Thursday, January 26, 2006

National Debt

This is the start.

Post and discuss your ideas to this thread.

96 comments:

Dan/Mich said...

A few facts to ponder: The fastest growing component of the federal budget is the interest on the national debt, taking about 1 out of 4 tax dollars. The total debt has now exceded $8 trillion and likely to grow to well over $9 trillion in the next three years. With tax cuts for the rich and massive spending, Bush's "starve the beast" strategy is his biggest success.

skids said...

But 9/11 ate his homework. Honest!

Marilynn M said...

It is frightning to even think about. No wonder he failed in every business he ever had. I for one resent the money we are spending on Iraq. Think of what we could have done with it. Think of all the people that would still be living.

Dan/Mich said...

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Starve-the-beast or choke-the-beast is a conservative political strategy which uses budget deficits to force reductions in government expenditure, especially spending on social security programs. The term "beast" is used to denote government and the social programs it funds, including publicly funded healthcare and welfare, the implication being that expenditure on such programs, or the programs themselves, is wasteful or destructive.

A current example is the tax cutting policy of the Bush administration in the United States.

deb said...

Dan: I have the feeling that you and I are kindred spirits. Just about any and all of what is happening is designed to take all regulation off of corporations.

I think it is almost a game to them. The "How to Rule the World" game.

They are, by nature, the best sales people on earth. Think about the scruples of your car salesman. They usually don't really have a clue about how the car works or any of the ramifications of having that car, but boy can they talk it up. Masters of rhetoric.

At least some of the population is wising up to the neo-con capability. Katrina was a real eye opener. After 4 years of the best speeches possible it became obvious that they are incompetent to do anything.

Also, as short as America's attention span is, enough people remember that this war was supposed to be quick and pay for its' self.

I really think you would enjoy getting involved again. http://www.mi-democrats.com/

I know I know I've been a bit pushy in asking people to get involved, but if we don't do it who will? Plus, it is absolutely terrific to hang out with people that actually "get it".

Dan/Mich said...

Deb, I'd be honored to be your "kindred spirit". I've been puzzled by so many people voting against their own interests. I've suspected that maybe years of relative prosperity has caused voters to tune out and take their middle class status for granted. You've definetly got me thinking of another possibility, a successful campaign of distortion and manipulation by the "big 6" corporate media. I don't normally suspect conspiracy, but your arguments have been compelling.
I took a look at "globalideabank.org" recomended by Christpher (I believe). It would be a wonderful site for you to submit your ideas on the fairness doctrine and the class action lawsuit. Those ideas deserve more exposure.

Marilynn M said...

Debbie, :( I used to be a Used Car Dealer. I was honest. I made my cars as close to new as I could and sold them at a fair price. I made a very good living and my customers always waved to me with all five digets. I was never accused of cheating anyone.

deb said...

SOOO Sorry Marilyn. My problem is often that I don't make myself clear. I wasn't trying to put down sales people, what I was trying to say is that the salespeople often have no idea of how to make the product, keep it running, or see into the future of the product. This is all well and good for the marketplace, because nobody expects the sales person to repair the car.
But in government when there are only salespeople and nobody that has a clue of how to make it function its' bad.

One of the things that Bush and co. has done is to dismiss or relocate the scientists. We need these thinkers in government, but Bush and co. didn't like their negative attitude.

I have a friend that works for the FDA. The top people there are just like FEMA's "Brownie". And this is the FDA!!! Doesn't anyone think that it might be a good idea to have a few scientists in the mix???

Marilynn M said...

Debbie, I was teasing. I was very good at it because I cared about what I did. When I went to car Auctions I can honestly say I never saw such a concentration of sleezy people in my life. They don't have to be that way, they just are.

You are right about the government agencies. The FDA is one of the ones that really scare me.

deb said...

Dan, thanks for reminding me of that link.

I worked to try to get Gore elected, and was irate by the Supreme Court doing a "one time" ruling to not recount the Fla. votes, but when it was said and done I figured we'd had Reagan and BushI and we'd make it through.

I supported the US going into Afghanistan, to bring down Al Queda and free those poor people from tyranny. At that point I had bought into most of the rhetoric.
But a few things happened that "woke" me up.

As soon as Bush started trying to blame 9/11 on Hussein all sorts of disconnects happened. Scott Ritter the UN weapons' inspector in Iraq was questioned in Congress (saw it on C-Span), but the media made him out to be a liar. Joe Wilson (a repub btw) went to Africa and said that the aluminum tubes couldn't be used for WMD, but the media made it out that he got some cushy job opportunity to go to Africa because of his CIA wife and they were against the Bush administration. The list is endless, but even if this administration is caught in a bold faced lie the mainstream media is covering for them.

You can pretty much bet that if the media is dragging someone through the mud they are a democrat or they've pissed off the administration.

And it's not about what sells. Do you think that it would be a hot story to expose the Enron scandle fully? How about the media telling how Ken Lay of Enron and GW were in business together? I dare say it would sell quite a few papers.

Anyway as you can see I really think that it is the single most important issue. All of the other issues depend on whether they can be fairly discussed.

deb said...

Marilynn: the top FDA guy is more concerned in preventing the morning after pill from being sold over the counter than protecting us from things like mad cow.

He is also in the pharmaceutical corporations pockets.

Marilynn M said...

Debbie, I know. When we get a new President we are going to have to pay close attention and insist on capable honest people.
I got so sick after we moved into this house. No one could figure it out. They thought I had congestive heart failure and some exotic arthritis. By the time I figured out what was causing me to swell up like a toad and be in constant pain the swelling had destroyed the cartilage in my right elbow. It was the new carpeting. They treat it with formaldehyde and arsenic. If it could make me that sick think what it does to little kids and babies. But, there won't be any mold or bugs.

Dan/Mich said...

Debbie, One last observation if your still there...When Hillary charged that her husband was victim to a vast right wing conspiracy (over the incessant whitewater investagation and other attacks), she was ridiculed in the press inspite of the fact that she had a lot of evidence. Does that incident fit the pattern your talking about?

Dan/Mich said...

Marilyn, What a terriable ordeal. Had G. Bush known the carpet industry would have been so callus as to risk the health of Americans, he would have certainly punished them with tax cuts and immunity.

deb said...

We have a constant "conspiracy" or whatever you want to call is going on on both sides. Dems want to do whatever they can to get into power, same goes for the gop. Both parties have think tanks trying to discredit or "catch" the other side.

The balance of power in the ability for the gop to gain power was in recinding the Fairness Doctrine. The gop is the corporate party, they own the media, they are now in the position to use the media to gain power.

Since they are for corporations and against what is best for people they have to resort to smear tactics. They can't just say "Oh, we don't want Universal Health Care because it would take money out of the pockets of insurance and pharmaceutical companies", so they have to make Hillary out to be some kind of power hungry monster.

The dems want money too. But, their base has been unions, environmentalists, etc. Notice that the media tears up unions every chance they get. That is one of the reasons I won't get mixed up in a law suit against the SEIU. I think they could have done it differently or better, but I'm still on their side.

Dan/Mich said...

Getting back to the problem of the exploding national debt, my concern is that we're becoming a weaker country. The next president's ability to deal with domestic issues and defend our country is being undermined by shameful fiscal irresponcibility. Here's an excerp from an editorial in this mornings NYTs:

"...For the past few years, the United States' economy has overcome the drag of big deficits, mainly because the housing boom let Americans borrow and spend, despite stagnating wages. But the boom appears to be moderating, a slowdown that will only worsen if America's foreign indebtedness leads to sustained downward pressure on the dollar and upward pressure on interest rates.

Deeply in debt, individual Americans can't be expected to keep borrowing and spending. And government, also deeply in the red, won't be able to help much. Yet despite an estimated budget deficit of $400 billion this year, further tax cuts still top the Republican agenda....."

The swishing sound you hear is the financial health of the country and the credibility of the GOP being flushed away.

deb said...

As depressing as it all is, Clinton balanced the annual budget and I have high hopes that if we can put enough dems in office...
Senate, House and Oval Office we can do it again.

Maybe, just maybe the people are sick of the way the country is being run XX (that's my fingers crossed)

Marilynn M said...

I personally would like to see the Government get into the energy business as a means of paying down the National debt. We have tons of publicly owned land they could put up wind generators and solar panels on. Not National Parks. West Texas has tons of windmills, the Altamont Pass in California has Windmills everywhere. No one is going to convince me they aren't profitable. McDonalds in Daly City, California even has a windmill. I'm all for private enterprise but in this one thing I think the government ought to get into. We all use electricity and the government is us.

Dan/Mich said...

Deb/Mar, Maybe when the neo-cons are sent packing we can get serious about domestic problems. Which reminds me, my wife isn't buying the "my new activist friends are keeping me busy so the chores gotta wait" line, so I'll be
gone awhile. xxxxxxxxxx(fingers & toes crossed)

deb said...

Marilynn, an anon. posted some really good links and ideas on the new SSB thread. I couldn't help myself and posted a link to how the GOP met behind closed doors and gave away 22 billion to HMO's in the medicaid cuts bill, the one to help fund Katrina victims...go figure. We HAVE to get dems in all 3 branches!!!! The GOP will never go for wind and solar energy because they can't charge us for it. They want the fuel cell alternative.

Dan: Give that lovely bride some PC time. We want to hear her opinion.

Marilynn M said...

You are right Debbie, we not only need Democrats we need good ones. Four that I can think of today that need replaced. We need to go review voting records, then support the good ones and work against the bad ones.

Dan/Mich said...

Deb, My "lovey bride" comes home very tired from her job. She's a third grade teacher in a poor,mainly Hispanic,Detroit neighborhood. I'm a bit bias, but she's having remarkable success under some pretty tough conditions. I'll see if she'll contribute some incite on the education thread of this blog.

Good work digging up that Washington Post story. You won't shake up any Republican pointing out a $22 billion givaway to an HMO. A story about a welfare mother getting $20. extra...now that would fire them up.

Dan/Mich said...

Marilynn, I believe you shared a natural remedy for a fellow blogger's back pain resently. I was wondering if you'd have a cure for my annual post state of the union address nausea?

john Ashman said...

dan/mich - what about my idea of a 10-year freeze on increases in the federal government? If we simply freeze all programs at current expenditures, the problem will fix itself. Moreover, it will have an accelerating affect, with each year paying off more debt faster.

Marilynn M said...

Dan/Mich said...

"Marilynn, I believe you shared a natural remedy for a fellow blogger's back pain resently. I was wondering if you'd have a cure for my annual post state of the union address nausea? "

My remedy is a nice cold Miller beer or ten. That and working very hard on the November elections.

john Ashman said...

Also, you do realize, don't you, that social spending by the federal government is unconstitutional, correct? Thomas Jefferson was quite clear on this point. Social programs are for the states and local governments to enact.

john Ashman said...

Deb, two things:

1. If Democrats are concerned about the de-regulaton of business, why do they not propose consumer-friendly legislation, such as the "do not call" list that would have overwhelming public support? Lately, it's been Republicans coming up with popular and simple business regulations.

2. Katrina was largely a failure of state and local government who are the front line in these situations. FEMA is there to help coordinate relief, not save the day. Ask Jeb Bush about who is in charge. He said to FEMA "don't call us, we'll call you", because he knows how to handle a hurricane. The Democrats in Louisiana did not. What FEMA failed at doing was covering for an inept state and local government. FEMA could have acted better, but if the state/locals had done their job properly, they wouldn't have had to do it. Why do Democrats selectively leave out their brethren when it comes to the blame game? They were the primary failure. Quite frankly, New Orleans ended up being a "black on black" crime.

john Ashman said...

Debbie, this is who Bush appointed to run the FDA, at least for the time being. No one knows if his predecessor resigned voluntarily or was asked to resign by the Bush administration. I think he is a bit better than both Mike Brown and his predecessor who simply was promoted by Bush rather than appointed:

Andrew C. von Eschenbach, M.D., was appointed Acting Commissioner of Food and Drugs in September 2005. He holds that appointment concurrently with his position as Director of the National Cancer Institute, to which he was named in January 2002. Dr. von Eschenbach is a nationally recognized urologic surgeon, medical educator, and cancer advocate. He also is a cancer survivor.

Prior to his appointment as Director of NCI, Dr. von Eschenbach spent 25 years at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, ultimately serving as Executive Vice President and Chief Academic Officer. In that position, he led a faculty of nearly 1,000 cancer researchers and clinicians.

At M.D. Anderson he also served as Vice President for Academic Affairs and held the Roy M. and Phyllis Gough Huffington Clinical Research Distinguished Chair in Urologic Oncology. As founding director of M.D. Anderson's Prostate Cancer Research Program, Dr. von Eschenbach was instrumental in fostering integrated research programs in the biology, epidemiology, prevention, and treatment of prostate cancer. He also directed the Genitourinary Cancer Center .

Dr. von Eschenbach went to M.D. Anderson as a urologic oncology fellow in 1976 and was invited to join the faculty a year later. In 1983, he was named chairman of the Department of Urology. He also held positions with M.D. Anderson as Consulting Professor of Cell Biology and Professor of Urology.

At the time of his selection as the National Cancer Institute's 12th Director, Dr. von Eschenbach was president-elect of the American Cancer Society. He is also a founding member of C-Change, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that brings together the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to address cancer issues.

Dr. von Eschenbach has made significant contributions to the scientific literature, through more than 200 articles, books, and book chapters. He has also served as an editorial board member of several leading journals and on several organizational boards.

Dr. von Eschenbach received the National Health Care Humanitarian Award from the Patient Advocate Foundation in 2005, along with the 2005 Achievement Award from The Paget Foundation. In 2004, Friends of Cancer Research presented him its Cancer Leadership Award, and George Washington University presented him its Distinguished Cancer Public Service Award. Dr. von Eschenbach received an honorary degree from Georgetown University in 2003.

Many other influential organizations have recognized Dr. von Eschenbach for his leadership and accomplishments, among them the American Medical Writers Association, the American Urological Association, the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, and 100 Black Men of Metropolitan Houston.

A native of Philadelphia , Dr. von Eschenbach earned a Bachelor of Science degree from St. Joseph 's University in 1963 and his medical degree from Georgetown University School of Medicine in 1967. He completed residencies in general surgery and urology at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia and was then an instructor in urology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

From 1968 to 1971, Dr. von Eschenbach served as a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy Medical Corps.

john Ashman said...

"As soon as Bush started trying to blame 9/11 on Hussein all sorts of disconnects happened."

Uh, Deb, Bush never tried to blame 9/11 on Hussein. He simply said that America can no longer accept the threat of renegade dictators that might pass off WMDs to terrorist organizations.

"Scott Ritter the UN weapons' inspector in Iraq was questioned in Congress (saw it on C-Span), but the media made him out to be a liar."

Do you know that Ritter was receiving money from Iraqi sources to make a pro-Saddam documentary? Ritter had been bought off and made a bunch of money supporting Saddam. Yeah, he was a liar. And got caught.

"Joe Wilson (a repub btw) went to Africa and said that the aluminum tubes couldn't be used for WMD, but the media made it out that he got some cushy job opportunity to go to Africa because of his CIA wife and they were against the Bush administration."

Deb, there are people who have gone on record to document this. And Joe Wilson CIA guy is not a Republican. There is a Republican congressman from SC. Two different people. Wilson despises Bush and got caught in several lies and misrepresentations.

"The list is endless, but even if this administration is caught in a bold faced lie the mainstream media is covering for them. "

No, the fact is that they haven't been caught in a bold-faced lie. The NYT and other media have spun things to try to make it seem as though Bush lied, but had to print retractions after getting caught and corrected. If you actually *listen*, you'll realize that Bush has been accurate all this time in his statements. Why is it that you don't complain if John Kerry or Ted Kennedy get caught lying, which happens quite often. I have citations that I can share with you if you'd like.

john Ashman said...

"the top FDA guy is more concerned in preventing the morning after pill from being sold over the counter than protecting us from things like mad cow.

He resigned. Four months ago. See above. Try to keep up, please.

john Ashman said...

"The balance of power in the ability for the gop to gain power was in recinding the Fairness Doctrine. The gop is the corporate party, they own the media, they are now in the position to use the media to gain power. "

Ted Turner? Have you ever heard of Global Crossing? It doesn't get mentioned much in liberal media. Democrats are neck deep in corporate connects. Don't be fooled by the rhetoric. Look at the donations, the weekend trips, etc. They're all into it, it's just that Republicans are more open about it.

john Ashman said...

"Maybe when the neo-cons are sent packing we can get serious about domestic problems."

Dan/Mich

50 years of Democratic failure to solve domestic problems and *now* you want to get serious about it? Why didn't Democrats solve all this stuff before? Perhaps because the real solution to the problems of the masses lie elsewhere and not in throwing money at the situation. Democrats don't solve problems, they mask them, and not very well.

Marilynn M said...

John:
"Uh, Deb, Bush never tried to blame 9/11 on Hussein. He simply said that America can no longer accept the threat of renegade dictators that might pass off WMDs to terrorist organizations."

He did too try to blame 9/11 on Hussein. Still is to this day. He also lied about WMD. Where have you been? When he opens his mouth a lie pops out.

deb said...

From 2003 State of the Union Address:

Year after year, Saddam Hussein has gone to elaborate lengths, spent enormous sums, taken great risks to build and keep weapons of mass destruction. But why?

The only possible explanation, the only possible use he could have for those weapons, is to dominate, intimidate or attack.

With nuclear arms or a full arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, Saddam Hussein could resume his ambitions of conquest in the Middle East and create deadly havoc in that region.

And this Congress and the American people must recognize another threat. Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications and statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of Al Qaida. Secretly, and without fingerprints, he could provide one of his hidden weapons to terrorists, or help them develop their own.

Before September the 11th, many in the world believed that Saddam Hussein could be contained. But chemical agents, lethal viruses and shadowy terrorist networks are not easily contained.

Imagine those 19 hijackers with other weapons and other plans, this time armed by Saddam Hussein. It would take one vial, one canister, one crate slipped into this country to bring a day of horror like none we have ever known.

We will do everything in our power to make sure that that day never comes.

Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike?

If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option.

The dictator who is assembling the world's most dangerous weapons has already used them on whole villages, leaving thousands of his own citizens dead, blind or disfigured.

BTW: Go ahead and dig up some lies from those you stated...dare you

john Ashman said...

"He did too try to blame 9/11 on Hussein. Still is to this day. He also lied about WMD. Where have you been? When he opens his mouth a lie pops out."

Interesting deletion of the facts by a moderator - I think I said something about the fact that he simply said that 9/11 had changed everything and we can no longer allow tyrants to develop WMDs that might fall into the hands of terrorists. I also said that, if Bush "lied" about WMD, then so did about 50 prominent Democrats and several dozen world leaders. I can provide quotes upon request. If Bush is a liar, how does the left excuse their entire leadership of lying to them?

skids said...

Congress was just passing on the lies of the Bush administration. They thought they were true. In other words, Bush lied to congress and the dimwits believed him.

john Ashman said...

"Congress was just passing on the lies of the Bush administration. They thought they were true. In other words, Bush lied to congress and the dimwits believed him."

That's incorrect. Many of the had access to the same intelligence. And it wasn't just the congress, it was many of the major world leaders. Bush believed the intelligence and that WMDs existed. Ergo, not a lie. In fact, we still don't know for sure that there weren't WMDs that were quickly hidden or moved to Syria. Many Iraqis claim that they helped move WMD materials to Syria. We may never know for sure. Or they could simply be buried. It doesn't take a lot of space to hide a dangerous level of anthrax. How exactly do you get a couple of women with the names "Dr Germ" or "Dr Anthrax". I mean, they just get nicknamed that for the fun of it?

What bothers me about the left is their complete and total inability to see the mistakes and wrongdoing on their own side. Bush has made plenty of mistakes, but lying about WMDs isn't one of them. The "Bush lied" mantra is, in itself, a lie. Though, I don't know, you guys might be deluded enough to not realize that you're passing on a falsehood. It's hard to tell. Are you deluded or dishonest? Factually, it's one or the other.

If I have something against Bush, it was his blatant buying of the public with an over the top and incredibly costly (and unconstitutional) prescription drug benefit, his complete inability to use a veto pen and his lack of ability to stand up to the extreme right on issues such as gay marriage or immigration reform. You want to hammer him for that, be my guest. But lying? That just shows that the left isn't in touch with reality and will continue to lose elections for the foreseeable future.

Cheryl V said...

Congress did not have access to the same information as the president. They get condensed and approved versions of security reports.

That being said, anyone with a brain could see that the buildup for war was all a PR job. Bush was itching to invade Iraq as soon as he found an excuse. Any member of Congress who says he didn't know is lying. They were just trying to do the polically safest thing.

Dan/Mich said...

John A., You've had a busy night posting. Before I respond to some of the issues you've raised, allow me a couple observations. Listening to your dialogues over the last few weeks, I'm convinced that you're philosophically consistant and have debating skills far superior to mine. In spite of that, I do have some questions and comments on some of your points.

Dan/Mich said...

John A.
"Also, you do realize, don't you, that social spending by the federal government is unconstitutional, correct?"
I believe that constitutional questions are desided by the Supreme Court and to my knowlege they haven't agreed with you on this issue.

Dan/Mich said...

John A.
"50 years of Democratic failure to solve domestic problems..."
While domestic problems havn't been "solved", I believe the rise of a strong middle class(and hope for the poor)took place because of their programs. 50 years of Democratic spending created a federal government much smaller than the neo-cons have created.

Dan/Mich said...

John A. "What about my idea of a 10-year freeze on increases in the federal government?"
I'm for a balanced budget. I like the pay-go policy of the last Pres. and Congress. Any off-budget spending(say for war or disasters)would have to be funded by a sur-tax. Could you support such a plan? Do you support the "starve the beast" scheme we have now?

Dan/Mich said...

John A "...If we simply freeze all programs at current expenditures, the problem will fix itself."
We're borrowing $2 billion/day now just to get by. I can't see how a freeze will solve the deficit let alone "fix" the national debt. Even with rosy presumtions, I don't get your math. Can you explain?

john Ashman said...

"I believe that constitutional questions are desided by the Supreme Court and to my knowlege they haven't agreed with you on this issue."

The founders of the country explicitly defined the powers of congress and later, explicitly said that those were the *limits* of congress, not "and anything else they'd like to do". They also specifically said that there was *no* legal power in the constitution that allowed the government to take from any group of people to give to another. I can provide quotes from the big guys, if you like. Even Democratic presidents railed against congress's attempts to go beyond their limits.

So, in essence, what we've had is *not* a government in which the president has taken too much power, we have one in which the *congress* has taken too much power and, for some reason, the courts have permitted it. I am not sure if anyone has ever really challenged social spending as unconstitutional in the Supreme Court. I'll have to look that up. It would be hard to define as constitutional by any standard, especially with the framers being explicit afterwards that they meant to give no such power.

john Ashman said...

"While domestic problems havn't been "solved", I believe the rise of a strong middle class(and hope for the poor)took place because of their programs. 50 years of Democratic spending created a federal government much smaller than the neo-cons have created."

Three problems. The first is that the middle class was actually created by the growth of the economy following WWII and was a natural progression of technological advances, birth rates, natural exuberance, and other factors. Taxation didn't go through the roof really until the 60s, 70s, 80s. By that time, the middle class was well established and, of course, congress figured they could afford it. But there has been essentially no decrease in the poverty rate, nor is there ever likely to be. However, the poor of today have a much higher standard of living than those of 20, 40, 60 years ago. That is due to technological advancement and economic efficiency, not social programs which, by and large, have demonstrably failed in their intent. They didn't lift people out of poverty, they sustained them in their poverty.

Secondly, that's not quite true. Bush has helped to expand the government due to massive spending on defense following 9/11. Any president, including/especially Al Gore would have done the same. But Bush just *added* to the spending, he didn't create the first $1.5+ Trillion. Therefore, by far, most of the size of government happened with a Democratic congress setting the budget. However, Democrats pound away at this point as though they are guiltless. Any attempts to shrink government spending by Republicans, however, are always met with fierce resistance by Democrats.

Third, defense is a legitimate, constitutional expenditure of money by the federal government. I about fainted when Bush did the prescription drug benefit. Liberal spending at its worst. I've not been happy about that one at all.

john Ashman said...

Also, if you use the term "neo-con", mimicking "neo-Nazi", does it not make sense to call liberals "neo-comms"? Why toss in needless insults into sensible argument?

john Ashman said...

"I'm for a balanced budget. I like the pay-go policy of the last Pres. and Congress. Any off-budget spending(say for war or disasters)would have to be funded by a sur-tax. Could you support such a plan? Do you support the "starve the beast" scheme we have now?"

Your plan is better than nothing, but I believe we already pay far too much in taxes and it is a ball and chain on the economy and well-being of our citizens. I do believe, not in starving the beast, it doesn't work, but killing it. If you do deficits, politicians spend anyway. The problem is spending, not insufficient revenue. If we took $1Trillion and put it in the economy, there would be insufficient workers to fill the demand for jobs and there would be little social programs necessary because that would create wage inflation. Simple economics. The very programs that you think are helping actually create low wages and job stagnation by removing that money from the private sector. Ask an economist. I mean, anyone besides Paul Krugman who is only an economist by title.

john Ashman said...

"We're borrowing $2 billion/day now just to get by. I can't see how a freeze will solve the deficit let alone "fix" the national debt. Even with rosy presumtions, I don't get your math. Can you explain?"

The economy is still growing. That means tax revenue grows. But there is a compounding effect. If we freeze government spending, more money stays in the private sector. That means more taxable income because that money is lining *someone's* pockets. It also creates more jobs and more economic growth. So economic growth rate *increases*, number of taxable people *increases*, the average tax amount *increases* while spending decreases. A good economist could run the numbers and show where the debt is paid off, but it will accelerate at an increasing, almost exponential rate, with each year paying off much more than the previous year. It could take ten years, or 20, not sure. But it would work. All we have to do is commit to not spend more than we do.

john Ashman said...

I should say, spending *decreases* as a) a percentage of GNP and also in real dollar terms because of inflation. In fixed dollars, we'd spend about 1-2% less each year, which would only increase the rate of catching up. If a Democratic candidate for President ran on this platform, to veto *any* spending increase by congress until the debt is paid down, I would vote for him/her. It's the single best thing we could do for the country and massively simple in its design. Show me that Democratic candidate.

Dan/Mich said...

John A. "...I am not sure if anyone has ever really challenged social spending as unconstitutional in the Supreme Court...."
I would have thought there would have been a Libertarian challenge...but I don't know.
I'm no constitutional expert and I believe your honest, so I concede the rest of your post.

john Ashman said...

Also, another "snowball" factor. If we cap spending, the amount paid towards the principle accelerates exponentially. The interest portion goes down, the principle goes up, just like a home loan. The budget would stay the same, but the drop in interest spending goes to principle spending. The first 3-5 years wouldn't seem very dramatic, but the acceleration factor soon after would be massive and unrelenting. Of course, politicians would quickly demand that we dramatically increase spending and we go right back into it.

The big thing is that it could be a non-partisan bill. Dems agree to freeze their programs, Reps agree to freeze theirs until the debt is paid off. But, unfortunately, I know who will squawk first and complain that a "freeze" is a decrease because of baseline budgeting tactings - do you know that most programs have a built-in ~4% growth curve, no matter what. If that growth is slowed to 3%, it is considered to be a "cut". Only an increase in the rate of spending, to a 5% or higher increase is actually considered to be an "increase" because a 4% increase was already there. Which is why were in this mess.

Dan/Mich said...

John, I'm sure all the things you mentioned did contribute to the formation of the middle class. I believe that Democratic policies towards civil and womens rights, worker and product safety, the envrironment and yes labor unions all improved the life of the middle class and expanded their numbers.
I believe the massive spending on the Iraq war has all been "off budget" and federal spending has been rising rapidly without including it.
I agree that Al Gore would have defended our country after 9/11, but I doubt if he would have seen Iraq as the big threat.
I believe the national debt stood at about $1 trillion when R. Reagan implemented "supply side econ." and by the end of his term the debt had reached $3 trillion. George Bush has easily surpassed his mentor.

Dan/Mich said...

John, I can't keep up with you but I'll make a few more points,then I gotta run.
I've got to agree with you about the perscription drug bill. It was ill conceived, poorly written, and all done on credit. We've got to get a handle on costs, not just try to shift who pays the bill.

I honestly thought neo-consevative and its abrieviation was widely used and acceptable. I didn't intend to throw in a "needless insult" into a civil conversation.

I'm very much of a fiscal conservative. With a little discussion, we might find some common ground on that subject.

john Ashman said...

" I believe that Democratic policies towards civil and womens rights, worker and product safety, the envrironment and yes labor unions all improved the life of the middle class and expanded their numbers."

I agree with this, but the best programs are the ones that don't take money from one person and give to another, because those never really work.

BTW, a libertarian is just a fiscally conservative liberal. More liberal than a liberal while being more conservative than a conservative. It's not like Democrats are fighting to kill the failed drug war.

Dan/Mich said...

John,
"BTW, a libertarian is just a fiscally conservative liberal. More liberal than a liberal while being more conservative than a conservative."

Congratulatios, thats the best definition I've ever heard. Is it a John A. original?

I've got one more observation I'd like your reaction to.

Alan Greenspan with his complicity with this administration's policies,and Libertarians by expressing only mutted critism, bear some of the blame for the fiscal mess in Washington.

john Ashman said...

Okay, but you can only blame Libertarians like .2%. That's about how many there are.

john Ashman said...

BTW, yeah, I guess you could call that an original description. Here was another that someone posted on my site, and I had to agree with it:


I would define the difference by pointing out that libertarians see "freedom" as something like "all the freedom a fair minded and rationally disciplined person needs". "libertarians" understand that impractical absolutes, are absolute nonsense.

Libertarians are chaos whore's, who attempt to turn principles and ideals into a religious dogma that does not have to yield to truth, logic, or even common sense.


BTW, I guess my point is that libertarians scream loud and hard, but there's just too few of us to count. That's why the most important thing anyone can do for their country is to reregister as an independent or libertarian and make the big two fight over the middle.

Check out www.cato.org if you haven't. It's less crazy and more policy driven. They are rather idealistic, but at least they don't sound crazy like the Libertarian Party candidates. These guys are true thinkers and the stuff is very interesting.

john Ashman said...

IOW, he was describing the difference between small "l" libertarians and big "L" Libertarians.

My other "John A original" if you didn't catch it is:

Democrats are people who believe in complex solutions to simple problems

Republicans are people who believe in simple solutions to complex problems

Libertarians are people who believe in simple solutions to simple problems and that complex problems can't be solved by outside intervention.

Dan/Mich said...

John, I'm pretty familiar with Libertarian thinking. I subscribed to Reason Magazine for a number of years and I'm familar with Cato.org. While I don't always agree with their positions, they do provide honest disscussions. I just went to there home page and found this item:

"Bush Beats Johnson: Comparing the Presidents," by Stephen Slivinski, Cato's Tax & Budget Bulletin, October 2005.

Chris Edwards, Cato's director of tax policy studies, comments: "President Bush and Republicans in Congress keep claiming that they are getting spending under control and that spending growth rates are falling. That is simply not correct. The 8.0 percent growth rate in 2006, and massive 43 percent spending increase the past five years (FY2001 to FY2006), shows that federal government growth is completely out-of-control under the Republicans."

That's one of my beefs with this Administration. They masquerade as proponents of smaller government, while growing it at a record pace.
The massive growth of the national debt has made us a much weaker country, since like a drug addict,we need to hit the world's streets for our daily fix of cash.

Anyway, I think we had a good discussion. While we don't agree on the ideal size of government, I think we agree on the need for a balanced budget. If I had any influence on Democrats, I'd push them towards becoming the the fiscally responsable party. There's currently a giant void on that issue. (and maybe get John A.'s vote).

john Ashman said...

If you can *legitimately* get the Democrats to be fiscally responsible, I'm in. I just haven't seen it yet.

Marilynn M said...

So you think cutting the wealthy peoples taxes another 70 billion while we are at war is fiscally responsible? He is out to destroy us.

john Ashman said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
john Ashman said...

Though, I do admit that I meant to *think* that last comment rather than say it. Damned rum and cokes. It's like truth serum.

john Ashman said...

Okay, here's my mini-economics 101 for liberals. If you *actually* understand economics, it's hard to be a liberal because the math doesn't work. If you have a $70B "tax cut", it is *not* a $70B REVENUE CUT. It's not a static model.

When you cut taxes, you get more private money, which is more efficient. This means a) more jobs (aka taxpayers) b) higher private/corporate taxable income (aka tax revenue generation) and c) a growing economy. a $70B "tax cut" could yield a $150B tax revenue increase for a net gain of $80B.

If this had been anything close to a libertarian government for the last 100 years, our poor people would be making the equivalent of $50K/year just for showing up, instead of $15K and savings wouldn't be a problem. But you'd rather tax people into submission, rather than let the economy grow and help everyone.

Judy B. said...

John, maybe this was true once upon a time:
"When you cut taxes, you get more private money, which is more efficient."

The efficiency in private money now seems to flow to corporate CEO's, take-overs of small businesses that are raided of their worth and then closed down, pension funds raided, top down management glut that does't see the forest for the trees..

People are upset that the system is broke and all we get is people arguing talking-points...

We need to pay back our national debt... a growing econlmy is a must to do that, byt tax cuts at this time are not in our best interest... especially tax cuts for the rich...

Dan/Mi said...

John,
I'm afraid you just flunked econ. 101. A "$70B tax cut could yeild a $150B tax revenue increase"....even the drunkest economist at a Laffer's Curve convention never spouted those numbers.

N. Gregory Mankiw, the current chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers and a Harvard economics professor, has written in his well-known 1998 text book that there is “no credible evidence” that “tax revenues … rise in the face of lower tax rates.” He goes on to compare an economist who says that tax cuts could pay for themselves to a “snake oil salesman who is trying to sell a miracle cure.”

Both the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation have been tasked with analyzing the “dynamic” economic effects of recent tax cuts. These non-partisan bodies, currently headed by Republican appointees, both have found that recently enacted tax cuts would have very small effects — which could be either positive or negative — on economic growth. Their studies conclude that the tax breaks enacted since 2001 would generate little, if any, offsetting increase in revenues.

To make matters worse the $70B in lost revenue was spent anyway using borrowed money.

Dan/Mi said...

Judy B.
Good work. You get an A-Plus!

Judy B. said...

even with all the typo's??/

Dan/Mi said...

Judy,
It's the typo's that got you the Plus.

Judy B. said...

dan..your 10:00 post.. can I use some of it in letters to the editor?

Dan/Mi said...

Judy,
Your welcome to use anything from any of my posts. I'm proud of your activism.

Marilynn M said...

John, are you off your medication? I may be old but I'm far from stupid. Straighten up your nasty attitude or get off. Your propaganda and insults are not productive.

Marilynn M said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
john Ashman said...

Judy, my idea is to freeze *all* government spending at current levels until the debt is paid off, then let the problem take care of itself. If a Democrat would go for that, I'll vote for him.

The problem isn't that the lack of tax revenue, it's the insane level of spending. Cut that and the problem goes away. But the more you tax, the more you stifle the economy.

Dan/mich, I do believe that if you look it up, when Kennedy cut tax rates, the tax revenue went up. And I have an economy professor friend who'd be glad to explain it to you, I'm sure.

Dan/Mi said...

John,
What I'm disputing is the notion that tax cuts pay for themselves. Under the rosiest presumptions I've seen, up to 28% of a tax cut could be offset by revenue increases (when the tax relief spurs the maximum growth).

Under this optomistic scenerio, a $70B tax cut would reduce revenue by $51B. When spending stays level or continues to rise, the entire $51B must be borrowed.

When you elect someone who cuts spending, pays off the national debt and achieves a budget surplus, a fair tax cut would be wise and justified. Until then, cutting taxes and borrowing to replace the revenue is, as G.Bush Sn. once said, "Voodoo" economics.

If your economics professor friend cares to depute that, I'd be happy to hear from him.

Judy B. said...

John, freezin all spending at current levels certainly has a nice ring to it, but doesn't get any where close to solving the problem.

A freeze doesn't take into consideration that our government is bloated with waste. A freeze would just continue the waste.

Congress needs to act first to find the bloat and eliminate it.. the problem is, no one can agree on what is necessary and what is pork...

Additionally a freeze will not fund your war, rebuild New Orleans, nor fund the alternative energy technology/infrastructure that is needed.

You seem to be a good researcher.. go find the bloat in the government and let's get rid of it. Until then, we need to take care of those who can't take care of themself.

Cheryl V said...

From the Wikipedia entry for "tax cut":

In practice it is likely that a mixture of these effects will occur, and the net effect of any tax cut will depend on the balance between them. It will therefore be a function of the overall state of the national economy. In conditions where most goods and services (especially those frequently purchased out of discretionary income, such as consumer durables) are produced domestically, a tax cut is more likely to provide a macroeconomic stimulus than in conditions where most consumer durables are imported. Furthermore, the actual effect will inevitably be difficult to discern, because ofnumerous other changes in the economy between the time when a tax cut is proposed and the time when its full effects would be realized.

If government does reduce its expenditure to accommodate tax cuts, there must necessarily be reductions in government services, and there may also be a reduction of the government's capacity to redistribute income to reduce income inequalities. Critics of tax cuts argue that this leads to a fall in overall economic welfare because the effects fall disproportionately on those with the lowest incomes.

Judy B. said...

This is how GW is going to pay down the national debt...I wonder how many more "little" ideas like this he is anticipating?/

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration called Monday for the Bonneville Power Administration to reverse its longtime policy of using surplus revenue to lower electricity rates for Northwest consumers and instead use the money to pay down the federal debt.

The administration called the proposal "consistent with sound business practices," but lawmakers from the region called it yet another attack on the Oregon-based regional power agency and Northwest consumers. They said the change could raise electricity rates by as much as 10 percent.

"Energy prices are already through the roof," said Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. "Now the administration is trying to squeeze extra dollars out of Northwest businesses and families, just when our economy can least afford it. This is nothing more than a billion-dollar tax hike on the Northwest economy, and I intend to fight this proposal at every opportunity."

Reps. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., Greg Walden, R-Ore., and Doc Hastings, R-Wash., also vowed to defeat the plan, which they called "a disguised rate increase."

The proposal, part of the president's budget request for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, follows the administration's call last year to charge BPA customers based on market rates rather than the cost of producing electricity -- a change Northwest lawmakers ultimately defeated.

Under federal law, BPA has authority to sell surplus power to customers both inside and outside the Northwest. The revenue from surplus power sales is then used to lower BPA's electricity rates throughout the Northwest.

Under the administration's proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, any surplus revenue above $500 million would go to pay down federal debt, rather than lower power prices for BPA customers. According to budget documents, the plan could raise Northwest power rates by an estimated $924 million over the next 10 years, depending on the amount of surplus power BPA sells and the market price of power.

The BPA said in a statement that the proposal would not affect rates in 2007, but did not rule out rate hikes after that.

"This administrative action will both reduce the federal deficit and provide BPA with needed financial flexibility to invest back into energy infrastructure and to pay down debt," the statement said.

Bonneville, the federal power marketing agency based in Portland, Ore., supplies nearly half the electricity in the Pacific Northwest, most of it from a system of federal dams along the Columbia and Snake rivers.

Alex Conant, a spokesman for the White House budget office, said the plan would let the BPA make capital investments to improve service and reliability while making future rate hikes less likely.

But Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., called the plan "government loan-sharking" and compared it to a mortgage lender requiring higher payments from those who earn above a certain income.

"This is a significant change that's going to raise the power rates of customers in the Pacific Northwest by almost $1 billion in the next few years, and I will not let them do it," Wyden said.

deb said...

Judy, I seem to spend a lot of time just dazed at the unmitigated gall of this bunch. Tax cuts for extremely wealthy people, record deficits, and now "lets just get the blue states to pay for our mess, they didn't vote for us anyway." Shame we don't have any *real* media, what a story this is.

Judy B. said...

The real sad part is that i bet that this kind of raid on blue state taxpayers is just getting started...

Post it everywhere... other need to be on the look-out..

Marilynn M said...

Wouldn't it be funny if their house of cards collapsed in on them? Suppose Scooter continues to sing. Of course Abramoff is going to snag in a bunch of them too. He has pictures of him at Bush's ranch. Even one of him and Laura Baby. Things are heating up. So I guess we will attack Iran now. Terror alerts and Osama tapes won't do, it will have to be Big Daddy protecting us from WMD, oil, or something.

dan said...

AARPBulletin's latest issue cover story discusses the national debt in simple terms. It also has a poll "How we'd balance the budget".
I'm having trouble with posting a link so I,ll just list their web address. Look for "Red ink rising".

http://www.aarp.org/bulletin/

deb said...

It took Clinton shutting government down to get the nation to notice that he wanted pay as we go. It just astounds me that Republicans are thought of as being fiscally conservative when they aren't and Democrats are believed to be the tax and spend party when both Carter and Clinton worked to balance the budget. Clinton, of course, had the most sucess because he vetoed the budget until it was balanced.

This, of course, goes back to our media which is either very devious or they just buy into the rhetoric and pass it along. I think it has to be a little of each since any reporter who *understands* what is happening doesn't keep their job in MSM (mainstream media).

dan said...

Deb,
We had an absolute blueprint for fiscally sound government under Clinton. I'm still stunned how quickly and completely we lost our way. The Republicans are to blame and the media didn't help matters, but the Democrates really dropped the ball on the issue.

I didn't think either Gore or Kerry grabbed the issue like thet should have. Howard Dean was vocal about balanced budgets (he was my candidate of choise) but we both know what happened to him.

deb said...

I beg to differ about dems dropping the ball. I watch quite a bit of C-Span and dems are speaking out for a balanced budget every chance they get. Mainstream media convieniently doesn't cover those statements.

I agree on Kerry. He was my second to the least favorite dem candidate, but I worked very hard to try to have him elected. Lieberman was my least favorite, I wouldn't have even tried to get him elected.

In the two days leading up to the Iowa primary mainstream media reported that "In a recent poll of democrats John Kerry is the most likely candidate to be elected President." This was reported thousands of times on all major TV networks and all over the radio. The problem is...it was false. Edwards and Dean were running neck and neck at the time.

I actually wanted Wes Clark to be the nominee, but would have been totally content with Dean or Edwards.

I think the reason the media pushed for Kerry is that he has strong ties to corporations. The Heinz corporation donates republican...other than a bit to Kerry's campaign. In the event that Kerry did win, the corporations had the best chance of him not vetoing legislation that benefits corporations.

I think they pretty well knew that the Senate and Congress would be red, so a dem President would have only had veto power.

dan said...

Deb,
"...I beg to differ about dems dropping the ball. I watch quite a bit of C-Span and dems are speaking out for a balanced budget every chance they get."

I've also noticed and I'm very encouraged by the fact that Democrats are getting more vocal about the need for a balanced budget. My critisism of Democrates on the issue was past tense and should have been mainly directed at the Kerry campaign. I think the Party is begining to find it's voice on this and many other issues.

I liked Wes Clark. The fact that the Clintons encouraged him to run gave him instant credibility in my mind. Being new to politics, he handled himself very well. Like you, I would have found voting for Lieberman painful.

The November elections are critical. We need a Congress that will step up and prevent the mass destrution planned by this Administration.

Judy B. said...

I magree that the November elections are critical..One of the big problems with the American voters is that while we carry on aboout how bad congress is, we also continually think/say/vote/support our own representtive.
Unless a congressman gets targeted by the opposition there is very small chance of him/her being booted out of office.
Has anyone seen/heard who the vurnerable Republicans are?? If there is one in your district, it is time to get to work...
Is anyone a member of Emily's list???

Cheryl V said...

Your tax dollars at work. From www.adweek.com:

Bush Spent $1.6 Bil. on 'Spin'
February 13, 2006
By Richard Williamson

DALLAS The Bush Administration spent $1.4 billion in taxpayer dollars on 137 contracts with advertising agencies over the past two-and-a-half years, according to a Government Accountability Office report released by House Democrats today.

With spending on public relations and other media included, federal agencies spent $1.6 billion on what some Democrats called "spin."

The six largest recipients of ad and PR dollars were Leo Burnett USA, $536 million; Campbell-Ewald, $194 million; GSD&M, $179 million; JWT, $148 million; Frankel, $133 million; and Ketchum, $78 million. The agencies received more than $1.2 billion in media contracts, according to the report.

Ketchum was embroiled in a scandal last year when it was revealed that the Department of Education had paid commentator Armstrong Williams $250,000 to promote President Bush's No Child Left Behind initiative. There was no suggestion of impropriety for most of the contracts, however. GSD&M, for example, has handled advertising for the U.S. Air Force for several years, an account it won through a traditional government review.

Trends in spending on PR and ad contracts were not documented, but a prior study by the minority staff of the Government Reform Committee found that spending on public relations contracts rose rapidly under the Bush administration. That report found that spending on contracts with public relations firms had increased to $88 million in 2004 from $39 million in 2000, an increase of 128 percent.

Rep. Henry A. Waxman, House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders asked for the study after reports surfaced that the administration had paid commentators to promote its programs and that promotional videos designed to resemble newscasts were distributed to TV stations that ran unedited.

The Department of Defense spent the most on media contracts, with pacts worth $1.1 billion, according to the study. The Department of Health and Human Services spent more than $300 million, the Department of Treasury spent $152 million, and the Department of Homeland Security spent $24 million during the period.

The PR and ad contracts included providing "expert advice and support in the development of several marriage-related research initiatives," an educational campaign regarding the "Medicare Modernization Act, and its coverage and benefits," and a contract regarding "message development that presents the Army's strategic perspective in the global war on terrorism," the study said.

A Food and Drug Administration contract had the objective of warning the public about the "consequences and potential dangers of buying prescription drugs from non-U.S. sources."

Within the Department of Defense, which had the largest budget for public relations and advertising contracts, the Air Force provided the most detailed list of its contracts, the report said.

dan said...

Cheryl,
"Bush Spent $1.6 Bil. on 'Spin'"

Thanks Cheryl, that was very informative.

Talk about putting lipstick on a pig....and very expensive lipstick at that!!

dan said...

Judy B.
"...Has anyone seen/heard who the vulnerable Republicans are?? "

We're talking about a Republican Congress that enabled the most callous,reckless and morally bankrupt Administration in modern history. Maybe I'm overly optomistic, but I think they're all vulnerable.

Judy B. said...

Maybe so Deb, but history tells us that it is veeeerrryyy hard to defeat an incumbent, no matter how rotten he is... so to change the make up of the congress we need to find out who is being targeted and support their opposition... First look to your own district, then to your state, then neighboring states...

dan said...

Judy B
"... history tells us that it is veeeerrryyy hard to defeat an incumbent..."

Of course you're correct. If bad incumbants were easily ousted, there wouldn't be so many of them. Your sense of urgency is justified.

dan said...

Getting back to the national debt, this is what Bruce Morton had to say:

National Debt

deb said...

"But the conservatives? That's easy. They are the big government, big-spending, cut-taxes and go-further-in-debt party." Bruce Morton

If a poll were done today, that asked which party is the most fiscally responsible, which one would most people say?

dan said...

Deb,
Bruce Morton speaking of Republicans said "... made hay by denouncing liberals as the "tax-and-spend" guys..."

I'm afraid the damage done by the highly sucessfull propaganda campain labeling Democrats as the "tax and spend party" will linger for quite some time.

Your question: "If a poll were done today, that asked which party is the most fiscally responsible, which one would most people say?

In spite of a mountain of evidence to the contrary, I'm afraid the public might still choose the Republicans. Changing perceptions is a painfully slow process.

dan said...

3/16/06
The national debt continues to explode under this Administration.

Hey kid, you owe $30,000!