Archives For Budgets.

2015-03-16_08-52-01WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans now in charge of Congress offer their budget blueprint this week with the pledge to balance the nation’s budget within a decade and rein in major programs such as food stamps and Medicare.

More pressing for many Republicans, however, is easing automatic budget cuts set to slam the military.

SOURCE:GOP to offer budget blueprint with Medicare, food stamp cuts – Yahoo Finance.

It is not accident that the GOP wants to take money away from helping  the poor and give it to our already super extravagant military budgets to the tune of exactly $50 billion on each budget. But that is just the first step in the process. The overall goal as the article mentions is to eliminate Medicaid and food stamps entirely from the federal budget and turn it over to the states. Can Medicare be very far behind??

As a stop gap measure the GOP wants to just throw a given lump sum of some undetermined value to the states and then walk away.  The problem with that strategy is that all the States must balance their budget but that is rightly not a requirement for the federal budget. Sending it to the States would mean that in times of downturns helping the poor would have to take a big hit. It is not as if suddenly just working two minimum wage jobs would meet a poor family’s needs during hard times.

Will all those senior citizens who vote exclusively GOP tolerate this happening? If their purse is robbed will they look for other political approaches? I kind of think they finally will. Yes, we have to do something about balancing our federal budgets but doing it on the backs of the poor and with no pain in the military budgets is NOT the way to do it.  We, 5% of the world’s population, spend more than the rest of the world combined on our war-machine.

If we just quit trying to be the policemen of the world and pared our military budgets to be on parity with everyone else our overall budgets would quickly balance. We don’t need to be hip deep in all regional conflicts in the world.  That practice just makes too many enemies who then want to do us harm. We need to step back and tell our world neighbors to take care of their own backyards and we will do the same.

PLEASE DON’T BALANCE OUR BUDGETS ON THE BACKS OF THE POOR.

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I try to follow my hero’s advice and like everyone but this is one of those times that proves difficult to do that.  Balancing the budget on the backs of the poor is a very spiteful way to even try to accomplish that task.

 

The Irony Of It All…

November 1, 2013

Medicare CardI have been kind of watching the preliminaries for this latest “super committee” forming in Washington to come to some sort of budget deal and I am not impressed. On the one hand my Republican friends often scream that Medicare doesn’t pay enough for the services rendered. That doctors are dropping out of the system due to not making enough money. And then comes the first salvo of this latest round of budgeting. The first thing the GOP comes up with is cuts to Medicare??

I know that many on that side of the aisle are for a total defunding of Medicare and instead just giving seniors a small voucher and then put them out into the private insurance system to fend for themselves. So, maybe this all makes sense from a higher level than I realize. Cut Medicare so that it becomes so underfunded that no doctor will accept patients from that system. David Stockman who was Reagan’s budget director called that “Starving the beast”. That is continue to cut taxes (income) until the government is drowning in deficits. In that regard the GOP has been somewhat successful lately.

I am still on the fence as to whether the GOP will go the way of the Whig party. If they actually do attempt to “privatize” Social Security I think there will be enough of us seniors to insure that they disappear from the landscape. Those Tea Party folks just don’t seem to want anyone to have affordable healthcare; that is except those in the 1%.  Their latest hit against the Affordable Care Act is that with so many new people being able to see a doctor that some physician groups are saying they must limit their patient contact to no more than 15 minutes to keep up with the case loads. They say that is proof that Obamacare will wreck our healthcare in this country. It never seems to occur to them that they need to try to figure out a way to increase our doctors and nurses to meet the load. Maybe a good start would be to help medical students with the bone crushing debt many have when they finally become practicing doctors. These Tea Party folks are just “anti-” to the bone.

But getting back to the budgeting process, We have not actually had a budget from the folks in Washington in over five years. This year both the House and the Senate created bills but then failed to come together for the reconciliation process because the House GOP speaker would not allow it to happen.  With that in mind I don’t see much hope for this latest committee to accomplish much.

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JusticeAttorney General Eric Holder says he will not need to furlough any Justice Department employees in the current fiscal year.

The attorney general says he will be able to avoid furloughs because of additional money in the recently enacted legislation, combined with aggressive steps to freeze hiring and cut contracting and other costs

via Holder: No furloughs at Justice Department – CBS News.

I’m sure the purpose of this article was to show how well the Justice Department was run. They brag that they don’t need to lay off workers because they found the necessary 10% budget cuts elsewhere. Being the contrarian that I am while it is a good thing to not have to lay off anyone, to me it shows the opposite of good fiscal management. It means their budgets were bloated to start with and now some of the bloat had to be removed.

I know from having to do budgets in the corporate world that budgeting and expense planning are as much of a game as anything else. You always put more into the budget because you know that some of it will be cut.  The secret was to know where the line is.  If you bloat your budget too much  to where it is obvious that you have done that then a much heavier knife will be used and you end up a loser. If you are naive enough to only put down what you actually need then you also suffer the consequences.

Knowing all these games I was almost in favor of the sequestered  10% across the board cuts to government spending. Where the cuts do real damage like in the recent case of air traffic controllers they can be amended. Where there are cases like the above with the Justice department we should maybe be looking at additional cuts in next year’s budgets.  I’m sure government agencies are not immune from this typical corporate gaming.

But then we come to the defense department all of this stuff seems to be moot. Every year, at least for this millennium, the defense departments bloats their budgets beyond any actual need and then the congress adds even more. Defense department spending has increased dramatically during this period while everything else has suffered. I am hoping that the recent talks about serious reviews of the DOD budgets are well, serious.

The other thing we need to get serious about is healthcare costs. Since we have thrown out the most obvious solution that the rest of the world has discovered to these ever rising costs (that is single-payer system) we will have to find a unique solution.  Reigning in costs means giving some people and corporations less money for their services or finding more efficient ways to do things.  I have not really studied this area much but I seem to remember that there are billions, if not trillions , of dollars wasted each year due to medical errors and over-billing Medicare. Lets get serious about those things too. Maybe they need a sequester too. 🙂

I know that some folks will look at this post and the previous one and see a conflict. Since I am a pragmatist  I like to look at all the angles. You never know which one might be right for a given situation.

Finally Some Sanity???

April 26, 2013

In his first major policy speech Wednesday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel signaled he will be taking a hard look at the way the Pentagon spends its money and at whether the US military needs quite so many officers….

That’s because too often the weapons systems that Pentagon officials buy “are vastly more expensive and technologically risky than what was promised or budgeted for.” And the hard truth is that the most pressing problems the world faces “do not necessarily lend themselves to being resolved by conventional military strength,” he said.

“Indeed the most destructive and horrific attack ever on the United States came not from fleets of ships, bombers, and armored divisions, but from 19 fanatical men wielding box cutters and one-way plane tickets.”

Source: Hagel invokes Eisenhower as he signals era of austerity at Pentagon (+video) – CSMonitor.com.

Maybe we will finally get at least a small dose of sanity in our Defense Department spending. For way too long this department of the federal government has been given carte blanche to spend whatever they want. There has literally been no accounting for the spending; even the department itself has no idea where the money goes!  This would not be so sad if it were not for the fact that the DOD amounts to half of our discretionary spending in this country. Far far more than any other country in the world.  Here we are reducing many social services while continuing to expand our spending on weapons systems that have long lost their usefulness.

I pray that secretary Hagel can get a little sanity back into this process. It was taking the two wars started by the Bush administration “off-the-books” that started the latest massive slide in our deficits.  We are spending millions, perhaps billions on drones (no body knows), while continuing to buy multimillion dollar planes that serve little purpose other than to enrich a particular representative’s electoral district. A fellow blogger friend who lives in Arizona mentions an aircraft graveyard there that contains thousands of mothballed planes. Maybe it is time to pull a few of them out and drop the billions being spent for new ones.

We could easily drop the defense department budgets in half and still maintain a military superiority fifty times greater than any other country. Lets get back to spending our tax dollars on our crumbling infrastructure and on our people instead of unneeded bombs and weapons of destruction. Lets finally bring some sanity back into this process….

But I’m just a simple guy so what do I know….

The Republican Budget….

March 15, 2013

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Source: Will Fractured House Republicans Unite on Budget? – ABC News.

“When you’re looking at a budget, you’ve got a watch the gimmicks,” Ryan warned.

Gimmicks indeed.  One of the tools Mr. Ryan proposes to balance his so-called budget plan is the total repeal of Obamacare.  Is he the only one to see that as impossible?   As usual he wants severe cuts to the safety net while actually increasing military spending.  Yes, Mr. Ryan I am “watching the gimmicks”.  Like the battles for Social Security eighty years ago the battle for even a limited version of universal healthcare were hard fought. Does he really think we will simply eliminate them so the rich can get a few more tax cuts?

If you are really serious about your concern for deficit spending you can’t ignore the place where most of our discretionary money goes and that is to the military black hole.  Gimmicks Indeed…..

In order to balance his budget he assumes that unemployment levels will reach historic all time lows in the coming years.  He assumes that seniors will blindly accept the pennies on the dollar vouchers in place of universal healthcare. Gimmicks Indeed…

I realize that these budgets are purely political documents so gimmicks are the primary tool to make them balance. That doesn’t bother me too much.  What bothers me is the seemingly heartless approach that Mr. Ryan takes toward balancing his budget proposals. But then again he is just being true to his idol Ayn Rand in that regard.