Spending

Exposing Washington’s Dishonest Budget Math

Written by Daniel J. Mitchell, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

I’ve repeatedly tried to expose pervasive fiscal dishonesty in Washington.

In these John Stossel and Judge Napolitano interviews, for instance, I explain that the crooks in DC have created a system that allows them to claim they’re cutting the budget when the burden of government spending actually is rising.

This sleazy system is designed in part to deceive the American people, and the current squabbling over the fiscal cliff is a good example. The President claims he has a “balanced approach” that involves budget cuts, but look at the second chart at this link and you will see that he’s really proposing bigger government.

This dishonest approach also was used by the President’s Fiscal Commission and last year’s crummy debt limit deal was based on this form of fiscal prevarication.

Obama makes an astoundingly unrealistic “fiscal cliff” proposal

You mad, bro?

Yesterday afternoon, details came out of a proposal that the White House had made to House Republicans over the so-called “fiscal cliff.” In the proposal, President Obama asked for $1.6 trillion in tax hikes. As you might imagine, that was far too high a price:

The White House is seeking $1.6 trillion in tax increases up front, as well as $50 billion in additional stimulus spending, as part of any “fiscal cliff” deal, Republican aides said Thursday as talks aimed at averting the economy-rattling cliff turned testy.

President Barack Obama also wants a permanent increase in the federal debt ceiling, a one-year expansion of jobless benefits and an extension of the payroll tax credit, these aides said.

The latest proposals were presented by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who visited Capitol Hill Thursday to discuss the fiscal cliff with leaders of both parties.

After Geithner’s visit, Republican House Speaker John Boehner publicly lambasted the Obama administration, saying “the White House has to get serious.”

Some spending cuts were included in the proposal, about $400 billion over 10 years — ranging from farm subsidies to postal service costs. However, the White House wants an additional $50 billion for infrastructure spending.

None of this is going to happen; nor should it happen. House Speaker John Boehner, as well as some other Republicans in both chambers, have already signaled a willingness to bend on tax revenues, a prospect met with dismay and derision amongst conservatives and libertarians (myself included).

Euro-zone falls back into recession

Austerity protest

Plagued by seemingly perpetual debt problems due to large welfare states, the Euro-zone, the 17 countries that make up the European Union, has fallen into a recession for the second time since 2009:

The euro zone debt crisis dragged the bloc into its second recession since 2009 in the third quarter despite modest growth in Germany and France, data showed on Thursday.

The French and German economies both managed 0.2 percent growth in the July-to-September period but their resilience could not save the 17-nation bloc from contraction as the likes of The Netherlands, Spain, Italy and Austria shrank.

Economic output in the euro zone fell 0.1 percent in the quarter, following a 0.2 percent drop in the second quarter.

Those two quarters of contraction put the euro zone’s 9.4 trillion euro ($12 trillion) economy back into recession, although Italy and Spain have been contracting for a year already and Greece is suffering an outright depression.

A rebound in Europe is still far off. The debt crisis that began in Greece in late 2009 is still reverberating around the globe and holding back a lasting recovery.

Analysts said even the euro zone’s top two economies were likely to succumb in the final three months of the year.

A note to the Liberty Movement: This is our defining moment

Obama and Romney debate

Mitt Romney had his clock cleaned on Tuesday night. There is no getting around it. People can talk about his campaign couldn’t have done any better. There isn’t much disagreement on this end. Many conservatives are understandably frustrated with how the election turned out.

Romney ran this race in the worst economy since the Great Depression. Yet, he still lost. This didn’t happen because of a lack of GOTV efforts and phone-banking. Romney lost because he failed to run on big ideas that would have made the choice before voters more clear.

Republicans didn’t win because they nominated a guy who passed a law in Massachusetts that would later serve as a blueprint for ObamaCare. When he was on the campaign trail, Romney and his surrogates played up his “experience” on the issue. There was no real distinction.

Throughout the course of the campaign Romney said that that the United States is facing long-term economic problems. However, Romney never put forward a substantive plan that would actually get spending under control.

Why I voted for Gary Johnson

Over the last few months I’ve read many posts and arguments about why libertarians should vote for Mitt Romney. None of them really spoke to the core libertarian beliefs of libertarians, which is the advancement of individual sovereignty and free markets. Of course, my conservative friends making these arguments never really spoke to how a Romney/Ryan ticket would advance those beliefs. The argument was almost exclusively along the lines of how badly Barack Obama has been as president.

Based on the numbers from David Kirby at the Cato Institute, Romney will take some 70% of libertarian-minded voters. Many of my libertarian friends are casting their ballots for Romney. Though I may disagree with them, I understand why and respect them.

Look, I don’t disagree that President Obama has been bad for the country. The national debt has skyrockted by more than $5.5 trillion, passed a terrible health care law, and he has expanded executive power. Nearly every step Obama has taken to “help” the economy and create jobs has hampered businesses. Moreover, the tax hikes that he wants to pass, which would marginally lower the deficit over the long-term, are among the things keeping employers from investing or hiring. Passing these tax hikes in the phony notion of “fairness” would almost certainly lead to another economic downturn.

The damage to the economy during Obama’s presidency are points that we’ve been over countless times. But there are other parts of his first-term agenda that need to attention.

Mr. President, Tuition Subsidies Are the Affordability Problem, Not the Solution

Written by Jason Bedrick, a visiting policy analyst with the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

In 2008, then-Senator Barack Obama pledged to make college more affordable. President Obama kept his promises to increase grants and expand loan forgiveness, but the cost of attending college continues to rise. As the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center reports today, tuition at public universities rose 4.8% this year. While tuition didn’t grow as fast as in previous years, tuition continues to rise faster than inflation and growth in family income. And, as we know, student debt is exploding. Graduates of the class of 2011 carry an average of $26,600 in student loan debt, up 5% from the class of 2010.  Nationwide debt from student loans exceeded $1 trillion this year, surpassing all other forms of debt that Americans carry, including credit card debt and auto loans.

Obama, Romney discuss foreign policy, military spending in final debate

Obama and Romney debate

President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney met for the third and final debate last night at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida to discuss foreign policy, though economic policy came up at times.

The candidates went back and forth on policy in the Middle East and toward China. Romney was given a chance during the first question to discuss Libya and the attack on the consulate that led to the death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, but he punted, letting Obama control the narrative on that particular issue.

Obama tried to paint Romney as someone who frequently changes positions when it’s convenient. Obama also explained several times that he didn’t believe in “nation-building,” saying that it was time for “nation-building at home.”

Romney turned the debate toward economic issues during a question about whether or not he would have stuck with Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. While he answered the question, Romney segwayed, explaining, “[W]hen the president of Iran, Ahmadinejad, says that our debt makes us not a great country, that’s a frightening thing.” Romney noted the words of Admiral Mike Mullen, who explained that the national debt is a security threat to the United States.

While noting this threat, Romney disappointed anyone who was hoping that he would put forward a viable solution to fix it. Romney explained, “I’m going through, from the very beginning, we’re going to cut about 5 percent of the discretionary budget excluding military.” As explained last week, that’s not at all a significant part of the budget, coming it at around $42 billion or so. So Romney’s great budget plan effectively does nothing.

GOP Groups’ Ads on Sequestration, Defense Jobs Are Misleading

Written by Christopher Preble, Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

It is no surprise that the defense contractors want to protect their profits by getting taxpayers to pony up more money. Now they have secured the support of Crossroads GPS in a commercial against Senate candidate and former Virginia governor Tim Kaine. The Crossroads ad follows similar ones from Kaine’s challenger, George Allen, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. All three ads claim that spending cuts under sequestration will result in devastating job losses to the defense industry and Virginia; the Crossroads ad claims 520,000 jobs will be lost. But these estimates are wildly inflated and represent the short-term interests of the defense industry, not the American taxpayer.

The Case for a Romney Presidency

Romney

On Wednesday night, Americans were treated to the first of three presidential debates, focusing primarily on the economy. For many Americans, this was their first opportunity to see an unbiased, objective view of Governor Mitt Romney, one untainted by the press, which has discarded all pretense of journalistic integrity and instead rabid Obamamaniacs (some of this is subtle, like the stories the media choose to cover and how they cover them, and others are more blatant, as when MSNBC was busted recently editing video to make it appear Romney was pleading with a crowd to cheer for him, in order to make him look weak and pathetic). For Obama, having the media on your team is like being an NFL team where the referees make all the calls in your favor.

To date, Governor Romney has failed to take advantage of a plethora of evidence supporting the argument against the re-election of the president; high and sustained unemployment, slowing GDP growth, chaos in the Middle East as his foreign policy goes up in flames. Likewise, Romney has largely failed to make the case for his own election by touting his success in private enterprise, as a governor, and as a humanitarian. His failure to do so has been inexplicable. However, on Wednesday he went on the attack from the first moment, respectfully but firmly challenging the Obama narrative that the pliant media has dutifully parroted. The effect was noticeable, with Obama rarely looking at Romney, often smirking and sighing, and just looking irritated that anyone would challenge his greatness.

Romney scores points against Obama in first debate

Obama and Romney debate

President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney squared off last night in Denver for the first of three debates before next month’s election — this debate primarily focusing on domestic policy. By most accounts I’ve read, Romney did really well, while President Obama struggled (I missed the debate because I was flying back to Atlanta from Washington, DC). The Washington Post has a good overview of the first debate, highlighting the contrast between Obama and Romney:

Romney came into the 90-minute exchange after several difficult weeks but appeared rejuvenated by the opportunity to take his case directly to Obama and the American people. He was well prepared and aggressive as he hammered the president. The contrast with Obama was striking, as the president appeared less energetic even as he rebutted some of Romney’s toughest attacks.

The debate is likely to give Romney what he needed most, which is a fresh look from voters — at least those who are undecided or open to changing their minds — and will change the conversation about the campaign, which for the past two weeks has been tilted in the president’s favor. Romney now faces the challenge of trying to build on his performance and keep the president on the defensive in the days ahead.


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