Deficit commission out of money?

posted at 10:55 am on June 7, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Today’s Someone Left the Irony On Award goes to the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, better known as the Deficit Commission.  Barack Obama created the panel ostensibly to reach some kind of bipartisan consensus on reducing the federal deficit; a better title may have been the Accountability Avoidance Commission, since it owes its existence to the need for Obama to avoid political blame for the massive tax hikes he needs to fund his nanny-state agenda.  Even before they get to that stage, however, they have already proven that government naturally inclines towards unthinking growth and irresponsibility, as the Tax Prof discovered at Tax Analysts:

Saddled with a tight deadline and great expectations, members of President Obama’s deficit reduction commission say they may not have the resources necessary to meet their task.

The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, which the president created through an executive order in February, is charged with developing a plan by December 1 that would stabilize the budget deficit by 2015 and reduce the federal debt over the long term. The group is widely expected to consider a combination of tax reforms and spending cuts.

But despite the weighty demands, the panel has only a fraction of the staff and budget of standing congressional committees. The panel’s own cochairs and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., have criticized the meager resources and called for more support. …

According to fiscal commission staffers, there are 10 to 15 people who work for the commission, including two full-time employees, interns, employees “borrowed” from other agencies such as the Office of Management and Budget and the Treasury Department, and special government employees, who are expected to work no more than 130 days in a calendar year. The number of workers will likely grow to around 20 by midsummer.

The White House has set aside the resources to provide the equivalent of four full-time salaries and $500,000 in operating costs for the commission, fiscal commission Executive Director Bruce Reed told Tax Analysts.

The commission has as many as 15 employees, two full-time, for their work.  Congress has allocated $500,000 in operating costs apart from the four full-time employees for the life of the panel, which produces its report on December 1.  That is about $50,000 per month to analyze the federal budget and develop proposals for cuts, based on having an unpaid commission full of supposed experts in this field.  I ran a call center of 45 people with a budget just over four times that much, which included the salaries and a lot of costs that the Deficit Commission won’t have to address, such as phone lines, rent, capital depreciation, and so on.

This is a microcosm of the very problem that the commission is supposed to fix, and the reaction from Washington pols is priceless for understanding it.  The gripe from Harry Reid is that the staffing doesn’t match that of Congressional panels, such as the House Ways and Means Committee.  That panel employs 90 staffers and spent over $8 million in FY2009.  Ninety staffers equals more than 20% of the entire Congress.  Maybe the problem isn’t that the NCFRR doesn’t have enough people, but that Ways and Means spends way beyond our means.  In fact, the entire federal government spends way beyond our means, and we can thank the Democrats who added over a trillion dollars in annual federal spending in just three short years for that, increasing the budget by 40% during their control of Congress.

Meanwhile, let’s just savor the irony of a deficit commission that couldn’t get halfway to its goal without running its own deficits.


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lol

visions on June 7, 2010 at 10:56 AM

Keep voting democrat!

Inanemergencydial on June 7, 2010 at 10:57 AM

They can just print more, right? That can’t possibly have any negative consequences.

Good Solid B-Plus on June 7, 2010 at 10:59 AM

special government employees, who are expected to work no more than 130 days in a calendar year

Excuse me?! Those better be part-time workers who are paid as such.

Doughboy on June 7, 2010 at 11:00 AM

I want to laugh, but i just don’t have it in me.

heshtesh on June 7, 2010 at 11:01 AM

Why doesn’t Obama use volunteers?

How about having a real economist on the panel instead of flakes from Hawvud and other left wing puppy mills?

seven on June 7, 2010 at 11:01 AM

Wow, where does one get one of these ‘expected to work no more than 130 days in a calendar year’ government jobs? Do you have to threaten to run against an incumbent Democrat Congressperson before you can be offered one of those gigs?

Midas on June 7, 2010 at 11:02 AM

Meanwhile, let’s just savor the irony of a deficit commission that couldn’t get halfway to its goal without running its own deficits.

heh

love it…

another solid B+ for this admin/

cmsinaz on June 7, 2010 at 11:02 AM

Arnold said that he would loan sell them some I.O.U.’s he has.

right2bright on June 7, 2010 at 11:03 AM

I am beyond laughing. I am crying and thikning of the ones who died for us to have the rights we have.As our grandfathers die off, so goes our freedoms they fought so hard or us to keep.

johnnyU on June 7, 2010 at 11:04 AM

Hysterical.

milwife88 on June 7, 2010 at 11:04 AM

I remember a time, when I was a young lad, that I would have to look for things to find wrong with our political system. Now they just jump out and smack me in the face.

Sgt Steve on June 7, 2010 at 11:05 AM

Free advice.

Department Heads and Cabinet members: cut budgets by 3% and continue until deficit paid off.

free.

ted c on June 7, 2010 at 11:07 AM

Hey, Obama, there is a “black” man who is an economist, who is brilliant who could help you out…just a phone call and he would straighten everything out for you in just a couple of months…and we would be on our road to financial stability.
Rely on this man, and you can save the country…plus he is “black”, not exactly one of your “peeps”, but he has the right stuff.
Follow his advice and you will be guaranteed re-election.

Obama, here is his website.

right2bright on June 7, 2010 at 11:09 AM

That is about $50,000 per month to analyze the federal budget and develop proposals for cuts, based on having an unpaid commission full of supposed experts in this field.

I’m beginning to think the task is like cleaning a house (or moving out of one): at some point, it is more useful to think in terms of what you are keeping than what you are throwing away. Start with nothing, and stop adding stuff when you run out of room.

Count to 10 on June 7, 2010 at 11:09 AM

They could have just gotten together one afternoon, spent $100 bucks on coffee drinks for everyone, another $100 on pastries and spent five minutes to say, “raise taxes”.

myrenovations on June 7, 2010 at 11:11 AM

Here’s one suggestion:
Abolish the Department of Education. Not a federal responsibility. Return its budget to the states who can use the money for teachers rather than bureaucrats.

rbj on June 7, 2010 at 11:12 AM

I’d like to say I’m shocked, but frankly… it’s just another episode of the Obama Amateur Hour.

Murf76 on June 7, 2010 at 11:14 AM

In fact, the entire federal government spends way beyond our means, and we can thank the Democrats who added over a trillion dollars in annual federal spending in just three short years for that, increasing the budget by 40% during their control of Congress.

I think this is the key everyone keeps missing. If you check the Deficit charts under Bush is was shrinking until around 2008. Dems took over in 2006, which means their 2007 budget took effect in 2008. It was no longer a Bush Budget, it was the Dems budget.

I know it is easier to make charts that show budgets for Presidents, but I would love to see a chart of Budgets when Republicans control Senate and Congress, When it is split, and when Dems control both. Also show the budgets when one controls all 3.

WoosterOh on June 7, 2010 at 11:14 AM

I am beyond laughing. I am crying and thinking of the ones who died for us to have the rights we have. As our grandfathers die off, so goes our freedoms they fought so hard or us to keep.
johnnyU on June 7, 2010 at 11:04 AM

It’s our turn to defend those freedoms, this can be our finest hour, we can show that the failed ideology of Statism for what it is once and for all and bury it In the ash heap of history with a warning as it’s headstone.

Chip on June 7, 2010 at 11:15 AM

Here’s one suggestion:
Abolish the Department of Education. Not a federal responsibility. Return its budget to the states who can use the money for teachers rather than bureaucrats.

rbj on June 7, 2010 at 11:12 AM
And then eliminate the Dept. of Energy, created by Carter in the 70′s to reduce our need to import oil.

bopbottle on June 7, 2010 at 11:15 AM

This just in….

President Obama has created an oversight commission to assist the Deficit Commission in completion of its tasks within assigned resources. The Deficit Commission Deficit Commission is formally known as “Deficit Underfunding Management Bipartisan Association for Special Support”, or D.U.M.B.A.S.S.

olesparkie on June 7, 2010 at 11:15 AM

Geez….I feel like we are just screwed.

Oil Can on June 7, 2010 at 11:17 AM

“Maybe the problem isn’t that the NCFRR doesn’t have enough people, but that Ways and Means spends way beyond our means.”

This is a classic case of, in contemorary terms, one might call Hot Fuzz. No one in Washington wants some group to have a productivity 10% more than the average, much less 6 times that of other groups.

BTW, that paltry $500K doesn’t even cover meals and travel!

Dusty on June 7, 2010 at 11:19 AM

Obama will make it all better:
http://sweasel.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/unicorn.jpg

Abby Adams on June 7, 2010 at 11:20 AM

” Spending Beyond Our Means ”

Could that be the problem?

old trooper2 on June 7, 2010 at 11:20 AM

So, basically they don’t have enough money to think about how to reduce the deficit.

I’ll volunteer some ideas for free: Close the Dept of Education, close the EPA, close the Dept of Agriculture, close HUD.

Vashta.Nerada on June 7, 2010 at 11:21 AM

Sure but there is no way a giant, faceless, byzantine scheme such as ObamaCare will ever mismanage or run out of funds.

Bishop on June 7, 2010 at 11:22 AM

They only have 15 people? FLOTUS has a staff of 22 to assist her personally, gardeners and chefs running around the WH.

Priorities, priorities….

Cody1991 on June 7, 2010 at 11:23 AM

Why is it that when I look at that screen cap of ObaMao, I think of the term “cheese eating surrender monkey”?

onlineanalyst on June 7, 2010 at 11:24 AM

This just in….

President Obama has created an oversight commission to assist the Deficit Commission in completion of its tasks within assigned resources. The Deficit Commission Deficit Commission is formally known as “Deficit Underfunding Management Bipartisan Association for Special Support”, or D.U.M.B.A.S.S.

olesparkie on June 7, 2010 at 11:15 AM

EXCELLENT

RUReadingthis on June 7, 2010 at 11:24 AM

[rbj on June 7, 2010 at 11:12 AM]

I agree, though as a sop to the DC bureacratic crowd, I suggest a DOE consisting of a Internet forum for state sharing of ideas maintained by four computer geeks.

Dusty on June 7, 2010 at 11:24 AM

I wake up hearing the line from the “country” comedian looping through my mid: “You can’t fix stupid”.

Many people think the only thing we need to do to fix the problem of Washington DC, is vote Republican. Or Conservative. Or Libertarian. Or Something. The cold, hard, glaring fact is that none of the above will “fix” the problem. The problem is deeply entrenched in education, media, and especially government bureaucracy at ALL levels, not just Federal. [Personal disclaimer: I spent part of my career employed by some of those bureaucracies.] If this Republic is to be kept, and restored, people are going to need to realize that at the core, our problem is moral, not political. Not religious. Not economic. Not intellectual. Maybe it’s time for everyone who yearns for liberty to re-read our nations foundational documents. And finish off your reading with Alexander de Tocqueville who, 175 years ago wrote of Christians:

“Each sect adores the Deity in its own peculiar manner, but all sects preach the same moral law in the name of God…. Moreover, all the sects of the United States are comprised within the great unity of Christianity, and Christian morality is everywhere the same.
In the United States the sovereign authority is religious,… there is no country in the world where the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America, and there can be no greater proof of its utility and of its conformity to human nature than that its influence is powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth.” (emphasis mine)

As Terry Paulson wrote today:

“Thomas Jefferson said that schools should focus on reading, writing, arithmetic, geometry, and the “outlines” of history and geography in an effort to help every citizen have the information he needs to be successful in his own business; improve, by reading, his morals and faculties; understand his duties to his neighbors and country; and to know his rights.”

About the only thing students know upon graduation is that they have “rights”.

oldleprechaun on June 7, 2010 at 11:24 AM

Okay this is funny – it’s not supposed to be funny but it really is

gophergirl on June 7, 2010 at 11:24 AM

Yes, because figuring out that it’s best not to spend more money than one actually has is so damn complicated. What do you suppose their recommendations will be? Spend less? Pay down the debt? My, that will be groundbreaking.

Well, I suppose once they’re all done they can move on to establishing a commission to determine how best to boil water.

Rational Thought on June 7, 2010 at 11:24 AM

That picture of bo for this is “priceless”.

tim c on June 7, 2010 at 11:27 AM

I want to laugh, but i just don’t have it in me.

heshtesh on June 7, 2010 at 11:01 AM

It’s a joke alright but the joke is on us, the American taxpayer.

Yakko77 on June 7, 2010 at 11:28 AM

The Deficit Commission Deficit Commission is formally known as “Deficit Underfunding Management Bipartisan Association for Special Support”, or D.U.M.B.A.S.S.

olesparkie on June 7, 2010 at 11:15 AM

hehe! +13 trillion

ted c on June 7, 2010 at 11:29 AM

Don’t worry, we’ll print more.

Daggett on June 7, 2010 at 11:31 AM

Congress needs to reduce their “staff” by 50% and do the job they were elected to do, not have a staffer do it for them.

Tom

marinetbryant on June 7, 2010 at 11:31 AM

{Vashta.Nerada on June 7, 2010 at 11:21 AM}

DOE(nergy) and NEA …

Dusty on June 7, 2010 at 11:35 AM

haha Dems need many more staff to figure how to spend less money????

Couldn’t one TeaPartier figure his out?

faraway on June 7, 2010 at 11:35 AM

It an Ayn Rand kind of day, so here goes: at a cost of zero dollars, I have the answer to reduce the deficit and improve the economy:

“Get the Hell out of the way!”

Sgt Steve on June 7, 2010 at 11:35 AM

I have an idea that won’t cost anything.

Cut the White House staff by 75%.

Cut Congressional Staff by 90%.

Get rid of the Dept of Education, the Dept of Commerce, the Dept of Agriculture, the Dept of Labor, the EPA, the Post Office and the Dept of Energy. Fire 100% of the employees and sell the buildings, the land and everything including desk chairs.

Defund the UN. Let third-world hellholes wail about Israel on their own dime and locate the HQ in Yemen where it belongs.

See? That didn’t cost a dime.

NoDonkey on June 7, 2010 at 11:36 AM

there is a singular trajectory for government and government spending—and that is up. the only change is the slope–

horrifying.

ted c on June 7, 2010 at 11:36 AM

Competence, thy name is Barry.

Cicero43 on June 7, 2010 at 11:37 AM

haha Dems need many more staff to figure how to spend less money????

Couldn’t one TeaPartier figure his out?

faraway on June 7, 2010 at 11:35 AM

boy, aren’t they sure smart? we should be thanking them? or dragging them behind a truck….

ted c on June 7, 2010 at 11:38 AM

Congress needs to reduce their “staff” by 50% and do the job they were elected to do, not have a staffer do it for them.

Most Congressmen couldn’t use the toilet without the assistance of five staffers.

Great – we can remove them by attrition then.

Dysentery and cholera are smarter than the voters.

NoDonkey on June 7, 2010 at 11:38 AM

Pass a law that all Federal spending must be fully funded, or it’s canceled. Allow up to 180 days max for passage of tax legislation.

Everything. Wars. Social Security. Everything.

faraway on June 7, 2010 at 11:39 AM

NoDonkey on June 7, 2010 at 11:36 AM

Yes, and let’s move the Federal Gov’t. to some tiny town in North Dakota where the only accommodations are a Motel 6. They can meet during the months of January through March, complete their business and go home to face their constituents.

Cody1991 on June 7, 2010 at 11:40 AM

Interns are unpaid, so how is that a valid expense?

How is there an expense for people already employed in the government to work in a different group?

Does every committee need to move to new offices, they cant use existing offices (and repurpose existing office staff/equipment?).

How can any intelligent person think that MORE government is better all things considered? What the hell happened to our world?

Neo on June 7, 2010 at 11:42 AM

It’s like that joke, “The Monthly Procrastinator’s Meeting Will Be Postponed.” Only our deficits are no joke.

Daggett on June 7, 2010 at 11:48 AM

Interns are unpaid, so how is that a valid expense?

While they may not draw a salary, you have to pay them to keep their mouths shut.

Daggett on June 7, 2010 at 11:48 AM

L M A O R O T F F! ! !

GarandFan on June 7, 2010 at 11:52 AM

OK. There’s possibilities.

NoDonkey/Cody1991 in 2012.

Or maybe,

Cody1991/NoDonkey in 2012.

oldleprechaun on June 7, 2010 at 11:53 AM

Should start a new reoccurring post called “Ironic Monday”.

DFCtomm on June 7, 2010 at 11:53 AM

Classic!

steveegg on June 7, 2010 at 11:54 AM

Why is it that when I look at that screen cap of ObaMao, I think of the term “cheese eating surrender monkey”?

onlineanalyst on June 7, 2010 at 11:24 AM

RACIST

fossten on June 7, 2010 at 11:56 AM

Yes, and let’s move the Federal Gov’t. to some tiny town in North Dakota where the only accommodations are a Motel 6. They can meet during the months of January through March, complete their business and go home to face their constituents.

Cody1991 on June 7, 2010 at 11:40 AM

You read The Probability Broach, didn’t you.

fossten on June 7, 2010 at 11:57 AM

Congress needs to reduce their “staff” by 50% and do the job they were elected to do, not have a staffer do it for them.

Tom

marinetbryant on June 7, 2010 at 11:31 AM

The idea that congress can multitask was stupid!

tim c on June 7, 2010 at 11:57 AM

While they’re figuring out how to fleece taxpayers without instigating civil unrest here is an example of why this silly Deficit Comm. should disband and go home. It’s pointless while we an administration and Congress that support more bailouts – including Europe. Fortunately someone is objecting:

Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers Reponds To IMF Statement Europe Bailout Will Cost US Taxpayers $100 Billion+

Last week we pointed out a very troubling statement by the head of IMF’s policy-steering committee, Youssef Boutros-Ghali who said that the IMF is essentially insolvent in its current form of being the go to backstop for a European bailout. “If we are going to start including funds made available to Europe, then the IMF is not properly resourced.” Finally, someone in Washington is waking up over the most recent bottomless moneyhole, now affectionately known as Euro-TARP, and the hundreds of billions this will cost US taxpayers.

From the just released statement by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA):

McMorris Rodgers Responds to Statement by IMF Leader Suggesting that European Bailout Will Cost U.S. Taxpayers $100 Billion or More

“Obama Administration Needs to Stand Up for U.S. Taxpayers”

Washington, DC – Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Vice Chair of the House Republican Conference, called a statement by one of the leaders of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) suggesting that American taxpayers would be forced to spend $100 billion to help bailout Europe “extremely troubling.”

On Friday, June 4, the chairman of the IMF’s policy committee, Youssef Boutros-Ghali, said the IMF’s financial reserves would have to rise “very significantly” in the wake of the IMF’s $335 billion commitment to bailout Greece and the European Union. “If we are going to start including funds made available to Europe, then the IMF is not properly resourced,” said Mr. Boutros-Ghali, while adding that IMF members were talking of doubling the amount of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs). In 2009, the IMF increased its SDR allocation from $34 billion to $318 billion. To help facilitate this process, the U.S. Congress – over the objection of most House Republicans – increased America’s commitment to the IMF by $100 billion. If the SDR allocation needs to be doubled – as Mr. Boutros-Ghali claims – that would mean U.S. taxpayers would probably be on the hook for an additional $100 billion, if not more. [emphasis ours]

“This should give pause to Treasury Secretary Geithner and others who boasted that the IMF’s bailout bonanza wouldn’t cost U.S. taxpayers a dime,” said Rep. McMorris Rodgers. “In truth, the cost to U.S. taxpayers goes up every few weeks. After the Greek bailout, it stood at about $7 billion; after the EU bailout, it stood at about $60 billion. Now – based on Mr. Boutros-Ghali’s comments – we’re talking at possibly $100 billion or more. This has got to stop.”

http://www.zerohedge.com/article/congresswoman-mcmorris-rodgers-reponds-imf-statement-europe-bailout-will-cost-us-taxpayers-1

Cody1991 on June 7, 2010 at 12:01 PM

…including…interns…

I thought Teh One banned internships.

Oh, that’s right, only in the private sector.

Interns for me but not for thee!

pain train on June 7, 2010 at 12:04 PM

This administration is not a joke, it’s a catastrophic nightmare.

scalleywag on June 7, 2010 at 12:16 PM

Congress needs to reduce their “staff” by 50% and do the job they were elected to do, not have a staffer do it for them.

Tom

marinetbryant on June 7, 2010 at 11:31 AM

Please, if congress does anything else this year we’re doomed!

scalleywag on June 7, 2010 at 12:19 PM

“Deficit Underfunding Management Bipartisan Association for Special Support”, or D.U.M.B.A.S.S.

olesparkie on June 7, 2010 at 11:15 AM

DAMMIT! I was drinking some nice, tasty coffee when I read that!

ExpressoBold on June 7, 2010 at 12:20 PM

Interns are unpaid, so how is that a valid expense?

Cigars and dry cleaning can get pricey.

BobMbx on June 7, 2010 at 12:23 PM

Youssef Boutros-Ghali

Related to Boutros Boutros-Ghali or just “from the same village?”

ExpressoBold on June 7, 2010 at 12:31 PM

Let’s just watch for another White House elite Party.

mobydutch on June 7, 2010 at 12:34 PM

oldleprechaun on June 7, 2010 at 11:53 AM

I’ll take the VP spot.

I like cocktail parties, wakes and ball games because they all have open bars.

But I still have the vision thing, kinda.

NoDonkey on June 7, 2010 at 12:38 PM

NoDonkey on June 7, 2010 at 12:38 PM

VP. Check. But I don’t think anybody in government works less. Be forewarned, however. By mid-term doctors may not be able to detect any brain activity. Look at our current example.

oldleprechaun on June 7, 2010 at 1:45 PM

Private planes, cars, meetings in golf resorts. Yeah, Smart Power!

Kissmygrits on June 7, 2010 at 1:59 PM

…Ways and Means spends way beyond our means.

Well played, Ed.

KS Rex on June 7, 2010 at 2:47 PM

Anyone know where I can get a new Irony Gage?

Mine just exploded.

franksalterego on June 7, 2010 at 3:16 PM

This is frakking poetic.

Cylor on June 7, 2010 at 3:34 PM

Check Andy Sterns pockets!!!

wtng2fish on June 7, 2010 at 4:05 PM

According to fiscal commission staffers, there are 10 to 15 people who work for the commission, including two full-time employees, interns, employees “borrowed” from other agencies such as the Office of Management and Budget and the Treasury Department, and special government employees, who are expected to work no more than 130 days in a calendar year. The number of workers will likely grow to around 20 by midsummer.
The White House has set aside the resources to provide the equivalent of four full-time salaries and $500,000 in operating costs for the commission, fiscal commission Executive Director Bruce Reed told Tax Analysts.

So, for $500K, 20 people are supposed to work for 130 days, or an average of $192.31 per person per day. If they work 8 hours a day (like most people, but Congress works less), that’s $24.04 per hour, somewhere around the starting salary for an inexperienced teacher in many towns.

But this panel of whiz-bang expert geniuses are expected to solve problems involving trillion-dollar budgets, that somehow 535 members of Congress with thousands of full-time staffers couldn’t figure out. Maybe they just don’t have the time or money to really crunch the numbers, or could earn much more than $24 an hour in the private sector, so why bother?

Given the size of the deficit (over a trillion dollars), this commission is under-funded, the equivalent of paying a small-business CEO 50 cents to manage a $1-million budget.

My recommendation: give the commission 10 times the money and 5 times the staff, and move the deadline up to October 1, so that WE THE TAXPAYERS AND VOTERS can judge their work.

Steve Z on June 7, 2010 at 4:40 PM