U.S. House GOP: Cut $12.5 Million from IPCC

Plan will also cut financing for the International Fund for Ireland ($17 million annual savings) and Economic Assistance to Egypt for $250 million, but will not make cuts to Defense or Homeland Security.  So the wars will continue and so will the attacks on citizens’ rights.

By Paul Bedard
USNews & WR
January 20, 2011

Moving aggressively to make good on election promises to slash the federal budget, the House GOP today unveiled an eye-popping plan to eliminate $2.5 trillion in spending over the next 10 years. Gone would be Amtrak subsidies, fat checks to the Legal Services Corporation and National Endowment for the Arts, and some $900 million to run President Obama’s healthcare reform program. [See a gallery of political caricatures.]

What’s more, the “Spending Reduction Act of 2011” proposed by members of the conservative Republican Study Committee, chaired by Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, would reduce current spending for non-defense, non-homeland security and non-veterans programs to 2008 levels, eliminate federal control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, cut the federal workforce by 15 percent through attrition, and cut some $80 billion by blocking implementation of Obamacare. [See a slide show of the top Congressional travel destinations.]

Some of the proposed reductions will surely draw Democratic attack, such as cutting the Ready to Learn TV Program, repeal of the Davis-Bacon Act, the elimination of the Energy Star Program, and cutting subsidies to the Woodrow Wilson Center. [See editorial cartoons about the GOP.]

Here is the overview provided by the Republican Study Committee:

FY 2011 CR Amendment: Replace the spending levels in the FY 2011 continuing resolution (CR) with non-defense, non-homeland security, non-veterans spending at FY 2008 levels. The legislation will further prohibit any FY 2011 funding from being used to carry out any provision of the Democrat government takeover of health care, or to defend the health care law against any lawsuit challenging any provision of the act. $80 billion savings.

Discretionary Spending Limit, FY 2012-2021: Eliminate automatic increases for inflation from CBO baseline projections for future discretionary appropriations. Further, impose discretionary spending limits through 2021 at 2006 levels on the non-defense portion of the discretionary budget. $2.29 trillion savings over ten years.

Federal Workforce Reforms: Eliminate automatic pay increases for civilian federal workers for five years. Additionally, cut the civilian workforce by a total of 15 percent through attrition. Allow the hiring of only one new worker for every two workers who leave federal employment until the reduction target has been met. (Savings included in above discretionary savings figure).

“Stimulus” Repeal: Eliminate all remaining “stimulus” funding. $45 billion total savings.

Eliminate federal control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. $30 billion total savings.

Repeal the Medicaid FMAP increase in the “State Bailout” (Senate amendments to S. 1586). $16.1 billion total savings.

More than 100 specific program eliminations and spending reductions listed below: $330 billion savings over ten years (included in above discretionary savings figure).

Here is the full list of cuts:

Additional Program Eliminations/Spending Reforms

Corporation for Public Broadcasting Subsidy. $445 million annual savings.

Save America’s Treasures Program. $25 million annual savings.

International Fund for Ireland. $17 million annual savings.

Legal Services Corporation. $420 million annual savings.

National Endowment for the Arts. $167.5 million annual savings.

National Endowment for the Humanities. $167.5 million annual savings.

Hope VI Program. $250 million annual savings.

Amtrak Subsidies. $1.565 billion annual savings.

Eliminate duplicative education programs. H.R. 2274 (in last Congress), authored by Rep. McKeon, eliminates 68 at a savings of $1.3 billion annually.

U.S. Trade Development Agency. $55 million annual savings.

Woodrow Wilson Center Subsidy. $20 million annual savings.

Cut in half funding for congressional printing and binding. $47 million annual savings.

John C. Stennis Center Subsidy. $430,000 annual savings.

Community Development Fund. $4.5 billion annual savings.

Heritage Area Grants and Statutory Aid. $24 million annual savings.

Cut Federal Travel Budget in Half. $7.5 billion annual savings.

Trim Federal Vehicle Budget by 20%. $600 million annual savings.

Essential Air Service. $150 million annual savings.

Technology Innovation Program. $70 million annual savings.

Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Program. $125 million annual savings.

Department of Energy Grants to States for Weatherization. $530 million annual savings.

Beach Replenishment. $95 million annual savings.

New Starts Transit. $2 billion annual savings.

Exchange Programs for Alaska, Natives Native Hawaiians, and Their Historical Trading Partners in Massachusetts. $9 million annual savings.

Intercity and High Speed Rail Grants. $2.5 billion annual savings.

Title X Family Planning. $318 million annual savings.

Appalachian Regional Commission. $76 million annual savings.

Economic Development Administration. $293 million annual savings.

Programs under the National and Community Services Act. $1.15 billion annual savings.

Applied Research at Department of Energy. $1.27 billion annual savings.

FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership. $200 million annual savings.

Energy Star Program. $52 million annual savings.

Economic Assistance to Egypt. $250 million annually.

U.S. Agency for International Development. $1.39 billion annual savings.

General Assistance to District of Columbia. $210 million annual savings.

Subsidy for Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. $150 million annual savings.

Presidential Campaign Fund. $775 million savings over ten years.

No funding for federal office space acquisition. $864 million annual savings.

End prohibitions on competitive sourcing of government services.

Repeal the Davis-Bacon Act. More than $1 billion annually.

IRS Direct Deposit: Require the IRS to deposit fees for some services it offers (such as processing payment plans for taxpayers) to the Treasury, instead of allowing it to remain as part of its budget. $1.8 billion savings over ten years.

Require collection of unpaid taxes by federal employees. $1 billion total savings.

Prohibit taxpayer funded union activities by federal employees. $1.2 billion savings over ten years.

Sell excess federal properties the government does not make use of. $15 billion total savings.

Eliminate death gratuity for Members of Congress.

Eliminate Mohair Subsidies. $1 million annual savings.

Eliminate taxpayer subsidies to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. $12.5 million annual savings.

Eliminate Market Access Program. $200 million annual savings.

USDA Sugar Program. $14 million annual savings.

Subsidy to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). $93 million annual savings.

Eliminate the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program. $56.2 million annual savings.

Eliminate fund for Obamacare administrative costs. $900 million savings.

Ready to Learn TV Program. $27 million savings.

HUD Ph.D. Program.

Deficit Reduction Check-Off Act.

TOTAL SAVINGS: $2.5 Trillion over Ten Years

Massive Austerity causes Wave of Protests in Europe

Is this the beginning of a mass wake up against the tyranny and irresponsibility of the bankers and elites of the planet?

AP

Anti-austerity protests erupted across Europe on Wednesday – Greek doctors and railway employees walked out, Spanish workers shut down trains and buses, and one man even blocked the Irish parliament with a cement truck to decry the country’s enormous bank bailouts.

Brussels International Airport stop to a halt on September 26. (AP)

Tens of thousands of demonstrators poured into Brussels, hoping to swell into a 100,000-strong march on European Union institutions later in the day and reinforce the impact of Spain’s first nationwide strike in eight years.

All the actions sought to protest the budget-slashing, tax-hiking, pension-cutting austerity plans of European governments seeking to control their debt.

In an ironic twist, the march in Brussels comes just as the EU Commission is proposing to punish member states that have run up deficits to fund social programs in a time of high unemployment across the continent. The proposal, backed by Germany, is expected to run into strong opposition from France.

“It is a bizarre time for the European Commission to be proposing a regime of punishment,” said John Monks, general secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation, which is organizing the Brussels march.

“How is that going to make the situation better? It is going to make it worse,” Monks said in an interview with Associated Press Television News.

Unions fear that workers will become the biggest victims of an economic crisis set off by bankers and traders, many of whom were rescued by massive government intervention.

Several governments, already living dangerously with high debt, were pushed to the brink of financial collapse and have been forced to impose punishing cuts in wages, pensions and employment – measures that have brought workers out by the tens of thousands over the past months.

Transportation has been affected in Spain, where workers decided to protest against cuts. (AP)

“There is a great danger that the workers are going to be paying the price for the reckless speculation that took place in financial markets,” Monks said. “You really got to reschedule these debts so that they are not a huge burden on the next few years and cause Europe to plunge down into recession.”

In Spain, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s Socialist government is under severe pressure because of the hugely unpopular measures put in place to save Europe’s fourth-largest economy from a bailout like one that saved Greece from bankruptcy.

The cuts have helped Spain trim its central government deficit by half through July but the unemployment rate stands at 20 percent, and many businesses are struggling to survive.

The strike Wednesday was Spain’s first general strike since 2002 and marked a break in the once-close relationship between unions and the Socialist government.

Whistle-blowing picketers blocked trucks from delivering produce at the main wholesale markets in Madrid and Barcelona. Strikers hurled eggs and screamed “scabs” at drivers trying to leave a city bus garage in Madrid.

The salary cuts for civil servants, pension reforms and new laws that make it easier for companies to fire workers were rushed into law quickly in Spain, without traditional negotiations between management and workers.

Greece, which had to be rescued by the euro-nations this spring to stave off bankruptcy, has also been forced to cut deep into workers’ allowances, with weeks of bitter strikes and actions as a result.

Bus and trolley drivers walked off the job for several hours while Athens’ metro system and tram were to shut down at noon. National railway workers were also walking off the job at noon, disrupting rail connections across the country, while doctors at state hospitals were on a 24-hour strike.

Greece has already been suffering from two weeks of protests by truck drivers who have made it difficult for businesses to get supplies. Many supermarkets are seeing shortages, while producers complaining they are unable to export their goods.

Truck drivers’ unions voted late Tuesday to continue their protests against plans to liberalize their tightly regulated profession, despite a government threat to force them back to work or cancel their licenses.

Greece’s government has imposed stringent austerity measures, including cutting civil servants’ salaries, trimming pensions and hiking consumer and income taxes. Several other EU nations are also planning actions.

In Dublin, a man blocked the gates of the Irish parliament with a cement truck to protest the country’s expensive bank bailout. Written across the truck’s barrel in red letters were the words: “Toxic Bank” Anglo and “All politicians should be sacked.”

Police arrested a 41-year-old man but gave few other details.

The Anglo Irish Bank, which was nationalized last year to save it from collapse, owes some euro72 billion ($97 billion) to depositors worldwide, leaving Irish taxpayers with a mammoth bill at a time when people are suffering through high unemployment, tax hikes and heavy budget cuts.

Many experts say, no matter what unions try, the towering government debt across the continent will force drastic changes in Europe’s labor situation.

“The party is over,” said former EU Commissioner Frits Bolkestein at the financial Eurofi conference in Brussels. “We shall all have to work longer and harder, more hours in the week, more weeks in the year, and no state pension before the age of 67.”

The unions say, however, the party was only there for society’s upper crust, and workers are being forced to pay the bills. The crisis has left 23 million people unemployed in Europe, Monks said.

France to Seize Pensions by Raising Retiring Age

Financial Times

Expectations are growing that France is set to remove the right to retire at 60, as it embarks on a contentious reform of its debt-laden pension system and brings public finances back into line.

Christian Estrosi, industry minister, said on Sunday the government was “leaning towards an increase in the [retirement] age” in its talks with unions and employers’ federations, despite denials from cabinet ministers over the weekend of a decision being taken.

Although there has been much speculation that France’s legal retirement age of 60 – one of the lowest in Europe – would be abandoned, Mr Estrosi’s comments on national radio are the clearest statement yet of government intentions.

His comments are likely to give ammunition to unions planning a national strike on Thursday to protest against spending cuts and pension reforms.

The government is expected to announce its planned reforms next month and expects to have a draft bill before parliament by September. Nicolas Sarkozy, president, has made pensions the last big reform of his government before the campaign for the next presidential election in 2012 gets under way.

All but one of France’s five main unions have rejected suggestions that the retirement age should be increased, favouring instead taxes to fill a deficit expected to hit €32bn this year, as much as €45bn in 2020 and possibly more than €100bn in 2050.

The government is highly sensitive to the potential of pension reform sparking widespread unrest and will be watching Thursday’s protest closely. Former prime minister Alain Juppé was eventually brought down by national protests in 1995 when he attempted to restructure one of the most generous pensions systems in Europe.

However, there are signs of opinion shifting and the government may be hoping to take the opportunity presented by the Greek crisis to convince the public of the need for reform. A survey last week showed two-thirds of those questioned believed the pension system was in danger of collapse.

A similar percentage of respondents agreed that the retirement age needed to be raised from 60 to 62.