Commentary

Obama’s “socialist” budget vs. Reagan’s: Some amazing comparisons

obama2Ronald reaganBob Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is out with a new and, as always, trenchant and fact-heavy take on President Obama’s new budget proposal. Here, however, are two paragraphs that really speak volumes:

“Some critics undoubtedly will castigate the budget for focusing its deficit reduction efforts on the revenue side. But we should keep several facts in mind. First, its $2.9 trillion in deficit reduction for 2017-2026 would come on top of the $4 trillion to $5 trillion in deficit reduction that policymakers have already achieved since 2010, and those savings came heavily on the spending side. With the new Obama proposals, total deficit reduction over this period would fall roughly 50-50 between spending and revenues, OMB estimates.

Also, part of the proposed Obama revenue increases would effectively “pay for” the large year-end tax bill that policymakers enacted in December without offsetting its cost. Under the budget, federal spending would average 22.3 percent of GDP over the coming decade, which isn’t far above the 21.6 percent average of the Reagan years. Moreover, a significantly larger share of Americans is elderly now and receiving Social Security and Medicare than in the Reagan years. In addition, we’ve experienced more than a quarter-century of health care cost growth since the Reagan years, which has boosted the cost of federal health insurance programs, most notably Medicare.”

You got that? Not only has the President made enormous progress in deficit reduction since taking over during a period of economic chaos, the deficit in his latest proposal is essentially on par with those of Reagan years. Indeed, given our aging population and the skyrocketing costs of healthcare in recent decades, its quite arguably more conservative and tightfisted than the ones the country lived under during the presidency of the modern Right’s patron saint.

At a supposedly nonpartisan Locke Foundation event the other day (the one at which the group’s former boss, in truly nonpartisan fashion, lambasted a current candidate for President as a “a charlatan, and just a pathetic, disgusting human being”), a conservative politico attacked President Obama (according to a tweet by a Locke  staffer) for supposedly seeing himself as “the linear heir to continue FDR’s socialist agenda.”

If that’s so, Greenstein’s post makes clear that the “line” ran through Ronald Reagan as well.

Uncategorized

Medicaid provision is recipe for Washington-style gridlock

New_York_City_Gridlock

The House budget includes a requirement that the position of Medicaid Director be subject to confirmation by the North Carolina General Assembly. Here’s some of the language:

4         APPOINTMENT AND CONFIRMATION OF MEDICAID DIRECTOR
5         SECTION 12H.36.(a) Effective July 1, 2014, and applying to Directors of the
6         Division of Medical Services appointed on or after that date, G.S. 108A-54 is amended by
7         adding a new subsection to read:
8         “§ 108A-54. Authorization of Medical Assistance Program; administration.
9         …
10       (e) The Medicaid Program shall be managed by the Director of the Division of Medical
11       Assistance (Medicaid Director), who shall be recommended by the Secretary of Health and
12       Human Services and appointed by the Governor, subject to confirmation by the General
13       Assembly by joint resolution. […]

This provision should raise many questions and concerns. The legislature does not have appointment authority over any other position that is so central to carrying out the policy agenda of the Governor. If, for example, the legislature is bent on limiting access to Medicaid while the Governor wants to streamline enrollment, then the conflict will likely shut down any ability to get a Medicaid Director in place.

And while there is a clear process to appoint a Director if the Governor does not forward a nomination, the budget does not spell out what happens if the legislature refuses every nominee from the Governor. What would most likely occur is that the Governor would have to wait until the legislature is out of session and then appoint a temporary Medicaid Director.

If all of this sounds familiar it’s because this is how the process works in Washington, DC, where politics clouds every decision and ties up the basic functions of government. Instead of fostering bi-partisanship and stability, Congress has caused major disruptions in the running of Medicare and Medicaid by refusing to approve presidential nominees.

The same is likely to happen in Raleigh.

The Governor, who is elected statewide, should be able to appoint his or her preferred Medicaid Director to carry out the policies that he or she was elected to enact. If this confirmation requirement survives negotiations between the House and the Senate then leadership elected in select pockets of the state will have veto power over how the Governor runs one of the most important agencies of the executive branch.

NC Budget and Tax Center

US House approves federal budget deal, Senate poised to pass

On Monday evening, US House and Senate budget negotiators reached agreement on a detailed $1.012 trillion budget deal that would fund the federal government through the end of September. The House approved the measure yesterday, with the Senate expected to pass the measure later this week. If enacted, the measure would end the looming threat of another government shutdown and roll back the harmful across-the-board spending cuts scheduled to take place over the next year.

The measure fills in the details of a bipartisan agreement struck last month that, as my colleague wrote at the time, represents a “missed opportunity” because it fails to replace the across-the-board spending cuts in the out years and fails to include any new tax revenue. Read more

Uncategorized

Monday lunch links

Lunch links 3Here are five fast ones to get you, respectively: fired up, better informed, a little surprised, updated on an important anniversary and just plain sickened —

#1 -Scholars from colleges and universities around the state delivered a strong-worded letter this morning to Gov. McCrory and his state Budget Director, Art Pope, denouncing the harassment of Prof. Gene Nichol of the UNC School of Law by a group funded overwhelmingly by Pope. Sue Sturgis has the story at Facing South.

#2 – Flawed as it is, the pluses outweigh the minuses in the congressional budget deal — or so say the experts at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

#3 – ICYMI, Public Policy Polling had the latest last Thursday with respect to the the attitudes of North Carolinians on Gov. McCrory’s popularity, the 2016 presidential horse race and several other issues.

#4 – John Schmitt has an excellent post on the Center for Economic Policy Research blog summarizing a new report (that he co-authored) about the impact of the Family Medical Leave Act after 20 years on the books. It’s called “Job Protection Isn’t Enough: Why America Needs Paid Parental Leave.”

#5 And finally, the website takepart.com tells us that North Carolina is among the ten states nationally with the fastest growing populations of homeless students. Click here to read and weep about how ours rose an obscene 32% between 2009 and 2012.

NC Budget and Tax Center

Workers label federal budget deal “missed opportunity” and call for new revenues from closing corporate loopholes

Greensboro presser

Allan Freyer at Greensboro event

As details continued to emerge throughout the day about a possible short-term Federal budget deal for 2014 and 2015, it became increasingly clear that the deal represents a missed opportunity for a long-term resolution to our nations’ budget challenges and a bad deal for America’s workers. Although completing any deal is a step in the right direction after two years of partisan gridlock and the recent government shutdown, this deal just doesn’t go far enough—it fails to replace a majority of the sequestration spending cuts and does not include any new tax revenue. As a result, this mini deal represents a big missed opportunity.

This was the message sent by a crowd of workers, families, and advocates that gathered in Greensboro this morning for an event calling on their federal elected representatives to finish the job and replace sequestration in its entirety with new revenues raised by closing corporate tax loopholes. Across-the-board sequestration spending cuts are harming North Carolina, advocates said, and without new revenue, North Carolinians will continue to be hit hard by spending cuts to core initiatives like education, job training, and healthcare.

“This emerging deal represents a missed opportunity. Congress has one last opportunity to prevent damaging cuts to investments that help struggling families and a struggling economy,” said Allan Freyer, Policy Analyst with the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center. “We are calling on North Carolina’s federal lawmakers to do the right thing and support closing corporate tax loopholes so that we can make the investments needed to support North Carolina families and end gridlock on the federal budget.”

Read more