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01 Feb 2012 10:07


Politics: CBO: What if Congress did nothing this year? Well, we’d cut the deficit

  • positive According to a hypothetical posed by the Congressional Budget Office, if Congress’ deadlock worsened and nothing got done this year, the deficit would shrink heavily as the Bush tax cuts would expire and other spending initiatives would end. Huh.
  • negative However … this comes with a lot of pain. As federal workers lose their jobs, the unemployment rate would rise above 9 percent again, and the economy’s recent gains would get pushed back, according to CBO estimates. Would the cost be worth the benefit, guys? source
  • » The trade-off: “On the one hand, if policymakers leave current laws unchanged, the federal debt will probably recede slowly,” said CBO director Douglas W. Elmendorf. “On the other hand, changing current laws to let current policies continue … would boost the economy and allow people to pay less in taxes and benefit more from government programs in the next few years — but put the nation on an unsustainable fiscal course.” That’s a tough one, kids.

28 Nov 2011 23:59


Biz: Don’t look down: Ratings agency says they could downgrade U.S. too

  • The negative outlook indicates a slightly greater than 50 percent chance of a downgrade over a two-year horizon.
  • Credit ratings agency Fitch • Explaining the negative outlook they gave the U.S.’ AAA credit rating. Why the lower outlook? Well, they say there’s “considerable uncertainty surrounding the economy’s potential output.” Well, there won’t be as long as we can figure out a way to turn riots over $2 waffle irons into a sustainable moneymaking endeavor for the U.S. economy at large. We’re sure we can make it happen. Fitch’s downgraded outlook follows S&P’s straight-up downgrade a few months back. source

17 Oct 2011 22:01


Politics: $1 trillion or bust: Ron Paul would take a giant slash out of the deficit

  • $1 trillion in budget cuts offered up by Ron freaking Paul
  • five number of agencies Paul would get rid of with these budget cuts
  • 30% size of the cuts Paul would push on the EPA with his budget cuts
  • zero number of wars Paul would fund after he got his cuts through source
  • » The biggest cut? Presidential salary: If Paul were president, he would cut his salary to $39,000 — the median salary for U.S. citizens. That’s a big downgrade from the standard $400,000-per-year salary and actually less than we make from our job. That would be a huge symbolic gesture, if you ask us.

24 Aug 2011 10:38


U.S.: Budget deficit: Smaller than previous years, still pretty freaking huge

  • $1.28 trillion deficit in ’11, down slightly from ’09 & ’10 source
  • » A report full of mediocre news: The Congressional Budget Office’s report on the deficit notes that while the deficits will be smaller over the next decade — by $3.3 trillion over ten years — as a result of the arm-twisting budget deal passed earlier this month, another $3.5 trillion in deficits will be added on top of everything else. Oh, and lest you think that $1.28 trillion is a small amount, it’s only small compared to the prior two years, which were basically the two largest yearly deficits on record. So this total redefines “smaller.”

08 Aug 2011 14:31


U.S.: President Obama tries to reassure after credit rating downgrade

  • No matter what the agencies say, we will always be a AAA country.
  • President Barack Obama • Talking about the S&P’s downgrade of the United States in a speech today. He explained that they didn’t downgrade us because they didn’t believe that we would default on our debt, but because our politics get too much in the way — and because the threat of default was used as a bargaining chip. He also talked about our real challenge — long term deficit reduction. He stuck to his guns on policies like tax  cuts for the wealthy, and also said that we need to keep unemployment benefits around to keep our recovery going. However, just from this speech it’s clear that it isn’t going to be easy. It’s evident that despite the fact that Obama has good intentions, the politics simply aren’t going to change overnight. Obama also honored the troops that died in the helicopter crash over the weekend, which was well-deserved and moving. source

31 Jul 2011 00:27


U.S.: Breakdown: The new new NEW new nü NEW debt ceiling framework

  • So, those Republicans finally got a framework! If anyone feels like you might be on the most boring roller coaster ever, you are, as there have been so many high and low points with this debt ceiling dramarama today that you probably feel so dizzy that people might mistake you for being drunk. Anyway, in the latest developments, Republicans have apparently reached a framework with the White House to make this debt ceiling deal happen. Based on this, which side do you think won the day? Here’s a roundup:
  • ceiling The debt ceiling would rise to $2.8 trillion (though this number is conflicting; AP reports $2.4 trillion). This would be enough to get us past the 2012 elections.
  • cuts Republicans would reportedly agree to roughly $1 trillion in cuts now, and then another $1.8 trillion later. Ignore our earlier version of the post; this is significant.
  • condition Republicans will get one thing out of the mess which in the end won’t mean anything — a vote on a balanced budget amendement. This will not pass. source

28 Jul 2011 23:23


Politics: An update on the debt ceiling shenanigans

  • boehner’s bill falls short: After a chaotic day of vote-whipping, vote-delaying, and vote-switching, John Boehner has decided to postpone the vote on his debt ceiling bill. Despite multiple assurances that it would be brought to a vote before tomorrow, at the end of the day, Boehner didn’t have enough votes to ensure the bill’s passage (and he wasn’t going to embarrass himself by introducing a bill that was sure to fail). In an unusual alignment, conservative Tea Partiers and House Democrats all pledged to vote against the bill, albiet for different reasons. While the legislation has virtually no chance of passing the Democratic-controlled Senate, Boehner’s ability to shepherd it through the House is seen by many as the first real test of his leadership abilities. If he doesn’t eventually pass it, there’s a good chance he’ll (eventually) be deposed as Speaker. But it’s not over yet–sources say Republicans plan to tweak the bill a bit, and re-introduce it tomorrow.  source

27 Jul 2011 23:52


Politics: McCain invokes “Lord of the Rings” in debt ceiling tirade

  • The Republican House that failed to raise the debt ceiling would somehow escape all blame. Then Democrats would have no choice but to pass a balanced-budget amendment and reform entitlements, and the tea-party Hobbits could return to Middle Earth having defeated Mordor.
  • John McCain • Ripping the Republican Party on the Senate floor. He later derided House Republicans’ approach to the debt-ceiling discussions as “the kind of crack political thinking that turned Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell into GOP Senate nominees.” source

25 Jul 2011 23:09


Politics: A little perspective on this whole deficit mess

  • This graph, courtesy of the New York Times, has been making the rounds today, and it’s worth examining. Note that health care reform, much-maligned by the right as deficit-killer, cost less than even the most inexpensive of George W. Bush’s policies (that policy being Medicare Part D). Note also that the Bush tax cuts alone added more to the deficit than all of President Obama’s new policies combined — and that’s including projected spending over the course of a theoretical second term.  source

25 Jul 2011 22:58


Politics: Nate sets us straight

  • A very good point. We tend to forget that, as crazy as it sounds, some people’s idea of fun doesn’t involve reading about the debt limit, America’s credit rating, or parliamentary procedure in the United States Senate. source