Posts Tagged: budget deficit

The real deficit is one of confidence and readiness to change

Nicholas Kristof had a thought-provoking piece over the weekend in the New York Times pointing out how reckless politicians are hurting America from within:

The biggest threat to America’s national security this summer doesn’t come from China, Iran or any other foreign power. It comes from budget machinations, and budget maniacs, at home.

Motivated by ideology rather than practicality, some members of Congress are blind to the way their position will actually make America weaker, and how their “budget-cutting” stance will actually end up forcing the government to spend more (to finance debt payment at higher interest rates, for one). (more…)

Read my lips: no new pledges

In an illuminating (and surprisingly snark-free) column, Gerald Seib of the Wall Street Journal explains why a budget/debt-ceiling agreement would be good for Obama and good for Washington.  Seib points out that there are at least two statesmen in Washington:

. . . [B]oth Messrs. Obama and Boehner have been searching for a big deficit deal for the most imporant reason of all:  Both think one would be good for the country and its economy in the long run.  Both deserve credit for that.

Seib then explains why an agreement would be good for Obama and why, in the end, Obama could come out the winner in any case — politically, at least: (more…)

Budget standoff in Minnesota

The MinnPost has lately provided almost everything that anyone would want to know about the budget conflict between Minnesota’s Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and the state’s GOP-controlled state legislature. The contours of the debate are pretty different than the negotiations going on in Washington, D.C. over reducing the national deficit. (more…)

More borrowing for Illinois?

When not searching the couch cushions and glove compartment for loose change, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn tends to make controversial proposals to ensure his state pays overdue Medicaid bills — and therefore keeps getting millions in federal Medicaid funds. First, Quinn wanted the state to borrow $8.75 billion, but the state legislature was cool to the idea. Now, the Springfield State Journal Register’s Dean Olsen reports that Quinn wants the Illinois Finance Authority to borrow $750 million from private investors like banks and then repay the banks with interest.

Given the state’s massive short and long-term deficit, further borrowing sounds bad. But other alternative to make state payments are worse: like freezing state income tax money that goes to municipal governments (many of which, like Chicago, are doing just as badly as the state).

Illinois v. Wisconsin

As I blogged yesterday, the Illinois legislature has passed the biggest tax increase in its history and before Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has even signed it into law new Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a Republican, is talking trash. Walker urged Illinois businesses to come fleeing to the friendlier tax environs of the Badger State, reports the Chicago Sun-Times Dave McKinney. Do Walker’s comments have any merit? (more…)

Illinois = fiscal responsibility?

Has the state of Illinois — where the last two governors were federally indicted — become more responsible than the federal government? Rick Pearson and Monique Garcia of the Chicago Tribune have the rundown of a historic evening last night as a 67 percent income tax increase and 46 business percent business tax increase passed the Illinois House 60-57 and Illinois Senate 30-29. (more…)

Re-Reinventing government, with a high-tech focus

John Mecklin of Miller-McCune was inspired (in part by a vexing visit to his local Social Security office) to zero in on ways the federal government could become more efficient.  He highlights a plan by which government could save $1 trillion or more by using high-tech infrastructure solutions that have already saved billions in the private sector.  The recommendations come from an October 2010 report by the Technology CEO Council that mentions seven areas in which the federal government could consolidate services among agencies, offer more services online, improve supply chains, and standardize computer software, all steps that would save major money. (more…)

Know anyone with $15 billion?

Pat Quinn

The Illinois budget deficit is projected to reach $15 billion this summer — or more than half of the state’s annual budget. Monique Garcia of the Chicago Tribune reports that Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has stumbled upon a novel if not innovative solution to this problem: Let’s borrow the entire $15 billion by issuing a “debt bond.” Quinn figures it will actually cost less for Illinois taxpayers to repay the interest on a massive loan than the status quo of paying penalties to Illinois social service providers who, thanks to the budget deficit, aren’t getting paid on time.

And it’s not like there are more appealing options than the loan to end all state government loans. (more…)

Another push for education ‘reform’

Adam Doster of Progress Illinois reports that the Illinois General Assembly has formed a “House Special Committee on Education Reform” that will meet twice this month and then, one would hope, propose legislation for the state to consider in early January. The formation of such a committee seems mundane but it dovetails with two big issues for the state — reducing the mammoth budget deficit and making a last gasp for federal “Race to the Top” funds. (more…)

Is Quinn allowed to keep Illinois at work?

Pat Quinn

Last week I blogged that Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, decided to spend $47 million to extend Put Illinois to Work, which originally started as a federal stimulus bill jobs program but is now being paid for entirely by the state. Civics 101 students may have wondered how the governor can decide to spend money without the state legislature’s approval. The Chicago Tribune’s Monique Garcia reports that the GOP leader in the Illinois Senate, Christine Radogno, is wondering the same thing — Radogno sent a letter to Quinn Friday questioning both the effectiveness of Put Illinois to Work and whether Quinn could legally extend the program.

The conflict centers around two of the biggest problems in Illinois — high unemployment and a state government that has avoided confronting a historic $15 billion or so budget deficit. (more…)