Facts were sometimes used as blunt instruments as the four remaining GOP presidential candidates hammered away at each other in the last debate before Saturday’s South Carolina primary.
- Santorum and Romney tangled on the Massachusetts health care law. Santorum wrongly claimed it was a “government-run” program. Romney erred when he said everybody was covered by private insurance, ignoring Medicare and his own expansion of Medicaid.
- Santorum also fouled up when he claimed the state has “the highest health insurance premiums of any state in the country.” Seven states and Washington, D.C., were higher in 2010, the most recent year for which figures are available.
- Gingrich claimed Romney appointees “funded” an abortion clinic. The truth is that an autonomous state agency approved a tax-exempt loan — not direct taxpayer funding — and Romney said he wasn’t aware until after he left office.
- Gingrich, slamming Jimmy Carter, said “unemployment went to 10.8 percent.” It did — nearly two years after Ronald Reagan took office. But it never exceeded 7.8 percent under Carter.
- Gingrich claimed that “none” of the ideas on the website of his Center for Health Transformation resemble Obama’s program. Actually, we found a call there for an individual mandate, which Gingrich himself repeated as recently as last May.
- Romney slammed Gingrich’s claim to have “helped” Reagan create jobs, saying Reagan mentioned Gingrich only once in his published diaries. That’s true. Reagan wrote that the young congressman’s 1983 suggestion to freeze spending “would cripple our defense program,” and he rejected it.
- Ron Paul, a physician, claimed medicine “worked rather well” in the early 1960s. That was before Medicare, when in fact rising health care costs were forcing many of the elderly onto public assistance or charity care.
Romney vs. Santorum: Massachusetts Health Care
Former Sen. Rick Santorum and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney both strayed from the facts at times as Santorum tried to bolster his claim that Romney’s health care law was a “disaster,” and Romney fought back saying Santorum’s claims were “wrong.” We’ll take that spirited exchange point by point:
Santorum wrong on “government-run” health care: Santorum called the law “a government-run health care system.” That’s not true. Like the federal law signed by Obama, the Massachusetts law doesn’t create a system in which the government is the insurer, or provider of health care. Instead, both laws mandated that all residents have insurance, expanding business for private carriers. They also offered subsidies to help lower-income residents buy private insurance, and they expanded Medicaid.
Romney wrong on “private” insurance: Romney was correct when he shot back that 92 percent of Massachusetts residents already had insurance in the state before the law went into effect. But he went too far when he said, “They still had the same private insurance. And the 8 percent of the uninsured, they bought private insurance, not government insurance.” Neither statement is entirely true.
Many of those insured previously were covered by Medicare (for those age 65 or older) or Medicaid (for low-income residents), which are both government programs, not “private insurance.”
Santorum right on added coverage (with a caveat): And as Santorum correctly noted, Romney’s program covered the uninsured in part by expanding Medicaid for some, and by providing state subsidies for the purchase of private insurance for some others.
Santorum: “[O]ver half the people that came on the rolls since you put Romneycare into effect are fully subsidized by the state of Massachusetts. And a lot of those are on the Medicaid program.
That’s correct: Of the 411,722 individuals who have gained insurance since the law was passed, 47 percent, or 193,393, have joined MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program. The rest are on private insurance, with 77,330 buying their own insurance on the individual market and 158,973 getting plans with the help of state subsidies, as of Dec. 31, 2010.
In Romney’s defense, however, it should be noted that the ailing economy played a role in boosting the number of persons on Medicaid. In fact, the Massachusetts Medicaid Policy Institute estimates that 76 percent of the increase in Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries would have happened without the law, and that only 61,000 of new MassHealth enrollees can be attributed to the legislation.
Another 75,000 are on fully subsidized plans, according to the Health Connector, the state exchange. All told, 65 percent of the newly insured are on fully subsidized insurance, whether through Medicaid or private insurance. So Santorum is correct, with the caveat that much of the Medicaid expansion would have occurred with or without Romney’s law.
As for Romney’s claim that “nothing changed” for the 92 percent of residents that already had insurance, that ignores the fact that they, too, are subject to the law requiring them to continue to have insurance — even if they leave their jobs, which is where most gained their coverage.
Santorum’s Dubious $8 Billion Claim: Santorum also said the state law was “$8 billion more expensive than under the current law.” (We assume he means the previous law.)
That questionable number comes from a conservative think tank that tallied not just the cost to the state government since the law was enacted in 2006, but also “new health care costs to the federal government and on state residents and businesses.” The June 2011 study came from the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University.
A much lower estimate was issued by the nonpartisan Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, whichestimated that the law cost $707 million in fiscal 2010, with the state paying half of that and the federal government paying the rest.
Santorum wrong on premium costs: Santorum claimed Massachusetts premiums are the highest in the country, 27 percent more than average. Neither claim is true.
Santorum: Massachusetts has the highest health insurance premiums of any state in the country. It is 27 percent more expensive than the average state in the country.
In fact, seven states and the District of Columbia, which got top honors, had higher premiums for family coverage, according to a report by the Commonwealth Fund. Massachusetts had held the No. 1 spot in 2008 and 2009, but family premiums fell slightly to $14,606 in 2010. That’s only 5.3 percent more than the state average, nowhere near Santorum’s figure of 27 percent.
Romney’s right on premium costs: Romney responded to Santorum by saying:
Romney: Massachusetts, by the way, had the highest insurance costs before the plan was put in place and after. But fortunately, the rate of growth has slowed down a little less than the overall nation.
That’s right. The state’s slide in premium costs for 2010 does indeed mean the “rate of growth has slowed down,” as Romney said. We’d also note that premium costs in the state accounted for a lower percentage of the median household income than many other states.
Santorum misleads on waiting times: Santorum also gave a misleading view of the law’s impact on waiting times to see doctors:
Santorum: Over 50 percent of the doctors now are not seeing new patients — primary care doctors are not seeing new patients. Those who do get to see a patient are waiting 44 days on average for the care.
Those numbers come from reports by the Massachusetts Medical Society, which said in 2009 that the average wait time in the state for both family medicine and internal medicine was 44 days. But the group has been lamenting long wait times and doctor shortages for many years, since before the law was enacted, a point it noted in a 2011 report titled “Access to Health Care in Massachusetts: The Implications of Health Care Reform.” The medical society said that “primary care shortages continue in Massachusetts, but they predate health reform by many years, and mirror shortages in many other areas of the country.”
Also, the average wait time for family medicine physicians was down to 36 days on average in 2011, but the wait time for internal medicine physicians was up to 48 days. It’s hard to draw firm conclusions on the law’s impact. The wait time for internal medicine was 47 days in 2005, a year before the law was enacted. Santorum is correct that more than half of primary care physicians are no longer accepting new patients.
The medical society said the issues of doctor shortages and primary care physicians not seeing new patients weren’t solely due to the health care law, but it had contributed to the problem. “Although these challenges are not all a direct result of health care reform, in some cases health care reform has exacerbated the situation,” the society said.
Romney’s rosy view of premiums: Romney also used the most favorable estimates in describing a decrease in premiums for plans on the individual market:
Romney: Individuals who wanted to buy their own insurance saw their rates — when they were not part of a big group — saw their rates drop by some 40 percent with our plan.
It’s true that MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, who advised the Romney administration on the health care law, told us that individual market premiums dropped by as much as 40 percent. But some of that was due to young, healthy persons buying cheaper plans in that market after the law. That brought the average price down. He told us the decrease would be smaller if an adjustment was made for the less generous benefits in many of the newly purchased policies.
We found an 18 percent decrease in premiums when we looked at the individual market premium in 2006, per person per month, and compared that with the premium in 2008.
Santorum’s “failure” claim: Finally, Santorum said the Massachusetts law was “an abject failure.” In fact, the law succeeded in achieving its main goal: reducing the number of uninsured. As of the end of 2010, 98.1 percent of state residents, and 99.8 percent of children, had insurance.
Gingrich vs. Romney: Funding Abortion
Gingrich revisited an issue that came up in 2007, saying that when Romney was governor — and after he had become an abortion opponent — “a branch of the government which included his appointees did agree to fund an abortion clinic for Planned Parenthood.” That’s true as far as it goes — but there’s more to the story.
Two months before Romney left office, Massachusetts’ economic development agency granted initial approval to a $5 million tax-exempt bond — not direct taxpayer funding — for a Planned Parenthood clinic in Worcester that would provide abortions, according to the Boston Globe.
And though Gingrich is correct that the agency, MassDevelopment, was controlled by Romney appointees, it was an autonomous authority and not under the governor’s direct control.
Romney campaign spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said in 2007 that Romney was simply unaware the project was under consideration, and that Romney would have attempted to block it if he had known about it.
In a statement to the Globe, Ranch Kimball, the chairman of the authority and a Romney appointee, said he did not brief the governor’s office on the initial approval of the loans in late 2006. Final approval of the project came in February 2007, a month after Romney left office, and was ultimately approved by Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick, an abortion rights supporter.
Gingrich Flunks History
Gingrich claimed that unemployment hit 10.8 percent under Democratic President Jimmy Carter:
Gingrich: Under Jimmy Carter, we had the wrong laws, the law regulations, the wrong leadership, and we killed jobs, we had inflation, we went to 10.8 percent unemployment. Under Ronald Reagan, we had the right jobs, the right laws, the right regulators, the right leadership. We created 16 million new jobs.
That’s wrong. The jobless rate never was higher than 7.8 percent during Carter’s presidency, and was as low as 5.6 percent.
The rate did later rise to 10.8 percent in November and December of 1982 — but that was nearly two years into Reagan’s first term. The rate declined slowly from there, and was still 7.3 percent when Reagan was sworn in for his second term. It did not get below 6 percent until late 1987, and was 5.4 percent when Reagan left office in January, 1989.
Romney vs. Gingrich: Reagan’s Diaries
With Gingrich claiming credit for helping create jobs during Reagan’s presidency, Romney cracked that Gingrich rated just one mention in the Reagan diaries, and not a particularly flattering mention at that.
Romney: I mean, Mr. Speaker, it was — you talk about all the things you did with Ronald Reagan and the Reagan revolution and the jobs created during the Reagan years and so forth. I mean, I looked at the Reagan diary. You’re mentioned once in Ronald Reagan’s diary.
And in the diary, he says you had an idea in a meeting of young congressmen, and it wasn’t a very good idea and he dismissed it. That’s the entire mention.
Just to check, we did a quick word search on the The Reagan Diaries – a daily diary President Reagan kept by hand — and as Romney said, there was but one mention of Gingrich by name. It came in an entry for Monday, Jan. 3, 1983 — when Gingrich had been in the House barely four years.
The Reagan Diaries: A tough budget meeting & how to announce the deficits we’ll have — they are horrendous & yet the Dems. in Cong. are saying there is no room for budget cuts. Met with a group of young Repub. Congressmen. Newt Gingrich has a proposal for freezing the budget at the 1983 level. It’s a tempting idea except that it would cripple our defense program. And if we make an exception on that every special interest group will be asking for the same.
Given his tough budget-cutting stance in the 2012 campaign, Gingrich might be quite proud his budget-freezing proposal then as a young congressman from Georgia’s 6th district. But at the time, the Gipper didn’t think the idea was too practical.
Gingrich vs. Obama: Health Care
Gingrich — under attack from Santorum for once supporting a government mandate requiring individuals to obtain health insurance — denied that anything like Obama’s health care program could be found on the website of Gingrich’s Center for Health Transformation.
Gingrich: And the fact is, I helped found the Center for Health Transformation. I wrote a book called “Saving Lives and Saving Money” in 2002. You can go to healthtransformation.net and you’ll see hundreds of ideas, none of which resemble Barack Obama’s programs.
That’s not quite true. Wayne Oliver, a former lobbyist for the Georgia Pharmacy Association and a vice president at the center, wrote an op-ed that appeared in the Atlanta Journal Constitution April 23, 2009 on the so-called public option. Oliver wrote in opposition to a public-option plan, which was one of the options being considered by the Democrats at the beginning of the debate on a federal health care law. In the op-ed, Oliver says: “Everyone should be required to have health insurance coverage; or, if they are opposed to insurance, they should post a bond.”
That same position was also voiced by Gingrich — most recently during a May 15, 2011 interview on “Meet the Press.” He said, “I’ve said consistently we ought to have some requirement that you either have health insurance or you post a bond … or in some way you indicate you’re going to be held accountable.” And he acknowledged that would be “a variation” of the individual mandate idea.
In addition, the center published a book called, “Paper Kills 2.0: How Healthcare IT Can Save Your Life and Your Money.” The book, which is promoted on the center’s website, advocates for improving patient outcomes by upgrading and expanding the use of electronic patient records. Gingrich and former Democratic Senate Leader Tom Daschle wrote the book’s foreword. Daschle was Obama’s first choiceto become the health and human services secretary and oversee his administration’s effort to change the health care laws to make insurance more affordable and accessible. The Affordable Care Act contains numerous health information technology provisions, as did the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which is known as the stimulus bill.
Paul: Medicine ‘Worked Rather Well’ Before Medicare
Texas Rep. Ron Paul, a physician, claimed medicine “worked rather well” in the early 1960s:
Paul: I had the privilege of practicing medicine in the early ’60s before we had any government. It worked rather well and there was nobody out in the street suffering with no medical care.
That was before Medicare was signed into law in 1965. But as early as 1959, during the Republican administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare issued a report to Congress stating that the rising cost of health care was forcing some people onto public assistance or charity from hospitals, and more so for the elderly than for younger persons:
HEW, 1959: The rising cost of medical care, and particularly of hospital care, over the past decade has been felt by persons of all ages. Older persons have larger than average medical care needs. As a group they use about two-and-a-half times as much general hospital care as the average for persons under age 65, and they have special need for long-term institutional care. Their incomes are generally considerably lower than those of the rest of the population, and in many cases are either fixed or declining in amount. They have less opportunity than employed persons to spread the cost burden through health insurance. A larger proportion of the aged than of other persons must turn to public assistance for payment of their medical bills or rely on ‘free’ care from hospitals and physicians.
Santorum vs. Obama: Cutting Veterans’ Benefits
Santorum criticized Obama for proposing cuts in military veterans’ benefits.
Santorum: We have the president of the United States who said he is going to cut veterans benefits, cut our military, at a time when these folks are four, five, six, seven tours, coming back, in and out of jobs, sacrificing everything for this country.
Much has been written about the president’s plans to reduce the size and cost of the U.S. military, but what about veterans’ benefits? The president’s deficit reduction plan does indeed propose some changes in military health and retirement programs. The plan would:
- Impose a $200 annual fee on TRICARE for Life recipients. TRICARE for Life is a supplemental health insurance program for veterans 65 and over. It covers certain out-of-pocket expenses not covered by Medicare. Currently, TRICARE for Life does not charge fees or premiums. The administration estimates the proposal would save about $6.7 billion over 10 years.
- Increase prescription drug benefit co-pays. The administration estimates this proposal would save $20.6 billion over 10 years.
- Create a commission to study military retirement benefits. The deficit-reduction plan says the current benefits are “generous” and “out of line with most other Government or private retirement plans.”
The proposal was submitted in September, and has not become law.
– by Lori Robertson, Robert Farley, Eugene Kiely, Brooks Jackson and D’Angelo Gore.
Full details of Rep. Paul’s plan are available at: http://www.ronpaul2012.com/the-issues/ron-paul-plan-to-restore-america/
America is the greatest nation in human history. Our respect for individual liberty, free markets, and limited constitutional government produced the strongest, most prosperous country in the world. But, we have drifted far from our founding principles, and America is in crisis. Ron Paul’s “Restore America” plan slams on the brakes and puts America on a return to constitutional government. It is bold but achievable. Through the bully pulpit of the presidency, the power of the Veto, and, most importantly, the united voice of freedom-loving Americans, we can implement fundamental reforms.
DELIVERS A TRUE BALANCED BUDGET IN YEAR THREE OF DR. PAUL’S PRESIDENCY:
Ron Paul is the ONLY candidate who doesn’t just talk about balancing the budget, but who has a full plan to get it done.
Cuts $1 trillion in spending during the first year of Ron Paul’s presidency, eliminating five cabinet departments (Energy, HUD, Commerce, Interior, and Education), abolishing the Transportation Security Administration and returning responsibility for security to private property owners, abolishing corporate subsidies, stopping foreign aid, ending foreign wars, and returning most other spending to 2006 levels.
Honors our promise to our seniors and veterans, while allowing young workers to opt out. Block grants Medicaid and other welfare programs to allow States the flexibility and ingenuity they need to solve their own unique problems without harming those currently relying on the programs.
|CUTTING GOVERNMENT WASTE:
Makes a 10% reduction in the federal workforce, slashes Congressional pay and perks, and curbs excessive federal travel. To stand with the American People, President Paul will take a salary of $39,336, approximately equal to the median personal income of the American worker.
Lowers the corporate tax rate to 15%, making America competitive in the global market. Allows American companies to repatriate capital without additional taxation, spurring trillions in new investment. Extends all Bush tax cuts. Abolishes the Death Tax. Ends taxes on personal savings, allowing families to build a nest egg.
Repeals ObamaCare, Dodd-Frank, and Sarbanes-Oxley. Mandates REINS-style requirements for thorough congressional review and authorization before implementing any new regulations issued by bureaucrats. President Paul will also cancel all onerous regulations previously issued by Executive Order.
Conducts a full audit of the Federal Reserve and implements competing currency legislation to
Dr. Paul is the only candidate with a plan to cut spending and truly balance the budget. This is the only plan that will deliver what America needs in these difficult times: Major regulatory relief, large spending cuts, sound monetary policy, and a balanced budget.
An interesting development in the GOP presidential race this week was the announcement by former House Speaker and GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich that he will unveil a “21st Century Contract With America” next week in Iowa, according to the Des Moines Register.
The plan is modelled after the original Contract With America released by the Republican Party in 1994, just weeks before the GOP reclaimed the majority in the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years.
Gingrich said the new Contract With America would be “10 times deeper and more comprehensive than 1994,” noting that the original “didn’t fundamentally change the trajectory of America.”
The original contract which Gingrich promoted as Speaker of the House called for smaller government, lower taxes and greater public accountability. Gingrich said the new contract’s ideas are “very big.” “They’re exactly what Abraham Lincoln would have campaigned on,” he said.
Gingrich is a man of ideas and has been the stand out candidate in the Republican debates over the last few months despite much of the media attention going to the other perceived three leading candidates. His campaign had been beset with challenges, including the early resignation of much of his staff and headlines about his comments on a GOP-plan on Medicare. The interesting thing about Gingrich compared to the other candidates is that he may actually have the right strategy and politics has always been a marathon not a sprint.
The Republican field certainly sense the weakness in President Obama’s re-election bid however, the fact that talk still looms over other potential entries does go some way to demonstrating that GOP supporters are not entirely convinced with the current field. I base the current dis-satisfaction or uncertainty due to the large focus on Romney, Bachmann & Perry. Little or no attention has been paid to the other candidates in the field in comparative terms. I do predict however, that Gingrich could be the dark horse to break out from the pack if he continues to perform well in the debates and a new Contract With America could blow the other candidates plans out of the water.
“One of the major themes of next year if I’m the nominee, is going to be that President Obama is the best food stamps president in American history, and I’ll be the best pay check president in American history,” Gingrich said at a campaign stop in Iowa. “And I will be happy to debate Obama on any university campus in the country, including Harvard and Berkeley. I’m not afraid to debate this president anywhere, any time, on any topic.”
Gingrich is the type of candidate who could virtually defeat President Obama at the stump like no other candidate. He certainly possesses all the skills, knowledge and talent to lead the nation and has that presidential like voice however, many are questioning if he has left it too late. Gingrich personally refers to late-surging candidates such as John McCain and Ronald Reagan as examples of how he can win and views the “New Contract With America,” as the type of new platform he may just need for his campaign.
The secret weapon in Gingrich’s armoury over his fellow GOP candidate’s is the sheer scale and reality of the Obama re-election machine any GOP nominee will face. Speaker Gingrich knows it will take a considerable effort to beat President Obama in a general election campaign with an expected billion dollar campaign war chest. Could it be Gingrich is testing out some theory in the GOP primaries to see if it could prove effective against a big spending President Obama campaign?
The former Speaker said he will release the proposal on September 29 in Des Moines, Iowa. Personally, I always look forward to hearing what the former Speaker has to say and believe beyond individual party politics, he is the most capable politician in terms of bold, fresh, innovative ideas in the field who can provide real solutions to the national problems facing America at present like no other.
I eagerly await the release of his new plan next week.
At a Rose Garden news conference Monday morning, President Obama unveiled the details of his plan to achieve more than $3 trillion in deficit savings over the next decade in part by calling on the wealthy to pay more in taxes.
The proposal, which comes as the bipartisan, bicameral debt-reduction committee gears up for its third hearing Thursday, drew sharply different reactions from members on each side of the aisle, a stark contrast to the mood on Capitol Hill for the first few weeks of the month, when leaders of both parties struck a note of bipartisan cooperation.
Republicans cast Obama’s proposal as an effort to wage “class warfare” and appeal to the Democratic base as the 2012 campaign kicks into high gear. Democrats, meanwhile, praised Obama for promoting a debt-reduction plan that would include both spending cuts and fresh revenue.
President Obama announcing his plan pleaded for “Everybody to do their part so that nobody has to bear too much of the burden on their own.” The plan, however, will likely be deemed dead on arrival by Republicans, who have vowed to reject tax increases as part of any plan to bring down the deficit.
“We can’t just cut our way out of this hole. It’s going to take a balanced approach,” Obama said in the Rose Garden today. “If we’re going to make spending cuts, then it’s only right that we ask everyone to pay their fair share.”
The plan outlined by the president will see the bulk of the savings in the president’s plan come from $1.5 trillion in deficit-reduction through new taxes for high-end earners and $580 billion in cuts to entitlement programs, including $248 billion to Medicare and $72 billion to Medicaid. The all too predictable announcement, sets up my much predicted class warfare situation which sadly, has become all too familiar under this president and which is dividing the nation. The proposal is based on a ten year scale which even in itself, is not realistic as the president will be long left the White House even if he wins re-election in 2012, by the time the plan reaches the midway point.
The plan is like putting a band aid on a deep wound; it is merely papering over the cracks in the Obama economic strategy and policies and does nothing to address the serious overspending witnessed under President Obama.
America is struggling to find a way out of its current economic mire and my belief is that by President Obama resorting to the old answer of raising taxes at the very time when he should be doing the opposite, only goes to highlight the lack of creative and constructive ideas the current administration have in tackling America’s problems. Higher taxes mean fewer jobs; it’s that simple, especially at a time of stagnant growth.
The American people need economic solutions and jobs at this time, but the clear reality is this president is only intent on delivering to his political base and is more interested in his re-election, then providing true leadership and solutions in the interest of the American people. President Obama preaches one message at the podium and then does the complete opposite in his actions every time. It is no wonder his poll numbers are diving and investors confused and lacking confidence in this administration.
The one remaining flicker of hope I had for President Obama being able to prove he is dynamic, a different type of moral, principled leader, who had America’s best interests at heart, have finally been extinguished. I’ll say it for the first time here, America and indeed, the global economy desperately needs a new face in the White House in 2012.
We need someone with sound economic ability and who is prepared to put partisan politics aside and act in the genuine best interests of the nation. If that individual is a Republican, even if it includes tax increases across the board, they must be prepared to do it, if it is the right thing at a point of time in the future. Above all, whoever takes the seat in the Oval office needs to be able to lay out a clear road map for American recovery and return to job creation and good economic times.
I can’t help but think that the Democratic Party made a huge fundamental mistake in 2008, by not helping to elect President Hillary Clinton. I really believe America would’ve been in a much better place on all levels now had she been elected. One thing I now know for certain, America cannot afford four more years under President Obama and his policies.
Monday, September 12, 2011
It could’ve been a scene from a Village People music video such was the assembly President Barack Obama put together in the Rose Garden of the White House yesterday, to announce his was sending his Jobs Plan to Congress for approval. The President again trying to claim it has nothing to do with politics, it was about creating jobs and putting people back to work nonetheless took a swipe at Republicans in the process.
President Obama will also travel across the country to build public support for the package he unveiled to Congress last week in attempt to jump start the economy and turn around his worsening political fortunes as he heads toward the 2012 presidential election.
President Obama’s plan has to clear a politically divided Congress, which could scuttle it entirely or enact bits and pieces of it. As envisioned by Obama, state and local governments would receive $50 billion for transportation projects, $35 billion for school, police and fire department payrolls, $30 billion to modernise public schools and community colleges, and $15 billion to refurbish vacant and foreclosed homes or businesses.
The bipartisan House-Senate Super Committee is this morning its task of cutting the budget deficit complicated by the cost and politics of President Barack Obama’s $447 billion jobs plan.
Obama, outlining how he intends to find additional savings, the president targeted exactly the same targets the super committee was already looking at. The president mentioned three possible sources of money, eliminating or reducing some tax deductions, making changes in entitlements such as Medicare and Medicaid, and making wealthier households pay “their fair share,” a reference to tax increases.
“It’s a balanced plan that would reduce the deficit by making additional spending cuts, by making modest adjustments to health care programs like Medicare and Medicaid, and by reforming the tax code in a way that asks the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to pay their fair share,” Obama said during his address last week to a Joint Session of Congress.
The so-called “Supercommittee” is likely to get some sobering testimony about the deficit’s toxic effect on the economy from the director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, Douglas Elmendorf, when it meets Tuesday.
Elmendorf’s message will be U.S. deficits are unsustainably high, and wrestling them under control will require the American public to give up some government services or pay more in taxes for them — or a combination of both.
Obama’s jobs plan calls for the opposite: a temporary boost in spending on roads, schools and blighted neighbourhoods combined with cuts to Social Security payroll taxes. The President will pay for the initiative with a tax increases on wealthier workers, oil companies and hedge fund managers.
But every dollar spent stimulating the economy makes the Super committee’s task that much more difficult.
The president’s proposal will make the already monumental task of finding bipartisan agreement on deficit reduction nearly impossible, removing options for deficit reduction for a plan that won’t reduce the deficit by one penny.
The Super committee must find at least $1.2 trillion in deficit cuts over the coming decade, on top of about $900 billion in savings from the operating budgets of Cabinet agencies over the same period.
While members of both parties are looking to trim tax deductions, Republicans hoped to use some savings for deficit reduction and some to lower tax rates, which could boost economic growth and perhaps job creation. The president’s plan could siphon some of those savings away.
Many doubt that the Super commitee will be able to agree on serious cuts, especially with next year’s elections approaching. Most Democrats are ardently against cuts in expensive benefits like health care for the elderly, while Republicans are adamantly against higher taxes, the two most abundant sources of potential deficit reduction.
Under the debt ceiling agreement, which narrowly averted a potential federal default, Congress must approve at least $1.2 trillion in savings by Dec. 25. If it doesn’t, the difference would be made up by automatic spending cuts, divided evenly among defence and many domestic programs.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said: “I sure hope that the president is not suggesting that we pay for his proposals with a massive tax increase at the end of 2012 on job creators.”
The harsh reality of President Obama American Jobs Plan is that it safeguards his political union based public sector jobs and does little to stimulate growth in the private sector especially the Small business sector. Unfortunately, the plan has a very high cost and will deliver little in return by way of meaningful economic growth. It is a band aid and nothing more.
Senator Tom Coburn is a member of the Republican Party and currently serves as the junior U.S. Senator from Oklahoma. In the Senate, he is known as “Dr. No” for his tendency to place holds on and vote against bills he views as unconstitutional.
Coburn was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994 as part of the Republican revolution. He upheld his campaign pledge to serve no more than three consecutive terms and did not run for re-election in 2000. In 2004, he returned to political office with a successful run for the U.S. Senate.
Coburn is a fiscal and social conservative, known for his opposition to deficit spending. He supports term limits, gun rights, and the death penalty.
While Coburn announced on February 12, 2010 that he was running for a second term in the Senate, he also announced that he would not run for re-election to a third term in the Senate in 2016.
He unveiled a massive plan to cut the nation’s deficit by $9 trillion over the coming decade, calling it, “Back in Black”.
The plan includes the following proposals:
- Reduce the size of the federal government by 20-25% over the next ten years.
- Balance the budget within ten years
- $3 trillion in cuts from entitlement reform
- $3 trillion in cuts from discretionary spending and other miscellaneous spending
- $1 trillion in tax code reform
- $1 Trillion in defence cuts
- $1 Trillion in saved interest cost payments
In addition to changes to Medicare and Medicaid, Coburn’s proposal would overhaul Social Security but would use any savings generated to extend the program’s solvency rather than bringing down the national debt. The plan would also gradually raise the Social Security retirement age by one month every two years beginning in 2022.
The above proposal results in savings of about $9 trillion dollars over the coming ten years.
Coburn was a member of President Barack Obama’s fiscal commission and voted for its plan to cut the budget by about $4 trillion over a decade. Coburn’s plan literally stands no chance of getting approved but he deserves credit for putting a serious plan on the table. Coburn became frustrated at the partisanship nature of the discussions surrounding much needed spending cuts, Coburn dropped out of the “Gang of Six” citing little or no likelihood of any progress being made.
Coburn’s view is also support Erskine Bowles who attacked Washington’s feeble attempts to find $2 trillion in cuts over the next ten years and the impasse that surrounds the nation’s capital. The Coburn plan comes as Obama and lawmakers struggle over increasing the so-called debt limit and avoid a first-ever default on U.S. obligations.
Coburn said when launching the plan, “I have no doubt that both parties will criticise this plan, and I welcome that debate. But it’s not a legitimate criticism until you have a plan of your own.” I fully support Senator Coburn’s stance as for all the talk in recent months from the president and Democratic Party, no details or serious plan has been put forward.
Coburn added, “The minimum we have to have is $4 trillion and people still don’t get that you’re trying to send a signal to the international financial community that you’re on the way to getting well.”
I commend Senator Coburn for showing others the way and instead about talking about plans, he has put a proper plan forward and set the debate rolling proper. It is good to see someone in Washington recognise the scale and seriousness of the problem but more importantly show leadership in trying to move things forward rather then stand behind a podium blaming the other side.
Well done Senator Coburn.
President Barack Obama is holding his second crisis debt ceiling meeting at the White House this evening. There is a potential US debt default in just under four weeks time, depending on what side of the political aisle you support, the harsh reality is that the financial markets may not give lawmakers that time before making a bad situation, a lot worse.
The negotiations to break the deadlock over the budget deficit reduction package have never really had the level of seriousness attached to them, that they should have had. The Republicans insist any deal to increase the country’s debt ceiling must involve spending cuts, while the Democrats are seeking tax increases or as they refer to it more recently, raised revenues.
According to the Treasury, the US will hit the current debt ceiling of $14.3 trillion on 2 August. President Obama’s economic policies have failed to deliver on the economy and jobs. The America his liberal support wanted and hoped for has failed and instead, the US economy is precariously close to becoming the quickest economic disaster in presidential history.
Last week saw a barrage of economic and polling news released spelling out back news for America. Following a 9.1% Unemployment rate in May, the results for June were even worse then expected with the announcement of 9.2% unemployment rate for June. Under employment also now stands at 15.8%.
The harsh reality of the debt ceiling is both sides have got themselves in a fix. The Senate have failed to pass a budget in over 800 days just think for one-minute, how can the world’s largest economy operate in the absence of a budget. Perhaps both sides should legislate to prevent such a ridiculous situation occurring again in the future as part of the debt ceiling talks. You certainly wouldn’t run your own business without a budget let alone Google or an Apple sized corporation without one.
The Republicans gained control of congress last year on the promise that they would cut spending and demonstrate fiscal responsibility. The budget talks were a failure for them, and if they are seen to back down in these debt ceiling talks, they will most certainly lose control of congress next year.
President Obama and the Democratic Party made huge claims about turning around the economy with their stimulus plan however, the White House Council of economic affairs released figures last week showing that it cost, $278,000 per job created under the stimulus plan. The fact is, the Obama administration has proven itself woefully incompetent at creating the right conditions in the US for job creation. A Bloomberg poll regarding the president’s handling of the economy showed only 39% Approval, and a 57% Disapproval for the president’s management.
The problem the president faces is that he has been inconsistent all year regarding his economic policies and the direction he wants to take the country in. He delivered a State of the Union address and budget which didn’t address entitlement form and called for more federal spending. The private corporate jet tax breaks he has used as an example of Republican resistance to reaching a deal in recent weeks, was actually introduced by himself and the Democratic Party, as part of the stimulus plan. In April, he called for a clean bill to raise the debt ceiling limit. In the last week, he claims that Speaker Boehner and himself have identified over $2 trillion in cuts?
The president really doesn’t have a plan and is all out of ideas in respect of job creation. The president’s budget was overwhelmingly rejected not just by Republicans, but by his own party, and the only other alternative Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget, was also defeated in a vote.
Economically, the president is in not just a bad position but a potentially catastrophic one for his re-election. It is this re-election issue that the president appears more focussed and concerned about. I am starting to believe that the president doesn’t want a deal really so he can blame Republicans. He has hinted at potential cuts to Medicare and Medicaid dependent on how much Republicans are prepared to raise taxes. This is just political spin as minority leader Nancy Pelosi has made it clear that any such move by the president will not be accepted.
The president has been trying to increase the rhetoric in the last week on class warfare and division, remember, this is a president who laid claim in wanting to unify Americans when elected. The president has said it is time to spread the pain and sacrifice for all taxpayers and as recent as Wednesday, he warned of a second recession if the debt ceiling limit is not raised.
America’s huge national debt is the responsibility of many president’s and congresses over the years, not just President Bush or President Obama. There is a significant difference between President Bush and President Obama however.
In 2001, President Bush was faced with his “Armageddon moment” when America was attacked by terrorists. This economic crisis facing President Obama is his presidency’s Armageddon moment, every president faces one. The significant difference I alluded to earlier, is leadership. Whether you liked or loathed President Bush, you cannot say he did not respond to the threat and crisis. President Bush responded with true leadership and the influence which is required from the leader of a great nation.
Bill Clinton, the last president to manage America in a strong economic fashion coined the phrase,”It’s the economy stupid,” he was very right.
President Obama needs to ignore the politicking and do what is right for the American nation and indeed, the world’s economy. He needs to find a way to shrink government and cut spending in this presidential term. He could then focus on introducing legislation to improve job creation conditions for the remainder of his current term.
If the president can pull off a solid robust deal, it will send the positive message the financial markets are crying out for and he can nullify the one threat to his re-election chances and put the American economy back on the right track. If he fails to oversee a deal being reached and blames Republicans, his presidency and re-election chances will only then be heading straight into a great big ditch.
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