April 23, 2013 |
Washington's tug of war over the federal budget has many wonders, but the biggest one of all must be the lengths to which politicians and pundits will go to deprive Granny and Grandpa of $30 a month. That's the amount by which benefits for the average Social Security retiree would be reduced by 2023 under a provision in President Obama's new budget. It might not sound like much to the president or fans of the proposal in both parties and the Washington commentariat. For the retiree trying to stretch an average monthly check of about $1,200 to cover housing, healthcare and every other necessity under the sun, it looms rather larger.
April 16, 2013 |
One of the most fearsome statistics in the war against the federal deficit has always been the country's ratio of debt to gross domestic product. When this ratio reaches 90%, the argument goes, watch out -- lower economic growth is on the horizon. And that's scary, because that's where the U.S. has been heading. This idea comes from Harvard economists Ken Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart, who featured it in a 2010 paper and popularized it in a book entitled " This Time is Different : Eight Centuries of Financial Folly.
March 22, 2013 |
Over the last two years, President Obama and Congress have put the country on track to reduce projected federal budget deficits by nearly $4 trillion. Yet when that process began, in early 2011, only about 12% of Americans in Gallup polls cited federal debt as the nation's most important problem. Two to three times as many cited unemployment and jobs as the biggest challenge facing the country. So why did policymakers focus so intently on the deficit issue? One reason may be that the small minority that saw the deficit as the nation's priority had more clout than the majority that didn't.
March 13, 2013
New budget proposals this week from influential members of the House Republican and Senate Democratic leadership are the stuff of political caricatures. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), last year's Republican nominee for vice president, reprised the spending-cut talking points from his failed campaign with little change and no apparent irony. Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.), meanwhile, offered the outlines of a budget that increases taxes and spending, while doing little more than buying time on the entitlement programs at the heart of Washington's long-term problems.
March 6, 2013 |
Here's what is most maddening about the "Perils of Pauline" fiscal crises that President Obama and Congress have led us into during the last year: Both sides have known from the beginning what the final deals would look like, but neither side has been willing to budge before it had to. Take the current dust-up over sequestration. If you listen closely to Obama and leading members of both parties in the Senate, you'll find that they've already reached a rough consensus about how to shrink the federal deficit in a smarter way. They'll cut the same amount, but they'll spread it around differently and perhaps delay some of the cuts.
January 23, 2013 |
Now that two months have passed since the 2012 election, what does Rep. Paul Ryan think the voters' message was? It wasn't a rejection of the Romney-Ryan platform or of the "Ryan Budget" that would have turned Medicare into a voucher plan, Ryan told reporters on Wednesday. "I don't see this [election result] as a rejection of our principles," Ryan said at a Wall Street Journal breakfast. Instead, the message Ryan heard was that Republicans need to make it clear that they're not the party of the rich -- that they're as intent on ending poverty and increasing opportunity as Democrats.