Patterico's Pontifications

11/15/2010

The NYT’s Laughably Biased Budget Simulator

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 5:58 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; send your tips here.]

Go here, look for yourself.  The NYT has offered a Budget Simulator that is propaganda masking itself as a computer program.  For instance consider some of the options they give you:

  • Cut foreign aid in half.
  • Cut pay of civilian federal workers by 5 percent.
  • Reduce the federal workforce by 10 percent.

Really, that is the best we can do?  I bet if we really, really tried, we could cut our federal workforce by 25% at least.  In fact, if we really wanted to radically reduce the federal government, 50% is a very doable goal.  I mean not all by itself, but in conjunction with radical reductions in the amount of work and regulation going on, it could be done.  And I bet their pay could stand to be cut a tad more than just 5%.  Likewise it assumes that we can only cut aid to states by 5%.  I refuse to be so pessimistic.

But more egregiously, it assumes that raising taxes will raise government income.  Now they are free to have that opinion, but there is plenty of data suggesting that if you raise taxes you will kill the economy and income will fall.  For instance, they suggest a millionaire’s tax which sounds great in a “soak the rich” sort of way, but they tried that in Maryland, and revenues fell.  Gee, who would think that if you taxed the most mobile segment of the population that they might up and leave?  Who could have predicted that?

What this is, is the latest example of liberals worshipping false “science”—science that hasn’t been established nearly enough to call it anything more than a hypothesis, dressed up as a cold, hard certainty.  Don’t be fooled by their cheap tricks.

Hat tip: James Pethokoukis.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

32 Responses to “The NYT’s Laughably Biased Budget Simulator”

  1. plus they only offer one new higher income bracket!. But of the ones you picked, i thought the foreign aid one was particularly disingenuous. They didn’t mention where that goes. I don’t think people would want to cut in half the aid we send to some of the biggest recipients. Would you?

    imdw (c57978)

  2. Everybody wants their problem solved, but someone else to pay for it. When is the last time anyone in government actually made a hard choice?

    Well, I will not be ‘fooled by their cheap tricks’, but I’m not sure what I can do about it.*Sigh* Could we get CA reclassified to be eligible for that Foreign Aid?

    TimesDisliker (e2d72e)

  3. New York is one of the states with more per capita debt than California, despite the fact that it has New York City, one of the largest centers of finance in North America.

    Michael Ejercito (249c90)

  4. michael

    despite or because of? :-)

    Aaron Worthing (b8e056)

  5. Really, that is the best we can do? I bet if we really, really tried, we could cut our federal workforce by 25% at least. In fact, if we really wanted to radically reduce the federal government, 50% is a very doable goal. I mean not all by itself, but in conjunction with radical reductions in the amount of work and regulation going on, it could be done. And I bet their pay could stand to be cut a tad more than just 5%.

    Aaron,
    Up front: I’m a federal worker in DoD. Not making anywhere close to six figures and I think you get your money’s worth from me.
    I do wonder over what time period you would make cuts like that. The Deficit commission proposed a three year freeze on salaries, bonus, and a policy in which only 2 hires are made for every three who leave civil service. They estimate that would cut the entire federal workforce by 10%.
    (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/10/AR2010111008342.html?wpisrc=nl_fed)

    About 40% of federal workers are expected to retire in the next three years (was supposed to happen between 07-10 but the economic collapse changed that as people saw their 401K’s lose half the value.
    As each fed leaves the work force the replacement will be making roughly 20K less than the one retiring. It takes 18 years to move from step 1 to step 10.

    The continued cuts to contracts the Feds let to the big corps is a great idea. For example, one Northrup Grumman job that pays a person 60K costs the government 120K as NG gets its cut. These salaries are not factored into the articles we have seen recently about the federal salaries because they are considered private business.

    As for cutting pay across the board for federal workers I don’t agree with that anymore than raising taxes as the Times suggests. A three year freeze on pay would mean a worker didn’t go up 4500 – 6000 in pay that they expected to based on the scales and time in grade/step requirement. I had thought a five year freeze would be better. Most would grit their teeth and stick it out.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704506404575592900454547226.html
    has a breakout of where the 42K in taxes a couple making 200K a year makes. 25000 of that goes to social security, medicare, medicaid, interest on national debt, non Iraq/Afgh military ops and maintenance, Iraq/Afgh operations, military personnel and military weapons purchases.

    All federal programs are going to have to take some hit if the deficit is to be brought under control. The question for Americans enjoying these entitlements is what are they willing to put off/give up to help get it under control. The commission punted on Social Security – in my mind they should immediately raise eligibility to 67/70 for anyone under the age of sixty. Roll welfare back to 52 weeks, and a 3-5 year freeze on all cost of living increases with any federal entitlement.
    Cutting the size of government is needed but that alone will fall far short of the kinds of cuts that are necessary to reduce the deficit.

    VOR2 (10aa64)

  6. I’d start with a few cuts:

    Department of Education
    Department of Labor
    Department of Commerce
    (useful bits like the Patent Office can stand alone or be privatized)

    Then I’d start combining security agencies (do we really need the ATF, DEA, FBI, NCIS, etc; or the CIA, DIA, NRO, NSA, ONI, MI, OICI, I&A and more?). Put some of them dealing with the border.

    Raise the retirement age to 70, including Medicare, over a number of years. Limit Medicare services to those with clear medical benefits (is it that horrible to want to avoid putting an artificial hip into someone with end-stage Alzheimer’s or pancreatic cancer?)

    Kill the big AF jet programs. The B-2 is reducio ad absurdum already. It is all going to be drones anyway, even the fighter/bombers. Maybe there’s a pilot back a bit running 10 drones, but his plane will be a robot anyway. Put the bulk of the money there, and the blue-sky money into ground-to-space.

    Kill absolutely everything ever authorized by an earmark.

    Oh, and eliminate capital gains taxes on US investments.

    Kevin M (298030)

  7. But even easier:

    Offer $10 million to each member of Congress if the budget is balanced by 2015 without raising taxes.

    Kevin M (298030)

  8. impd:

    plus they only offer one new higher income bracket!. But of the ones you picked, i thought the foreign aid one was particularly disingenuous. They didn’t mention where that goes. I don’t think people would want to cut in half the aid we send to some of the biggest recipients. Would you?

    First, I know what you mean. Second, yes. Not because you’re a disingenuous leftist baiter, but because you have to draw lines.

    My nation is more important to me than whichever nation you are trying to snark about.

    I’m sure they can take care of themselves.

    Ag80 (827a00)

  9. Kevin, the AF hasn’t bought any B-2′s in years, and they only have (what?) 22(?) of them. Plus, Gates killed the F-22 program in favor of another joint-services fighter boondoggle – those have a habit of not working out well for anyone, including the manufacturer.

    AD-RtR/OS! (e9ff94)

  10. “I’m sure they can take care of themselves.”

    Ag80 – If not, they need to learn how to stand on their own two feet, just like Afghanistan and Iraq, for gosh sakes. No sense patronizing these countries forever with our imperialistic hegemonic dollars.

    daleyrocks (940075)

  11. I think Rangel used the simulator to do his taxes.

    Torquemada (a8a9b2)

  12. Daleyrocks:

    Heh. If you know what I mean and I think you do.

    Ag80 (827a00)

  13. AD, I said the B-2 should be the last big bomber. I didn’t say they were still buying them (they stopped in the 90′s, I think).

    As for fighters, it’s not that they don’t work, it’s that they are obsolete. One stand-off drone carrier with a pilot and an operator or two will work better at much lower cost.

    Kevin M (298030)

  14. “My nation is more important to me than whichever nation you are trying to snark about.”

    That may be true, but there’s also people in your nation who find it important to keep our client states. Not to mention people in our nation who profit from what gets bought by these clients. That’s just if you want a selfish reason for keeping this up.

    “Limit Medicare services to those with clear medical benefits (is it that horrible to want to avoid putting an artificial hip into someone with end-stage Alzheimer’s or pancreatic cancer?)”

    Death panels! But I had another question for you, what do you think the department of commerce does?

    imdw (1d1dec)

  15. “But more egregiously, it assumes that raising taxes will raise government income. Now they are free to have that opinion, but there is plenty of data suggesting that if you raise taxes you will kill the economy and income will fall.”

    Like the 1990′s.

    Or maybe you think they should have added an option that raised revenue by lowering taxes? How would you have worked that one in?

    imdw (cdead2)

  16. So do you think if we lower taxes, we will raise revenue? I hate to break it to you patterico, but raising taxes will probably increase revenue, especially if we aren’t in a recession. Just don’t raise taxes too much.

    John stanford (607753)

  17. I hate to break it to you patterico, but raising taxes will probably increase revenue, especially if we aren’t in a recession.

    I hate to break it to you, John Stanford, but I didn’t write this post. There are two hints:

    • It begins with this language: “[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; send your tips here.]“
    • It ends with this language: “[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]“
    Patterico (c218bd)

  18. Feel free to debate this issue with Aaron and the others. I just hope that you read the sources you cite more carefully than you read this post.

    Patterico (c218bd)

  19. It’s the perverse nature of the process, that raising rates causes economic activity to slow down,
    the ’86 tax reform, which tinkered with loopholes like allowable interest on real estate, toppling
    S& L portfolios is a case in point

    narciso (82637e)

  20. That is just the typical leftist tactic of using static scoring on taxes. It assumes there there will be no other changes in behavior, investment, etc .. and simply assumes that by taking a greater percentage of other people’s money, it will increase their revenues.

    JD (82494b)

  21. JD

    True to all of that.

    It also assumes that $100 in the hands of government makes more money than $100 in the hands of the people.

    Aaron Worthing (b8e056)

  22. General foreign aid does more harm than good.

    Cut it all, put half aside for emergency humanitarian assistance, to be appropriated when the need arises.

    Zero out the UN “contribution”, take a hard look at all the NGO contributions.

    Means test all entitlements.

    Abolish the Dept. of Education. There’s only a handful of useful thing the Dept. of Commerce does, move them elsewhere and kill it.

    The EPA and OSHA suffer from mission creep and gross incompetence, wipe them out and start over.

    Kill any government agency that didn’t exist in 2004.

    You want more tax revenue? Limit the lifetimes of trusts and foundations to 25 years, no grandfathering. Limit the tax exemption of collage/university endowments to one billion dollars.

    LarryD (f22286)

  23. “That is just the typical leftist tactic of using static scoring on taxes. It assumes there there will be no other changes in behavior, investment, etc .. and simply assumes that by taking a greater percentage of other people’s money, it will increase their revenues.”

    Instead let’s assume otherwise. If tax cuts raise revenue, then playing with the NYT simulator means you can deliver more government and have more spending. You can have less social security or medicare cuts by simply checking the ‘cut taxes and raise revenues’ box.

    imdw (53b665)

  24. I would be happy to discuss this with you, were you f@cking honest. But you aren’t.

    JD (82494b)

  25. I’ll bite.

    imdw, either you are hopelssly innumerate or you realize that cutting taxes does not linearly decrease revenue — some is made back from increased economic activity. Conversely, raising taxes does not linearly raise revenue — some is lost to decreased economic activity.

    Kevin M (298030)

  26. What’s the problem? You didn’t like the “leftist tactic” of assuming that greater tax rates increases revenue. Instead, assuming otherwise, we see we can have tax cuts lead to more revenue. Less taxes, more entitlements and less death panels!

    I really like this assumption.

    “imdw, either you are hopelssly innumerate or you realize that cutting taxes does not linearly decrease revenue — some is made back from increased economic activity. Conversely, raising taxes does not linearly raise revenue — some is lost to decreased economic activity.”

    You use the word “some.” Let’s instead look at the net. Either revenue goes up or it goes down. I’m happy to assume it goes up when we cut taxes. Makes the whole thing a lot easier don’t it?

    imdw (603c39)

  27. What’s the problem? You didn’t like the “leftist tactic” of assuming that greater tax rates increases revenue. Instead, assuming otherwise, we see we can have tax cuts lead to more revenue. Less taxes, more entitlements and less death panels!

    I really like this assumption.

    “imdw, either you are hopelssly innumerate or you realize that cutting taxes does not linearly decrease revenue — some is made back from increased economic activity. Conversely, raising taxes does not linearly raise revenue — some is lost to decreased economic activity.”

    You use the word “some.” But what matters is the net effect — you’re not so innumerate you can’t understand this. Either revenue goes up or it goes down. I’m happy to assume it goes up when we cut taxes. Makes the whole thing a lot easier don’t it?

    imdw (418908)

  28. Kevin – you have a better chance of trying to teach a brick wall to speak Mandarin than of getting the hate filled lying dimwit to engage honestly.

    How many different names have you posted under, imdw?

    JD (82494b)

  29. How many different names have you posted under, imdw?

    It’s really weird that he’s refused to tell you, JD, given his extremely vague and lame defense for some terrible conduct.

    I guess he’s afraid to tell you all handles he used because in his obsession, maybe he didn’t always use a proxy server.

    Anyhow, I’m delighted the NYT has this easy to use balanced budget simulator. I don’t understand why this wasn’t a big issue to them in 2006. It goes without saying they will twist things around in hopes of cutting a,b,c instead of x,y,z, but at least they are making clear how deep of a hole we are in.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  30. Either revenue goes up or it goes down. I’m happy to assume it goes up when we cut taxes

    You’re the most intellectually dishonest poster here, without a doubt.

    Revenue will either go up or down even without a change in tax rates. The revenue is tied to economic activity.

    Sure, you can raise revenue by raising tax rates. The question you need to ask is whether you would have seen the same revenue without the raise in tax rates. Maybe you would have, maybe you wouldn’t. It’s certainly possible that the increase in tax rates suppressed an increase in economic activity to the point where the change in revenues is no different.

    It’s also possible that decreasing tax rates will cause more economic activity than what would have been otherwise.

    What really matters isn’t so much the revenue change in the next period, but the future economic activity in outlying periods and the revenue that results from it.

    The dishonesty of The Times’s simulator is that it assumes the same economic activity regardless of tax rates. We have plenty of empirical evidence to show that’s not true.

    Some chump (4c6c0c)

  31. “What really matters isn’t so much the revenue change in the next period, but the future economic activity in outlying periods and the revenue that results from it.”

    I’m fine with considering “what really matters.” If you want to assume that lower taxes means more revenues, I’m fine to follow along with that and play that budget simulator too. In fact I think I can come up with a much better budget that way.

    “The dishonesty of The Times’s simulator is that it assumes the same economic activity regardless of tax rates.”

    Actually I don’t see that assumption showing up. I see a tax change and a number, but no assumption that this is due to linear increases. If you follow the links to the source they cite on the sales tax, for example, it looks like that source assumes reduced economic activity (impacting income and payroll taxes).

    Do you think they assume the same economic activity regardless of spending ?

    imdw (c982ed)

  32. John Stanford is a socialist?

    Patterico (c218bd)


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