Republican budget writers say they may have found a way to cut the federal
deficit even if they borrow hundreds of billions more to overhaul the Social
Security system: Don’t count all that new borrowing.
As they lay the groundwork for what will probably be a controversial fight
over Social Security, Republican lawmakers and the Bush administration are
examining a number of accounting strategies that would allow the expensive
transition to a partially privatized Social Security system without — at
least on paper — expanding the country’s record annual budget deficits. The
strategies include, for example, moving the costs of Social Security reform
“off-budget” so they are not counted against the government’s yearly
They include treating the cost of Social Security reform not as a present-day
expenses, but more as a prepaid benefit for future retirees that should not
be counted against current deficits. Or they may take the costs “off-budget,”
meaning Social Security spending would not be included in the calculation of
the annual budget deficit.
“Freegans” and other
foragers have a lot to work with.
According to a decade-long study
by University of Arizona anthropologist Timothy Jones, some 40–50% of the
edible food produced in the United States never gets eaten — a figure that
includes everything from food left to rot in the fields where it grows, to
food spoiled in transport, to the last couple of inches of milk in the carton
in your fridge that’s gone sour.
According to Jones, the average household wastes 14% of the food it buys,
meaning that over the course of a year the typical family of four spends about
$600 on food that it throws away without eating.
The giant spending bill that Congress passed on Saturday eliminated money for
developing new nuclear weapons, including one that would be used to destroy
underground bunkers. It also deeply cut the Bush administration’s request for
money for a new factory to make the triggers for nuclear bombs.
One of the projects eliminated was the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator,
widely known as the bunker buster; the administration had wanted $27.6
million for the program.…
Another program that was cut back was the advanced concepts initiative, which
was also apparently for new weapons, although details were not made public.
It was also supposed to provide meaningful work for young weapons designers
after years of the United States’ relying on old designs, nuclear experts
Representative Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, and a sponsor of
amendments in to
kill the bunker buster, proclaimed the cut as “the biggest victory that arms
control advocates in Congress have had ,” when limits were put on nuclear testing. All of
Mr. Markey’s amendments failed, but the votes
were increasingly close, the last one 214 to 204.
Stopping this new nuclear weapons funding has been a big priority for the
group California Peace
Action, which I’m not active in myself but whose mailing list I’m on. It’s
a rare and welcome example of a group like this being able to declare a clear
victory in a hard-fought battle. Congratulations!
Julian Sanchez of Reason
hops on the
omnibus with an informative and good-humored bit about how our money
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