The Facing Up Budget Blog Carnival!

As always, I was delighted to put together Facing Up/Public Agenda's most recent budget blog carnival.  Below, find the republished carnival!  If you want to know the various perspectives on America's fiscal woes, this is the entry to read!  Enjoy. Facing Up to the Nation's Finances is back with a new "Budget Blog Carnival!" If you are unfamiliar, a blog carnival is an online "magazine" (blogo-zine) of sorts that focuses on a specific theme. This issue is all about the U.S. federal budget and the national debt.

As always, the carnival is comprised of a non-partisan collective of blog entries. While specific pieces may have ideological roots, the overall carnival is a testament to the diverse voices present in the ongoing debate that surrounds the budget, deficit and accumulated national debt.

Today, we are releasing an exciting array of entries from The Heritage Foundation, The Committee for a Responsible Budget, Econbrowser blog, ECONLOG blog and the Economist's View blog, to name a few of the participants! Here is your guide to Facing Up's Dec. 2009 Budget Blog Carnival:

First and foremost, Scott Bittle, executive vice president of Public Agenda and co-author of"Where Does the Money Go?", leads the pack with a piece entitled, "The Three Questions for the Public on the Federal Budget." In the piece, Bittle highlights three key questions for the public (and American leaders) to consider: "Can we afford it?" "Can we keep the status quo?" and "Am I willing to give up something I want because the government can’t afford it?"According to Bittle,

"Most of the people who’ve looked at this issue, whether they’re liberal or conservative, in or out of government, use the same word to describe the federal budget: “unsustainable.”

Next, economist Dr. Arnold Kling of the EconLog blog ponders various scenarios for resolving U.S. debt. From technological advances to hyperinflation, Kling provides valuable insight.

Conn Carroll of The Heritage Foundation penned a piece entitled, "The Definition of Economic Insanity." In the entry, Carroll stands firmly against deficit spending as a means to stimulate the U.S. economy. In opposition to recent "jobs summit" proposals Carroll states,

"These “new” ideas will fail for the same reason the past two government stimulus plans failed: governments do not create jobs."

In a separate piece, Carroll presents a series of government actions from the 1930's through modern times that he considers examples of the "...failure of government to spend its way to prosperity..." and makes his case for the government to step "out of the way."

And Dan Perry penned an intriguing article about the urgency of the debt. Perry charges both parties with fiscal irresponsibility, as he finds fault in both President Obama's deficit spending and record-increases in spending during George W. Bush's presidency. While he sees the "Tea Party" movement as impressive, he writes the following:

"After eight years of a Republican administration, the nation saw record spending and deficit levels without so much as a peep about the financial difficulties it might someday cause. Meanwhile, their solution to these economic woes are a series of tax cuts accompanied by no tangible reductions in spending."

Next, James Hamilton of the Econbrowser blog responds to Paul Krugman, one of the leading economists to argue that U.S. budget deficits are not that troubling in the current fiscal environment. Hamilton expresses his worriesabout current and future deficits. Please also read Krugman's writings on this subject here and here.

Also, here's another piece from Hamilton -- an assessment of federal budget commitments and the danger present in continuing on our current budgetary path.

Another exciting partner in the current Facing Up carnival is the bi-partisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. The Committee submitted two pieces -- one about theessentials associated with tax reformand another that explores the true costs of health care reform. Both of these entries provide insight into the current debate over the national debt.

And, Mark Thoma from the Economist's View blog highlights the three ways in which debt can make future generations worse off, while covering some of the "bogus arguments" that are given in the budget debate. Thoma concludes by calling some of the Republican opposition we've seen as "unduly alarmist."

In a more-lighthearted commentary, Bob McCarty writes about the similarities he sees between the movie Friday the Thirteenth and the economic stimulus package.

Finally, in "Musings on America’s Budgetary Challenge," David D. Kent provides a fun-filled look at federal expenditures and ponders the "what ifs" of potential spending scenarios.

That's it for this edition of the blog carnival. Stay tuned for more!

Paterson's Budget Deemed Dangerous?

From proposed tax increases on music downloads to the now famed "obesity tax" many New Yorkers are less than pleased with Gov. Paterson's suggested amendments.  And it's not just Republicans who are on the defensive; Democrats and independent members of the electorate are following suite with frustration directed at the Democratic governor during an already perplexing fiscal crunch.  And much like the electorate, elected officials are also voicing relevant concerns. According to the New York Daily News, state Controller Thomas DiNapoli claims that the governor's current budgetary plan will cut away one billion dollars from New York City over the next 15 months.  As per the Daily News:

In a preliminary review of Paterson's 2009-10 spending plan, DiNapoli found the city would lose $669 million in school aid and $328 million in general municipal aid under the governor's plan.

While DiNapoli's report is generally supportive of Paterson's budget, he expresses concern over the viability of proposed taxes and related means for bringing in the needed revenues that would close the budgetary gaps of concern.  As the city claims that disparities can be remedied through these mechanisms, others -- like DiNapoli -- aren't as confident. According to the Daily News, DiNapoli stated the following,

"It's a step in the right direction. But there are risks in the governor's plan."

DiNapoli's report stresses the strain these cuts will place on the city.  Joining in this recognition is Mayor Bloomberg and his administration:

The report backs up Mayor Bloomberg's claim that Paterson's budget was harsher to the city than the governor's office portrayed.

"The cuts should be proportional and New York City is being asked to bear a far greater burden than any other city in the state," Bloomberg spokesman Marc LaVorgna said.

Then, there is New York State Senator Reverent Ruben Diaz.  Diaz -- a Democrat -- is highly critical of Paterson's budget cuts and deems them extremely detrimental to the state's most neediest communities.  While expressing his opposition to the governor's budget cuts, Diaz had this to say:

We have always blamed the Republicans for proposing cuts that abuse our communities. Yet, now that we, Democrats, are in the majority in the State legislature and we have a Democrat in the Governor's office, how can we continue to direct cuts to our communities and our people when we can confront the economic crisis in other ways. We cannot use the economic crisis as an excuse to continue to harm our communities while protecting the rich.

Abuse our communities?  One cannot actually believe that every tax dollar is being spent properly.  After all, there must be areas of improvement that can and must be targeted for optimal usage of tax payer dollars.  A funding cut in itself does not necessarily indicate "abuse" of a community, as Diaz implies.

Of course, I support Diaz's political perspective, but we are dealing with a crisis that calls upon all Americans -- and in the case New Yorkers -- to recognize the need to make reasonable budget cuts.  New York's current spending pattern involves taking in less than is spent and in the long term this nonsensical financing is simply unsustainable at the city, state and national levels.  It is disconcerting that some Democrats seem incapable of understanding this basic fact.

While making cuts is less than ideal, doing so at this juncture will ensure a more prosperous future.  If we do not act now, the sacrifices that will be required in the future will be monumentally more extreme.  Seeing decreases in funding affect education and needy communities is disconcerting, but the need for cuts is more pressing than most recognize it to be.

Raising taxes is never popular with Republicans, but Paterson has -- at the least -- met this crisis with a mentality that calls for a hybrid model, complete with cuts and increases.  Again, I am not championing either, but something must be done to ensure fiscal security.  These are surely atypical times.

Now is the time for New York City, New York State and the United States of America to cut corruption, reign in spending and figure out the viability and reliability of programs so that costs and benefits can be properly assessed.  The money pit is empty and refilling it means making more tailored decisions that truly meet the citizens' needs.

This piece was written for Billy Hallowell’s Red County blog located at