Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Where Does the Deficit Come From? In Excellent Article, NYT Breaks It Down

In January 2001, as President Clinton was leaving office, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the U.S. Government would run an $800 Billion annual surplus in the years 2009-2012. Instead, the CBO now projects that the Government will run an annual deficit of $1.2 Trillion during that time frame. What accounts for this $2 Trillion dollar swing?

In an excellent article, the New York Times breaks it down. 37% of the swing, comes from the downturn in the economy itself. The current recession, plus the one earlier this decade, has reduced government tax revenue while simultaneously requiring more spending on safety net programs like unemployment.

33% of the swing, according to the NYT, can be pined on the policies of George W. Bush. Specifically, his massive tax cuts for the wealthy, creation of Medicare Part D, the wars in Iraq and Afganhistan, together with the interest payments needed on the debt he ran up with these policies during his term in office, account for 33% of swing.

President Obama's main contribution to the deficit is in his continuation of certain Bush policies: specifically, the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, not calling for the immediate repeal of the Bush tax cuts, etc. NYT figures the continuation of these Bush policies accounts for 20% of the swing.

In case you are bad at math, that means that now 90% of the swing from an $800 billion surplus to a $1.2 Trillion deficit has been accounted for, and President Obama's only contribution is to continue George W. Bush's policies. The stimulus bill, for the record, counts for a mere 7% of the swing, and President Obama's other policy proposals account for a mere 3%.

The article goes on to say that while President Obama has contributed little to this deficit, he does not yet have a credible plan for putting the budget back in balance. Then again, neither does the GOP. The article quotes the libertarian Cato Institute saying that the GOP is not credible when it comes to cutting spending.

Here's my deficit reduction plan: repeal all the Bush tax cuts. Go back to the Clinton tax plan that produced the only balanced budget since Eisenhower. Immediately end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. By immediately, I mean freaking tomorrow.

Next, immediately end all agricultural subsidies, including ethanol subsidies. These guys were supposed to have been weaned off the public teat 15 years ago. Next, start looking at some of the wasteful spending in the Pentagon. Why does the Marine Corps require two recruit training depots when the much larger Army only has one? Require all federal agencies to pass an audit of their books.

I figure this will get us halfway there, and then, once the economy comes back, it should cover the rest.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

California Becomes GOP Utopia: The Bear Flag Banana Republic!

From Slate. Not Ohio specific, of course, but damn funny:

Cuyahoga County Reform Opponents: What About Summit County?

So, the war over reforming Cuyahoga County government is heating up. On her Facebook page yesterday, Rep. Marcia Fudge posted a link to a news story over at WKYC that a county reform plan could be put forth by the end of this week. The PD has a story up about it as well, plus some commentary from Mark Naymik.

The thing I can't figure is this. Having read the plan, it seems almost a carbon copy of the charter government that exists in Summit County, our neighbor to the South. And yet, opponents of the plan, led by East Cleveland Mayor Eric Brewer have been comment-spamming the same nonsense all over every story about the reform plan on For an example, follow this link to Mark Naymik's column on the issue and read the comments.

To all these opponents of the reform plan, I just have one question. If all the doom and gloom you are predicting will come to pass, why hasn't it happened in Summit County? They have been operating under a nearly identical county government structure for 30 years! And yet, their sales tax is 1.5% lower, and I don't see any FBI agents raiding their office holder's homes down there.

Please, if you're going to criticize a reform plan that is nearly identical to Summit County's, then tell us something that has happened in Summit that you don't like. Give us examples of how Summit's government structure has caused negative issues that makes you oppose bringing their reform plan to Cuyahoga. They have a 30 year track record down there, so if all the doom and gloom you are predicting will actually happen, it would have happened in Akron already.

If you aren't willing to do that, then please, STFU, and let rational people discuss this.

Monday, June 08, 2009

JPMorgan Chase Adds 1150 Jobs in Columbus. Blogosphere: Crickets.

You wouldn't know it by reading any of Ohio's progressive blogs last week, but JPMorgan Chase, the largest private employer in metro Columbus, announced it is consolidating its customer service operations in facilities in Columbus and Westerville, creating 1,200 jobs. From the presser:
Leaders from the Ohio Governor Ted Strickland's Office and Departments of Development from Ohio and the cities of Columbus and Westerville worked with Chase to provide generous incentives to attract the new jobs to central Ohio.

"We could not be happier to announce that this important project with JPMorgan Chase will bring 1,150 jobs to Columbus as well as retain positions that are already here," Gov. Strickland said. "The company's decision to stay in Columbus and strengthen an already world-renowned presence here is a tremendous boost to our economy and very welcome news for Ohio."

Lt. Governor Lee Fisher and Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman were among a delegation of public officials that began discussing this opportunity with Chase leaders more than six months ago.

"This project was a dedicated public-private partnership among the State of Ohio, the City of Columbus, and the company at a very pivotal time for our economy," Lt. Gov. Fisher added. "We know that companies have more choices now than ever before, and JP Morgan Chase's commitment to Ohio reinforces their celebrated reputation as being one of our very best success stories."

Columbus Mayor Coleman said, "We are gratified that Chase wants to continue to make Columbus its home and grow its operations here. We will keep fighting for every job as we continue to make Columbus an economically competitive city."
Why didn't Ohio's progressive blogs trumpet this latest accomplishment by Gov. Ted Strickland and Lt. Gov Lee Fisher? I honestly have no idea. Modern of course didn't mention Chase's job creation when taking a swipe at Fisher because of NCR's move to Atlanta, but as for the rest of the 'sphere? Who knows.

UPDATE: Corrected Title to cite proper number of jobs created.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Stop the Presses: Columbus Dispatch Criticizes Bill Todd?

I almost used the blinking light icon on this story, because it's not often that the Dispatch (R-Columbus) criticizes a fellow GOPer. But criticize they did in an editorial in today's issue discussing the proposal to increase Columbus' income tax to 2.5%:
But such opposition should be honest, fact-based and well-intentioned. In the long run, no one benefits from misinformation and demagoguery.
That's why it's disappointing that Bill Todd, the 2007 Republican candidate for mayor, has chosen to criticize as scare tactics the city's plans to lay off hundreds of police officers and firefighters if the tax issue fails.
If the proposal fails, the city would have no choice but to lay off police and fire personnel. The math is simple. Nearly three-fourths of the city's general-fund budget goes for police and fire services.
Now, if the Dispatch has the stones to go after John Kasich's "misinformation and demagoguery" for not providing a plan for the spending cuts necessary to eliminate Ohio's income tax, then I'll be ready to drop the (R-Columbus) monkier that David and I bestowed upon the Dispatch in the wake of their endorsement of John McCain last year.

However, I'm not holding my breath for the Dispatch to have that much integrity.