Democrats & Liberals Archives

Say It With Me: Three Percent.

With all the noise the Republicans have made, you would think that Obama’s long term agenda was a massive boondoggle, which has blasted the deficit into the stratosphere.

You would be wrong.

Thirty-Seven percent comes from the fact that the economy just sucks. The Recession destroys jobs and commerce, government gets less revenue. Thirty Three percent of all this a direct result of Bush Policies. Twenty percent comes from Obama's continuation of certain policies, like the bailouts, the war, and the tax cuts for those making less than 250K a year.

So where do Obama's contributions come in? His stimulus will constitute seven percent of the overal debt.

His ambitious new programs? Three percent.

Say it with me: Three percent. That's healthcare, that's energy, that's everything.

Now if you continue on to Matthew Yglesias's source, besides seeing a nice pie-chart, you'll get his link.

And if you follow it there, you'll find a valid criticism of Obama's budget plan: Although Healthcare reform will go a long way to reducing the deficit, it's not enough, and Obama's not doing nearly enough.

One important thing will be getting the economy back into shape. Another thing of importance will be remembering, once more, that there are two sides to the government's revenue/expenditure model. Taxes will likely have to be raised at some point, preferably on the rich first, since they can bear a little more of the burden, but perhaps inevitably on the middle class.

I'm not going to bother speaking for Obama or for my party, I'm going to speak for myself here. It greatly simplifies things, since I'm not having to account for a million different opinions I don't know in full.

I don't much like taxes, to tell you the truth. Nobody who likes to spend money wants to spend it because they have to. But not liking having to do something, and not needing to do those things, are two concepts that need a little distinction between them. We do need spending cuts, both in Domestic and Foreign policy. But we will also need taxes raised as well. Not too soon, but at some point. Like the author of the original author wrote to conclude:

“Things will get worse gradually,” Mr. Auerbach predicts, “unless they get worse quickly.” Either a solution will be put off, or foreign lenders, spooked by the rising debt, will send interest rates higher and create a crisis.

The solution, though, is no mystery. It will involve some combination of tax increases and spending cuts. And it won’t be limited to pay-as-you-go rules, tax increases on somebody else, or a crackdown on waste, fraud and abuse. Your taxes will probably go up, and some government programs you favor will become less generous.

That is the legacy of our trillion-dollar deficits. Erasing them will be one of the great political issues of the coming decade.

But lets get something straight here. At best, Obama is directly and solely responsible for 10% of the debt, and 7% of that was the emergency stimulus, which will not hang on forever.. Only three percent of that deficit will come out of anything Obama's doing with his ambitious plans He also shares some responsibility with Bush on extending the tax cuts and continuing the bailouts.

But ultimately, we find about 70 percent of the budget deficit coming out of Republican and Bush Administration Policy. About 90%, if you include what Obama's continuing.

The Republicans own about 90% of this problem. Their solution?

Attack the guy who made things 10% worse.

Does that put the cynicism of the GOP in proper perspective? Obama is their scapegoat, their designated socialist. Though they will likely have added more cost to government healthcare than Obama ever will, Obama is the one who gets called the Marxist.

Obama and the Democrats are aware of the reputations that the liberals of American enjoy, and unlike the Republicans, they feel the pressure to do something about it, to make measures deficit-neutral. Republicans never cared about CBO estimates, never gave much thought to just how much they'd add to the deficit with their runaway spending, their wastefully constructed Medicare Drug Program, their utterly superfluous Medicare Advantage program. Though they rage at the Democrats for mortgaging our nation's future, they were the ones responsible for the lates explosion in our nation's debt, and the honest conservatives should own up to that.

But now that they're out of office, out of the majority, and a Democrat is President, somebody else must be held accountable!

Republicans in Washington have learned to excel at one thing: loudly blaming somebody else for things that are mostly their own fault.

Given these facts, the most you will get out of a Republican on this matter is hot air about having learned their lesson. The Republicans need more time to learn their lesson. Since Conservative are big on tradition, and some conservatives are big on religion, let me appeal to a biblical punishment for failing to understand one's sins: more time in the Wilderness.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at August 14, 2009 10:28 AM
Comment #286286

Stephen D., one of the valid arguments I am hearing from conservatives on both sides of the aisle is that it is equally important for our federal government to cut some spending along with raising it where needed.

That Pork Laden budget last year inspires no confidence for such folks, nor that pork laden stimulus bill. Congress is in charge of the nation’s purse strings and the amount of taxes coming out of our and our children’s wages. It is time this Congress got it through their thick dense skulls that we the people can no longer afford footing the bill for their reelection bribery of constituents back home. It is long past time, Congress put the nation’s interests and future first and foremost as their top priority. ONLY then, will some of the trust and confidence lost by the majority of Americans in federal government, be restored.

I don’t put all the blame on Congress, voters too have the Congress they voted for. If substantially more voters would vote out incumbents and those Freshman replacements put the nation’s interests foremost, we just might see some light at the end of this dark economic and fiscal tunnel both Democrats and Republicans have driven us all into.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 14, 2009 12:16 PM
Comment #286295

David R. Remer-
I believe the stimulus bill was necessary, that we were facing such a threat of deflation in demand that to not pass it would have been problematic.

Calling it pork kind of misses the point: spreading out the money far and wide, not concentrating it in one sector or industry is sort of the point. The better angle of criticism, if applicable, would be the utility of the programs.

The thing to keep in mind about Republican and Conservative Democrat criticisms is that they often went for cost savings in those bills that were ideologicaly problematic for them, even if study after study had demonstrated that things like food stamps and extended unemployment benefits had greater stimulative value than the tax cuts many were supporting as “conservative”.

They cited examples like physics and medical research, replacing cars in government fleets with more fuel efficient vehicles, as examples of pork. So it’s important when entertaining their opinions of what’s pork, what’s wasteful spending to ask what exactly they’re considering wasteful, before you start buying that they’re really interested in, or good at making judgments about what’s not good spending.

You must also consider that many Republicans have an aversion even to good, disciplined public spending, one which they practice (often selectively) in the name of the free market.

Lastly, recall the previous year’s bailout plans. The Republicans opposed a bailout for Lehman Brothers on their conservative principle, opposed an overall bailout last year on the same grounds. Then when they did vote for it, they often got in the way of measures that would make it harder for these people simply to revolving door the funds into their own pockets. The Republicans identify being business-friendly, even when its more costly to taxpayers, as being the conservative way, in some odd mutation of their ideal of not interfering with the free market.

Additionally, many Republicans balk at the idea of trying to encourage the positive economic change that you and I want through the use of taxpayer dollars, and so are willing to let some pretty bad things happen so they can remain pure on this regard.

So I got to tell you: take what they say with a grain of salt. They’ll scare the hell out of you telling you what burdens the grandkids will bear, but their policy, both in fiscal and in policy terms has been far more destructive to their interests than anything Democrats have done yet.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 14, 2009 5:29 PM
Comment #286296

The Congressional Budget Office reported to Senator Kennedy’s health committee that the reform bill they were considering would add $1 trillion in debt over the next 10 years. They also reported that the bill being considered by the Senate Finance Committee would add $1.6 trillion over the next 10 years. These figures take into account the “savings” described in these bills.

Please explain to me how spending this kind of money is a “savings”. Help me understand how spending a trillion or more will help our economy? And please explain to me how an additional 40 or 50 million patients will not overload our health care system. Where are all those doctors, nurses and hospitals coming from?

The CBO also wrote a letter to Rep. Nathan Deal on August 7th stating, “Researchers who have examined the effects of preventive care generally find that the added costs of widespread use of preventive services tend to exceed the savings from averted illness”.

I like my Medicare and MedSup and I know that the premium I pay for Medicare is not nearly sufficient to cover the cost of the Medicare program. How do I know this…because Medicare is deep in red ink with cuts in coverage becoming the norm. Can anyone believe the same wouldn’t be true with any of the national health care proposals floating around congress?

I visit Europe about once a year and always purchase medical insurance as Medicare will not cover me when I am out of the country. That’s fair…no problem. But when I read how Europe’s national health care is so much cheaper than ours I wonder if they cover all the illegals in their country as we do. Or, doesn’t Europe have any illegals? When I visit Mexico I know for sure they won’t cover my medical expenses should I need care while there. Why not? We cover even those from Mexico who are here illegally.

Thanks for listening and I will definitely read your answers.

Posted by: Royal Flush at August 14, 2009 6:08 PM
Comment #286297

Royal Flush-
239 billion added to the deficit. A trillion over ten years total in spending, offset by cuts and revenues from elsewhere.

But that’s over ten years. That’s 23.9 billion added to the deficit per year, 100 billion in spending a year.

Compare that to the costs for the Republican’s Medicare Advantage plan and their Drug Benefit, which were not mostly counterbalanced by any kind of spending cuts.

There are no plans whatsoever to cover illegal aliens. I’m not sure they could recieve benefits, any more than illegal aliens could get Medicare or Social Security.

As for the costs of preventative care? This is the Congressional Budget Office. They are limited in the scope of what they can consider. They can’t consider the savings for individuals, nor the savings on procedures prevented by the more constant care.

This is part of what makes the CBO’s projections problematic. They can only account for things that are inherently predictable from a government perspective. That means taxes, budgeted spending, and the most predictable of economic processes. But we can’t simply judge good government spending merely from those angles, because there is more to the interaction of programs like this with the public’s finances, and the savings or costs that result than just those easy to nail down estimates.

But at the end of the day, It’s about a third as expensive as the Department of Agriculture, about the same price as the Justice Department, and about a fifteenth of the total Medicare budget.

Ultimately, prevenative care, as one example, will save money, because medicare will not have to pay out so much money for chronic conditions geting complicated, or developing in the first place. I know the CBO doesn’t score preventative healthcare as cost neutral, but it does say that it’s cost effective. Additionally, what the CBO won’t try to predict is how much money this will save them. The VA, though, has demonstrated that preventative care can save money, because it keeps you from having to do more expensive treatments further down the line.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 14, 2009 7:17 PM
Comment #286308


Nice chart. Think about it for more than a minute. What the government is paying today will always be mostly the result of decisions made in the past. The same is true of anything. I personally have a mortgage and a car loan. Wouldn’t it be great if I could just blame my “policies” of previous years and just start fresh? Of course, I would want to keep the house and the car. That would be a great Democratic program, don’t you think?

But let’s take the absurd chart at face value. In his short months in office, Obama has already added 10% (the stimulus and policies) to the deficit. Wow. And he has hardly started. Imagine what the health care package will do to us.

Of course, maybe Obama will indeed repeal things like the Bush tax cuts and the Medicare prescription drug benefit. Is that part of his plan?

Posted by: Christine at August 14, 2009 8:41 PM
Comment #286317


The same is true of anything.

But in the same way?

Most of his spending, or his continuation of the spending deals with the aftermath of eight years of Republican decision making.

Seriously: consider how just how much chance there is that these people have truly mended their ways. And then consider if you really want them telling you what is and is not fiscally wise.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 14, 2009 10:38 PM
Comment #286320

Yes - in the same way.

And we didn’t have eight years of Republican Decision making. We had 12 years 1995-2007 of Republican Congress. The Democrats controlled Congress since 2007. As you recall - All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives” (Article 1 Section 7). Precedent also indicates that they vote on spending.

Now if you believe the Republicans spent too much during their time in power (I agree) do you think the remedy is for the Democrats to spend three times as much?

You may recall that Democrats in Congress have not balanced a budget since I think 1969. The only decent Congress in recent times was the one from 1995-2001. The one we got now is horrible.

What seems to work best in our system is a divided government. Clinton didn’t do well until he had a Republican controlled congress and Bush did better after 2006. Obama is messing up, IMO, in part because he has crazy Nancy and chicken Harry supposedly on his team.

Clinton needed Newt. I don’t know who can play that role for Obama.

Posted by: Christine at August 14, 2009 11:18 PM
Comment #286321

The thing that scares me most is that we are in a race against time to stimulate the economy to deal with the toxic debt that banks are still hiding, the upcoming (2010) reset on Commercial loans, which may be worse than the housing market default rates.

The truth is things are still very shaky with this economy, and consequences of the irresponsibility of the last 20 years. It would be nice if at least some members of each party would start to face up to this and begin to actually show some long range discussions of the economic issues the US faces.

If this isn’t done, I think the Democrats could well get caught flat footed in 2012. The Republicans, however, may well find their equally irresponsible behavior not very welcome, either. How about a new Responsibilty Party?

Posted by: gergle at August 14, 2009 11:25 PM
Comment #286324

gergle, or at the very least a massive boot by voters in incumbent’s rear ends in 2010 and 2012.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 14, 2009 11:38 PM
Comment #286327

And when was the last time a Republican administration kept a budget balanced? National Debt tends to go down under us, not up.

Divided government is what we already have. The conservatives are paralyzing change in the House and senate, whatever party they belong to. What people want is effective government. They don’t care who has control as long as they’re solving problems.

As for the Republican Congress? Theirs is the legislation that got us into this economic mess. The leaders were the ones who guaranteed nobody would accept full government care, as you advocate. These people didn’t just suddenly become unruly. They were the way they were before and after Bush got into office. The key difference is, Bush had the veto pen, which he never really used on his own people.

I think after Bush, people are going to have to have a very good reason to want to elect a Republican president once more. I don’t look at most of the candidates and find folks who can broadly appeal.

Their only real chance is to so gut support for the administration that they win simply because the other side doesn’t turn out.

But is this really the time for that? We need reform in this country more than the Republicans need their electoral good fortunes restored. I mean, a country’s got to have its priorities.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 15, 2009 12:06 AM
Comment #286334

Stephen - I think the last time a Republican Administration had a balanced budget was the same last time a Democratic congress did - 1969.

We don’t have divided government. We have the Democrats in charge who are unable to manage their own differences. That is not the same thing.

Re health care - the problem is similar to the problem of all big social programs, such as Social Security. What the people want and what the government CAN give them are very different.

The irony is that the same demographic that stopped President Bush’s attempts to modify SS is the one that will stop President Obama’s attempts to modify health care. Maybe it is not so Ironic. They have correctly figured out that the costs they will suffer will outweigh the benefits they can expect. That is what makes “reforms” so hard.

The Republicans blamed Democrats for wrecking SS reforms and Democrats had a hand in it, but it was mostly strong opposition by significant groups of voters. The Democrats want to blame Republicans for the problems of health care, but the dynamic is almost the same.

re Republican president, it all depends on the dynamics of who runs. I think there is an overwhelming chance that Obama will be reelected, but in 2016 we will face an entirely different situation with challenges we do not today foresee.

Politics is fluid. I recall in the middle 1970sstories saying how the Republicans were dead for a generation. Ronald Reagan was elected a couple years later. I remember reading in 1991 that the Republicans had a lock on the electoral college. Clinton was elected the next year. Then in 1992 we expected a new Democratic era. In 1994 Republicans took over the Congress for the first time in a generation. In 2004 Democrats feared a generation of Republican ascendancy, not so. Now they expect to be in power for a long time. They are/were/will be wrong. Pride goes before the fall - for Democrats and Republicans both.

I think the country will be better off if we get rid of the corrupt and inept Pelosi leadership as quick as we can. The Democrats could replace her with an intelligent new leader, but it will probably take an election to sweep her out.

Posted by: Christine at August 15, 2009 12:50 PM
Comment #286339

Stephen, Perhaps David was talking about the budget passed by the Democrats and signed by Bush in 2007. A budget that contained the largest deficit in history and this was after the Democrats had promised to reinstitute pay-go if the voters would return them to power. Obama will be held responsible, praise or condemnation, for what the Democrats do.

The number of home morgages that exceed the value of the homes morgaged is now at 25% and is expected to rise to 48% by 2011. In addition, this is more than likely going to be another jobless recovery.

Stephen, the best, most accurate description of the Congress that carried the ball for Bush is that despite the tremendous amount of partisan retoric, the Congress was remarkably bipartisan.

Posted by: jlw at August 15, 2009 2:34 PM
Comment #286360


Let me get this straight. Our country is heading toward bankruptcy, and you want to get credit for your guy only making us go bankrupt a little be faster?

I am truly comforted that since your guy took the helm the Titanic is only sinking a little faster.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at August 15, 2009 11:19 PM
Comment #286362

Craig Holmes-
Take the systematic view. 37 percent of the deficit comes from the recession. If we can begin a recovery, that takes care of one part of the deficit. If we hadn’t spent that seven percent, or the other money to do the bailouts, just what kind of fiscal mess do you think we’d be in?

A worse one, that’s what. Attempts during Hoover’s administration to square things in the fiscal department ended up making the economy worse, and not having the desired effect with the budget either, to add insult to injury.

Healthcare takes care of another part of the deficit, which is the Medicare costs. If we can get those down, and get medical costs down across the board, that both helps the economy and brings down spending on medicare.

So I’d argue, Obama’s making the necessary investments to A) avoid making the problem worse, and B) improve the situation. He might have to do more later on, but it seems he’s done some good so far.

The Republicans, though, have no economic crisis to excuse most of their spending. They inflicted that on themselves.

They’ve made a bad habit of doing things, then criticizing Democrats when they do the same or roughly similar things.

I’m just calling them out on this. I do want something done to reduce the deficit, but they don’t consider the economic implications well enough, when they make their stands on fiscal responsibility. They make their stand against bailouts, but neglect to mention that without those bailouts, we would see massive banks failures (literally, massive banks failing.) and the economy would bring the deficit deeper into the negatives with it. They made their stand on the stimulus the same way. And their alternative? Even if they were trying to be conservative it was a failure- it was all tax cuts, which have never been shown to make up for their loss of revenue with economic benefits.

You don’t go bankrupt merely because you fall into debt, you go bankrupt because you fall into debt, and make decisions or have circumstances that make it impossible to get out of that debt.

Obama’s been good so far about trying to make things pass Pay-Go standards, about spending smarter, not necessarily harder when it came to dealing with important issues.

And he has one leg up on the Republicans for certain: he believes government can be made to work, and work well. The Republicans approach things with a pessimism that leads them to be some of the least disciplined spenders out there. They didn’t care during the Bush years, they didn’t bother to listen to the CBO or anything. They just believed that the added programs and things would be naturally wasteful, and thus did little to save money or keep costs down, because they believe it wouldn’t do any good.

The Democrats will likely end up adding far less to the deficit, in the long run, than the Republicans would have, if they were still in charge.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 16, 2009 9:56 AM
Comment #286364

You know, folks, I just thought of something supremely ironic in all this: The Republicans are trying to exploit distrust related to Obama’s administration helping out the big companies earlier this year to get people to reject healthcare reform that would benefit them.

That’s Right Wing populism for you.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 16, 2009 11:51 AM
Comment #286369

jlw made one of the most fundamentally astute observations that we are likely to hear in American politics for the next several years: “Obama will be held responsible, praise or condemnation, for what the Democrats do.”

I have written here many times since Obama became a frontrunner in the presidential election, that Obama’s major obstacle as president will not be Republicans, but, Democrats in the Congress. No great prophecy there but a prediction that Congressional Democrats just can’t seem to wrap their head around.

I will make another obvious prediction, now. If Obama loses the election in 2012, Congressional Democrats will still not see that it was they, who lost the presidency for Obama and their Party. Congressional Democrat’s failure to move this country onto an austerity program along side targeted and efficient economic recovery spending, is what will cost Democrats seats in 2010. It won’t be health care, it won’t be energy, and it won’t be Afghanistan.

It will be the public perception that Americans can’t afford the undisciplined wasteful spending by Congressional Democrats, even though, that wasteful spending shall constitute a very, very small percentage of necessary spending. The American people do have a common sense real life experience now with how one should act when one is financially stretched, frugally, and conservatively with what resources has to make them last through the difficult times. Simplistic as this common sense is given the complex economy, it is to be ignored by Congressional Democrats at their own political peril.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 16, 2009 2:02 PM
Comment #286370

Stephen, how much of that can be blamed on the liberal education system?

I believe that a lot of the public reaction is a backlash from the corporate/conservative/liberal alliance and their New World order. The workers don’t like it, they have sufferd greatly because of it and irreguardless of their desires, the liberals and conservatives have shoved it down their throats.

It has gotten to the point that the people don’t trust their government, they don’t believe a damn word the government tells them and they are willing to believe lies if those lies counter what the government is telling them.

By the way, Obama has announced that he will sign a healthcare bill without a public option. Please, just send me the corpocracy healthcare bill to sign. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more Republican votes for final passage in the House.

Astroturfers one, Obama zero.

The next astrotruf event will be sponsored by the oil companies.

You make the case that had Obama not signed the corporate bailout bills, the economy would be worse. I agree with you on that account but, I also think it is a delaying action that will make things worse in the long run

Posted by: jlw at August 16, 2009 2:03 PM
Comment #286413


I agree with your last post. I read the inverse in another article where people were speculating what a Republican victory in Congress might imply. The most likely impact would be a second term for Obama.

I think history shows that we can’t trust either party with Congress and the Presidency. Or at least it’s extremely difficult.

I think it Democrats really want to stay in power they should ditch Pelosi, and replace her with more of a statesman. If we were to look at the types of Speakers that the Dems had over the years when they kept the majority for a long time they had a very different personality than Pelosi. She is to much a hack, which makes her a big bumper sticker.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at August 17, 2009 11:36 AM
Comment #286414


There is not evidence that Obama has made the deficit much of an issue. At least via the CBO.

The whole idea that Dems are bragging that the health care bill wont “add to the deficit” is hogwash. It’s like saying “This new medicine wont make the patient die any quicker.” Well the patient is still dying!!

Without the recession, we are on the road to doom because of run away medical costs and boomer retirement. It is time to turn the ship. Health care reform IS the answer to fiscal stability.

One huge argument for health care reform is long term fiscal stability. So far Obama hasn’t even addressed the issue only saying that he is not going to make us arrive at doom sooner with his plans.


Posted by: Craig Holmes at August 17, 2009 11:41 AM
Comment #286432

Craig, I don’t know enough about Pelosi’s every step to make a judgment about her leadership style. She seems to have to done very well, to me, in getting legislation through with hard opposition. Isn’t that what the majority leader of the House’s role is, primarily? It was for Gingrich, Foley, Boehner, and others. They shepherd legislation coming out of committees onto the House Floor for passage. No House leader gets all their bills passed. If they get a majority however, they have been viewed as successful leaders by historians, for the most part.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 17, 2009 5:05 PM
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