The Mortgage Bailout, Deficits & Earmarks Galore

The BlogWatch is a weekly piece that is published on the non-partisan web site Facing Up to the Nation’s Finances.  Stay tuned for more weekly, non-partisan fiscal recaps brought to you by Billy Hallowell and Facing Up.

It would be impossible to commence this edition of the Facing Up BlogWatch without mentioning Public Agenda's insanely immensely useful "Voter's Survival Kit" -- a complete, nonpartisan guide to the major issues surrounding the 2008 presidential campaign: the economy, Iraq, health care, taxes and spending, immigration and climate change. Now, let's get into this week's recap.

Last week, Public Agenda's Scott Bittle and Jean Johnson penned a piece for the Huffington Post entitled, "Stuff Happens: The Mortgage Bailout and the Federal Budget." Aside from the bailout and its fiscal consequences for America, the article sheds light on some important points surrounding the federal deficit and debt. According to Bittle and Johnson:

"The U.S. government has gone into the red for 31 out of the last 35 years. We run deficits in good times and bad. We run deficits to give tax cuts in times of war. We run deficits because the American public thinks it can have its cake and eat it too. We run deficits because too many of our elected officials have decided to live for today; the nation's future is someone else's problem."

With so much of the past few days centered on America's flailing economy, the EconomistMom blog comments on the 2008 presidential campaign and emphasizes the importance of paying attention to what the candidates have to say about the economy and federal spending:

"Yes, it’s time for all of us to start paying attention to the real issue of the economy in this campaign–time to listen to the substance of what these candidates are actually proposing to change regarding the course of economic policy.  I know it’s not as fun as talking about lipstick, but we’ve got to try."

And over on Café Hayek says that the average American household shells out $22,100 per year in taxes. His thoughts on the spending decisions of elected officials are most interesting:

"Elected officials make government-spending decisions overwhelmingly in response to political pressures -- the clamoring of this group, the self-serving pleas of that group."

On the "Government Bytes" blog, Paul Gessing publishes his thoughts about Obama's tax plan as well as his overall effect on the federal budget:

"Obama pledges to follow President Bush in rapidly increasing the size and scope of the federal government. Bush has allowed the federal budget to grow from 18.4 percent to 20 percent of the nation's gross domestic product. Former President Bill Clinton, on the other hand, oversaw a reduction of federal spending from 22.1 percent to 18.7 percent of GDP..."

And over on The Hill's Congress Blog, California GOP Rep. John Campbell discusses earmarks. He praises the efforts of his fellow Congressmen in introducing an amendment to disregard $5 billion in an upcoming defense policy measure. According to Campbell:

"It is ridiculous that we would opt to divert needed resources towards unwanted and at times ineffective earmarks, and in the end it hurts our ability to effectively provide for our national security."

For more information and perspective on the mortgage bailout, consider checking out former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich's blog.

Come back next week for another edition of Facing Up's BlogWatch.