Showing posts with label Spending. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Spending. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Here Come the Deficit Scolds

None of this means anything, of course:

The U.S. budget deļ¬cit may quadruple this year to almost $4 trillion. Projections from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) say that by 2023 U.S. debt held by the public will surpass records set in the post-World War II years.
And these projections only include spending enacted so far—in a three-month-old crisis that has seen emergency Congressional appropriations top $2.3 trillion. Additional spending is almost certain as the coronavirus pandemic destroys millions of jobs and thousands of businesses while slashing tax revenues for local and state governments.
I could write a hundred of these posts. If the entire economy collapses, then what difference does it make if we're running deficits? All this is intended to do is keep Democrats from coming into office and spending money to improve the lives of working people.
It's the same scam they ran against both President Clinton and President Obama. As soon as a Democrat gets elected, the GOP sends a handful of serious-minded policy wonk jackasses out before the cameras to give us lectures about how we have to live within our means and act responsibly for future generations. This thinking seriously dogged every effort that President Obama made to restore our economy. The media had orgasms every time Paul Ryan would talk about how we had to cut entitlements. This is catnip for people terrified that the poor will finally be taken care of.
These same hypocrites always vote for massive increases in spending and for ruinous tax cuts when a Republican is in office.
Ain't buying it, ain't falling for it, get out of here with that bullshit.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Obamacare is a Profound Success

Some disaster.

Paul Krugman has a victory lap column up today, and it's well deserved. Far be it from me to dance around and laugh at people who are stupid, but that's exactly what we should be doing right now--pointing and laughing at how absolutely ridiculous the enemies of the PPACA were just a few short months ago:

What was especially odd about the incessant predictions of health-reform disaster was that we already knew, or should have known, that a program along the lines of the Affordable Care Act was likely to work. Obamacare was closely modeled on Romneycare, which has been working in Massachusetts since 2006, and it bears a strong family resemblance to successful systems abroad, for example in Switzerland. Why should the system have been unworkable for America?

But a firm conviction that the government can’t do anything useful — a dogmatic belief in public-sector incompetence — is now a central part of American conservatism, and the incompetence dogma has evidently made rational analysis of policy issues impossible.

It wasn’t always thus. If you go back two decades, to the last great fight over health reform, conservatives seem to have been relatively clearheaded about the policy prospects, albeit deeply cynical. For example, William Kristol’s famous 1993 memo urging Republicans to kill the Clinton health plan warned explicitly that Clintoncare, if implemented, might well be perceived as successful, which would, in turn, “strike a punishing blow against Republican claims to defend the middle class by restraining government.” So it was crucial to make sure that reform never happened. In effect, Mr. Kristol was telling insiders that tales of government incompetence are something you peddle to voters to get them to support tax cuts and deregulation, not something you necessarily believe yourself.

This would be same William Kristol who championed the Iraq War and has been going around telling everyone that we should re-invade Iraq. Seriously, though--if Kristol is your intellectual guide, you've spent over twenty years being wrong about everything in America. With a track record like Kristol's--and with all of the hysterical predictions about how the PPACA was supposed to fail--how could anyone seriously believe there is a conservative intellect anymore?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Wrong Kind of Need, Fulfilled

This story feeds into the idea that everyone has to have a college degree in order to be a part of the emerging economy. The fact of the matter is, not everyone needs a degree, but a lot of people need more skills than they already have.

College degrees don't come with skills; they come with the ability
to get skills in some cases or, in many other cases, they come with a validation stamp that says "this person can be educated further."

The problem is, we are short of manufacturing job skills and I'm not sure which degree program listed above is really going to fix that problem. The people who get college degrees nowadays are usually women, and they are usually not interested in manufacturing positions. There are exceptions, but, by and large, they're graduating with degrees in business or psychology and are not looking for factory jobs.

We initiated a mindset several generations ago that linked factory work with failure and doom, and now we're paying the price for that.

Texas should focus on training people for jobs that actually exist in Texas instead of trying to ram more college graduates into an economy that needs something else.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

End the Bush Tax Cuts

There are going to be a lot of these stories between now and whenever they swerve the car and avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff." They are designed to scare the public.

What we should be having a discussion about is this: since the Bush-era tax cuts didn't produce jobs, growth, and improve the fiscal health of the United States one bit, why should we continue to bail out millionaires while the Middle Class suffers?

The argument is already being made, and it's being won by those who want the rich to pay their fair share and let the Bush-era tax cuts expire. If the job creators had, you know, actually created jobs instead of lining their pockets, cutting wages, cutting workers, and outsourcing American jobs, we wouldn't be in this mess.

Here's what will avoid the "fiscal cliff" and save us from disaster--putting two or three million Americans back to work--meaningful jobs, good wages, and sustained employment--will fill the coffers of state and local governments and, in turn, the Federal coffers. Nothing grows an economy like jobs, and this Congress has purposefully avoided dealing with unemployment for far too long.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Romney's Medicare Lie

This is one of those cases where Mitt Romney is going to lie, and then not get away with it, and his handlers and supporters are going to have an aneurysm when they realize that they simply cannot make stuff up and get away with it.

I really, really hope that Romney's lies from the first debate are called out for what they are--distortions of reality that bear no resemblance to actually governing this country. NBC news has that piece, cited on top, on their front page and I hope it gets more coverage.

"Obamacare" actually helped Medicare, and the more people who know that, the better.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The New $315 Shoe From Nike

The new LeBron James shoe from Nike is a complete and utter disgrace of a product. They're going to sell a shoe that will become a new status symbol, and thus desired by young people, for $315? And no one sees a problem with that? Where did simple values go? Why is this shoe being offered for anything more than fifty bucks? Because I can guarantee you, the cost of making that shoe doesn't even approach fifty dollars; I would be willing to wager that Nike is still getting these from sweatshops and child labor.

How many young kids are going to be robbed of these shoes? How many of them are going to fight to keep them and end up dying or killing someone? How awful.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Which Way Do You Want It?

President Obama and his socialist minions finally find a way to stay out of the way of small government conservatives and libertarians alike and this is the thanks he gets?

So, the President is not supposed to be spending money that we don't have, but the President is supposed to be spending money on planes that might not even have helped contain this fire because certain wind-driven forest fires cannot be stopped, no matter what?

We don't have any money to spend on health care, a stimulus package, improving our nation's infrastructure (hello, what do you think a fire-fighting plane is part of but the infrastructure of the Federal firefighting effort?), taking care of Veterans, investing in new technologies, getting off foreign oil, or finding renewable energy sources, but we're supposed to buy the idea that there's plenty of money to fight forest fires from the air in Colorado Springs and Colorado Springs only but the Obama Administration has been too slow to spend that money we don't have?

Convoluted logic much? Either you believe in a functioning, active government that spends money and invests in things like planes and technology and preventative forest management or you believe in things like the Ryan budget plan which cuts money for those things and starves old people and gives tax breaks to the wealthy. If you're going to sit here and say you believe in both, get the hell out of town.

That reminds me of a saying. Everybody hates the government, but damned if they don't change their mind when a fire truck pulls up at two in the morning and saves their house from burning down. Damned if they certainly don't.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Brad DeLong Buries Austerity

The move to austerity crippled Europe; I don't think there is a sane person who would argue otherwise. But, austerity in America has been a huge bust, and you have to champion those who called it for what it was--stupid, irresponsible, and utterly, utterly ruinous.

One quibble--when DeLong celebrates Larry Summers, I know he's praising him in the big picture sense. In the small picture, however, it was Summers who argued against using TARP funds to aid small businesses.

I would argue that America's problem, economically, stems from the fact that not enough was done, or is being done, to stimulate small business activity.

This is the sort of madness that true economists face.

How much faith would you put in that nonsense? And yet, I can guarantee you that far too many decision-makers follow the line of thinking espoused by Pethokoukis rather than Krugman, et al.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Same Old Song and Dance

Our elites are scared.

What more can you say about a blaring headline and a story like this on MSNBC as we head towards the weekend? One authored by "senior producer" John W. Schoen? One that posits that our economy will be crushed if the Bush tax cuts expire?

Well, this is where you have to scream bullshit.

It's a very neat trick to link spending cuts with the expiration of the Bush tax cuts. They are not the "Bush-era" tax cuts; they are the tax cuts that gutless Democrats helped pass in the early 2000s and we are still paying a steep price for this neat little piece of fiscal insanity and monetary redistribution. They are what's killing this country. They are what is allowing the One Percenters to continue their scam. And their scam is obvious. In exchange for "creating jobs" they are going to continue to demand their tax cuts.

The problem with this scenario is that they're not creating jobs. They're hoarding their wealth.

I'm all for a rollback on these tax cuts. If they want to replace them with targeted incentives--like actually hiring people or investing in green technology--fine and dandy. But don't link these tax cuts to a "crushing" of America's economy. That's absurd.

Our elites--Bernanke especially--have failed to accomplish much of anything with regards to restarting America's economy. It's time to end the cozy relationship between failed Wall Street bankers and failed ex-Wall Street politicians and go back to a tax rate of 39% for everyone who makes more than $250,000 per year and a 45% tax rate for everyone who makes more than a million dollars a year. And if you have more than a billion dollars in assets, we'll be taking half, please.

It's the least you could pay for living in the one country on Earth where such wealth actually allows you to live without fear of paying a 90% rate or being thrown in prison with the other oligarchs because the Prime Minister thinks you may be too popular for your own good.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Independent Republic of Wyoming

The great state of Wyoming has been in the funny papers recently.

At some point, the people of Wyoming will stop laughing at their own elected representatives long enough to come to an informed decision. A reordering of their legislature is probably coming, and soon. If you follow the link and read the comments, there is one fellow calling himself "gladiator" and using the image of Gerard Butler from 300 as his avatar--he's pretty much the sole supporter of the idea of the bill that was just defeated and I would imagine that not everyone lurking over there thinks he's nuts.

What possessed 27 individuals to consider a bill that would have made provisions for Wyoming to procure an aircraft carrier should the need arise? Talk about being obsessed with war porn.

There are many distressed gentlefolk in Wyoming; people who are dealing with agricultural issues and with rural flight. I would think that a responsible legislature would be working to cut costs, improve government, and deal with the issues faced by Wyoming's population. The fact that they had the time to consider the implications of needing their own force projection flotilla concerns me.

Everyone knows you need three aircraft carriers, and not just one. You have to have one in port, one on the way, and one on station. Perhaps they just want their own Lego version of an aircraft carrier.

The currency of Wyoming is, of course, a buffalo chip.
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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Don't Mess With the Sugar Industry in Florida

The chart that you see above shows that the Florida sugar industry is thriving; in terms of agricultural success stories, this is either a public health disaster or an example of thriving on the turbulence of the markets. Take your pick.

I mention this because it would appear that the Republican Party in Florida has decided to go after the sugar industry indirectly. Banning poor people from eating refined sugar is akin to banning beer in Munich:

Has the sugar industry down in Florida stopped giving money to Republicans? No way this bill gets passed. No way does it survive for very long. Anything that hurts the sugar growers, either directly or indirectly, results in the targeting of anyone who votes for it. I find it hard to believe that this woman who sponsored the bill would get re-elected or survive the onslaught of the sugar industry. It just sounds like a crazy piece of legislation for the craziest state in the Union, bar non.

Granted, it achieves one of the things Republicans love to achieve--the ritual humiliation and denigration of anyone who accepts public assistance. Republicans hate poor people now, and cutting them off from sugar in the name of "nutrition" and "education" is ludicrous.

If they were really concerned about those things, they wouldn't be giving them a pittance of a benefit for buying food in the first place. Families regularly go hungry til the first of the month; how does cutting them off from sugar achieve anything? Kids can't have a treat now?

I mean, really. Does the Republican Party want to make sure that a kid can't have a cup of Jello now?
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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Get Drunk, Shop Online

Unfortunately, you cannot legislate against the stupidity of people who get drunk and buy things online. The flip, vacuous comment in this story has me wondering if this is real, by the way:

That's damned good satire in any case. You can imagine poor Miss Whitten saying tee hee all the way to bankruptcy court.

Friday, December 23, 2011

It's All About Jobs

There are a lot of things to like about this piece by David Rohde. Specifically, anyone who identifies jobs as being the number one issue facing the American middle class has got it exactly right.

But, what happens is, when you move on to his second item, you see the problem. Since we are talking about how jobs have evaporated, it's easy to see where so many people get it wrong. Jobs have not left because of government spending; in many cases, those jobs disappeared when austerity and "belt tightening" took over as themes and when our elected officials stopped trying to use proven techniques to revive the economy.

Not all government spending is wrong; trying to get people to embrace that fact means having to move mountains and pound sand. So, when an idea takes hold, it has to be battled back, time and again. One of the great failures of this era has to be the failure to destroy the idea that the government should cut spending during a recession. We've seen, time and again, where this leads to a downward spiral.

Rohde's piece illustrates that, perfectly. At the end of his piece about jobs, he writes about how 20,000 jobs have been slashed. Why? Because of item number two--a misguided effort to battle the deficit. If we had the political will to do so, funding state and local governments with Federal grants specifically designed to keep people in their jobs would be a tremendous benefit to both the economy and to fighting the deficit. People who are working pay taxes; this revenue helps reduce deficits at both the state and Federal level. Whenever someone is thrown out of work, the ripple effect cascades through the economy. Avoiding that buys time so that the economy can recover.

It's all about the jobs. Whoever wants to be President next year has to answer for the need for jobs. And cutting the deficit is not going to create a single job in this country. Period. End of story.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Austerity or Good Government

The only thing that "austerity" does for the world economy is "more of the same." We need to encourage spending in order to kickstart growth and get people working again. The same is true no matter where you live--if your government is paralyzed with austerity programs, you won't see any growth. If people are incentivized to risk and spend money and enter into agreements that are based on getting positive economic behavior to flourish, then we might have a chance.

Irrational, wasteful spending is the problem. There used to be a thing called good government. You know, where the government actually does what it is supposed to do in order to right the ship and get people working again. But what is irrational and wasteful to some legislators is actually corruption, fraud, and unnecessary military spending in the eyes of others, and they aim to keep it that way. Our global governing elites love spending money. The problem is, they're spending money to enrich themselves, their clientele, and they're doing it by stealing everything that isn't nailed down.

Crony capitalism begets revolution in three, two, one...

Monday, October 24, 2011

What Really Happened After the 1986 Tax Reform

Martin Feldstein at the Wall Street Journal is arguing that the tax reform enacted in 1986 had a positive impact on the American economy. In many ways, sure, I'll buy that. He even goes so far as to say that, when you cut taxes, the amount of actual taxes paid into the system goes up, not down.

Ignoring the usual "trickle down" theories that go with this sort of thing, I'll add one piece of evidence which will show what tax cuts really do to the American economy. Taxes paid into the system are important, don't get me wrong, and Feldstein is not a liar, a cheat, or a thief in any sense of the word because he seems to be making a great partial argument. As seen above, he actually has evidence to back him up. But his evidence is missing something crucial.

The rest of the argument is here:

When we cut taxes, for some bizarre reason, the amount of wealth concentrated at the top goes up and when we raise taxes, it goes down. Look at three specific areas on that table. In 1922, the American economy wasn't in great shape, but wealth was more evenly distributed; when we skip ahead to 1929, look at how much wealth became concentrated upwards in this country, thanks to the policies of Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge (and a little Herbert Hoover thrown in). The mantra of the 1920s was fiscal responsibility and no Federal spending.

After that, the tax rates kept things more or less in balance, and it was a sustainable balance that led to the great economic expansion of the American economy. Our economy grew when our top tax rates were in the 90 percentile range and the wealthy still held on to their money. During the 1940s and 1950s, the wealthy enjoyed an almost steady hold on around 30% of the nation's wealth; that would drop precipitously in the 1970s under Nixon and Ford. That's the economic record we should be investigating. What happened? Insert your own OMG and your own LOL on that one.

Our Gross Domestic Product has been growing at a massive rate, don't get me wrong. This rising tide has lifted a great many boats. But our economy is stagnating and wages are going down; it's time for a change of direction.

Look at what happens after 1986, as seen above. The bottom 99% of the economy saw their portion of the nation's wealth shrink by 4%. That's a shocking drop, even more so since it had fallen by roughly 12% in just ten years. So much for the Reagan tax cuts--all they did was redistribute income upwards.

Look at the spike that occurs after the Bush tax cuts--another sharp redistribution of wealth upwards, resulting in a steady, almost confiscatory level of wealth redistribution that continued unabated through the last decade. The wealthy are enjoying twenty-odd years of fabulousness and fatuousness that is absolutely killing out economy. Feldstein argues that one of the improvements that came about after 1986 was in the area of entrepreneurship and risk taking. How's that working out for us now? The wealthy are not creating jobs; they're hoarding their ill-gotten gains. This is why there's so much legitimate anger out there.

This is what tax cuts do--they put more wealth into the pockets of the top tiers of the economy. They do not increase the amount of wealth held by the bottom 99%. That's a fallacy that is constantly being rammed into this debate. Unemployment is a much larger issue, and when there is low unemployment, tax receipts increase because more people are paying into the system. That accounts for part of what Feldstein is saying, but not all of it. Unfortunately, we can't afford any more tax cuts. Not for another generation. But the Wall Street Journal is never going to stop beating that dead horse, no matter what.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Scenes From the Breakdown of America's Economy

There are two Americas--the one where white people can find jobs and the one where African-Americans can find jobs. We comfort ourselves by putting the national unemployment rate at the artificially low level of 9 percent or so--for African-Americans nationwide it is much higher than that. Factor in all of the people who have given up and the under-employed, and your national unemployment level is at a critical level.

The solution isn't obvious, but it does involve government stimulus spending to finance job creation projects. Fixing our long-term unemployment issues will take a fundamental reorganization of America's economy. Should we go back to being a country that actually makes stuff? Or has that ship sailed?

I don't know. I do know one thing--President Obama is not going to get reelected if unemployment remains this high. The American people aren't going to vote for the continuation of misery even if they're being lied to by a major party candidate about what can be done to solve our problems. They'll vote for anyone who promises jobs.