The 2012 US Budget - competing visions, competing methods

Reply Thu 14 Apr, 2011 04:22 pm
In the last couple of weeks, we've seen the battle for the upcoming 2012 budget heat up. This has long been anticipated by Conservatives, who, through a strong showing by their Tea Party faction, managed to capture a ton of seats in the House of Representatives in November of 2010. Though they only control a small section of the government, that section - the House - is where spending bills originate, and the Republicans have been determined to force Obama and the Dems in the Senate to bend to their will regarding the way the country should be ran.

As of yesterday, by my count, there are four different budget plans that have been presented by members of our government. This thread is intended to discuss both the substantive differences between these budgets and the political process of the passage of them. The second is more important than the first in many ways, because 2012 is an election year, and candidates for the Republican nomination are going to be expected to embrace a budget vision themselves - which they are then going to have to defend.

The four budgets I've seen so far are:

1. Paul Ryan's proposed budget -


President Obama's proposed budget -


The 'People's Budget,' proposed by the House Progressive Caucus -


The Republican Study Committee's budget -


Each of these proposals seeks to do the same thing, but they all go about it in very different ways. It's fair to say that the proposals really do give us a lot of options to choose from; there's everything from minor tax increases, to major tax increases, to tax cuts, to major tax cuts. There's elimination of deductions for the rich and corporate welfare, and elimination of Medicare as we know it. You have numbers in pretty much all of them that don't add up correctly.

Various third rails are grabbed, or at least flirted with.

All in all, there are definite differences here. I won't make any pretenses that I don't have a dog in this fight; but I'm hoping to hear the opinion from others, regarding how they feel about the proposals, whether they could work for us, whose numbers are full of ****, and whether or not anything at all can be passed in such a polarized atmosphere.

In the next few posts, I'll look at the specifics of each budget proposal in depth. I will also perform my analysis of the seriousness or lack thereof of each budget, and the possible effects that they could have on our nation. I invite you to do the same.
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Reply Thu 14 Apr, 2011 04:46 pm
Cool. Like it or not, I will be here.
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Reply Thu 14 Apr, 2011 05:15 pm

Obama and the Demthugs of the House and Senate FORCED Republicans and the entire country to accept their will regarding the way
this country should be run... thank god this unconstitutional behavior was curtailed by the election results of November of 2010.

We are moving forward and the country must work together as one to replace Obama and
his regime with Americans that support the constitution and a limited government in 2012 .
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Reply Thu 14 Apr, 2011 11:28 pm
I will be here.
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Reply Fri 15 Apr, 2011 09:26 am
It appears we Americans rather like our tax deductions. From the latest Gallup poll:

Americans make it clear they want to keep common federal income tax deductions, regardless of whether the proposed elimination of those deductions is framed as part of a plan to lower the overall income tax rate or as a way to reduce the federal budget deficit. No more than one in three Americans favor eliminating any of the deductions in either scenario. …

Budget plans that call for lower overall tax rates, such as the one proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan, would essentially require that popular deductions be eliminated, basically trading off one tax break for another. President Obama’s commission on deficit reduction last December called for eliminating deductions, including the one for mortgage interest, as part of its plan (ultimately rejected) to reduce the federal budget deficit.

failures art
Reply Fri 15 Apr, 2011 09:44 am
That sounds like 66% of the public is rather ignorable when complaining about debt. I get that cheap is popular. Everyone loves cheap.

Really cheap.
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Reply Fri 15 Apr, 2011 01:58 pm
The Republican Study Committee's budget proposal just went down in defeat. Republicans had to vote against it to prevent it from passing. CSPAN video of the vote shows the panic set in when the Republicans realized what was about to happen.



WASHINGTON – House Republicans scrambled Friday to vote down their own extremely conservative budget after Democrats called their bluff and withheld opposition, forcing GOP lawmakers to defeat the bill themselves.

The proposal, put forth by the Republican Study Committee, was a more extreme alternative to the plan offered by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI). It sought to make massive cuts to Social Security and Medicare while providing even larger tax breaks for high income earners.

A proposal like that would ordinarily have no chance of passing, typically earning total opposition from Democrats and dissent from enough Republicans. Yet voting on it would serve to please the GOP's right flank, while passage would tar the party with seeking to gut America's social safety net.

But, far from unified opposition, a total of 172 Democrats voted "present." That shocked Republicans, forcing some of them to flip their "yes" votes to "no" in order to defeat the bill that would otherwise have passed with a majority.

The measure ultimately failed 119-136.
Reply Fri 15 Apr, 2011 02:38 pm
House Approves GOP Budget Plan

The House voted 235-193 to approve the plan by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., chairman of the House Budget Committee, though its future beyond that is uncertain. Still, Republicans say the country is on the precipice and they have no other choice but to start slashing trillions in future spending.

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Reply Fri 15 Apr, 2011 02:59 pm
Brilliant strategy.
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Reply Fri 15 Apr, 2011 06:19 pm
One down (my way of bookmarking).
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Reply Fri 15 Apr, 2011 07:33 pm
I was out of touch for most of the day today, and what a day for that to happen!

As was pointed out earlier, the Dems almost really screwed the Republicans in the House today by forcing them to hurriedly back away from the 4th budget I presented above, which really would have been radical. I didn't see it live but I wish I had.

Obama says stuff into a 'live mike,' sharpening his rhetoric towards the Republicans, which I highly doubt was a mistake. Obama and his team have correctly identified that large parts of the Ryan budget are unpopular, a few are REALLY unpopular, and the numbers don't add up at all.

Speaking of which,

Here's a link to a short description of Ryan's plan:


"short" is a relative term in this case, but you'll find a good description of the details of the plan, and I'll be referring to it for the main points of my discussion.

Warning, partisan discussion begins!

What follows is an article that captures my feelings regarding the gross and false assumptions that underpin this budget perfectly. I do hope that anyone who feels differently will present other articles, or other opinions or points of discussion.

April 7, 2011
Ludicrous and Cruel


Many commentators swooned earlier this week after House Republicans, led by the Budget Committee chairman, Paul Ryan, unveiled their budget proposals. They lavished praise on Mr. Ryan, asserting that his plan set a new standard of fiscal seriousness.

Well, they should have waited until people who know how to read budget numbers had a chance to study the proposal. For the G.O.P. plan turns out not to be serious at all. Instead, it’s simultaneously ridiculous and heartless.

How ridiculous is it? Let me count the ways — or rather a few of the ways, because there are more howlers in the plan than I can cover in one column.

First, Republicans have once again gone all in for voodoo economics — the claim, refuted by experience, that tax cuts pay for themselves.

Specifically, the Ryan proposal trumpets the results of an economic projection from the Heritage Foundation, which claims that the plan’s tax cuts would set off a gigantic boom. Indeed, the foundation initially predicted that the G.O.P. plan would bring the unemployment rate down to 2.8 percent — a number we haven’t achieved since the Korean War. After widespread jeering, the unemployment projection vanished from the Heritage Foundation’s Web site, but voodoo still permeates the rest of the analysis.

In particular, the original voodoo proposition — the claim that lower taxes mean higher revenue — is still very much there. The Heritage Foundation projection has large tax cuts actually increasing revenue by almost $600 billion over the next 10 years.

A more sober assessment from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office tells a different story. It finds that a large part of the supposed savings from spending cuts would go, not to reduce the deficit, but to pay for tax cuts. In fact, the budget office finds that over the next decade the plan would lead to bigger deficits and more debt than current law.

And about those spending cuts: leave health care on one side for a moment and focus on the rest of the proposal. It turns out that Mr. Ryan and his colleagues are assuming drastic cuts in nonhealth spending without explaining how that is supposed to happen.

How drastic? According to the budget office, which analyzed the plan using assumptions dictated by House Republicans, the proposal calls for spending on items other than Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — but including defense — to fall from 12 percent of G.D.P. last year to 6 percent of G.D.P. in 2022, and just 3.5 percent of G.D.P. in the long run.

That last number is less than we currently spend on defense alone; it’s not much bigger than federal spending when Calvin Coolidge was president, and the United States, among other things, had only a tiny military establishment. How could such a drastic shrinking of government take place without crippling essential public functions? The plan doesn’t say.

And then there’s the much-ballyhooed proposal to abolish Medicare and replace it with vouchers that can be used to buy private health insurance.

The point here is that privatizing Medicare does nothing, in itself, to limit health-care costs. In fact, it almost surely raises them by adding a layer of middlemen. Yet the House plan assumes that we can cut health-care spending as a percentage of G.D.P. despite an aging population and rising health care costs.

The only way that can happen is if those vouchers are worth much less than the cost of health insurance. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that by 2030 the value of a voucher would cover only a third of the cost of a private insurance policy equivalent to Medicare as we know it. So the plan would deprive many and probably most seniors of adequate health care.

And that neither should nor will happen. Mr. Ryan and his colleagues can write down whatever numbers they like, but seniors vote. And when they find that their health-care vouchers are grossly inadequate, they’ll demand and get bigger vouchers — wiping out the plan’s supposed savings.

In short, this plan isn’t remotely serious; on the contrary, it’s ludicrous.

And it’s also cruel.

In the past, Mr. Ryan has talked a good game about taking care of those in need. But as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities points out, of the $4 trillion in spending cuts he proposes over the next decade, two-thirds involve cutting programs that mainly serve low-income Americans. And by repealing last year’s health reform, without any replacement, the plan would also deprive an estimated 34 million nonelderly Americans of health insurance.

So the pundits who praised this proposal when it was released were punked. The G.O.P. budget plan isn’t a good-faith effort to put America’s fiscal house in order; it’s voodoo economics, with an extra dose of fantasy, and a large helping of mean-spiritedness. 


From a moral point of view; I understand that there is a faction here in America that wants a different country than we currently have. A different type of country. That wants America to be a place where people live or die on their own, and where folks refuse to help others who can't afford help, whether their predicament is from bad luck or bad planning.

As the president said in his speech the other day, I just fundamentally disagree with this notion. It doesn't reflect the place I grew up or the values I have.

What more, the budget is unserious, in that it asks nothing of traditional Republican favorites. It asks for no sacrifice from the rich and upper class. No sacrifice from business. No sacrifice from recipients of corporate welfare. No farm subsidy cuts. No real cuts to the military.

How can one call this 'shared sacrifice?' I just don't get how this could be considered a serious plan.

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Reply Sat 16 Apr, 2011 05:52 am
WASHINGTON – Launching a week devoted to selling his deficit-reduction plan, President Barack Obama on Saturday drew sharp contrasts with a Republican budget that he says offers a vision that "is wrong for America."

In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama charged Republicans with seeking to dismantle venerable safety net programs and choosing tax cuts for the wealthy at the expense of students paying for college or older adults on Medicare, the federal health care program.

"To restore fiscal responsibility, we all need to share in the sacrifice - but we don't have to sacrifice the America we believe in," Obama said.

The criticism echoed his speech Wednesday in which he unveiled a $4 trillion deficit-reduction plan over 12 years, a goal he says he can achieve with a blend of spending cuts, changes in major government health care programs and tax increases.

Obama's message represents his clearest attempt to place ideological distance with Republicans after months spent negotiating a compromise six-month spending bill that trimmed more than $38 billion from the government. Obama signed that legislation Friday.

Obama plans to continue his plan's pitch throughout the week, holding town halls in Northern Virginia Tuesday and in Palo Alto, California, and Reno, Nevada, later in the week during a Western tour that includes at least two Democratic Party fundraisers.

While trying to cast the debate in his own terms, the president's attention to fiscal discipline signals a watershed in national politics. After two years devoted to priming an anemic economy with new spending and passing an overhaul of health care, Congress and the White House are beginning a debate about how to tame long-term deficits and a crushing debt of more than $14 trillion.

In the Republicans' weekly address, Sen. Tom Coburn called that turning point "a monumental shift for Washington."

Still, Obama predicted in an interview with The Associated Press on Friday that fundamental questions about how to change giant benefit programs like Medicare or how to change the tax system might have to wait until after the 2012 presidential elections.

He conceded, however, that he would have to offer spending cuts to win votes in the Republican-controlled House for an increase in the debt limit. The debt will hit its ceiling of $14.3 trillion by mid-May, and administration officials say the cap must be raised by no later than early July.

And while Obama, in the interview, predicted a "smart compromise," his address Saturday left little room for common ground with the House Republican budget. That plan, approved by the House Friday, would reduce deficits by $4 trillion over the next 10 years. It would extend Bush-era tax cuts at all income levels, repeal Obama's health care law and overhaul of Medicare by providing future retirees a voucher-style federal payment to purchase coverage from private plans.

"It's a vision that says that in order to reduce the deficit, we have to end Medicare as we know it and make cuts to Medicaid that would leave millions of seniors, poor children and Americans with disabilities without the care they need," Obama said.

Obama has adopted a sharper, partisan tone since announced his re-election bid more than a week ago.

Coburn said Obama's sharp critique of the House Republican budget amounted to "campaign-style political attacks."

"Instead of describing the threat and bringing both sides together, the president attacked those who have a different vision of the government," he said.

Coburn is one of a bipartisan group of six senators working to find a compromise on long-term deficit reduction. The group has not tipped its hand as its members continue to seek common ground. They have not set a timeline for achieving a compromise.

Coburn, however, praised the House Republican Medicare proposal, suggesting that the so-called Gang of Six may still have a long way to go before reaching a compromise.

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Reply Sat 16 Apr, 2011 09:35 am
It seems that that 38 billion that the repugs are bragging about will only save 500 million dollars. Accounting tricks bring the total to a bogus 38 billion. I wonder if the tea party dummies will notice the repubs sold them down the river. Probebly not, all they can see is tax reduction.
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