Economy & Budget

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – 1 year later (Rep. Bobby Rush)

Where I come from, there’s an adage that says ‘when the going get tough, the tough get going.’  I am proud to say that when a tough vote was needed—a vote that strengthened our nation’s banking structure despite the reckless behavior Wall Street financiers engaged in that put our nation’s economy on the edge of collapse—my colleagues and I in the U. S. House and Senate did what we had to do to pull our national economy back from the brink.  And we did it without one, single vote from my colleagues on the other side of the aisle.

Today, I’m proud to acknowledge the tremendous work by President Obama and Vice President Biden who have effectively implemented the distribution of ARRA funds in a manner that is without equal in its accountability and transparency.  That transparency allows me to point to the fact that of the $7 billion that was awarded to the State of Illinois, more than $253 million has already been allocated in the 1st Congressional district.  That’s real money, going to hard working men and women, in this community, for whom these dollars mean that their lives will remain as secure as possible given the difficult economy we continue to face.

While I am proud of the progress that we can point to today, for me, it’s never enough when I consider the fact that in the African American community our unemployment numbers are upwards of 17 percent.  That’s unacceptable to me and, I believe, to our leadership in the White House.

As co-chair of the 131-member, bipartisan Jobs NOW! Congressional Caucus, I want my constituents to know that I will remain vigilant and relentless in my pursuit of every viable means to ensure that those who want to work can do so and that our precious, federal resources continue to be used wisely, and fairly, to help every man, woman and young adult to be able to take care of themselves and their families.”

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The Big Question: Has the stimulus helped?

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




Today's question:


One year later, how has the stimulus changed the course of the U.S. economy?

(Read today's answers after the jump.)

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Obama's recession plan: more bureaucrats (Rep. McMorris Rodgers)

As hard-working Americans struggle through one of the worst recessions in U.S. history, one part of the country remains recession-proof: Washington, D.C.

Even though federal tax revenues are down 20 percent and the national debt has ballooned to $12 trillion, President Barack Obama and his allies on Capitol Hill continue to believe that we can borrow and spend our way to prosperity. As part of that plan, they’re using our hard-earned tax dollars to increase the size of government and the salary of bureaucrats.

While the private sector has lost a total of 7.7 million jobs during the past two years, the ranks of the federal bureaucracy have swelled by nearly 10 percent. Furthermore, while the average salary in the private sector is $40,331, a typical federal worker earns $71,206. Worst of all is the explosion of government salaries at a time when most taxpayers are struggling to make ends meet. According to an investigative report by USA Today, the proportion of “federal employees making salaries of $100,000 or more jumped from 14 percent to 19 percent during the recession’s first 18 months – and that’s before overtime pay and bonuses are counted.”

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Obama’s budget proposal: Gov't spending run amok (Rep. Cynthia Lummis)

The President’s budget proposal is politics at its worst. Just last week, the President called for fiscal restraint and vowed to go through the budget line-by-line to weed out wasteful and bloated spending. Regrettably, it seems his commitment to fiscal discipline is as thin as the teleprompter he used to read his speech. His proposal is nothing more than an aggressive agenda of more government spending, more taxes and more deficit spending with a little window dressing to give the illusion of restraint.

The President’s budget more than doubles the debt, drives spending to a new record of $3.8 trillion next year alone, pushes the deficit to a new record of $1.6 trillion in FY 2010, and raises taxes by over $2 trillion through 2020 by the Administration’s own estimates.

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Selling weapons to Taiwan was the right decision

On Friday, the U.S. Department of Defense announced the approval of a $6.4 billion arms sales package for Taiwan, including 114 Patriot advanced capability (PAC-3) missiles, 60 Blackhawk helicopters, and two mine hunting ships, among other items. Beijing expressed its indignation through multiple channels, suspended some U.S.-China military-to-military exchanges, and threatened to impose sanctions on U.S. companies that sell arms to Taiwan. Beijing also warned of broader consequences for bilateral relations, suggesting that it might turn a cold shoulder to U.S. requests for cooperation on other international issues.

Critics of U.S. policy toward Taiwan have charged that continuing to support the island is not worth alienating an increasingly influential China, and some have suggested that arms sales are no longer needed given recent, positive trends in cross-Strait relations. Arguments against continuing to support Taiwan rest on questionable assumptions about cross-Strait relations, however, and recommendations for an end to U.S. arms sales to Taiwan are misguided.

Indeed, U.S. support for Taiwan’s security—including arms sales—remains vital for three reasons. First, it provides Taiwan with the confidence it needs to pursue a more pragmatic policy toward China. Second, it underscores the continued relevance of America’s longstanding commitment to Taiwan’s security, which discourages China from attempting to coerce Taiwan. Third, it strengthens the credibility of Washington’s commitments to its other regional friends and allies.

Critics of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan are correct to highlight the growing importance of a cooperative relationship with China on a broad range of international issues from Iran and North Korea to the global financial crisis and climate change. But the United States still has a major role to play in helping to promote stability in the Taiwan Strait, in part by ensuring that Taiwan will be able to engage in dialogue with China from a position of strength.

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Obama's bloated, unbalanced budget request should be dead-on-arrival (Rep. Jerry Lewis)

With the budget request unveiled Monday, it is clear that President Obama has been listening more to the voices liberal Washington insiders than to the American people. At the same time that the Democrat Congress is increasing the U.S. debt limit to the highest levels in history, the President has requested a budget that spends trillions of dollars – much of which will have to be borrowed from foreign countries.

Americans across the country know that $1.4 trillion in new tax increases, $8.5 trillion in added deficits, and $3.8 trillion in government spending this year alone is not a responsible way to manage the federal budget. They also know that yet another $100 billion in scarce taxpayer dollars to continue failed “stimulus” programs will do little to create jobs or improve the nation’s economy.

The American people do not want the kind of massive spending, increased taxes, and misplaced priorities that are included in President Obama’s budget. In my view, this bloated, unbalanced budget request should be dead-on-arrival.

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Thinking caps (Rep. John Campbell)

This morning, President Obama unveiled his Budget proposal for fiscal year 2011.  There is no doubt that the Democrats of the House and Senate Budget Committees will have their own budgetary ideas, to say nothing of Republicans who agree with virtually nothing of the flat out unsustainablity of this President’s budgetary visualizations.

But there are 4 things that this budget will do quite well:  It increases spending, it increases your taxes, it increases the debt, and it increases the deficit.

I will have more on this throughout the week, which will include analysis and numbers, so put your thinking caps on.

Crossposted from Townhall.com.

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The Big Question: Will the budget deficit be a major issue for voters?

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


Today's question:

With a $1.27 trillion deficit projected by economists, will approving President Barack Obama's $3.8 trillion budget hurt Democrats in November?


Some background reading here.

(Read today's responses after the jump)

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Despite 'spending freeze,' State of the Union proposals cost taxpayers $70 billion

The two major budget-related themes the President hit upon in his State of the Union address were job creation and deficit reduction. What will this mean for taxpayers and how will these themes work together? NTU Foundation went through the speech line-by-line to estimate the costs of the new spending proposals. President Obama outlined items whose enactment would increase federal spending by a net of $70.46 billion per year. Obama’s to-do list included 21 proposals with a fiscal impact, eight of which would boost spending, three of which would cut them, and 10 whose cost or savings were unknown.

The single largest item Obama mentioned was a call to pass cap-and-trade legislation, with an annual outlay cost of $51.5 billion. Other large initiatives included immigration reform ($9.8 billion), subsidies for retirement savings among low-income Americans ($3 billion), and nuclear non-proliferation ($2.7 billion).

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How democrats pulled the U.S. economy back from the brink (Sen. Byron Dorgan)

When President Barack Obama took the oath of office about a year ago, he inherited the biggest economic mess since the 1930's: millions of Americans losing their homes to foreclosure and their jobs to a steadily deteriorating economy, huge budget deficits fueled by tax cuts for the wealthy and two wars his predecessor simply put on the national credit card, mushrooming national debt and some of the biggest barons on Wall Street in financial collapse.

A year later, we take stock. The President's State of the Union speech provided a good overview. A new document just released by the U.S. Senate's Democratic Policy Committee, which I chair, takes a similar look at the challenges we faced in 2009 and the work the President and Democrats in Congress accomplished to keep the economy from completely collapsing.

The Bush recession was wide and deep, as difficult as we've seen since Herbert Hoover's Great Depression. It took much of the past year to enact the economic rescue program and put it in place. We are now beginning to see some significant results.

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