Forbe’s Paul Gregory on how the sequester doesn’t even cut any spending

The $995 billion Sequester Cut Is Actually a $110 Billion Spending Increase

The sequester has been advertised as “cutting” discretionary spending over a ten year period by $995 billion. After inflation adjustments and exempting more than a trillion dollars of defense and non defense discretionary spending from the sequester, the CBO projects  (in its Table 1.1) discretionary spending to increase by $110 billion over the decade. There is no actual $995 billion cut after the CBO applies its magic adjustments. Rather there is a $110 billion increase.

via theCafe

Congressman returning after 33 years says congress works and cooperates less now

Robert Siegel of NPR’s All Things Considered reports:

Back in 1980, Rick Nolan was a three-term Democratic congressman from Minnesota. Later that year, at age 37, he chose not to seek reelection, went back home and into business and said goodbye to Congress – that is, until this year. In November, he ran and won. We spoke in his new digs at the Rayburn House office building.

Particularly, Nolan comments on how today as compared to the 1970s congress works less, AND how that may be a big part of why it works less well:

Congress no longer works in the same number of hours and the same manner that it once did. My first term of service, we worked 48 out of the 52 weeks. If you look at the schedule for the coming year, Congress is scheduled to work 32 out of the 52 weeks. Secondly, most of our weeks were four and five-day weeks and they were all day long.

Now, a day is defined quite differently. On Tuesday or Monday, you go in at 6:00 in the evening is when you have your votes scheduled. What you don’t finish up on that evening, you finish up the next day and the following morning at best.

[In the 1970s when I served] We were meeting in committees every day, getting to know one another and in the process, developing a measure of respect for one another and in the process, learning where the opportunities for cooperation, collaboration existed. Every bill that I passed, I had a Republican partner. I put together a presidential commission on world hunger.

Ben Gilman, Republican from New York, was my partner. I put together some important railroad abandonment legislation to secure those branch lines that feed the main lines. Republican Frank Skubitz from Kansas was my partner. So we worked four and five days a week. If I had my way right now, we would be meeting four and five days a week.

You can’t run a country that way. You can’t run a business that way. It just doesn’t work.

Nolan is not the first person to point to a connection between congressmen spending more of their time in home districts and being less effective in their jobs on the hill (though I acknowledge readily the vagueness of the phrase ‘effective’). I first remember reading this notion in something by Fareed Zakaria, but I haven’t been able to find the passage.

Here is Newsweek’s Lisa Miller from a while back talking about the disappearance of social and community ties between the families of congressmen that has accompanied the growing trend of congressmen maintaining households in their home districts – leaving their families behind and commuting alone to the hill for work each week:

This phenomenon has ramifications far beyond absent parents and poorly attended First Lady Lunches. It’s another component that portends a new level of Capitol Hill gridlock. Real legislating—the compromises and deal making that distinguish politics from posturing—happens only among people who know and respect each other. Family life has always been crucial to that chemistry. During Lyndon Johnson’s presidency, first lady historian Carl Anthony points out, gritty negotiations with congressional Republicans, led by Gerald Ford, were often smoothed over by Lady Bird Johnson and Betty Ford, cultivated during long years as congressional wives.

There’s also a difference in tone. If you live across the street from your political opponent, if you know his kids, if you’ve been to dinner at his house, “it’s impossible to go up on the floor of the Senate or in the media and blast him the next day,” says Trent Lott, former Senate leader from Mississippi. If, on the other hand, you live on the road and your spouse is back home, raising the kids and running the family business by herself, bipartisan socializing might not be your first priority.

For this year’s [2011] freshman class, backed by an anti-establishment fury that rewards those who demonstrate their independence from Washington customs, commuting is almost mandated. According to the new schedule for the House of Representatives, released in December by incoming Majority Leader Eric Cantor, for five days each month, as well as most weekends, members are expected to be back in their home districts “to visit with employers, employees, seniors, veterans, and other constituent groups,” wrote Cantor in a letter accompanying the schedule. To offset, members will cram the legislative session into 11 percent fewer weeks than they did during the 111th Congress, with voting confined to three or four days a week.

And so begins the slow death of the climate change agenda, some links

UN Finally Admits Solar Activity Plays A Significant Role In Global Warming

The Earth has been getting warmer — but how much of that heat is due to greenhouse gas emissions and how much is due to natural causes?  A leaked report by a United Nations’ group dedicated to climate studies says that heat from the sun may play a larger role than previously thought.

Recently, there have been a whole spate of studies based on actual observations rather than computer models that have been arriving at climate sensitivity numbers far below the IPCC number.

While the IPCC settled on 3C per doubling of CO2, it strongly implied that all the risk was to the upside, and many other prominent folks who typically get fawning attention in the media have proposed much higher numbers.

NY Times climate writer Andy Revkin has quite an article recently, finally acknowledging in the paper of record that maybe those skeptics who have argued for a lower sensitivity number kind of sort of have a point.

Worse than we thought” has been one of the most durable phrases lately among those pushing for urgent action to stem the buildup of greenhouse gases linked to global warming.

But on one critically important metric — how hot the planet will get from a doubling of the pre-industrial concentration of greenhouse gases, a k a “climate sensitivity” — some climate researchers with substantial publication records are shifting toward the lower end of the warming spectrum.

By the way, this is the only metric that matters.  All the other BS about “climate change” and “dirty weather” are meaningless without warming. CO2 cannot change the climate  or raise sea levels or any of that other stuff by any mechanism we understand or that has even been postulated, except via warming.

Rand Paul’s State of the Union or ‘how the sequester doesn’t even cut any spending’

Rand Paul’s response to POTUS SOTU, via Hit&Run:

A slice:

Few people understand that the sequester doesn’t even cut any spending. It just slows the rate of growth. Even with the sequester, government will grow over $7 trillion over the next decade.

Only in Washington could an increase of $7 trillion in spending over a decade be called a cut.

The whole thing is worth listening to, even where you may disagree with him. Still, I think the above is by far the most urgent point he makes.

PDN channels Ronald Reagan

From a recent PDN editorial:

A bill that would impose a 4-percent tax on premiums collected by health insurance companies that have qualifying certificates would, essentially, unfairly tax consumers and should be rejected.

Bill 20 was introduced by Sen. Dennis Rodriguez Jr., who says insurance companies with qualifying certificates have “realized a significant windfall,” but didn’t reduce insurance premium costs. He wants to tax those “windfalls” and use the money to pay the massive debt owed by Guam Memorial Hospital to vendors.

In essence, he wants to penalize health insurers who took part in a government program. But his bill wouldn’t even do that, because the costs would be passed on to the customers of those insurers. And many of these customers, who struggle with the cost of living, may end up being under-insured or stop paying for insurance entirely because of the passed-on costs.

And the gipper, from an early 1981 speech:

Prior to World War II, taxes were such that on the average we only had to work just a little over 1 month each year to pay our total Federal, State, and local tax bill. Today we have to work 4 months to pay that bill.

Some say shift the tax burden to business and industry, but business doesn’t pay taxes. Oh, don’t get the wrong idea. Business is being taxed, so much so that we’re being priced out of the world market. But business must pass its costs of operations — and that includes taxes — on to the customer in the price of the product. Only people pay taxes, all the taxes. Government just uses business in a kind of sneaky way to help collect the taxes. They’re hidden in the price; we aren’t aware of how much tax we actually pay.