American Sauce: Budget clarity and least-known presidents
February 21st, 2011
01:18 PM ET
12 years ago

American Sauce: Budget clarity and least-known presidents

Washington (CNN) – No doubt, members of Congress are especially happy on this Presidents Day, as they sleep off the political hangover from last week’s relentless, lengthy and refreshingly specific budget debate in the House.  But many American brains may still be hurting. This week, American Sauce boils down the dueling budget debates (House Republicans vs. President Obama) in clear terms.

And, more true to the holiday, we present profiles of three of the least-known, but more interesting, U.S. presidents.

After many nominations and much discussion on Twitter, the final three are: 1. Chester Arthur 2. James Polk and 3. Grover Cleveland.  We explain why they stand out in the podcast, with help from the students of Two Rivers Charter School in Washington DC.

Listen to the podcast here.

Or keep reading.



–Summary: House Republicans passed a spending bill early Saturday morning to cut some $61 billion in spending for the rest of the current year.  That would cut this year’s deficit about 4 percent. (See math below.)

–Spending cuts proposed: Approx. $61 billion over current spending levels.

–Effect on Agencies: Ranges, from 0 percent to 22 percent cuts in general.

–When?: Cuts would happen this year, immediately upon enactment.

–When cuts would end: Sept. 30, 2011.

–So, total length of cuts: seven months or less.

–Effect on the deficit: It would cut the deficit this year by about 4%.

–The math on that: The Congressional Budget Office last estimated the deficit for 2011 would be $1.48 Trillion.  The Office of Management and Budget has since estimated that it will be $1.645 Trillion.  $61 Billion is about 4 percent of either figure (4.1 percent of CBO, 3.8 percent of OMB).

–Does this address entitlements?: No. This is a short-term spending measure only.

–Read original bill, H.R. 1: here.

–Length: 359 pages

–Read the list of amendments which passed:">here. (This is the official GOP release, scroll down for list of amendments)

–Vote: The bill passed 235-189.

–Party Switchers: Three Republicans voted ‘no’. Those were: Rep. John Campbell, California, Rep. Jeff Flake, Arizona and Rep. Walter Jones, North Carolina.  No Democrat voted ‘aye’.

–Look at the vote yourself here.

–So what now?: The current spending bill expires Friday, March 4th.  But President Obama and Senate Democrats have repeatedly said they oppose any spending cuts this fiscal year, and therefore oppose the Republican spending plan.  Thus, either the House or Senate must compromise – on a short-term extension of current funding or a bill with some cuts – or we will have a government shutdown. Hence all the big voice, dramatic “GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN!” talk out of Washington over the weekend.  For the moment, most Capitol Hill reporters I know are betting, strongly, on a short-term extension this go around.  Thought the threat of a shutdown could remain for much of the year.


–Summary: President Obama unveiled his proposed budget for next year, fiscal 2012, and his vision for the government’s checkbook over the next decade. This plan would reduce the deficit $1.1 Trillion over ten years, by cutting spending and raising some taxes. It would cut down, but would not entirely erase, the deficit.

–Spending cuts proposed:  $33 Billion in 2012.  Approx. $730 billion over ten years.

–Increased taxes proposed: Approx. $360 billion over ten years.

–When?: The presidents’ spending cuts would begin in October.  Tax increases go into effect at various times. (They are targeted at various industries and Americans making over $250,000 a year.) The income tax increase for wealthy Americans would begin in 2013.

–Effect on the deficit: The president’s budget would cut deficits by $1.1 Trillion over ten years.

–What’s that mean?: The president’s plan would bring the budget into what’s called “primary balance”. That means U.S. revenues would cover all spending except for payments on the national debt. (Which are hefty.) Thus, this proposal gets closer to plugging the leaks in the federal budget, but ultimately does not close the gap entirely.  The U.S. would still run a deficit and add to the national debt, but at a smaller rate than under current policy.

–Does this address entitlements?: Not significantly. The president has said that must be dealt with in a back-and-forth with Republicans.

–Read the president’s budget proposal: click here for the White House link, or click here and scroll down for the government printing office version.

–Length: 2500+ pages with all documents, including the appendix.

–So what now: At the moment, the White House and Congress are focused on this year’s government spending bill which expires on March 4.  The next move in the fight over next year’s budget will come from House Republicans, who have said they will present their long-term budget proposal in coming weeks.  The debate over 2012 spending could go well into the fall.

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Filed under: American Sauce
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. AEK

    Maybe the Republicans in the Congress should have voted to stay in session today to find some of those jobs they promised the American people during the last election. And yes, those of us who lost representatives in Congress in the last election ARE going to hound you EVERY SINGLE DAY until you live up to your promises or tell the actual truth that you lied, you have no plan for jobs and will say anything to get elected,attack your pet "social" issues, and do away with any program that doesn't directly benefit your corporate sponsors.

    February 21, 2011 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  2. diridi

    cut Bush Tax cuts....raise tax on rich....instead of sacking education, social security, and medicaid...etc.,

    February 21, 2011 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  3. Former Republican, now an Independent

    Politics, politics. These current day neo-cons still do not want to cut any of the expenses in the budget that offends the owners of their souls. They have sold their souls to wealthy interests for huge donations to their campaign funds.

    February 21, 2011 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  4. willie floyd

    What a total waste of time. They have proposed things they know will not likely make it through the Sen., and if it should, they had to know the president would veto it. The Reps. have accomplished nothing since they've been there. They ran on jobs and listening to the people, they'done neither. Is there anyone left in this country who does not see the Reps. are hell-bent on destroying the middle class?? I hope Pres. Obama will stand strong and defy the Reps. to force a gov. shut down.

    February 21, 2011 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  5. willie floyd

    oops! they've done neither-sorry

    February 21, 2011 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |