Make a Wish

Senator McConnell has been telling anyone who is willing to listen lately that during the first two years of the Obama administration, Congress gave Obama and the Democrats everything they wanted.  This is part of the larger narrative that Obama should own the current economic condition because his policies have not resulted in unemployment rates less than 8%, deficit reductions, or a robust economic recovery.

“In fact, he’s been in office for three years. He got everything he wanted from a completely compliant Congress for two of those three years… We are living in the Obama economy.”

The reality, however, doesn’t match this narrative very well.

The plan to bring down Obama was hatched in the first months after his inauguration.  That plan was to unanimously oppose the Obama administration at every turn in order to, according to McConnell,  “Keep our fingerprints off of these proposals,”

In October 0f 2010 McConnell said, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

Here were the results of that opposition.

Obama was unable to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire for those making more than $250,000 a year because he didn’t have the 60 votes needed to overcome a Senate filibuster.  Cost $544B.

The DREAM act also failed in the Senate, though there were 55 votes in support.

The Senate threatened a government shutdown over key appropriation and debt ceiling bills.

The stimulus package was almost $100B less than originally proposed because of Republican opposition and still had no Republican votes in the house and only three moderate Republicans in the Senate.

The Healthcare reform package received no Republican votes even after it was stripped of the public option that was an important part of the original proposal.

The recent budget proposed by Obama is no different.

The administration claims that the budget includes $2.5 of spending cuts for every $1 in tax increases.

The Republicans criticize the budget because they claim it includes $1.9 trillion worth of new tax revenue and $1.5 trillion worth of more spending.

The truth is that they are both playing games with the numbers in order to make political points in an election year.

The administration’s numbers include the budget reductions already agreed to in the debt ceiling deal, money from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and reduced debt service.  But at least their math is good – $3.8T in reductions compared with $1.5T on tax increases (primarily for letting the Bush tax cuts expire for high income people) does result in $1 of tax increases for every $2.5 in “spending” cuts.

The Republican numbers are based on calculations that came out of the House Budget Committee rather than the CBO.  They ignore the war savings and the debt deal cuts.  They add back in the Medicare “doc” fix even though they were the ones who voted to pass it without any offsetting revenue to cover the cost.  All told, this pretty much wipes out the reductions in the Obama budget.  For good measure the Republican’s also increased the Obama budget’s tax increases by $400B because they don’t agree with the administration’s definition of what constitutes a tax versus for example, an increase in pension fund contributions that is scheduled to take effect for federal employees.

What is really interesting about this whole exercise is how the Obama budget – as disputed as it is – compares with the budgets proposed by the Republican Presidential candidates.  Even though it doesn’t reduce the deficit as percentage of GDP over the next ten years, it does do better than anything the Republicans have proposed.

This is based on data from the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

Where all of the Republican candidates get into trouble, not surprisingly, is in revenue.

Alice Rivlin founding director of the Congressional Budget Office and a senior fellow of economic studies at the Brookings Institution said, “I don’t expect Republicans to propose raising taxes, but it seems to me that one definition of responsibility is ‘Can you reform the tax system … in whatever [way] you think is best that at least doesn’t make the situation worse?’ And on that score, all of these candidates fail.”

The current debt is 70% of GDP.  The “realistic” projection with Obama’s current budget is that the debt will increase to 85% of GDP by 2021.

Because the candidates haven’t produced many specifics, the report includes a range of results for the budget proposals of each candidate based on some assumptions.

As compared to the current realistic projection, Ron Paul is the only candidate whose budget proposals improve on the 85% of GDP by 2021 target set by the Obama administration.  Everyone else is worse.  What is of concern, however, is the risk in all these proposals.  When you consider the worst case assumptions, they are all very bad.

In the best case, Ron Paul would reduce the debt to 67% of GDP by eliminating 5 federal departments and canceling all Federal Reserve debt.  In the worst case, debt would increase it to 93% of GDP.

In the best case, Romney would reduce debt in 2021 to 75% of GDP.  In the worst case it would increase to 94% of GDP.  Those assumptions were before Romney’s most recent tax proposal which, without further offsets in spending, would add $2.6T to the debt, wiping out the reductions in his best case scenario.

Santorum was even worse, reducing debt to 74% of GDP in the best case, but exploding it to 107% in the worst case.

Gingrich’s plans were the worst.  There is no reduction of debt even in the most optimistic projection with the worst case projections leaving the debt at 126% of GDP in 2021.

Specifically in the area of healthcare the nonpartisan group projects that repealing the Healthcare Reform bill will add $80B to the debt by 2021 and the alternative Republican proposals could add as much as $330B to the debt.

The bottom line is that budgets remain political documents.  The likelihood of any of them including the Obama proposals being enacted in anything close to the form that they were proposed is between slim and none.  These are documents that reflect political priorities rather than real spending.

They real spending policies end up being hashed out in Congress.

Given the current make-up of the Congress, that is going to continue to be a challenging task.

Ultimately the American voter is going to have to choose in November whether they want to continue to support the “no tax” policies introduced by the Republicans that they elected in 2010, or punish them for their uncompromising tactics and refocus government on creating jobs.

4 Responses to “Make a Wish”

  1. Keith says:

    Jeff,
    I’m glad you are now making it a habit of explaining both sides are being decitful. Its also ok that you choose to say that the republicans are being even more so then the dems. You are a progressive and its natural for you to think that.

    Obama wanted to be the President. Reagan’s ecomony made far more progress through three years then Obama’s and he had dems controling but the house and senate. He somehow managered to get things accomplished. Obama had overwehling majorities in both the house and senate for his first two years. Leading isn’t dictating. He’s the President and he does own this. As to McConnels comments about wanting him out thats only normal. Did the dems have simalar thoughts of making Bush a one term President? How about Reagan? How about the Repubs and Clinton? You can cry unfair all you’d like but the game is the same on both sides.

    Also consider one MAJOR factor. The dems got CLEANED out of office in 2010, the worst loss in history(?) The Repubs rightfully thought they were in a stronger position and acted like it. However, Obama has not acted like Clinton and got things done….The repubs also over reached as far as I can tell. It will not be suprising to me if the Dems win in the fall. I will not mistake this as “the country has spoken.” It keeps going back and forth because, in my view, WE DON’ LIKE EITHER SIDE!!!” Eaches extreme base has become so powerful that it rules. Obamacare was met with the worst defeat in history(?) 68 seats in the house….

    Here’s my greater concern

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-farrakhan-founders-day-20120227,0,7846023.story

    http://www.prisonplanet.com/obama-plays-race-card-calls-on-churches-to-support-campaign.html

    I hope neither is true………….

  2. jacksmith says:

    REALITY!! And A Fix for Unemployment, Homelessness and Hunger

    In addition to fixing healthcare the right way we need a NewDeal. We need a permanent and updated FDR WPA (Works Progress Administration). A Full employment act requiring the government to provide a job for everyone able to work that wants to work at a living wage or better. At safe, meaningful work where they live. Guaranteed by the US government. With free or very affordable excellent healthcare and free or very affordable education and training for advancement or just personal enrichment.

    ( http://my.firedoglake.com/iflizwerequeen/2011/05/16/how-about-a-little-truth-about-what-the-majority-want-for-health-care/ )

    ( Gov. Peter Shumlin: Real Healthcare reform — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yFUbkVCsZ4 )

    ( Health Care Budget Deficit Calculator — http://www.cepr.net/calculators/hc/hc-calculator.html )

    ( Briefing: Dean Baker on Boosting the Economy by Saving Healthcare http://t.co/fmVz8nM )

    START NOW!

    As you all know. Had congress passed a single-payer or government-run robust Public Option CHOICE! available to everyone on day one, our economy and jobs would have taken off like a rocket. And still will. Single-payer would be best. But a government-run robust Public Option CHOICE! that can lead to a single-payer system is the least you can accept. It’s not about competing with for-profit healthcare and for-profit health insurance. It’s about replacing it with Universal Healthcare Assurance. Everyone knows this now.

    The message from the midterm elections was clear. The American people want real healthcare reform. They want that individual mandate requiring them to buy private health insurance abolished. And they want a government-run robust public option CHOICE! available to everyone on day one. And they want it now.

    They want Drug re-importation, and abolishment, or strong restrictions on patents for biologic and prescription drugs. And government controlled and negotiated drug and medical cost. They want back control of their healthcare system from the Medical Industrial Complex. And they want it NOW!

    THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WILL NOT, AND MUST NOT, ALLOW AN INDIVIDUAL MANDATE TO STAND WITHOUT A STRONG GOVERNMENT-RUN PUBLIC OPTION CHOICE! AVAILABLE TO EVERYONE.

    For-profit health insurance is extremely unethical, and morally repugnant. It’s as morally repugnant as slavery was. And few if any decent Americans are going to allow them-self to be compelled to support such an unethical and immoral crime against humanity.

    This is a matter of National and Global security. There can be NO MORE EXCUSES.

    Further, we want that corrupt, undemocratic filibuster abolished. Whats the point of an election if one corrupt member of congress can block the will of the people, and any legislation the majority wants. And do it in secret. Give me a break people.

    Also, unemployment healthcare benefits are critically needed. But they should be provided through the Medicare program at cost, less the 65% government premium subsidy provided now to private for profit health insurance.

    Congress should stop wasting hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money on private for profit health insurance subsidies. Subsidies that cost the taxpayer 10x as much or more than Medicare does. Private for profit health insurance plans cost more. But provide dangerous and poorer quality patient care.

    Republicans: GET RID OF THE INDIVIDUAL MANDATE.

    Democrats: ADD A ROBUST GOVERNMENT-RUN PUBLIC OPTION TO HEALTHCARE REFORM.

    This is what the American people are shouting at you. Both parties have just enough power now to do what the American people want. GET! IT! DONE! NOW!

    If congress does not abolish the individual mandate. And establish a government-run public option CHOICE! before the end of 2011. EVERY! member of congress up for reelection in 2012 will face strong progressive pro public option, and anti-individual mandate replacement candidates.

    Strong progressive pro “PUBLIC OPTION” CHOICE! and anti-individual mandate volunteer candidates should begin now. And start the process of replacing any and all members of congress that obstruct, or fail to add a government-run robust PUBLIC OPTION CHOICE! before the end of 2011.

    We need two or three very strong progressive volunteer candidates for every member of congress that will be up for reelection in 2012. You should be fully prepared to politically EVISCERATE EVERY INCUMBENT that fails or obstructs “THE PUBLIC OPTION”. And you should be willing to step aside and support the strongest pro “PUBLIC OPTION” candidate if the need arises.

    ASSUME CONGRESS WILL FAIL and SELLOUT again. So start preparing now to CUT THEIR POLITICAL THROATS. You can always step aside if they succeed. But only if they succeed. We didn’t have much time to prepare before these past midterm elections. So the American people had to use a political shotgun approach. But by 2012 you will have a scalpel.

    Congress could have passed a robust government-run public option during it’s lame duck session. They knew what the American people wanted. They already had several bills on record. And the house had already passed a public option. Departing members could have left with a truly great accomplishment. And the rest of you could have solidified your job before the 2012 elections.

    President Obama, you promised the American people a strong public option available to everyone. And the American people overwhelmingly supported you for it. Maybe it just wasn’t possible before. But it is now.

    Knock heads. Threaten people. Or do whatever you have to. We will support you. But get us that robust public option CHOICE! available to everyone on day one before the end of 2011. Or We The People Of The United States will make the past midterm election look like a cake walk in 2012. And it will include you.

    We still have a healthcare crisis in America. With hundreds of thousands dieing needlessly every year in America. And a for profit medical industrial complex that threatens the security and health of the entire world. They have already attacked the world with H1N1 killing thousands, and injuring millions. And more attacks are planned for profit, and to feed their greed.

    Spread the word people.

    Progressives, prepare the American peoples scalpels. It’s time to remove some politically diseased tissues.

    God Bless You my fellow human beings. I’m proud to be one of you. You did good.

    See you on the battle field.

    Sincerely

    jacksmith – WorkingClass :-)

  3. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Keith,

    You’ve quoted Louis Farrakhan and Prison Planet and I’m supposed to get excited?

    They are both crazy.

    The Prison Planet guy thinks that the government was behind the Oklahoma City bombing and 9/11.

    It wasn’t too long ago that we would just roll our eyes at what these folks said and go about our business.

    Why are they any more important now?

    As far as what’s different now in the Congress, this is the first time in Congressional history where the party out of the white house has basically refused to compromise with the party in the white house. We had compromise during the last two years of the Bush administration when he lost his majority. We had compromise during the Clinton administration when he lost his majority. The number of bills of substance passed with bi-partisan support over the last two years could be counted on probably one hand.

    I’m not saying that Obama is blameless.

    All I’m saying is that Republican’s share the blame for the current state of the economy BECAUSE they prevented Obama from implementing his economic program. If he HAD been able to implement the plans that he ran on in 2008, he deserves this election to be a referendum on the results of those plans. The fact that he was opposed at every turn all the way down to low level appointments means that the election also has to be about whether voters support this sort of “no compromise” politics.

    Whatever happens in the fall, I’m sure each party will attempt to spin it to their advantage, the same way the 2010 election (which was about jobs and the economy) has been spun as an endorsement of the Republican Party.

    BTW, I don’t want to set any particular expectation with regard to future posts. Just call ‘em as I see ‘em. The next one could easily upset you again.

  4. Keith says:

    Hey Jack,
    Enjoyed reading your comments. I’ve been interested in speaking with someone with your point of view. Can you further explain a couple of things you posted?

    1) What would you define as a “Living wage?”

    2) You said the following – “For-profit health insurance is extremely unethical, and morally repugnant. It’s as morally repugnant as slavery was. And few if any decent Americans are going to allow them-self to be compelled to support such an unethical and immoral crime against humanity.”

    I can certianly understand this statement. I can also think of a whole host of things that might be, in light of this statement, be just as immoral, food, clothing and shelter. Whould you agrgee with that?

    3)If congress does not abolish the individual mandate. And establish a government-run public option CHOICE! before the end of 2011. EVERY! member of congress up for reelection in 2012 will face strong progressive pro public option, and anti-individual mandate replacement candidates.

    Since this date has expired, have the candidates you suggested been settled upon?

    4)Congress could have passed a robust government-run public option during it’s lame duck session. They knew what the American people wanted.

    NOt sure this is what the beating the dems took in the mid terms was all about. It probably did have something to do with healthcare and the mandate but I’m not sure it had anything to do with a strong robust public option.

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