Tuesday, August 13, 2013

NFRW Political Briefing

Obama's Economic Legacy

$25.8 Trillion: Projected federal debt in 2023 (Office of Management and Budget)
$16.7 Trillion: Current national debt (U.S. Treasury Department)
$1.413 Trillion: Federal budget deficit for FY 2009 - highest in U.S. history (Congressional Budget Office)
$1.296 Trillion - Federal budget deficit for FY 2011 - second highest in U.S. history (CBO)
$1.294 Trillion: Federal budget deficit for FY 2010 - third highest in U.S. history (CBO)
$1.09 Trillion: Federal budget deficit for FY 2012 - fourth highest in U.S. history (CBO)
$6.1 Trillion: Added to the national debt since Obama took office (U.S. Treasury Dept.)
$8.7 Trillion: Amount Obama's FY 2014 budget would add to the debt through 2023 (OMB)
The Taxpayer's Share of the National Debt:
$52,900: Your share of the national debt (U.S. Treasury Dept. 8/8/13)
$19,315: Increase in your share of the national debt since Obama took office (U.S. Treasury Dept.)
$2.6 Trillion: true cost of Obamacare once fully implemented (Office of the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives)
$1.8 Trillion: Cost of Obamacare coverage provisions from 2014 to 2023 (CBO)
$819.3 Billion: Amount of taxes in Obamacare (CBO)
$130 Billion: Amount employers will pay in Obamacare mandated penalties from 2013 to 2022 (CBO)
7 Million: Number of Americans who will lose their employer-based health insurance due to Obamacare (CBO)
11.5 Million: Unemployed Americans
22.2 Million: Americans unemployed, underemployed or have given up looking for work (Bureau of labor Statistics)
14%: Real unemployment rate (Bureau of Labor Statistics 8/2/13)

GOP Prepares Food Stamp Legislation to Cut the Program

After an original Farm Bill containing food stamp program (SNAP) provisions failed on the House floor earlier this summer, House Republican leaders split the legislation and passed only the portion relating to farm programs.

Representatives Kristi Noem (R-SD) and Marlin Stultzman (R-IN) are among legislators who have helped design a food stamp bill that would cut food stamps by as much as $4 billion annually, reducing the nearly $80 billion-a-year program by as much as five percent. Fox News reports that House conservatives want to cut the program which they claim has doubled in cost since 2008.

Noem and Stultzman have said the legislation will find savings by tightening eligibility standards and imposing new work requirements. It would reduce the rolls by requiring drug testing and barring convicted murderers, rapists, and pedophiles from obtaining benefits. A spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), who has agreed to try to advance the bill as early as next month, explains that the bill will include common-sense approaches such as work requirements and job training requirements for those receiving assistance who able-bodied adults without children.

Noem adds that talking about program policies and not just dollars, "shows that you really care about adding integrity into the program." According to Stultzman, "most people will agree that if you are an able bodied adult without kids you should find your way off food stamps."

While current federal law requires recipients to eventually work or receive work training, waivers issued by the federal Department of Agriculture have allowed States to set aside those work requirements.

The Senate has passed its own Farm Bill which keeps the SNAP and farm programs together and cuts SNAP by approximately $400 million a year, or about half a percent.

With no Farm Bill passed by both Houses of Congress, current farm law will expire at the end of September. Food stamp dollars will continue after that date but certain farm programs will be in danger. An extension of current farm programs was agreed upon earlier in the year to avert a dairy subsidy crisis but another extension will not be allowed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) says an extension would not pass anyway since many members do not want to continue certain subsidies that were eliminated in both the House and the Senate bills.

Government Shutdown Looms After Congressional Recess

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has said Republicans have not made any determination about how they will proceed with funding the government, after the debt limit deadline of September 30. That deadline is joined with action required to raise the debt limit.

In the past, Boehner has made clear that he demands a dollar of spending cuts for every new dollar borrowed but a vocal minority of conservative Republicans such as Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) have vowed not to raise the debt ceiling unless President Obama's signature health care law is defunded. Boehner has not indicated whether or not he would link his demands to a measure defunding Obamacare.

Reaching a fiscal deal in Congress proves to be headed for a fight. In many polarized congressional districts, House members are finding their constituents prefer they clash with Obama rather than compromise. In addition, as NBC Politics has reported, the poor relationship between the Boehner-led Republican House and the Obama administration sets the stage for a confrontational showdown this fall over extending spending to keep the government open and raising the nation's debt limit.Obama has told House Democrats that the will not negotiate with Republicans over the debt limit.