Posts tagged ‘deficit’

Just a Footnote

I am on a post-truth kick, trying to understand why people, when presented with the facts, ignore them. But here is one from yesterday. You know those tax and spend Democrats who the majority of voters think are bad on the economy and the debt? Well the numbers say it ain’t so and has not ever been. The latest tax cut enacted by the Republicans should wake you up to that. But here are the numbers relative to our deficit:

Now what does that tell you? But we don’t care because we “feel” like the Democrats are the worst stewards. But reality is a bitch and voting on our feeling has consequences when you ignore the facts. More on our post-truth, a.k.a., the Trump Administration and Republicans, in a bit.

*Note the big climb in debt was the crash brought to us by deregulation of the banks and their crash, the bailout, giant jump in safety net spending as people lost their jobs, and the stimulation bill that save us from a bigger crisis. Note how it back down as the economy healed under Obama. Oh, that couldn’t be could it….

Friday’s Things

You could start your morning with one of the best summaries of the collapse of the Republican Party and Paul Ryan with Will Wilkerson’s NYT article. His description of how establishment politics, and Ryan’s economic politics in general, were totally ineffectual for the heartland, and that led to the rise of Trump.

Mr. Trump spotted opportunity in the injured dignity of the Republican base and the feckless irrelevance of the establishment’s agenda. He told Republicans shaken by the reality and risk of downward mobility that they were the only Americans who counted, and that they had been cheated and betrayed.

He promised never to cut their Social Security or Medicare, and expressed admiration for single-payer health care. He took their side against immigrant rapists, murderous jihadis, plundering trade deals, dangerous city people and disloyal, condescending elites of all parties and persuasions. He promised to use his billionaire superpowers to rig the economy to their advantage. It didn’t matter that he is a transparently corrupt, bigoted, sexually abusive, compulsive liar. He offered the dignity of recognition, promised to fight, and won.

Or you could flick over to Paul Krugman, who described the reality of who and what Paul Ryan represented (flimflam man) and how we got there, as with so many disasters we have encountered in recent times, false equivalency:

Even now, in this age of Trump, there are a substantial number of opinion leaders — especially, but not only, in the news media — whose careers, whose professional brands, rest on the notion that they stand above the political fray. For such people, asserting that both sides have a point, that there are serious, honest people on both left and right, practically defines their identity.

…And let me say that the same bothsidesism that turned Ryan into a fiscal hero played a crucial role in the election of Donald Trump. How did the most corrupt presidential candidate in American history eke out an Electoral College victory? There were many factors, any one of which could have turned the tide in a close election. But it wouldn’t have been close if much of the news media hadn’t engaged in an orgy of false equivalence.

Or you could read about Jim Comey’s new book about what a lying sack of sh*t President DFF is, but we already knew that especially from his comeback, “untruthful slime ball.” Or you could look at his attack and new panel to investigate the Post Office. Or you could ponder Syria the the non-attack to teach them a lesson. Or you could ponder our new foray into the TPP when the reality of a trade war dawns on President DFF. Or you could read about the investigation of Cohen’s office and what and where the investigation might go. Timothy Egan has a great fun piece on the wasted money our taxes are paying for under the drain the swampy DFF’s administration. Roger Cohen gives another great piece about the parallels of Hitler and President DFF (I wrote the other day of Madeleine Albright’s article on the same topic).

But in all this noise and cacophony, what is getting done? Where is the great discussion about the real problems that face us and rational approaches to our future? It is all getting lost in the chaos of Trump and the nation has slid to a stop. That is the real damage as we wait on the debate for the way forward. Take Syria. So we strike, after that what? Withdraw? What is the end game and what is the strategy? Take economic inequality. How do we create better jobs and more equitably share the profits so we all prosper? Bring back coal jobs that aren’t coming back? Take the TPP, again what is our strategy? The TPP did many fine things, but also lowered environmental standards and made economic inequality grow. Think President DFF has a plan? Think he cares about those things? Take global warming. Oh, why do I bother.

We are now living in a global economy and there is no going back. Our problems are large and looming and we are lost in the chaos of the china broken in the china shop by the bull called Trump. Republicans are in disarray because their ideology has failed and the guy who promised win-lose and white nationalism is just making things worse. Democrats under Hillary (the establishment), while better, did not really face the problems we have realistically with the same old patches to a failing economic system (if you live in fly over country). Move to the coast and code was not realistic. So where is out discussion of the way forward?

No we are chasing smoke and mirrors right now thrown up by the chaos that is President DFF and his defenders, but sooner or later, we really do have to face our problems like burgeoning debt. Oh, dare I say it, we need smart programs and pay for them. No more party of free rides from flow down. Where is the discussion of that? I have offered my vision, but we have to transition and that begins when we actually debate these things with real facts and data, not ideological objections. That is what we are missing and as much as I enjoy watching the noose tighten around President DFF and the Republican’s necks, just putting Democrats back in power, while reinstating the rule of law, does not answer the big questions that we need to debate. Until then I will be waiting.

*Just a note. I will not be waiting. I will be discussing them here and all three readers can get a glimpse of what we must face. There is a new book out there that I think is an important read if you want to get ahead of me, Can Democracy Survive Global Capitalism by Robert Kuttner. Really the question is how do we change capitalism so democracy can survive and flourish not just for a few, but for all of us.

Oh, How Democracy Crumbles

See the articles about Bob Corker rethinking re-election? Of course he would have to be a President DFF boy. Ah, but what better way to spend your aging days than in the Senate kissing goodbye everything you ever stood for? It seems to be the way of Republicans these days. Remember all that fiscal conservatism? Kiss that baby goodbye with the Tax Gut bill. Oh wait, it is starve the beast so they can get rid of all those pesky programs like Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid. Can you say goodbye  SNAP (Food Stamps), which primarily helps kids and old people. Who needs them? Of course they are going to empty the Treasury and there will be no infrastructure except give-aways to capitalist cronies. Hey, pay for flush, what a great idea.

Meanwhile as Republicans totally co-opt themselves and the nation, the courts are trying to right the wrong in gerrymandering and their state legislature are trying to attack those courts. If you did not know any better you would think this is about some banana republic in South America, although these days they are run better than we are. The White House has become such a mockery of truth and justice (lies and deceit is closer to it) and the shame is that we just shrug. If any of this had happened under a Clinton administration imagine the public flogging and impeachment. Ah, but it is President DFF and we are attaching ourselves to him and his ignorance to pass our conservative agenda that will bankrupt the country.

I love the Olympics because it is a melting pot of diversity and exceptionalism. Could we learn from that? Not on your life. It is time to restrict immigration and become the white nation. Except every economist you want to talk to will tell you if we want GDP growth we need immigration. Maybe all those white supremists will lay down their robes/ropes/guns and get a job picking fruit, you think? No, we are on the precipice of the the big fall, just as in the Bush Administration, but not derivatives this time. We have authorized massive tax cuts to the wealthy spending our Treasury on nothing, probably driving up inflation, creating and unsustainable deficit just when we should be raising taxes, we are limiting our work force, and the me only trade policy is causing other nations to leave us behind as they make their own deals.

So keep voting Republican because they are the party of self-discipline and fiscal responsibility. See any sarcasm here? The only way to save our nation is to throw them all out. No one who says they are a Republican should be elected because while they feign disdain of that fat dumb f*ck as our president, they vote to enable him and his co-opted party. Oh, and don’t blame Democrats (So what are you going to do to stop them?), they are the minority because voters through them out for this mindless bunch and there is nothing they can do until you put them back in a super majority. So either admit you were a fool to vote Republican or kiss your country goodbye. The rate of destruction is increasing as I write. Just the mid-week blues.

Hypocrisy in Spades

I am one who has never been afraid of he debt. You know one of those crazy liberal tax and spend. The operative word in that statement is TAX. Increasing the debt in times when we need investment whether in a recession or when we need to upgrade our infrastructure for the future is quite normal and what we should care about is that it does not overly raise interest rates or spur inflation if we print money. Our present debt has done neither and with corporations fat with cash, borrowing, government versus the private sector, is not an issue. So debt is a relative term, and a necessary evil of investment in the future. The question is how much debt and remember debt is meaningless as a number until you compare it to GDP.

Okay, but our Republican friends who claim that debt is the devil just cut massive taxes for the wealthy. The Stock market is quite happy and President DFF waves the flag of how he, the biggest DFF in the room, has finally given us an economy that can grow (it already was and has been since 2009). But here is the thing, just like in the Bush days before the big crash, we got lower taxes and spend, spend, spend. Then we had the crash in 2008. Well here we are again. This is the Treasury Departments forecast for this year on our deficit because of the decreased tax revenues of the tax cut:

Now there are several things to note here. In 2009 it really spiked after who again wrecked the economy? Republicans. All that spending was to save the banks, activate the safety nets for all those who lost their jobs, and a small stimulus package to try to get the economy going again. Do you remember where the Stock Market Dow Jones was then, the Holy Grail of Republican metrics? $6500±. Note also that our deficit has steady dropped and then the spike for the Tax cut. Funny President DFF did not mention this in his State of the Union. Where is all the supply side new revenue? Non-existent. Sadly running up the debt to make rich people richer is a much different thing than running up our debt to invest in our future (infrastructure, education, healthcare). Oh and on that liberal tax and spend thing. Yeah, if you want to spend, and a tax cut is spending, you have to tax to afford it. You go there Tax and Spend liberals/progressives. Meanwhile the fear the debt Republicans are historically famous for running it up.

General Kelly and Seeing the Real Problem

After the FF (Fat F*ck, aka President Trump) turned the killed servicemen into a political issue, and then totally botched  the call after the Press had asked if he had made any calls (where he lied about other presidents), Generally Kelly came out and made an impassioned plea to depoliticize the whole issue, explaining what happened.  Now this should have both been pointed at his boss and ended the issue, but then he turned around and made a partisan political attack on the Congresswoman in the car where call was made (at the request of the grieving parents).  Trump of course lied about all this instead of saying, I botched and I am truly sorry, to which Kelly did not deny the conversation, but attack the Congresswoman for making a “private” call public.

Well, bull shit.  First she was asked to be there and it was put on speakerphone.  Was the President alone when the call (No)?  Secondly he offended them with his lack of empathy, which is just another instance of why he should not be president.  But then Kelly made a partisan attack on the Congresswoman, racial in undertones, showing he is not the steady hand that some were hoping for.  Kelly even made references to “other” gold star families who have spoken out and he had no right to tell them they cannot use their First Amendment rights. Then there was what was sacred discussion that let you know this man is so far removed from reality that he too is dangerous. I think Lawrence O’Donnell took his attack apart better than anyone because he had the guts to.

I want you to note one other thing.  What General Kelly heard and told the FF to say is not the same thing he said.  It is a classic example of how little understand the FF has of the human condition.

Meanwhile the Republicans passed a budget bill on all Republican votes that most of them do not know what is in it.  It was to get a win.  So far the reasonable experts tell us a couple of things.  It busts the budget and like Kansas, may create a fiscal disaster. Tax cuts don’t necessarily equal growth.  Meanwhile Wall Street is doing great and the FF is taking credit when what is really driving the economy right now is low interest rates, set up in the Obama Administration.  If as most of us think, giant deficit spending that the budget bill and the follow on tax cut will create become a reality, the interest rate will go up, and kiss the economy goodbye.

The other part of this is that less than 52% of Americans own stocks, and the majority of the FF’s supporters do not.  How Wall Street does has little with working Americans, and let’s just review, Bank of America just downgraded Chipotle stocks because they think they pay their employees too much.  Bring back slavery!  That is the mentality we are dealing with.

Meanwhile, ex-Presidents Bush and Obam took on the FF finally.  Of course there is some real hypocrisy here, but at least major figures are starting to stand up.  I am off to Oakland for a Van Morrison concert and will try to ignore the madness that is our government these days.  Happy Friday.

What Don’t They Have Wrong?

One really has to wonder how we can watch the Republican debate and not wonder if we are in Alice and Wonder Land. You know we make fun about an alternate reality, but we really saw one on Wednesday night.  I guess you really can make up your own facts. Pick a candidate (except John Kaish) and I can cite an outright lie they uttered.  And when they got called on it, they were being attacked by the liberal media.  Hillary gets a pass (Ted Cruz) which is a total joke if you watched Anderson Cooper go after her for emails and changed positions.  The Donald wants only certified Republicans as moderators as if there is no dissension in the Republican party.

But I am not writing to fact check their statements. I am writing to fact check their ideas.  So what did we hear in the way of big ideas? Silence.  Oh there were the flat tax plans that even conservative think tanks point out are debt bombs. But in general they railed against big government and regulations, and proposed lower taxes.  They all are going to balance the budget.  Let’s look at why all these are bad ideas.

First of all let’s take on big government.  Now usually this is code for no regulations and low taxes since there won’t be much to pay for.  But first let’s just take in the ‘big’.  So how big is our super sized government?  Well comparisons are in order. The present size of the federal government is smaller (counting heads) than it was in 1962.  Generally speaking we have been on a downward trend in terms of people employed.  While our population has grown, we have less and less federal government employees per capita to serve them. And as a percent of total employed Americans, Federal government workers have actually been dropping steadily and are now near an all-time low:

and-as-a-percent-of-total-employed-americans-federal-government-workers-have-actually-been-dropping-steadily-and-are-now-near-an-all-time-low

 

Okay, what about the growth in spending, as Rand Paul said, blowing up the deficit. Umm, the deficit has been falling and has been decreased by 2/3 since President Obama took office. But what about that massive debt (deficit is difference between tax revenue and spending in any given year)?  Oh and if you want to know where that giant deficit came from well:

20130303-084529.jpg

Well, define massive.  Sure you can cite some gargantuan number but it has no meaning unless you know how much you earn.  Debt, even by mortgage companies, is evaluated against your income.  Our debt it turns out, when measured against our GDP is well within reason.  How do we know that?  Because interest rates for borrowing are rock bottom and there is little inflation.  The market tells us so.

In fact many economist tell us we are paying down the deficit way to fast and should be investing in America to create jobs and grow the economy and GDP.  But the boys and girls on the stage are telling you we have to have a balanced budget.  Oh what a disaster that would be.  If we can’t borrow and spend in lean times, do we just let a recession become a depression?  Did we learn nothing from the business cycles of the past, not to mention the Great Depression?  Think about the farmer who has a blight year.  He goes in debt to invest in tomorrow’s crop and we would not afford government the same opportunity to help Americans in distress?

Oh, and Very Serious People (VSPs) like to point out that the only way we can control our spending is to cut entitlements, you know, Social Security and Medicare.  How about if we just tax a little more and actually fund this programs and maybe even expand them since a livable retirement program based upon how much you pay in and really Medicare for everyone would help our economy, not hurt it. Countries with more generous safety nets actually have more social mobility and innovation.  People are less afraid to change jobs or go out on their own.

So much for being afraid of the debt, which apparently none of the Republican candidates really are since most of their budget plans are based on tax cuts for the wealth that cause the debt and deficit to balloon.  They are all based upon the belief, no religion because it is immune to facts, that tax cuts to the wealthy create jobs and pay for themselves in a growing economy and increased tax revenue.  Except we have no evidence this has ever happened.  Here is what really happened in the Reagan years from the Washington Post and here is what happened when Bush ballooned the deficit cutting taxes.  Even the new Republican-appointed director of the Congressional Budget Office, Keith Hall, delivered some bad news on Tuesday to the party’s “Reaganomics” devotees: Tax cuts don’t pay for themselves through turbocharged economic growth.

Okay, so much for government is out of control, the deficit is out of control, fear the debt, trickle down economics and tax cuts pay for themselves and create jobs*.  So what is the last pillar of Republican bullshit besides the social stuff (gays are destroying marriage and women should be denied a right to control their bodies)?  Regulations!  We need to get government off our backs! Now on this one, we just need to use some common sense.  Sure there are regulations that limit economic activity, like costing companies kadoodles of cash having to dispose of toxic waste safely.  And the alternative would be? We have been there and that is why a Republican created the EPA.

Or as I said in my last blog, “Would that be the EPA and their troublesome clean air and water? Who needs that? Would that be banking regulations to keep the “Masters of the Universe” from tanking the economy like they did last time? Would that be those pesky regulations that keep our food safe? You could go on and on.  Which ones boys and girls? Oh, and let’s get rid of Obamacare where medical insurers actually have to offer plans that covers stuff.”

Getting rid of regulations would be a boom for the 1%, but a disaster for the rest of us.  Sure you can find the anecdotal bad regulation, so fix it.  But they want to throw the baby out with the bath water.  But if you are not sensing a trend here, you have checked your brain at the door.  Everything they want would be great for the 1% and a disaster for the rest of us.  It is economic inequality on steroids.  And as the rest of us lose our buying power, who is going to buy stuff the 1% wants to sell?

So all in all, they have everything wrong and there is tons of data out there to demonstrate it.  There are, of course, some circumstances where their nonsense makes sense, if there was pent up demand and the means to spend, but that is not the world we live in anymore.  The middle class is losing ground. So if we put them in power, the best outcome is that we would muddle along like we are with our infrastructure deteriorating around us.  The more likely outcome is that it would be a disaster for our economy and set us back hundreds of years.  I guess people better get out and vote.

*Tax cuts can actually create jobs and grow the economy if they are focused on the 90%, not the 1%.  Any guess who a flat tax benefits the most?

An Example of the Fantasyland Republicans Live In

I just have to do it.  Here is the one thing that Republicans all believe about the economy.  Obama has wrecked it.  Okay, let’s examine that, you know, with facts.

First where was the economy when he came into office?  Well, the housing bubble under their boy George Bush has burst and the economy after eight years of Republican leadership was cratering.  The jobless rate went from 5.0 percent in 2007 to 9.5% in June 2009 (Bureau of Labor and Statistics).  Between 2008 to Jan 9 2009 (President Obama’s inauguration) 2.6 million jobs were lost (CNN).  GDP actually fell in 2008 and 2009 to negative 2.9%.  Whose fault do you think that was?  And the stock market?  It crashed down from 14,00 to 7000.  Now all of this was under George W. Bush and a Republican Congress.

Oh, and let’s not forget the deficit.  It was growing wildly under the Bush administration due to the tax cuts and the war.  Here is where the deficit went after the crash and why:

20130303-084529.jpg

Now we have a starting point where President Obama came into to office,  So where are we today as President Obama has “wrecked” the economy?

Unemployment:  5.1% (recovered from almost 10%)

GDP: 3.1% (recovered from -2.9%)

Stockmarket (Dow Jones):  16,459 (recovered from 7000)

And the deficit?  It fell from $1.4 trillion in the 2009 fiscal year to $486 billion in the 2014 fiscal year, a drop of 66 percent.

Yep, he has ruined the economy if you are cross-eyed moron unable to use the internet or read statistics.  Or he has slowly restored it.  Anybody notice that he beat Romney’s promises? Shouldn’t they be dancing in the streets?

Now you can complain about a lot of things like the recovery was not fast enough (Republicans blocked that with austerity); we are decreasing the deficit too fast at the expense of needed investment in America (Republicans blocked that with no new spending); that real unemployment is much larger for the lack of good jobs and people not actively seeking work (Republicans blocked any jobs bill); and that economic inequality is stifling middle class growth (Republicans blocked raising the minimum wage and tax reform).  But he has restored what the Republicans destroyed,  And now they want to be put in charge again so they can destroy it again.

No Virginia, the economy is not a mess under Obama as the Republicans claim, and yes they are lying sacks of shit who live in a fantasyland far, far away. Turning the government over to them would be a disaster. Oh, sorry dear. Sometimes the truth is vulgar.

Maybe tomorrow I will take on their complaints about his foreign policy.  A little truth telling there might be beneficial.

 

 

I am Not Sure He Is Thinking Either

John Boehner made this statement this morning when he finally agreed to put up a clean debt limit extension bill: “The president does to seem to care about the debt, to the deficits that are occurring.”

Interesting. The deficit has have been cut in half and is coming down faster than it has since WWII. In fact most economists (and moi) think it is coming down way too fast and hurting our economy. The debt has had no, I repeat, no negative impacts on the economy. The interest rate is very low and companies are awash in cash. Inflation is also too low, inhibiting spending. The whole debt thing is a shame. Well there is that confidence fairy thing, but I think Europe and their experience with austerity has pretty much exploded our belief in fairies.

Oh, and here is one more nonsensical fact: While the conservative think tanks are going berserk at this “cave in” and do not want to ever extend the debt limit again, did they consider that if they wanted to control spending, they should control spending (this would kill the economy, but we are talking Republicans here). They just passed a budget that actually authorized the spending that the debt celling will have to be extended for. They are totally irrational. I don’t really think they care about the debt, just crashing the economy under President Obama.

Random Thoughts Before I Go Work in the Vineyard

Here are just a few thoughts I had running through my mind at 5 am this morning as I perused the papers and the days events:

  • In Moore we celebrate the “rebuild it” mentality as we did in New York after Sandy. I wonder why. Can’t we learn from stupid choices which are sure to repeat themselves soon enough?
  • We are going to limit our drone wars. I can’t help it. Killing and war are fairly stupid and if we believe in human rights, there should be due process. Mistakes are common. Collateral damage just isn’t acceptable. In a declared war is one thing, but we are violating everything we stand for because we think it will never apply to us
  • Apple gets celebrated for their innovative ways of tax sheltering billions of dollars and we want to send tax collectors (IRS) to jail. Tells you something about our Congress and why the country is becoming about the 1% or as Jared Bernstein said this morning in the Huffington Post, “Because they can indefinitely shield their foreign profits from U.S. taxes, meanwhile engaging in endless (legal) schemes to avoid taxes in countries where they book those earnings, the link between the profitability of American companies and the well-being of America is broken”
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Another No Duh Moment as We Continue Our Madness on the Economic Front

There was an an article this morning entitled Economist see Deficit Emphasis as Impeding the Economy. It should have been titled, We are the Stupidest People on the Planet. To quote from the article:

The nation’s unemployment rate would probably be nearly a point lower, roughly 6.5 percent, and economic growth almost two points higher this year if Washington had not cut spending and raised taxes as it has since 2011, according to private-sector and government economists.

After two years in which President Obama and Republicans in Congress have fought to a draw over their clashing approaches to job creation and budget deficits, the consensus about the result is clear: Immediate deficit reduction is a drag on full economic recovery…“While I agree that the U.S. must get its fiscal house in order,” Jerry Webman, chief economist at OppenheimerFunds, wrote, “I join the likes of the I.M.F. in cautioning that too much austerity, too soon, is likely counterproductive.”

So with deficits coming down too fast, why can’t we change directions and do some loosening up of the sequester? Can you say the word Republican? Ask your self what the Republican economic plan is and you get one answer: Small Government. Therefore we must continue cutting. Oh, and while I am on it, ever wonder why people like Bill Clinton and others like Barack Obama got the focus on the deficit so wrong? Because they hang with rich people who are doing just fine with the Stock Market at record highs in our depressed economy. See any jobs being created by the record Stock Market?

We are the dumbest people on the planet, bound for extinction if we can not react to the reality around us and make changes. Instead we continue to do the same stupid things over and over and expect a different outcome. Who was it again who said that was the definition of stupidity?