Archive for April, 2011

Obama’s deficit speech: ‘Timeline creep’ and other goodies

A few points about President Obama’s alleged budget-cutting speech:

  • Obama is using some pretty significant “timeline creep” to make his figures appear comparable to Paul Ryan’s plan on behalf of the GOP. Ryan, you may recall, proposed $4.4 trillion in deficit reductions over 10 years, whereas Obama is proposing $4 trillion over 12 years.
  • On an apples-to-apples basis, then, it’s $440 billion a year (Ryan) to $333 billion a year (Obama).
  • To put the plans on a real apples-to-apples basis, since Obama would raise taxes to cover one-fourth of his reductions: Obama is proposing only $250 billion in spending cuts per year compared to Ryan’s $440 billion. As a reference point, the total federal budget this year will exceed $3.5 trillion.
  • Actually, to be truly accurate, both men are proposing slower deficit growth — not anything like a balanced budget in the medium term.
  • The difference is that Ryan addresses two entitlement programs — Medicare and Medicaid — while Obama hardly touches …

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Local privatization efforts get some national recognition

While members of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus try to overturn the incorporation of several cities in Fulton and DeKalb counties through a federal lawsuit, one of those cities, Sandy Springs, is getting national recognition for its mostly privatized approach to government. This video from Reason.tv is worth watching in full:

As for that lawsuit, and why it’s relevant to the Reason video:

My hunch is that the lawsuit has more to do with protecting public-sector jobs — many of which could become endangered if the north Fulton cities split off to form Milton County, shrinking Fulton’s tax base — than with protecting minority voters. After all, if racial minorities feel disenfranchised by being in these majority-white cities rather than in majority-minority Fulton and DeKalb, why did thousands of them flock to these very cities during the past decade?

– By Kyle Wingfield

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Too much Trump? Not for the other GOP candidates

Donald Trump is doing Republicans a big favor right now.

Right now, GOP presidential contenders could be engaging in a too-early brawl with one another, sullying everyone and causing intramural divisions that would require a too-long period of making up after the nominee is chosen. (Don’t think the divisions would last long in a race against Barack Obama? Consider the sour GOP grapes that persisted in last year’s Senate races in Delaware and Alaska, costing the Republicans one potential pickup of a seat and nearly a safe one as they were struggling to gain a majority in that chamber.)

Instead, The Donald is taking up all the oxygen– dominating the 2012 storyline with a hint that he could run as a Ross Perot-like independent if he doesn’t get the nomination, just a day after presumed front-runner Mitt Romney took his first official step toward getting in the race.

And my guess is that’s just fine with the other Republican candidates. Or at least, it should be.

Sure, contenders …

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Georgia lawmakers put tax-reform plan on ice

Well, that was unexpected.

State tax reform is dead — for now.

The Georgia House of Representatives had to pass the tax-reform bill today if it was to make it through the Senate before the end of this legislative session. Instead, the House leadership decided not to bring it up for a vote. The issue will have to wait for either this summer’s special session for redistricting or next year’s regular session.

Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, blamed the delay on questionable data on the bill produced by the “fiscal so-called experts at Georgia State University.” Ralston said “we can’t tell” whether the latest version of the bill would result in a tax increase or cut for most Georgians, and went so far as to say legislators would seek “alternative places” to get their fiscal estimates in the future.

Yes, that’s the tail of a Georgia State panther you see sticking out from under the House Republican bus.

Maybe the data were questionable. But there’s no getting around the fact …

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No shutdown, Chambliss and Warner, ‘broke’ D.C. still hiring!

So, in the end, there was no federal government shutdown. As I explained before, I think avoiding a shutdown over a relatively small difference between the cuts Republicans wanted and the ones Democrats were willing to make was the right move. I would have preferred to see all the cuts made, a few billion at a time, over the rest of the fiscal year. But there are bigger fish to fry.

U.S. Sens. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and Mark Warner, D-Va. were in the AJC’s offices this morning for an editorial-board interview. You may know Chambliss and Warner as the founding members of a “Gang of Six” in the Senate trying to fashion a bipartisan agreement to balance the budget and begin paying down the federal debt. I haven’t re-listened to the tape yet, but here are a few quick takeaways:

  • Both senators think Paul Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity,” released last week is a “serious” attempt at reform with some shortcomings. In particular, both senators think tax reform has to lead to higher …

Continue reading No shutdown, Chambliss and Warner, ‘broke’ D.C. still hiring! »

The temporary shutdown begins today

On my blog, that is. I’m taking a few days off and will be back on Monday, April 11. We’ll have to wait and see whether the federal government wants to join me on hiatus.

Big stuff coming up next week, including the end of the legislative session. Be sure to rejoin me for it.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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Federal budget: Democrats say $40 trillion isn’t enough

Paul Ryan, the House GOP’s budget chief, wants Washington to spend $40 trillion during the next decade, including $5 trillion that America would have to borrow.

For this, he is being demonized as “radical” and “extreme” — not by the tea party, but by Democrats.

If you thought the debate in Congress about whether to cut 2 percent of this year’s $1.4 trillion budget deficit (Democrats) or 4 percent of it (Republicans) was borderline farcical, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

A fiscal-hawk Republican is proposing merely that government grow more slowly, along the lines of the recommendations of two celebrated, then quickly forgotten, bipartisan commissions. And how have Democrats reacted? By declaring Ryan’s plan a “path to poverty for America’s seniors and children,” as ex-Speaker Nancy Pelosi put it.

If there’s anything “extreme” going on here, it’s the leftist refrain that all’s well on the entitlement front, and that just a few tweaks are needed here and there.

In fact, the …

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Wis. court race, fate of law curbing unions too close to call

A judicial election with big implications for the political fight over public-sector unions in Wisconsin was held yesterday. And the result, as of this morning is…too close to call.

First, a brief explanation of the stakes from the Journal-Sentinel in Milwaukee:

The razor-thin result was the latest twist in Wisconsin’s ongoing political turmoil. The state has drawn the attention of the nation in recent weeks because of the fight over a controversial law sharply restricting public employee unions, which caused massive weeks-long protests in the Capitol, a boycott of the Senate by Democrats and attempts to recall senators from both parties.

Interest groups on both sides had portrayed the election as a referendum on Gov. Scott Walker’s agenda and particularly on the collective bargaining law. Conservatives backed Prosser, and liberals supported Kloppenburg, even though the candidates themselves insisted they were politically neutral.

Legal challenges to the new law — which would …

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Immigration: Stupid protester tricks on display downtown

I have to question the tactics of the students who disrupted traffic in downtown Atlanta on Tuesday afternoon, and not just because they outed themselves as illegally present in the United States and then did something to get themselves arrested. From the AJC:

Activists blocked traffic on downtown Courtland Street for about an hour Tuesday afternoon as they demonstrated against a ban on illegal immigrants attending Georgia colleges.

Police routed traffic off the road and onto Gilmer Street during the protest and then arrested at least seven of the activists. Authorities reopened Courtland just before 4 p.m.

Earlier Tuesday afternoon, several of the activists declared they were illegally in the country and decried restrictions illegal immigrant students face in the United States.

Some spoke in favor of the DREAM Act, a congressional measure that would have given young illegal immigrants a path to legal status if they enrolled in college or joined the military. That measure …

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GOP reveals plan to spend $6.2 trillion less than Obama

ADDED at 10:10 a.m.: For those who prefer a visual, here’s a video of Paul Ryan making the case for the GOP budget plan. It’s heavier on the threat we face, but lighter on policy.

ORIGINAL POST:

Details to follow, but House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan outlined a Republican budget plan, one that spends $6.2 trillion less during the next decade than President Obama’s budget calls for, in an op-ed today in the Wall Street Journal. Here are the broad brush strokes:

Reducing spending: This budget proposes to bring spending on domestic government agencies to below 2008 levels, and it freezes this category of spending for five years. The savings proposals are numerous, and include reforming agricultural subsidies, shrinking the federal work force through a sensible attrition policy, and accepting Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s plan to target inefficiencies at the Pentagon.

Welfare reform: This budget will build upon the historic welfare reforms of the late 1990s by converting …

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