Tag Archives: Deficits

Deconstructing Deficit Hawks

I do love it when a Nobel Prize-winning Economist says the same things I do….

Or rather, when my thoughts I align with his….

Since I only took 2 semesters of Econ at Washington and Lee, I can hardly claim to be an expert….

Except in common sense….

Please take the time to read Paul Krugman’s article in the New York Times.

Here is a brief excerpt and a link to the full article:

So what do we learn from the rather pathetic search for austerity success stories? We learn that the doctrine that has dominated elite economic discourse for the past three years is wrong on all fronts. Not only have we been ruled by fear of nonexistent threats, we’ve been promised rewards that haven’t arrived and never will. It’s time to put the deficit obsession aside and get back to dealing with the real problem — namely, unacceptably high unemployment.

via Looking for Mr. Goodpain – NYTimes.com.

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Five Problems Bigger Than the National Debt

I am so tired of hearing politicians talk about the “DEFICIT” like it was the biggest threat to America since communism or some other previous excuse not to deal with real problems…

This is an entirely manufactured “crisis” and the “Conservatives” are trying to use it to kill programs they have always hated  anyway- like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and VA Benefits.  They are also using it as an excuse to cut federal jobs.

For example, I called the Veteran’s Administration 12 times today trying to check direct depositing my Mother’s benefits from my Father’s service.  I wasn’t allowed to do it on the web because it is a Custodial situation.  Each time I got a message telling me they could not take my call because of high call volumes and to call back later.  It took 2 years to get the benefit application approved due to “staffing” issues- and then only with Congressional help…..Hire some people, goddammit!

This is madness….


I’ve had my say on this many times.  We do not have any deficit problem that can’t be solved by higher employment, growth and investment in much-needed infrastructure projects.  The GOP and their Democratic enablers are only making the situation worse by not addressing these core issues responsibly and intelligently.

Someone needs to break the DC bubble and it sounds like maybe, just maybe, there may be some sensibility leaking into the Capitol.

But they still have a long ways to go and need to start by not listening to the Tea Party fools and their Billionaire sponsors or the Corporate chieftains.  Of course ending corporate welfare, such as subsidies to the oil companies, and making the wealthy pay their fair share by closing tax loopholes would also help…

I’ll keep hoping they will hear Paul Krugman’s voice calling from the wilderness.  Meaning outside of DC and it’s suburbs…

From Yahoo Finance:

With even top Republicans such as Eric Cantor beginning to question the political wisdom of waging perpetual warfare over the deficit, it’s possible that Washington may slowly turn its attention to other, more pressing matters.What could be more urgent than deficit reduction? you may ask.My answer: Almost everything.If deficit reduction was ever urgent, it no longer is. We’ve already accomplished most of the deficit-reduction required in this decade, nearly enough to stabilize our debt, but at a great cost to current economic growth. We’ve sacrificed with high unemployment, tepid growth and underinvestment in public goods.Not to mention our inability to get anything else done while we bicker about deficits.The $16 trillion debt sounds like a terrible thing, but no one has been able to show how this high level of debt has had any negative impact on the economy or on the people so far. Has anyone come around looking for your share of it?Interest rates are very low, so the public debt isn’t crowding out private investment. The burden from interest payments is extremely low, less than half what it was when Ronald Reagan was exploding the federal budget back in the 1980s. We survived.

MORE:   Five problems bigger than the national debt – Yahoo! Finance.

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Food Stamp Use Rises to Record 45.8 Million

And Congress fiddles with the made up deficit crisis while America burns- or almost starves….

This is truly shocking- almost 15% of the US population having to use Food Stamps.

And the Rich still have their Bush Tax Breaks….

And the Republicans still want to cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security…

What about jobs?  Have they forgotten that’s what they were supposedly elected to do something about?

Nearly 15% of the U.S. population relied on food stamps in May, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

The number of Americans using the government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — more commonly referred to as food stamps — shot to an all-time high of 45.8 million in May, the USDA reported. That’s up 12% from a year ago, and 34% higher than two years ago.

The program provides monthly benefits to low-income individuals and families, which they can use at stores that accept SNAP benefits.

To qualify for food stamps, an individual’s income can’t exceed $1,174 a month or $14,088 a year — an amount that is 130% of the national poverty level.

The average food stamp benefit was $133.80 per person and $283.65 per household in May.

The highest concentration of food stamp users were in California, Florida, New York and Texas — where more than 3 million residents in each state received food stamps in May.

via Food stamp use rises to record 45.8 million – Aug. 4, 2011.

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My Thoughts: How to Solve the So-Called Debt Crisis: Sell Texas

I’m so tired of hearing all the foolishness in Washington about this manufactured debt crisis the Republicans came up with as an excuse to drive their agenda.  It’s gotten all out of their control now and is threatening all kinds of dire consequences if they force us into default on the national debt.

Well, I have figured out my own solution.  Except for Austin and a couple of other nice cities, lets just sell off Texas.  I’ve been there.  Believe me, we won’t miss it.

Their Governor, Rick Perry, and the Republicans there keep threatening to secede anyway, so lets just sell them off to the highest bidder and make everyone happy.  Surely we would get enough from Mexico or China or someone to greatly reduce the national debt and they would be free of the Washington government they seem to hate so much…

That’s not too much of a sacrifice for them to make, is it?  If they are as patriotic as they claim to be, surely they will be glad to do this for the greater good of the country  They keep saying we have to do something NOW and sacrifices are necessary.  So, let’s sacrifice by selling Texas.  I would much rather do that than cut Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security.  I hope Ann Richards and Molly Ivins would approve…

And we would get rid of a lot of the fools Texas sends to Washington to cause all this trouble…

Makes as much sense as most of the “real” solutions coming out of Washington.

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Obama’s Original Sin

Frank Rich is back….

I’ve missed his articles since he left the New York Times…

Well, he’s back at New York Magazine and better than ever…

As usual, he makes some very valid points and says them better than almost anyone else.  And New York Magazine gives him more room to say them than he dad at the New York Times.

Let me be clear:  I still support President Obama, but I am disappointed in some of his actions- or lack of actions.

But I also believe in “tough love.”

I truly think President Obama missed his chance to be the new FDR with how he handled- or mishandled- the Financial Crisis.

I just hope it doesn’t cost him a second term.

Thank god all the GOP Candidates we see, so far, are so obviously crazy only the GOP base loves them and/or such integrity-compromised flip-flopers who can’t excite the base.

If you have some time, please spend part of your July 4th reading this long, brilliant, incisive article….It puts so much of the last few years into a very clear picture.  That is something Frank Rich does better than almost anyone else.  He cuts through the Washington “smoke and mirrors” to provide a coherent, fact-based analysis that helps illuminate the past mistakes, but allows hope to work past them…

Here are a couple of excerpts from Frank Rich’s latest column.  I encourage you to read the entire article via the link:

What haunts the Obama administration is what still haunts the country: the stunning lack of accountability for the greed and misdeeds that brought America to its gravest financial crisis since the Great Depression. There has been no legal, moral, or financial reckoning for the most powerful wrongdoers. Nor have there been meaningful reforms that might prevent a repeat catastrophe. Time may heal most wounds, but not these. Chronic unemployment remains a constant, painful reminder of the havoc inflicted on the bust’s innocent victims. As the ghost of Hamlet’s father might have it, America will be stalked by its foul and unresolved crimes until they “are burnt and purged away.”

After the 1929 crash, and thanks in part to the legendary Ferdinand Pecora’s fierce thirties Senate hearings, America gained a Securities and Exchange Commission, the Public Utility Holding Company Act, and the Glass-Steagall Act to forestall a rerun. After the savings-and-loan debacle of the eighties, some 800 miscreants went to jail. But those who ran the central financial institutions of our fiasco escaped culpability (as did most of the institutions). As the indefatigable Matt Taibbi has tabulated, law enforcement on Obama’s watch rounded up 393,000 illegal immigrants last year and zero bankers. The Justice Department’s bally hooed Operation Broken Trust has broken still more trust by chasing mainly low-echelon, one-off Madoff wannabes. You almost have to feel sorry for the era’s designated Goldman scapegoat, 32-year-old flunky “Fabulous Fab” Fabrice Tourre, who may yet take the fall for everyone else. It’s as if the Watergate investigation were halted after the cops nabbed the nudniks who did the break-in.


Obama can win reelection without carrying 10021 or Greenwich in any case. The bigger political problem is that a far larger share of the American electorate views him as a tool of the very fat-cat elite that despises him. Given Obama’s humble background, his history as a mostly liberal Democrat, and his famous résumé as a community organizer, this would also seem a reach. But the president has no one to blame but himself for the caricature. While he has never lusted after money—he’d rather get his hands on the latest novel by Morrison or Franzen—he is an elitist of a certain sort. For all the lurid fantasies of the birthers, the dirty secret of Obama’s background is that the values of Harvard, not of Kenya or Indonesia or Bill Ayers, have most colored his governing style. He falls hard for the best and the brightest white guys.





Obama had taken office at a true populist moment that demanded more than this. People were gagging over their looted 401(k)s and underwater homes, the AIG bonuses, and the bailouts. Howard Dean rage has never been Obama’s style—hope-and-change was an elegant oratorical substitute—and had he given full voice to the public mood, he would have been pilloried as an “angry black man.” But Obama didn’t have to play Huey Long. He could have pursued a sober but determined execution of justice and an explicit, major jobs initiative—of which there have been exactly none, the too-small stimulus included, to the present day.

By failing to address that populist anger, Obama gave his enemies the opening to co-opt it and turn it against him. Which the tea party did, dishonestly but brilliantly, misrepresenting Obama’s health-care-reform crusade as yet another attempt by the elites to screw the taxpayer. (The Democrats haplessly reinforced the charge with marathon behind-the-scenes negotiations with insurance and pharmaceutical- industry operatives.) Once the health-care law was signed, the president still slighted the unemployment crisis. A once-hoped-for WPA-style public-works program, unloved by Geithner, had been downsized in the original stimulus, and now a tardy, halfhearted stab at a $50 billion transportation-infrastructure jobs bill produced a dandy Obama speech but nothing else.



via The Annotated Frank Rich – The President’s Failure to Demand a Reckoning From the Moneyed Interests Who Brought the Economy Down — New York Magazine.

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Back in the USSR?

Interesting article from AlterNet.com that compares U.S. expenditures to European expenditures.

The U.S. spending supports a vast military industrial complex with Military spending being by far the largest part of the budget.  European countries focus on spending money on health care, education, transportation and improving the quality of life for its citizens.

Remember, one of the reasons the USSR collapsed was pouring too large a portion of their budget into “defense” or military spending.  Are we back in the USSR?

I much prefer the European model.  Let’s spend our tax money making the U.S. the most modern country on earth with the highest quality of life for its citizens.

Russia still hasn’t recovered from the collapse of the USSR.

Have we in the USA learned anything from it?


For their tax dollars –or euros — they get universal health care, deeply subsidized education (including free university tuition in many countries), modern infrastructure, good mass transit and far less poverty than we have here at home. That may help explain why we have Tea Partiers screaming for cuts while Europe is ablaze with riots against its own “austerity” measures.

And while we outspend everyone on our military, among the 20 most developed countries in the world, the United States is now dead last in life expectancy at birth but leads the pack in infant mortality—40 percent higher than the runner-up. We also lead in the percentage of the population who will die before reaching age 60. Half of our kids need food stamps at some point during their childhoods. There’s certainly a modest difference in priorities dividing the Atlantic, but common sense suggests that we’re the ones who have it all wrong.

via Are We Giant Suckers? While the US Blows Money on the Military, Europe Spends Dough on Social Programs | | AlterNet.

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PIMCO Founder To Deficit-Obsessed Congress: Get Back To Reality

It’s probably too late to talk any sense into the GOP Congress and the Democratic enablers, but this just might make a difference…

I’ve been saying all along, they are doing exactly the opposite of what needs to be done to drive an economic recovery.  You have to spend to create jobs, which will increase purchasing power to drive demand for consumer goods and increase tax revenues.

You worry about deficits once the economy has recovered. And the deficit will be a much smaller problem as increased revenues from taxes-income and sales- will ease the burden on state, local and federal governments.

Then you repeal the Bush tax cuts, end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, remove the cap on Social Security withholding taxes and it’s all fixed.

Why don’t they just listen to me?  And Paul Krugman. And now, Bill Gross…

From TalkingPointsMemo:


One of the most influential investors in the world of finance has a message for lawmakers — particularly conservative lawmakers — on Capitol Hill: rejoin the real world.

In a prospectus for clients, Bill Gross, a co-founder of investment management giant PIMCO, says members’ of Congress incessant focus on deficit — and in particular, the manner in which they obsess about deficits — is foolhardy, and a recipe for disaster. What the country needs, Gross said, is real stimulus now, and a measured return toward fiscal balance in the years ahead.

More:   PIMCO Founder To Deficit-Obsessed Congress: Get Back To Reality | TPMDC.

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Key Dem Senator: Obama ‘snookered’ by GOP into Talking Deficit Over Jobs

I could not agree more….

This says everything I’ve been thinking….

It’s always a pleasant surprise to see some DC Democrats talking a little sense…

God knows, the GOP never will….

From RawStory.com:

Urging the administration to enact new measures to lower the unemployment rate, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) said President Barack Obama got “snookered” by Republicans into prioritizing deficits over jobs.

“I am concerned about the Obama administration’s approach on this,” Harkin, the chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, told The Hill in an interview published Friday. “It always has been about jobs. I think the administration kind of got snookered talking about the deficit and the debt after the last election.”

Amidst growing economic anxieties, Harkin joined Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) in calling for additional stimulus spending in the form of a major infrastructure package.

“The last election was about jobs and the economy, and now we’re in a position where we really do need some economic pump-priming by the federal government,” Harkin told the paper.

Job creation in May was the lowest since last September as the unemployment rate rose to 9.1 percent. The Obama administration has — under intense pressure from Republicans — shifted its focus from job creation to deficit reduction this year, against the vocal objections of progressive economics and polls that say the public is far more concerned about jobs than the debt.

via Key Dem Senator: Obama ‘snookered’ by GOP into talking deficit over jobs | The Raw Story.

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The shocking truth about the birthplace of Obama’s policies – Ezra Klein – The Washington Post

Great article from Ezra Klein in The Washington Post…

He points out that the positions President Obama and the Democrats are taking are the same positions the Republicans once had…

Shows how far to the Right everything in Washington has moved over the last couple of years…

If you put aside the emergency measures required by the financial crisis, three major policy ideas have dominated American politics in recent years: a health-care plan that uses an individual mandate and tax subsidies to achieve near-universal coverage; a cap-and-trade plan that attempts to raise the prices of environmental pollutants to better account for their costs; and bringing tax rates up from their Bush-era lows as part of a bid to reduce the deficit. In each case, the position that Obama and the Democrats have staked out is the very position that moderate Republicans staked out in the early ’90s — and often, well into the 2000s.

via The shocking truth about the birthplace of Obama’s policies – Ezra Klein – The Washington Post.

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GOP Reps Ryan, Webster face furious voters at town halls | Raw Replay

Yep, Political Suicide….

I’ve said before that over-confidence and over-reach would do them in…

I just hope this builds….

In the words of MSNBC host Rachel Madddow, House Republicans are in the midst of a “collective freakout” over the public’s reaction to Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget plan, which cleared the House right before Congress went on vacation.

Among other items, Ryan’s budget would significantly cut Medicare spending, eventually phasing it out in exchange for a coupon program that would only cover a small percentage of seniors’ medical bills.

Four Republicans voted against it, and not a single Democrat voted for it.

Now, Republicans are starting to catch the anger that Democrats caught in 2009 in the midst of their push for President Obama’s health care reforms. In two of the most recent examples, Reps. Ryan and Webster (R-FL) were confronted by angry crowds demanding to know why they had voted to cut Medicare.

A recent Gallup poll found that the majority of Republicans do not want Medicare to be cut.

via GOP Reps Ryan, Webster face furious voters at town halls | Raw Replay.

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