Oh Look, the First Political Post of 2013

I have been asked in e-mail whether I have any thoughts on the “fiscal cliff” deal, and the answer is: Meh. I don’t find the substance of the deal particularly impressive. I think it has two primary functions. One, it gives Obama a victory over the GOP, regardless of whether that victory has any genuine value outside of the fact of the victory; Two, it means that a non-trivial number of Republicans, in both the House and Senate, have voted to increase taxes.

Of the two, the latter function is rather more important to me. I certainly don’t expect the GOP to break down and go on a taxation frenzy anytime soon, but any crack in the delusion that higher taxes are never useful or needed and/or the separate but equal delusion that the best policy for anything is to cut taxes, is a laudable event. I want to believe this is a first sign of the GOP beginning a long, hard trek back to being a genuinely fiscally responsible party and indeed to sanity in general. We’ll see if it happens.

Otherwise, again, meh. If someone wants to tell me why I should feel otherwise about this deal than I do, either positively or negatively (and can do so in a polite, non-foamy fashion), please let me know in the comments.

 

225 thoughts on “Oh Look, the First Political Post of 2013

  1. Didn’t they actually vote to lower taxes for some (okay, most) people, while not lowering them for others?

  2. “Two, it means that a non-trivial number of Republicans, in both the House and Senate, have voted to increase taxes.”

    Not technically true, at least according to the odious and noxious Pledgee Grover. He says that because the Bush-era tax cuts expired at midnight the night before yesterday, any “R” voting FOR this fiscal cliff mess is voting to reduce taxes again, thereby living up to their pledge to him.

    The fact that so many GOP’ers are beholden more to their pledge to Grover than to their constituents or the American people is another topic entirely.

  3. I at least got a chuckle out of the goalpost-moving tweet by Norquist as described by Mr. Needham above. Otherwise, this whole business has been thoroughly meh.

  4. It’s pretty “meh” all around. The GOP has to raise taxes for now and they don’t get to kill Social Security or Medicare/Medicaid, but they get to hold a gun to the head of the global economy via the debt ceiling again because Obama has given them no reason to believe he won’t simply try to compromise again. Come March, either he folds and begins killing off the social safety nets or he resorts to one of several Executive Order-style options to deprive the GOP of what was until 2011 a part of operating a top global economy. There is no middle ground with the Congressional GOP, almost all of whom are in safe districts and therefore do not have to listen to the majority of Americans who voted against their viewpoints and tactics in both the Presidential and Congressional elections.

  5. Personally, I breathed a mighty sigh of relief, relaizing that my own taxes, while still higher than they were these past few years, were not going to be SO high in 2013 that I might have to reduce the book budget. Or food.

  6. Well, the wind tax credit got renewed for another year, which is reasonably positive. Providing it for only one year probably won’t make either manufacturer’s or site developers all that much more confident though. With any luck, it’ll be enough to prevent any more layoffs in the sector.

  7. It’s notable that they kicked the sequestration down the road for two months. Wll be interesting to see how that plays out.

  8. From my own perspective, the fact that they at least took a swing a indexting the AMT is promising. However, I don’t think any meaningful work was done, other than the schadenfruderific spectacle of Congress failing to fix a self inflicted problem. Spending cuts, tax code reform, campaign law reform… the wish list goes on and on.

  9. @ John P. Needham:

    Yeah, that. (Some) House Repubs and most Dems voted for a permanent tax cut on the rich. I dislike being in the position of agreeing with Norquist, but this time he’s right. They’re only tax increases if you compare them to the temporary rates which had already expired by the time the House voted.

  10. What I’ve never understood is how Norquist originally got the hearts and minds of the Republican party in his fist. It seems like that kind of hard and fast hold has a story behind it, and I legit just don’t know it.

  11. Re: Grover Norquist — He’s retconning an obvious tax increase to confirm to his personal needs, and both he and the rest of the world knows it. His little pledge just got shivved in the gut, and I for one couldn’t be happier about it. It’s absurd that one man unelected by anyone had so much sway over an entire political party.

  12. Obama has given them no reason to believe he won’t simply try to compromise again. Come March, either he folds and begins killing off the social safety nets

    Remember that the spending sequestration is still live (albeit kicked down the road) and consists of large amounts of defense spending (as well as entitlement dollars), which is near and dear to GOP hearts. That’s a lever for Obama.

  13. As an author, I am sensitive to shifts of style or subgenre. That was part of the enjoyment of, say, Ilium, the science fiction novel by Dan Simmons, kicking off the Ilium/Olympos cycle, on the re-creation of the events in the Iliad on an alternate Earth and Mars, set in motion by beings who have taken on the roles of the Greek gods. Like Simmons’ earlier series, the Hyperion Cantos, the novel is a form of “literary science fiction” which relies heavily on intertextuality, in this case with Homer and Shakespeare, as well as periodic references to Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu (or In Search of Lost Time) and Vladimir Nabokov’s novel Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle. In July 2004, Ilium received a Locus Award for best science fiction novel of 2004.
    Likewise, Against the Day, that 2006 historical novel by Thomas Pynchon, taking place between the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and the time immediately following World War I, features over a hundred characters spread across the United States, Europe, Mexico, Central Asia, and “one or two places not strictly speaking on the map at all,” according to the book jacket blurb written by Pynchon. As with its predecessors, Against the Day is an example of historiographic metafiction or metahistorical romance, and at 1,085 pages it is the longest of Pynchon’s novels.
    My point being that the past few weeks, then days, then hours, felt the same. Kind of a meta-political tragicomedy.
    Our so-called Representative started with something important — the role of government and the optimum allocation of resources; turned it into something intentionally boring, tax rates and exclusion; then whipped it up into panic about an imaginary cliff, an admitted metaphor.

  14. So where is that balanced approach we were promised? You know, tax increases and spending cuts.

    And didn’t the Democrats just say that 98% of the Bush tax cuts were good policy? That seems like reversal of rhetoric as well.

  15. @ DAV1D:

    I’ll be pleasantly surprised if he actually uses that lever. It’s too easy for certain influential segments of the country to faux-hyperventilate about “leaving America vulnerable to her enemies”, when the Pentagon gets a “cut” in their annual budget *increase*. An *actual* cut to “defense” spending would probably trigger shrieking and rending of garments. I can’t see Obama risking that reaction, let alone treating it to the pointing and laughing it would deserve.

  16. It’s too easy for certain influential segments of the country to faux-hyperventilate about “leaving America vulnerable to her enemies”, when the Pentagon gets a “cut” in their annual budget *increase*. An *actual* cut to “defense” spending would probably trigger shrieking and rending of garments. I can’t see Obama risking that reaction, let alone treating it to the pointing and laughing it would deserve.

    It’s not going to hurt his reelection chances, and he did seem quite willing to impose a tax rise (which is subject to similar demagoguing) this time around. Predicting the future is a fool’s game, so I’ll just note that the lever is there to be used.

  17. It was hardly a perfect outcome, but I was very encouraged to see the House vote on the bill at all, especially since it was opposed by a majority of the chamber’s Republicans. Then I was thrilled to see it pass with a truly bipartisan vote. It was a remarkably grown-up and diplomatic moment for the House, and I want to give Speaker Boehner some real props for making it happen.

  18. I think we will know what the real impact is when the party elections are held this week. If Boehner retains the speakership, I will view that positively as a sign the house GOP has accepted some level of reality in terms of what needs to be done. I suspect Cantor will challenge him, and if elected will represent ideology over reality (and will make for a painful 2 years)

  19. Ignoring Norquist’s doublespeak for the moment, I have a serious, completely non-troll question:
    when was the last fiscally responsible GOP president? Nixon?
    When was the last fiscally responsible GOP Congress? Newt?

    While the GOP talked big game about balancing the budget and reducing spending by starving the beast, they never actually accomplished that. Saying that you are fiscally responsible and actually being fiscally responsible are two different things.

  20. @ Annie:

    The power of the Norquist pledge is simple, really. It’s a clear and unapologetic framing of a topic in a way that can be easily used to appeal to a large segment of low-information voters. No doubt some of the signers are actually ideologically in agreement; the rest just use it as a tool for political support.

    I suspect John’s use of the past tense re the power of Norquist and the pledge (“had so much sway”) is premature.

  21. So where is that balanced approach we were promised? You know, tax increases and spending cuts.

    That’s what the sequester is, a large package of spending cuts previously agreed-upon by the GOP during their last hostage crisis. It’s split 1:1 between stuff they liked and stuff the Democrats liked, but they reneged on it this time and will likely renege on it again when it comes up again in March.

    And didn’t the Democrats just say that 98% of the Bush tax cuts were good policy? That seems like reversal of rhetoric as well.

    No, they didn’t say it was a good idea, they said that they were willing come to a compromise on revenue rather than just agree to reduce taxes on the rich and raise them on the middle and lower class, something that was included in every single plan the GOP proposed.

    FWIW, the deficit argument is either posturing (i.e. lying) from the GOP or a stupendous lack of comprehension. The deficit’s percentage of the US GDP has fallen 3-4% between FY09 and FY12. Any rise in the deficit percentage is projected to come almost entirely from health care costs (which they refused to agree to as the largest part of Obamacare) and Medicare/SS increases (which they want to cut and/or privatize but don’t have the balls to put their imprimatur on).

  22. I think the most important thing about this was that it demonstrated there are enough sane Republicans left in the House to combine with Democrats to achieve a majority that can get things accomplished, or at least band together to prevent catastrophe. It gives me hope that such a coalition might save the day if President Obama holds firm to his important vow not to negotiate about the debt ceiling increase.

  23. My ideal deal would have been to leave tax rates exactly where they were last year in exchange for eliminating the debt ceiling forever via the McConnell rule or some such. The deal we got means everyone’s after-tax income will go down, mostly because the payroll tax cut (remember that one? the one that no politician or media figure ever mentioned, but that will affect the most people) has been allowed to expire. (And it’s always struck me as laughably, cartoonishly, hyperbolically hypocritical that the GOP Norquist tax pledgers have not whimpered about the payroll tax — you know the tax that working poor and middle class people pay –going up at all. Guess that pledge only applies to taxes on the wealthy.) The economy will take a small hit, which is just what the doctor ordered with unemployment still high and economic growth still sub-par. Then we get to watch another political dog fight two months from now over tax and spending policy, and this time the debt ceiling gives the crazies a metaphorical nuclear bomb as a bargaining chip. Joy.

  24. Hip! Hip! eh…meh.

    My only interest was in how close to the deadline they could cut it. Oh, and look! They did one of those whatdayacallems…Compromises! Yeah, one of those. Just as if they were adults or something.

  25. @Scalzi -

    “It’s absurd that one man unelected by anyone had so much sway over an entire political party.”

    But! They siiiigned a plehhhdge! ::stomps feet::

    More seriously, I think it’s useful to make an unelected official the symbolic leader for a hardcore no take backs ideological position most republicans would gladly support anyway. It focuses all the discussion on someone who can literally suffer no consequences. It also gives a neat shorthand to the discussion. The Norquist Window. Glenn Beck’s got another book to write.

    Mind, I do agree that it was fun watching that gut shot position bleed out.

  26. @ Peter Cibulskis:

    A look at history shows that Repub leaders only worry about balancing the budget etc when they aren’t in charge and the money isn’t being shoveled in their favorite directions.

  27. I’ll point out that “kick the can down the road” made LSSU’s banished word list for 2013. (It appears on the list directly after “fiscal cliff.”) So looks like we need a new metaphor.

    (If we can give power over our elected officials to an unelected lobbyist, I see no reason not to give power over our euphemisms to a small public university in Michigan.)

  28. The social security payroll tax cut extension didn’t go through, so our taxes *are* going up. but not by thousands for the average American.

    What my state (and our neighbors) are finding as a reason to hate Republicans is that they failed to pass disaster relief for us. Rep Pete King (a hardcore right winger) has told NY Republicans to stop donating to the national party in retaliation.

  29. Josh Jasper:

    Here’s my surprised face that they’re holding up Sandy relief. Cantor and the rest of the House teabaggers did the same thing when Joplin got hit by the tornado last year: held up relief until the Dems would cry uncle about cutting spending elsewhere.

    Cantor later was forced to admit that he wouldn’t have done it if his district had gotten hit.

  30. What my state (and our neighbors) are finding as a reason to hate Republicans is that they failed to pass disaster relief for us. Rep Pete King (a hardcore right winger) has told NY Republicans to stop donating to the national party in retaliation.

    That’s right, I forgot that Sandy was “Obama’s Katrina” to the GOP…until after the election (at least to the GOP outside the Midatlantic and Northeast). King and Christie are pissed.

  31. A win for Obama? Not really. I seem to recall him wanting to expire tax cuts for people over $200k and couples earning $250k. That did not happen. He is raising taxes on the middle class via the payroll tax (he cant take credit without taking blame). Uncontrolled spending to continue, that he did get…. is that a win? Really?
    I find it amazing that anyone would view raising taxes without any controls on spending to being a good first step to fiscal responsibility. The solution to someone’s money problems is to get more money and not create a tight budget and following it? Amazingly stupid.
    I have no respect for Obama at all. If he was to burst into flames near me I would not even piss on him to put it out. Why? For one he claims to be bipartisan but is the first to play “we win!” card.

  32. If you could answer the question of why you don’t double the purchase price of your books I would be very appreciative. Couple that with your FU to writing for free and you might begin to understand what the tax debate is all about.

    Thanks.

  33. He is raising taxes on the middle class via the payroll tax (he cant take credit without taking blame).

    No, that one is on the GOP.

    Uncontrolled spending to continue, that he did get…. is that a win? Really?

    No, he got controlled spending (it’s already paid for), and the only ones who have gone back on their word re:cuts are the GOP.

    I find it amazing that anyone would view raising taxes without any controls on spending to being a good first step to fiscal responsibility. The solution to someone’s money problems is to get more money and not create a tight budget and following it? Amazingly stupid.

    He’s had a budget including specific controls and outlays for going on 2 years now. Just because you don’t believe something exists does not mean it doesn’t actually exist.

    I have no respect for Obama at all. If he was to burst into flames near me I would not even piss on him to put it out. Why? For one he claims to be bipartisan but is the first to play “we win!” card.

    Thanks for illustrating how crazy the GOP universe has become, where the GOP’s refusal to implement spending cuts Obama proposed and the GOP already agreed upon is somehow Obama’s fault.

  34. ConstructiveConservative:

    “If you could answer the question of why you don’t double the purchase price of your books I would be very appreciative.”

    I don’t set the prices on my books, actually. You would need to forward that question to my publisher(s).

  35. Cliff averted, but the underlying philosophical differences that created the problem remain in play. At some point, voters are going to get fed up and pick a side. You could argue they already did that in November, but if that’s the case they need to vote harder. HARDER, I SAY!

  36. Of course, the other perspective is that after complaining and moaning about those eeeeville Bush era tax cuts for a decade, Democrats have just voted to make 98% of them permanent.

  37. At some point, voters are going to get fed up and pick a side. You could argue they already did that in November, but if that’s the case they need to vote harder. HARDER, I SAY!

    Remember, in 2004 a win by 2.5% of the popular vote, 35 electoral votes, and a majority of the popular votes for the House and Senate was deemed a mandate by the entire GOP elected and pundit class as well as most of their base. In 2012, a win by 4% (and still rising) of the PV, 126 EVs, and a majority of the popular votes for the House and Senate means nothing.

  38. I’m most intrigued by the possibility that this could mark the end of the so-called Hastert Rule (the recent practice of GOP Speakers only allowing votes that have the support of the majority of the majority). Opening that door might allow Boehner to actually govern for a change, and would provide an incentive to produce bills with wider support from both parties rather than always lurching to the far right.

  39. Of course, the other perspective is that after complaining and moaning about those eeeeville Bush era tax cuts for a decade, Democrats have just voted to make 98% of them permanent.

    84%, actually. And that was because they felt it was preferable to nothing or raising taxes on the middle and lower classes as every single GOP plan did. And if you actually care about the deficit, they’re still evil; they currently make up more of the deficit than both Iraq and Afghanistan, the financial crisis, and the bailouts combined.

  40. @Genufett:
    I wasn’t talking in terms of perception. I’m talking about voting one party or the other so far into the minority, that you can hardly tell that they exist. Otherwise, all we’re going to get is a tug of war.

  41. You’ve touched on one reason this is significant: the fact that the “no tax increases, for anyone, anytime, no matter what” line has been crossed. The other significant thing is that most of the President and the Democratic leadership’s negotiation strategy seems to have been restrained by the belief that the Tea Party caucus Really Is That Crazy, that is, that they were willing to create a catastrophe (the “cliff”, default on the debt) if they didn’t get their way. That’s been shown to be untrue. Some will still vote to blow shit up (especially if it looks like the not-blowing-shit-up side have the votes), but not enough that the threat needs to guide everything the Dems do from now on. I think that was the signal the President was trying to send when he spoke last night about not negotiating on the debt ceiling. “I’m on to you.” Pity it took him so long.

  42. I wasn’t talking in terms of perception. I’m talking about voting one party or the other so far into the minority, that you can hardly tell that they exist. Otherwise, all we’re going to get is a tug of war.

    Sadly, this is more or less how the Founding Fathers designed the government to work, apart from the whole putting the faith and credit of the country and the entire world’s economy at risk. Sadly, 25% of Americans are listened to by 50%+ of politicians feel that the latter is OK.

  43. From the linked CNN article: “The legislation will raise roughly $600 billion in new revenues over 10 years, according to various estimates.”

    NO! It un-not-raised $600 billion in revenue…we would have gotten all that and more had they done nothing. It is only more revenue than would have been raised under the imaginary scenario of extending all the tax cuts that were in place for another 10 years. It is less than would have been raised had they done nothing. How is generating less revenue than doing nothing “raising new revenue?”

    I mean, hooray for agreeing on something, I guess. But I am tired of the double talk from both sides, and even more tired of the credulous media, facebookers and tweeters that repeat the nonsense as if any of it were true.

  44. Yeah, “meh” it’s really just a compromise . But the people who have to come back to reality and regain sanity are Obama and the democrats. Their extremist ideology of “spendspendspend”, raise taxes, raise the debt ceiling infinitely is at direct odds with what the majority of Americans want and what Obama’s own commission (Simpson-Bowles) suggested. But the Dems are so trapped in their outdated and proven-wrong ideology and have been taken over by the radical left this last decade so much they can only and like spoiled, red-diaper babies.

  45. ! It un-not-raised $600 billion in revenue…we would have gotten all that and more had they done nothing

    Sure, and that would have been a very bad idea, given the state of the economy.

  46. Another interesting point is that a bill was actually passed through the House with only a minority of House Republicans actually voting for it. Republicans under Gingrich, Dennis Hastert, and Boehner all subscribed to the governing principle that a bill must have “the majority of the majority” party for it before it can be brought up for a vote. This Bill did not have that. It went through with a minority of Republican votes and a majority of Democratic ones.

    Breaking this Hastert “rule”, is actually as better for government than even breaking Norquist’s pledge was. It was also on Boehner’s part, an act of reasonable bipartisanship. I don’t like Boehner, but credit to where it is due.

  47. Peter Cibulskis — In my eyes, the last fiscally responsible President was Eisenhower. But I was young then and perhaps didn’t understand.

    I’ve been calling it the First 2013 Fiscal Trampoline Act. It’s all about shoveling the money from bucket to bucket. Bounce, bounce, bounce ….

  48. Their extremist ideology of “spendspendspend”, raise taxes, raise the debt ceiling infinitely is at direct odds with what the majority of Americans want

    All of this is completely false. Apart from the election itself proving this wrong, almost every single public poll has shown majority or plurality support for the President’s position.

    and what Obama’s own commission (Simpson-Bowles) suggested.

    Also false. Among other things, Simpson-Bowles asked for $1 trillion (yes, with a T) in additional revenue (i.e. taxes) and said nothing about raising the debt ceiling, which is something both Bowles and Simpson themselves support, and the latter has stated publicly that he’s baffled as a Republican at the GOP position. Which is a moot point, because it was voted against by both parties, including most of the GOP financial leadership, including Paul Ryan.

    But the Dems are so trapped in their outdated and proven-wrong ideology

    The last time we had a budget surplus and balanced budget was under a Democrat who raised taxes and 90%+ of the current deficit is due to a Republican who lowered taxes, so either you’re lying or you have no concept of history, economics, or politics.

  49. In my eyes, the last fiscally responsible President was Eisenhower.

    [W]e cannot afford to reduce taxes, reduce income, until we have in sight a program of expenditures that shows that the factors of income and of outgo will be balanced. Now that is just to my mind sheer necessity.

    –President Dwight Eisenhower, Feburary 17, 1953

    He also raised the gas tax to pay for a massive stimulus, instituted a wildly high (by today’s standards) marginal tax rate, called for huge expansions of Social Security, and decried large increases of military spending during times of relative piece. This puts him well to the left of Obama and most current Democrats on financial policies.

  50. “But the people who have to come back to reality and regain sanity are Boehner and the GOP. Their extremist ideology of “spendspendspend”, lower taxes, start unpaid for wars, and raise the debt ceiling infinitely is at direct odds with what the majority of Americans want ”

    Fixed that for your, Scorpius. Or point to a GOP proposal from any point during Bush 2′s regime that actually proposed a budget without a deficit. I’ll be waiting over here.

    Forever.

  51. John…kinda begs the question don’t ya think?

    Do you think that you and/or the publisher would make twice as much money if you doubled the price?

    As to the second part of my comment…You obviously realize that at some point people do decide that the benefits of doing something aren’t worth the effort.

    Thanks.

  52. So, if any “R” voting FOR this fiscal cliff mess was voting to reduce taxes again according to Grover, doesn’t it follow that any “R” voting against them was voting to increase taxes? That means a whopping great number of R’s in the house must have broken their pledge to His Groverness, no?

  53. Scorpius – Question for you. When you post obviously false things here, and people call you out on it, do you think it helps your point, or hurts it?

  54. @DAV1D: I’m not saying they should have done nothing. I’m saying it’s deceptive, I think deliberately so, to call what was done “raising” revenue. They “removed $600 Billion in tax cuts” or “preserved all but $600 Billion in tax cuts” (depending on your ideaology), and could have said so.

    I don’t think doing nothing would have been the best answer. My comment was about spin, not policy.

  55. Todd, I believe CC is bleating that because the taxes on the so-called “job creators”, on marginal income above $400k, have increased by 10% (from $36 per $100 earned, to $39.60), that they will take their ball and go home.

    By my tone, I think you can guess my take on this. Since Obama did his usual premature caving, lifting the household income limit on this to $400k, we won’t be affected by it, though I’d rather he’d left the limit at $250k and we’d pay a little more in taxes.

  56. Ah Scorpius, you are incorrect once again. As Genufett points out, it was Bush and the GOP who dramatically increased spending and the size of government while lowering taxes.
    The constant refrain from the right of how increasing taxes on the wealthy will result in economic damage and loss of jobs has been proven wrong in the real world. I really wish the Repubs and conservatives would stop repeating that mantra as if it were true – some people actually believe that nonsense! Also, when the GOP insists on drastic spending cuts it would be nice if they also pointed out that the result would be the loss of many jobs, not to mention a blow to the economy. We can’t have it both ways. Austerity measures to balance the budget, whether in the form of increased taxes or spending cuts will result in damage to the fragile economic recovery. The tough decisions have to be made as to how to go about a gradual, responsible return to a balanced budget. It took 10 years of very low taxes and run away spending, especially on unnecessary war, to get us here. It will probably take longer to get us out.

  57. “As Genufett points out, it was Bush and the GOP who dramatically increased spending and the size of government while lowering taxes.”

    You seem to be laboring under the notion that everyone in the Republican Party loved what Bush and the Congress did during those 8 years.

  58. Norquist isn’t actually powerful in himself — he holds roughly the same position to the American right as Queen Elizabeth II does for the general British population. Both exemplify something their respective constituencies think is vitally important, without having any tangible power to enforce their wishes.

    Norquist is important only in so much as he maintains that one monomaniacal focus, only as long as the majority of elected Republicans go along with that focus, and only as long as the right-wing voting public is willing to swiftly punish any apostates from that focus. If the Tea Party and similar types raise successful challenges to the GOP House members who voted for this deal in 2014, then we’ll see that the Norquist position is still strong. If not, then he’ll quickly disappear.

    So Norquist is really just a stand-in for the extremist Tea Party voters: his no-tax-increase, tiny-government demand only has strength because it is their core demand (as contradictory as it often is; this is the “keep your government hands off my Medicare” crowd), and so many GOP Congressfolk are now from safe (meaning quite right-wing) districts that those voters have particular power to determine which demagogue represents them, because the primary is usually the important election.

  59. Todd Stulll…Sure….From reading the comment immediately following yours, not sure how much good it will do.

    In any event…. Are you aware of the law of diminishing returns? Perhaps more precisely, any idea how prices are determined? Why anything goes on sale at a reduced price? The reason more Ford’s are sold than Rolls Royce’s?

  60. @Rick Ryles: “You seem to be laboring under the notion that everyone in the Republican Party loved what Bush and the Congress did during those 8 years.”

    And would you mind naming those Republicans who opposed Bush on the wars, on keeping the wars off the books, on torture, on massive tax cuts for the rich, and so forth? I don’t seem to recall their names.

  61. @ constructiveconservative: If you want to pay twice as much, buy two copies and give one away.

  62. You seem to be laboring under the notion that everyone in the Republican Party loved what Bush and the Congress did during those 8 years.

    Well they didn’t bother trying to stop it or even protest, if not actively support it at the time. And it’s really hard to find a Republican–and essentially impossible for one who holds elected office–that thinks that the combined actions of Bush and 6 years of GOP majority combined are responsible for anywhere near that of Obama and 9 months of Dem majority, let alone the actual reality that it’s orders of magnitude more.

  63. ConstructiveConservative:

    “Do you think that you and/or the publisher would make twice as much money if you doubled the price?”

    Actually, the publisher of my limited editions prices those versions at anywhere from 2x to 5x the trade hardcover price, and makes quite a bit of money on them (as do I); all the limited editions sell out pretty quickly and we could probably print more of them to take advantage of market demand but don’t, because that’s the nature of limited editions.

    So, yes, in fact, I do think I and my publisher could make twice as much money if we doubled the price, provided we did it intelligently and with an understanding of the market. I know this because we’ve done it.

    As a general rule I don’t suggest you try publishing metaphors for your argument, unless you know enough about the business of selling books to make sure your metaphor works as you intended it to.

  64. “Do you think that you and/or the publisher would make twice as much money if you doubled the price?”

    So are you trolling by trying to compare marginal tax rates to price elasticities or genuinely asking about pricing model?
    I have been in the price and promotion field for the last 27+ years, working with the biggest names in the field, so, I know a bit about pricing.

    I would bet your life that the people at TOR know exactly what would happen to books sales if they doubled the price on John’s books. Within a narrow range, sales would stay the same, above a certain amount, sales would plummet. google price elasticity to learn more.

    But marginal tax rates have little or nothing to do with price elasticity, so if that was your analogy, you are not even in the same universe.

    Add to this the fact that we have had a couple of decades of tax decade proving that the GOP cutting taxes to raise revenues has been completely false and the Clinton decade showed us that raising marginal taxes increased revenue. All of those tax cuts making billions of new jobs, well we have had 11+ years of the bush cuts and are still waiting for the jobs to appear.

  65. In any event…. Are you aware of the law of diminishing returns? Perhaps more precisely, any idea how prices are determined? Why anything goes on sale at a reduced price? The reason more Ford’s are sold than Rolls Royce’s?

    What does this even mean? The marginal tax rates were raised under Clinton, and the deficit was erased. The rates were lowered across the board under Bush and are the main drivers behind the deficit coming back and increasing. That’s not magic, it’s basic math.

  66. I’m saying it’s deceptive, I think deliberately so, to call what was done “raising” revenue

    Eh. There was almost no chance that the entirety of the Bush tax cuts were going to disappear, given the political climate. Given that, using them as the baseline doesn’t strike me as particularly deceptive.

  67. Rick,
    Well, of course not everyone in the GOP loved what was going on, but enough of them did. I would not presume to know what every single person thinks about every single thing. I don’t think I said that everyone in the Republican Party loved what Bush and Congress did while in control. On the other hand, I haven’t seen many Republicans repudiating what happened. In many cases (such as Scorpius), they have been lying to others and probably to themselves about some of the true causes of our economic woes. In the case of Scorpius, stating the exact opposite of the truth.

  68. “And would you mind naming those Republicans who opposed Bush on the wars, on keeping the wars off the books, on torture, on massive tax cuts for the rich, and so forth? I don’t seem to recall their names.”

    Why yes, Ron Paul to name the most prominent one. He was a presidential nominee twice recently, I’m surprised you haven’t heard of him. Do you stay up-to-date on politics?

    “Well, of course not everyone in the GOP loved what was going on, but enough of them did. I would not presume to know what every single person thinks about every single thing. I don’t think I said that everyone in the Republican Party loved what Bush and Congress did while in control. On the other hand, I haven’t seen many Republicans repudiating what happened. In many cases (such as Scorpius), they have been lying to others and probably to themselves about some of the true causes of our economic woes. In the case of Scorpius, stating the exact opposite of the truth.”

    Quite right, the Republican party was hardly innocent during those years and many nowadays follow a similar policy though they have abandoned much rhetoric in favor of silence or a simple no since our current democrat president now heralds many of the things Bush did during his tenure. I just grow annoyed that many seems to believe all Republican are evil due to the corrupt stranglehold leadership has over the party. It would be like me assuming all democrats would whore out their own mothers to the banks since Democrat leadership seems content to do so.

  69. Just in case anyone’s still confused about the Democrat’s “outdated and proven-wrong ideology,” SCIENCE (well, MATH, but that doesn’t sound as exciting) comes to the rescue. Here’s a bunch of examples of where modern Democratic Presidents, both averaged and individually, have promoted better fiscal policy than Republicans:

    Annual GDP Growth
    Annual Employment Growth
    Unemployment Rate Change
    Change in Federal Surplus/Deficit
    Income Inequality

    Bonus: Economic growth under Presidents with Democratic Congresses and Republican Congresses (SPOILER: The highest the economy has grown was when Democrats controlled the White House and Congress, and the lowest when there’s been a Democratic president and a split Congress)

    Bonus #2: Income Growth Rates by Income Percentile (SPOILERS AGAIN: Under Democrats, everybody has done better, especially at the lower incomes)

  70. Given that, using them as the baseline doesn’t strike me as particularly deceptive

    FWIW, I think the Repubs are full of it, too. Too bad it’s only metaphorical BS, or we could burn it for fuel.

  71. @ David G – apparently Ron Paul did vote for the invasion. I had to look it up, I assumed he had principles – silly me, he’s a politician after all!

  72. John:

    So, yes, in fact, I do think I and my publisher could make twice as much money if we doubled the price, provided we did it intelligently and with an understanding of the market. I know this because we’ve done it.

    As a general rule I don’t suggest you try publishing metaphors for your argument, unless you know enough about the business of selling books to make sure your metaphor works as you intended it to.
    ———————-

    And yet you haven”t “done it” and the metaphor still “works”. You’ll note that you established two different classifications rather than doubling the price on every book. The point being that raising the price of something does not always result in an increase in revenues. .
    —————————-

    Peter:

    With all your experience I find it hard to believe that you don’t understand the concept that raising prices does not always mean an increase in revenues and, likewise, reducing the price does not always result in a loss in revenues. I’m going to have to assume that whatever you may profess here in an attempt to promote your agenda that, in the final analysis, as with most liberals you are much more conservative in your approach when things really matter, ie. personal circumstances and business decisions, than you are when theorizing about government tax rates.

    Further, you seem to have missed a number of other factors which affected the Clinton and Bush results. Aside from 9/11 on the one end, and the Bush 41 economic policies which rebounded to the benefit of Clinton, the much maligned deregulation of the financial industry, the easy money policies of the Fed, and the need to get along with Newt Gingrich, including a fiscal cliff of their own, has somehow been re-written to benefit the man who originally shut down the government rather than act fiscally responsible….Clinton.

  73. Genufett – just because o-bama has a budget that has controls does not mean it is a good budget. As for my feelings on the idiot (o-bama), they mirror what many people on the left (including some here) felt for Bush or the GOP in general. Your criticism goes both ways in that case….

  74. By the way, the really big budget buster (on the spending side) that President Bush passed was the Medicare Prescription Drug and Modernization Act of 2003, H.R. 1. It was passed 216-215, with the GOP voting 207-9 in favor, and the Democrats voting against 195-19.

    John Boehner voted in favor of it. Eric Cantor voted in favor of it. Paul Ryan voted in favor of it. Ron Paul voted against it, but the entire current GOP leadership voted for it.

    The deficit didn’t just appear and it didn’t appear because of Democrats. It appeared because of current Republicans planning and passing massive spending bills.

    http://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/108-2003/h332

  75. “@ David G – apparently Ron Paul did vote for the invasion. I had to look it up, I assumed he had principles – silly me, he’s a politician after all!”

    “@Rick Ryles: Actually, I believe that Ron Paul voted for the invasion of Afghanistan.”
    He did and he has stated it is one of the votes he regretted the most in his career. You can find more info at this link http://www.thepoliticalguide.com/Profiles/House/Texas/Ron_Paul/Views/The_War_in_Afghanistan/
    Its is entirely up to you to believe him or not though. Chris, I do believe if you stated your favourite politician Ron Paul’s record would be several magnitudes more principled so long as that politician was active in the last 100 years. So keep that in mind when bashing an entire career. Still my statement stands that Ron Paul meets your request for a Republican that opposed Bush.

    “He was? How’d he do in the general elections?”
    He was not in the general election, were you not aware?

  76. David…and? You’ll note that the very people so many others attack, ie. TParty, don’t disagree with you. It seems to me it’s the Democrat’s partisanship which continues to get in the way of a solution.
    ————————————
    genufett….

    Bonus: Economic growth under Presidents with Democratic Congresses and Republican Congresses (SPOILER: The highest the economy has grown was when Democrats controlled the White House and Congress, and the lowest when there’s been a Democratic president and a split Congress)

    Bonus #2: Income Growth Rates by Income Percentile (SPOILERS AGAIN: Under Democrats, everybody has done better, especially at the lower incomes)

    ———————————————————-

    The problem with you “bonuses” is that they don’t really prove what you think they do.

    Try understanding a balance sheet which looks at the entire picture. Borrowing money may give the illusion of more prosperity, but as some are now seeing, there does come a time when it needs to be paid back.

  77. I agree on the meh-ness of the whole thing. The biggest consideration for a lot of people were the automatic budget cuts for the defense industry. Say what you like about military budgets, there are a lot of regional economies that are hugely dependent on that spending. I work for a shipyard that builds subs for the Navy and the economy of Rhode Island, which isn’t exactly robust to begin with, would tank without the shipyard’s work. Connecticut too where the other half of my company is. Personally, my position would be somewhat insulated because I’m a specialist, but the region as a whole took years to recover from the end of the Cold War military spending trends.

  78. David…and? You’ll note that the very people so many others attack, ie. TParty, don’t disagree with you. It seems to me it’s the Democrat’s partisanship which continues to get in the way of a solution.

    Wait, Republicans created the deficit and it’s the Democrats’ fault? That’s some magic sauce you’re imbibing there, big guy.

  79. @Rick – Ron Paul is not one of my favourite guys, but the reason I was surprised by his vote for the invasion of Afghanistan is that it seemed to be out of character for him, given his non-interventionist beliefs (which I do mostly agree with). I think he’s mostly wrong on policy, but at least he is normally very consistent in his convictions, which is a lot more than can be said for most politicians. I do respect him for that, even when not agreeing with him in political terms.

  80. ConstructiveConservative:

    “You’ll note that you established two different classifications rather than doubling the price on every book.”

    Well, I note that you’re now adding conditions to your argument that you hadn’t bothered to raise before once it’s been pointed out that your initial assertion was incorrect, at the very least. Bear in mind that the limiteds are essentially the same product as the hardcover, in terms of the text. There are changes to signal variation and exclusivity but the words remain the same.

    What variable pricing in publishing establishes is that there are specific markets to be addressed, each with its own desires and willingness to pay and path to profitability. Again, your metaphor doesn’t really seem to hold up to scrutiny, nor does it fit very well into taxation schemes.

  81. The problem with you “bonuses” is that they don’t really prove what you think they do.

    Of course they do. And the other charts–which you have gone out of your way to ignore–back them up.

    Try understanding a balance sheet which looks at the entire picture.

    It’s almost as if you didn’t actually look at the charts or have any concept of the deficit’s relation to GDP.

    Borrowing money may give the illusion of more prosperity, but as some are now seeing, there does come a time when it needs to be paid back.

    Under pretty much every year of the prior administration, the percentage of money being paid back fell at ever-increasing amounts. Under every year of the current administration, the percentage of money being paid back increased. The former administration’s policies were to cut taxes to the point where it made up the lion’s share of the deficit.

    For a “constructive” conservative, you haven’t provided any proven methodology to eliminate the deficit apart from blatantly rewriting history. What’s your solution?

  82. “@Rick – Ron Paul is not one of my favourite guys, but the reason I was surprised by his vote for the invasion of Afghanistan is that it seemed to be out of character for him, given his non-interventionist beliefs (which I do mostly agree with). I think he’s mostly wrong on policy, but at least he is normally very consistent in his convictions, which is a lot more than can be said for most politicians. I do respect him for that, even when not agreeing with him in political terms.”

    You have to remember, Bush campaigned on a humble foreign policy unlike that of Clinton. (Yes ridiculous in retrospect). I do not believe even the most obscure blogger suspected what this would be turned into. We were legitimately attacked by a terrorist group that was part of a government. We had legitimate cause to retaliate. This is one of the votes I can fault no one for because I think only Bush and his administration knew what this would be turned into.

  83. @Mike

    Thanks for that post. Personally, I tend to root for defense spending cuts because I they’ll reduce our country’s little overseas adventures. But your post engaged my sympathies. Maybe it’s just because I have a soft spot for heavy industry, like shipbuilding. But it’s always good to remember the human cost of this discussion.

    @ConstructiveConservative

    How did you get that crude, blanket statement from Mike’s rather nuanced, specific post? From here, it looks like you erected a straw man for your own benefit instead of engaging with what Mike actually wrote.

    Are you here to discuss things in good faith? Because it doesn’t look like it to me.

  84. The correct solution to all of this was the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission recommendations. Neither Obama nor the Republicans had the political testicles to implement this hard set of choices for fiscal responsibility. From posts here, many have sacred cows that they don’t want touched, so I am pessimistic that we as the American people will fix this. It and penury will be left to our children.

  85. @ConstructiveConservative:

    You appear to be making the argument that higher taxes cause people to reduce their income. Undoubtedly a few people will decide to make less money because some of it will be taxed at a higher rate. Most won’t, because, well, they need the money to accomplish some lifestyle goals. In addition, most people don’t have that much flexibility in their income. They work a full-time job for a salary or for hourly wages based on the required (by the employer) number of hours, and that’s 95% of their tax return.

    In short, income is not very elastic.

  86. DAVID
    Wait, Republicans created the deficit and it’s the Democrats’ fault? That’s some magic sauce you’re imbibing there, big guy.
    ————————————————-
    Seeing as the deficit began over a century ago and became institutionalized with FDR, I fail to see how you can make your statement without at least a smiley face.

    On the other hand, I’m not claiming that Republicans shouldn’t shoulder any of the blame. It’s the fact that you seem to feel there are only two choices here that make you take the position which you do.

  87. @ConstructiveConservative: Borrowing money may give the illusion of more prosperity, but as some are now seeing, there does come a time when it needs to be paid back.

    The U.S. has had net debt every year since it was founded (though it was nearly paid down to zero in the 1830s.) The debt has increased under every President since Calvin Coolidge. Our parents didn’t pay down the debt. Our grandparents didn’t pay down the debt. Our great-grandparents didn’t pay down the debt. Our great-great-grandparents didn’t pay down the debt. Our great-great-great-grandparents didn’t pay down the debt. The timeline for U.S. debt repayment is measured in at least centuries, not years or even decades. And in actuality, the debt never really has to be paid back at all; it can continue to be rolled over forever. There can be no “illusion of prosperity”. Real things — goods and services — are being produced and sold. Real things represent real prosperity.

  88. John:

    What variable pricing in publishing establishes is that there are specific markets to be addressed, each with its own desires and willingness to pay and path to profitability. Again, your metaphor doesn’t really seem to hold up to scrutiny, nor does it fit very well into taxation schemes.
    —————————————–

    Actually it continues to hold up, but the more interesting thing is how you wish to avoid the subject at hand by arguing over whether or not the metaphor meets your standards. Which one is it that you would like to discuss? The fact that higher prices don’t always mean higher revenues, and vice versa, or the question of how well the metaphor works?
    —————————————

    Genufett:

    I understand you will continue to point to the same facts and figures while showing no interest in putting them into their true context. If we go under again, I’m just not sure if the country will be able to sustain another national bankruptcy.

    Why you think that comparing Bush to Obama is going to do you any good, or is even relevant, is something only you can answer.
    ————————————–

    Sign ahead:

    How did you get that crude, blanket statement from Mike’s rather nuanced, specific post?

    And how else could anyone take it?
    ————————————–
    Chris:

    You appear to be making the argument that higher taxes cause people to reduce their income.

    Sorry, if you took it that way. My argument is that raising taxes does not necessarily result in increasing revenues to the Federal Government and certainly decreases the amount of money available to the private sector.
    ———————————

    Don’t think I missed anyone, but if I did it was inadvertent.

  89. The most glaring problem with your statement is that it ignores the two previous bankruptcies….FDR and Nixon.

    I’m not familiar with these bankruptcies. Would you care to clarify?

  90. @troooper284

    While it may be possible to refer to the proposal by Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles as “Simpson-Bowles recommendations” , that proposal did not receive the necessary number of votes from the members of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform to send it to Congress for approval. Therefore there is no such thing as “Simpson-Bowles commission recommendations.”

  91. ConstructiveConservative:

    First, please aggregate your comments into a single post, please. I find multiple sequential comments annoying (it’s not you; I say it to everyone). It also makes it easier for reading purposes.

    “Actually it continues to hold up”

    No, actually, it was a very poor analogy to begin with and it continues to get worse as you go along, because it’s clearly ill-suited for taxation, and your lack of understanding of the economic dynamics of publishing is readily apparent. I understand that you don’t appear to think this is so, but that’s because you don’t appear to know anything about the economic dynamics of publishing, so you don’t to know just how badly you’re making your argument. You appear to be so caught up in your own imagined cleverness that you’re missing multiple signal from various commenters, including me, that your metaphor doesn’t make sense.

    The reason I address your metaphor rather than your argument is twofold. One, your metaphor is poor enough that it obscures your actual point. Two, as someone who is educated specifically on the subject of the use of language and as someone who makes his living using language, I find such poor usage annoying. If you’re going to use it as a vehicle for your argument, you’re going to have to accept that I’m going to point out that the vehicle has no wheels. Independent of this, there’s the additional fact that as conversations have two participants, we don’t always get to have the conversation we expect to have, we get the conversation that is created through the process of our discourse. Our conversation right now is the poverty of utility inherent in your metaphor.

    So let me put it bluntly: Your metaphor is stupid and it’s making you look ignorant, as opposed to clever, which you apparently think it does. However, you appear to be intelligent and opinionated, with a point to make. So If you do have a point to make about taxation, please abandon your publishing metaphor and either find a new metaphor based on something you know something about, or just come right and say what it is you want to say, without metaphor. I would be happy to have the conversation you appear to want to have, but you have to help me here. I am bouncing off your publishing metaphor because it’s just flat wrong on more levels than you appear to know. Start again, please.

  92. @ Constructive Conservative.

    Nope. Your metaphor doesn’t hold up. You protesting otherwise doesn’t magically make it a useful metaphor. Try again.

    Same thing with your dismissal of Genufett’s data. It makes your arguments look silly, when you try to hand wave away massive amounts of data.

    Also, I don’t remember the US ever going bankrupt. I’m not sure the US could go bankrupt. That is a very specific legal process. Any lawyers out here who want to comment? I only have an accountant for a wife…

    The US could, I don’t know, default on debt payments, but what would the lenders do? Sue the US? Lend somewhere else? Where could they get better returns? Because, as you must know (based on your excellent series of Whatever lectures on economics), the lenders would be lending elsewhere if they could get a better deal.

    I agree with Sign Ahead – You don’t seem to want to argue in good faith. There seems to be nothing that will move your arguments. Not facts. Not correct definitions.

    Which is sad, because we actually need a dialog between people with different policy outlooks to come up with a robust solution to long-term debt. We are spending too much in the US, and taxing our way out of it, in my opinion, will not work.

  93. @ ConstructiveConservative

    I’m not going to do the reading for you. Go back, read what people actually wrote, instead of what you wanted them to write, and engage the writers, instead of the straw men. It’ll earn you a lot more respect than you’re currently getting.

    @Todd Stull

    “Which is sad, because we actually need a dialog between people with different policy outlooks to come up with a robust solution to long-term debt.”

    Amen to that. Most of us live in a complicated world, surrounded by a dazzling diversity of expertise and opinion. And, as responsible grown-ups, we solve problems every day by working with other people, even when we don’t agree on all the details (heck…even when we don’t agree on the large issues).

    Diversity and cooperation is what makes our solutions robust, and I would love to see our congressional leaders embrace it, instead of wallowing around in their ideological ghettos. That’s what made this recent compromise a little bit exciting.

  94. @CC – yes, their spending may not be elastic – but you are talking about those with adjusted gross income (AGI’s) over $400k, so an income level of a minimum of $500k. It is extremely unlikely that people in that income bracket are spending every dollar they make – I know my wife & I don’t. So if they earn $1M per year, they will be taxed $22k more this year than last. I’d suggest that this money was likely to be saved, not spent, and as the government will spend it, the effect of the tax increase is likely to be an increase in net economic activity, not a reduction – investment in the stock market doesn’t create economic activity, the government spending the cash does, and with the multiplier effect, tax spend is superior to savings in increasing GDP.

  95. Re: constructiveconservative’s comments about “bankruptcy of the United States”

    I’ve now spent several…”interesting”…minutes researching this concept online. Evidently there is a portion of the “free-market libertarian” community that believes the removal of the gold standard during FDR’s administration was a declaration of bankruptcy, with a second bankruptcy coming under Nixon, involving no longer using silver in US coinage (?). In addition to bankruptcy, this also appears to have involved selling every US Citizen (living, dead or unborn) into slavery to the International Banking Cartel.

    FWIW, one of the websites I found in this research also had a very nice post explaining the the (secret, name-unknown) head of the International Banking Cartel was also the Supreme Leader of Humanity (by virtue of the fact that they more or less own all of us). Another one of the websites explains the legal difference between your name written in Capitol and lowercase letters and ALLCAPS (please don’t ask me to explain this, but is has something to do with a “straw man”, evidently not used ironically to refer to poor arguments).

  96. Genufett, the problem you have with the deficit/GDP numbers is that government spending is counted in the GDP. The more money borrowed to spend by the government, the bigger the GDP to compare against. Right now, government spending is about 1/3 of total GDP. It was near 1/5th under Clinton.

  97. @SoCalJayhawk…

    True that the report did not garner the 14 of 18 votes it needed to go to Congress although it did receive 11 of 18 pro-votes. But it did receive broad support from Republican and Democrats alike (When have you seen Tom Coburn and Dick Durbin on the same side?).

    So your nitpicking aside, the framework of recommendations actually touched all “third” rails of the American political holies-of-holy (taxes, entitlements, defense) and would have led to a fiscally brighter future.

  98. So your nitpicking aside

    Pointing out that something didn’t actually pass a vote is not “nitpicking” and you undercut your own argument by trying to handwave that away.

    I’ve now spent several…”interesting”…minutes researching this concept online. Evidently there is a portion of the “free-market libertarian” community that believes the removal of the gold standard during FDR’s administration was a declaration of bankruptcy, with a second bankruptcy coming under Nixon, involving no longer using silver in US coinage (?). In addition to bankruptcy, this also appears to have involved selling every US Citizen (living, dead or unborn) into slavery to the International Banking Cartel.

    Why did I imagine it would something like that?

  99. David, reread the post and understand that my point was that if Dems and the GOP alike had had the political will to adopt the Simpson-Bowles framework we would be better off.

    No handwaving… pretty clear and succint. (Sheesh)

  100. Re the original request made by John S. to comment on the ‘fiscal cliff’ mess, IMHO the criminality in DC continues. Re his opinion on it, Mr. Scalzi should not quit his day job.

  101. reread the post and understand that my point was that if Dems and the GOP alike had had the political will to adopt the Simpson-Bowles framework we would be better off.

    No handwaving… pretty clear and succint. (Sheesh)

    The handwaving was trying to minimize that there *are no* commission recommendations because it didn’t make the vote. The implication of that is that there’s no framework, there’s just what Simpson and Bowles are trying to peddle out of their failure.

    Sheesh.

  102. Chris — could you elaborate on this? So if they earn $1M per year, they will be taxed $22k more this year than last. I’d suggest that this money was likely to be saved, not spent, and as the government will spend it, the effect of the tax increase is likely to be an increase in net economic activity, not a reduction – investment in the stock market doesn’t create economic activity, the government spending the cash does, and with the multiplier effect, tax spend is superior to savings in increasing GDP.

    I put $22k in a CD, the bank loans it out. I put $22k in a TBill, Uncle loans some of it out. I put $22 into the stock market, companies buy tools and supplies, sell products. I give $22k to Uncle Sam, he keeps 10% (say) for administration, and puts the rest into CDs, T-Bills, companies. Less goes into the economy (well, the part kept for administration goes into the economy as wages and gas for Gulfstreams, so it goes there too.)

  103. I was so bored by this cliff-hanger that I skipped it and went to bed early. Meh. Meh, meh-meh, meh-meh. My partner and I slip into that tiny slice of the lower middle class that would not have been affected no matter what happened, so my interest has been entirely academic. IMO this whole “crisis” has been played like bad reality TV, as if reality TV isn’t bad enough, fresh from LA. Last night was the season finale of Congressional Big Brother, and the result was hardly a surprise. Kathy Griffith and Ryan Seacrest could have hosted the final vote, live from Times Square, and chock full o’ nuts (helloooooo Michele Bachmann, who *is* your stylist…), and my response would still have been “meh.” “Meh” seems to be the overarching theme of the evening, actually.

    Half of the GOP has sacrificed sanity to ratings, and the only people who won’t admit this are so far up their own colons that they’re officially copraphagiasts. The biggest surprise of this vote is that Eric Cantor didn’t threaten to set himself on fire by rubbing two lesbians together on the floor of House, in protest.

  104. John, I see you picked door number 1. The truth of the matter is that I can only say the same thing a certain number of ways..which, no offense, I already did in a full length article.

    1. “revenue’ is a misnomer as in the case of tax revenue there is no additional “revenue”. What comes from Peter, so to speak, goes to pay Paul. If you have two five’s in your wallet and give one to your wife, there was no increase in the family’s revenue. So that’s a problem right there.
    2. And in the center ring, the point being made was that there is more to raising revenue than simply raising the price of anything. People such as Chris (?) spend their lives looking for the sweet spot volume/price=most revenue and yet somehow completely ignore the economic laws when discussing tax revenue.
    3. As straight as I can make it……Raising Taxes does no always mean an increase in tax revenue….period…end stop…That is the point. Those arguing otherwise are, for lack of a better word, misguided. The interesting thing, to me of course, is how people simply charge over that little bit of wisdom and draw all kinds of other conclusions. It’s a fact. That’s it. No spin. No agenda. Fact.
    4, Ridiculing those who are making that point…a factual point….a point which cannot be refuted..says more about those making the argument in the first place.
    5. So, here’s my suggestion, disprove the assertion, no need to get personal, which is what we see a bit farther down….
    ————————–
    I don’t know if comment count makes any difference to you one way or the other, but I’ll break this one here and move on to the next one.

  105. John…I’ll certainly try, but when I step away for a moment various comments seem to intervene. Whatever I can do to make your life easier, please let me know.
    —————————-
    I appreciate the claims so many are making about enjoying dialogue with those with whom they disagree. The problem is those people actually do disagree…disagree with your world view, disagree with the way the data gets manipulated, disagree with the lack of grounding when making a point, Let’s see what I can do while not making anyone feel left out…
    ——————————
    Todd Stulll
    @ Constructive Conservative.

    Nope. Your metaphor doesn’t hold up. You protesting otherwise doesn’t magically make it a useful metaphor. Try again.

    I’m not going to argue over whether or not it holds up. It obviously does, but you simply don’t get it. Fine, Moving on. I made some straightforward points in responding to John.

    Same thing with your dismissal of Genufett’s data. It makes your arguments look silly, when you try to hand wave away massive amounts of data.
    ————————————
    Why? I could throw massive amounts of data into the mix as well. If it is irrelevant (see the complaint about my metaphor) it does nothing to address the problem. He dumped a bunch of data on my doorstep. According to the rules you’ve been playing by it’s up to him to show that they are meaningful. The only reason you think my arguments look silly is because you haven’t even considered them…

    We are talking common sense here..think about it.

    I’ve already shown why that are not, using the borrowing to prosperity model which never works.

    Also, I don’t remember the US ever going bankrupt. I’m not sure the US could go bankrupt. That is a very specific legal process. Any lawyers out here who want to comment? I only have an accountant for a wife…

    When one repudiates debt, or pays back less than agreed…bankruptcy….

    The US could, I don’t know, default on debt payments, but what would the lenders do? Sue the US? Lend somewhere else? Where could they get better returns? Because, as you must know (based on your excellent series of Whatever lectures on economics), the lenders would be lending elsewhere if they could get a better deal.
    —————————–
    Stop lending…stop selling to us on credit….invest elsewhere…seems to be quite a few American exceptionalists commenting on the topic.

    I agree with Sign Ahead – You don’t seem to want to argue in good faith. There seems to be nothing that will move your arguments. Not facts. Not correct definitions.

    Which is sad, because we actually need a dialog between people with different policy outlooks to come up with a robust solution to long-term debt. We are spending too much in the US, and taxing our way out of it, in my opinion, will not work.

  106. SoCalJayhawk….

    I don’t really care about the conclusions, I’m just interested in the facts. Point being you attempted to avoid discussing the issue by going off on some kind of tangent. Sure, it works well when you’re just talking to other liberals, but when you want to find the truth such displays are frankly tiresome and boorhish. I’m really not up to explaining the concept of bankruptcy to a group who is more interested in making points than finding truth. You can guess why I generally avoid conversations such as this. It’s not my job to provide all the intellect and if I am, where is the benefit to me?

  107. ConstructiveConservative:

    “Raising Taxes does not always mean an increase in tax revenue….period…end stop…That is the point.”

    I don’t disagree, nor have I suggested I believe otherwise. Where one may reasonably disagree is where that line of diminishing returns is, both generally and with specific regard to high-income earners.

    However, while raising taxes does not always mean an increase in tax revenue, it’s often does, and the refusal of the GOP to brook any raise in the tax rate ever under any circumstance effectively put one hand behind their backs when it came being able to formulate sensible fiscal policies. Again, I certainly don’t expect the GOP to abandon its general antipathy for tax increases, and that general attitude is fine with me. But it’s good they have the option of considering all options first.

  108. @Trooper: Actually, most conservatives who say they like Simpson-Bowles don’t actually know what’s in it.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/12/04/11-shocking-true-facts-about-simpson-bowles/

    For example, $2.6 trillion in tax increases over 10 years. A spending cut to revenue increase ratio of nearly 1:1. Ending the preferential tax rate for capital gains and dividends. A 15-cent-a-gallon gas hike.

    Oh, and most of the spending cuts recommended by Simpson-Bowles have already been enacted.

    Finally, you claim Simpson-Bowles had broad Republican support. Despite that, a more conservative version of the plan that was brought up on the House floor died 382-38.

    Conservatives like to beat Obama over the head for failing to follow Simpson-Bowles, but the truth is that the commission failed because Republicans like Paul Ryan rejected it.

  109. @gbhhornswoggler, actually Queen Elizabeth II has many tangible powers. For example, she appointed Harold Wilson as Prime Minister in 1974 when there was a hung parliament (no majority party or coalition with an agreed leader) and would had done so again in 2010 if the Conservatives and Lib Dems didn’t agree to form a coalition government; she also exercises “the prerogative of mercy” equivalent to American Presidential pardons.

    Between 1985 and 2008, the wealthiest 400 Americans saw the percentage of their income paid in federal income taxes drop from 29 percent to 18 percent, according to data from the Internal Revenue Service. Also, I read in a NY Times article that if the 1985 tax rates (the year prior to Reagan cutting taxes) were in effect today, there wouldn’t be a deficit.

    In today’s economy, “job creators” are anyone with a little imagination and innovation, not just those at the top of the monetary pyramid.

    The deal offered by Obama, which House Republicans rejected, offered more spending cuts, but Norquist’s pledge got in the way. As for the deal that was passed, it stopped taxes rising more on 99% of the population.

  110. Certainly the Bush tax cuts did not increase revenue in any way – which, after all, was by design…
    … and Obama now made them permanent … I’m amazed why conservatives hate him so much.

  111. Rather than arguing over what has been done, I feel to ask, what do people here think ought to be done to increase the stability of our country’s fiscal ground? Anyone ever take a second look at what all was laid out in Coburn’s Back to Black plan? It was brutal, yes, but it made the point that the issues should be tackled from all angles if they are to be tackled at all. Which seems unlikely, given how partisan things are right now.

    (And frankly, as partisan as the GOP can be, I’m just as worried about Obama at this point. He has job security; he can afford to play hardball even more than can his congressional foes at this point.)

  112. Chris @ 7:58: I think you meant to say ‘taxable income’ and not ‘adjusted gross income (AGI)’. Big difference between the two.

  113. John, you could tax 100% of the net profits of the Fortune 500 and you wouldn’t cover deficit. You could strip the Forbes 100 (Gates, Buffet, Waltons, etc) of everything they own, and you might be able to run the government for a year. Please tell me where you propose to raise taxes to get anywhere close to balancing our budget.

  114. It would be entirely “Meh” around here except that my husband works for the Department of Defense, which was (and still is, in two months) slated for 33% across-the-board cuts, which has somewhat dangerous and scary implications for his job. So until they get that straightened out, I just can’t ignore the whole mess the way I really, really want to.

  115. @ Constructiveconservative

    Actually, I suspect you avoid conversations such as this because you have very little of substance to say. Instead of being offended that this has become “personal”, I invite you to remember that the problems are with your weaksauce arguments, not with you. I am sure you are just swell in person.

    You said “It’s not my job to provide all the intellect and if I am, where is the benefit to me?”
    I agree. Let me take that stress off your plate. You are in NO danger of that here.

    It’s funny, I think I agree with some of your points. But it’s not clear to me what your points are because instead of stating them clearly up front, you cloud them with bad metaphors.

    Yes, too much debt is bad. Yes, the US should pay its debt back. Yes, interest is adding on to it. No one in this thread is arguing against this. But you seem to suggest that the US is in an impending debt crisis. That’s absurd. Moreover, if it is your position that there is a substantive debate against raising taxes by Republicans because of worry over a debt crisis, you are wrong.

    You and I seem to agree that other countries could stop buying T-Bills. In fact, China has reduced it’s share by a bit lately. http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2011/jul/15/us-debt-how-big-who-owns
    I know it’s asking a lot for you to read this data, because you want to define what supports your viewpoint as relevant, and ditch the rest. But if you do read, you’ll see that Japan and US citizens are buying more T-bills. To my untrained eye, this suggests that there is no impending debt crisis. We can, in fact, grow our economy partially out of the debt problem, and raise revenue. You never answered, where is the safer alternative to T-bills that would put the US at risk? This sounds exceptionalist because in this way, the US is exceptional.

    You and I seem to agree (as does John) that tax increases may not always equal revenue increases. But they often do. So what is it that you are arguing Constructiveconservative? That people over $400K shouldn’t pay more than they are in taxes? That now people are going to try to reduce their income to stay below $400K to avoid higher marginal rates? That in this particular case, raising taxes will reduce are revenue; if so, where is your evidence for this belief?

  116. “Raising Taxes does not always mean an increase in tax revenue….period…end stop…That is the point.”

    No. It doesn’t always mean increased revenues. However, since we know that the US has had higher rates with higher revenues as a percentage in the past, and that many other rich industrial nations have significantly higher taxes with no apparent fall off in revenue we can deduce that the point at which the “Lafer Curve” (which is what I think you’re thinking about really but not mentioning) kicks in, is probably higher than adding 3.5% to incomes above $400K or even lower.

    I’ve earned over $250k, it was nice but as other commentators have mentioned we didn’t come close to spending all our income. Losing 10% of it or more really wouldn’t have impacted our life style.

    So CC, here’s another question. For most of the 1980s and 1990s and 2000s the top rate of income tax in the UK was 40% on all income over about $60000 (yes, sixty thousand)… That was one of the longest sustained periods of growth in modern British history.

    Households may have to live within their means but that’s suicide for a national economy as one of your early Treasury Secretary’s found out about 200 years ago.

  117. @jimbot (and sorry John I saw his post after I pressed send)

    The problem is not just taxes, but nor is it just spending. The real problem is the world economy and the US fell off a massive cliff in 2008 and it has not recovered. There is a double whammy of low tax rates and high debts caused, in large part by those tax rates, two unfounded wars and an expansion in Medicare without any way to pay for them.

    The sensible path in 2000 would have been to maintain the Clinton tax rates, weather the small downturn then and continue to pay down the debt. Then when whoever became President in 2008 took over they could have covered Unemployment Insurance payments and stimulus spending all without increasing the debt.

    Once the economy starts to grow the revenue base will rise and the size of the debt relative to GDP will fall. This idea that the US economy needs to balance its books is as daft as a growing company trying to.

  118. All of this is completely false. Apart from the election itself proving this wrong, almost every single public poll has shown majority or plurality support for the President’s position.

    Let’s go with the first part. There are a 150 million eligible voters in the U.S., 65 million voted for Obama (yes many didn’t vote) that means 85 million voters didn’t vote for Obama. And since he’s the incumbent it’s a stronger inference to make that those 25 million voters who didn’t vote were casting disapproval on him rather than casting disapproval on Romney.

    But that’s kind of academic. You cannot infer that a vote for Obama is a vote for his economic policy. Maybe they voted for him because he’s the incumbent. Maybe they voted for him because they were creeped out by Mitt. Who knows? You sure don’t

    As to the polls. There are many polls (http://www.pollingreport.com/budget.htm , http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/12/12/fox-news-poll-according-to-voters-spending-cuts-are-must/to name just the first two my Google search found) that show voters don’t agree that this can all be solved by taxing the rich and not reforming entitlements.

    Actually http://www.businessinsider.com/what-is-the-simpson-bowles-debt-plan-2012-10 argued for a $100 Billion (that’s with a “B”) increase in tax revenue and most of that would come from broadening the taxable base and lowering marginal rates. The exact marginal rates Obama wanted to increase on his redefined “millionaires and Billionaires” (defined by O as anyone making over $250K).

    90%+ of the current deficit is due to a Republican who lowered taxes

    OK, this just proves again that you have no fracking idea what you are talking about. Let me explain it to you using the simplest words I can. Bush has not been President for nearly 4 years. A deficit is how much the Federal government exceeds revenue for a given year. For Bush to be responsible for the current deficit he would have to have been reinstalled last year as President. Something that didn’t happen.

    But, maybe you’re just illiterate and don’t understand the difference between “deficit” and “debt”. Well, that doesn’t work since under Bush’s eight years the debt rose by $4.899 Trillion and under Obama’s first three years the debt rose by $4.939 (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-57400369-503544/national-debt-has-increased-more-under-obama-than-under-bush/

    But, in fact revenues rose dramatically after the Bush tax cut because it spurred on the economy. The exact opposite effect the so-called, utterly failed “stimulus” did. http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/editorials/2012/12/04/revenue-was-up-under-bush-tax-cuts.html (and before you dismiss Dr. Sowell in a partisan way he’s citing Obama’s own “Economic Report for the President” for 2012)

    OK, I’m done with you since you are so fact-deficient and uber-partisan. Look, you can disrespect me, I don’t mind; but I’m a scientist, a mathematician (applied, stats) and an educator so one thing I don’t allow to be fucked with are the facts. When you start molding your opinions (and no, you don’t have the right to your own opinion if they’re contrary to facts and reality) to facts I might start to engage you again.

    But for today you get an F-

  119. There are a 150 million eligible voters in the U.S., 65 million voted for Obama (yes many didn’t vote) that means 85 million voters didn’t vote for Obama. And since he’s the incumbent it’s a stronger inference to make that those 25 million voters who didn’t vote were casting disapproval on him rather than casting disapproval on Romney

    Trying to make an argument by coming up with imaginary voters is entirely unconvincing.

    Here’s an example of a more convincing argument: Obama won the election.

  120. Scorpius: OK, I’m done with you since you are so fact-deficient and uber-partisan.

    (casts detect polyjuice)

    Weird….

  121. DAVID,

    Those aren’t “imaginary voters”. There are 150 million registered voters in the U.S. 85 million of them didn’t vote for Obama. Those are facts.

  122. The interesting thing to me is how the House was unable to get its act together — even to support “Plan B” — and thus punted to the Senate. It was the Senate’s bill and the strong endorsement of that bill (as evidenced by the 89 – 8 vote) that forced the House to actually … do something.

    Putting the Senate in the lead on a spending bill kind of flip-flops what I thought I knew about Article I, Section 7.

  123. Scorpius:

    I don’t know that your argument there is a strong one. Pretty much everyone who wins the presidency does so with an absolute minority of registered voters (as opposed to, you know, the people who actually voted in that particular election).

  124. @htom:

    I put $22k in a CD, the bank loans it out. I put $22k in a TBill, Uncle loans some of it out. I put $22 into the stock market, companies buy tools and supplies, sell products. I give $22k to Uncle Sam, he keeps 10% (say) for administration, and puts the rest into CDs, T-Bills, companies. Less goes into the economy (well, the part kept for administration goes into the economy as wages and gas for Gulfstreams, so it goes there too.)

    At the moment, the banks aren’t really lending. For the TBill, the government has spent the money. For the stock market – this is one of my pet peeves, the misconception that buying stocks in a company has any impact on the companies cash. Most of the time, the stock market is a zero sum casino, except for IPOs and the vanishingly rare rights/stock issuance – when you buy a companies stock, 99.9% of the time you’re buying it from another investor, the company never sees the money. There are some minor benefits to the company of a higher share price, but getting your money is definitely not one of them.

    However, since most of the government spending is on corporate welfare (defense spending) or actual welfare, companies spend it on wages etc, poor spend it on food, housing, etc.

    I realize I may have come across as advocating that the govt knows best how to spend cash, but this is far from the truth – just right here, right now, in these particular circumstances, govt spending is better for the economy than saving it. As the economy picks up, banks start lending again, and so on, the balance will change.

  125. John,

    It’s true that almost no one wins with 50% of the registered voters. And it’s true 89 million didn’t vote for Romney. The argument coming from the President is that he has a “mandate from the people” for his plan, but that’s unsupportable given that only 43% of the “people” (registered voters) voted for him.

  126. Man, I can only imagine how upset Scorpius, defender of democracy, was when Bush got the presidency over Gore. All the shenanigans in Florida. The recounts being stopped by the Supreme Court who voted along party lines. I imagine it was white hot rage.

  127. “We don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem. Taxes have been flat (with the exception of 2008) over the last 10 years. Spending has steadily increased.”

    Yes, because the two wars were unfunded as was Medicare Part D, the the US economy fell through a hole in the ground to the tune of 10% of GDP, which is about a Trillion and a half dollars. Then. The economy didn’t grow, putting the total loss to the economy at closer to $3T.

    You cannot cut spending in a massive recession. Demand has to come from somewhere and if the economy isn’t generating either you live with a depression or the government has to make up the demand.

    Fortunately the US can borrow practically for free, unlike my business!

  128. Daveon,

    Nope. Which is why he compromised and worked with the Democrats from the beginning. With Obama we get the attitude of “I won” (I won so I get my way)..

    Eric,

    Very few do have actual “mandates” IMO.

  129. “Scorpius, by that reasoning no President has ever had a mandate from the people and you should be very comfortable saying so, yes?”

    Of course they had a mandate Eric. They were white.

  130. scorpius:

    Others have already addressed your totally baseless claims about the electorate, so no need for me to do so here. I could also go into detail how pretty much every specific question in the single non-partisan polling link you provided showed a majority or supermajority in support of raising taxes on the rich and not making huge changes to entitlement (the lowest was 54% for tax deduction caps, the highest was 74% for raising taxes on $250k+), or how exactly deficits don’t exist in single-year vacuums because the effects of policies related to the deficit (i.e., the Bush tax cuts, wars, bailouts, fiscal falloff from 2007-2008 financial crisis) linger for years, or go over all of the many many non-partisan sources that attribute much of the debt accrued under Obama to pre-existing issues from his predecessor.

    But since you’re so committed to throwing out insults or snarky digs, as you do in pretty much every single comment you make on this website towards our host–you couldn’t even bring yourself to mention OMW without making it back-handed compliment in his anniversary post–and his commentors, I’m not sure what you want out of me or this site. You claim you’re a fact-based guy, but either throw out accusations not backed up by any links your provide or essentially give us long-debunked Fox News/NRO/etc editorials.

    BillK:

    First of all, there are spending cuts, that’s what the whole sequester deal is about, between $1trillion and $2trillion in cuts divided equally between what each party likes (ex., defense for GOP, social programs for Democrats). These were agreed upon in 2011 by the GOP, who keeps on trying to say they never actually agreed on them and therefore won’t implement them. Second, your charts don’t back you up. The tax chart shows a fairly large swing both ways in revenues, and your expenditures chart show more “flatness” than the revenue chart does, to say nothing of the reduction in spending over the last several years. As to whether taxes or spending are the issue, I will refer you to the quotation from two-term GOP President Dwight Eisenhower that I provided above as to who is outside the norm in historical economic policy.

  131. Scorpius, both of these statements -

    Which is why he [Bush] compromised and worked with the Democrats from the beginning. With Obama we get the attitude of “I won” (I won so I get my way)..

    - are complete lies. Bush was, at best, detached and disinterested with regard to Democratic proposals right up until moving to a war footing whereupon he, the Republicans in Congress, his entire administration and their surrogates in the media became even more bitterly and nakedly hostile to Democrats than ever before. Obama, by contrast, has from the beginning compromised to an egregious fault with the Republicans, even going so far as to offer health-care legislation that was their own proposed plan. It’s not like any of this happened anywhere but right out in the open, so your earlier complaint about being “fact-deficient and uber-partisan” is ironically apropos here. Again.

  132. Nope. Which is why he compromised and worked with the Democrats from the beginning. With Obama we get the attitude of “I won” (I won so I get my way).

    One side implemented their opponent’s health care plan from the 1990s. One side said they were willing to make dollar-to-dollar cuts to causes dear to them if the other side did the same. One side said they’d be willing to mix tax cuts in some places with tax hikes in others four years running. One side agreed with the other’s proposal to a surge in Afghanistan. One side has agreed to large parts of national defense spending bills.

    The other side has, since January 21 of 2009, refused to compromise or admit their opponents’ ideas had merit on almost everything. The other side said agreed to make dollar-to-dollar cuts to causes dear to them if the other side did the same, and is now lying their faces off about said agreement taking place. The other side has let majority- or even unanimously-supported laws from previous Congresses on hate crimes and domestic violence expire purely because of gay people. The other side holds up executive appointments for months at a time for no given reason. The other side protects members of its caucus (including the candidate for Vice President) that claim that there are types of rape that are OK, or that children born of rape are a gift from God.

    So don’t tell us about “compromise.”

  133. Scorpius, I don’t want to distract you from answering the calling out of your bullshit immediately above, but this comment –

    Very few do have actual “mandates” IMO.

    - is also worth exploring: Who exactly are the ‘few’ that did have mandates, and how can you tell?

  134. Presidential Mandates: Off the top of my head, I’d say Washington, Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Nixon in ’72, (probably) Teddy Roosevelt, and (possibly) Dwight Eisenhower had electoral victories decisive enough to be considered a mandate by most everyone. Problem is, the varying highly emotional definitions of mandate, combined with the general weirdness of the electoral college system of voting make it a very tricky question. Of those, Nixon’s clearly led to nothing but catastrophe for him and decades of contentious payback politics for the rest of us. Johnson’s gave us the Great Society (good) and an expanded Vietnam War (disastrous). Franklin Roosevelt’s gave us the New Deal (great). Teddy Roosevelt…don’t recall. Eisenhower’s gave us a mixed bag of both good and bad — his was a very complex time. And Washington’s kept the young republic together, an altogether good thing. **** This was done without googling, just basing it on my memory of the really one-sided electoral victories in US presidential history. I’m sure I missed a few, and I’m not certain about Teddy Roosevelt’s margin of victory, either.

  135. Daveon: Did George Bush have a mandate?

    Scorpius: Nope. Which is why he compromised and worked with the Democrats

    (casts detect parallel timeline)

    Huh. Weird.

    March 19, 2008, 5 years after Iraq invasion:

    RADDATZ: Two-third of Americans say it’s not worth fighting.

    CHENEY: So?

    RADDATZ So? You don’t care what the American people think?

    CHENEY: No.

    Scorpius, what is this “mandate” and “compromise” thing you keep talking about?

  136. In 1980, Reagan got 50.7% of the popular vote and an electoral college landslide. This is what I mean by the general weirdness of the electoral college system, in which you could theoretically lose the national election by 50 votes and be completely shut out in the electoral college. Not at all likely, but definitely possible.

  137. When it comes to deciding how much of a “mandate” the president has, I don’t see why we should care about the registered voters who didn’t vote at all. A registered voter who didn’t vote might have been “casting disapproval” on Obama, might have been “casting disapproval” at Romney, or might have been “casting disapproval” on the prospect of getting their butts off the couch on Tuesday night. You really can’t tell, and frankly, I don’t think it’s worth the energy. The people who were eligible to vote and didn’t gave up their say.

  138. One side implemented their opponent’s health care plan from the 1990s.

    The idea central to Obamacare, the individual mandates, was pushed forward in the early 90s by the Heritage Foundation (a think tank) and supported by a few Republican legislators. But, like most think tank ideas, they came to regard it as bad and walked away from it very quickly.

    If that’s your idea of the “GOP’s healthcare plan from the 1990′s” then pretty much any plan Bush II put forward, or was fasly accused of (including tax cuts, the War on Iraq, stop-loss, renditions, secret torture chambers for terrorists) could be said to be “their opponents plan from the previous decade” since all those (and many more) can be shown to have been put forward by a leftie think tank and seriously considered by a Democratic politician.

  139. BTW John and Genufett,

    I apologize for my nastiness in my second post. I know this is a Leftie-leaning site (by the leanings of the commentators) and I come in with shields up and weapons hot.

  140. pretty much any plan Bush II… was fasly accused of (including tax cuts, the War on Iraq, stop-loss, renditions, secret torture chambers for terrorists)

    Falsely?

  141. Scorpius,

    Yes, because I wasn’t raising an eyebrow at the notion that he had “put forward” such things, but at the notion that he was “falsely accused”.

  142. @Scorpius, Bush worked with Democrats? So I was imagining him saying this?

    “”The people made it clear what they wanted,” he said. “I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and I intend to spend it.””

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/nov/04/uselections2004.usa20

    If memory serves he barely scraped by with a narrow EC win and less than 1% in difference between the popular vote. Apart from that structurally the US isn’t really designed for large wins by either side. There’s a solid percentage of people who vote Republican, even though it’s against their best interests, and a solid percentage of people who vote Democratic even though it’s against theirs (I say this as a former 1%er myself who’s taking an income break while I build up a start up).

    He pushed through unfunded tax cuts on the basis that it was the people’s money (except it wasn’t it was money that had already been borrowed), an unfunded war and an unfunded expansion in Social Security. Not bad for a guy who barely won twice.

    I would honestly have more time for the GOP position if a) they had had any fiscal responsibility in the past, and b) if austerity when you’ve just lost $3TRILLION out of your economy in 4 years made a single bit of sense.

    The core of the problem is that GWB and the GOP went on a spending spree on the national credit card with no interest in paying it off and when Obama actually had to use it they turn around and say no. It’s lunacy. And all that ignores that Obama has actually managed to reduce the deficit and doesn’t get any praise for it.

  143. The idea central to Obamacare, the individual mandates, was pushed forward in the early 90s by the Heritage Foundation (a think tank) and supported by a few Republican legislators. But, like most think tank ideas, they came to regard it as bad and walked away from it very quickly.

    And you would again be wrong. The Health Equity and Access Reform Today Act of 1993, sponsored by GOP Senator John Chafee contained a majority of what would become The Patient Protection and Care Act of 2009, including not just the individual mandate, but also:

    * health care exchanges
    * the creation of a Health Care Data Panel (aka “death panels”)
    * Medicaid expansion and/or subsidies for lower-income patients
    * requiring employer coverage
    * Medicare cost reduction (the $750billion that Romney et al claimed was coming from Medicare benefits)
    * a ban on pre-existing condition refusal
    * removal of tax exemptions for “Cadillac plans”

    It had 21 cosponsors in the Senate, including influential conservatives of the time such as Bob Dole, Alan Simpson (of Simpson-Bowles), Bob Bennett, Orrin Hatch, John Warner, Richard Lugar, and Ted Stevens; just the cosponsors consisted of roughly half of the GOP Senate Caucus. Several of the ideas including the individual mandate were publicly lauded or even cosponsored in additional legislation by many of the same Senators and others (notably John McCain and Lindsey Graham) as recently as 2007, when they almost unanimously changed their minds out of the blue. In fact, when interviewed, former GOP Senator Dave Durenberger (one of the co-sponsors) said “The main thing that’s changed is the definition of a Republican.”

    If that’s your idea of the “GOP’s healthcare plan from the 1990′s” then pretty much any plan Bush II put forward, or was fasly accused of (including tax cuts, the War on Iraq, stop-loss, renditions, secret torture chambers for terrorists)

    Well, Bush really wasn’t falsely accused of any of that. There’s plentiful public evidence of all of it: the tax cuts are of course law, the War in Iraq has never been linked to evidence of WMDs, stop-loss has been around since the Civil War, rendition has been in documented practice and/or law since at least the mid-80s, and the status of “secret” torture chambers are part of the DNI’s classified reports to Congress.

    could be said to be “their opponents plan from the previous decade” since all those (and many more) can be shown to have been put forward by a leftie think tank and seriously considered by a Democratic politician.

    Really? If you can provide evidence of a lefty think-tank that seriously proposed tax cuts on the level of the Bush 2001-2003 bills, for instance, I would be interested.

  144. Genufett, I’m sure that there are left-wing (or at least non-right wing) think tanks that put forward proposals that had the words “tax cuts” somewhere in the body of their text. For that matter. you yourself used those words immediately above. So it’s totally the same thing, you see?

  145. Scorpius: The idea central to Obamacare, the individual mandates, was pushed forward in the early 90s by the Heritage Foundation (a think tank) and supported by a few Republican legislators. But, like most think tank ideas, they came to regard it as bad and walked away from it very quickly.

    (casts detect alternate history)

    (shakes wand)

    The individual mandate is part of Romneycare, passed by Romney when he was Governor of Massachusetts. So, I have no idea what “a few Republican legislators” or “walked away from it very quickly” mean in whatever language you’re speaking. But in the language that is called “American”, you’re talking completely fabricated rubbish.

  146. Greg,

    But in the language that is called “American”, you’re talking completely fabricated rubbish.

    Well, he is a Scarran half-breed; it might make sense in that language, or in Sebacean.

  147. Genufett, the 1993 bill was only 579 pages long (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-103s1770pcs/pdf/BILLS-103s1770pcs.pdf), and it never was acted upon. From what I could find, it was only read twice into the record, and nothing ever was done on it. Compared to the 2000+ page monstrosity that Pelosi/Reid pushed thru the congress, this is light reading. But it is off topic. We haven’t had a budget bill make it past the senate for the last 3 years. The last budget Pres Obama submitted failed miserably (http://www.washingtontimes.com/blog/inside-politics/2012/may/16/obama-budget-defeated-99-0-senate/) and the 2013 has yet to be brought up by either house.
    “Yes, because the two wars were unfunded as was Medicare Part D, the the US economy fell through a hole in the ground to the tune of 10% of GDP, which is about a Trillion and a half dollars. Then. The economy didn’t grow, putting the total loss to the economy at closer to $3T.”
    Daveon, the wars may have been off budget, but they were funded. We could say that the entire government has been unfunded for the last 3 years due to continuing resolutions passed to keep it running. By doing it this way, congress has not been able to control costs, and WFA (waste, fraud, abuse) has been running rampant.

  148. Nixon created the EPA and a host of farm subsidies; he was hardly a fiscal conservative/small govt advocate. Still,point taken. Today’s GOP is too focused in being socially conservative, which most Americans aren’t. If they can run a social moderate, and let him stay that way, they can win. If they continue to kowtow to the evangelicals, they’ll lose again.

  149. Genufett, the 1993 bill was only 579 pages long and it never was acted upon. From what I could find, it was only read twice into the record, and nothing ever was done on it.

    But it wasn’t just an idea floated by a thinktank supported by only a few legislators, as stated. It was proposed by a Republican and consponsored by half of the GOP caucus in the Senate. By comparison, Obamacare (which originated in the House) was cosponsored by a quarter of the Democratic caucus and was approved by nearly all of them.

    Compared to the 2000+ page monstrosity that Pelosi/Reid pushed thru the congress, this is light reading.

    That’s because it didn’t get past committee, didn’t have a number of additional items that were kind of a big deal in 2009 (EMR modernization, for example), and didn’t cover comprehensive procedures that would have been added during the normal legislative process. Had it made it to the full Senate, I doubt it would have differed much in size.

    But it is off topic. We haven’t had a budget bill make it past the senate for the last 3 years.

    Thanks for admitting that the fault is entirely on the Senate rules and the House obstinacy.

    The last budget Pres Obama submitted failed miserably

    And you didn’t even bother to question why that happened, namely that it wasn’t actually the President’s formally proposed budget?

    We could say that the entire government has been unfunded for the last 3 years due to continuing resolutions passed to keep it running. By doing it this way, congress has not been able to control costs, and WFA (waste, fraud, abuse) has been running rampant.

    If you’ve got an unbiased source on fraud and an objective view on quality of service as opposed to a “I feel that government is bad and therefore must be so” statement, by all means provide them. In the meantime, by almost every single objective comparison, entitlement programs have shown to be more efficient than most or all of the private alternatives, often by wide margins.

    Medicare, for instance, pretty much demolishes most private insurers, despite being much larger. And it does it consistently from year to year. And what about Medicaid? It betters cost constraints compared to private insurers (and, for that matter, Medicare and FEHP) because “no payer has been as motivated to undertake cost containment as state governments.”

  150. “If you’ve got an unbiased source on fraud and an objective view on quality of service as opposed to a “I feel that government is bad and therefore must be so” statement, by all means provide them. In the meantime, by almost every single objective comparison, entitlement programs have shown to be more efficient than most or all of the private alternatives, often by wide margins.”
    From http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-11-409T
    In fiscal year 2010, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)–the agency that administers Medicare and Medicaid–estimated that these programs made a total of over $70 billion in improper payments.

  151. Daveon, the wars may have been off budget, but they were funded.

    Funded from where and how? Seriously, where is this magical funding meant to have come from?

    We could say that the entire government has been unfunded for the last 3 years due to continuing resolutions passed to keep it running. By doing it this way, congress has not been able to control costs, and WFA (waste, fraud, abuse) has been running rampant.

    Control what costs? The deficit has decreased during the recession, the problem is a) taxes are too damn low, and b) the tax base is too narrow due to the recession.

    The simple facts are if we had not decreased taxes in 2000, and not had 2 wars that we didn’t try to pay for, and not had extended Medicare Part D without paying for it, then the entire government debt, even with TARP and the necessary stimulus would be about half what it is now.

    There is no structural debt problem in the USA. It is purely down to the above items and the taxation base. If we get back to 5% unemployment and put taxes back to the Clinton era rates (or even Bush I or Reagan) then the US would be in SURPLUS at the current levels of government spending. And the US could stop raiding the trust fund too.

    This austerity rubbish has practically destroyed the British Economy and it’ll do the same to the US.

  152. Two things, jimbot – first, the President’s Medicare plan, the one that was roundly condemend by Republicans last year, accounts for 700 billion in savings over ten years precisely by targeting exactly the practices referenced in that report. Second, demonstrating that there is such a thing as waste and fraud in government (which no one here has ever denied) does not in any way address the challenge that Genufett set before you, which is the fact that these programs are shown to be more efficient and effective than their private alternatives. Care to present any evidence to the contrary?

  153. Note: before we get into a fight. I wanted to be clear, the DEFICIT is the amount the government is spending each year more than it brings in. The DEBT is the total of the annual DEFICITs.

    Obama has, somehow, managed to actually decrease the deficit in the face of the worst recession since the 1930s. And yet, somehow he is painted as fiscally irresponsible by the same people whose policies put us in the hole in the first place.

    It’s just insane.

  154. jimbot: So roughly a 9% error rate, according to budgeting rates. For comparisons’ sake, during the same time period the improper payment rate for private insurers was more than double that, at 20%. So what I said still stands.

    And I’ll just assume you express full-throated support for PPACA (aka Obamacare) and the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, seeing as how your link specifically points out many times that they’re the main avenues for containing improper payments. BTW, those were signed into law by President Obama after being passed almost entirely due to votes from Democrats, with almost none from Republicans, pretty much matching those who refuse to vote for Obama’s actual, formal budgets. I can also assume that you support higher funding for the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General, who is responsible for auditing and recovering funds.

  155. Sean, your post is correct. When the House voted, the Bush tax rates had expired and the House voted to lower the tax rates for all but ~400k+ incomes.

    Cheers

  156. Gen, you wouldn’t get full throated support from me for departments I like, much less Obama care. I spent a couple of weeks in Ogden, Utah at the Supply Depot there. An item got touched by 10 different people from the time it arrived to the time it left. The same item at a Safeway warehouse might be touched by 4 people between arrival to departure. Those 6 extra bodies were to save money for the government (preventing theft, providing accurate order delivery, etc)

    So rather than fully funding all your featherbed government departments, why don’t we give them a permanent snow day (mission critical personnel only in the office) for a year or two. Let’s see how much we would notice it.

  157. So, jimbot, still no rebuttal to government care programs being demonstrably more efficient and effective than their private alternatives, huh? Howboutthat…

  158. Yep.

    jimbot: Government programs are BAD, because REASONS!

    Genufett: The government programs you decry are actually more efficient than their private counterparts.

    jimbot: Nope! Here’s a link showing that fraud can be found in goverment! FRAUD! In governement!

    Genufett: As opposed to the noble and virtuous private sector, which has a rate of fraud more than twice as high in the area you reference? And doesn’t have the specific controls against this fraud that the President tried to implement over Republican objections to same?

    jimbot: Oh, yeah? Well I once worked in a supply depot! In Utah! For two whole weeks! In a row! So there!

    Everyone: …. ?

  159. Why do I suspect “mission-critical” means “that portion of government that directly benefits jimbot”?

  160. Mythago: I had much the same thought, although mine was along the lines of “who gets to decide what the mission is and which employees are critical?” snark> Of course, jimbot, being omniscient, is obviously the person to make that call. </snark

    Most criticisms, of almost everything, seem to come down to a perception on the part of the critic that s/he is somehow an expert, especially if the critic has a little knowledge. Actual experts, in my necessarily (being mortal, fallible, and not at all godlike) limited experience, are less judgmental because they understand complexity, nuance, and compromise (oh, my!)

  161. Well, even the elected GOP doesn’t even have the balls and/or brains to decide cuts or criticality. The Speaker of the House and Senate Minority Leader both said yesterday that they want the Democrats to come up with what entitlements to cut, even though the GOP is the one asking for cuts to entitlements. It’s like a whiny lickspittle company VP or COO that tells the owner they just have to take away nice health care plans and retirement funds from their employees, but they’re piss-pants afraid to do it themselves even though employee relations is part of their job description.

    It’s the worst of both worlds of idiocy and cowardice. How their base considers this the utmost in heroism is a great example of how detached from the country the party really has become.

  162. The failure of the House GOP to pass Hurricane Sandy relief (or the Joplin Tornado relief, for that matter) in a rational manner, or the Violence Against Women Act because of lesbians and immigrants, doesn’t help them either.

  163. It appears that Eric, Myth, and mint have never worked in the government. Every damn department in the government has contingency plans for snow, gov shutdown etc. Who must be in the office (even if it is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnTmBjk-M0c) and who can sleep in (I’m thinking Biden here).
    As for being more efficient, the article took a single parameter of efficiency, and showed how much better it is than private companies. It this was really the case, why is it that doctors try to reduce the number of patients they see who are covered by medicare/medicaid, in preference to those covered by private insurance?

    When government becomes the candy store, where everyone gets something for free, we’re all in trouble. For every Eric, Myth and Mint who gets an Obama-phone, there is a GE who is getting a billion dollar tax right off. Get the government down to a reasonable size, where the petty theft runs to millions of dollars rather than billions of dollars.

    All those extra employees at the depot were there to ensure that the product made it from one side of the warehouse to the other. Triple checking to make sure it was accurate.

  164. jimbot – question – have you worked much in either sector? I only ask because a large company I do business with locally to where I live once spent $750m on buying a competitor, spent another $750m on a new product with them, and then wrote off ANOTHER $500m(ish) when they closed the work down. That represented about 20% of their annual R&D budget lost in waste.

    As for having contingency plans for everything… I have observed in my 45 odd years on this planet that people only really get animated about their government when it doesn’t have plans for something that doesn’t happen very much. i.e. the snow in Seattle 2 years ago when half the city got cut off because they didn’t have enough grit and snowplows…

    What products did the warehouse in Utah handle out of curiosity?

  165. why is it that doctors try to reduce the number of patients they see who are covered by medicare/medicaid, in preference to those covered by private insurance?

    Because they get paid money per patient rather than being paid a salary to be a Doctor. That’s the major difference. That said, look up the pay for a GP in the National Health Service in the UK with a 40 hour week, 6 weeks paid vacation and a non-contributory pension, AND the government picking up 80% of the cost of your training, and compare it to the annual income of a GP in a private practice in the USA. I’ve discussed this at length with Doctor friends here in the US and believe me, they know what job they’d rather have.

  166. jimbot says:

    It appears that Eric, Myth, and mint have never worked in the government…For every Eric, Myth and Mint who gets an Obama-phone

    It appears that jimbot is not, in fact, omniscient. Wrong on at least 2 counts. Good to know.

  167. It appears that Eric, Myth, and mint have never worked in the government. Every damn department in the government has contingency plans for snow, gov shutdown etc. Who must be in the office and who can sleep in

    Do you know what happened the last time the government shut down? Here’s a taste:

    Health. New patients were not accepted into clinical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) clinical center; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ceased disease surveillance; hotline calls to NIH concerning diseases were not answered; and toxic waste clean-up work at 609 sites reportedly stopped and resulted in 2,400 Superfund workers being sent home.

    Law Enforcement and Public Safety. Delays occurred in the processing of alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and explosives applications by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; work on more than 3,500 bankruptcy cases reportedly was suspended; cancellation of the recruitment and testing of federal law enforcement officials reportedly occurred, including the hiring of 400 border patrol agents; and delinquent child-support cases were delayed.

    Parks, Museums, and Monuments. Closure of 368 National Park Service sites (loss of 7 million visitors) reportedly occurred, with loss of tourism revenues to local communities; and closure of national museums and monuments (reportedly with an estimated loss of 2 million visitors) occurred.

    Visas and Passports. Approximately 20,000-30,000 applications by foreigners for visas reportedly went unprocessed each day; 200,000 U.S. applications for passports reportedly went unprocessed; and U.S. tourist industries and airlines reportedly sustained millions of dollars in losses.

    American Veterans. Multiple services were curtailed, ranging from health and welfare to finance and travel.

    Federal Contractors. Of $18 billion in Washington, DC, area contracts, $3.7 billion (over 20%) reportedly were affected adversely by the funding lapse; the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) was unable to issue a new standard for lights and lamps that was scheduled to be effective January 1, 1996, possibly resulting in delayed product delivery and lost sales; and employees of federal contractors reportedly were furloughed without pay.

    At that was over the course of 21 days. Yes, we have contingency plans–it’s in fact part of my job responsibilities–but the determinations have to be made at so many levels, both career and political, via both the Executive Departments and via Congress, that someone’s always going to say they don’t want X to operate because it’s Big Bad Government or something. Thus, the GOP making a big deal out of cutting Big Bird to save 0.00014% of the Federal budget while asking for increases in defense to add to the already-existing 20% of the Federal budget.

    As for being more efficient, the article took a single parameter of efficiency, and showed how much better it is than private companies. It this was really the case, why is it that doctors try to reduce the number of patients they see who are covered by medicare/medicaid, in preference to those covered by private insurance?

    First of all, I offered links that showed pretty much every single parameter of efficiecny was better than private companies. They’re in my “Hmmm…html errors” post up above. And that’s for one of the biggest drivers of federal expenditures, to say nothing of health care costs as a whole, which are expected to outweigh all other concerns in the next several decades without cost control laws and restrictions on health care profiteeering. Not coincidentally, this is precisely what Obamacare is designed to do. And second, as Daveon pointed out, the reason doctors try and reduce Medicare patients is because they don’t make as much money.

    When government becomes the candy store, where everyone gets something for free, we’re all in trouble.

    Except virtually no one gets something for free. I assume you’ve bought into the “47%” myth without even bothering to investigate what it actually means. We get Medicare and SS because we pay taxes specifically for it. People get Medicaid because they’re sick and need assisstance paying their bills. Those 47% of people that don’t pay Federal income tax? They’re almost entirely made up of people who are retirees, active duty soldiers, the working poor, and the disabled. And they and many others are paying state income, municipal, and sales taxes. Most of us pay that on top of Federal taxes.

    In other words, not very many people get anything “for free.” It’s just

    For every Eric, Myth and Mint who gets an Obama-phone

    Apart from the troublesome racial dogwhistling that the whole Obamaphone meme constitutes amongst the anti-government types, it was a Bush law based off a Reagan policy that is funded by an independent non-profit instead of taxes. And it was meant to help people in poor financial straits, not to give everyone a free phone.

    there is a GE who is getting a billion dollar tax right off. Get the government down to a reasonable size, where the petty theft runs to millions of dollars rather than billions of dollars.

    If you want to enforce better controls on tax write-offs and payouts, then you’re going to have to write new laws that try to cut down on it. New laws mean new regulations, which require government enforcement. You yourself implicitly admitted this (to your chagrin, apparently) up above when providing evidence of Medicare/Medicaid fraud that also stated that new regulations (Obamacare, in this instance) were the solution. There’s an argument to be made that Obama (and Clinton, for that matter) didn’t do a great job at it, but there’s a stronger argument that (a) GOP Presidents and Congresses have done it quite a bit worse (see my fiscal policy by party links from earlier), and (b) letting these guys self-regulate is a Very Bad Thing.

  168. I have served int the Navy/Navy Reserve for over 20 years (my 2 weeks were spent at the DLA supply depot – Crackjacks in hi desert got a lot of strange looks). I have worked with fortune 500 companies, including one who was a contractor for the FAA, so I got to see how the FAA works. From what I have seen, most government agencies work pretty much the same. You want to compare notes on waste on computer systems? Google FAA and computer air traffic.

    There is always going to be a percentage of waste fraud and abuse, no matter if it is government or private companies. The difference is the scale and the response the managers take to it. When you have a 3.9 trillion dollar budget, you are getting huge amounts of waste to go with it. The government manager’s solution is to hire another person to manage the problem.

  169. There is always going to be a percentage of waste fraud and abuse, no matter if it is government or private companies. The difference is the scale and the response the managers take to it. When you have a 3.9 trillion dollar budget, you are getting huge amounts of waste to go with it. The government manager’s solution is to hire another person to manage the problem.

    Even assuming that’s true (which it isn’t necessarily, at least not universally), what you and many others are saying is merely to shift the higher end of the scale over to those who have more waste, fraud, and abuse. Nor does it address the fact that in a lot of private companies, they use the exact same solution and that it can often be quite effective. After all, if you can (hypothetically speaking) stop, say, $100million a year in fraud by spending $500,000 on people managing the problem, then you’re getting a huge return in your investment. Independent scoring agencies such as the CBO and economic research organizations like the CBPP say this is exactly what Obamacare is going to do.

  170. Ok. So you’ve got a 3.9 trillion dollar budget, and you know that you have waste. Hiring one person at, say, $40,000 a year, is .000000001025 of that budget. That’s .0000001025%. That’s less than a percent of a percent of a percent of a percent. You call that serious waste? If that person finds more than $40,000 worth of waste a year, surely it’s a net win, and not a bad idea at all.

  171. I’ve been trying to stay out of this fray but my self-control has just left me.

    Jimbot, you don’t really understand what you’re talking about. The imperatives of controlling the public fisc are not the same as those involved in the private sector. For a quick example, you don’t often get Congressional hearings televised on C-SPAN because somebody down in the corporate mailroom lost a package … but you do get such hearings (not to mention legal cases before the GAO and/or the Court of Federal Claims) when a Federal agency loses a contrator’s proposal package in the mail. Thus, the need to deploy enhanced controls and implement multiple reviews. Comparing efficiencies is comparing apples and oranges.

    Moreover, improper payments are not at all the same as fraudulent payments. Ignoring the scienter aspect that legally differentiates the two, in point of fact the values of improper payments are very largely estimated–and the methodology used to estimate the values is subject to some dispute. Values of improper payments include, for example, credit invoices defense contractors submit to DFAS for unplanned reductions in provisional indirect rates applied to cost-type contracts–which is not at all an improper practice.

    The talking points and headlines don’t reflect the complexity of the subject matter, in the slightest. I suggest you do some deep research into (for example) the Federal Acquistion Regulation (48 C.F.R.) Part 32, before you accept the talking points at face value.

  172. This is the “Oh, that pet rock is 50% off excuse”. Do I need a pet rock? Do I want a pet rock? No. But because it’s on sale, I should buy that pet rock. In private companies, the people are fired. In the government, they’re reassigned. What is the manager/employee ratio now days in the gov? It used to be 1/3, so Cally, for every 3 people you hire to save money, you will either need to hire (or more likely promote) a manager. Add in benefits and your $40k new hire starts costing $100k. Now multiply it thru-out the government and it starts becoming big money.
    Do we need a government that spends 3.9 trillion dollars? That should be the question.

  173. jimbot,

    “Do we need a government that spends 3.9 trillion dollars? That should be the question.”

    Perhaps. But it wasn’t the question you were asking, nor was it the question I was responding to.

    And again, you repeat “what everybody knows” regarding how the Civil Service and MSPB works, rather than to do your own research. As a result, you get it wrong (again).

    As to the question you would now like to pose, I recall Our Host posting a piece some time ago on how he balanced the budget, based on some software link (was it the New York Times? I forget). You should be able to find it by searching the archives.

  174. This is the “Oh, that pet rock is 50% off excuse”. Do I need a pet rock? Do I want a pet rock? No. But because it’s on sale, I should buy that pet rock.

    So you’re saying that minimum levels of health care and paid-for retirement support are as unnecessary as pet rocks? Swell.

    In private companies, the people are fired. In the government, they’re reassigned. What is the manager/employee ratio now days in the gov? It used to be 1/3

    Do you have evidence of any of this? And if you don’t, then perhaps your argument holds very little water.

    for every 3 people you hire to save money, you will either need to hire (or more likely promote) a manager. Add in benefits and your $40k new hire starts costing $100k. Now multiply it thru-out the government and it starts becoming big money.

    That does nothing to address Cally’s point, which is that as long as that person is eliminating more waste than they’re costing the government, then they’re doing well.

  175. Actually, you know what, I’m just going to say that I know you don’t have any evidence that people are merely reassigned in the government instead of losing their jobs. After all, since Obama took office, public sector employment is down by about 3%, which translates to over 700k government jobs lost, at least 150k of which came from the Federal government. Under Bush, public sector employment rose by nearly 4%. If we’d maintained that level of employment, we’d be looking at 6%-7% unemployment instead of nearly 8%. Hell, even Reagan added something like 200k government jobs, half of which were in the Federal government. And yet, I don’t see you complaining that they contributed to any problems.

  176. Yes, yes, the reason the country and the government and the economy are ALL going down the toilet is because of teachers…. oh…. and unions.

    (eye roll)

    Right wing talking point is still just a talking point.

  177. I choose not to buy any GE products, and haven’t for a while. i divested myself from GE stock 4 years ago. So I am not paying directly for this exec. If I choose not to participate in Obama-care, or refuse to pay taxes, what happens? Once again, I didn’t move the goal post, you did. I don’t like big business any more than I like big government. To big to fail is too big period. Rather than bail them out, break them up.

    But if you want an echo chamber, I can join the chorus. Obama is the greatest president ever, Democrats love me, Republicans are evil incarnate. yada,yada, yada.

    You know what to do, John. Email me and I’ll send you my address. :)

  178. Since there is a lot of heat, maybe we should discuss the Romney economic plan?

    Oh wait, there wasn’t one, apart from spending $4 trillion more on defense. If the Republicans actually had proposals, we could discuss them, but since they don’t exist, we can’t.

    Paul Ryan’s joke powerpoint doesn’t count – it is best summarized as

    1. Cut taxes
    2.
    3. Balanced budget

  179. Of course you’ve moved the goal posts. You complained about Federal employment and found a single example, sourced by a conservative thinktank and a conservative editorial from a conservative newspaper.

    You sourced OPM no later than 2010, presumably on purpose because you wanted to inflate the statistics based on temporary Census hiring. For a more accurate picture, try this article, which has the added bonus of showing that this is the only recession with a net loss in public sector jobs and (in what is very much not a coincidence) is also one of the slowest job market recoveries outside the Great Depression.

    You also complained about GE, although undoubtedly you use their products in some fashion, given their ownership of a lot of stuff. Which is besides the point, because no doubt you do use a lot of products from other companies that have done the exact same thing, yet refuse to admit that regulation would work on curbing that.

    Oh, and BTW, no one “participates” in Obamacare. It’s regulation of the insurance industry and cost controls of public and private health care.

  180. There definitely is a need for a deeper conversation about what the role of government can and should be. It’s probably way beyond the scope of this particular blog post, but it is at the essence of the dispute around budget and debt.

    I think it would help if the “conservative” side (and I put the scare quotes because “conservative” usually means “preserve what we have”, when in fact the position appears to be a radical change from what we have) would be more specific about how they think things should work. Simply saying “smaller government” doesn’t magically create it.

    Things like social security and obamacare didn’t “just happen”. They were created to solve a very specific set of problems. They do solve the problem. You can argue whether they do it in the best possible way (and I personally think that obamacare is pretty much the worst possible solution short of doing nothing), but I do think it is the duty of those who wish to do away with those programs to explain how their function will be continued – or why they think that discontinuing their function would be a good thing.

  181. Chris: Don’t forget about replacing Medicare and Medicaid with the very same privatized health insurance that has fraud rates and administrative overruns twice as high as the public health care despite no company coming anywhere near the size (let alone capabilities) of either one, plus a privatized retirement fund that was so radioactive neither Bush nor Congress wanted anything to do with it a mere six years ago.

  182. jimbot: I choose not to buy any GE products, and haven’t for a while.

    Oh, god. Pretty much only libertarians and tea party type folks think that a boycot is an acceptable subsitute for government. All it really is, is a can of spray paint applied to Laissez Faire. Laissez Faire doesn’t work.

    And if you want to assert that you don’t want Laissez Faire, then you’ll have to list more than one significant business area where specific government regulation is superior to a totally unregulated free market.

    Because really, most libertarians and tea party folks are saying “Government wastes money! Booga! Booga!” and try to portray themselves as mere wanting to trim the waste. But really, their end goal is to shrink government so that it’s small enough to drown it in a bathtub, which is… wait for it… laissez faire.

  183. Hey, I’m boycotting GE too!

    I don’t watch NBC. (Except for NFL Football and The Office.) And I don’t go to Universal Studios. (Except for Islands of Adventure. And Harry Potter Land.)

    That’ll show ‘em!

  184. Not a boycott per se, I just don’t like there products. But that is the nice thing about free enterprise, I have the choice. Not so much with government. I’m sure you were all singing the same tune under Bush.

    Come on John, you can do it. To James, so he can be just like the rest of us.

  185. jimbot,

    Obama is the greatest president ever, Democrats love me, Republicans are evil incarnate.

    You haven’t actually read anything that anyone here has written, have you?

  186. “jimbot,

    Obama is the greatest president ever, Democrats love me, Republicans are evil incarnate.

    You haven’t actually read anything that anyone here has written, have you?”

    Eric, I have read enough from you.

    “Yep.

    jimbot: Government programs are BAD, because REASONS!

    Genufett: The government programs you decry are actually more efficient than their private counterparts.

    jimbot: Nope! Here’s a link showing that fraud can be found in goverment! FRAUD! In governement!

    Genufett: As opposed to the noble and virtuous private sector, which has a rate of fraud more than twice as high in the area you reference? And doesn’t have the specific controls against this fraud that the President tried to implement over Republican objections to same?

    jimbot: Oh, yeah? Well I once worked in a supply depot! In Utah! For two whole weeks! In a row! So there!

    Everyone: …. ?”

    So, all hail the great and powerful Democratic party, who is busy saving us from ourselves (no matter how much it costs). All Hail the wise and just Eric who has vanquished the poor addled conservative who just repeats talking points.

    hail,

    hail,,

    hail,,,,,

    chirp

  187. Jimbot: I thought you were boycotting GE, but apparently you are using electricity, so why are you lying? You use electricity? You are a GE customer. You bank? You are a GE customer. Do you own a car, a home, an ATM or credit card, any loan? You are a GE customer. Do you eat food? You are a GE customer. General Electric is the single most diversified company on the planet. If you breathe air on planet earth, you are a GE customer.

    Oh, no, you say! My lightbulbs are from phillips, sylvania, lithonia, or juno! I only breathe pure canned hydrogen harvested from Brazil by one-legged orphans! Hate to disillusion you, but it is still GE.

    I haven’t worked for GE Financial for years, but the portfolio has only diversified more, since me. You are boycotting GE? Then you were spit out of your mama’s womb fully grown and spent the next 60 years on the moon, naked, digging your own grave with your bare hands. Then you fell over, and scooped the dirt in over yourself, also w/ your bare hands–because if you used a shovel, GE had something to do with making and distributing it.

    GMAFB

  188. Man, jimbot sounds a lot like Billy Quiets – the same hand-wavy style of talking points, the same goalpost-moving, the same degenerating into dramatics when the Potemkin village of shitty facts falls apart under the hard rain of evidence. OTOH, no bragging about his sekrit ‘in’ with the True Conservatives or how his prior posts don’t count because he’s been drinking, so I guess they’re probably not the same guy.

    @mintwich: note he admits he isn’t actually boycotting GE, he just moved his stock elsewhere – a smart move for anyone who figured out the games Jack Welch was playing with the earnings reports, regardless of how you feel about GE products – and that he prefer to buy other brands.

  189. jimbot: Not a boycott per se, I just don’t like there products. But that is the nice thing about free enterprise, I have the choice.

    you should read “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair sometime. Before government regulation, you pretty much had zero choice about whether your meat had shit in it.

  190. jimbot,

    the poor addled conservative who just repeats talking points.

    Well, that much is self-evidently true, but everything else you’ve shoveled out is a vaguely anthropomorphic pile of straw.

  191. @Mythago: GE is one of my favorite hobby-horses. I worked at GE Finance and GE Capital many years ago, when Jack was still running the show, and learned exactly how pervasive the company is. There isn’t a way to avoid GE products and still exist in America. Just because you can’t see the swirly GE logo, doesn’t mean it’s not GE. The FDIC is GE, and always has been, for example.So back in 2008, when GE “won” FDIC debt coverage, they were paying themselves; when GE companies pay insurance premiums to the FDIC, they are also paying themselves.

    In 1933, GE was the only company large and stable enough to insure the US treasury. The contract has been continuously renewed, ever since. Names have changed, over the decades, but the basic structure remains intact. So GE insures the Treasury, and through the Treasury, insures banks and individual accounts. It’s more complicated than I am making it appear, but that’s the general gist.

  192. Always late to the party, but must chime in. In 2012 we had a deficit of $1.327 trillion dollars. The expected additional revenue from these tax hikes is $600 billion over 10 years. So about $60 billion per year. That’s 5% of the annual deficit.

    Boy, we’re on the road to a balanced budget now!

    5%, folks.

    Let’s put this in terms that make sense to normal people. Imagine you have a buddy who makes $50,000 per year but spends $75,000 per year (basically what the Federal Government has done since 2008, but in trillions). Each year our bright spendthrift spends $25,000 more than he makes. But this year he tells you he’s going to get on the stick and fix the problem and with great fanfare tells you he’s still going to spend $75,000 next year but he’s going to make $51,250!

    Wow, our buddy should have this problem knocked out, like, never.

    Tax hikes are not going to touch this problem. Please see the graphs below. This isn’t about Republicans coming to their fiscal senses. Because this isn’t a Republican and Bush issue. Look at the data in the graphs about who was in power when we overspent. It’s about a system incentive in Washington that cuts across parties.

    In the last 40 years there were only 4 years in which we balanced our budget. Please look at the graphs. Remember what happened during those years. Clinton gets credit, but so do the Republicans who came in with their “Contract With America.”

    Spending is the big issue with our reel smart buddy in Washington. Not tax rates.

    HANDY SOURCES
    Deficit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012_United_States_federal_budget

    Projected additional revenues: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Taxpayer_Relief_Act_of_2012, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_fiscal_cliff

    Nifty graphs of CBO data showing spending, revenues, debt, and deficits from 1972-2011: http://johndbrown.com/2012/05/federal-spending-1972-2011-what-the/

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