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Taxpayers must pay the freight for over-budget train projects
Topic - Chris Edwards
Any American who travels must deal with the Transportation Safety Administration. The Bush administration made many mistakes in dealing with the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Creating a government monopoly to handle transportation safety was one of the worst.
All sides say they want to undo the cut to military retirement benefits approved by Congress in last month's budget deal — but finding the money to pay for it is proving to be a major problem.
"Americans' job approval ratings for Congress in 2013 averaged 14 percent, the lowest annual average in Gallup's history. Congressional approval has averaged 33 percent since Gallup began measuring it in 1974, with the highest yearly average of 56 percent reached in 2001," reports Frank Newport, director of Gallup.
Key lawmakers from both parties announced Tuesday a bipartisan budget proposal that would avoid another government shutdown and restore some defense spending that would have been lost to upcoming sequester cuts.
Even as negotiators struggle to write a final fiscal 2014 budget, one of Congress' most liberal lawmakers laid out his own vision for what the government's priorities should be — complete with big jumps in taxes and social spending and cuts at the Pentagon.
Republican governors elected in 2010's tea party wave have generally made good on pledges to cut taxes and limit spending, according to the latest fiscal report card released Tuesday by the Cato Institute think tank, which graded the states' executives on their boldness is reining in government expansion.
With Democrats ruling Washington, Republican governors have become the GOP's standard-bearers, raising their profiles with their tax-cutting, budget-balancing and hurricane-battling derring-do.
President Obama keeps demanding that the rich pay more because "it is only fair." In his State of Union address, he said millionaires should pay a minimum of 30 percent of their income in taxes. The 30 percent number seems to have come from divine inspiration rather than an exercise in logic.
Gov. Rick Perry says that on his watch Texas has created more than 1 million jobs. Former Gov. Mitt Romney touts turning job losses into gains in Massachusetts. Former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. boasts that his job-growth credentials in Utah trump them both. But records from recent governors turned president show it's difficult to re-create gubernatorial success on a national level.
President Obama will reveal his latest jobs plan Thursday night in a high-stakes speech to a joint session of Congress, facing Republicans opposed to more deficit spending and voters who increasingly don't trust him to fix the economy.
Political observers could not help but notice that many provisions of the compromise debt deal, such as postponing nearly all spending cuts until 2013 and boosting student aid next year, are tailor-made for President Obama's 2012 re-election campaign.
Public employee unions, the last bastion of an American labor movement in decline, are facing the fight of their lives this year as strapped state and local governments seek to permanently downsize their pensions, pay, benefits and bargaining rights.
Despite President Obama's promises to lower the deficit and rein in spending, there was a conspicuous omission from his 2012 budget blueprint that many say would go a long way toward easing the nation's financial woes: Social Security reform.
Did you know there are nine states that have no state income tax? The non-income-tax states (see accompanying chart) are geographically and economically diverse, ranging from the state of Washington in the Pacific Northwest, to Texas and Florida in the South, and up to New Hampshire in the Northeast.
"They could argue that they have not passed legislation because they don't have the Senate or the White House, but I would argue that they have stopped fighting for these things," said Chris Edwards, of the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute. "The budget deal was one of the more profoundly depressing things I have seen from them in recent years, because that was the big win they had since the tea party win of 2010 — and they gutted it."
"You would think there would be broad agreement, that these are emergency benefits and the emergency is long over," said Chris Edwards, editor of DownsizingGovernment.org at the Cato Institute. "I wouldn't be surprised if three months from now many Democrats will be pushing to further extend the unemployment benefits if the CBO is right."