Federal Deficit Research

Some research notes on the Federal Deficit

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New Revenue: The plan, which relies on roughly equal parts revenue increases and spending cuts, proposes removing the cap on the employer side of the payroll tax, which raises about $76 billion in 2015; imposing a new fee of $5 per barrel on foreign oil imports, to raise about $22 billion; and applying a new surtax of 2 percent to adjusted gross income above $1 million, and an additional 3 percent to adjusted gross income above $10 million, to raise about $29 billion. These increases would raise federal revenue to about 19.8 percent of GDP, which is higher than it was under the Bush administration, but lower than when President Clinton brought the budget into surplus.

Spending Cuts: The plan also lays out about $128 billion in total spending cuts in 2015, including about $60 billion in defense spending cuts, $35 billion in tax expenditures (which are essentially spending programs that are administered through the tax code), and $12 billion in non-defense discretionary cuts. The plan would also cut $3.8 billion from in agricultural subsidies and index all relevant federal programs to the chained Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers, which would result in “slower increases to those aspects of the code that are indexed.”

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  • From the Congressional Budget Office is this report with the following chart showing how Medicare costs are going to drive future budget problems:

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  • The NY Times has an interactive application to let you play with federal budget numbers (check the boxes to enact it). I don’t quite agree with the it. For example, eliminating ear marks would not reduce the deficit. Also, the consequences are not identified such as how many people people would be affected. Heather Thorn explains why it’s not so easy (e.g. “yes, balancing the budget is easy. Provided you never need to run for election yourself.”)

  • Here is an older calculator that lets you fix the budget entirely by assuming our per capita health care costs match other industrialized countries.

Mac OS X Server: iChat Service Re-inititialization

If there’s ever trouble with iChat server and ServerAdmin doesn’t let you do anything, you can fix things up based on this Apple Support article:

This can occur if the /Library/Preferences/ichatserver.plist file has been deleted or is problematic. If the com.apple.ichatserver.plist file is deleted a new default version of this plist will be created.

$ sudo /usr/libexec/PlistBuddy -c "Set :initialized true" /Library/Preferences/com.apple.ichatserver.plist

Refresh the Server Admin view for the iChat service. The Start button should now appear and the service should be configurable.

You can reset the iChat database with (you should make sure you have a backup!):

$ sudo rm -rf /private/var/jabberd/sqlite
$ sudo /usr/libexec/ichatserver_init_tool -i

Virus that targeted Iranian nuclear sites

Based on [this](http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/11/26/secret-agent-crippled-irans-nuclear-ambitions/) article it sounds like some really talented developers (NSA) wrote a virus that targetted specific computers in Iran and had enough knowledge to target specific computer controlled equipment.

At Natanz, for almost 17 months, Stuxnet quietly worked its way into the system and targeted a specific component — the frequency converters made by the German equipment manufacturer Siemens that regulated the speed of the spinning centrifuges used to create nuclear fuel. The worm then took control of the speed at which the centrifuges spun, making them turn so fast in a quick burst that they would be damaged but not destroyed. And at the same time, the worm masked that change in speed from being discovered at the centrifuges’ control panel.