AP FACT CHECK: Claims from the Republican debate

AP.org By Robert Burns and Calvin Woodward 1/15/16 WASHINGTON (AP) — Did Ted Cruz mean to suggest he would have gone to war with Iran over its brief detention of U.S. sailors? Did Donald Trump forget that he proposed a massive tax on Chinese goods? And does Ben Carson really think Islamic State militants chill out with a cigar? In their rush to slam the Obama administration, play up their records and play down inconvenient realities, Republican presidential candidates served up some misshapen rhetoric in their latest presidential debate (on … Continue reading

Senator Lankford Releases “Federal Fumbles: 100 Ways the Government Dropped the Ball”

By Russ Phillips

U.S. Senator James Lankford (R-OK) released his first government waste and solutions report, “Federal Fumbles: 100 Ways the Government Dropped the Ball,” on November 30, 2015.

A several page excerpt of the document, including the Table of Contents with the 100 “fumbles” and “A $43 Million Gas Station” as one of the “fumbles” is here

The entire 145 page document is here.

Crop Insurance Subsidies Prove Cutting Budget Is Easier Said Than Done

The New York Times By Jackie Calmes 11/26/15 WASHINGTON — In April, Republicans newly in control of Congress celebrated their agreement on a plan to save $5 trillion — that’s trillion, with a “T” — and balance the budget in a decade. “We continue to get things done for the American people,” boasted the House speaker at the time, John A. Boehner. Yet as the year closes, Congress instead is planning to repeal one of the few spending cuts it has passed into law since approving that budget resolution: $3 … Continue reading

IRS customer service will get even worse this tax filing season, tax chief warns

The Washington Post By Lisa Rein 11/3/15 Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen said Tuesday that taxpayers should expect customer service to “get worse” during the upcoming filing season unless Congress boosts the agency’s budget — worse, that is, than the new low set last year. “With the budget the Senate and House are proposing, service will get worse if you can imagine that,” Koskinen told hundreds of tax professionals gathered in Washington for a national conference. He also delivered some grim new statistics to the crowd: After five years of budget cuts, … Continue reading

U.S. Avoids Debt Default as Congress Passes Fiscal Plan (See how your Congressional member voted)

(This “Fiscal Plan” – Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 – with the vote of each member of Congress will be found here. – Admin.) Bloomberg.com By Terrence Dopp and Kathleen Miller 10/30/15 Bill goes to Obama for his signature before Nov. 3 deadline Agreement ends month of turmoil for House Republicans Congress passed a two-year bipartisan budget plan that avoids a default on U.S. debt, increases spending on domestic and defense programs and ends months of turmoil among House Republicans. The 64-35 Senate vote early Friday, following House passage two … Continue reading

Impacts and Costs of the 2013 Government Shutdown

(“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana)

Impacts and Costs of the Government Shutdown

By Sylvia Mathews Burwell
November 7, 2013

Summary: As the President has said, the shutdown that occurred last month inflicted completely unnecessary damage on our economy and took a toll on families and businesses across the country. Today, OMB is releasing a report that catalogs the breadth and depth of this damage, and details the various impacts and costs of the October 2013 Federal government shutdown.

As the President has said, the shutdown that occurred last month inflicted completely unnecessary damage on our economy and took a toll on families and businesses across the country. Today, OMB is releasing a report that catalogs the breadth and depth of this damage, and details the various impacts and costs of the October 2013 Federal government shutdown.

The report explains in detail the economic, budgetary, and programmatic costs of the shutdown. These costs include economic disruption, negative impacts on Federal programs and services that support American businesses and individuals, costs to the government, and impacts on the Federal workforce.

While the report covers a variety of areas, it highlights five key impacts and costs.

First, Federal employees were furloughed for a combined total of 6.6 million days, more than in any previous government shutdown. At its peak, about 850,000 individuals per day were furloughed. That number fell once most Department of Defense civilian employees were able to return to work as the Pentagon implemented the Pay Our Military Act.

Second, the shutdown cost the Federal government billions of dollars. The payroll cost of furloughed employee salaries alone – that is, the lost productivity of furloughed workers – was $2.0 billion. Beyond this, the Federal government also incurred other direct costs as a result of the shutdown. Fees went uncollected; IRS enforcement and other program integrity measures were halted; and the Federal government had to pay additional interest on payments that were late because of the shutdown.

Third, the shutdown had significant negative effects on the economy. The Council of Economic Advisers has estimated that the combination of the shutdown and debt limit brinksmanship resulted in 120,000 fewer private sector jobs created during the first two weeks of October. And multiple surveys have shown that consumer and business confidence was badly damaged.

The report highlights some of the more direct impacts the shutdown had on the economy by shutting down government services. For example:

  • Federal permitting and environmental and other reviews were halted, delaying job-creating transportation and energy projects.
  • Import and export licenses and applications were put on hold, negatively impacting trade.
  • Federal loans to small businesses, homeowners, and families in rural communities were put on hold.
  • Private-sector lending to individuals and small businesses was disrupted, because banks and lenders couldn’t access government income and Social Security Number verification services.
  • Travel and tourism was disrupted at national parks and monuments across the country, hurting the surrounding local economies.

Fourth, the shutdown impacted millions of Americans who rely on critical programs and serviceshalted by the shutdown. For example:

  • Hundreds of patients were prevented from enrolling in clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health.
  • Almost $4 billion in tax refunds were delayed.
  • Agencies from the Food and Drug Administration to the Environmental Protection Agency had to cancel health and safety inspections, while the National Transportation Safety Board was unable to investigate airplane accidents in a timely fashion.
  • Critical government-sponsored scientific research was put on hold. Notably, four of the five Nobel prize winning scientists who work for the Federal government were furloughed during the shutdown. 

Fifth, the shutdown could have a long-term impact on our ability to attract and retain the skilled and driven workforce that the Federal government needs. The shutdown followed a three-year pay freeze for Federal employees, cuts in training and support, and, for hundreds of thousands of workers, administrative furloughs earlier this year because of sequestration. These cuts will make it harder for the government to attract and retain the talent it needs to provide top level service to the American people.

The report makes clear that the costs and impacts of the shutdown were significant and widespread, and demonstrates why this type of self-inflicted wound should not occur again.

(Sylvia Mathews Burwell is the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.)

Gov. Pence wants a $56 million bicentennial “party” and the roadways…

By Russ Phillips

In my opinion the roads – cities and towns, counties, Indiana highways and Indiana interstates – are not receiving adequate road maintenance including sealing and resurfacing as needed as well as prompt filling of potholes and this has been true for a number of years. Some will cite Indiana’s most recent winter as causing the problem and it certainly has made things worse, however, years of neglect has led us to the current roadway conditions. Indiana’s state government as well as the federal government have shirked their responsibility in establishing a long-range program for adequately maintaining our roads. Instead only enough is being done to get by, if even that.

It’s a matter of priorities. Governor Pence’s proposed state budget, in acknowledgement of Indiana’s bicentennial birthday, calls for the construction of a new state archives building ($25 million), the construction of a Bicentennial Inn at Potato Creek State Park ($25 million), the creation of an education center at the Indiana State Library ($2.5 million), the development of a commemorative Bicentennial Plaza ($2 million), and the funding of the Bicentennial torch relay initiative ($1.6 million). Where will the funding come from?

According to Pence the state’s cell tower infrastructure is currently being underutilized and “is not realizing its full commercial potential.” The state — which owns 150 cell towers — is looking to lease the excess capacity to private operators, producing at least $50 million, while still maintaining its critical public safety and emergency communication. State police communication is at the core of those needs. This would pay most of the cost of these projects. There is also a possibility of the new inn being privately financed as a business venture and this I would support.

It is my opinion that the above $56.1 million should be applied to road maintenance. What do you think? Other ideas?

Some of this article is from one or more of:
WBAA, Public Radio from Purdue
South Bend Tribune
The Statehouse File

Competing Visions: President Obama, House Budget Committee, Senate Budget Committee, and Congressional Progressive Caucus Release Budget Proposals for 2016

National Priorities Project
By Jasmine Tucker

National Priorities Project examines how new budget proposals stack up against Americans’ priorities.

(A better display of these tables is here.)

Public Opinion: What Do Americans Want? President Obama House Budget Committee Senate Budget Committee House Congressional Progressive Caucus
Domestic Discretionary Funding(Education, energy and environment, housing, job training, etc.)
Opinion polls suggest that domestic investment in areas such as infrastructure, climate change, the economy, and immigration are top priorities for Americans. Other polls show Americans would prefer to see higher tax revenue to fund these priorities. Provides an additional $37 billion for domestic investment above Budget Control Act spending levels in 2016, and $178 billion more than current law over 10 years. Maintains current cuts to domestic programs under the Budget Control Act and proposes cutting non-defense discretionary spending by an additional $759 billion over 10 years. Maintains current cuts to domestic programs under the Budget Control Act, and proposes cutting non-defense discretionary spending by an additional $236 billion over 10 years. Provides an additional $1.5 trillion for domestic investment above Budget Control Act spending levels over 10 years.
Job Creation

67 percent say improving the job situation is a key issue facing the president and Congress this year. Invests $478 billion over six years to create jobs in surface transportation repairs and includes $146 billion in 2016 for expansion of research and development (R&D) tax credit to grow manufacturing and create jobs. No new funding for job creation. No new funding for job creation. Says reduced spending and regulation will indirectly lead to job creation. Invests nearly $1.3 trillion over 10 years in job creation measures such as aid to states to rehire police, fire fighters, teachers and other public employees, and in infrastructure spending.

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