Entries in Deficit (74)


Cash-Strapped States Facing Budget Crises, Tough Cuts

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Photo Courtesy - Mario Tama/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama is set to release his budget plan for next year Monday, setting up a showdown with Republicans calling for drastic spending cuts to bring down the deficit.

Out in the states, though, the rhetoric is less heated and Democrats and Republicans are sounding strikingly similar, with governors from both parties calling for dramatic budget cuts to tackle massive deficits while pledging to not raise taxes.

Twenty-nine new governors were elected last fall and many are facing tough decisions on how to balance their budgets while retaining public services.  All told, states face a combined $125 billion deficit, according to the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Almost all the states are required by law to balance their budgets; the federal government is not required to do so.

"The four big things that [governors] spend their money on is education, health care, transportation and public safety.  We're seeing pretty big cuts in all of those," said Nicholas Johnson, Director of the State Fiscal Project at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Those cuts are not being well received by Americans.  A recent poll by the Pew Research Center found that while Americans are not calling for increased government spending, they have strong opinions when it comes to cutting those services in order to bring down deficits.

Seventy-nine percent said they would not support cuts for funding for K-12 education, 76 percent are opposed to cuts to health care services and 66 percent said no to cuts to public colleges and universities.

California is facing a $25 billion budget deficit and newly-elected Gov. Jerry Brown has his critics howling in protest over his call for large cuts in Medicaid and higher education.  Brown also ordered government agencies to stop purchasing new cars and to get rid of ones that are not "essential" to state business.  He has asked state workers to give 48,000 cell phones, a move that could save the state $20 million.

In New York, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo called his state "functionally bankrupt" and called for cuts to education and Medicaid in order to close a $10 billion budget deficit.

In Florida, Republican Rick Scott rode the support of the Tea Party movement to victory in last November's gubernatorial race.  He's now under pressure to make good on his pledges to close the budget gap and cut taxes.

In the budget outline he released earlier this month, Scott proposed cutting state spending by $5 billion, with more than $3 billion cut from education spending.  Scott also called for a rollback of corporate income taxes and a reduction in property taxes, adding up to more than $4 billion in tax cuts over two years.

Meanwhile, over in Arizona, Gov. Jan Brewer has taken the unusual step of asking the federal government for a waiver so the state can remove nearly 300,000 adults from its Medicaid rolls in order to cut costs.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Incoming New Hampshire Senator Sets Republican Agenda

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In the first Republican address of the new year, Senator-elect Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire laid out the GOP agenda for 2011.

“The American people sent us to Congress with clear instructions,” Ayotte said. “Make government smaller, not bigger, and stop spending money that we don't have on programs that aren't working.”

She said a top priority for the new Congress is to tackle the budget deficit.

"As the mother of two children, I'm like parents across the country who worry that our nearly $14 trillion debt threatens America's economic future and our children's future.”

Those in Washington have to get serious about meaningful debt reduction, she said, adding that it’s “an American problem that requires tough decision making from both parties.”

Another priority, Ayotte said in the GOP address, is to create conditions favorable for businesses to add jobs in the new year.

“With millions of Americans unemployed or underemployed, we must work quickly to jumpstart our economy.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Most Wasteful Government Programs of 2010

Photo Courtesy - Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A Republican senator has drafted what he calls a "wastebook" -- a guide to what he considers to be the top 100 examples of wasteful government spending in 2010.

Highlights include the $700,000 awarded by the Department of Agriculture to the University of New Hampshire to investigate methane gas emissions from dairy cows. The National Science Foundation spent $216,000 to study the use of "ambiguous" statements by politicians.

"I would tell you that there's hundreds of billions of dollars every year, that if the American tax payer could go down through it, they'd say "wipe this off, this off, this off...we don't think any of this is important," said Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK.), the author of the report, who acknowledges his examples represent a tiny fraction of government spending.

The combined cost of studies of cow burps and political statements was less than a million dollars, but some of the other items in Coburn's report are far more costly.

The government spends $28 million a year just to print The Congressional Record, a daily chronicle of every word uttered in Congress and countless more words submitted "for the record." The Congressional Record is available online which is the way most people who want to read it find it.

Coburn says the blame for most of this lies not with the White House, but with Congress. What's needed, he says, is for the president to fight Congress to stop these programs.

"We've never had a president, that I know of in my lifetime, that's willing to take on Congress," Coburn said. "None of them.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Rep. Pence Calls for Preservation of Tax Rates in GOP Address

Photo Courtesy - Mike Pense dot House dot gov(WASHINGTON) -- Republican Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana, addressed the concerns of Americans who "feel trapped under the weight of historic spending and government mandates" Saturday in the weekly GOP radio address.

The Obama administration announced Friday that the government had accrued a $1.3 trillion deficit during the 2010 fiscal year.  It is the second highest deficit ever only $122 billion behind last years record high.

Pence cited the nation's economic troubles by saying, "Today, our national debt stands at more than $13 trillion -- that's more than $44,000 of debt for every man, woman and child in this country."

Congressman Pence later said that Democrats in Congress "just aren't listening" and that it is their wish to "add a tax increase to their failed economic plans."  "After months of deficit spending and government takeovers, Democrats in Washington want to raise taxes in the worst economy in decades," he said in the address.

While Pence acknowledged that there were some Democrats willing to vote to prevent any tax increase, he criticized them for choosing to "leave Washington to try and save their jobs without even allowing a vote to protect the jobs of Americans threatened by higher taxes."

"No American should see a tax increase in January and Republicans are determined to oppose any effort to raise taxes on any American in the difficult economy." 

Pence then urged that "Speaker Nancy Pelosi should call Congress back into session immediately and allow an up-or-down vote on preserving all current tax updates."

In his conclusion, the congressman plugged the GOP's "Pledge to America" campaign which was unveiled last month. 

"The Pledge to America calls on Congress to immediately cut spending back to pre-'stimulus,' pre-bailout levels, to refund unspent 'stimulus' funds and to preserve and promote the kind of tax relief that will create American jobs."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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