Patterico's Pontifications


When Does the WaPo Describe Crazy Spending Correctly? Only When Dave Barry Is Writing

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:33 am

Today the Washington Post heralds the “bipartisan compromise” that resulted in a giant spending bill unveiled today that reverses the dreaded sequester:

Lawmakers unveil massive $1.1 trillion spending bill in bipartisan compromise

Congressional negotiators unveiled a $1.1 trillion funding bill late Monday that would ease sharp spending cuts known as the sequester while providing fresh cash for new priorities, including President Obama’s push to expand early-childhood education.

The 1,582-page bill would fully restore cuts to Head Start, partially restore cuts to medical research and job training programs, and finance new programs to combat sexual assault in the military. It would also give all federal workers a 1 percent raise.

Already, in the first paragraph, they are lying. The sequester did not represent “sharp spending cuts” but rather a modest pullback in the rate of increase of federal spending by a government that is trillions in debt with no end in sight. Dave Barry put it best in his 2013 year-end review:

JANUARY begins with a crisis in Washington, a city that — despite having no industries and a workforce consisting almost entirely of former student council presidents — manages to produce 93 percent of the nation’s crises. This particular crisis is a “fiscal cliff” caused by the fact that for years the government has been spending spectacular quantities of money that it does not have, which has resulted in a mess that nobody could possibly have foreseen unless that person had a higher level of financial awareness than a cucumber.

. . . .

FEBRUARY Washington faces another crisis in the form of a “sequester” that will happen automatically unless Congress can agree on a budget, which seems unlikely inasmuch as Congress cannot agree on what planet this is. If the sequester goes into effect, federal spending will continue to rise, but not quite as fast as it would have risen without the sequester. To a normal human, this means government spending is still increasing, but to Washington, the sequester means “draconian cuts” and is a looming disaster of epic proportions. Panic grips the city, as grim-faced former student council presidents write talking points far into the night.

. . . .

MARCH [A]s the federal budget deadline passes without Congress reaching agreement, the devastating, draconian, historically catastrophic sequester goes into effect, causing a mild reduction in the rate of increase in government spending that for some inexplicable reason goes unnoticed by pretty much everybody outside the federal government.

. . . .

OCTOBER [T]he federal government, in an unthinkable development that we cannot even think about, partially shuts down. The result is a catastrophe of near-sequester proportions. Within hours wolves are roaming the streets of major U.S. cities, and bacteria the size of mature salmon are openly cavorting in the nation’s water supply. In the Midwest, thousands of cows, no longer supervised by the Department of Agriculture, spontaneously explode. Yellowstone National Park — ALL of it — is stolen. In some areas gravity stops working altogether, forcing people to tie themselves to trees so they won’t float away. With the nation virtually defenseless, the Bermudan army invades the East Coast, within hours capturing Delaware and most of New Jersey.

By day 17, the situation has become so dire that Congress, resorting to desperate measures, decides to actually do something. It passes, and the president signs, a law raising the debt ceiling, thereby ensuring that the federal government can continue spending spectacular quantities of money that it does not have until the next major totally unforeseeable government financial crisis, scheduled for February 2014.

Barry’s article, like today’s trash, appeared in the Washington Post. It’s a shame that the paper gets it right only when they think it’s a clown making the argument.

35 Responses to “When Does the WaPo Describe Crazy Spending Correctly? Only When Dave Barry Is Writing”

  1. Ding.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  2. Only the gubmint would slash spending with a 13% increase in spending.

    Colonel Haiku (f6a9d4)

  3. We officially live in an idiocracy now.

    It’s an entertainment government propped up by the gossip media.

    It’ll collapse; it’s just a question of whether actual intelligent people can seize power during the collapse to right the ship or not.

    DejectedHead (a094a6)

  4. how much does it cost exactly to make soldiers behave to where they stop raping each other?

    it doesn’t say, but the article suggests that it’s in addition to giving the whiny whiny pentagon piggies their sequester monies back

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  5. 4. All the squeester money the Pentagon was light couldn’t buy a half-dozen F-35s.

    Stealth Yugos that can’t get to top speed before running out of fuel.

    Enjoy your Obamaphone, soylent green.

    gary gulrud (e2cef3)

  6. So it’s the F-111 all over again.

    narciso (3fec35)

  7. Our political elite in Congress (and this includes Democrats and Republicans) evidently think Americans are so stupid we cannot see what they are doing. When interest rates go up on our national debt and our national deficit exceeds $1 to $1.5 to $2 trillion a year, it will be interesting to see the explanation these political elite come up with that they believe American citizens will be stupid enough to believe.

    JoyO (d0cbb4)

  8. Comment by JoyO (d0cbb4) — 1/14/2014 @ 11:48 am

    When interest rates go up on our national debt

    That won’t happen so long as Obama is president. Janet Yellen will see to it.

    Now some people don’t believe the Federal Reserve Board controls interest rates, but they do.

    Now a Republican might think it’s a great idea to appoint people to the Federal Reserve Board who will raise interest rates.

    A good president would roll over the debt so it would be more long term, even though this would increase the deficit, because extremely low interest rates may not continue, even though they had better, unless we get inflation.

    and our national deficit exceeds $1 to $1.5 to $2 trillion a year,

    It’s heading down right now.

    it will be interesting to see the explanation these political elite come up

    Economists will come up with something stupid, but politicians will blame it on whoever was president, although they may disagree which president.

    with that they believe American citizens will be stupid enough to believe.

    They think Americans are stupid enough to blame the president. They even think they are stupid enough to believe economic conditions are bad when they maybe aren’t.

    A president is occasionally at fault. Jimmy Carter was 100% at fault for economic conditions in 1980.

    Sammy Finkelman (e6d54e)

  9. This is actually just carrying out the December agreement.

    You will notice a extension of unemployment insurance is not included.

    The Democrats did not ask for that back when they were negotiating because:

    A) It would be better as a political issue than as reality.


    B) This could be characterized as so important that they might get it for free, with no compensating budget cuts or tax increases.

    The Republicans never wanted it, so they never brought it up.

    Now what should be done about exoiring unemployment benefits?

    I think a good idea would be to allow low interest loans to be made to virtually any American over age 30 or so, of amounts up to, say, nine months of average Social Security benefits.

    To be paid back, if not paid back any other way, by a lowering of eventual Social Security benefits, or postponement of the date it is possible to collect.

    This could be done in an actuarially sound way.

    Because they are really borrowing from themselves, people would generally be very cautious, unless they have some very serious life-threatening health problems, and we could swallow the loss.

    This would also be a way to enable people to escape from a pay Day loan trap.

    And maybe only one third of the maximum could be borrowed in any 30-day period.

    Sammy Finkelman (e6d54e)

  10. David Barry is not accurate:

    This particular crisis is a “fiscal cliff” caused by the fact that for years the government has been spending spectacular quantities of money that it does not have

    The fiscal cliff had nothing to do with too much spending.

    It was the final expiration of all the Bush tax cuts and tghe start oof the sequester.

    It was caused by Congress writing into law things that they never wanted or expected to happen, but that made the Congressional Budget Office deficit Score look better.

    Sammy Finkelman (e6d54e)

  11. Oh good Allah, Sammah.

    JD (cb2862)

  12. All federal workers get a 1% raise. Take from the retired military, give to the workers. I’ve heard about this somewhere, Animal Farm?

    htom (412a17)

  13. Comment by htom (412a17) — 1/14/2014 @ 1:56 pm

    Take from the retired military, give to the workers.

    They were all agreeing to this for some time.

    The legislation would give a raise in the pension of retired military each year (who often retire in their 40s and get other better paying jobs) of 1% less than the rise in the cost of living.

    Everything would be restored when they reach real retirement age.

    Some Republicans agreed to this only as a placeholder for other cuts.

    The way they do budgeting in Washington is kind of ridiculous.

    Sammy Finkelman (e6d54e)

  14. What’s scary about the idiotic leftwing politics and mindset currently roiling the US, is that as bad as things are here, it could easily be worse. Much worse. Or so bad that even in France, the land of effete liberalism gone berserk, growing numbers of people are starting to grimace.

    Mexico is one possible (probable?) window into the US’s future, and France is another:, October 2013:

    Down and out: the French flee a nation in despair

    More than 70 per cent of the French feel taxes are “excessive”, and 80 per cent believe the president’s economic policy is “misguided” and “inefficient”. Worse, after decades of living in one of the most redistributive systems in western Europe, 54 per cent of the French believe that taxes – of which there have been 84 new ones in the past two years, rising from 42 per cent of GDP in 2009 to 46.3 per cent this year – now widen social inequalities instead of reducing them.

    By 2014, France’s public expenditure will overtake Denmark’s to become the world’s highest: 57 per cent of GDP. In effect, just to keep in the same place, like a hamster on a wheel, and ensure that the European Central Bank in Frankfurt isn’t too unhappy with us, [leftwing President Francois] Hollande now needs cash.

    On the one hand, the lacklustre economy and finance minister Pierre Moscovici recently admitted that he “understood” the French’s “exasperation” with their heavy tax burden. This earned him a sharp rap on the fingers from the president and his beleaguered PM, Jean-Marc Ayrault. On the other, new taxes keep being announced, in chaotic fashion, nearly every week.

    …“It’s not only that people don’t like to be treated like criminals just because they’re successful,” says a French banker friend who has recently moved to London. “But this uncertainty in every aspect of the tax system means it is impossible to do business: you don’t know what your future costs are, or your customer’s. You can’t buy, you can’t sell, you can’t hire, you can’t fire.”

    Today, one out of four French university graduates wants to emigrate, “and this rises to 80 per cent or 90 per cent in the case of marketable degrees”, says economics professor Jacques Régniez, who teaches at both the Sorbonne and the University of New York in Prague. “In one of my finance seminars, every single French student intends to go abroad.”

    [Y]oung people, and many of their parents, dream of getting any kind of state or local administration post, usually badly paid, very often frustrating, but which ensures complete job security, unrelated to the economic situation, the market, or their own performance.

    More than a quarter of the French workforce is employed by some public body or other: schools, hospitals, local and regional councils, the police, the civil service proper – or those new subsidised public-service jobs the Hollande government is so keen on.

    French unions see as their main goal the preservation of the status quo: from overprotective labour laws that make it so hard to fire employees that French bosses will do almost anything to avoid hiring new staff (who cost them a whopping 70 per cent in payroll taxes), to perpetuating antiquated regulations dating back to Vichy France, banning Sunday trading and evening shifts.

    Mark (4b7167)

  15. “Dave Barry is not accurate.”

    Really? I had no idea.

    “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.”

    Really? I had no idea.

    What’s the difference?

    Ag80 (eb6ffa)

  16. 8. “[Interest rate rises on National Debt] won’t happen so long as Obama is president. Janet Yellen will see to it.”

    Earth to Sammy, even while the Fed has been buying 70% of all US Treasuries maturing in seven years or more, the rates have been rising for months.

    We have a world-wide liquidity problem today because there is no collateral available(US Treasuries) for new loan creation.

    In a year’s time the Fed will have no interest income on $5 Trillion in bills and bonds because no one will buy them at a loss.

    You cannot buy a clue.

    gary gulrud (e2cef3)

  17. Does Sammy add anything here, folks? Serious question.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  18. How about we look at it like this: If you have 92 million productive people out of work and have given up on trying to find a job, you are in deep cow poop.

    It’s all OK, though, because Michelle is Fabulous at 50!

    Ag80 (eb6ffa)

  19. 18. I really can’t put a diagnosis to the insanity but he was sort of Ok for a couple weeks.

    But when he gets on one of these frantic spin benders, trying to save some progressive bacon, no, no he does not add.

    We are all stupider for the experience.

    gary gulrud (e2cef3)

  20. He increases the sale of Advil and Maker’s Mark. You should get a commission, Patterico.

    elissa (5b28d4)

  21. He doesn’t bother me that much, personally, through the hyper-literalism and total imperviousness to tone and nuance are irritating at times. I am just wondering if anyone is seriously put off by him, and if so, whether there is counterbalancing value in the eyes of the commenters here.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  22. Today 4-week notes(notes, bills, bonds the difference is the maturity period) sold at zero yield.

    So for very short duration debt people are earning negative rates of return. They are just parking their money in a safe.

    All the big money is in cash this week, the market went up today but on no volume, just HFT algorithms and day traders.

    Down 180 yesterday, dead-cat bounce today. Investors do not know what to do and for that duration we’ll have volatility.

    gary gulrud (e2cef3)

  23. Sammy is harmless.

    gary gulrud (e2cef3)

  24. He increases the sale of Advil and Maker’s Mark. You should get a commission, Patterico.

    Actually, I will, if you will only use the following links:


    Maker’s Mark

    Is there ANYTHING Amazon doesn’t sell?

    Patterico (9c670f)

  25. The JoB should be worried, looking for value some Japanese bought Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark today.

    At 0.7% Japanese debt is a really big loser for Mrs. Watanabe.

    gary gulrud (e2cef3)

  26. Whiskey by mail? I guess I can put the still away and I won’t shoot the drones.

    Ag80 (eb6ffa)

  27. 14. Mark has an excellent point, everywhere economies are walking a razor’s edge.

    Thailand, Turkey, China, Japan, Spain, Italy, Greece, France all are in what they take to be dire straits.

    And the list of those with real trouble is longer. Fifteen Western economies are experiencing housing bubbles at the point of bursting, Australia, Finland, Britain, etc.

    gary gulrud (e2cef3)

  28. 18. He tests my self-control. Over the long run, this is a good thing. Temporarily infuriating, but that’s my problem, and I have to stay on top of it.

    htom (412a17)

  29. Returning to the Fed and debt monetization, Canada, our largest trade partner and closest ally(cough, cough, as tho we are anyone’s ally) has pledged to bring up Fed policy at the upcoming G20.

    They are not happy. Janet Yellen may not have the rein that Bennie enjoyed.

    gary gulrud (e2cef3)

  30. Despite my snark, I think that Sammy means well and that he has an inquiring mind. I also believe this blog community is very important to him.

    elissa (5b28d4)

  31. Sammy is Sammy I love him more than beans and fish sticks

    please believe me lately my whole world is changing

    suddenly you’re here and my life’s BETTER than before – we’re friends forever

    sharing everything together always understanding just how much the other cares – we’ll stick together – you know that’s how I feel – we’re friends forever – please say we got a deal – we’re friends forever, and when the rest have gone

    it’s you who will be there for me –


    happyfeet (8ce051)

  32. confessions of an Amazon Prime whore: I confess I am an Amazon Prime whore

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  33. 19. On Ag80’s point about 92 million out of work.

    On the long-in-the-tooth end, once one has been out 6 months no one is interested in hiring.

    On the cheap, market-entry end, young people have no experience, no resume, high expectations, a poor work ethic,… No interest in them either.

    So workers are getting hard to come by. Even for the surviving companies margins have been cut to the bone and energy and rents are headed up.

    So we have nothing but upward pressure on prices, expectations of inflation. Once that tap is turned on it will be a long time stopping.

    gary gulrud (e2cef3)

  34. When it’s late and I can’t sleep, it’s Sammy time.

    mg (31009b)

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