#GOPmathfail

Here’s one of the wingnut flunkies in trainingtanned (in a prairie, sun-chapped sort of way)hoops playing himbos the Republicans are going to trot out for 2012:

Appearing on Fox News, Thune and host Greta Van Susteren discussed the bill’s call for the creation of a Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, tasked with reducing the deficit 10 percent year over year.

“It would be required to find 10% in savings — 10% of the deficit in savings every budget cycle,” Thune said.

“So in 10 years we wouldn’t have a deficit?” van Sustern asked.

“Theoretically, yes,” Thune replied. “10% Is a floor. Obviously — you can go beyond that.”

This is what’s known in think tank (and Twitter) circles as a #mathfail.

According to Thune’s plan, “the new Joint Committee must introduce legislation that eliminates or reduces spending on wasteful government programs and achieves a savings of at least 10 percent of the previous year’s budget deficit.” Because the deficit would decrease yearly, the actual returns on 10 percent annual savings would diminish over time, such that it would take decades to reduce the deficit to one percent of its current level. Forty-three years to be exact. For those who remember Zeno’s paradox, it would actually be impossible to ever completely eliminate the deficit under the Thune plan.

As the emailer who sent me this story noted, with that skill set, if he loses an election anytime soon he’s still qualified to be the business and economics editor at the Atlantic.






42 replies
  1. 1
    BGinCHI says:

    How much could we save if we got rid of the Senate?

  2. 2
    demo woman says:

    GOP math fail… when was the last time the GOP could add. I’m still waiting for tax cuts for the wealthy to pay for themselves, I’m still waiting for the private sector to save health care and I’m still waiting for the american dream. Change the title

  3. 3

    Is his calculator working?

  4. 4
    Steve says:

    I think everyone is being an idiot by focusing on the bad math here. Okay, you’re right, the law of diminishing returns applies, Thune is dumb. So let’s say he clarifies by saying we’re going to reduce spending each year by 10% of the CURRENT deficit, so that it never diminishes. Problem solved, right?

    Obviously not, because the real issue is, what spending are you going to cut? Any fool can say “the deficit is 1.4 trillion, so my plan to eliminate the deficit is to reduce spending by 1.4 trillion.” Thune and the GOP can’t tell you what they want to cut out of the budget to come anywhere close to that number, but they’re going to create a “joint committee” that is “required” to cut spending by that much. Hooray! It’s a useless non-solution, and that’s the real point.

  5. 5
    Mark S. says:

    It would also establish a non-defense discretionary spending cap based on pre-Obama appropriations, end stimulus spending (though not stimulus tax cuts), make the federal budget a binding joint resolution and create a legislative line-item veto.

    No cutting defense, keep every motherfucking tax cut. What the hell is a legislative line-item veto?

  6. 6
    BGinCHI says:

    @Steve:

    Shorter: Thune is stupid or lying. Or both.

    And yet this is a rare example of a GOP pol offering a policy idea. Jonathan Capehart is right: Dems need to continually ask “what the GOP is for.”

  7. 7
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Steve:

    the real issue is, what spending are you going to cut?

    Waste. Also, pork. And all those freebies that let all the welfare thugs and illegals live such sweet lives while you sit there playing by the rules like a chump. And they’re not getting no mosque, either, that’s for damn sure.

  8. 8
    Midnight Marauder says:

    This is why I can never get too worried about the Republican Party in its current form. Sure, they will remain a perpetual threat to logic and anything resembling a decent quality of life in this country for some time to come. But the flip side of the coin is that their bench continues to be exposed as embarrassingly thin, chock full of pretty faced know-nothings. I mean, how long have we discussed the inevitability that is John Thune’s “presidential aspirations” and ridiculed them as being an outright joke because the guy is a buffoon? It’s been months of such mockery! And then Thune comes along and not only delivers the good, but hits a grand slam his first time up at the plate.

    “So in 10 years we wouldn’t have a deficit?” van Sustern asked.
    __
    “Theoretically, yes,” Thune replied. “10% Is a floor. Obviously — you can go beyond that.

    HOW DO WE KEEP LOSING TO THESE CLOWNS?!

  9. 9
    Tom Hilton says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Don’t forget Foreign Aid. That oughta save us about a trillion dollars a year.

  10. 10
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Tom Hilton:
    As my grandmother used to say, “if life gives ya furren’rs, make furrenade

  11. 11
    feebog says:

    No, no, you don’t get it. This was on a Fox show. They are using the new and improved fox math. Hard to believe that Greta Van Sustren is an attorney.

  12. 12
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @Midnight Marauder: Because most people are myopic, and therefore unable to see any consequence to “if you keep cutting taxes, revenue will go up.” Remember, logic only applies in math class, and possibly debate, not in the real world.

  13. 13
    MikeJ says:

    @Tom Hilton: I have actually fielded a constituent call demanding that we cut off all aid to France. The lady was convinced we sent them hundreds of billions pa.

  14. 14
    danimal says:

    And earmarks. (Sounds good-doesn’t save a dime, though)

  15. 15
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Tom Hilton: Foreign Aid is just welfare for thugs who don’t even live here.

  16. 16
    El Cid says:

    He should propose we eliminate 100% of the budget every year.

  17. 17
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @feebog: Actually, if a Democrat had made that statement, her attorneyness would have kicked in and she would have immediately realized that the math doesn’t work. Since it came from someone from her side, it’s correct because it supports her argument.

  18. 18
    WereBear says:

    They can’t be trusted with anything, can they?

  19. 19
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent):

    most people are myopic, and therefore unable to see any consequence to “if you keep cutting taxes, revenue will go up.”

    See, I don’t think most people really believe that exactly. I think they think “Cutting taxes improves the economy because it gives people like me more money.” They don’t really connect it to “revenue,” and even if they did, they also think that the government squanders SO MUCH money on undeserving people and stupid pet projects that it shouldn’t be hard to just cut ’em all off.

  20. 20
    gbear says:

    @BGinCHI:

    No no. Not until after Al Franken retires.

  21. 21
    Eric U. says:

    I’m pretty sure that thune’s response to pointing out that his method fails due to Zeno’s paradox would be to cut 11% per year.

    Of course, they would never do that. Right now, the deficit is being fueled by medicare, debt service, and the defense budget. AFAIK, social security is still bringing in more than it is paying out. We could probably get some savings in medicare, and for sure we could cut defense. The republicans always come up with savings in the millions when you need savings in the billions.

  22. 22
    Mark S. says:

    @Mark S.:

    Re: Legislative line-item veto

    I looked it up. It’s pretty much exactly the same as the line-item veto struck down in 1998.

  23. 23
    Nylund says:

    In fairness to Thune, it was Greta that implied the result and he merely agreed with her. One COULD argue that he simply didn’t want to correct her, but my guess is that both of them simply suck at math.

    Assuming that, Thune thinks that 0.9^10=0. It does not.

    For those that are curious, it approx. = .35, meaning there would be a 65% reduction in the deficit over 10 years if such a plan were carried out. Not bad, but hardly an elimination of the deficit altogether.

    Also note that he’s talking about the deficit, so even in the end, the debt is still increasing, albeit at a slower rate. The debt is not getting any smaller.

    If you want to get even more complex, you have to throw in the multipliers*. If one assumes that every $1 the government spends results in $1.5 worth of economic activity and that this holds in reverse as well, then every $1 spending cut reduces GDP by $1.50. If we assume that the gov’t get’s back 33% of that economic activity in taxes, that means, for every $1 cut from the budget, you lose 50 cents in taxes, so for every dollar you cut from gov’t spending, the deficit is actually only reduced by 50 cents since tax revenues also decrease.

    So if he’s truly talking about reducing the deficit (not spending) by 10%, that means the cuts in spending will have to be much larger than 10%. Since I’m using simple numbers for the sake of simple math so I won’t speculate as to how large the actual spending cuts would have to be to reach that 10% deficit reduction goal. The actual amount would depend on the true multiplier and the true percentage of revenue from taxation. My guess is that Thune does not understand any of this since he can’t even grasp the simple idea of a yearly 10% decrease.

    *basic idea of the multiplier for those that don’t know this term: If you have your budget cut, then you have less to spend. Whomever gets your money when you spend it now also has less money too, so they spend less as well. Whomever they buy stuff from thus sees their income drop as well so they spend less too, so on and so forth as everyone down the line makes less and spends less. In the end, if you add up how much everyone loses in income, its larger than just the initial cut.

  24. 24
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @feebog:

    No, no, you don’t get it. This was on a Fox show. They are using the new and improved fox math. Hard to believe that Greta Van Sustren is an attorney.

    Is this new and improved Fox Math in any way related to Malkin Math?

  25. 25
    Bill Murray says:

    @BGinCHI:

    Shorter: Thune is stupid or lying. Or both.

    Thune is definitely stupid, but his pastor probably told him the math was heavenly. He then took that to mean from God and thus totally believes it to be true

  26. 26
    Svensker says:

    @Mark S.:

    What the hell is a legislative line-item veto?

    It’s when Goopers get to cut anything out of any bill that they don’t like before it gets voted on by the Dems.

  27. 27
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @FlipYrWhig: I was mostly trying to make a point about how Dems keep losing to Repubs. My example was more about the fact that most people hear the slogan and fail to look at the consequences. The one I gave was the first one that came to mind.

  28. 28
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @Nylund:

    In fairness to Thune, it was Greta that implied the result and he merely agreed with her. One COULD argue that he simply didn’t want to correct her, but my guess is that both of them simply suck at math.

    So…in fairness to Thune, he is either an idiot who doesn’t know the numbers of his deficit reduction plan well enough to correct an error on national television; or he is just so feckless, he lacks the ability to challenge someone who blatantly misstates the facts of his plan?

    Methinks you have a funny definition of “fairness.”

  29. 29
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent): Similarly, I was trying to pivot from your point into a slightly different one about why the illogic works. I’m not sure conservative-leaning people would even deny that tax cuts bring the government less money; they would probably say, good! Tax cuts -> better economy -> people like me have better lives -> U-S-A! ; tax cuts -> less revenue -> less spending -> people not like me have worse lives -> tough shit.

  30. 30
    Tom Hilton says:

    @MikeJ: I believe it. Every time I’m arguing with some no-tax-cut-everything wingnut and I challenge him or her on what to cut, he or she says “foreign aid”. Every. Fucking. Time.

  31. 31
    Frank says:

    @MikeJ:

    I have actually fielded a constituent call demanding that we cut off all aid to France. The lady was convinced we sent them hundreds of billions pa.

    This reminds me of last year during the health care debate. One older man had angrily called in to my senator that he was vehemently against health care reform because he wanted the government to keep its hands of his Medicare.

    We have some of the dumbest people on the planet.

    By the way, France is one of the richest countries in the world. They actually sent aid our way during Katrina. Bush initially refused it but caved when the media highlighted his ridiculous refusal.

  32. 32
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Frank:

    One older man had angrily called in to my senator that he was vehemently against health care reform because he wanted the government to keep its hands of his Medicare.

    The man’s statement actually makes sense if he thinks the premise of health care reform is to give undeserving people free goodies at his expense. He’s not dumb, he’s a dick.

  33. 33
    SteveinSC says:

    @Midnight Marauder: “Handsome is as handsome does”. What Professor Thune must have been misunderestimating was that this was a stright-line deficit elimination and he quickly helped cover the gaff in Greta’s ass, so to speak. In fact it might be that Greta went into the “news” business because or her difficulties with long division in figuring the lawyer’s cut from ambulance chasing cases. From this one can easily see the magical power of compound interest in reducing deficits as well as turning CDO’s and CDS’s into the salvation of 401K retirement accounts.

  34. 34
    jacy says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    He borrowed McMegan’s calculator.

    Hey, maths is hard!

  35. 35
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Good point. Too tired to catch it this evening. Thanks for spelling it out.

  36. 36
    SteveinSC says:

    Holy Shit, 70,000+ in Houston to watch the MLS All Stars v. Man U. Holy shit.

  37. 37
    mclaren says:

    With marijuana legalization likely to win on the ballot in CA and OR this fall, a joint committee sounds appropriate.

  38. 38
    DonkeyKong says:

    Meg’s doesnt have a billion toes to count on duh!

  39. 39
    Common Sense says:

    @SteveinSC:

    Holy Shit, 70,000+ in Houston to watch the MLS All Stars v. Man U. Holy shit.

    I went to see Mexico play Columbia at a friendly in Houston. Sellout at Reliant. Craziest sporting event I have ever been to.

  40. 40
    Honus says:

    Did it occur to Greta or Thune that six years after Bill Clinton and Al Gore raised taxes slightly on the top income bracket (without a single republican vote) the deficit was completely eliminated and we began having budget surpluses? And BTW, unemployment was also pretty much eliminated during that time, too?

  41. 41
    ms badger says:

    @Midnight Marauder: I worked with a well-educated man once. When I asked if there was a polite phrase for “motherfucking idiot, dangerous shit-head”, he replied “feckless”. So there!

    eta – I’ve worked with the well-educated more than once. He was the only honest one.

  42. 42
    El Cid says:

    @Honus: If you ask them, they will respond that it was entirely due to the Gingrich Congress because they forced Clinton from spending a trillion dollars on home theaters for Cadillac-driving black women.

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