Patterico's Pontifications

3/30/2014

Which Side Am I On? I Am On The Side of Avoiding The Coming Fiscal Crash

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:21 am

Kevin D. Williamson asks: Which Side Are You On?

The three most important words in politics are: “Compared with what?” And I am more than a little sympathetic to conservatives’ complaints about the failures of elected Republicans in Washington, who consistently disappoint us even when they are in the majority. I am also sympathetic to the view that our situation may have deteriorated to the point that even a unified Republican government under the leadership of principled conservatives may not be enough to turn things around. And though I reject the notion that Mitt Romney wasn’t good enough for true-believing conservatives, let’s say, arguendo, that that was the case. Unless you are ready to give up entirely on the notion of advancing conservative principles through the ballot box, you might consider looking at things this way: Even if you do not think that it matters much whether Republicans win, it matters a great deal that Democrats lose.

Maybe you were not that excited that 2012 gave you a choice between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. I sympathize — I liked Rick Perry. But how is President Romney vs. President Obama a hard choice? How is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vs. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid a hard choice? How is Speaker of the House John Boehner vs. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi a hard choice?

It isn’t.

I’ll grant you that one would be better than the other. The recent Hobby Lobby arguments are a good reminder of why spending decades in the political wilderness is not a plan. Proponents of religious freedom are likely to win that case, but if Obama could stack the Court with his favorite nominees, religious freedom would not have a chance. And, as I am fond of pointing out, the best Justice on the Court was appointed by a mild-mannered Romneyesque president: G.H.W. Bush. Yes, he also gave us Souter (thanks, John Sununu!) but a Democrat gives us two Souters.

Yes, all that is true. But . . .

. . . but good Supreme Court Justices some of the time are no longer good enough. Mild and inoffensive decreases in the rate of government spending are not good enough.

We are racing towards fiscal ruin at top speed. Taking our foot off the brake, or steering five degrees to the right, will not prevent this crash. At this point, it doesn’t really matter that much if we have President Romney or Speaker Boehner or Majority Leader McConnell, because there is no reason to think they will do anything much to change the reality of what’s coming.

Heading towards the cliff at 70 mph instead of 120 mph is better, yes. It gives us more time to formulate a plan for avoiding the cliff. But it’s not good enough.

Williamson says backing conservatives is necessary “[u]nless you are ready to give up entirely on the notion of advancing conservative principles through the ballot box.” Well. I would never advocate the violent overthrow of the U.S. Government. But I’m willing to discuss lesser measures, like secession, or just advocating really crazy, politically suicidal measures like repealing ObamaCare at all cost, or reforming Social Security and Medicare through moderate means like, for example, totally abolishing them.

I think it’s time to grab the steering wheel and give it a spin. The car’s gonna flip a few times, but our chances are better than if we plummet over the cliff to a 3000-foot dropoff.

Sorry, Mr. Williamson. I get where you’re coming from, I really do. But things are more desperate than you seem to want to admit.

147 Responses to “Which Side Am I On? I Am On The Side of Avoiding The Coming Fiscal Crash”

  1. yeah I don’t think he’s thought this through

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  2. I don’t think people who advocate secession have “thought it through” either.

    elissa (aa6b49)

  3. Reasonable to disagree, but I don’t think you can credibly claim Williamson hasn’t thought through the subject.

    http://www.amazon.com/End-Near-Its-Going-Awesome/dp/0062220683/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1396206312&sr=1-1&keywords=end+is+near

    Rev Snow (d68394)

  4. Hmmm. End SS and medicare. Toss 40 million into abject poverty, all of whom vote. NOT going to happen short of a military coup. Since these folks currently trend Republican, it would be party suicide.

    Things we could do, though, would be tax the living hell out of federal, state and local pensions. The intransigence of the employee’s unions, and their willingness to auger it in, make these a possible political target.

    Perhaps a “windfall pensions” tax, assessed upon payment (to avoid issues of residence), to limit pensions to some fixed cap, or to 70% of the last 3 year’s average base pay, or some such. And as for medical in retirement, go find something on the exchanges that are so good for the rest of us.

    Kevin M (b11279)

  5. I have to suspect that advocates of secession have most likely been thinking it through for a while … and some of them may actually mean it …

    Most, I suspect, will discuss it, and discuss alternatives, and come down on the side of an alternative … the discussion, however, will have been valuable …

    As our esteemed bloghost says ““Compared with what?”” …

    Leaving Pres’ent Obama in office rather than replacing him with President Romney basically made the choice to leave a cancer growing in place rather than have what some would liken to an unsightly scar – insufficiently perfect to be worth choosing …

    And we are seeing the cancer growing and metastasising into regulation after regulation on top of selective and inconsistent enforcement of laws …

    Simply put, a scar may not look good, but the cancer risks being fatal …

    Alastor (2e7f9f)

  6. Oh, and I tend to agree with Williamson.

    I also find this risible coming from someone who opposed reducing the political power of state employee unions, for hair-splitting procedural reasons, in 2012.

    Kevin M (b11279)

  7. If I had my choice of anyone likely to win, for the job of restructuring the federal government and making the thing work again, I cannot think of anyone better than Romney.

    The single best candidate the Republican Party has run since at least Reagan, and certainly the best organizational man since Eisenhower. And some people didn’t vote because he didn’t toe their petty litmus tests.

    Kevin M (b11279)

  8. Kevin M #4 … when the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch have to take, as their own medical plans, either Medicaid (Medicare) or the worst of the Obama”care” plans, we will see genuine healthCARE reform …

    As long as the Executive Branch can exempt its own folk and its cronies from the adverse effects of ObamaCare, that corruption spreads … the Senate Democrat majority has no incentive to do anything constructive to fix ObamaCare’s problems as long as the Executive Branch gets away with the corruption of selective law enforcement …

    The cure for ObamaCare’s corruption is at the ballot box … and, the Deity willing, will start in the upcoming mid-term elections …

    Just as HillaryCare before it, ObamaCare does nothing to add doctors or hospitals or medical facilities … it adds yet more administrative burden on an already over-taxed system … and people are suffering the results, as funds are bled away to cronies of the First Family and cronies of the Democrat Party …

    Alastor (2e7f9f)

  9. Yep. The only way you’re gonna balance the budget is slash and burn. That’s what they did here in New Zealand – and it worked.

    But the one thing it did do is give the opposition party of the time (Labour) political ammunition for the next 10 years.

    scrubone (c3104f)

  10. We need a bag full of monkey-wrenches, because there are a lot of gears that need to be jammed.

    askeptic (8ecc78)

  11. The single best candidate the Republican Party has run since at least Reagan, and certainly the best organizational man since Eisenhower.

    I can think of better candidates than Flip Flopney. Felix Huntsman from Utah stands out as one. ABR was correct. In 2012, ABR was better than Flip Flopney. I hate mushy Moderates with a passion. And Flip Flopney would’ve had to have tacked to the Right to get to mushy Moderate status.

    John Hitchcock (95926b)

  12. I don’t mean to argue with the “Pox on Both of Your Houses™” Brigade here, but…just ask yourself two important questions.

    Does the position you take make David Axelrod and his DNC cronies smile? Does the position you take advance their causes?

    Because it’s true, you know.

    Now, you may not care. But do keep in mind the the Right seems pretty eager to do the Left’s dirty work for them, over and over again. And they are laughing at you, all the while you are insisting on ideological purity. Laughing..

    Because they don’t have to work so hard to do the things you say say you abhor. You are helping them, when you sit out elections, focus monomaniacally on the limitations of candidates who have a shot at being elected, and say there is “no difference” between the parties.

    Now, that’s just my opinion. I’m not “pure” enough to suit many. I’m not “quirky” and “funny.” Why, I have even been called a “RINO” and a “squish,” right here on this website.

    But I think I’m right.

    So take that anger and disappointment, and work at the grassroots. To revolutionize from within. You might not win, sure. But you have a much better chance of doing what you propose (including “flipping the car over”) working toward that end than what many people do—which is just sit tight, boycott elections, and complain.

    I am NOT pointing fingers when I write this; that’s not my place. Peace be upon you all.

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  13. Simon Jester, Eric Blair would’ve called you an alphabetist. And he would’ve been right.

    (It’s not a good thing to be an alphabetist.)

    John Hitchcock (95926b)

  14. 11: Who the F is Felix Huntsman? Your neighbor? Not even a Wikipedia page. If you mean Jon Huntsman, Jr, he makes David Souter look decisive.

    Kevin M (b11279)

  15. Yes, I meant Raul Huntsman. That’s why I said George Huntsman in the first place.

    John Hitchcock (95926b)

  16. What has happened to our learned friend, “Eric Blair”, or does he lurk about with a new handle?

    askeptic (8ecc78)

  17. alphabetist

    The 1972 Democrat national convention called the states in a random order to avoid “alphabetism.” A foolish procedure in the midst of a foolish nomination.

    Kevin M (b11279)

  18. I haven’t seen EB in ages. I do miss him, though.

    John Hitchcock (95926b)

  19. Well, if you think Romney was a moderate, you are confusing “moderate” with “adult.”

    Kevin M (b11279)

  20. Thanks for the laugh, Kevin. Even Larry the Cable Guy can’t top that one.

    John Hitchcock (95926b)

  21. Romney “we have always been at war with Oceana” flops almost faster than he flips. “Severe” conservative and all…

    John Hitchcock (95926b)

  22. I think we’ve already driven over the cliff and are just deep in denial. We have to get out of the car and learn how to fly.

    htom (412a17)

  23. And some people didn’t vote because he didn’t toe their petty litmus tests.

    heh… that’s rich, considering Mittens himself was obviously uninterested in winning the election.

    face it, your ideal candidate was a lazy fake, just going through the motions of a campaign, because it was “his turn”…

    redc1c4 (abd49e)

  24. Getting back to the topic, the only paths to solving these problems are possible ones. This is not the worst set of problems the country has faced — 1860-1865, 1873-1893 and 1929-1945 were worse situations. We will get out of it with concerted effort and focus. We will NOT get out of it with one fell swoop, and one-fell-swoop solutions are the enemy of all. This will be a process, not an event.

    The idea that we can avoid a crash by totally upending the economy is beyond silly. The likely result is to have the crash anyway, but have it be less efficient (i.e. more painful) because we messed with it first. The crash of 2008 was severe because we attempted to prop up the market and delay a recession, and in the end we simply added more stress to the system.

    Instead we have to move to correct the grossest problems (Medicare, Medicaid and the state and local pension mess) and hope that the rest of it will sort itself out.

    Some of it already is: Social Security is fairly stable; given the size of the Millenials cohort it might need a few teaks in retirement age but it is otherwise not an issue. Perhaps we just roll all the state and local pension money into the SS trust fund and convert al state and local pensions to SS payments, under the current caps.

    Medicare, Medicaid and Obamacare are all wrong, of course. If push comes to shove here, and the choices are nothing or single-payer, we’ll have single-payer. That’s the politics of it. It might suck, but it will be gbetter than nothing and other countries manage to make it work, so probably we can, too.

    But dismembering the country? Can you imagine Sacramento or Albany without the US Constitution? Radical solutions may come, but it will be an aftermath kind of thing rather than anything that a political process churns out.

    Kevin M (b11279)

  25. Anyone who says with a straight face that “Social Security is fairly stable” has no business being at the grown-ups table.

    John Hitchcock (95926b)

  26. Patterico–

    I recommend Dan Simmon’s Flashback, a novel about the US 20 years after Obama and the Crash. It isn’t pretty. and Simmons (a Hugo and Nebula award-winner) is now persona non grata among the left. The reviews are bimodal.

    Kevin M (b11279)

  27. John, you have no effing ideal what you blather.

    Kevin M (b11279)

  28. No, I have no ideal (sic) that SocSec is a Ponzi scheme and, like all Ponzi schemes, is doomed from the start to fail… just like it’s doing.

    John Hitchcock (95926b)

  29. Leaving Pres’ent Obama in office rather than replacing him with President Romney basically made the choice to leave a cancer growing in place rather than have what some would liken to an unsightly scar – insufficiently perfect to be worth choosing …

    Pretty much Steve Job’s choice. Didn’t work well for him.

    Kevin M (b11279)

  30. Typo attacks are the last refuge of the clueless.

    Kevin M (b11279)

  31. There are certainly lots of “last refuges” being thrown about these days. But it’s interesting there is no refudiation of my pointed … point.

    John Hitchcock (95926b)

  32. John, I’d school you on SS, but the math would be over your head. Go do your own research, I did. Assuming that the US does not default on its bonds, the system is sound.

    And if the US does default on its bonds, SS’s failure will be the very least of our problems — a Mad Max future.

    Kevin M (b11279)

  33. 22 paying in for every 1 taking out becomes 3 paying in for every 1 taking out, and it’s sound?

    Paying out more than taking in is sound?

    I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

    John Hitchcock (95926b)

  34. And as an LLC owner, and former collegiate Math student, I think I know a bit about math. Or do you mean the new math, where 2+2=monkey? Yeah, I don’t know that math.

    John Hitchcock (95926b)

  35. Well it’s more Bialystok and Bloom (the Producers)
    then anything Charles Ponzi could ever conceive,

    narciso (3fec35)

  36. I also find this risible coming from someone who opposed reducing the political power of state employee unions, for hair-splitting procedural reasons, in 2012.

    Tell everyone what those “hair-splitting procedural reasons” were, Kevin M.

    I recall it being the First Amendment.

    You and I disagree on whether that was an issue, I guess, but shouldn’t you at least be forthright about what my stated concern was?

    Patterico (21f6ec)

  37. This is not the worst set of problems the country has faced — 1860-1865, 1873-1893 and 1929-1945 were worse situations.

    They were worse than what we are going through now — since what we are going through now is mild. But what we are facing in the future? I worry it will be worse than any of the above.

    Patterico (21f6ec)

  38. John, there are big differences between SS and a Ponzi scheme.

    In a classic Ponzi scheme, the early “investors” get paid every time a new chum “invests”. There comes a point where the newer people can never get their money out because there are no more new chums, and the system collapses.

    SS is different.

    1. The money is paid in over time and paid out over time.
    2. New people are always entering the system, like clockwork.
    3. Old people are always leaving the system, also like clockwork.

    4. Points 2 + 3 mean that the ratio of people paying in to people taking out remains within some very fixed boundaries.

    5. There is a cash repository (US bonds are as much cash as Federal Reserve Notes are cash) that forms a large buffer of several years outflow (currently $2.7 trillion). This forms a payment buffer of decades. The SSTF is still increasing annuall, and will do so until 2021 if nothing changes.

    6. Small changes in income and outflow can be made and have enormous long-term changes on the system, the more so if they are done sooner. An increase in retirement age of a year, for example, would drive the system far into the black.

    7. Even if nothing is done, and in 25 years the SSTF is exhausted, payments to seniors would decrease to the amount of income, which at that time would still be 75 cents on the SS dollar.

    This is nothing like a Ponzi scheme, and saying it is is either ignorant or dissembling.

    p.s. anyone can own an LLC. I’m partners in several. I also hold a physics degree from Harvey Mudd, so I’m kinda up on math, too.

    Kevin M (b11279)

  39. the whore Republicans just not at all long ago demolished the sequester, the only tool in a decade or better to have any salutary impact on spending

    they’re not try very hard for my vote

    no they’re not trying very hard at all

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  40. they’re not *trying* very hard for my vote I mean

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  41. But dismembering the country? Can you imagine Sacramento or Albany without the US Constitution? Radical solutions may come, but it will be an aftermath kind of thing rather than anything that a political process churns out.

    I’m not talking about blue states seceding. The reason to secede is because of policies blue states love. I am in the wrong state to be talking about it, but it makes for an interesting discussion.

    And I agree that it’s a discussion for a post-crash world. There is not the political will to secede even in Texas … now. But after the crash? Or maybe when it is staring us in the face? That might be a different proposition.

    Sure, Social Security is stable for now. But there is zero political will to deal with what’s coming.

    Patterico (21f6ec)

  42. and Social Security is rape, simple as that

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  43. I should also point out that the stress on SS comes from the large baby boomer generation entering retirement while the main earners in the economy is the much smaller Gen X, or “baby bust.”

    But following them are the Millenials, or “echo boom” generation, a cohort the size of the boomers themselves. In time, 20 years or so, when Gen X is retiring, they will be supported by a larger generation and the stress we see now will be gone, if not reversed.

    So, not only is it not a Ponzi scheme, but with maybe some age or tax tweaks, it is not in any real trouble.

    Kevin M (b11279)

  44. And I agree that it’s a discussion for a post-crash world. There is not the political will to secede even in Texas … now. But after the crash? Or maybe when it is staring us in the face? That might be a different proposition.

    And in such desperate times, leaving might not be unopposed. How many nukes does Texas have?

    Kevin M (b11279)

  45. I note that in that Flashback book I mentioned, Texas HAS seceded, and is really quite picky about immigrants.

    Kevin M (b11279)

  46. and Social Security is rape, simple as that

    Isn’t everything?

    Kevin M (b11279)

  47. Yeah, it’s not a Ponzi scheme. A pyramid scheme is not a Ponzi scheme. A golden retriever is not a dog. We were always at war with Oceana.

    SocSec is a Ponzi scheme. To claim otherwise is to be ignorant of the facts or a dissembler.

    John Hitchcock (95926b)

  48. I recall it being the First Amendment.

    You and I disagree on whether that was an issue, I guess, but shouldn’t you at least be forthright about what my stated concern was?

    Yes, you supported an interpretation of the first amendment (that no organization whatsoever should have its rights to speak curtailed) that the groups in question had LONG fought to deny to others, such as corporations. And until recently they had succeeded.

    However, it also is a case of quite obvious conflict of interest that no other group comes close to, and where others with less of a conflict are STILL prevented from political contributions (e.g. federal contractors).

    Employee unions negotiate with politicians for their wages and benefits. For them to have a major voice in choosing those politicians is a clear conflict. Nor is this conflict hypothetical — it is the basis of the current machine.

    So, given your willingness to offer up “extreme” solutions, rising to a point of order on something that is in order within the current system is a hairsplitting procedural point. So long as federal contractors cannot donate to political campaigns, this is not a 1st Amendment argument.

    Kevin M (b11279)

  49. You can lead a jackass to water, Simon…

    Colonel Haiku (5eaa1e)

  50. SS is not a Ponzi scheme for other reasons, too. The operator cannot disappear, the investors cannot bail early and there are always new investors. The only thing done in recent times that moved it toward being a Ponzi scheme was the recent 2% tax holiday. There is no reason, however, other than the perfidiousness of politicians, that SS cannot run forever.

    Kevin M (b11279)

  51. They were worse than what we are going through now — since what we are going through now is mild. But what we are facing in the future? I worry it will be worse than any of the above.

    And you are right to do so. My real difference in this is that I think we should work the art of the possible before we reach for the nukes.

    The thing about Prop whateveritwas is that I think that the way many state governments are hogtied by employee unions owning the legislature is part of the problem. I agree with you, actually, about the boundaries of political speech (none), but the system disagrees with us on that and I’ve learned, painfully, not to pretend otherwise.

    Perhaps a better plan would be repealing the collective bargaining law, but that wasn’t on the ballot, and as you point out, we are in a hurry.

    Kevin M (b11279)

  52. I do not consider support for the First Amendment to be hairsplitting or procedural. And, as we have seen with Roger Shuler, even opponents of the First Amendment are entitled to First Amendment protection. I will not sacrifice constitutional protections for groups I do not favor, even if they are hypocrites.

    I agree that unions are corrosive and a net negative to society.

    And I am still astounded that we are talking about Social Security instead of Medicare.

    Patterico (15551a)

  53. The single major reform that is needed here in California, though, is removing the future-vesting nature of government employee pensions.

    It is one thing to say that the employee is vested in the pension he has contributed to under the rules which existed as he contributed. It is quite another to say that 1) if the rules improve, they improve retroactively; and 2) the employee’s future contributions are vested under the best plan ever offered during his employment; and 3) therefore, no reduction in pensions or negative changes in pension rules can apply to any current worker, even for future contributions.

    If that does not change, state and local workers retiring in the not to distant future are going to be trying to get blood out of a rock. Going after the citizenry for gobs of taxes won’t work, nor will the feds be able to fix it

    Kevin M (b11279)

  54. I do not consider support for the First Amendment to be hairsplitting or procedural.

    OK. We agree to disagree, and I’ll note my disagreement is based on current law, not on what I feel the law should be.

    Kevin M (b11279)

  55. …not toO distant future…

    Kevin M (b11279)

  56. Well there is some pushback

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26807739

    narciso (3fec35)

  57. Kevin M. — The Millennials are a huge generation, true. But do you see anything on the horizon which suggests there’ll ever again be a vibrant working middle class –or that the Millennials as a group will ever be fully employed and make the kinds of wages/salaries necessary to support SS in the way their parents and grandparents did, and were taxed on?

    elissa (aa6b49)

  58. And you are right to do so. My real difference in this is that I think we should work the art of the possible…

    Given our current impossible trajectory, I am more concerned with changing what is considered “possible” than I am with working within limits that are too restrictive to avoid the disaster.

    Patterico (21f6ec)

  59. a Mad Max future….
    That would be worse than a Viva Max future, but afford tremendous opportunity for payback.

    askeptic (8ecc78)

  60. Newt says we’re all prolly gonna die soon, anyway….

    http://www.nationaljournal.com/tech/newt-gingrich-s-plan-to-stave-off-the-apocalypse-20140328

    elissa (aa6b49)

  61. And in such desperate times, leaving might not be unopposed. How many nukes does Texas have?

    Has anyone got access to the inventory data from that plant in Amarillo?

    askeptic (8ecc78)

  62. Kevin M,

    I am curious: do you think we are headed for a huge fiscal crash, or not?

    Patterico (15551a)

  63. I should also point out that the stress on SS comes from the large baby boomer generation entering retirement while the main earners in the economy is the much smaller Gen X, or “baby bust.”

    But following them are the Millenials, or “echo boom” generation, a cohort the size of the boomers themselves. In time, 20 years or so, when Gen X is retiring, they will be supported by a larger generation and the stress we see now will be gone, if not reversed.

    But what if with this wretched economy, more and more Baby Boomers choose to put off retirement? A while back I was talking with an ex-boss of mine who is 68 and still working. He’s in an executive position, exactly the sort of job that someone in my generation wants to move up to once he leaves. I asked him how much longer he planned to continue working, and he said that he wants to go at least until he is 75. Some of that is because he has a capacity for work, but he said that a big part of it is that he is afraid the economy will tank and wants to leave his 401K and other retirement funds intact for his wife and children. So yeah, he’s still paying Social Security, but he is also collecting it too, and he is taking up a good position in the jobforce that would otherwise go to someone younger, which would in turn open up jobs down the line for younger workers. I think we are going to be seeing a lot of that, especially in private sector jobs that don’t have defined pensions. That does not bode well for the Millenials.

    JVW (9946b6)

  64. Obama will just make retirement at x-age mandatory with an XO, for the children.

    askeptic (8ecc78)

  65. Patterico: I’m with you on this.

    In 2009, I help form a Tea Party. We had 16,000 people in front of the Alamo. The Tea Party has failed. Those who doubt that should check http://www.usdebtclock.org. The car cannot be turned in time to avoid the cliff.

    I’m done. Out of the Tea Party, out of most politics. No politician today is worth my time — NONE! Yes, I am that cynical. No matter how cynical you are, you’re not nearly cynical enough.

    Ranten N. Raven (467147)

  66. Elissa (57)–

    Yes. In the Millenials defense I’ll point out that the Boomers were pretty horrid in the 60′s but eventually got jobs and careers.

    As far as the economic environment, part of this is political and I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that part of this is that US politics ae affected by the size and attitudes of the cohorts moving through. The young boomers of the 60′s and their FDR/WW2 parents were inclined towards statist solutions. As the boomers aged,they changed their minds and stated electing people like Reagan. Gen X wasn’t big enough to shift the tide as much, but the Millenials are, and have. As they age, they’ll move right, too. Certainly they won’t stand for the end of the stick they’re getting for long.

    Kevin M (b11279)

  67. http://solutions.heritage.org/budget-and-spending/

    The long-term unfunded obligations in the nation’s major entitlement programs loom like an even darker cloud over the U.S. economy. Demographic and economic factors will combine to drive spending in Medicare, Medicaid (including Obamacare), and Social Security to unsustainable heights. The major entitlements and interest on the debt are on track to devour all tax revenues before mid-century.

    Over the 75-year long-term horizon, the combined unfunded obligations arising from promised benefits in Medicare and Social Security alone exceed $48 trillion. The federal unfunded obligations arising from Medicaid, and even from veterans’ benefits, are unknown but would likely add many trillions more to this figure.

    but there’s nothing wrong with SS, according to our betters.

    redc1c4 (abd49e)

  68. JVW–are you sure he is collecting social security? Most eligible high earners do not while they are still actively working. They can delay taking payment well past 70, I believe in order to get higher monthly SS payments later. (I realize that still does not solve your issue about pushing him out the door so you can move up, tho. :) )

    elissa (aa6b49)

  69. Public employee unions are one of Cali’s major remoras attached to our state budget. Unsustainable drain on taxpayer money and the unions could give a flying flip as long as they get theirs.

    Colonel Haiku (ec6093)

  70. The government over spending fiscal crisis is definitely looming. I actually think that Obama and the nat’l Democrat leadership’s irresponsible actions in recent years has accelerated it. The states are if anything going to start failing first.

    However, there is a related but different problem looming across the whole economy. That of the grossly distorted financial markets. Federal Reserve actions since 2008 have pumped so much funny money into the economy (and other central banks internationally have paralleled these irresponsible actions) that when the financial markets correct it will be an order of magnitude worse than the 2008 correction.

    SPQR (768505)

  71. Spot on, SPQR!!!

    Colonel Haiku (ec6093)

  72. I am curious: do you think we are headed for a huge fiscal crash, or not?

    I believe there is still some time, and reasonable ways to deal with it. I would have been more sanguine had Romney won, and I have no patience for the idea that it would not have greatly helped had he done so. I would rather have seen a President Gingrich, because Gingrich is smarter, but perhaps Romeny had better judgement. As opposed to President SfB.

    But we are also in a hurry, and perhaps corners need to be cut. Trashing Social Security is not a way out, just a different doom. As is trashing public and private pensions and savings. BUt everything will take a hit.

    As you point out, Medicare (and Medicaid) are the immediate problems, exacerbated by the need to fix the “own goal” of Obamacare. If I were King, and in a hurry, I’d means-test Medicare severely, and anyone with an income over $100-something K would be buying a policy on the exchange.*

    There might also be a larger class of things it would no longer pay for. Obviously a heart transplant for an 90-year-old with Alzheimer’s isn’t done, and somewhere down the list is a line. Might move that south.

    Medicaid is a horribly expensive way to get crappy medical care, and everyone games the system. Perhaps instead of trying to duplicate the market system for low-cost, you instead offer “free” basic care and no more. Fund clinics that treat infectious disease, do immunizations, set broken arms, etc. Fund emergency/trama centers open to all (trauma might well work as single-payer since no one is going to haggle or shop). Refuse to treat basic conditions in emergency rooms; soon they go to the clinic instead of wasting their time, only to be turned away and perhaps fined.

    And perhaps all health insurance ought to be personal, not on-the-job and whole-life. The job might pay your bill, but if you leave it’s yours. not theirs. That’s one way to fix “exisiting conditions.”

    ————
    *The ONLY thing Obamacare got right was to deal with the problem of pre-exisiting conditions, which everyone over 65 has some of, and many people after, oh, 50. Prostate problems, high-blood pressure, cholesterol, skin cancer, HPV, etc. You get to 50-something and getting insurance on the private market was difficult before the ACA. He just did it about as terribly as possible.

    To reform Medicare, you need to have policies available for sick people, at a price that doesn’t require a subsidy. Corporate insurance does this by leveraging large groups. There has to be a way.

    Kevin M (b11279)

  73. the problem, I’ve noted is that measures to rein in public sector unions, at least one finance by Ron Unz, have backfired.

    narciso (3fec35)

  74. JVW–are you sure he is collecting social security?

    I think he told me he is. He is beyond retirement age, so he doesn’t have to pay the penalty. If I understand it correctly, the only other reason you would not want to collect SS while working is if you thought you would be earning higher levels of income at your job, which would increase your potential SS payment. I don’t think that applies to him because (1) the industry is such that he is not making as much (in performance bonuses) today as he would have been making six years earlier and (2) he is definitely already at the max level for SS payments anyway.

    And I left that industry, so he doesn’t have to worry about me back-stabbing him. Though he is blocking the career path of a friend of mine.

    JVW (9946b6)

  75. the irony of that, is the preexisting condition hurdle was one outgrowth from the HMO bill, to ‘bend the cost curve’ down, a government solution blamed on private interests,

    narciso (3fec35)

  76. when the financial markets correct it will be an order of magnitude worse than the 2008 correction.

    I’m pretty sure that inflation will correct first. Which will be hell on the debt bonds.

    Kevin M (b11279)

  77. The problem is, anyone who agrees with Patterico –

    You’re not going to flip the car.

    You’re going to end up fighting with the people who want to slow down. In the backseat.

    While the people behind the wheel hit the accelerator, and we go over the cliff worse.

    But hey, if that’s what you want, go ahead. I’m just waiting for the seasteads anyway, so I can get away from ALL OF YOU.

    Demosthenes (28c185)

  78. JVW,

    It’s not all that easy to live solely on Social Security, especially if you have fixed expenses like a mortgage or health insurance for a spouse. The two market crashes of the last decade hurt a lot of people badly.

    Kevin M (b11279)

  79. JVW– Not to belabor, but I thought you and your friend might find this link of interest.

    Social Security benefits are increased by a certain percentage (depending on date of birth) if you delay your retirement beyond full retirement age.
    The benefit increase no longer applies when you reach age 70, even if you continue to delay taking benefits.

    SS benefits are individually taxed very heavily when added to an executive’s salary. That is why few high earners find it beneficial to collect SS while they’re still working. If this guy is mentally and physically sharp he is doing the right thing to prolong his productive career in order to improve his own retirement security.

    http://www.ssa.gov/retire2/delayret.htm

    elissa (aa6b49)

  80. One thing that should be pointed out in all of this: Obama’s added debt so far is TWICE the size of the Social Security Trust Fund. If even half of this debt had been incurred to shore up Medicare and SS, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

    And THREE more years before we can get started. I does give one pause.

    Kevin M (b11279)

  81. While the people behind the wheel hit the accelerator, and we go over the cliff worse.

    I’m not sure there’s a good way to go over the cliff.

    Patterico (15551a)

  82. This is why all the con artists, McCaskill included,
    had to be kept in place

    narciso (3fec35)

  83. Well there is some pushback
    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26807739
    Comment by narciso

    I always like seeing what’s going in other parts of the world, particularly those areas that best exemplify liberalism run amok — which includes the nation of France — to get a better sense of what may very well happen to the US in the future. Or a cautionary tale to keep people (who are sane) awake at night.

    An intra-national version of the following would be observing American cities like Detroit, since those are ideological counterparts to France’s capital city. However, as is true of New York City (particularly if it had been managed by its current ultra-liberal for the past 13 years), the one difference being that the status of certain places (communities or countries) at least may be partially shielded from self-destructive politics by a combination of greater size, long-term history, traditional momentum and demographics. But the future of such communities still may not be all that much less murky than that of urban US cities similar to Detroit.

    In Paris, which has had a Socialist mayor since 2001, Socialist candidate Anne Hidalgo claimed victory over her UMP rival.

    It was seen as a consolation for the governing party on a night of setbacks.

    There’s a saying that “demographics is destiny.” Taking that admittedly broad generalization and combining it with a watchful, wary eye on what’s long been true of societies like Mexico, etc — and knowing that both purposeful and natural trends are changing the demographics of the US — I’d be naive to be as confident in the US’s future as I once was.

    Mark (12c2a8)

  84. Who the F is Felix Huntsman? Your neighbor? Not even a Wikipedia page. If you mean Jon Huntsman, Jr, he makes David Souter look decisive. — Comment by Kevin M

    Yes, I meant Raul Huntsman. That’s why I said George Huntsman in the first place. — Comment by John Hitchcock

    Huh? What? Not sure if that exchange was configured to be a purely humorous moment, an instance of LOL. It must be, because no one who has any awareness of the ideological underpinnings of various major politicians would ever consider Huntsman as other than the squishiest of squishy Republicans.

    Mark (12c2a8)

  85. The public debt is something like $12 trillion. Currently it is financed with mostly short-term notes at less than one per cent and the whole thing is costing maybe 1.5-2% or $250 billion annually (these numbers are from memory, and may be off some).

    When the economy restarts, as it must eventually, and interest rates rise to 2-3% over inflation, which would be 5% right now, the cost of this debt will go up fairly abruptly to $750 billion. Should inflation go up as well, to say, 6-7% and we are looking at 10% interest even short term, servicing the debt would be well over a trillion per year.

    The technical term for this is “uh-oh!” I think this is the main problem Patterico is seeing. The only way out of something like this is to rapidly grow the GDP. The current bunch in office have other ideas.

    Kevin M (b11279)

  86. 84–

    Hitchcock was semi-trolling I think. I took the comment to be an absurdist response to the idea that Romney was conservative.

    Kevin M (b11279)

  87. Also, the portion of the deft that isn’t public is mostly in the SSTF. If they continue to pay that at 1-2% when the open bond market is asking 5% or more, they are robbing social security. Again.

    Kevin M (b11279)

  88. It’s not all that easy to live solely on Social Security, especially if you have fixed expenses like a mortgage or health insurance for a spouse. The two market crashes of the last decade hurt a lot of people badly.

    I know, Kevin, and that’s my point. As Baby Boomers work later into their lives and delay retirement, they are going to be crowding younger workers (who are supposed to be the ones footing the bill for Social Security) out of the job market. It’s a bad situation all around.

    If this guy is mentally and physically sharp he is doing the right thing to prolong his productive career in order to improve his own retirement security.

    Sure, but by extending his career he is in effect crowding out a younger worker. That does not bode well for the future, both in a financial sense and in a social cohesion sense.

    JVW (9946b6)

  89. a reaction to the ‘dialed to eleven’ idiocy of Hollandaise, yields a reaction by their Occupy contingent;

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2592921/Riot-police-called-violent-clashes-break-France-far-right-National-Front-win-dramatic-gains-local-elections.html

    the problem is they have such poor stewards of the program they claim to protect,

    narciso (3fec35)

  90. Hitchcock was semi-trolling I think

    I now realize he was just being very tongue-in-cheek. It would have been a case of trolling if he were a closeted liberal, or a flat-out liberal, period. So d’oh to me for not seeing the humor in his comment!

    yields a reaction by their Occupy contingent;

    Meanwhile, notice how the media, whether here or there, happily and nonchalantly describe rightist organizations or groups as “far right,” while never or rarely applying the adjective of “far left” to out-and-out leftists/socialists or ultra-liberals.

    Mark (12c2a8)

  91. describe rightist organizations or groups as “far right”

    Well, from their perspective Gerald Ford was a right-wing nutter, and Obama is a centrist.

    Kevin M (b11279)

  92. I’m not sure there’s a good way to go over the cliff.

    Comment by Patterico (15551a) — 3/30/2014 @ 4:28 pm

    All liquored up, eyes closed, holding hands

    Colonel Haiku (ec903e)

  93. Well Ford was an easy mark, note how Steven, the Levi guidelines, and a whole host of other concessions, came on his watch, the best that can be said is that Cheney and Rumsfeld, learned from many of their mistakes, some would say making mistakes of their own, there was a reason Reagan
    challenged him, over detente and economic policy,

    narciso (3fec35)

  94. As opposed to drooling, open-mouthed, thumb up ass…

    Colonel Haiku (ec903e)

  95. I’m not sure there’s a good way to go over the cliff.

    i want to go quietly, in my sleep, just like my grandfather…

    rater than screaming in terror like all the passengers on his bus.

    ;-)

    redc1c4 (abd49e)

  96. “rather”…

    here’s another part of the problem:

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-03-30/what-happens-when-workers-just-dont-care-anymore

    redc1c4 (abd49e)

  97. Jack Handy!!!

    Colonel Haiku (ec903e)

  98. We will have a better idea of our chances after the midterms.

    If the GOP picks up 8-10 Senate seats and some in the House then I’ll feel much better. If we blow it or a cheated out of it, it’s a long way to 2017.

    With a blowout win in the midterms, the remaining Dems in the Senate might be willing to climb down off the Obamacare edge. For the Democrats to go from 60 seats to 45, and worse in the House, in only three elections might get a few of them to see reason. *

    Certainly Obama would not like it, but even if Obamacare isn’t repealed, it would be radically altered. All that would be needed is the Democrats get a fig leaf of reform. Perhaps lifetime portable national plans and Texas-style rules.

    ——
    *Or maybe not — there are only 5 Dems up for re-election in 2016 who could conceivably lose. Mostly Republicans that year, which would be an opportunity for the Tea Party to correct course if needed.

    Kevin M (b11279)

  99. *edge ledge

    Kevin M (b11279)

  100. The country has lurched to a return of teh pious, born-again creep Jimmy Carter malaise era on steroids…

    Colonel Haiku (ec903e)

  101. narcisco–

    Ford was a caretaker, picked for his centrism and lack of ego.

    Kevin M (b11279)

  102. Colonel,

    Jimmy Carter would be a refreshing change right now. For all his many faults, Carter was able to admit an error and change. Mr Obama admits no error, and when things go wrong it’s everyone else’s fault.

    Kevin M (b11279)

  103. I don’t know how refreshing that smarmy lying peanut farmer would be, Kevin, but it would be a change.

    Colonel Haiku (ec903e)

  104. @ 80

    I’m not sure there’s a good way to go over the cliff.

    Very well. Replace “worse” with “anyway,” if it pleases you. And by the way, congratulations on totally avoiding the substance of what I said.

    Demosthenes (28c185)

  105. We are racing towards fiscal ruin at top speed. Taking our foot off the brake, or steering five degrees to the right, will not prevent this crash. At this point, it doesn’t really matter that much if we have President Romney or Speaker Boehner or Majority Leader McConnell, because there is no reason to think they will do anything much to change the reality of what’s coming.

    Heading towards the cliff at 70 mph instead of 120 mph is better, yes. It gives us more time to formulate a plan for avoiding the cliff. But it’s not good enough.

    Williamson says backing conservatives is necessary “[u]nless you are ready to give up entirely on the notion of advancing conservative principles through the ballot box.” Well. I would never advocate the violent overthrow of the U.S. Government. But I’m willing to discuss lesser measures, like secession, or just advocating really crazy, politically suicidal measures like repealing ObamaCare at all cost, or reforming Social Security and Medicare through moderate means like, for example, totally abolishing them.

    I think it’s time to grab the steering wheel and give it a spin. The car’s gonna flip a few times, but our chances are better than if we plummet over the cliff to a 3000-foot dropoff.

    Thank you, Pat. I’ve been saying for years that the Republican hierarchy is scared spitless of doing or saying things that the Democrats in both Washington and the mainstream media will call “extreme.” My philosophy has for years been that when you are driving a car and approaching a cliff at high speed, you would never hit the brakes moderately hard, you would hit themextremely hard!

    L.N. Smithee (afad2a)

  106. Given that the political reality is that both major political parties have been nearly wholly co-opted by statists (as long ago foreseen by de Tocqueville), I want to know on what basis any of y’all, like Kevin M., who insist that half-measures may buy sufficient time, let alone even be adopted in the first-place, trust is merited. Laughable. Tragically laughable.

    The only hope is divine intervention. That’s a heck of a way to plan for survival.

    What we are facing is every bit as [problematic as a hot war: Once the economic cataclysm (shooting) begins, there is no possibility of managing a softer course.

    I’d rather have at least some say in how it begins.

    Ed from SFV (3400a5)

  107. here’s another part of the problem:
    zerohedge.com/news/2014-03-30/what-happens-when-workers-just-dont-care-anymore

    For all his many faults, Carter was able to admit an error and change.

    America in 2014 seems more exhausted compared with the 1970s — or when Carter was in the White House — or during the last period of a protracted recession, the 1930s and 1940s — or when Roosevelt was in the White House — because the overall nature of the US has become socially/culturally more threadbare (or decadent) since that time, more whittled down by a “just don’t care anymore” ethos.

    Things that would have shocked or at least bothered even liberals 30 or 50-plus years ago (eg, outrageous incidents involving students and/or teachers in public schools, etc) are now standard operating procedure to their successors in the 21st century, and many conservatives of today versus most of their predecessors of yesteryear are merely pulling up the rear (“oh, well, let’s just go with the flow”).

    Mark (12c2a8)

  108. financial crisis?

    hump.

    that.

    pain.

    away.

    (1:58)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WN9Tsobbnbw

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  109. The only hope is divine intervention. That’s a heck of a way to plan for survival.

    Sorry, but if it’s hopeless then I’ve got nothing to lose by trying. You might as well leave now before the rush. Don’t let the door hitya on the way out of civilization.

    Kevin M (b11279)

  110. Jimmy Carter would be a refreshing change right now. For all his many faults, Carter was able to admit an error and change

    Keep in mind though that the Jimmy Carter of 2014 is vastly different than the Jimmy Carter of 1978. That Carter was able to admit error and make a correction, but I think today’s Carter is a cantankerous old fart, unbelievably sanctimonious, shrill, hyper-partisan, and whose long-suppressed hatreds have finally bubbled over. What’s more, if anything he is even more childish and naive about foreign policy, witness his cuddling up to dictators in Cuba and Venezuela.

    JVW (9946b6)

  111. redc1c4 – you beat me to it !

    Whether or not the economy can survive Pres’ent Obama and Pelosi and Reid, it motivated me sufficiently to get photovoltaic put on the roof of my home – an 8 kW system … if things go well, it will be a bonus … if things go badly, we are (ironically) sort of insulated from California power supply idiocies …

    Alastor (2e7f9f)

  112. Sorry, but if it’s hopeless then I’ve got nothing to lose by trying.

    Funny, that is what Pat is seeking and you attack his precepts.

    When faced with an enemy, is one more wise to plan for an easier/softer conflict, or for a formidable and menacing conflagration? Does one take options off the table before it begins and continue to for what helped bring the war, or should one create more options which depart from a doomed course?

    Ed from SFV (3400a5)

  113. continue to do things that helped*

    apologies for failure to better edit

    Ed from SFV (3400a5)

  114. I don’t see the problem. Then again, all I know about the subject is from that Vox video at Ezra Klein’s site. For those don’t have the 3 minutes to watch it I can summarize: Printing Press > logic

    East Bay Jay (a5dac7)

  115. Demosthenes, you and I have just been battling over metaphors. If you want to take this to the real world, I will just suggest that if you think what the establishment Republicans have been doing gives us any chance of avoiding the crisis, then you and I don’t see the coming crisis the same way.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  116. I think it’s clear that Kevin M sees this as far less of a crisis than I do. If that’s your view, then the same old song and dance with a hair lower taxes and a hair less spending sounds fine, I guess.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  117. Take heart, guys. We should win the Senate. Will they block extreme Supreme Court appointments? No, because these days what is extreme (overthrowing founding principles) is seen as mainstream — and good judging (upholding them) is seen as extreme.

    So, yay, we could block Stephen Reinhardtish ideologues, but they are fine with one or two more Sotomayors and Kagans. Republicans won’t block such people, so again, as usual, very little will change politically when the Senate changes hands.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  118. I have entrusted Republican pols with my vote for thirty-plus years and now, thanks primarily to Ted Cruz, I have had the true nature of the Republican swindle thrust squarely in my face. This is by no means the first time I have felt conned by a pol, but it is the first time it has come to my complete and undivided attention that the elected officials I trusted have devised a coordinated scheme to sell out their conservative constituents (me!) and hide their tracks while doing so. To think I once lectured a liberal friend about how I always cast my vote based on the character of the office-seeker and not on some silly shopping list of positions. What a fool I was.

    Everyone has their own creed. Here’s mine: “Fool me once shame, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Vote as you think fit, but I will not be fooled again.

    I’ve pretty much given up on forecasting the future; every day, it seems, I am flummoxed anew by the stories topping the news. Big bang or long, grinding fizzle, I don’t know how the fiscal/ financial crisis will play out. Besides, my concern is more with the ongoing cultural collapse.

    What I do know is that whatever the nature of the collapse, our children will be left holding the bag. I’m not going to lose any sleep, however, worrying about Boomers who were never willing to reform safety net programs finding their Social Security and Medicare checks are bouncing.

    ThOR (5d54bb)

  119. Some say despair is the greatest sin of all. Some, who ever he is, also says that ripping a bandaid off fast gets the pain over quicker compared to a long slow agonizing pull.

    I figure if we cannot elect a slate of candidates who are willing to put on the brakes, unwind Obama, unwind EPA, unwind most of the rest of the bloated government except for precisely what is called for in plain direct words in the Constitution then we’re gonna die. It’ll be fast or it’ll be slow. But it will be sublimely painful either way.

    At 70 years old I have to sit back and consider. If I vote for a mere slowdown then maybe by the time it’s my time to shuffle off this mortal coil it’ll still be good enough I don’t suffer a lot. If I despair and vote for Hillary or Biden or whomever else the (censored) progressive fools put up for POTUS the crash will happen sooner. It will be deeper. It will be nastier. I will hurt. probably a great deal. My children might live to see the nation come out the other side of the disaster.

    So you see, I am conflicted about how to vote the next time if presented with yet another establishment fathead Republican with no manhood to speak of vs even an incarnation of the devil. I pray, plead, down on my knees that I get a choice to vote for somebody who will matter, who has courage, conviction, and a willingness to slash and burn in Washington DC.

    I’ll wait and see. I don’t think I’ll bother to hold my breath, though.

    {o.o}

    JDow (c4e4c5)

  120. the one hope of the doomed is to not hope for safety.

    redc1c4 (abd49e)

  121. Whatever behavior you encourage, you get more of.

    We’ve been holding our nose and voting for the lesser of two evils for so long that all we have is evil.

    And it’s hard to tell which is lesser these days.

    I’m going to be selfish and vote my own self interest and to heck with supreme court justice picks or pleasing this group or that in the hopes they will vote with me.

    What ever person rings my personal chimes the most by hitting the most important bells and who has a consistent record of doing so, gets my vote.

    And that also means that those who have been voting for John Boehner and Mitch McConnell as leaders is not high on my list.

    jakee308 (f1b953)

  122. I think it’s clear that Kevin M sees this as far less of a crisis than I do

    I quibble over the word far. I also believe that unless you intend to take up arms, you have to work through the system we have, and that means to have to restrict action to what is possible within it.

    I also suggest, again, that if the situation is so dire, why the heck do you stand so forthrightly for a 1st amendment interpretation that does not currently hold for others similarly situated, when that protection is helping the bad guys? I’m sorry I keep coming back to this, but you have what seems to me some odd priorities if this really IS lifeboat ethics.

    There is a plan for taking back control of all three branches of government, by the only party of the two that seems even remotely interested in digging out of this mess.

    And all I hear is blah blah blah all is lost, give up (which, frankly, is the Democrat’s best argument for staying in power). Or, alternatively, Sampson in the Temple (admittedly a better plan, but not a good plan A).

    What I want is a new President in 2016, preferably Rand Paul, who will gut the living Hell out of the federal government. But to do that he needs a strong majority in both houses and a Court that won’t get in the way. Maybe Ted Cruz will work, but I don’t really trust him, and he has too many expensive things he’d leave in place. I want the Departments of Energy, Commerce, Agriculture, HUD, HHS, Labor, Education and Homeland Security closed, with only a few pieces of those left (patent office, eiwghts and measures, food inspection) and a plan to privatize those.

    So, no It’s not a few little nips and tucks I want. But you have to set up the table before you can run it.

    Kevin M (b11279)

  123. Maybe it’s time for our side to seek forgiveness, and not permission.

    Ed from SFV (3400a5)

  124. Had we succeeded in 2012, we’d have had less need for radical action. But we did not and we have to bind up our wounds and retrench. I understand not wanting to wait. You have no idea how much I understand it. But we have no other choice. The BEST we could do now would be to force a crisis by not passing any spending bills. But that requires someone who is capable of responding, and Obama would just let it go bust.

    In any event there is no way to get any effective change, all we can do is take it to the abyss, and get random change, or disaster, or we blink and get nothing. And no matter what, the people aren’t prepared, they don’t see the crisis yet (no one has told them the truth) and they’ll just elect Democrats again and we’ve lost our little chance.

    Kevin M (b11279)

  125. Boomers who were never willing to reform safety net programs finding their Social Security and Medicare checks are bouncing.

    The boomers were always willing, they were paying through the teeth their whole lives for these programs. You act as if this was a new idea.

    Kevin M (b11279)

  126. Republicans won’t block such people, so again, as usual, very little will change politically when the Senate changes hands.

    Pretty sure they will: there are about 24 Republican Senators up for re-election in 2016, and the threat of Tea Party primary opponents (or outright third party competition) will be meaningful. The Republican Party gets this one chance, because it’s the best chance we have. If that proves misplaced, if there is no way forward with the GOP, then we have to do it the hard way in 2016. But at least we’ll KNOW.

    Kevin M (b11279)

  127. @ 115

    We certainly don’t see your efforts to avoid it the same way.

    You see it as a last-ditch effort that might work, but what the hell, let’s do it because it’s never been tried. I confess I have a sneaking admiration for that, and wish I could support it…

    …except that I see it as a suicide move that, if enacted, would mark the electoral death of the Republican Party, and the discrediting of the conservative movement in general, for long enough that the Democrats could finish the job of crashing the country’s economy.

    I’d rather cling to a slim hope that the bubble can be deflated than be able to do nothing when it finally overinflates and explodes.

    Demosthenes (28c185)

  128. @ 124

    It’s so refreshing to see sense being preached around this comments section.

    Demosthenes (28c185)

  129. Victor Davis Hanson: “There is a great sickness in California, home of the greatest number of American billionaires and poor people, land of the highest taxes and about the worst schools and roads in the nation. The illness is a new secular religion far more zealous and intolerant than the pre-Reformation zealotry of the Church. Modern elite liberalism is based on the simple creed that one’s affluence and education, one’s coolness and zip code, should shield him from the consequences of one’s bankrupt thoughts that he inflicts on others. We are a state run by dead souls who square the circle of their own privilege, who seek meaning in rather selfish lives, always at someone else’s expense. It is that simple — that pernicious.”

    Colonel Haiku (ec903e)

  130. We are racing towards fiscal ruin at top speed.

    I don’t think so. The national debt is not spiralling toward infinity, and the rate of growth is slowing down somewhat. I think some alarmists have scared you.

    Sammy Finkelman (3bf07f)

  131. Comment by Kevin M (b11279) — 3/31/2014 @ 1:24 am

    who will gut the living Hell out of the federal government.

    That sounds like Jimmy Carter’s policy for dealing with an energy crisis: beat it to the punch.

    And there was no energy crisis anyway, in the first place.

    But to do that he needs a strong majority in both houses and a Court that won’t get in the way. Maybe Ted Cruz will work, but I don’t really trust him, and he has too many expensive things he’d leave in place. I want the Departments of Energy, Commerce, Agriculture, HUD, HHS, Labor, Education and Homeland Security closed, with only a few pieces of those left (patent office, eiwghts and measures, food inspection) and a plan to privatize those.

    So, no It’s not a few little nips and tucks I want. But you have to set up the table before you can run it.

    Sammy Finkelman (3bf07f)

  132. Sorry overquoting.

    You can’t talk about cutting the budget in the abstract.

    The only thing is this: Interest rates b> have to remain low.

    Sammy Finkelman (3bf07f)

  133. Sammy, in defense of Patterico, he has a point. Quick question: what happens when interest on the debt goes from 1% to 7%? Or even 5%. Hint: The majority of debt is in short-term notes.

    Kevin M (b11279)

  134. Comment by Kevin M (b11279) — 3/31/2014 @ 11:31 am

    Quick question: what happens when interest on the debt goes from 1% to 7%? Or even 5%. Hint: The majority of debt is in short-term notes.

    The federal deficit starts to go way up, and what happens after that, depends on the Federal Reserve Board.

    The only number most people look at is the annual federal deficit, yet the right policy would be something that increased the deficit immediately by rolling over the debt while interesdt rates are still relatively low.

    Although Congress has legislated a request that the debt not be so long term, I think it would raise CBO deficit projections.

    Right now the CBO just imagines various interest rates in the future, so that the deficit goes down in the near future and then goes up (I suspect because they begin projecting higher interest rates after a few years.)

    Congress has got to stop counting any change that results from rolling over the debt as something that needs to be paid for.

    Right now all the pressure that is put on President Obama, what with debt ceiling limits and budget resolutions, or even continuing resolutions is such so as to encourage him to keep as much of the debt as possible short term.

    Sammy Finkelman (3bf07f)

  135. If the Fed was committed to keeping interest rates as low as they did in the 1940s, it would be all right. The co-ordination with the Treasury stopped on March 4, 1951.

    Obama has appointed interest rate doves to the Fed, although even they might raise rates after a year or two, but things should be more or less okay till his term runs out – through January, 2017.

    As soon, or mrore likely, a year or two after, a Republican gets elected president we could get the deluge – but not before.

    Unless the Republican really understands the situation, and is not doctrinaire.

    Sammy Finkelman (3bf07f)

  136. Better answer to my question:

    1) the deficit explodes by the better part of a trillion dollars.

    2) the stock market corrects sharply as money that normally would be in bonds returns, now that there is some interest to be had.

    If interest rates are instead kept low in an expanding economy, you will get both a rapid expansion and inflation. The expansion will be sort-lived as people do more stupid things than normal with free money and the recession will be brutal. Especially since the inflation won’t stop. This is pretty much the fortissimo version of the post-Vietnam War sequence.

    Kevin M (b11279)

  137. A less severe rate spike, was what threw Argentina into default, as a result of Greenspan’s efforts in the late 90s,

    narciso (3fec35)

  138. “Well. I would never advocate the violent overthrow of the U.S. Government. But I’m willing to discuss lesser measures, like secession, or just advocating really crazy, politically suicidal measures like repealing ObamaCare at all cost, or reforming Social Security and Medicare through moderate means like, for example, totally abolishing them.”

    Israel spends something like 7% of its GDP on health care. We spend something like 17 or 18. If we could free up 10% of the GDP and have Israels health care system, which I doubt anybody thinks is as “crazy” as secession or abolishing medicare or social security, that would vastly improve our fiscal situation.

    AnaC (0af2e8)

  139. ObamaCare is not designed to do that. Or to lower costs. Or to lower premiums. Or to improve access.

    JD (03f68b)

  140. I do admit that calling Israel’s system Obamacare would be detrimental to achieving this needed change, given how nutcase people go over the dude.

    AnaC (0af2e8)

  141. I admit that I find your nonsense nonsense.

    JD (03f68b)

  142. Already, Billy Madison worthy, Jd, considering that Israel has 1/20th our population, the largest country, Germany has 1/5th.

    narciso (95a56c)

  143. But from the little I know, Israelis take life seriously and the youth generally are physically active and healthy enough to serve in the military for a couple of years.
    If the US did that we would be much better of, especially the take life seriously part.
    I mean life seriously other than the newest game system, using i-devices, and smart phones.
    An existential threat usually helps to focus one’s mind.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  144. of off
    Sorry about that, MD can be so careless at times. I can type with my paws faster than MD can with his hands.

    Painted Jaguar (a sockpuppet) (f9371b)

  145. I can appreciate that no one is awaiting my opinion, but I fully concur with Rico’s gist.

    The only event that will change our forward transit at constant horizontal velocity (having left the cliff behind) is the impact at the bottom.

    A change in direction is inevitable, the ballot box will have no effect on that eventuality.

    gary gulrud (e2cef3)

  146. We’ve missed your sunny disposition and optimism, Gary. :) Hope all is well with you.

    elissa (b364f8)

  147. 146. Thanx, ‘lissa, I’ve had some puter problems and working somewhat more.

    gary gulrud (e2cef3)


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