Thursday, September 30, 2010

It is worth taking the chance

You want to go to Job Search Jam Sessions but you're waiting for the phone call for that interview.

THAT interview. You know. The one that will land you in the dream job and get you off unemployment.

But you really would like to go to Job Search Jam Sessions. You heard it was such a great time in May.

Folks learned about negotiating, entrepreneurship, networking, resumes and LinkedIn. Someone from the Milford Career Center came to showcase their suite of programs.

It was held in Hopkinton and those who went really liked the event. They asked for more sessions. They asked for a longer day.

Now it is coming on Friday, October 1. A full day with more sessions. And yet, you are waiting for that phone call.

You know, there is a way to solve that. You can register via the link below. You can either pay via credit card or select to pay at the door. If you get the phone call you can cancel out your registration and get a full refund (if you paid via credit card).

This is an easy thing to do. All the organizers know how you feel. Torn, frustrated with waiting. But if the phone call comes, you can get a full refund. We understand. We've been there. Some of us are still there. Your interview, your job search takes priority.

We do want you to register if you think you will be able to go so we can plan for the food accordingly. This operation is running on the little income generated by the registration fees. There are no major corporate sponsors. No one is paying for this. You and I are with our contributions of time and money.

Why? Because we can and should do this. Because we are all in this together and by helping each other. By learning, sharing and networking together, we will find the position that we should. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But we will find it.

Register here to take part. If you do get the call about that interview, let us know and you'll get your full refund.

Register for Job Search Jam Sessions 2 in Hopkinton, MA  on Eventbrite

Franklin, MA

Lincoln Street Construction - Closed Sat 10/2

On Saturday, October 2, 2010, the Franklin Water Department will be working in the roadway near 603 Lincoln Street. The road will be detoured from Brook Street to Daniels Street. Work will begin at 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. Police Details will be on site.
We apologize for any inconvenience that this may cause and thank you in advance for you understanding and cooperation.

The Department of Public Works

Franklin, MA

Town Council - 09/29/10

The live reporting posts from the Town Council meeting on Wednesday, Sep 29 2010 can be found here:

Franklin, MA

Dean College hosts first program of business lecture series October 6

Dean College will host the first in a series of presentations by regional and national business leaders called "Leadership in Action, "  on October 6 at 4 p.m. in the College's Campus Center Atrium. 
The first speaker in this series is Irina Simmons, Senior Vice President and Treasurer of EMC Corporation on October 6, 2010 from 4:00 to 5:00 pm in  the Campus Center Atrium.  
Ms. Simmons will discuss "Leadership & Career Services - A Personal Journey".  Immediately following the lecture, a Women's Networking Reception will be held from 5:00 to 6:00 pm in the Campus Center Atrium.  
The event is free and open to the public.

For other events on the Dean calendar visit

In the News - traffic flow, bake sale, Lincoln St

Franklin to make downtown roads two-way


St. Mary’s women’s club of Franklin sets bake sale

Franklin, MA

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Live reporting - Closing

work on the grant for green underway



Powderly - there was an authorization for money on traffic signals, it is not cash, the authorization was rescinded and it is not available

McGann - We should be looking at our own people first before hiring some person from outside

Nutting - you are not getting all the information, qualifications, past experience, etc. It is a personnel matter and we shouldn't be discussing it.

McGann - if we don't hire from within, it demoralizes the workers here.

Vallee - how long do we wait before a skim coat?
Nutting - every road we do , we let the trench sit at least a winter and then the top coat goes on so it gives the street more integrity

Pfeffer - Stella has a show on Franklin, a series on former selectmen and their decisions

Nutting - it was turned over to the Historical Commission for final painting

Mason - happy birthday to Catherine, who is 16 and I want to embarrass her sufficiently

O. EXECUTIVE SESSION – Negotiations, Litigation, Real Property, as May Be Required

motion to go into executive session, collective bargaining
passed 8-0 (via roll call)

Franklin, MA

Live reporting - traffic, continued

Nutting - the south bound RT 140 traffic will still be a backup, today and the future, everything else will be better

Jones - Safety is the number one issue for me

Vallee - nothing is perfect, the folks were against the change when we went from 2 way to 1 way in the 70's

2. Resolution 10-56: Endorsement of Plan for Two-Way Vehicular Traffic on Emmons, West Central and Main Streets as Element of Downtown Revitalization Project

motion to waive the reading, passed 8-0
motion to approve, passed 8-0

Franklin, MA

Live reporting - presentation on traffic flow

H. PRESENTATIONS/DISCUSSIONS – Downtown Franklin Enhancement Project Proposed Traffic Circulation – Westin & Sampson
Gene Bollinger, Bill Paley (spelling?)

We have been accumulating the grant money since it was awarded in 2004.
A public hearing for the 25% design position, then another for the 75% design, with the hope of getting a shovel in the ground for 2012.
Town Council would have to change the bylaws to change the traffic flow
Intent is to gain the Council endorsement for the traffic changes
This is less intensive than what was done previously
Some property taking is anticipated but nothing major, just strips here and there to enable the crossings and turnings

Interest is to come away with your comments and submit the 25% design to MassDOT
Continue to interact with the public, various department heads, Dean College, Downtown Partnership, etc.

The first board identifies the section of the various projects (HPP and PWED)
The PWED can go sooner as it does not require MassDOT approval.
Utility work already underway to try and compress the overall construction schedule and minimize disruption.
End of curb to end of curb, new or re-surfaced roadways, expanded sidewalks for ADA access.
Light pole, street furnishings, etc.

Traffic circulation would stay as is with the exception of the 1-way to 2-way change on Main St

Emmons, West Central - This intersection offers a level of service B, (A is the top, F is the bottom)
Triangle - This intersection offers a level of service C
all the traffic numbers are based upon the peak period.
Summer St is currently rated an F, it would improve to an A with the light and synchronized with the others
Main St/Emmons - Main would be free flow, Emmons would be stop signed

There are raised tables downtown and near Dean, an elongated speed bump to help the walkers

Signalizing the intersections creates gaps in the traffic where there are no gaps with no signals today

Multiple questions and answers.  This part of the meeting will definitely be better to listen/watch to

3 minute recess

Franklin, MA

Live reporting - Public Hearing - underground utilities

F. HEARINGS - Public Hearing to Consider Removal of Utility Poles, Overhead Wires & Associated Overhead Wires and Associated Overhead Structures in Downtown Area – 7:10 PM

Due to the clerical error, this is part of the hearing. No council vote tonight. The council has another public hearing on Oct 20th and after that, then they will be in a position to vote.

They walked the property doing a sidewalk survey to estimate the potential electrical cost to re-do the feed from the street to the house. Most were in the range of 0-$4,000. 

Those numbers sound rather conservative, once you get inside, the electrical code and updates.
The Town Council has an option to pay none, some or all of it.
The Town should not absorb a penny of this . Why should the tax payers pay for an improvement to their building.

G Smith - 
Nutting - Verizon charge is only on the land line, Comcast is only on the cable bill not on the phone, so it is confusing but the statute was done many years ago. The amounts are projected for the customer base.
G Smith - If the customer has both Verizon and Comcast would pay about $112. If you only have electric, you only would pay $12. There is inequity in this fee schedule. Considering the results of the last override election, it would be a charge against the will of the people

McCarraher - consider that the overhead wires are a hazard to the firefighters. It is a small part, but please look at it from the firefighters safety perspective.

Piana - Downtown Partnership sent letter encouraging this being done now as it is the only opportunity to do so. It is important to the esthetics's of the downtown appearance.

Piana - the majority of the membership do agree, of course, not all do. 

Mason - we are trying to get a consensus. Is there anyone who would like to speak. Any thoughts from the Councilors?

Kelly - The voters did vote down the override, I don't think I would support it at this time.

Jones - the major issue I have with this is the unknown costs for the property owners for what I have counted as a dozen telephone poles.

Vallee - I have mixed feelings about this, I am concerned about the looks, I am concerned about passing the costs to the citizens

Powderly - I am usually for investing in the town but I have a number of concerns about the unknown costs. We have to look at this project in with the other capital needs, we have the high school coming down the road, a large operating deficit, so at this time I don't think I can support putting this on the citizens.

Pfeffer - It was many years ago the Boston Magazine said we were 'seedy'. Since then we have been voted top town to live and top to retire. I don't think we can do it for only a part of the downtown.

Mason - We are always seeking the help of the voters, since there was the vote expressed three months ago with the failed override, I can see how we can do so at this time.

Whalen - the likelihood of needing an overrider for operations next year is good. 

Motion to close the hearing - passed 8-0

Franklin, MA

Live reporting - Town Council

Present: Kelly, Jones, Vallee, Whalen, Mason, Pfeffer, McGann, Powderly
Absent:  Zollo

A. APPROVAL OF MINUTES – September 8, 2010
motion to approve, passed 8-0

-Meetings of the Town Council are Recorded by Verizon, Comcast and Franklin Matters
Veterans Breakfast, Fri Nov 5th at Senior Center, thanks to the generous sponsorship to the Friends of Franklin Elders
Lincoln St detour on Sat Oct 2
Hazardous waste day at Town Hall, Sat Oct 2 (tickets required, call DPW)

- Thermo Environmental Scientific

Capt Gary McCarraher, open house at King St fire station from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM




1. Resolution 10-55: Order of Layout, Acceptance, and Taking of Hemlock Lane and Related Parcels and Easement -
motion to approve,  passed 8-0

3. Resolution 10-57: Scheduling of Public Hearing to Consider Removal of Utility Poles, Overhead Wires, and Associated Overhead Structures in Downtown Area - motion to approve,  passed 8-0

Yes, due to leaving out the section of Main St on the original map, the hearing needs to be formally re-done. An oversight on submission of the map, a mistake on Jeff Nutting's part. 

4. Resolution 10-58: Appropriation to Construct Opticom System on Traffic Signals -  motion to approve,  passed 8-0

using a donation to install the system on the Four Corners interchange
money originally designed for King/Union interchange but since the State is doing so, they are moving down to this interchange.

Franklin, MA

Downtown Traffic Survey says

The results from the survey conducted on the Franklin Downtown Partnership page are in:

Should the Main St traffic pattern be changed from 1-way to 2-way?

No - 99
Yes -  68
Grand Total 167

So 59% against, 41% for.

Only 167 so that is clearly a small sample of Franklin residents and voters.

Thanks to all for your contribution.

Franklin, MA

Franklin Downtown Partnership’s Letter on Underground Utilities

The Board of Directors of the Franklin Downtown Partnership have published a letter to the Town Council endorsing the proposal to put the utilities underground. You can read the full text of the letter here:

The Board also wrote to the Town Council to present their position on the overall Downtown Improvement Project. You can view the context of this letter here:

Franklin, MA

In the News - Franklin schools

Donations pay for several Franklin school programs


Franklin, MA

To get kids eating healthier, Jamie Oliver launches Jamie’s Home Cooking Skills

Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:

via Blue Kitchen by Terry B on 9/28/10

Jamie Oliver is on a mission to get everyone to eat better. His new website, Jamie's Home Cooking Skills, is the subject of my latest post on the USA Character Approved Blog. A recent study...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]

Things you can do from here:

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Harmony from the Heart - Fri, Oct 1

Raising money for Platelet Research one concert at a time

Friday, October 1, 2010
6:30 PM Lake Pearl Luciano's Wrentham, MA

Cocktail Reception, Silent Auction, Raffles, Live Music, Dancing, Fun and Fundraising

Join us for a great night of entertainment by Peter Paulousky, Kai Olsson, Toby Olsson w/Jamie Barrett, PT 73, and the reunion show of classic 80's band 'The DRIVE'

Tickets are $25.00 in advance and $30.00 at the door (space permitting)
Tax deductable donations can be made online at
Your name will be added to the door guest list.

Proceeds benefit the Center for Platelet Research Studies at Children's Hospital Boston

Find additional information click on Harmony from the Heart at

Franklin, MA

No live reporting for School Committee meeting

There will be a Sherlock participating in the School Committee meeting this evening but it won't be me there to report on what is happening. Mrs Sherlock will be there as part of the group that worked to define Early Childhood School Readiness.

The readiness definition they will present and discuss can be viewed here:

Franklin (MA) Public Schools - Readiness Defined

Where will I be?
You may recall that I am now on the Board of Directors for the Franklin Food Pantry. Our monthly meeting is this evening so that will take priority tonight. Given my schedule for the remaining week, I probably won't be able to get to review the School Committee meeting video until this weekend.

Note: email subscribers will need to click through to Franklin Matters to review the document.

Franklin, MA

"Every VA facility has an Agent Orange Registry"

George Ferguson wasn't surprised when he read about the newly recognized presumptive illnesses related to his time served in Vietnam.
The Franklin resident already collects benefits for type II diabetes, and now, like thousands of Vietnam veterans across the country, Ferguson is waiting to see if the Department of Veterans Affairs will officially recognize the heart disease he's been suffering from since 2005.
"Now I'm just waiting to find out if they will give me disability for my heart disease, and at what rate," he said.
Last year, the VA added three diseases to an existing list of conditions presumed to be the result of exposure to Agent Orange, a toxic defoliant used to destroy jungle foliage in Vietnam and expose the enemy.
B Cell leukemia, ischemic heart disease and Parkinson's disease were added to a list that includes type II diabetes, prostate and lung cancers, Hodgkin's disease and other conditions.
The conditions were officially published in the VA's Federal Registrar last month, and are subject to congressional review until Oct. 31.
Read more about the change in veterans benefits in the Milford Daily News here:

Franklin, MA

Friends of the Franklin Library need your help!

The Friends of the Franklin Library are preparing for our Oct. Book Sale and we need your help!

Volunteers have the opportunity to shop early.

The October Book Sale set up begins on Tuesday, Oct. 12th.  We need volunteers to assist with the set up through the beginning of the sale on Friday, Oct. 15th.   

The set up and sale will again be housed at the DPW garage off of Hayward Street.  Set up times are from 9:30 AM– 2:30 PM Tuesday through Friday (Oct. 12th-15th).

We also need help on each day of the sale.  

  • Friday, Oct. 15th (Member’s night) 4PM – 8PM 
  • Saturday, Oct 16th, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM.  
  • Sunday, Oct. 17th, from 9AM to Noon - 'bag sale' 
  • Sunday Oct 17th - help with clean up from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM

We are also looking for students to help during the sale times and clean up on Sunday.  If you know a student who is 14 or older and who would like to help, please have them Denise Jandreski @ 508-520-9955 or via email:

Franklin, MA

In the News - Leone

Leone was well-loved on the football field


Franklin, MA

Safe Routes to School Update

Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:

via Commonwealth Conversations: Transportation by Klark Jessen on 9/27/10

North Andover, Thomson Elementary, Safe Routes to School8

The Massachusetts Safe Routes to School program works with over 340 elementary and middle schools representing over 150,000 students in 115 municipalities statewide. The program educates students, parents, and community members on the values of walking and bicycling to school. The program also offers schools technical assistance for designing, implementing, marketing and evaluating initiatives tailored to the school's needs and priorities.

The newest edition of the Safe Routes to School Newsletter features information and updates about fall programs and initiatives.

International Walk to School Day is October 6, 2010 and thousands of elementary and middle school students will be participating in walking events around the Commonwealth.

Safe Routes to School is conducting a video contest among Massachusetts elementary and middle schools about how schools, classrooms, or communities practice Safe Routes to School. The winner will be featured on the MassRIDES homepage and in the next edition of the Safe Routes to School newsletter. 

For more news and details about upcoming events, read our fall newsletter, andr follow us on Twitter at

Things you can do from here:

Monday, September 27, 2010

In the News - Pulaski Blvd construction

Pulaski Blvd construction continues and there are updates in the MDN here:

Franklin, MA

Gallery 218 - Tuesday 9/28 5:00 - 7:00 PM

Gallery 218, Franklin Public Schools own Art Gallery, will be holding it's first opening of the year Tuesday the Sep 28th from 5-7pm! Great Art, Live Music, and food...what else are you going to do on a Tuesday night???? 


As posted on the FHS website, this appears to be correct information as opposed to what was published in the Milford Daily News and the Franklin Gazette which had this event for Friday 9/24 instead.

Franklin, MA

Downtown Improvement Project - Survey

The tally on the Downtown Improvement Project survey to change from 1-way to 2-way traffic is holding to a 2-1 margin against the change. There is still time to have your say.

View the planning documents here: (this includes displays of the intersections before and after the change).

Answer the survey here:

Come to the Municipal Building Wednesday evening to participate in the Public Hearing. 7:00 PM, second floor Council Chambers.

Note: the agenda for the Sep 29th Council meeting includes an item for a new Public Hearing on Oct 20th. The map associated with that hearing differs slightly from the map with this hearing. What is the full story behind this? I could only speculate now and I don't want to. Stay tuned to find out what the story is.

Franklin, MA

Chamber Event: Manufacturing Our Future Summit

Having trouble viewing this email? Click here

                                            The United Regional Chamber of Commerce logo 


The United Regional Chamber of Commerce is partnering with Mass MEP to present "Manufacturing Our Future Summit."

Register online or by calling 508-222-0801. 
 Mass MEP Manufacturing Our Future
Safe Unsubscribe

The United Regional Chamber of Commerce | 42 Union Street | Attleboro | MA | 02703

Franklin, MA: Town Council - Agenda - 9/29/10

A. APPROVAL OF MINUTES – September 8, 2010

B. ANNOUNCEMENTS -Meetings of the Town Council are Recorded

C. PROCLAMATIONS/RECOGNITIONS - Thermo Environmental Scientific



F. HEARINGS - Public Hearing to Consider Removal of Utility Poles, Overhead Wires & Associated Overhead Wires and Associated Overhead Structures in Downtown Area – 7:10 PM


H. PRESENTATIONS/DISCUSSIONS – Downtown Franklin Enhancement Project Proposed Traffic Circulation – Westin & Sampson


1. Resolution 10-55: Order of Layout, Acceptance, and Taking of Hemlock Lane and Related Parcels and Easement
2. Resolution 10-56: Endorsement of Plan for Two-Way Vehicular Traffic on Emmons, West Central and Main Streets as Element of Downtown Revitalization Project
3. Resolution 10-57: Scheduling of Public Hearing to Consider Removal of Utility Poles, Overhead Wires, and Associated Overhead Structures in Downtown Area
4. Resolution 10-58: Appropriation to Construct Opticom System on Traffic Signals





O. EXECUTIVE SESSION – Negotiations, Litigation, Real Property, as May Be Required


The documents associated with the full agenda can be viewed here:

Franklin, MA: Town Council 9/29/2010 Agenda

Note: email subscribers will need to click through to Franklin Matters to view the document.

Franklin, MA

In the News - Harvest Festival

By Ashley Studley, Daily News staff
Posted Sep 27, 2010 @ 02:08 AM
After a couple days of summer-like warmth, residents yesterday celebrated a crisp fall afternoon with apple cider, pumpkins and fried dough at the town's annual Harvest Festival.
Sponsored by the Downtown Partnership, the festivities drew nearly 100 vendors and thousands of people.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

Franklin, MA

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Franklin, MA: School Committee - Agenda - 9/28/10

1. Routine Business

Citizen’s Comments
Review of Agenda
Minutes: I recommend approval of the minutes from the September 14, 2010 School Committee Meeting.
Payment of Bills Mr. Glynn
Payroll Mrs. Douglas
FHS Student Representatives

2. Guests/Presentations:
a. FEF Grant Awards
b. Early Childhood Readiness
c. Lifelong Learning Update

3. Discussion Only Items
Budget to Actual

4. Action Items
a. I recommend acceptance of a check for $8,000.00 from the Davis Thayer PCC for field trips and enrichment.
b. I recommend approval of the recurring field trip for the Remington Adventure Club to Mt. Monadnock in Jaffrey, NH on October 2, 2010.
c. I recommend acceptance of a check for $205.17 from Target for Horace Mann Middle School in-house enrichment.
d. I recommend acceptance of a check for $478.41 from Target for Franklin High School in-house enrichment.
e. I recommend approval of the two recurring field trips for the FHS DECA students for the State competition in Boston from 3/10/11-3/12/11 and the International competition in Orlando, FL from 4/30 to 5/3/11 as detailed.
f. I recommend acceptance of a check for $5,000.00 from the Keller PCC for field trips.

5. Information Matters

Superintendent’s Report

School Committee Sub-Committee Reports
School Committee Liaison Reports

6. New Business
To discuss future business that may be brought before the School Committee.

7. Executive Session
Contractual Negotiations

8. Adjourn

Franklin, MA

In the News - surprise at Dean

Deployed mom surprises son at Franklin football game

from The Milford Daily News News RSS 

Franklin, MA

Saturday, September 25, 2010

In the News - Harvest Festival

Celebrate at Franklin Downtown Partnership's Fall Festival

from The Milford Daily News News RSS 

Friendly reminder - as you cruise amongst the tables, I will have a small table set up near the triangle to hold "open office hours". Stop by, say hi!

Franklin, MA

Friday, September 24, 2010

"eliminate hunger and food insecurity in this country"

I direct your attention to these three points because in spite of our efforts over the years, we continue to come up short. Why, for instance, in the richest nation in the world do we have 38 million of our brothers and sisters frequently wondering where their next meal will come from? Why has organic and locally grown food become such a craze – organic constituting the fastest growing segment of the U.S. food industry – while high calorie, low nutrient, so-called cheap food, constitutes such a large segment of lower income families’ diets? And why do so many of us have before us an unprecedented abundance of accessible and diversified retail food outlets to choose from while a significant segment of our citizens live in what can only be called food deserts?
Read the full posting here

Franklin, MA

Thursday, September 23, 2010

5th Annual Casino Night - Nov 19

On Friday, November 19, 2010, the Franklin Education Foundation (FEF) will hold its 5th Annual Casino Night at the Franklin Elks from 7:00 to 11:00 p.m. The event will feature Black Jack, Roulette and Money Wheel as well as raffles, a Silent Auction, cash bar and FREE hors d’oeuvres. The event is well known as a fun evening out with friends and neighbors, all while contributing to a worthwhile cause.

FEF is currently seeking table sponsors as well as auction donations. If you have an item to donate or if your company is interested in sponsoring, contact FEF. It’s a great way for local companies to show their commitment to education in Franklin.

Admission is $25. To avoid waiting in line at the door, advance ticket purchase is recommended. For ticket purchase, auction donation or sponsorship information, please contact Peter Minor at (508) 541-6700 or Cash only accepted for chip purchase. Checks and Visa/MC accepted for Silent Auction items. For more information visit

Since 1997, The Franklin Education Foundation events have raised well over $190,000 which has been distributed to Franklin public schools in the form of special grants. All Franklin Public School staff members are eligible to submit creative, innovative ideas for programs or activities that would not traditionally be funded by tax dollars. To see a list of programs FEF have funded over the years, visit

Franklin, MA

Franklin, MA: Express Line - v2 #1

The Express Line, the newsletter from the Franklin Town Administration has just been published. You can read it here:

Franklin Ma Express Line Volume 2 Issue1

You can subscribe to receive your own copy directly to your inbox here:

Franklin, MA

A Thousand Cuts

Maybe this kind of exercise would be a good one for Franklin to discuss. What do you think?

Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:

via Center for American Progress by Michael Linden on 9/20/10

Read the full report (pdf)

Download the executive summary (pdf)

Download the report to mobile devices and e-readers from Scribd

There are hard budget decisions coming for our country and we need to get serious about them. Whether you agree with us that any deficit reduction should take place only after the economic recovery is firmly in place, or agree with those who believe deficits should be reduced immediately—halting projects and jobs mid-stream—there is little argument that the budget deficits projected for the years ahead are unsustainable. Everyone knows that tax increases, spending cuts, or both, are in our future. What few have been willing to do, however, is say what
those tax increases and spending cuts might look like.

That failure has rendered the debate on this subject close to worthless—people talking past each other saying either "no" to meaningful tax increases or "no" to meaningful spending cuts, offering as evidence of their fiscal virtue only trivial or vague measures that serve primarily to mislead their audiences about the true scope of the problem. They scrupulously avoid detailing what meaningful action might look like. This does the country a grave disservice.

Hiding how difficult grappling with federal budget deficits is going to be, leading the public to believe that there are relatively easy ways out, raises the political liability of taking action and postpones the day when we step up to the challenge. That isn't to say that no one has acknowledged how difficult this really is or offered specific ideas and gotten attention for their work—but they have been largely drowned out by the disingenuous cacophony.

The purpose of this report is to examine what spending cuts could look like under several scenarios for hitting a deficit target of primary balance in 2015: either all through spending cuts, two-thirds through spending cuts, half through spending cuts, or one-third through spending cuts. Tax increases would have to make up the difference for those plans that don't hit the target entirely through spending cuts— although we leave to another day detailing what such tax hikes might look like.

By showing sets of specific spending cuts we hope to deepen the discussion of where deficit reduction is going to come from. The challenge we issue is this: If you think all or most of the deficit problem should be dealt with on the spending side, are you then willing to own the cuts we outline? If not, then it's time to go public with what your cuts are, with at least the same level of precision we do—no gimmicks, "sunsets," or other games. No infomercial claims that you've got a magic elixir that gets the same results for half the money.

We have analyzed spending cuts in this report to promote serious discussion not because of a failure to recognize that most spending cuts are painful and, in some way, harmful. We recognize the value of public expenditures for the nation's present and future. We recognize that millions of people rely on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans benefits, and the rest. We know that the future of our economy rests in part on public investments. We see that our safety and security rely on government spending.

The cuts we identify are not chosen to scare, but represent a sincere effort to minimize the harm that would be done.

The cuts we identify are not chosen to scare, but represent a sincere effort to minimize the harm that would be done. Our goal is, to the extent possible, to preserve necessary spending that promotes economic growth, protects the most vulnerable, keeps the country safe, and fulfills our national obligations. But that isn't easy. The truth is that, contrary to popular wisdom, most federal government dollars go to good and popular things.

The value and popularity of most public programs does not, however, end the discussion. As we all know, not every federal dollar is spent well. And there is hardly a clamor for higher taxes to pay for all that is good and popular. It may be that the best way to preserve what is valuable for government to do is to cut what is less valuable. That is a proposition to be tested, not dismissed at the outset. This report tests that proposition by moving from the abstract to the specific—by looking at what cuts would have to be made to hit a deficit reduction target relying, to varying degrees, on the spending side of the ledger.

Our deficit reduction target is $255 billion in 2015. This is the amount by which the deficit would have to be reduced in 2015, relative to the president's current budget plan for that year, to bring the budget into "primary balance." Primary balance is when total government revenues are equal to total government spending, with the exception of interest on the debt. A budget in primary balance means that all government services, benefits, and programs are paid for and require no additional borrowing to support. Primary balance is the intermediate goal that we first suggested in our report "A Path to Balance." It is also the specific goal, with 2015 as the target the year, set by President Barack Obama for the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.

This report is the third in a series that we have produced in the last year on the nation's budget deficits. We released "Deal With It" in September of 2009, which chronicled our national path from federal budget surpluses in the years 1998 through 2001 to a steady stream of deficits that, with the advent of the Great Recession, topped postwar records in 2009. That report does not decry the deficits of 2009, 2010, or the years that will immediately follow as we dig ourselves out of our economic hole. Those deficits are largely inevitable and, in fact, necessary. Instead, that report laments the poor fiscal posture in which we entered the recession and looks ahead with alarm at the longer-term deficit projections. It is those deficits of the future that are unsustainable and pose substantial risks. "Deal With It" went through the arithmetic of deficit reduction—demonstrating the implausibility of balancing the budget solely through either spending cuts or tax increases on the wealthy and corporations.

We followed that report with "A Path to Balance" in December of 2009, which outlines a set of deficit targets including a long-term goal of a balanced budget and the interim goal of primary balance. It emphasizes the need to run deficits in the immediate future to jumpstart the economy because a growing economy makes deficit reduction much easier and much more likely. But recognizing the need for deficits now does not mean that we should not take action now on the deficits projected for the future. The report calls for such action—for making a plan now to deal with the deficits later. That is to say: a path to balance.

We have always been clear in this work that deficit reduction should not come at all costs. We could successfully address the nation's fiscal challenges but end up doing net harm to our country. Cutting investments that are important for future economic growth, for example, would leave us a poorer nation overall, even if we did have a balanced budget. Reducing our national defense, regulatory infrastructure, or social safety net to the point of inadequacy might be worse than deficits. We could also raise taxes beyond the boundaries of good sense. A more balanced budget requires a balanced approach. The nation needs a serious discussion of what that balance should be.

By offering a set of plans that demonstrate what spending cuts might look like in order to achieve significant deficit reduction, we aim to embolden that discussion. Our plans are almost certainly not perfect. And, to be clear, we do not ourselves support all the cuts listed. In fact, we offer cuts where, in other contexts, the Center for American Progress has urged expansions. But our choices have been made with a sincere eye toward what would work best for our country given the deficit-reduction parameters we have set out for ourselves. To some extent, the purpose of this exercise is to test those parameters. Is cutting the budget by $255 billion too much? Is $170 billion, $130 billion, or $85 billion?

If your answer is that every one of these options is too much, that they shortchange public needs, that perhaps we need to be making greater investments and provide expanded public services not less, that's a fair position. It means you either believe that we can afford very large deficits or that we should solve the deficit problem completely, or almost completely, through taxes.
The other ground for disagreement is with our specific choices regarding what to cut. That's fair as well. But what we ask for is this: We have shown a way to do this within your broad parameters for spending cuts, whoever you are. If you don't like the way we did it, offer an alternative at least as detailed as we have. Replace everything you take out from our plan with something just as big. Let's put serious ideas on the table and discuss them.

But there is one position that isn't fair. That is the all-too-common posture that this can all be done with just a little belt-tightening and reductions in wasteful government spending—with no need to get into spending cuts that hurt and unwanted tax increases. That sort of nonsense does a great disservice to our country.

Nothing does more to postpone the day when we seriously address budget deficits than pretending that it is easy.

The deficits our nation will run for the next few years are important for getting the country back on a solid economic foundation. But we need to be planning for the day when we deal with our longer-term deficits. That fiscal challenge is one where discussion that isn't serious doesn't just get us nowhere—it brings us backward. Nothing does more to postpone the day when we seriously address budget deficits than pretending that it is easy, offering only showy spending cuts that don't amount to much or orchestrating budget gimmicks that obscure the true cost of tax cuts. The deficit peacocks who play this game are all show and no substance. But they're worse than that—by offering these palliatives they're making it politically harder to get to the real business of addressing our deficit challenge. And that's a challenge we need to address.

Read the full report (pdf)

Download the executive summary (pdf)

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