Senate ain’t buying Obama’s deficit reduction task force

Capitol Hill Blue

The Senate is likely to reject a White House-backed plan to establish a bipartisan task force to recommend steps to curb the deficit, even as lawmakers digest the news that President Barack Obama wants a three-year freeze in the domestic budgets they control.

Fresh numbers arriving Tuesday morning from the Congressional Budget Office are expected to bring continued bad news on the deficit, keeping the pressure on Obama and congressional Democrats to demonstrate they’re serious about taking on the flood of red ink.

The spending freeze, expected to be proposed by Obama during the State of the Union address on Wednesday, would apply to a relatively small portion of the federal budget, affecting a $477 billion pot of money available for domestic agencies whose budgets are approved by Congress each year. Some of those agencies could get increases, others would have to face cuts; such programs got an almost 10 percent increase this year. The federal budget total was $3.5 trillion.

The freeze on so-called discretionary programs would have only a modest impact on a deficit expected to match last year’s $1.4 trillion. The steps needed to really tackle the deficit include tax increases and curbs on benefit programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

That’s the idea driving the Obama-backed plan to create a special task force to come up with a plan to curb the spiraling budget deficit. But the Senate sponsors of the plan say it’s attracted too much opposition from the right and left to prevail.

Republicans say the panel — it would try to develop a deficit reduction blueprint after the November elections for a vote before the new Congress convenes — would lead to big tax hikes. Democratic opponents say they don’t want to vote on proposals to cut benefit programs like Social Security without being able to shape the plan.

Obama’s three-year spending freeze will be part of the budget Obama will submit Feb. 1, senior administration officials said, commenting on condition of anonymity to reveal unpublished details.

It’s likely to confront opposition on Capitol Hill, where a handful of powerful lawmakers write 12 annual appropriations bills. They’ve gotten used to hefty increases but now are being asked to tighten their belts. House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, D-Wis., declined to comment, his spokesman said.

The Pentagon, veterans programs, foreign aid and the Homeland Security Department would be exempt from the freeze.

The savings would be small at first, perhaps $10 billion to $15 billion, one official said. But over the coming decade, savings would add up to $250 billion.

The White House is under considerable pressure to cut deficits — the red ink hit a record $1.4 trillion this year — or at least keep them from growing. Encouraged by last week’s Massachusetts Senate victory, Republicans are hitting hard on the issue, and polls show voters increasingly concerned.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press

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Putting “Limited” Back in Government

Big Government

Jan. 22, 2010

If your finances looked like the federal budget, you wouldn’t get elected. You’d get arrested. Under the Democrats’ iron-fisted, one-party rule of Washington, family budgets shrink and the federal budget bloats: The deficit, the debt and spending are at record levels; massive tax increases impend in the days ahead; and widespread unemployment persists and pains working families. Compounding this crisis, the Democrats’ spending spree imperils our national security by creating a “debt threat” whereby antagonistic nations to which we owe hundreds of billions of dollars practice economic statecraft against America to influence our foreign and domestic policies and/or actively undermine our strategic interests. In sum, government exacerbates rather than ameliorates the economic chaos around us.

is it 2012 yet?

Amidst the economic, social and political challenges of globalization, the injurious inequity of Democrats’ fiscal irresponsibility is not lost upon Americans. We know the government’s morally bankrupt boondoggle, committed with our hard-earned money, squanders our prosperity, weakens our security and constitutes an immoral usurpation of our liberty and sovereignty.

A Rasmussen poll in August quantified the public’s wisdom on the subject, revealing that 62 percent of Americans “say that it is always better to cut taxes than increase government spending because taxpayers, not bureaucrats, are the best judges of how to spend their own money.” The same poll showed that half of all Americans “believe that a dollar of tax cuts is always better than a dollar of public spending” and that just 25 percent of Americans think “spending provides much more bang for the buck than tax cuts when it comes to economic policy and creating jobs.” Seventy percent of voters “favor a government that offers fewer services and imposes lower taxes over one that provides more services with higher taxes”; 74 percent of Americans “trust their own economic judgment more than that of the average member of Congress.” Sixty-six percent “trust their own economic judgment more than President Obama’s”; and “Nearly four out of five voters [think] the problem is not their unwillingness to pay taxes [but is] their elected representatives’ refusal to cut the size of government.”

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