Posts Tagged ‘fiscally conservative’

Wall Street Journal: What Austerity?

August 25, 2011

Wednesday’s Wall Street Jouranl contained an editorial piece titled “What Austerity?”

The very pointed piece starts like this:

 
With the recovery sputtering, the White House and its allies have been blaming government spending cuts, or what the neo-Keynesians call “fiscal contraction.” This is a dubious economic theory even if spending were being cut, but yesterday’s mid-year report from the Congressional Budget Office shows definitively that there’s been nothing close to contraction in Washington.
 
That’s the real news in the CBO numbers, which show that spending in fiscal 2011 (which ends on September 30) will hit a new high of $3.6 trillion, up $141 billion from 2010. That’s higher than the previous record in 2009 of $3.5 trillion, which was supposed to be the peak of the “temporary” stimulus spending.
 

Ouch. Did you realize that total federal outlays have increased by about one-third in just four years, something unmatched since the “Great Inflation” of the 1970’s.

The piece continues:

Give President Obama and the two Pelosi Congresses credit for this much: They said they would spend our way out of recession, and they sure gave it the old Beltway try. The problem is that we got the spending without the promised economic growth.

Double-ouch. Spending is up again, and while there are relatively modest increases in military spending (and make no mistake – defense spending absolutely needs to be scrutinized) the biggest increases are “Medicare, Medicaid, and the usual panoply of entitlements and other payments to individuals.”
 
Referencing the recent CBO report, the authors point out that the slightly sunnier picture (very slight) is “based on assumptions that will never come true.” It assumes, they said, that federal spending will suddenly come to a screeching halt and grow by only $12 billion in 2012. Right. Both Obama and the Demorat-controlled Senate want to INCREASE spending.
 
They continue:

The rest of CBO’s fantasy forecast comes from what it says will be “the sharp increases in revenues that will occur when provisions of [the Bush era tax cuts extended last year] expire.” So CBO estimates that federal taxes as a share of GDP will leap to 19% in 2013 and 20.2% in 2014 from 15.3% today. And we are supposed to believe that economic growth will soar to 4.4% and 5% in 2014 and 2015 after huge tax increases on capital gains, dividends, small businesses and workers in 2013. Beam us up, Scotty.
 

The editorial concludes like this:

The real story told by the CBO report is that the federal government is still pursuing a very loose fiscal policy, despite lamentations from Democrats and the Keynesian economists who populate Wall Street. The best that House Republicans have been able to do so far is to battle Mr. Obama and Senate Democrats to a draw, delaying tax increases until 2013 and preventing even larger spending increases. To really control Washington’s appetites, the voters are going to have to back up their message in 2010 with reinforcements in 2012.

I couldn’t agree more.

Matheson tries to scare seniors into voting for him

October 16, 2010

Congressman Jim Matheson claims to be a fiscal conservative. He assures voters they can count on him to rein in government spending but when his conservative GOP opponent Morgan Philpot talks about true reform, Matheson turns it into an attack ad. In August, Philpot talked about a plan to keep this country from plunging off the financial cliff. He has short-term, medium-term and long-term goals.

In the long term, Philpot knows we need to address entitlement programs. Right now, this “non-discretionary” spending, aka “entitlement spending”, uses up almost all of the money the federal government brings in. The rest of government is run on a credit card.

No one can call themselves a “fiscal conservative” when they refuse to address entitlement spending. NO ONE. Matheson obviously is NOT interested in really doing the heavy lifting required of true fiscal conservatives. Instead, he takes Philpot’s statements about reforming entitlement spending and sends out a mailer scaring senior citizens by telling them that Philpot wants to gamble away their retirement.

In fact, what Philpot said was that he wanted to address reforming Social Security that does not affect those currently receiving benefits while reforming the ongoing program for future generations.

Whatever it takes, eh Congressman?

Obamacare+Medicaid=crisis

October 11, 2010

When Nancy Pelosi was pitching Obamacare, she told the American people that they would have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it. Well, a few months later, what we have learned a few things.  One is that organizations – like McDonald’s – are asking for waivers for rules that don’t even exist. We have also learned that the Secretary of Health and Human Services is authorized to determine minimum coverage limits – and then is authorized to waive those limits.

Michael Cannon, from the CATO Institute said: “The secretary can decide what you have to purchase, but if you are in a presidential swing state, the secretary has the authority to undo everything she just did.” Further, the law they passed is a shell of a law. Most of the rules have yet to be written.”

Author Caroline Baum, posting on Bloomberg News points out: “Everywhere you turn there’s a story about insurance premiums rising and employers shifting more of the cost onto employees. A new study by human-resources consultants Hewitt Associates LLC projects an average premium increase of 8.8 percent in 2011, the biggest in five years.” Original projections were 6.3%.

In an uncertain economy, “corporations are already hunkered down because of (take your pick) weak demand, hurt feelings as a result of presidential persecution, or uncertainty over future health-care costs and tax rates.”

One of the things we DO know is that in 2014, when Obamacare is fully implemented, state Medicaid rolls will explode.  If not changed between now and then, Medicaid will be expanded to cover nearly all adults who earn up to 133% of poverty level and the process of determining eligibility will be rolled into state exchanges.

Nebraska governor Dave Heineman said recently that “this unfunded and unparalleled expansion of Medicaid is an unfair and unsustainable mandate on Nebraska and other states.” Pointing to a non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation study on Medicaid and the Uninsured, he said: “This analysis confirms that the federal health care law is an extraordinarily large and excessive unfunded mandate for states.”

With Medicaid now consuming 18% of the state budget, it has doubled in just 10 years.  If there are no changes, it is expected to more than double again in another 10 years.  The path we are on is clearly unsustainable.  Senator Liljenquist (R-Bountiful) is working on tackling this hot topic in the 2011 legislative session.  Stay tuned.

Jim Matheson, king of spin

October 8, 2010

If you can’t run on your record of voting for the stimulus, for Cash for Clunkers, and for Nancy Pelosi, then by golly, spin, spin, spin.

Congressman Jim Matheson is deflecting and twisting when he tells Utah Policy Daily that his GOP opponent, Morgan Philpot “is saying things that are just not true – like his ad that says I’ve only sponsored two bills” in 10 years in the U.S. House. “That is demonstratively false – I’ve done a lot more than that.” Except what the ad actually said was that he had only PASSED two bills while in the US House.

Matheson also has a new ad out that says he knows “Every penny counts” – so surely that’s why he voted to raise the debt ceiling twice in the last year, or why he has twice earned the “Big Spender” rating from NTU. He also asserts that he didn’t vote for a bailout and while it’s true he didn’t vote for TARP, he DID vote for the stimulus package. And son of stimulus. And son of stimulus 2……

Matheson – whose campaign is almost completely funded by outside PACS – also sent out fundraising letters decrying FreedomWorks “coming to Utah.” These are people “who know nothing about what matters to Utah families.” Really? Really?!*I* am FreedomWorks in Utah, Mr. Matheson. I DO know what matters to Utah families. I write about what matters to Utah families. I advocate for what matters to Utah families – and guess what – it’s not more debt and failed stimulus programs. It’s surely not the Pelosi/Reid/Obama debacle Matheson so clearly favors. Larry Jensen is FreedomWorks in Utah. He lives in Salt Lake County and works for Utah families and their rights every single day. Darcy Van Orden is FreedomWorks in Utah. Becky Pirente is FreedomWorks in Utah. All Utah residents, all here, on the ground working to keep the freedoms you and your fellow Democrats seem so intent on wrenching from us. WE are the ones placing signs, walking neighborhoods and talking to people. And we do know Utah.

Poor hurt the most by expiration of Bush tax cuts

October 7, 2010

On Jan 1st, the Bush tax cuts are set to expire. The child tax credit will be cut in half, the standard deductions and income credits decrease and the 10 percent tax bracket – aimed at non-wealthy taxpayers – goes away.

While wealthier taxpayers pay more in taxes and stand to lose more in total dollars, the impact on low-income taxpayers will be far greater since they live on much slimmer margins.

In a new report from the Tax Foundation, author Nick Kasprak points out that in spite of repeated promises that the cuts will be extended, “the current Congress has shown itself to be unusually susceptible to gridlock so the threat of automatic, full expiration of all these cuts is quite real.” In fact, even though we heard last year that the death tax would go away completely, ten months later, Democratic leaders have yet to follow through on that promise.

If predictions for Republican wins in the Senate races in Illinois and West Virginia hold true, those new members will be sworn in immediately. That will give the GOP 43 seats in the upper chamber and the Democrats will have a very difficult time getting the 60 votes they need to pass the legislation to extend the tax cuts for the middle class, but let them expire for the “wealthy.” They will then be faced with the choice to extend the cuts for ALL, or do nothing and let them expire, hurting those at the lower end of the income scale.

“When comparing changes in after-tax income, low-income workers benefited substantially from the Bush-era tax cuts, and so they would pay much higher taxes if political gridlock allows the imminent expirations to occur on schedule,” Kasprak said.

Additionally, low-income taxpayers have benefited from many temporary stimulus measures enacted in 2009 that are also set to expire at the end of this year: a further expansion of the earned income credit for couples, greater refundability of the child tax credit, and bigger credits for college education.

The Making Work Pay credit that appears in paychecks and boosts take-home pay up to $400 for individuals and $800 for couples is also slated to expire next year.

The report shows that inaction on these tax measures will cost a married couple with two dependents earning $40,000 about $2,643. Their after-tax income would drop from $41,513 (if the cuts are extended) to $38,870.

Those cuts could have been extended if the Blue Dog coalition, led by Jim Matheson, had not hidden behind Pelosi’s skirts.

Taxes, taxes and more taxes

October 5, 2010

(Clever little Internet ditty)

Tax his land, Tax his bed, Tax the table, At which he’s fed.

Tax his tractor, Tax his mule, Teach him taxes Are the rule.

Tax his work, Tax his pay, He works for peanuts Anyway!

Tax his cow, Tax his goat, Tax his pants, Tax his coat.

Tax his ties, Tax his shirt, Tax his work, Tax his dirt.

Tax his tobacco, Tax his drink, Tax him if he Tries to think.

Tax his cigars, Tax his beers, If he cries Tax his tears.

Tax his car, Tax his gas, Find other ways To tax his a**.

Tax all he has Then let him know That you won’t be done Till he has no dough.

When he screams and hollers; Then tax him some more, Tax him till He’s good and sore.

Then Tax his coffin, Tax his grave, Tax the sod in Which he’s laid…

Put these words Upon his tomb, Taxes drove me to my doom…’ When he’s gone, Do not relax, Its time to apply the inheritance Tax.

Sales Tax
School Tax
Liquor Tax
Luxury Tax
Excise Taxes
Property Tax
Cigarette Tax
Medicare Tax
Inventory Tax
Real Estate Tax
Well Permit Tax
Fuel Permit Tax
Inheritance Tax
Road Usage Tax
CDL license Tax
Dog License Tax
State Income Tax
Food License Tax
Vehicle Sales Tax
Gross Receipts Tax
Social Security Tax
Service Charge Tax
Fishing License Tax
Federal Income Tax
Building Permit Tax
IRS Interest Charges
Hunting License Tax
Marriage License Tax
Corporate Income Tax
Personal Property Tax
Accounts Receivable Tax
Recreational Vehicle Tax
Workers Compensation Tax
Watercraft Registration Tax
Telephone Usage Charge Tax
Telephone Federal Excise Tax
Telephone State and Local Tax
IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)
Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
Telephone Federal Universal Service FeeTax
Gasoline Tax (currently 44.75 cents per gallon)
Utility Taxes Vehicle License Registration Tax
Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Taxes
Telephone Recurring and Nonrecurring Charges Tax

Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago & our nation was the most prosperous in the world.
We had absolutely no national debt, had the largest middle class in the world, and Mom stayed home to raise the kids. What the heck happened?

(Psst: It’s called DC-itis. There is a cure. It’s called the ballot box.)

Matheson=Pelosi lap dog

October 4, 2010

This weekend, the Wall Street Journal published an article titled “The Lap Dog Coalition” about the self-described fiscal conservatives from the D side of the aisle. “The Blue Dog Coalition isn’t a vehicle to help conservative Democrats influence policy,” the article states. “It is a marketing brand to help vulnerable Democrats deceive voters.”

In the words of Pete Geren of Texas, they were “yellow dogs choked blue” by the strident economic liberalism of their party leaders. Actually, “yellow” is a more accurate color to describe the cowardly actions of these Pelosi lap dogs led by none other than Utah’s own Jim Matheson.

Remember that he was quite certain that the House needed to remain in session to extend the Bush tax cuts, but when Pelosi needed him to vote to adjourn, he fell right in line. Back at home, he is under fire. Radio talk show king, Doug Wright, berated him for an hour. The blog-o-spere erupted with posts like “Matheson Appeases,” “One Vote Makes a Difference,” and “Matheson chooses Pelosi over Utah“. Even the Trib comment boards went after him.

Jim tried to soft-pedal his unwillingness to stand up to Pelosi by passing the buck: “There was no reason to stay. The bill was never going to be brought up. The Senate wasn’t going to move its bill. I think it’s important for members go out and be with their constituents and hear from them. I hope that will get some people in a better frame of mind for addressing this issue.”

Really? REALLY? And just when will he be holding a town hall to “hear from his constituents”? Oh that’s right – never.

Never fear – Jim can hear from his constituents on November 2nd when they send that blue-dog home with his tail between his legs.  Arf, arf.

David Walker and financial boondoggles

September 16, 2010

David Walker, former Comptroller General of the United states, was in town recently to talk at Senator Orrin Hatch’s “Economic Summit”.

Walker served as Comptroller General and head of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) from 1998 to 2008. Appointed by President Bill Clinton, his tenure as the federal government’s chief auditor spanned both Democratic and Republican administrations.

Normally a 15-year position, Walker stepped down after ten years when he was personally recruited by Peter G. Peterson, co-founder of the Blackstone Group, and former Secretary of Commerce to lead his new foundation. The foundation distributed the film I.O.U.S.A. that looks at the alarming financial situation we find ourselves in.

Walker has compared the present-day United States with the Roman Empire in its decline, saying the U.S. government is on a “burning platform” of “unsustainable policies and practices with fiscal deficits, expensive overcommitments to government provided health care, swelling Medicare and Social Security costs, the enormous expense of a prospective universal health care system, immigration, and overseas military commitments threatening a crisis if action is not taken soon.”
In 2007, Walker called the Medicare Part D program “probably the most fiscally irresponsible piece of legislation since the 1960s. I would argue that the most serious threat to the United States is not someone hiding in a cave in Afghanistan or Pakistan,” he continued “but our own fiscal irresponsibility.”

“I’m going to show you some numbers…they’re all big and they’re all bad,” he told CBS. “You know the American people, I tell you, they are absolutely starved for two things: the truth, and leadership. What’s going on right now is we’re spending more money than we make…we’re charging it to a credit card…and expecting our grandchildren to pay for it. And that’s absolutely outrageous.” He was clearly able to read the writing on the wall when he continued: “The fact is, is that we don’t face an immediate crisis. And, so people say, ‘What’s the problem?’ The answer is, we suffer from a fiscal cancer. It is growing within us. And if we do not treat it, it could have catastrophic consequences for our country.” The cancer, Walker says, are massive entitlement programs we can no longer afford.

“It’s the number one fiscal challenge for the federal government, it’s the number one fiscal challenge for state governments and it’s the number one competitive challenge for American business.”

In an ironic twist, Senator Hatch voted for Medicare Part D.

Time for Emergency Economic Reform

September 7, 2010

A year ago, I blogged about Indiana’s governor, Mitch Daniels and the coming “reality check” for state budgets. He said then: “State governments will soon have to choose between a major downsizing or consigning themselves to permanent decline. Wishing for an improbably huge boom while chasing your own tail through self-destructive taxes won’t prove much of a strategy.”

Today in the Wall Street Journal, Governor Daniels is even more pointed. He calls for a “time-limited, emergency growth program aimed at triggering new private investment” and says that should be a primary goal of the next Congress.

He clearly outlines where we are nationally and it’s not a pretty picture – anemic growth, the failure of trickle-down government spending, job creation being stalled by big-government policies like Obamacare and government recovery projections that rely on rates of growth we have not seen in 50 years. Those rates, by the way, only pull us back from “catastrophe” to “disaster”, and still allows debt to rise to almost 90% of GDP. It’s not a real “fix” – only a vibrant, extended boom can pull us back from true catastrophe – and banking on that is like depending on the lottery for your retirement plan.

Governor Daniels suggests:
*A payroll tax holiday of the Social Security tax for one year, offset twice over through a combination of the following policies:

*Impoundment power – once again authorizing the president to SPEND LESS than Congress appropriates
*Recall federal funds – rescind unspent TARP funds and hundreds of billions in unspent funds from previous appropriation bills
*Federal hiring and pay freeze – better yet, a 10% cut, then freeze
*A “freedom window” for energy companies that would allow them to proceed immediately with new job creation
*Accelerated or full expensing of business investment, something that is rumored to be under discussion right now.

He shares the following story:

Ronald Reagan enjoyed telling of the elderly Blitz victim rescued from her demolished London flat in World War II. A fireman found a bottle of brandy under the ruins of her staircase and offered her a nip for her pain. “Leave it right there,” the matron ordered. “That’s for emergencies.”

Governor Daniels concludes:

With or without Democratic help, Republicans should step forward with these or superior ideas. A stagnant, impoverished America will not be a greener or safer or fairer place. Grown-ups make trade-offs. Pass the brandy, then let’s get busy.

Pay up.

August 26, 2010

Your share is $42,285. Scott Tipton, GOP Congressional candidate in Colorado tries to collect in this clever campaign ad. Not many takers. (OK, none)


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,284 other followers

%d bloggers like this: