Fiscal Responsibility

The Battle For Wall Street – The Daily Beast

A little after 6:30 a.m., a cheer went up from the protesters gathered in Zuccotti Park. A press release by New York City Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway announced that Brookfield Properties—the owner of the park—had decided to call off their cleaning, which would have required the park to be vacated, with police help if necessary. Read More…

Congress Finally Gets Something Right – CNN.com

Our dysfunctional divided Congress finally was able to find some common ground Wednesday, passing long-delayed free-trade bills with South Korea, Panama and Colombia. Together, these treaties promise to increase U.S. exports by more than $12 billion a year while creating more than 300,000 jobs — good news for our still-sluggish economy and struggling American workers. Read More…

Millionaire’s tax is on target – CNN.com

Here’s one idea that could unite Main Street voters with Occupy Wall Street protesters — raise taxes only on individuals making more than $1 million a year and use that revenue to pay for President Barack Obama?’s jobs bill, which is made up of bipartisan policy proposals to get the economy moving again.

It is an audacious idea, brewed first by Sen. Charles Schumer and backed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as preferable to the president’s repeated call to roll back the Bush tax cuts on any household making more than $250,000 a year. Read More…

Occupy Wall Street’s Empty Protests – The Daily Beast

“Do what you’ve got to do, but don’t climb on the walls because you might fall off and get hurt.”

This was the voice of “the man”—in this case, a police officer with a megaphone—on the opening night of the Occupy Wall Street protests, two weeks ago.

I view all this from a local perspective. I live two blocks from Ground Zero, around the corner from the appropriately named Liberty Park, where the professional protesters have literally set up camp. Read More…

Could Obama’s new tax plan really incite class warfare? – CNN

President Obama will unveil a plan today to cut the deficit by $3 trillion over the next decade. A large part of the proposal is expected to be based on raising taxes on Americans making more than $1 million a year.

Yesterday, Senator Lindsay Graham said that the President’s tax plan would create “class warfare.”

Today on American Morning, CNN contributors John Avlon and Errol Louis respond to this comment and explain the President’s proposal. They also discuss their new book, “Deadline Artists: America’s Greatest Newspaper Columns,” in which they offer a compilation of iconic newspaper columns from legends like Hunter S. Thompson, Art Buchwald and William F. Buckley.

Obama’s Debt-Reduction Dare – The Daily Beast

“This is not class warfare—it’s math.”

President Obama was playing the happy warrior while presenting his $3 trillion debt-reduction plan in a Rose Garden address, welcoming a fight over raising taxes on the wealthy while a tough re-election looms. Read More…

A Tax Reform Slam Dunk – The Daily Beast

Tax Day is nobody’s idea of a good time. But get ready for a year of heated tax debates ahead.

In his deficit speech last week, President Obama made clear that he intends to continue his fight to raise the top rate back up to 39.6 percent for any family making over $250,000 a year—arguing this would, in effect, be a millionaires tax.  “I don’t need another tax cut,” the president said. “ Warren Buffett doesn’t need another tax cut.” Read More…

Gang of 6’s Supercommittee Diss – The Daily Beast

The day before the S&P downgrading of the United States debt, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal lauded the virtues of stubbornness at the Republican National Committee summer meeting in Tampa, Florida.

Click here to find out more!

“It pays to be stubborn,” Jindal said. “The press is constantly urging compromise. They root for it like it is the highest possible virtue, the sign of true maturity and achievement in life.” This all-or-nothing impulse is what led 77 percent of the American people to conclude that Congress acted more like “spoiled children” than “responsible adults” during the debt ceiling debate. Not incidentally, it is also the logic that led to our downgrade, according to S&P, which cited “the political brinksmanship of recent months” making “America’s governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable.” Read More…

Alan Simpson Is ‘Disgusted’ by the Debt Deal – The Daily Beast

Alan Simpson is ‘Disgusted’ by the debt deal.  Hear him blast off about Washington’s incompetence.

What do you think about the debt-ceiling deal? It’s a start, and that’s all you can charitably say. It really doesn’t get to the big numbers. It doesn’t get to the big spending issues. It doesn’t get into Medicare, which is on automatic pilot, which is just gonna eat through the whole budget. It doesn’t get into Social Security solvency. Defense is not sacrosanct. For heaven’s sake, we found enough fat in there that would choke a horse.

Do you recall a fiscal battle anything like this one during your time in the Senate? No, it breaks your heart. It’s almost akin to disgust, but it’s more than that. It’s heartbreaking. One possible outcome was tax reform—closing loopholes and expenditures. But all of a sudden some Republicans said that was a tax hike. Oh, yeah. Well, that’s old Grover Norquist. He’s a good man with a damn poor idea. I tell people, “Look, Grover is powerful, and let’s just give him the kudos, but what can he do to you? He’s not gonna murder you. He won’t burn your house. The only thing he can do to you is defeat you for reelection. If your reelection means more than doing something for the United States of America and getting out of this hole, then you shouldn’t be in Congress.”

How’s your ex-colleague from Wyoming, former vice president Dick Cheney, doing? He’s got a new book out this month. I’m just gonna love it because it’s gonna be his side, and his side is a remarkable side. Because old Dick Cheney, he is a piece of work. When it’s all over, there’ll be people who will say, “I didn’t know that about him because his views were distorted by people who hated his guts.”

You and Cheney represent an old tradition of Western conservatism. What happened to those views? I say clearly abortion is a terrible, terrible thing, but it’s a deeply intimate and personal decision, and I don’t think men legislators should even vote on it. Now, that takes you immediately from a conservative to a commie. Now I also think that we all have someone we love who’s gay or lesbian. There should be no special prejudices, no special penalties, no special privileges. And so that’ll knock you into the commie box, too.

I heard there’s an Alan Simpson for President Facebook page. That’s a thrill. I just get goose pimples all over.

The Extreme Grouses as the Center Wins Debt Deal – CNN.com

The center can hold. That’s at least part of the big-picture takeaway after the House passed a lopsided if 11th-hour debt ceiling and deficit reduction bill by a refreshingly bipartisan margin of 269 to 161.

The extremes were united in their disapproval, sniping over the bill’s ideological imperfections. On the right, the Club for Growth and The Heritage Foundation lobbied for opposition among Republicans against Speaker John Boehner. On the left, MoveOn.org and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee accused the president of weakness and selling out. Congressional members of the Tea Party Caucus and the Progressive Coalition refused to sign on through the bitter end. Read More…

Inflexible GOP Should Listen to Reagan on Debt – CNN.com

As the debt-ceiling deadline ticks closer, conservatives in Congress are fighting among themselves. The civil war is between responsible Republicans and extreme ideologues. The question is whether the collateral damage will include the American economy.

House Speaker John Boehner abruptly abandoned his attempt to negotiate a “grand bargain” on the deficit and the debt with President Barack Obama? because of a lack of support among tea party members, and now he is struggling to keep support for his Plan B intact in the face of an open rebellion. Read More…

Our Stupid Self-Inflicted Debt Crisis – CNN.com

Let me get this straight. The people who have been preaching the most about the dangers of American decline are right now helping to hasten American decline.

Because if America defaults on its debt, not only will we find ourselves in a far deeper fiscal hole, but the full faith and credit of the United States will be compromised. In our globalized era, that means America will be considered an unpredictable partner and a second-class power. Read More…

Where the GOP Went Wrong on Deficits and Debt – The Daily Beast

When did fiscal responsibility and fiscal conservatism get de-linked?

That is the key question that underlies the fault lines in the current GOP civil war, playing out over the debt-ceiling debate as every day we get closer to default.

It’s too simple to call this a fight between the old guard and the Tea Party. The real test is whether government fiscal policy should be focused on reducing the deficit and the debt or whether the real goal is to keep taxes low at all costs. It’s a divide decades in the making between the deficit hawks and the anti-tax absolutists. Read More…

GOP’s Debt Kamikazes – The Daily Beast

Call them Debt Ceiling Deniers. Believers in faith-based fiscal policy. Math-challenged cause-and-effect-skeptics. And an uncomfortable chunk of the GOP’s 2012 contenders.

The costs of courting conservative populists should be clearer than ever to reality-based fiscal conservatives inside the Republican Party.  Their “all-or-nothing” meets “what, me worry?” negotiating stance is not only the newest symbol of D.C.’s dysfunction—it is beginning to have an impact on the entire U.S. economy. Read More…

Our Pathetic Debt Debate – The Daily Beast

A cataclysmic game of chicken. Negotiating with a gun to your head. A Thelma & Louise-style full throttle off a cliff.

The dire metaphors for the debt-ceiling debate proliferate as we get closer to the August 2nd due date. Read More…

Wisconsin’s Nuclear Option – The Daily Beast

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has an un-played ace up his sleeve in the budget fights that have made Madison the focus of a national struggle between fiscal conservatives and public sector unions.

A little-noticed provision in the Wisconsin State Constitution—Article 8, Section 8—allows non-fiscal bills to be passed by a simple majority of state legislators, rather than the 3/5th threshold that drove Democratic state senators to Illinois in hopes of denying the Republican Governor the ability to go forward with collective bargaining reform as part of his proposed budget cut package.

This means that if the collective bargaining were delinked from the budget measures and put forward as a separate bill, it could be passed with 51 percent of the legislators—and without Democrats’ participation. Read More…

The Perpetual Tea Party: Tax Protests and the Founders – Constitution Daily

Tax protests are part of America’s political DNA. It is a time-honored tradition, rediscovered by every generation, reminding both government and citizens of the roots of our republic.

At its best, it is a sign of an active citizenry trying to rein in the government and strike the right balance between the individual and the community. At it’s worst, it is an impulse that can be exploited by demagogues for short-term political gain, ignoring the interplay between freedom and responsibility in a democracy. Read More…

Cowards Sank the Deficit Plan – The Daily Beast

The Bipartisan Deficit Commission led by Democrat Erskine Bowles and Republican Alan Simpson voted 11 to 7 in favor of their far-sighted plan to cut the deficit by $4 trillion within the decade.

But it can be classified as only a symbolic victory, because under the rules of the commission, this nearly 2 to 1 margin represented a pointed failure to reach the 14 votes needed pass the recommendations on to Congress.

Three votes more were needed—and Republican Reps. Paul Ryan and Jeb Hensarling, as well as centrist Democratic Senator Max Baucus, are the alleged fiscal conservatives who should be blamed most for killing this proposal. Read More…

Our Screwed Up Tax System: Fix It – The Daily Beast

With tax snafus scalping Tom Daschle and Nancy Killefer—and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner narrowly escaping a similar fate—the Obama administration has hit its first rough patch.

From Zoe Baird to Linda Chavez, we’ve seen this movie before. The tax code’s complexity (and, sometimes, the nominee’s laxity) invites gotcha politics. Even otherwise-honest filers can make career-crushing mistakes. The silver lining is that maybe Democrats will now embrace tax simplification as change they can believe in. Read More…

What If New York Goes Bust? – The Daily Beast

UPDATE: Looks like the tsunami has arrived in California, with state legislators one vote short of a spending cut and tax-hike compromise to close a $42 billion budget deficit. (By comparison, that’s twice the national debt during the Great Depression.)

California has been sending out IOUs instead of tax refunds, bills aren’t being paid, workers have been furloughed two days a month without pay, and now Arnold is preparing to send out 20,000 pink slips—10 percent of the governor-controlled state headcount—in an attempt to save an additional $750 billion a year. Read More…