Washington's obsession with tax cuts and deficit reduction is distracting the American people from the slow dismantling of the social contract, and its devastating impact -- financial and otherwise -- on all but the wealthiest among us.
Although it's been a week heavy on Obamacare, we're going to (mostly) look forward this week, to the upcoming budget battles. Because buried in the Obamacare stories this week was one very important bit of news.
The most likely consequence of the sequestration will be be slower growth and lower tax revenues, and it's a distinct possibility that the sequestration could actually increase the deficit.
The Treasury today released the data for the fiscal year 2013 budget deficit, which amounted to $680 billion, or 4.1 percent of GDP, down about $400 billion from last year's deficit, which was 6.8 percent of GDP. The 2.7 percentage point drop came from 1.5 ppts higher tax receipts and 1.2 ppts lower outlays (both relative to GDP). That's the largest one year decline in the budget deficit since 1969. The deficit is down 6 percentage points of GDP since 2009 -- the largest four-year decline since 1950. We're engaged in a level of budget austerity that would make a European policy maker proud.
Following an extended government shutdown and the ugly showdown over the federal debt ceiling, both parties need to find bipartisan solutions to critical problems in order to rehabilitate their credibility with the American public.
As another historically low Social Security COLA is announced for 2014, our country faces two distinct challenges in budget and retirement security policy. The Budget Committee must deal with a range of challenges relating to restoring equitable growth and opportunity.
Every year, the Federal Trade Commission, or FTC, negotiates hundreds of millions of dollars in deals with corporations to settle allegations of criminal wrongdoing. However, the FTC has ended up allowing bad actors to claim massive tax deductions for their wrongdoing.
It was an earlier generation of young Americans who provided the numbers and political cover to change our civil rights laws. And another generation of America's youth changed our policy on the Vietnam War. Now it's up to this generation to stop the federal government's destructive spending habits.
Should we merely await the next manufactured crisis, frustrated that the only thing that stands between us and national success is our government, making us feel more and more helpless or hoping it will all somehow go away?
The House-Senate budget negotiations scheduled to begin on Wednesday are an opportunity for our leaders to finally have a meaningful discussion about healing our damaged economy. That's the discussion Washington should have been having all along, but which it hasn't had yet.
The agency doors are open and Washington has returned to a more normal state of dysfunction. What has 16 days of darkened offices, empty parks, and a powered off panda cam cost?
Why, as Congress trudged through their government shutdown and a countdown to default, did so many in Washington do their best to blur the lines of truth about what could help jump start our economy?
The economics of the moment is that fiscal responsibility really means less, not more deficit reduction right now. That's easy for me to say, I'm sure. But it's the truth. Just look at the jobs report.
The cuts which have already been forced on us have cost the economy nearly 1,000,000 jobs, according to the most conservative estimate, while robbing our economy of tens of billions in growth. Do you really think we want more of the same?
Conservative Republicans have lost their fight over the shutdown and debt ceiling, and they probably won't get major spending cuts in upcoming negotiations over the budget. But they're winning the big one: How the nation understands our biggest domestic problem.
The problem is that the Democrats still seem to accept the Republicans' parameters for the budget debate. The implication is that current deficits are a serious problem.