Category Archives: tax cuts

Cut And Grow Fail: CBO Schools Tea Party Freshman In Basic Economics

This little ditty was posted Friday on Talking Points Memo. It should be a wake-up call to all those TEA partiers and other right-wingers out there that think that all will be fine in the world if we only cut spending and do nothing to increase revenue.

Unfortunately though, regardless of economic schooling provided by the CBO, there will those that continue to burry their heads in the sand and refuse to believe anything a socialist government agency has to say:

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), a Tea Party-backed freshman who voted against the final debt limit bill, recently asked to hear from the Congressional Budget Office about the impact of government spending on economic growth. It’s an article of faith on the right that vastly shrinking government will unleash the forces of private enterprise, and faced with CBO’s opposing view, Huelskamp wanted to know the answer to two questions:

1). What current federal departments, agencies, programs, or portions thereof do not contribute to economic growth?

2). In the programs that CBO believes do contribute to economic growth, what level of spending cuts would amount to a level you believe would be significant enough to “probably slow the economic recovery”?

But if the newly elected member of the Budget Committee was hoping the non-partisan CBO would buy into his premise, he’ll be sorely disappointed.

In a response letter Thursday, CBO-chief Doug Elmendorf gives Huelskamp a layman’s lesson in Keynesian economics: Under current economic circumstances, new federal spending would help economic growth, and current and future cuts could stymie it, particularly if they hit key government investment.

“When demand for goods and services falls short of the economy’s ability to produce them, as is the case currently, increasing government spending can increase aggregate demand and thereby narrow the gap between the economy’s actual and potential levels of output,” Elmendorf writes.

The precise details matter. The more robust the economy, the lower the impact. But, according to Elmendorf, “when the Federal Reserve’s ability to lower short-run interest rates is constrained because those rates are already near zero, as they are currently, the short-run effects of changes in government spending on output tend to be larger than usual.”

To illustrate the point, Elmendorf notes that deficit reduction measures that cut spending by $100 billion next fiscal year, and hundreds of billions more over the coming decade “would decrease real (inflation-adjusted) gross national product (GNP) in 2012, 2013, and 2014 by amounts ranging from roughly 0.1 percent to 0.6 percent depending on the year and the assumptions used.” In other words, the GOP’s current governing theory is damaging the economy and, by implication, costing jobs. And for those Republicans who want to cut more, ” a reduction in primary deficits that followed the same gradual time path but was twice as large would produce macroeconomic effects that were roughly twice as large.”

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There are important growth-related reasons to reduce deficits if and when the economy improves — it reduces the extent to which government spending “crowds out” private investment, by undertaking functions the private sector can do more efficiently. But we’re not there yet and, according to CBO, won’t be until the end of the decade. Spending cuts like the ones describe above, “[a]t the turn of the decade, from 2019 through 2021…would increase [GNP] by roughly 0.5 percent to 1.4 percent.”

But again the specifics matter, and if the GOP wants to slash across the board, they’ll do damage anyhow.

“Some types of spending, such as funding for improvements to roads and highways, may add to the economy’s potential output in much the same way that private capital investment does,” Elmendorf writes. “Other policies, such as funding for grants to increase access to college education may raise long-term productivity by enhancing people’s skills. The positive longer-term impact of deficit reduction on GNP would be smaller if the policies that reduced deficits included cuts in productive government investments.”

Huelskamp’s original letter is here. Read Elmendorf’s response here.

The letters stem from the below exchange between Huelskamp and Elmendorf at a recent Budget committee hearing. Elmendorf and Huelskamp are arguing two different points. Huelskamp would like to see big cuts to federal safety net programs and other spending. Elmendorf argues that while the macroeconomic consequences of slashing some of those programs might be minimal in the long run, the near-term impact would be significant, given the current downturn.

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Filed under Congressional Budget Office, debt deal, economy, government spending, job growth, Talking Points Memo, tax cuts, tax revenues, Tea Party

President Obama’s Weekly Address 8/6/11: Creating Jobs and Getting All Americans Back to Work

WASHINGTON—In this week’s address, President Obama called on Democrats and Republicans to work together to grow the economy and get Americans back to work. The President has outlined a number of steps Congress can take right now to spur growth and create jobs, including extending tax cuts for working and middle class families, cutting red tape to encourage new businesses to grow and hire, passing trade deals that will support tens of thousands of jobs, and giving our out-of-work construction workers opportunities to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure.

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Filed under arab spring, bipartisanship, Congress, deficit reduction, economy, infrastructure, Job creation, Middle Class, President Obama, tax cuts, trade deals, unemployment benefits, Verterans, weekly address

On income taxes and job creation, history debunks GOP views

By Star-Ledger Editorial Board
Sunday, July 17, 2011

We’re used to politicians stretching the truth, but this is getting ridiculous. For months now, congressional Republicans have refused to support any debt ceiling and budget deal that would raise taxes on the wealthy because, these economic wizards tell us, the rich are “job creators.”

Tax increases would discourage these job genies from expanding their businesses. Unemployment, already at 9.2 percent (which says something about the job-creation myth, doesn’t it?), would get even worse, they insist. The problem with this economic philosophy? It’s garbage.

Even Warren Buffett, one of the richest men in the world, knows that: “The rich are always going to say, ‘Just give us more money and we’ll go out and spend more and then it will all trickle down to the rest of you.’ But that has not worked the last 10 years, and I hope the American public is catching on.”

The American public, it seems, is catching on, even if Republicans want to twist the truth about that, too. Speaker of the House John Boehner keeps insisting, “The American people don’t want us to raise taxes.” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor says, “This economy is ailing and we don’t believe, nor do the American people believe, raising taxes is the answer.”

Think again. Americans believe Congress should raise taxes on the wealthy.

A new Quinnipiac survey asked voters if they support a budget deal with only budget cuts or a blend of cuts and taxes on corporations and the rich. Only 25 percent said cuts only. Sixty-seven percent want cuts and a tax increase on the wealthy.

Republican leaders are not only misrepresenting what the American people want, they’re covering up Republican numbers, too. In a recent Gallup poll, only 26 percent of Republicans favored lowering the debt with cuts alone. In just about every poll — ABC News, Washington Post, Bloomberg, Reuters — Americans want spending cuts and they want the wealthy to pay a larger share.

But maybe the American people are wrong. Let’s check the history. Did giving the wealthy a break with the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 help create jobs? Uh, no. From the end of the 2000-01 recession, just when the first Bush tax cuts took effect, until the beginning of the Great Recession, the economy grew at a slower pace than in any postrecession recovery period since World War II. Pay, adjusted for inflation, fell. And it took 39 months to get the number of jobs back to where it was before the 2000-01 recession.

Despite the same promises of jobs, the economy limped along. And the additional tax cut in 2003 didn’t rev it up, either.

President Bill Clinton faced vociferous opposition to his 1993 budget plan, which raised the top tax rates from 31 percent to 39.6 percent. Republicans called it the “Kevorkian Plan.”

So, what happened? Unparalleled economic growth. The nation’s unemployment dropped from 6.9 percent to 4 percent. The deficit shrank, and in 1998, the federal government boasted a surplus for the first time since 1969.

It seems the economy can survive a tax hike on the wealthy after all. And the tax hike did wonders to reduce the deficit as well, as designed.

More evidence: During the 1950s and early 1960s, when America experienced sustained growth, marginal tax rates on the rich were the highest they’ve ever been — 91 percent for the top bracket. (Even President Ronald Reagan, the Republican economic poster boy, raised taxes after he cut them.)

But Republicans keep chanting the same nonsense — without offering historical evidence to back it up. Instead, they want to bring the nation to the brink of default while protecting corporations (who are sitting on billions in profits) and fat cats — while everyday Americans are squeezed by high gas and food prices, plunging home prices and lower wages.

Let’s call the job-creator stuff what it is: a myth.

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Filed under Bill Clinton, Bush Tax Cuts, Congressional Republicans, Conservatives, debt limit, editorial, Eric Cantor, great recession, John Boehner, President Obama, tax cuts, the Star-Ledger, unemployment

>Contrasting Styles Between Cuomo & Christie; Different Approach, Same Outcome No Animosity

>NJ.com yesterday had an interesting editorial that I think a lot of people should be reading.

In the face of an $11 billion dollar budget defect, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo balanced NY’s budget by cutting spending and entitlement without raising taxes just as our governor did last year (although that is somewhat debatable). Cuomo achieved this by reaching out to legislator and including them in the process. Gov. Christie on the other hand, has created divisiveness between the governor’s office and those in the legislature with his take it or leave it approach and sledgehammer style.

Interestingly Cuomo was able to balance his State’s budget without demonizing any one group (public employees) or had to hold nonstop “Town Hall” meetings to convince people that there is a problem and his way of solving it, is the only way that it can be done.

Resident of NJ should take notice and see how a different, less caustic and abrasive style can achieve similar yet far different results.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo just won agreement on a budget for New York state that cuts overall spending and contains no new taxes. He even blocked an attempt by fellow Democrats to extend a surtax on millionaires.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because New Jersey did all that last year. Perhaps Cuomo looked across the Hudson and liked what he saw.

Now maybe Gov. Chris Christie can return the compliment. Because Cuomo has something to teach him as well.

Note the lack of personal attacks in Albany. Cuomo was tough, but he wasn’t abusive. He didn’t call his Assembly speaker a liar, for example, or clear his schedule for a nonstop tour on the unlimited greed of teachers and cops.

And he negotiated. Especially relevant to New Jersey was Cuomo’s approach to Medicaid.

Like most states, New York and New Jersey are facing daunting increases in health care costs. Cuomo’s approach was collaborative.

He invited key stakeholders, including hospitals and unions, to sit together and hammer out an agreement on cuts. If they couldn’t come up with an answer, he said, then he would do it for them.

After two months, Cuomo’s committee pulled it off, agreeing to 79 cost-cutting measures, from lowering reimbursements to shifting patients to managed care plans.

Christie wants to cut $540 million in Medicaid spending next year, a huge sum that both sides expect to be a main point of contention. But he’s drawn up his plan in secret, and even now is keeping the Legislature out of the loop. People such as Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex), a key architect of the current system, are still looking for basic answers.

“They are crafting their own proposal in a vacuum,” Vitale says. “They would be wise to include legislators.”

Cuomo’s collaboration ensured that his plan had broad political support, and would pass. Christie’s approach risks just the opposite.

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Filed under budget deficit, entitlement spending, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Gov. Chris Christie, health care costs, Medicaid, Millionaire'sTax, New Jersey, New York, NJ.com, tax cuts, tax increase, Town Hall

>Doesn’t Anyone Remember Christine Whitman?

>In a CountyFair blog post on the website MediaMatters.org, blogger Jamison Foser asks a simple question “ Doesn’t Anyone Remember Christine Whitman?

It’s a great read and analogy of what transpired in the early 1990’s when young Republican Governors were swept into office and faced huge budget deficits after Bill Clinton became President and what is happening today.

“A young Democrat is elected President on a theme of hope and change, does some of the things he was elected to do, Republicans howl and win control of Congress in a landslide mid-term election, and the media becomes infatuated with a new crop of Republican governors who are trying to dramatically reconfigure state budgets.

“That’s a reasonable summary of the current state of affairs, but it also describes the first few years of Bill Clinton’s presidency. But it isn’t the similarity that’s striking: After all, there’s a reason the phrase “history has a way of repeating itself” exists. Or, perhaps more appropriately: “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” See, what’s really striking about the current situation is how few reporters seem to remember what happened in the 1990s.

Most notably, the past few weeks have seen massive media attention paid to state budget deficits, and attempts by Republican governors like Chris Christie to blame out-of-control pension obligations for those deficits (even as they pursue deficit-increasing tax cuts…”

Foser goes on to talk about how NJ Governor Christie Whitman cut taxes and raided the state pension fund in order to close New Jersey’s budget gap even though many critics warned that the State Pension system would see significant shortfall 15-20 years down the road, which of course is what is happening to be now!

“Whitman was one of those star Republican governors of the early 1990s. Like so many other Republican governors who win media attention for innovative approaches, she made her name through the not-so-innovative strategy of cutting taxes. Since she had to offset those tax cuts in order to balance New Jersey’s budget, she reduced payments into the state’s pension system. And that, as the New York Times noted last August, “contributed to the growth of the unfunded liability” that is now widely blamed for New Jersey’s budget shortfall.”

He went on to state that none of this should have come as a surprise to anyone because “when Whitman was defunding the pension system in order to cut taxes, there were warnings that this is exactly what would happen. Here, for example, is a September 5, 1994 Washington Post article:
“The first thing Christine Todd Whitman did upon taking office as governor of New Jersey in January was to cut the state’s income tax. Then in July, as she signed into law her first state budget, the Republican cut taxes again while simultaneously closing the huge deficit left by her predecessor.

This is what her supporters call the Whitman miracle, the fiscal accomplishment that has sent her stock soaring among New Jersey’s voters and transformed her on the national scene from a political unknown into one of the Republican Party’s newest stars.

But the key to the Whitman miracle lies neither in her political philosophy nor in her spending cuts, but rather in the fine print of her budget. Contained there is a series of arcane fiscal changes that some experts say amount to this: Christine Todd Whitman has balanced New Jersey’s books and paid for her tax cut by quietly diverting more than $1 billion from the state’s pension fund.

Whitman calls what she did a “reform” of the pension system that puts it on a more “sound actuarial footing.” Others are less charitable. The one thing that even the actuarial consultants hired by the Whitman administration agree on, however, is that the chief effect of the changes will be to shift billions of dollars in pension obligations onto New Jersey taxpayers 15 to 20 years from now.”


“At best, this represents a gamble that the state’s economy in the early part of the next century will be stronger than it is today and better able to shoulder pension responsibilities. At worst, according to fiscal experts, Whitman’s move represents politics at its most cynical.

In recent years financially strapped governments around the country — including Washington, D.C., and New York state — have raided their pension funds for cash, gambling that when the bills come due their local economies will be in a better position to pay them.

“The New Jersey pension system was highly rated in terms of its fiscal integrity,” said [Henry] Raimondo of the Eagleton Institute. “Now that’s compromised. She has effectively slowed down” the amount of “money going into the system, and in around 2010 the liability to New Jersey taxpayers is going to grow dramatically.”

Foser concluded his post by adding:
“Let’s review: A Republican governor of New Jersey reduced payments to the state pension system so she could cut taxes. Critics warned doing so would cause significant budget shortfalls in 2010. 2010 rolled around, and — surprise! — so did budget shortfalls. And now those shortfalls are used by New Jersey’s current Republican governor (along with many in the media) to justify cutting pensions (while again cutting taxes.)

Basically, conservatives have staged an end-run around having a public debate over cutting pensions in order to pay for tax cuts. Rather than making the argument that tax cuts are more important than pensions, they just went ahead and cut taxes, raiding the pension system in the process, then waited 15 years for predictable — and predicted — deficits, which they now point to as evidence that the pension system is unsustainably generous. And they’ve done it with the help of countless news organizations that fall for this shell game.”

You really need to read the full post, it’s fascinating how history has once again repeated itself.
You can read it >>> here

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Filed under 60 Minutes, Bill Clinton, Bill O'Reilly, budget deficit, Gov. Christie Whitman, Media Matters, New Jersey, pension deficit, Republican Governors, state pension system, tax cuts

>President Obama’s Weekly Address 1/08/11: Tax Cuts Kicking In

>The President touts the new benefits coming from the tax cut compromise for any business large or small, tens of millions of workers and families, and the economy itself.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/all/modules/swftools/shared/flash_media_player/player5x2.swf

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Filed under economic benefits, economy, President Obama, tax cuts, weekly address

>White House says N.J. benefits from proposed tax cuts

>

I posted the following just for some balance to offset the argument of the previous post.

From Tom Hester Jr. @ NewJerseyNewsroom.com
12/15/10

New Jersey stands to benefit if the House acts quickly on a bipartisan package that extends unemployment benefits and tax cuts, White House officials said Wednesday.

As many 4.7 million New Jerseyans would see more money in their paychecks because of the proposed 2 percent payroll tax cut. If the legislation is not approved, a typical working family faced a tax increase of over $3,000 on Jan. 1.

At least 321,774 New Jerseyans who have been jobless for an extended period would continue to receive jobless benefits under the legislation. If the package is not approved, the jobless benefits would end in the weeks ahead.

The package also includes an extension of the American Opportunity tax credit, which was used by 281,000 New Jersey families last year to help pay for college tuition.

Additional tax cuts in the legislation that also are geared at middle-class families include the Earned Income Tax Credit, designed to help families to climb out of poverty, and the Child Tax Credit extension, that would make sure families don’t see their taxes jump by up to $1,000 for every child.

“This tax cut plan, while not perfect, will help to grow our economy and create jobs in the private sector,” President Obama said. “It will help to lift up middle class families, who will no longer need to worry about a New Year’s Day tax hike. It will offer emergency relief to help tide folks over until they find another job. And it includes tax cuts to make college more affordable; help parents to provide for their children; and help businesses, large and small, to expand and hire. We worked hard to negotiate an agreement that’s a win for middle-class families, and a win for our economy, and we can’t afford to let it fall victim to delay and defeat. So, I urge Members of Congress to pass these tax cuts as swiftly as possible.”

White House officials described the proposals as responsible, temporary measures designed to support the national economy that will not add costs by the middle of the decade. Obama does not believe it is affordable to make the high-income tax cuts permanent and will continue to make his case for why the administration cannot extend these measures beyond 2012.

The Senate voted 81-19 in favor of the bipartisan tax cut package Wednesday afternoon. It now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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Filed under Bush Tax Cuts, New Jersey, New Jersey Newsroom, President Obama, tax cuts, the White House, Tom Hester