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Posted at 1:00 PM ET, 02/ 3/2011

Getting specific about discretionary cuts

By Ezra Klein

Paul Ryan is beginning to show some leg on the budget he plans to propose for the rest of 2011. But I'm actually a lot less interested in 2011 than I am in 2012. Both the Obama administration and congressional Republicans appear to agree that non-security discretionary funding should be frozen for the next few years. So the level it's at in 2012 matters, as that's likely to be the level it's at for awhile.

The Republican leadership has proposed freezing non-security discretionary spending at its 2008 level. According to the fine folks at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, that's about 20 percent less than we'd expect to be spending in 2012. It's a big cut. But among Republicans, it's actually the moderate position. The Republican Study Group has proposed a 10-year freeze at 2006 levels. According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, that amounts to "a 42 percent reduction below last year’s funding level (adjusted only for inflation), and leaves [non-defense discretionary] spending in 2021 at 44 percent below its lowest level in the last thirty years as a percentage of the economy." That's a huge cut, and it requires a lot more than ending subsidies for NPR.

I'm waiting for the moment, however, when we stop talking levels and start talking programs. It's easy for people to talk about caps and freezes. That's deficit reduction in the abstract. No one knows what "2008 levels," or "2006 levels," means. It's harder for them to say how much money they're going to take from food safety, from education, from drug research, from border security. When these budgets have to get detailed, and these members of Congress begin receiving calls from hospitals in their district and the principal of the elementary school their kids attend and the doctor who helped their mother through cancer and the sheriff who wants more money for border enforcement -- that's when we'll see what all this will really amount to. For now, it's mostly posturing.

By Ezra Klein  | February 3, 2011; 1:00 PM ET
Categories:  Budget  
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Comments

What is wrong with asking EVERY department to cut expenses by 10%! Private industry does it all the time. Everyone knows there is HUGE waste in government programs and agencies! Cutting expenses is no big deal. Congress and Obama just need to stop talking and ACT! They would be surprised how easy it can be....but they are making the expecise more complicated than it really is! Typical GOP & Dem inertia! This is the reason most will not be re-elected in 2012!!! Show me the money!

www.eclecticramblings.wordpress.com

Posted by: my4653 | February 3, 2011 1:13 PM | Report abuse

"Everyone knows there is HUGE waste in government programs and agencies!"

I would love to see some actual evidence on this front. The last I've personally seen was from a report in the late 1990s that turned up much less objective waste than the beliefs of the populace would lead us to expect.

Unless "waste" is merely a cover for "things/programs I don't like," as opposed to 900 dollar hammers at the Pentagon or having two workers doing the work of one. Something tells me that when people actually think of "waste" that it is closer to the subjective evaluation of particular government programs, or what they think is a government program, than something based on a quantitative evaluation of actual governmental expenses.

Posted by: y2josh_us | February 3, 2011 1:33 PM | Report abuse

"I'm waiting for the moment, however, when we stop talking levels and start talking programs."

I thought you would say you are waiting for a moment when GOP, Tea Party and USA come to realization that 'cutting discretionary programs' can take you only this much and the real work would begin when we start talking with Medicare, Medicaid and some part Social Security. Look for NY Govorner Cuomo the way he is cutting Medicaid. Also look for NY Mayor Bloomberg how he is cutting Pension. That is the way the go, probably.

Listen to Stephen Roach of Morgan Stanley. He is saying American Politicians are simply talking the talk but not walking whereas meanwhile China would reduce its dependence on Export. As a result of it he says it will be bad for Dollar and/or Uncle Sam Bonds. Read what he is saying.

The more all the shenanigans about 'discretionary spending' goes out of our way and we are still with Trillion Dollar Deficits; Tea Party and GOP will be forced to talk about 'core costs - entitlement programs'.

I thought you were waiting for that.

Just imagine the 'Political System Cost' which we are paying for debating these practically 'irrelevant issues' or at least too minor issues. Including you Media will fixated on these items where 'medical costs driving our bankruptcy' should be on the top.

Posted by: umesh409 | February 3, 2011 1:58 PM | Report abuse

You mean it can't all be taken out of CPB and foreign aid?

Posted by: tl_houston | February 3, 2011 1:58 PM | Report abuse

y2josh_us:
"I would love to see some actual evidence [of government waste]. The last I've personally seen was from a report in the late 1990s that turned up much less objective waste than the beliefs of the populace would lead us to expect."

This isn't comprehensive, but will give you a solid start:
* $60B - est annual Medicare funds lost to waste and fraud(http://www.healthreformwatch.com/2009/11/19/taking-the-fraud-out-of-medicare-expansion)

* $40B - annual waste in government contracts (Obama's own estimate http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/politics/jan-june09/economylede_03-04.htmle)

* $2B - probably 'only' worth a couple billion....but this is certainly one of my favorites. Click the link below to see a report in 2008 of all the fraudul...errr, "unapproved" spending with p-cards that the GAO found among government employees. (http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2008-04-08-government-creditcards_N.htm

Seriously, am I going to be forced to accept that there are folks living amongst us who sincerely believe that government bureaucracies run like finely-tuned machines, and employ nothing but alruistic civil servants?

Posted by: dbw1 | February 3, 2011 2:17 PM | Report abuse

dbw1 wrote....
Seriously, am I going to be forced to accept that there are folks living amongst us who sincerely believe that government bureaucracies run like finely-tuned machines, and employ nothing but alruistic civil servants?

--------------------------------
No, but it's also not true that the government is filled with lazy good for nothing bureaucrats who do nothing but enable fraudulent government programs. Cutting spending is always good for a soundbite. I'll be more interested to hear what they actually plan to cut.

Posted by: RGee1 | February 3, 2011 2:27 PM | Report abuse

In his first budget, inexplicably - Presidunce Obama INCREASED spending for just about every federal Agency.

Obama told US shortly afer his inaugeration that he was going to focus like a laser on job creation - foolishly many of US thought he was talking about creating private industry jobs...he was actually speaking of government jobs.

In any event, during the past 2+ years he has created three private industry jobs.

Posted by: Hazmat77 | February 3, 2011 2:38 PM | Report abuse

y2josh_us

the canard of the $600 hammer was hyperbole. In reality, when the DOD or NASA is creating a NEW airplane, a New spacecraft or any unique vehicle or craft, specifications may call for a single or small quantity of a highly specialized part or tool - thereby making it appear to be overpriced.

Posted by: Hazmat77 | February 3, 2011 2:44 PM | Report abuse

I'll believe the republicans are serious when the Defense budget is subjected to the same scrutiny and slashing as everything else.

You can't seriously cut spending when 1 of every 3 dollars is spent on Defense and you declare that off limits.

Posted by: steve-2304 | February 3, 2011 2:50 PM | Report abuse

No facts? No details? Just bluster? That's wht happens when you don't stand for anything, just against everything the other guy stands for.

Posted by: Lefty_ | February 3, 2011 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Hazmat77 says:

"the canard of the $600 hammer was hyperbole."

Are you kidding me hyperbole? You saying this didnt happen? In 1984 when this came out it was scandalous, you had a vendor charging 600 for ashtrays that were coffee cans repainted, 300 per nail, 900 per hammer. Funny how this never irks the GOP, like when Halliburton over charge 42 million for Big Macs they never served.

Posted by: rharring | February 3, 2011 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Someone needs to challenge the assumption that defense spending has to be off the table. Not all those defense dollars are spent wisely. When I went through basic, we had slushy machines in the cafeteria; recruits and staff were literally the only people eating in this cafeteria, and guess what? We weren't allowed to have slushies. I'm pretty sure they weren't even turned on, they were just...there.

Ten bucks says the machines were only installed because some congresscritter wanted the DOD to buy machines manufactured in his or her district. This is the *real* pork spending that needs to be cut, and so much of it is hidden in military spending because everyone assumes 100% of those dollars are necessary for defense.

Posted by: dkp01 | February 3, 2011 3:16 PM | Report abuse

In my 60 years on this earth, and in that time having a keen interest in politics and history, I have to laugh at the thought of either political party, or the tea-partiers, whatever they are, actually cutting the budget of our government. As long as Wall Street and the corporations rule the roost from the backwaters, politicians will spend on their pet projects and the government will grow. Paul Ryan, you're just as bogus as anybody else in Congress. You have a nice dog-and-pony show going, though!

Posted by: rtinindiana | February 3, 2011 3:26 PM | Report abuse

>>The Republican leadership has proposed freezing non-security discretionary spending at its 2008 level. ... The Republican Study Group has proposed a 10-year freeze at 2006 levels.<<


Heck, I'll go them one better. Let's return spending to 1999 levels. But then we must also return taxes to 1999 levels. Under those conditions, the compromise is acceptable.

Posted by: gilroy0 | February 3, 2011 3:32 PM | Report abuse

dkp01 wrote: "Someone needs to challenge the assumption that defense spending has to be off the table."

True. And the Obama administration has already proposed at least $78 Billion of long-term cuts to DoD programs. In fact, Secretary Gates has been scouring the department to find $100 Billion in cuts.

The deficit will NEVER be eliminated or sigificantly reduced by cutting only civilian agencies and non-DoD/DHS programs.

If you want to find a few more Billion to cut, don't forget to look at DHS. That department is an inept monstrostity that has NEVER managed to fully integrate itself. Congress has been throwing money at them for years and they've been on a hiring spree, so they they are entirely too accustomed to guzzling dollars. They've never developed a culture of austerity or efficiency and their financial management systems are either non-existent or poorly implemented. They manage billion dollar programs through email and spreadsheets. And so on.

The bottom line: we have a $1.5 Trillion deficit and yet FY2011 agency appropriations total about $1 Trillion.

Doesn't that mean that we could eliminate all agencies and still have a $500 billion deficit?

If we eliminated the entire government and still have a deficit, doesn't that point to a problem on the revenue side?

Posted by: RufusPlimpton | February 3, 2011 3:38 PM | Report abuse

.


The extremist Republican party huffed and they puffed, they promised their Teabagger base they'd usher in an era of austerity, yet this is the best House Republicans could do?!?!


To put this into perspective, after spending the last two years claiming that President Obama was destroying America by adding to our national debt, now that the GOP is in power, they've proposed a budget which would decrease the federal budget deficit by just 2%. I guess they must be socialists too.


.

Posted by: DrainYou | February 3, 2011 3:54 PM | Report abuse

My challenge to the GOP: Give a full list of the specific cuts you will make, and the ones you will NOT make. (Will you or will you not cut Medicare, Social Security, the military in a meaningful way?)

It is like health care. Talk in general about repeal, and the numbers are about 50-50, but ask people if they want to go back to recissions or "pre-existing illnesses" or including children up to 26 on family policies or doing way with the requirement that health insurers use at least 80% of every health care premimum dollar on health care and not on corporation profits and high CEO salaries, and you get much diffent percentages.

Where's the beef, GOP? Give us a specific list of exactly what you will cut, and vote on each item separately so that those affected can respond. Then see how easy it is to make cuts.

Posted by: tinyjab40 | February 3, 2011 4:09 PM | Report abuse

tinyjab, that's something the Dems want to do if Reps want to chip away at each mandate in the law, test and see if they really do stand behind the "people's" wish of a full repeal in any context. If they decide to vote in favor of these portions, I hope the supports call them out on it instead of saying "Well we like this part so it's okay".

Posted by: Falling4Ever | February 3, 2011 4:20 PM | Report abuse

SURPRISE! more useless kabuki.

The FACT is that the budget cannot mathematically be balanced by cutting. And these proposed myopic measure from the tea-oh-pee would save so little in the overall budget that no one would notice while at the same time depriving really important investment in our future. Destroying the national park system to save a few mill is hardly a responsible thing to do. Allowing more foodborn illness to save a mill or two at FDA is downright silly.

So of course there are no details. If people realize what a JOKE these tea baggers are they will never agin fall for their lies -- well at least until the Democrats fix the economy and the nation and balance the budget like they have had to time after time in the past century.

Posted by: John1263 | February 3, 2011 5:14 PM | Report abuse

"My challenge to the GOP: Give a full list of the specific cuts you will make, and the ones you will NOT make. (Will you or will you not cut Medicare, Social Security, the military in a meaningful way?)"

My proposal is that all government revenue must be voluntarily paid. Furthermore, individuals can restrict their contributions to certain uses. No agency can spend more than it takes in.

If Social Security receives $300 billion in voluntary funding, then it can pay out $300 billion.

If the military receives $150 billion in voluntary funds, then it can spend $150 billion.

Posted by: justin84 | February 3, 2011 5:41 PM | Report abuse

"The FACT is that the budget cannot mathematically be balanced by cutting."

That's not a fact at all.

Posted by: justin84 | February 3, 2011 5:42 PM | Report abuse

"
Heck, I'll go them one better. Let's return spending to 1999 levels. But then we must also return taxes to 1999 levels. Under those conditions, the compromise is acceptable."

Deal. The spending, however, goes first.

Posted by: krazen1211 | February 3, 2011 9:25 PM | Report abuse

The TEA Party people are too stupid to realize that the Republicans are all talk and no action. They are being played like a stupid kid at a basketball game. The Republicans know that if they talk in the abstract and go on Fox News and yell about nonsense, their Tea Party folks would go along blindly without saying "Yo Taco Bell, where's the beef". Sure cut all depts 10%, cut to 2008 levels all that sounds nice. But that's not the way the budget works. Now that you guys are in charge of the House you guys have the authority to put together the spending bills for the government. So instead of your philosophical spending cuts talk, you guys have to make the tough decisions on what to cut. You decide which programs will get funded at what levels. And Obama is just going to sit back and let to you sink into your own stupidity. The minute you cut a popular program, they will drag out how many kids and old women will be hurt and you guys will suffer. So you guys are afraid to cut anything and just talk in the highfaluting terms. You guys have the authority to cut; put up or shut up. I promise you, they will never cut anything and will continue standing on their soap box. As I said, all talk and no action.

Posted by: ATLGuy | February 3, 2011 10:00 PM | Report abuse

I don't get it. Why are we talking about 40% cuts? Shouldn't we be talking about 100% cuts? Let's get rid of the following, just as a start: Dept. of Justice, Dept. of Labor, Dept. of Energy, EPA, Dept. of Commerce, USDA, FDA, and HHS (that includes Medicare and Medicaid). The states all have programs that overlap and the federal programs are basically a waste of money. For the leeches using Medicaid and Medicare, maybe you should have saved some money when you were taking expensive vacations and buying a new car every two years so that you could buy health insurance. We are so close to eliminating most of the waste in government, and luckily for conservatives the Democrats continue to make stupid mistake after mistake. The public is fed up and it won't be long until most of the federal government is gone. Hallalujah!

Posted by: salanatoli | February 3, 2011 10:31 PM | Report abuse

@my4653:

And I'd like to see some evidence of this:

"What is wrong with asking EVERY department to cut expenses by 10%! Private industry does it all the time... Cutting expenses is no big deal."

Corporations will cut costs by decreasing production when demand is low, but because of the economy, demand for government services is extremely high. So this doesn't actually work.

The trick is cutting costs while keeping production quality and quantity constant. If you've got a good example of a large corporation which cut costs by 10% without decreasing the quantity or quality of production, I'd love to hear about it.

Posted by: zosima | February 4, 2011 1:57 AM | Report abuse

Here's an article showing some examples of what happens when corporations try to cut costs while holding production and quality fixed:
http://www.slate.com/id/2150340/

People like to imagine that there are ways to cut without consequence, but it isn't true for corporations and it's not true for government.

Posted by: zosima | February 4, 2011 2:10 AM | Report abuse

short on specifics and long on ideology. the details dont mater to an ideologue.....

Posted by: tedri_50 | February 4, 2011 3:49 AM | Report abuse

Details on the budget will be given to the members of Congress by the lobbyists & special interests.

That is what has been going on for years ........ why expect anything different, now!!

This country no longer a Democracy, but a Cashrarocy.
That government by the people for the people, is not there any longer.

Posted by: bkarpus | February 4, 2011 5:21 AM | Report abuse

For every American civilian killed by terrorists, approximately

300 die in automobile accidents
200 are killed by air pollution
150 are murdered
50 die of food-borne illnesses
1 is killed by lightning

What is a good conservative to conclude from this data? Slash the FDA and EPA, and launch a multi-trillion dollar War on Clouds, apparently.

Posted by: brickcha | February 4, 2011 6:18 AM | Report abuse

If the country got serious about its future, it would be one that saw more invested in education and conservation(of everything from money to resources...what "conservatism" used to mean, and a lot less on antagonizing and meddling in the affairs of just about every other country in the world. Why do we have bases and forces in 173 countries? The very reason we sense there is a threat to us is because we treat other countries in ways that ensure hostility towards us. We are getting very little defense from the massive expenditures on the defense industry(military, contractors, congress-owning corporations). Who really is a threat to us? The American people have no real idea since the politicians and corporate media have created imaginary threats out of everyone...it pays off well to keep everyone afraid and poor. The only real enemy in years was OBL who claimed from the beginning the main reason for hitting the US was our stationing bases in Saudi Arabia(Bush to his credit, promptly complied and removed them after 9/11. But then he turned around and invaded other Muslim countries which were not involved).
On the scale of threats, real threats, terrorism is low, but high threats such as a bankrupting health care industry, corporate take over of the government and elections, EPA and FDA operating with restricted authority, and gun(killing 34,000 innocents and wounding 150,000 Americans a year) ARE real threats but are downplayed because these might hurt profits if addressed. A bigger threat to the US and its future is created by turning loose millions of uneducated people onto society every school year than any radical Muslim organization.
The Tea-partiers have show how destructive the combination of ignorance of law, history and government, coupled with massive influx of money from ultra rich oligarchs, and a manipulative media can be.

Posted by: km6xz | February 4, 2011 9:00 AM | Report abuse

salantoll wrote "The public is fed up and it won't be long until most of the federal government is gone."

That would certainly work to the benefit of the blue states, whose citizens pay vastly more in federal taxes than they receive in federal spending. The opposite is true for the red states. Washington is, effectively, a giant money pump that extract hundreds of billions from Democratic leaning states and pumps into the coffers of Republican states.

If Massachusetts only broke even in that regard, for example, it could eliminate the state income tax and still come out ahead.

So I'm with you on discarding the federal government and become 50 different countries.

Posted by: DavidinCambridge | February 4, 2011 9:10 AM | Report abuse

As Prof. Wagstaff said: "Whatever it is, I'm against it". GOP mantra. No plans, just bluster.

Posted by: jckdoors | February 4, 2011 9:52 AM | Report abuse

""What is wrong with asking EVERY department to cut expenses by 10%! Private industry does it all the time... Cutting expenses is no big deal."

Corporations will cut costs by decreasing production when demand is low, but because of the economy, demand for government services is extremely high. So this doesn't actually work.

The trick is cutting costs while keeping production quality and quantity constant. If you've got a good example of a large corporation which cut costs by 10% without decreasing the quantity or quality of production, I'd love to hear about it."
-------------------------------------
@my4653 & @zosima:

Let me share a true story: The Company I used to work for was approached by some consultants. Their view was that 10% of the work we did was non-critical and unnecessary (what orifice they pulled this number from was not clear). Anyway, if my Company reduced its workforce by 10%, the remaining employees would figure out what work was superfluous, and the Company would magically be leaner and more efficient.

Result: workforce was reduced by 10%, remaining employees worked 10% harder, since it turned out that SOMEBODY really, really required the work; and the consultants received a nice reward.

My personal opinion for what it’s worth: this talk is just political posturing, you want to reduce the deficit – create jobs that pay a living wage, and increase taxes; reform the tax code and have the rich pay what they paid under Eisenhower.

Posted by: shadowmagician | February 4, 2011 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Budget balancing strategies that focus on large cuts in federal spending translate directly into cutting jobs. Each $ of spending cuts includes someone’s job and benefits. Which jobs will be lost as a result of the Tea Party deficit hawks austerity measures?

Could it be yours? You can bet that the jobs lost will primarily come from the middle and lower-middle class.

People who lose their jobs as a result of budget cuts will be forced to reduce their spending. The resulting overall decrease in spending in our economy spirals down to impact other businesses whose goods and services are no longer affordable, creating layoffs and more unemployment.

Each newly unemployed worker stops paying taxes to local, state, and the federal government, INCREASING the DEFICIT at all levels. This ultimately requires either state and local tax increases, or layoffs of more workers, or both.

Each newly unemployed worker collects unemployment and other benefits from the federal, state, and local governments, further INCREASING the DEFICIT at all levels that leads to more layoffs. The result is decreased revenue and increased costs at all levels, not to mention the human costs to the average American families. Cutting the deficit by significant budget cuts in the short run makes the deficit worse, not better, and risks a double dip recession.

How can tax cuts for the rich and austerity for the middle class translate into anything good for the average American family, except in the land of the Tea Party Express?

Posted by: CJfromPA | February 4, 2011 11:46 AM | Report abuse

"Non-security spending"? Really? Have things gotten so Orwellian?

A few years ago (like, say, last year) we called it "non-defense spending." That was in itself a euphemism, of course, for "non-military spending."

Yet now if you want to cut funds for the military, you're against security. If you want to cut Social Security, you're for security. Just goes to show, Alice's Wonderland has nothing on the Washington Post.

Posted by: stonedone | February 4, 2011 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Budget balancing strategies that focus on large cuts in federal spending translate directly into cutting jobs. Each $ of spending cuts includes someone’s job and benefits. Which jobs will be lost as a result of the Tea Party deficit hawks austerity measures?

Could it be yours? You can bet that the jobs lost will primarily come from the middle and lower-middle class.

People who lose their jobs as a result of budget cuts will be forced to reduce their spending. The resulting overall decrease in spending in our economy spirals down to impact other businesses whose goods and services are no longer affordable, creating layoffs and more unemployment.

Each newly unemployed worker stops paying taxes to local, state, and the federal government, INCREASING the DEFICIT at all levels. This ultimately requires either state and local tax increases, or layoffs of more workers, or both.

Each newly unemployed worker collects unemployment and other benefits from the federal, state, and local governments, further INCREASING the DEFICIT at all levels that leads to more layoffs. The result is decreased revenue and increased costs at all levels, not to mention the human costs to the average American families. Cutting the deficit by significant budget cuts in the short run makes the deficit worse, not better, and risks a double dip recession.

How can tax cuts for the rich and austerity for the middle class translate into anything good for the average American family, except in the land of the Tea Party Express?

Posted by: CJfromPA | February 4, 2011 11:53 AM | Report abuse

eliminating some of the federal agencies would go a long way to reduce the deficit
for example:
INDEPENDENT AGENCIES AND GOVERNMENT CORPORATIONS

Administrative Conference of the United States
Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
African Development Foundation
Amtrak (National Railroad Passenger Corporation)
Commission on Civil Rights
Corporation for National and Community Service
Corporation for Public Broadcasting
Public Broadcasting Service
Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency
Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Export-Import Bank of the United States
Farm Credit Administration
Federal Communications Commission
Federal Election Commission
Federal Housing Finance Board
Federal Labor Relations Authority
Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service
Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission
Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board
Institute of Museum and Library Services
Inter-American Foundation
International Broadcasting Bureau
Merit Systems Protection Board
National Capital Planning Commission
National Council on Disability
National Credit Union Administration
Central Liquidity Facility
National Endowment for the Arts
National Endowment for the Humanities
National Labor Relations Board
National Mediation Board
National Science Foundation
Office of Compliance
National health system
Office of Government Ethics
Office of Personnel Management
Federal Executive Institute
Office of Special Counsel
Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive
Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Overseas Private Investment Corporation
Panama Canal Commission
Peace Corps
Postal Regulatory Commission
Railroad Retirement Board
Securities Investor Protection Corporation
Selective Service System
Tennessee Valley Authority
U.S. Trade and Development Agency
United States Agency for International Development
United States International Trade Commission
United States Sentencing Commission
Universal Service Administrative Company


Posted by: Aldol | February 4, 2011 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Budget balancing strategies that focus on large cuts in federal spending translate directly into cutting jobs. Each $ of spending cuts includes someone’s job and benefits. Which jobs will be lost as a result of the Tea Party deficit hawks austerity measures?

Could it be yours? You can bet that the jobs lost will primarily come from the middle and lower-middle class.

People who lose their jobs as a result of budget cuts will be forced to reduce their spending. The resulting overall decrease in spending in our economy spirals down to impact other businesses whose goods and services are no longer affordable, creating layoffs and more unemployment.

Each newly unemployed worker stops paying taxes to local, state, and the federal government, INCREASING the DEFICIT at all levels. This ultimately requires either state and local tax increases, or layoffs of more workers, or both.

Each newly unemployed worker collects unemployment and other benefits from the federal, state, and local governments, further INCREASING the DEFICIT at all levels that leads to more layoffs. The result is decreased revenue and increased costs at all levels, not to mention the human costs to the average American families. Cutting the deficit by significant budget cuts in the short run makes the deficit worse, not better, and risks a double dip recession.

Check the recent results for austerity strategies in UK and Ireland to get direct evidence that austerity doesn’t work during recessions. http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-02-02/stiglitz-says-europe-faces-disastrous-budget-austerity-drive.html—save big cuts for when the economy has recovered to full growth and can withstand the shock.

Posted by: CJfromPA | February 4, 2011 12:05 PM | Report abuse

"The FACT is that the budget cannot mathematically be balanced by cutting."

That's not a fact at all.

Posted by: justin84 | February 3, 2011 5:42 PM
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

From the person that thinks funds should be voluntarily paid...how old are you, 10?

Posted by: taroya | February 4, 2011 12:53 PM | Report abuse

"From the person that thinks funds should be voluntarily paid...how old are you, 10?"

Care to discuss the issue at hand taroya, or do you have nothing to offer but ad hominem?

Someone tried to claim that one could not balance a budget by cutting spending. That's obviously a false statement. Wouldn't you agree?

As for your comment, I'll have you know that even most 10 year olds understand that stealing is wrong, which is what mandatory taxation is. I don't care if voluntary funding shrinks the government by 90% - theft is wrong, period.

Posted by: justin84 | February 5, 2011 3:37 PM | Report abuse

No, Mr. Klein, the only posturing going on is by you and liberal Democrats. Spending has skyrocketed the last two years. There has to be plenty to cut, yet you act like the gravy train will run forever.

Let's face it. You want the R's to be the bad guys.

Posted by: ElmerStoup | February 5, 2011 7:33 PM | Report abuse

This is the absurdity of this. This would cut the employees and support/enforcement tools for those with USDA farm subsidies ,but not cut any of the subsidies themselves. That;s like cutting the bartender's hours but letting the drunk still drink as much as he wants for free.

Posted by: mysaug | February 6, 2011 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Banking On Fraud

This should alarm smart people far more than the national debt:

Still Banking on Fraud | Dollars & Sense

Reforms Fail to address the “control fraud” that caused the financial crisis. By William K. Black

A truly amazing thing has happened in banking. After the worst financial crisis in 75 years sparked the “Great Recession,” we have

* Failed to identify the real causes of the crisis
* Failed to fix the defects that caused the crisis
* Failed to hold the CEOs, professionals, and anti-regulators who caused the crisis accountable—even when they committed fraud
* Bailed out the largest and worst financial firms with massive public funds
* Covered up banking losses and failures—impairing any economic recovery
* Degraded our integrity and made the banking system even more encouraging of fraud
* Refused to follow policies that have proved extremely successful in past crises
* Made the systemically dangerous megabanks even more dangerous
* Made our financial system even more parasitic, harming the real economy


And pronounced this travesty a brilliant success

The Bush and Obama administrations have made an already critically flawed financial system even worse...

http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2011/0111black.html

Posted by: rheckler2002 | February 7, 2011 6:51 AM | Report abuse

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