Democrats & Liberals Archives

Optics Without Substance

Nice Folder. The Republicans became so worried about Obama’s charges that their opposition lacked substance, that they went out and demonstrated their shortfall. People know what a budget looks like. They know what’s supposed to be in there, and if the ideas that are in there are all the ideas the Republicans have, they’re screwed.

The Republicans are quick to propose, as their solution to the fiscal irresponsibility, more tax cuts. One of the few numbers offered should give any fiscal conservative even more pause than any Democratic Budget numbers: 25%. That's their top tax rate. Do you want to know the last time when the top tax rate was this low?

During the Hoover Administration, during the time the Great Depression was getting even worse. The last time we were even close to this number? The first Bush Administration, when the rate was at 28%. Low top rates for the rich have been tried. Did they succeed? Not really, at least not for most of us. Neither Bush's administration is known for its generous distribution of the benefits of economic growth, when the economy was growing.

Taxes aren't magic numbers. If you tax less, history shows you take in less. It's more arithmetic than calculus. Let's forget for a moment the bad effects of lessened government spending on a deflationary economy. The Republicans could easily just leave taxes where they are, and just cut spending. That would bring the two numbers, revenue and spending, closer together. Unfortunately, it seems like the Republicans are once again demonstrating the fiscal responsiblity they showed during the Bush administration. That is, none.

The Republicans are making the same promises they failed to fulfill before, proposing the use of the same means that did not work before. And why? So they can present themselves as a viable alternative, rather than just a bunch of naysayers and contrarians who can't let go of the past. So they can relive their glory days, when they held power, and restore their ideology and philosophy to primacy on the American scene. They don't want to have to change their party, or their ideas in order to see political restoration.

The Republicans, though, cannot escape their legacy with rhetoric. Even if they temporarily succeed in leading people to give them a chance, the memories of failures past will haunt their every step, especially where they refuse to change their policy prescriptions.

The Republicans need to understand that political theory and philosophy, political rhetoric, and political theatre are useless if their party doesn't master the responsibilities and the practical necessities of governance. If all they can offer is just more attempts to force reality to pay heed to political ideology, then they will be a minority in the wilderness for a long time.

Republicans need to understand that their first and more serious failures were not political, not philosophical, but practical. Republcians failed to run government properly, failed to do what it took to successfully manage America's foreign policy and domestic policy. Even before the economy cratered, it was limping along, and Americans were seeing their debt and their troubles skyrocket. They were seeing the consequences of a lax energy policy coming back to enervate America's economy at the worst time, not to mention supporting one of their worst enemies with the dollars they paid for it. Americans struggle with healthcare that even when present is often less than effective and more than expensive in the bargain. They see the looming crisis of Global Climate change, which promises to turn just about everything that makes our civilization sustainable a struggle to maintain.

And foreign policy-wise? Nobody can deny that Iraq is better now, but it's ended up far worse than anybody at the beginning of the war could imagine it would be. Few in America could also imagine that Bin Laden would still be free, in the next president's administration, that Afghanistan would not be a done deal in the least, that America's strength and standing in the world would come so low.

Republicans promised big, and they failed hugely. But they expect to be forgiven, as they have before. They fail to perceive that three decades of less than stellar results have drained America's reserve of patience. The Republicans certain are selling, but I must tell them that most Americans certainly aren't buying. They didn't lose two election in a row because they failed to polish their conservative credentials to enough of a shine. They've lost them because they lost the shine that Americans once took to their policies. They no longer see the virtue in Republican policythat they once did, and the change is probably lasting and deep as the experiences that prompted them. When Republicans lost the Greatest Generation, they didn't come back for decades. They've lost the Millenials, and more beside.

Republicans must realize that the substance of their party must change. They must also realize that the substance of their policy must come first, not the ideology or the philosophy.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at March 27, 2009 9:36 AM
Comments
Comment #278866

What is really funny is all the hollering they did about the lack of detail in the President’s pre-budget talk, then hollering about how wrong the details were when they saw the proposed budget, then presented a budget proposal sans ANY detail…oh, well…their one consistency??? TAX CUTS especially for the top tier of taxpayers…damn! They failed with that policy, but expect Americans to forget their failure…what disrespect!

Posted by: Marysdude at March 27, 2009 11:03 AM
Comment #278872

The GOP House leadership thought they could steal news bandwidth with a phony budget proposal. It was stupid, and they got called on it. Seriously, how much longer will Republicans put up with clowns like Boehner?

Posted by: phx8 at March 27, 2009 11:16 AM
Comment #278881

Another article on Afghanistan with no reference to opium or poppies. Here’s an article from todays LATimes about a bombing near Peshawar, which is in Pakistan, close to the Afghan border. “Pakistan’s most lethal suicide bombing in months and underscored the spiraling violence that President Obama’s new regional policy, unveiled today in Washington, is meant to help address.”

Posted by: ohrealy at March 27, 2009 11:56 AM
Comment #278888

My absolute favorite comment on this waste of paper was the one Ezra Klein wrote the his editor said…looks like they were trying to make a budget molecule.

I laugh every time I think about that.

Posted by: Donna at March 27, 2009 12:10 PM
Comment #278890

Sorry, wrong thread on the Aghanistan post.

On BHO, his agenda has already been achieved, POTUS at age 47. The economic policies are those of his advisors, whom he can back or repudiate according to his need, which is to get reelected.

On taxes, we need a large enforceable increase in the inheritance tax, in order to stop the process of coporations becoming “too big to fail”, or to be able to purchase the government with bribes. This has been a basic policy of most governments going back to Roman times, and probably before that. If this type of asset accumulation is encouraged over generations, the form of government is changed. An individual can set up a corporation. If it is really succesful, it becomes large, and is passed on to the next generation. That next generation may not want the corporation, but wants the value of it instead. They need a large buyer to cash them out, like what would happen with Cargill if the family no longer wanted it.

On the Rpblcns, their agenda is to create a form of government which excludes the participation of the majority of the population.

On the Democrats, their agenda is to stay in power at all costs. When you create more government programs, and continue those which have already outlived their usefulness, you need to stay in power, because the opposition will subvert those programs, as seen in the previouse administration.

Posted by: ohrealy at March 27, 2009 12:29 PM
Comment #278910

Stephen:

Taxes aren’t magic numbers. If you tax less, history shows you take in less.

Data please. The truth is that with both Reagan and Bush tax revenues remained within historical norms.

Spending is what caused the deficits.

The reasons as I have repeatedly told you are:

1. Inflation. If one does not adjust rates down we all move up in brackets because income brackets are not indexed for inflation.

2. Properity. We have created more and more wealthy that moves them up into the highest bracket. As a country our “marginal” bracket remains steady because of the distribution of taxes.

The liberal myth that Bush’s tax cuts reduced funds to the treasury is just not correct. Bush mearly lowered tax rates to bring in revenue within historical norms.

This myth needs to be continued to mask what the true intention is, that of raising federal outlays beyond what has been historical norms. Historically since WWII both parties have tried to keep federal outlays below 20% of GDP. Obama is planning to blow through that number and use Bush’s taxcuts as a pretex.

It’s political crap. The left should just be honest and say we want to spend more money and are going to use Bush as much as we can to get our proposals through.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at March 27, 2009 1:46 PM
Comment #278917

I want to expose some deceit in Obama’s budget approach.

The real purpose in all of this is to increase spending.

Here is the game Obama is playing and Stephen here is buying into.

Obama says he is going to present a more honest budget by including all expense online so that we have a real accounting of the debt. That is the honest thing to do.

Here is the deceit. Obama is the beneficary. Temporary spending is routinely left off line because budgets are about long range forcasting. Of instance an emergency bill for Katrina is unusual, and impossible to predict in the future so it is done off line. The same is true with wars, because wars end.

Whe benefits from bringing War spending online? Obama does because he is counting on the wars end to now cut his deficit in half. It’s an accounting gimmick.

Let me give you a small example.

Let’s say you make $50,000 a year and usually spend $51,500 a year. (3% deficit). But your roof caves in and you have an extra temporary expense of say $1500 a year for three years. (6% deficit)

So you want to do long term forcasting. Well, let’s move the short term spending for the roof into long term budget process. Now we are coing to say our long term bills are $53,000 a year.

We are now going to go out and proclaim we are going to cut our deficit by 50%!! How do we do that? Easy, we don’t have to do anything because with our now honest budget process $1500/year will fall off automatically in three years and we will be back to 3% defict.

We can sell this as more honest than the previous business owner, when in fact we are lying, and we can later take credit for reducting the deficit when really we did nothing but accounting trickery!!

That is what our more honest government is right now doing.

Thank you Obama!!

Posted by: Craig Holmes at March 27, 2009 2:02 PM
Comment #278937

Craig,
Really, that’s silly. The deficit is what it is. The debt is what it is. The invasion and occupation of Iraq has been a recurring cost since 2003, a real cost, and it will continue to cost American taxpayers at least through 2010 or 2011. Iraq played a direct role in endangering the financial health of our country as well as the the rest of the world. Taking the cost off the books will be a positive achievement in terms of the debt and the deficit. Finding a way to downplay that by playing with percentages is just silly.

Hey, looks like the stock markets love Obama and everything about Geithner, since they’ve gone up so much recently. Of course, that’s silly too, isn’t it? But you seemed anxious to assign the downturn and one-day drops to Obama. It seems only fair for you to cheer Obama on, using your own criteria. Want to go for it?

Looks like the market dropped today. It was probably in response to the proposed conservative GOP House budget, which, um, didn’t include any actual, you know, um, numbers.

Posted by: phx8 at March 27, 2009 4:04 PM
Comment #278947

phx8 , It’s sure looking Positive in the last few weeks they made some big gains, Today some investors sold off You know fridays are normally not to kind on wall st. some good news gold went down and the dollar gained a little and Oil went down .

Posted by: Rodney Brown at March 27, 2009 5:52 PM
Comment #278951

Rodney,
I don’t think it’s a good idea to ascribe one-day movements in equity markets to a single cause. This is a bull rally in a bear market. No doubt, markets reacted favorably to Geithner’s plan to ‘toxic assets.’ And there are glimmers of hope- statistics unexpectedly turning upwards here and there. Then again, there are hammerings still to come, especially with unemployment.

However, it looks like we’re seeing the first, early indications that the stimulus package(s) will work. I thought it was worth trying. I thought it was worth throwing everything including the kitchen sink at the economy. Truly, though, I didn’t think it would work. Geithner’s plan for the financial sector might have been the final key ingredient.

Thank goodness for ‘pork’ spending!

If the economy can be righted and put on an upward trajectory by 2010, that would be awesome! Of course, that means facing yet another high hurdle- a horrendous debt and deficits. But first thing first… stop the recession/depression first. Stop digging.

Posted by: phx8 at March 27, 2009 6:25 PM
Comment #278957

phx8-
Actually, the best way to deal with the horrendous debt and the deficits turns out to be to get the economy working again. The pessimistic assumptions of the CBO are in part the result of their more pessimistic economic forecasts. if we beat the forecasts, all things being the same, we beat the CBO’s pessimistic numbers.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 27, 2009 7:00 PM
Comment #278963

Stephen,
That’s true. First we have to get the economy functioning and moving in a positive direction. We have to stop digging the hole. Once that happens, we’ll have a huge pile of dirt (or whatever) in our way, namely, deficits and the debt. Once again, it will take a multi-pronged approach. It will include tax increases, which no one will like. It will require universal health care, which will be opposed by the very very powerful insurance industry. Most importantly, it will involve creating and sustaining increasing wages.

Wages have been the missing ingredient for the past eight years. Creating new wages and increasing existing ones means growing business, growing the economy, and stopping outsourcing. Until we plug the outsourcing dike, we’ll just keep bleeding away jobs, experiencing flat to negative wage and economic growth, lack of new jobs and new businesses, and so on.

Posted by: phx8 at March 27, 2009 7:13 PM
Comment #278970

Like every budget projection in the history of the world, they are based on knowledge of today and guesses about tomorrow. All they do is help keep you on track. CBO is no different. Congress changes law every year that interfere with thos projections, natural disasters…blah, blah, blah…

Posted by: Marysdude at March 27, 2009 7:29 PM
Comment #279010

What’s the talley from 9/11 so far.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at March 28, 2009 9:36 AM
Comment #279022

Rodney Brown-
You’ll have to clarify. If you’re referring to the costs of 9/11, those were actually absorbed quickly. If you’re referring to the costs of the military operations that followed, I think only political hard-headedness and fear kept the Bush adminstration from asking for taxes to pay for the spending in that case. I think Americans would have been glad to pay for it.

People only fear to ask Americans to pay for a war they’ve already agreed to when they know something about that war that we don’t, something that might make us regret that sacrifice. But then, if that’s the case, there are two good choices: get that war better, or get that war done. There are precautions only the guilty and insecure take, and Bush took them.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 28, 2009 12:46 PM
Comment #279025

Stephen,

You are right…there were three reasons we were not asked to tax the Iraq stupidity:

1. It was going to pay for itself, i.e., Halliburton’s oil, or

2. It was going to take so little time, we did not need to tax.

3. Then there is the Cheney/Bush method of planning anything of significance…stew for while, then make snap decisions we’ll regret later…it’s hard to ask a nation for taxes when you haven’t planned for the necessity…

Posted by: Marysdude at March 28, 2009 1:29 PM
Comment #279042

I’d like to know how you can absorb lives and damage caused by 9/11 ? i’m not including the wars or all those other things i’m trying to count that one day ie property damage and lost production of goods and services, losses already exceed $100s of billions. Including the loss in stock market wealth — the market’s own estimate arising from expectations of lower corporate profits and higher discount rates for economic volatility — the price tag $2 trillion. Maybe Craig might know more.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at March 28, 2009 2:59 PM
Comment #279055

Rodney Brown-
America’s Growth did not really stop during that time, so we can’t say that 9/11 was as strong a drag on the economy as the current crisis. Or put another way, while 9/11 did New York and Wall Street few favors, it didn’t really hurt the rest of the economy so seriously.

What made Wall Street’s troubles this time more painful is that Wall Street’s trouble got in the way of everybody else’s economic developments- the businesses and responsible consumers that aren’t getting loans.

The Stock market can just crater, yet not cause a recession, or economic hard times for the country in general.

The real cost of 9/11 was that Bush was taken seriously, that the lessons of 2001 (as in Enron, WorldCom, and the rest) were not truly learned. I would say those were a greater drag on investment than 9/11. After all, 9/11’s wounds healed in the stock market, but the continued distrust and disclosures of Wall Street never fully went away.

What Republicans fail to realize is that even if you can put off the reckoning with a whole bunch of happy-talk and everything else, reality will put it pressure on the course of events and mold them much more insistently than our lies and spin ever could. Corporate Fraud and Risk taking has proven far more injurious to the economy than anything Bin Laden ever did.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 28, 2009 5:32 PM
Comment #279057

>Corporate Fraud and Risk taking has proven far more injurious to the economy than anything Bin Laden ever did.
Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 28, 2009 05:32 PM

Stephen,

Hear! Hear!

Posted by: Marysdude at March 28, 2009 5:36 PM
Comment #279076

Rodney:

I’d like to know how you can absorb lives and damage caused by 9/11 ? i’m not including the wars or all those other things i’m trying to count that one day ie property damage and lost production of goods and services, losses already exceed $100s of billions. Including the loss in stock market wealth — the market’s own estimate arising from expectations of lower corporate profits and higher discount rates for economic volatility — the price tag $2 trillion. Maybe Craig might know more.

I am going to have to ramble a little to answer your question.

First of all a great deal of the market losses were because of a speculative bubble that occurred during the 1990’s. There was euphoria created by the ending of the cold war, the Internet craze, lowering of capital gains rates etc. There was a belief that “this time it is different” and that a new economy was ushering in with very high productivity rates among our labor forces. Surpluses as far as the eye can see.

In addition was a belief called “the great moderation” which showed that economic cycles were smoothing out. Recessions were getting farther and farther a part and were getting shallower and shallower. Everyone took credit for this especially the federal reserve board.

The actual damage due to 9/11 was very small. The Federal reserve flooded the economy with cash and lowered interest rates to near zero in a belief that we were in a national emergency and the risk was worth it.

Of course this set up speculation in real estate which led to today.

Sorry for the ramble. To answer your question directly, the actual cost of 9/11 in property damage etc was very small for a economy of our size. The emotion impact was far greater than the physical damage.

Katrina had far far far more property damage for instance.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at March 28, 2009 8:38 PM
Comment #279081

Thank’s Craig and stephen to I agree, I know they made some changes to the market (safeguards) before 9/11 and clamed that helped with some of the volume loss that day it dropped a few that day.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at March 28, 2009 9:12 PM
Comment #279094

I heard Republicans voodoo math was so incomplete that it will be next Wednesday at least before they can make their magic spells and incantations have the desired effect of appearing like real math at a glance.

Can’t wait. But, Dem’s, you all have a real problem with your math too! Your projections for revenues fall way short, and your spending allocations fall way long, of hitting anything remotely considered a non-threatening national debt level by 2014.

You all need to get a much, much bigger shovel to dig out a couple more trillion in spending cuts if PAYGO rules and your revenue estimates are going to have any credibility at all.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 29, 2009 4:04 AM
Comment #279095

This will give Democrats a real chuckle and fodder to feed on. NRCC Chair Pete Sessions writes to conservatives in a newsletter opening with: (ready for it?):

Dear Fellow Conservative,

House Republicans have pledged to stop to the “Pelosi Recession” caused by a bloated Democratic budget that spends too much, taxes too much and borrows too much.

Losing touch with sanity and reality doesn’t get any loonier than this.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 29, 2009 4:06 AM
Comment #279130

Republicans are too weak and disorientated to stop the Obama debt machine.

Right now it looks like Germany and China are the next line of defense.

So much for a president who will improve Americas standing around the world.

$9 Trillion in more debt and increasing as we go forward. Good bye America!. At least the America I have known.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at March 29, 2009 3:27 PM
Comment #279136

David R. Remer-
The key is whether the economy picks up. Those threatening deficits threaten worse when growth is less. That’s the main assumption that separates the Obama estimates from the CBO estimates.

As the links I supplied demonstrated, the divergence is five years or more down the line. Now, before that time, both the CBO and the Obama estimates pretty much stick close together, and Obama’s spending cuts are enough to cut the deficit in Half. The question thereafter is what happens with growth in the economy. If we have a lot of it, we do better than the CBO estimates. Less than enough, we face the deficits.

The problem with the way the Republicans and some Democrats are approaching the spending is that they’re not thinking dynamically enough. They’re thinking in terms of just what can be done with accounting trickery and further degradation of the federal government.

They’re not thinking that the main problem besides these wars we’re in, is the economic downturns, and the deflationary phase we’re in. While fiscal discipline in Washington will be helpful, the most critical question is whether revenues are going to increase enough over the next few years to help us absorb the consequences of budgets past.

I think we can see that this is a significant part of that in the behavior of the estimates over time. The CBO’s budget estimates don’t go up because Obama’s suddenly got new spending then. They go up because that’s when the bills on recent times start coming in.

Some would say “screw it” regarding our current obligations, in that light. Only problem is, we don’t have that option, if we want to avoid large negative changes in the economy, which would absorb much of the supposed windfall from not helping the deadbeats on Wall Street. In the meantime, We also have the deflationary phase to worry about, which means that the economy won’t react well to a lack of capital infusion.

So, our main task is to get the economy rolling, and get it going better in real terms.

Craig Holmes-
Obama’s running huge debts because the Republicans were running them. I wonder, what methods of trimming the huge debts would Democrats have been allowed by the Republicans in the Senate? Raising taxes? You suggest it now. Would Bush have signed such a bill, or Republicans? Did Medicare Reform have a chance of getting signed? How about ending the war? Or waste in the Bush adminstration. Yeah, we could have written Bush a strongly worded letter about that!

If you guys were to quit trying to win elections nobody’s interested in handing to you, you folks could do some good work for the economy. You understand, don’t you, that the CBO estimate is based on the notion that the stimulus works, and helps us get out of the recession quicker. You understand, don’t you, that if Obama fails, that’s what’s going to cause the huge deficits, not Obama’s new programs.

Obama’s spending cuts slash the deficit in half in five years. What’s going to kill us is if pessimists and contrarians like you care more about what political theory we run our economy by, than whether that economy prospers or not. The Republicans should put their hyperbole, their vitriolic, jealous rhetoric aside, and help this country avoid further economic and fiscal trouble down the line. It’s the least you people could do, after starting us down this path in the first place.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 29, 2009 5:10 PM
Comment #279137

Stephen,

Once again…Hear! Hear!

Posted by: Marysdude at March 29, 2009 5:20 PM
Comment #279140

SD SAID, “”” Obama’s spending cuts slash the deficit in half in five years “”” And it is a (projection) Right. So this quote could apply just as well for Obama’s projection not that i want it to. Quote “”“Like every budget projection in the history of the world, they are based on knowledge of today and guesses about tomorrow. All they do is help keep you on track. CBO is no different. Congress changes law every year that interfere with thos projections, natural disasters…blah, blah, blah…”“” :)

Posted by: Rodney Brown at March 29, 2009 5:58 PM
Comment #279175

Rodney-
The terrible deficits they keep warning you about are more than five years in the future.

In the first Austin Powers movie, Austin and Ms. Kensington have stolen a steam roller, and some idiot henchmen strays in front of it. The guy screams “No!” in despair, and stands there like a moron for the half minute the slow moving vehicle takes to reach him and run him over.

This how Republicans are saying Obama would react to a budget situation ten years in the future. They’re acting like it’s a done deal, like because of the spending this year, we’re doomed to those forecast deficits.

The reality is, we have a slow-moving steamroller here. It’s called the Economy. If it weren’t for the economic consequences of previous policy, we wouldn’t be in this situation. What’s the Republican prescription? Disappointingly enough, and I cover this in the beginning entry, their one big suggestion is to cut the top rate to 25%, in a time where revenue is a problem.

This is supposed to be the superior solution? We can all agree that the guy who stands in front of a steamroller and waits for it to run him over is stupid, but what about the guy who dives right under it?

In the end, What Republicans seem to offer nowadays is accounting tricks with the federal government’s money, our money. We at least have decided not to kid anybody about our goals: we plan to invest in America’s productivity.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 30, 2009 12:29 AM
Comment #279185

Rodney,

That quote you used was mine, not Stephen’s, but, I’ll say it again…a budget is a forecast, and much like a weather forecast, it is limited to what we know, trends under similar circumstances, etc. A forecast about tomorrow’s weather is by virtue of known climate movements, a more reliable forecast than the one provided for Saturday of next week. It is more reliable because that butterfly in Brazil might flap its wings at just the right moment, and change one tiny trend that has an effect on weather next week.

Posted by: Marysdude at March 30, 2009 3:28 AM
Comment #279211

Yes it was Your Quote Md, I was using some humor, your quote applies for all like sitting at a Parade we can only see what’s in front and what went by and everything is a projection into the future and so far i’ve approved of most everything they’ve done and i support them it looks like so far It’s starting to work , I just hope they don’t get to extreme from here out.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at March 30, 2009 10:33 AM
Comment #279217

The moon and the earth has good relationship today, A lot better than a few million years ago.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at March 30, 2009 11:22 AM
Comment #279233

Some say the same about Venus and Mars and the Earth. Coming into being, generating the necessary chemical/heat mix to foster life was not easy, by any stretch…and look what we’ve done to all that hard effort…;)

Posted by: Marysdude at March 30, 2009 2:02 PM
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