Posts Tagged ‘budget’

Federalism and Canada

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Chris Edwards, writing on We Can Cut Government: Canada Did, brings up a very important point,


One of Canada’s strengths is that it is a decentralized federation. The provinces compete with each other over fiscal and economic matters, and they have wide latitude to pursue different policies. Federalism has allowed for healthy policy diversity in Canada, and it has promoted government restraint.

Government spending has become much more centralized in the United States than it has in Canada. In the United States, 71 percent of total government spending is federal and 29 percent is state-local. In Canada it’s the reverse — 38 percent is federal and 62 percent is provincial-local.

The federalism difference between the countries is striking with regards to K-12 education. While federal control over U.S. schools has increased in recent decades, Canada has no federal department of education. School funding is left to the provinces, which seems to work: Canadian school kids routinely score higher on international comparison tests than do U.S. kids.

The countries also differ with regards to the amount of top-down control exerted on subnational governments through federal aid programs. The United States has a complex array of more than 1,000 aid-to-state programs for such things as highways and education. Each of these aid programs comes with a pile of regulations that micromanage state and local affairs.

By contrast, Canada mainly has just three large aid programs for provincial governments, and they are structured as fixed block grants. It is true, however, that one of these grants helps to fund the universal health care system, which is a big exception to the country’s generally decentralized policy approach. Nonetheless, having just a few large block grants is superior to the U.S. system of a vast number of grants, each with separate rules and regulations.

A final federalism advantage in Canada is that provincial and local taxes are not deductible on federal individual tax returns. That structure promotes vigorous tax competition between the provinces. In the United States, state and local income and property taxes are deductible on federal income tax returns, which has the effect of blunting competition by essentially subsidizing hightax states and cities.

Go read the whole article.


Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Obama budget defeated 99-0 in Senate

President Obama’s budget suffered a second embarrassing defeat Wednesday, when senators voted 99-0 to reject it.

Coupled with the House’s rejection in March, 414-0, that means Mr. Obama’s budget has failed to win a single vote in support this year.

Not one Democrat vote for it.

The Democrats have not passed a budget in 3 years.

But Jay Carney calls it “a Republican gimmick”,

Unanimous rejection, Jay. No gimmick.

Bipartisanship: Obama budget defeated 0-414

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

The vote came as the House worked its way through its own fiscal year 2013 budget proposal, written by Budget Committee Chairman Paul D. Ryan. Republicans wrote an amendment that contained Mr. Obama’s budget and offered it on the floor, daring Democrats to back the plan, which calls for major tax increases and yet still adds trillions of dollars to the deficit over the next decade.

“It’s not a charade. It’s not a gimmick — unless what the president sent us is the same,” said Rep. Mick Mulvaney, a freshman Republican from South Carolina who sponsored Mr. Obama’s proposal for purposes of the debate. “I would encourage the Democrats to embrace this landmark Democrat document and support it. Personally, I will be voting against it.”

But no Democrats accepted the challenge.


The U.S. government’s debt on Monday was $15.544 trillion, and the government is projected to run a deficit of roughly $1.2 trillion in the year ending Sept. 30.

Hoyer: Budget? We don’t need no steekeen budget!

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

Hoyer: ‘The Fact Is You Don’t Need a Budget’

At a briefing with journalists on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Hoyer was asked, “Mr. Hoyer, around the same time of the State of the Union [on Jan. 24], I think it was the same day, Republicans were trying to hit Senate Democrats for 1,000 days without passing a budget, and then you talk about this milestone today, 400 days without a jobs bill in the Republican House. But then on Friday [Democratic Senator Harry] Reid said that he didn’t think they needed to bring a budget to the floor this year [and that] the Budget Control Act can serve as a guideline.”

Hoyer said: “What does the budget do? The budget does one thing and really only one thing: It sets the parameters of spending and discretionary caps. Other than that, the Appropriations committee are not bound by the Budget committee’s priorities.”

He continued: “The fact is, you don’t need a budget. We can adopt appropriations bills. We can adopt authorization policies without a budget. We already have an agreed-upon cap on spending.”

Don’t expect the Dems to agree to anything resembling a budget this year, either. Allahpundit makes the point,

Why waste time developing a strategy for fiscal sustainability when we can just muddle along with piecemeal appropriations unto death? Carney’s argument is slightly better: The debt-ceiling deal last August has already provided some budgetary parameters via the automatic cuts that went into effect once the Super Committee failed. And of course Obama will offer his own feeble budget proposal which Reid will dutifully support, so why bother making Senate Democrats come up with a plan of their own when it’ll inevitably fail in the House? Remember, Congress can’t even reach a deal on penny-ante matters like the payroll tax holiday; nothing will break the logjam on grander budgetary priorities except electoral clarity in the fall. As such, budget proposals these days are really just oppo material for the other team’s campaign: No doubt The One would happily decline to propose one of his own if he thought the RNC’s ad team would let him get away with it. So instead he’ll do what he did last year, i.e. introduce a plan that’s so shamefully irresponsible on the core issue of entitlements that even original Obama superfan Andrew Sullivan will be left shaking his head. And Reid will cheer him all the way.

A commenter wonders: If it’s all about gridlock, why didn’t Democrats pass a budget in 2010 when they still controlled both chambers? Answer: Because they’re gutless, of course. 2010 was an election year and the country was in a lather about spending. If they had passed a gargantuan new Democratic budget, the GOP would have destroyed them over it. If they had passed a budget that dramatically cut spending, their base would have destroyed them over it. No doubt they’d pass nothing again this year if they still controlled the House. But for the moment, because of gridlock, the question is moot. Nothing’s getting passed. Hence the 10 percent figure.

The problem is uncertainty: As Bernake states, “Is uncertainty a negative for growth? I think it is, because firms like to have certainty, like to be able to plan…and we need to make regulations as clear and as effective as possible.”

Which is exactly what we won’t be getting, this year at leasts.


The out-of-touch State of the Union

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

If you read or watched the SOTU, all you can conclude is that the words spoken are out of touch with reality.

Fact Checking the SOTU: Corporate Taxes

Let’s do some fact checking on President Obama’s corporate tax comments in last night’s State of the Union.

Claim: “Right now, companies get tax breaks for moving jobs and profits overseas.”

False: There are no such breaks. Instead, we punish U.S. and foreign businesses for investing and creating jobs here.

Claim: “If you’re a business that wants to outsource jobs, you shouldn’t get a tax deduction for doing it.”

False: There is no such tax deduction.

Claim: “No American company should be able to avoid paying its fair share of taxes by moving jobs and profits overseas.”

False: America is not a prison camp. Besides, imposing a 40-percent tax rate on corporations that invest here is not a “fair share.”

Claim: “From now on, every multinational company should have to pay a basic minimum tax.”

False: We’ve already got a corporate “alternative minimum tax,” and it’s an idiotic waste of accounting resources that ought to be repealed.

Clearly, Obama can not run on his record,

And more,

And that doesn’t count the recycling,

So he’ll blame Congress, even when This President has been “obstructed” less than anyone since LBJ.

The fact is,

People are hurting, and badly. The official unemployment rate may have fallen, slightly, but the real unemployment rate — the number of working-age Americans who aren’t working — rose from about 12% before the 2008 crisis, to about 23%, and hasn’t come down. That includes people who have retired early because they can’t find work, spouses who used to earn a second income but have gone back to homemaking because work isn’t available, self-employed people whose businesses have collapsed, young people who live in their parents’ basement because they can’t afford tuition and can’t find work.

(h/t Instapundit)

As for the energy part, check out what the Institute for Energy Research has to say.

While you’re at it, Warren Buffett profited from the Obama administration’s decision to deny the Keystone Pipeline. Guess whose secretary was sitting next to the First Lady?

TigerHawk put the SOTU through the shredder. Go read it all


1,000 days without a budget VIDEO

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

More here and here.

Linked by The Morning Spew. Thanks!


First Boehner, now the NFL UPDATED

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

After the President’s request to address the nation from Congress next Wednesday was turned down, the White House announced the speech will take place on Thursday.

Now, you may be wondering why is the President so adamant about doing a speech on jobs, jobs, jobs from the floor of Congress, when a. the unemployment rate has been over 9% for most of his tenure, b. he could have given the speech anytime, anywhere – particularly during last month’s bus tour. Simple: The speech is intended to launch his re-election campaign.

If so, it’s doing it with a pratfall. As it turns out, Thursday is the NFL season opener.

Now, I don’t follow football (or any sports, for that matter), but even I am mindful of such things when scheduling events – whether it’s a fundraiser for an organization I belong to, or meeting with friends, or having people over.

And I’m not running for office.

Fear not, football fans; the Obama speech apparently won’t conflict with Saints-Packers kickoff, as long as you don’t mind missing the pre-game coverage,

Though an official announcement has not yet been made by the White House, Obama’s speech apparently will begin at 7:30 p.m. ET on September 8, one hour before kickoff of the kickoff to the season.

And so, assuming the absence of any filibustering (a big assumption, given the precise location of the address), the speech should be over before it’s time to play the game.

What will the speech be about?

For starters, expect a lot of blame-game: Minutes after his Sept. 8 address to Congress is set, Obama bashes both houses. Certainly the President will get in a dig or two during his speech.

Other proposals, such as more stimulus, the creation of a Fannie Mae for infrastructure a. k. a. a federal infrastructure bank (since Fannie Mae worked so well?), and the creation of more “green jobs“, involve yet more government spending and direct federal involvement in local economies.

Who’s going to want to miss the NFL pre-game show for that?

UPDATE, Friday 2 September,

Anonymous White House aides admit that they were aware all the time of the GOP debate that they were trying to preempt with Obama’s move to schedule his speech to Congress. They simply figured that it wouldn’t matter because it was going to be on a cable station which isn’t “sacrosanct.” So they just sent Jay Carney out to lie when he said it was all a coincidence.


The rich, the debt, the Ikea hell, and the roundup

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

Spain’s Duchess of Alba, one of the world’s richest women, is remarrying at age 85. The Will of the Duchess of Alba: All for Love and Money. All, except good judgement, at least when it comes to plastic surgery:

Maybe she’ll buy herself some eyebrows for the wedding.

From my Facebook thread,

Todd wrote: “If I were going to marry a babboon, I’d pick a much younger one.”

Now, now, Todd…


National debt has increased $4 trillion under Obama: Currently the National Debt stands at roughly 97% of Gross Domestic Product. Does anyone want to pretend that the ratio will be the same when we’re talking about $25 trillion in debt?

How about an outline?


The last time I went to Ikea Bill Clinton was President; Charles Martin reminded me why: Dante’s IKEA.


What’s next for Moammar Gadhafi?
Nobody seems to know where the embattled Libyan leader is hiding, or where he’s headed. Here, 5 predictions

I very much doubt that Muammar will be welcome in Caracas until Hugo’s moved the gold and is not worried about sanctions.


Which brings me to the next item,

How to get $12 billion of gold to Venezuela

It’s not much of a precedent, but it’s the only precedent we’ve got; my gut feeling is that Venezuela would be do well to get away with paying 3.3% of the total value of the gold in total expenses. Given that the gold is worth some $12.3 billion, the cost of Chávez’s gesture politics might reasonably be put at $400 million or so.

It seems to me that Chávez has four main choices here. He can go the FT’s route, and just fly the gold to Caracas while insuring each shipment for its market value. He can go the Spanish route, and try to transport the gold himself, perhaps making use of the Venezuelan navy. He could attempt the mother of all repo transactions. Or he could get clever.

In the first instance, the main cost would be paid by Venezuela to a big insurance company. I have no idea how many insurers there are in the world who would be willing to take on this job, but it can’t be very many, and it might well be zero. If Venezuela wanted just one five-ton shipment flown to Caracas in conditions of great secrecy, that would be one thing. But Chávez’s intentions have been well telegraphed at this point, making secrecy all but impossible. And even if the insurer got the first shipment through intact, there would be another, and another, and another — each one surely the target of criminally-inclined elements both inside and outside the Venezuelan government. Gold is the perfect heist: anonymous, untraceable, hugely valuable. Successfully intercepting just one of the shipments would yield a haul of more than $300 million, making it one of the greatest robberies of all time. And you’d have 39 chances to repeat the feat.

Would any insurer voluntarily hang a “come get me” sign around its neck like that? They’d have to be very well paid to do so. So maybe Chávez intends to take matters into his own hands, and just sail the booty back to Venezuela on one of his own naval ships. Again, the theft risk is obvious — seamen can be greedy too — and this time there would be no insurance. Chávez is pretty crazy, but I don’t think he’d risk $12 billion that way.

Chavez Credits Castro, Jesus for Recovery


Former Tiananmen Square Student Leader Urges Joe Biden to Call for an End to China’s One-Child Policy, after Biden says he “fully understands” the one-child policy.


Soros, what a guy!

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

A roundup of trivial news in the periphery of serious issues,

George Soros sued by ex-girlfriend for reneging on real estate promise to buy her a $2 million NYC apartment. George told her he’d given the apartment to another woman. Probably a younger woman, that is. No word on whether he had anything to do with the downgrade.
Don Surber:

Dr. Evil had the same problem with Frau Farbissina.

Amy Winehouse’s home robbed, not by looters, but by someone looking for her unreleased songs, lyric books and letters.

One Place That Didn’t Get Looted In The UK. Situational Awareness: How Everyday Citizens Can Help Make a Nation Safe. Defend yourself and be a vigilante (h.t Instapundit).

Hugo Chavez’s hair fell off. Argentina Preps for World Tango Championships

Pivot to jobs, jobs, jobs getting to you? Vacay, vacay, vacay! But first, let us pray.


Here’s Thelonious Monk, not Felonious,


“There’s not much further we can cut”?

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

Yes we can,

“Not much further we can cut” seems like a hanging curve ball, an open invitation for ongoing ridicule–the sort of naive assertion that might come easily to someone who had never worked in the federal government, who only realized after promoting his half-trillion-dollar public works-based stimulus plan that there was “no such thing as shovel-ready projects.” Or someone who doesn’t want to know. Or who wants to act as if he doesn’t know.

Here is the official list of federal job openings. They are still hiring. Sure, big enterprises keep hiring essential employees even in tough times. But these aren’t essential jobs. Many of them seem like the sort of job a private firm, in a financial crisis like the feds are in, would consolidate with another job or leave unfilled. (The first one that jumps out is the “Associate Administrator for Administration” at the Department of Transportation, which pays $119,554 to $179,700. It seems that this person will do administrative work to maintain the layer of bureaucracy that “coordinates” the DOTs research programs. The new hire will also give “advice and assistance in directing, coordinating, controlling” etc. this little fiefdom. You don’t have to be Peter Drucker to realize that this position does not have to exist.)

Part of the problem, of course, is that since it is virtually impossible to fire an actual underperforming federal employee, conscientious administrators have to hire new people (or consultants) to actually do the work the unfireable employees aren’t doing.

But there’s no sense, reading through this list, that the federal bureaucracy knows it is in crisis

Ace pipes in,

Let me note the dog that didn’t bark.

Have you heard any stories of older, more expensive federal employees losing their jobs during this budget crisis — as corporations typically do when they are hemorrhaging money?

Have you read any stories about departments drastically cutting back and looking for money-saving solutions — doing more with less, as they say, or “working smarter, not harder”?

Has the media been full of stories by weary bureaucrats complaining, like teachers are apparently instructed by their unions to claim, that they have to buy their own supplies to properly do their jobs?

Has there been any grousing that federal employees are missing expected pay raises and promotions, being forced to work at their old salaries through this crisis?

The answer is no.

The pivot to jobs, jobs, jobs, appears to be laser-focused on federal bureaucracy jobs. One of Kaus’s commenters points out,

Non-postal federal employment — about 10 percent of all
government employment — increased over the same period by 139,000
workers, or 6.7 percent.