On-time, Under-Budget

Our recent family vacation to Florida was memorable and lots of fun.  The kids spent time with Grandma and Great-Grandma – including a day at Disney with both Grandmas(!) that involved Jedi training, a rascal scooter, an unexpected reunion with Ohio cousins, and intermittent but pleasant showers.

Despite torrential rain our first day at the beach (or more appropriately, because of these storms) the wife found a record number of shark’s teeth.  It could have been warmer, but the Gulf was hospitable as always, and we had three nights of excellent fresh seafood. Continue reading

Stupid Kabuki Theater

2.8%.   This figure is what we keep coming back to.  A 2.8% cut to the FY13 Federal Budget.  As in sequester.

Yes, we all understand now that the sequester doesn’t allow many federal agencies the discretion to cut where it makes the most sense.  Yes, it’s stupid dysfunctional policy designed to force some kind of eventual compromise.

But hold on a second…  The House sent up a bill that would give the President discretion to enforce those 2.8% in cuts.  Cut where you need to, just cut. He didn’t like that, though, because that puts the impetus for this thing on him.

The President’s proposal included another tax increase on the wealthy and the elimination of some tax loopholes.  The classic moving of the goal posts.  No-go for Republicans – they can’t abide another tax increase.  Meanwhile, no one can seem to agree on the amount of chaos and disaster the sequester cuts will truly cause.  Will 2.8% in cuts truly wreck things?  Even if applied stupidly? Continue reading

Drought in the Debtor State

We recently headed east to Ohio for a family reunion and water-sports showdown.  Because I’m only a generation removed from farming, I couldn’t help but notice the dire state of the corn and soybeans across Illinois, Indiana, and into central Ohio.  Drought emergencies have been declared in multiple states.  You don’t have to look for the official declaration, however, just look at the worry lines and frowns in the small towns throughout the Midwest.  People know that a certain percentage of peers will face bankruptcy as a result, and no amount of federal emergency funding will change that.

What does it mean for you?  Expect an increase to your grocery bill in the next few months – 25% or higher, depending on your diet and where you live.  Grain and soy prices affect such a large portion of the food supply…

Gov. Quinn holds up metaphor for IL tax base

…And while you’re at it, go ahead an budget for the continuing increase to your taxes – especially you fellow resident of Illinois.  The debtor state’s comptroller just announced an estimated $7.5-8 billion figure for monies owed to entities such as vendors, schools, and municipalities.  This backlog of bills is, of course, only a small portion of an astronomical $43 billion deficit, if one considers the cost of pension benefits owed to state workers.  This despite the tax increase Governor Pat Quinn campaigned on.

Our trip to Ohio brought us into states that actually have budget surpluses.  Yes, a foreign concept around here, but there they were on the Columbus local news, discussing the best way to obligate funds for a budget surplus.  I’m thinking, what kind of magicians, what superhuman policymakers could achieve such fiscal responsibility?   Continue reading

Ryan Shows the Courage to Lead

On one side of Washington, the fringe-right of the GOP is using the budget crisis and Tea-Party momentum as an excuse to cut into those social and cultural programs they don’t like.  The Speaker and others with more practical goals look miserable.  On the other side of town, Harry Reed and the Democrats remain in denial about the consequences of their tax-and-spend antics.  Where’s the President?  Waiting it out like a true politician, hoping to make hay for next year’s election.  He’s certainly not proposing any reforms or worthwhile fiscal policy.

The President’s many admirers in the media like to refer to him as “the grownup in the room”, but it’s a Congressman from Wisconsin who’s showing the moxy and vision we need.  Paul Ryan unveiled a long-term budget plan yesterday.  It’s ambitious.  It cut’s approximately $6 Trillion according to his figures.  And here’s the thing: it addresses the unsustainable burden of Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security.

If you’re paying attention, you’ll recall that Medicare/Medicaid, Social Security, and Defense Spending comprise the holy trinity responsible for the lion’s share of U.S. spending.  Meanwhile, the rest of the Democrats and Republicans are niggling over cuts to everything else, turning a blind eye to the true fiscal problems.

It’s a bold and risky movie, acknowledged by Ryan as he made the rounds yesterday.  And sure enough, Nancy Pelosi issued a vague statement about ‘starving seniors” while the MSNBC crowd pitched this as the “death of Medicare”.  There are reasons why the politicians don’t want to tackle these entitlements.  Seniors vote and they like their healthcare.  But we have to do this.  We cannot continue down the current path. Continue reading

Strange Budgetary Allies

Should someone decide to move Watson away from Jeopardy towards analyzing the federal budget, they could do a lot worse than this little tool right here. Yes, it’s the You fix the budget’ puzzle tool, brought to you by the New York Times and lauded by Glenn Beck  on his TV show.  Now we’re not big fans of either media entity, and the oddball factor of these two unlikely budgetary allies is certainly not lost on us…

But what Beck and the NYT both seem to be indicating is something written about here at Beemsville quite recently:  If you want to make headway on the deficit, start cutting the Big Three – Military, Medicare/Medicaid, and Social Security.  Don’t believe us?  Try messing around with the puzzle tool yourself.   Continue reading

Win Future? Get cutting…

Let’s be honest, if you’re engaged enough to have looked at the deficit commission’s report a few months back, it made you a little uncomfortable.  You saw stuff on the chopping block that directly affects you in one way or another.  But that’s how we win the future…  By ensuring our kids and grandkids actually have some hope and not a mountain of government-induced debt.

If you listened to the state of the union address, you no doubt heard an uplifting speech by the President with many references to investing in people and programs.  Of course the Republicans quickly countered by labeling this as dem-speak for more spending.  Who has the right of it?  Well, you could look at recent history as an indicator…  And then folks like newly-elected Senator Rand Paul chime in, suggesting major cuts to a lot of programs that don’t meet with his particular social viewpoint (the NEA, Public Broadcasting, etc.).  Not all that helpful either, Senator. Continue reading