Big Bird Should Not Be on The Federal Payroll



In 2011, the House of Representatives passed the Ryan Plan to cut the deficit by $6.2 trillion. They voted to eliminate federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which was allocated $432 million from the government in the previous year. They also passed a bill to cut off all federal funding for National Public Radio. These votes were mostly along party lines. All three measures were later stopped in the Democratic Senate.
Republicans said it was time for the government to get out of the TV and radio business. The final vote came a week after conservative activists secretly recorded an NPR executive making derogatory comments about Tea Party supporters.
The ensuing controversy led to the resignation of NPR CEO Vivian Schiller. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said taxpayers no longer wanted to spend money on the content CPB and NPR provides. “The problem is, we’ve seen programming for NPR and CPB often veer far from what most Americans would like to see as far as the expenditure of their taxpayer dollars. That’s the bottom line.”

What Was Obama’s Biggest Lie?

There is a lot of competition for that title, but a top contender would have to be this comment during the third 2008 debate with John McCain (see below link).
It was moderated by Bob Schieffer of CBS who said next year there would be and “astounding $455 billion deficit,” and Obama’s proposals would add another $200 billion to the deficit. The then Senator responded “What I have done throughout this campaign is to promise a net spendng cut.”
He described himself as a “strong proponent of pay as you go (PAY-GO). Every dollar that I have proposed spending, I have proposed an additional cut. So that it matches. . . We need to eliminate a whole host of programs that don’t work. I want to go through the federal budget line by line.”
Unfortunately, all of this was a complete lie. Obama never considered a net spending cut and of course it was not included in his proposed budgets. PAY-GO was passed by the Democratic Congress in early 2007, but they never once complied with it. The real farce was the news media which portrayed liberal Democrats as deficit hawks in 2006 and 2008.
Some of the other contending statements for biggest lie would be:

  • I’ve done more for Israel’s security than any President ever.
  • The GOP is responsible for Obama jobs bill not passing.
  • Then you’ve got their (GOP) position which is dirtier air, dirtier water and less people with health insurance.
  • The rich don’t pay their fair share.
  • The health care bill will not increase the deficit by one dime.
  • If you like the health care plan you have, you can keep it.
  • We have run out of places in the US to drill for oil.
  • We will cut deficit in half by end of the first term.
  • Health care negotiations will be covered on C-Span.
  • The unemployment rate will be 5.3% with the stimulus.
  • “I am not somebody who promotes same-sex marriage”.
  • Guantanamo Bay will be closed within a year.
  • Didn’t know Jeremiah Wright was a radical.
  • We will have the most transparent administration in history.
  • I have visited all 57 states.

What Happens Now: Senate Defeats Ryan’s $6.2 Trillion Deficit Cut

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Chairman of the House Budget Committee, holds a copy of his “Path to Prosperity” budget proposal. The $6.2 trillion reduction was defeated in the Senate earlier today.

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

The Government Shut Down: We Need Another Daniel Webster

This note was written in 1996. Ted Kennedy's brother John F. Kennedy devoted a chapter to Webster in "Profiles in Courage." JFK also chaired the committee which selected Webster as one of the five greatest Senators of all time. The other Senators were Henry Clay (KY), John C. Calhoun (SC), Robert LaFollette (WI) and Robert Taft (OH). Their portraits are on display in the Senate Reception Room.

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

Now They Agree With Us: Obama Debt Commission is George W. Bush’s Vindication


“Protecting social security” proved to be the most effective 2006 issue for Democrats. They rejected the Bush administration’s reforms, but the problem is even more serious today. In this photo, outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is shown with defeated Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) and soon to be ex-House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD). They are shown during an event to mark the 75th anniversary of the Social Security Act on July 28, 2010 outside the U.S. Capitol.

“Every penny — every buck we spend, we’re borrowing 41 cents.  If you really want to trim the deficit, you have to go to the meat of the matter. Social Security and Medicare are running out of money.” – Former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY), Co-Chairman of the Obama Debt Commission (the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reformdescribing their $3.8 trillion budget fix.

“We must pass reforms that solve the financial problems of Social Security once and for all. . . I know that none of these reforms would be easy. But we have to move ahead with courage and honesty, because our children’s retirement security is more important than partisan politics.” – President George W. Bush, State of the Union Address, February 2, 2005

The 2010 election mandate was clear and far different from the past. For 75 years lawmakers bragged about “bringing home the bacon,” but in this election new federal spending was no longer a winning issue. The Chairmen of the Armed Services, Budget and Transportation Committees who promoted new spending were defeated, and other budget busting senior Chairmen retired when they were confronted by angry protesters.

No one knows if a divided Congress will now be able to agree on serious deficit reduction. The incoming Republican House of Representatives will certainly pass legislation calling for major budget cuts, but all of their efforts could well be dead on arrival in either the Democratically controlled Senate or at the White House.

The encouraging part is that both liberals and conservatives say the present fiscal path is unsustainable, and the problem is on the spending rather then the revenue side. This is emphasized by the $1 trillion dollars in interest costs the nation will be paying on the debt by 2020.

In the past, Congress addressed fiscal problems by taking money away from Social Security, and they were effectively kicking the can down the road.  In his 2004 debate with Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), President George W. Bush said these tactics had to stop.

After his re-election victory he devoted 18 months to promoting Social Security reforms, and his effort was a tremendous failure. Now many of his proposals have been revived, and for first time some senior Democrats are agreeing that reform is essential.

These liberals heard the mandate loud and clear, and they know the spending has to stop. The Bush reforms are once again being reviewed, and now members of President Obama’s commission are saying these initiatives would make Social Security solvent for the next 75 years.

Several moderate Democrats attempted to reform Social Security, but they made no progress. Former President Bill Clinton spoke of increasing the retirement age. Former Senator John Breaux (D-LA) suggested discouraging early collection of Social Security benefits.

The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) recommended changing the way benefits were calculated.  George W. Bush said all of those ideas had merit. He backed them but no Democrats wanted to negotiate. They preferred to have a winning campaign issue.  It was a successful tactic, but the problems continued to fester.

“Saving Social Security”

In his 2005 State of the Union Address, Bush was loudly booed and heckled by Congressional Democrats when he said Social Security “is headed toward bankruptcy”:

For younger workers, the Social Security system has serious problems that will grow worse with time. Social Security was created decades ago, for a very different era. In those days, people did not live as long, benefits were much lower, and a half century ago, about 16 workers paid into the system for each person drawing benefits.

Our society has changed in ways the founders of Social Security could not have foreseen. In today’s world, people are living longer and therefore drawing benefits longer. And those benefits are scheduled to rise dramatically over the next few decades.

And instead of 16 workers paying in for every beneficiary, right now it’s only about three workers. And over the next few decades, that number will fall to just two workers per beneficiary. With each passing year, fewer workers are paying ever- higher benefits to an ever-larger number of retirees.

So here is the result: Thirteen years from now, in 2018, Social Security will be paying out more than it takes in. . . By the year 2042, the entire system would be exhausted and bankrupt.

The only difference is that now the Social Security trust fund will run out in 2037 instead of 2042. In his new book Decision Points, Bush describes the inaction on Social Security as his greatest failure. Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) both dismissed the White House proposals and preferred to do nothing. They said Social Security was sound and there was no need for any significant reforms.

They effectively used Social Security scare tactics to recapture control of the House and Senate in 2006, but all of Bush’s warnings have proven to be prophetic. Now the Debt Commission agrees with many, but not all, of Bush recommendations. The benefit cuts he recommended for upper-income wage earners are included, but private accounts for young people are not.

The vote on the recommendations of President Obama’s Debt Commission is set for December 1st, and the outcome is uncertain. The controversial recommendations would involve considerable pain, and passage requires the approval of 14 of the 18 Commission members.

The Commission set out with a goal of reducing spending to 3 percent of GDP. The recommendations pending before the Commission would bring spending down to 2.2 percent of GDP, but the new gas tax and Pentagon, Medicare and Medicaid reductions are meeting stiff resistance on Capitol Hill.

Liberal lawmakers are saying it is impossible to increase the Social Security retirement age by one year in 2050. This would only impact people who are now 28 or younger, but Democrats will not agree.  It was easy for GOP candidates to criticize Obama’s stimulus and other spending proposals, but it is difficult to advocate cuts in Medicare and Medicaid. Many Democrats are certain to campaign again on the “saving Social Security” theme.

What Can Be Cut?

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the new Chairman of the House Budget Committee, believes the Pentagon is already stretched thin while the Commission ignored numerous savings in the health care area. Simpson says the package will include real tort reform and $500 billion in discretionary budget reductions over the next decade.

The GOP Congress will definitely have additional proposals. The Debt Commission is important because it is seen as the best opportunity to pass spending reductions in the Democratically controlled Senate. Republicans are firmly committed to the extension of all the Bush era tax cuts, but the new Congress will be debating proposals to trim charitable deductions, mortgage-interest deductions, as well as deductions for state and local taxes.

All of these proposals are highly unpopular but advocates emphasize that if they are eliminated, income-tax rates could be brought down to 8 percent, 14 percent, and 23 percent. 

Fixing the Deficit: Our Biggest Test

The current issue of Time magazine contains an article by Fareed Zakaria entitled “Fixing the Deficit: Our Biggest Test.” He concludes:

The crucial arena is not the economic realm but the political one. . . will this conversation turn into the usual demagoguery, with each side tearing apart the things they dislike and ensuring that the deficit commission becomes one more sad story about Washington’s inability to grapple with our long-term problems? We’ve seen the political process break down and avoid dealing with immigration reform, energy policy and Social Security. Will we fail again, this time on the biggest test?


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

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

Gov. Phil Bredesen (D-TN): The Political Cost for Democrats of this Spending is Going to be Huge

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

The 2010 GOP Outlook: Happy Days Are Here Again

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.