Sarah Babbage

Sarah Babbage is a fall 2010 intern at the Prospect.

Recent Articles

Telling It Like It Is on Medicare

Medicare has become the pivotal political issue in Washington, not just in the deficit debate but in the Republican 2012 election as well. GOP primary candidate Newt Gingrich has spent his week furiously backpedaling from his observation on Meet the Press last weekend that Paul Ryan ’s Medicare plan amounts to “right-wing social engineering.” The incident shows that a willingness to gut Medicare has become the price of acceptance into the Republican Party. Finally, however, Democrats look to be stepping up to the plate to match Republicans’ fury to gut Medicare with an equal fury to save it, a position likely to have far more sway with the 84 percent of voters who oppose changes to the program. This afternoon, Nancy Pelosi drew the line in the sand the left has been clamoring for, promising “no benefit cuts.” Democrats have also enlisted Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to spread the message on Capitol Hill today that proposals within Ryan’s plan will cut the...

Unexpected Tax Revenues Lead to Unexpected Tax Cuts

As Jamelle described yesterday, California just cut its deficit in half, not through dramatic spending cuts but through an unexpected tax windfall, the result of improved economic growth in the state. It’s not unique in experiencing this – Michigan and New Jersey also reported higher-than-expected tax revenues this week. Jamelle rightly says that these windfalls show that the state and federal deficits aren’t the result of rampant government spending in the last two years but were instead generated by lower revenue from flagging tax receipts in the recession (along with the Bush tax cuts and two ongoing unfunded wars). In Michigan, which was facing a $1.4 billion deficit prior to receiving an unexpected $429 million this week, Republicans are already calling for additional tax cuts to business, which they say will strengthen the state’s nascent economic recovery. State Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville called for cuts to the taxes that businesses pay on machinery and capital...

The JOBS Act Creeps Forward

As expected, the JOBS Act we [previewed]( http://prospect.org/csnc/blogs/tapped_archive?month=05&year=2011&base_na... ) earlier this week received a passing vote in the House Ways and Means Committee yesterday, giving states the option to use the money they receive from the federal government for extended unemployment benefits elsewhere. GOP lawmakers expect cash-strapped states will divert the cash toward deficit reduction, which they see as a more pressing goal. [According]( http://waysandmeans.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=240627 ) to Committee Chairman **Dave Camp**, this makes sense because even laid-off workers in states like North Dakota, where the unemployment rate is low, can access these extended benefits for up to 60 weeks. They seem to forget that states with large deficits are usually the ones struggling the most in the recession and which have the highest rates of unemployment. North Dakota, for instance, is one of only [two states]( http://www...

Did the Budget Debate Just Swerve Left?

Despite the fact that a deficit-reduction deal probably won’t be reached through the adoption of a comprehensive budget package, lawmakers continue to produce them, tweaking the available deficit-reduction mechanisms to just their liking. So far this week, Sens. Pat Toomey and Kent Conrad have both released budgets, although Conrad’s has yet to go public. What they both show is a response to the backlash to Paul Ryan ’s budget and the GOP’s current budget strategy. Toomey, taking a hint from the town halls , public opinion polls , and a special election in New York state, not only spares Medicare in his budget proposal -- he increases spending on it relative to Obama ’s budget proposal. That’s great news, but it may signal that the debate is getting so focused on Medicare that we’re forgetting all the other programs Republicans want to cut. Toomey’s budget cuts nondefense discretionary spending to 2006 levels, which is crazy enough on its own (previous GOP budgets have only proposed...

How to Eliminate 322,000 JOBS

Soon, the House Ways and Means Committee will vote on legislation that would allow states to divert the money they receive from the federal government for extended unemployment-insurance benefits toward other uses that would help them get their financial houses back in order. While states will eventually have to deal with their deficits, doing so at a time when the unemployment rate remains at 9 percent and 4.1 million workers are accessing extended benefits (the additional supports that kick in after 26 weeks of unemployment) defies logic. According to the CBO, the ironically named JOBS Act would give states the option to use a total of $31 billion in federal payments elsewhere. If they use it to pay down their debt, that money will leave the economy, cutting 322,000 jobs nationwide and decreasing economic activity by $40 billion. The act gives states a few other options of where they could spend the money, such as on regular state unemployment-insurance benefits so businesses don’t...

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