Economy & Budget

Concerned about stock market abuses? Join the club (Sen. Ted Kaufman)

I have spoken on the Senate floor many times about the importance of transparency in our markets. Without transparency, there is little hope for effective regulation. And without effective regulation, the very credibility of our markets is threatened.

But I am concerned recent changes in our markets have outpaced regulatory understanding and, accordingly, pose a threat to the stability and credibility of our equities markets. Chief among these is high frequency trading.

Over the past few years, the daily volume of stocks trading in microseconds -- the hallmark of high frequency trading -- has exploded from 30 to 70 percent of the U.S. market. Money and talent are surging into a high frequency trading industry that is red hot, expanding daily into other financial markets not just in the United States but in global capital markets as well.

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Oh the irony! Oh the incompetence! (Rep. Paul Broun)

On Friday, President Obama appointed the last few members of his “National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform” a.k.a. the debt commission.  I find it ironic that Democrats are so addicted to their big-spending ways that they need other people to force them to stop spending away our children’s future. But let’s not hold our breath waiting on this commission to make an intervention.

I have several concerns with establishing a debt commission, specifically one compromised of outside “experts.” For example, how much will this commission cost? Commonsense tells us that a debt commission should not add one penny to the debt, but the President’s plan allocates money for items such as travel expenditures.  In the past, commissions and “Czars” have been allocated millions of dollars, have accomplished little, and often used the money for “field hearings” in places like Vegas.  So, will the very existence of this debt commission ironically cause more fiscal irresponsibility? 

Second, how much authority does the President believe he can give this commission?  The only way this commission could have any affect on the budget is if Democrats plan to enact its suggestions.  Will we spend money and then not even listen to their recommendation?  If Democrats in Washington are serious about reducing debt—they will stop the big spending now! Instead, they are pushing through another stimulus, introducing budgets with record-high deficits, ramming through a government take-over of health care, and cap and tax. 

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Obama's coast guard cuts: a recipe for disaster (Rep. John Mica)

The cuts to the U.S. Coast Guard budget proposed by the Obama Administration are nothing short of a recipe for disaster and could severely undermine the nation’s port and maritime security.

The Coast Guard is our first line of defense against any threats of waterborne terrorism, and the service leads U.S. efforts to stop the flow of illegal drugs and immigrants into the country.  Maritime safety, search and rescue and marine environmental protection are other critical missions performed every day by the capable men and women who serve in the Coast Guard.

It is outrageous that the Administration would propose cutting personnel, equipment and assets so essential to American security and safety. 

This budget would reduce funds for port, waterway and coastal security by more than $100 million.  It would also eliminate five Maritime Safety and Security Teams (MSST): specially trained anti-terrorist teams responsible for providing security at our largest ports.  Included among the cuts would be the MSST station at our nation’s second largest port, the Port of New York/New Jersey.

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The Big Question: How can the deficit panel make their work count?

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:

What could President Barack Obama's deficit commission do to have a strong effect on policymakers?

(Read today's answers after the jump.)

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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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