Patterico's Pontifications


Will They Never Learn?

Filed under: General — JVW @ 10:21 am

[guest post by JVW]

This may not be too surprising, but it certainly is infuriating. From Dan McLaughlin at NRO:

[. . .] The RealClearPolitics poll average currently shows [President Biden’s] approval on the economy at 38.2 percent, with 59.2 percent disapproving. You don’t need an advanced degree in mathematics to grasp how bad that is. Biden’s short-lived effort to embrace “Bidenomics” as a label for this economy was such a disaster that even most Democrats have stopped trying to spin this.

The most glaring economic misstep of Biden’s presidency was pouring additional trillions of dollars into the economy — and planning even more than that — at a time when post-Covid supply shortages and pent-up demand were already generating inflationary pressures around the world. So, what are progressives urging Biden to do? More unsustainable government spending[.]

The link is to a Politico piece which explains that left-wing groups are urging the President to make an expansion of Social Security for the poor into a centerpiece of his 2024 reelection campaign. This is positioned by the author of the piece, one Adam Cancryn, as a natural follow-up to President Biden’s success in getting House Republicans to forswear any cuts in entitlement programs, even as our annual deficit has nearly doubled over the past year. Progressives promise the President that this plan will be massively popular among senior citizens, a key demographic that has trended Republican in past Presidential elections. The plan would be a rehashing of the Biden Campaign’s 2020 pledge to expand Social Security for the lowest-income recipients and (allegedly) pay for it by raising taxes on people making more than $400,000 per year, which was abandoned in the face of narrow Democrat majorities in Congress.

Left unsaid by the author, who clearly wants to focus on the political aspect of the program and how it will affect next year’s elections, is whether a nation that is on its way to accumulating $34 trillion in debt is wise to bump up spending on the second-largest item in the entire federal budget. Of course using a tax increase on the wealthiest Americans to (allegedly) pay for increases in spending elsewhere in the budget is nothing new; Democrats have already suggested this expected revenue windfall go towards student loan forgiveness, green initiatives, infrastructure plans, subsidizing health insurance, and a whole raft of social programs favored by the donkey party. As Dan McLaughlin points out, anybody with the least bit of common sense understands that none of these programs will be fully paid for by tax increases, and thus deficit spending is bound to climb. This underfunded program would also have the baleful effect of the government yet again printing money and releasing it into the economy, thereby exacerbating Bidenflation which puts us on the fast track to Bidensolvency.

It could be that the Presidential election of 2024 will ultimately be seen as a quest for the poisoned chalice, with the victor getting to be the poor fool who presides over the next economic collapse in this nation and thus will bear much of the blame (though we all know the media/academic/entertainment cerberus will spin it as primarily a failure of GOP leadership, with Democrats only being assigned a small portion of the fault). So in that case, the logic might go, why not let President Magoo and his Cabinet of Misfits be the ones to steer us into the ditch. I would rather we face — and, radical notion, solve — our problems, but that’s a bit much to ask of a society that has grown fat, pampered, and restless on massive debt.


23 Responses to “Will They Never Learn?”

  1. The worst Happy Thanksgiving post ever.

    JVW (0e853c)

  2. IF they really wanted to drive a stake through this crap, the GOP in Congress would propose tax hikes to pay down the debt, while freezing spending to a (lower) percentage of GDP.

    Perhaps bumping the top rate to 39.6% while raising the cap on SALT to $50K (still limited to the middle-class), and a modest bump on FICA, with a modest bump on the FICA cap. Maybe a stiff excise tax on coal.

    Kevin M (ed969f)

  3. So in that case, the logic might go, why not let President Magoo and his Cabinet of Misfits be the ones to steer us into the ditch.

    Maybe someone should point this out to Magoo, and suggest he sit this round out so he can swoop in for the rescue in 2028.

    Kevin M (ed969f)

  4. It’s not as bad as one thinks. We’ve had W, Obama, Trump and Biden over the last 24 years. A lot of mediocrity and temporizing, compounded by a dysfunctional Congress, but all in all not catastrophically bad. Even Trump — the worst of the lot — was passable until the end.

    Compare that to Harrison*, Tyler, Polk**, Taylor*, Fillmore, Pierce and Buchanan over a mere 20 years (1841-1860). All served one term, or less.

    * died in office
    ** not terrible, but did not run for re-election. The land won in his Mexican War (and the slave status therein) proved the catalyst for secession.

    Kevin M (ed969f)

  5. ** not terrible, but did not run for re-election.

    It had become virtuous for a president to serve no more than one term. Pierce and Buchanan also served only one term. So did Rutherford B. Hayes (1877-1881) He had campaigned on only serving one term.

    Later two terms became acceptable again. Grant stopped after two terms ut tried to get the nomination in 1880. Lincoln of course was re-elected but served barely more than a month into his second term.

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  6. I don’t believe the deficit had anything to do with inflation.

    If Biden wants to do anything with Social Security, he could come up with something bi-partisan allowing people to borrow against future Social Security benefits to a limited degree for various reasons, some popular with Republicans (like “sick leave pay”) Borrow both before and after receiving Social Security benefits.

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  7. Vivek, your table is ready.

    urbanleftbehind (afd9bb)

  8. Cutting entitlements is always what conservatives want until we put the question on the ballot. Do you want to get rid of social security and medicare or do you want to get rid of those who want to get rid of social security and medicare. Which do you think the people would get rid of?

    asset (f4d0f0)

  9. Social Security and Medicare are on the way out anyway. Oh, the money will get paid, but the dollars will be worth small fractions of their current value. The clock is running but our elected officials only care about the next election cycle, hoping that somehow they aren’t the one who ends up holding the bag. Although, truthfully, our death throws are going to be bad enough that they will likely drag the rest of the world down with us for years, possibly decades.

    “A moment of silence, please, for the once great nation of the United States of America, now only another footnote in history. They made too many promises to too many people for far too long.”

    Soronel Haetir (5dff4c)

  10. @9 America has never been stronger now that the police can’t shoot black men at will. Segregation and the murdering of gay people is no longer tolerated and the poor and homeless are treated at least semi humanely. Most people now don’t have to die at home or on the street for lack of money for medical treatment. Minorities like the squad can run for office and at least most of the time have their votes counted. America is greater today because racists, sexists and homophobes are outcacts not running things.

    asset (7e2f01)

  11. The “unsustainable government spending” link don’t work (here it is), but I’ll say that we’ve have a structural deficit imbalance caused by multiple things: (1) not enough revenue, (2) the need for entitlement reform and (3) lack of constraint on discretionary spending post-Covid.

    Regarding the $105 billion spending package on the table, Israel doesn’t need the money (they already get over $3 billion a year from us), but Ukraine and Taiwan do. Aid to Ukraine has been a bargain, an investment, seeing the once mighty Russian military fall to its knees in a quagmire, where they haven’t gained any significant territory since early spring 2022. Spending on the southern border is also fine, IMO.

    BTW, I think McLaughlin is wrong about Biden’s “glaring misstep”. It wasn’t spending during a pandemic, it was an 81-year old man having a woefully inept VP to replace him, where the odds are high that he won’t live through a 2nd term if he wins.

    Paul Montagu (d52d7d)

  12. Social Security and Medicare are on the way out anyway.

    This is laughable nonsense. Elections are decided by about 5% of voters. Fifty million people get the old-age portion of Social Security. They ALL vote. On many things they are divided, but not on this one. Any party that attempted to cut SS, or let it dwindle or fail, would lose 150 seats in Congress in the next election.

    Kevin M (ed969f)

  13. Saving social security isn’t even hard. The demographics show a mild issue in the middle term, but small changes get us past that point. Immigration reform would really help, too, if immigration suddenly favored young workers and current illegals started paying in (or back).

    Medicare needs serious reform, reducing both the scope of coverage (particularly in the last year) and the degree of subsidy. Privately-run supplements, which work well now, would pick up the slack with a range of options for those who demand more coverage.

    Kevin M (ed969f)

  14. Great post, JVW. Actually, this topic is always covered in broad-spectrum conversations both before (never during!) and after TG dinner. With elders employing general language and youngers specifying words to twist the meaning.

    One example; “spending cuts” become “entitlement cuts.”

    Those who sell or re-sell items on sites such as eBay, or utilize services such as Paypal, know of the recent developments where tax reporting of income and other taxable events, are seen as government intrusion onto private activities -which is how a private citizen would see it. Another way to see it is as an attempt by government to harness the commerce of the black market and capturing otherwise “lost” revenue.

    The method of forcing eBay and Paypal may seem the path of least resistance to the Government, but I see it as wrong-headed because it ends with the private citizen paying the tax and bearing the burden. Bad optics.

    I would have the IRS create another “tax-free” category of income for such goods traded by private individuals where income is also collected. The large sites would collect the tax and forward it to the Treasury and the principle forwarded to the private party “tax-free.” The state/local tax could also be handled in this way with jurisdiction determined by the seller’s info – or, better still – exempted entirely. YMMV.

    felipe (79693d)

  15. Oh, the tax collected from the buyer could be called the “free commerce” tax. How Orwellian is that?

    felipe (79693d)

  16. @12 we agree on something.

    asset (055466)

  17. @14 we need to raise taxes in away that states can’t play games at the exspence of the poor in their states. 70% over 10 million. 50% death tax and 2% wealth tax over 6 millon (adjusted for inflation) No free trade any company trying to avoid taxes by off shoring fined and banned from doing business in U.S. Rich would rather cut funding for sick children and food stamps for poor.

    asset (055466)

  18. The collection of taxes is the reason governments are instituted among men. The only reason,

    All the other things that governments do are means to that end, and not ends in and of themselves. To keep the taxes coming in.

    nk (6a8fd9)

  19. file under: I’ll take “A gilded cage” for life, Alex.

    Taxes feed the beast, nk. When a buyer pays the tax (something to which we are already conditioned as voluntary consumers, the value of the received product can offset the sting of taxation. Not so easily perceived is the value received when paying the tax on earned income. The trick is always going to be to make taxation palatable enough to not rile the tax base.

    I am still amazed by the skill with which people were sold on the idea of an income tax. Not Even a documentary on “life before income tax” would (could?) move us back to those simpler days.

    felipe (79693d)

  20. Taxes feed the beast, nk.

    Yes. Also house it, clothe it, and arm it. But those are the means by which it exists.

    I insist that that taxes are the reason why it exists. Why would anyone want to mete and dole unequal laws unto a savage race that hoard and feed and feed and sleep and know not [them] if there was nothing in it for them? For the fun of it? For lack of something better to do? For the sake of a job well done?

    No. Like a farmer tilling a field in order to harvest a crop, a government governs in order to fill its treasury.

    nk (6a8fd9)

  21. @18 authority then government came about as protection and settle disputes. Conservatives say protection racket sort of like the mafia or hamas. Liberals hope for good governance or at least do more good then harm.

    asset (ad9a9b)

  22. @19 in cave man times when you committed a crime like murder they didn’t kill you. They made you leave the cave and told you not to come back saying you now are a real libertarian not a suedo libertarian. Otto von bismarck a very conservative politician in germany came up with the social welfare state to try and stop the incessant revolutions breaking out in germany where the rich who he represented kept getting killed off in the revolutions when the conscripts joined the revolution. Thats why we now have an all volunteer army after black draftees sat down on the runway and refused to go to detroit to shoot down their black brothers and why capitalist america had the highest percentage of its population in prison or jail (until covid) then any totalitarian country and you complain more then I do about the homeless mentally ill wondering the streets. News reports venzuelans migrants ask to be returned home as they didn’t know it would be so bad or dangerous here.

    asset (ad9a9b)

  23. nk (6a8fd9) — 11/23/2023 @ 4:28 pm

    Quite right, nk. We have been turned into the “coppertops” harvested from the fields in our own matrix.

    felipe (5e2a04)

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