Posts Tagged ‘federal budget’
December 18th, 2015 at 12:56 pm
School Choice a Casualty of the Omnibus Budget
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Education Week reports some disappointing news on the school choice front:

Although education spending as a whole got a $1.2 billion boost in a federal budget deal announced Wednesday, one small but high-profile program has been left out: Washington D.C.’s school vouchers.

The Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act (SOAR), which creates a limited number of vouchers for students living in the District of Columbia, was not reauthorized in the omnibus spending bill, which is expected to be passed this week.

Recently departed House Speaker John Boehner was a champion of the Opportunity Scholarship Program, and the House signed off on reauthorizing SOAR earlier this fall even though it wasn’t up for renewal this year.

The Wall Street Journal editorializes:

The omnibus funds the program for fiscal year 2016 but fails to reauthorize it. This means that 20 years after the program was first debated, 10 years after it started, four years after Mr. Boehner revived it after President Obama had killed it, and a few months after the House passed a bill to reauthorize it, we’ll have to fight the battle all over again . . .

Perhaps this reflects the imbalance of passion. Democrats try to kill vouchers every year because unions demand it. Never mind that Opportunity Scholarship recipients have higher graduation rates and more parental satisfaction than D.C. public school students. Or that the children who get these scholarships are from households with an average household income below $21,000 a year.

This part of the editorial rankles: “A spokesman for the House Appropriations Committee chaired by Hal Rogers, which helped negotiate the omnibus, says only that ‘as this was a compromise agreement, not all priorities could be retained.’”

Four years ago, Republicans — and a significant number of Democrats — understood that protecting and extending the scholarship program was a fight worth having. And that was when Republicans didn’t control both houses of Congress.

February 22nd, 2013 at 11:09 am
Sequester Kabuki
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There’s no question that the forthcoming federal spending cuts under the sequester aren’t ideal, particularly given the indiscriminate way in which they’ll be applied. Republicans in Congress, however, have rightly determined that indelicate cuts are a better option than a compromise that does little or nothing to arrest the trajectory of our debt crisis (even if they haven’t quite worked out the messaging yet).

Standing firm on that principle means accepting some pretty large cuts to defense, but as Byron York notes in a must-read column for the Washington Examiner, the Pentagon is going out of its way to make the situation seem much worse than it really is:

Over many decades of defense budget battles, the Pentagon has often used a tactic known as a “gold watch.” It means to answer a budget cut proposal by selecting for elimination a program so important and valued — a gold watch — that Pentagon chiefs know political leaders will restore funding rather than go through with the cut.

So now, with sequestration approaching, the Pentagon has announced that the possibility of budget cuts has forced the Navy to delay deployment of the carrier USS Harry S. Truman to the Persian Gulf. With tensions with Iran as high as they’ve ever been, that would leave the U.S. with just one carrier, instead of the preferred two, in that deeply troubled region.

“Already, the threat of these cuts has forced the Navy to delay an aircraft carrier that was supposed to deploy to the Persian Gulf,” Obama said at a White House appearance on Tuesday, in case anyone missed the news.

Some military analysts were immediately suspicious. “A total gold watch,” said one retired general officer who asked not to be named. Military commentator and retired Army Lt. Col. Ralph Peters called the Navy’s move “ostentatious,” comparing it to “Donald Trump claiming he can’t afford a cab.”

… Meanwhile, with a budget higher than it was even at the peak of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the Pentagon is resisting attempts to force it to audit its own finances. Congress passed a law back in 1990 requiring such an audit, to no avail. Last year, Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., introduced the Audit the Pentagon Act, which would try again to force a look inside the maze of Pentagon spending.

Now, with the Defense Department sounding the alarm about sequestration, some budget hawks on Capitol Hill are doubtful. “It’s difficult to take these doomsday scenarios seriously when the Pentagon can’t even audit its own books,” says a spokesman for Coburn. “We would argue that the Defense Department has the authority to reprioritize funding toward vital needs and away from less vital spending. As Sen. Coburn has detailed, the department spends nearly $70 billion each year on ‘nondefense’ defense spending that has nothing to do with our national security.”

Yes, the Pentagon does represent some of the most vital spending that takes place in Washington. But conservatives especially should remember that it remains, on many levels, a conventional bureaucracy, prone to defend well-established power centers and jealous of every dollar that comes its way.

The goals of cutting spending and preserving national security are not mutually exclusive.

February 14th, 2012 at 3:07 pm
Obama Budget Looks to Kill School Choice in Washington D.C.
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If there’s one controlling lesson after three years of the Obama Administration, it’s this: watch what he does, not what he says.

For all of his pieities about being a serious education reformer, Obama has time and again cast his lot with the liberal teachers unions that are perhaps the biggest threat to opportunity for the nation’s underprivileged children. This trend showed up early in his presidency, when he attempted to bleed Washington D.C.’s school voucher program by prohibiting new entrants. Apparently, hope and change wasn’t an offer for poor, overwhelmingly minority students in some of the nation’s worst schools.

Thanks to the efforts of Republicans in Congress, the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program is back in action. But under President Obama’s new budget proposal released yesterday, it would be zeroed out. What makes clear that this is a shameless gift to special interests is how decisively the facts weigh in favor of the program. Consider this, from the Heritage Foundation’s Lindsey Burke:

The D.C. OSP has been highly successful. According to federally-mandated evaluations of the program, student achievement has increased, and graduation rates of voucher students have increased significantly. While graduation rates in D.C. Public Schools hover around 55 percent, students who used a voucher to attend private school had a 91 percent graduation rate.

And at $8,000, the vouchers are a bargain compared to the estimated $18,000 spent per child by D.C. Public Schools.

Better outcomes at lower costs. A new generation of young minority students who don’t believe that life ends at 18. And the first reaction of the President of the United States is to see how fast this innovation can be smothered. Many of Obama’s positions can be challenged on the grounds of incorrectness or imprudence. This one, however, deserves disdain for its rank inhumanity.

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 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.

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.

April 5th, 2011 at 1:40 pm
Ramirez Cartoon: The Budget Pie Illustrated
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View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

April 5th, 2011 at 12:02 pm
“The Path to Prosperity” – Paul Ryan on His Budget and the Consequences of Doing Nothing

In the must-watch video below, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan lays out his 2012 budget proposal and the consequences should Congress fail to act now to restore the nation’s  fiscal sanity.

March 10th, 2011 at 12:23 pm
Harry Reid’s Cowboy Poetry
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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.

February 28th, 2011 at 11:12 am
Voters Favor Gov’t Shutdown Over Keeping Spending at Current Levels

As the congressional standoff over budget cuts heats up in Washington D.C., both Republicans and Democrats are seemingly scrambling to reach a compromise to avoid a government shutdown.  But is compromise what the American people want?

According to a new Rasmussen Reports survey, 58% of likely voters “would rather have a partial shutdown of the federal government than keep its spending at current levels. “  A mere 33% would prefer Congress agree to maintain last year’s spending level in order to avoid a government shutdown.

Broken out by party affiliation, Rasmussen found that:

Fifty-eight percent (58%) of Democrats prefer avoiding a shutdown by going with current spending levels. But 80% of Republicans — and 59% of voters not affiliated with either major party — think a shutdown is a better option until the two sides can agree on spending cuts.

Read the complete top-line survey results here.

February 18th, 2011 at 2:17 am
Even Tim Geithner Believes Obama’s Budget is “Unsustainable”

In response to questioning from Senator Jeff Sessions during a Budget Committee hearing yesterday, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner admitted President Obama’s proposed budget creates an “excessively high interest burden” that is “unsustainable.”

The president’s proposal would add $13 trillion in new gross debt and would increase interest payments on the national debt to $844 billion annually by 2021.

September 14th, 2009 at 11:05 am
New Video on Federal Budget
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This one is courtesy of Matthias Shapiro. Some of his videos have netted more than 1 million views.