The Unpleasant Impact of an Unserious Budget

Federal budgets, while boring and wonky, can have a serious impact on our lives. They dictate our collective priorities for how we choose to spend our public resources in support of the common good.

That is, good budgets do that. But you’d be hard-pressed to call the most recent budget from the Trump administration good.

To be clear, it’s hard to even refer to this budget as serious. Sure, it’s written in official-looking thick blue books, and it outlines spending figures using precise numbers. But that’s about where the formality ends.

Tucked into the formal budget is a set of assumptions that present a fantastical approach to simple arithmetic.

Take the estate tax for just one example, also known as the inheritance tax. The estate tax is a pretty straightforward idea: a levy on the inter-generational transfer of immense wealth that only the very wealthy pay. It’s been on the books for about 100 years.

If left untouched, it will generate an estimated $ 174 billion over the next 10 years, precisely $ 0 of which will come from anyone who could reasonably be considered middle class.

The Trump budget proposes to eliminate the federal estate tax. Trump’s own family stands to benefit enormously from this gift to the wealthiest households.

The budget also proposes to dramatically cut federal student loan programs by about $ 143 billion. Notably, the Public Student Loan Forgiveness program is eliminated, a program that hundreds of thousands of graduates signed up for expecting their student loans to be eliminated after 10 years of service in the public sector.

Trading a massive tax cut for the ultra-wealthy in exchange for massive cuts to programs that help young people go to college is bad enough. But then there’s the math.

The Trump budget, despite proposing to eliminate the estate tax, still counts the estate tax revenue as part of its revenue projection. In fact, the administration expects estate tax revenue to top $ 300 billion, nearly double the normal projection. This lie is critical to their absurd claim that their budget will balance.

News flash: If you cut taxes, it means you don’t get the revenue from said taxes.

The estate tax double-count is just one of the many mystical components of their mathematical menagerie.

A poll of top-tier economists by the University of Chicago (which has among the most conservative econ departments in the country) found practically unanimous agreement that there’s no way the budget will balance. The administration’s assumptions are just too far-fetched — no matter how many times you spin in a circle, squint, and pray that the numbers on the page change.

Unfortunately, while the administration’s struggle with basic arithmetic can be amusing, the potential impact of this budget is far from humorous.

It will mean millions of families pushed off their health coverage, millions of mothers blocked from receiving nutritional assistance for their babies, and millions more families in our northern states forced to choose between heating their house and affording their groceries.

Long-time Rep. Barbara Lee of California put it well: “I have never seen a budget so devoid of compassion and empathy for families struggling to make ends meet,” she observed.

There appears to be no law barring Congress from enacting a budget with fundamentally bogus assumptions, and many of Trump’s supporters on Capitol Hill are happy to play ball. One hopes their constituents will be much less willing to go along with the morally bankrupt mathematical mess this administration calls a budget.

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Palm Oil’s Impact on People and the Planet Is Getting Worse, Say NGOs – Triple Pundit (registration) (blog)


Triple Pundit (registration) (blog)
Palm Oil's Impact on People and the Planet Is Getting Worse, Say NGOs
Triple Pundit (registration) (blog)
… starting with PepsiCo, to partner with the RSPO in solving those labor problems, a coalition of NGOs and businesses released an online mapping tool that they say can help companies gauge whether their palm oil suppliers are contributing to

and more »

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US Mine Safety and Health Administration announces results of special impact inspections at 17 mines in January

US Mine Safety and Health Administration announces results of special impact inspections at 17 mines in January

Who: U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration

What: The Mine Safety and Health Administration announced today that federal inspectors issued 138 citations, four orders and one safeguard during special impact inspections conducted at 11 coal mines and six metal and nonmetal mines in January

Where: MSHA conducted special impact inspections at mines in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

Background: Monthly impact inspections began in force in April 2010 at mines that merit increased agency attention and enforcement due to their poor compliance history or particular compliance concerns. Since then, MSHA inspectors have conducted 1,098 impact inspections and issued 15,833 citations, 1,303 orders and 58 safeguards.

# # #

Editor’s Note: MSHA’s Monthly Impact Inspection List for January 2016 is available here.

Release Date: 
02/25/2016
Media Contact Name: 

Amy Louviere

Phone Number: 
Release Number: 
16-0412-NAT
Override with PDF?: 

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MSHA announces results of November impact inspections

The Mine Safety and Health Administration today announced that federal inspectors issued 189 citations and six orders during special impact inspections at 17 coal mines and six metal and nonmetal mines in November. Most of the coal mine inspections focused on compliance with respirable dust standards. |||||||http://www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/msha/MSHA20152495.htm

Farm Bureau issues bird flu impact study – Iowa Farmer Today

Farm Bureau issues bird flu impact study
Iowa Farmer Today
17 indicating the avian flu outbreak in Iowa cost producers nearly 8,500 jobs and almost $ 427 million in lost revenue when the disease forced the depopulation of 34 million birds on 77 farms earlier this year. The study, commissioned by the Farm Bureau

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Area impact could be dire if state government shuts down, officials say – Mid Columbia Tri City Herald

Area impact could be dire if state government shuts down, officials say
Mid Columbia Tri City Herald
Produce inspections, done at warehouses before fruits and vegetables are loaded onto trucks, would continue because the service is paid for primarily by industry fees and assessments. However, dairy nutrient management inspections would be suspended

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EU still ignoring impact of low-cost imports like clothing and commodities – The Guardian


The Guardian
EU still ignoring impact of low-cost imports like clothing and commodities
The Guardian
Sam Lawson, author of the Fern report and an independent environmental investigator, says: “The EU population would not accept these kinds of illegalities, human rights abuses and environmental damage if it was happening within their borders, so it's

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