Letters to the Editor

Fiscal insanity

July 7, 2010


To the editor:

Albert Einstein once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Is Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D) insane?

In late June, Pelosi, addressing jobless extension benefits, said, “It creates jobs faster than almost any other initiative you can name.” Of course, when Republicans call her out on this counterintuitive statement, what does she do? Yes, demonize Republicans — again. The problem with Pelosi and Democrats, including, of course, President Obama, is they want to keep spending more money (our money) and not figure out another way to create new jobs.

Obama declared unemployment would not rise above 8 percent with the near trillion-dollar stimulus package. As we know, this did not happen, as currently unemployment stands at 9.5 percent and nearly reached 10 percent earlier this year.

President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D) vision of fixing the economy is nothing more than “fiscal insanity.” America has four months to decide whether or not they want Obama, Pelosi and Reid to keep doing the same thing over and over again and getting the same lousy results.

Tom Shewmon,



Roland Gunslinger 7 years, 8 months ago

A watered down version of Tom in this LTE.

You should of signed it Tom Shewmon Lite.

Hey Tom- Got a link to Obama stating unemployment would not rise above 8%? A video? A news article quoting him? Anything? Surely if he did in fact say that unemployment would not go above 8% then it should be out there on the interwebs...

Feel free to back up your claim that Obama made this statement.


John Hamm 7 years, 8 months ago

Forget the proof of Obama's comment (just discount that part of the LTE). consider the basic premise of the letter - the Democrats are spending us into oblivion without coning up with one single program that's really helping the economy.

Jim Phillips 7 years, 8 months ago

While Bush was hardly a fiscal Conservative, Obama makes Bush look look like a miser. I also think it's high time for der Leader, and you, to admit his policies are financially ruinous.

notajayhawk 7 years, 8 months ago

It was two of his economic advisers, Romer and Bernstein who projected less than 8% unemployment if the stimulus package passed. The bill, as you know, was passed, and Obama rewarded them with jobs in his administration as two of the top economic policy advisers/makers. The words may not have come directly from his mouth, but they came from the people he obviously agreed with, rewarded with top jobs for saying them.

Politifact considers the claims that Obama promised less than 8% 'barely true', which, isn't entirely false.

BorderRuffian 7 years, 8 months ago

My answer is "A". AND all of the above. Imagine how great it's gonna look during election year - the president who sued a state. I'll bet Sheriff Arapaio is out right now encouraging folks to vote the Demolib ticket. Oh yeah!!!

P Allen Macfarlane 7 years, 8 months ago

Eight years of Bush and wars dug us into quite an economic hole over the eight years he was in office and the mortgage mess has been brewing since the late 1990's. Let's see, Tom, your expectation is that Obama should have been able to get us out of the economic pit that resulted from these two problems in less than 18 months? It must be nice for you to live in your head with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny?

My hope is that you show the same vitriol for next Republican president handling this mess if Obama should fail to be re-elected. Oh, that's right, it wouldn't work that way anyway. The fault would still lie with Obama if the next Republican president couldn't fix the economy. Might as well give Sarah a free pass. She is your brand of conservative after all.

Kirk Larson 7 years, 8 months ago

I doubt Ron Paul could have done it at all.

George Lippencott 7 years, 8 months ago

You know it really does not matter how we got here (other than a lessons learned about not doing it again). It does matter what we do now.

Financial Reform, much to the chagrin of most knowledgeable observers does not address Fanny and Freddy - key players in the financial disaster. Why?

Health care reform is raising the cost of insurance to businesses and those already insured. That is money not being spent on job creation

Economic stimulus focused on government employees over looks the fact that most of them are employed by states and local governments. Both have the power to tax. If they do not raise their taxes could it be that the voters do not want their taxes raised?? Why should the feds get into it?

We have had our run at "pump priming" and it did very little. Now it is time to incentivize job creation in the marketplace by simply getting out of the way.

If we continue to dribble regulations, fees and taxes that cost but that have not been paid for with tax increases, how can we expect the market to take the risk in creating jobs?

There is an economic cycle here, putting more government costs into the economy at this point may not have the desired results and instead might start a spiral of raising taxes to pay for government intervention that discourages business economic activity that goes on and on.

jayhawklawrence 7 years, 8 months ago

I have been hearing this quote attributed to Einstein a lot lately and always from a right wing conservative. Therefore, I suspect it was said by a right wing radio talking head somewhere.

I find it annoying because it is not a proven theorem. A lot of very important things in life come for those who have the patience to see it through to the end. This statement actually works as a perfect excuse for quitters.

I had a manager who used this term a lot, lied to a lot of people, stole things from the company and left when his whining about his treatment did not bring the result he was looking for.

I think this was his favorite saying.

avoice 7 years, 8 months ago

Yes, this is an Einstein quote. Like many things that he said, this quote has been misinterpreted to a great extent. Come to think of it, that's what a lot of people do with a lot of great quotes, not least of them being Biblical quotes.

Boston_Corbett 7 years, 8 months ago

No, it is not an Einstein quote, nor of Tom Sawyer.

It is perhaps fitting that it is just the first of many things Mr. Shewmon is incorrect about.

Kontum1972 7 years, 8 months ago

hey tom since your so smart...how would of handled the BP debacle......i am sure we all would like too know....

wmathews 7 years, 8 months ago

You're always allowed allowed to say anything you wish as long as it is within the TOS, Tom.

Whitney Mathews LJWorld.com Online Editor

BigPrune 7 years, 8 months ago

...unless of course it is a joke about hiring a 27 year old swedish au pair, right ?


tomatogrower 7 years, 8 months ago

Wrong, they were blocked, delayed, or rejected by BP. You know those people you are probably heavily invested in, and are probably upset, because their stock is junk now.

Kontum1972 7 years, 8 months ago

Tom, if u have a good solution i am sure BP would compensate you handsomely to help solve their mess to the Gulf...your probably much cheaper than Mr Hayward....oh and while your at it...hows that cure for cancer you might be working on out in Linwood....or the wars overseas...and what branch of the service were you in...?

Jimo 7 years, 8 months ago

"Of course, when Republicans call her out on this counterintuitive statement"

Of course, there's nothing counterintuitive about it -- $1.60 dollars of benefit for every dollar spent. It's not a free lunch but comes close.

Poor Tom, imagine if his 'deficit hawk' sensibilities were "on" when trillions of future unfunded liabilities were accrued just a few years back with the prescription drug benefit was rammed through. Or the hundreds of billions in unfunded (that is, borrowed from China) tax cuts. Or the hundreds of billions in failed foreign wars. Or the hundreds of billions for unwanted weapons programs. Why is it that people who can understand that 10 is larger than 1 can't grasp that 1 trillion is larger than 1 billion? Why is it that people who view food on the table as welfare don't find multi-billion, no-bid contracts with persistently fraudulent corporations isn't?

No, a couple billion to - literally - saves the lives of unemployed people during the second worst Republican-created economic downturn in recorded history is just too much to take!

jafs 7 years, 8 months ago

How do these benefits generate $1.60 for each dollar spent?

The counter-intuitive part is that you're paying people who are out of work - how does this generate more jobs?

Jimo 7 years, 8 months ago

How? Errrr....they spend the money, which pays for others' employment, who in turn spend money, which in turn pays for yet others' employment, repeat, repeat, repeat. ?????

Seriously, squint real hard and try your best. I'm sure you can figure it out if your focus.

There is NOTHING counter-intuitive about how the economy works.

The $1.60 figure comes from Moody's Economy.com and the Congressional Budget Office. Also, cited in the daily journal of capitalism - the WSJ - just today and frankly every other source on the globe that isn't part of the world of wingnuts. http://www.economy.com/dismal/article_free.asp?cid=119925&src=nytimes

Jimo 7 years, 8 months ago

No sir. Again, by definition, a dollar borrowed is a dollar that is not AND WAS NOT GOING TO BE in the private economy (unless you wish to argue that the gov't is outbidding private enterprise, an unlikely claim given the record-low yields the Treasury provides).

This leaves aside the point that recessions are caused (by definition) by the FAILURE to invest capital in the economy by private enterprise.

jafs 7 years, 8 months ago

Ignoring, for the moment, your insulting tone, there are still questions about this approach.

For example, the businesses which get more business from the spending are not required to create more jobs - if increased profit translated into more jobs, then the "lower my taxes" Republicans would also be right.

And, if they don't, then when unemployment benefits go away, there are not enough new jobs for those folks to get.

It would make more sense for the government to invest in small or medium-sized businesses that will definitely create jobs than to simply extend unemployment benefits.

Darrell Lea 7 years, 8 months ago

Hey all - I need a job. Anybody on this thread hiring?

tomatogrower 7 years, 8 months ago

Wow, now you think Pelosi is talking to you. What other voices do you hear?

Kontum1972 7 years, 8 months ago

Tom, all my family members have served our country from WW2 to the present military actions we didnt shirk from our responsibilities to the oath we took, there is a verse that says: "of my own free will" ...right after "state your name" We give you the right to post here, we are called "patriots"...my service and all of the generations of my family members who gave to our country is not too impress you....we were called and we went...and some us just enlisted. We knew what we were getting into when we took that oath, its the same with the pledge of allegiance, you do remember how that goes?

Tom, there is an old saying..."you can get glad in the same pants u get mad in..." try it sometime...well i have to get back to work I have to take care of some our soldiers right now who just came back from afghanistan....Tom, u have a good day! see you in the funny papers.

Kontum1972 7 years, 8 months ago

Tom, i did not vote for the current Pres., u just assume it (ass u me)

jaywalker 7 years, 8 months ago

I think you started off on the right track, Tom, thought you were going to the same place I've been positing for some time now. But you never backed up your opening.

It is insane to repeat the same failures over and over, which is exactly what this administration is doing. 21 times since 1970 other nations have attempted to use government as jobs creator and printed their own currency in an effort to escape recession. It has failed all 21 times. Japan has been reeling from this same tactic since the early '90's. Where the arrogance comes from that believes somehow the U.S. will be the exception to this insane repetition, I just don't know.

salad 7 years, 8 months ago

Fiscal insanity? How about cutting taxes to the very rich and corporations, while simultaneously starting not one, but TWO wars using the most expensive technology and equipment possible, halfway around the planet, and then declaring open season on banking regulations so that all your buddies get rich at the expense of the rest of the country. Not sure what Obama is doing will work, but completely sure that Tom Shewmon wouldn't know what would work. Tom, there's a reson people give you the finger while you drive around in your pick-up truck: you drive like you think.

jayhawklawrence 7 years, 8 months ago

I think the larger problem is that our two party system was promoted by people who were very simple minded or who had trouble multi-tasking. They basically created two categories for everything, which is about as simple as you can get.

You have the box on the right and the box on the left. Which one are you voting for? Both boxes think they are right on every issue and the other box is wrong.

How can you possibly come up with solutions in an increasingly complex world when you have guys like Tom who absolutely believe everything good is in their box?

That is the only explanation I can come up with to explain why most debates these days are not won on truth and logic but on style and slander points.

No wonder we have high school dropout rates approaching 50% in many parts of the country and 20% dropout rates at KU after the first year.

Our kids are just totally confused.

whats_going_on 7 years, 8 months ago

so, you're trying to insult people on the left, while at the same time making fun of retarded people.

Classy. :)

whats_going_on 7 years, 8 months ago

so, you're trying to insult people on the left, while at the same time making fun of retarded people.

Classy. :)

jayhawklawrence 7 years, 8 months ago

I think people would be astounded by the amount of money that goes into highway and other public works projects in this country. I used to be involved in this industry and I became aware that a lot of politics is involved with the awarding of these gigantic contracts.

This is a playground for politicians, both Democrats and Republicans. When Obama started pumping billions into this area of the economy I have to admit being a little amused.

For the average American, we have no idea where our tax dollars are going most of the time, but I take it as a fact that the Republicans are mad as heck that they don't get to give that money to their guys instead of the Democrats giving all that money to their guys.

You are delusional if you think your party is not just as corrupt as the other party. It is just a game where rich people play for the right to spend your tax dollars on their personal projects.

As long as people continue to get played by the political rhetoric of these two parties, the US will continue to decline. American should be about ideals and values, not money and greed.

Reading Tom's comments everyday, I love his passion, but like most people today, I think he has been played by politicians who could care less.

tbaker 7 years, 8 months ago

"We are spending more money than we have ever spent before, and it does not work. ... We have never made good on our promises. ...after eight years of this administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started ... and an enormous debt, to boot."

President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau in testimony to congress, May 1939, which will sound very simular in the coming political ads before the next election.

Our economy grows when there is an increase in our national income, not the redistribution of it. The quickest, most efficient way to do that is lower marginal tax rates and let the people who work and earn the money keep more of it. The fact this concept is an anathema to our current government will be it's undoing.

Jimo 7 years, 8 months ago

"The quickest, most efficient way to do that is lower marginal tax rates and let the people who work and earn the money keep more of it."

Wrong. The CBO estimates that for every $1 spent on making the Bush tax cuts (a/k/a, lowered marginal tax rates) permanent returns 32 cents of value, making dividend tax cuts permanent returns 37 cents of value, and cutting corporate taxes, again, 32 cents of value.

Lowering marginal tax rates was the hallmark of Bush tax policy, starting with a historically low tax rate and lowering it even more - and borrowing every dime from China to pay for it. The result was the most dismal economic decade in living memory. Jeez, even Obama has created in 18 months about a third of the jobs created during the entire Bush period yet for the wingnuts Obama is the failure for not instantly curing his inherited disaster and the Bush years were nirvana despite being a pathetic failure economically (except for the wealthy).

Besides, marginal federal tax rates in this country have RARELY been LOWER than they are today - something that anyone with minimal knowledge of the tax system would be well aware.

"President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau in testimony to congress, May 1939..."

Hmmm...1939, that's pretty much the end of the Depression, wasn't it? Pretty sure that's the opposite of the point you thought you made. ROFL

jaywalker 7 years, 8 months ago

" Jeez, even Obama has created in 18 months about a third of the jobs created during the entire Bush period "

Hooonk! Thanks for playing, but take away the temporary census jobs and he ain't there yet, not to mention the fact that the majority of his "created jobs" are in the government itself. Bush was no job creator, but don't pump the President up w/ those numbers yet.

Jimo 7 years, 8 months ago

Sorry to hear that facts are disturbing to you.

Question: did Reality divorce you or did you divorce Reality?

Jimo 7 years, 8 months ago

I refer you to the answer I gave some moments ago.

Paul R Getto 7 years, 8 months ago

Liberty: Good point. You have been reading. Some tax cuts and some spending cuts might help. Another approach would be to get everyone back in the boat and start over. Once we pass a tax law, people line up at hearings to say they cannot possibly pay it and need to be excused. This is how we got to the point in Kansas where 90% of the property and 75% of the sales are not being taxed. I am also touched with the Republican's new-found aversion to deficit spending. They may have a point, after they put two BS wars we cannot 'win' on the credit cards.
Peace Out.

jayhawklawrence 7 years, 8 months ago

I agree that lowering taxes and cutting spending is the only way out of this mess but only if we change some of the other destructive policies such as allowing our manufacturing industries to be decimated by off shoring of jobs and unfair competition.

We need politicians to stop giving lip service to protecting our basic industries. Only by growing our manufacturing base are we going to get back on track.

You cannot just cut taxes and spending, you have to have better policies.

We cannot buy friends around the world with money and guns. We have played that game too long.

And we cannot continue to have open borders with no regard for our laws.

We cannot continue to allow our politicians to lie and beat every issue to death for their own personal gain or while they test out the latest pet political theories on the American people like we are a bunch of hamsters in a cage. Let's get rid of these guys!

Jimo 7 years, 8 months ago

"...some spending cuts might help."

Actually, many economists agree. Just not cuts that take effect now.

I can think of few things (short of enacting the full stimulus that Congress failed to do a year ago) than to reform entitlement and military spending plus tax increases with an effective date to commence later this decade. The subsequent global stock and bond rally alone would probably add 2-3 percentage points to growth.

Of course, that would require the GOP to stop rooting for America to fail. Oh well.

Jeremy DeBoard 7 years, 8 months ago

Changing the wolf's color doesn't change its intentions.

You can quote me if you'd like, Tom.

jafs 7 years, 8 months ago

I have suggested that TS may suffer from "oppositional personality disorder".

MyName 7 years, 8 months ago

Okay, this LTE is a complete waste of space. No ideas about what to do, or even a clear definition of the problems with the economy that our government is supposed to have fixed by now. Just "Pelosi is crazy" rabble rabble rabble "Obama is the devil" rabble rabble rabble*.

America doesn't read the opinions of third rate thinkers, which is why they won't consult yours this November, or in any other election year. But just for kicks, name one program that you would actually cut that would fix the budget. Name one additional revenue stream that you might consider adopting to offset the tax cuts that have been in place the last 6 years. Name one new idea that would actual dig us out of this economic trench we're in.

I mean, if you didn't do that in the LTE, how can you expect anyone to take you seriously?

jafs 7 years, 8 months ago

  1. Eliminate (or reduce as much as possible) the $110 billion/year that is lost to fraud and abuse of the systems (the figure comes from the CBO).

  2. Reduce our military to a size and deployment that actually serves to protect our country.

  3. Legalize all drugs and tax them.

  4. Stop incarcerating non-violent criminals.

  5. Eliminate earmarks.

  6. Run Medicare and Social Security as insurance programs rather than entitlements - ie. those who need them draw from them.

  7. Restore the Clinton administrations tax policies - the only 4 years in the last 35 that we haven't had budget deficits were during his administration.

Just a few ideas.

jayhawklawrence 7 years, 8 months ago

The problem, and I keep harping on this, is not fiscal insanity. It is political insanity.

These two groups fighting for power in this country are both becoming less and less valuable to the future health of our nation. The Republicans and the Democrats are stuck in ideological battles where all they do is argue over the same old turf time and time again.

We are losing our competitive edge to other nations of the world like Japan, Germany and China. Soon India. Why?

We need to educate ourselves in a hurry and get back in the race. The race is in manufacturing our own products and selling them.


Wall street and the financial gurus have long deluded themselves because of the way they literally are stealing our money. It is time we said enough and got back in the race to compete instead of giving away everything we have fighting wars for other people and offshoring our children's futures.

Watching Tom rant and rave everyday all day long just like all the talking heads in this country is just ridiculous. They all think they have the solution and they all think the problem is Obama.

What a crock.

camper 7 years, 8 months ago

I do not view unemployment benefits etension as fiscal insanity. It's primary benefits are:

1) It provides assistance to those who have lost their job by helping out with a minimum of disposable income to pay the bills and put food on the table. For individuals and families. This is the moral thing to do. 2) It acts as a buffer instrument to minimize economic downturns by the infusion of disposable income into the economy. This infusion has a multiplier effect where the initial outlay of cash will turn over multiple times as it changes hands in the (free I might add) economy. 3) While this compensation does not do much for creating jobs, it prevents an even larger amount of layoffs because people still have the ability to participate in the economy.

It is an unfortunate fact, as pointed out here, that people will abuse and take advantage of this benefit. To these people I say "shame on you". For instance, I have an uncle who happens to be quite wealthy, currently receiving a pension for his working days, who actually had the gall to apply for unemployment because he was laid off from his "retirement job". This sickens me even more than the deadbeats and freeloaders that are less numerous than portrayed. Most people want to work.

jafs 7 years, 8 months ago

It may have some benefits, as you point out, but it is hardly the best way to create new jobs, so why sell it that way?

independant1 7 years, 8 months ago

bush's fault? then why didn't the dems stop him? shame on them for not using all parliamentary procedures at their disposal to stop the madness. the shame of it all.

44 normal people occupied whitehouse over the years, each deserves blame one way or the other if you are a pessimist.

signed, abby normal

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