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Author Topic: Obama's Budget Proposal
Pyrtolin
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Here's a transcript of his speech to save folks a little digging:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/post/obama-speech-open-thread/2011/03/03/AFzwX9WD_blog.html

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AI Wessex
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Except for the part near the end where he says he is open to any suggestions it was a very good speech.
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Pyrtolin
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Giving power and mandate to IPAC to use the customer base to negotiate solid cost changes is a good step toward getting Medicare under control.

What's very noticeably lacking, though, is anything addressing investing in job creation and bringing income distribution back up to functional ratios, which are our biggest immediate problems. All the long term planning in the world is of little consequence if we're not making sure that our short term issues get fixed first.

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Adam Masterman
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Wow, that speech makes me want to vote for whoever writes Obama's speeches. [Big Grin]

Seriously, questions of sincerity and ability to make this happen aside, this is the definition of a fair, centrist approach to the deficit. Spending cuts balanced with closing tax loophole for the rich. I'd love to hear from deficit hawks like JWatts on this, because I honestly can't see how anyone could consider the GOP position more legitimate regarding the deficit problem. If dems are willing to cut spending, but the GOP won't budge on tax cuts for the top 2%, then can't we finally put to rest the notion that the red party is the one that wants to balance the books?

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
, this is the definition of a fair, centrist approach to the deficit
Unfortunately, that's one of the problems. This is about where they should have been aiming to land after negotiations. Unless the Senate can provide a wider field to work with or they actually hold their ground (it may actually be possible, considering there's trouble mustering even enough GOP support for Ryan's plan, but the Democrat's track record so far suggests they'll sell out even when they have the stronger position), we're going to wind up well to the right of center in the final measure.
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AI Wessex
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Ryan called Obama's plan "hopelessly inadequate" and accused him of being excessively partisan. Boehner said any plan that would raise taxes is a non-starter. No surprises with either response, but it doesn't look hopeful.

Is there any truth to the claim that rolling back the tax cuts will actually impact small businesses? How many, by how much?

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G2
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Sorry to break up this little love fest but here's some hard, cold reality from WSJ:
quote:
... President Obama's extraordinary response to Paul Ryan's budget yesterday—with its blistering partisanship and multiple distortions—was the kind Presidents usually outsource to some junior lieutenant. Mr. Obama's fundamentally political document would have been unusual even for a Vice President in the fervor of a campaign.

<snip>

The speech he chose to deliver was dishonest even by modern political standards.


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AI Wessex
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Why is what the WSJ says "hard, cold reality"? They have a strongly committed Conservative point of view, and oh-by-the-way service the kinds of people that Obama is arguing should not be getting tax breaks. Hard and cold, yes, reality for their slice of the population, yes. What about for the rest of us, including you?
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Pyrtolin
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So, Rupert Murdoch doesn't like it. That's not a big surprise at all.
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Wayward Son
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The last half of G2's opinion piece is much more interesting and substantive.

quote:
Mr. Obama said that the typical political proposal to rationalize Medicare's gargantuan liabilities is that it is "just a matter of eliminating waste and abuse." His own plan is to double down on the program's price controls and central planning. All Medicare decisions will be turned over to and routed through an unelected commission created by ObamaCare—which will supposedly ferret out "unnecessary spending." Is that the same as "waste and abuse"?

Fifteen members will serve on the Independent Payment Advisory Board, all appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. If per capita costs grow by more than GDP plus 0.5%, this board would get more power, including an automatic budget sequester to enforce its rulings. So 15 sages sitting in a room with the power of the purse will evidently find ways to control Medicare spending that no one has ever thought of before and that supposedly won't harm seniors' care, even as the largest cohort of the baby boom generation retires and starts to collect benefits.

Of course, it is ironic that they are so concerned with maintaining senior's care when Ryan's plan is almost guaranteed to reduce senior's care in the long run. But that's why it's an opinion piece. [Smile]
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AI Wessex
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They would rather the government does nothing and people lose benefits than the government manage benefits and preserve them as much as possible. It's the Yankee spirit that says "Give me Liberty, and give me death".
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Pyrtolin
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I'd rather have 15 dedicated professional who know what they're talking about looking at specific solutions a problem than 535 elected officials whose first obligation is to politics. But even more than that the assertion of "no one has ever thought of" is outright ludicrous, given that there are many, many solutions that have been thought of, just none that can overcome the political inertia to be tried.

The simplest ones are to allow Medicare to use its bull bargaining power and comparative effectiveness research to negotiate costs and to open it so that anyone under 65 can pay a premium to get coverage from it. At that point you could essentially just roll Medicaid into it as well subsidized premiums. Do those and you not only fix the funding problem but turn it into the ideal tool for fixing the healthcare industry in general.

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Ben
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My biggest worry is that Obama didn't really lead on this with what he proposes now as opposed to a month ago, but is just responding to RP's proposal. There's some good stuff in his committee's report, but that O didn't use any of them in his previous budget + legislative proposals makes me question how serious he is on these issues now. Is O gonna push the other D's on this or just go with what the others tell him as this gets hashed out in debate and dealmaking?
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LoverOfJoy
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
I'd rather have 15 dedicated professional who know what they're talking about looking at specific solutions a problem than 535 elected officials whose first obligation is to politics.

I think it's naive to think these "dedicated professionals" won't also be politically motivated. I suspect it will just hide those politics behind another layer of bureaucracy.
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JoshuaD
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quote:
I wanted to make sure you had one more excuse to skip class.
I hate when presidents do this sort of thing. No. It's not the President's job to condone slacking off at school. I don't care how "hip" it makes the president seem. He has responsibilities.

Reading the rest now.

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JoshuaD
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This speech is lofty and fine and full of all sorts of things that sound nice but aren't particularly accurate:

quote:
Those are both worthy goals for us to achieve. But the way this plan achieves those goals would lead to a fundamentally different America than the one we’ve known throughout most of our history.

A 70% cut to clean energy. A 25% cut in education. A 30% cut in transportation. Cuts in college Pell Grants that will grow to more than $1,000 per year. That’s what they’re proposing. These aren’t the kind of cuts you make when you’re trying to get rid of some waste or find extra savings in the budget. These aren’t the kind of cuts that Republicans and Democrats on the Fiscal Commission proposed. These are the kind of cuts that tell us we can’t afford the America we believe in. And they paint a vision of our future that’s deeply pessimistic.

Pell Grants started being awarded in 1973. An average of $270.00 to 176,000 recipients. Today we're giving an average of over $4,000 to over 8 million recipients.

How can he possibly say with a straight face that less than a 25% cut in the pell grants given to each individual (ignoring the fact that the amount of recipients has gone through the roof) represents a "Fundamentally different America than the one we've known throughout most of our history"? The program was enacted in 1973. It's grown exponentially since it's founding.

The President's entire speech is littered with this stuff. I don't find this particularly inspiring.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by Ben:
My biggest worry is that Obama didn't really lead on this with what he proposes now as opposed to a month ago, but is just responding to RP's proposal. There's some good stuff in his committee's report, but that O didn't use any of them in his previous budget + legislative proposals makes me question how serious he is on these issues now. Is O gonna push the other D's on this or just go with what the others tell him as this gets hashed out in debate and dealmaking?

Keep in mind, there was no "commission report" No proposal got the necessary votes. There were at least three different plans that came out of it. Bowles-Simpson should be called just that because, essentially, it's just what the two of them agreed should be done.
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AI Wessex
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"The President's entire speech is littered with this stuff. I don't find this particularly inspiring. "

It's subtext; I hope you weren't expecting him to be wearing an accountant's visor. Obama is (correctly) pointing out that at every step there is a fork in the road. It shouldn't surprise anyone that the President reaches back and drags the Founders out of their long slumbers as witnesses to his own commitment their Original Intent. His bully pulpit is far bigger than the House's, so he uses it to counterbalance when he thinks he needs to.

But the differences in policy proposals really are forks that really do head off in different directions, and we will follow whichever path is chosen and laid out for us. The House will reject pretty much everything he says that the Republicans disagree with. The Senate will fight them to a standstill and ultimately I think it is possible that Obama will veto the budget Congress sends to him.

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AI Wessex
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Anybody here proud of the way the Republicans held the Democrats feet to the fire on the 2011 spending extension the other day? The CBO now says the $38B will really only be $350M or so this year. They knew that before they voted in favor of it yesterday, and most likely knew it when they were working it out. If they're so determined to reduce the deficit, why did they do it? If they're so principled about things, why didn't they tell us about it when they knew? Most importantly, does it mean they will act similarly in the fight for the 2012 budget, or will they be even more adamant in those negotiations?

[ April 15, 2011, 06:30 AM: Message edited by: AI Wessex ]

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JoshuaD
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We held their feet to the fire? Seriously?

The budget is huge. We rolled back a tiny bit of the projected increases they setup last year when they passed this monstrosity. They got to demonize the Republicans for calling it cuts, the Republicans got to hold their heads high because they reduced the size of government, and everyone ignored the fact that the government's budget is larger than it has ever been before, and by a huge factor.

I'm going to stop counting government money in billions and trillions of dollars. These terms are simply too abstract for most people. I'm going to start referring to governmental spending in terms of "BillGates". Bill Gates is worth about 50 billion dollars.

In this budget, the republicans reduced the discretionary spending by half a BillGates. The total discretionary spending is about 28 BillGates.

We, the American Government and people, are in debt for 280 BillGates. Ten years ago we were only in the hole for 116 BillGates.

We spent 160 more BillGates in the last ten years than we had. That's 16 BillGates a year we spent that we didn't have.

I don't really understand how the liberal members of this board can demonize the rich. Here, you can have all of Bill Gates's money. It will pay your credit card bill for 3 weeks.

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TomDavidson
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Al was being sarcastic.
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AI Wessex
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Semi. The Republicans did make a big issue out of stretching the measly Democratic proposal of a few $B into the $38B they ended up with, only to have it turn into a pumpkin.

The final proposal doesn't actually reduce spending for anything beyond the $350M for this year, but reduces allocations anticipated in future years specified in the remainder. In other words, the programs targeted in the proposal could go away altogether in the interim and be replaced by other, more expensive programs. It's funny money, but the laughing you hear about it is coming from Eric Cantor and others and is directed at Boehner. The seething you hear is also being directed at him by the TPers. This was a lose-lose bonehead (Boehnerhead?) move that will further discredit the budget process and allow the Tea Party Preacher ranks to rage about brimstone and damnation. Good luck getting compromise legislation through after that.

"We spent 160 more BillGates in the last ten years than we had. That's 16 BillGates a year we spent that we didn't have."

I like the idea of using a Bill Gates substitute, let's call them $BG where 1 $BG = $50B. Do we have to be giving $10BG - $15BG a year back to him and his ilk? Don't forget that the real Bill Gates has already given about $15B to his foundation. The wannabes could do the same...

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edgmatt
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quote:
Do we have to be giving $10BG - $15BG a year back to him and his ilk?
I'll rephrase for better accuracy: "Do we have to stop taking $10BG - $15BG a year of earned income from him and his ilk?"
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TomDavidson
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What is "unearned income," edgmatt?
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edgmatt
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Lottery winnings would be an example I suppose.
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AI Wessex
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edgmatt, until 2001 we were taking the money from the ilks. At the time the government was not running a deficit. Now it is. In fact, we began running deficits right about when Bush pushed through the tax cuts.

IMO, the country benefits from investment in infrastructure, schools, etc. at the (seeming) expense of wealthy individuals, but wealthy individuals will benefit at the cost of the country under the Republican proposals.

[ April 15, 2011, 01:56 PM: Message edited by: AI Wessex ]

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TomDavidson
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Is it fairer to raise taxes on people who made their fortune by spending a small portion of their cash to acquire a lucky batch of quasi-random numbers or letters that paid off down the road?

[ April 15, 2011, 01:56 PM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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edgmatt
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So you are stating that the only reason the government is running a deficit is because we stopped taking X amount of money from "the ilks".

We were spending somewhere in the vicinity of 1.4 trillion at that time also. We are spending about 3 times that today. Do you think this fact has anything to do with the deficit?

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TomDavidson
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quote:
So you are stating that the only reason the government is running a deficit is because we stopped taking X amount of money from "the ilks".
We could eliminate the deficit tomorrow by creating a new tax bracket at 45% for people making over $400,000 in income, then raising the cap on FICA to $350,000. Let me point out that when Bush initially rammed through his tax cuts, I firmly opposed them on the basis that there was no way we could sustainably pay for them.

[ April 15, 2011, 02:01 PM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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edgmatt
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I don't understand that question, but economics doesn't speak to fairness, Tom. At some point, raising the tax rate lowers the standard of living for everyone, even if it's only aimed at the richest 1% of the nation.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
I don't understand that question, but economics doesn't speak to fairness...
You're the one talking about "earned" income. We don't care where income comes from, do we, when deciding whether someone is entitled to it?

quote:
At some point, raising the tax rate lowers the standard of living for everyone...
Do you think we are anywhere near that point? I would note that at some point, lowering the tax rate lowers the standard of living for everyone as well -- and I suspect that we are far closer to that point than to the former.

[ April 15, 2011, 02:03 PM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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edgmatt
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We could also eliminate it by making the tax rate 20% for everyone across the board and lowering spending to 1 trillion.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
We could also eliminate it by making the tax rate 20% for everyone across the board and lowering spending to 1 trillion.
No, we couldn't. The numbers don't work out, and spending can't be made to go there without something else to pick up the slack.

The Flat Tax is a non-starter of a fraud.

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edgmatt
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I agree that lowering the tax rate too low would lower the standard of living for everyone.

We are past the point where it is too high. It needs to be lowered, for everyone.

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edgmatt
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I'm not in favor of a flat tax, but I thought the game was to state silly solutions to real problems.
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edgmatt
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Off to work now to earn some income. I'll get back to this thread later.
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Paladine
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Suppose we were to take every dime of every millionaire's income this year, 100% of it. How long would that fund our government at its current levels of spending?
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TomDavidson
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quote:
We are past the point where it is too high.
What possible evidence can you present for this?
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TomDavidson
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quote:
Suppose we were to take every dime of every millionaire's income this year, 100% of it. How long would that fund our government at its current levels of spending?
I'm curious how we got from my proposed 45% top marginal tax rate to a full seizure of property. Is it because it's impossible to argue against sensible tax policy without resorting to hyperbole and exaggeration?
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Paladine
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I don't recall making any characterization of your argument, Tom. I asked a question, and it wasn't even particularly directed at you. The point behind the question is that even confiscating *all* of the income of the wealthy wouldn't come *close* to solving the fiscal problems facing this country. We need to attack it aggressively on the spending side; taking a few percent more or less from the "rich" is just playing at the margins.

It's hard to get one's head around just how much our government has spent and continues to spend. Imagine a really wealthy guy making a million dollars a year. We'd have to round up a thousand of those people and take all of their money in order to make a billion dollars (38 billion is "chump change" according to both sides of the aisle). We'd have to round up a million of those people and take all of their money to make a trillion. We're trillions and trillions of dollars in debt, and continuing to sink trillions deeper each year.

So I'll ask again, if we were to take all of the money made by every millionaire in this country, how long could we fund the government at current levels of spending? Suppose instead of just taking their current earnings, we were to take every penny of their net worth. How long would that fund it for? In either case, not very long at all. I'll bet a dollar that if you were to take every penny owned by that top 1% and distribute it among the federal, state, county, and local governments that it wouldn't feed their voracious appetite for spending for a year, or even for a month. Any takers?

The problem here isn't that the rich aren't paying enough, because even if they paid *everything* it still wouldn't be nearly enough to support this level of excessive government spending. And we haven't even seen nearly the worst of it yet; the biggest generation in American history is currently in its prime earning years, for the most part. What's going to happen when those people enter decades of state-supported retirement and expensive, chronic medical care instead of supporting our current system?

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