Posts Tagged: federal budget

In worry over federal debt ceiling, California puts $5 billion in the piggy bank

Preparing for the day Washington’s brinksmanship results in financial calamity, California’s state treasurer is lining up $5 billion in loans, reports Kevin Yamamura of The Sacramento Bee.

The move is being launched to forestall a “cash flow disruption and market turmoil” should elected federal officials fail to break their impasse, leaving the nation’s most populous state unable to pay its bills.

According to Michael Marois of Bloomberg, the state will seek competitive bids on the private notes July 26. In the event that congress averts a crisis, the sale will be canceled.

Getting the lead out in Pilsen

Illinois environmental investigators found alarming levels of lead near an elementary school in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, reports the Chicago Tribune’s Michael Hawthorne, prompting state and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials to conduct a joint investigation intended to determine the lead’s source. The fact that U.S. EPA is even devoting resources to the lead problem near Perez Elementary School is a relative triumph for environmentalists and the Pilsen community — a low-to-middle income neighborhood that is more than 90 percent Mexican. Recent history and the current federal government budget battle show how fragile political support is for complex pollution investigations, even those where the affected party is school children. (more…)

Local impact of CDGB cuts

Susan Frick of the Naperville Sun has a well-reported piece on cuts in the federal Community Development Block Grant program (a Housing & Urban Development program around since the 70′s) will impact the Illinois suburb of Naperville. House Republicans and even Obama budget director Jacob Lew cited the grants as a painful but necessary cut.

About $800,000 in CDGB money goes to Naperville non-profits that help seniors, people with disabilities, and low-income residents. The largest allocation goes to a local food pantry. Will these non-profits survive after this year’s budget becomes law?

A fortnight to write a budget

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin is standing up for regulatory agencies as Congress’s budget battles proceed. Bloomberg reports that the Senate’s no. 2 Democrat is particularly concerned about financial regulation: that the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as well as the Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodities Future Trading Commission will not get enough money to enforce the Dodd-Frank regulatory reform bill.

It is difficult, though, to know what budget proposal to contest, especially with the government now operating on a two-week budget. Can regulatory champions like Durbin take the lead on a passable budget by March 18?

Report: Lawmakers advocate for their constituents

Mark Kirk

Ron Nixon of the New York Times has a good report on the earmark-like practices of lettermarking, phonemarking, and the soft earmark. The piece shows that the real issue isn’t a ban on earmarks per se, but how much of the federal budget goes to parochial projects.

Mark Kirk, Illinois’ newest U.S. Senator, is used as the example of a lawmaker whose position against earmarks boils down to hypocrisy. Kirk comes from the U.S. House where he was an appropriations chair who railed against earmarks and is part of a Republican caucus supportive of an overall earmark ban. Yet Kirk did lettermarking, which in substance is not much different than earmarking. (more…)


The Washington Post’s spy reporter Walter Pincus can’t contain his excitement:

The United States spent $75 billion over the past year to finance worldwide intelligence operations that employ 200,000 people, according to an unprecedented disclosure by the nation’s top intelligence official.

Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair disclosed the figures while introducing his four-year national intelligence strategy during a Tuesday morning conference call with reporters.

This isn’t that big of a deal — the Bush administration told Congress, and the public, that the 2008 fiscal-year intelligence budget was $47.5 billion. But it does show Obama’s spending priorities — intelligence spending (this includes the CIA and 15 other agencies) has gone up. It is more than twice as much as the State Dept. $32.8 billion budget.

Blair won’t categorize how much money each agency gets or what missions the money goes toward. But it does help to know the substantial investment taxpayers made in mysterious and controversial national defense work.