Debt Watch

Debt Watch

National Debt Takes a Big Chunk Out of Paychecks

October 2, 2012

The federal government devotes $304 billion a year to servicing the national debt – and under President Obama’s budget plan more of that burden would fall on taxpayers who earn in excess of $500,000, according to new research by the American Enterprise Institute.

No major surprise – except that the conservative think tank puts hard numbers behind a basic message of Obama’s re-election campaign: Wealthier Americans must pay more in taxes to stabilize a federal debt load.

Based on different income levels, AEI scholars Aspen Gorry and Matthew...

The Underclass of 2008: Born at the Wrong Time

September 6, 2012

Ever since I entered the workforce after graduating from college in 2008, I’ve managed to work – but only in low-wage, part-time service jobs that have paid no more than $20,000 a year. While I know I’m lucky to have a job compared to millions of people who can’t find any work today, I also know that the $10.30 hourly wage I earn doesn’t get me close to achieving the American dream.

I’m struggling to climb out of a steep hole, which includes a student debt load of $40,000.


Obama Speech: Job Creation Mired in Tax Slugfest

September 19, 2011

Today, President Obama abandoned any lingering pretense of bipartisan leadership. His speech on deficit reduction was combative and pointed, pitting his push for “fairness” against GOP intransigence against tax hikes. In what was widely recognized as initial architecture for his reelection campaign, Mr. Obama sought to solidify his support among union workers (embracing job creation for teachers, health care and construction...

The GOP 'Scorched Earth' Policy

August 4, 2011

Call it a “scorched Earth” policy. Republicans in Congress are so intent on getting everything they want they are prepared to impose enormous costs on the country in pursuit of their goals. Sometimes those costs seem wildly out of line with the value of their objectives.

Perhaps the biggest cost of all is that with everyone focused on debt issues, the real needs of the economy aren’t being addressed at all. Significant cuts in spending at all levels of...

Back to a Sequestration Future

August 3, 2011

Ah, “sequestration” we missed you!

Back in 1985, when the term first appeared in a budget context, “Back to the Future” was the top-grossing film. “We are the World” was the top selling song, benefitting the African famine victims, and Ronald Reagan had begun his second term. And, oh yeah, the budget was in the red.

“Sequestration” was coined during the 1985 debate over the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings bill, sponsored by then-Sens. Phil Gramm, R-...

Should We Kill the Debt Ceiling?

July 28, 2011

One reason that raising the debt ceiling has stalled is that fiscal conservatives lack faith. They do not trust that future “special committees” will rein in spending. They do not believe that agreed-upon tax hikes will be offset by promised spending cuts.  They have been fooled before and are set against being fooled again.

In 1990 President George H.W. Bush agreed to raise the debt ceiling and to increase taxes. Democrats pledged to come up with $2 in...

Interactive Map: Raise the Debt Ceiling, Or Else

July 20, 2011

Administration officials, economists, and experts have repeatedly warned for months that failure to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by August 2 would be the end of the world as we know it and the U.S. economy could fall back into a recession.

But what would the damage look like in individual states?

State governments rely on the federal government for between 25 percent and 50 percent of their revenue. Its unclear which state service...

Ryan Attacks Obama's Temporary Tax Plans

June 16, 2011

House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan was back on the offensive Wednesday, using a policy breakfast hosted by The Hill to attack President Obama’s calls for a payroll tax holiday and an extension of research tax credits to try and jolt the economy.

“Temporary tax rebates don’t work to create economic growth—permanent tax changes do,” Ryan said.  He likened the concept of a payroll tax holiday for companies and employees to a “sugar high.”

“Businesses make decisions on certainty, their effective tax rate and on margin—not based on some temporary...