Debt is the new Hitler

For the past few weeks I’ve been reading a lot of conservative blogs on my RSS reader — RedState, NRO, Ann Althouse, FrumForum, Megan McArdle. There’s a lot of noise, obviously — screaming about communism, attacks on Obama that I am not able to parse, occasional sense (most from FrumForum but also occasionally from NRO contributors), defenses of the Catholic Church, attempted jokes, etc.

But what stands out more and more is a focus on national debt. Victor David Hansen writes “In the end, there is only debt.” Bobo’s pushing it, too. Even the liberal Michael Kinsley is writing fact-free scare pieces about debt and hyperinflation.

In short, it’s the Iraq war all over again — crazy scare-mongering from the right, more tote-bag friendly from Bobo, and even the liberal New Republic…..

And just as Saddam Hussein was nurtured by the Reagan administration, the size of the national debt is largely a result of Bush era policies.

115 replies
  1. 1
    Michael says:

    Why do you hate Jesus?

  2. 2
    Three-nineteen says:

    I can’t wait until Jan 2011, when the Republicans take over both the House and Senate and debt won’t be a problem anymore. Impeachment hearings will be way more entertaining than the deficit.

  3. 3
    Bulworth says:

    Tote-bag friendly? Lexicon addition needed please.

  4. 4
    Michael says:

    I can’t wait until Jan 2011, when the Republicans take over both the House and Senate and debt won’t be a problem anymore. Impeachment hearings will be way more entertaining than the deficit.

    Question is, will they bother with coming up with a plausible pretext, or will they just come straight from either the Birther or “He’s a ni55er and therefore illegitimate” angle that they’re so eager to embrace?

  5. 5
    JGabriel says:

    OT, but this is pretty good.

    A Marine takes on Al Teada’s Civil War Rhetoric, via Susan Kitchens, at the end a couple threads back:

    The headlines of the last week have reminded me more of glimpsing at the S2 Daily Briefing Sheets while in theater or the Al-Jazeera than the NY Times or the Washington Post. Think about that for a moment, let it sink in.
    Regardless of your political ideology, you’ve earned the right as US Citizens to say your piece – no matter how wrong it may be. That is your right, and I will give my life to protect it.
    But this government of ours is a democracy. We vote for our representatives, and they vote in our interests. Sometimes, the votes don’t go our way. That’s life, better luck next time. Exhaust your legislative options, and then focus on gaining the required votes and/or seats to achieve your desired legislative vote next election time. That’s the way things work.
    But the SECOND you start committing acts of violence and vandalism, then you’ve usurped that Constitution. You in a way have assaulted it. And then you and I (I being every servicemember who has sworn to defend said Constitution) will have a MAJOR PROBLEM.
    For those of you calling for a civil war, I implore you to stop and think about what you’re saying. Look around your neighborhood and your city. Now imagine using that terrain to survive. Imagine dodging semi-automatic rifle fire as you scramble from cover to cover, dragging your wounded child behind you. Imagine the deafening report of a mortar as it strikes the ground a 150 feet in front of you, the overpressure enough to shatter your teeth and perforate an ear drum. Try and envision a Stryker rolling through neighbor’s front lawn or a F/A-18 making lazy loops over your head in Close Air Support for the troops in the distance.
    Now with that vision in mind, stop by your local Marine Corps base, being they will be the first military units you’d face in an all out ‘civil war’ . Look at them for a moment, examine their ‘work environment’ . They’re running the track, they’re climbing ropes, they’re grappelling with each other in mock hand-to-hand combat, and shooting targets while moving in raid lines on a daily basis. Nearly everyone on that base, down to our ‘secretaries’ has a combat award of one type or another, they’ve faced some of the most stressful situations on Earth where succumbing to the stress can get you killed, and they flourished.
    Now ask yourselves and be honest – when is the last time you’ve run anything other than late to work, climbed anything other than a flight of stairs, grappelled with anything other than a paper jam, and shot off anything other than your mouth?
    Now I ‘d like to disperse a myth here – many of you think that US military would not fight civilians. I can’t speak for all, but in my case – the moment you declare civil war, you’re no longer civilians. The moment you attack the constitution, you’re now enemies of that constitution. And I swore to defend and support and if necessary give my life for that Constitution and utilize every tool, technique, and weapon at my disposal to do so. And trust me, I’m not alone.
    I hope some of you heed my words and cool the rhetoric and focus on achieving your goals diplomatically instead of physically. It would never want to receive a frag order to Maryland, or North Dakota, or Texas, but it is an order I will follow no matter how much it pains me to do so.

    I hope enough wingnuts see this to start having second thoughts about the extremity of their rhetoric, and their violence. But the comments section doesn’t give me much hope for them. Fortunately, most of the comments are from people grateful for servicemembers who will protect the Constitution from Fox Party insurrectionists. For example:

    Nice piece, Sgt C. As an ex-navy guy, I gotta tell ya, when I see these people like Bachmann talking about revolutions and getting armed, etc, I have to shake my head. I guess in their little minds, the fantasize that they would just roll up and take over everything without any blow back.

    But the few Al Teaders who comment are more belligerent and intrasigent:

    Have you considered those “ex-civilians” are not only going to be your countrymen, but maybe people you grew up with — neighbors, friends, and family. Think about those possibilities before you make such bold statements. If you aren’t willing to kill a cousin or a childhood friend or a life-long neighbor, then what you said is nothing more than a bluff, and bluffs of such a nature have a tendancy to get called.

    In this case, the domestic enemy would be the “elected” officials who have decided not to follow the procedures founded in the U.S. Constitution when deciding the laws of this country.
    So I will ask you, knowing the President and his minions did not follow the U. S. Constitution when passing this legislation that the majority of Americans did not want, whose side is the military going to stand on?
    I will give you a little hint, this VETERAN will stand on the side of the U. S. Constitution as well as all of the military who care about the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA who are honor bound to defend and uphold the United States Constitution by oath.
    And while I haven’t dodged bullets, I have dodged missles all hours of the day. I loved going to the firing range, but I have to say, I shot off more than 200 rounds a day with my M-16, and I definitely know how to use a laws rocket, M-50, know how to lock and load on the howitzer’s and I definitely know how to use my bayonet!!!


    These people will never learn until they’ve seen the violence themselves and are dripping in splashed blood, like John de Stogumber in Shaw’s Saint Joan:

    THE NEWCOMER. Excuse me, gentle lords and ladies. Do not let me disturb you. Only a poor old harmless English rector. Formerly chaplain to the cardinal: to my lord of Winchester. John de Stogumber, at your service. [He looks at them inquiringly] Did you say anything? I am a little deaf, unfortunately. Also a little–well, not always in my right mind, perhaps; but still, it is a small village with a few simple people. I suffice: I suffice: they love me there; and I am able to do a little good. I am well connected, you see; and they indulge me.
    JOAN. Poor old John! What brought thee to this state?
    DE STOGUMBER. I tell my folks they must be very careful. I say to them, ‘If you only saw what you think about you would think quite differently about it. It would give you a great shock. Oh, a great shock.’ And they all say ‘Yes, Parson: we all know you are a kind man, and would not harm a fly.’ That is a great comfort to me. For I am not cruel by nature, you know.
    THE SOLDIER. Who said you were?
    DE STOGUMBER. Well, you see, I did a very cruel thing once because I did not know what cruelty was like. I had not seen it, you know. That is the great thing: you must see it. And then you are redeemed and saved.
    CAUCHON. Were not the sufferings of our Lord Christ enough for you?
    DE STOGUMBER. No. Oh no: not at all. I had seen them in pictures, and read of them in books, and been greatly moved by them, as I thought. But it was no use: it was not our Lord that redeemed me, but a young woman whom I saw actually burned to death. It was dreadful: oh, most dreadful. But it saved me. I have been a different man ever since, though a little astray in my wits sometimes.
    CAUCHON. Must then a Christ perish in torment in every age to save those that have no imagination?


  6. 6
    Cat Lady says:

    I just don’t know how you can read through all that crap without being higher than a bejeebus or royally compensated. You don’t write like you’re high, and I don’t think this shitty blog pays very well. ;-)

    Your ability to sift the wingnut dross for the meme of the day is impressive though. Someone’s gotta stay on top of this shit, and I’m glad it’s not me.

  7. 7
    Bulworth says:

    I also can’t wait till Jan ’11 when the new GOP majority will again recognize the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) as the highest budget authority in the land, notwithstanding the suddenly fashionable media-GOP avalanche of attacks on it, which will be found to have never existed because they will be expunged by the Ministry of Truth.

  8. 8
    leo says:

    “In short, it’s the Iraq war all over again…”

    Actually, it sounds like the Clinton Years all over again — where hysteria was raised to such a pitch that Clinton spent all his ‘capital’ on a budget reform bill which got not one GOPer vote and which they used to tar Democrats in the 1994 election.

    In other words, when these same people bring it up again, it’s bogus.

  9. 9

    Oh c’mon. Don’t be so naive. Deficits don’t matter when tax cuts are at stake. They are the worst thing evah when we’re giving lazy poor people a handout. Don’t you know anything?

    Former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill was told “deficits don’t matter” when he warned of a looming fiscal crisis.

    O’Neill, fired in a shakeup of Bush’s economic team in December 2002, raised objections to a new round of tax cuts and said the president balked at his more aggressive plan to combat corporate crime after a string of accounting scandals because of opposition from “the corporate crowd,” a key constituency.

    O’Neill said he tried to warn Vice President Dick Cheney that growing budget deficits-expected to top $500 billion this fiscal year alone-posed a threat to the economy. Cheney cut him off. “You know, Paul, Reagan proved deficits don’t matter,” he said, according to excerpts. Cheney continued: “We won the midterms (congressional elections). This is our due.” A month later, Cheney told the Treasury secretary he was fired.

    The vice president’s office had no immediate comment, but John Snow, who replaced O’Neill, insisted that deficits “do matter” to the administration.

    Source: [X-ref O’Neill] Adam Entous, Reuters, on AOL News Jan 11, 2004

  10. 10
    Michael says:

    But the few Al Teaders who comment are more belligerent and intrasigent

    They’re just eager to drop some Strapping Young Bucks, Mexican invaders and those evil libruls with their collections of guns.

    They expect that they’ll be joined happily by the military, particularly the blue suits of their pets of the USAF.

  11. 11
    DougJ says:

    @Cat Lady:

    I enjoy it, to be honest. Bobo makes me mad but the rest of it just amuses me.

  12. 12
    eric says:

    OT and winner of the Internets for the year 2010..I present you with Comment No. 3

  13. 13
    Michael says:

    Oh, sweet…..

    God is good. God is Great. Please let us score higher than Vince Young’s 8.

  14. 14
    MikeJ says:

    The idea that Reagan/Bush/Bush fans can be against debt is the funniest thing I’ve ever heard.

  15. 15
    eric says:


    Lasorda audio quotes:;index=16

    sorry…..just too funny not to share today

  16. 16
    burnspbesq says:

    The scary thing here is that people who should know better (like you, Doug) are allowing themselves to be misled. The fact that the loony right is being unserious and hypocritical about the debt DOES NOT MEAN that it is not a real and serious issue.

    In John Feinstein’s book about Bob Knight, there is an anecdote about Steve Alford that is useful to remember. When Alford was a freshman, he started to doubt himself because Knight was constantly screaming at him in practice. One of the upperclassmen took Alford aside and told him “Focus on what Coach is saying and ignore the way he’s saying it.”

    same principle applies here. The debt IS a problem that must be solved. Focus on that, and ignore the rantings of those who are not acting in good faith.

  17. 17


    Thank you, sir (or ma’am). Right back atcha.

    Also, too. Good on you for making your way through the comments. I don’t go there…. except for places like here, and Ta-Nehasi’s place.

  18. 18
    ellaesther says:

    I think that the key difference is that most folks are likely to react very viscerally to the notion that “people” who have already attacked you are looking to attack you and your family again (leaving aside for the moment the question of whether or not the “people” under discussion are the same “people” in both cases or are, in fact, really a threat) — whereas the words “national debt” and “hyperinflation” make the eyes of many, many folks just plain glaze over.

    Which is to say: crazy scare-mongering in order to drum up support for a war is far more likely to work than is crazy scare-mongering in order to drum up anger about money worries.

  19. 19
    MikeJ says:

    @JGabriel: Has anybody ever acquainted you with the concept of a hyperlink? It’s this nifty thing of the interwebs that means you don’t have to copy every fucking thing anybody has ever said.

    Jesus fuck, man. If you’re going over a thousand words, link it.

  20. 20
    ellaesther says:

    @MikeJ: Also. Too.

    I have a friend who was told by someone, in all seriousness, on the day after the 2004 elections that she had voted for Bush because while she was a social liberal, she was (and I quote) “a fiscal conservative.”

    My friend looked at this woman and said “You should have written in Bill Clinton, then.”

  21. 21
    mcc says:

    Aren’t all of Bush’s tax cuts just about to expire?

    If we actually care about the national debt, it seems like just going ahead and letting that happen would do a lot to help with the national deficit.

    Oh, wait, maybe all of a sudden the debt isn’t the most important thing after all?

  22. 22
    lemma says:

    White House has just announced 15 recess appointments. The list includes Craig Becker

  23. 23
    Kryptik says:

    Shorter Republicans: Deficit and debt is only good when it goes to us and rich people, and starting wars.

  24. 24
    Hal says:


    I wish someone else had said that to Tebow and his mother long ago.

    I also like this story:

    “Today In Email Forwards From Your Crazy Aunt: Did Barack Obama funnel $17 million worth of federal stimulus money to Oregon State in order to save his wife’s brother’s coaching job? Uh … no.”

    My mother’s friend will no doubt be forwarding this email to me any day now. For all the religiosity and righteous indignation, and screams of Anti-christ!!! Why are religious people on the right such god-damed liars? I don’t get it. How can you consistently lie about the basic facts of your arguments, and still go to church every Sunday with a smile on your face?

  25. 25
    Cat Lady says:


    Well, a grateful Obamanation thanks you.


  26. 26
    mcc says:

    @lemma: Well all right.

    Did they take the opportunity to point at McCain & co’s “there will be no cooperation for the rest of the year” comments and go “well, all right then”?

  27. 27
    JGabriel says:


    Has anybody ever acquainted you with the concept of a hyperlink?

    Meh. I would like to edit it down a little further, prolly not as much as you would like, but that’s kind of beside the point — the point being: the links are there. BJ has a three link limit per post.

    Deal. If you really feel the need to bitch unconstructively, just post “TL;DR”.


  28. 28
    MikeJ says:

    @JGabriel: It’s not that it’s too long, it’s that it’s too long for here. It’s off topic and makes it more difficult to get to the stuff that’s on topic. That’s not to say it’s not interesting. I thought it was an hour ago when I read it. It just doesn’t need to occupy three screens worth of every thread.

  29. 29
    patrick II says:

    Starving the beast has always been the plan. Repubs know they cannot cut or stop popular programs as long as their is money to pay for them. Deliberate debt was step one in destroying Social Security, Medicare, and an excuse not to pass health care reform. Remember that every time you hear Social Security is “going broke” when it isn’t, or that Medicare isn’t affordable — although proposed private alternatives are unaffordable and impossible (who is going to insure an eighty year old but the government?)

    For the very rich repubs pulling the strings, it is always about competition for power, and power is about money. Weakening the government starving it for money has the unfortunate byproduct of weakening the entire country relative to the rest of the world and damaging our economy. But that is alright as long as the top 1% keep getting more relative to those around them.

  30. 30
    Hal says:

    Great story on the Teabaggers in the NYT:

    “With No Job, Plenty of Time for Tea Party”

    My favorite, and pretty typical of the Teabaggers:

    “Mr. Grimes, who receives Social Security, has filled the back seat of his Mercury Grand Marquis with the literature of the movement, including Glenn Beck’s “Arguing With Idiots” and Frederic Bastiat’s “The Law,” which denounces public benefits as “false philanthropy.”

    “If you quit giving people that stuff, they would figure out how to do it on their own,” Mr. Grimes said.”

    Complaining about public benefits, while receiving Social Security. Right…

  31. 31
    Liberty60 says:

    The debt is the Any Dish Will Do theory of attack- when you are furious at hubby, any dish you throw is as good as any other.

    The debt, individual mandates, a Christmas ornament, arugula…any argument will do.

    As the recent study showing confused sentiments in the Tea Party regarding government- they hate government, but want it to create jobs and rein in wall Street- is more evidence that their real problem is with Obama himself.

  32. 32
    Rathskeller says:

    I don’t disagree about the debt being suddenly important to the loony-tune brigade, but I also think that immigration reform looms very large in their minds. It seems to be triggering all the racist impulses, but also their belief that they’re being cheated out of the nation that is rightfully theirs.

    if I could summarize their beliefs about this in one sentence, it seems to be “Obama is going to make millions of Mexicans into voters so that he can keep his illegitimate presidency forever.” It is interesting that their racial hatred and paranoia are also lining up along the reality that whites are going to become an ethnic minority nationally. Doesn’t make for a good policy debate, not in such a tricky, emotionally-charged area.

  33. 33
    schrodinger's cat says:

    What should we worried about, the debt or the deficit, the two though related are not entirely the same. I find that many opinion writers have them confused.

  34. 34
    Toast says:

    Even the liberal Michael Kinsley

    Shouldn’t that be “Even The Liberal Michael Kinsley”?

  35. 35
    Chat Noir says:


    Excellent. I like how the WH titled the post “An Unprecedented Level of Obstruction.”

    Faced with an unprecedented level of obstruction in the Senate, the President announced his intention to recess appoint fifteen nominees to fill critical administration posts. While the President respects the critical role the Senate plays in the appointment process, he was no longer willing to let another month go by with key economic positions unfilled, especially at a time when our country is recovering from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

    The party of no = assholes.

  36. 36
    Eljai says:

    They’re just playing out Jude Wanniski’s “two santa-clause” game plan. When republicans are in office they run up the debt. Then when democrats regain power, the republicans suddenly become concerned about deficits again and warn democrats that they shouldn’t implement programs Americans will like because this is no time to be spending money because the debt is too high.

  37. 37
    lemma says:

    I am pleased by the number – was expecting a wimpy 2 or 3.

  38. 38
    Martin says:

    And while I haven’t dodged bullets, I have dodged missles all hours of the day. I loved going to the firing range, but I have to say, I shot off more than 200 rounds a day with my M-16, and I definitely know how to use a laws rocket, M-50, know how to lock and load on the howitzer’s and I definitely know how to use my bayonet.

    See, I’d be embarrassed to masturbate in public like this. Is that what makes liberals different?

  39. 39
    Mark S. says:

    I wouldn’t mind the debt concern trolling if they ever looked at the root causes of it.

  40. 40
    Joshua Norton says:

    Mouthbreather Lamar Alexander is upset that the federal govt is ‘taking over the federal student loan program.’

    “The Democratic majority decided, well look, while we’re at it, let’s have another Washington takeover,” said Alexander. “Let’s take over the federal student loan program.”

    Talk about unclear on a concept. Giving the “keep your government hands off my Medicare!” idiots a run for their money. Also.

  41. 41
    aimai says:

    Liberty60 up at 31 makes the point I wanted to make. The debt, and every other right wing argument against the Dems isn’t an argument about anything–its an argument for its own sake.

    Its not a question of whether “the debt” is serious or not serious. As a country we face tons of problems–global warming, two wars, health care, debt etc… but people like Bobo et al only bring up these things as problems to be solved when the Democrats are trying to solve them in a way that Republicans and corporatists don’t like. Health care was a problem under Republicans–and Democrats have offered a solution. Bobo et al are moving on to another big problem because its another argument they think will make the Democrats look bad. They aren’t genuinely interested in solving it or they would agree that, historically speaking, Democrats are more able to solve the problem than Republicans. We could solve the damn debt problem right now by *raising taxes* and paying down the debt but that’s off the table.


  42. 42
    kth says:

    We did this in the Carter years, too, bit the bullet to tamp down inflation, only to enable Reagan’s simultaneous tax cuts and military buildup.

    Fool me three times, I won’t get fooled again, as their guy said. So here’s the deal: managing the national debt has to be a priority once the economy is back on track. But any such belt-tightening that isn’t safeguarded against being raided by Republicans (call it a ‘lockbox’ if you will), I don’t want to hear about it.

  43. 43
    demkat620 says:

    Oh dear god, debt and Sarah Palin.

    This is a disaster. Anybody else watching this crap on CNN?
    I forgot how truly awful she is.

  44. 44
    PeakVT says:

    Not that facts matter to these people, but Bush added $4.9 trillion to the gross federal debt. Clinton only added $1.6 trillion, and he started with a massive deficit, unlike Bush.

  45. 45
    demo woman says:

    @Chat Noir: The wingnuts go wild because never, ever has a president had recess appointments for such important jobs.
    Just wait and see.
    Becker to NLRB, wahoo.

  46. 46
    Martin says:


    But real estate agents told them the home would sell for about $40,000 less than they paid 19 years ago — not enough to pay off their mortgage.

    So, in 19 years they couldn’t accrue enough principle to cover the $40K + closing costs? Bullshit. They HELOCed that place just like Wall Street did with everyone else’s mortgage and they lost – and now they want to blame everyone else for their plight. Even if the house cost only $100K and they were on a 7% loan for 30 years and are now 19 years in, they’d have that covered. Fuck them.

  47. 47
    JGabriel says:

    Martin: See, I’d be embarrassed to masturbate in public like this.

    Fire in the hole! ‘Ware the teasplooge!


  48. 48
    ellaesther says:

    @Liberty60: You’re absolutely right — and at the same time, some plates are gonna hit harder than others.

    The war scaremongering was bound to successful — a turkey platter, say — under the circumstances of the time. I think that debt scaremongering is more along the lines of, say, a plastic salad plate.

  49. 49
    Redshift says:

    @burnspbesq: The problem is that it is a real and serious issue that is not being addressed in a real and serious way by most of the people who are suddenly very concerned about it now that a Democrat is in the White House. For example, they are using it to attack “all this spending” and fight stimulus programs, when in fact getting the economy moving will do far more to reduce the deficit over the coming years than a pound-foolish focus on cutting spending right now.

    So the problem is not that it’s not a serious issue, the problem is using that claim solely as a club and an electoral attack, because if they’re successful, the people doing so will not treat it as a serious issue afterwards, or will if they do, will address it in ways that are seriously misguided.

  50. 50
    eemom says:


    dammit burnsy — yer such a killjoy with that reality stuff.

  51. 51
  52. 52
    some guy says:

    I’ve been saying forever that Obama and the Dems should call their bluff and introduce legislation that would balance the budget by raising the top marginal income tax rate, taxing non-primary-residence capital gains as income, and removing the cap on the payroll tax.

    Then have every administration official and as many Dem congresscritters as possible on the TV and editorial writing circuit asking over and over again: which is more important to the GOP, protecting the rich or balancing the budget?

  53. 53
    El Cid says:

    It’s horse-shit.

    The deficit is not the major problem we face.

    The debt is not the major problem we face.

    The major problem we face is the economy and the lack of income for so many working people.

    The reason they harp on and on and on about ‘the debt’ and ‘the deficit’ is to (a) prevent the sort of public intervention to save the economy & workers that is needed; (b) to staunch or try and cut the social welfare programs that they despise; and (c) to make sure that the billionaire bond and treasury holders who pay for the deficit and debt lobbies (Pete Peterson!) can make even more money from interest pay.

  54. 54
    Redshift says:

    @PeakVT: The last three Republican presidents have added more to the national debt than all other presidents combined. (And even before W, Reagan and Bush added more than all the presidents before them.) No one who supported any of them has any standing to complain about deficit spending.

  55. 55
    Mnemosyne says:


    I could see that, actually, considering how drastically home prices have dropped in a lot of places. My friend’s sister bought a house for $80,000 in Michigan that’s now worth $20,000 … but she has to keep paying that $80,000 mortgage.

    Lots of homes are underwater and they ain’t coming back to their purchase price anytime within the next decade, if then.

  56. 56
    Chat Noir says:

    @demo woman: I say let ’em pitch a major bitch. Can’t wait to see what their excuses are for not helping to ratify the new nuclear arms treaty with Russia that Obama announced yesterday.

  57. 57

    @Martin: Actually, I’d be embarrassed to make those mistakes. Laws rockets? Lock and load on a howitzer? And the big one… an M50? Do you think he meant the Ma Deuce?

  58. 58
    Bill E Pilgrim says:


    people who are suddenly very concerned about it now that a Democrat is in the White House… using it to attack “all this spending” and fight stimulus programs, when in fact getting the economy moving will do far more to reduce the deficit over the coming years than a pound-foolish focus on cutting spending right now.

    Repeat that a thousand times.

    The issue isn’t “There’s a terrible problem about to destroy us and so deciding whose fault it was isn’t important right now”. The problem is that “cutting spending” is the most ridiculously inane thing to do when the economy crashed the way it did.

    The political motivations for the timing are suspect, but that’s not the important thing, the important thing is that they don’t convince people to do the opposite of what we need right now.

  59. 59
    Redshift says:

    @some guy: They’re already on this angle. I glanced at the front page of the Washington Times one day this week, and their “news” article about health care reform talked about how part of the “massive new taxes” were that capital gains were going to be taxed that never were before (as part of Medicare taxes, maybe?), and how terrible this would be because it would dry up investment that was desperately needed in this struggling economy.

    Really. They tried to claim that the big problem with the economy is that there aren’t enough investment dollars.

    (Honestly, I’m mystified that they didn’t go with the tax angle on HCR sooner. I guess “government takeover soshalizm!1!” looked like it would work better.)

  60. 60
    daryljfontaine says:

    @Chat Noir: From the White House link:

    Jeffrey Goldstein was nominated to serve as the top domestic finance official at Treasury

    Oh noes, Protein Fiscal Wisdom!

    (ok, not really, but what unfortunate blogospheric association)


  61. 61
    Redshift says:

    @Kirk Spencer: I think he was just unintentionally revealing that all that “experience” is in video games.

  62. 62
    Martin says:

    @Mnemosyne: Suburban Philly has not seen that kind of price fall-off, unless your home is a shithole, which again is your own fucking fault.

  63. 63
    Ruckus says:


    LOLZ, a true keyboard moment

  64. 64
    Napoleon says:

    Something it looks like no one has mentioned yet which I think is very important is that looking at just government debt is highly misleading and IMO it totally driven by ideology and has no basis in economic fact. What is relevant is all debt take together (private and public) and my understanding is since the economic downturn it has been going down because the rate of increased governmental deficit spending has been more then offset by the change in the private savings/debt accumulation, so in fact things have been getting better on the debt front, if you are someone worried about high debt.

  65. 65
    Karmakin says:

    @Redshift: That argument, that there isn’t enough investment dollars, is basically what everything they do revolves around. More investment dollars, means that the prices of speculative investments go up, meaning those that are in there make more money.

    That’s the entire point behind supply-side economics, which is a concept so divorced from reality it’s insane.

    The reality is that there’s far TOO much investment money flowing around, and that creates speculative bubbles in practically every aspect of our economy. Which of course, pop pop pop. Then the money class goes on a tantrum, and starts hacking and slashing at the real economy to try and get what they think they are entitled to.

    Entitlement. It’s a more fitting word when talking about corporate CEO’s than when talking about single mothers.

  66. 66
    Cacti says:

    You would think that the Repubs’ vote against Pay-Go legislation would make their yammering about deficit spending seem like so much transparent bullshit.

    But alas, being a right winger means not being bound by principles of intellectual consistency or shame.

  67. 67
    Martin says:

    @Redshift: I think you’re right. I’ve played all the way through Ghost Recon on the hardest mode. Does that qualify me to be a squad leader in the Great War of Hafrican Aggression?

  68. 68
    kay says:

    My overall take on Obama’s team is they are really pleased with how they handled the financial crisis.
    They absolutely want unemployment lower, but as far as actual performance (stabilizing the system) they think they did a good job with the situation they inherited. I don’t think it’s politically feasible to brag about that, because the economy still sucks, but I do think they are less likely to listen to the debt-deficit pundits because they believe they have been somewhat vindicated on the approach they used.
    Again, not in a celebratory Mission Accomplished! way, but in a “we ignore pundits on serious issues” way.

  69. 69
    MikeTheZ says:

    @Cacti: Or the media calling you out on your bullshit.

  70. 70
    General Egali Tarian Stuck says:

    They are still playing from the Reagan playbook of “tax and spend” liberals, being the party of cheap pseudo jingoism.
    And part of the con is to effort the debt into a big problem with the public. Usually doesn’t work very well, but this time Bush’s massive tax cuts to rich people, unnecessary expensive Iraq adventure, and the corporate wingnut welfare that is Medicare part d, exploded the deficit before Obama came along, that all together, along with little regulation of the finance sector, caused an unbalanced supply side to demand in the economy, that imploded it, and then needed drastic rescue from taxpayers that added greatly more to the deficit.

    Part of that was the plan all along, to run up the debt with unpaid for wreckless wingnut priority spending to later thwart liberals from enacting social programs that actually benefit ordinary citizens. Though not the finance sector meltdown.

    The size of the debt now, I believe, has become a viable campaign issue that is favoring wingers, especially with independent swing voters that decide elections. And the fact that the right caused nearly all of it, wingnuts know will likely not register with the here and now for those independents that are low info and subject to be brainwashed by the wingnut wurlitzer, that grinds out daily the bullshit they lap up.

    I never take lightly, the salesmanship of repubs when they create viable talking points and false memes that register with the nano short attentions span that is the American electorate. They can be relentlessly on message as a group to a degree dems do not come close to matching, and I believe incapable of it due to the basic psychology of the liberal mind. We value individual opinions for the most part, that does not fit well with regimented messaging. Though we could do some better than we do.

    The wingers are experts at the lies and plausible deniability, mainly because they have no conscience and no shame. And they never ever quit with the bullshit they often can make themselves actually believe.

    And though I give big kudos to Obama and dems in congress for passing HCR and the huge stimulus that wasn’t that but a long term prog investment. These things have, along with repubs wreckless spending and governance in general, has made this a viable issue, simply due to the enormous numbers of debt and an economy still sputtering forward, but sputtering nonetheless.

    Obama and dems need for the economy to hurry up and recover and start producing jobs, otherwise, Nov will not be kind, though I do doubt now that wingers will take over either chamber of congress. They will put a serious dent in dem majorities however.

  71. 71
    The Truffle says:

    In short, it’s the Iraq war all over again—crazy scare-mongering from the right, more tote-bag friendly from Bobo, and even the liberal New Republic…..

    Not sure if I’d put “liberal” and “New Republic” together…

  72. 72
    joel hanes says:

    Housing prices are never coming back.

  73. 73
    burnspbesq says:

    Disappointed that Dawn Johnsen wasn’t one of the recess appointments. Greenwald’s hissy-fit will begin in 3 … 2 … 1 …

  74. 74
    Chat Noir says:


    but in a “we ignore pundits on serious issues” way

    That’s basicially what David Plouffe said they did in the ’08 campaign. It was akin to “keep your head down, do the work, and you’ll get the results you want.”

  75. 75

    Apropos of this, The Calulator(tm) was on KQED forum yesterday. Here’s the podcast.

    Obama hired this guy for a reason.

  76. 76
    Mnemosyne says:

    @The Truffle:

    It’s snark. One of those “all your base are belong to us” internet references.

  77. 77
    gbear says:

    @Chat Noir:

    Faced with an unprecedented level of obstruction in the Senate, the President announced his intention to recess appoint fifteen nominees to fill critical administration posts…no longer willing to let another month go by with key economic positions unfilled, especially at a time when our country is recovering from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

    Ooh, baby, you are so talented…

    And they are so dumb!

  78. 78
  79. 79
    Redshift says:

    @Martin: Heck, it qualifies you to be a general in the coming Tea Party Revolution!

  80. 80
    Redshift says:

    @Hal: A classic from the NYT story:

    “If you don’t trust the mindset or the value system of the people running the system, you can’t even look at the facts anymore,” Mr. Grimes said.

    See, there’s a reason why they refuse to pay attention to “facts.” It’s a stupid reason that doesn’t make any sense, but at least they have one.

  81. 81
    Mike Kay says:

    White House has just announced 15 recess appointments. The list includes Craig Becker




    I bet what remains of the firebaggers and PUMAs are eating shit.

  82. 82
    tim says:

    What is a “tote-bagger,” please?

    This term is not in the lexicon pages.

  83. 83

    Okay, I don’t know why my comments are disappearing, but Greenwald’s already been exploding on Twitter, re: burnpesq above

  84. 84
    Mike Kay says:


    Who give a shit about that conspiracy theorist.

    He reminds me of the hobos in Washington Square park spouting “the end is near”

  85. 85
    jcricket says:

    Yeah, the debt’s a long-term problem, but it’s been this high or higher before (post WWII, for example), and it’s easily fixable. By easily I mean there are solutions that don’t require time travel, Superman or the invention of the warp drive. Not politically easy.

    The “easy” solution is to raise taxes on high-earners, long-term capitol gains an corporate profits back to Clintonian levels or even slightly above. Make sure the estate tax continues at approximately normal income tax levels after a reasonable exemption. Then, let’s end the two wars we’re fighting. This will erase all of the deficit and start paying the debt back.

    Beyond that, nearly all the long-term debt will be caused by exploding Medicare costs. There’s a solution to that too – it’s called “let everyone buy into Medicare”, which would spread the costs over a much wider (read: not as sick and old) group of people. There are other solutions (higher taxes, means testing, smarter conversations about end-of-life care, evidence-based-medicine, capitation-based payment scheme, etc.) but they are more complicated.

    We can fix this. The only question is whether the Democrats have the balls (or if you prefer, political will) to start talking honestly and openly to the American people. I’m not advocating political suicide, or “eat your vegetables” nonsense – but getting people to make the connection that services require money and money requires taxes, so the only choice is progressive or regressive taxation (there’s no “high services, low taxes on everyone” option). Move the economic Overton window to the left, and this problem will go away.

  86. 86
    demo woman says:

    @Mike Kay: Probably not, see Burnspq @ 73. I’m not going to verify that but is sounds reasonable. Truth be told, I was disappointed also.

  87. 87
    Cat Lady says:


    PBS contributors who get tote-bags for contributing – ie. liberals who think that David Brooks is a sensible conservative.

  88. 88
    Xenos says:

    @burnspbesq: Dawn Johnsen may be act 2 in the ongoing drama. After passing HCR McCain swears 0% cooperation from now on. The response? 15 recess appointments, only one (Becker) is even slightly controversial.

    Now we see if McCain and the rest of the GOP leadership step up the complaints. If they all band together and refuse any hearings for any appointments, ever, then they can’t complain when Obama appoints whomever he wants.

    Either that, or they concede and let hearings resume. Obama is holding onto his aces for now.

  89. 89
    jcricket says:

    @Mike Kay:

    White House has just announced 15 recess appointments. The list includes Craig Becker

    Cue Armageddon in 3…2… 1…



    Oh, I guess Republicans were wrong again.

    Seriously, I love the idea of Obama and the Democrats calling the Republicans’ bluff on everything. They show no ability to properly temper their responses, and we end up in the land of death threats, vandalism, and apocalyptic rhetoric, which turns everyone but the 27% crazification factor off. We can win with 73% of the population :-)

  90. 90

    @Chat Noir:

    Re: that treaty. Prolly not enough attention paid to that in the noisefest we have. Steve Benen just wrote about The Arms Deal That Almost Didn’t Happen.

    The Russians were testing Obama to see if they could push him around. No, they couldn’t. He said, If that’s what you say, I’ll walk. They backed down.

    I think it’s Sully who keeps a list of those who underestimate Obama… and then are defeated.

    Hillary, McCain, Republicans in Congress, and now Russians.

    Will Netanyahu be added to this list? Altho The Perfesser is batting for Netanyahu’s side, according to the blurb at Memeorandum I saw just now.

  91. 91
    General Egali Tarian Stuck says:

    @jcricket: This will piss the senate wingers off more than any other. He was rejected earlier via a filibuster. That is an Obama Atomic Wedgie to the wingers, much more I think than Dawn Johnson. The labor board is far more important to GOP and their plutocrat masters most things.

  92. 92


    Dawn Johnsen may be act 2 in the ongoing drama. After passing HCR McCain swears 0% cooperation from now on. The response? 15 recess appointments, only one (Becker) is even slightly controversial.

    You do not want to venture over to FeverSwampLake, then, because they are convinced that Johnsen’s nomination has been killed by the evil Rahm, who just used her to distract teh libruls while “Obamaco” did the bidding of their corporate overlords.
    (that’s actually a summary of a diary Greenwald linked to through his twitter feed)

  93. 93

    @General Egali Tarian Stuck: Agreed.

    There are a lot of cases that under the previous board would have been rubberstamps (for the companies) that have been awaiting a quorum. That rubber stamp has probably been packed away for a while, now.

  94. 94
    Mike Kay says:


    I’m bummed. I used to love Don Johnson on Miami Vice.

    Get the DVDs — it’s a killa show.

    But do we really want an ex-actor like Don Johnson at DOJ?

  95. 95
    Xenos says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: Believe me, I have seen that. I can’t go there any more what with all the öbämädämmerung going on all the time – even at Emptywheel, which I used to really admire.

  96. 96
    demo woman says:

    @Kirk Spencer: The big f.u. was appointing Pearce to the NLRB also. The republican nominee was conveniently left off. Wonder if Harry will use that nomination as leverage.

  97. 97
    Yutsano says:



    I thought you were channeling your inner Finn there for a second.

  98. 98
    burnspbesq says:


    We could solve the damn debt problem right now by raising taxes and paying down the debt but that’s off the table.

    Exactly. We need to nut up, put fundamental tax reform on the table, and take whatever blowback ensues with a smile.

  99. 99
    jcricket says:

    @General Egali Tarian Stuck: Good. The right could use some more Atomic Wedgies. While the rampaging hordes can do some damage to us, the damage to themselves and their party will be far greater and longer-lasting.

    I feel like we are _this_close_ to a real realignment. But only if we keep pushing, and the Republicans keep playing the crazy game. See this article about Republicans approach from Goldwater on-ward for how “successful” this has been for conservatives (macro-level).

  100. 100
    burnspbesq says:


    dammit burnsy—yer such a killjoy with that reality stuff.

    Srsly. I wish this asshole would just STFU.

    Oh, wait …

  101. 101
    burnspbesq says:


    You do not want to venture over to FeverSwampLake, then, because they are convinced that Johnsen’s nomination has been killed by the evil Rahm, who just used her to distract teh libruls while “Obamaco” did the bidding of their corporate overlords

    Sigh. So predictable.

  102. 102
    demo woman says:

    If I were a betting person, I bet Johnsen will be approved before the republican member of the NLRB. I left a message at Swampland asking whether or not Hayes will be used as leverage.

  103. 103
    Xenos says:


    I thought you were channeling your inner Finn there for a second.

    Nah. I took care of that ages ago with a few large doses of Flagyl and quinine.

  104. 104
    Sly says:

    So neither leading economists nor Michael Kinsley himself believe that hyperinflation is just around the corner, and yet the thesis of Kinsley’s piece is that “when and if the recession is well and truly over, there is a serious danger of another round of vicious inflation” and that “[t]his time, inflation will be a lot harder to stop before it turns into hyperinflation.”

    I loves me some financial quackery. Especially quackery that treats the Worst Decade Ever™ (1970s) as the economic norm.

    Even if Kinsley is right and every economist out there is wrong, the Federal Funds Rate is at ZERO. Saying that inflation will be hard to curtail with the Fed operating at rates of ZERO is complete and utter stupidity. Compared to what they’ve been doing for the past two years, fighting inflation is a cakewalk.

    All this bellyaching is just complaints about the government helping out the poor and the middle-class who, as it happens, actually spend the most money in a market-based economy. Its the reason why unemployment benefits have the highest money multiplier of any recession-fighting fiscal policy. And because the Fed is operating at rates of ZERO, the only way to get more cash into the system is with fiscal policy.

  105. 105
    Mike Kay says:

    @Sly: Kinsley has always been a dick. He was a dick at “the liberal” New Republic. He was a dick on Crossfire. He was a dick at Slate. And he’s been a dick as a writer.

  106. 106
    BC says:

    I hope there is some inflation in the future. Otherwise, there is no way to take advantage of compound interest. My credit union pays 1 to 1.5% interest on savings accounts now, which is nothing. The low interest on savings is also one reason why they used the slice and dice mortgage investments – needed some way for China to make money on their US dollars. If we had 5 to 7% payouts on savings accounts in banks and credit unions, then it would make sense for people to put their money there and take advantage of compound interest.

  107. 107
    morzer says:


    Don’t you mean Obama, not Clinton? Clinton reduced the deficit.

  108. 108
    morzer says:

    @The Truffle:

    TNR goes with liberal the way that shit goes with sandwich.

  109. 109
    Liberty60 says:

    Before I got banned, I made a post on RedState that said, basically, if you are serious about balanced budgets, here is how it breaks down- we spend $3.5 T this way (round numbers):

    1/2T on debt payments- uncuttable
    1/2T on medicare- you wanna cut that?
    1T on Social Security- you wanna cut that?
    1T on Defense- you wanna cut that?

    And we have revenues of 2T, for a deficit of about 1.5T.

    So how can we balance the budget, without touching either sacred programs like SS/ Medicare, or Defense?

    Not surprisingly, I got only crickets, and my account was banned shortly thereafter.

    But I also learned that the Right has a general deus-ex-machina, get-out-of-jail-free card, in Supply Side Economics. Why, just cut taxes, and revenues will zoom up, and fix all of that!

    Its the magical thinking favored by the glibertarians, on steroids.

  110. 110
    jl says:

    This is a repasted comment from an earlier thread. But since Debt is the New Hitler seems like a new political combat strategy by the Knownothings, I thought it might be useful.

    Brooks is totally wrong about the risk of US government drficit/debt. Brooks, and people like Victor Putridiatries Dumbassidus Hansen, know as much about economics as people like ‘economic pundit’ Robert (no relation to the late Paul) Samuelson. That is to say, not one damn thing.

    Read Brad DeLong, Paul Krugman, James Galbraith, Joseph Stiglitz, or Menzie Chinn at Econbrowser to get what I think is the true picture.

    If you want an informed semi-dissent from the position that there is no problem at all with the debt over the short to medium term (say over next five to seven years or so) read James Hamilton at Econbrowser. I don’t agree with Hamilton, but at least he knows what he is talking about, and you will not clown yourself if you follow his view.

    The US Debt Equal Hitler Knownothings are trying to make a big deal out of historically tiny one or two day blips in the bond market. It is idiotic. Look at the graphs posted in DeLong’s or Krugman’s blogs.

  111. 111
    tofubo says:

    DougJ, thanks for taking up the $122,931 that my wife, son, and i owe, it means alot

    John ?? those keys ??

  112. 112
    tofubo says:


    as long as you add the surplus from the balance of payments to soc sec, he did

    if you put that aside, he didn’t

  113. 113
    tim says:

    @Cat Lady: thanks for the “tote bagger” definition. I am definitely not one of those.

    NPR/PBS lost me in their Bush ass kissing runup to the Iraq invasion.

  114. 114
    SLKRR says:


    Even without using the Soc-Sec kludge, Clinton reduced the deficit. He did not quite, however, get to a surplus (which would have reduced the debt itself).

  115. 115
    tofubo says:


    dylexia rules !!

    i also intermix the debt/deficit definitions from time to time

    watch out for what i’ll misconflate in the future

Comments are closed.