Archive for the ‘Taxes and spending’ Category

Broun’s wrong about ’slight’ difference between Ryan, Obama plans

Congressman Paul Broun, R-Athens, is the only announced candidate in the election next year to replace retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss. I met with him last week while I was in Washington, and the thing he talked about over and over was cutting federal spending.

“I expect to win” next year’s election, he told me. “Georgians know I have the record. I have the will to say no to out-of-control spending. And I’m the only person who can be in this race who has done so, and they’ll elect me to the U.S. Senate.”

Asked about the possibility that two or three of his fellow House members could join him in the race, Broun replied: “I hope they’ll see the wisdom of staying where they are instead of losing to me.”

Strong words, as were the ones Broun wrote in an op-ed published in the New York Times on Monday. In the op-ed, Broun criticized House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s latest budget — the one Democrats have railed against as Draconian — as instead being inadequate.

“Spending [under the …

Continue reading Broun’s wrong about ’slight’ difference between Ryan, Obama plans »

Live from D.C.: House GOP preps for visit from Obama

WASHINGTON — President Obama comes to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to meet with House Republicans. Or, as Rep. Tom Price put it to me Tuesday, “Four years and two months into his term in office, it’s nice that he comes and visits us for a second time.”

Clearly, there are some trust issues between the two sides.

“Trust is the coin of the political realm, and you can’t do anything without trust,” the Roswell Republican continued. But he did leave an opening for optimism.

“Anything the president does to begin to build a foundation of trust is important. … We’re hopeful this is a sincere effort. But time will tell. A single meeting does not trust build.”

Price’s comments on both the limits of what can be accomplished in one meeting and the promise of even having a meeting were echoed by another Georgia Republican congressman.

“There are no words [Wednesday] that can bring us closer to a solution,” said Rep. Rob Woodall of Lawrenceville. “What we need are deeds. … I’m certain we have …

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Live from D.C.: Is budget bipartisanship in the works?

WASHINGTON — Greetings from the nation’s capital, where I’m spending this week to meet with members of Georgia’s congressional delegation before attending the American Conservative Union’s annual CPAC conference. (I had some technical issues when I first arrived yesterday, but those have been resolved.)

I’m early into my schedule on Capitol Hill, where I’m spending most of Tuesday and Wednesday, but there’s a buzz about President Obama’s outreach to congressional Republicans — and whether it’s real.

Last week, of course, Obama dined with a dozen Republicans and called several more. This week, he’s meeting with both the Republican and Democratic caucuses in both the House and the Senate — not part of the routine for this president. All of these moves have come since the automatic spending cuts known as sequestration took effect March 1, after Obama and the GOP couldn’t agree on a substitute package.

Obama has talked a good game about bipartisanship before, but some folks on the …

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Pressuring the people to pressure the politicians about our national debt

First came the New Year’s tax increases of the “fiscal cliff.” Last week, the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration took effect. Still, Congress will spend much of March negotiating a deal to fund the federal government for the next six months — a deal that, in all likelihood, will mean borrowing hundreds of billions of dollars more.

Lurching from one crisis to the next, however real or contrived each one may be, has not put the country on a more solid, sustainable fiscal path. That’s where Maya MacGuineas comes in.

“We actually know for the most part what the parameters of a fix are,” MacGuineas, head of the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, told me during a stop in Atlanta two weeks ago. “You know that you’re going to have to look at all parts of the budget.

“You know that a key challenge here is reforming our entitlement programs, as aging and health care are driving the debt, and that … we can reform entitlement programs in ways that are true to …

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How the present fiscal ‘crisis’ rolls right into the next one

I don’t know about you, but I haven’t had any pieces of sky falling on my head today.

The automatic spending cuts known as sequestration take effect beginning today. It’s a little early to gauge whether doom is truly upon us, but the way Americans sense the cuts have affected them — or not — will help determine how the next serial “crisis” is teed up.

We already know what that crisis will be: the debate over a new continuing resolution (CR) to fund the federal government. Because congressional Democrats have given up on the budgeting process, which would force them to commit in black-letter documents to the kind of tax-and-spend plans they desire for the coming years, the government ends up being funded for a few months at a time. The latest CR expires later this month, so it would seem the debate will now shift to that fight.

It would seem so, except that that fight is the one the White House has been waging for a couple of weeks now.

The intent of the scare stories about …

Continue reading How the present fiscal ‘crisis’ rolls right into the next one »

Numbers for Medicaid expansion don’t add up

Obamacare supporters want to talk numbers when it comes to expanding Medicaid in Georgia. OK, let’s talk numbers:

When they returned last month, Georgia’s legislators already faced a $774 million hole for Medicaid through June 2014. That was before any expansion, and even after assuming renewal of the “bed tax” that brings in some $700 million a year for the program.

Medicaid is already the fastest-growing part of Georgia’s budget. Including PeachCare for kids, it will consume $1 of every $7 in state funds in fiscal 2014, up from $1 per $9 a decade ago.

That increased ratio means almost $616 million will go to Medicaid next year instead of transportation, tax cuts, whatever. State lawmakers can do precious little to arrest the trend.

Still, Obamacare supporters want Medicaid to grow faster.

Pressure is mounting on Nathan Deal to follow the path taken by some other Republican governors — Florida’s Rick Scott and New Jersey’s Chris Christie joined the list in the past eight days …

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Obama has the authority to ensure sequester cuts don’t bite

Facts 1, Democratic Scare Stories of All the Carnage to Result From Cutting $85 Billion Out of a $4 Trillion in Spending 0. From the Wall Street Journal:

[I]f any of these cataclysms [mentioned by President Obama and congressional Democrats] do come to pass, then they will be mostly Mr. Obama’s own creation. The truth is that the sequester already gives the White House the legal flexibility to avoid doom, if a 5% cut to programs that have increased more than 17% on average over the Obama Presidency counts as doom.

According to Mr. Obama and his budget office, the sequester cuts are indiscriminate and spell out specific percentages that will be subtracted from federal “projects, programs and activities,” or PPAs. Except for the exemptions in the 2011 budget deal, the White House says it must now cut across the board regardless of how important a given PPA is. Food inspectors, say, will be treated the same as subsidies for millionaire farmers.

Not so fast. Programs, projects and …

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Oh, that dreaded, awful sequester

With the automatic spending cuts known as the sequester set to kick in Friday (March 1) unless an alternative deal is reached, be ready to hear about all the terrible, horrible, unfathomable effects of cutting … less than 3 percent of all federal spending.

To put things in perspective, economist Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute (and a double Dawg) prepared this graph from Congressional Budget Office data:

Mitchell sequester cut graph

Note that, even after the sequester, spending continues to rise every year — in large part because the sequester doesn’t touch entitlements, which are the fastest-growing part of the budget.

Will there be an effect on some people? Of course: The only way there wouldn’t be is if the feds were simply taking tens of billion dollars a year and lighting them on fire. But as far as a modest measures for beginning to curb runaway spending go — and not even this White House is denying any longer that this country has a spending problem — we will hardly see anything more modest …

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Question on new stadium remains: Why so soon?

If you haven’t yet read Jeff Schultz’s column today about whether it would be “the worst thing in the world if the Falcons moved to the suburbs,” I recommend it. Spoiler alert: Schultz thinks it would not be the worst thing in the world if that were to happen.

Although I think downtown is ultimately far preferable to the suburbs for the Falcons’ home games, Schultz makes a number of good arguments. But this is the part to which I want to draw your attention (with emphasis added):

The [San Francisco] 49ers couldn’t get a downtown stadium deal done, so they’re moving to Santa Clara, 30 to 45 minutes away. … By the way, Candlestick Park is 53 years old.

The [New York] Giants left the old Meadowlands stadium, which was 34 years old. The [Miami] Dolphins left the Orange Bowl, which was built in 1939. The [Dallas] Cowboys and [New England] Patriots left stadiums that were opened in 1971. The [Washington] Redskins left RFK Stadium, built in 1961.

The Georgia Dome opened in 1992.

For …

Continue reading Question on new stadium remains: Why so soon? »

Who says I never let y’all have fun on the weekend?

For your weekend entertainment pleasure — at least if you’re a nerd like me — I present:

Tax Reform: The Game.

Feels like it needs a bit more, huh? How about:

Tax Reform: The Game!

That’s better.

All joking aside, this is a pretty neat interactive site created by Christine Ries, an economist at Georgia Tech and member of the special council on tax reform which the Legislature created three years ago to produce reform recommendations. Reform recommendations it largely went on to ignore, that is.

But, had those recommendations not largely been ignored, there would be no reason for Tax Reform: The Game. In it, Ries has included several of the recommendations the council made. Players can mix and match them — and see how their choices would affect state revenues.

Here’s a preview of what it looks like, though you’ll have to click through one of the links above to actually play the game:

Tax Reform The Game

And if fiscal fun isn’t your idea of a good time this weekend, feel free to use the thread …

Continue reading Who says I never let y’all have fun on the weekend? »