Monday, 1 August 2011

News Report: The USA Bipartisan Debt Deal

Credit: The White House Blog

Bipartisan Debt Deal: A Win for the Economy and Budget Discipline
  • Removes the cloud of uncertainty over our economy at this critical time, by ensuring that no one will be able to use the threat of the nation’s first default now, or in only a few months, for political gain;
  • Locks in a down payment on significant deficit reduction, with savings from both domestic and Pentagon spending, and is designed to protect crucial investments like aid for college students;
  • Establishes a bipartisan process to seek a balanced approach to larger deficit reduction through entitlement and tax reform;
  • Deploys an enforcement mechanism that gives all sides an incentive to reach bipartisan compromise on historic deficit reduction, while protecting Social Security, Medicare beneficiaries and low-income programs;
  • Stays true to the President’s commitment to shared sacrifice by preventing the middle class, seniors and those who are most vulnerable from shouldering the burden of deficit reduction. The President did not agree to any entitlement reforms outside of the context of a bipartisan committee process where tax reform will be on the table and the President will insist on shared sacrifice from the most well-off and those with the most indefensible tax breaks. 
Mechanics of the Debt Deal
  • Immediately enacted 10-year discretionary spending caps generating nearly $1 trillion in deficit reduction; balanced between defense and non-defense spending.
  • President authorized to increase the debt limit by at least $2.1 trillion, eliminating the need for further increases until 2013.   
  • Bipartisan committee process tasked with identifying an additional $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction, including from entitlement and tax reform. Committee is required to report legislation by November 23, 2011, which receives fast-track protections. Congress is required to vote on Committee recommendations by December 23, 2011.
  • Enforcement mechanism established to force all parties – Republican and Democrat – to agree to balanced deficit reduction. If Committee fails, enforcement mechanism will trigger spending reductions beginning in 2013 – split 50/50 between domestic and defense spending. Enforcement protects Social Security, Medicare beneficiaries, and low-income programs from any cuts.     
  • Deal Removes Cloud of Uncertainty Until 2013, Eliminating Key Headwind on the Economy: Independent analysts, economists, and ratings agencies have all made clear that a short-term debt limit increase would create unacceptable economic uncertainty by risking default again within only a matter of months and as S&P stated, increase the chance of a downgrade. By ensuring a debt limit increase of at least $2.1 trillion, this deal removes the specter of default, providing important certainty to our economy at a fragile moment. 
  • Mechanism to Ensure Further Deficit Reduction is Designed to Phase-In Beginning in 2013 to Avoid Harming the Recovery: The deal includes a mechanism to ensure additional deficit reduction, consistent with the economic recovery. The enforcement mechanism would not be made effective until 2013, avoiding any immediate contraction that could harm the recovery. And savings from the down payment will be enacted over 10 years, consistent with supporting the economic recovery.
  • More than $900 Billion in Savings over 10 Years By Capping Discretionary Spending: The deal includes caps on discretionary spending that will produce more than $900 billion in savings over the next 10 years compared to the CBO March baseline, even as it protects core investments from deep and economically damaging cuts. 
  • Includes Savings of $350 Billion from the Base Defense Budget – the First Defense Cut Since the 1990s: The deal puts us on track to cut $350 billion from the defense budget over 10 years. These reductions will be implemented based on the outcome of a review of our missions, roles, and capabilities that will reflect the President’s commitment to protecting our national security. 
  • Reduces Domestic Discretionary Spending to the Lowest Level Since Eisenhower: These discretionary caps will put us on track to reduce non-defense discretionary spending to its lowest level since Dwight Eisenhower was President. 
  • Includes Funding to Protect the President’s Historic Investment in Pell Grants: Since taking office, the President has increased the maximum Pell award by $819 to a maximum award $5,550, helping over 9 million students pay for college tuition bills. The deal provides specific protection in the discretionary budget to ensure that the there will be sufficient funding for the President’s historic investment in Pell Grants without undermining other critical investments. 
  • The Deal Locks in a Process to Enact $1.5 Trillion in Additional Deficit Reduction Through a Bipartisan, Bicameral Congressional Committee: The deal creates a bipartisan, bicameral Congressional Committee that is charged with enacting $1.5 trillion in additional deficit reduction by the end of the year. This Committee will work without the looming specter of default, ensuring time to carefully consider essential reforms without the disruption and brinksmanship of the past few months. 
  • This Committee is Empowered Beyond Previous Bipartisan Attempts at Deficit Reduction: Any recommendation of the Committee would be given fast-track privilege in the House and Senate, assuring it of an up or down vote and preventing some from using procedural gimmicks to block action.
  • To Meet This Target, the Committee Will Consider Responsible Entitlement and Tax Reform. This means putting all the priorities of both parties on the table – including both entitlement reform and revenue-raising tax reform. 
  • The Deal Includes An Automatic Sequester to Ensure That At Least $1.2 Trillion in Deficit Reduction Is Achieved By 2013 Beyond the Discretionary Caps: The deal includes an automatic sequester on certain spending programs to ensure that—between the Committee and the trigger—we at least put in place an additional $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction by 2013. 
  • Consistent With Past Practice, Sequester Would Be Divided Equally Between Defense and Non-Defense Programs and Exempt Social Security, Medicaid, and Low-Income Programs: Consistent with the bipartisan precedents established in the 1980s and 1990s, the sequester would be divided equally between defense and non-defense program, and it would exempt Social Security, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, programs for low-income families, and civilian and military retirement. Likewise, any cuts to Medicare would be capped and limited to the provider side.
  • Sequester Would Provide a Strong Incentive for Both Sides to Come to the Table:  If the fiscal committee took no action, the deal would automatically add nearly $500 billion in defense cuts on top of cuts already made, and, at the same time, it would cut critical programs like infrastructure or education.  That outcome would be unacceptable to many Republicans and Democrats alike – creating pressure for a bipartisan agreement without requiring the threat of a default with unthinkable consequences for our economy. 
  • The Deal Sets the Stage for Balanced Deficit Reduction, Consistent with the President’s Values: The deal is designed to achieve balanced deficit reduction, consistent with the values the President articulated in his April Fiscal Framework. The discretionary savings are spread between both domestic and defense spending. And the President will demand that the Committee pursue a balanced deficit reduction package, where any entitlement reforms are coupled with revenue-raising tax reform that asks for the most fortunate Americans to sacrifice.  
  • The Enforcement Mechanism Complements the Forcing Event Already In Law – the Expiration of the Bush Tax Cuts – To Create Pressure for a Balanced Deal: The Bush tax cuts expire as of 1/1/2013, the same date that the spending sequester would go into effect. These two events together will force balanced deficit reduction. Absent a balanced deal, it would enable the President to use his veto pen to ensure nearly $1 trillion in additional deficit reduction by not extending the high-income tax cuts.
  • In Securing this Bipartisan Deal, the President Rejected Proposals that Would Have Placed the Sole Burden of Deficit Reduction on Low-Income or Middle-Class Families: The President stood firmly against proposals that would have placed the sole burden of deficit reduction on lower-income and middle-class families. This includes not only proposals in the House Republican Budget that would have undermined the core commitments of Medicare to our seniors and forced tens of millions of low-income Americans to go without health insurance, but also enforcement mechanisms that would have forced automatic cuts to low-income programs. The enforcement mechanism in the deal exempts Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare benefits, unemployment insurance, programs for low-income families, and civilian and military retirement.

Article: Over Bloated Government

President Jonathan Of Nigeria: Accused Of Running Over bloated Government
 By Rufus Kayode Oteniya (
As you must have read in the first part, the essence of this series is to unfold some facts and figures that the government does not want Nigerians to know after which some suggestions will be made in the next series called ‘The Truth Nigerians Must Know.’ This will enable us to make informed decisions on how to take back our country from those who have held us captive in our own land.
They have already wasted a generation of people and this must stop! When the people are informed, a revolution has already begun!
Over bloated Government:
The global financial crisis is real and every effective government is doing its best to trim the public spending. There is uncertainty in the US over increasing the debt ceiling and European economies are going austere but Nigerian government ignores this conventional wisdom.
President Jonathan has just increased his cabinet minister to 40 and created some overlapping ministries in the process. This is sheer waste of government resources and undesirable disposition of giving patronage to party members and supporters.
The US which has about twice the population of Nigeria, Ten (10) times the territorial size and almost forty (40) times the economic size of our country has only 14 cabinet Secretaries (ministers) and one Attorney General in charge of 15 governments departments (ministries). There are six other Cabinet-rank officers who are the White House Chief of Staff, US Ambassador to the UN, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, Director of Office of Management & Budget, US Trade Representative and the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.  The UK, being a parliamentary government has 22 Cabinet Ministers while Italy has 24 of which 10 are without portfolios meaning that the country has only 14 ministries. Germany has only 15.
Thanks to the Mr. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) whose boldness helped to bring to the fore the harm the jumbo pay of the legislators is doing to our economy. Lamido had insisted even while facing the Senators that 25 per cent of Nigeria’s annual total overhead cost was being spent on the federal lawmakers alone. Due to the ensuing pressure, the legislators have agreed to a 40% cut in their ‘illegal’ quarterly allowances.
With the new cut, unlike the sixth assembly where a senators and a member of the House of Representatives were ‘stealing’ (please ascertain meaning of stealing in part 1) N42m and N60m every quarter, they will now be stealing only N25.2m and N36m every quarter respectively.
A member of Representative will be collecting a total of N100.8m in one year and N403.2m ($2.64m) in four (4) years in illegal quarterly allowance. Likewise, a Senator will be collecting N144m in one year and N576m ($3.76) in four years in illegal remuneration that is not provided for by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).
With 109 Senators and 360 Representatives, at the end of their four-year term, the Reps would have illegally taken away N145.15b and the Senators, N62.78b making a total of N207.94b ($1.36b). The calculation did not include the fact that the principal officers are paid differently. At least, Mr. Dimeji Bankole, the former Speaker owned up to taking N100m every quarter.
So, what can N207.94b ($1.36b) do if not stolen by the legislators?
·         It can build a 1360MW Power Plant which Nigeria badly need
·         It can pay the debated minimum wage of N18,000 to 240,671 workers  for 4 years
·         It can buy about 52 Net buildings (Nigerian tallest building). The Bankoles paid N4b for the building
·         It’s enough capital to start 8 new banks at N25b each
·         It can build 20,794 small housing units at N10m each
·         It can build a mix of any other thing that you can imagine here like airports, universities, 5-star hotels, railways system, hospitals, universities and a holiday town.
Is CBN different from other government agencies in this reckless spending? NO!
It could be recalled that at the heath of the Senate’s altercation with Sanusi, the lawmakers revealed that the CBN alone had a budget of N320billion ($2.09b) in 2010. This figure showed that in the entire world wide financial web, only the US Federal Reserve had a bigger budget at $3.22b. Bank of England (BoE) actually spent £271.4m ($446m) during the same period. The BoE’s budget is 21% of the CBN’s not withstanding that the UK’s economy is almost six times as big as Nigeria’s.
A claim by Abdullahi Mohammed, the head, Corporate Communications of the CBN that the apex bank spends a whopping N150 billion annually to print naira notes is also causing one to wonder if the notes are gold encrusted. This figure is not only outrageous but scandalous.
It is sad that governance has been reduced to a comical level where in this austere time, a governor like Owelle Rochas Okorocha of Imo state whose election was welcome with a wild Jubilation by all and sundry in the state as a break from the sad past would go ahead to appoint about 70 political aides. One of such was the appointment of Uche Ogbuagu as Chief Comedian of Imo state. I doubt if such office exists anywhere else in the world. Do you know any? With an appointment like this, no one is a better chief comedian of Imo state than Owelle himself.
Matter Arising: Since the first part of this series was published last Monday, here are a few developments:
National Assembly: Last Thursday, 29 July 2011, the Nigerian Senate and the House of Representatives proceeded on a six-week summer holiday that will last till 12 September 2011. You would remember that they went on a three-week recess immediately after their inauguration from 7 June 2011 to 28 June2011. With another three or four -week Xmas/New year recess waiting, the National Assembly will be having at least 12 weeks holiday in 6 months.  This has certainly made their work the easiest on earth and any lazy man’s dream! 
Overpaid and underworked! We now have one more reason to demand for a part-time Legislature.  I assume we’ve already had one! Haven’t we? We could as well seek a unicameral legislature as obtained in places like China, Sweden, New Zealand, Ukraine, Ghana and most African nations
Tenure Elongation: On Tuesday, 26 July 2011, President Goodluck Jonathan communicated his plan to send a bill to the National Assembly for a single six-year term for President and governors.  In a typical Nigerian way, he articulated his ‘good reasons’ while the change is necessary, the chief of which is the fact  that political violence was always caused, by the resolve of the incumbent governors and president to seek re-election and that it will take effect from 2015 and so he will be not benefit from it.
Good as the reasons sounded, Nigerian have got more than enough reasons to be suspicious of their leaders’ moves. Successive governments have always had good reasons for every bad action.
According to C.V.Akuta, in one of his briefs, “the true cause(s) of political violence is the lack of transparence in our political processes and injustice in Nigeria. Single term of 7, 8, or 9 years will not solve the matter until there is complete transparency, fairness, honesty and justice, in the system. In addition, the level of corruption is more than capable to cause political unrest.”
President Jonathan’s credibility problem is an issue. If in the face of election, he could claim that there was no zoning in PDP, how would Nigerians trust that his motive is not selfish, after all, he is still eligible to contest in 2015 under the existing law. If only the bill can expressly exclude any former president, then, it will be viable.
Rotimi Amaechi to buy another $48m jet: In the world where some presidents and prime ministers of many progressive countries including the UK do not own executive jets, the River state governor is set to buy a $48m jet. Amaechi was known for accusing Peter Odili for using state funds to buy 3 jets. He sold one off to Cross Rivers state for $9m and now wants to replace it with one that cost $48m (about N7.5b) because the other ones are too small for him.
N7.5b can pay 8680 workers the N18,000 minimum wage for 4 year. Amaechi is the chairman of the governors’ forum that is saying that they cannot afford to pay the amount. Just think about, where does he want to fly to? A Helicopter would have made more sense.