“whatever Israel needs, those requests will run headlong into the dysfunction and uncertainty enveloping Capitol Hill, as the House grapples with selecting a new leader and both chambers race to avoid a government shutdown just weeks away.
Those priorities will also need to compete with rush orders for Ukraine, which is already straining the capacity of companies in the U.S. and Europe to send arms to Kyiv and resupply inventories back home.
“One thing that is really important in terms of the munitions in particular, and our ability to support both potentially the Israelis and the Ukrainians simultaneously, is additional funding from Congress to be able to increase our capacity,” Army Secretary Christine Wormuth told reporters at the Association of the United States Army conference in Washington Monday.”
“Ron DeSantis had just been sworn in as a member of the House in 2013 when he voted against sending $9.7 billion in disaster relief to New York and New Jersey, two states still reeling from the damage of Hurricane Sandy.
“I sympathize with the victims,” the Florida Republican said at the time, but objected to what he called Congress’ “put it on the credit card mentality” when it came to government spending.
Now, a day after Hurricane Idalia pummeled Florida less than a year since Hurricane Ian’s destruction, DeSantis is not objecting to federal borrowing when it’ll help his disaster-stricken state. As Florida’s governor — and a 2024 White House contender — he is in regular contact with President Joe Biden as the state seeks dollars from Washington to rebuild from the storm wreckage, assist rescue efforts and aid displaced residents.”
” DeSantis’ vote a decade ago was based on his opposition to the Sandy package’s “additional pork spending,” a spokesperson for his presidential campaign said”
“The paper, set to be published later this year, is a new review of dozens of studies. It finds that when schools get more money, students tend to score better on tests and stay in school longer, at least according to the majority of rigorous studies on the topic.”
“The findings seem like a remarkable turnabout compared to prior research from Hanushek, who had for four decades concluded in academic work that most studies show no clear relationship between spending and school performance. His work has been cited by the US Supreme Court and pushed a generation of federal policymakers and advocates looking to fix America’s schools to focus not on money but ideas like teacher evaluation and school choice.
Despite his new findings, Hanushek’s own views have not changed. “Just putting more money into schools is unlikely to give us very good results,” he said in a recent interview. The focus, he insists, should be on spending money effectively, not necessarily spending more of it. Money might help, but it’s no guarantee.
Hanushek’s view matters because he remains influential, playing a dual role as a leading scholar and advocate — he continues to testify in court cases about school funding and to shape how many lawmakers think about improving schools.”
“The context matters, they say. Sometimes money is spent well; sometimes it’s spent poorly. Sometimes the effects are big; other times they are small or nonexistent. Just focusing on the overall effect masks this variation.”
“Other researchers agreed that the variation in results is important, but that shouldn’t mean ignoring the overall impact. “The average effect still matters,” said West, the Harvard professor.”
“In one scenario outlined by the CBO, Congress would have to cut 86 percent of all discretionary spending if it wanted to balance the budget by 2033 without touching the military, veterans programs, or entitlements like Social Security and Medicare. In a slightly altered version of that same scenario in which the Trump tax cuts were not allowed to expire as intended in 2025, Congress would have to cut 100 percent of discretionary spending—and the country would still face a $20 billion deficit.”
“it should be clear that any attempt at bringing the federal budget deficit under control must kill (or at least wound) the Republicans’ sacred cows of military spending, entitlements, and the recent Trump tax cuts. Right now, however, leading Republicans including former President Donald Trump and Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R–Calif.) have vowed to keep Social Security out of any long-term spending deals. Rep. Jim Banks (R–Ind.) has promised to oppose any bill that cuts defense spending.
As for the tax cuts, they’re technically temporary—a gimmick that allowed Republicans to game the CBO’s scoring of the tax cut bill—but keeping the lower individual income tax rates in place past 2025 is a top priority for Republicans.”
“the CBO’s numbers aren’t partisan and neither is the blame for America’s massive budget deficits. These latest projections only reveal how difficult the choices ahead will be. If Republicans are serious about trying to balance the budget, there can be no more sacred cows.”
“Donald Trump’s outraged response to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s indictment of him contained the usual mix of bombast and self-pity, with a predictable dollop of conspiracy-mongering. One line of attack stood out in particular: He accused Bragg of being “hand-picked and funded by George Soros.”
Trump wasn’t alone. The alleged Bragg-Soros connection has been everywhere in the Republican response to the indictment, including in comments from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance, and a host of other prominent Republicans and Fox News coverage. It often gets shorthanded into a two-word phrase: “Soros-backed.”
Soros, a nonagenarian Holocaust survivor and billionaire financier, is a longstanding hate figure among conservatives. Over the past two decades, elements of the right in both the United States and his native Hungary have engaged in a concerted campaign to turn Soros into a boogeyman — the shadowy power behind transatlantic liberalism.
Though Bragg has never been directly funded by Soros, the accusation of a link isn’t entirely out of whole cloth — Bragg’s 2021 campaign for district attorney does seem to have indirectly received some of his financial support. But the intensity of the accusation certainly doesn’t seem proportionate to the tenuousness of the connection.
To liberals, the Soros accusation smacks of nothing less than antisemitism. “Just replace ‘Soros-backed’ with ‘Jewy Jew Jewish Jewy Jew,’” the popular comedian John Fugelsang tweeted in response to DeSantis’s attack on Bragg. Naturally, conservatives have denied the charge and argued that liberals are just trying to suppress reasonable criticism of a prominent Democratic donor.
There is, of course, nothing wrong with criticizing Soros’s philanthropic work, especially his partisan donations to the Democratic Party. But it’s difficult to separate the criticisms from the context — and the last two decades of attacks on Soros have turned him into a stand-in for a certain kind of Jewish “rootless cosmopolitan” that allows politicians to appeal to antisemitism without having to do so explicitly.
In the Trump populist era, attacks on so-called “globalists” — a term long used on the extreme right as a euphemism for “Jews” — have become increasingly common on the mainstream right. The increasing mainstream flirtation with antisemitic stereotypes and rhetoric has made the subtext of the attacks on Soros harder and harder to deny.”
“It’s true that Soros supported pro-democracy activists and civil society groups in former communist states — but that doesn’t make him the “puppet master” secretly getting people out into the streets to demonstrate against dictators. The idea that a Jewish financier is secretly masterminding global events against the interests of rooted local conservatives — it doesn’t take a scholar of antisemitism to see what Beck was drawing on here.”
“When Trump and his allies tried to position the so-called “migrant caravan” as a major threat to America before the 2018 midterms, the president told reporters that “a lot of people say” Soros was behind it. You heard similar rhetoric from Donald Trump Jr. and Republicans in Congress.
This was a baseless lie, and an antisemitic one to boot. The idea that Jewish money is bringing in nonwhite immigrants to menace the United States is a staple of far-right rhetoric — one that had been voiced by a shooter who killed 11 Jews at a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018.”
“Many more thoughtful conservatives have argued that Soros is a principal funder of the “progressive prosecutor” movement, a nationwide campaign to elect district attorneys who aim to try and tackle problems like mass incarceration by (for example) refusing to prosecute certain low-level crimes. Bragg is one such progressive prosecutor, and seems to be the beneficiary of Soros’s funding: Shortly after the group Color of Change pledged roughly $1 million to support Bragg, they received roughly $1 million in funding from Soros.”
“Conservative criticisms of Soros’s support of “progressive prosecutors” are not necessarily antisemitic. If what they were saying was “progressive prosecutors raise crime rates and it’s bad that Soros is supporting them,” that would be one thing.
But what they’re actually doing is claiming that Trump’s prosecution is illegitimate and politically motivated — and that support from Soros is proof of said illegitimacy. The same “puppet-master” implication is invoked (remember Trump’s words: “hand-picked”). And it beggars belief that these conservatives don’t know that the Trumpist faithful won’t fill in those conspiratorial (and yes, antisemitic) blanks.
So it’s certainly possible to criticize George Soros without being antisemitic in the abstract. But at this point, we know what a dog whistle from Donald Trump and his ilk sounds like, and it’s hard to ignore that the chorus of attacks on the Soros-Bragg connection hit those same notes.”
“It is true that, as of right now, Medicare is projected to be unable to pay all of its bills as early as 2028. Without congressional action, a stronger economy, or more likely, both, the government could end up without enough money to cover everything it promises enrollees within five years.
That would be unprecedented and would likely provoke a political crisis. But it is not quite the same thing as Medicare going bankrupt and ceasing to exist entirely. Alarm bells have sounded about Medicare’s trust fund for decades, with the exact date of when it would run out of money moving forward and back. But, eventually, Congress will need to act.
To understand the program’s financial situation, start with how Medicare is structured. Medicare is broken down into several different parts. Part A covers hospital care, stays at skilled-nursing facilities, and home health care. Part B pays for outpatient physician care. Part D is the prescription drug benefit, which is administered by private insurance plans. Most Medicare beneficiaries — anyone over age 65 — get their insurance directly through the government. But almost half are now insured through Medicare Advantage (also known as Part C) in which patients sign up for a private plan, paid for largely by the federal government, which provides a comprehensive suite of benefits. (Those plans are also more expensive to the government and their growing enrollment is contributing to the solvency problem”
“Different parts of Medicare are funded in different ways, but when we’re talking about a Medicare funding crisis, we’re talking about the benefits paid by Part A: hospital services. Hospital bills for Medicare enrollees are funded almost entirely through the program’s dedicated payroll taxes. If those benefits cost more than the government receives in Medicare payroll taxes in a given year, as can happen in an economic downturn, the difference comes out of a trust fund earmarked specifically for Part A. The Medicare trustees, who issue annual reports on the program’s finances, project that Medicare spending will begin outpacing revenue again in 2024, requiring the program to dip into the trust fund. The trust fund is projected to be fully depleted by 2028 without further policy changes.”
“Part B and Part D, however, are not facing the same financial crunch. They are funded primarily by general tax revenue, instead of an earmarked payroll tax, and premiums paid by beneficiaries. Their trust funds are projected to be sufficient for the foreseeable future.”
“Medicare Advantage plans receive funding based on the type of service provided to their customer, which means money for hospital care comes from Part A. Annual Part A payments to Medicare Advantage plans is expected to increase from about $176 billion in 2022 to $336 billion by 2030.
Separate from the new budget proposal, the White House is attempting to rein in the payments to Medicare Advantage plans (from an 8 percent increase last year to a proposed 1 percent increase in the coming year). Republicans and the health insurance industry have slammed that proposal as a cut to Medicare, an example of how it can be politically difficult to get Medicare spending under control.
Biden’s budget will likely jumpstart a new debate about Medicare solvency. But it’s only a beginning.
Congress has passed provisions to reduce Medicare spending in recent years, such as the Inflation Reduction Act’s plan for the program to negotiate some prescription drug prices. But lawmakers have also acted to avert any cuts to how much the program pays doctors, hospitals, and other medical providers.
Both tax increases and any spending reductions can be a tough sell in Congress. So can increasing the eligibility age, an oft-floated idea that still amounts to cutting benefits for seniors.
Biden is going with tax hikes in his budget plan. But it’s not yet clear if lawmakers are really willing to act on his or any proposal to improve Medicare’s finances.
They still have five years before the Part A trust fund will run out, according to the latest available projections. The Medicare trustees urged Congress to act soon to avert the crisis, in order to minimize the risks for patients and providers. But unfortunately, lawmakers have a habit of waiting until the last minute to act.”
“”More money can help schools succeed, but not if they fritter those extra resources in unproductive ways,” Jay Greene, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, told Reason. “There is no one formula for how to spend money correctly in schools. But there are many common ways that schools blow resources. Wasteful schools tend to hire more non-instructional staff while raising the pay and benefit costs for all staff regardless of their contribution to student outcomes. If you fully disconnect compensation from performance, you can raise salaries and benefits endlessly without anyone learning more.”
While making good spending choices can help close some of the gap between affluent and non-affluent schools, it’s worth noting that student poverty has a large effect on school performance.”
“A three-judge panel on the 5th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals ruled this week that the CFPB’s structure is unconstitutional because Congress has no control over the agency’s budget, which is funded entirely by the Federal Reserve. Under the terms of Dodd-Frank, the CFPB is entitled to receive a budget totaling up to 12 percent of the Federal Reserve’s annual operating expenses, and the Federal Reserve is not allowed to refuse the CFPB’s requests for funding.
“Congress’s decision to abdicate its appropriations power under the Constitution, i.e., to cede its power of the purse to the Bureau, violates the Constitution’s structural separation of powers,” Judge Cory Wilson wrote in this week’s ruling.”
“”Congress did not merely cede direct control over the Bureau’s budget by insulating it from annual or other time-limited appropriations. It also ceded indirect control by providing that the Bureau’s self-determined funding be drawn from a source that is itself outside the appropriations process—a double insulation from Congress’s purse strings that is ‘unprecedented’ across the government,” Wilson wrote in the court’s ruling. “Even among self-funded agencies, the Bureau is unique. The Bureau’s perpetual self-directed, double-insulated funding structure goes a significant step further than that enjoyed by the other agencies on offer.””
“As state legislators kicked off their 2022 sessions this spring and started planning new budgets, many found that their tax coffers were overflowing. What lawmakers do with that extra money could have long-range consequences.
The excess revenue resulted from a convergence of two windfalls. State tax collections rose sharply in 2021 as the pandemic waned, businesses fully reopened, and consumers started spending again. And the federal government showered states with more than $360 billion as part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, passed in March 2021. The passage of President Joe Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure bill means even more federal taxpayer money for state treasuries in the near future.
All told, state revenues (including federal funds) increased by more than 12 percent in 2021, according to data from the Pew Charitable Trusts. Thirty-two states reported higher than expected revenue in 2021, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers.
As a result, many states now have significant year-over-year budget surpluses for the current year. California leads the way with a $31 billion surplus—an amount larger than many states’ entire annual budgets. Florida ($11.2 billion surplus), Maryland ($4.6 billion), Minnesota ($7.7 billion), and Virginia ($2.6 billion) also have large cash reserves. But state lawmakers should be careful about letting the extra dough burn a hole in their pockets.
“It’s understandable that there is all this pent-up demand for different kinds of new programs or tax cuts,” says Josh Goodman, a senior officer with Pew’s state fiscal health initiative. The impulse to use surpluses for pet projects, Goodman says, ignores data that suggest many states are running long-term structural deficits—largely due to pension obligations and health care costs in programs like Medicaid. “The question is not just what’s the budget situation this year,” Goodman says, “but what is the budget -situation going to be five or 10 years down the road.””