Daily Archives: July 19, 2010

GOP answer to budget shortfall — “Who knows?”

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) took to CNN Sunday to bash Democrats’ “gargantuan spending spree,” the latest in a long line of Republican attacks over the deficit that began almost immediately after President Obama’s inauguration. But what, exactly, would the GOP do to reduce the substantial budget shortfall–a much of it coming from the sea of red ink President Bush bequeathed to President Obama?

The answer: Who knows?

That, of course is nothing new — talking about belt-tightening in the broad sense is always easier than throwing out specifics.  Since Sen. Jon Kyl’s clarification on Fox News earlier this month that extending unemployment benefits is fiscally dangerous but deficit-financed tax cuts to the tune of $678 billion are just gravy, Republicans have been under new pressure to clarify how exactly they intend to reduce the national debt.  Sen. Pete Sessions’ (R-TX) appeared Sunday on Meet The Press and under persistent questioning from David Gregory, he failed to offer any specific examples of what spending programs the GOP would cut.

This evasion probably won’t keep them from being elected or reelected, it hasn’t in the past.  And if they should regain the majority and are asked to present a budget they’ve painted themselves into a corner.  They’ve signed pledges to not increase taxes, they’ve endorsed an array of new tax cuts that blow a further hole in the budget.

The GOP recently rebranded itself as the holy defender of Medicare during the health care debate, putting another huge chunk of the budget out of play. Let’s assume that Defense Spending is an unlikely target as well. That pretty much leaves Social Security and a handful of popular spending programs like SCHIP on the block, which are as politically disastrous targets as they come.

Pinned down by a conservative base demanding drastic spending reductions AND tax cuts, it seems extremely unlikely a Republican House would be able to produce a workable budget that would get past the president’s desk, leading some observers — most notably Paul Krugman — to predict a government shutdown.

fnord

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Filed under Financial Rules & Regulations, Republicans, taxes, The Economy

Let’s have a Tea Party! Part I

Your not so humble columnist will make every effort to be even-handed with this piece, but sometimes you just run out of lipstick.

Tea Partiers claim that their movement is a Populist grass roots phenomenon, but there is much evidence that it is more Astro Turf and less natural grass. That aside, a few quick Tea Party factoids:

The Tea Party Contract from America

  1. Identify constitutionality of every new law: Require each bill to identify the specific provision of the Constitution that gives Congress the power to do what the bill does.
  2. Reject emissions trading: Stop the “cap and trade” administrative approach used to control pollution by providing economic incentives for achieving reductions in the emissions of pollutants.
  3. Demand a balanced federal budget: Begin the Constitutional amendment process to require a balanced budget with a two-thirds majority needed for any tax modification.
  4. Simplify the tax system: Adopt a simple and fair single-rate tax system by scrapping the internal revenue code and replacing it with one that is no longer than 4,543 words — the length of the original Constitution.
  5. Audit federal government agencies for constitutionality: Create a Blue Ribbon taskforce that engages in an audit of federal agencies and programs, assessing their Constitutionality, and identifying duplication, waste, ineffectiveness, and agencies and programs better left for the states or local authorities.
  6. Limit annual growth in federal spending: Impose a statutory cap limiting the annual growth in total federal spending to the sum of the inflation rate plus the percentage of population growth.
  7. Repeal the health care legislation passed on March 23, 2010: Defund, repeal and replace the HCR.
  8. Pass an ‘All-of-the-Above’ Energy Policy: Authorize the exploration of additional energy reserves to reduce American dependence on foreign energy sources and reduce regulatory barriers to all other forms of energy creation.
  9. Reduce Earmarks: Place a moratorium on all earmarks until the budget is balanced, and then require a 2/3 majority to pass any earmark.
  10. Reduce Taxes: Permanently repeal all recent tax increases, and extend permanently the George W. Bush temporary reductions in income tax, capital gains tax and  estate taxes currently scheduled to end in 2011.

These are the “official” Tea Party positions.

What do you think?


(Part II tomorrow, Part III Wednesday.)


William Stephenson Clark

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Filed under Tea Party Movement

Monday, 7/19/10, Public Square

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Filed under The Public Square