Offering asides, recommended links, blogworthy quotations, and more, In Brief is the Northwest Progressive Institute's microblog of world, national, and local politics.

Tag Archives: Budgeting

Recommended Link

Congress can give every American a pony (if it breeds enough ponies)

Professor Stephanie Kelton, who teaches public policy and economics at SUNY Stony Brook, has written the op-ed of the year, explaining how U.S. fiscal policy really works.

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B.C. government raising taxes for high earners and corporations to help pay for $51.9B balanced budget

“B.C.’s new. government will spend $51.9 billion for this fiscal year to support the NDP’S stated goal of making the province more affordable for residents,” the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reports. The budget will be balanced through increases in the corporate income tax, personal income tax (for wealthy families), and pollution tax.

Aside

Irritated by his own party, Trump makes deal with Democrats to keep government open

This is arguably the first real “deal” Donald Trump has made as President. It comes more than seven months after his regime came into power.

Donald Trump struck a deal with Democratic congressional leaders on Wednesday to increase the debt limit and finance the government until mid-December, undercutting his own Republican allies as he reached across the aisle to resolve a major dispute for the first time since taking office.

The agreement would avert a fiscal showdown later this month without the bloody, partisan battle that many had anticipated by combining a debt ceiling increase and stopgap spending measure with relief aid to Texas and other areas devastated by Hurricane Harvey. But without addressing the fundamental underlying issues, it set up the prospect for an even bigger clash at the end of the year.

Since assuming power, Trump has continuously assailed congressional Democrats as villainous and obstructionist. But his bloviating hasn’t gotten him any victories, partly because of deep fissures in the House and Senate Republican caucus.

Having spent more than half a year fruitlessly demanding that Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell ram through destructive legislation, only to watch them squander time with important fiscal deadlines looming, Trump and his inner circle have apparently decided to try something new: doing a deal with the opposition.

During a Four Corners meeting, Trump surprised Ryan and McConnell by backing the Democratic proposal for keeping the federal government open.

Congressional aides said privately that Republicans went into the meeting at the White House proposing an eighteen-month deal on government spending and the debt limit, only to run into resistance from the Democrats.

They then proposed a six-month deal as a compromise, but Democrats insisted on a three-month agreement. Mr. Trump then surprised the Republicans by agreeing to the Democratic formulation.

News of the deal is not likely to be received favorably in right wing circles.

But with wildfires burning in the West, the Texas and Louisiana coast grappling with extremely severe floods, and the biggest hurricane in recorded history headed for Florida, the griping among congressional Republicans could be minimal.

Republicans in Congress would be tying anvils around their collective ankles if they shut down the federal government this autumn on any pretext whatsoever. This deal ensures there won’t be a big showdown over fiscal matters until the holidays. Punting is what Congress usually does to postpone or defer a manufactured fiscal crisis, and so this formulation is par for the course.

Video Clip

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal questioned Budget Director Mick Mulvaney about Trump’s new budget proposal during the House Budget Committee hearing today.

Transcript of the exchange:

PRAMILA JAYAPAL: Let’s talk about clear language and telling the American people exactly what’s happening in this budget. We are slashing, in this budget, you are slashing, Medicaid by $610 billion. Combined with the healthcare cut, that’s almost $1.5 trillion of cuts to a program that currently serves 74 million Americans. So, in plain language for the American people, that is a dramatic cut to their health care – for most people, healthcare that they wouldn’t be able to get elsewhere.

A $1.2 billion cut to Centers for Disease Control, clear English, cuts drug addiction treatment and prevention services. A $1 billion cut to housing assistance programs, including for veterans who are struggling to keep a roof over their heads. We talked about infrastructure already so I won’t go into that.

Mention SNAP. This is nutritional assistance for the most needy families in our country. And, let’s just talk about the border wall for a second. This is a $1.6 billion investment into, what I call, the “Wall to Nowhere”. This is a wall, a down payment on a wall, that is ultimately gonna cost the taxpayers $40 billion according to a recent MIT study. And as Janet Napolitano once said when she was governor of Arizona, “Show me a 100 foot wall, I’ll show you a 101-foot ladder”.

This is not the solution to any of our immigration issues.

Now you’ve said, Director Mulvaney, that you should’ve called this the “Taxpayer First Budget,” but I have to ask you: Which taxpayer? Out of the almost trillion dollars in tax cuts in this budget, which are on the backs of all these other cuts we’ve mentioned, 50% of those tax cuts are gonna to the top 1%. And 75% of the tax cuts are gonna to the top 75% of income earners. So what we are doing is taking away essential benefits for working families across this country – positions that the president ran on – and putting them into the top earners in the country.

So, when you talk about ‘Trumpanomics” — I think that was the word you used in your opening statement — and you said “Let’s do anything that gets you to 3% growth,” is that the same philosophy that got the president to six separate bankruptcies… $1.8 billion in debt for Trump Hotels before he declared those bankruptcies?

I’m not really sure what “Trumpanomics” is when you look at the President’s record. So what I’d like to ask you, Director Mulvaney, is can you explain how taking away from programs like the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the disabled and student loan repayments — one of the top issues in this country, Republicans and Democrats alike $1.4 trillion dollars in student loan debt right now — Can you explain how that benefits the economy or working families across this country?

And I might reclaim my time to just to make sure, but let’s start there.

TRUMP BUDGET DIRECTOR MICK MULVANEY: I… I… I can try. Because folks are throwing me notes because you raised a bunch of issues so let me do this this in as rapid form as I possibly can. CHIP is being extended; it’s not being reduced. Total spending on drug treatment goes up; it’s not being reduced.

You use the word “plain language”, slashing Medicaid to most people — plain language slashing Medicaid  would mean we spend less next year than we did this year. That’s what a slash means, right? That’s what you hear? No. It’s not true. I think it’s one year in a ten-year window when we have a little kind of tiny dip because of the cliff that’s caused by the AHCA on the Medicaid expansion states.

But generally speaking, across the budget all we do is slow the rate of growth. Which is to say we will be spending more on Medicaid every single year, again I think except one. And you can call that a slash but I’m telling you back home, people say you slash spending on something, I think they would expect you to think that you’re spending less money one year versus the previous year.

The SNAP: What we do on SNAP is a couple different things, and again we can take more time on this if you like. We do ask for an able body work requirement. We can go into the fact that SNAP went up dramatically during the downturn from I think roughly 28 million people on the program before the recession to 47 million people on the program at the height of the recession.

I think the most recent number we have is roughly 42 or 44 million. We’re back near what we like to call full employment. We’ve had several years of a slow but growing economy. Don’t we think that maybe some of those folks —

PRAMILA JAYAPAL: I’m gonna… I’m gonna reclaim my time. I’m sorry — we’re limited so I’m sorry for that. But I think if you look at what the American people thought about the Republican healthcare bill, you’ll see that that slash in Medicaid is in a fact a slash in Medicaid, that even a Republican governor spoke out against it.

Recommended Link

Where anti-tax fervor means ‘all services will cease’

Southwestern Oregon’s public services are rotting away or shutting down due to voter unwillingness to pay dues to keep them running. The New York Times looks at the collapse of the commons in an often-ignored area of the Pacific Northwest.

Video Clip

From ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live: “Trump released a proposed budget that would cut funding for PBS, Meals on Wheels, and The National Endowment for the Arts. Not only does he want to put a stop to federal funding for public broadcasting, he’s already started cleaning house.”

Video Clip

U.S. Representatives Suzan DelBene and Pramila Jayapal have been forcefully speaking out against the House Republicans’ extremely destructive Trumpcare bill as it has speedily made its way through committee in the House of Representatives. These videos show them in action.

Jayapal on Republicans’ Massive Tax Cuts for the Rich

TRANSCRIPT:

Thank you, Mr. Higgins, for your leadership to prevent this unprecedented shift of wealth from working people to millionaires, billionaires and corporations.

Let us be clear that this Pay-More-For-Less bill is not a health care bill, it is a tax bill that gives $600 billion in tax cuts to the wealthiest, and is paid for on the backs of poor and middle-class households. In fact, the one basic principle that seems to be consistent in this bill is that the richer you are, the bigger your tax cut.

For instance, the top 4% of income earners who earn more than $300 million a year will get a total tax break of $275 million, or about $200,000 a year each.

Meanwhile, working families will see their benefits cut and their premiums rise.

Madam Chairman, this is America. We don’t begrudge people’s good fortune. But this bill is pure greed.

The rich get richer while 24 million people are stripped of health care. That is simply not right.

I yield back.

Suzan speaking in support of Jayapal’s motion on preserving Medicaid expansion

Recommended Link

Read Governor Inslee’s second inaugural address

“At a time when Washington’s towns and cities were just specks on a map, our state’s founders chose education as our paramount duty. Not roads or railroads. Not jails. They chose schools. So should we,” the Governor declared.

Recommended Link

City of Seattle dumps Wells Fargo over DAPL

On Monday, the Seattle City Council took up a proposal which would stop all business with Wells Fargo due to the direct financing of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

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Fiscal foolishness

“Over all, Chris Wallace was better than I expected. But he was pretty bad on fiscal issues,” writes Paul Krugman.

Quotation

[Judge Downing’s decision] respects the integrity of the Constitution and it puts that integrity above any partisan politics, any one issue or any personality… Protecting the integrity of the Constitution matters. It’s not always popular, but it matters.

— State Senator Reuven Carlyle, one of the plaintiffs in Lee v. State, applauding Judge William Downing’s decision striking down Tim Eyman’s 1-1366.

Recommended Link

As oil money disappears, Alaska mulls first income tax in thirty-five years

Drill, baby, drill. For years, that silly slogan has been a part of the Republican lexicon. But now, with global oil prices tumbling due to excess supply (caused in part by the North American oil boom), fossil fuel-dependent Alaska finds itself in a huge fiscal morass. Independent Governor Bill Walker, a former Republican, has proposed reinstituting a state income tax to ensure that the state can continue to provide public services to its citizens.

Recommended Link

Washington State ranks second in the nation for corporate subsidies

Seattle Times columnist Jon Talton discusses data from the Good Jobs First initiative, which shows that Washington ranks second in the nation for corporate subsidies, behind New York, which ranks first.

Quotation

To understand Mr. Ryan’s role in our political-media ecosystem, you need to know two things. First, the modern Republican Party is a post-policy enterprise, which doesn’t do real solutions to real problems. Second, pundits and the news media really, really don’t want to face up to that awkward reality.

— Paul Krugman: The crazies and the con man (The New York Times)

Quotation

John Boehner was a terrible, very bad, no good speaker of the House. Under his leadership, Republicans pursued an unprecedented strategy of scorched-earth obstructionism, which did immense damage to the economy and undermined America’s credibility around the world.

— Opening paragraph of Paul Krugman’s The Blackmail Caucus, also known as the Republican Party, published yesterday by The New York Times.

Chat Transcript

John Boehner to CBS: There won’t be another federal government shutdown on my watch

CBS’ JOHN DICKERSON: Four days, the government runs out of money. Is there going to be a shutdown?

JOHN BOEHNER: No. The Senate is expected to pass a continuing resolution next week. The House will take up the Senate bill. We will also take up a select committee to investigate these horrific videos that we have seen from abortion clinics in several states that really raise questions about the use of federal funds and raise questions about aborted fetuses that are born alive.

CBS’ JOHN DICKERSON: The continuing resolution, will that require Democratic votes to pass?

JOHN BOEHNER: I’m sure it will. But I expect my Democrat [sic] colleagues want to keep the government open as much as I do.

CBS’ JOHN DICKERSON: And what about the rest of the business you want to get done before October 30? What is on the to-do list?

JOHN BOEHNER: Well, we have got — I have got another thirty days to be speaker. And I’m going to make the same decisions the same way I have over the last four-and-a-half years to make sure that we’re passing conservative legislation that is good for the country.

Transcript of the September 17th edition of Face the Nation courtesy of CBS News. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders also appeared.

Quotation

Bad things will happen to good ideas, and vice versa. So be it. Elections determine who has the power, not who has the truth.

— Paul Krugman: Economics and elections

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Republican priorities: Cripple Medicare, spend more money waging war

Budgets are moral documents that speak to a nation’s priorities, and it’s pretty clear what Republicans want our priorities to be. They’ve enacted a budget that makes deep cuts to Medicare and Medicaid while spending money to buy jets, guns, and bombs.

Quotation

This is a war within the Republican Party… You can shade it any way you want, but this is war.

— Senator Lindsey Graham, speaking to the New York Times about the growing rift in the Republican Party between defense hawks and Norquist acolytes.

Quotation

We really don’t have 218 votes to determine a bathroom break over here on our side… So how are we going to get 218 votes on transportation, or trade, or whatever the issue? We might as well face the political reality of our circumstances and then act accordingly.

— Pennsylvania Republican Charlie Dent, acknowledging that Republicans are as divided as ever, with budget bills now piling up (via The New York Times).

Quotation

You have made a mess.

— House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, scolding Republicans for manufacturing a Department of Homeland Security funding crisis (via The Associated Press).