Prez Has More Sequester Flexibility Than WH Admits

From On The Money blog; The Hill; Erik Wesson, Jeremy Herb and Keith Laing:

“The White House has made the case it has almost no flexibility….

“But budget experts say some nuances within the law do give the administration some room to maneuver, though they acknowledge it is limited.

“For example, the administration has broad authority to define ‘program, project and activity,’ according to Barry Anderson, a former budget official under President George H. W. Bush.  He said this would allow some flexibility in making cuts.

“OMB said Friday that it will be issuing the sequester order on the account level and agencies will determine the program, project and activity definition.”

The WSJ argued that the President has a lot of flexibility in its op-ed  “The Sequester Revelation”:
“[T]he White House says it must now cut across the board regardless of how important a given PPA is.
“Not so fast.  Programs, projects and activities are a technical category of the federal budget, but the sequester actually occurs at the roughly 1,200 broader units known as budget accounts.  Some accounts are small, but others contain hundreds of PPAs and the larger accounts run to billions of dollars.  For the Pentagon in particular, the distinction between PPAs and accounts is huge.”
The President’s hands may be tied, but we’re not going to see any burn marks from this sequester.  If they wanted to send the Harry Truman to the Persian Gulf tonight, they certainly could.

The Weapon of “Weaponized Keynesianism”

From “Obstruct and Exploit,” Paul Krugman, NYT:

“Anyway, do Republicans really believe that government spending is bad for the economy?  No.

“Right now, Mitt Romney has an advertising blitz under way in which he attacks Mr. Obama for possible cuts in defense spending — cuts, by the way, that were mandated by an agreement forced on the president by House Republicans [that would be you, Paul Ryan] last year.  And why is Mr. Romney denouncing these cuts?  Because, he says, they would cost jobs!

“This is classic ‘weaponized Keynesianism’ — the claim that government spending can’t create jobs unless the money goes to defense contractors, in which case it’s the lifeblood of the economy.  And no, it doesn’t make any sense.”

Romney, Ryan Scrambling on Medicare

From “Romney Surrogate Complicates Campaign’s Medicare Messaging,” Pema Levy, Talking Points Memo:

“The Romney campaign is still working out the kinks in its messaging on Medicare in the days since Rep. Paul Ryan joined the Republican ticket.

“The Romney campaign is charging that President Obama has cut $700 billion from Medicare. It has been less vocal about the fact that the Ryan plan, too, takes $700 billion from Medicare.

“But one Romney surrogate admitted Tuesday morning that Ryan’s plan does make those same cuts.

“John Sununu, the former governor of New Hampshire, said the $700 billion in cuts is one of the big differences between the Romney and Ryan plans.

“Romney’s plan is ‘very different,’ Sununu said. ‘When Obama gutted Medicare by taking $717 billion out of it, the Romney plan does not do that,’ Sununu said on CNN’s ‘Starting Point’ Tuesday. ‘The Ryan plan mimicked part of the Obama package there. The Romney plan does not. That’s a big difference.’

“The distinction embodies the tough road ahead for Romney: Romney has said he would have signed the Ryan budget, which would have contained the same cuts over which he is currently attacking Obama.

“As recently as Sunday, top Romney adviser Ed Gillespie said that ‘If the Romney, I’m sorry, if the Ryan budget had come to his desk as president, he would have signed it, of course.’

“Romney seemed to deny Monday that the $700 billion figure was among the differences between his and Ryan’s proposals. … ‘But my plan for Medicare is very similar to his plan, which is ‘Do not change the program for current retirees or near-retirees but do not do what the president has done and that is to cut $700 billion out of the current program.’

“Though both Obama’s health care reform law and Ryan’s budget take $700 billion from Medicare, the cuts are actually different. Cuts made in the Affordable Care Act are to future growth and come from reimbursement reductions to hospitals, Medicaid prescription drugs and private insurance plans under Medicare Advantage. Ryan’s cuts come from shifting Medicare from its current form to subsidies for seniors to buy care themselves.”  Emphasis added.

Dumb and Dumber

There shouldn’t be one single case of whooping cough in this country.  But Washington State, with almost 1300 cases so far this year, has declared an epidemic.  It’s like the 1940’s there!

You have the dumb parents who don’t get their children immunized.

You have the dumber state politicians who have made huge cuts in local and state public health programs.  God forbid we should tax higher-income people to fund our health programs, no, let’s just slash these crucial services instead.

With a President Romney and a Paul Ryan budget, every state will be Washington State.