Patterico's Pontifications

2/4/2010

Shame on Them

Filed under: Economics,Obama — DRJ @ 6:06 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

Today the United States House of Representative voted 217-212 to increase the national debt limit to $14,294,000,000,000. The Senate authorized the increase last week.

— DJR

95 Responses to “Shame on Them”

  1. What are the consequences of not raising the limit? Default? Someone doesn’t get paid? I assume money has already been allocated and budgeted.

    imdw (f7b257)

  2. per this article, Social Security checks and Medicare payments couldn’t go out if the debt limit wasn’t raised.

    DRJ, what is your beef? that they raised the limit at all? Or that they raised it to that particular level?

    steve sturm (7629b0)

  3. Approx $47,000 per person.

    [14 trillion / 300 million, if I did my math right]

    ras (88eebb)

  4. At some point, we have to stop spending money we don’t have as a nation.

    Women, children, minorities hurt the most….

    My wife and I make $120K combined as school teachers, and my additional work as a driver ed teacher, coach, and official. Last year we paid $53K, or approximately 43% of our income, in local, state, and federal taxes.

    I’m very sorry, but that is simply too much. There is something very wrong with that figure, and with the system that causes it to exist.

    And, as I read everything that I read, it is my income level that will end up getting hammered even more as the Bush tax cuts expire, and all of the other things happen….

    I will begin to “hide” income as best I can, so I can do something to help myself, but, since there is little that can be hidden….

    Yet, I can’t get my “liberal” friends to understand this at all….even when they complain about the taxes they pay….

    reff (176333)

  5. reff – that just proves you are a heartless capitalist running-dog.

    JD (d55760)

  6. Does the whiny dirty socialist idiot princox ever stop to wonder what the next president is going to say he inherited?

    happyfeet (713679)

  7. JD, I condemn me…

    And, of course, our host, the lovely DRJ, who started this capitalist swine posting…

    And, finally, you, for spreading additional filth…

    Now, I will go and pay more taxes….and flail myself with my cat-o-nine tail for additional punishment….

    reff (176333)

  8. “per this article, Social Security checks and Medicare payments couldn’t go out if the debt limit wasn’t raised.”

    What a shame that would be.

    imdw (2c804b)

  9. Steve Sturm,

    I agree with Roger L. Simon’s essay in the first link that inspired the title of my post. In addition, they wouldn’t have to raise the debt limit if not for their profligate spending.

    DRJ (84a0c3)

  10. Now reff, it sounds like you enjoy that 😉

    JD (d55760)

  11. Steve Sturm – at what point do *you* stop putting more stuff on your mommy’s credit card ? Cuz that’s what Congress is doing right now …

    And they are doing it behind closed doors way too much of the time … after promising they would be open and above-board about it …

    At some time, and it gets more and more likely as time passes, responsible members of Congress may well have to “shut the Government down” just to get through to their colleagues that the current spiral is turning into an economic death spiral …

    Alasdair (e7cb73)

  12. Of couse there may have been others words than “shame” she wanted to type but decorum raises its ugly head..

    EricPWJohnson (d0c4eb)

  13. #

    per this article, Social Security checks and Medicare payments couldn’t go out if the debt limit wasn’t raised.

    DRJ, what is your beef? that they raised the limit at all? Or that they raised it to that particular level?

    Comment by steve sturm — 2/4/2010 @ 6:53 pm

    It’s always that kind of argument. I am so sick and tired of it. The city spend 100 million on a new city hall and a huge park and a train station, and went into debt. Pass the new bond or… no police and fire department!

    The government bought GM, gave bonuses to Goldman Sachs, sent money to places that don’t exist; if you don’t kick up the debt ceiling… no food for grandma!

    We are in a financial crisis. It’s long past time to completely cancel anything in our government that isn’t essential. get rid of the bloat and we can afford what we need. Or keep the bloat and hold was we need hostage.

    We can do better than the GOP and Democrats who got us here.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  14. Indeed, its a false threat. Politicians have often gotten away with lying about shutting down critical services to deflect blame for failing to make real decisions and address their budgets.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  15. Just wait till the chinese call in our note, foreclose on the USA, rename it Little Western China, and kick us all out.

    peedoffamerican (422035)

  16. We can do better than the GOP and Democrats who got us here.

    Can we?

    happyfeet (713679)

  17. Can we?

    Comment by happyfeet

    Yes we can!

    And I sincerely believe it. It will probably get worse before it gets better, but I think people are waking up, and realizing that we are simply on an unsustainable path. Freaking Massachusetts sent a TEA partier to DC today. Maybe we lose, maybe the jackals and bandits manage to smear and screw every hero that sprouts up. I think we’re going to be living in a radically different political landscape in 20 years that abhors the fucked up thinking that got us here. By light speed under Tom Delay and Bush or Warp 9 under Captain Utopia.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  18. “Just wait till the chinese call in our note, foreclose on the USA, rename it Little Western China, and kick us all out.”

    You mean like when we default?

    imdw (e75517)

  19. DRJ, they have no shame…… that’s one of the reasons we’re in the situation we’re in.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  20. Why do we need a higher limit on our credit card? To keep making the minimum payments, of course!

    I am sure most kids had a moment where they wondered if they could simply apply for infinite credit cards to pyramid the minimum payments in perpetuity.

    But I realized that was stupid when I was 8. When’s Obama and Reid and Pelosi going to figure this out?

    Saying ‘but we’ll default’ is not adequate. They paid my neighbor thousands of bucks to break his car. The list of garbage our taxes pay for is endless. It’s not even that we’re condemning the future for something we need. We’re condemning them for crap.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  21. Vegas used to offer some sweet lines of credit that looked just like this

    SteveG (11baba)

  22. “Saying ‘but we’ll default’ is not adequate. They paid my neighbor thousands of bucks to break his car. The list of garbage our taxes pay for is endless. It’s not even that we’re condemning the future for something we need. We’re condemning them for crap.”

    Yes but the thing is… those aren’t this vote.

    Meanwhile Shelby has decided to stop all obama nominees till he gets his money

    imdw (304e04)

  23. JD…

    Caught again….

    Mrs. reff thought she had this under control…till she read this string…

    Back to the outhouse….more therapy….

    reff (176333)

  24. She will break you of that LSU fetish yet, reff.

    JD (d55760)

  25. LSU????? Wrong season….(except that it’s spring football season now…)

    WHO DAT? WHO DAT?

    WHO DAT SAY DEY GONNA BEAT DEM SAINTS???

    WHO DAT????

    (Oh, and the Tigers with the #8 recruiting class…guess Les isn’t as bad as they all think)

    reff (176333)

  26. Yes but the thing is… those aren’t this vote.

    Meanwhile Shelby has decided to stop all obama nominees till he gets his money

    Comment by imdw

    I reject that notion.

    I don’t have to limit my criticism to whatever framing perpetuates this disaster. This system is broken. The GOP failed us, but the democrats have increased the deficit to insane levels and play a ridiculous deflection game to pretend it’s not their fault, they have no choice, or each step they take is somehow independent.

    No, they had to raise the debt ceiling for a reason, and it’s not so Grandma could eat or so we could service our debt. It is because Obama is a shitty president.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  27. It will probably get worse before it gets better, but I think people are waking up, and realizing that we are simply on an unsustainable path.

    You’re projecting I think. :)

    We’re in big big trouble.

    happyfeet (713679)

  28. reff #4–Did you have your tax return professionally prepared? That sounds awfully high to me.

    Charlie Davis (64c883)

  29. You’re projecting I think. :)

    We’re in big big trouble.

    Comment by happyfeet

    LOL, you are witty. Let’s hope you’re wrong, too.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  30. Charlie…

    Yes, by both Mrs. Reff, who as an accountant for many years, and then reviewed by a CPA…

    I do count all my taxes paid in that number, including sales taxes, gas taxes, and other easily countable numbers, as a point to my liberal friends about just how much I pay…

    I keep a ledger of all my daily expenses for everything, because of my officiating, and my driver ed classes, both of which are independent contractor status, so that I can claim all my deductions….

    Still hammers me on tax day….

    reff (176333)

  31. Taxation is unconstitutional (?).

    I did a post over at the Jury on the matter. It’s, like, my third or fourth post ever over there. I’d appreciate the feedback from any of you fellows – the question that I posed is one that troubles me.

    Leviticus (30ac20)

  32. And reff:

    Yes. Who Dat indeed.

    It’s the Year of the Saint.

    Leviticus (30ac20)

  33. You Taints fans … enjoy the fact that you got there. Who Dat just run over the Taints? Peyton and the Colts.

    JD (5e5cad)

  34. @2 steve sturm — per this article, Social Security checks and Medicare payments couldn’t go out if the debt limit wasn’t raised.

    DRJ, what is your beef? that they raised the limit at all? Or that they raised it to that particular level?

    (DRJ replied @9, just thought to offer my $0.02)

    Steve, nothing has been solved. The growing interest payments guarantee that the new debt-ceiling will be reached in short order. This will necessitate a new and higher debt-ceiling, which restarts the process. The time interval between the creations of new debt-ceilings will shrink at an increasing rate.

    The recursive nature of this process is not sustainable, eventually ensuring the collapse of the system (i.e. as the time interval between debt-ceilings approach zero). The time to reduce the debt is now, as it becomes more expensive in the future.

    When the President is done playing the hapless victim, perhaps he can begin his term (or if he must continue to blame the previous Administration, then perhaps he can resign for the good of the nation).

    Pons Asinorum (ffeb5e)

  35. “You Taints fans … enjoy the fact that you got there. Who Dat just run over the Taints? Peyton and the Colts.”

    – JD

    Bah. Good luck with that, Midwest Silky Ponies. Have fun getting curb-stomped, Dirty South style.

    Leviticus (30ac20)

  36. I hope you drop by Monday to acknowledge how painful the loss is. Look for me at the game!

    JD (5e5cad)

  37. #30 — Comment by Leviticus — 2/4/2010 @ 10:01 pm
    I did a post over at the Jury on the matter. It’s, like, my third or fourth post ever over there. I’d appreciate the feedback from any of you fellows – the question that I posed is one that troubles me.

    this one?.

    Pons Asinorum (ffeb5e)

  38. Oops, sorry guys thought yo were done…

    Pons Asinorum (ffeb5e)

  39. Yeah, that one.

    Leviticus (30ac20)

  40. Leviticus – Interesting theory. I have problems with taxes, but for differing reasons.

    JD (5e5cad)

  41. I’m so glad our debt ceiling is now 100+% our GDP…

    Considering we were going to hit the current ceiling around the end of the month, I suspect it will be some time in June when we reach this one…

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  42. JD…the Baltimore Colts will pose an interesting threat to the Saints..

    But, WHO DAT NATION will overcome…

    In spite of the best efforts of our Native Son, Peyton….

    reff (176333)

  43. Not to toot my own horn but — who am I kidding? If I don’t toot my horn, nobody else will. 😉

    We Are Grossly Over-Taxed

    and

    Dr Alexander Tytler was right (including about the US).

    John Hitchcock (35ab55)

  44. Ain’t no Baltimore people on the Colts. We win.

    JD (5e5cad)

  45. And enter Cloward-Piven. Those of you on the left who are not Marxists, Communists or Socialists should definitely look at Tytler and Cloward-Piven and decide for yourselves if this is what you really want.

    John Hitchcock (35ab55)

  46. I also reprinted a story about Davy Crockett (which is in the public domain, so there’s no copyright infringement) which is valuable for today as well.

    (I accidentally added an “e” to his name in my articles because it looked right to me. Oops.)

    John Hitchcock (35ab55)

  47. JD

    Colts fans were gathering at Mary Landrieus office in that building dressed as the village people – security only gets called when crowds are over three…

    EricPWJohnson (d0c4eb)

  48. to all those who responded to #2: yes, shame on them for running up the deficit but not for taking the steps that allows people to actually receive the checks they were promised. Would you rather have a business owner get stiffed for the contract he fulfilled because the Treasury department couldn’t legally write the check? Or Social Security recipients not get their monthly checks? Or government workers not get paid? (OK, on the last one).

    So unless you all are not only advocating that Congress refuse to increase the debt limit, figuring that would force Congress to immediately produce a balanced budget AND you are prepared to live with the economic trauma caused by the sudden jolt, then back off the criticism of raising the debt limit and focus it instead on where it should be, the continuing and increasing deficits.

    steve sturm (369bc6)

  49. So unless you all are not only advocating that Congress refuse to increase the debt limit, figuring that would force Congress to immediately produce a balanced budget AND you are prepared to live with the economic trauma caused by the sudden jolt, then back off the criticism of raising the debt limit and focus it instead on where it should be, the continuing and increasing deficits.

    “If we don’t raise the debt limit, I’m going to shoot this dog!”

    Seriously, the biggest problem throughout this whole financial crisis is that we haven’t taken our medicine and accepted that the party is over. Criticizing both the deficits and the raising of the debt ceiling is about as intellectually consistent as you can get.

    I have NO problem whatsoever with more “economic trauma” if it results in getting this country solvent again. The raising of the debt ceiling is a joke–why stop at $14 trillion? Why not $100 trillion, and “really” stimulate the economy? As others have pointed out, the holding back of SS and Medicare checks is a false dilemma that’s created to get people to back down from actually being fiscally responsible. In a recession, government needs to cut back, not expand–which the states and municipalities are learning right now in real time.

    We are BROKE. B-R-O-K-E. Raising the ceiling to 100% of GDP just confirms it. And as I’ve said repeatedly, there is NO industry in this country that is going to rise up and save our backsides.

    We quite simply cannot afford to have the government infrastructure at its current levels, especially not when the average federal worker makes about $30K more than the average private sector worker. With such a gross imbalance, coupled with cratering income taxes, payroll taxes, and sales taxes, something has to give eventually.

    We can take our medicine now, and deal with some sharp pain for a brief period, or we can put it off and die from infection later on down the road. Unfortunately for us, our leaders have been choosing the latter course for about 35 years.

    Another Chris (2d8013)

  50. “The raising of the debt ceiling is a joke–why stop at $14 trillion? Why not $100 trillion, and “really” stimulate the economy?”

    I think the raising of the debt limit is different than actually allocating money or budgeting for it.

    imdw (b7a66a)

  51. I think the raising of the debt limit is different than actually allocating money or budgeting for it.

    And your comment is completely irrelevant.

    Another Chris (2d8013)

  52. Not sure they understand shame. I caught the sound bite of Steny Hoyer announcing the vote and the huge round of applause that greeted the “victory”. These people seem to be proud of what they are doing.

    Oh well, my congress critter is the most conservative you can find in Oregon. That makes him only half a RINO… Now, if we could find a decent person to run for Senator.

    Red County Pete (8ecbec)

  53. “And your comment is completely irrelevant.”

    Raising the debt limit to 100 trillion doesn’t spend that money, so that there would be no stimulus effect. Which is quite relevant to this notion:

    “The raising of the debt ceiling is a joke–why stop at $14 trillion? Why not $100 trillion, and “really” stimulate the economy?”

    That raising the debt limit will bring more stimulus.

    imdw (306210)

  54. “These people seem to be proud of what they are doing.”

    They also passed PAYGO along with this. Anyone here have problems with that?

    imdw (167418)

  55. That raising the debt limit will bring more stimulus.

    Well, what exactly do you think this debt limit raise is being targeted for?

    They also passed PAYGO along with this. Anyone here have problems with that?

    They’re about 35 years late and $14 trillion short. Lauding Congress for passing Paygo now is like congratulating a farmer for throwing a bucket of water on his barn after it’s already burned down.

    Another Chris (2d8013)

  56. I’m still wondering what industry is going to pull this country out of the current depression. We have to add 150K jobs a month for the next five years just to get back to where we were in 2007. imdw, Krugman, and other leftists think we’re just going to float out of this like magic, with no real evidence that any industry is ready to hire back all these workers at bubble-era wages.

    Anyone who thinks we’re going to add all these jobs and the government will remain fiscally solvent, given the current economic realities of our industrial capacity and consumer-oriented economy, is delusional. People seem to forget that even the Romans emperors weren’t able to provide bread and circuses forever.

    Another Chris (2d8013)

  57. @48 — Comment by steve sturm — 2/5/2010 @ 6:04 am
    So unless you all are not only advocating that Congress refuse to increase the debt limit, figuring that would force Congress to immediately produce a balanced budget AND you are prepared to live with the economic trauma caused by the sudden jolt, then back off the criticism of raising the debt limit and focus it instead on where it should be, the continuing and increasing deficits.

    That is just the point: there is no chance of solving the problem of the deficits if the “solution” is to raise the debt-ceiling.

    Any politician who fails to plan ahead, devotes time and energy to non-pressing issues, waits for the last minute, and then does not know what to do but panic when the bill comes, is incompetent.

    This “solution” simply adds to the problem and not only deserves harsh criticism, but universal condemnation. It is a completely incompetent policy, condemns future generations to insurmountable debt, and ought not to be tolerated.

    Our nation is already in a vicious cycle. We can stop immediately, or we can wait until it becomes more expensive to stop, or we can wait until the wheels fall-off.

    Pons Asinorum (ffeb5e)

  58. “Well, what exactly do you think this debt limit raise is being targeted for?”

    Right now it’s being raised to meet things that have already been allocated. Up above someone said this is so that checks can go out and bills can be paid. The time to curtail spending is not when the bill comes due — it’s when you actually made the purchase. Raising it to 100 trillion just allows you to pay 100 trillion in bills. That doesn’t mean you buy 100 trillion worth of stuff.

    “They’re about 35 years late and $14 trillion short. Lauding Congress for passing Paygo now is like congratulating a farmer for throwing a bucket of water on his barn after it’s already burned down.”

    35 years? PAYGO was in effect till 2002 and then the 2003 tax cuts and medicare part D were passed without meeting PAYGO.

    imdw (0172f3)

  59. It’s amusing to me that the left kept pointing to Bush as proof the right wasn’t serious about fiscal sense. The right was going nuts about Bush’s spending.

    But lo and behold, Obama’s ridiculous spending and its consequences are being defended by the left in the manner they imagined the right defending Bush. If they want to keep democrat power going forward, they can shut down the TEA party overnight by balancing the budget the way the GOP congress did in the 90s.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  60. The time to curtail spending is not when the bill comes due — it’s when you actually made the purchase.

    Actually, the time to curtail spending is before the purchase is even made to begin with, lest you end up with bills that you cannot afford to pay back. And in the case of SS and Medicare, we won’t be able to afford to pay it back–because we have about $80-100 trillion in unfunded liabilities for those two programs alone.

    35 years? PAYGO was in effect till 2002 and then the 2003 tax cuts and medicare part D were passed without meeting PAYGO.

    It should have been in effect 35 years ago–that’s when government debt started going parabolic. A one-year blip in that time frame is completely insignificant. It’s like not adding to your credit card debt for one month in a three-year period; you’re still liable for all that debt.

    If you honestly think that $14 trillion in government debt isn’t a big deal, you’re more ignorant of economics than I thought. Anyone who says it isn’t a big deal shouldn’t be taken seriously in any context whatsoever.

    Another Chris (2d8013)

  61. “Actually, the time to curtail spending is before the purchase is even made to begin with, lest you end up with bills that you cannot afford to pay back. ”

    You get my drift.

    “A one-year blip in that time frame is completely insignificant. ”

    PAYGO wasn’t a one year blip. It was in force during something like a decade and deficits went down in that time.

    “If you honestly think that $14 trillion in government debt isn’t a big deal, you’re more ignorant of economics than I thought. Anyone who says it isn’t a big deal shouldn’t be taken seriously in any context whatsoever.”

    Who says it is not a big deal?

    imdw (f7b257)

  62. The next time iamadimwit makes an honest point will be the first time.

    JD (0f9c01)

  63. If either party balances the budget, they will have imdw and my vote apparently.

    and if your tent is that big you’ll be unstoppable.

    That’s the power of the TEA movement. That’s why so many people want to pretend the TEA movement is about resistance to a black president or whining about silly social stuff. It’s not.

    The democrats can and should pass a balanced budget. They could do it within a week, canceling the present budget, if they wanted to. As absurd as that notion is, it would be a cure for a lot of problems. You could avoid deflation by massively increasing the money supply with a zero deficit, thereby actually reducing the national debt.

    They could even increase taxation while cutting spending at the same time. I think that would be less than ideal, but if the deficit was gone they would win on politics.

    but there are too many entrenched interests. I doubt the GOP or the democrats will balance the budget in the next ten years. They will blame eachother, with the GOP being a bit more convincing. And the TEA movement is going to be a fixture for at least a generation.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  64. According to the Wikipedia page, PAYGO was first enacted in 1990. It was loosened in 1998, when the budget was running a surplus, and then it expired in 2002.

    It looks to me as if PAYGO played a substantial role in reigning in government spending and enabling the late-1990s budget surplus. It’s not a cure all by any means, but it’s good to have it back.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  65. Anyone who says it isn’t a big deal shouldn’t be taken seriously in any context whatsoever.

    Their not.

    Pons Asinorum (ffeb5e)

  66. The democrats can and should pass a balanced budget. They could do it within a week, canceling the present budget, if they wanted to

    Dustin, I think you’re overstating the ease with which this can be done. If it were so easy, then it would not be the case that only 2-3 of the budgets passed in the last half century were balanced.

    The problem is that passing a balanced budget means either raising taxes or cutting spending. If you raise taxes, the people whose taxes went up protest, and a backlash arises potentially causing you to be thrown out of office. If, on the other hand, you cut spending, the people who were expecting the money protest, and a backlash arises potentially causing you to be thrown out of office.

    Which isn’t to say it’s impossible – but the legislators will pay a cost for it, and nothing seems to describe legislators so much as the phrase risk-averse.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  67. PAYGO is certainly not a problem. It’s the rest of the mess that’s the problem, and the trick.

    If the deficit is more than zero, we have an unsustainable government. If it’s in the billions, we have a massive problem. It it’s over a trillion, we are fucked.

    Even if Obama eats arugula and ribeye instead of Waygu and caviar. Even if he holds his staff salary in place instead of giving them a raise. Even if PAYGO is employed.

    If they find a way around balancing the budget, we’re out of control. Any asterisk, any exception, is simply unacceptable.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  68. It’s not a cure all by any means, but it’s good to have it back.

    If PAYGO means “have a revenue stream before you spend”, then there would be no need to raise the debt-ceiling.

    Pons Asinorum (ffeb5e)

  69. Dustin, I think you’re overstating the ease with which this can be done. If it were so easy, then it would not be the case that only 2-3 of the budgets passed in the last half century were balanced.

    Your conlusion doesn’t follow.

    It’s not that it’s hard to budget a government with the massive amount of revenue the fed brings in. It’s that they don’t want to. You present a false dichotomy based on the fact the government rarely balances the budget. They simply prioritized special interests and corruption and other issues OVER the completely attainable balanced budget.

    You simply don’t have a strong case on this one. With all the pressure and temptation each player faces from lobbyists and issues of each day and bloated bureaucracies that are easy to pass along to the next day, it’s not that a balanced budget isn’t possible or mathematically easy, it’s that these people don’t have the right priorities.

    Perhaps we are quibbling over what ‘easy’ means. But it doesn’t mean rare. Sure, a politician who cares about the long term sustainability of government more than making his way up the ladder of corruption is rare, but funding our government on its revenues is totally doable.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  70. following up to #66: sucking that much money out of the economy all at once (whether through raising taxes or by reducing spending or some combination) would cause a huge mess that would make the current problems look mild.

    jacking up taxes on someone who nets just enough to pay their mortgage and current spending? cutting government salaries to workers who make just enough to pay mortgages? It would as bad as Bill Murray forecast in Ghostbusters.

    steve sturm (7629b0)

  71. Dustin: what I’m saying is that the reason this doesn’t happen is that cutting a program hurts whoever has a vested interest in it, and the people who would be hurt hold a threat over the heads of the politicians: don’t touch my stuff or i’ll make sure you aren’t re-elected. But there’s no comparable vested interest in a balanced budget, and no comparable pressure on the politician to balance the budget.

    Most – not all, but most – politicians are interested in re-election and in their own political career. So they’re going to do the things which get them re-elected and not do the things which could cost them re-election.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  72. And you know what, I apply that even to the crucial war effort too.

    If it’s such an existential threat that we have to face even at great expense, we shouldn’t be spending money on crap. We could have had a balanced budget, the war effort, and many other massive efforts. The federal government takes in a huge amount of money from a very wealthy country, and still runs ridiculous deficits. but funding what we need from government on a balanced budget is 1005 realistic.

    It’s hard to even fathom just how much money the government would have even under a balanced budget, but it’s a lot.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  73. Aphrael, your jaded cynicism that politicians don’t find it easy to do the right thing by their country is, of course, balls on legitimate.

    But the problem of balancing the budget is a problem of loyalties, not finance or math.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  74. Also, I simply disagree with the notion that these politicians would not survive if they made their case for a balanced budget.

    If the democrat congress simply gave up on this cycle we’re on, balanced the budget, and told the special interests to fuck off, they would never lose congress. They could do whatever they wanted on social nonsense and they would never lose congress. I would vote for them every damn chance I got, and so would imdw and a huge swath of people.

    In fact, if they don’t follow this recipe, they are probably gone. The special interest unsustainable path is actually a short term electoral survival policy, and that’s going to be borne out.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  75. One way to get a ‘vested interest in balancing the budget’ would be to make their jobs tied to it. You don’t balance, you don’t get paid (nor get your pension). You find it hard to figure out where to cut? Tough – it’s your job. If you can’t handle the heat…

    Corwin (ea9428)

  76. I think a balanced budget amendment would be a good solution. I guess I should have mentioned that. They can always put in a clause that permits the budget to be unbalanced if the congress votes that there is an emergency and include some penalty (such as freezing pay for all gov employees during the crisis requiring an unbalanced budget, or a very steep majority for the imbalance).

    Sadly, cutting pay for congress = letting millionaires call the shots. It’s amazing how easy it is to get a lucrative board slot if your family has a congressman in it, too.

    but really, I can’t think of an emergency that our balanced budget couldn’t pay for by cutting spending in other areas. And they should do that FIRST. I’m sick and tired of government blowing their budget and toys and candy and then pretending they can’t afford to breathe.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  77. But we, the people, have let this happen for far too long. And it will be a long, difficult road to get back on track.

    Digging deeper isn’t the answer.

    Corwin (ea9428)

  78. Good point, Corwin. We’re still in a very ugly situation if we sober up and stop adding to our credit card balance.

    I’m sure that’s part of the problem too. ‘It’s not easy’ to think of a way to pay off staggering credit card debt, and some people just decide not to think about it until their car is repoed.

    But these congressmen are supposed to be facing these problems realistically.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  79. Who says it is not a big deal?

    You do–every single time this subject comes up. You have to qualify it with lame assumptions such as the GDP suddenly skyrocketing to make the debt “not such a big deal” (the Krugman argument), but you have been making it. Stop pretending you haven’t.

    Another Chris (2d8013)

  80. It looks to me as if PAYGO played a substantial role in reigning in government spending and enabling the late-1990s budget surplus. It’s not a cure all by any means, but it’s good to have it back.

    It might have reigned in spending, but government debt still went up during the 1990s. See here:

    http://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/pd/histdebt/histdebt_histo4.htm

    In other words, any surpluses weren’t used to pay down the debt by either party, which is the first place they should have gone.

    Another Chris (2d8013)

  81. It’s not jaded cynicism, Dustin. It’s a recognition that people respond to incentives. The structure of our government is such that politicians are incentivized to get themselves re-elected – they are rewarded with jobs for making the people who can vote for/against them happy.

    In order to see a balanced budget actually happen reliably, there have to be pressure groups which can make the point to politicians that not balancing the budget will be just as costly for them as cutting farm subsidies.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  82. “If the deficit is more than zero, we have an unsustainable government. ”

    The deficit has been more than zero at times when it would have been unsustainable to NOT run a deficit. It’s also been that way when we didn’t need to run a deficit. And lastly, it’s also been that way when it helped to run a deficit. It’s things like this that make ideas like a balanced budget amendment an ill thought and irresponsible approach. Sometimes it’s a good idea to run a deficit. Sometimes it is vital to do so.

    “You do–every single time this subject comes up. You have to qualify it with lame assumptions such as the GDP suddenly skyrocketing to make the debt “not such a big deal” (the Krugman argument), but you have been making it. Stop pretending you haven’t.”

    I have not said the debt is not a big deal. I think we’ll pay for it with growth. I also think that we have to take in the context of our economic situation. Having a big debt in good times is a bad idea. Having it in bad times is exactly when we need it.

    “It might have reigned in spending, but government debt still went up during the 1990s. See here:”

    Is that data in nominal dollar amounts? Do you see how meaningless it would be to show debt unconnected to GDP?

    imdw (c5488f)

  83. Does the whiny dirty socialist idiot princox ever stop to wonder what the next president is going to say he inherited?

    Comment by happyfeet — 2/4/2010 @ 7:14 pm

    Heh. You’re assuming he’s planning on leaving office.

    Kidding. I think.

    no one you know (1ebbb1)

  84. One of the hallmarks of a relentless liar is that they eventually contradict themself. Witness imdw’s comment at #82.

    We go from this:
    It’s things like this that make ideas like a balanced budget amendment an ill thought and irresponsible approach. Sometimes it’s a good idea to run a deficit. Sometimes it is vital to do so.

    To this:
    I have not said the debt is not a big deal. I think we’ll pay for it with growth.

    If we have “growth,” then there is no need for “debt”–but we have always had debt, and given that it has risen since 1957, and has been parabolic since the mid-1970s, it clearly has not been paid for.

    Do you see how meaningless it would be to show debt unconnected to GDP?

    Debt has gone up since 1957 regardless of GDP. So your assertion is meaningless.

    You keep going back to this “growth and GDP will save us” argument, but you’re full of crap. We’ve seen rampant deficit spending for decades, regardless of GDP levels, and all that’s happened is that the pain gets worse every time the bubble pops. That’s because we are incapable of living within our means. That you view this as a positive approach–and argue that our debt should never be paid down–quite frankly, makes people who espouse your philosphy a danger to the long-term stability of a society.

    Another Chris (2d8013)

  85. “If we have “growth,” then there is no need for “debt””

    Of course we need it — debt is what we get when we run deficits. And sometimes we have to run deficits. Sometimes it is a good idea to run deficits.

    “Debt has gone up since 1957 regardless of GDP.”

    Debt as a share of GDP. It has gone up and down.

    “We’ve seen rampant deficit spending for decades, regardless of GDP levels, and all that’s happened is that the pain gets worse every time the bubble pops.”

    The pain of debt that is 45% of gdp is different than the pain of debt that is 20% of gdp.

    imdw (688568)

  86. The kind of growth imdw is expecting to pay for this debt is not just unrealistic, it’s downright beyond.

    Perhaps if the actual total debt were not towering over us like this, I could accept the idea of a bit of a deficit here and then, rolled into growth in rich years.

    but this is like saying it’s ok to not have a 4th amendment so long as all cops and judges and juries are perfectly moral and omniscient.

    Our congress’s ability to spend more than we have is an ability we have to take away, not because it isn’t theoretically possible to wield such a power without ruining the future, but because they just don’t handle it that way.

    They are pushing today’s problems off on the next several generations. Taking THEIR money and THEIR success and using it to pay for things we don’t even need. A lot of things. That’s WRONG.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  87. Why exactly is it necessary to run a deficit?

    To control the money supply? There are other ways to do that. To defeat the Nazis? I don’t think we face that world anymore. We aren’t poor and could afford any kind of defense we need. In a war that actually outpaces our wealth, we’ll all be glowing in the dark in the first ten hours.

    But many laws are written with some kind of exception clause for specific problems. I think we can do much better than this status quo if we decide to.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  88. “Why exactly is it necessary to run a deficit?”

    Sometimes it is necessary to run it because the government is doing something for the benefit of future populations and the current population can’t be expected or even can’t try to pay for it all. Like trying to win a world war or take on an existential threat. Sometimes it is a good idea to run a deficit because this is being done as part of a counter-cyclical economic policy.

    “The kind of growth imdw is expecting to pay for this debt is not just unrealistic, it’s downright beyond.”

    We’ve had debt go to as high as 120% of GDP. And it’s gone down from there. I think other countries have too.

    imdw (89ba95)

  89. Debt as a share of GDP. It has gone up and down.

    Sorry–you don’t weasel your way out of this one. The whole point is that the government has not paid down any of its debt since 1957, regardless of GDP. GDP is irrelevant. Stop relying on it to save your hide. It won’t. Our GDP has been bubble-directed for decades now, and nothing you say is going to change that fact. Only by deleveraging is this country going to avoid the risk of insolvency.

    You’ve already established that you can’t construct an argument without eventually contradicting yourself.

    The pain of debt that is 45% of gdp is different than the pain of debt that is 20% of gdp.

    Nope, sorry. GDP is irrelevant when debt is not being paid down regardless of whether the economy is booming or not. It’s as irrelevant as your arguments have been.

    Your “GDP will save us” argument continues to be wrong and self-contradictory. Period.

    Another Chris (35bdd0)

  90. Sometimes it is necessary to run it because the government is doing something for the benefit of future populations and the current population can’t be expected or even can’t try to pay for it all.

    Sorry, but that’s a false dilemma, and it’s been proven so by the fact that Medicare and SS are both insolvent–if they were paying for themselves through tax revenue, the government wouldn’t need to raise the debt ceiling.

    The “benefit of future populations” is an appeal to emotion that has no basis in fact, only in supposition.

    Like trying to win a world war or take on an existential threat. Sometimes it is a good idea to run a deficit because this is being done as part of a counter-cyclical economic policy.

    Defense in comparison to entitlements is a much smaller part of the national budget. That is why we’ve been living off of our credit card the last 35 years.

    GDP is not going to save your hide.

    Another Chris (35bdd0)

  91. “The whole point is that the government has not paid down any of its debt since 1957, regardless of GDP. GDP is irrelevant. Stop relying on it to save your hide. It won’t.”

    GDP is relevant beacase it is how much we produce in a year. Of course our debt position is very different if it is 1/3 or a 1/4 of a year’s production vs. if it is 100% of that. What’s so contradictory about this? It make sense in personal life too — your debt level relative to income is what is important, not your total debt level. If I owe 100K that’s looks very different if I make 1 million a year vs if I make 10K a year.

    “The “benefit of future populations” is an appeal to emotion that has no basis in fact, only in supposition.”

    I was thinking of like winning a war. Not entitlements. Entitlement spending is not investment in the future.

    Just like it makes sense for a person or a household to borrow for investment, it also makes sense for a country. That’s why it is sometimes a good idea to run a deficit.

    imdw (de7003)

  92. There just is no excuse for Obama’s record breaking budget.

    The Democrats’ abysmal stewardship of our nation’s finances put paid to all of their complaints about Bush’s fiscal responsibility. As bad as Bush was, the Democrats showed that given the keys to the car, they would go faster, while drunker, and wreck more.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  93. Listening to imadickwad explaining economics is about as enlightening as an explanations of thermonuclear physics by a Congolese WitchDoctor.

    AD - RtR/OS! (9f8017)

  94. It’s really annoying when someone tells me we MUST be unsustainable and we will be able to pay for it with the future’s prosperity.

    I know a lot of dems want to pretend this is all extremely complicated and we should let the experts in Pelosi’s office take care of it, but the truth is, we really could have a balanced budget, and whatever inconvenience that brings pales in comparison to what we are going to have to face.

    Passing the buck to our kids sucks.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  95. “It’s really annoying when someone tells me we MUST be unsustainable and we will be able to pay for it with the future’s prosperity.”

    Like for example, during the 1940s, it would likely have been unsustainable to NOT run a deficit.

    “I know a lot of dems want to pretend this is all extremely complicated and we should let the experts in Pelosi’s office take care of it, but the truth is, we really could have a balanced budget, and whatever inconvenience that brings pales in comparison to what we are going to have to face.”

    Nope it is not that complicated.

    imdw (017d51)


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