Archive for Friday, September 21, 2012

Labels make compromise harder

September 21, 2012


Labeling others. I’m tired of it. You should be tired of it, also. We label those who disagree with us so we can discount their opinions, values and intelligence. It’s convenient to our point of view, but it’s terribly unfair to everyone.

They’re “tea baggers” (oohh, now I feel superior). They’re “bleeding heart liberals” (how can they be so stupid). They’re too old, too young, too lazy, too dumb. Wow, I’m feeling better about myself already.

Amazing how when we try to denigrate someone who see’s the world differently than us, that it somehow empowers us. Yes, even tacitly proves our point.

We even label ourselves. I’m a liberal. I’m a conservative. I’m a going to be sick.

This is the age we live in but please stop the labeling. It’s not helpful.

Our country is facing many difficult choices. Do we fund national health insurance, or the war in Afghanistan, or extend unemployment benefits, or rebuild our country’s infrastructure, or reduce the size of government, or increase subsidies to farmers, or increase Medicaid benefits?

Choices. The devil’s in the details. I’m OK with you getting what you want as long as I get what I want. Unfortunately, it’s easy to want things, but not necessarily easy to pay for them. Just ask the parent of any teenager.

Some of us act like teenagers. We raise our voices, we glare, we pout and then we resort to the name-calling. “You’re not listening? I said I want (fill in your demand here).”

But just as most parents can’t afford to give in to their teenagers’ “demands,” neither can our country come up with all the services and programs to satisfy all of “our demands.” There’s just not enough money.

The Republican and Democratic parties are controlled and funded by the extreme voices in their party (if this is you, insert your label of me here). The overwhelming majority of Americans (now there’s a label we can all be proud of) are much more alike than they are different.

We value friends and family. We’re thankful for our jobs (even if our boss is “stupid.” Oops, another label). We want our parents and grandparents to have Medicare and Social Security. We want our troops to be safe. We want safe roads, quality schools. We want low-interest student loans and affordable tuition. Two-dollar-a-gallon gas. Now we’re talking.

Well, there’s some good news and bad news. The good news is we can have anything we want. The bad news is we can’t have everything we want. There’s the rub. That means that both sides are going to have to compromise. Everyone has to give up something they want for the greater good.

What is the greater good? It’s long-term financial solvency of our country. In short, we have to be able to afford to pay for the things we want. Not just this year, but for our lifetime.

Today our country borrows 43 cents for every dollar it spends. This level of debt is unsustainable. What if your family did this? How long would you be able to stay afloat? What would you have to do? Most likely cut back on spending. If possible, you would try to increase income/revenues. Our country will need to do both. That means ALL of us will have to resist the urge to demand that our government meet all of our desires.

The most recent successful example of a president bringing both sides together was during President Clinton’s second term. His ability to compromise with a Republican-controlled Congress led to the last time we had a balanced budget. Neither side can claim victory without the other.

Regardless of who is elected president, that person is going to have to seek compromise, not partisanship. The labeling and name-calling will not be conducive to putting our country on the path to financial solvency.

When you place your vote, cast it for the man who you think will do the best job of bringing opposing viewpoints together, not driving a wedge between them.

— Kevin Kaye is a Lawrence resident.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

"Today our country borrows 43 cents for every dollar it spends. This level of debt is unsustainable. What if your family did this?"

But the US Govt. is NOT a family. Analyzing the debt in such a way is not a useful analogy.

Nobody Understands Debt By PAUL KRUGMAN


"Deficit-worriers portray a future in which we’re impoverished by the need to pay back money we’ve been borrowing. They see America as being like a family that took out too large a mortgage, and will have a hard time making the monthly payments.

This is, however, a really bad analogy in at least two ways.

First, families have to pay back their debt. Governments don’t — all they need to do is ensure that debt grows more slowly than their tax base. The debt from World War II was never repaid; it just became increasingly irrelevant as the U.S. economy grew, and with it the income subject to taxation.

Second — and this is the point almost nobody seems to get — an over-borrowed family owes money to someone else; U.S. debt is, to a large extent, money we owe to ourselves.

This was clearly true of the debt incurred to win World War II. Taxpayers were on the hook for a debt that was significantly bigger, as a percentage of G.D.P., than debt today; but that debt was also owned by taxpayers, such as all the people who bought savings bonds. So the debt didn’t make postwar America poorer. In particular, the debt didn’t prevent the postwar generation from experiencing the biggest rise in incomes and living standards in our nation’s history.

But isn’t this time different? Not as much as you think.

It’s true that foreigners now hold large claims on the United States, including a fair amount of government debt. But every dollar’s worth of foreign claims on America is matched by 89 cents’ worth of U.S. claims on foreigners. And because foreigners tend to put their U.S. investments into safe, low-yield assets, America actually earns more from its assets abroad than it pays to foreign investors. If your image is of a nation that’s already deep in hock to the Chinese, you’ve been misinformed. Nor are we heading rapidly in that direction.

Now, the fact that federal debt isn’t at all like a mortgage on America’s future doesn’t mean that the debt is harmless. Taxes must be levied to pay the interest, and you don’t have to be a right-wing ideologue to concede that taxes impose some cost on the economy, if nothing else by causing a diversion of resources away from productive activities into tax avoidance and evasion. But these costs are a lot less dramatic than the analogy with an overindebted family might suggest."


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago


"And that’s why nations with stable, responsible governments — that is, governments that are willing to impose modestly higher taxes when the situation warrants it — have historically been able to live with much higher levels of debt than today’s conventional wisdom would lead you to believe. Britain, in particular, has had debt exceeding 100 percent of G.D.P. for 81 of the last 170 years. When Keynes was writing about the need to spend your way out of a depression, Britain was deeper in debt than any advanced nation today, with the exception of Japan.

Of course, America, with its rabidly antitax conservative movement, may not have a government that is responsible in this sense. But in that case the fault lies not in our debt, but in ourselves.

So yes, debt matters. But right now, other things matter more. We need more, not less, government spending to get us out of our unemployment trap. And the wrongheaded, ill-informed obsession with debt is standing in the way."

jhawkinsf 2 years, 4 months ago

"Nobody Understands Debt" by Paul Krugman - So is he admitting he doesn't understand debt, which means anything he writes on the topic is meaningless? Or is he saying only he and no other person on the planet understands debt? In which case, I would have to admit he's one very, very special guy.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

So your only comment is to nitpick about the title? Sure, there are people who understand the true nature of government debt, Krugman being one of them. Are you among that group? Or are you among those who think a family budget and a government budget are exactly the same kind of thing?

jhawkinsf 2 years, 4 months ago

I don't think that a national economy is like a household budget. But I also know that economics in general is an inexact science. Couple that fact with the fact the the budget is being handled by a group of people (politicians) with a very long history of acting irresponsibly and what you have a recipe for poor decisions. Even if this economist was correct in everything he says, which I'm not convinced of anyway, but then telling the politicians to do that won't necessarily mean it will get done. Limits need to be placed on the politicians before any economist tells them anything.

I bought a house many years ago. So I'm not opposed to incurring debt. In the long run, it worked out good for me and in the long run, it will work out well for the vast majority. But there will always be that person who takes out a home equity loan and takes a vacation. Then two years later takes out another home equity loan and buys a boat (break out another thousand). Two years later, another loan and another trivial expense. Then, when there is a downturn in the economy, they find themselves underwater with their home loan. Disaster. The deal is this, Bozo, that person who is irresponsible, who can't resist the home equity loan, that person who just can't live within their means, that's you and me with the demands we make on our government for more and more services. That's us, through our lobbyists demanding military spending because it provides jobs in our home districts. it's us telling our politicians we want, want, want. And they are powerless to say no to us.

So some debt, as in buying a house is fine. But if you know you are a compulsive home equity loaner, then maybe debt isn't good for you. And we are compulsive when it comes to our debt accumulation. Sixteen trillion dollars worth of it with a debt extension vote coming just after the election. (Convenient timing, wouldn't you say? If that's not an indication of our pathology, I don't know what is).

Your Mr. Krugman is telling us that guns don't kill people, people kill people. Meanwhile back in the real world, we're giving a gun to a suicidal person. Even if Mr. Krugman was correct, the second part, the reality part, it's a prescription for disaster.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

I agree that choices of how we spend the money we borrow is extremely important.

But kicking the elderly, the poor, the disabled and kids to the curb as a matter of "fiscal prudence" is a bit problematic for a number of reasons, and that's about all the Republicans have to offer (with the Democrats all too eager to join them at times.)

And while I can by pretty cynical about our political process, and the politicians that make it to Washington, the notion that you seem to be advancing is that we'd be better off if we just didn't do anything at all about anything. I don't really buy that one.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 4 months ago

Here's the problem, Bozo. I'm not really proposing we do nothing. My proposals are well known. Flat tax, everyone pays an equal share, no deductions, none, no deficits. The thing is, I know it's not going to happen. Never. But you propose equally implausible solutions. You say cut defense spending 80%. The thing is, I KNOW my proposal is a fantasy. I know what's in my head and in my heart. But I get the sense that you really want an 80% cut. You really think it's possible. It's not Bozo. Your idea is a fantasy and so is mine. But I know mine is a fantasy. Do you know your's is as well?

How about a compromise. Slow the growth of the military coupled with a slow down in the growth of food stamps. Everyone, everyone pays just a little more in taxes and we slow the growth of the deficit. And as much as we both don't like either political party, we at least encourage them to work together in a civil manner. Or we can go back to flat taxes and 80% cuts.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

First, a flat tax is, by nature, extremely regressive. That is, it is nothing more than a tax increase for those at the bottom of the economy and a decrease for those at the top.

Second, the notion of no deficits would require the government to tax at a rate considerably higher than what it typically spends in order to maintain a "rainy day fund," and nearly every day is a rainy day somewhere in this country.

"How about a compromise" Except that all of your compromises mean that more people go hungry, the already poor are even poorer. That's not a compromise. That's downright Malthusian.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 4 months ago

Fine. 80% cut in defense. Bang your head on that wall, again and again. And again and again. And again and agin. Feel better.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

It's a real solution to a real problem, and removes spending that is far more destructive to the economy and the lives of people around the world than the deficit is.

But keep banging your head against the wall of false compromise.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

I'm not at all sure Krugman's right about debt, in general.

He seems to be suggesting that we can "grow" our way out of trouble, which may or may not be true.

It's true, of course, that if GDP grows, our debt becomes a smaller percentage of it. But, it's not at all true that we don't have to pay off our debt, whether it's internal or external.

At some point, treasury bonds come due, and we have to pay the principal back to the owner, in addition to the interest paid over the years.

And, it's also possible that those in other countries may have to be paid back as well.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

"He seems to be suggesting that we can "grow" our way out of trouble, which may or may not be true."

But the converse brought to us by austerity hysteria says that the only way to grow the economy is to shut down a major engine of that economy-- the government. All this will do is create a downward spiral that does nothing to pay of the debt. The only way to do that is to grow the economy. But the term "grow" is misleading in that it doesn't also indicate that a fundamental remaking of the economy is necessary for human civilzation to survive without experiencing a major die off in the hundreds of millions if not the billions, accompanied by a mass extinction of other species to rival those seen only deep in prehistory.

"At some point, treasury bonds come due, and we have to pay the principal back to the owner, in addition to the interest paid over the years."

Actually, bonds are paid back all the time. But those who own bonds continue to buy them even as they are paid off because they are the most secure investment available on the planet, and that is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future, even if the debt continues to increase.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

Those aren't the only two choices, fortunately, between austerity hysteria and the denial of the importance of our national debt and deficits.

Growth of the economy is only one factor in paying our debt down - the other two are increased tax revenues and decreased spending.

You said we don't have to pay off our debts (or Krugman did), and it's simply not true. It may be true that people will continue to lend us money for a while, but that's a different statement.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

"Growth of the economy is only one factor in paying our debt down - the other two are increased tax revenues and decreased spending."

With growth in the economy comes an increase in tax revenues, but without a tax increase.

"You said we don't have to pay off our debts (or Krugman did), and it's simply not true."

I didn't say that, and I think it's a misinterpretation of what Krugman said. I won't try to speak for him, but it's not my contention that the debt shouldn't be paid. Rather, it's that strict adherence to the idea that paying back that debt should take precedence over everything else in the midst of a severe recession will primarily result in exacerbating and prolonging the recession and ultimately reducing our ability to repay that debt. In other words, reactionary austerity, which is what Republicans (primarily) want is completely counterproductive to the goal to which they say they strive.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

"First, families have to pay back their debt. Governments don't."

In order for us to grow enough to pay down our debt without increasing taxes or cutting spending, we'd have to grow at some sort of astronomical rate, I'd say.

I agree with your last paragraph. My concern is that we don't pay down the debt in good times, ok times, or bad times. We virtually never do at all.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

"First, families have to pay back their debt. Governments don't."

That's not the same thing as saying governments shouldn't pay back their debt. It's saying that if a family doesn't pay their debts, there are all kinds of repercussions that come into play very quickly.

The same is not true of governments, especially the US Govt, whose debt instruments are the most secure investments in the world.

His point is that we don't have to make paying down the debt our one and only priority-- because it's not. Massive unemployment and the way we produce and use energy are by far the two biggest challenges we face, dwarfing any negative effects of the debt or deficit spending.

But what we spend our money on is extremely critical. We can flush it down the toilet with tax cuts to the wealthy and needless subsidies to corporations they own, and on the massively bloated military-industrial complex, and watch the economy as it affects the vast majority of people continue to tank, making it impossible to ever pay down the deficit.

Or we can spend it doing something that will make all our lives better and put people to work, thus increasing the tax base which will allow us to pay down the deficit to a more manageable level.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

That's splitting some mighty fine hairs there.

He said governments don't have to pay back their debt, and I said I thought he was wrong about that. You countered that he didn't say that, so I provided his quote to that effect.

I agree that how we spend money is important, of course.

But, think about your last paragraph - government stimulus spent on putting people to work would have to have a momentously large multiplier effect just to break even, given tax rates.

In other words, let's say we spend $30K to hire somebody - they only pay back a small percentage of that amount in taxes, right?

Stimulus spending may be useful and necessary at times, but we shouldn't pretend it will help us pay off our debt in any significant way, in my opinion.

We have to increase rates, and we have to cut spending, as well as having some healthy growth in the GDP, or we won't get to paying down our debts. That's the conclusion of the bipartisan debt commission, and most nonpartisan economists I've read.

As a Keynesian, Krugman is more concerned about employment than debt, and that's fine - it's his theoretical perspective. But, he doesn't promise that stimulus spending will help pay off the debt, he just downplays the importance of debt, inflation, devaluation of the currency, in order to support his push for it.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

I agree that increasing employment alone won't pay back the debt-- it needs to be accompanied by significant tax increases in the top brackets, and reductions in spending, the War Dept. being a quite large elephant in the room there. But our spending on healthcare is the hippopotamus and containing those costs are as difficult as reducing military spending, given the politically powerful leech industries that suck off of it.

Regardless, Krugman is right that obsessing about the deficit without doing anything else will have only one effect-- a continued downward spiral in the economy.

The sad fact is that the plutocrats who run this country have discovered that the massive problems that affect the rest of us have little or no effect on their bottom lines, and that's why we have gridlock right now.

Fossick 2 years, 4 months ago

"I'm not at all sure Krugman's right about debt, in general."

He's not. When the US came out of WWII, it did so not only with high debt, but with the only functioning economy in the advanced world. The other industrial powers, from France to Germany to Japan to Britain, were smoking piles of rubble. The fact that the US, over the next 2 decades, supplied much of the rest of the world with the capital and machines to get back up to speed also allowed us to grow out from under that debt.

Britain, of course, has managed a massive debt for 81 of the last 170 years, from which point they have tumbled from the world's major sea power and economic powerhouse to an island that supplies little but reruns of Benny Hill to the rest of the world. Hardly an example worth following.

Krugman's problem, such as it is, is that he changes his economics to match whatever political point he is trying to make. For example, when Bush started running huge deficits, they mattered:

"But what's really scary -- what makes a fixed-rate mortgage seem like such a good idea -- is the looming threat to the federal government's solvency.

"That may sound alarmist: right now the deficit, while huge in absolute terms, is only 2 -- make that 3, O.K., maybe 4 -- percent of G.D.P. But that misses the point. ''Think of the federal government as a gigantic insurance company (with a sideline business in national defense and homeland security), which does its accounting on a cash basis, only counting premiums and payouts as they go in and out the door. An insurance company with cash accounting . . . is an accident waiting to happen.'' So says the Treasury under secretary Peter Fisher; his point is that because of the future liabilities of Social Security and Medicare, the true budget picture is much worse than the conventional deficit numbers suggest.

"Of course, Mr. Fisher isn't allowed to draw the obvious implication: that his boss's push for big permanent tax cuts is completely crazy...

Krugman was screaming about deficits, debt, and national insolvency under Bush because he didn't want tax cuts. Now with deficits thrice as high as under Bush, he's screaming for more spending and saying debt - which is larger now than then - doesn't matter.

It's not that Krugman doesn't know what he's talking about, he certainly does. It's that he's first and foremost a partisan and only then an economist.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

The point (mine, not necessarily Krugman's) is that how a deficit is run up is what really matters.

Deficits created by tax breaks to the already extremely wealthy who aren't going to use it to grow the economy (as in making the things we need that we don't currently have, or have enough of) or funding pointless military adventures, or providing tax breaks to oil companies making record profits, or propping up too-big-to-fail Wall Street firms, are going to have all of the negative effects of deficit spending, with few of the benefits.

Fossick 2 years, 4 months ago

"The point ... is that how a deficit is run up is what really matters."

It depends on what you believe "really matters." Krugman's point on debt in the anti-Bush piece was that deficits by themselves and debt by themselves drive up interest rates and from there destroy governments. It's actually a pretty mainstream (even supply-side) position, although proven incorrect by subsequent events, at least in the medium term. He even took out a fixed-rate home loan based on that position, though rates are lower and debts/deficits higher than then. But if the snowball effect of high interest rates is what really matters, then it doesn't matter how the debt is run up - overspending creates exactly the same effects as undertaxing does.

Of course, as he was wrong about the effects of deficits on interest rates, he's also wrong about the effects of government spending on economic activity and about how we owe the debt "to ourselves," but that's neither here nor there.

If "what really matters" is unrelated to macroeconomic effects and is merely political, i.e. if the debt/deficit is good if it benefits X group but bad if it benefits Y group - then Krugman is a very poor authority to quote. Group X loves deficits because it pays for (oil drilling) tax credits or group Y loves deficits because they py for (earned income) tax credits, but those are not economic arguments, they are the desire get something from one's neighbors, whether wrapped in the sanctimonious cloak of "fairness" or the dishonest one of economic necessity. Krugman, being a cheerleader for Team Y, is no longer a Nobel-winning economist, but merely a hack writer willing to donate his professional authority in the cause of political plunder.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

"But if the snowball effect of high interest rates is what really matters, then it doesn't matter how the debt is run up - overspending creates exactly the same effects as undertaxing does."

If the deficits lead to redevelopment of the economy in positive directions (yes, there are value judgements involved in determining what that means) that is vastly different from flushing it down the toilet, which is what has happened a good deal over the last several years.

"Of course, as he was wrong about the effects of deficits on interest rates, he's also wrong about the effects of government spending on economic activity and about how we owe the debt "to ourselves," but that's neither here nor there."

I don't think it's wrong that perpetual and large deficits will have an effect on interest rates. There are just other factors involved in determining those rates, and they happen to be counteracting the effects of deficits and government borrowing. And please explain why he is wrong that we don't owe that debt (largely) to ourselves.

And I don't think that Krugman owes anyone any apologies for thinking that fairness ought to be considered in government economic and taxation policy. You don't have to turn in your economist's secret decoder ring simply because you don't subscribe to the belief in a "pure" capitalist system that's driven by the solely by needs of capital (i.e. plutocrats,) with humans merely being cogs in the capitalist machinery.

Fossick 2 years, 4 months ago

Actually, I give her a B. She (and Krugman here) are perfectly correct that a government is not a family and that the analogy has been pushed too far.

That said, It would be nice to have seen more of her opinion and an excerpt from the former Enron advisor that was far smaller. Krugman may be an authority - however flawed - on economics, but that does not make him worth quoting past the 3k character limit.

Peter Macfarlane 2 years, 4 months ago

I was with you on your article until you started talking budget. Frankly, your tone started sounding a bit partisan, especially the part about most likely spending less and maybe raising taxes. What you should have said (to be balanced) was: Most likely a combination of spending less and raising taxes. That combination is more in keeping with compromise and with the recommendations of the bi-partisan Debt Reduction Task Force.

funkdog1 2 years, 4 months ago

Exactly. And this:

"We want our parents and grandparents to have Medicare and Social Security. We want safe roads, quality schools. We want low-interest student loans and affordable tuition. "

Really? We all want those things? No, in fact we don't. There are plenty of people out there who'd be happy to do away with or significantly shrink Medicare and Social Security. Plenty of people who don't care about quality schools, especially if they can afford to send their kids to private school. Plenty of people who don't give a rats' patootie about affordable student loans. And therein lies the problem. We can't even agree on things that we used to pretty much agree on.

beatrice 2 years, 4 months ago

Who is "obumble"?

Write like an adult and you will be treated like one. Act like a child and be treated like one. Your call.

kippcolorado 2 years, 4 months ago

Just admit your racism, it'll be a quicker less boring read.

Cait McKnelly 2 years, 4 months ago

You want labels? I'll give you labels. Jon Stewart nailed the GOP right on the head.
"The biggest problem with the denizens of BS Mountain is they act like their &^%$ don't stink. If they have success, they built it. If they failed, the government ruined it for them. If they get a break, they deserve it. If YOU get a break, it's a handout and a entitlement." - Jon Stewart

beatrice 2 years, 4 months ago

Umm ... your avatar places a clown nose on the President of the United States, a repugnant image that I am sure is the type of thing celebrated by foreign radicals who would burn an American flag or attack an embassy. You have zero right to argue for others to "get serious."

beatrice 2 years, 4 months ago

Yep, Obama is incorrect. Operation Wide Receiver, which was similar but apparently not as bone-headed as Fast and Furious, began during the Bush administration. Some see Fast and Furious as a continuation of Operation Wide Receiver. Others do not.

tbaker 2 years, 4 months ago

Ya know B, you feed the liberal stereotype (label) when you post the “Blame Bush” stuff. Whats wrong with calling a spade a spade? Why do you feel the relativist compulsion to try and mitigate Obama’s mistakes by mentioning something from the Bush era? I know the liberal focus group data showed this to be an effective talking point some years ago, but at what point will blaming the last President for something the current President screwed up ever be considered a bad idea to folks of your ideology? This technique no doubt continues to resonate well with the committed left in this country, but those people have already made up their minds who to vote for. How does that help your cause? As all Presidents, the man is human. He will make mistakes. Owning up to them and assuming responsibility for them, taking a buck-stops-here approach demonstrates strong character. This tired knee-jerk blame Bush stuff just makes Mr. Obama look weak and helpless, an unwitting victim of circumstances he cannot control. Which of those two personality characteristics are more attractive to an undecided voter?

Fossick 2 years, 4 months ago

"I know, I know, the usual suspects will roll out the usual explanations. It is, of course, Bill Clinton's fault... But surely there must be a statute of limitations on these excuses. By the time of the election, Mr. Bush will have had almost four years to deal with the legacy of the technology bubble, and more than three years to deal with the economic fallout from 9/11." -- Paul Krugman, Oct 24, 2003

Even Paul Krugman says it's time to move on. Or he would, if Obama was a Republican blaming a Democrat.

Corey Williams 2 years, 4 months ago

"But a senior administration official says the budgetary problems stem from what he called inadequate defense, intelligence and homeland security resources that were handed down from Clinton." July 28, 2008

Fossick 2 years, 4 months ago

Exactly. Both sides do it, counting on the average American being either stupid enough or partisan enough to play along. The best response, I've found, when someone tries to blame the other party in such a dishonest manner is to merely point at that person and let out a huge horse laugh.

Your mileage may vary.

beatrice 2 years, 4 months ago

tb, I was responding to Snap's post, which brought up Bush (read the article to which he provides a link). Plus, if you actually read my comment you will see that I am saying that Bush DIDN'T start Fast and Furious. The program Bush started was no where near "as bone headed" as Fast and Furious. I was actually agreeing with Snap's comment, with a touch of clarification, and it was far from blaming Bush for anything.

Try taking the blinders off when you read and you will be amazed at what you find.

Oh, and please don't pretend to be an undecided voter. That is just pathetic.

tbaker 2 years, 4 months ago

I'm not pretending to be an undecided voter. I was speaking extemporaneously. Besides, I'm not voting for Obama or Romney anyway.

All I'm saying is the Blame Bush stuff isn't doing the democrats any favors. The fact they insist on doing it baffles me.

beatrice 2 years, 4 months ago

I see. You accuse me of being a stereotype and much else, but all you are saying is something that doesn't actually relate to my post?!?

I won't hold my breath waiting for an apology.

tbaker 2 years, 4 months ago

Snap posted a link to an article. You dredged up the Blame Bush stuff in your post (not as bone-headed...)

Apology? For what? I'm doing you a favor. You are alienating the people who haven't decided who to vote for yet.

Keep on blaming Bush for all I care. Go right ahead. Shout it from the rooftops. Lease a billboard. See what happens.

beatrice 2 years, 4 months ago

Did you read the article to which Snap made a link? It states that Obama was saying that Bush started Fast and Furious and I AGREED WITH SNAP and AGREED that Obama was WRONG for blaming Bush. You just saw my name and the word "Bush" somewhere in my post and assumed I was blaming him.

That is why your rant about stereotypes and whatnot directed my was was so off base. Again, I don't expect an apology. You don't behave like you are man enough to admit you are wrong.

beatrice 2 years, 4 months ago

How does a side create compromise with another side that refuses compromise on all fronts? How does a side seek compromise when the other side stated very clearly that their primary goal was to drive the other side out of office? How does a party of action compromise with a party that embraces saying "no" simply for political purposes without concern for the welfare of the nation?

beatrice 2 years, 4 months ago

Reality check -- Libertarians aren't a side, but rather a fringe or splinter group from within one of the sides. Ron Paul and the Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson are Republicans, and Republicans are one of the two sides being discussed. Saying no to libertarians has nothing to do with trying to win votes, because there aren't enough votes there for either party to really concern themselves with. Honestly, how many votes will Johnson receive -- at best 2 or 3% in some red states? We can't expect our government to move forward if the sides attempt to listen to every fringe group that comes along.

Corey Williams 2 years, 4 months ago

"Santorum also dinged the libertarian wing of the Republican Party, saying, “When it comes to conservatism libertarian types can say, oh, well you know, we don’t want to talk about social issues. Without the church and the family, there is no conservative movement, there is no basic values of America.”"

Corey Williams 2 years, 4 months ago

"Our data show that libertarians have generally voted Republican—66 percent for Ronald Reagan in 1980, 74 percent for George H. W. Bush in 1988, and 72 percent for George W. Bush in 2000." Of course it also says "John Anderson and Libertarian Party candidate Ed Clark got 17 percent of the libertarian vote in 1980, and Ross Perot took 33 percent of the libertarians in 1992."

Corey Williams 2 years, 4 months ago

If you don't agree with the ever famous Cato institute, then there's nothing more I can say other than numbers don't lie. Maybe you don't associate with conservatives, but 72% of libertarians did in the 2000 elections. It's always fun to show facts and figures instead of baseless assertions.

Fossick 2 years, 4 months ago

Maybe switch the sides of the equation: Libertarian <> Conservative is far easier to understand when it's stated as Conservative <> Libertarian. Obviously that is supported by Santorum's (the quintessential Conservative) hatred of all things Libertarian. It is also supported by the fact that Conservatives, who are but one branch of Progressive political thought) wish to mold society via the use of government while Libertarians do not.

The fact that Libertarians tend to vote for Republicans is a mere recognition of the fact that a) even Libertarians know Libertarians are not going to win elections, and B) Libertarians find Republicans less totalitarian if not less dangerous than they do Democrats.

The irony here is that Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for President, really is a Republican, but no one looking at his pro-gay marriage stand would mistake him for a Conservative. He is a far more liberal Republican than is Santorum, who draws nothing but derision from Libertarians.

tbaker 2 years, 4 months ago

Labeling / name-calling is how the two major political parties help maintain the illusion that there really are stark, substantive differences between them – there are not. If you ignore what they say, but watch what they do you’ll find they have far more in common than they would like you to know. The people on the fringe of each group (the minority who get the most attention) really do have stark, substantive differences between them and do their best to convince the rest of the country that these differences actually define the mainstream party beliefs too. It is in the interest of the two big parties to maintain this illusion. If people are not at each other’s throats clamoring to discredit each other, they might actually spend some time paying attention to what is being done in their name. It’s gotten so bad, black and white facts must be ignored based on nothing other than the ideology of who pointed them out. Somehow this taints the fact and makes it irrelevant.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 4 months ago

To those who ask us to look at the end of WW II, a time when we had a huge national deficit, let me say something. I'm as "no deficit" kind of a guy as you'll find. That said, I do realize that in times of extreme circumstances, a deficit may be necessary. A world war qualifies. The times we are in do not. Recession and expansion are normal patterns in our economy. This deficit is deeper and wider than most. But in my opinion, it doesn't rank up there with a world war.

As a senior citizen myself, I have no desire to have my legacy be a mountain of debt to future generations. We need to stop accumulating debt, now. And pay that thing off over the next few years.

tbaker 2 years, 4 months ago

Check out the "Depression of 1946."

That was the year all federal spending was cut 75%. Based on conventional wisdom, that should have caused the worst financial and human crisis in the history of the world - right?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

As a matter of fact, the recession during the immediate aftermath of WWII was worse than the one we've just experienced.

Clearing Up Some Facts About the Depression of 1946

tbaker 2 years, 4 months ago

So if we would have cut Federal spending 75% back in 2008 - using your example - the economy would be roaring right now instead of still being in a recession.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

From the link I provided above--

" By comparison, real GDP fell 10.9 percent from 1945 to 1946, did not begin to rise until the fourth quarter of 1947, and still did not reach 1945 levels until the third quarter of 1950."

And what happened in 1949? Considerable increases in the top income tax rates and government spending. And those top rates continued through the economic expansion of the 1950's.

George Lippencott 2 years, 4 months ago

Bozo's math does not add up

Your analysis fails on two points. If the debt was in fact growing slower than the tax base that would be great. It, unfortunately, is growing much faster than the tax base so each year at a given tax regime we pay for less and less of what we demand. Each citizen now owes about $44K – more than the Greeks owe their own country.

Your second point that we owe it to ourselves is a red herring. We have to service that debt. Each year we must tax ourselves an ever increasing amount to pay those who hold the debt (mostly ourselves). Today that amounts to about $200 billion per year and is projected to reach over $500 billion by 2015. That amounts to about 25% of the entire tax income of the federal government. At the rate we are going we could see all our federal taxes being consumed by debt service by 2030.

Hey son, I forgot to tell you but all the activities of the federal government must cease as all your tax money must go to interest on the debt.

Now we could talk inflation to reduce the debt but even that will not work unless we stop growing it so rapidly.

tbaker 2 years, 4 months ago

I agree in principal with your call to get out the wars and close the overseas military bases, but check your math. Defense is only 19% of federal spending. MEDICARE, MEDICADE, and Social Security are 39% of federal spending. Interest on the debt is 6% and operating the rest of the federal government takes up 36%.

I'm not saying we shouldn't cut defense spending, but doing so only scratches the surface. We could do away with DoD altogether and it wouldn't even cut the current budget deficit in half.

The federal government and the states spend over $1 trillion in means-tested entitlement programs - and that does not count MEDICARE and Social security. These have been the biggest drivers of the debt / deficit for a very long time and are even more so today.

There is no way to even begin deficit / debt reduction / balance the federal budget without making substantial cuts to these programs. If we don't, the programs will - at a minimum - go bankrupt. The economic fate of the rest of the country is a topic of considerable debate, but needless to say it won't be a good thing for any of us.

Peter Macfarlane 2 years, 4 months ago

Debt reduction can only be accomplished fairly by a combination of cuts and tax increases, plain and simple. Why should the top 1% of Americans pay less in taxes than the rest of us.

By the way, a new study came out indicating that tax cuts do not necessarily cause economic growth. Other factors also play a role in this. The study looked at data beginning in the George H.W. Bush presidency onwards to the present. As it turns out tax increases seem to correlate with episodes of high economic growth rates.

George Lippencott 2 years, 4 months ago

I wish you were right but the numbers do not add unless we gut defense. Not sure the majority wants to trust the world that much

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

Basically, we have a choice.

Continue to dismantle government at all levels, thus making the current unemployment rates (or worse) permanent, and accelerating the downward spiral, leaving us too poor to ever pay down the debt.

Or use stimulus spending to allow government and the private sector to do the things that urgently need doing, increasing employment and tax collections in the process, giving us a shot to begin paying down the debt in a few years when the economy is humming again.

tbaker 2 years, 4 months ago

The money is not there Bozo because governments have no money. They have to take it from their citizens. If their economy is weak, their citizens have none to take. Printing it doesn't work, it just devalues what is in everyone’s wallet rich and poor alike. Borrowing from other countries for our kids to pay off and letting the government (vice free people) decide how to spend it doesn't work either. The "stimulus" spending was an abject failure by any rational measure. Every single time the Keynesian economic theory is applied, it not only fails it makes things worse and makes them last longer. Examples are too numerous to mention.

Now of course you will disagree with everything I said, no matter how many citations I provide to re-prove this well-argued point. It really does boil down to a choice as you say, one between those people who can rationally examine the facts and reach their own informed conclusions, or those people who are such hide-bound ideologues they will cling to their belief system to the point they would rather see the country go bankrupt and face economic Armageddon than see a single cut in one of the over 2000 entitlement and subsidy programs.

Ordinarily, the “meet in the middle” compromise approach would be what we could realistically hope to see happen from our elected leaders, but this problem is so huge and the country is so divided by it I just don’t see that happening. The only thing that moves enough Americans to make the size and scope of change that is needed in this case is something very bad has to happen first. That’s where we are headed and we are accelerating. Perhaps not extending the so-called Bush Tax Cuts and going over the “financial cliff” in January is the wakeup call we all need.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

"The money is not there Bozo because governments have no money. They have to take it from their citizens."

That's an absurd statement. In this country, it's the government that creates the money in the first place, and they can pretty much print it up at will. Sure, that has some potential downsides, primarily inflation, but governments do not have to "take it from their citizens."

"The "stimulus" spending was an abject failure by any rational measure."

Again, completely wrong. By all the real rational measures ( you know, the ones you pretend don't exist) the stimulus stopped the free fall of the economy set in motion by the Bush Administration. It was too small, and directed way too much to Wall Street and various too-big-to-fail corporations, but nevertheless, it worked.

"The only thing that moves enough Americans to make the size and scope of change that is needed in this case is something very bad has to happen first."

Well, that's coming, but it's not the deficit-- the real disaster is one that's not the least bit abstract. Within a few decades, maybe even less, as global warming accelerates, we'll have major wars over access to fresh water and arable land. We'll long for the days when our biggest worry was about how much more money should be diverted to the already obscenely wealthy.

George Lippencott 2 years, 4 months ago

Hi Bozo.

Cut my taxes, I will invest in an American company, the company I invest in will hire people here, jobs will be created, the new hires will buy things and other companies will hire and the game continues. And by the by these new hires pay taxes.

If we follow your approach we grant government money to some company leading to hires and to do that we raise taxes. I not only do not invest, I reduce consumption to pay my new tax. The company I do not buy from lays off more people than the companies the government invests in and the cycle declines.

Simplistic but your concept only works if the government generates more than is lost by the taxes it must raise or we create a massive and ever increasing debt

The idea of stimulus is to generate demand in the private sector. It is not a permanent event but a one time shot where the tax revenue increase from new business retires the debt generated to do the jump start. We did the jump start and little happened except our debt increased by more than 4 trillion.

Perhaps our problem is more sophisticated than both our would be leaders suggest .

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

Stimulus spending doesn't have to be derived from taxation.

But when it comes to taxation, which is still necessary, to be fair, a progressive structure is also necessary and there is no evidence that reduced taxes on the wealthy (i.e., regressive taxation) leads to job creation.

George Lippencott 2 years, 4 months ago

You missed the point. We are not wealthy. We were an example.


Right on. We have been doing it with debt and have a 4 trillion additional hole to fill. Perhaps you can enlighten me as to where else it comes from - external sources investing in us - fat chance - beyond what they already have.

Resources to build new business is everywhere. What is lalcking is confidence. Why??

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

When folks talk about WWII, and cutting spending on the military afterwards, and how that didn't adversely affect the economy, they seem to forget that women temporarily entered the workforce while the men were at war, and then faded back into domesticity when the war ended.

That's why bringing a large number of soldiers home and cutting military spending didn't result in a lot of unemployment, and other problems.

What factors exist today that would mitigate the effects of a similar reduction in defense spending?

I'm all for cutting spending, but it's foolish and naive to think that we could put a bunch of soldiers/military personnel out of the military and not have increased unemployment and problems today.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

If we have no need for the military, why pay all of these millions of people to be soldiers? Why is using government money to pay them to do something that needs to be done somehow unacceptable while paying them to do, essentially, nothing at all is acceptable? It all has to come out of the same budget, no matter whether the budget is fueled by deficits or taxes.

Fossick 2 years, 4 months ago

It's not a question of respect but of economic reality. Paying soldiers is an overhead expense, but that does make what they do economically valuable. In fact, when they get busy, everything they do is economically destructive. They shoot bullets which must be replaced, they drop bombs which must be replaced onto buildings that must be rebuilt. They kill human beings who cannot be replaced. We don't respect them for helping the economy, but for giving their time, health, and lives to protect the nation. The best we can hope for is that they do nothing at all, that they need not pay those prices for us.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

I didn't say we should pay all of them if we don't need a large military.

I said that eliminating a lot of military funding, and a lot of military jobs will result in a lot of unemployed people, who will probably have a lot of trouble finding jobs.

Which is different than it was at the end of WWII.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

But if military personnel are getting paid for performing no useful function, they can be paid, from the exact same funding source, to do almost anything else, ranging from couch surfing to modernizing the electrical grid. And if they're here in this country, the money now spent overseas supporting foreign bases could be spent here instead, providing a considerable boost to local economies.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago


But then eliminating the military funding wouldn't be cuts in spending, and wouldn't help as far as debt/deficit issues.

There's no free lunch.

My comment was really directed towards the folks who claim incorrectly that we can just cut spending without any consequences, who point to the end of WWII as evidence, without understanding why all of the returning soldiers were able to find jobs, and why things are different today.

Liberty275 2 years, 4 months ago

Labels are just intellectual shortcuts. It's foolish to list a set of ideological positions when those positions can be summed up in a word or two. I'm a libertarian, LibertyOne is a libertarian. We share many core beliefs, yet we differ on a few. We both wear the label proudly and at least I recognize the differences between me and him.

Granted, a label in a vacuum has no purpose, but on this award-winning news corporation's web forum, we aren't in a vacuum. There are lots of leftists and conservatives here. I know a good number by their posts. I know what they say and I accept their words as honest. Were I to not label them and enumerate their tendencies in every post where I felt the need, that would not make me any more prone to compromise.

Place me in a position where I need to compromise and I will. Otherwise, I won't.

Wear your label and be proud of who you are. If you can't do that, you are a fraud.

Liberty275 2 years, 4 months ago

I get these facebook things that ask if you can read stuff misspelled or backwards, and I can read backwards pretty easily. Maybe it's something you can practice and get better at.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

The problem I see is that most people aren't that ideologically pure, or driven.

They want to fix our problems, and would like for elected officials to work together.

Once you get into the world of ideology, and labeling, it tends to exaggerate and emphasize differences, which makes it hard to work together.

You can see it on here all the time - people distort other people's statements in order to label them and dismiss them.

It's also probably a sort of psychological move, a way of defining oneself by what one is not - ie. I'm a conservative, not one of those pansy liberals, etc.

The problem is that we're all more complex than that, really. We should be looking for common ground first, in my view, so we can fix stuff, and more concerned with reality and what works than ideology.

Liberty275 2 years, 4 months ago

Sure, we are all complex. But the complexity can be irrelevant. Romney is a Mormon. I won't vote for a Mormon ever because they are prohibitionists, sexists and feel it is their duty to impose their will on others. Mormon = No.

Obama is a socialist. He admits to believing redistribution of wealth is an OK thing for the government to do. Socialist = No.

I admire some things about both men and have especially found Obama more adept at foreign policy than I expected. I think Romney showed his ability by running a successful state and doing something having to do with the Olympics. but both will be disqualified when I walk into the voting booth. They have their labels, and those labels are more at odds with the constitution than the good either has done.

I'll be writing in "L275" for president, as you all should too.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

From what I've read of your general worldview, I'm sorry to say that I won't be voting for you.

You can vote however you like, of course.

Ken Lassman 2 years, 4 months ago

I think the message that Bill Clinton has been promoting at the Democratic Convention and elsewhere is relevant to the discussion: the economics of today's world works best when we put our labels aside and work collaboratively, not exclusively. The gated community approach to the world is not nearly as competitive in today's global climate as when the political parties find common ground, team up with the business and nonprofit communities and create a "can do" environment. Clinton's pragmatism aspires to create a clear-eyed analysis of what the situation is, what each party brings to the table, what each party can do to contribute to a creating a conducive environment that leads to a win-win-win environment.

Clinton's talks are peppered with real-world successes where folks put their differences aside and worked in the common ground arena, resulting in exceeded expectations all around. I think Bob Dole has had an excellent track record in this arena as well, lest folks think I'm being partisan. Does this mean that there are not failures in using this approach? Of course not. But I'll take this non-ideologically-driven, pragmatic, clear-eyed approach to things any day over the acrid politics of exclusion and blame that has driven so much of our country's stagnation of late.

Trumbull 2 years, 4 months ago

I think labeling is lowest common denominator thinking, where one creates groups that can either be praised or villified. Black and white thinking that ignores different shades of colors. I would consider myself a liberal, but dislike being labeled as a liberal, because I am always open to other ideas and do not marry myself to ideaology. Different times call for different measures. Labeling places limits on thought.

jayhawklawrence 2 years, 4 months ago

"We label those who disagree with us so we can discount their opinions, values and intelligence."

How true. I remember reading this a couple of days ago and repeating it over and over again and hoping that I could always remember it when confronted with a "labeler".

Because it is a very powerful weapon it is used often and most people are duped by labels.

Another unfortunate reality is that we tend to live up to expectations. It is a psychological weakness inherent in all of us. When someone is labeled a trouble maker in school or ignorant or worthless, they will strive sub-consciously to be exactly that. Teachers that are able to understand how to change a person's self image and rebuild their confidence are what we need desparately today.

That is the real damage done by many politiicians today. They do not understand how their rhetoric is actually damaging the people of this country or else they do not seem to care.

George Lippencott 2 years, 4 months ago

While I agree, there is another shoe. Labeling someone's opinion as misinformation, lies, distortions tends to constrain discussion.

Once that starts we devolve into a spiral that leads to labeling the person and demeaning their worth.

What we should be seeing is data that supports one's version of "the facts" or en explanation of an interpretation of your own statement.s Restating your opinions view or reintrepreting them is atg best manipulative - that should be left to him/her

"You did not build that" is certainly subject to interpretation and frankly only Mr. Obama knows what he meant.

The 47 percent comment is subject to interpretation and frankly only Mr. Romney knows what he really meant.

I would submit that there is room in the language to claim he does not wish to represent half the population and their is room to intrepid his comment exactly as stated - half of us for m,any reasons (some listed) do not pay federal income taxes.

The real issue is why. Are all the reasons for not paying taxes legitimate. Can we afford to exempt so many people. Who (if anybody) is hurt by our decisions? Is our current tax system supported by the people or (fill in blank).

But then ideologues will be ideologues.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

If all Romney had said was that 47% of the population doesn't pay federal income taxes, he would have been right.

Unfortunately for him, he said a lot more.

He lumped three groups together that are mostly distinct:

Obama supporters Those who pay no federal income taxes Those who are dependent on government assistance

Most Obama supporters aren't members of the next two groups. In the second group, we find elderly folks on SS and the working poor, for the most part, as well as some rather well-off people. The third group contains rural white folks as a percentage, who tend to vote R.

My source is a story on my home page the other day that analyzed the three groups and provided information about them.

Also, he claimed not only that the three groups are the same, which is false, but ascribed an entitlement mentality to them without offering any evidence of that.

And, his comment that it's not his job to worry about those people seems self-evident to me.

If he's elected, he wants to represent the mythical 53% that he's created in his mind, the mythical self-reliant well off people who don't depend on the government in any way, and who don't feel entitled to government assistance.

The fact that a bunch of well off people don't pay federal income taxes, or that a number of people who vote R depend on government assistance, or are in fact government employees, retirees, etc. seems to have been lost on him, as well as on many people on here.

George Lippencott 2 years, 4 months ago

Not what JAFS Said

Again anr interpretation of events by an opponent. I would argue that all those groups are represented in the set that do not pay taxes even if they are not a collective set.

Perhaps all "conservatives" should only say/write comprehensive and integrated tracts of many thousands of words to make clear what they mean.

While on the other hand Liberals rush to "revise and extend" remarks made by their "leaders" to make sure we all understand what would have been in the thousand of pages they did no0t provide.

What a fripping double standard.

George Lippencott 2 years, 4 months ago

I believe his argument was they would be voting their own self-interest - kind of like all those stupid Kansans are not according to the liberal "What is the Matter with Kansas

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

One can see the stubborn adherence to things that aren't true - it's baffling to me, but there it is.

Why do people like to do that?

Romney's remarks are clearly and obviously incorrect, if one does even a little bit of research.

And, ascribing a certain mentality and mindset to almost half the country without any evidence at all makes no sense.

Also, for the record, I'm not anybody's "opponent". My primary interest is in the truth and reality, and I try to form my opinions after finding out about those. When Obama oversimplifies and spins/misrepresents things, or his supporters do, I point that out as well.

I will vote for Obama, but not because I think he's perfect - he's just the better choice for me than Romney.

And, it's not because he's promising me "goodies" or anything like that. I think that generally speaking, his policies make more sense.

George Lippencott 2 years, 4 months ago

Please differentiate between what Mr. Romney actually said and the "spin" that has been added to it. For example the talking point that identifies him as not wantting to represent the total society. All I heard was that he felt the 47% would not likely vote for him. That is unmeasurable but probably not completely accurate - but it was an opinion and not a fact. I never heard him say that he would not represent those who do not vote for him any more than I have heard Mr. Obama say such (before he jumped into this issue)

Come on JAFS, facts that are facts. Nothing in Mr. Romney's remarks other that the 47% was cast as a fact. He opined on a lot of things - some of whcih may be accurate - but he did not represent those as facts.

George Lippencott 2 years, 4 months ago

And another point. The way you wrote your comment essentially calls anybody that disagrees with you on this issue a liar

"One can see the stubborn adherence to things that aren't true - it's baffling to me, but there it is.

Why do people like to do that?"

A very minipulative way to demonize every poster who disagreed with you. Who do you think you are fooling?

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