Archive | Austerity Porn

The deficit game

Bruce Bartlett

Bruce Bartlett, former Reagan and Bush I economic adviser:

I think many Democrats and independent political observers are puzzled by the intensity with which Republicans are pursuing their tax cut. It’s not politically popular and may well lead to the party’s defeat in next year’s congressional elections. So why do it?

The answer is that Republicans are pushing the tax cut at breakneck speed precisely because they know they are probably going to lose next year and in 2020 as well. The tax cut, once enacted, however, will bind the hands of Democrats for years to come, forcing them to essentially follow a Republican agenda of deficit reduction and prevent any action on a positive Democratic program. The result will be a steady erosion of support for Democrats that will put Republicans back in power within a few election cycles.

The theory was laid out almost 30 years ago by two Swedish economists, Torsten Persson and Lars EO Svensson. In a densely written article for the Quarterly Journal of Economics in 1989, they explained why a stubborn conservative legislator would intentionally run a big budget deficit.

House Republicans pass major tax cut bill after Trump’s closed-door speech
Read more
It has to do with what economists call time inconsistency – the consequences of actions taken today may not appear until the future, when a different political party will be in power. Thus the credit or blame will accrue to that party rather than the one that implemented the policy, because voters tend to attribute whatever is happening today to the party in power today even if that party had nothing to do with it.

Thus Barack Obama got blamed for a recession and resulting budget deficits he had nothing to do with originating. No matter how many times the Congressional Budget Office showed that the vast bulk of the budget deficits in his administration were baked in the cake the day he took office, Republicans nevertheless blamed him and his policies exclusively for those deficits.

CALL NOW! Senate tax bill includes repeal of ObamaCare mandate

You have to call, especially the Republicans:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced Tuesday that the Senate tax bill will include language to repeal ObamaCare’s individual mandate, which could make it tougher for moderate Republicans to support.

Conservatives led by GOP Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas), Rand Paul (Ky.) and Tom Cotton (Ark.) pushed hard to include the provision, which would eliminate the federal penalty on people who do not buy health insurance. President Trump has also pushed for the provision to be part of the tax bill.

McConnell told reporters that adding the individual mandate repeal will make it easier to muster 50 votes to pass the bill.

“We’re optimistic that inserting the individual mandate repeal would be helpful and that’s obviously the view of the Senate Finance Committee Republicans as well,” McConnell said.

It will raise an estimated $300 billion to $400 billion over the next year that could be used to pay for lowering individual and business tax rates even further.

Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the Senate’s No. 3 Republican, told reporters there has been a whip count and he is confident Republicans can pass a tax bill that includes a measure to repeal the mandate.

If that’s not enough to get you to pick up the phone, look at this:

Trump’s war on Social Security begins

Mick Mulvaney OMB Dir. student talk_18

Well, here we go. Trump’s new budget will be announced today, and it features massive cuts to Social Security disability. They are selling this to the media as “disability, not real Social Security,” and it’s up to us to stop them:

We pointed out back in March that Trump budget direct Mick Mulvaney displayed an alarming ignorance about Social Security disability benefits during an appearance on the CBS program “Face the Nation.”

Now it turns out that there was method to his muttering. In effect, Mulvaney was telegraphing that the Trump White House was planning to cut disability benefits sharply. Axios reported Sunday that the Trump budget due out Tuesday will include $1.7 trillion in cuts to major social insurance and assistance programs, including food stamps, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and Social Security disability.

Any cut to disability would be a major violation of Trump’s oft-repeated campaign pledge not to cut Social Security, Medicaid or Medicare. Trump also broke that promise, by the way, by endorsing the American Health Care Act, the House Republican Obamacare repeal plan that incorporates a stunning $880 billion in Medicaid cuts.

It turns out that Mulvaney was setting up a flagrant deception during that “Face the Nation” appearance. He asked moderator John Dickerson, “Do you really think that Social Security disability insurance is part of what people think of when they think of Social Security? I don’t think so.”

Dickerson let the remark, which we described then as “a drive-by shooting” aimed at some of the nation’s neediest and most defenseless people, slide without comment.

But Mulvaney was tapping into a knowledge vacuum that appears to extend more deeply into the Washington press corps. Politico, which reports that the budget document will “avoid revamping Social Security and Medicare,” and the Associated Press, which says the budget “won’t touch Social Security or Medicare,” get snowed by the implication that a cut in disability isn’t a cut to Social Security.

Betsy’s edumacation budget

MIc'd Up | Part 1: A Conversation with John S. Watson | Part 2: A Conversation with Ernest MonizPart 1: A Conversation with Betsy DeVos, Secretary, U.S. Department of Education | Part 2: U.S. Education Policy Discussion

I wonder what the MAGA gang will think of this:

Funding for college work-study programs would be cut in half, public-service loan forgiveness would end and hundreds of millions of dollars that public schools could use for mental health, advanced coursework and other services would vanish under a Trump administration plan to cut $10.6 billion from federal education initiatives, according to budget documents obtained by The Washington Post.

The administration would channel part of the savings into its top priority: school choice. It seeks to spend about $400 million to expand charter schools and vouchers for private and religious schools, and another $1 billion to push public schools to adopt choice-friendly policies.

President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have repeatedly said they want to shrink the federal role in education and give parents more opportunity to choose their children’s schools.

The documents — described by an Education Department employee as a near-final version of the budget expected to be released next week — offer the clearest picture yet of how the administration intends to accomplish that goal.

Americans can’t have nice health care

Scary surgery instruments

So the clear solution is to make them realize how stupid they are for wanting it! Additionally, neither the Democrats‘ Obamacare nor the Republicans’ Trumpcare can truly meet the unrealistic expectations of the American public. The public has four major expectations, which are inherently mutually incompatible. The public wants: (1) freedom to choose doctor and hospital;… Continue Reading →

You can have cancer research — or a wall, but not both

In Science, You Can’t Always Get What You Want

WASHINGTON – The White House is proposing a $1.2 billion cut this year to the National Institutes of Health’s budget, targeting research grants. The proposed NIH cut is part of $18 billion in spending reductions that President Trump’s team is proposing to Congress for the current fiscal year, which ends in October, according to a summary… Continue Reading →

Federal layoffs loom as Trump goes after EPA and IRS

Trump420 320

Reprinted with permission from The Chief. The draft of President Trump’s first Executive Budget indicates he will make double-digit funding cuts to dozens of non-military agencies as diverse as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Coast Guard, the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. State Department. If his budget gets Congressional approval,… Continue Reading →

Gov. Brownback’s tax cut ‘experiments’ have failed: $893M needed to fix schools

Slide 17 - Sam Brownback

Last week, second-term Kansas governor Sam Brownback lost a legal battle over underfunding schools. The state’s Supreme Court has ordered him to rethink his method of funding schools, further highlighting the Republican governor’s fiscal failures. Taking conservative policies to the extreme, the governor cut taxes on the wealthiest citizens in his state by a whopping 29… Continue Reading →

Site Meter