Posts Tagged ‘Budget’

The truth about President Obama’s budget

February 5, 2015

I like to write good things to write about President Obama.  It helps me to convince myself that I am a fair-minded person, and also convince my friends, most of whom are supporters of the President.

But usually when I do, it turns out there is a catch.  I feel as if I were Charlie Brown in the comic strip once again trusting Lucy to hold the football so he can kick it.

I wrote a post the other day praising the President for budget proposals, which contained some modest tax increases on the upper income brackets and some modest benefits from working people.

But now I realize I missed important parts—more spending for the military, tax reductions for the rich and cuts to Medicare.

Andre Demon, writing for the World Socialist Web Site, pointed out:

Obama’s budget proposal would increase Pentagon spending by 7 percent, adding an additional $38 billion to bring the total defense budget to $534 billion. 

Obama is separately proposing $51 billion in additional funding for the wars in Iraq and Syria, including money to back the so-called “moderate” opposition in Syria, as well for as the ongoing US troop presence in Afghanistan.

Newsweek - Obama - The Democrats ReaganThe budget calls for the corporate tax rate to be cut to 25 percent for manufacturers and 28 percent for other corporations, down from the current rate of 35 percent.

The proposal would also allow US corporations to repatriate past profits generated overseas at a tax rate of only 14 percent.  Foreign profits would be taxed at 19 percent in the future. 

Currently, US corporations pay a rate of 35 percent on foreign profits, which many corporations avoid by keeping their foreign earnings abroad.

These tax cuts are accompanied by $400 billion in cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and the Department of Health and Human Services. 

The budget proposes to raise $66 billion over ten years by charging higher Medicare premiums to upper-income patients, a move that would undermine Medicare’s status as a universal entitlement and open the door to means testing and the transformation of the government health insurance program for seniors into a poverty program.

The plan would cut another “$116 billion in Medicare payments to drug companies for medicines prescribed for low-income patients,” according to the New York Times. 

It would also slash $100 billion for the treatment of Medicare patients following their discharge from the hospital, affecting primarily the elderly.

via World Socialist Web Site.

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Crisis in government: Links & comments 10/4/13

October 4, 2013

Shutdown Standoff: One of the Worst Crises in American History by John B. Judis for the New Republic.

What’s at stake is whether a political bloc has the power to bring the American government to a halt in order to get its way.   If the Tea Party Republicans get their way, Judis warned, the U.S. government could become unable to function, leading to the rise of extremist parties of the right and left.  I don’t think he exaggerates.

Debt Ceiling Chicken and Trench Warfare by “Yves Smith” for Naked Capitalism.

The United States may be in for a longer and more destructive political siege than anyone expected.  Not only are there no plans for the two sides to meet, nothing is being done to prepare for discussions.  The problem is that this is an either-or situation not subject to compromise.  Either you recognize that a political faction has the right to crash the government, or you don’t.

Republicans Are No Longer the Party of Business by Joshua Green for BloombergBusinessWeek.

The government shutdown creates economic uncertainty and hampers the economic recovery.  That’s why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is opposed to it.

Tea party lawmakers see the culmination of years of effort in shutdown by Zachary A. Goldfarb for the Washington Post.

Since Barry Goldwater ran for President in 1964, members of the right wing of the Republican Party have seen the size of the federal government as the main threat to American freedom.  Ronald Reagan didn’t accomplish this, Newt Gingrich didn’t, George W. Bush didn’t.  Now, at long last, the Republican small-government conservatives think they can accomplish their goal.

The real reason for the government shutdown by Dean Baker for Al Jazeera America.

Baker said the Ted Cruz Republicans see this as their last chance to stop Obamacare, because it will be popular if it ever is allowed to work.

The government shutdown could end today.  All it would cost is John Boehner’s speakership by Chris Gilizza and Sean Sullivan for the Washington Post.

Seventeen Republicans have said they’d vote for a “clean” continuing resolution, which would allow the government to resume normal functioning.  They and the Democrats would be a majority in the House of Representatives.  But if John Boehner allowed that to happen, he would lose his party’s support to be Speaker.

The Shutdown in 10 Infuriating Sentences by Kevin Drum for Mother Jones.

Kevin Drum demonstrated that the shutdown is not a result of equal stubbornness on both sides, but a faction of the Republican Party that intends to rule or ruin.

Even if the shutdown ends, the government is operating under the budget sequester, which is a victory for right-wing Republican priorities in itself.

Things to read for tax day

April 18, 2011

Nine Things The Rich Don’t Want You to Know About Taxes by David Cay Johnson.

Top Ten Tax Charts by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Five Ways GE Plays the Tax Game by Jeff Gerth of ProPublica and Allan Sloan of Fortune.

Taxes and Spending for Beginners by James Kwak

Want a Flat Tax? I Got a Flat Tax for You by “Asymptosis”

Click on the links to read them.

Get an itemized receipt for your taxes

April 17, 2011

Rep. Jim Cooper, a Tennessee Democrat, has submitted legislation, suppported by members of both parties, to give all taxpayers a receipt showing where their money went.  People filing paper returns would get a paper receipt, and people filing electronically would get an electronic receipt.   It sounds like a good idea to me.

Click on An Itemized Taxpayer Receipt for 2010 to see Cooper’s calculation of what a typical taxpayer earning $50,000 a year got for his or her taxes.

The White House has put up a web site allowing taxpayers to calculate their own personal tax receipts. Click on Your 2010 Federal Taxpayer Receipt for the site.

Click on Cooper to Introduce Bipartisan Tax Receipt Bill for his press release on the bill.

Click on Jim Cooper’s pet issue for background.

Obama did actually cut the deficit a little

October 26, 2010

For what it’s worth, President Obama’s administration actually did succeed in reducing the annual federal budget deficit, although not by much.  Many of the charts and articles in newspapers are misleading on this point, because they count fiscal 2009 as the first budget year of the Obama administration.  Fiscal 2009 began on October 1, 2008, so it was the last budget year of the Bush administration.

The chart is based on a projection made last summer.  Click on U.S. deficit shrinks nearly nine percent in fiscal 2010 for the actual figures.

If, for you, the deficit is the big issue that overrides all others, the Obama record so far is not as bad as the Bush record.  And Obama’s problems are more the result of the situation he inherited than any particular thing he has done.  But the situation has to be dealt with. This is another one of these cases where not being as bad as President Bush is not good enough.

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U.S. taxes aren’t especially high

April 14, 2010

I do not feel oppressed by having to pay taxes. Competitive free enterprise is a wonderful engine of creativity and innovation. But if we want services that covers everybody without exception – public education, police and fire protection, water and sewer service, public libraries and public parks, inspection of food and drugs for safety, a social safety net – we will have to pay for it in taxes. If we want to rebuild our crumbling roads, bridges and physical infrastructure, if we want to be a world military power, if we want to pay down our national debt, we will have to pay for it in taxes.

The tax burden in the United States is a lot less than in other advanced countries. About 28 percent of U.S. output (gross domestic product) goes for taxes. That is a lot, but among 28 advanced industrial countries, only Japan and South Korea are lower, and only slightly. The average is 35.9 percent; Swedes and Danes pay 49.1 percent, the Germans, French, British and Canadians all pay substantially more. If you find this burdensome, you could get some relief by going to Mexico or Turkey, where taxes take only 20.6 percent and 21.5 percent of GDP.

It’s more meaningful to compare actual government expenditures as a percent of GDP because that spending will have to be paid for, sooner or later.  By one estimate, U.S. government expenditures – national, state and local – took up 36 percent of the nation’s GDP in 2006. These was more than South Korea, the same as Japan and less than Canada, Britain or Germany; the French supposedly spent 53 percent of GDP and the Swedes 54 percent.

Go below the fold for detailed country-by-country comparisons.

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A brief history of budget reconciliation

March 4, 2010

Click on this to see why a reconciliation vote to finalize health care reform would not be anything new.

The chart of reconciliation votes from 1990 through 2007 shows that reconciliation has been used by Democrats, used by Republicans and sometimes used by bipartisan coalitions.

P.S. Click on this for more background about budget reconciliation.

Budget reconciliation and health care reform

February 24, 2010

Passage of health care reform through budget reconciliation votes is nothing new, as this article by National Public Radio points out. For example, it recalls the COBRA law which allows workers to keep their employee health benefits after they leave their job is the COnsolidated Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985.

Click on this for more background about budget reconciliation votes.