, an easy offramp would be everything President Obama has done to avoid any responsibility for reducing the national debt.

It’s time for the Congress to make a stand — and not just the Republicans. Many Democrats will understand that it’s both good policy and good election-year politics to keep the Pentagon from being gutted. And let’s hope they’re not just limited to Capitol Hill. Nothing would put the issue in starker terms than Defense Secretary Leon Panetta — a good man and one who has consistently opposed this reckless policy — standing in solidarity with a bipartisan congressional majority against the president. If he’s worthy of his job, that’s exactly what he’ll do.

November 22nd, 2011 at 1:32 am
Super Committee: Able to Kick the Can Down the Road in a Single Bound
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Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

August 1st, 2011 at 9:33 pm
Biden Downgrades the Vice Presidency
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Oh, for the halcyon days when the vice presidency was a sinecure, in the (paraphrased) words of John Nance Garner, “not worth a bucket of warm (spit).” The current presidency and the two preceding it, however, have seen our nation’s deputy-executive take on growing prominence and prestige. Which was all well and good until Joe Biden arrived on the scene. Here’s how Politico reports Biden’s take on the conservative negotiating stance during the debt ceiling debate:

Vice President Joe Biden joined House Democrats in lashing tea party Republicans Monday, accusing them of having “acted like terrorists” in the fight over raising the nation’s debt limit, according to several sources in the room.

There are two lessons here. The first is that “terrorist” is the new “nazi”; an epithet that the boorish and unimaginative throw around with no regard to the gravity of genuine evil and suffering. The second is that Biden is an extraordinarily imprudent man. While comments like his don’t deserve an airing anywhere, an experienced politician like the VP should know that they’re especially dangerous in a room full of potential leakers — especially when the consequence of a leak could be to dismantle the legislative coalition needed to pass an essential piece of legislation.

With news that the House has passed the compromise debt agreement, Biden has dodged the bullet of having his words derail a grand bargain. But he’s far from being out the woods. Now that he’s alienated the lion’s share of the Republican Caucus, don’t expect to see the VP chairing any more bipartisan task forces on Capitol Hill in the future. The vice presidency may now return to its historical role — attending state funerals and welcoming Girl Scout troops to the Rose Garden. Who said nothing good would come out of the debt ceiling debate?

July 25th, 2011 at 11:35 am
Congressional Democrats Tacitly Admitting Obama is Inept
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For the past two and a half years, it’s been the exclusive provenance of the right to point out that President Obama often seems overmatched by his job. But after this weekend’s latest round of debt ceiling negotiations — where a newly irascible President Obama was nowhere to be seen amidst the congressional horse-trading — it’s becoming clear that Democrats on the hill are starting to think the same thing. The ugly details are fleshed out by Craig Crawford, writing in the Huffington Post:

While the GOP obviously would savor a solution to the debt-ceiling crisis that gives Obama no credit, why are Democratic leaders so willing to cut him out?

The answer might be found in growing concerns among veteran Capitol Hill Democrats that their president is a lousy negotiator.

Although they see him as a talented public communicator, his short time as a senator and painfully slow learning curve as president leads congressional Democrats to think it best to take over and provide cover for him once the deal is done.

“A talented public communicator” who can’t negotiate? The Democrats are essentially saying that the president is really good at talking about his job, just weak when it comes to actually doing it. This, my friends, is what the wag who coined the phrase “damning with faint praise” had in mind.

July 20th, 2011 at 5:19 pm
Surest Path to Getting Rid of a Federal Employee? Death
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At this time of “shared sacrifice”, the political class is fond of telling us that there are “no easy choices” to combat the nation’s crisis of overspending. Yet as private companies have cut back on their payrolls to cope with the Great Recession, Washington hasn’t even been firing on the merits, according to USA Today:

Death — rather than poor performance, misconduct or layoffs — is the primary threat to job security at the Environmental Protection Agency, the Small Business Administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Office of Management and Budget and a dozen other federal operations.

The federal government fired 0.55% of its workers in the budget year that ended Sept. 30 — 11,668 employees in its 2.1 million workforce. Research shows that the private sector fires about 3% of workers annually for poor performance, says John Palguta, former research chief at the federal Merit Systems Protection Board, which handles federal firing disputes.

The 1,800-employee Federal Communications Commission and the 1,200-employee Federal Trade Commission didn’t lay off or fire a single employee last year. The SBA had no layoffs, six firings and 17 deaths in its 4,000-employee workforce.
I’ll think about sharing in the sacrifice once these folks do.
h/t: Mollie Hemingway at Ricochet
July 19th, 2011 at 1:19 am
How to Destroy the Most Powerful Economy in the World — in Three Paragraphs
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Michael Barone is one of those rare Washington pundits who thinks facts are more important than feelings. That means that when he makes sweeping claims, he’ll always have the data to back them up. And he’ll do so in the dispassionate fashion of a doctor reading an X-ray. That’s part of what makes his new column on the debt ceiling so chilling. In it, he writes:

The bedrock issue is whether we should have a larger and more expensive federal government. Over many years, federal spending has averaged about 20 percent of gross domestic product.

The Obama Democrats have raised that to 24 or 25 percent. And the president’s budget projects that that percentage will stay the same or increase far into the future.

In the process, the national debt as a percentage of gross domestic product has increased from a manageable 40 percent in 2008 to 62 percent this year and an estimated 72 percent in 2012. And it’s headed to the 90 percent level that economists Kenneth Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart have identified as the danger point, when governments face fiscal collapse.

Barone’s words are a bracing reminder of the stakes in this fight. Virtually all Democrats — and even many Republicans — would have us believe that this is a moment defined by pure political philosophy; that it’s simply a question of whether you balance the books through tax increases, spending cuts, or some combination thereof. But it’s more than just principles that hang in the balance. It’s the fate of a nation.

July 7th, 2011 at 3:15 pm
Adding to the List of Reasons for Why Republicans Shouldn’t Cave on Tax Increases

C.J. Ciaramella of The Daily Caller reports

The Securities and Exchange Commission gave up its leasing authority yesterday and could face a Justice Department probe in light of a $550 million leasing scandal.

At a House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee meeting yesterday, SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro ceded the agency’s leasing authority and admitted it had made a “terrible mistake” when it put taxpayers on the hook for a half-billion dollar lease for office space it didn’t need.

And this is the same government that now wants to increase taxes as part of a “deal” to raise the debt ceiling?

June 8th, 2011 at 12:13 am
Pawlenty Gets His Game Face On
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I’m going to have to make some concessions to Tim, which means I may start drinking before I’m finished writing this post (just kidding, Tim is consistently on point … and I started drinking long before I started drafting).

The source of this doff of the cap is the performance of one Tim Pawlenty, who Mr. Lee took to this blog to defend when I lamented the state of the Republican presidential field upon Mitch Daniels’ non-entry.

As the invisible primary picks up steam, Pawlenty is showing some real grit (he opposed ethanol mandates despite the importance of Iowa to his electoral strategy, for instance) and consistently sharpening his message. Giving a major economic address in Chicago today, the former Minnesota governor brilliantly characterized his formula for reducing government:

“We can start by applying what I call ‘The Google Test,’ Pawlenty said Tuesday. “If you can find a good or service on the Internet, then the federal government probably doesn’t need to be doing it.”

Pundits on the left are already hitting Pawlenty for being reductionist. There may be some ever-so-slight truth to that. You can find health care services online, but that doesn’t mean it’s unreasonable for the government to provide funding for the poorest among us. Still, having the government provide it? I’d have to say the Pawlenty formula is right about 98 percent of the time.

April 29th, 2011 at 11:11 am
Podcast: The Debt Ceiling and Failure of Government “Stimulus”
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CFIF Vice President for Legal and Public Affairs Timothy Lee discusses the pending debate over the debt ceiling and how lawmakers need to better understand that wealth is created rather than “distributed.”

Listen to the interview here.

April 27th, 2011 at 3:56 pm
Breaking Down the Budget “Deal”
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The budget compromise reached between Congressional leaders and the White House a few weeks ago has been analyzed, dissected and commented upon exhaustively.  While the “deal” may have averted a government shutdown, it ended up being a disappointment to taxpayers, who were overwhelmingly demanding meaningful spending cuts this year. 

In an attempt to help the American people better understand what transpired, Mike Bates of 1330 AM WEBY, Northwest Florida’s Talk Radio, prepared and recently read the following analysis of the “deal” on the air. 

The Budget Agreement is Nothing to Celebrate
 
The “government shutdown” was avoided when Republicans and Democrats in Washington agreed to a budget compromise to cut $38.5 billion from the proposed $3.8 trillion budget.
 
Though it’s been touted by both parties and the press, this is no cause for celebration.  Why not?
 
A few quick facts:
 
Our national debt is $14.2 trillion.
This year’s budget calls for $3.8 trillion in spending.
Our government will borrow $1.6 trillion to do this.
That means we are borrowing 42 cents of every dollar we spend.
We are spending $1.6 trillion dollars more than we are taking in.
The Republicans wanted to cut $45 billion from the budget.
The Democrats wanted to cut $33 billion from the budget.
The Republicans and Democrats were arguing over $12 billion.
They agreed to cut $38.5 billion.
 
Few people comprehend how bad our nation’s finances are.  Just how much is a trillion dollars?
 
If you laid one trillion one-dollar bills end to end, it would extend from the Earth to just past the Sun.  It would stretch to the moon 394 times.  And that trillion dollars would wrap around the Earth 3787 times.  But money is not understood as a measurement of distance.
 
If you spend one dollar every second, it would take you 32,000 years to spend one trillion dollars.  But money is not a measurement of time.

Money is a measurement of value.  So I broke down the budget into terms we can all understand.
 
A husband and wife have accumulated debt of $373,684.
They have a household income of $58,000.
They plan to spend $100,000 this year.
So they’ll have to borrow $42,000 to do this.
That means they are borrowing 42 cents of every dollar they spend.
One spouse proposed that they cut $1184 from the budget.
The other spouse proposed that they cut $868 from the budget.
The husband and wife were arguing over $316.
They agreed to cut $1013.
 
How long can that couple keep borrowing and spending like that?  How long can our government keep borrowing and spending like that?
 
The budget agreement is nothing to celebrate.
 
But wait!  It gets worse.  Within a week of the budget deal, the Congressional Budget Office announced that the actual savings of the claimed “$38.5 billion” in cuts could be as little as $352 million.  If that turns out to be true, the couple above just saved a pathetic nine dollars and twenty six cents.

March 29th, 2011 at 10:39 pm
Marco Rubio Throws Down the Gauntlet on the Debt Ceiling
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Republicans in Congress are currently split on whether to accept incremental budget cuts in the name of political pragmatism or to hold a hard line — and face the possibility of a government shutdown or a freeze in the debt ceiling — in the name of principle. Freshman Florida Senator Marco Rubio takes to the editorial pages of the Wednesday edition of the Wall Street Journal with a message that leaves no doubt where he stands:

“Raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure.” So said then-Sen. Obama in 2006, when he voted against raising the debt ceiling by less than $800 billion to a new limit of $8.965 trillion. As America’s debt now approaches its current $14.29 trillion limit, we are witnessing leadership failure of epic proportions.

I will vote to defeat an increase in the debt limit unless it is the last one we ever authorize and is accompanied by a plan for fundamental tax reform, an overhaul of our regulatory structure, a cut to discretionary spending, a balanced-budget amendment, and reforms to save Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

For months now, we’ve heard “sober” politicians tell us that it’s time to have “an adult conversation” about the size and cost of government in which “everything is on the table”. It looks like Marco Rubio is calling their bluff.

March 25th, 2011 at 11:15 am
This Week’s Liberty Update
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Center For Individual Freedom - Liberty Update

This week’s edition of the Liberty Update, CFIF’s weekly e-newsletter, is out. Below is a summary of its contents:

Senik:  Libya: Confusion, by Committee
Ellis:  Air Claire Laid Bare: The Corruption of Claire McCaskill
CFIF Testimony Before NC House Finance Committee:  The Case Against Government Ownership of Broadband Networks
Release:  Leading National Organizations Urge Speaker Boehner to Preserve Amendment Defunding DOE’s “Gainful Employment” Regulation

Freedom Minute Video:  The Alternate Reality of Liberal Budgets
Podcast:  National Security Expert Discusses Libya
Jester’s Courtroom:  Underage Drinker Sues Bar for Her Injury

Editorial Cartoons:  Latest Cartoons of Michael Ramirez
Quiz:  Question of the Week
Notable Quotes:  Quotes of the Week

If you are not already signed up to receive CFIF’s Liberty Update by e-mail, sign up here.

March 25th, 2011 at 9:38 am
Video: The Alternate Reality of Liberal Budgets
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In this week’s Freedom Minute, CFIF’s Renee Giachino discusses the national debt crisis, Congress’ addiction to excessive spending and the Democrat’s budget plan.  Giachino warns that without serious and immediate action to right the nation’s fiscal ship, America is destined to a future of higher taxes, greater inflation and a lower standard of living.

 

February 14th, 2011 at 9:52 pm
Fiscal Conservatism, in One Paragraph
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There were many fine speeches from last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that deserved the attention of thoughtful conservatives. First among equals, however, was the address that Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels gave for Friday night’s Ronald Reagan Centennial Dinner.

The speech — written by Daniels himself — shows that the potential 2012 presidential candidate is not only a brilliant manager and a canny politician, but also an extremely sophisticated (and subtle) writer. In its defense of a prudent conservatism, the speech demonstrated that Daniels, not Barack Obama, is the great literary talent of 21st century politics. For unlike The One, Daniels speech was drenched in substance.

As such, the speech deserves no less than to be read in its entirety. Failing that, however, no passage deserves isolated quotation as much as Daniels’ definition and defense of fiscal conservatism, a masterpiece of dictional economy:

We believe it wrong ever to take a dollar from a free citizen without a very necessary public purpose, because each such taking diminishes the freedom to spend that dollar as its owner would prefer. When we do find it necessary, we feel a profound duty to use that dollar as carefully and effectively as possible, else we should never have taken it at all.

That’ll do, Mitch. That’ll do.