WASHINGTON — The first bills promoted by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as the new chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee would add nearly $100 billion to the deficit over 10 years.
Ryan, a deficit hawk during his time as the chairman of the Budget Committee for the previous six years, made his fame proposing budgets that aimed to dramatically cut domestic spending and balance the budget within a decade.
But in his first legislative act as head of the committee that will be central to expected tax reform efforts over the next two years, Ryan pushed through a package of seven tax cut bills that would add $93.5 billion to the deficit in the next decade.
The largest, a measure that lets small business write off expenses more quickly, would add $77 billion to the deficit.
Other measures would allow companies to inflate the value of food donations (including things like old Twinkies), make it easier to donate retirement savings, and conserve land, among other things.
Hiring is Up, Tax Receipts are Up, Economy Up, Deficit Down to $37 Billion….
I guess for Obama is is Mission Un-Accomplished in purposely wrecking our economy. The Right Wing must be pleased.
Or, maybe not. Opposing Obama has been their only policy for years now.
There’s a stunning disconnect between what the GOP says about our economy and its actual current condition. Put succinctly, the Republicans (virtually all of them, not just the tea sippers) are lying through their teeth about the state of the economy. Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a country where facts mattered more than blind hatred? Where ignorance wasn’t something to be proud of? (And, of course, that applies to much of the right’s views…from evolution to climate change to the “coming any day now” end times.)
The news cycle is so punishing these days you might be forgiven for thinking the Obama era is over. But it isn’t. It’s at its peak in terms of impact, because policies, especially economic ones, take some time to have effect. Five years in, we have enough data - so reading through the Economic Report from the Council of Economic Advisers is therefore a helpful exercise. And it seems to me to be a rather impressive record - and utterly alien from the picture of gloom and dysfunction the Republicans are currently concocting.
I’ll restrict myself to core facts that are not in dispute, rather than the arguments in the report. Take the economy. Despite unprecedented austerity at the state and local government level, it’s now clear that the US has recovered from the Great Recession better than any other economy:
At least we can say with certainty that the stimulus didn’t fail, despite the silly denial in the GOP. The massive debt overhang - always the biggest drag on growth - has also been substantially reduced:
The deficit has come down at a rapid pace, without tipping us back into recession. And a key indicator of future debt - the cost of healthcare - is looking much better than it once did (although the causes for it remain disputed):
Then this amazing chart:
If someone had suggested to me in 2009 that by 2014, after the worst recession since the 1930s and after the huge debt pile-up in the Bush years that the US would be growing steadily, gaining energy independence, and cutting its deficit deeply, I’d have been amazed. We’ve so easily forgotten the extraordinary crisis Obama inherited. We shouldn’t. This presidency was always going to be judged on whether it could return the US to normal governance after the economic calamity of 2007, and after the disastrous wars that were far from over. I fail to see how Obama has failed in any critical respect. Not that it gets him much praise these days. For that we may have to wait for history’s judgment.
With less than six weeks left until the interest rate on Stafford loans are set to double if Congress doesn’t act, proposals on how to address these federal interest rates have been pouring in from all branches of the government.
On Thursday, the House passed the Smarter Solutions for Students Act, which would put Stafford loan interest rates in step with financial markets from year to year, ending a system in which rates are set by Congress. This “simple” solution likely won’t get far, as it faces opposition from Senate Democrats who have a competing bill that would extend the current interest rate of 3.4 percent for two years, giving Congress time to consider a long-term approach to address the growing student debt crisis that impacts 38 million Americans.
President Obama also threatened to veto the bill, calling it the “wrong approach” for students and their families, citing the lack of transparency and clarity for student and parents who try to garner the true price tag of borrowing for college, missing repayment options for borrowers who don’t attend school anymore, and shifting the burden of reducing the deficit on the shoulders of student loan borrowers among others.
In response to the House’s passage of the bill Carmel Martin, executive vice-president for policy at the Center for American Progress, our parent organization, said in:
The decision by the House of Representatives to approve Rep. Kline’s proposal is a step in the wrong direction for students and the economy. Rep. Kline’s bill taxes students to pay down the deficit. Congress should act to stop rates from doubling and build in protections for students to help them manage their debt. The House measure would divert $3.7 billion from the program to deficit reduction and result in an increase in student debt of close to $4 billion over what borrowers would pay under current law.
Since the recession ended four years ago, the federal budget deficit has topped $1 trillion every year. But now the government’s annual deficit is shrinking far faster than anyone in Washington expected, and perhaps even faster than many economists think is advisable for the health of the economy.
That is the thrust of a new report released Tuesday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, estimating that the deficit for this fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30, will fall to about $642 billion, or 4 percent of the nation’s annual economic output, about $200 billion lower than the agency estimated just three months ago.
The agency forecast that the deficit, which topped 10 percent of gross domestic product in 2009, could shrink to as little as 2.1 percent of gross domestic product by 2015 — a level that most analysts say would be easily sustainable over the long run — before beginning to climb gradually through the rest of the decade.
President Obama is expected to send his proposed federal budget this week to Congress, where much of the focus will be on strategies for dealing with the deficit.
While this next phase of the budget battles comes at a time when Obama’s overall job approval rating has fallen, our March survey found that Obama continues to engender more confidence on the federal budget deficit than either GOP leaders in Congress or Democratic congressional leaders.
A majority (53%) says they have a “great deal” or a “fair amount” of confidence in Obama when it comes to dealing with the federal budget deficit. By contrast, 39% have at least a “fair amount” of confidence in congressional Republican leaders on the deficit and just 8% have a great deal of confidence — a 14 percentage point difference. Democratic congressional leaders fare only slightly better: 45% have at least a fair amount of confidence in Democratic leaders; 11% have a great deal of confidence.
Here is Paul Ryan’s path to a balanced budget in three sentences: He cuts deep into spending on health care for the poor and some combination of education, infrastructure, research, public-safety, and low-income programs. The Affordable Care Act’s Medicare cuts remain, but the military is spared, as is Social Security. There’s a vague individual tax reform plan that leaves only two tax brackets — 10 percent and 25 percent — and will require either huge, deficit-busting tax cuts or increasing taxes on poor and middle-class households, as well as a vague corporate tax reform plan that lowers the rate from 35 percent to 25 percent.
But the real point of Ryan’s budget is its ambitious reforms, not its savings. It turns Medicare into a voucher program, turns Medicaid, food stamps, and a host of other programs for the poor into block grants managed by the states, shrinks the federal role on priorities like infrastructure and education to a tiny fraction of its current level, and envisions an entirely new tax code that will do much less to encourage home buying and health insurance.
Ryan’s budget is intended to do nothing less than fundamentally transform the relationship between Americans and their government. That, and not deficit reduction, is its real point, as it has been Ryan’s real point throughout his career.
Congress has officially returned to business after a week-long recess, but there is no new sign of serious negotiations to avert sequestration on Friday.
In opening remarks for the week, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) challenged Republican claims that President Obama is responsible for the looming, $85 billion across-the-board spending cuts because the White House proposed the idea during the 2011 debt fight.Reid noted that Democratic and Republican lawmakers voted to approve the proposal.
“We did this together,” Reid said. “This would not have passed but for the overwhelming vote of the Republicans in the House and in the Senate. If those same Republicans would work with Democrats to find a balanced way to reduce the deficit…[Congress could] reverse the austerity sequester today,” he said.
1. The Republicans’ problem is that the deficit is shrinking too fast. That’s why they want to act now to gut Medicare and Social Security while they have the chance.
FACT: The federal deficit has fallen faster over the past three years than it has in any such period since World War II. This fact blows away every Republican talking point because it points out 1) George W. Bush created the trillion dollar deficit that the GOP blames on this president, 2) under President Obama federal spending has grown less than any president since Eisenhower and 3) our recovery, which is much better than most of the world’s, is shrinking the deficit.
4. If our health care costs were in line with costs in other countries, we would be looking at budget surpluses, not deficits.
We already pay for each other’s insurance, just in the dumbest possible way. For what we pay for health care we could be covering every American for less if we weren’t forced to deal with the Republican Party’s willingness to prioritize corporations over people.