Conservatives should get Their Facts Straight before Criticizing QE2

You talkin' to me?

It seems the Federal Reserve's latest proposed move to stimulate the economy and reduce unemployment isn't that popular with the GOP. On Wednesday, the party's leadership sent a letter to Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke expressing concern that the plan to purchase an additional $600 billion worth of U.S. Treasury bonds might produce “hard-to-control, long-term inflation.” Nothing in the available economic data, however, even hints at an uptick in inflation.

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What's the Ideal Ratio of Government Employees to Contractors?

This picture doesn't completely match the headline, but it's interesting, so go with it...

No one really knows, but the first step in figuring it out is to identify what the current ratio of feds to contractors is. And that's exactly what federal agencies, excluding the Department of Defense (DOD), will undertake in the spring according to a recent Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) memorandum. The analysis will help government agencies determine if they're getting the taxpayers' money worth out of contractors.

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CBO Monthly Budget Review, October 2010

Because you need something funny to look at while you read this stuff...

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released its Monthly Budget Review (MBR) for October. This latest MBR finalizes September's report that projected a deficit $125 billion less than the shortfall recorded in 2009. It turns out the government incurred a $1.3 trillion deficit, which is only $122 billion less than the deficit Uncle Sam racked up in 2009. On a positive note, though, it's confirmed that this the biggest one-year nominal drop in the deficit ever recorded.

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How Difficult Will Raising the Debt Ceiling in the New Congress Be?

Ceiling of the Capitol Rotunda

In February, Congress was barely able to raise the federal government's debt ceiling to allow Uncle Sam to continue borrowing. The votes, which occurred along strict partisan lines, only provided the government with one year's worth of additional borrowing capacity. With a new wave of conservative lawmakers on the way to Capitol Hill in January, will commitments to dogmatic principles by a majority of new members prevent the government from meeting its debt obligations?

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CRS: Permanently Extending Bush Tax Cuts to Cost $5 Trillion

This guy has a point...In a report released last week, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) revised the total cost of permanently extending all of the Bush tax cuts to $5.048 trillion over the next ten years. The revised amount, which is significantly higher than the $2.8 trillion figure CRS reported in September, takes into account the cost of servicing the debt due to lost revenue and indexing the alternative minimum tax (AMT) to inflation.*

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Has the Estate Tax Become an Issue on the Campaign Trail?

Kneel before the Aqua Buddha!

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article (subscription), it has. Despite not hearing much about the estate tax in debates or town hall meetings this fall, it seems the American Family Business Institute, deemed an "advocacy group" in the Journal piece, is circulating a pledge among congressional candidates calling for elimination of the tax. This seems to be enough for the Rupert Murdoch-owned daily banking pamphlet to announce that the estate tax is a midterm election issue.

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CBO Monthly Budget Review, September 2010

Congressional Budget Office

Last Thursday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released their last Monthly Budget Review (MBR) for the fiscal year. So how much debt did Uncle Sam rack up in 2010, you ask. Well, just under $1.3 trillion. This figure is $50 billion less than what CBO projected just last month and is "$125 billion less than the shortfall recorded in 2009." Everyone say, "Hooray" for deficit reduction.

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Would McCaskill's Contingency Contracting IG be Worth It?

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO)

At a Senate Armed Services hearing last week, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) urged officials from the Department of Defense (DOD) to establish a permanent inspector general office for contingency contracting. If the billions wasted through our rebuilding efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan – which, by the way, are likely to be the kinds of wars we are going to fight into the indefinite future – is any measure, it seems a permanent IG might be worth the investment.

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Fiscal Commission to Produce Sensible Solutions to Debt/Deficit Dilemma Soon

Rainbows and Unicorns to Appear Shortly After

No, I'm just kidding. In fact, according to a Congressional Quarterly (subscription) article published yesterday, it looks like expected Republican congressional electoral gains this fall may completely gridlock what are already complicated negotiations within the commission over addressing our nation's problematic mid- to long-term fiscal issues.

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Curtailing Deficits without Touching Defense Spending is Silly

'Did you call me silly?'

In their newly released, talking-point-heavy "Pledge to America," House Republicans say they are offering "a plan to stop out-of-control spending and reduce the size of government" if voters put them back in charge in November. One area of government the plan doesn't call for reducing, however, is the Department of Defense (DOD). In fact, the new conservative governing proposal explicitly exempts the DOD budget from their proposed cuts to bring federal spending back to "pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels."

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