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Posts Tagged ‘government’

Goodbye and Good Riddance

February 13th, 2014

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The Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship, or LCS, program was dealt a death blow last month when the Pentagon advised the Navy to purchase only 32 of the small, fast and much maligned ships that were originally designed to combat three distinct threats — submarines, mines and groups of small boats.

This was absolutely the right move for at least three reasons.

The first, and most glaring, deficiency of the LCS is that, as a recent Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation report states, the “LCS is not expected to be survivable in high-intensity combat.” While the Pentagon has used similar language in previous reports, the level of detail explaining why the boat wouldn’t survive a real fight is unprecedented.

The report indicates the ship’s vulnerability is inherent in its design. In dry Pentagonese, the LCS  does “not require the inclusion of survivability features necessary to conduct sustained combat operations in a major conflict as expected for the Navy’s other surface combatants.” Thus, despite having “combat” in its name, the LCS is pretty lousy at fighting enemies.

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The Trans-Pacific Partnership: Don’t Forget Canada and Mexico

March 27th, 2013

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This piece was originally published on GE’s “Idea’s Lab” website.

Japan’s recent announcement that it’s seeking to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations has created quite a stir in trade circles.

Adding Japan and its $4 trillion economy to the TPP talks would substantially boost the economic and political importance of any eventual trade deal and create major new export opportunities for the United States and the 10 other TPP countries. But, as Third Way noted in a recent letter to Congressional trade leaders, TPP negotiators also face a huge challenge in assuring that Japan’s strong tradition of shielding its farm, manufacturing, and services sectors doesn’t derail the goal of creating a truly comprehensive, high-standard agreement that broadly opens up Asia-Pacific trade.

Seemingly lost in all the recent buzz about Japan is another important TPP development–the admission of Canada and Mexico to the TPP talks last fall. This less-heralded development is highly significant, particularly for the United States and our producers and workers.

But why? Isn’t the United States already linked to Canada and Mexico under NAFTA? How would the TPP improve things?

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Can GOP blame Obama for the sequester?

February 20th, 2013

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This piece was originally featured on Reuters.

More than 25 years ago, Representative Jack Kemp told me, “In the past, the left had a thesis: spending, redistribution of wealth and deficits. Republicans were the antithesis: spending is bad.”

He went on to explain, “Ronald Reagan represented a breakthrough for our party. We could talk about lower taxes and more growth. We didn’t have to spend all our time preaching austerity and spending cuts. The question now is: Do we take our thesis and move it further, or do we revert to an anti-spending party?”

We now have the answer. Republicans have reverted to an anti-spending party. Their latest cause? Austerity. Their argument? A shrinking economy is better than big government.

President Barack Obama tried to call the Republicans’ bluff in his State of the Union Address. “Deficit reduction alone is not an economic plan,” the president said. He didn’t come out against deficit reduction. He said it should not be given a higher priority than economic growth. There are many reasons why it is important to reduce the national debt. Short-term economic growth is not one of them.

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Progress Report on a Taxpayer Receipt

April 10th, 2012

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“Would you like a receipt for that?” That simple question gives customers trust and confidence in their purchases. With a similar gesture, the federal government could gain some sorely needed trust and confidence from citizens. A taxpayer receipt would be a way to acknowledge citizens’ contributions to the Treasury and show them where their tax dollars go.

That’s why Third Way first proposed the idea in 2008 and released an online taxpayer receipt calculator last year. It helped fuel a flurry of activity over the idea. We have updated our receipt for the 2011 tax year. It lets users enter their income taxes and FICA taxes paid so they can see their contributions to nearly 400 items from the federal budget ranging from the FBI to the salaries of member of Congress. It demonstrates how a taxpayer receipt can show citizens what they are getting for their money.

The taxpayer receipt isn’t law yet, but there’s been lots of activity. Here is an update on the progress to date:

The White House has released its own version of an online taxpayer receipt for the second year in a row. First mentioned by President Obama in his 2011 State of the Union Address, this receipt lets users see where their income taxes in terms of major spending categories like national defense and health care and many subcategories. It accounts separately for the Social Security and Medicare trust funds.

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Reauthorizing the Ex-Im Bank

April 5th, 2012

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This piece was originally posted in The Hill.

Good ideas–ideas that work–should transcend ideological and partisan differences.

For almost 80 years, the Export-Import Bank of the United States has been one such good idea, enjoying broad bipartisan support while effectively promoting job-creating American exports. But the Ex-Im Bank’s work will grind to a halt within weeks without a new authorization. And, without a long-term reauthorization, the Bank’s mission would be seriously undermined, creating great uncertainty for U.S. exporters and their workers.

Rep. Rick Larsen, (D-Wash.), (one of the authors) and Rep. Don Manzullo, (R-Ill.), have introduced the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act of 2012 which would extend the Bank’s authority through 2015 and raise the borrowing authority to $140 billion.

Why should we care? First, the Ex-Im Bank is a self-supporting entity that actually turns an $800 million annual profit for the government. Second, and more important, the Bank supports U.S. exports, and exports have played an increasingly important role in driving stronger American economic growth and much-needed jobs.

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Statement to the Senate Budget Committee

October 4th, 2011

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The following is a statement presented to the U.S. Senate Budget Committee. The video can be viewed here.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the opportunity to testify this morning about improving the budget process. Third Way is a think tank that creates and advances moderate policy and political ideas. We applaud your efforts, Mr. Chairman, and all the members of this committee, to bring the federal deficit and debt under control. We also welcome this hearing on how to improve the budget process and very much appreciate the opportunity to testify.

The father of the modern industrial quality movement, Edwards Deming, once said: “A bad system will beat a good person every time.”

Members of both parties despite their differences want to put our fiscal house in order and give taxpayers good value for their tax dollars. The budgeting process itself often gets in the way of that common goal.

A biennial budget can give good people more opportunities to be good stewards of tax dollars. Every year Congress faces annual battles over how to spend taxpayers’ money, but under the current system these fights leave little time to contemplate how to save it and use it more effectively. Unlike the annual budget process, which Congress rarely completes on time, Congress would be able to devote the second year of a two-year budget cycle to planning, oversight, and streamlining government programs and services. Read the rest of this entry »