Thread: Sequester Follies

Fujirich - 2/20/2013 at 02:05 AM

So I'm listening to the Prez earlier today - usually a mistake, but someday he might say some important - and he's all worked up over the looming sequester cuts. Since it's another opportunity to show that famous Obama bipartisan warmth and comity, he went into his usual act; got out the flamethrower and hosed down everything and everyone who doesn't agree with him with napalm.

Never mind that this is for something he agreed to months before. And I won't defend Congress for a second for not doing their job.

But let's take a moment to consider what these "cuts" really equate to. It's $85 billion, which anywhere other than govt would sound like a lot. $85 billion is 2.36% of total Federal spending. But that's split in half, between defense and the rest of spending. So in the end, we're talking only $42.5 billion, or 1.18% of Federal spending might face some cuts.

Does any sane person believe that 1.18% of non-defense spending is so sacrosanct that it would cause the following...

-- eviscerate job-creating investments in education, energy, and medical research

-- emergency responders ability to help communities will be degraded

-- border patrol agents will have hours reduced

-- FBI agents will be furloughed

-- Federal prosecutors will have to close cases and let criminals go

-- air traffic controller and airport security will see cutbacks

-- thousands of teachers and educators will be laid off

-- ten's of thousands of parents will have to find new child care for their kids

-- hundreds of thousands will lose access to primary care, preventive care, like flu vaccinations and cancer screenings

-- will add hundreds of thousands of Americans to the unemployment roles


Does anyone really believe that reducing Federal non-military spending by 1.18% is going to cause all this? And even if believed and true, how have we let our situation become so dire that a cut of a measly 1% - sorry; 1.18% - will cause all this havoc?

Hey Mr. President; families all over this nation have faced cuts far greater, and are finding ways to cope as best they can. None of them are crying about a 1% cut meaning the end of everything. Why can't you?

Of course it's all politics and nonsense. Who believes any of this bs?


alloak41 - 2/20/2013 at 04:30 AM

This is bound to stir up a lot of fear among his most valued asset and target audience, the low-information voter.


jamminpappy - 2/20/2013 at 04:37 AM

quote:
This is bound to stir up a lot of fear among his most valued asset and target audience, the low-information voter.



let's not insult Fox viewers


Fujirich - 2/20/2013 at 04:38 AM

I think it's just proactive excuse setting.

Anything negative that happens in the next few months, he's covered all the bases and can say "told you so"


bigann - 2/20/2013 at 05:02 AM

Somehow 1.2 trillion dollars saved over 10 years doesn't really sound like very much.


Fujirich - 2/20/2013 at 06:39 AM

And they're not real cuts, as in actual reductions compared to current spending levels. They're cuts from projected spending increases.

Kinda like someone planning on gaining 20 pounds over the holidays with binge eating, changing the plan to only gain 15, and then proclaiming to the world that they've lost 5 lbs (and shouldn't we be so impressed!).

The beauties of baseline govt accounting at work.


nebish - 2/20/2013 at 02:55 PM

quote:
Never mind that this is for something he agreed to months before.


I'd like to expand upon that a minute. How extremely dishonest it is to make speech against these automatic cuts that the President 1) knew would take place 2) publicly acknowledged such 3) signed a bill that included said automatic spending cuts. Now he is arguing against them and painting the opposition party as the villain.

From a briefing the President gave November 2011 (emphasis added):

quote:
Now, we are not in the same situation that we were -- that we were in in August. There is no imminent threat to us defaulting on the debt that we owe. There are already $1 trillion worth of spending cuts that are locked in. And part of the law that I signed this summer stated that if Congress could not reach an agreement on the deficit, there would be another $1.2 trillion of automatic cuts in 2013 -– divided equally between domestic spending and defense spending.

One way or another, we will be trimming the deficit by a total of at least $2.2 trillion over the next 10 years. That's going to happen, one way or another. We've got $1 trillion locked in, and either Congress comes up with $1.2 trillion, which so far they've failed to do, or the sequester kicks in and these automatic spending cuts will occur that bring in an additional $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction.

Now, the question right now is whether we can reduce the deficit in a way that helps the economy grow, that operates with a scalpel, not with a hatchet, and if not, whether Congress is willing to stick to the painful deal that we made in August for the automatic cuts. Already, some in Congress are trying to undo these automatic spending cuts.

My message to them is simple: No. I will veto any effort to get rid of those automatic spending cuts to domestic and defense spending. There will be no easy off ramps on this one.



He says he will veto any effort to undo the automatic cuts, then goes on TV yesterday saying he wants the automatic spending cuts undone or altered.

I tried watching the President yesterday, but I have never felt like I was hearing such a load of crap in my life. And feeling as if I am in the twilight zone, I agreed with Howard Dean before leading up to the fiscal cliff situation and I agree with him now. A brief statement from Dean in an interview with Huffington:

quote:
But why cut spending now?

Because we have a chance now. We don’t have a chance later. These guys are incapable of getting anything done so they’ve put themselves in this box and I don’t think they’re going to cut spending later on. Most of the cuts they make are hocus-pocus.
quote:


dutchoneill - 2/20/2013 at 05:42 PM

The Teflon Don got nothing on this guy


gina - 2/22/2013 at 01:43 AM

quote:
So I'm listening to the Prez earlier today - usually a mistake, but someday he might say some important - and he's all worked up over the looming sequester cuts. Since it's another opportunity to show that famous Obama bipartisan warmth and comity, he went into his usual act; got out the flamethrower and hosed down everything and everyone who doesn't agree with him with napalm.

Never mind that this is for something he agreed to months before. And I won't defend Congress for a second for not doing their job.

But let's take a moment to consider what these "cuts" really equate to. It's $85 billion, which anywhere other than govt would sound like a lot. $85 billion is 2.36% of total Federal spending. But that's split in half, between defense and the rest of spending. So in the end, we're talking only $42.5 billion, or 1.18% of Federal spending might face some cuts.

Does any sane person believe that 1.18% of non-defense spending is so sacrosanct that it would cause the following...

-- eviscerate job-creating investments in education, energy, and medical research

-- emergency responders ability to help communities will be degraded

-- border patrol agents will have hours reduced

-- FBI agents will be furloughed

-- Federal prosecutors will have to close cases and let criminals go

-- air traffic controller and airport security will see cutbacks

-- thousands of teachers and educators will be laid off

-- ten's of thousands of parents will have to find new child care for their kids

-- hundreds of thousands will lose access to primary care, preventive care, like flu vaccinations and cancer screenings

-- will add hundreds of thousands of Americans to the unemployment roles


Does anyone really believe that reducing Federal non-military spending by 1.18% is going to cause all this? And even if believed and true, how have we let our situation become so dire that a cut of a measly 1% - sorry; 1.18% - will cause all this havoc?

Hey Mr. President; families all over this nation have faced cuts far greater, and are finding ways to cope as best they can. None of them are crying about a 1% cut meaning the end of everything. Why can't you?

Of course it's all politics and nonsense. Who believes any of this bs?


Actually there will be tradeoffs if all these things happen. Some industries will benefit from it.

3. Border patrol agents will have their hours reduced. Well that should increase the smuggling, which is good for the DEA, they may get some overtime, also good for the local police who will have more work once drugs hit the streets of the towns. Good for the hospitals when people overdose, lots of people are needed to work to take care of the patients, the lab has to run toxicology etc. If the patient dies, the funeral homes make some money off of it.

It is good for the mafia who help to move the drugs that come in from the decreased border patrol agents being laid off. They will buy nice condos and homes, have nice dinners and luncheons helping the real estate and restaurant industies. They will take more trips to go stash money or make sure it has arrived in off shore accounts, good for the airline and travel industries. Then with all that stress they will need more vacations, so good for tourism too. Crime funds many businesses and their employees that is the point.

4. FBI agents furloughed. Well crime will increase, so they will have more to do when they return, people will abscond etc. They will eat out more chasing them, good for restaurant industry, they will be more stressed and need more vacations, good for tourism and travel.

5. Airport security cutbacks - well maybe the TSA agents will be less obnoxious if they get more time off to relax. Air traffic controllers can catch up on their emails with their time off.

6. Thousands of teachers laid off. They work hard, they can get unemployment, they might even start new careers or their own businesses. It is sad for them but might turn out to lead them to something better.

7. Losing access to medical care. Everyone who gets laid off, from day one should apply for Medicaid, so that if something catastrophic happens at least they can get some care. The recert is usually one year, they do not have to apply for any other social service benefits, they can apply for the medical coverage by itself or the food stamps by itself. Depending on if they get unemployment that may influence the determinations, but they should at least apply for the medical. Next year Obamacare kicks in and everyone even the unemployed will get some form of medical care.

People need to realize that the economy is not going to grow the jobs back that were lost. People will have to think differently and work part time jobs for money or relocate if they are in someplace with high unemployment to a place where it is cheaper to live. People who realize they can no longer make their mortgage payments because their job is gone should start looking into cheaper apartments, try to sell their homes even at a loss, there are real estate companies in NY (like ERA) who will pay you cash with fast closings and then they take your home on as their inventory and try to sell it for more than they paid you. You get your money, go elsewhere, buy something smaller outright or rent. This is what you gotta do in these times.








[Edited on 2/22/2013 by gina]


Peachypetewi - 2/22/2013 at 02:29 AM

I just want someone, anyone to give me one single example in the history of the world where taking capital out of the economy of a country helped it grow.


Peachypetewi - 2/22/2013 at 02:30 AM

I just want someone, anyone to give me one single example in the history of the world where taking capital out of the economy of a country helped the economy grow.

[Edited on 2/22/2013 by Peachypetewi]


OriginalGoober - 2/22/2013 at 01:34 PM

quote:
I just want someone, anyone to give me one single example in the history of the world where taking capital out of the economy of a country helped the economy grow.

[Edited on 2/22/2013 by Peachypetewi]


True, but capital is only one part of the equation. You also need human capital Intelligent people to use it wisely and not waste it which is where we are at this stage , IMO.


Fujirich - 2/23/2013 at 07:32 AM

More distortion and lies from personnel in the current Administration

It's obvious that govt has completely lost any concept that they work for the people, since they refuse to accept the slightest of inconveniences to adjust their spending to tax revenue and budgetary realities...

quote:
Why close airports? FAA’s annual budget for ‘consultants’ is larger than sequestration cuts

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood threatened to shut down airports if Congress does not undo sequestration, even though the Federal Aviation Administration annual budget for consultants, travel, and supplies is larger than the sequester cut.

“At DOT, we will need to cut nearly a billion dollars, which will affect dozens of our programs. Over $600 million of these cuts will need to come from the Federal Aviation Administration, the agency that controls and manages our nation’s skies,” LaHood said during the White House press briefing. “As a result of these cuts, the vast majority of FAA’s [Federal Aviation Administration] nearly 47,000 employees will be furloughed for approximately one day per pay period until the end of the fiscal year, and in some cases it could be as many as two days.”

The Republicans who oversee LaHood’s department accused him of dishonesty after the briefing. “[T]oday’s exaggerations are not backed up by any real financial data,” House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., said in a joint statement with Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J. “The agency is well positioned to absorb spending reductions without compromising the safety or efficiency of the National Airspace System,” they added.

The lawmakers proposed a better way to handle sequestration. “Before implementing furloughs, the FAA should review their $2.7 billion in non-personnel costs such as $500 million for consultants, and $200 million for supplies and travel,” congressional Republicans countered in a fact sheet.

LaHood avoided telling reporters what he already knows about how FAA could handle the sequestration cuts. “Did any of these conversations happen at the end of December last year with the unions and with the airlines?” one reporter asked.

“When we thought that there was going to be a sequester, of course . . . the answer is yes, of course,” LaHood replied, before moving to another question before explaining what he had learned in those conversations.

The Republicans also argued that LaHood overestimated the sequesters effect on the FAA’s budget. They predict that the FAA’s budget will be $487 million lower than expected, not $600 million — which would mean that the FAA’s annual budget for “consultants” alone is larger than the spending cut required under sequestration.

ABC’s Jonathan Karl observed, after the briefing, that “even if the cuts go into effect, the Department of Transportation will spend more money this year ($73.2 billion) than it spent last year ($72.6 billion).”



Fujirich - 2/23/2013 at 07:47 AM

"It's difficult to take these doomsday scenarios seriously when the Pentagon can't even audit its own books"

So why is Obama leading the call to halt or postpone the sequester cuts when it's obvious spending is so out of control that many departments don't even know what and where they are spending, and they're all going to be spending more this year than last - even if the sequester happens!!

Why does anyone believe anything from our govt any more?

quote:
Byron York: Budget hawks question Pentagon's doomsday scenarios

There's no doubt President Obama is using the so-called Washington Monument maneuver in the fight with Republicans over sequestration budget cuts. It's a time-honored tactic of bureaucratic warfare: When faced with cuts, pick the best-known and most revered symbol of government and threaten to shut it down. Close the Washington Monument and say, "See? This is what happens when you cut the budget." Meanwhile, all sorts of other eminently cuttable government expenditures go untouched.

So now Obama is warning of drastic cuts in food safety, air traffic control, police and fire protection -- in all sorts of services that will allegedly be slashed if the rate of growth of some parts of the federal budget is slowed.

But perhaps the biggest example of the Washington Monument maneuver is coming from the Defense Department, where it goes by another name. Over many decades of defense budget battles, the Pentagon has often used a tactic known as a "gold watch." It means to answer a budget cut proposal by selecting for elimination a program so important and valued -- a gold watch -- that Pentagon chiefs know political leaders will restore funding rather than go through with the cut.

So now, with sequestration approaching, the Pentagon has announced that the possibility of budget cuts has forced the Navy to delay deployment of the carrier USS Harry S. Truman to the Persian Gulf. With tensions with Iran as high as they've ever been, that would leave the U.S. with just one carrier, instead of the preferred two, in that deeply troubled region.

"Already, the threat of these cuts has forced the Navy to delay an aircraft carrier that was supposed to deploy to the Persian Gulf," Obama said at a White House appearance on Tuesday, in case anyone missed the news.

Some military analysts were immediately suspicious. "A total gold watch," said one retired general officer who asked not to be named. Military commentator and retired Army Lt. Col. Ralph Peters called the Navy's move "ostentatious," comparing it to "Donald Trump claiming he can't afford a cab."

And Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., a Marine veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, is worried not only about the Truman decision but also the Navy's announcement that it cannot afford to refuel another carrier, the USS Abraham Lincoln. "I am concerned that these decisions are being made for the purpose of adding drama to the sequestration debate," Hunter wrote in a Feb. 12 letter to the Pentagon, "given the continuation of other programs that are worthy of cost-cuts or even elimination."

Meanwhile, with a budget higher than it was even at the peak of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the Pentagon is resisting attempts to force it to audit its own finances. Congress passed a law back in 1990 requiring such an audit, to no avail. Last year, Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., introduced the Audit the Pentagon Act, which would try again to force a look inside the maze of Pentagon spending.

Now, with the Defense Department sounding the alarm about sequestration, some budget hawks on Capitol Hill are doubtful. "It's difficult to take these doomsday scenarios seriously when the Pentagon can't even audit its own books," says a spokesman for Coburn. "We would argue that the Defense Department has the authority to reprioritize funding toward vital needs and away from less vital spending. As Sen. Coburn has detailed, the department spends nearly $70 billion each year on 'nondefense' defense spending that has nothing to do with our national security."

If the sequestration cuts go into effect, many members of Congress will be watching the Pentagon closely. Hunter, for example, will monitor the Navy's "Green Fleet" biofuel initiative that cost $170 million in 2012-2013, as well as a troubled battlefield software system that has cost $28 billion. Others will be watching for conventional waste. When sequestration came, what did Pentagon leaders cut?

"If you laid off these people, or you diverted this aircraft carrier, then why did you go ahead and travel to a conference in Bermuda or continue to pay contractors' inflated salaries?" says one Senate aide. "Those are the questions we are going to ask."

All the lawmakers involved would rather see more carefully considered budget cuts than are called for in the sequestration law. And all realize the unique and respected nature of the Defense Department's mission; one visit to Arlington National Cemetery proves that.

But budget hawks also know that the Pentagon houses some of the most accomplished bureaucratic infighters in government. And with sequestration nearly here, they know a gold watch when they see one.



Fujirich - 2/23/2013 at 07:55 AM

Woodward sets the record straight on where the sequester idea came from and what was agree to...

quote:
Obama’s sequester deal-changer

By Bob Woodward, Published: February 22


Misunderstanding, misstatements and all the classic contortions of partisan message management surround the sequester, the term for the $85?billion in ugly and largely irrational federal spending cuts set by law to begin Friday.

What is the non-budget wonk to make of this? Who is responsible? What really happened?

The finger-pointing began during the third presidential debate last fall, on Oct. 22, when President Obama blamed Congress. “The sequester is not something that I’ve proposed,” Obama said. “It is something that Congress has proposed.”

The White House chief of staff at the time, Jack Lew, who had been budget director during the negotiations that set up the sequester in 2011, backed up the president two days later.

“There was an insistence on the part of Republicans in Congress for there to be some automatic trigger,” Lew said while campaigning in Florida. It “was very much rooted in the Republican congressional insistence that there be an automatic measure.”

The president and Lew had this wrong. My extensive reporting for my book “The Price of Politics” shows that the automatic spending cuts were initiated by the White House and were the brainchild of Lew and White House congressional relations chief Rob Nabors — probably the foremost experts on budget issues in the senior ranks of the federal government.

Obama personally approved of the plan for Lew and Nabors to propose the sequester to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). They did so at 2:30 p.m. July 27, 2011, according to interviews with two senior White House aides who were directly involved.

Nabors has told others that they checked with the president before going to see Reid. A mandatory sequester was the only action-forcing mechanism they could devise. Nabors has said, “We didn’t actually think it would be that hard to convince them” — Reid and the Republicans — to adopt the sequester. “It really was the only thing we had. There was not a lot of other options left on the table.”

A majority of Republicans did vote for the Budget Control Act that summer, which included the sequester. Key Republican staffers said they didn’t even initially know what a sequester was — because the concept stemmed from the budget wars of the 1980s, when they were not in government.

At the Feb. 13 Senate Finance Committee hearing on Lew’s nomination to become Treasury secretary, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) asked Lew about the account in my book: “Woodward credits you with originating the plan for sequestration. Was he right or wrong?”

“It’s a little more complicated than that,” Lew responded, “and even in his account, it was a little more complicated than that. We were in a negotiation where the failure would have meant the default of the government of the United States.”

“Did you make the suggestion?” Burr asked.

“Well, what I did was said that with all other options closed, we needed to look for an option where we could agree on how to resolve our differences. And we went back to the 1984 plan that Senator [Phil] Gramm and Senator [Warren] Rudman worked on and said that that would be a basis for having a consequence that would be so unacceptable to everyone that we would be able to get action.”

In other words, yes.

But then Burr asked about the president’s statement during the presidential debate, that the Republicans originated it.

Lew, being a good lawyer and a loyal presidential adviser, then shifted to denial mode: “Senator, the demand for an enforcement mechanism was not something that the administration was pushing at that moment.”

That statement was not accurate.

On Tuesday, Obama appeared at the White House with a group of police officers and firefighters to denounce the sequester as a “meat-cleaver approach” that would jeopardize military readiness and investments in education, energy and readiness. He also said it would cost jobs. But, the president said, the substitute would have to include new revenue through tax reform.

At noon that same day, White House press secretary Jay Carney shifted position and accepted sequester paternity.

“The sequester was something that was discussed,” Carney said. Walking back the earlier statements, he added carefully, “and as has been reported, it was an idea that the White House put forward.”

This was an acknowledgment that the president and Lew had been wrong.

Why does this matter?

First, months of White House dissembling further eroded any semblance of trust between Obama and congressional Republicans. (The Republicans are by no means blameless and have had their own episodes of denial and bald-faced message management.)

Second, Lew testified during his confirmation hearing that the Republicans would not go along with new revenue in the portion of the deficit-reduction plan that became the sequester. Reinforcing Lew’s point, a senior White House official said Friday, “The sequester was an option we were forced to take because the Republicans would not do tax increases.”

In fact, the final deal reached between Vice President Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in 2011 included an agreement that there would be no tax increases in the sequester in exchange for what the president was insisting on: an agreement that the nation’s debt ceiling would be increased for 18 months, so Obama would not have to go through another such negotiation in 2012, when he was running for reelection.

So when the president asks that a substitute for the sequester include not just spending cuts but also new revenue, he is moving the goal posts. His call for a balanced approach is reasonable, and he makes a strong case that those in the top income brackets could and should pay more. But that was not the deal he made.



DougMacKenzie - 2/23/2013 at 02:17 PM

What a steaming mess, all the way around.


nebish - 2/23/2013 at 05:05 PM

This whole situation is just so crazy.

To think that the federal budget can not be cut by under 2.5% without the sky falling is so absurd. Like one of the articles stated, the DOT for instance would still be spending more in FY '13 than they did last year after the sequester cuts.

The DOD budget was lower at the peak of Iraq and Afghanistan wars than it is now!!

It is time for the public sector to get some financial accountability and fiscal responsibility.

The drama and scare tactics being created here are unbearable. Let's see them be forced to cut and then let's see what they cut and what they don't.


jim - 2/23/2013 at 05:10 PM

Government by freakout..or should I say by freaks.

I heard an interesting idea from an Air Force Colonel. He said a great way to cut the military budget is to trim all of the people who fail their annual physical fitness test. He said you'd cut the defense budget by at least 20%.


Fujirich - 2/24/2013 at 01:27 AM

If the sequester is going to bring massive disruptions to the average citizen, and in general bring the country to its knees, then perhaps it's time to look at trimming some of this nonsense...


quote:
CO: Secret energy lab spawns million dollar govt employee

By Tori Richards and Earl Glynn | Colorado Watchdog

GOLDEN, Colo. – The federal government’s dream of a renewable energy empire hinges on a scrubby outpost here, where scientists and executives doggedly explore a new frontier.

If you live outside Colorado, you probably haven’t heard of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory – NREL for short. It’s the place where solar panels, windmills and corn are deemed the energy source of the future and companies who support such endeavors are courted.

It’s also the place where highly paid staff decide how to spend hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars.

And the public pays those decision-makers well: NREL’s top executive, Dr. Dan Arvizu, makes close to a million dollars per year. His two top lieutenants rake in more than half a million each and nine others make more than $350,000 a year.

But what is really going on there? Energy expert Amy Oliver Cooke drove out to the site, which looks something like Nevada’s Area 51 with its remote location and forbidding concrete buildings. NREL had started a construction project and Cooke wanted to see for herself. She didn’t get far: a man in an SUV seemingly appeared out of nowhere, stopped her car, and told her to leave.

“A beefy looking fellow told me, ‘It’s top secret,’ said Cooke, director of the Energy Policy Center at the Independence Institute think tank. “I said, ‘I’m a taxpayer and I want to see what you’re building’ and he said it was it was ‘top secret so we can bring Americans a better future.’”

With its bloated budget and overseen by a $533 million a year government-funded management company, Cooke isn’t buying it.

“NREL has given us two of the most significant boondoggles, one of them being ethanol and the other being (bankrupt) Abound Solar,” she said. “They were part of the team that pushed Abound Solar along. In fact, they wrote in March 2011 on their website how proud they were of their role in Abound Solar.

“Am I impressed with NREL? No, not really,” she said.

NREL’s taxpayer-funded management company has seen its budget more than double since 2006. That’s when one of its most ardent supporters, Rep. Ed Perlmutter D-Lakewood, was first elected to Congress. The lab sits in the middle of his district.

But Perlmutter’s ties go beyond merely promoting green legislation and lobbying his colleagues for NREL funds. He has received $12,670 in campaign contributions from executives of NREL and its management company, MRIGlobal, a company that describes itself as “an independent, not-for-profit organization that performs contract research for government and industry.” Perlmuter’s father has served as a trustee for MRI and MRIGlobal during the past decade. Between 2003 and 2005, Perlmutter was also a trustee. These positions were unpaid.

Perlmutter did not respond to phone calls seeking comment for this story.

FOLLOWING THE MONEY

Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, NREL started in 1977 as the Solar Energy Research Institute, a Jimmy Carter-era response to the 1973 Mideast oil crisis. Its budget, then about $100 million, was slashed during the Reagan era.

By the time Perlmutter was elected, NREL’s budget was $209.6 million. It increased steadily before ballooning to $536.5, a beneficiary of President Obama’s stimulus plan and a $135 million contract spread out over five years to construct a new science center. Its current $352 million budget is down slightly from last year’s $388.6 million.

From its inception, NREL has been managed by MRIGlobal, back then called the Midwest Research Institute.

To handle lab management, MRIGlobal partnered with Ohio-based Battelle Memorial Institute, which describes itself as “the world’s largest nonprofit research and development organization.” The pair formed Alliance for Sustainable Energy, a separate non-profit in 2008, for the sole purpose of managing NREL and installed NREL’s top executives as its directors.

Despite record federal debt, municipal bankruptcies and a nagging global recession, those executives enjoy pay packages that are out of reach of most Americans who pay their salaries. MRIGlobal and Alliance tax tax documents obtained by Watchdog show most earned well into six-figures:

• Dan Arvizu, Alliance president and NREL director

2010: $928,069

2009: $691,570

2008: $652,159

• Bobi Garrett, NREL senior vice president of Outreach, Planning and Analysis

2010: $524,226.

2009: $398,022

• William Glover, NREL deputy lab director and CEO (retired)

2010: $557,571

2009: $407,361

2008: $315,465

• Catherine Porto, NREL senior vice president

2010: $406,339

2009: $223,553

The budget to manage Alliance is mind-boggling — and rising. For 2010, tax documents show, Alliance received $532.9 million from the Department of Energy, a whopping $189 million more than they were paid in 2008.

In 2010, MRIGlobal’s tax return shows DOE funding of $104.8 million, while Battelle’s tax return reported $4.55 billion in government grants. Its activities included management of five national laboratories (including NREL) and operating as subcontractor at a sixth.

However, at least one expert who has studied NREL doesn’t see any problem with the fact that the agency is overseen by a management company.

“I have no problems with the contractors operating the lab. They would do a much more efficient job than the government,” said Nick Loris, an energy policy analyst with the Heritage Foundation. “It should lower the cost of these projects.”

But what Loris doesn’t like is the entire concept of placing the government in a role of making energy affordable. That should be a job for the private sector.

“It’s not the government’s role to make energy cheaper. There is no reason the taxpayer should subsidize this,” he said. “We’ve seen the failures when the government gets involved in these projects. If they are going to be successful in the marketplace, they wouldn’t need help from the government”

UNSUSTAINABLE LEVELS

In fact, the billions that have been siphoned into renewable energy have yet to produce a fraction of the promised return, Cooke claims.

Solar and wind still remain prohibitively expensive and not viable for general use as are corn and wood chips to fuel cars. Yet NREL labs continue to work to this end. Cooke predicts that numerous taxpayer-subsidized companies will go bankrupt in the coming years just as the overinflated housing market came crashing down.

And it’s not just the money, she said. It’s the environmental threat.

“I’ll tell you what’s pollution,” Cooke said. “It’s solar panels and wind turbines abandoned — things with toxic chemicals in them,” she said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen to these things. What do you do with a farm of abandoned wind turbines that are 500 feet tall?”

Despite its bloated stimulus funding, there are signs of financial trouble at NREL. The company offered to buy out 100 jobs when its budget dropped between 2011 and 2012.

Perlmutter spokeswoman Leslie Oliver expressed concern about the buyouts, calling NREL the nation’s green energy “crown jewel” and a driving economic force, the Denver Post reported.

“What about next year?” Oliver said. “Where does this stop?”

On his website, Perlmutter blamed Republicans for the cuts and claimed NREL generates 5,500 jobs. Its direct workforce is listed at 1,700.

By all accounts, Perlmutter’s relationship with NREL will continue. He spent two years trying to pass legislation to give solar companies a break with bankers before successfully adding the language to the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009.

He is co-chairman of the New Democrat Coalition Energy Task Force, part of the Financial Services Committee. Perlmutter has leveraged that role to keep alive a 20-year-old energy tax credit to producers of wind technology.

That credit would have expired at the end of the year. But the Financial Services Committee produced a bill to extend the credit for another year, which carries a cost of $12 billion over the next decade, The Hill reported. It faces stiff opposition from House Republicans.

Meanwhile, as energy expert Cooke predicts, the green business is still shaking out unsustainable ventures. The Danish wind company Vestas, which has several Colorado production sites, announced on Nov. 7 that it will shed 6,700 jobs through the end of next year.

Who’s to blame for the industry’s troubles? Government subsidies? Poorly run companies? Insufficient demand? Foreign competition?

Perlmutter blamed the Tea Party.

“It is clean and it is the future of energy production,” Perlmutter wrote on his website. “Until the Tea Party took over this has always been a simple, noncontroversial tax credit.”

http://watchdog.org/62420/co-secret-energy-lab-spawns-million-dollar-govt-e mployee/



alloak41 - 2/28/2013 at 07:01 PM


President Panic is now backpeddling a little on the severity these cuts will entail. In about another month though, the government runs out of money (again) and things will return to a severe crisis again.


gondicar - 3/1/2013 at 03:50 PM

Let the sequester begin. The mere threat of the sequester didn't work. Congress went on vacation two weeks ago and did nothing about it this week. The President is not blameless here but unlike his Republican colleagues, he is not tied to a no-tax-increase-ever dogma that is blind to the empirical effects of its implementation. As has been said, elections have a meaning (think back to W after the 2004 election when he said the election gave him "political capital" and he was going to "spend it"). Obama ran pretty clearly on some tax increase as did every other Democratic congressperson. On an aggregate basis, the results of the 2012 election showed that the Democratic viewpoint won. Even though Republicans held on to their House majority (in part due to gerrymandering), Democrats had almost a million more votes nationally than Republicans. Whatever happened to that quaint old concept that the majority rules?


OriginalGoober - 3/1/2013 at 04:50 PM


I dont know where you have been but i am taking home over 200.00 less each month suince Jan 2013 which is real money. All working Americans are seeing less in their paychecks so for all intents and purposes, we have had a tax increase and its now time to cut the spending without grabbing even more out of peoples checks.


sixty8 - 3/1/2013 at 05:34 PM

This all could be ended very simply. Just ged rid of the stupid and unfair tax breaks and loopholes that are on the books for the wealthy to use and jump through to avoid paying their full tax bill. Very simple! Then they will get some smart and balanced spending cuts in return as they have been offered.


er1016 - 3/1/2013 at 06:05 PM

quote:
This all could be ended very simply. Just ged rid of the stupid and unfair tax breaks and loopholes that are on the books for the wealthy to use and jump through to avoid paying their full tax bill.


Correct me if I am wrong but isn't closing tax loop holes one of the main things republicans have been pushing in lieu of raising taxes to increase revenue for quiet some time now......And was dismissed by the WH and the great Harry Reid.

quote:
Very simple! Then they will get some smart and balanced spending cuts in return as they have been offered.


Why not just offer some smart and balance spending cuts for the good of the country? Why say only after you do so and so, that type of mentality is what has gotten us in the position we are in now. Its time to stop the bullsh#t......


dutchoneill - 3/1/2013 at 06:39 PM

quote:
This all could be ended very simply. Just ged rid of the stupid and unfair tax breaks and loopholes that are on the books for the wealthy to use and jump through to avoid paying their full tax bill. Very simple! Then they will get some smart and balanced spending cuts in return as they have been offered.


Oh, don't worry about that , its all coming, and no one will be un touched by the taxes heading our way.


jerryphilbob - 3/1/2013 at 06:50 PM

quote:
This all could be ended very simply. Just ged rid of the stupid and unfair tax breaks and loopholes that are on the books for the wealthy to use and jump through to avoid paying their full tax bill


This all could be ended very simply. Just ged rid of the stupid and unfair tax breaks and loopholes that are on the books for the corporations to use and jump through to avoid paying their full tax bill.


sixty8 - 3/1/2013 at 06:56 PM

quote:
quote:
This all could be ended very simply. Just ged rid of the stupid and unfair tax breaks and loopholes that are on the books for the wealthy to use and jump through to avoid paying their full tax bill.


Correct me if I am wrong but isn't closing tax loop holes one of the main things republicans have been pushing in lieu of raising taxes to increase revenue for quiet some time now......And was dismissed by the WH and the great Harry Reid.

quote:
Very simple! Then they will get some smart and balanced spending cuts in return as they have been offered.


Why not just offer some smart and balance spending cuts for the good of the country? Why say only after you do so and so, that type of mentality is what has gotten us in the position we are in now. Its time to stop the bullsh#t......


1. The Republicans offered dumping the loopholes before the reduced tax increases they got the last round. They do not want to budge on the loopholes and deductions now saying that they already made their tax cuts and will do nothing more.

2. Because if he were to offer up balanced spending cuts without linking it to increasing revenue on the other side the Republicans will never agree to dump the loopholes and deductions. The Republicans if they had their way would make draconian spending cuts that would harm far too many people without any tax cuts or dumping of the unfair tax regulations for the wealthy. Hell, if they had it their way they wouldn't have raised taxes a dime and would completely dump Medicare which would hurt tons of people and also hurt the economy as well as doing something stupid with social security like W Bush's lame brain idea of linking SS to the stock market.

The President won the election and all of the polls showed that the American people were in favor of tax increases for those making over $400,000. Well, taxes only went up for those making $300,000 so that was a compromise on the Obama side. The Republicans have also gotten some spending cuts, not nearly what they want but Obama didn't get the level of taxation that he wanted from the wealthy either. That round is over and done with. This sequester thing is now a new and seperate deal. If they want spending cuts they need to offer equal in return and the loopholes and deductions are what is on the table if they want those spending cuts. The Republicans are gonna have to learn that if they want something they are gonna have to give something in return. That is how it works. They lost the election. When they win then they can call the shots.


jerryphilbob - 3/1/2013 at 07:07 PM

Sequester = Austerity

U.S. now on pace for European levels of austerity in 2013
Posted by Brad Plumer on January 2, 2013 at 3:09 pm

For years now, economists like Paul Krugman have been criticizing countries in Europe for engaging in too much austerity during the downturn — that is, enacting tax increases and spending cuts while their economies were still weak.

Coming to an American street near you. (AP)



But after this week’s fiscal cliff deal, the United States is now on pace to engage in about as much fiscal consolidation in 2013 as many European nations have been doing in recent years — and more than countries like Britain and Spain.

A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests Congress has enacted around $304 billion in tax hikes and spending cuts for the coming year, an austerity package that comes to about 1.9 percent of GDP. (That’s merely the size of the cuts and taxes; it’s not necessarily the effect on growth.)

This includes the expiration of the payroll tax cut, which will raise about $125 billion this year. It includes $50 billion in scheduled cuts to discretionary spending from the caps in the 2011 Budget Control Act, as well as $24 billion in new Obamacare taxes and $27 billion in new high-income taxes. It also includes about $78 billion from the now-delayed sequester cuts — assuming that these either take effect or are swapped with other cuts.*

Of course, the United States would be facing much, much more austerity if Congress had done nothing about the fiscal cliff this week and all the Bush tax cuts had expired. But even after the deal, we’ve still got the payroll tax increase and an array of spending cuts coming down the pike. Those aren’t minor. And economists expect them to exert some drag on the economy, even if it’s unclear exactly how much.

So how does the sheer scale of the U.S. austerity program for 2013 compare to what European countries have been doing over the past few years? We can get an approximate sense by looking at this paper from the European Trade Union Institute on the size of Europe’s various fiscal consolidation programs. A few comparisons:



Fair warning: These comparisons are far from perfect—finding a common baseline is tricky, and not all austerity measures have an equivalent effect on growth. But a few broad points stick out.

Britain has earned a lot of criticism for its austerity programs in the past two years. But at a total size of 1.5 and 1.6 percent of GDP, each of those two deficit-reduction years were smaller than what the United States is planning this year. The United States is also planning to cut and tax more heavily this year than Spain did in 2010 and 2011. Or France. That said, we’re nowhere near Greek or Portuguese or Irish levels of austerity.

Now, it’s possible to draw very different conclusions from this chart. One could argue that the U.S. is about to repeat Europe’s mistake of premature austerity. Alternatively, one could say that the United States is in a better position to begin trimming its deficits than Europe was, because our economy is healthier. (We also have a central bank that’s providing more aggressive monetary stimulus.)

Either way, Congress is starting to tighten fiscal policy this year. There’s not going to be a big cliff-induced recession, fortunately, but there will likely be a partial drag. JP Morgan’s Michael Feroli estimates that the tax hikes and spending cuts that have survived the cliff deal could shave at least 1 percentage point off U.S. economic growth in 2013. We’ll see how that prediction holds up.


[Edited on 3/1/2013 by jerryphilbob]


er1016 - 3/1/2013 at 08:51 PM

quote:


The President won the election and all of the polls showed that the American people were in favor of tax increases for those making over $400,000. Well, taxes only went up for those making $300,000 so that was a compromise on the Obama side. The Republicans have also gotten some spending cuts, not nearly what they want but Obama didn't get the level of taxation that he wanted from the wealthy either. That round is over and done with. This sequester thing is now a new and seperate deal. If they want spending cuts they need to offer equal in return and the loopholes and deductions are what is on the table if they want those spending cuts. The Republicans are gonna have to learn that if they want something they are gonna have to give something in return. That is how it works. They lost the election. When they win then they can call the shots.


1. Republicans have been touting closing tax loopholes for the past two years. And did so as an alternative to raising taxes. whether you (general term, not you specifically) agree or disagree with the proposal.

2. Sequester isn't a new and separate thing is a direct result of everyone in Washingtons refusal to do what needed to be done in the first place.

As I stated earlier, as long as this is the mentality in Washington we will continue to decline as a nation. Regardless of who is in charge ....


ScottyVII - 3/1/2013 at 11:59 PM



And there you have it...


rongabbard - 3/2/2013 at 12:07 AM

WOW! This is exactly why this country is circling the drain,the US took in more money in 2012 than ever before,expected to take in even more this year, yet its still not enough?What percentage of people are all these loopholes going to affect,how much is that going to raise?It still wont be enough to satisfy the left. no wonder nothing gets done in Washington, and we have the debt ceiling in a month?


nebish - 3/2/2013 at 04:36 AM

Finally Washington does something I agree with, allowing these budget cuts to take place. You can't leave it in the hands of these people to cut the debt and deficit manually because they are incapable of doing it and only ever come up with imaginary and hocus pocus future cuts. Automatic across the board cuts are the way to go, take it completely out of the hands of the politicians who only know how to point fingers and play blame games rather than govern. The President calls it dumb, I call it brilliant because it appears to be the only real way to cut federal spending. Republicans would never agree to cut defense budget in this way and Democrats would never agree to cut domestic spending in this manner. Real spending cuts and neither side is exactly happy with them.

This whole episode reminded me of a spoiled child who had some of their candy taken away.

The other thing that comes to mind is if these cuts were met with so much doom and gloom, imagine if there were substantial cuts facing Washington?


gina - 3/2/2013 at 05:09 PM

They plan to leave troops in Afghanistan till 2018 or later. Why is it that the government that represents we the people never bother to ask us what we want them to spend money on?


jerryphilbob - 3/3/2013 at 01:23 PM

Sequester = Austerity

Isn't financial warfare fun !!! (sarcasm)

These are all pictures from this week in other countries where austerity is clearly not working, or, I should say, working for the people. The banksters are enslaving entire nations in debt and spending cuts, seems to be working for them.
















Peachypetewi - 3/3/2013 at 03:41 PM

quote:
Finally Washington does something I agree with, allowing these budget cuts to take place. You can't leave it in the hands of these people to cut the debt and deficit manually because they are incapable of doing it and only ever come up with imaginary and hocus pocus future cuts. Automatic across the board cuts are the way to go, take it completely out of the hands of the politicians who only know how to point fingers and play blame games rather than govern. The President calls it dumb, I call it brilliant because it appears to be the only real way to cut federal spending. Republicans would never agree to cut defense budget in this way and Democrats would never agree to cut domestic spending in this manner. Real spending cuts and neither side is exactly happy with them.

This whole episode reminded me of a spoiled child who had some of their candy taken away.

The other thing that comes to mind is if these cuts were met with so much doom and gloom, imagine if there were substantial cuts facing Washington?


This is the stupidest possible action that could be taken at this time. Taking capital out of an economy that is already struggling will do nothing but hasten another deep recession. Concentrate on job creation to turn it around. Grow your revenue with job creation like Eisenhower and Clinton did and the rest will take care of itself. Get the completely ignorant and worthless House republicans to pass some job bills.


alloak41 - 3/3/2013 at 03:49 PM

quote:
Taking capital out of an economy that is already struggling will do nothing but hasten another deep recession.


True. The tax hikes will hurt an already feeble recovery.


sixty8 - 3/3/2013 at 06:21 PM

quote:
quote:
Taking capital out of an economy that is already struggling will do nothing but hasten another deep recession.


True. The tax hikes will hurt an already feeble recovery.


Tax hikes on the wealthiest will hurt the economy more than cuts that will take expendable income out of the pockets of the middle class and poor?????? Last time I looked the middle class and poor are the vast majority in the country so if they have less to spend I would think that would be more detrimental to the country than the wealthy ponying up more in taxes. They are thriving and doing fine. If they stop spending into the economy it is out of spite. If the middle class and poor now stop spending into the economy it is out of need and desperation. IMO taking money out of the middle class and poor's pockets in the form of spending cuts will do more damage to the economy than getting rid of ridiculous deductions and loopholes for the wealthy.


Fujirich - 3/3/2013 at 06:48 PM

quote:
quote:
Finally Washington does something I agree with, allowing these budget cuts to take place. You can't leave it in the hands of these people to cut the debt and deficit manually because they are incapable of doing it and only ever come up with imaginary and hocus pocus future cuts. Automatic across the board cuts are the way to go, take it completely out of the hands of the politicians who only know how to point fingers and play blame games rather than govern. The President calls it dumb, I call it brilliant because it appears to be the only real way to cut federal spending. Republicans would never agree to cut defense budget in this way and Democrats would never agree to cut domestic spending in this manner. Real spending cuts and neither side is exactly happy with them.

This whole episode reminded me of a spoiled child who had some of their candy taken away.

The other thing that comes to mind is if these cuts were met with so much doom and gloom, imagine if there were substantial cuts facing Washington?

This is the stupidest possible action that could be taken at this time. Taking capital out of an economy that is already struggling will do nothing but hasten another deep recession. Concentrate on job creation to turn it around. Grow your revenue with job creation like Eisenhower and Clinton did and the rest will take care of itself. Get the completely ignorant and worthless House republicans to pass some job bills.

Clinton and Eisenhower were smart enough to recognize that a healthy private economy comes first, and is the reason everything else in the country - including govt spending - is possible.

The moron currently in office has no such understanding, has no remote idea how the economy works, doesn't care, and believes that govt is the source of all that is possible.

The poor and middle class will be left worse off by his policies, his economic stupidity, his jihad against the rich, and all his rhetoric about "fairness".

"Jobs bills"? What happened to all the "jobs" from that almost trillion spent a few years ago? How many times does something have to fail before the "Govt First, Always, and Only" crowd learns their lesson?


alloak41 - 3/3/2013 at 06:58 PM

quote:
quote:
quote:
Taking capital out of an economy that is already struggling will do nothing but hasten another deep recession.


True. The tax hikes will hurt an already feeble recovery.


Tax hikes on the wealthiest will hurt the economy more than cuts that will take expendable income out of the pockets of the middle class and poor?????? Last time I looked the middle class and poor are the vast majority in the country so if they have less to spend I would think that would be more detrimental to the country than the wealthy ponying up more in taxes.


Payroll taxes just went up on everybody, including the middle class and poor. Sure, it was a temporary measure but it's still a tax hike that leaves everybody with less to spend.


dougrhon - 3/4/2013 at 05:14 PM

quote:
quote:
quote:
Finally Washington does something I agree with, allowing these budget cuts to take place. You can't leave it in the hands of these people to cut the debt and deficit manually because they are incapable of doing it and only ever come up with imaginary and hocus pocus future cuts. Automatic across the board cuts are the way to go, take it completely out of the hands of the politicians who only know how to point fingers and play blame games rather than govern. The President calls it dumb, I call it brilliant because it appears to be the only real way to cut federal spending. Republicans would never agree to cut defense budget in this way and Democrats would never agree to cut domestic spending in this manner. Real spending cuts and neither side is exactly happy with them.

This whole episode reminded me of a spoiled child who had some of their candy taken away.

The other thing that comes to mind is if these cuts were met with so much doom and gloom, imagine if there were substantial cuts facing Washington?

This is the stupidest possible action that could be taken at this time. Taking capital out of an economy that is already struggling will do nothing but hasten another deep recession. Concentrate on job creation to turn it around. Grow your revenue with job creation like Eisenhower and Clinton did and the rest will take care of itself. Get the completely ignorant and worthless House republicans to pass some job bills.

Clinton and Eisenhower were smart enough to recognize that a healthy private economy comes first, and is the reason everything else in the country - including govt spending - is possible.

The moron currently in office has no such understanding, has no remote idea how the economy works, doesn't care, and believes that govt is the source of all that is possible.

The poor and middle class will be left worse off by his policies, his economic stupidity, his jihad against the rich, and all his rhetoric about "fairness".

"Jobs bills"? What happened to all the "jobs" from that almost trillion spent a few years ago? How many times does something have to fail before the "Govt First, Always, and Only" crowd learns their lesson?


"Capitalism is the unequal distribution of blessing. Socialism is the equal distribution of misery."
-Winston Churchill.


Fujirich - 3/4/2013 at 06:50 PM

If the tiny cuts represented via sequestration are so damaging, then why hasn't Mr. Fairness considered the impacts of his own spending?

Yup, he's looking out for the middle class and poor alright....


quote:
Senator: Obama's Golf Weekend With Tiger Cost As Much As 341 Federal Workers Furloughed

"There is nothing just or virtuous about protecting a stale welfare state that is failing the people it is supposed to help."

In a sharply written statement, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama blasts President Obama for campaigning and not governing. He calls Obama's response to the sequestration "the most cynical behavior I have seen during my time in Washington."

Adds the senator, "Replacing the sequester would require the President to save $85 billion out of a $3,500 billion federal budget. One would think that any President would leap at the opportunity to make government more effective and responsive. But what does the President do instead? He says Republicans are ‘cutting vital services for children’ in order to ‘benefit the well-off and well-connected.’ This has been the strategy now for years: block any attempt to reform the government and then relentlessly attack the reformers. Does any lawmaker, reporter, or citizen believe that the only way to save taxpayer dollars is to hurt children, that every government program is effective and helpful and not one penny is wasted?"

Sessions is the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee.

"While the White House operatives may think this attack is clever, it betrays an astonishing elitism: the federal government is perfect and requires no reform. That is why they have no plan to make our government leaner and more efficient. The President had 18 months to develop reforms to improve the government, but instead he announced furloughs of federal workers as a political cudgel. Yet, his golf weekend at the yacht club with Tiger Woods cost taxpayers over a million dollars—enough money to save 341 federal workers from furlough," Sessions writes.

"These workers know firsthand how much waste and inefficiency exists in the government. Our Budget Committee office will look for a way to solicit federal employees to send suggestions for how to save money in their departments, agencies, and divisions. What is better? To furlough someone or to empower them to make their office more efficient?

"Now, we learn that the President is going to submit his budget plan—which contains his recommendations to Congress, the reason the law requires it to be submitted early in February before our budget work begins—on March 25th. Yet he will be submitting it after the House and Senate have produced a budget proposal and adjourned for Easter. So while the President speaks of his deep concern for American workers and families, he fails to even submit to Congress his financial plan to help those workers and families. Why then doesn’t the President furlough his entire 500 person staff at the Office of Management and Budget instead of threatening teachers and law enforcement personnel? The budget deals with more than just deficits. It is the chief executive’s plan for American prosperity. What does it mean that he doesn’t want to lay that out? He is the CEO of the Executive Branch and every cabinet official and government employee answers to him. It is his duty to the American people to be the person advancing reform, not blocking it.

"Also at issue is the fact that our massive federal government is, right now, creating poverty and hurting families. Look at cities like Baltimore, Chicago, and Detroit. Raising taxes—instead of reforming government—denies struggling Americans the help they need. There is nothing just or virtuous about protecting a stale welfare state that is failing the people it is supposed to help. President Obama is defending the bureaucracy at the expense of the people.

"It is time for the President to end the permanent campaign and work with both parties to make this government work better."

http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/senator-obamas-golf-weekend-tiger-cost- much-341-federal-workers-furloughed_704915.html



er1016 - 3/4/2013 at 09:37 PM

quote:
If the tiny cuts represented via sequestration are so damaging, then why hasn't Mr. Fairness considered the impacts of his own spending?

Yup, he's looking out for the middle class and poor alright....


quote:
Senator: Obama's Golf Weekend With Tiger Cost As Much As 341 Federal Workers Furloughed

"There is nothing just or virtuous about protecting a stale welfare state that is failing the people it is supposed to help."

In a sharply written statement, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama blasts President Obama for campaigning and not governing. He calls Obama's response to the sequestration "the most cynical behavior I have seen during my time in Washington."

Adds the senator, "Replacing the sequester would require the President to save $85 billion out of a $3,500 billion federal budget. One would think that any President would leap at the opportunity to make government more effective and responsive. But what does the President do instead? He says Republicans are ‘cutting vital services for children’ in order to ‘benefit the well-off and well-connected.’ This has been the strategy now for years: block any attempt to reform the government and then relentlessly attack the reformers. Does any lawmaker, reporter, or citizen believe that the only way to save taxpayer dollars is to hurt children, that every government program is effective and helpful and not one penny is wasted?"

Sessions is the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee.

"While the White House operatives may think this attack is clever, it betrays an astonishing elitism: the federal government is perfect and requires no reform. That is why they have no plan to make our government leaner and more efficient. The President had 18 months to develop reforms to improve the government, but instead he announced furloughs of federal workers as a political cudgel. Yet, his golf weekend at the yacht club with Tiger Woods cost taxpayers over a million dollars—enough money to save 341 federal workers from furlough," Sessions writes.

"These workers know firsthand how much waste and inefficiency exists in the government. Our Budget Committee office will look for a way to solicit federal employees to send suggestions for how to save money in their departments, agencies, and divisions. What is better? To furlough someone or to empower them to make their office more efficient?

"Now, we learn that the President is going to submit his budget plan—which contains his recommendations to Congress, the reason the law requires it to be submitted early in February before our budget work begins—on March 25th. Yet he will be submitting it after the House and Senate have produced a budget proposal and adjourned for Easter. So while the President speaks of his deep concern for American workers and families, he fails to even submit to Congress his financial plan to help those workers and families. Why then doesn’t the President furlough his entire 500 person staff at the Office of Management and Budget instead of threatening teachers and law enforcement personnel? The budget deals with more than just deficits. It is the chief executive’s plan for American prosperity. What does it mean that he doesn’t want to lay that out? He is the CEO of the Executive Branch and every cabinet official and government employee answers to him. It is his duty to the American people to be the person advancing reform, not blocking it.

"Also at issue is the fact that our massive federal government is, right now, creating poverty and hurting families. Look at cities like Baltimore, Chicago, and Detroit. Raising taxes—instead of reforming government—denies struggling Americans the help they need. There is nothing just or virtuous about protecting a stale welfare state that is failing the people it is supposed to help. President Obama is defending the bureaucracy at the expense of the people.

"It is time for the President to end the permanent campaign and work with both parties to make this government work better."

http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/senator-obamas-golf-weekend-tiger-cost- much-341-federal-workers-furloughed_704915.html





Oh you're just nit picking now......


Fujirich - 3/4/2013 at 10:35 PM

Less health care choice for seniors seems fine with Obama. Apparently cuts are easy to find ($716 billion over 10 years) if you want to look for them - as long as the savings are funneled into your pet projects.

But leading and governing to ease the sequester cuts has no political advantage, so it's blame the others guys, as usual...


quote:
Squeezing Medicare Advantage

Obama slashes a private-sector approach while decrying cuts everywhere else.


The Obama administration is sparing no effort to scare people about the automatic spending cuts that are scheduled to hit this Friday.

But the Obama administration doesn’t want to talk about its own devastating cuts in Medicare. On Friday, February 15, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced $716 billion in cuts over the next ten years. Instead of being put toward the debt, most of the money will go toward a new entitlement: Obamacare’s vast expansion of coverage for the uninsured.

Where Obama is cutting is telling. At least half of the savings will come out of Medicare Advantage, under which a full 28 percent of seniors buy privately managed health insurance that often includes added benefits such as vision and dental care or chronic-illness management. In exchange, patients agree to stay within a medical network, which helps insurance companies manage their costs. The program is most popular with Hispanics and African Americans. A study by CMS found that 38 percent of Hispanics and 31 percent of African Americans on Medicare were enrolled in Medicare Advantage, compared with 27 percent of whites.

Despite the fact that the program reports high levels of consumer satisfaction, liberals are determined to cut it, even if it means driving millions of seniors back into traditional, one-size-fits-all Medicare. “The administration really has it in for Medicare Advantage plans,” says Tevi Troy, who was a deputy secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services under George W. Bush. “Democrats won’t even consider relatively modest reforms of Medicare, such as raising the eligibility age from 65 to 67. But they do want to restrict seniors’ choices by curtailing private plans competing in Medicare.”

To add cynicism to injury, the Obama administration postponed the Medicare Advantage cuts until after the 2012 election, using a slush fund to tide the program over and conceal the true costs of Obamacare to seniors.

The cuts are so much larger than expected that health-care stocks tanked across the board after they were announced. Managed-care analyst Carl McDonald told clients in an e-mail that Obamacare’s reducing payments to private-plan providers “would turn almost every plan in the industry unprofitable.” The Congressional Budget Office projects that the payment cuts will result in an enrollment drop of 3 million for Medicare Advantage.

CMS will come under pressure to revise or reverse the cuts before they are made final on April 1. Some adjustments are possible, but the law will continue to mandate a squeeze on Medicare Advantage. President Obama promised Americans in 2009 that “if you like your health-care plan, you can keep your health-care plan.” The reality is that not only are millions of Americans likely to lose health-care coverage from their employers, but millions more will lose the Medicare Advantage plans they’ve grown used to.

Some Democratic politicians worry privately about the impact Medicare Advantage cuts will have on their senior constituents. In 2009, then-governor of Oregon Ted Kulongoski went public with his concerns, writing to the Obama administration to protest its plans to “scale back Medicare Advantage.” In Oregon, 42 percent of all seniors are enrolled in private Medicare plans, and Kulongoski noted that “they play an important role in providing affordable health coverage.” He emphasized that the plans have significantly reduced hospital-admission rates for patients with chronic diseases.

Seniors are now going to confront a new chronic condition — politics. Unless it is changed, Obamacare will relentlessly restrict the choices seniors have by forcing them into traditional Medicare with all of its attendant contradictions, restrictions, and waste. Medicare Advantage has its problems, but they could be surgically addressed. Instead, the bureaucrats running Obamacare are set on slowly starving the program. By focusing solely on the politics of the sequester, the media are ignoring the Obama administration’s bigger, more brazen threat to vulnerable American seniors.

http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/341528/squeezing-medicare-advantage- john-fund



er1016 - 3/5/2013 at 12:18 AM

quote:
Credit rating agencies shrug off sequester, say more cuts needed
By Peter Schroeder - 03/04/13 04:33 PM ET

Credit rating agencies are shrugging off sequestration, saying the U.S. government will need to do more to reduce the deficit if it wants to prevent a downgrade of the nation’s credit rating.

While the agencies say the $85 billion in automatic spending cuts represent at least a step towards deficit reduction, they argue much more is needed to prevent the United States from losing its “AAA” rating.

“It’s not the most ideal outcome,” said David Riley, Fitch Rating’s global managing director for sovereign ratings, on CNBC Europe. “You’d rather have intelligent cuts and some revenue measures as well ... but we don’t live in an ideal world, and it’s better to have some deficit reduction than none at all.”

The agencies view it as a positive sign that Congress did not simply scrap the unpopular sequester. Erasing the cuts without coming up with an alternative, something pushed by some liberal lawmakers, would have added to the deficit and debt and further pressured agencies to downgrade the nation’s credit rating.

At the same time, the agencies say they are worried that Washington’s inability to replace the sequester with targeted deficit reduction underlines concerns about the U.S. government’s dysfunction, a concern that led Standard & Poor’s to downgrade the U.S. in 2011.

The S&P downgrade came just days after Congress approved a hike in the nation’s debt limit in August 2011. The months-long debate caused stocks to dip and raised serious doubts about the ability of Republicans and Democrats to come together on fiscal issues.

It also led to the sequester, a series of cuts meant to be triggered only if Congress could not come up with a better deficit-reduction plan.

In downgrading the U.S. credit rating, S&P cited “political brinksmanship” and said Washington’s actions in the debate made the nation “less stable, less effective, and less predictable than what we previously believed.”

Watching both parties continue to butt heads on fiscal issues, S&P is confident they made the right call.

"The political discord around this process was a factor in lowering the credit rating," said John Piecuch, a spokesman for the rater. "We believe that the events since then have validated our opinion."

Agencies are raising similar concerns with the sequester.

Just days before Friday’s deadline, Fitch said allowing sequestration to occur would “further erode confidence” in policymakers’ ability to strike the broader deficit deals needed to get the country’s debt under control.

In addition, while the sequester will reduce spending and the deficit in the short term, U.S. deficits are expected to rise toward $1 trillion again by 2023.

The sequester reduces defense and non-defense discretionary spending, but does nothing to curtail Medicare spending, a key driver of the deficit.

The Congressional Budget Office found the deficit will drop to $430 billion by 2015 partly because of the sequester, and will continue to fall if spending caps remain curtailed by the budget cuts. (The "fiscal cliff" deal in January also improved the nation’s outlook by bringing in an additional $600 billion in revenue.)

Yet the CBO finds deficits will rise again in later years as entitlement costs continue to skyrocket and the population ages.

Raters say Congress will need to make even tougher choices to rein in debt and deficits if the country is to keep its top-shelf ratings.

The overarching concern from credit raters is getting the nation’s debt-to-GDP ratio on a sustainable course.

According to Fitch, assuming Congress leaves the sequester fully in place, policymakers would still need to track down another $1.6 trillion in deficit reduction to get the nation’s debt on a sustainable course. Actually driving down that ratio would require another $3 trillion in deficit reduction.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke struck a similar note when he testified before Congress last week.

He warned that while the sequester cuts might improve the nation’s finances in the short term, they do nothing to address the actual drivers of long-term fiscal woes. He called on Congress to replace the sequester with longer-term fiscal reforms that actually address those issues.

“The difficult process of addressing longer-term fiscal imbalances has only begun,” Bernanke added.

Credit raters are not weighing in on whether Congress should raise taxes, reduce spending or lower entitlement benefits to improve the nation’s fiscal trajectory.

Both Fitch and Moody’s Investors Service still give the U.S. their top rating, but both have placed it on a negative outlook, effectively warning that Washington will need to address the nation’s long-term debt issues in 2013 or face a downgrade.


http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/budget/286057-credit-rating-agencies- shrug-off-sequester-say-more-cuts-needed#ixzz2McSw1kZc






jerryphilbob - 3/5/2013 at 04:01 AM

I am pretty sure the gubmint took in more in revenue last year than in any previous year.

When will enough be enough? There will never be enough.

More taxes, more austerity, more debt, more printing. Sounds like a recipe for disaster.

I really don't understand why the economy isn't doing better? At least the stock market is up.

I am pretty sure this is a spending problem, not a tax or revenue problem.

They are doing nothing right in DC, don't expect that to change anytime soon.

Taking from the producers and giving it to the non-producers will not work.


OriginalGoober - 4/18/2013 at 05:27 PM


What happened to all the mayhem that the President predicted would occur? Things seem to be no better or worse.


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