Bad Analogies

Deficit scolds enjoy a public opinion advantage because people (egged on by politicians) draw analogies between government revenues and spending and household income and spending. “We have to tighten our belts when less comes in,” goes the reasoning.

Of course, it’s a lot more complicated than that when we’re talking about government revenues and spending and how it interacts with the domestic and global economy. But simple analogies are appealing, and the scolds use this as a cudgel to whack stimulus proponents.

As we know, in the upcoming debt ceiling fight, the Republicans will position themselves as the fiscally responsible people who want to stop borrowing money for spending we can’t afford. This is a lie, of course, since the debt ceiling concerns money that has already been appropriated by Congress.

But hardly anyone knows that. Maybe it’s time to steal a page from the wingnut playbook and craft a simple analogy of our own.

The president has pointed out that the debt ceiling isn’t about new spending. But maybe he should say not raising it would be like a family that wanted to cut its overall spending refusing to make mortgage and car payments on their existing home and vehicles instead of making smarter choices about future purchases.

The Republicans are threatening to ruin our credit and throw the global economy into turmoil by refusing to make good on credit that has already been extended for money that has already been spent. Maybe if more people got that, they’d see this as the radical and irresponsible behavior it is rather than just another boring round of endless DC squabbling. Or not.

[X-posted at Rumproast]

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62 replies
  1. 1
    jayboat says:

    I’d like to start by blaming the media.

  2. 2
    Baud says:

    The key will be Wall Street and the Chamber. I’m afraid it’s unlikely you’ll see a popular movement on this.

  3. 3
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Baud: Do you think Wall Street and the Chamber will rein the GOP in because default would be bad for the economy?

  4. 4
    Baud says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    On the debt ceiling, I think they’ll try. A lot of our financial system is built on the foundation of the full faith and credit of the United States.

  5. 5
    evodevo says:

    Yes. It will be a propaganda war, and we usually lose those because progressives think too much. You need to distill it down to emotional buzzwords, just like the reichwing does. Simple, easy-to-remember word pictures and analogies will accomplish more in the fight than explanations that involve exercising brain cells, which most of the public does not use anyway. Going straight to the limbic and bypass the frontal lobes wins every time.
    “Deadbeat Congress” won’t “pay the credit card bill that is due” and wants to “raid SS and Medicare” to do it. Over and over and over.
    Any monies left over from the 2012 election should be allotted to this task for the next four years.

  6. 6
    amk says:

    @Baud: Yup. The moneyed interests will prevail just like they did a coupla days back.

  7. 7
    Emma says:

    @evodevo: Bingo. That’s the one.

  8. 8
    Patricia Kayden says:

    “The Republicans are threatening to ruin our credit and throw the global economy into turmoil by refusing to make good on credit that has already been extended for money that has already been spent.”

    I’m not going to worry about any debt ceiling negotiations. If the business community is not worried enough to put pressure on their beloved Repubs to do the right thing, why should I care? Hope President Obama and the Dems don’t blink.

  9. 9
    dr. bloor says:

    The president has pointed out that the debt ceiling isn’t about new spending. But maybe he should say not raising it would be like a family that wanted to cut its overall spending refusing to make mortgage and car payments on their existing home and vehicles instead of making smarter choices about future purchases.

    There was some of this the first time around. Not nearly enough, of course, but even the sensible analogies that were put out were generally trampled by the Villagers addicted to their governmental soap operas.

    He’s going to have to mint the coin this time. If he wants to have some fun with it, he should tell the Treasury to have the face depict Cleavon Little holding a Colt to his head, accompanied with the motto “In the Ni-CLANG We Trust>”

  10. 10
    Baud says:


    Obama first announced that he was not going to deal on the debt ceiling at a business round table meeting in New York. There’s a reason for that.

  11. 11
    dr. bloor says:

    @Baud: I’d like to agree with you, and expect there will be a few trying to head off chaos. However, no small number of those sociopathic assholes will be shorting the entire world trying to make some money off it.

  12. 12
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Betty Cracker: Pet peeve alert. It’s “rein in”, not “reign in”. To reign is to rule, as a monarch.

  13. 13
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Gin & Tonic: D’oh, you’re right. I hate that too. Will fix. Need more coffee!

  14. 14
    Ash Can says:

    @Betty Cracker: That’s “rein” in (/pedant), and IIRC, the financial world made it very clear that it knew who was responsible during the last debt ceiling dust-up. The ratings agency that downgraded US debt (Moody’s?) mentioned the wacko wing of the GOP specifically as the reason for its downgrade, and it wasn’t the only one to make that observation. (Now, whether or not Wall Street et al. have enough clout within the wacko wing to pre-empt another shitshow fail parade like the last one, that’s another story. But they do know who’s responsible.)

    ETA: And you and G&T beat me to it. :)

  15. 15
    David Brooks says:

    What is a nation if not a set of families, all aggregated together? While true that the debt ceiling represents previously accrued liability, it is also true that extending it would simply lead to acquiring even more debt bondage for the future citizenry.

    Imagine for instance that a loved one of yours has a bad gambling habit. He (and it is ALWAYS a he), accumulates a lot of debt with shady characters, who may be using the money for no good. You’ve bailed him out of trouble countless times before, and he expects you to do so again.

    You know that if you bail him out, he’ll simply get back into trouble later on. Normally you don’t mind, but this time things are different. You’ve had a rough stretch, and any additional money you give him, will have to be a loan taken out against the bright future of your children. What to do? The answer is to bite the bullet, starve the beast, and end the moral hazard.

    True, the hit to our credit will be severe, and there will be short term consequences. But those consequences pale in comparison to the long term effects of letting the government’s addiction to debt go unchecked. If we keep going down this path, eventually, the entitlements will be bankrupt, and a lack of market confidence will lead owners of bond debt to inflict far worse market discipline on the nation.

    As most of us learned from our parents: Best to rip the band-aid quickly.

  16. 16
    Cassidy says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Oh god, you grammar people, expecting everyone else to properly place commas and use the correct word. Why can’t we just use the word that sounds fine and leave it at that? We should just dpell everything phoenetically as a personal interpretations of how it sounds to me.

  17. 17
    Baud says:

    Don’t listen to the haters, Betty. I think you write real good.

  18. 18
    sherparick says:

    Although unfortunately we have a lot of neoliberal Democrats (Ed Rendell and Steny Hoyer come immediately to mind) who seem reluctant to defend these programs, another popular truth that should be repeated endlessly is that when the Republicans talk about cutting spending, they are talking about cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid NOW. Also, because we are in an extended slump, much of the spending of the last five years has been for automatic countercyclical spending such as unemployment insurance, disability, and food stamps. A short term Fiscal stimulus that boots employment will reduce this spending and increase tax revenues, essentially paying for itself.

    Finally, the Republicans in Congress should not be able to get away with the meme of “Obama spending.” This is the spending authorized and appropriated by Congress, controlled, at least in part, by Republicans 16 of the last 20 years, with the revenues reduced by those Congresses (including the last). Congress does not need a debt ceiling to cut spending (which would be stupid to do at the moment with investors paying the United States to hold their money due to negative real interest rates).

    Listening to talking heads on NPR, CNBC, MSNBC, and the networks, they appear not to be aware of how much austerity is already kicking in this year, particularly with the end of the payroll tax holiday. I think between that, the additional cuts that will come up in March with debt ceiling and Continuing Resoultion fiasco, that the economy will grow far less than expected this Spring, and I would not be surprised if we don’t get a shallow recession. Instead, on CNBC and Bloomberg all the talk is when the Fed will end “easy money” and start raising interest rates. I expect the opposite to happen in 2013 and 2014 as continued austerity here and in Europe depresses world demand and cause a renewed flight to safety at least to the end of the summer of 2013, with after affects into 2014.

  19. 19
    Elizabelle says:


    “Deadbeat Congress” won’t “pay the credit card bill that is due” and wants to “raid SS and Medicare” to do it. Over and over and over.

    I agree. Over and over, because repetition is key (and what is the rightwing Wurlitzer but repetition and repetition).

    Your phrase is even better, because it’s truthful. You could peel off some wingnuts with it.

  20. 20
    dr. bloor says:


    You could peel off some wingnuts with it.

    It’s a good strategy, but peeling off wingnuts is unlikely to happen. They don’t know the difference between debt and deficit or the difference between making a budget and paying the bills. The only thing they’re sure of is that the sheriff’s a Ni-CLANG.

  21. 21
    handsmile says:

    Somewhat O/T (but related to the upcoming spending and debt ceiling hullabaloos), a few moments ago during an appearance of “Morning Joe,” Barney Frank declared his interest in being appointed as “placeholder” Senator from Massachusetts.

    He said specifically that his change of heart (having previously demurred the position) was due to his belief in the critical importance of the next several months for US economic/fiscal affairs.

    I’d be very surprised if Gov. Deval Patrick did not accept (and welcome) Frank’s offer. To imagine both Barney Frank and Elizabeth Warren serving as in the US Senate during these debates is a tremendous way to start this day!

  22. 22
    MattF says:

    Greg Sargent makes the good point that the winger threats here are not a politics-as-usual negotiating tactic, and that, somehow, this fact isn’t coming through:

    The whole business just keeps reminding me of the old National Lampoon magazine cover that read “If You Don’t Buy This Magazine, We’ll Kill This Dog”

  23. 23
    TS says:

    I doubt it matters what is said – 47% of the wingnuts in the house will vote against raising the debt ceiling – they have absolutely no idea what they would be doing – but if it’s against what the President advises – it’s what they will do.

    It remains to be seen if those who were sane enough to vote for the “cliff” legislation will stay that way.

  24. 24

    Yes, my resident troll decided to bring up the deficit issue on this thread like the good little automatic talking point pen that he is.

    And you know what, we all know nobody gives a shit about the deficit. Nobody. No one. Not Republicans, not Democrats. It’s simply a political football pulled out at convenient times. Dick Cheney said “deficits don’t matter, Reagan proved it.” Right. They only matter when Democrats are in power, I guess.

    Grow the economy the deficit takes care of itself.

    The problem is, we have a bunch of intellectually bankrupt players on the right who try to simplify what is an extremely complex issue. They turn it into such dshonest bromides as, “American families have to live within their means, so should the government,” and other bullshit which isn’t even true. Show me the American family who lives without a mortgage, a credit card, a student loan or car loan. Show me that family I dare you.

    It’s all so fucking stupid and the worst thing is, our lazy media is one of the main reasons we have this dishonest conversation in the first place.

  25. 25
    MattF says:

    @Southern Beale: I agree that so far, it’s all sloganeering and no brain activity. Try making any kind of significant investment without borrowing. Try to make a business grow without borrowing (or, I suppose I have to add, without simply stealing). Bah.

  26. 26
    NonyNony says:

    @Southern Beale:

    our lazy media is one of the main reasons we have this dishonest conversation in the first place.

    It’s not that they’re lazy – it’s that they’re owned.

    After a few decades of watching them act like Republican mouthpieces, how can anyone think that this is “laziness” instead of intentional anymore?

    The media is owned by a handful of very rich people who don’t like to pay taxes for anything. And on the television and in their editorial staffs at least they employ very highly-paid people who don’t like to pay taxes for anything and often (in the case of television) aren’t bright enough to add two and two and get four.

    The media is another collection of corporate entities that has been infested with the same “MBA-mentality” that is killing our economy. They actually believe the drivel they spout – they aren’t “lazy”, they’re trying to make as much money as possible in the short term and damn the long-term consequences of it all. Just like the rest of the unpatriotic bastards that have been screwing over their own country for the last 3+ decades.

  27. 27
    The Tragically Flip says:

    Evodevo and Betty both make good contributions here. But they should be combined. Evo’s “Deadbeat Congress” is a good line, but referring to the “credit card bill” is wrong – that will imply frivilous spending on luxuries and shopoholism. Yes, I’m sure many people use Credit cards wisely on essentials, but that’s not the stereotype of a person unable (or unwilling) to pay their credit card bill.

    The mortgage and car payment are much more seen as essentials, not easily cut back. Something like: “Congress bought the house, moved in, but now doesn’t want to make the mortgage payments, and I won’t let America get foreclosed on. Don’t let Congress foreclose on America.”

  28. 28
    Citizen_X says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Oh, come on. Everybody remembers Slayer’s album, “Rein in Blood,” calling for prudent cuts in satanic bloodletting.

  29. 29
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    @jayboat: That’s a pretty good start, but don’t forget the Confederate party started it. No excuse for the press carrying their water. Sigh.

  30. 30
    Citizen_X says:

    @The Tragically Flip: Make it “Pay the mortgage” or “Pay the car loan,” then. Or just “Pay your damn bills.”

  31. 31
    jibeaux says:

    The analogy is that we’re not making a decision whether or not to keep getting cable. We’ve already decided to get cable and we got the cable and we watched the shows. We’re deciding whether or not to tear up the cable bill and have it eventually go into collections and on our credit report. The party of fiscal responsibility is proposing that we do that.

  32. 32
    japa21 says:

    @The Tragically Flip:

    “Congress bought the house, moved in, but now doesn’t want to make the mortgage payments, and I won’t let America get foreclosed on. Don’t let Congress foreclose on America.”

    I like that, specially the foreclose part. That has a lot of resonance to a lot of people.

  33. 33
    Gretchen says:

    @The Tragically Flip:
    Yes, I thought that about the credit card too. People see that as frivolous spending. I have relatives who say the teacher’s unions should give in because we all have to tighten our belts in tough times. The mortgage and car payment are much better analogies. Everyone understands these as long-term investments that people can’t pay off all at once. And everyone knows what happens when you decide not to pay after you’ve signed the papers: the sheriff comes and takes them away and you lose everything you’ve already invested.

  34. 34
    cmorenc says:

    The problem starts with far more people paying far more attention to “Dancing with the Stars” and “Honey Boo-Boo” than to substantive issues of policy and finance, beyond what amounts to sloganeering propaganda such as “belt-tightening”. I understand that most people don’t have the time to dive more than so deep or broad into detailed nuts and bolts of policy etc, but geez, SOME citizen knowledge is required or they shouldn’t be surprised that conniving shysters, greedy sociopaths, and rigid ideologues are making a shambles out of governing and policy and budgeting.

  35. 35

    Democrats have to get better at pithy analogies and emotionally manipulative stories. To many of us, it doesn’t feel right, since it’s, well, manipulative. But, shit, we need to understand that most Americans aren’t posting on blogs like this, and they don’t read Greg Sargent or Ezra Klein in the Washington Post or follow C-SPAN.

    A lot of Americans get their political news almost by osmosis, what they hear from friends or on the national news channels, and Republicans know this, and they’ve gotten good at wrapping things up neat and tidy ina way that anybody can grasp at once. Most of the time the analogies are inapt or invalid, and many of the tales and fables they spin are lies, but it works.

    The government if the U.S. isn’t a business and it isn’t a family, and it shouldn’t run like one. All of us here know that, but too many Americans don’t think enough about politics to understand that. It just seems to make sense intuitively that if a business couldn’t run by spending far more than it takes in, or if a family would end up bankrupt by doing that, then it won’t work for the government.

    Needless to say, families and businesses don’t run like the government, though. The government has a higher duty than to turn a profit, the way a business does, and it has to worry about everybody, not just one household, unlike a family. But the Republicans win these fights too often because they just seem to make more sense than the rational, reasonable Democrats. When one side makes a pithy appeal to everybody’s gut, and the other side answers with a cogent, well reasoned, emotionless appeal to logic, guess who wins?

    Democrats need to find valid, applicable, true fables, stories and analogies if we want to make any headway against the Republicans. It seems to go against what most Democratic politicians feel comfortable doing, since it smacks of demagoguery, but if they don’t get good at this, they’re going to have trouble beating the Republicans. By all rights, the Republicans should be a dead party by now, but they keep clawing back, in part by reaching people’s gut feelings so well. We need to do the same. It will help that we have the truth on our side, of course.

  36. 36
    gene108 says:


    “Deadbeat Congress Republicans” won’t “pay the credit card bill that is due” and wants to “raid SS and Medicare” to do it. Over and over and over.


    “Deadbeat Congress House” won’t “pay the credit card bill that is due” and wants to “raid SS and Medicare” to do it. Over and over and over.

    Congress implies the Democratically controlled Senate, which right-wing media will more than happily drag into any talk of obstructionist Congress.

    We must be careful with our words.

  37. 37
    RaflW says:


    “Deadbeats Congress John Boehner and Eric Cantor” won’t “pay the credit card bill that is due” and want to “raid SS and Medicare” to do it.

    Generic “Congress” continues the Both Sides Do It big lie. But otherwise excellent.


    ETA: I don’t know gene108 but is clearly a brilliant tactician.

  38. 38
    rikyrah says:


    It will be a propaganda war, and we usually lose those because progressives think too much


    which is why we should say that the GOP is committing


    against this country.

    say it over and over and over.

  39. 39
    peorgietirebiter says:

    I agree with most of the above but the challenge is getting the message above all the noise.
    Picking a fight by calling out Mitch and Boehner for enabling the liars might force an honest discussion. Congress took 39 votes to repeal the ACA and lost, the Ryan budget lost, democracy doesn’t accomodate hostage taking by technicality.

  40. 40
    RaflW says:

    Oh, and I hope that when the debt ceiling maxi-drama arrives, that all the Wall Streeters remember Boehner’s steaming pile of Sandy F.U. waaay back on Tuesday.

  41. 41
    RSA says:

    But maybe he should say not raising it would be like a family that wanted to cut its overall spending refusing to make mortgage and car payments on their existing home and vehicles instead of making smarter choices about future purchases.

    Maybe. I hate those stupid Republican analogies of the largest economy in the world to a family counting out pennies at the kitchen table, or to ten drunks at a bar splitting the tab. But I guess we’re stuck with what can be made to seem familiar.

    Possible refinements: Not raising the debt limit means… telling Grandma that we’re going to take back the money we put aside earlier for her hip operation… pulling the kids out of college mid-semester and trying to get a tuition refund…

  42. 42
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Betty Cracker, top:

    Deficit scolds enjoy a public opinion advantage because people (egged on by politicians) draw analogies between government revenues and spending and household income and spending. “We have to tighten our belts when less comes in,” goes the reasoning.

    My riposte to this is always something along the lines of “so you’re letting a little extra rust accumulate on your aircraft carrier, are you?”

  43. 43
    Lurking Canadian says:

    It is nearly impossible to come up with a household analogy for the debt ceiling, because it’s so dumb that no family would do it. The closest I can come up with is this: in Canada, we buy our houses on a series of short term mortgages. At the time of negotiation, they are amortized according to the designed life (usually 25 years), but the terms are only fixed for a maximum of five years. After the five years are up, you go back to the bank and renegotiate, with the same overall amortization end date, but based on whatever the current interest rate is.

    The closest analogy to the debt ceiling is a family going in to renegotiate at the end of their five years, hearing that the bank wants to extend them the next five years at a lower interest rate and saying, “No. Even though you’re willing to lend us the money, and we can easily afford the payments, we think we have too much debt. We think you should foreclose and kick us out of our home. Please?”

    Then again, the “household” analogy should have been cast aside the first time somebody ever recommended a “deficit reduction” plan that started with “first we need to cut taxes!”. I know of no father who goes in and asks for a pay CUT as soon as his wife loses her job, in the name of “belt-tightening”.

  44. 44
    JasonF says:

    The problem with the credit card (or mortgage) analogy is that Republicans can counter “No, we’re not talking about refusing to pay off the mortgage. We’re talking about refusing to take out a second mortgage.” You need to be ready with a good response to that if you want the analogy to work.

  45. 45
    RaflW says:


    Look, Bloomberg TV et al are obsessed with guessing when the Fed will raise interest rates because of pure self interest: trillions in cash has been parked in the bond market because the well-to-do can’t figure out how to economically deploy their mad cash (ie: job creators, my ass).

    So when the Fed (maybe a looong time from now if Kthug is right, and he often is) does raise interest rates, those bonds will loose value, pronto. These so-called smart investors just want the Fed to help them game the market and get out of bonds before the chumps do.

    OTOH, they do give a crap about a downgrade, because that should (in a sane world) force interest rates up and bond prices down.

    These days, unlike even 2011, there may be more global market forces to do that – the U.S. may loose it’s international cash refuge/last resort status, and that would be a massive, heroic accomplishment by the GOP.

    I think these assholes in the House caucus truly have not the slightest idea how global finance works, and don’t understand that the American century has ended. I think we can milk at least a few more decades of sloping transition. But the GOP may accomplish in just a few years a decline that could otherwise have been much more gradual.

  46. 46
    Cassidy says:

    @JasonF: I always like “you’re a fucking liar”.

  47. 47
    JasonF says:

    @Lurking Canadian: Here’s the household analogy I used to explain this situation to a Republican friend of mine:

    No President — whether it’s President Obama or your ideal Republican president — can spend one penny that has not been appropriated to him by Congress. Not a single penny. Nor, under the Impoundment Control Act of 1974 may the president refuse to spend money that Congress has appropriated (though he can go back to Congress and ask them to rescind the appropriation).

    All the debt ceiling does is authorize borrowing to cover the spending that Congress has already authorized.

    Imagine the following situation: you and your wife have agreed to divide financial responsibilities in your house in the following way — you will decide what money can be spent, and she will go out and spend the money according to your instructions. All the merchants in town know not to let her buy anything without seeing the instructions you’ve given her. Sometimes, you will give her very specific instructions (go out and spend $50 on the heating bill). Sometimes, you will give her some discretion (go out and spend $200 on groceries, but she gets to decide how to divide that $200 among the produce, the meat, the dairy, and the bread). Those are our appropriations. You are Congress, and your wife is the President.

    Now, every month, you give her a stack of cash. That’s our tax revenue. But the cash you give her isn’t enough to cover the things you’ve asked her to purchase. That’s our deficit.

    Fortunately, she has a credit card. So, every month, she goes out and buys what you tell her to buy, spends the cash you give her, and puts the rest on the credit card.

    Now we’re getting close to the credit limit. Fortunately, our credit card is with a bank that is saying “Hey, don’t worry guys! We are happy to raise your credit limit as high as you want it to be!” That’s basically the situation the U.S. is in right now — we can pretty much issue as many bonds as we want (that’s the way the U.S. puts stuff on its credit card) and the market is more than happy to buy them.

    However, the way things are set up in your family, the credit card company needs authorization from you — not your wife — to raise that credit limit. So every so often, your wife comes to you and says “Hey, hubby — taking into account all the cash you gave me and all the stuff you want me to buy, I don’t have enough room on the credit card to pay for everything. Can you call the credit card company?”

    Until recently, you’ve made that call routinely. But recently, you’ve started fighting her, refusing to call the credit card company. That puts her in a bind. On the one hand, you’ve given her a shopping list that she is legally obligated to fill for you. On the other hand, you haven’t given her enough money and credit to buy what she needs. What’s she supposed to do?

    Her solution — or rather, President Obama’s solution — is to call the credit card company and say “Look, from now on, my wife is authorized to call you and raise our credit limit.”

    The solution of the people opposing that is for you not to tell your wife to buy stuff that will need to go on the credit card. But here’s where the analogy breaks down: you are not one person, but 535 Senators and Representatives, each with their own ideas of which things to tell your wife not to buy or which ways to get more cash (as opposed to credit) to give her to do her shopping. And because you are 535 different personalities, you can’t reach agreement on what is the right solution. So your wife continues to be instructed to buy $1,000 worth of groceries with $300 cash and a $400 credit limit.

    And when she tries to do something about it, you characterize it as an attempt to get unlimited groceries.

    But that’s flat out wrong — even if you let her call the credit card companies, all the merchants in town know she is not allowed to buy anything that you haven’t told her to buy. So even if you let her call the credit card company — i.e. give the President authority to raise the debt ceiling — she can still only buy what you’ve told her to buy — i.e. the President is still dependent on Congressional appropriations for actual spending authority.

  48. 48
    peorgietirebiter says:

    It isn’t so much a family budget as it is a Home Owners Association. An HCA with a treasurer who threatens to withold payment to the garbage collector until the other owners start doing things his way.

  49. 49


    The key will be Wall Street and the Chamber

    Wall Street will just short the economy, and make money that way. (One of the benefits of a rigged game: they always win). And the Chamber (much like the NRA) hasn’t shown much concern for their alleged constituents before, doubt they will now.

    The debt ceiling is a shiny red cookie jar on the shelf, and the GOP is a two year old with very poor impulse control. Assume that the GOP is going to fuck with the debt ceiling.

    The “key” will be to make it stick that the GOP is a party of traitors, willing to bankrupt their own country if they’re not permitted to dismantle the social safety net.

    Help them destroy what’s left of their Brand. (And yes, that will take most of the rest of this decade).

  50. 50
    kerFuFFler says:

    … draw analogies between government revenues and spending and household income and spending. “We have to tighten our belts when less comes in,” goes the reasoning.

    Sure people might tighten their belts in lean years as far as things like going to the movies, but lots of people also invest in their futures by going to school or buying whatever it takes to make their business competitive. When there is a long term financial gain in doing so, people take out loans. Our government should be doing just that! Interest rates are down, labor is cheap, infrastructure is falling apart….

    Conditions are great right now for the US to invest in itself for the future. It is beyond preposterous to agonize over the debt right now when the situation calls for wise investment for the future.

  51. 51
    feebog says:

    Obama has said that he will not negotiate the debt ceiling. BUT, just wondering what would happen if he told the Boner, OK, I’ll negotiate, my first demand is any deal includes repeal of the debt ceiling. How would the Boner and the Turtle react to that opening gambit?

  52. 52
    hitchhiker says:

    Obama already said it:

    I will not have another debate with this Congress over whether or not they should pay the bills that they’ve already racked up . . . We can’t not pay bills that we’ve already incurred.

    I think they know how they have to frame this, but I hope somebody up there is reading this here blog, just in case. The line has to be simple, as in YOU VOTED TO APPROVE EVERY DIME OF THAT SPENDING. YOU DON’T GET TO TEAR UP THE BILL JUST BECAUSE YOU HATE DEBT.

    In the meantime, does anybody else find it freaking hilarious that the Rs got religion on how cutting taxes actually works? Dude, they really don’t pay for themselves! The Dems were right all along. We need some spending cuts to balance this out!

  53. 53
    Heliopause says:

    But simple analogies are appealing

    But what’s funny is that this analogy, even in its own simplistic terms, proves the exact opposite of what it’s supposed to. The vast majority of US households “deficit spend” and in fact the entire US economy would collapse overnight if we didn’t.

  54. 54
    Ted & Hellen says:

    So why doesn’t Obama start by hiring you as a speech writer. You’ve stated the issue much more plainly than he ever has.

    And while you’re at it, you could tell him to stop playing the Republican game on debt as a pressing issue.

    Matter of fact, while you’re at it, you could tell him to start acting like a freaking Liberal for once, you know, just to see what that might be like.

  55. 55
    NR says:

    @hitchhiker: Obama will stand firm on the debt ceiling. Super serious for reals this time!

  56. 56
    Betty Cracker says:

    @hitchhiker: Noticed that, did you? Heh!

  57. 57
    gvg says:

    @David Brooks: Stupid analogies are annoying. No country is remotely “like” a family. The economy of a country is nothing like a household and the general perception that it “ought” to be misleads people into mistakes.

    Patronizing analogies about gambling addictions REALLY mislead and try to derail rational conversations. We are always perceiving the government as overspending because we are making joint choices on what to spend with a population of over 300 million, none of whom agree about everything even if they were identical twins. My waste is your best government responsibility and vice versa. So anyone who looks at the budget sees what they think of as “waste” and most of us really have a hard time accepting that other peoples opinions matter too and no real budget will only cover what we individuals think it should. We also haven’t been trained well enough to accept that a certain amount of “waste” is acceptable from an efficiency and cost standpoint. It costs too much time and money to pursue perfect. You don’t ignore it either, but most so called government waste is really too many people not knowing the value of things and not appreciating anything that benefits someone else.

    I’ve been saying since Bush got us into the Afghanistan war and declined to raise taxes, that he in effect DID raise taxes, because it had to be paid someday. All he did was keep it secret WHEN taxes would go up. Well every authorized expenditure of our government (congress) has ever made or ever will make means a tax has to be paid someday.

    Countries are supposed to run deficits when economics are bad and surpluses when times boom. Nothing like families at all.

  58. 58
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @The Tragically Flip: They put the war on the credit card, and now they’re trying to run out on the bill.

  59. 59
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @cmorenc: I’m not worried about the DwtS or Honey Boo Boo crowd. They’re just living their life. It’s the 27% who are fucking things up, with their authoritarianism, rigid ideology, groupthink, and “facts” from their propaganda channel.

  60. 60
    encephalopath says:

    The debt ceiling hostage taking by Republican is a threat to dine and dash.

    The time to worry about spending is when you are holding the menu, not after you’re already eaten the meal.

  61. 61
    catclub says:

    @gvg: I am pretty sure that ‘David Brooks’ was snark. Maybe DougJ

  62. 62
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    The only household analogy that applies here is “if money’s tight, get a second job”, because there’s a point at which 12-packs of ramen or endless beans and rice is just going to make you sick and miserable, and may not even free up enough money to pay the bills. It’s more applicable here than on a personal level because the nation can invest in things that put money in people’s pockets, and the multipliers (especially at the bottom end of the wage scale) are demonstrable.

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