WBEZ | deficit http://www.wbez.org/tags/deficit Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Evaluating the 'super committee's' super-big breakdown http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-22/evaluating-super-committees-super-big-breakdown-94277 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-November/2011-11-22/Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), co-chair of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, walks through the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, November 15, 2011.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Congress's super committee came up short of its goal to reduce the deficit over the next decade. Well, really short--$1.2 trillion short. Illinois Senator and Majority Whip Dick Durbin was not at the table for the latest go-round but he was no less disappointed in the results.</p><p>“It’s happened too many times over and over again; threats of shutting down the government threats of even shutting down the economy over the course of this year. So this is further disappointment and it won’t help the image of Congress” Durbin said.</p><p>And so came the trigger cuts. The idea was that the automatic cuts would be so unpopular that they would create an incentive for compromise.</p><p>To learn more about the fallout from the failure and the burgeoning ideological divide in Washington, <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> turned to David Drucker, staff writer for <a href="http://www.rollcall.com/" target="_blank">Roll Call</a> in D.C.</p><p><em>Music Button: Ursula 1000, "Very Leggy", from the album The Now Sound of Ursula 1000 (ESL)</em></p></p> Tue, 22 Nov 2011 16:19:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-22/evaluating-super-committees-super-big-breakdown-94277 Debt negotiations sputtering to a stop http://www.wbez.org/story/debt-negotiations-sputtering-stop-94227 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-21/AP00051101207.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>WASHINGTON — It's just about over for a special deficit-reduction supercommittee, which appears set to admit failure on Monday in its quest to sop up at least $1.2 trillion in government red ink over the coming decade.</p><p>The bipartisan 12-member panel is sputtering to a close after two months of talks in which key members and top congressional leaders never got close to bridging a fundamental divide over how much to raise taxes. The budget deficit has forced the government to borrow 36 cents of every dollar it spent last year.</p><p>In a series of television interviews, not a single panelist seemed optimistic Sunday about any last-minute breakthrough, and aides said any remaining talks had broken off.</p><p>The White House, however, continued to insist that lawmakers finish the task they were assigned.</p><p>"Avoiding accountability and kicking the can down the road is how Washington got into this deficit problem in the first place, so Congress needs to do its job here and make the kind of tough choices to live within its means that American families make every day," White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage said.</p><p>Monday is deadline day. The panel officially has until Wednesday to approve a deficit-slashing plan, but under its rules, any plan would have to be unveiled 48 hours in advance.</p><p>Instead, it appeared co-chairs Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas would issue a statement declaring the panel's work at an end, aides said.</p><p>The two sides had never gotten particularly close, at least in the official exchanges of offers that were leaked to the media.</p><p>"There is one sticking divide. And that's the issue of what I call shared sacrifice," said panel co-chair Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., on CNN's "State of the Union."</p><p>"The wealthiest Americans who earn over a million a year have to share too. And that line in the sand, we haven't seen Republicans willing to cross yet," she said.</p><p>Republicans said Democrats' demands on taxes were simply too great and weren't accompanied by large enough proposals to curb the explosive growth of so-called entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid.</p><p>"If you look at the Democrats' position it was 'We have to raise taxes. We have to pass this jobs bill, which is another almost half-trillion dollars. And we're not excited about entitlement reform,' " countered Republican Jon Kyl of Arizona on NBC's "Meet the Press."</p><p>"Put a bow on it. It's done," said an aide to a supercommittee Republican.</p><p>Failure by the panel would trigger about $1 trillion over nine years in automatic across-the-board spending cuts to a wide range of domestic programs and the Pentagon budget, starting in 2013, according to the Congressional Budget Office. This action, called a "sequester," would also generate $169 billion in savings from lower interest costs on the national debt.</p><p>Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says the required cuts of up to $454 billion to the Pentagon would be "devastating" and leave a "hollow force." Defense hawks of Capitol Hill promise they won't allow them to be that deep. But that effort will be complicated by the insistence of other lawmakers that the overall amount of the budget cuts be left in place.</p><p>The panel's failure also sets up a fight within a battle-weary, dysfunctional Congress over renewing a payroll tax cut and jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed, both of which are set to expire at the end of the year. Both proposals are part of President Barack Obama's $447 billion jobs plan.</p><p>Extending the current 2 percentage point payroll tax cut isn't a popular idea with many Republicans, but allowing it to expire could harm the economy, economists say. So too would a cutoff of unemployment benefits averaging about $300 a week to millions of people who have been out of work for more than six months.</p><p>Serious negotiations ended Friday after Democrats rejected a $644 billion offer comprised of $543 billion in spending cuts, fees and other non-tax revenue, as well as $3 billion in tax revenue from closing a special tax break for corporate purchases of private jets. It also assumed $98 billion in reduced interest costs.</p><p>Earlier exchanges featured a more than $3 trillion plan from Democrats that would have increased tax revenues by $1.3 trillion in exchange for further cuts in agency budgets, a change in the measure used to calculate cost-of-living increases for Social Security beneficiaries, and curbs on the growth of Medicare and Medicaid.</p><p>"We put on the table a proposal that required tough compromises on both sides, and they never did that," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., the only House Democrat on the panel to participate in late-stage bipartisan talks.</p><p>Republicans countered with a $1.5 trillion plan that included a potential breakthrough — $250 billion in higher taxes gleaned as Congress passes a future tax reform measure. The plan was trashed by Democrats, however, who said it would have lowered tax rates for the wealthy too far while eliminating tax breaks that chiefly benefit the middle class.</p></p> Mon, 21 Nov 2011 15:34:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/debt-negotiations-sputtering-stop-94227 Debt talks on the brink of failure http://www.wbez.org/story/debt-talks-brink-failure-94214 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-20/AP9908040646.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>WASHINGTON — A special deficit-reduction supercommittee appears likely to admit failure on Monday, unable or unwilling to compromise on a mix of spending cuts and tax increases required to meet its assignment of saving taxpayers at least $1.2 trillion over the coming decade.</p><p>The panel is sputtering to a close after two months of talks in which the members were never able to get close to bridging a fundamental divide over how much to raise taxes to address a budget deficit that forced the government to borrow 36 cents of every dollar it spent last year.</p><p>Members of the bipartisan panel, formed during the summer crisis over raising the government's borrowing limit, spent their time on Sunday in testy performances on television talk shows, blaming each other for the impasse.</p><p>In a series of television interviews, not a single panelist seemed optimistic about any last-minute breakthrough. And it was clear that the two sides had never gotten particularly close, at least in the official exchanges of offers that were leaked to the media.</p><p>Aides said any remaining talks had broken off.</p><p>"There is one sticking divide. And that's the issue of what I call shared sacrifice," said panel co-chair Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., on CNN's "State of the Union."</p><p>"The wealthiest Americans who earn over a million a year have to share too. And that line in the sand, we haven't seen Republicans willing to cross yet," she said</p><p>Republicans said Democrats' demands on taxes were simply too great and weren't accompanied by large enough proposals to curb the explosive growth of so-called entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid.</p><p>"If you look at the Democrats' position it was 'We have to raise taxes. We have to pass this jobs bill, which is another almost half-trillion dollars. And we're not excited about entitlement reform,' " countered Republican Jon Kyl of Arizona on NBC's "Meet the Press."</p><p>Under the committee's rules, any plan would have to be unveiled Monday, but it appeared that Murray and co-chair Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas would instead issue a statement declaring the panel's work at a close, aides said.</p><p>"Put a bow on it. It's done," said an aide to a supercommittee Republican.</p><p>Failure by the panel would trigger about $1 billion over nine years in automatic across-the-board spending cuts to a wide range of domestic programs and the Pentagon budget, starting in 2013, according to the Congressional Budget Office. This action, called a "sequester," would also generate $169 billion in saving from lower interest costs on the national debt.</p><p>Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says the required cuts of up to $454 billion to the Pentagon would be "devastating" and leave a "hollow force," and defense hawks of Capitol Hill promise to unwind them. But that effort will be complicated by the insistence of other lawmakers that the overall amount of the budget cuts be left in place.</p><p>"I can't imagine that, knowing of the importance of national defense, that both Democrats and Republicans wouldn't find a way to work through that process so we still get the $1.2 trillion in cuts, but it doesn't all fall on defense," said supercommittee Republican Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona.</p><p>The panel's failure also sets up a fight within a battle-weary, dysfunctional Congress over renewing a payroll tax cut and jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed, both of which are set to expire at the end of the year. Both proposals are part of President Barack Obama's $447 billion jobs plan.</p><p>Extending the current 2 percentage point payroll tax cut isn't a popular idea with many Republicans, but allowing it to expire could harm the economy, economists say. So too would a cutoff of unemployment benefits averaging about $300 a week to millions of people who have been out of work for more than six months.</p><p>Serious negotiations ended Friday after Democrats rejected a $644 billion offer comprised of $543 billion in spending cuts, fees and other non-tax revenue, as well as $3 billion in tax revenue from closing a special tax break for corporate purchases of private jets. It also assumed $98 billion in reduced interest costs.</p><p>Officials familiar with the offer said it would save the government $121 billion by requiring federal civilian workers to contribute more to their pension plans, shave $23 billion from farm and nutrition programs and generate $15 billion from new auctions of broadcast spectrum to wireless companies.</p><p>Democrats said the plan was unbalanced because it included barely any tax revenue.</p><p>"Our Democratic friends are unable to cut even a dollar in spending without saying it has to be accompanied by tax increases," Kyl said.</p><p>On Saturday, Sen. Rob Portman floated an even smaller plan, said a lawmaker directly familiar with the panel's work. It, too, was rejected. The lawmaker required anonymity because of the secrecy of the talks.</p><p>The committee faces a Wednesday deadline. But members would have to agree on the outlines of a package by Monday to allow time for drafting and assessing by the Congressional Budget Office.</p><p>Over the past couple of weeks, the two sides have made a variety of offers and counter-offers, starting with a more than $3 trillion plan from Democrats that would have increased tax revenues by $1.3 trillion in exchange for further cuts in agency budgets, a change in the measure used to calculate cost-of-living increases for Social Security beneficiaries, and curbs on the growth of Medicare and Medicaid.</p><p>"We put on the table a proposal that required tough compromises on both sides, and they never did that," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., the only House Democrat on the panel to participate in late-stage bipartisan talks.</p><p>Republicans countered with a $1.5 trillion plan that included a potential breakthrough — $250 billion in higher taxes gleaned as Congress passes a future tax reform measure. The plan was trashed by Democrats, however, who said it would have lowered tax rates for the wealthy too far while eliminating tax breaks that chiefly benefit the middle class.</p></p> Sun, 20 Nov 2011 21:29:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/debt-talks-brink-failure-94214 Durbin defends president's deficit reduction proposal http://www.wbez.org/story/durbin-defends-presidents-deficit-reduction-proposal-92182 <p><p>U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill. ) is defending the president's proposal to reduce the deficit. President Barack Obama suggested raising $1.5 trillion dollars in new taxes, including higher taxes on wealthy Americans, on Monday.</p><p>Durbin, a Democrat, said the proposal needs bipartisan support, but Republicans are not backing it.</p><p>"People are sacrificing all over this country," Durbin said at a school on Chicago's West Side. "It's not too much to ask those who are doing very well to sacrifice along with them."</p><p>Durbin accused Republicans of blocking several of Mr. Obama's attempts to pass legislation throughout his presidency.</p><p>After Monday's announcement, many Republicans said they would not support a plan that would increase taxes to lower the deficit.</p></p> Mon, 19 Sep 2011 18:26:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/durbin-defends-presidents-deficit-reduction-proposal-92182 Chicago taxpayers are still paying for the Daley administration http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-01/chicago-taxpayers-are-still-paying-daley-administration-91390 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-September/2011-09-01/APSpencer Green.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Mayor Emanuel got a second helping of public opinion on the city budget Wednesday night. The mayor held two town halls this week; he asked constituents for ideas to close the city’s estimated $635 million deficit. Much of the red ink on the city’s balance sheet bled over from the<br> Daley administration. Recent reports show that taxpayers are still paying for Daley—literally. The <a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/" target="_blank"><em>Chicago Reader's</em></a> Mick Dumke joined <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> to assess the damage.</p><p><em>Music Button: Shawn Lee, "Fade Up", from the album Sing a Song, (Ubiquity)</em><br> &nbsp;</p><p><br> &nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 01 Sep 2011 14:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-01/chicago-taxpayers-are-still-paying-daley-administration-91390 Tax hike, cuts will plug Chicago schools budget http://www.wbez.org/story/tax-hike-cuts-will-plug-chicago-schools-budget-90156 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-05/RS3523_board of ed-lpr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Sacrifice by taxpayers, teachers and students—along with hundreds of millions of dollars pulled from reserve funds—will close a $712 million budget gap at Chicago Public Schools. The district’s proposed budget, released late Friday, hikes property taxes by the maximum amount allowed, makes deep cuts to the central and regional administrative offices, and slashes $87 million from school programs, including mentoring and extra staff in schools.</p><p>As expected, the $5.91 billion total budget does not include the $100 million in raises for teachers and other CPS employees that their union contracts called for.</p><p>The tax hike will bring in $150 million in additional revenue. CPS calculates it should cost the owner of a $250,000 home about $84 more a year, but a separate levy to pay for school construction will also appear on taxpayers’ bills. The school district has not raised taxes for two years.</p><p>School officials say they tried to keep cutbacks as far from the classroom as possible, but admitted the slashed programs will affect students. Many of the programs chopped by the district save a million dollars here, two million there.</p><p>“Every one of these lines has pain in it—every line,” said Chief Operating Officer Tim Cawley. “We had to come up with $310 million in cuts.”</p><p>Those cuts include:<br> • Extra positions at turnaround high schools, some of the district’s most challenged schools.<br> • Extra teachers schools can keep as a “cushion” when enrollments dip. Now, more teachers will be yanked from classrooms even after the start of school if enrollments are low.<br> • Police officers at high schools; principals will now choose whether they want one of the officers or $25,000 to come up with an alternative security solution.<br> • Extra funds for 54 schools that don’t get anti-poverty money<br> • Cuts to a dual language pilot program</p><p>More than 400 positions could be lost; Cawley said it’s possible principals could restore some programs with discretionary funds or money earned through private fundraising.</p><p>The district says another $107 million in savings will come from the restructuring of central and regional administrative offices, where Cawley said departments are “stepping on each other” because multiple units are responsible for the same tasks. Cawley said the district still does not know how many people will be laid off in the massive reorganization still underway.</p><p>This is the first Chicago Public Schools budget released since Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s handpicked team took over the schools.</p><p>In sharp contrast to last year, when school officials cut sports teams and scared parents with threats that class sizes would hit 37, this year’s budget crisis hasn’t felt as much like a crisis. Officials immediately said they would not touch class sizes. Language programs, preschool, and popular Culture of Calm anti-violence programs were preserved. The district even committed to increased funding for kindergarten and magnet schools.</p><p>Cawley said those things would have been threatened without a tax hike.</p><p>The Civic Federation, a nonpartisan budget watchdog group, was supportive of the proposed tax increase, saying the district made “difficult but reasonable” choices. Vice president Lise Valentine applauded CPS for eliminating teachers’ raises given the financial situation, but she called the schools’ long-term fiscal situation “unsustainable.”</p><p>“Drastic changes will have to be made, both to expenditures and to revenues, and a major part of that will have to be the pension system,” said Valentine, who warned the district may not be able to pay pensions for its retired teachers if it doesn’t address the issue.</p><p>The district is increasing funding for the Academy for Urban School Leadership, a nonprofit that runs 19 schools in the district and trains teachers. Funding for charter schools will remain level— a decision immediately blasted by the Chicago Teachers Union.</p><p>“Charter funding remains stable… neighborhood school programs are being cut, so it’s increasing the gap between the haves and the have-nots in the system,” said union leader Jackson Potter. Potter said if the district went after TIF funds diverted from schools, CPS could “easily” pay for teachers raises.</p><p>Despite all the cuts, the district was still unable to balance the budget. For a second year, CPS will dip into reserve funds to close the gap, drawing $241 million from the fund.</p><p>The total proposed budget, which includes capital outlays and service on the district’s debt, is $5.91 billion, with an operating budget of $5.11 billion. Hearings on the budget begin next week.</p><p><i style="">Updated at: 10:30pm on 8/5/11</i></p></p> Fri, 05 Aug 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/tax-hike-cuts-will-plug-chicago-schools-budget-90156 Unpacking the debt-deal spin http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-02/unpacking-debt-deal-spin-89966 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-August/2011-08-02/5225278777_58b39a4344_b.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>After months of bickering, posturing and name calling, Congress reached a debt deal. Legislators used every inch of room before hitting Tuesday’s debt-ceiling deadline. The deal passed the House and is expected to pass the Senate Tuesday. Still, nobody appeared to jump for joy. <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> opened the discussion up to listeners and fielded calls, e-mails and tweets. Host Alison Cuddy was joined by two political analysts - consultant<a href="http://www.fokn.com/FOKN/David_Dring.html" target="_blank"> David Dring</a> and political science professor<a href="http://www.northwestern.edu/ipr/people/soto.html" target="_blank"> Victoria DeFrancesco Soto</a> - to help unpack the budget deal. Together, they examined the political back and forth, media coverage and spin.</p><p><em>Music Button: DJ Prince, "James Brown Can Work It Out-Beatles Mashup", djprince.no </em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 02 Aug 2011 13:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-02/unpacking-debt-deal-spin-89966 Chicago unions issue report, try to avoid layoffs http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-unions-issue-report-try-avoid-layoffs-89666 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-26/RS760_114218744.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Union leaders say they have found ways to save&nbsp;Chicago about $242 million that will also save the jobs of as many&nbsp;as 625 workers who Mayor Rahm Emanuel plans to lay off.</p><p>On Tuesday, union leaders said they'd delivered a report to&nbsp;Emanuel's office that takes aim at a bloated middle management&nbsp;workforce in the city and a system they say unfairly awards city&nbsp;contracts to private companies.&nbsp;</p><p>They also say the city could save tens of millions of dollars by&nbsp;just being more efficient.&nbsp;</p><p>Emanuel has criticized unions for not working with him to reduce&nbsp;the city's deficit - and his office has focused much of its&nbsp;attention on work rules regarding overtime.</p><p>Union leaders say they found enough savings to prevent any&nbsp;change to overtime rules.</p></p> Tue, 26 Jul 2011 19:29:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-unions-issue-report-try-avoid-layoffs-89666 Mayor Emanuel squares off with the unions in budget battle http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-18/mayor-emanuel-squares-unions-budget-battle-89298 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-July/2011-07-18/Rahm Budget.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A coalition of union leaders is expected to meet with officials from the City of Chicago on Monday. The meeting comes after last week’s <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-07-16/news/ct-met-mayor-rahm-emanuel0716-20110716_1_mayor-rahm-emanuel-union-workers-union-work-rules" target="_blank">announcement</a> by Mayor Emanuel that some 625 unionized employees may lose their jobs. The mayor asked union leaders for their ideas to offset the city’s budget gap—but the unions said they are still reviewing the situation.</p><p>What does Emanuel’s move mean for the city’s financial future?&nbsp; And how will it affect the city’s relationship with unions? <em>Eight Forty-Eight </em>spoke to the<span style="font-style: italic;"> </span><a href="http://www.chicagonewscoop.org">Chicago News Cooperative</a>'s <a href="http://www.chicagonewscoop.org/author/david-greising/" target="_blank">David Greising</a> to assess the mayor’s decision and some of his other workforce-related moves.</p></p> Mon, 18 Jul 2011 15:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-18/mayor-emanuel-squares-unions-budget-battle-89298 Dissecting the debt-ceiling debate http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-12/dissecting-debt-ceiling-debate-89015 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-July/2011-07-12/AP11071119621.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>President Obama and congressional leaders met Tuesday in hopes of reaching a bipartisan agreement on the debt limit. This marks the group’s third meeting in as many days; there’s been little movement along party lines. Many aren't sure whether to laugh or cry at the federal deficit situation - fear not. <a href="http://www.northwestern.edu/ipr/people/harbridge.html" target="_blank">Laurel Harbridge</a> is an assistant professor of political science at Northwestern University and a faculty fellow at the <a href="http://www.northwestern.edu/ipr/" target="_blank">Institute for Policy Research</a>. She researches the ramifications of a polarized Congress. She offered <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> an assessment the current options and a few thoughts about potential routes to middle ground.</p><p><em>Music Button: Clutchy Hopkins, "Truth Seekin'" from the release The Storyteller (Ubiquity)</em></p><p><br> &nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 12 Jul 2011 14:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-12/dissecting-debt-ceiling-debate-89015