Philip Hammond faces £41bn black hole in Government spending, warns IFS

Britain is heading for a £41bn financial black hole as the sustained failure to balance the books combined with an ageing population and new hints of extra spending leave the Chancellor facing tens of billions of pounds of further tax rises or spending cuts. Such a substantial gap would need to be filled by a hike of 5p on the basic rate of income tax, the Institute for Fiscal Studies said, or equivalent spending cuts or borrowing - if Philip Hammond is prepared to miss his deficit target. On the current fiscal path another £18bn of tax rises or spending cuts are needed to balance the books by 2025, the IFS said. That cost rises to £30bn per year if Mr Hammond wants to keep Government spending steady as a share of GDP over the same time period. On top of that the UK’s ageing population will increase demand for services such as healthcare and pensions, adding an extra £11bn to the bill. Mr Hammond gave an upbeat assessment of the economy’s prospects yesterday, highlighting the falling deficit and strong jobs growth. The recovery means more spending could be on the table later this year, the Chancellor said in his Spring Statement. “If, in the autumn, the public finances continue to reflect the improvements that today’s report hints at, then... I would have capacity to enable further increases in public spending and investment in the years ahead while continuing to drive value for money to ensure that not a single penny of precious taxpayers’ money is wasted,” he said. But the Chancellor is not currently on track to balance the books by 2025, making this plan tough to achieve without radical action. Paul Johnson, director of the IFS, said a 5p increase on the main income tax rate would be required if the Government were to opt for tax increases to plug the gap. Increases in National Insurance contributions would be an alternative way of meeting the figure. However, he added that Continue Reading

The real lessons of Handel-Ossoff: What Georgia’s special election tells us about the AHCA and Trump’s strength in 2018 and 2020

In the end, Jon Ossoff could not overcome the strongly Republican tilt of the electorate in Georgia's 6th Congressional District. Despite raising over $25 million and receiving considerable assistance from the national Democratic Party and liberal outside groups, Ossoff lost to his Republican opponent, former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, by a margin of 51.9% to 48.1%. The results were a huge disappointment for the national Democratic Party and liberal groups that had identified Georgia 6 as the most promising of the special elections taking place this year to fill vacancies created by appointments of Republican House members to positions in the Trump Administration. Democratic hopes had been raised by the fact that, despite the 6th's long history of voting for Republican candidates, Donald Trump had barely carried the district in 2016, edging Hillary Clinton by a margin of only 1.5 percentage points. The district has the largest proportion college graduates of any House district in the nation held by a Republican. Not coincidentally, the 6th was the only House district in the state not to vote for Trump in the Republican presidential primary. It is clear that there are lots of anti-Trump Republicans in the 6th District. But the 6th is still a strongly Republican district. Mitt Romney won the district by more than 20 points in 2012 and every other GOP candidate besides Donald Trump carried it easily in 2016, including the House incumbent, Tom Price, who defeated his Democratic challenger by a margin of 23 points. To win this race, Jon Ossoff had to get a large share of the 6th's anti-Trump Republicans to vote for him. To do this, he ran a campaign aimed at convincing these GOP voters that he was a safe choice by playing down his liberal views and emphasizing his support for reducing the deficit and cutting wasteful government spending. The hope was that projecting a moderate image would make it easier for soft Republicans to cross Continue Reading

Greta Rips Candidates for Failing to Discuss Wasteful Gov’t Spending

Gutfeld: GOP Should Ignore Bill Clinton, Focus on Hillary's 'Incompetence' MUST-SEE: Pavlich Clashes with Dem Who Supports Obama's Gun Control Push In her "Off the Record" commentary tonight, Greta Van Susteren ripped the 2016 presidential candidates for failing to put the "disgusting" level of government waste at the top of their priorities lists. Greta pointed out that Hillary Clinton wants to raise taxes on the big earners. "What about the billions and billions of dollars our government wastes year after year?" Greta asked, calling on candidates to request an honest audit of government programs. She asserted that one of the most dire economic situations facing the U.S. is politicians' gross mishandling of the government and tax dollars. "Politicians have a cavalier attitude about your money. And when they run out, they either demand more from you in taxes or they just borrow more, putting us all in greater debt," Greta said. She concluded that she hopes President Obama makes it a priority in his final year in office to find out where all the money is going and not ask for any more until he and the rest of our elected officials get to the bottom of it. "Yeah, I know. Fat chance." Watch more above. READ: Haunting & Poignant Year-End Facebook Post from Man Killed on NYE WATCH: Woman Confronts Starbucks Employee Over Alleged Credit Card Theft Continue Reading

Greta Rips Wasteful Gov’t Spending: ‘D.C. Has Been the City of No Consequences’

Herridge: Top Senators Not Allowed Access to Classified Info in Hillary's Emails Shelby: Lynch, Obama 'Keep Chipping Away at 2nd Amendment' In her "Off the Record" commentary tonight, Greta Van Susteren called out Washington politicians and the Department of Defense for wasting taxpayer money. Greta said that she's in favor of a strong military, and she appreciates the sacrifices our fighting men and women make, but she's also concerned about the military industrial complex. She noted that a $500,000 gas station in Afghanistan ended up costing U.S. taxpayers $43 million. "When a government spends that kind of money, and it can't tell you how it was spent or where or who got it or why, something is fishy. It's corruption," Greta stated. She called for Attorney General Loretta Lynch to convene a grand jury. "And if my suspicions are correct, get some indictments, show us the perp walks. Because I assure you, that will send a strong message to everyone else in government who might be considering stealing your money," Greta said. "Washington has been the city of no consequences. It's time to make it the city of consequences." Watch Greta's "Off the Record" commentary above. Midship-Person?! Officials Look at Removing 'Man' from Military Titles Judge Nap: Case Against Hillary Is 'Overwhelming, Damning and Grave' Continue Reading

‘Medieval Smells’ Exhibit? Report Calls Out Billions in Wasteful Gov’t Spending

WATCH: Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh LOSES IT Over Ref's 'Offsides' Call 'Luke Skywalker' Says Trump's Cabinet Full of 'Really Despicable People' Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) released his second annual “Federal Fumbles” report Monday to shed light on how the government wastes tax dollars.Last year, the report showed an unnecessary $105 billion dollars in federal spending. So, what are the numbers like this year?Mike Emanuel reported on "Happening Now" that the 154-page report found that dozens of different programs and initiatives by the government added up to more than $200 billion in wasteful spending.Emanuel highlighted some of the most unusual expenses, including $495,000 for an exhibit on "medieval smells," $2 million on a study that found children don't like eating food that's been sneezed on, and $1 billion in hospitals and infrastructure projects for the Palestinian government.Other bizarre programs in the report include $180,000 to develop a new and more effective method of counting and tagging sea ducks, and $315,000 to study how court rulings make people feel."Expect fiscal conservatives like Sen. Lankford from Oklahoma to continue to beat the drum in a new Congress about it being time to tighten things up in terms of federal spending," Emanuel said.See Lankford discuss the report below, and let us know what you think in the comments. Colin Kaepernick Praises Cuban Dictator Fidel Castro 'Faith, Hope & Love': Tim Tebow's New Book Is About Tackling Life's Challenges NFL Player & Soldier Brother Hold American Flag During Pregame National Anthem Continue Reading

Half of America skimps to pay for health care. The only fix is to cut waste.

As Congress decides the fates of Americans who cannot afford health insurance, our new data shows that this is a larger group than previously thought.In a new survey of 9,200 people across 15 states by my organization, the Texas Medical Center Health Policy Institute, 49% of respondents said they must cut other expenses to pay for health care. And they aren’t cutting back on frivolities like expensive electronics. Most often, they said, they had to cut back on their savings, as well as spending on food and clothing, to pay for health care. More: Stop foot-dragging on Children's Health Insurance Program More: Trumpcare is health care vandalism pure and simple: Andy Slavitt But the real shock was just how little respondents said they could afford to spend on out-of-pocket health care expenses. Well over 50% of the uninsured put that number at just 2% of their income. We saw a similar trend with the insured population, too. Almost half of insured respondents earning more than $100,000 said they could only afford to spend 2% of their income on additional out-of-pocket costs. Across the spectrum, it seems 2% is the magic number.Why does that matter? It sheds light on one of the most important provisions that the Affordable Care Act got so wrong. Obamacare defines “affordability” as 8.2% of income. Anyone who has access to a plan where premiums cost less than 8.2% of their income, and declines that insurance, must pay a tax penalty, known as the individual mandate. It’s a stunning disconnect. The government says affordability is more than four times what the people themselves consider affordable.Congress is considering new bipartisan legislation that permits states to apply for waivers that “provide coverage and cost-sharing protections against excessive out-of-pocket spending.” It’s clear many Americans don’t agree with the current Obamacare definition Continue Reading

VT ranks high on welfare, health care, roads spending

Vermont’s state government and all of its local governments collect $3.5 billion in taxes, $2 billion in federal revenues, and more than one billion dollars in additional funds from a variety of other sources. Vermont governments' largest single expenditure item is for education, which I will focus on at another time.  Let’s just look at where governments spend the remaining $4.2 billion.The single largest expenditure is the $1.7 billion we spend on public welfare, which includes many different programs that primarily go to low income Vermonters.  Some of that comes from federal government grants and some from Vermont taxpayers.  On a per capita basis Vermont’s spending on public welfare is 50 percent more than the 50-state average, ranking us third highest in the nation. We can’t tell exactly how much of that spending comes from the federal government and how much from Vermont taxpayers, but compared to most states, we spend a lot more tax dollars to support our low income population.Closely related to that is the $343 million the state spends on health care.  Although a great deal of health care spending goes to low income people, in Vermont a lot of people who are not poor also get their health care and health insurance from the state.  On a per capita basis, Vermont’s health spending is the highest in the nation and we spend nearly twice as much as the average state.Vermont is not a poor state — our incomes are about average — so it’s somewhat surprising that we spend so much more on health care than most states.  One reason is that 28 percent of Vermonters under the age of 65 are on Medicaid compared to 20 percent nationally.  That difference translates into a higher cost out of the state budget.  The state has enacted programs and policies over the past several decades to encourage people to enroll in Medicaid.  But that has not significantly reduced the Continue Reading

New infrastructure spending is a necessity: Our bridges, trains and airports are in a shameful state

Earlier this month, President Obama introduced a jobs package calling for a one-time, $50 billion investment in transit, rail and aviation infrastructure, and another $10 billion to create a National Infrastructure Bank. The plan has already been attacked by critics who claim it's wasteful government spending we cannot afford. Wrong. The President's plan is a great start at leveraging public funds and harnessing private capital in order to repair and modernize our nation's infrastructure. Far from being too much investment, it's not enough. The U.S. needs a long-term, comprehensive infrastructure policy based on merit and backed by sound economic planning - and we need it now. We need to be innovative and realistic about how to pay for a project of this magnitude. Funding can't come from the federal government alone; nonfederal sources, including local government and private sector investment, will also be necessary. Building America's Future Educational Fund, a national and bipartisan coalition I co-founded with Mayor Bloomberg and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, recently released "Falling Apart and Falling Behind," a report on the state of the nation's infrastructure. The report provides a comparative look at the smart investments being made by our international competitors and suggests a series of recommendations for crafting innovative transportation policies. The fact that U.S. infrastructure is woefully inadequate doesn't come as much of a surprise to most Americans who use our roads and bridges and ride our trains daily. If our transportation system were on par with that of Japan or France, it would take less than an hour to get to New York City from my home in Philadelphia. A bullet train that ran at speeds of 150 to 200 mph would cut the 98-mile trip down to about 40 minutes. Instead, I take an older, slower train, which this summer alone was delayed by multiple power failures, a transformer fire and two derailments. If I chose to Continue Reading

Readers sound off on coyotes in the urban jungle, wastes of government money and a World War II tale of heroism

It's an urban jungle out there Mineola, L.I. : New York City is concerned about an increase in the rat population, but rat colony expansion is a direct cause of a resurgence in the urban populations of predators such as owls, hawks, raccoons, fox, bobcat, skunk and, yes, coyotes. Coyotes provide huge ecological benefits in urban landscapes, coming into city limits for a steady and abundant food source. I have personally seen this in northern New Jersey and in Riverdale in the Bronx. Coyotes can exist in meager park grounds as small as Central Park, Riverside Park and Wave Hill and can survive on a rat diet alone without the community even knowing they’re there. Sadly, the rampant use of poisons will have disastrous effects on our cities’ carnivores. Frank Vincenti, director, Wild Dog Foundation Money to burn Flushing: In a financial crisis, you have to spend less money until you get back on a sound financial basis. So why are we paying $25 million to fix the Statue of Liberty’s torch so people can walk inside it? Why are we earmarking $20 million for the Pakistani version of “Sesame Street”? Why are we sending aid to Uganda, Afghanistan, Egypt and other countries that hate us and/or have betrayed us? Frank Wagner Capital idea Reno, Nev.: To protest huge government bailouts of private banks is not anti-capitalist. In fact, it is capitalism that the 99% want, not a corporatocracy, which is what we have. Andrea Juillerat-Olvera An army of heroes West Orange, N.J.: To Voicer Rosario A. Iaconis: My father was a 20-year-old Jew running through Nazi-occupied territory to get from Hungary to Spain during World War II. He was fed, sheltered, morally supported and had his life saved many times by members of the Italian Army and by many individual Italians. He was awed by their kindness and humanity when much of Europe was such a cruel place. Miriam Weiss Sheff Power play Manhattan: It is time upstate New York, New Jersey and Connecticut began Continue Reading

Decade of distraction: While we play with our iPhones and waste time on Facebook, things go to pot

The Decade of Distraction is drawing to a close. For two millennia, the Roman Emperor Nero has been reviled for playing his lyre while Rome burned. Soon it will be our turn to be scorned. While the national debt has been mounting, while melting Greenland ice has been feeding rising sea levels, while our waistlines have been growing, what were we doing? Downloading new apps for our smart phones that will instantly name that tune, while texting our friends and tending to our virtual farms on Facebook. Nothing encapsulates the problem better than the national debt. At the beginning of the decade, it was $5.7 trillion and stable. After 10 years of irresponsible, short-sighted political decisions, it now stands at about $14 trillion. It will soon get much worse. Already, about two dollars in every five that the federal government spends go to the three main entitlement programs - Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. But the baby boomers, who are about to retire in droves, had fewer children than their parents, so the ratio of workers (who pay payroll taxes that fund the entitlements) to retirees is shifting dramatically. If we make no policy changes, in a couple of decades the cost of these three programs along with interest on the national debt will equal all federal revenues. Wasteful earmarks and lavish Postal Service parties are troubling, but headlines about these types of government waste distract us from the fact that the entitlements are the crux of the nation's long-term budget crisis. So what will we do? We can dramatically cut spending on schools, defense, national parks and other so-called "discretionary" items, and even so, unless we reform Medicare, Medicaid and, to a lesser extent, Social Security in ways that are fair to future generations, we will need dramatic tax increases - some think taxes will need to double or even triple. So unless present generations are willing to make sacrifices right now, future generations of Americans are set to Continue Reading