Spending

TSA doesn’t get the job done, should we abolish it?

When essential service providers don’t have competitors to worry about, consumers become hopelessly dependent and often frustrated, wondering how much better life could be if they were offered the opportunity to choose.

The service offered by the monopoly also becomes extremely expensive and less efficient. After all, the sole service provider has nothing to worry about. Where are consumers going to get what they need? The monopoly can always afford to be ineffective but it can only continue to be a monopoly while government keeps competitors out of the game.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was created in 2001 as a response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

In 2002, the agency was transferred to the Department of Homeland Security. The service that the TSA provides should be a simple yet vital one: operating security screenings at commercial airports in order to avoid the same type of terrible occurrence that devastated the country back in 2001.

But the problem is: TSA hasn’t proven to be any more efficient than private contractors were before the creation of the special bureau. Instead, the U.S. spends about $7.9 billion a year to maintain an agency that is widely known for poor screening performances, mismanagement, security failures and somewhat suspicious investments.

Conservatives to Congress: “Spend one dollar less”

A new strategy has emerged from conservative groups over the debt ceiling as they emerge from a fractured fight over the government shutdown. The message to Congress: spend one dollar less than last year.

The coalition of 20 groups, first reported by National Review, has written a letter to lawmakers urging them to take caution in their approach on the debt ceiling and government funding as House and Senate tackling the budget.

“The undersigned public policy organizations are writing to you today about the upcoming debt ceiling debate and our belief that Congress has a moral obligation to pursue additional spending reductions before taking on additional debt,” wrote the organizations in the letter to members of Congress.

“Specifically, we propose the following: If Washington wants to take on more debt, isn’t it fair that they at least be forced to spend One Dollar Less next year than they’re spending this year?” the letter continued. “Most families are reducing their budgets by far more than one dollar, shouldn’t Washington at least do this much? The American people certainly think so.”

Signers to the letter include Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, Andrew Moylan of the R Street Institute, Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and Phil Kerpen of American Commitment.

No, Mr. President, expanding Medicaid isn’t a “no brainer”

Earlier this month, President Barack Obama visited Dallas, Texas to give a speech in front of supporters in which he tried to pressure Republican governors to expand Medicaid, a government program that covers people who make below 138% of the federal poverty line.

“We were just talking on the way over here that in addition to signing people up for the marketplaces so they can buy private insurance, part of the Affordable Care Act was expanding the number of working families who would qualify for Medicaid,” President Obama told supporters.

“Here in just the Dallas area, 133,000 people who don’t currently have health insurance would immediately get health insurance without even having to go through the website if the state of Texas decided to do it,” he said. “There’s over $500 million just for this county that would come in to help families get health insurance — has nothing to do with the website — if the state of Texas made this decision.”

“And your neighboring states have made that decision because they look at it and they say, this is a no-brainer, why would not — why would we not want to take advantage of this,” he added.

The fact that President Obama gave this speech in Texas, home to the country’s largest uninsured population, isn’t a coincidence. Seeking to capitalize on the state’s large Hispanic population, there is a big push by activist Democrats with help from the party to “turn Texas blue.” Part of this effort is to pressure Texas politicians, including Gov. Rick Perry, to accept Medicaid expansion, which is part of the Obamacare.

A Single-Payer Health Care System Would Put Us in More Debt

spending

When Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) suggested that a single-payer system is the “cure for America’s ailing health care,” he suggested that ObamaCare was a small step in comparison to the reform he envisions. And what would this reform be, you ask.

The subsidized program that places the health care monopoly in the hands of the government.

Thomas Sowell pointed out that the reason why the single-payer system still sounds appealing to some is that people are being fooled into thinking that they are getting something for nothing. Health care at no cost for every single American, subsidized by taxpayer dollars is their goal, and the ObamaCare failure might be just the type of blessing that Congress is looking for.

But before we continue, have you ever asked yourself whether single-payer system supporters understand or even realize that subsidized health care is not free?

According to a report released by the National Taxpayers Union Foundation, during 113th Congress’ first six months, some lawmakers have been much more interested in pushing for the singe-payer health care system than introducing budget cuts. All legislation introduced during the first six months in both the House and the Senate would increase spending by $1.74 trillion. Cuts introduced by Congress would only amount to $453 billion.

Congress passes Reid-McConnell funding, debt ceiling deal

Passage of Reid-McConnell in the House

The government shutdown has come to an end and the debt ceiling has been raised after Congress passed the deal worked out between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

The final deal is funds the federal government through January 15 and raises the debt ceiling to February 7. It also allows for budget negotiations between the two chambers, with the goal of coming to an agreement by December 13. Those points were sort of the basic parts of the deal.

Other aspects of the deal include, according to Jamie Dupree, back-pay for furloughed federal workers, reporting requirements on verification procedures for ObamaCare subsidies, and blocks a pay raise for Congress in FY 2014.

A Federated Approach Toward a Federated Approach

a fellow contributor here at United Liberty, wrote an interesting piece yesterday about the wisdom of not passing an all-encompassing federal budget, even in light of the chaos currently surrounding the shutdown over what gets passed as a continuing resolution and what, in the case of Obamacare, gets funded at all.

Some have argued that mandating the passage of a federal budget — and by “mandate” I mean actually tied to consequences for not doing so — is one way to prevent future shutdowns. But as DesOrmeaux argues, this may not be the most effective way to skin — or herd — a cat:

Many say we have to be responsible and pass a real budget. But the truth is the concept of a single federal budget is actually pretty new. While the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 created the first federal budget process, it wasn’t until the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 that the current version of mandatory budget proposals and resolutions was adopted. For the 150-200 years before that, all federal funding was appropriated with specific bills for programs or departments.

Passing a federal budget is neither necessary nor wise

budget

As the partial federal government shutdown enters its second week, the calls for a “grand bargain” to solve all and sundry income and revenue issues have returned. The idea that Congress should pass a single, all-encompassing budget, even a balanced one, is a collective mental plague spread by inertia that must be eradicated.

Congress has not passed a full budget to fund the federal government since April 2009. Since then, unable to reach a deal on a full budget, spending has been controlled by successive continuing resolutions, adjusting total government funding levels for short periods of weeks or months each time.

Many say we have to be responsible and pass a real budget. But the truth is the concept of a single federal budget is actually pretty new. While the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 created the first federal budget process, it wasn’t until the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 that the current version of mandatory budget proposals and resolutions was adopted. For the 150-200 years before that, all federal funding was appropriated with specific bills for programs or departments.

Government Shuts Down, Nobody Notices

As has become an increasingly frequent occurrence of late, it seems Obama, the supposed political genius, has once again misplayed his hand. Emboldened by the knowledge that he has an army of uninformed voters supporting him, and a compliant and sycophantic media spinning and deflecting any bad news that might harm him, Obama had little worry that he would win the Battle of the Continuing Resolution. After all, time after time, Republicans have been terrified of standing firm on principle, fearing voter backlash as Obama, the Democrats, and the media successfully painted them as racist, obstructionist, greedy, and heartless.

Until an odd thing happened; despite leadership’s attempts to give in to Obama’s every demand, rank and file House Republicans, and even a few in the Senate, defied their leadership and welcomed a battle over Obama’s latest red line; namely, the budget. Now, as happened with his Syrian red line, Obama has an unexpected fight on his hands, and rather than the thoughtful, deliberative actions of a man who stands on the moral high ground, Obama has revealed himself as a petty, vindictive tyrant, desperate to maintain the illusion that Big Government is essential to our lives.

However, like with the sequester, it seems that the only people who’ve noticed that the government is shut down is the political class, the media, and the 800,000 or so “non-essential” federal employees that are now sitting at home (including 1,265 White House staffers!).

Contrary to what Pelosi says, there are plenty of budget cuts to be made

It might not come as a shock to some of you, but the Treasury Department has announced that, unless Congress increases the country’s borrowing limit, it will no longer be able to pay its bills.

This announcement follows comments made by Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) concerning the efforts of Republican members to restraint government spending. According to the House Minority Leader, the conservative push for any cuts to the federal budget is pointless.

Pelosi stated that “it’s really important that people understand” that there’s no more cuts to make to the federal budget, which has increased to $3.8 trillion this year, as opposed to $1.9 trillion per year up until 2001.

What Nancy Pelosi doesn’t seem to understand is that the American people can no longer afford to cover the expenses of a series of programs that could indeed be trimmed. With that in mind, experts at the Competitive Enterprise Institute decided to make a list of several programs that could be cut or trimmed to give Congress, and especially skeptics such as Nancy Pelosi, an idea of where they can start if they are indeed willing to ensure the American people are no longer forced to foot a bill they never signed up for.

According to the institute, about $1.2 billion could be saved if Congress took aim at the Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The EERE’s goal is to offer training, resources and funding toward “business, industry, universities and others” who are willing to focus on increasing the use “of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.”

Report: Long-term budget issues present fiscal threat to U.S.

National Debt

TL;DR version: This is a pretty long post dealing with a subject that generally fascinates only those interested in fiscal policy. The short of what you need to know is that the CBO expects the economy to perform better in the short-term, with higher revenues and lower budget deficits. But the rising costs of entitlements and the cost of servicing the national debt will drive up spending substantially over the long-term with the public’s share of the national debt becoming equal to the size of the economy (or GDP). As if the baseline scenario isn’t concerning enough, the alternative fiscal scenario is even more of a disaster. All charts below come directly from the CBO’s report.

Forget Syria or the still ongoing war on terrorism. The real security threat is the national debt. That’s what Admiral Mike Mullen warned in 2010. Those words still ring true today, especially after reading the latest long-term budget projections released yesterday by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

The annual report presents the federal budget outlook for the next 10 years (2013-2023) as well as provides a look into long-term projections relative to both current law and alternative scenarios, the latter of which most economists believe present a more realistic view of the United States’ fiscal health.

CBO Director Doug Elmendorf told reporters yesterday that the “federal budget is on a course that cannot be sustained indefinitely.”


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