Draconian budget proposals aimed at the poor



President Trump’s proposal to cut federal spending by more than $3.6 trillion over the next decade — including deep reductions for programs that help the poor — faced harsh criticism in Congress on Tuesday, where even many Republicans said the White House had gone too far.

While some fiscally conservative lawmakers, particularly in the House, found a lot to praise in Trump’s plan to balance the budget within 10 years, most Republicans flatly rejected the White House proposal. The divide sets up a clash between House conservatives and a growing number of Senate Republicans who would rather work with Democrats on a spending deal than entertain Trump’s deep cuts.

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BOCS budget work session: Saturday February 21, 2015

This budget work session is extremely informative about the various county initiatives.  It is important enough that it deserves its own thread.

Why are these programs essential?  Which programs have perhaps outlived their usefulness?

First, the BOCS should be commended for sitting in the board room to do this exercise, even though there were more comfortable places to hold this session.  The board room is the only place to have the meeting televised.

I am very disappointed that Supervisors Candland and Lawson aren’t voting on line items.  They disapproved of the process so they are currently abstaining from voting.  They didn’t get their own way.

The budget work session is preliminary screening.  It isn’t a forever vote.   I feel not voting is obstructionism.  Let’s all see how EVERYONE votes.

Hopefully we will keep getting reports from inside the meeting. The board room is not packed to the gills.  (from what I can tell.)  Good crowd but I see several open seats.

WTF? 1.3% –The shame of Prince William County

Or let’s put it another way–Prince William County, you cheap bastards.

Today I listened to the budget presentation from the  Tuesday night BOCS meeting. I was appalled.  Tonight I looked at it online.   The new budget sickened me.

Prince William County is not a poor county made up of poor folks.  It is quite wealthy and has a lot going for it.    It’s also, by Northern Virginia standards, a fairly affordable place to live.  So why are some people, especially those in my district, clamoring for lower taxes?

For that matter, why would our Board of Supervisors agree to make libraries the untouchables in a draconian budget slashing caper?  Why would money be taken away from the performing arts? Why would poor children be denied dental services and drug rehab programs be eradicated?  It isn’t even our poor and most vulnerable who will lose services.  It’s everyone.

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Who’s the wealthiest of them all?

From Forbes:

Rank County State Median Household Income
1 Loudoun County Virginia
2 Howard County Maryland
3 Fairfax County Virginia
4 Hunterdon County New Jersey
5 Arlington County Virginia
6 Stafford County Virginia
7 Putnam County New York
8 Somerset County New Jersey
9 Douglas County Colorado
10 Morris County New Jersey
11 Montgomery County Maryland
12 Prince William County Virginia
13 Nassau County New York
14 Santa Clara County California
15 Charles County Maryland

Prince William County is #12. That’s not too shabby. Half the households make more than $93,744 annually and half make less. Loudoun, of course, puts us to shame with a top median household income of nearly $118,000 per year.

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Predicting Northern Virginia’s future


A pair of loud alarm bells sounded last week for the Washington area’s economy, and political leaders from Richmond to Annapolis should take them seriously.

The warning of immediate concern came Thursday at an annual conference of 750 business and civic leaders in McLean. Economics mavens led by George Mason University professor Steve Fuller presented eye-opening data showing that our region has trailed almost every other major U.S. metropolitan area in job growth for the past three years.

Evidence of sluggishness is all around us, although the public has been slow to take note. Vacant commercial offices in Northern Virginia are at their highest level since 1991. Average wages in the region have dropped for three straight years, an unprecedented decline.
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Manassas Tea Party attempts to snare a Wolfe

arts building                      ballet                    symphony



Washingtonpost.com (Jeremy Borden):

A Manassas City Council member who is the executive director of the Manassas Ballet Theatre voted again Monday to fund the non-profit with $23,000 of city money.

Mark D. Wolfe (R) is the unpaid executive director of the ballet, and his wife, Amy, is paid $50,000 per year, Wolfe said. Last month, Wolfe did not disclose his position in the ballet — although he is well-known locally for that role — before a vote that gave a total of $142,500 to arts and human-services groups, including the ballet.

Wolfe said there was no reason that he could not vote on the funding package. At the request of Mayor Harry “Hal” Parrish II (R) the council took the vote a second time in order to discuss the issue and so that Wolfe could properly disclose his role in the ballet.

The 4-2 vote Monday was the same as in June, with members Marc Aveni (R) and Ian Lovejoy (R) voting against the allocations.

Parrish, who does not generally vote, and other members of the council said Wolfe had made a mistake by not disclosing his position on the ballet.

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Is anyone listening about the deficit?


It looks like we’ve moved to talking about possible scandals just in time, because according to the Congressional Budget Office, the debt disaster that has obsessed the political class for the last three years is pretty much solved, at least for the next 10 years or so.

The last time the CBO estimated our future deficits was February– just four short months ago. Back then, the CBO thought deficits were falling and health-care costs were slowing. Today, the CBO thinks deficits are falling even faster and health-care costs are slowing by even more.


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Sequestration hits the National Parks



National park supervisors are preparing to open roads later, close visitor centers, furlough park police and hire fewer seasonal workers to meet the 5% sequestration budget cuts  mandated  by Congress and President Obama.

National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis issued a memo Friday stating   that about 1,000 fewer seasonal workers will be hired this year, down from 10,000 last year. In a memo to Park Service employees,  he said furloughs should be expected among park police, and that a $12 billion backlog in park maintenance will worsen.

There were an estimated 279 million visitors to national parks in 2011, the last year figures were available. Visitors this year are already seeing sequestration-related cuts; at some sites, the 5% reduction will be less obvious right away:

— The National Capital Region, which oversees parks and Civil War battlefields in and around Washington, D.C., is contemplating everything from less lawn-mowing and garbage pickup in Rock Creek Park to limiting hours of, or closing altogether, the visitor center at Antietam National Battlefield in Maryland, according to Park Service spokeswoman Jennifer Mummart. She said the region may hire only half the 400-450 seasonal employees it normally does.

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Report indicates sequester will have heavy impact on DC area


I keep reading that sequestration is greatly exaggerated and that the cuts coming from sequestration are really nothing to worry about.  Who is doing all this prediction?  Why Republicans of course.  The White House is being accused of fear-mongering  and creating hype and a sky is falling environment.  Why would Republicans say that?  Probably because they know what caused this impasse.  It all goes back to the brinkmanship of the debt ceiling crisis in July 2011.  The sequester was a compromise reached so budge the house Republicans who would not vote to raise the debt ceiling.  The alternative was to  default on our debts.

The defense cuts are just one side of the sequester.  There are also looming cuts that will impact our daily lives.

A state by state report warns of the following if sequestration happens this Friday.  According to the Washington Post:

In the Washington region, hub of the federal government, the upcoming automatic spending cuts the Obama administration detailed Sunday would strike a tough blow, with nearly 150,000 civilian Defense Department employees facing furloughs and an estimated average loss of $7,500 in pay.Read More

7 Legislative days until Sequestration


That’s right, in 7 Legislative days the Sequestration will take place. The Sequestration calls for $500 Billion dollar cuts to Pentagon spending and $700 Billion dollar cuts to non-pentagon spending.

How did we get to such a point with something so dangerous? The truth of the matter is, everyone expected that no one would let it happen.

The road to Sequestration started in July, 2011, when tea party Republicans attempted to block raising the debt ceiling, something which is done under every presidency. That catalyst set a series of unfortunate events into motion. First off, S & P down-graded our credit rating. Not by much, but a little. The stock market took an adverse reaction and many of us lost tens of thousands of dollars.

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BOCS meeting: A post mortem

The PWC Rogues Gallery

Yesterday’s board meeting definitely ended up being a “Sh**-Storm.”  There really is no other way to put it.  To date, the open thread is  the location where it has already been discussed.

I noticed my usual crew was not here.  I know why.  We don’t allow county employees to be beaten up here.  That rule will continue.  They cannot fight back.  However, that does not mean we cannot discuss events that involve them.  There is  a difference in beating someone up and discussing an event.  Politicians are fair game, up to a point.  Politicians  can fight back as we have seen.   I more or less use fact as a standard.

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Here you have it: tax increases for the upper 2%, Paycheck Fairness goes down in flames



Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One on Wednesday that President Obama will not sign an extension.

“He will not. Could I be more clear?” Carney said. “He will not support an extension of the upper-income Bush tax cuts. He could not be more clear.”

Clinton suggested on Tuesday that the cuts on higher-income earners should be extended temporarily to allow the economy more time to heal. But Obama has repeatedly said he wants them to expire as scheduled at the end of this year.

“President Obama has been clear about his position and it has not changed:  We should not extend and he will not extend the tax cuts — the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of the American people,” Carney said Wednesday. “It’s bad policy.  It’s bad for the economy.”

I haven’t figured out why middle class republicans are protecting the upper 2% like it was their own money.   Someone is selling you a bill of goods.  Who is better able to take increase?  You or them?

On another note, while protecting the rich, it seems that the Republicans threw the American women under the bus:

President Obama railed against  a Tuesday Senate vote where the chamber failed to approve the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill designed to Read More

McDonnell targets VRS and higher education for money infusion

Governor McDonald has targetted 2 critical areas for huge cash infusions:  VRS and higher education.  The governor plans to pump over 2.2 Billion into the state pension plan.  He also intends to spend over $200 million over the next two years in higher education.  Both areas are quickly approaching critical mass of not being able to do what they are intended to do.

According to hamptonroads.com:

Gov. Bob McDonnell’s announcements this week that he intends to pour $2.2 billion into the state pension system and boost spending for higher education by $200 million over the next two years are remarkable in two respects.

First, each implicitly acknowledges what nearly everyone in Virginia has long known but pretended isn’t true: The state’s failure to keep up with its obligations has reached a tipping point.

That much has been clear on any number of issues, perhaps none more than on transportation, which McDonnell has begun addressing through debt and public-private partnerships that ensure costly tolls on primary routes in South Hampton Roads.

But a study released earlier this week by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission underscored the bleak future of the Virginia Retirement System and the thousands of state workers counting on it.

The report explained the pension system’s condition as a consequence of multiple factors: the state’s pattern of contributing less each year than recommended, the economic downturn, increasing numbers of retirees and fewer workers taking their place. Analysts have calculated VRS is underfunded by nearly $20 billion.

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Is McDonnell raising taxes?

From the Richmond Times Dispatch:

Gov. Bob McDonnell on Monday unveiled a two-year, $84.9 billion spending plan that balances increases in transportation, higher education and the state’s pension system with $882 million in targeted reductions largely to Medicaid and public education funding. The proposed budget for July 1, 2012, through June 30, 2014, contains no tax increases but raises certain fees, including $10 million worth from the Department of Motor Vehicles.

If fees are increased at the DMV, doesn’t that really constitute a tax increase, by another name? 

Additionally, if items like Medicaid and public education get shortchanged, doesn’t that simply make local governments more strapped for much needed cash?  The real estate market has not rebounded all that much which is where the taxes come from in most localities.  There is also a movement under way to do away with the BPOL tax. 

Somehow politicians need to accept that we are not all that stupid.  We know that neither PWC nor Virginia can print money.  We know that a certain amount of money is needed for schools and for medicaid.  If the buck stops here, we either do without cops and other public safety services or we have 40 kids in a classroom. 

How do you cut back on Medicaid?  Where do you start?  Do you disqualify people?  I don’t know the answers.  It just seems that we are playing a shell game.  The fed cuts what it gives to the states.  The state cuts what it gives to the localities.  The localities have things they must do like provide medicaid, education money and public safety.  So we move it around. 

This is like the song, Where have all the Flowers Gone.  Gone to Flowers everyone.  McDonnell is on Fox News bragging that he has a surplus.  Not really.  How about that money owed to VRS that has not yet been repaid?  How about what is being shorted the localities?  How about the increased fees?  Just because we don’t call it a tax, is it still a tax?  Yup. 

I don’t really care.  I noticed a huge hit since the last time I renewed my license.  I expected it.  But lets call it what it is.  It’s a tax increase called a fee. 



The Future of the Jobs Bill–the direct route

What is Congress doing? Is it so important to destroy a presidency that they are willing to sacrifice a country? Remember the words of Mitch O’Connell when he told us that that Republicans’ top priority during the next two years would be to defeat Obama.

There is no bipartisanship in the House nor in the Senate. Obama needs to recognize that the fist has been offered and he needs to act accordingly. The debt ceiling issue that led to the United States losing its AAA bond rating and the subsequent stock market free fall should have been fair warning. Many of us will not forget.