Getting the Politics of Fear Right

(A copy of the U.S. Constitution with explanatory comments is available at: NATIONAL>RESOURCES/LINKS. – Admin.) (The 4 min. animated video below, narrated by Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security, explains the process of screening Syrian refugees. Additional comments will be … Continue reading

White House, Congress reach tentative budget deal

Reuters.com By David Lawder and Susan Cornwell 10/27/15 A U.S. budget and debt ceiling deal headed toward quick action in Congress on Tuesday as lawmakers rushed to avert yet another fiscal standoff, which threatened to push the federal government into … 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.)

Obama’s Trade Bill Gets Boost as Mitch McConnell Vows Vote ‘Soon’

The Senate majority leader says he has been working with the White House on passing the deal.

Bloomberg.com
By Billy House
5/5/15

The U.S. Senate will take up legislation to give President Barack Obama the trade negotiating authority he wants “very soon,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.

“It’s been almost an out of body experience but we’ve been working closely with the White House,” McConnell told reporters Tuesday as he said the trade bill would follow action on two other measures. “We’re working together to try to get it across the finish line.”

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, a foe of “fast-track” trade authority, called on Republicans to first consider measures to extend federal highway funding and modify U.S. surveillance laws…
Continue reading

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
3/19/15

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.

Continue reading

House and Senate Budgets “…envision a significant campaign to cut spending, with much of the savings coming from Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and welfare…”

REPUBLICANS PUSH CONSERVATIVE BUDGETS IN BOTH HOUSES

Associated Press
By David Espo and Andrew Taylor
3/18/15

WASHINGTON (AP) — Making good on last fall’s campaign commitments, Republicans advanced conservative budgets in both houses of Congress on Wednesday, setting up a veto struggle over the fate of the health care law and promising a whopping $5 trillion in spending cuts to erase deficits by the end of the coming decade…

…Both budgets envision a significant campaign to cut spending, with much of the savings coming from Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and welfare…
Continue reading