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What Would You Cut in the Federal Budget?

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Our debt is now equal to our whole economy. What would you cut in the federal budget to stop deficit spending?

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Guest American4Progress

As Center for American Progress economist Adam Hersh wrote, "If there is one point on which all economists can agree, it is that investment -- in infrastructure, in research and innovation, and worker productivity -- is the foundation for economic growth." To that end, the Obama administration included in its budget proposal $556 billion for a six-year surface transportation authorization. The administration proposed $8 billion next year to invest in passenger and high-speed rail and $30 billion for a National Infrastructure Bank. The infrastructure funding drew the support of the National League of Cities, but even with those spending boosts, the nation would still be far short of fulfilling what the Army Corps of Engineers has assessed as roughly $2.2 trillion in infrastructure needs. The administration's proposed budget would also include $8 billion "to boost electric cars, wind and solar power, [and] clean-energy manufacturing," as well as $200 million in subsidies for energy efficiency and renewable energy loan guarantees. In the education realm, the Obama administration proposed a new round of the Race To The Top program -- this time making competitive grants for education reform available to individual districts, instead of entire states -- while increasing money for special education, school turnaround grants, and early intervention services for toddlers with disabilities. The budget also preserves the maximum Pell Grant, as well as the Teacher Incentive Fund and the Improving Teacher Quality State Grants. "The administration's budget generally reflects the principle that we cannot out compete the rest of the world if we are leaving one-third of our citizens behind," CAP's Half in Ten manager Melissa Boteach noted. However, the proposed budget also includes some disappointing cuts, reducing both the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance and Community Services Block Grant by 50 percent. "These services both stabilize families in crisis and provide a pathway to long-term economic security," Boteach wrote.

 

RESPONSIBLE DEFICIT REDUCTION: The release of the budget resulted in a predictable outcry from self-styled deficit hawks, who moaned that the administration did not attempt to reduce the deficit even more drastically than it did. "Regrettably, this budget keeps our nation on a reckless fiscal path, representing more unaffordable debt and spending," said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT). The budget also received fire from Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND), who said we need "a much more robust package of deficit and debt reduction over the medium and long term." Alice Rivlin, a member of the now-completed Presidential deficit commission, claimed, "I would have preferred to see the administration get out front on addressing the entitlements and the tax reform that we need to reduce long-run deficits." However, the President's budget does responsibly reduce the deficit. As Center for American Progress Associate Director of Tax and Budget Policy Michael Linden wrote, "The President's budget goes exactly as far as it should, showing deficits declining from a high of 10.9 percent of GDP down to 3.2 percent of GDP by 2015." "His deficit reduction eases in to allow the economic recovery to get more momentum before the deficit-cutting measures start to bite. And, although there are lots of spending cuts, there are lots of investments in the economy that can produce returns in job creation and economic growth," added CAP Vice President for Economic Policy Michael Ettlinger. Even so, the administration left some big fish on the table in terms of possible deficit reduction, including plenty of wasteful tax expenditures and the bloated defense budget (from which the administration only suggested $78 billion in savings over five years, which only slows DOD's rate of growth).

 

GOP'S SLASH AND BURN: As the President rolls out his budget, House Republicans are using their new majority to try to cut spending for the remainder of the 2011 fiscal year. (Currently, the government is operating under a continuing resolution that keeps funding consistent at the 2010 level.) After initially releasing roughly $30 billion in cuts (below the fiscal 2010 level), House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) was forced to go back and find further reductions after a revolt from members of his own party. The roughly $60 billion in savings that the GOP found, on its second attempt, would severely undermine job creation -- causing the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs even as unemployment is at 9 percent -- while also cutting vital and popular programs. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the GOP's first round of proposed budget cuts alone would cause the loss of 600,000 jobs. With their proposed cuts, House Republicans take aim at everything from Pell Grants and special education funding to WIC, which provides nutrition assistance for infants and low-income pregnant women, and other programs benefiting women and children. They also proposed cutting half of federal job training programs, more than one billion from community health centers (which they used to call "essential"), and slashing clean-tech and energy investments by nearly 30 percent, "devastating this growing but immature industry that struggled during the Great Recession." Programs that they propose completely eliminating range from investments in high-speed rail and weatherization assistance to assistance for homeless veterans. Finally, at the same time that some Republicans decided to criticize the President for not reducing the deficit fast enough, they proposed new, unfinanced tax cuts that would cost hundreds of billions of dollars.

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Guest Faded Glory

Good Read

 

Source: The Nation

 

By John Nichols

 

Defense contractors that were convicted of defrauding the Pentagon received new contracts from the Department of Defense in the amount of $285 billion.

 

That's a shocking number.

 

Even more shocking is the determination of the Department of Defense to continue the practice of steering taxpayer dollars into the bank accounts of contractors that the courts say intentionally stole money from the federal government.

 

Now, the question is whether Congress will be as tough on multinational corporations with long-term patterns of wrongdoing as it was on a community group that made a few mistakes.

 

In the fall of 2009, after some embarrassing revelations about misdeeds committed by low-level employees of Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now [2], Republicans forced Democrats in Congress to move with rare speed and dramatic reach to prevent the allocation of federal money to the advocates for low- and moderate-income families.

 

In so doing, they established an "ACORN Standard " for policing federal expenditures, which holds that if even a few employees of an organization that feeds at the public trough stand accused of engaging in activities that appear to be inappropriate, then federal funding must be yanked. (And now some of the same players are trying to apply a variation on the standard to Planned Parenthood.)

 

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was interested in whether the "ACORN Standard" was being applied uniformly, or just to community groups with which President Obama was once associated.

 

Sanders decided to look at where the real money is spent by the federal government: the Department of Defense.

 

"The sad truth of the matter is that virtually every major defense contractor in this country has, for a period of many years, been engaged in systemic, illegal, and fraudulent behavior, while receiving hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money," the independent senator explained in a statement delivered on the Senate floor in the fall of 2009. "We're not talking here about the $53 million that ACORN received over 15 years. We're in fact talking about defense contractors who have received many, many billions in defense contracts and year after year, time after time, violated the law, ripping off the taxpayers of this country big time. And in some instances, these contractors have done more than ripping off the taxpayers. In some instances, they have endangered the lives and well being of the men and women who serve our country in the armed forces."

 

To prove his point, Sanders attached a provision to a defense spending bill, which required the the Pentagon produce a report detailing instances of contract fraud and how they were dealt with. A preliminary report was made available Wednesday and it revealed that there's a lot of fraud—involving more than 100 contractors during just the brief period that was studied.

 

But the real revelation involved how the Pentagon deals with convicted contractors. It gave them new contracts and lots more money. How much? A remarkable $285 billion during just the three-year period in thr latw 2000s that was covered by the report.

 

That's $285 billion with a"b."

 

The preliminary report concluded that:

 

1. The Pentagon distributed $270 billion from 2007 to 2009 to ninety-one contractors involved in civil fraud cases that resulted in judgments of more than $1 million.

 

2. The Pentagon spent another $682 million during the same period on thirty contractors convicted of hard-core criminal fraud in the same three-year period. Billions more went to firms that had been suspended or debarred by the Pentagon for misusing taxpayer dollars.

 

"With the country running a $14 trillion national debt, my goal is to provide as much transparency as possible about what is happening with taxpayer money," says Sanders.

 

But transparency is different from accountability.

 

The provision Sanders attached to the defense spending bill also required the Pentagon to detail how it was moving to address fraud. In particular, the provision directed the Department of Defense to recommend ways to punish fraudulent contractors.

 

The Pentagon saw no need to act. "The department believes that existing remedies with respect to contractor wrongdoing are sufficient," concluded the Report to Congress on Contractor Fraud.

 

Sanders, who has emerged as the Senate's chief watchdog when it comes to the frivilous and fraudulent financial dealings of major federal agencies, is of a different view.

 

"It is clear that DOD's current approach is not working," says the senator, who adds that "we need far more vigorous enforcement to protect taxpayers from massive fraud."

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"Finally, at the same time that some Republicans decided to criticize the President for not reducing the deficit fast enough, they proposed new, un-financed tax cuts that would cost hundreds of billions of dollars."

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Guest Indira

Here's what I would cut:

 

1. The Pentagon distributed $270 billion from 2007 to 2009 to ninety-one contractors involved in civil fraud cases that resulted in judgments of more than $1 million.

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Guest Progressive Thinker

I feel the Democratic Party for whatever reason(s), have lost touch with what they used to be about: the Working People. My best example of this are the corporate minded “BlueDog Democrats.” I may be wrong, but to try and make Progressives of this bunch would be energy wasted! A distinct, new, third party is needed. It is becoming ever more apparent, as time goes on, that the Republican and conservative movements are aiming at one thing, and that is completely forcing the middle class and anything which resembles it, into extinction. They are wanting two classes, an aristocracy and a peasant/serf class. I believe the Working Class needs a completely fresh and new wind behind them. Just let the Democrats go their way, continuing to keep their hands in the pockets of those they worship. We do not need them, anymore!

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Guest Judy

We Republicans are not selfish, we just live in the real world WHERE YOU HAVE TO BALANCE YOUR CHECKBOOK! And you have to abide by the Constitution!

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Guest massimo

Only the top 1-5% in America are getting richer. The rest of us are getting shafted. Slash the Pentagon and tax the S#!t out of the top 5%.

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Guest Newt

America is facing a fiscal crisis of the first order. Our national debt is spiraling to unprecedented and unsustainable levels.

 

Earlier this month, the White House predicted that the federal government will spend nearly $4 trillion this year. Meanwhile, it will collect barely $2 trillion in revenues.

 

After two years of profligate spending and a stunning rebuke at the polls, President Obama tried to create the impression during his State of the Union address that he was reevaluating the unchecked spending habits of his first two years in office:

 

"But now that the worst of the recession is over, we have to confront the fact that our government spends more than it takes in. That is not sustainable. Every day, families sacrifice to live within their means. They deserve a government that does the same."

 

Unfortunately, the President quickly proved these were just empty words. The 2012 budget proposed by the White House is a totally unserious and insulting continuation of the reckless big spending policies of Obama's first two years in office.

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Guest HUMAN

Agreed; What has to be cut as well is the Federal workforce "Hopefully by 20%".

 

 

 

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We Republicans are not selfish, we just live in the real world WHERE YOU HAVE TO BALANCE YOUR CHECKBOOK! And you have to abide by the Constitution!

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Guest LAW

Weekly Address: Both Parties Must Come Together on a Budget that Cuts Wasteful Spending Without Sacrificing Investments in the Future

 

WASHINGTON – In his weekly address, President Obama called for Democrats and Republicans to come together on a budget that cuts wasteful spending without sacrificing job-creating investments in education, innovation, and infrastructure. Noting that his administration has already proposed specific cuts that meet congressional Republicans halfway, he said that he is prepared to do more and that the job can only be finished by working out the differences and finding common ground.

 

 

Remarks of President Barack Obama

As Prepared for Delivery

Miami, Florida

March 5, 2011

 

I’m talking with you from Miami, Florida, where I’m visiting Miami Central High School, a school that’s turning itself around on behalf of its kids. And I came here with Jeb Bush, former governor of this state, because he and I share the view that education isn’t a partisan issue – it’s an American issue.

 

But in a larger sense, this is a moment when we’ve all got to do what the students and teachers are doing here. We’ve got to step up our game.

 

Our top priority right now has to be creating new jobs and opportunities in a fiercely competitive world. And this week, we received very good news on that front. We learned that the unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level in nearly two years as our economy added another 222,000 private sector jobs last month.

 

Now, we have a lot more work to do, not just for the Americans who still don’t have a job, but for the millions more who still don’t have the right job or all the work they need to live out the American Dream. But the progress we’re seeing says something about the determination and ingenuity of our people and our businesses. What’s also helping to fuel this economic growth are the tax cuts that Democrats and Republicans came together to pass in December and I signed into law – tax cuts that are already making Americans’ paychecks bigger and allowing businesses to write off their investments, freeing up more money for job creation.

Just as both parties cooperated on tax relief that is now fueling job growth, we need to come together around a budget that cuts spending without slowing our economic momentum. We need a government that lives within its means without sacrificing job-creating investments in education, innovation, and infrastructure.

The budget I sent to Congress makes these investments, but it also includes a 5-year spending freeze, and it will reduce our deficits by $1 trillion over the next decade. In fact, the cuts I’ve proposed would bring annual domestic spending to its lowest share of the economy under any president in more than 50 years.

 

Over the last few weeks, Members of Congress have been debating their own proposals. And I was pleased that Democrats and Republicans in Congress came together a few days ago and passed a plan to cut spending and keep the government running for two more weeks. Still, we can’t do business two weeks at a time. It’s not responsible, and it threatens the progress our economy has been making. We’ve got to keep that momentum going.

 

We need to come together, Democrats and Republicans, around a long-term budget that sacrifices wasteful spending without sacrificing the job-creating investments in our future. My administration has already put forward specific cuts that meet congressional Republicans halfway. And I’m prepared to do more. But we’ll only finish the job together – by sitting at the same table, working out our differences, and finding common ground. That’s why I’ve asked Vice President Biden and members of my Administration to meet with leaders of Congress going forward.

 

Getting our fiscal house in order can’t just be something we use as cover to do away with things we dislike politically. And it can’t just be about how much we cut. It’s got to be about how we cut and how we invest. We’ve got to be smart about it. Because if we cut back on the kids I’ve met here and their education, for example, we’d be risking the future of an entire generation of Americans. And there’s nothing responsible about that.

 

We’ve got to come together to put America back on a fiscally sustainable course – and make sure that when it comes to the economy of the 21st century, our children and our country are better-prepared than anyone else in the world to take it on. Our future depends on it. That’s not a Democratic or a Republican challenge – that’s an American challenge. And I’m confident it’s one we’ll meet. Thanks for listening

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Guest Patrick

Democrats and Republicans have to reach an agreement to keep the government operating.

 

Right now, President Obama is calling on both sides to come to the table and reach a reasonable solution -- a plan that builds for the future while eliminating wasteful spending in the present. A plan where cutting spending is done judiciously -- not recklessly. A plan with investments that create jobs -- not cuts that eliminate them.

 

But the current Republican proposal is packed with extreme cuts that are clearly serving a political agenda -- cutting billions from Head Start, slashing Pell Grants and other programs that help students pay for college, and completely eliminating funding for Title X family-planning services.

 

It's not a responsible plan to cut spending -- but a set of policy prescriptions intended to appease the most extreme wing of their party.

 

And while cuts like these make the Republican plan objectionable -- it's the fact that it puts nearly 1 million jobs at risk that makes it absolutely unacceptable.

 

Right now, the debate surrounding our budget should be about one thing -- people.

 

An out-of-work father of three isn't concerned with advancing the Republicans' social agenda. All he's thinking about right now is getting back to work so he can pay his mortgage and his gas bill.

 

A single mother who relies on Head Start for her four-year-old isn't thinking about the political sound bite of the moment -- she is concerned with making sure her daughter can keep up when she enters kindergarten next year.

 

The American people don't care about political back-and-forth or partisan ideology. They want their government to do right by its citizens.

 

And that's where the Republican plan falls short.

 

They would close more than 16,000 classrooms, lay off 55,000 teachers, and cause 218,000 children to be kicked out of early-childhood education programs.

 

They would slash homeland security investments and lay off thousands of police officers and firefighters, leaving our communities less safe.

 

They would defund health insurance reform, doing away with the cost savings and vital patient protections relied upon by millions of Americans around the country.

 

They would eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood, ending thousands of health center jobs across the country and leaving millions of women without access to preventive care.

 

Now, President Obama knows that this must be a shared sacrifice, and that some cuts must be made -- and he stands ready to work together to find a commonsense solution.

 

But the current Republican plan would knock this country down just as we've begun to stand back up.

 

The American people deserve better -- and it's up to us to demand it.

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Guest CastLeader2009

I'm not sure if that "greatest generation", which is often fondly spoken of, is willing to sacrifice on old age entitlement programs enough to leave anything but debt for their grandchildren. Certainly, the permanent underbelly welfare class should be cut out before the elders, who at least paid something into the Ponzi Scheme we call Social Security and Medicare.

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Guest LAW

This is true leadership.

 

Remarks by the President After Meeting with House Republican and Senate Democratic Leadership

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

 

2:02 P.M. EDT

 

THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody. Good afternoon. As many of you know, this morning I had a meeting with Speaker Boehner, Leader Reid, as well as the two appropriations chairs, Inouye and Rogers, to discuss the situation with last year’s budget, and I wanted to give you and, more importantly, the American people an update on where we are.

 

From the outset, my goal has been to significantly cut our domestic spending but, at the same time, make sure we’re making key investments in things like education, infrastructure, innovation -- the things that are going to help us win the future.

 

And over the course of the last several months, we have identified areas where we can make substantial cuts. In fact, what we’ve been able to do is to present to the House Republicans a budget framework that would cut the same amount of spending as Speaker Boehner and Chairman Rogers originally proposed -- their original proposal for how much would be cut.

 

And several weeks ago, there were discussions between the White House and Speaker Boehner’s office in which we said, let’s start negotiating off of that number, $73 billion. We are now closer than we have ever been to getting an agreement. There’s no reason why we should not get an agreement. As I said before, we have now matched the number that the Speaker originally sought.

 

The only question is whether politics or ideology are going to get in the way of preventing a government shutdown. Now, what does this potentially mean for the American people? At a time when the economy is just beginning to grow, where we’re just starting to see a pickup in employment, the last thing we need is a disruption that’s caused by a government shutdown. Not to mention all the people who depend on government services, whether you’re a veteran or you’re somebody who’s trying to get a passport or you’re planning to visit one of the national monuments or you’re a business leader who’s trying to get a small business loan. You don’t want delays, you don’t want disruptions just because of usual politics in Washington.

 

So what I said to the Speaker today, and what I said to Leader Reid, and what I’ve said to the two appropriations chairs, is that myself, Joe Biden, my team, we are prepared to meet for as long as possible to get this resolved.

My understanding is that there’s going to be a meeting between Speaker Boehner and Harry Reid this afternoon at 4:00 p.m. The Speaker apparently didn’t want our team involved in that discussion. That’s fine. If they can sort it out then we’ve got more than enough to do. If they can’t sort it out, then I want them back here tomorrow. But it would be inexcusable for us to not be able to take care of last year’s business -- keep in mind we’re dealing with a budget that could have gotten done three months ago, could have gotten done two months ago, could have gotten done last month -- when we are this close simply because of politics.

 

And we are prepared to put whatever resources are required in terms of time and energy to get this done. But that’s what the American people expect. They don’t like these games. And we don’t have time for them. There are some things that we can’t control. We can’t control earthquakes; we can’t control tsunamis; we can’t control uprisings on the other side of the world. What we can control is our capacity to have a reasoned, fair conversation between the parties and get the business of the American people done. And that’s what I expect.

 

So, again, I want to reiterate, my understanding is the Speaker and Leader Reid are going to have a meeting at 4:00 p.m. If that issue does not get resolved and we don’t start seeing progress, I want a meeting again tomorrow here at the White House. I will invite the same folks that we invited today. And if that doesn’t work, we’ll invite them again the day after that. And I will have my entire team available to work through the details of getting a deal done.

 

But right now there’s no reason why we should not get this done. And we’ve got more than enough to do than to be spending our time going back and forth, quibbling around the edges on something this important to the American people.

 

With that, I’m going to take a couple questions.

 

Ben.

 

Q Thank you, Mr. President. If it came down to it, would you approve of a short-term spending bill to avoid a government shutdown? And more broadly, as the American people are watching this, do you think that this is a test of your leadership? Do you think the American people are expecting you to make sure that this deal happens?

 

THE PRESIDENT: Let me take each question separately.

 

On the issue of a short-term extension, we’ve already done that twice. We did it once for two weeks, then we did another one for three weeks. That is not a way to run a government. I can’t have our agencies making plans based on two-week budgets. I can’t have the Defense Department, I can’t have the State Department, I can’t have our various agencies on food safety and making sure our water is clean and making sure that our airports are functioning, I can’t have them making decisions based on two-week-at-a-time budgets.

 

So I have been very clear that the last time we had an extension, it was to give the parties time to go ahead and get something done. We are now at the point where there is no excuse to extend this further.

 

If over the next 24 to 48 hours a deal is done and we just can’t get the paperwork through Congress quick enough and they want to do a clean extension for two or three days in order to go ahead and complete a deal, then that’s something that we could support. But what we’re not going to do is to once again put off something that should have gotten done several months ago.

 

Now, with respect to the second question, I think what the American people expect from me is the same thing that they expect from every member of Congress, and that is that we’re looking out for the interests of the American people and not trying to score political points.

 

I think what they’re looking from me is the same thing that they’re looking from Speaker Boehner and Harry Reid and everybody else, and that is, is that we act like grownups, and when we are in negotiations like this, that everybody gives a little bit, compromises a little bit in order to do the people’s business.

 

And I just want to set the context for this now. Again, I’m going to repeat. Speaker Boehner, Chairman Rogers, the Republican appropriations chairman -- their original budget proposed $73 billion in cuts. We have now agreed to $73 billion worth of cuts. What they are now saying is, well, we’re not sure that every single one of the cuts that you’ve made are ones that we agree to; we’d rather have these cuts rather than that cut. That’s not the basis for shutting down the government. We should be able to come up with a compromise in which nobody gets 100 percent of what they want, but the American people get the peace of mind in knowing that folks here in Washington are actually thinking about them -- because they’re going through a whole lot of struggles right now.

 

They’re worrying about gas prices and that’s what they want us worrying about. They’re worrying about jobs and that’s what we should be focused on. They’re worrying about what -- everything happening in the Middle East, what does that mean for them. And that’s certainly what I’m spending my time worrying about. And I shouldn’t have to oversee a process in which Congress deals with last year’s budget where we only have six months left -- especially when both parties have agreed that we need to make substantial cuts and we’re more or less at the same number.

 

All right?

 

Julianna.

 

Q Thank you, Mr. President. Who should the American people blame if there is a government shutdown? And also, I was wondering if you could respond to the budget plan that the House Republicans unveiled today?

 

THE PRESIDENT: I don’t think the American people are interested in blaming somebody. They want people to fix problems and offer solutions. They’re not interested in finger pointing and neither am I. What I want to do is get the business of the American people done.

 

Now, we’ll have time to have a long discussion about next year’s budget, as well as the long-term debt and deficit issues, where we’re going to have some very tough negotiations. And there are going to be I think very sharply contrasting visions in terms of where we should move the country. That’s a legitimate debate to have. By the way, part of the reason that debate is doing to be important is because that’s where 88 percent of the budget is. What we’re spending weeks and weeks and weeks arguing about is actually only 12 percent of the budget, and is not going to significantly dent the deficit or the debt.

 

So I’m looking forward to having that conversation. But right now we’ve got some business in front of us that needs to be done, and that is making sure that we are cutting spending in a significant way, but we’re doing it with a scalpel instead of a machete to make sure that we can still make investments in education; we can still make investments in infrastructure; we can still make investments what put the American people back to work and build our economy for the long term.

 

Jeff.

 

Q Mr. President, thank you. What else does the White House have to offer to make sure that a deal happens by Friday? And separately, could you tell us a little a bit about your meeting with Mr. Peres?

 

THE PRESIDENT: Well, look, we’ve got -- we are happy to listen to any additional reasonable proposals. But I want to repeat what I just said: We are now at the figure that was Speaker Boehner’s original proposal. Now, Speaker Boehner originally called for $73 billion worth of cuts. Members of his caucus insisted on making it $100 billion. What we’ve said is we’re willing to go to $73 billion. Composition of those cuts, where they come from, those are all appropriate subjects of negotiation.

 

But by any standard, these would be reasonable cuts. In fact, if we made these cuts, they’d be in absolute terms the largest cuts in domestic discretionary spending in history. And in relative terms, they would be the largest cuts as a percentage of GDP since 1982. So I don’t think anybody is suggesting somehow that we haven’t been serious about this process.

 

As I said, there can be some negotiations about composition. What we can’t be doing is using last year’s budget process to have arguments about abortion; to have arguments about the Environmental Protection Agency; to try to use this budget negotiation as a vehicle for every ideological or political difference between the two parties. That’s what the legislature is for, is to have those arguments, but not stuff it all into one budget bill.

 

And, look, I think the American people recognize that we’re in some pretty unsettled times right now. Certainly businesses recognize that. Families recognize it. We don’t have time for games. We don’t have time for trying to score political points or maneuvering or positioning. Not on this. As I said, when it comes to long-term debt and deficit, there’s going to be a real debate about how do we make sure that we have a social safety net for the American people; when folks have a tough time, how do we make sure that we’re investing in the future, and how do we pay for it. And that is a legitimate debate to have.

 

But right now what we’re talking about is six months remaining on the 2011 budget. We have already hit a figure that by any standard would be historic in terms of cuts, and what we can’t do is have a “my way or the highway” approach to this problem. We can’t have a “my way or the highway” approach to this problem, because if we start applying that approach, where I’ve got to get 110 percent of everything I want or else I’m going to shut down the government, we’re not going to get anything done this year. And the American people are going to be the ones that suffer.

 

Most of the members of Congress, they’ve got enough of a cushion that they can probably put up with a government shutdown. But there are a lot of people out there who can’t.

 

If you’re small business right now and you’re counting on a small business loan that may make a difference as to whether or not you can keep that business going, and you find out that you can’t process it for three or four weeks, or five weeks or six weeks, because of some bickering in Washington, what does that say about our priorities? It doesn’t make sense.

 

I’m going to take one last question -- oh, I’m sorry.

 

Q I asked about Peres as well, if you had anything about your meeting today.

 

THE PRESIDENT: President Peres is I think an extraordinary statesman. We had a extensive discussion about what’s happened in the Middle East. I think he and I both share a belief that this is both a challenge and an opportunity; that with the winds of change blowing through the Arab world, it’s more urgent than ever that we try to seize the opportunity to create a peaceful solution between the Palestinians and the Israelis, and he has some very interesting ideas around those issues. He also recognizes the fact that in a country like Egypt, not only do we need to be nurturing democracy, but we also have to make sure that economic opportunity is growing there. And so we explored some ideas about how we can provide some help and make sure that young people there see a brighter future.

 

And that’s something that Secretary Clinton, during her trip in Egypt, spoke extensively about and will probably be rolling out some additional plans on that front.

 

Last question.

 

Q Mr. President, Speaker Boehner says it’s not just the specifics of what you guys want to cut and not cut, but that your cuts, the ones you have put on the table, are smoke and mirrors. How do you answer that?

 

THE PRESIDENT: Well, here’s -- I’ll let Jay or Jack Lew or others get into all the details, but here’s sort of a thumbnail of what’s happened.

 

The vast majority of the cuts that have been put forward, just as was true in the Republican budget, are direct cuts out of domestic discretionary spending. There are some cuts that we’ve proposed that have to do with mandatory spending. These are real cuts -- for example, Pell Grants. What we’ve said is, instead of being able to finance year-round Pell Grants so that you can get a Pell Grant for summer school as well, we’re going to have to cut that out. It’s a little too expensive. And we want to make sure that we preserve the levels for those young people or not-so-young people who are going to school full-time during the year.

 

And the way they are categorized means that those are called mandatory spending cuts as opposed to discretionary spending cuts. But they’re still cuts. They’re still reducing the size of government. They’re still getting rid of those things that we don’t need in order to pay for the things that we do need.

 

And I think that if you ask the budget analysts out there, independent budget analysts, including the CBO, about the composition of what we’ve proposed versus what was in House bill -- the House bill that passed a while back, H.R. 1, this is consistent with those basic principles.

So this notion that somehow we’re offering smoke and mirrors -- try to tell that to the Democrats out there, because part of what we’ve done is we’ve been willing to cut programs that we care deeply about, that are really important, but we recognize that given the fiscal situation that we’re in, everybody has got to make some sacrifices; everybody has got to take a haircut. And we’ve been willing to do that.

 

But what we’re not willing to do is to go out there and say we’re going to cut another 60,000 head slot starts -- Head Start slots. We’re not going to be willing to go out there and say that we’re going to cut medical research. We’re not going to cut those things that we think are absolutely vital to the growth of the American economy and putting people back to work.

 

And that means we’ve got to make some choices. And that is not just true for us; that’s true for the Republicans as well. Nobody gets 100 percent of what they want. And we have more than met the Republicans halfway at this point.

 

Okay? Thank you very much, everybody.

 

END

2:21 P.M. EDT

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Guest HUMAN

EXPLAIN THIS AWAY.

 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Remarks of President Barack Obama;

 

 

With the fiscal mess we’ve inherited and the cost of this financial crisis, I’ve proposed a budget that cuts our deficit in half by the end of my first term. That’s why we are scouring every corner of the budget and have proposed $2 trillion in deficit reductions over the next decade. In total, our budget would bring discretionary spending for domestic programs as a share of the economy to its lowest level in nearly half a century. And we will continue making these tough choices in the months and years ahead so that as our economy recovers, we do what we must to bring this deficit down.

 

The American people sent us here to get things done, and at this moment of great challenge, they are watching and waiting for us to lead. Let’s show them that we are equal to the task before us, and let’s pass a budget that puts this nation on the road to lasting prosperity.

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Guest American4Progress

Writing in Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveiled the Republican budget plan that he calls the "Path to Prosperity," a plan that "would privatize Medicare for future retirees, cut spending on Medicaid and other domestic programs, and offer sharply lower tax rates to corporations and the wealthy." Right-wing pundits in corporate media immediately offered plaudits. CNN contributor Erick Erickson praised the "Gospel" of Paul Ryan as a "solid proposal of solid reform." New York Times columnist David Brooks says that Ryan's "courageous" "leadership" "will set the standard of seriousness." Reuters columnist James Pethokoukis thinks the plan is the "most important and necessary piece of economic legislation since President Ronald Reagan's tax cuts in 1981." But Ryan's plan doesn't ask the most well-off Americans or the country's corporate titans to make any sacrifice, instead leaving the burden of deficit and debt reduction on the middle class, seniors, and a "shrunken public sector." "The GOP's budget breaks the fundamental promise of this country: That if you work hard and play by the rules, you can take care of your family and retire with dignity and peace of mind," Health Care For America Now's Melinda Gibson says. The budget plan "would get about two-thirds of its more than $4 trillion in budget cuts over 10 years from programs that serve people of limited means," an analysis from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities found.

 

RYAN'S MIDDLE-CLASS TAX HIKE: Ryan uses boilerplate language and topline bullet points to obscure an important fact: his plan would almost certainly raise taxes on most middle-income Americans even as it slashes taxes for the wealthiest. For Ryan to cut the top rate by nearly one-third and still keep revenue the same as it would have been under the Bush tax cuts regime, he has to raise taxes somewhere else. "And though he pointedly refuses to tell us where those tax hikes will come from, we can make an educated guess," Michael Linden, Associate Director of Tax and Budget Policy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, writes. "The rate cut at the top, of course, benefits only those in the top brackets (the richest two percent of Americans), but to pay for it, Ryan says he will 'broaden the tax base.' Broadening the tax base means removing some tax expenditures that currently benefit the middle class." Ryan's vagueness is probably deliberate, "since any detailed description of his ideas for tax 'reform' would reveal a massive tax hike for the middle class." What about Ryan's estimates of booming economic prosperity, including taking "unemployment rate down to 4% by 2015"? He is relying on the Heritage Foundation's Center for Data Analysis, which used the same "megalomaniacal" methods to promise us that George W. Bush's tax policies would lead the country into a brave new era of prosperity. Heritage claimed Bush's tax cuts would create millions of jobs when in fact payroll employment was back down to 2001 levels in 2009, that they would boost tax revenue when in fact it led to record deficits, and they promised a surge in personal income when in fact the country got the worst income performance ever. "If you believe George W. Bush unleashed an unprecedented economic boom with great jobs performance, rising incomes, and the paying off of the national debt then you'll find a lot to like about Rep. Ryan's plan," CAP's Matt Yglesias writes.

 

RYAN ATTACKS SENIORS AND FAMILIES: The Ryan budget plan would, quite simply, put an end to our current healthcare system, repealing the Affordable Care Act, and replacing Medicare and Medicaid with private systems that provide less care at a higher cost. The plan's repeal of the Obama health care legislation means 32 million people are likely to lose their health insurance coverage. The Ryan budget "phases out Medicare over 10 years," Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall explains. "Ryan's extremist plan would decimate Medicare and Medicaid and terminate the Affordable Care Act, undermining the economic security of America's struggling middle class." "Republicans want to roll back the clock" by "ending Medicare and screwing over seniors," Washington Monthly's Steve Benen writes. "The plan shows Medicaid cuts of $771 billion, plus savings of $1.4 trillion from repealing the health reform law's Medicaid expansion and its subsidies to help low- and moderate-income people purchase health insurance," the CBPP explains. Ryan's plan is a "radically ambitious plan to roll back the Great Society and fundamentally transform how the United States takes care of its poor, sick and elderly," Salon's Andrew Leonard summarizes. "The wealthiest Americans and corporations are getting tax breaks while healthcare for the most vulnerable Americans is under assault," Leonard added. "Dismantling Medicare while giving bonus tax breaks to the very wealthiest in America is what may pass for bold in Washington, but in Oregon it is unacceptable," says Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR). "Paul Ryan made clear that the Republican budget will protect Big Oil companies subsidies over seniors health care," said Jesse Ferguson of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "It's already becoming clear who will be the priority in the House Republican budget -- special interests, not middle class families."

 

RYAN ATTACKS EDUCATION: The budget lays out little in terms of cuts to specific programs, instead simply decreeing caps on levels of spending. But one cut is explicitly proposed in the document -- a cut to the Pell Grant program, which provides college tuition assistance to low-income students. If implemented, this would be the largest reduction in Pell Grants in history, more than eight times higher than the previous record, which was a $100 reduction in the maximum award in 1994. These cuts "will reduce the number of low income students receiving Bachelor's degrees each year by about 61,000." "It's obviously pretty drastic, and the impact on Pell is dire," says Becky Timmons, assistant vice president for government relations at the American Council on Education. Pell Grants are key to the country's economic competitiveness and to boosting an educational attainment rate that has stagnated. Cutting them in this way provides little in terms of real budgetary savings, but undermines economic competitiveness and the nation's supply of human capital.

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Guest HUMAN

How about getting through the 2011 budget? Of which By Law Your Group the democrats SHOULD have passed but did not.

 

Seniors got to be Seniors for a reason, and I don't think that they will believe that your group has their best interests in mind especially after the Health care law that your group passed.

 

Add to that 18 million people added to Medicare though that will equal out in terms of people losing their insurance, which is close to the same amount of people added.

 

[i honestly still think that the American people DON'T care about the budget, and are primarily concerned about jobs.

 

The numbers point that out.]

 

Well!!! How ever this plays out? I wish you well in your job, but NOT IN POLITICS. :)

 

 

 

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Writing in Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveiled the Republican budget plan that he calls the "Path to Prosperity," a plan that "would privatize Medicare for future retirees, cut spending on Medicaid and other domestic programs, and offer sharply lower tax rates to corporations and the wealthy." Right-wing pundits in corporate media immediately offered plaudits. CNN contributor Erick Erickson praised the "Gospel" of Paul Ryan as a "solid proposal of solid reform." New York Times columnist David Brooks says that Ryan's "courageous" "leadership" "will set the standard of seriousness." Reuters columnist James Pethokoukis thinks the plan is the "most important and necessary piece of economic legislation since President Ronald Reagan's tax cuts in 1981." But Ryan's plan doesn't ask the most well-off Americans or the country's corporate titans to make any sacrifice, instead leaving the burden of deficit and debt reduction on the middle class, seniors, and a "shrunken public sector." "The GOP's budget breaks the fundamental promise of this country: That if you work hard and play by the rules, you can take care of your family and retire with dignity and peace of mind," Health Care For America Now's Melinda Gibson says. The budget plan "would get about two-thirds of its more than $4 trillion in budget cuts over 10 years from programs that serve people of limited means," an analysis from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities found.

 

RYAN'S MIDDLE-CLASS TAX HIKE: Ryan uses boilerplate language and topline bullet points to obscure an important fact: his plan would almost certainly raise taxes on most middle-income Americans even as it slashes taxes for the wealthiest. For Ryan to cut the top rate by nearly one-third and still keep revenue the same as it would have been under the Bush tax cuts regime, he has to raise taxes somewhere else. "And though he pointedly refuses to tell us where those tax hikes will come from, we can make an educated guess," Michael Linden, Associate Director of Tax and Budget Policy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, writes. "The rate cut at the top, of course, benefits only those in the top brackets (the richest two percent of Americans), but to pay for it, Ryan says he will 'broaden the tax base.' Broadening the tax base means removing some tax expenditures that currently benefit the middle class." Ryan's vagueness is probably deliberate, "since any detailed description of his ideas for tax 'reform' would reveal a massive tax hike for the middle class." What about Ryan's estimates of booming economic prosperity, including taking "unemployment rate down to 4% by 2015"? He is relying on the Heritage Foundation's Center for Data Analysis, which used the same "megalomaniacal" methods to promise us that George W. Bush's tax policies would lead the country into a brave new era of prosperity. Heritage claimed Bush's tax cuts would create millions of jobs when in fact payroll employment was back down to 2001 levels in 2009, that they would boost tax revenue when in fact it led to record deficits, and they promised a surge in personal income when in fact the country got the worst income performance ever. "If you believe George W. Bush unleashed an unprecedented economic boom with great jobs performance, rising incomes, and the paying off of the national debt then you'll find a lot to like about Rep. Ryan's plan," CAP's Matt Yglesias writes.

 

RYAN ATTACKS SENIORS AND FAMILIES: The Ryan budget plan would, quite simply, put an end to our current healthcare system, repealing the Affordable Care Act, and replacing Medicare and Medicaid with private systems that provide less care at a higher cost. The plan's repeal of the Obama health care legislation means 32 million people are likely to lose their health insurance coverage. The Ryan budget "phases out Medicare over 10 years," Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall explains. "Ryan's extremist plan would decimate Medicare and Medicaid and terminate the Affordable Care Act, undermining the economic security of America's struggling middle class." "Republicans want to roll back the clock" by "ending Medicare and screwing over seniors," Washington Monthly's Steve Benen writes. "The plan shows Medicaid cuts of $771 billion, plus savings of $1.4 trillion from repealing the health reform law's Medicaid expansion and its subsidies to help low- and moderate-income people purchase health insurance," the CBPP explains. Ryan's plan is a "radically ambitious plan to roll back the Great Society and fundamentally transform how the United States takes care of its poor, sick and elderly," Salon's Andrew Leonard summarizes. "The wealthiest Americans and corporations are getting tax breaks while healthcare for the most vulnerable Americans is under assault," Leonard added. "Dismantling Medicare while giving bonus tax breaks to the very wealthiest in America is what may pass for bold in Washington, but in Oregon it is unacceptable," says Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR). "Paul Ryan made clear that the Republican budget will protect Big Oil companies subsidies over seniors health care," said Jesse Ferguson of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "It's already becoming clear who will be the priority in the House Republican budget -- special interests, not middle class families."

 

RYAN ATTACKS EDUCATION: The budget lays out little in terms of cuts to specific programs, instead simply decreeing caps on levels of spending. But one cut is explicitly proposed in the document -- a cut to the Pell Grant program, which provides college tuition assistance to low-income students. If implemented, this would be the largest reduction in Pell Grants in history, more than eight times higher than the previous record, which was a $100 reduction in the maximum award in 1994. These cuts "will reduce the number of low income students receiving Bachelor's degrees each year by about 61,000." "It's obviously pretty drastic, and the impact on Pell is dire," says Becky Timmons, assistant vice president for government relations at the American Council on Education. Pell Grants are key to the country's economic competitiveness and to boosting an educational attainment rate that has stagnated. Cutting them in this way provides little in terms of real budgetary savings, but undermines economic competitiveness and the nation's supply of human capital.

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Guest ALWAYS RED

Don't blame the Republicans if there if the government shuts down.

 

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) released the following statement today:

 

“I have just been informed that the White House has issued a veto threat on a bill that would keep the government from shutting down, without stating a single policy justification for President Obama’s threatened veto. Neither the President nor Senate Democrats have identified a single policy provision they find objectionable in the bill. The bill the House is considering today would fund our troops through September in the face of three conflicts and keep the government from shutting down tomorrow, while reflecting meaningful reductions in government spending that are widely accepted by both chambers of Congress. As I have said before, Republicans’ goal is to cut spending to help create a better environment for job creation – not to shut down the government.

 

“We will send this bill to the Senate today, confident that those Democrats who believe it is important to fund our troops and make real spending cuts will prevail upon Senator Reid and our Commander-in-Chief to keep the government from shutting down. The President and Democratic leaders have all committed to working with Republicans to cut spending. A bill that falls short of that commitment cannot pass the House.”

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Guest greenzen

Why don't the two parties meet halfway. Remove abortion financing and leave clean air laws in for another day.

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Guest Chazz

Political theater at it’s very best.

 

With such dreadful consequences looming of each and everyone of us, our “leaders” play games and pose for the telly…

 

It’s disgusting and… criminal

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Guest Trisha

I just heard the Cherry Blossom parade and the Smithsonian is going to be shut down. Is the whole festival closed this weekend?

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Guest davenhal

Why don't the two parties meet halfway. Remove abortion financing and leave clean air laws in for another day.

 

How can the Republicans stall the budget to prevent the EPA from complying with a Supreme Court ruling requiring it to regulate green house gas pollution?

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