Let’s Be Clear

I’ve said this before, and I will say it again. Unless your proposal includes a substantial increase in taxes and a substantial amount of cuts to the military budget as well as ending the farm subsidies and giveaways to big oil and big energy and big business, you can kindly just shut up about the deficit and the debt. Additionally, any cuts to entitlements need to include cuts to the CURRENT recipients, not grandfathering the boomers and then wondering why the cuts never materialize in the future.

If you aren’t going to do those things, just shut up. You aren’t serious.






105 replies
  1. 1
    ItinerantPedant says:

    This,in a very succinct form, is my thought exactly.

  2. 2
    sukabi says:

    best way to tackle the deficit, and no one talks about it is to end the Bush tax cuts…

    why is that not on the table as the first strike against the deficit — since it can be proven that those tax cuts are the prime cause of the current deficit mess…

  3. 3
    Violet says:

    Yes. This.

  4. 4
    stuckinred says:

    None of this shit is on the table. Ya’ll are just blowin smoke.

  5. 5
    cleek says:

    whining about the debt/deficit is too politically useful to the GOP and their enablers for any of them to shut up. hypocrisy isn’t a charge that sticks to budget hawks – there are too many details, too many moving parts, too many ways for demagogues to sound smart while saying less than nothing.

  6. 6
    You Don't Say says:

    Disagree on grandfathering. Otherwise, agree.

  7. 7
    Suffern ACE says:

    @sukabi: You’re including the middle income tax cuts, too, correct? Not just the estate tax.

  8. 8
    beltane says:

    Maybe the serious people aren’t what we think they are. Maybe they are watching the youth uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia and are thinking that we too should cultivate anger in the younger generation. One of the main grievances in Egypt was that all the growth in their GDP went directly into the bank accounts of a small group of oligarchs. Condemning everyone under the age of 65 to a future of low-paying jobs and crushing private debt to pay for education, health care, and living expenses just so some rich people can maintain their fantasies of empire while not paying taxes seems like a recipe for disaster. But what do I know, I just live here.

  9. 9
    Ajay says:

    But if you do any of this, you wont get re-elected and you will loose your state subsidized health benefits. Its a matter of principle.

  10. 10
    Valdivia says:

    Amen brother.

  11. 11
    Elvis Elvisberg says:

    I’m serious! Look, I proposed restoring taxes to 1990s levels, and adding in a few other little things: http://www.nytimes.com/interac.....s=809205qv

    It’s actually quite easy to balance the budget. But Republicans don’t care any more about the deficit than they did in the Bush Jr. era. (Just ask Paul Ryan, whose “Roadmap” doesn’t actually bring us into surplus until 2063 despite overoptimistic assumptions about revenue, and who supported the Bush Jr. tax policies & Medicare Part D).

    The debt is a talking point, for people like Ryan, Sullivan, & McArdle, to advocate Randian things they wanted to do anyway. (By Randian I mean what she said, not what she did).

  12. 12
    Suck It Up! says:

    @sukabi:

    it is in Obama’s budget

  13. 13
    RalfW says:

    Alan Simpson sounds remarkably serious.

    A taste

    You don’t need to touch that, you need to go get rid of 250,000 contractors in the Defense Department where you can really pick up some small change.

  14. 14

    Good post.

    Also: if you talk about the deficit, and then lead off your solutions with cutting Social Security benefits, you aren’t serious.

    You just don’t like Social Security, and you’re using deficits as an excuse.

  15. 15
    jcricket says:

    Man, I just posted this in a much more long-winded forum in response to ED’s Sully post.

    1) Fix SS + general deficit by taxing rich people/corporations more.
    2) Fix Medicare/Medicaid by allowing everyone to buy in (at least as public option, if not as single payer).
    3) Cut military in half, slowly.
    4) Tax rich people/corporations even more to pay for infrastructure upgrades (water, sewer, garbage, roads, transit, electrical).

    80% of your way there. The remaining bit is all the subidizies and what not.

    I know these are fantasies, but they’d work.

    (I am intentionally ignoring the problem of health care cost growth which would certainly still plague Medicare as single payer… complicates my response) :-)

  16. 16
    Breezeblock says:

    I don’t pay attention to anyone that isn’t going to whack the Pentagon’s budget, at the absolute minimum. Not saying the other stuff isn’t true, but how many carrier groups must we have, not to mention building a fighter engine in Boner’s state, an engine the Pentagon neither wants nor needs?

  17. 17
  18. 18
    Sharl says:

    Here’s a modest suggestion, from the standpoint of framing. In place of ‘farm subsidies’, the phrase ‘subsidies to Big Ag(ribusiness)’ would be more politically effective, as well as providing a more accurate description.

    Having said that, those Senators from the Glorious Heartland will fight for Big Ag tooth-and-nail. They should be forced to do so, however, and no effort should be spared in shaming them; they deserve it.

  19. 19
    sukabi says:

    @Suffern ACE: yes, all tax rates… I’m pretty sure the middle class would prefer this over f’n with Social Security and Medicare as is being proposed…

    @Suck It Up!: it may be in his budget, but it’s not being talked about as a serious policy position…

  20. 20
    Justin says:

    When Obama extended the tax cuts for the wealthy, how come no one was screaming about the deficit then?

  21. 21
    RalfW says:

    Now Shari, the Supermarket to the World will get cross at you for that. But I do like it, since small farmers get bupkus, in fact organic farmers, the antithesis of Agrifarma, literally get not one dollar of help. They are about the only genuine “up by their bootstraps” people I’ve ever met.

  22. 22
    beltane says:

    @joe from Lowell: Yes, because even where there were budget surpluses this crowd demanded social security “reform”. All they really want is to see hungry people dying in the streets, especially old people and children. The reason they want this isn’t just that they are greedy; it is that they take a great deal of pleasure watching the suffering and humiliation of others. They are sociopaths who don’t have the balls to personally rape, steal and murder. Instead, they want the government and the “invisible hand of the market” to commit their crimes for them.

  23. 23
    The Bobs says:

    Let’s also be clear that Social Security is not an entitlement program.

  24. 24
    jl says:

    “additionally, any cuts to entitlements need to include cuts to the CURRENT recipients, not grandfathering the boomers and then wondering why the cuts never materialize in the future.”

    This Mr. John Cole can kindly get his ass out of my life boat. In a few years I will be in the age range commonly cited for being grandfathered into the bennies.

    Therefore, by strict geometrical logic and the most disinterested ethical principles with which I am sure all right minded people would agree, this proposal of Cole’s is a MONSTROUS OUTRAGE! Tantamount to the destruction of humanity.

  25. 25
    WyldPirate says:

    Since you came up with a list of shit to save money/balance the budget, let’s toss this in the pot–legalization of marijuana and decriminalization of other drugs of abuse–ie, end the War on Drugs. The War on Drugs is a tremendous drain on the economy the results of which sentences millions to a lifetime of poverty once they are convicted felons.

  26. 26
    ploeg says:

    @You Don’t Say: Grandfathering only kicks the can down the road a ways. The boomers are retiring NOW. And when the next generation comes up, the next generation is going to say, “I paid full bore into the system when I was working, and I’ll be damned if I don’t get my fair share of the pie, and I vote,” and the grandfathering goes out the window.

  27. 27
    atlliberal says:

    “When Obama extended the tax cuts for the wealthy, how come no one was screaming about the deficit then?”

    Because Republicans refuse to believe that tax cuts do anything but increase revenue. It’s not true, but they think if they say it often enough and loud enough it will become true, like the other myths they have perpetuated over the years.

  28. 28
    BR says:

    I wrote an email to Sully saying pretty much what John said. It disappeared into Sully’s email void as usual.

  29. 29
    Poopyman says:

    @RalfW: Great. Let’s put a quarter-million (mostly) competent high-tech people out of work. Sounds totally Alan Simpson-ish to me.

    Howzabout we redirect them into working on something productive instead? I could name a few items, like green tech or space/scientific research. There are plenty other places where they’re needed, if only there were jobs.

    ETA: Yes, I am a DoD contractor. I used to be a NASA contractor, and I’d go back to it in a heartbeat if there was an uptick in NASA funding.

  30. 30

    @jcricket:

    2) Fix Medicare/Medicaid by allowing everyone to buy in (at least as public option, if not as single payer).

    A thousand times, THIS!

    Medicare buy-in sharply reduces the deficit. Let’s make that the Serious standard.

  31. 31
    soonergrunt says:

    @RalfW: He really isn’t serious though.
    You want serious on Defense? Cancel the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Cancel the last two CVNs that are planned, and convert an Armored BCT to Light, or better yet just delete it.
    Withdraw all US military forces from Europe and the Korean peninsula.

  32. 32
    Lavocat says:

    Amen, Brother John. I’ve been saying this for years.

    The way out is as simple as it will be painful: raise taxes and cut spending. If citizens are expected to do this then so is our government.

    But, you are right: no one is serious. Yet.

  33. 33
    NR says:

    @Suck It Up!: Which means nothing, since the Bush tax cuts were just extended two months ago and the Republicans now control the House. On the other hand, the cuts to programs that help lower-income Americans are pretty much guaranteed to pass.

    For the Democrats and the Republicans, “shared sacrifice” only applies if you aren’t rich.

  34. 34
    jl says:

    To be serious, this John Cole, whoever he is, should add ‘Social Security is not a deficit problem’, unless paying back loans should now be considered a deficit problem that can be fixed by stiffing the lenders.

    Obama’s response to the horrible worthless vile deficit and Social Security questions at the press conference went in the right direction, and showed he has good information, and not patently bad intentions. But some reporters should have been called out, and Obama should have been more explicit about the Social Security Big Lies that are being pumped into, and dutifully repeated by our totally worthless ignorant and innumerate national affairs and political analysis media.

  35. 35
    beltane says:

    @joe from Lowell: But that would be so-shalism. The serious people are 100% in agreement that anything is preferable to that, even the cannibalization of our economy.

  36. 36
    catclub says:

    @Breezeblock: The house just voted to drop the engine in Boner’s state.

    The HOUSE! Would Nancy Pelosi lose a vote that important to her?

    Of course, it could still gcome back in the senate.

  37. 37
    joes527 says:

    Can someone ‘spain why Obama’s budget increases defence spending?

    This is a serious question and I’m open to any answers (It’s a media lie, Eleventy dimensional chess, He is inherently evil … Any answer that makes sense)

    Because, to quote Sara Palin, WTF?

  38. 38
    Dennis SGMM says:

    @The Bobs:
    Absolutely correct! When in hell did it become okay to conflate Social Security and Medicare? Social Security will, with a few tweaks, remain solvent. As long as health care costs continue to outpace inflation by double digits, Medicare will be a fiscal black hole.

  39. 39
    catclub says:

    @WyldPirate: Yeah, but it boosts the economy of small towns with private prisons.

  40. 40
    soonergrunt says:

    @Breezeblock: How about we cut the whole useless plane, and not just the second engine?
    None of the variants of the f-35 meets the original specifications, and the project is more than 60% or projected budget and five years behind schedule.
    We could be buying new build F-15, F-16, and F-18 airframes with updated advanced electronics and in each instance, we’d have aircraft were faster, more heavily armed, more maneuverable as the F-35. F-35’s stealth is a matter of debate as well, in that nobody debates that it meets original specifications because it doesn’t, but that there is a debate about how effective it is over applying basic stealth technology to the F-15 and F-18, and nobody’s really sure that those options won’t work as well for stealth characteristics.

  41. 41
    SenyorDave says:

    This is my big disappointment with Obama. I understand this would probably cost him any realistic chance of being re-elected, but I did want a president who would govern without consideration of a second term.

    I wish he would give a speech and articluate most of these points, mention that our taxes do not come close to supporting the services, point out the line of crap abut gov’t waste being one-third of the budget (that is an estimate of various GOP talking points), just gve a realistic overview about where we are.

  42. 42

    @Justin:

    When Obama extended the tax cuts for the wealthy, how come no one was screaming about the deficit then?

    I remember people screaming about effect of that extension on the deficit. They were all Democrats. The Republicans’ response was to point out that the middle-class tax cut extension amounted to much more money.

    Which brings us to:@Suffern ACE: @sukabi:

    You’re including the middle income tax cuts, too, correct? Not just the estate tax.

    If Congress passed anything like the wish-list in John’s post, a return to 90s-era tax rates once we’re a couple years out from the Bush Recession would be reasonable.

  43. 43
    jl says:

    Blog Flog Flash Siren Alert

    Brad DeLong’s blog has two good posts up on the deficit and job situation, with good graphs.

    Though, DeLong really needs to learn how, or be energetic enough, the provide better links for his graphics.

    But in any case, the graphs are good look at.

    America’s Fiscal Problem Is Something We Can Fix Only at the Ballot Box
    http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2011/02/americas-fiscal-problem-is-something-we-can-fix-only-at-the-ballot-box.html

    The graph shows at a glance what a Big Lie it is to lump Social Security in with Medicare and Medicaid. And how little cutting discretionary spending will solve the long term structural deficit problem.

    Where Oh Where Is My Structural Unemployment?

    http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/.....yment.html

    Depressing graph. Job openings down about 25% to 30% compared to pre mortgage financial crisis.

    I will get the source data for the job opening graph, since the numbers seem too bleak and too depressing to be true. DeLong really needs to link to his data sources.

    But the graph inspires me to save every fricken penny of my payroll taxcut money, the economy be damned.

    Edit: I believe that encouraging a political climate that allows a fix of U.S. fiscal policy through the voting box is important. I also believe that, as the most important leader of the Democratic party, that task is part of Obama’s job description. I also believe that it is a task at which Obama has failed, and is continuing to fail miserably.

  44. 44
    dmsilev says:

    Off topic: Internet 1, Rick Santorum 0.

    (short version: Rick Santorum is upset that the …alternate definition of his name sits at the top of Google’s search results)

    dms

  45. 45
    Poopyman says:

    @catclub: Cool! Although it’d be really cool if they’d drop the engine on his house.

    Now can they give those folks some work doing something that’ll actually help kickstart the economy? That’s a GE plant, so maybe some work on wind turbines? Solar?

  46. 46
    Dennis SGMM says:

    @soonergrunt:
    The Jindalee Operational Radar Network took the stealth out of stealth anyway.

  47. 47
    jcricket says:

    @joe from Lowell: If only Lieberman had just looked the other way and allowed the Medicare buy-in for 55+ sneak in with the ACA. Then we could have expanded it over time.

    Unfortunately, here we are, and it’s an uphill battle to even keep the ACA, let alone expand it. Hopefully we’ll keep Senate majorities and Obama in office long-enough that the ACA will be in full effect and suddenly Republicans will forget they opposed it and start talking about how they are defending it from Democrats meddling government ways.

    Joshua

  48. 48
    WyldPirate says:

    @joes527:

    Can someone ‘spain why Obama’s budget increases defence spending?

    Because Obama has to pander to the Independents in order to get elected and he wants to avoid being labeled as being “weak on defense” and “making America vulnerable” by the Rethugs. (not that that will stop the Rethugs from doing just that)

    Plus, the defense contractors aren’t stupid–they spread the jobs for manufacturing defense-related equipment in as many states as possible. The provides a disincentive for Congresscritters of either party to deep-six specific big ticket items in the budget.

  49. 49
    NR says:

    @jcricket:

    If only Lieberman had just looked the other way and allowed the Medicare buy-in for 55+ sneak in with the ACA. Then we could have expanded it over time.

    It’s really cute that you think Liebarman was what stopped this from happening.

  50. 50
    RalfW says:

    @beltane: I disagree mildly. I think the rich want to see suffering in the streets because it affirms their Joel Osteen® sense that god favors them for their alleged holiness and that suffering is an outward manifestation of sinfulness. Puritanism is not dead from these shores.

  51. 51
    freelancer says:

    No kidding, if we’re going to live in a world where Corporations are “people”, then I’d like to be able to say I pay less taxes than this guy for 2010.

  52. 52

    @beltane:

    @joe from Lowell: But that would be so-shalism.

    Silly beltane. Medicare buy-in reduces the deficit; ipso facto, it cannot be Soshulism.

    You know, I think the Democrats suffer from the effect of people not really believing the Republicans are as bad they actually are. It probably doesn’t even occur to 80% of voters that there are still people in Congress who oppose the existence of Social Security. When Democrats point someone out who don’t believe in Social Security, most people think the charge is an exaggeration for political effect.

  53. 53
    JC says:

    We are all preaching to the choir, here. cole is right. That calculator on the NY Times, a few months ago, showed there were easy ways to cut.

    But basically – restrain health costs – easiest way is ‘boards’ to review outrageous costs, and having everyone buy-in.

    Taxes – raise to Clinton levels

    Cut military.

    SS fix – we don’t need one NOW, but when we do – raise the cap.

    Easy peasey pudding and pie.

    How can SO MANY PEOPLE SPEND SO MUCH TIME AND ENERGY, on what is, at bottom, a very simple problem?

    How are the Rethugs able to EVER get away with portraying themselves as serious about deficit reduction?

    It isn’t brain science. It isn’t nuclear physics. The math is simple.

    You have journalists committing professional malpractice, every day, day after day. And as Carlin says, “now, they’re comin’ after your social security money! they want it back! And nobody seems to notice, nobody seems to care”.

    The corporate journalists, combined with the right wing megaphone, combined with normal U.S. apathy, combined with centrist Village mentality, has produced an ever-growing irresponsible political culture, that we will all pay for, even the plutocrats, to a degree. it’s just they’ll have their money stocked away.

  54. 54
    New Yorker says:

    What John said.

    FWIW, once the economy is on safe ground (and only then), I’d start trimming the deficit. Slashing military spending and perhaps reforming the tax code (a value-added tax) is a good place to start.

  55. 55
    Sentient Puddle says:

    Y’know, as far as I’m concerned, someone could propose all that and I still wouldn’t take them seriously about the deficit. To get me to give a shit, you have to focus on health care and treat everything else as window dressing. Taxes, defense, subsidies, earmarks, whatever the crap, that all just doesn’t matter unless you can tie it back in to health care.

  56. 56

    @JC:

    How can SO MANY PEOPLE SPEND SO MUCH TIME AND ENERGY, on what is, at bottom, a very simple problem?

    How are the Rethugs able to EVER get away with portraying themselves as serious about deficit reduction?

    It isn’t brain science. It isn’t nuclear physics. The math is simple.

    Because it isn’t a math problem; it’s a dispute about visions, values, ideology.

    The difference between us and the Republicans isn’t math skills.

  57. 57
    joes527 says:

    @WyldPirate: If this president, in this climate of deficit trollery, can’t hold the line on the defence budget (I’m not even saying start to make the needed cuts to get us off a war footing … just hold the line) then all the other discussion is just so much masturbation. We. Are. Fucked.

  58. 58
    RalfW says:

    @Poopyman:
    @soonergrunt:

    I’m all for canceling things like the F35, and for investing in NASA-type projects.

    I’m also for canceling the billions in contracting for all the defense work that used to be part of the military. Why are we paying 100s of thousands of dollars per contractor to provide security in war zones when that used to be done by regular Army folks at a much lower cost? So that we can say to the voters there are only XX,000 troops in Afghanistan? That’s a billion dollar swindle that benefits the Blackwaters of this world.

    I know it seems hard to get enlisted men and women to peel potatoes in foreign bases, but is the answer to contract all of that out too? I don’t think so, I think its war profiteering and damn expensive to boot.

    Edit: Oh, so sorry, Xe not Blackwater. Sounds so much, y’know, nicer and PoMo to be called Xe.

  59. 59
    evinfuilt says:

    Fuk Yeah!

    Damn it John, that was the perfect mini-rant. Too bad the deficit chickenhawks are actually vultures working on class warfare.

    Oh, and YES, PLEASE RAISE MY TAXES! No, don’t add fees, fines, workarounds, raise my frickin taxes, I can afford it.

  60. 60
    Mnemosyne says:

    @NR:

    You mean I just imagined Lieberman reversing himself and saying he wouldn’t support a bill with Medicare buy-in?

  61. 61
    DougJ® says:

    I like the title. Very Obama!

  62. 62
    Shoemaker-Levy 9 says:

    If you aren’t going to do those things, just shut up. You aren’t serious.

    I hate to break it to you, but the people who refuse to touch “defense” spending or raise taxes are quite seriously in charge right now. Are you using the word “serious” in some sort of platonic sense here?

  63. 63
    Mnemosyne says:

    @joes527:

    It doesn’t, unless you think that $671 billion is a larger number than $708 billion.

    The confusion is probably coming in because the $708 billion was requested for FY11 and the $671 billion is being requested for FY12, and people think we’re talking about calendar year 2011.

  64. 64
    catclub says:

    @Mnemosyne: I think the point was that Lieberman was simply the point man for a group that would not let it pass. He was just the heavy for that scene in the play.

    I disagree to some extent — I think when you wife is a lobbyist for Connecticut based insurance companies, you know it, and remember it.

  65. 65
    Dennis SGMM says:

    The Republicans routinely cite “waste, fraud, and abuse” in the social programs that they don’t like. Congressional Republicans have vowed to investigate the aforementioned immediately, immediately, immediately! Now,is there no possibility of waste, fraud, and abuse in the DoD, Ag subsidies, etc?

    Reason Number Infinity why they aren’t really serious about deficit reduction.

  66. 66
    NR says:

    @catclub:

    I think the point was that Lieberman was simply the point man for a group that would not let it pass. He was just the heavy for that scene in the play.

    Exactly. It was just his turn in the Democrats’ Villain Rotation at the time. If it hadn’t been him, it would have been someone else. Reference the fact that Obama and the Democratic leadership had many different ways in which they could have put pressure on him and chose not to do so.

    They didn’t want the public option, they didn’t want the Medicare buy-in, and Lieberman was just a convenient foil to allow them to kill those reforms and escape blame for doing so.

  67. 67
    Mnemosyne says:

    @NR:

    Reference the fact that Obama and the Democratic leadership had many different ways in which they could have put pressure on him and chose not to do so.

    Name them. I keep hearing about these “many” ways to successfully pressure Lieberman, but no one can ever manage to name two or three that would definitely have worked.

  68. 68
    Apathy says:

    Humbly suggested as a tag for non serious budget proposals:
    Casinos on the Moon!

  69. 69
    joes527 says:

    @Mnemosyne: OK. Good … stay with me here. So the budget for the Fiscal Year where we are in the middle of there second quarter is a beast, and the one for the year that starts next October is a step down.

    So, the reporting is confusing … Is the difference between the 2011 request and the 2012 request the difference between an appropriation for $708B that was budgeted a year ago and a Budget for $671B that will be appropriated in a year?

    It is confusing as hell that they are coming in at the same time. (and the media IS reporting that his budget request is an increase)

  70. 70
    NR says:

    @Mnemosyne: Easy. Obama could have held a press conference and played the video of Lieberman supporting the Medicare buy-in just a few months earlier, called him out as the liar he’s always been, and publicly humiliated him in a dozen different ways.

    Now, this would not have gotten Lieberman’s vote. But it would have utterly destroyed his credibility with the general public, and Obama could then have leveraged that if he’d wanted to.

    But of course, he didn’t want to. Obama and the Democratic leaders got exactly the health care bill they wanted. Lots more money for the big insurance companies and no significant cost controls.

  71. 71
    singfoom says:

    Let’s be clear.

    Rational solutions will not be considered.

    Sure, I agree with all of John’s proposals and I’ll up the ante by suggesting we decriminalize if not legalize all currently illegal drugs.

    None of these proposals divides the US population into tribes. If something doesn’t add to our tribal division, then it can’t be seriously considered.

    How are we supposed to fool the rubes into thinking their votes have an effect if we adopt sane rational policies?

    Next thing you’ll suggest that we publically finance political campaigns….

  72. 72
    Dennis SGMM says:

    Congress’ approach to cutting the deficit is like a mechanic stating that he’ll fix your car except that he refuses to use a wrench, a screwdriver or a pair of pliers.

  73. 73
    joes527 says:

    @Mnemosyne: Nevermind I need to learn to spot the difference between 2010 and 2011 on the article’s date.

    So the answer is : The media is just flat out lying when they say that Obama’s budget proposal increases defence spending?

    (that, as depressing a thought as it is, would probably be the best possible answer to the question I posed)

  74. 74
    sven says:

    This video of Jeffrey Sachs on Bloomberg is how liberals should be discussing the deficit. Sachs aggressively challenges the frame presented by the interviewers and by the end of the segment the assumptions underlying their discussion have been completely transformed.

    Much more please.

  75. 75
    catclub says:

    @NR: “Now, this would not have gotten Lieberman’s vote. But it would have utterly destroyed his credibility with the general public, and Obama could then have leveraged that if he’d wanted to.

    But of course, he didn’t want to. Obama and the Democratic leaders got exactly the health care bill they wanted. ”

    Now I have to side with Mnemosyne. Without Lieberman they do not have 60 votes and they do NOT get anything, much less, what they want.

    On the other hand Mnemosyne jumped on this one point that NR made about leverage, which I agree was faulty, but ignored the basic point that Lieberman was the villain of the day for a group that was not just him.

  76. 76
    Maude says:

    @NR:
    Do you write fiction? If so, I’d like to read it.

  77. 77
    Triassic Sands says:

    @joe from Lowell:

    Extending Medicare, as currently structured, will not solve any budgetary problems. I strongly favor a single-payer (government), universal health care system, but the current Medicare model will not cut costs, because payments are based on services rendered without regard to outcomes. Doctors increase their own incomes by ordering more tests, doing more procedures, etc. Read Shannon Brownlee’s book Overtreated. We have a bizarre problem in our health care system — too much health care for millions of people and too little or no health care for millions of others. Frontline recently aired a program, Facing Death, in which they follow several gravely ill people through their end-of-life treatments. The obvious conclusion to be drawn is that most, if not all, of these people should not have received their hugely expensive final treatments, which in most cases did nothing to alter the outcome, but delivered incredible suffering to the patients. If patients and their families are going to insist that second and third bone marrow transplants (for example) are going to be administered, even though they offer almost no chance of success (defined as significantly extending life without devastating quality of life) then we will never get costs under control. Of course, there are only two ways to end giving futile treatments to dying people. First, the people themselves could refuse the treatments. Sadly, that flies in the face of human nature (at least American human nature). The alternative, no matter what you call them, will come down to death panels of some sort.

    Americans, in general, are probably not going to like what a sustainable system will look like, but we can’t afford a universal system based on Medicare’s current fee-for-service payment structure.

  78. 78
    Sly says:

    @NR:

    Easy. Obama could have held a press conference and played the video of Lieberman supporting the Medicare buy-in just a few months earlier, called him out as the liar he’s always been, and publicly humiliated him in a dozen different ways.

    Underlying this analysis is the belief that Joe Lieberman would respond to being publicly shamed in the manner you predict.

    A somewhat dangerous assumption, I think. I can be a pretty vindictive person, and one of the great skills that goes along with that otherwise lamentable trait is the ability to spot it in others.

    @sven:

    This video of Jeffrey Sachs on Bloomberg is how liberals should be discussing the deficit.

    When you find public forums actually inviting trained economists to participate in such discussions, this is what you get. The problem isn’t that liberals don’t articulate an understandable narrative, its that they hardly get the opportunity to do so.

    Remember the run up to Iraq? You had former military professionals offering up reasons why the war would be easy (and being paid by the Pentagon under the table to do so). For an opposing view you got to hear from… Janeane Garofalo.

    This isn’t intended as a slight against Janeane Garofalo, but you see my point.

  79. 79

    […] John Cole on the sham that comprises most of the recent fiscal conservatism movement. […]

  80. 80

    @NR: I’m awed by your inside knowledge of the goings-on in the White House and the Senate. You speak with such authority. You must have some kind of crazy or connections.

    Of you’re one of those people who spends a lot of time on the internet and thinks that means you know things that we puny hu-mans do not.

    One or the other.

  81. 81
    NR says:

    @catclub:

    Now I have to side with Mnemosyne. Without Lieberman they do not have 60 votes and they do NOT get anything, much less, what they want.

    Try to imagine a situation in which the Republicans would allow one of their Senators to block a reform that an overwhelming majority of their base wanted to see happen (to say nothing of a large majority of the country). Try to imagine a situation in which that Senator would not suffer immediate and painful consequences for his defection.

    You can’t, because it would never happen.

    (And don’t give me “Lieberman isn’t a Democrat so this doesn’t apply.” He was welcomed back into the Democratic caucus with open arms and given a committee chairmanship.)

  82. 82

    @Triassic Sands:

    Extending Medicare, as currently structured, will not solve any budgetary problems.

    It certainly will: lower-cost patients (ie, younger people) paying in at current per-patient rates would attract a lot of people, and greatly assist the budget situation. All of that money that is now going into private health plans shifted into Medicare is a bid deal.

    I strongly favor a single-payer (government), universal health care system, but the current Medicare model will not cut costs…

    No, it won’t control costs. That’s still a big issue. But it would help keep Medicare solvent for a while.

  83. 83
    NR says:

    @Maude: Oh, I could never top the popular fiction around here that the President of the United States and the Congressional leadership are completely powerless to pressure one single Senator into supporting overwhelmingly popular reforms.

  84. 84

    @NR:

    You can’t, because it would never happen.

    Yeah, that’s not the controversy. The objection is to your “…and therefore…” statement that comes after this, about Obama secretly being in cahoots with Lieberman because he doesn’t want a public option.

  85. 85

    They only needed one senator to pass the public option?

    I thought they needed 60.

    Shoot, getting one senator is easy!

  86. 86
    ed drone says:

    I have a suggestion on taxation.

    How about an Alternate MInimum Corporate Tax? EVen if they offshore everything but the janitorial service, they owe a basic percent of gross income. Period!

    Yeah, I know, it’d never pass, but it’s an idea!

    Ed

  87. 87
    300baud says:

    As long as we’re putting in our favorite impossibilities, let me put in mine: let’s get real about the fact that we’re all going to die.

    One of our big expenses is end-of-life care. Much of that money is spent on people who will die very soon no matter what we do. Another big chunk is warehousing broken people who live in pain, loneliness, and/or insanity until their bodies finally give out.

    If most people really wanted that and we had infinite resources, I wouldn’t have a problem with that. Neither is true. So I propose we A) have a national discussion about death, one serious enough that people start choosing how they want to go, and B) explicitly look at how much public and/or insurer money we spend for extreme end-of-life interventions and compare it to, say, preschool spending.

  88. 88

    @300baud: What are you, the guy from Saw?

    YOU face your mortality, tough guy. I’m a keep looking at the defense budget.

    ;-)

  89. 89
    jcricket says:

    @joe from Lowell:

    No, it won’t control costs. That’s still a big issue. But it would help keep Medicare solvent for a while.

    That was the point I was making. Add in a bunch of less-old people who are less-sick and the system gets more solvent. If you made Medicare the public option for all – or merged Medicaid (a lot of which is used by kids) with Medicare it might help too.

    Definitely doesn’t bend the long-term cost curve, but it’d be a start.

    I fail to see anything but this (along with continued pain) in our future. There will be no affordable private insurance for huge numbers of people no matter how successful the ACA is – so either more and more people get dumped onto Medicaid and all the states go broke, or we at least try and stem the bleeding (ha!) by making Medicare the gov’t healthcare option.

  90. 90
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @NR:

    Easy. Obama could have held a press conference and played the video of Lieberman supporting the Medicare buy-in just a few months earlier, called him out as the liar he’s always been, and publicly humiliated him in a dozen different ways.
    __
    Now, this would not have gotten Lieberman’s vote. But it would have utterly destroyed his credibility with the general public, and Obama could then have leveraged that if he’d wanted to.

    Well, that was a lot of pointless writing.

  91. 91
    trollhattan says:

    @RalfW:

    I liked this image from Simpson:

    And, I’ll tell you what, you mention that, here come the reserve officers, here comes the VA, the veterans groups and they’ll rain boulders on your head.

    See, they don’t need F-35s, they gots boulders!

  92. 92
    hal says:

    Top 4 Social Security Myths……….
    1. By 2023 Social Security will have a $4.3 trillion surplus. The Baby Boomers were taken care of decades ago.
    2. Benefits cuts are the only way to fix SS. Really it does not need to be fixed. Its good for decades. High earners only pay on the first $106.000 of their income. Another way to protect the super rich. Maybe they should they share.
    3. The Social Security Trust Fund has been raided and is full of IOU’s. Not even close to true. These bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States. The fed government has never missed a payment on a US Bond. And it better not…..China is watching.
    4. Social Security adds to the deficit. It’s not just wrong it’s impossible. BY LAW, Social Security funds are separate from the budget and it must pay its own way. That means that Social Security can’t add one penny to the deficit.
    Last, I paid in during my working years and it’s my money.
    So please cut the BS and stop listing to Pete Peterson and his ilk. The last two year there was no COLA paid to SS recipients but government employees received 2% and military 3%. I have no problem with either but why were just Social Security people short changed? And just in case you don’t understand my wife and I both pay $100 per month out of our Social Security check to Medicare. Did you know that one? That is $1200 per year plus BS/BC at $161 each per month. So we don’t just free load on Medicare. Also Congress has been using the excess money that is not paid out for years and of course placing bonds in the safe deposit box.

  93. 93
    alwhite says:

    I wish I could find the link, I don’t know if it is still active but there was an interactive site where you could try to balance the budget yourself. It was incredibly easy to do, I was stunned at how simple.

    Eliminate all the Bush tax cuts and some very minor fiddling with a few programs and I had surpluses going out into the 2030’s.

    But that is not going to happen, is it? Because that would prove the supply-sideres are full of shit on the cost of tax cuts and it doesn’t damage the social safety net. Damaging the social safety net is critical to the wingnut plan to destroy the government. St. Ronnies budget director, Stockman explained it all in his book; this is their one true goal.

  94. 94
    Marc says:

    Serious discussions should also address hidden subsidies, like the lack of royalties from hard-rock mining on federal lands. The law governing these activities is from 1872, for FSM’s sake, and allows miners to take gold, copper, etc. from federal lands without royalties, but just a tiny fixed payment. Obama is asking for reforms to the law, as NYT’s Green reports.

  95. 95
    300baud says:

    @joe from Lowell:

    What are you, the guy from Saw? YOU face your mortality, tough guy. I’m a keep looking at the defense budget. ;-)

    Hah! No, just the opposite. Instead, I’ve had to spend a lot of time in nursing homes. When you have enough time to think about it, you realize that you don’t want to end up there. With a little more time, you start wondering whether anybody really intended to end up there. And then eventually you realize the massive, sad waste in providing services that few truly want.

    Not that we can morally do anything other than keep going with the people who are there now. But that’s not where I want to end up, and I don’t want to blow $100g of charitable bequests on a couple of futile weeks in the ICU.

  96. 96
    mclaren says:

    All true.

    Plus, a “substantial increase on taxes” must be on the top 1%. Shocking fact: the bottom 48% of the American population by income accounts for less than 1/3 of 1% of America’s net worth.

    1/3 of 1 fucking PERCENT!

    So even if you doubled taxes on the bottom 48% of the American population, you’d get next to nothing, because the bottom 48% of the American population HAS nothing. Their income is essentially nothing, compared to the GDP of America and the net worth of America.

    By comparison, note that the top 10% of American by income account for nearly half of America’s net worth.

    So we need to raise taxes substantially, all right, but not just on everyone — on the top 10%, and where we really need to raise taxes is on the top 1%.

  97. 97
    mclaren says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Once again people on this forum have bought into the scam that “the American budget for indiscriminately murdering innocent third world women and children is 708 billion dollars per year.”

    No, our indiscriminate murder-third-world-women-and-children budget is 1200 billion dollars per year.

    Once again (for the 19th time, now!), here are the hard numbers:

    FY 2011 military budget (AKA America’s annual budget for indiscriminately murdering third world women and children):

    708 billion (official)
    73 billion Annual U.S. military pensions
    70 billion Annual VA cost for veterans’ medical expenses
    (by the way, look for this to skyrocket over the coming years — somewhere around 50,000 Americans have severe brain damage now due to IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan, a number expected to cumulatively rise to 300,000. Treatment for chronic debilitating brain damage is INCREDIBLY expensive.)
    50 billion Annual CIA budget (they now run armed drones and worldwide assassination teams)
    50 billion NRO (military satellites)
    50 billion NSA
    50 billion Pentagon “black” project not listed on the official budget
    50 billion DHS
    22 billion Air force aerospace program: brilliant pebbles, rods from god, antisatellite weapons, space-based particle beam weapons, etc. etc. etc.
    10 billion DOE (a stalking horse for military projects like the 707-based airborne laser beam)
    40 billion ABM antiballistic missile program that still doesn’t work
    60 billion Blackwater (AKA Xe — Erik Prince came clean and admitted Blackwater was a CIA front last year, so no point in trying to pretend anymore)

    Total: 1183 billion dollars per year.

    That’s a whole lot fucking more than 708 billion. So let’s cut the crap, people, and stop fantasizing that the American military budget for indscriminately murdering third world women and children is 701 billion per year or anything close to it. It’s 1200 billion per year. And climbing.

    As to “Why would Obama increase America’s annual military budget for indiscriminately murdering third world women and children?”…the answer is simple and obvious.

    Look up NSC 68. Paul Nitze. Military Keynesianism.

    It became established American government policy under Harry Truman. NSC 68 spells it all out. Military Keynesianism is America’s official industrial policy, and has been for 59 years.

    See the book The Confiscation of American Prosperity by Michael Perelman:

    During the Truman administration, Paul Nitze was heading a joint State Department and Defense Department task force. This group drafted an influential document, known as NSC 68, which became the clarion call for military Keynesianism (Etzold and Gaddis, 1978). It proposed an intentional escalation of the Cold War,in part, to stimulate the economy. This document ominously warned that “there are grounds for predicting that the United States and other free nations will within a few years at most experience a decline in economic activity unless more positive government programs are developed than are now available.” (United States National Security Council, 1950, pg. 410).

    Given the risks of a renewed depression, NSC 68 called for a massive military buildup, which could simultaneously fight recession and communism. The authors explained:

    From the point of view of the economy as a whole, the program might not result in a real decrease in the standard of living, for the economic effects of the program might be to increase the gross national product by more than the amount being absorbed for military and foreign assistance. One of the most significant lessons of our World War II experience was that the American economy, when it operates at a level approaching full efficiency, can provide enormous resources for purposes other than civilian consumption while providing a high standard of living (National Security Council 68, pp.436-437).

    You can read NSC 68 for yourself here.

  98. 98
    You Don't Say says:

    @ploeg: If it’s anything but SS, I don’t have a problem with it, but you can’t expect a 58-year old to be able to make up a loss in expected SS benefits through saving.

  99. 99
  100. 100
    MickeyRat says:

    This is a red herring. The argument is that if you don’t want to cut entitlements or defense you aren’t serious about cutting spending so you shouldn’t cut anything. I’ve watched the government waste billions on education programs that make students dumber, ethanol subsidies that cost more energy than they produce, turtle tunnels, etc. What I think is that the government is looking to save money on social security on to spend it on more useless and ineffective programs. I’m nearing retirement and I know that it will be necessary to cut social security and medicare. However, I’ll object to the cut backs as long as the other waste isn’t cut first.

  101. 101

    […] unhinged leftist (and wishy washy Republican) answer to all this debt? Why, to raise taxes! Witness John Cole I’ve said this before, and I will say it again. Unless your proposal includes a substantial […]

  102. 102
    someofparts says:

    If this is unreasonable, so be it, but the prospect of having my social security payments cut is the first thing I’ve heard that finally makes me want to scream and just decide to hell with everybody else. My house is gone. Retirement savings gone. No one hires anyone over 40, so my odds after 60 are sure to be super. My payments will be a shade less than $1100/mo, and you people who can afford computers and children tell me I’ve got to stop being so selfish?

    Tell me where I can find a decent apartment in a safe neighborhood on less than $400/wk. At least I won’t have to worry about finding a place that takes pets, because keeping the dog won’t be an option. Having a car and a computer won’t be options either.

    The middle class is gonna do what it’s gonna do. I’m grateful that the internet exists, because as long as I can get online, at least I can see what you folks are getting ready to do to people like me ahead of time. I always hope that’s enough of an edge to make a difference.

  103. 103

    @jcricket: At least we’ve captured the high ground on this battlefield: it is now the government’s business to make sure everyone gets health care coverage.

    Now, we “only” have to fight over how they should do that.

  104. 104

    @300baud: When I hear these Republican bastards talking about end-of-life care as “death panels,” it makes my teeth bleed.

    Those bastards. It’s just evil what they did.

  105. 105

    @mclaren: I’m sorry, but you keep jumping back and forth between income and net worth, and I don’t understand what you’re saying.

    Also, Obama didn’t increase the military budget, and it’s telling that you believed he did.

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