Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sunday, February 27, 2011


he wouldn't begrudge me the same health plan he is on.

Boehner Makes Budget Case at Religious Convention

Filed at 8:59 p.m. EST
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — House Speaker John Boehner in a speech to religious broadcasters on Sunday called it a "moral responsibility" to rein in the federal debt. Boehner said Republicans will work to prevent a shutdown of the federal government, but not without spending cuts.
"Perhaps the activists of unrestrained government think there's some compromise to be had that allows their spending binge to survive," the Ohio Republican said in a 25-minute speech at the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Nashville. "Ladies and gentlemen, know this: We will do no such thing."
Lawmakers must approve a new spending plan before the current budget expires Friday. Both Republicans and Democrats have sought to blame each other about the prospects of the first government shutdown since 1996.
"We have a moral responsibility to address the problems we face," Boehner said. "That means working together to cut spending and rein in government — not shutting it down."
Boehner said Democrats should agree to what he called "reasonable spending cuts" of $4 billion to keep the federal government running through March 18. That move comes because the leadership of the Democratic-controlled Senate opposes a House proposal to slash $61 billion in spending through the end of September.
"They label as 'pain' even our most modest efforts to restore a moral fiscal policy," Boehner said. "What will truly cause pain and suffering is the status quo — doing nothing — and leaving our debt on its unsustainable and immoral path."
Democrats also want a short-term extension, but want to maintain current spending levels so the parties can negotiate over how deep cuts need to be.
Obama, in his weekly radio address Saturday, urged lawmakers to quickly find a resolution to the dispute "so we can accelerate, not impede, economic growth."
Boehner said the shorter-term plan is a piecemeal approach to future cutting spending.
"If they won't eat the whole loaf at one time, we'll make them eat it one slice at a time," Boehner said.
House Republicans next month plan to target entitlement programs, like Medicaid and Medicare, Boehner said.
"To not address entitlement programs, as is the case with the budget the president has put forward, would be an economical and moral failure," Boehner said. "By acting now, we can fulfill the mission of health and retirement security for all Americans without making changes for those in or near retirement."

Friday, February 25, 2011


link to:

some clips from Gail Collins Opinion Page column in the New York Times, Feb 25, 2011:

Right now, all around the country, federal agencies are making plans for an orderly way to shut down nonessential services if Congress fails to do anything to keep the boat afloat next week. //

// some of the House members ... prowl the corridors yowling about deficits like accountants on crack. They think they were elected to shut down the government, so the idea of closing nonessential services must sound like a day at the beach.

All hope for averting disaster lies with Speaker John Boehner, who used to be a strangely tanned blowhard but is now regarded as a beleaguered statesman. This just happened a few days ago, so you may not have gotten the memo.

Unfortunately, so far, Speaker Boehner has not been all that helpful. There is very little in Washington that can’t be explained by an episode of the original “Star Trek,” and Boehner is playing out the one where the Romulan captain prefers the ways of peace but is saddled with a crew that will mutiny if he fails to follow through on the plan to blow up the galaxy

Friday, January 14, 2011

Monday, January 3, 2011




January 3, 2011
G.O.P. Sets Up Huge Target for Budget Ax
WASHINGTON — The incoming Republican majority in the House is moving to make good on its promise to cut $100 billion from domestic spending this year, a goal eagerly backed by conservatives but one carrying substantial political and economic risks.

House Republican leaders are so far not specifying which programs would bear the brunt of budget cutting, only what would escape it: spending for the military, domestic security and veterans.

The reductions that would be required in the remaining federal programs, including education and transportation, would be so deep — roughly 20 percent on average — that Senate Republicans have not joined the $100 billion pledge that House Republicans, led by the incoming speaker, Representative John A. Boehner, made to voters before November’s midterm elections.

Even if adopted by the House, the Republicans’ budget is unlikely to be enacted in anything like the scale they envision, since Democrats retain a majority in the Senate and President Obama could veto annual appropriations bills making the reductions.

But the effort is more than symbolic: in particular it could give House Republicans increased leverage in budget negotiations with the White House this winter and spring, when the administration must get Congress to raise the federal debt limit or risk a government financing crisis.

The budget-cutting exercise is perhaps the biggest test facing the House Republicans as they seek to remain united and to keep faith with Tea Party members, many of whom remain suspicious of the party’s willingness to vote for deep spending cuts.

But if Republicans vote for the size and range of required cuts in education, law enforcement, medical and scientific research, transportation and much more, it would give Democrats political ammunition to use against them in swing districts.

Such reductions are sure to draw protests from governors and local officials, including Republicans, who are counting on federal money to help balance their budgets. Many business and farm groups likewise would oppose cuts in their subsidies. And many economists would argue that immediate federal spending cuts of this size, especially on top of cuts and layoffs in the cities and states, would threaten the economy’s recovery and offset any stimulus from the tax cut deal Republicans and Mr. Obama reached just weeks ago.

Yet conservative analysts say even more spending cuts are desirable. Brian Riedl of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative research organization, has outlined a plan for $343 billion in reductions, including cuts from corporate tax breaks and entitlement programs that are not in the portion of the federal budget that House Republicans are focusing on, the so-called nonsecurity discretionary spending.

“The difficulty for Republicans is that they’re concentrating their cuts in a small sliver of the budget,” Mr. Riedl said. “They should also be addressing large entitlement programs, such as Medicare and Social Security, which are the main source of our budget problems. Cutting $100 billion from these other programs isn’t just a matter of eliminating waste, fraud and abuse. It will involve real cuts in real programs.”

Other Republicans are skeptical, as well.

“I just don’t know how, when you get down to it, they’re going to get agreement on that,” said G. William Hoagland, who for many years was the Republican staff director of the Senate Budget Committee.

The promise to cut $100 billion this fiscal year — in effect, taking government operations to 2008 levels — would mean cuts of more than 20 percent across the board from the $477 billion that Congress allocated for such programs in the 2010 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30.

Such across-the-board cuts “would have very damaging implications for the long-term growth of the economy and the long-term future of our work force,” said Jacob J. Lew, Mr. Obama’s budget director. He is preparing the administration’s budget for the 2012 fiscal year, which would continue a three-year freeze of the same domestic spending at 2010 levels.

“If you look in areas like education, if it was applied across the board it would mean eight million students would have their Pell grants reduced by an average of $700,” Mr. Lew said. “You obviously could make policy not to do that, but then you’d have to save a lot of money somewhere else.”

A 20-percent cut also would mean 40,000 fewer teachers and school aides, he said, and big reductions in basic research, law enforcement and small business programs, among many others.

If the Republicans apply their promise literally, some programs would have to be scaled back even more because the government is already well into its fiscal year, so the cuts would have to be concentrated in a shorter period. The reductions would be about 30.6 percent, said James R. Horney, a former Congressional budget analyst who is now at the liberal-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

“That would require very large layoffs or furloughs of federal employees,” Mr. Horney said, “as well as big reductions in grants to state and local governments and government purchases of goods and services — all of which would offset a good portion of the stimulus achieved in the tax compromise and threaten the recovery.”

In new rules that the House is expected to adopt when it convenes on Wednesday, Republicans will empower the incoming chairman of the House Budget Committee, Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, to set limits for the various categories of domestic spending that are decided in the Appropriations Committee. That is more power than ever invested in a Budget Committee chief and a significant diminution in the appropriation panel’s traditional sway.

Initially, that would allow House Republicans to suggest what general areas the $100 billion would come from without identifying specific cuts.

“The reality of governing is different than the reality of campaigning, and it’s easier to throw out a number than it is to support it,” said David Axelrod, Mr. Obama’s senior strategist.

Looming over the budget fight is the battle over the debt limit. An increase in the debt limit is essential for the government to borrow to meet its obligations, but it is adamantly opposed by the Tea Party movement and other small-government conservatives.

While they complain that lifting the limit enables new spending, mostly it allows the government to cover existing commitments, including trillions of dollars run up when Republicans controlled Congress and the White House from 2001 to 2007.