The US Supreme Court heard a case last Wednesday over whether the Environmental Protection Agency erred when it adopted the first ever regulations requiring power plants to cut emissions of mercury and other toxic air pollutants. This is one more in the string of cases the Supreme Court has heard challenging the legality of the Obama administration regulations.
President Obama released his budget for next year about a month ago. There was increased spending and taxes, no mention of cutting the deficit and a move to end the sequester legislation passed in 2011. Congress passed and the President signed the Budget Control Bill in 2011, designed to shave about $2 trillion from the federal budget deficit over 10 years. Across the board cuts to defense and domestic spending were triggered in 2013 due to the sequester. This law is in place for 10 years and requires staying within caps on discretionary, including military spending. The Republican House and Senate have released their ideas for a budget. What are the Republican ideas for a budget? Is there a chance that it could pass? Are they moving in the right direction? What is the “Right Thing to do?” Let’s look at some
The Supreme Court last week heard another important case concerning Obamacare. Four plaintiffs have sued regarding the legitimacy of subsidies being provided to individuals in states that have not established their own health care exchanges. The case revolves around 4 words “established by the states”. While the judges debate the intentions of Congress the literal meaning of the 4 words, the implications if the subsidies are deemed illegal and even the legal standing of the 4 plaintiffs, what has been the impact of the Affordable Care Act for individuals in this tax year? Should the practical implications of the act be addressed while the judges debate? What is the “Right Thing to do?”
Last fall the Agriculture Department released the results of its Annual Household Food Security in the US survey for 2013. According to the survey, 14.3% of US households, some 49 million Americans were food insecure at least some time during the year in 2013. Is food insecure the same as going hungry? Not necessarily.
The topic of the food stamp program is always a hot button issue. Republicans are likely to once again try to reform the program. Democrats will charge that they are hurting those that can ill afford to have cuts. But is it time to make changes now that we have come out of the recession and there is less need for the additional support passed years ago? Are there legitimate concerns about food stamp cuts? What is the “Right Thing to do?”
In states across the country, corporate subsidy programs are coming under scrutiny from elected officials on both sides of the aisle because of the significant impact these initiatives are having on government’s ability to balance the books. On Wednesday last week, Governor Snyder slashed more than $100 million in state department spending to help plug the state’s budget gap, due largely to estimated corporate subsidies of $325 million this year that were previously promised. Do subsidies spur economic development? Are states keeping track and budgeting appropriately to account for these subsidies? What should states do, including Michigan, to deal with this emerging problem as state economies grow and corporations qualify for these incentives? What is the “Right Thing to do?”
President Obama called for sweeping tax increases last Monday in a budget proposal that dropped any quest for fiscal grand bargains with Congress. Is his proposal for more than $1 trillion in new tax measures over the next decade dead on arrival in Congress? Why were there no new measures to curtail entitlement spending? No mention of trimming the deficit? Nothing to reduce the national debt? Are these issues no longer important for the economy? Will the Republican Congress pass the proposed budget? What is the “Right Thing to do?”
Gas prices appear headed below a nationwide average of $2 a gallon in coming days, one of the swiftest declines on record. Average pump prices—$2.04 a gallon last Thursday—are now down more than 40% since last June, when they stood near $3.68 a gallon, according to the auto club AAA. Gas prices are below $2 a gallon in 27 states, including Michigan. Is this the perfect time to raise the Federal gas tax? Is there a concern that prices are too low, causing consumers to buy bigger vehicles with lower gas mileage per gallon? Will this hurt sales of hybrid and electric vehicles? Will higher Federal gas taxes help to correct this problem? What is the “Right Thing to do?”
President Obama greatly expanded benefits of the college student loan program. It is expected that he will announce a new plan to provide free community college tuition for students. As a result of these actions have we in effect provided free college education and now community college education? What are the costs to the taxpayers? What are the implications to the Federal budget building process? Should we be adding to the Federal deficit? What is the “Right Thing to do?”