Economy & Budget

Pass a 'clean' continuing resolution

I want to say to the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, how often he and I have said, you know, when we have these impasses, we need a clean CR. This CR is unclean. This CR will not get us to where you say you want to get, Mr. Chairman, and that's not shutting down the government. Because you know and I know the President will not sign this bill.

Why? Because you put in poison pills that you know are unacceptable to him. Why? So you can get the votes on your side of the aisle to vote for your bill to keep the government open.

Why is that difficult?

Because so many of your folks, unless they get 100 percent, are prepared to shut down the government.


Finally, a serious budget

It's fitting that President Obama announced his re-election campaign the same week House Republicans unveiled our 2012 budget plan. The two events are inextricably linked.

If President Obama were not facing re-election in 2012, his budget proposal for that year might have been quite different. It might have been serious. 

Instead of a substantive blueprint for steering the country out of a debt crisis, however, President Obama produced a budget document only a campaign consultant could love. A transparent exercise in political pandering and risk avoidance, the signature feature of Obama's budget is an unwavering commitment to avoid touching entitlements with a 10-foot pole. Even the recommendations of the president's own debt commission were largely shunned lest any key constituencies take offense.


Block grants: The best medicine for Medicaid

Washington’s way of doing things is not working. For far too long, the solution has been to hope that problems will fix themselves or disappear entirely. Unfortunately, such an outcome is rarely, if ever, reality. When solutions have been proposed inside the Beltway, they have usually been tame and, to an extent, simply “feel good" lip service.

This status quo mentality is no longer acceptable.


The GOP budget: Restoring America's promise

Last Congress, in an unprecedented failure, House Democrats neglected to pass or even propose a budget, giving themselves a blank check to irresponsibly spend too much, tax too much and borrow too much. This year, President Obama and the Democrats have again chosen not to produce a credible plan to implement serious spending cuts or to resolve the current budget mess. 

What’s worse, President Obama’s disappointing budget proposal released in February provides no vision for the future, except to punt on the drivers of our debt, accelerate our country down a path to bankruptcy and rob our children of a future full of America’s promise, prosperity and security.


Enough already! It’s time to amend the lead law

After almost three years of bickering over the law regulating lead in children’s products, a comprehensive amendment is finally up for discussion in the House of Representatives. It’s about time.

In August 2008, the 110th Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) in an overreaction to notorious lead-in-paint toy recalls. Claiming that weak regulation “caused” these violations of law (lead-in-paint has been illegal for decades), consumer groups coined a slogan to sum it up: “There is NO safe level of lead”. Stooping low to sow fear, they have even warned the CPSC about the perils of bicycle licking and playing brass instruments in the school band. Their lead slogan has been repeated endlessly to justify a stifling, over-reaching law which has accomplished little but damaged many fine companies, killed jobs and depressed markets. The CPSIA deems companies "guilty until proven innocent" by forcing them to test products over and over again at huge expense to prove compliance with the new lead standard.


Taking a sustainable, equitable path forward on budget

For years, Republican budgets have under-invested in America’s future, while shifting more cost and uncertainty onto average Americans, in order to benefit people who are already well-off. The Republican 2012 budget marks the high point of this 30 year battle by undermining critical middle-class protections while giving more help to those who don’t need it.

The Republican budget would make draconian reductions to key government services, environmental programs and safety protections while ignoring America’s fraying infrastructure. Medicare inefficiencies and unfairness are locked in for 60 million Americans for the next half-century while everyone under 55 is subjected to healthcare cuts that make a mockery of Republican campaign charges during the last elections.

In the areas of military spending and skyrocketing tax expenditures, Republicans merely nibble around the edges. There is a bipartisan appetite to reduce military spending. The House of Representatives has shown this is possible with the bipartisan vote to eliminate the F-35 alternate engine. If Ron Paul and Barney Frank can find $100 billion in military savings, then a bipartisan budget can do better.


The FY 2012 budget: Our blueprint for the future

The federal government has a very serious addiction to spending. It’s not a Republican problem or a Democrat problem – it’s an American problem. This spending addiction is dangerous and has contributed to one of the worst recessions of our lifetime. House Republicans are breaking the addiction by proposing important spending cuts in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 budget proposal. 

Spending cuts are essential if we’re going to create a better environment for jobs in America. The FY 2012 budget would cut government spending by $6.2 trillion over 10 years and lower the corporate tax rate to 25%.  Furthermore, the blueprint aims to balance the budget, excluding interest payments, by 2015.

The FY 2012 budget, introduced by the House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, includes comprehensive tax reform, puts patients back at the center of health-care decision making, and opens up more energy resources in our homeland. 


US financial problems similar to Jefferson's debt

There is something downright red-white-and-blue about the abiding American ambivalence toward debt.

After several years spent paying down personal debt during the Great Recession, the American people, in their role as consumers, have pulled out the plastic. Banks are continuing to rein in credit card debt by reducing limits and writing off bad loans, but overall, U.S. consumer credit is once again rising.

Yet many of the very same Americans who are busy once more maxing out their credit cards are, at the same time, in their guise as voters, urging their elected representatives to cut, cut, cut our ever-increasing governmental budget deficits and contain our ever-growing national debt.


Lower US gasoline consumption

A new nationwide survey from the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) finds that 90 percent of respondents are concerned about gasoline prices, and 89 percent are concerned about Mid-East oil dependence. A quick look at the gasoline pump or the nightly news explains why. The 40 cent increase in the price of gasoline last month has pushed prices to the highest level ever for the first week of spring, and the turmoil in the mid-East is likely to combine with the onset of the summer driving season to result in the highest annual average gasoline price ever and the highest household expenditure total on gasoline ever.  

Low and middle income consumers today are facing a harsh reality – consumers are on track to see average yearly household spending on gasoline exceed $2,800, a historic high when it comes to household expenditures on gasoline. Gasoline will likely be the single largest expense in their cost of driving this year, exceeding even the cost of owning a vehicle.  


Paul Ryan's budget is a positive step

Fiscal Commission and Moment of Truth project co-chairs Erskine Bowles and former Sen. Alan Simpson released the following statement offering their thoughts on the FY 2012 budget proposal unveiled by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

The budget released this morning by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan is a serious, honest, straightforward approach to addressing our nation's enormous fiscal challenges. We applaud him for his work in putting forward a proposal which will reduce the country's deficit by approximately the same amount as the plan of the President's Fiscal Commission.