Issue of the Day Posts Tagged ‘Budget’
Project America - Issue of the Day Posts Tagged ‘Budget’

Russia and US Sign Joint Understanding
Published Monday, July 6th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin

This week, President Obama is holding talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev regarding the further reduction of nuclear stockpiles. In a press briefing, both presidents expressed a desire to “reset” their relationship and work together on global issues that Russia called their “special responsibility.” One of the more pressing issues is the deadline for the START I treaty, which is to expire on December 5. Both Presidents signed a joint understanding that called for a legally binding treaty. The provisions call for the US and Russia to reduce their respective strategic warheads to a range of 1,000 to 1,675 — down from 2,200 — and their delivery vehicles to a range of 500 to 1,100. The previous START I treaty allowed for a maximum of 2,200 warheads and 1,600 vehicles.

Russia and the United States are the leading repositories of active and inactive nuclear warheads, topping out at 16,000 and 9960 respectively, followed far behind by France and the United Kingdom at around 200 warheads. The US campaign for the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons has taken a more active role in reducing weapons as spending for the Defense program  doubled from $874 million to $1,726 million in 2007. Plus, what the US does have in warheads is maintained by $5 billion in test and analysis each year to ensure they are still viable weapons; reports for Russian spending for maintaining their stockpile is not available.

Disproportionate Unemployment Filling the Line
Published Friday, June 26th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin

The news of unemployment may be all around us right now, but what is not really understood is the makeup of the unemployment percentage. The overall number is just that: a composite of different numbers, averaged together, and displayed as a percentage of the overall unemployed among the labor force. For example, “The Labor Force” is just a way of describing us all, blue collar and white collar. Yet, there are those who can withstand recession woes (who can save for a rainy day) and those who cannot (check to check living).  What is missing from that single unemployment percentage number is that the recession does not hit everyone equally.

The pre-recession unemployment was at 5% of the overall labor force. Yet, now we are edging on 9.4% unemployment with 5.7 million jobs lost since the beginning of the recession, as May provided 345,000 new jobless claims. Making up a majority of those in the unemployment line are manufacturing and construction workers who tend to be less educated and/or recent immigrants. For minorities such as the black and Latino groups, the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the rate of unemployment is edging on 20%, leading many to fall instantly into poverty and straining State budgets. 

New Focus at Department of Defense Increases Spending
Published Wednesday, June 17th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin

U.S. Defense spending increased for the fiscal year 2010 and is projected to increase slightly again in 2011. This comes despite Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ cuts to weapons programs. The Obama Administration announced early that spending will focus more on intelligence, cyber security, and unmanned systems — used heavily in Iraq and maritime versions being built for the Navy. Plus, as North Korea stretches its nuclear program, the administration is seeking $7.8 billion for the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency in the 2010 budget year, down about $1.2 billion from 2009. For Homeland Security, the House Appropriations Committee approved several high tech improvements for fiscal year 2010, including $692 million for the DHS Border Security, Fencing, Infrastructure and Technology account.

Since 1980, the defense budget went from $32,486 billion to $126,311 billion, spending the most on procurement/purchasing from military contracts. The operations budget, which contains the War supplement, has actually reduced this year to $144 billion, down $50 billion from last year. As for the Department of Homeland Security spending and its mission areas, all categories such as domestic counterterrorism, border security, protecting infrastructure increased in 2007. The only mission that decreased was spending on catastrophic events plus emergency preparedness, which was virtually steady from 2006-2007.

Alternative Fuels get a Boost of Funding from ARRA
Published Thursday, May 7th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin

Nearly $800 Million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has been announced in a press release by US Secretary of Energy Steven Chu to accelerate bio-fuels research and commercialization. Also, the money will go towards commercial-scale biorefinery demonstration projects. This move follows the Obama Administration’s initiative to decrease our dependence on foreign oil, addressing the climate crisis and creating jobs that cannot be outsourced. Broken down, $480 million will go towards 10 to 20 awards for integrated pilot- and demonstration-scale biorefineries for commercial-scale replications. Also, the Act releases $176.5 million for increasing the federal ceiling on pre-existing biorefinery projects. There is $110 million for sustainability research, the development of technologies and bio-fuels including algal based. Plus, $20 million goes towards Ethanol research into flex-fuel vehicles, the impact of higher ethanol blends in conventional vehicles and the subsequent infrastructure for fuels up to E85.

Alternative fuel consumption started gaining ground in 1981 when the US consumed barely 7000 Billion alternative-based Btus. Consumption rose at a slow pace until President Bush’s Biomass Research and Development Act of 2000, which saw the use of biofuels increase exponentially along with the 2002 Farm Bill and the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Currently, the consumption of alternative fuels, which has been cultivated by the Federal Government, has risen to 626,000 Billion Btus in 2007.

Defense Budget has Doubled in 8 Years
Published Tuesday, April 7th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin

Secretary Gates is expected to target several major conventional warfare programs in favor of spending on technologies more useful to the ‘asymmetrical’ wars in which the US is embroiled. Projects will be cut: the Army’s $150 billion Future Combat Systems, which proposes to sync manned and unmanned ground and aerial vehicles, the Air Force’s demands for more F-22 stealth fighter jets, 11 of the Navy’s aircraft carriers and a new $20 billion satellite. The President has even suggested that upgrades to Marine One will be delayed. The Pentagon has stated that this is a shift in direction and not cuts to the bottom line.

The Obama administration has pledged to integrate the war supplemental requests into the Department of Defense’s base budget. This will, of course, reduce future supplemental budgets but will increase the department’s base budgets. After 8 years of war, the budget for the Department of Defense (DOD) has nearly doubled from $387 billion in 2000 to $709 billion in 2008. However, the fiscal year 2009 total DOD budget is $687 billion, which includes the war supplement of $144 billion, a reduction of $50 billion from the 2008 fiscal year war supplement total of $194 billion.

Tax Reform on the Horizon
Published Monday, April 6th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin

In two separate events, the Obama administration has started investigating tax reform. The last major tax reform took place in 1986.  President Bush appointed a tax reform commission in 2005, which delivered a report in that same year, but its recommendations were not included in the 2007 budget. Prof. Elizabeth Garret of USC, who sat on the commission, has been announced to become assistant secretary of the treasury for tax policy. Also, President Obama asked Paul Volcker, who chairs his Economic recovery Advisory Board, to appoint a tax reform task force that would report no later than December 4th.

Given the composition of tax receipts over time, the percentage of each category has changed given the reforms made by various administrations. For the 2008 fiscal year, individual tax income amounted to $1,146 billion; $23 billion lower than expected. Corporate taxes amounted to $304 billion, $5 billion lower due to $4 billion lower in payments and $1 billion in extra refunds. Social Insurance and Retirement Receipts were $900 billion, $1 billion lower than estimated. Other taxes, such as customs duties, estate and gift taxes came to $106 billion, which was $1 billion more due to higher estate taxes, gifts, fines and penalties. The overall budget in 2008 amounted to $2,979 billion, which was $36 billion above the estimate due to the Department of Defense and the Treasury.

Government Doubles Weatherization Funding
Published Tuesday, March 31st, 2009 by Lacey Loftin

With the weather turning from frigid winter to sunny spring for many Americans, Vice-President Joe Biden and The Energy Secretary Chu have detailed an investment of nearly $8 billion in state and local weatherization and energy efficiency efforts$5 billion for weatherization and $3 billion for the State Energy Program—as a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Department of Energy hopes to put 87,000 Americans to work and help save families hundreds of dollars a year on their energy bills. The fund will help families add more insulation, thereby sealing leaks and modernizing heating and air conditioning systems.   The program will allow an average investment of $6,500 per family making up to 200% of the federal poverty level-or about $44,000 a year for a family of four. The weatherization improvements are expected to reduce heating bills by an average of 32%, an overall savings of hundreds of dollars a year.

The funding for weatherization and energy efficient programs has various sources, mainly the Federal and State government, emergency funding, and utilities themselves. Traditionally, Federal, State and Local government funding has provided $1 to $2 billion with—beginning in 2001—utilities and charities providing funds that match or exceed government funding. However, in the 2009 fiscal year budget, the U.S. Government has added doubled its contribution from $1.98 to $4.41 billion.  US consumption of energy has recently decreased about 6 tiliion Btu to 99.4 quadrillion Btu in 2006, of that little over 7% comes from renewable energy sources.

Drug Policies Have Failed, States Clinton
Published Monday, March 30th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin

From Mexico City, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that decades of US anti-narcotics policies have been a failure and have contributed to the explosion of drug violence that has flooded Mexico and threatens the US southwest. This is a surprising turn of events, as past politicians have blamed Mexico for not doing enough to staunch the traffic of illegal drug trafficking. The Obama administration has announced it is seeking $66 million in new funding for extra helicopters for the Mexican Police. Clinton also stated that equipment promised under the Merida Initiative, a 3 year $1.4 billion package of anti-drug assistance to Mexico and Central America, will be a top priority. This meeting will precede the visit by the Secretary of Homeland Security, the US Attorney General, and later President Obama ahead of the Summit of the Americas in April.

Secretary Clinton also stated that “neither interdiction nor reducing demand have been successful.” The arrest for illicit drug abuse violations has reached nearly 2 million a year; that is 1.9 million adults and 100,000 juveniles arrested. 84.9% of teens state that they have ready access Marijuana, 46.7% for cocaine, 38.8% for crack and 27.4% for Heroin. Of those surveyed, the teens that have used Cocaine in the last 30 days remain steady at 1.9-2% and for those who have used in the last year also remains steady between 4.4-5.2%.

North Dakota and Others Brace for Flooding
Published Friday, March 27th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin

Parts of North Dakota sat underwater Thursday as rising waters from melting snow swelled the banks of the Red River.  Experts predict a historic 41-foot crest by Saturday.  The existing dikes, designed for a maximum 39ft crest, may be unable to contain the river’s swell. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the last flood near the predicted crest was in 1997 at 39.6ft and in 1897 at 40.1ft in Fargo, the Red River’s most populated city. The Red River filters into the Missouri River, and nearly 4,000 people were evacuated Tuesday from an area near Bismarck.

In the new 2010 fiscal year budget, up for vote in Congress, President Obama supports the safe and reliable operation and maintenance of key existing water resources infrastructure. The budget funding amounts to $5.1 billion and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provides $4.6 billion for infrastructure and Army Corps of Engineers discretionary funding. From the Red River, the water empties into the Missouri river, then flowing into the Mississippi river down to New Orleans where, after Katrina, the $15 billion upgrade, scheduled for completion in 2011, is only 20% complete.

Immigration Detainees Rise with Doubled Funding
Published Friday, March 20th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin

The number of Immigrants who are detained inside America’s detention system as a part of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) effort to sweep up criminals and undocumented workers has risen in the last decade. Normally, they are deported voluntarily or they are deported to their country of origin. However, information provided by the ICE, obtained by the Freedom of Information Act, stated that the detention population at exactly 32,000 as of January 25, 2009. 18,690 immigrants do not have a criminal record, some have been there for at least a year, and nearly 10,000 had been there for longer than the requisite 31 days in which authorities state is the amount of time needed to discourage further illegal immigration on the part of the detainee. Many of the long-term detainees are not criminals nor illegal immigrants, but asylum seekers or persons whose country of origin will not accept them.  58% of these are delayed due to a lack of legal counsel.

Since the 1990’s, the number of illegal immigrants has remained on a rollercoaster rate between 900,000 and 180,000, lessening since 2001. However, since 2003, Congress has doubled to $1.7 billion the amount dedicated to imprisoning immigrants. However, the number of those who have voluntarily left the country and those deported has decreased dramatically from 1999-2000–at a rate of 1 million removed and 13.6 million voluntarily departures—to 2001-2004—0.8 million deported and 4 million voluntarily departed. The cost per night—according to the data given—is $141 for every immigrant detained, the amount to monitor the ankle bracelets amounts to $13 a day—a method that has a near perfect compliance rate.

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