Economy & Budget

Congress should investigate life-cycle budgeting for infrastructure

Transportation Committee Chairman Rep. John Mica (R-FL) recently held field hearings to investigate possible aspects to a new federal infrastructure bill. With the current state of the economy and a new Congress looking for areas to cut, the committee would be wise to examine the use of a simple and common sense approach: life-cycle budgeting.
Life-cycle budgeting is the transparent and common sense method of forecasting and anticipating all costs associated with a project. These include origination costs, construction and labor costs, as well as maintenance costs as far as fifty years into the future.


Time for Democrats to present a serious plan

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor Thursday regarding the need to reduce Washington spending.

 Mr. President, for two years, Washington Democrats have taken fiscal recklessness to new heights. They’ve spent trillions of dollars we don’t have on things we don’t need and can’t afford.

The amount of red ink Democrats plan to rack up this year alone would exceed all the debt run up by the federal government from its inception through 1984. This recklessness is the reason we’ve seen a national uprising against their policies. Americans have demanded that we reverse this recklessness and restore balance.


When budgets are not pro-life

As the budget showdown in Congress escalates, Republican leaders are claiming the “pro-life mantle” by targeting Planned Parenthood and maneuvering to pass legislation to further restrict abortion. They are doing this even though federal funding of abortions is already prohibited in the Affordable Care Act and the Hyde Amendment.

As a Catholic sister committed to defending the sanctity of human life, I support common ground efforts to protect life by helping pregnant women and preventing abortion. But it’s hypocritical and just plain wrong for lawmakers who tout their pro-life bona fides to then blatantly undermine life with budget proposals that will hurt pregnant women, mothers and children and likely lead more poor women to end their pregnancies. 


The Hill's interview with Commerce Secretary Gary Locke

The Hill: Mr. Secretary, you've just met with the nation's governors - what message did you take away from that meeting? What did they have to say to you?

Commerce Secretary Locke: Well, they're all facing big problems with their budgets, also focusing on reviving their economies and getting more of their people back to work, which is really the issue we're facing here at the national level. The president, of course, has unveiled his 2012 budget proposal, which has called for a freeze on discretionary domestic spending, while making enhancements in things like education and transportation R&D, which means deeper cuts elsewhere. That's what the governors are also doing. They're avoiding across-the-board cuts, trying to focus on the foundations for job recovery and a better future for their children, while, because they have to have balanced budgets, focusing on making cuts elsewhere.


Examining the inefficiencies of U.S. tax code

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, gave these remarks from a committee hearing Tuesday examining how changes to the Tax Reform Act of 1986 have affected the tax code.

Mr. Chairman, thank you for calling this hearing.

At the start, I want everyone to know how much I appreciate the bipartisan spirit with which you are starting the tax reform process. You and your staff have indicated a great willingness to put in the time and energy. You and your staff, along with those on this side, will ask the tough questions about our current tax system. The notion is that we’re not going to simply be treating the tax system as a big ugly piñata. 


Funding cuts jeopardize nuclear non-proliferation

Leaders of both parties and the American people agree that we need to cut the federal budget. With an annual deficit of more than $1.5 trillion and a massive $14.1 trillion national debt, addressing our failed budget policies is a critical national priority. 

Responsible leadership to confront this budget crisis means tough choices. Every federal program and tax policy must come under scrutiny as part of a long-term strategy to address our fiscal crisis while ensuring that we continue to make smart investments in our nation’s future and security. 


An opportunity For Democrats to admit the status quo isn’t working

Later today, the House of Representatives will take an important vote.

At bottom, it’s a vote on whether lawmakers in Washington should continue to be exempt from the rules.

Over the past two years, millions of Americans have lost jobs and homes. Tragically, many have stopped looking for work altogether. They think the situation won’t improve.

And when one considers how Democrats in Washington have responded to this historic jobs crisis, it’s no wonder.


America’s Top Chefs need top culinary arts programs

As a girl growing up in a small Texas town, it was beyond my wildest dreams to think I'd one-day be competing on Bravo's Top Chef -- a dream that never would have come true if the Education Department's new “Gainful Employment” rule had been in effect when I applied for federal student aid.

The "Gainful Employment" rule, which is expected to be released in early March, was meant to curb the rising amount of student debt in America. It will limit federal aid to students like me who seek to attend career colleges -- such as my alma mater, the Art Institute of Houston.

The purpose of this rule is to limit the amount of financial aid that students at for-profit colleges and universities could receive if the program they are enrolled in doesn’t lead to “gainful employment.” This would apply to institutions that are failing to provide students with the skills necessary to become gainful employed while repaying their student loans.


Congress must reject the welfare/warfare state

During the past few weeks, Congress has been locked in a battle to pass a continuing resolution to fund government operations through September. Both supporters and opponents of the bill, HR 1, claim it is a serious attempt to reduce federal spending. However, an examination of the details of the bill call that claim into question. 

For one thing, the oft-cited assertion that HR 1 reduces spending by $99 billion is misleading. The $99 billion figure merely represents the amount that HR 1 reduces spending from the President’s proposed Fiscal Year 2011 budget - not reductions in actual spending. Trying to claim credit for a reduction in spending based on cuts in proposed spending is like claiming someone is following a diet because he had only five slices of pizza when he intended to have 10 slices!


Importance of the United States Institute of Peace

From a national security standpoint, the recent decision by the House of Representatives to eliminate the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) is not only wrong, but unwise. 

Cutting $42 million – what we spend in 3 hours in Afghanistan – not only eliminates a bipartisan institution, but weakens America's ability to prevent violent conflicts overseas and sends the message to the world that America cares little about peace.

USIP came into being after the Vietnam War sharply divided our nation. It was founded during the Reagan administration in the hopes that America would lead the way in peacemaking and peace-building.