Does any party really have what it takes to reduce the budget?

Discussion in 'Political Action Forum' started by marsh-mello, May 10, 2012.

  1. marsh-mello

    marsh-mello Elite Refuge Member

    Dec 7, 2003

    Posted: May 04, 2012 12:48 AM PDT Updated: May 04, 2012 12:48 AM PDT
    Associated Press

    WASHINGTON (AP) - If there's one thing Republicans and Democrats in Washington say they agree on, it's the need to reduce federal spending. And it's something they almost never do, as recent events have proved again.

    Last week the U.S. Postal Service asked the Senate for permission to proceed with a multibillion-dollar savings package that included closing thousands of money-losing post offices. The Senate refused, voting instead to give the Postal Service another $11 billion amid speeches hailing the historic role of post offices in small towns. The vote also delayed plans to end Saturday mail delivery.

    The Postal Service's board of governors was incensed. "It is totally inappropriate in these economic times to keep unneeded facilities open," it said.

    Much the same happened last month when federally subsidized student loan rates were scheduled to rise, saving the government $6 billion a year. As President Barack Obama campaigned to stop the increase, Republican rival Mitt Romney joined in. House Republicans, whose original budget plan would have allowed the rate increase, quickly followed suit.

    And so it goes, program by program, year after year, no matter which party controls the White House or Congress.

    Lawmakers talk in grand, abstract terms of cutting vast sums from the budget. Even Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, whose Democratic Party traditionally is less fretful about spending than is the GOP, has proposed a whopping $1.2 trillion cut in discretionary spending.

    But when given the chance to actually cut a few billion dollars from a particular program, lawmakers routinely bow to ardent defenders, and their lobbyists, and pull back. When these lawmakers get re-elected, term after term, the lesson to aspiring politicians is clear.

    "Americans don't want less government," says Stan Collender, a long-time expert on the federal budget. "They want government to cost less."

    "Cutting federal spending is popular until you get to the specific programs," he says. "Then, with only a few very small exceptions, it becomes impossible."

    Coupled with tax cuts enacted over the past dozen years, Congress' aversion to cost-cutting has driven the nation's debt skyward. The government now borrows 39 cents of every dollar it spends.

    At big and small levels, lawmakers repeatedly fail to enact cost-cutting proposals. A plan for a potent deficit-reduction task force was scrapped in January 2010 when enough senators - including seven Republicans who originally sponsored the bill - voted against it.

    Last November, a highly touted bipartisan "supercommittee" failed to agree on a deficit-reduction plan. That set the stage for deep automatic spending cuts in December, which lawmakers are scrambling to avert.

    Presidents and lawmakers of every stripe have talked for years of needing to rein in Social Security and Medicare. They often campaign in ways to make sure it doesn't happen.

    President George W. Bush's bid to partly privatize Social Security in 2005 quickly died under attacks from Democrats and senior citizens groups. In 2010, Republicans took control of the House after accusing dozens of Democrats of wanting to gut Medicare. The Democrats had voted for Obama's health care overhaul, which envisioned $500 billion in Medicare savings over 10 years.

    And liberals rebuked Obama last year for showing openness to reduced benefits for Social Security and Medicare in exchange for tax increases under a never-realized "grand bargain" with Republicans.

    The Progressive Change Campaign Committee warned in a petition, "President Obama: If you cut Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid benefits for me, my family, or families like mine, don't ask for a penny of my money or an hour of my time in 2012."

    And so these huge and ever-growing "entitlement" programs remain on unsustainable paths.

    Meanwhile, there are countless examples of Congress dodging chances to cut spending elsewhere.

    For decades, lawmakers have refused to let the Pentagon eliminate costly and unwanted weapons systems, which often provide jobs in their home districts.

    Last week, House Armed Services Committee members rejected the Defense Department's effort to retire 18 Air Force Global Hawk drones, which would have saved $260 million. The planes are built in the district of the committee's chairman, Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif.

    Committee members also rejected a Pentagon bid to close more military bases. Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va. - whose district includes huge Navy bases and the Army's Fort Lee - called the base-closing idea "flawed."

    It's hardly new. Twenty years ago, then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney told senators: "Congress has directed me to spend money on all kinds of things that are not related to defense, but mostly related to politics back home."

    The tea party's role in the GOP's 2010 takeover of the House has given some anti-deficit activists hope that the White House and congressional leaders will finally swallow major spending cuts. Tea party activists nearly triggered a debt-ceiling crisis last year, and they played a key part in budget negotiations that have teed up $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts over 10 years unless Congress takes new action by December, after the Nov. 6 election.

    But even tea party heroes - and more important, their supporters - often hail budget cuts on large, abstract scales while embracing spending-as-usual on the home front.

    When Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., called for eliminating the Internal Revenue Service and the federal income tax at a town hall meeting last year in Coral Springs, Fla., his constituents cheered lustily. The crowd, peppered with tea party signs and flags, applauded just as loudly when West announced he had secured a $21 million federal grant to build a second runway at a local airport.

    In interviews with several attendees, no one accepted the notion that the positions might be contradictory, if not hypocritical. The region needs the new runway, they said.

    Some Republicans predict their party will enact unprecedented spending cuts if Romney defeats Obama this fall and the GOP takes over the Senate and retains House control. That's certainly possible, but history raises at least a few doubts.

    Republicans controlled the House, Senate and White House in 2003, when Congress added the prescription drug benefit to Medicare without paying for it. The 10-year cost is estimated at $1.2 trillion or more.

    Former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker called it "the most fiscally irresponsible piece of legislation since the 1960s."

    The conservative Heritage Foundation says the source of the nation's budget crisis "is bipartisan. Generations of politicians from both political parties have invited millions of Americans into greater dependence on the government, promising expensive services without regard to cost."

    Ironically, perhaps, Congress' gridlock may lead to the biggest one-time deficit-reduction package in memory. Unless Congress acts by Dec. 31, a host of tax hikes - including taxes on income, payroll and capital gains - will hit millions of Americans in 2013. That possibility, plus the scheduled spending cuts that resulted from last year's budget impasses, mean the economy faces "a fiscal cliff," said Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

    Perhaps doing nothing is the only way Congress can enact significant deficit reduction.

    EDITOR'S NOTE _ An occasional look behind the rhetoric of public officials.
  2. Lowtide

    Lowtide Elite Refuge Member

    Dec 13, 2003
    That does an excellent job of explaining the spending problem. The bums in Washington are only concerned with staying in power.
  3. okie drake

    okie drake Elite Refuge Member

    Mar 7, 2001
    Indian Territory
    Does any party really have what it takes to reduce the budget?


    Bigger question: Why?

    Because the electorate does not.

    It appears we will not willingly say no. So, we'll end up doing so via literal necessity.

    The medicare part D which was referenced is a great example of our current situation.

    Plavix is expensive. $200.

    Hospitalization due to cardiac events is too, 200K.

    Until we're literally broke and the checks bounce, we're going to pay for one or the other.

    The real problem is not the Plaxix nor hospitalization cost (said situation contributes greatly to both), it's that long ago we decided that we were going to pay for them.

    Department of Energy:
    Instituted with the goal of reducing our dependence on foreign oil, which at the time was around 30%. Decades and thousands of employees later, its budget is 20+ billion annually and our foreign usage is about 70%.

    Now, who is going to win campaigning on saving that 20 billion and firing tens of thousands?

    Oklahome education:
    Pre-lottery--one dollar away from shutting the school doors
    Post 80 million dollar annual lottery--one dollar away from shutting school doors

    Who is going to win campaigning on cutting the education budget (btw in OK a recent story was the uncovering of millions spent from slush fund accounts on wine and booze at state edu conferences)?

    That's govt folks. Prepare the best you can to take care of your own.

    As FF so succinctly put it: Doomed.
  4. Native NV Ducker

    Native NV Ducker Mod-Duck Hunters Forum, Classifieds, and 2 others Moderator

    Dec 14, 2003
    Sula, MT
    Re: The Postal problem...

    My rural community is right in the middle of the discussions. We are a small valley, maybe 100 people full time, and only a gas station/RV park as a business. We are spread out over 15+ miles of road. (Sula, MT)

    They announced the projected closing of the Post Office here. They offered to continue the PO Boxes, and home delivery (roadside mail boxes) PLUS- call in service for stamp delivery, package pick-up, and large mail boxes for large box delivery items. In other words, except for being able to stand in the building and talk to a Federal employee, no change in services provided.

    The community went into full mode outrage. How DARE they consider closing OUR Post Office. No matter the office handles less than 5 customers (people that actually buy something) per day. No matter that everyone has to go to Darby, MT (20 miles away) to actually buy anything not mail related (groceries, gas, retail products) and there is a full service Post Office there.

    It was funny (and sad) to listen to. There is another Post Office between here and Darby, also slated for closing. Almost everyone agreed THAT office should be closed, but NOT OURS. (to heck with the neighbors, they don't matter)

    One neighbor even stood up and said his small time fly fishing lure business would lose money, because his customers identify with the 'Sula' postmark. Really????????

    Montana was going to be hard hit by this proposal, no doubt. I don't agree with all of the recommendations, such as plowing under some of the rural offices and stopping PO box delivery. I didn't understand why they couldn't deliver to the small town PO boxes. I TOTALLY agree with not having a Federal employee sitting on their bum for 8 hours a day and selling $10 worth of stamps and mailing 2 packages.

    I have stated on other threads (CRP funding, for example) that we are all for smaller Govt, as long as WE are not affected. Having worked for the Govt, I am fully aware of the waste involved, and the apathy Govt workers have for budget issues. After all, it is EASY to spend other peoples money. Waste is rampant in Govt. I believe if employees really cared, Govt spending could be reduced 10% tomorrow (across the entire system, not just Federal) If it were run like a business, designed to make money, not just PRINT money, (I know it wouldn't really make money, but the concept still applies) we could save a LOT of money.
  5. blinddog

    blinddog Elite Refuge Member

    Dec 7, 2003
    Easton, Maryland
    All of us need to realize the trajectory that our spending is taking.

    There is a very simple way to begin the necessary spending cuts that eliminates all of the partisanship and sacred cows. Congress will need to get together, in a bipartisan manner, accept that we need to make drastic cuts and decide on a number. 10%, 15%, 20%; whatever the percentage is, and make it across the board. Every program, every tax benefit, every expense, no exceptions, everything gets cut to start the ball rolling.

    Once the seal has been broken, then time can be taken to examine how things can be tweaked and adjusted, but the main thing is to get started!

    This would be leadership...not the BS that we have seen from our elected politicians for such a long time...
  6. API

    API PAF-CA Flyway Moderator

    Dec 29, 2008
    To quote the wisdom already noted... "we're doomed". :mad:
  7. Pintail Hunter

    Pintail Hunter Elite Refuge Member

    Jun 17, 2005
    I find it interesting that no one in the media is refering to the P.O. deal as a bailout. No, it's not bailing out a bunch of Wall Street tycoons but it's still a bailout. Heck, with TARP at least those bailed out had to agree to pay the money back plus interest. No such thing is happening here.

    Sadly, nothing really gets done in this country until we have gone over the cliff. The isolationists of the 30's left us unprepared to take on Germany and Japan. Yeah, we ultimately did but the cost was higher due to our lack of preparation. The list goes on.

    We too often look back at the American response to a self inflicted crisis or at least worsened crisis with pride at our response. How foolish.

    The crisis will come and answer will be more painful than it needed to be. I don't think we are doomed anymore today than we were in 1860 or 1941 but we are certainly doomed to keep making the same stupid mistakes generation after generation. Maybe some generation in the future will get it right.

    Of course, if they do, their kids or grandkids will screw it all up.

    Like Pogo said, "we has met the enemy and he is us".
  8. DukVorkian

    DukVorkian Senior Refuge Member

    Jul 21, 2002
    Mesa, AZ
    See Ron Paul
  9. pintail2222

    pintail2222 Elite Refuge Member

    Oct 8, 2002
    Collier Co. Florida
    Can anybody tell me why Repubs oppose Simpson-Bowles?

    I know why the POTUS walked away from his own committee - but what's the issue/issues that the Repubs have with The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform?

    I can find the GOP talking points on the POTUS not following the plan - but what is the GOP's "problem" with it?
  10. Flathead Fowler

    Flathead Fowler Senior Refuge Member

    Feb 29, 2004
    The Valley

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