Economy & Budget

Government spending cuts: Only part of the equation

As most of us should know by now (but probably don't) a country's gross domestic product (its GDP) consists of its people's consumption (C), plus their investment (I), plus their collective expenditure - what their government spends (or does not spend) on their behalf (G), plus their net exports - exports less imports (NE). Expanding GDP, denoting a growing economy, is deemed to be a good thing; contracting GDP, denoting an economy in recession, a bad one. At the moment governments in the developed world are struggling to keep the GDP of their countries expanding. But if doing so is such a good thing, why is it proving such a struggle?

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In search of fiscal responsibility: Ten questions to ask the candidates

Fiscal responsibility is one of the major issues this campaign season, with a recent Bloomberg News poll indicating that voters rank the federal budget deficit as the second most important issue facing the country, falling right behind the economy/jobs. As Election Day approaches, more and more candidates will assume the mantle of fiscal responsibility, but often, they will not offer the specific policies to back up their rhetoric. The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget suggests these 10 questions as a way for voters to help gauge a candidate's true fiscal bona fides.

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The Big Question: Is the American Dream still alive?

Some of the nation's top political commentators, legislators and intellectuals offer insight into the biggest questions burning up the blogosphere today.

Today's question:

Is the American Dream still attainable for most Americans?

Some background reading here.

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Making the case: GOP wants a return to failed polices of the past (Rep. Steny Hoyer)

Both Democrats and Republicans have offered plans for our economy. But while Republicans’ own Congressional campaign chair admitted they intend to return America to the “exact same agenda” of the Bush years — the agenda that left an economic crisis behind — Democrats are working to strengthen our economy with new policies. We are pursuing the Make It In America agenda, a plan to reinvigorate American manufacturing and the secure jobs it creates. We believe that when more products are made in America, more families will be able to Make It In America — which is why our manufacturing agenda will be a top priority for a long time to come. We intend to focus on manufacturing not just in the months ahead, but throughout the next Congress, as well, where we expect to keep the majority — because the middle class understands Democrats are the lawmakers with its interests at heart.

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Congress should seriously consider biennial budgeting

In recent years, the breakdown of the budget process has become a fall tradition in the nation's capital. The fiscal year ended last month without Congress passing a budget resolution or enacting a single appropriations bill for the new year.

As Congress passed yet another continuing resolution to prevent a government shutdown, budget process reform was once again in the news. One proposal known as biennial budgeting would convert the budget and appropriations process into a two-year cycle. Sens. John Thune and Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad have recently expressed interest in the idea. Jack Lew, the President's nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), has also previously testified in favor of the concept.

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A plan to end failed federal programs (Rep. Darrell Issa)

Many Americans are noticing a fundamental disconnect in American life between the amount of resources consumed by government — including an $814 billion stimulus, a $3.5 trillion budget and a $13.5 trillion national debt — and the lack of results delivered to the taxpayers.

Since the president took office, the economy has lost more than 2.5 million jobs and unemployment today stands at 9.6% and rising.

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Amending an end to out-of-control spending

If there’s anything that the vast majority of Americans can agree upon politically, it’s that federal spending is out of control. The federal budget is $1 trillion higher than in 2007. It has doubled since President Reagan’s second term, even after adjusting for inflation. Our national debt is now $13 trillion -- including, incredibly, $3 trillion from the past three years alone. Regardless of the outcome of the midterm elections, this much is clear: Our citizenry needs to take meaningful action to rein in federal spending and revive the notion of limited government.

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A foreclosure nightmare (Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse)

The Wall Street Journal’s projection this week that investment banks will pay out a record $144 billion in bonuses this season shows that Wall Street has recovered from the recession. The homeowners whose mortgages were securitized and used to fuel the Wall Street bubble, however, are not doing nearly as well. Foreclosures remain epidemic in harder-hit states like Florida, Nevada, and my home state of Rhode Island, and our economies are slow to recover as a result.

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Hope: A call to leadership in the foreclosure fraud crisis

Once again President Obama finds himself faced with a catastrophe created by a combination of big business interests and poor federal regulatory oversight. White House advisor David Axelrod said Sunday that the administration is pressing lenders to accelerate their reviews of foreclosures to determine problems with documentation. Last week I urged a call to action to tell President Obama not to sign H.R. 3808. That bill would have loosened notary paperwork requirements for foreclosing on mortgages, already shown to be lax and in some instances, even fraudulent.

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