Here’s A Game To Play (Catfood For Everyone!)

As we all know by now, Alan (I’m so tall I don’t have to be smart) Simpson and Erskine (I was somebody once, but no one remembers) Bowles have offered up their prescription for the long term fiscal health of the nation:  feed the rich and starve everyone else….all to achieve a notionally balanced budget roughly in time for the next glaciation.

Now, in one of those occasions when the credit-where-credit-is-due button gets pushed, The New York Times comes up with something both fun and useful, a You Fix The Budget game.

It’s got huge and predictable limitations, of course, all centered around the paucity and bluntness of the options.  But still it gives a nice feel for what’s really at stake here, not to mention just how utterly focused on class warfare (on the side of uppers, of course)   the Catfood Commission chairthings find themselves.

I had a go, and got us to surplus in 2015 with a mixture of budget cuts and tax increases that included blowing away farm subsidies, reducing government contracting, whacking defense pretty good (though not every offered cut), eliminating the Bush tax cut on the over $250K crowd, but not on the rest of us.  Throw in a carbon tax and a bank tax and a couple more things and you’re there.

__

My approach puts the US in the black by 8 billion in 2015, essentially a rounding error of course, and left a notional 620 billion dollar deficit in 2030.  I can’t bring myself to worry too much about that, as even ten year budget projections are essentially nonsense, much less 20 year ones.

But if I did care, I could close that gap by allowing the estate tax to return to Clinton era levels, apply the payroll tax to incomes above the current threshold, take one more whack at military spending and a couple of odds and ends.

That’s enough — go have fun yourselves, and save the nation.

Just one last thought, though.  The key message of the NYT’s game is that the real budget killers we face now are military expenditures and health care costs.  Anything one can do to reduce either will have disproportionately large effects on budgets down the line.   And, to dig one layer deeper:  if the NYT is to be believed, it’s not issues of eligibility or the age at which Medicare kicks in that are the real drivers here.

Rather, the real money in health care savings in particular and deficit reduction in general comes in the tax treatment of employer benefits and, (the 900 pound gorilla in the room), in medical cost inflation.

__

In that context, GOP opposition (and Blue Dog enabling manouvers) to such measures as the public option; it sgrandstanding on Medicare Advantage, and the ludicrous refusal to use purchasing scale to constrain drug pricing under Medicare Part D can be seen clearly for what it is:

Proof positive, as if any more were needed, that the GOP does not care about the deficit.

Which we knew already — but this game helps dramatize.  It helps demonstrate how Republican proposals on the budget only make sense when seen as part of a long-running, and right now quite successful effort to transfer as much wealth as possible from the middle and poor to the rich.

If in the process, GOP governance bankrupts the US — that’s a feature not a bug.

My question, though, is why do they hate America so?

Image:  Francisco de Goya “Don Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zunica” c. 1792

68 replies
  1. 1

    did you say francisco de goya or inigo montoya?

  2. 2
    Tom Levenson says:

    @Angry Black Lady: Heh.

    I do not think that brush stroke means what you think it means.

    Also, too — thanks, forever, for that Michael Caine moment. Great film: Get Carter. Travesty: Get Carter (the remake).

  3. 3

    also, i am finding it hilarious that the media and netroots are so atwitter about the fact that obama hasn’t said anything about this catfood commission, and that the report came out when he was in asia. “he’s selling us out! and he’s selling us out on tax cuts! oh noes!”

    i really really hope that when he finally speaks out about it, he says “this is bullshit. now here’s what we’re going to do.”

    and if you look closely at the huffpo report and then axelrod’s statements in WaPo (which of course the pearl clutchers claim is a “walk back” of his prior comments when, actually, if you read the huffpo article, it’s chock full of BS and assumptions), the huffers put words in his mouth.

    but never mind that when we can all cry about how obama is selling us out before he’s even said a fucking thing about either subject since the election.

    obama, please hook me up. i mean, do it for the country and blah blah blah, but do it for me; i just want to be able laugh at all the pearl clutchers.

  4. 4

    i love get carter. the remake, wasn’t that with stallone? oh, my eyes. it burns.

  5. 5
    Mark says:

    I really like this Times feature. All kinds of people who reflexively believed this could be done with spending cuts (even people I know who call themselves reasonably intelligent) will finally come to some understanding.

    My plan involves telling rich people, doctors and weapons makers that they need to forgo their second boats and third homes and pay taxes instead. It actually creates a surplus.

  6. 6
    Tim H says:

    You can balance the budget easily. And without even resorting to such deficit killers as the Toobin tax, or putting the capital gains tax back where it belongs.

  7. 7
    thejoz says:

    I solved the budget in about 10 minutes.

    Budget surplus of a little more than $100BN in 2015, and a small deficit of $289 BN in 2030.

    55/45 in terms of percentages of tax raises and spending cuts.

    Did not touch Medicare and only lowered SS benefits for those with high incomes.

    Cut the shit out of military expenditures, and taxed carbon, banks, and millionaires. Lots of return to Clinton-level rates.

    This is not that hard, people are just stupid.

  8. 8
    Glocksman says:

    Bowles???
    Wasn’t he a member of FDR’s administration?
    I’m surprised he’s still alive, much less offering to balance the books on the bowed backs of the poor.

    Franklin would be SO disappointed….

  9. 9
    Shalimar says:

    @Mark: I’m not sure any of the people who believe the budget can be balanced with spending cuts will actually go anywhere near the thing. It’s in the NY Times, therefore it must be evil liberal propaganda.

  10. 10
    El Cid says:

    I don’t remember where it was, but someone yesterday moaned about how horrible it was that one of the DKos bloggers was going to do a diary today on “the case for impeaching the President” and how this showed that Daily Kos’ front pagers were lunatics freaking out against Obama.

    I just wanted the commenters here to know that the diary was actually a retrospective about impeaching George W. Bush Jr., especially given his autobiography.

    Not about Obama.

  11. 11
    Quiddity says:

    Worksheet stated for Social Security “This analysis treats Social Security as part of the total federal budget.” Does that mean that the current S.S. surplus is reflected in the $1.345 trillion hole?

    In any event, bringing Social Security into a fix for the deficit is one way to gut the stand-alone program.

  12. 12
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    Hello. My name is Alan Simpson. Prepare to starve to death.

  13. 13
    ruemara says:

    I didn’t do too badly. http://www.nytimes.com/interac.....s=n3tm45qk

    49% from taxes, 51% from cuts

  14. 14
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @El Cid: One of the many reasons I stopped reading the Great Pumpkin or at least anything except the front posts by Kos sometimes is the ironic trick titling of the user diaries that became so cute and predictable you wanted to turn the color of John Boehner and toss your great orange cookies.

    One of many as I say.

  15. 15
    Ash Can says:

    That painting is darling, and I love the look on that one Tunchesque cat’s face.

    My question, though, is why do they hate America so?

    I’m still reeling over the tidbit that someone posted in one of the threads here yesterday, about Eric Cantor meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu and assuring him that the House Republicans would serve Netanyahu’s interests in Congress and thwart the US government’s actions to that end. (Scroll down to November 13 entries.)

    ::sigh:: America had a pretty good run…

  16. 16
    rikyrah says:

    checked every damn box dealing with defense.

    reduced SSB for those with high incomes

    returned everything tax related to Clinton-era levels.

    chose the bank tax

    49% tax increases
    51% spending cuts

  17. 17
    Jeffro says:

    I had something like a $600B surplus in 2030 (not really, though – not until the entire national debt is paid off do we have a real ‘surplus’)

    I rock. =)

    http://www.nytimes.com/interac.....s=6mttk5lu

  18. 18

    It doesn’t give you a single payer or public option plan under healthcare spending, so I went with the Medicare cap at GDP+1. From there I took a massive drawdown in Iraq and Afghanistan with further military cuts, estate and investment taxes back to Clinton levels, Obama plan for Bush tax cuts, added a upper bracket for millionaires, and raised the ceiling on payroll taxes. One short whittling down of Social Security benefits for upper income folks later, the shortfall for 2015 and 2030 were gone!

    But this was just deficit spending, not dealing with the debt, right?

  19. 19
    Dee Loralei says:

    I solved the deficit!! YAY Me!! Do I win a prize? I’m even running surpluses by 2015, $ 696 Billion and by 2030 1,469 Billion! What’s my prize? Huh? Where’s my prize! Dammit! Mine was with 34% spending cuts and 66% tax increases. I’m still waiting for my prize! Can I have a parade, too? And I moved most taxes back to Clinton era levels, except for the under 250K, I kept those where Obama wants them. I did not add any new age requirements to SS or Medicare either. After 2030, I’ll think of giving the over millionaires a slight tax modification, but until then, they’ll have to contribute more.

    Tell me when my parade is, because I don’t have a thing to wear!

  20. 20
    Shalimar says:

    I came up with a $307 billion surplus in 2015 and $80 billion surplus in 2030, 66% from tax increases. Yes, I do like anything that forces rich people to pay more.

    Almost everything I chose has no chance politically though. Which is very sad. Time to screw over everyone who isn’t living comfortably. Again.

  21. 21
    jinxtigr says:

    I are socia1ist tax-n-spendoid :D

    http://www.nytimes.com/interac.....s=41g249qm

    67% tax-go-back-to-oh-how’s-the-90s-grab-you?

    33% spending cuts, whacked a fair amount of superfluous military crap, whacked farm subsidies because I think that’s pretty much just Monsanto at this point, and fuck them- whacked the tax break in hopes employers will have to push for public option more, and whacked Social Security benefits for high income people.

    Picked Obama’s proposal for estate taxes- interesting, if Congress gridlocks the Clinton era one comes back? Coooool…

    Clinton era investment taxes, or worse :D

    Get rid of the upper Bush tax cuts, throw in the millionaire’s tax, eliminate the tax loopholes, carbon tax, bank tax, and badabing! And so much of this dials tax law back to the Roaring 80s/90s when Clinton was building up surpluses. They didn’t even GIVE options for ‘how’s Eisenhower/ the 50s grab you?’.

  22. 22
    jinxtigr says:

    The thing to remember about appeasing the wealthy and bankers with tax breaks is, they are going to fuck us anyway. They are going to be enemies of America ANYWAY. There is no, no, NO benefit to trying to play nice with these people, or with big corporations. People seem not to understand that these people are already trying to destroy the country NOW, and see it as fiduciary duty or just plain greed-chasing.

    They are holding a corpse hostage. Fuck them.

  23. 23
    WyldPirate says:

    @Angry Black Lady:

    i really really hope that when he finally speaks out about it, he says “this is bullshit. now here’s what we’re going to do.”

    Here’s your preview of what he’s going to do:

    The advisers are deeply concerned about winning back political independents, who supported Obama two years ago by an eight-point margin but backed Republicans for the House this year by 19 points. To do so, they think he must forge partnerships with Republicans on key issues and make noticeable progress on his oft-repeated campaign pledge to change the ways of Washington.

    (emphasis added)

    That forging of partnerships with the Rethugs and changing the “ways of Washington” has worked so well the past two years, I can’t wait to see how the sequel turns out.

  24. 24
    lewp says:

    On This Week Krugman threw out there that the loss of revenue of extending the Bush cuts for the wealthiest 2% is roughly equal to the accounting shortfall of social security. Shouldn’t the public understand that equivalence? To that, add the stuff Kristof mentioned last week of the top 1% making 24% of the income, and the top 10% having absorbed 100%, basically, of the economic growth in the past 30 years, and how can there be any problem selling Obama’s stated desire of extending all but the > 250K cuts?

    I mean, what are the after-tax income numbers for the middle versus the top 2% over the past 30 years? Give ’em to me at Clinton-tax levels. Is the public really going to favor throwing that group even more dough over saving the full benefits of Soc Security for the middle class?

  25. 25
    Cermet says:

    @jinxtigr: Really? Why not try telling congress about that fact … wait, they own congress – we are fu*ked.

  26. 26
    cat48 says:

    @Angry Black Lady:

    The O Man spoke in Asia. He doesn’t want taxcuts for the rich permanent, just permanent for the poor like me. He said the Deficit report was not due until Dec. 1, the FINAL one that he will see first b4 sharing (unless Simpson goes rogue again!). Also, he will not debate either while in Seoul!!

    He’s been pissy to the Press the entire trip. I think he took on this mood because in New Delhi, Scott Walker, from WashPo attempted to ask the prez 3 questions at once like they normally do him. This ticked off PM Singh b/c they had been told one question per reporter so he screams out, “Limit yourself to one question!!” The prez was a little tickled w/this & probably a little startled, so he answered Walker’s 1st question and told him, “Sorry I’ve been advised I can’t answer the other two questions” with a laugh.

    His interactions on Indian TV & videos from the trip were funny. If you haven’t watched his Indonesia Univ. speech, you should. He spoke Indonesian at times & talked abt his childhood. The Jakarta Post called him a man at home.

  27. 27
    Sly says:

    I’d like to see some of these options picked apart. For instance, I wouldn’t consider cutting VA benefits, but I would reduce the length and frequency of combat tours. And I’m not a fan of tax deductible health plans, but adjusting the cap so that it matches core inflation would be pretty onerous. The benefits tax in the ACA is perfectly acceptable, because the only real reason to have a tax is that benefits don’t completely supersede wages when it comes to labor negotiations.

    Other than that, I got to a $124b surplus by 2015 and improved the long-term budget position by about a trillion dollars without touching domestic programs and foreign assistance or entitlements. Mix of tax increases more for promoting investment by removing various tax shelters and counter-incentives. Military spending got hit hard mostly for reasons of efficiency and equity; I don’t think the American Taxpayer should be subsidizing the national security of anyone else to the degree to which we presently are.

  28. 28
    NobodySpecial says:

    $280B surplus by 2015; $600B surplus by 2030. 50% tax, 50% cuts.

  29. 29
    PeakVT says:

    @Quiddity: Yes, the headline number is for the “unified budget” in which SS surpluses are borrowed by the rest of the government, making the reported budget deficit smaller. The money borrowed by the rest of government is what the SSTF holds as assets.

    The big con that Pete Peterson and others of his ilk want to put over is that those assets in the SSTF don’t exist. If the bonds don’t exist, then they don’t have to be paid back, and taxes on the rich won’t have to be raised.

  30. 30
    Suck It Up! says:

    Eh. The game should have a section where you actually try to get the votes for your budget. That would be really interesting.

  31. 31
    jimmiraybob says:

    “My approach puts the US in the black by 8 billion in 2015, essentially….”

    …building a substantial Republican war chest.

  32. 32
    Mark says:

    @Shalimar: I live in San Francisco – you’d be surprised how many people who are nominally liberals got their panties in a bunch over the one-time unemployment benefits extension. And like I said, they’re people who consider themselves intelligent and may very well be intelligent in other areas of their lives. They’ve got fucking rocks in their heads as far as I’m concerned – they still think Republicans are somehow guardians of fiscal sanity.

    This whole meme – big-spending Democrats vs budget-balancing Republicans – pisses me off to no end. I met someone who would normally have been the love of my life, but she called herself a “centrist” and an “independent”. She couldn’t wrap her head around how evil and mean-spirited the Republicans are. She kept calling me a “partisan”. This is a woman who volunteered extensively in the developing world, worked for a bunch of non-profits, edited a book about the oppression of women around the world and worked for the goddamn Museum of Women. And she still thought Republicans were good people and she was opposed to the unemployment benefits extension even though my mom was at that point unemployed for over a year. Nominally liberal, nominally intelligent, yet detached from reality and zero compassion.

  33. 33
    Sly says:

    @Suck It Up!:
    In multiple regards its unrealistic, but I suppose its something that shows at least some of the ramifications of putting short-term deficit reduction as the first priority.

    But anything that focuses on the long-term budget position that doesn’t include options for pump-priming (i.e. short-term deficit spending to promote long-term growth, and tax receipts) is pretty lame. There is no policy of tax increases or spending reductions that will improve the long-term budget position without curbing growth, so this whole process ends up becoming incredibly myopic.

  34. 34
    jcricket says:

    55% tax increases, 45% spending cuts – what put me over the top was the Medicare cap.

    But given how low our taxes are, and how paltry our spending on anyone who isn’t already rich, I think it’s entirely appropriate. Our infastructure is crumbling, median incomes are falling, household debt is still at an all-time high, retirement security is nearly nil, 1 in 2 bankruptcies are caused by out-of-control healthcare costs or lack of insurance, etc.

    Start with tax increases on the rich and corporations, followed by cuts to the military budget, followed by Medicare cost control (maybe coupled with Medicare buy-in as a public option).

    Beyond that, I see no reason to do anything that cuts the scraps most of us are surviving on right now. If we’re the richest nation on the planet, let’s start acting like it and make this a nice place to live for everyone.

  35. 35
    Lavocat says:

    Eight Words:

    Cut defense spending; raise taxes on the wealthy.

    Period.

    Balancing the budget is easy.

    It’s having the courage to do so that is the hard part.

  36. 36
    El Cid says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim: I get really tired of the title games. I have neither the time nor interest to seek through every inexplicable diary title so as to figure out the joke. Those who cutely title it one thing in order to write about something else are irritating as hell.

  37. 37
    Sly says:

    @Mark:

    Nominally liberal, nominally intelligent, yet detached from reality and zero compassion.

    My position on extending unemployment benefits has very little to do with compassion. Not every argument has to be a moral one.

    The primary reason for having unemployment benefits, I think, is so that we limit the effects of a demand crunch cycle. The effect we most want to avoid is reducing consumer demand to the extent that more people lose their jobs. The second effect we want to avoid is having lots and lots of desperate people out there willing to work for 25%-50% less, eroding the price of labor.

    Focusing on the microeconomic side of unemployment benefits has the tendency to breed resentment, especially when people refuse to take jobs that pay less than benefits. Which, by the way, is exactly what we want them to do. But that argument gets lost sometimes on people who are actually paying for those benefits. They don’t realize that, in the long term, their own ability to negotiate a fair wage is eroded.

  38. 38
    jinxtigr says:

    Hey, rather than say ‘raise taxes on the rich’, how about we say ‘RESUME taxes on the rich’?

  39. 39
    PeakVT says:

    @jinxtigr: Or end the tax holiday for the rich.

  40. 40
    Joseph Nobles says:

    If anybody has to eat catfood, it ought to be the rich. They can afford that Fancy Feast gooshy stuff that almost looks like hooman food.

  41. 41
    Citizen Alan says:

    I eliminated the deficit by 2015 and got us a budget surplus of nearly $200 billion a year by 2030 with 46% of savings from tax increases and 54% through budget cuts. And I didn’t touch SS at all. Of course, my plan would piss off every lobbyist and defense contractor in the country so it’s probably a non-starter.

  42. 42
    Citizen Alan says:

    And oh looky-here! If you do nothing but restore all taxes to the Clinton levels, get rid of the all the Bush tax cuts, and get us the hell out of the Middle East, the deficit is gone by 2015 and halved by 2030!

  43. 43
    Sloegin says:

    Why even play the game at all, when half the time the other guys are in power, and they screw everything up again?

    Seriously.

  44. 44
    Dream On says:

    “One of the things I would do if I were President would be to sit the Democrats and the Republicans down and say, ‘Stop the bullsh*t,'” McCain said

    Problem solved, snark applied.

  45. 45
    gnomedad says:

    @cat48:

    The Jakarta Post called him a man at home.

    See? SEE!? Seekrit Mooslim!!

  46. 46
    Felanius Kootea (formerly Salt and freshly ground black people) says:

    Hey, this is fun. I reduced the deficit and got us to a surplus with deep spending cuts on defense, letting estate and investment taxes revert to Clinton-era levels, allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire on income over $250,000 a year and increasing the payroll tax (though they didn’t have an option to increase the cap above 90%). And while I do appreciate the extra income from the current payroll tax cap, I’d gladly give it up.

  47. 47
    Quiddity says:

    @PeakVT: Wow. So they use the Social Security surplus to hide the true size of the deficit, and then, as part of the worksheet, use Social Security cuts to balance the budget. Wow.

  48. 48
    Brachiator says:

    That’s enough—go have fun yourselves, and save the nation.

    This was easy. I solved the budget problem with a mix of 34 percent new taxes and 66 percent spending cuts. I restored taxes to pre-Clinton levels, increased the payroll tax on upper incomes, reduced Social Security exclusions for upper income individuals, cut the defense budget and a few other things here and there.

    I ended up with a 2015 shortfall of only 415 billion and a 2030 shortfall of only $1.5 billion.

    Now why can’t Congress get this done?

  49. 49
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    Ah yes. The tax treatment that employer sponsored health insurance gets. If you are straight, that is. You get less of that otherwise.

  50. 50
    PeakVT says:

    @Quiddity: It’s been that way for a while. There’s nothing particularly nefarious about combining everything, but in the wrong hands (American politicians) it can lead to problems.

    ETA: Another problem with federal budgeting is that there is no separate capital budget. I think it would be better to have one, but not with our current political class.

  51. 51
    BC says:

    Wish we had people who understand the meaning of the word “evidence.” Hell, we had a budget surplus until about 2001 when Greenspan wanted to cut his own taxes so bad that he made the argument that we couldn’t pay the debt down too rapidly or all sorts of bad shit would happen, so Bush got his tacky tax cuts and then got us into two wars that were off-budget and so weren’t counted when talking about the “budget deficit.” What we need to do is the same thing that Clinton did: have a tax that is targeted specifically to the deficit (it could be a surtax on incomes over a certain amount or it could be a sales tax on certain commodities) then pay/go the rest of the budget. When Republicans took control of both houses of Congress in 2002, the first thing they did was get rid of pay/go. When Obama came into office in 2009, the first thing he did was put the two wars on the balance sheet. Wonder what the deficit would be today if we were still using Bush’s accounting methods?

  52. 52
    Jman says:

    Since you asked why the republicans hate America…that is a silly question. The don’t hate America, it is just that greed trumps country, at least the part of it they don’t already own.

  53. 53
    El Cid says:

    What I’d really like to do is have a simulator which shows how much a lower deficit / debt does or does not reduce unemployment or raise the quality of living of the vast majority of the population.

  54. 54
    Jman says:

    It is a nice toy but until it shows effects, the discussion will die pretty quick. I can’t see it on my ipad but would guess it has nothing on programs to promote industrial or employment growth. If you cut programs, you should have a substitute to offer so the economy does’t get clobbered by more unemployed workers with no prospects for employment. Cutting a program might look real good on the balance sheet but it ignores the cost of the substitutes.

  55. 55
    Cheri says:

    http://www.nytimes.com/interac.....aphic.html Have fun with this! We get to play around and decide how to make these budget cuts…LOOK! We never even have to touch SS…:) Should we all print this out and send it to our congresspeople and senators?? Better yet, someone that’s smarter than me about these things can make this go viral….just a thought.

  56. 56

    The O Man spoke in Asia. He doesn’t want taxcuts for the rich permanent, just permanent for the poor like me.

    source?

    He said the Deficit report was not due until Dec. 1, the FINAL one that he will see first b4 sharing (unless Simpson goes rogue again!). Also, he will not debate either while in Seoul!!

    Perhaps letting the bs report get debated in the media while he is off doing some shit in Asia is a better idea, since it’s a recommendation, not legislation and he doesn’t have to follow it?

    I’ll call him a sell out when I see actual evidence of selling out, not emotional language and uncited sources.

    @WyldPirate: that entire article smacks of crap to me. “advisers” did this. “democrats” said that. and then the finish is fantastic:

    One of the many questions Obama faced immediately after Election Day was whether he “got it” – got, that is, voters’ frustration with his governance and policies. Obama hinted that he did in some respects, noting that his failure to make government more transparent or to curb earmarks did not live up to the high standards he had set.

    from whom did he face these questions? who said the voters were frustrated with HIS governance and policies? Obama hinted at what?

    BULLSHITBULLSHITBULLSHIT.

    sorry. that’s not journalism. it’s bullshit.

  57. 57
    Mark says:

    @Sly: Took me a sec to parse what you’re saying.

    I meant that my ex-girlfriend had no compassion for my mom’s situation (and, by extension, my situation.) Forgetting the many other reasons why we want to extend unemployment benefits, she was willing to inflict pain on somebody who might one day be a member of her own family, all in the name of? what? A starry-eyed view of what NE Republicans were like 50 years ago?

  58. 58
    VAdem says:

    What I would like to see is the effect of getting income taxes back to pre-Reagan levels – probably would take care of it by itself.

  59. 59
    Mark says:

    @Jman: I think the argument is that when you give rich people a tax cut (or pay rich doctors extra Medicare payments) that it just goes into savings. So the multiplier effect is something like 0.1 or 0.2. But spending cuts will no doubt have an effect on GDP – that’s why an SS cut would be insane.

  60. 60
    Bruce (formerly Steve S.) says:

    I had a go, and got us to surplus in 2015

    It’s very important to make this point; whenever the talking heads tell you on your television that the budget is difficult and will require difficult choices they are LYING TO YOU. Repeat, so that it sinks in; the next individual who says that tough choices are ahead is LYING TO YOU.

    Our impotent, ineffectual government took a staggering deficit and turned it into a surplus in less than a decade, and that happened just a few years ago. It was insanely simple; a modest income tax increase, mostly on higher income people. So when Gloria Borger/David Gergen/Chris Matthews/Anybody Else tells you it is hard they are LYING. L-Y-I-N-G. Do not forget this, those people are LYING.

  61. 61
    athEIst says:

    I will comment on the one thing I liked, although it is just a drop in the bucket. You can get into the military at 17 if one of your parents will sign for you or 18 otherwise. I hate seeing 37 and 38 y.o. military “retirees”. Make them wait until 60. (Starting with future recruits of course).

  62. 62
    goblue72 says:

    @Bruce (formerly Steve S.): No kidding. I managed a surplus with only 45% from taxes and 55% from cuts. And a good chunk of those taxes were just going back to Clinton-era tax levels.

    Amazing what happens when you stop running a War Department trying to wage war on the entire globe.

  63. 63
    mclaren says:

    I created an instant surplus in 30 seconds by cutting the military budget from 1.35 trillion dollars (current) to 300 billion dollars and taxing all income over $250,000 at 90% levels. If you want a trillion-dollar-a-year surplus, eliminate the 15% capital gains tax rate (tax all income as regular income at the escalating marginal rate going up to 90%) and jack the inheritance tax up to 95% for estates over 10 million dollars.

    With a trillion-dollar-a-year surplus you could really do something. In year one you could repair America’s decayed and broken infrastructure: paint every rusting bridge in America, repair every potholed highway, fix every busted sewer line and replace every corroded water main.

    In year two through seven of a trillion-dollar-a-year surplus you could create a parallel network of high-speed trains faster than the fastest trains in France or Germany or Japan. Fuck sharing the rail lines with freight trains, the hell with waiting to freight trains to pass: just build an entire second rail network, a modern one, with 250 mph bullet trains.

    In years eight through ten of a trillion-dollar-a-year surplus you could set up another Manhattan project to create a viable replacement for the gasoline powered car using electric technology, along with hefty subsidies to replace America’s current fleet of gas-guzzling cars.

    Then you’d really see some major changes. Watch the price of oil collapse. Watch as America stops invading every impoverished third-world country, because a) we don’t have the military to do it anymore, and b) we don’t need their oil anymore.

    But of course Americans prefer to lose two wars simultaneously to barefoot teenage kids. Our army led by incompetent cowards and manned by rapists and gang members isn’t big enough, so we need more soldiers and more tanks and more guns and more bombs to defeat those fearsome fifteen year olds in Afghanistan.

    Pathetic.

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    mclaren says:

    Cutting farm subsidies: equivalent to raising food prices on the poor, who can least afford it. Also raises gasoline prices ’cause it jacks up the price of ethanol. So all commodities shipped by truck will get more expensive.

    Cutting earmarks: our decaying infrastructure decays further.

    Cut aid to states by 5 percent: throw sick people out on the street to die and toss poor people out to starve, since this translates directly into cuts in medicaid and state food stamps and welfare.

    Enact medicare malpractice reforms: the most heinous lie of all, since it isn’t malpractice reform, it just means that people mutilated or killed by drunk or drug-addicted doctors won’t be able to sue.

    Increase Medicare eligibility to 68 and increase Medicare eligibility to 70: this will just force sick old people to go to the ER, further clogging our already overburdened health care system and bankrupting old people. It’s sick and evil. Medicare eligibility age should be decreased, not increased. The human body starts to break down after age 60.

    Cap Medicare growth starting in 2013: sadistic and evil way of saying “throw sick people out on the street to crawl away and die after 2013.” The title of this “cut” is a grotesque lie, since it doesn’t cut the growth of medical costs — it cuts the growth in medicare expenditures, by hurling sick people into the streets to suffer, scream, and die.

    Raise the social security retirement age to 68 or 70: once again, stupid and a gigantic money waster. 30% of all people work in physically demanding jobs. They can’t physically work at age 70. It’s insane to try to demand that people do WalMart stocking with heavy boxes at age 70. They’ll injure themselves, it will cost a fortune, this is stupid and evil. Obviously the fool who dreamed up this scam deluded himself into fantasizing that everyone out there has a cushy job as a pundit sitting in a comfy chair tapping bullshit justifications for war and Wall Street theft into a computer all day. No, most people have to work for a living.

    Tighten eligibility for disability: let more mentally ill homeless people roam the streets, wander into traffic, and get run over by trucks. Because we have too few of ’em right now.

    Use an alternate measure of inflation: yes, measure inflation in the number of pixie dust particles per magic pony. Assholes. The current measure of inflation is already a scam, since it excludes the two most important components of the average person’s expenses: fuel and food.

    National sales tax: raise prices on everything for poor people. The rich, of course, will buy their luxury goods overseas and never pay it.

    Bank tax: increase bank fees for the bottom 90% of Americans. Say hello to the $500 overdraft fee.

  65. 65
    Nathanael says:

    Damn, the budget was easy to balance.

    I just restored all the taxes on rich people, and cut all the military spending.

    And it’s a totally unfair setup, as I could easily cut at least $100 billion more in military spending without actually cutting money going to the troops!

  66. 66
    Nathanael says:

    McLaren, you’re wrong about the bank tax: it would apply to BIG banks based on them being TOO BIG TO FAIL, and the result would be that people would flock to smaller community banks. Which is not a bad thing.

    Obviously, the big banksters are fighting it so hard it doesn’t have a chance in hell of passing the Senate, or even being proposed.

  67. 67
    Nathanael says:

    I should note that I ended up with a 3 MILLION dollar deficit in 2030 (that’s million with an “M”) and a 300 BILLION dollar surplus in 2015.

    And I didn’t cut any non-military programs, and the only tax on non-rich people which I raised above Clinton rates was the carbon tax, for environmental reasons. I would actually advocate for a flat return of that tax on a per capita basis (so $40 bn / 300 mn == over $1000 a year per citizen), which would help some with economic inequality.

    And because I support Keynesian economics, I propose additional $300 billion spending this year on direct hiring to do public works projects, New Deal style. It would in fact pay for itself in future economic growth, unlike tax cuts.

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