Will the Affordable Care Act be starved for funds?

By Cate Long
July 2, 2012

Millions of uninsured Americans will now have access to healthcare as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision last Thursday to uphold the Affordable Care Act. This is a big step forward for the nation, but it raises questions about funding. The nation is already starved for revenue and is supposed to cut $1.2 trillion from the federal budget over the next eight years through the sequestration process.

Will governors support the healthcare expansion?

By Cate Long
June 29, 2012

The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act just created an unenviable task for governors across the country.

Technology alone won’t solve our political disagreements

By Cate Long
June 5, 2012

In a recent op-ed, Reuters’ Chrystia Freeland suggests that if nations have any hope of restoring trust in their core institutions, they should focus on adopting technology to the extent that Silicon Valley has:

We shouldn’t dread the debt limit

By Cate Long
May 17, 2012

“Have a drink out there, folks, and just know that your kids and grandkids will be out there picking grit with the chickens,” says former U.S. Senator Alan Simpson in the video above. Simpson’s quip is the best summary I’ve ever heard of the public’s lack of understanding of the severity of the nation’s fiscal crisis. The federal government is currently borrowing 42 cents of every dollar that it spends. Thanks to the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing and the strong global demand for U.S. Treasury debt, the nation has been able to borrow heavily at low interest rates to cover its budget shortfalls.

Infrastructure financing and the federal government

By Cate Long
May 10, 2012

There is a general consensus that America needs both new infrastructure and more jobs. Where there’s disagreement is over what role the federal government should play in providing the necessary funding to jump-start new projects. In a recent webinar, Standard & Poor’s laid out the current types of financing available for surface transporation projects (page 3):

The United States enters the twilight zone

By Cate Long
May 3, 2012

ZeroHedge points out that the amount of U.S. debt outstanding has just surpassed the latest reading of our gross domestic product:

Oklahoma cuts taxes while other states fund its social programs

By Cate Long
May 1, 2012

Conservatives are working in legislatures across the country to eliminate or reduce state and local tax rates with the stated purpose of promoting job creation. These legislative efforts have received support from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an ultra-conservative lobbying group. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin is the latest beau ideal for ALEC’s fiscal austerity drive as she leads the charge to eliminate her state’s income tax. She writes in the introduction to ALEC’s latest edition of “Rich States, Poor States”:

States receive crumbs from mortgage settlement

By Cate Long
February 10, 2012

The $25 billion mortgage-fraud settlement that was announced yesterday came after 18 months of coordinated action by the Department of Justice, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and 49 state attorneys-general. The settlement is carved up so that homeowners and governments at the state and federal levels each receive some compensation. Given the scale of national losses, it’s a tiny penalty for banks that engaged in egregious servicing and foreclosure practices, and it will do little to repair the widespread economic damage.

The soft side of federal spending

By Cate Long
November 22, 2011

It’s not clear that Congress is capable of doing its job of managing the nation’s purse strings. Capitol Hill failed at identifying a combination of tax increases and reductions in spending that would have lowered our growing debt burden. Now every constituency that draws funds from the U.S. Treasury is angling to push others away from the trough. A perfect example is the internecine warfare to come over defense cuts. Here is a slick ad against funding for the military’s nuclear arsernal obviously coming from the traditional munitions and equipment makers:

All high government approval ratings are local

By Cate Long
October 3, 2011

This great graphic from Visually maps the public’s great discontent with the federal government using data from the Pew Research Center. It’s hard to imagine the numbers being any worse than this: 11 percent of the public is satisfied with the officials in Washington, DC.