Debt-ceiling circus in Washington

Step right this way, folks! Under the Big Dome! See fire-breathing members of Congress and back-stabbing aides battle the most horrific and humongous monster since Godzilla hit the big screen – the Great National Debt! Watch in awe as Ringmaster Barack Obama uses his whip of fear to draw the masses to frenzy.

The deadline by which Congress must decide to increase the nation’s debt limit or find ways other than borrowing to pay the interest on the huge national debt, is only days away. The finger-pointing, demagoguery, and trickery are reaching a fever pitch unseen since South Carolina Rep. Preston Brooks took a cane to Sen. Charles Sumner on the Senate floor in 1856.

While no canings have yet occurred in the context of the current debt-limit debate (at least none have been reported), the sophistry and gimmickry has been just as excruciating to watch. And the nimbleness with which both Democrats and Republicans contort themselves to avoid touching the critical issue of entitlement reform truly should land some of them on “Dancing with the Stars.”

House Republicans have drawn their line in the sand — “Cut, Cap and Balance.” This plan purports to reduce the deficit by half and gradually lower spending over the next 10 years. It also calls for a Balanced Budget Amendment. The plan passed the House, and has been defeated in the Senate.

The faults in the House GOP plan are obvious. It carves out a huge exception for the “war on terror”; it fails to tackle entitlement spending; and it touts spending cuts that are so far out that many will never materialize. The proffered Balanced Budget Amendment incorporates broad exceptions that no future president or congressional majority would even break a sweat complying with in order to increase spending.

Then there is the oddly-named “Gang of Six” — a bipartisan handful of Senators who have fashioned a plan that includes largely unspecified cuts of $3.7 trillion over the next decade. It leaves to future congressional committees the task of determining what those cuts will actually be – essentially guaranteeing most of them will never be realized. The Gang’s plan also includes $1.0 trillion or more in new revenues. These revenue increases – never referred to as “tax increases” – would come largely through reducing or eliminating numerous deductions in the current income tax system, including the home mortgage deduction.

The philosophy underlying the Gang of Six plan can be summed up in two sentences: “Trust us; we promise to make cuts 10 years from now.” And, “A half century of runaway spending by Washington will be paid for by increasing the taxes on ordinary Americans.” This is what passes for “fairness” in Washington – Congress and presidents spend, and the American people are punished by having their taxes raised.

Even the pass given defense spending by the GOP is likely to run into difficulty. Some Republicans — including more than one running for the presidential nomination – call for spending even more on defense. These “Super Hawks” make such assertions notwithstanding the fact that the current level of defense spending, as analyzed by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, constitutes the “highest level since World War II.”

Also apparently ignored by both sides involved in the current Great Debt Debate, is the cold, hard fact that Medicare and Social Security entitlements have committed the American people to nearly $62 trillion in future, unfunded liabilities. These unfathomable amounts of money constitute additional debt. However, this “debt” falls conveniently within Washington’s large blind spot.

Given such selective vision, it is no wonder the Debt Ceiling Circus continues; tragically but conveniently diverting attention from the very real fiscal catastrophe at America’s doorstep.

By Bob Barr — The Barr Code

79 comments Add your comment

[...] Check out the original source here. [...]

PDavis

July 25th, 2011
5:42 am

I suppose most people never look at their pay stubs, otherwise they’d know, as you should know, that social security is paid for from a separate funding system, NOT the general fund, that it CANNOT take money from the general fund and never has, and that the sum total of Social Security’s contribution to the National Debt is – dare I say it? – ZERO! It seems odd to me that the SOLE AND ONLY fully funded program in the budget is the one everyone runs to yelling CUT CUT CUT! Oh, could it be that THEY DON’T WANT SSA TO CASH IN TWO TRILLION IN US BONDS? Bonds sold with the full “faith” of the US govt behind them? That they intend to create a “special class” of bonds never to be repaid, IOW, an effective default on those bonds so the Treasury will never redeem them? Sure looks like it to me. SS is “unfunded” in exactly the same way every life insurance policy, every annuity, and every other pension plan is “unfunded”, they pay out on what they are taking in, not based on what the TOTAL FUTURE BENEFIT is. NOBODY does that.

billyhamer64

July 25th, 2011
5:50 am

When you’re shopping quotes from lenders, beware of points that they’ll try to impose on your refi. Each point is a fee of 1% on the amount you borrow. I worked with “123 Refinance” search online for them. I would strongly recommend them since they got me 3.24% rate on my mortgage refinance.

DeborahinAthens

July 25th, 2011
7:12 am

The Republicans have no intention of “compromising” to see that the debt ceiling and deficit reduction gets done . The party has been hijacked by the lunatic fringe made up of religious social “engineers” whose one goal is to make sure President Obama isn’t re-elected. When they realized that the economy was improving, they panicked and seized on this as the only way to drive the economy back into the ditch. When you have one Republican candidate whose husband makes a living from taking Federal money to “cure” homosexuality and another candidate that is holding a mass prayer vigil to hear if God is telling him to run for President, you understand the Republican’s panic.

Carlosgvv

July 25th, 2011
8:13 am

When the Tea Party first began to emerge, many of us saw them for what they really are, crazed fanatics. We begged and pleaded with people not to elect these crazies, but they would not listen. Republican voters sowed the wind by electing these loons and now we are all reaping the whirlwind. We can only hope that these voters will come to their senses in the next election and restore some samity to their Party.

Big Tent Democrat

July 25th, 2011
8:30 am

Godzilla? didn’t work. Demagoguery? Obsolete and trite. Sumner’s caning: overused and hack-worthy

Worse, is that Barr used the circus imagery only for itself instead of using it to advance the piece toward his main point. Had he done that, he could have finished in half the words.

” The finger-pointing, demagoguery, and trickery are reaching a fever pitch unseen since South Carolina Rep. Preston Brooks took a cane to Sen. Charles Sumner on the Senate floor in 1856.While no canings have yet occurred in the context of the current debt-limit debate (at least none have been reported), the sophistry and gimmickry has been just as excruciating to watch. And the nimbleness with which both Democrats and Republicans contort themselves to avoid touching the critical issue of entitlement reform truly should land some of them on “Dancing with the Stars.” – This is a total waste of time and energy. It reveals nothing. It states the boring obvious. It puts the reader to sleep. It doesn’t advance the discussion one diddle-dang piddle-poo.

“Nimbleness…..Contort…..” More circle-jerk du soleil.

“These “Super Hawks” make such assertions notwithstanding the fact that the current level of defense spending, as analyzed by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, constitutes the “highest level since World War II.” Awkward, overworded….hopeless. Never use “notwithstanding”.

I like that Bob’s trying to improve his writing, but………

It’s like that clown that went full Oslo last Friday. He had something important to say…..and it was hacked from our Unibomber!!! A long way for a terrorist to go to prove he’s a hack.

This really is the problem of our age: that Hitler rose to power because he hacked what mankind has felt for the ages: we don’t like no foreigners no how. That a country should be founded upon race, not political evolution.

Now, in Europe, the focus has been on the exclusionary nature of the European State. The “guest workers” were never meant to stay. Now there are two societies in each country totally alienated from one another, and living side by side in enclaves.

That’s a total recipe for a civil war time bomb. All it would take would be another eloquent hack like Hitler, and when has the world ever been in short supply of that? The internet is breeding hacks like maggots on the dead carcass of the GOP elephant in our living rooms.

Total Morons

July 25th, 2011
8:31 am

Since when did payment of the US debt as mandated in the Constitution become a “compromise”? That’s like getting pulled over for speeding and saying to the police officer: “Okay, I’ll agree to follow the speed limit as required by law, if you agree to reduce your patrol time on this section of road.”

gator24

July 25th, 2011
9:26 am

If the Debt ceiling is no big deal as some in congress have stated, then why has it been raised so many times.
The Republican members of congress are willing to cut funds to the middle class and poor, but not the wealthy. Why is then so many of these people continue to vote for Republicans, it has to be ideology or just plain stupidity. Unbelievable

Crazed Fanatic

July 25th, 2011
10:01 am

“The Republican members of congress are willing to cut funds to the middle class and poor, but not the wealthy”

Please tell me WHAT FUNDS to the middle class and the poor the Republicans want to cut ? I’m very much middle class and I don’t receive ANY funds from the Fed (and I suspect the vast majority of middle class don’t), and I certainly haven’t heard the Republicans talking about cutting safety net programs for the poor.

Now, if you want to start talking about scaling back and eliminating government agencies . . .

Lawrence

July 25th, 2011
10:05 am

Only when we are not payroll taxed for Social Security and Medicare, and recepients not have to make monthly Medicare payments, can you call it an “entitlement”.

Songbird

July 25th, 2011
10:11 am

Crazed Fanatic – do you deduct mortgage interest from your tax return? If so, that is receiving funds indirectly from the government.

Crazed Fanatic

July 25th, 2011
10:24 am

Songbird: Only in the mind of a leftist. My income belongs to ME (not the government) except for the portion I am legally obligated to pay as taxes. In the mind of a leftist, yes, all my income belongs to the government until they decide what I get to keep (from each . . . and to each . . ., right?). This is what makes me a “crazed fanatic” in the words of an earlier poster; I actually paid attention in school and understand the principles this nation was founded on, and I’m not willing to see those principles compromised.

You can argue the semantics of the home mortgage interest deduction all you want. It does not change the underlying principle. Leftist economics will ultimately destroy this nation, as conceived.

redneckbluedog

July 25th, 2011
10:25 am

ELECTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES…!!!! And the American people are about to see the consequences of what happens when people vote that wear T-bags on their heads…..

mike "hussein" smith

July 25th, 2011
10:28 am

A fair reading of the history of national debt should convince anyone — except Bob Barr — that the runaway spending didn’t kick in until about 2001.

DixieDemons

July 25th, 2011
10:40 am

Are The Tea Party Terrorists on the verge of turning America into a Third World Country ?

Think about how life will be when everyone lines up with a gang / cult for survival …..Mob -rule … Anything goes…… If I can’t control the drinking water well then I will poison it before I move on.

LeeH1

July 25th, 2011
10:48 am

The Republicans are willing to bankrupt the country if it means they can blame it all on Obama. They are a cult that puts their narrow vision above the country’s good, much like that nut job in Norway.

Obozonomics

July 25th, 2011
10:49 am

DeborahinAthens;

You are so funny and delusional, keep on blaming everybody except the democrats who have equal if not MORE responsibility in this debt ceiling issue. Did you forget that the democrats had the super majority in two branches of government but forgot to do a budget for 3 years, please tell me how the GOP had anything to do with that? Did you miss that Obozo and Reid are the babies that run from the room when they can’t have their way, again how is that the GOP’s fault. Since the democrats are stuck with one answer to everything is more taxes so they can spend their way into bankruptcy, and the GOP is trying to stop that, and that is an issue, how? Just wondering how long we can keep spending money we don’t have just to make liberals happy? Isn’t 14 Trillion enough? Time to stop the deficit spending,! One small change in government could solve the debt issue, cut ALL government budgets by 10%, come on loser liberals share the pain, isn’t that what Obozo keeps preaching?

Songbird

July 25th, 2011
10:53 am

Crazed Fanatic, I didn’t say your income doesn’t belong to you. The point I’m making is everyone has a certain tax rate set for them based on income level. Every tax loophole, deduction, etc. has been granted to taxpayers from the government. They are forms of entitlement spending just as much as any other. Red states like Georgia receive more money back from the federal government per capita than they pay in. Blue states typically get less back than they pay in, so they are effectively subsidizing the red states. Don’t believe me, google it and see the numbers for yourself. I doubt that you will do that because you are the kind of person who doesn’t like to let the facts get in the way of their ignorant thinking.

M

July 25th, 2011
10:54 am

Crazed Fanatic,

How does it feel to live in government-subsidized housing?

You have a tax burden of X. Thanks to your home ownership, you have a tax burden of X-Y. Therefore, you are receiving a government subsidy.

M

July 25th, 2011
10:54 am

And it’s likely that your subsidy is greater than those living on welfare.

Jimmy62

July 25th, 2011
10:56 am

If it weren’t for the Tea Party, no politicians would be paying attention to our debt and severely underfunded long term obligations. If it weren’t for the Tea Party, politicians could continue pushing those problems to the future. Thank god for the Tea Party, our children will thank them for trying to fix things now rather than 30 years from now.

The extremists are the people who look at how we’re spending way more than we take in and think that’s just fine and that our children can fix it. That’s extreme. A normal attitude is to look at our problems and try to fix them. And that’s the Tea Party. The people electing the fools who just want to do what we’ve always done are the ones that have the wool pulled over their eyes, the ones that think we can continue on the path we’ve been on with no problems.

And, BTW, if you could take back every penny spent on Iraq and Afghanistan, it wouldn’t come close to covering the gap between revenue and spending. We spend too much! And if you look at the actual facts, spending accelerated starting when the Dems took Congress in 2006.

M

July 25th, 2011
10:57 am

Obozonomics, when you say that cutting all agencies by 10% will eliminate the debt issue, it becomes clear that you have no understanding of mathematics.

Stevie Ray

July 25th, 2011
10:58 am

“The most savage controversies are about those matters as to which there is no good evidence either way”.

Blaming prior administrations no matter how true, is not a debate point of value anymore than creating hysteria such as “what about our poor children and grandchildren”. The numbers both parties use to promote either amazingly apparent political agenda are both hypothetical and nonbinding. I want to believe that the tax base is shrinking while the number of those depending on government is increasing. Who knows what to really believe? Has anyone evaluated the CBO over the past 20 years relative to long term forecasts of say, ten years to determine if these numbers can be trusted?

Taking sides at this point just feeds into the frenzy and underscores the lack of credible, validated data either way. Flawed system+flawed result…

Trapped in a Red state

July 25th, 2011
11:23 am

Most economist agree that the economy will continue to improve, especially next year. The GOP knows that that would almost guarantee Obama’s reelection. They have not tried to pass ANY job creation bills, as promised during their campaigns, because it would be counterproductive to their main goal of defeating Obama in the next election.
Now these GOP leaders see an opportunity to seriously damage the economy…not raising the debt ceiling. All they have to do then, is spend a lot on ads blaming the whole thing on Obama….hell, they blame him now, for the mess “W” caused, and with the steady stream of lies from “talk radio” have managed to convince many ill informed voters to agree with them.
This strategy by the GOP and it’s T Party arm is the most unpatriotic, pathetic, partisan politics I have ever witnessed. As Barbara Boxer noted….” I have never seen anything like this in my 17 years in Congress.
You T Party members are playing with “Polish Pistols”…the ones that shoot backwards. Good riddance to you “patriots” in the next election.
The GOP=PARTY FIRST…COUNTRY SECOND.

[...] Debt-ceiling circus in Washington | The Barr Code. Share this:EmailFacebookRedditDiggPrint Posted in Opinion, US Government – Tagged [...]

Songbird

July 25th, 2011
11:34 am

Obozonomics – liberals in this country tend to be the most highly educated and have higher incomes than many, if not, most conservatives. Your comments and use of the name ‘Obozonomics’ tells me all I need to know about you.

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution: Debt-Ceiling Circus In Washington Also apparently abandoned by both sides concerned in a stream Great Debt Debate, is a cold, tough fact that Medicare and Social Security entitlements have committed a American people to scarcely $62 trillion in future, unfunded liabilities. These infinite amounts of income consecrate additional debt. However, this “debt” falls conveniently within Washington’s vast blind mark (Bob Barr, 7/25). [...]

Pay attention. This is not a drill

July 25th, 2011
11:34 am

This is not a partisan issue; it is too large for that. The Republicans in congress have made several proposals. The Democrats have not. Obama has been a no-show.

Over the past three decades, there have been many budget deals struck — TEFRA, 1991, 1995, and so on — that included both tax changes and spending cuts. In no instance have the spending cuts ever been realized.

We are hurtling towards insolvency. It will not matter who is in the white house except as it relates to the way the pieces are reassembled if nothing is done now. Many think that is the real Obama plan, and there is some evidence of that being the intention of some of his backers. The tea party is equally naive to aver that this can be done without new revenues. They are quite correct, however, that the only way spending cuts will ever occur is by holding the required new revenues hostage.

John Daly

July 25th, 2011
11:37 am

PDavis @5:42

To prevent Social Security from losing tax revenue, Congress mandated that revenues be transferred from the general fund to the Social Security trust funds to make up for the tax reduction. This is provided for in section 601 of the Tax Relief Act, which reads in part, “There are hereby appropriated to the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Trust Fund and the Federal Disability Insurance Trust Fund established under section 201 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 401) amounts equal to the reduction in revenues to the Treasury by reason of the application of subsection (a). Amounts appropriated by the preceding sentence shall be transferred from the general fund at such times and in such manner as to replicate to the extent possible the transfers which would have occurred to such Trust Fund had such amendments not been enacted.”

The reason we are looking at cutting benefits is that we have fallen from approximately 17 people paying into social security for each person receiving benefits when it was founded to, I think, four now. That combined with an overly generous inflation calculation increases spending higher than collections. As to the changes in benefits, the ones proposed by Boehner are pretty much the ones out of the tax commission that Obama initated and then ignored, so you can’t hang that on just the republicans.

Crazed Fanatic

July 25th, 2011
11:43 am

I patently REJECT the notion a tax deduction is an “entitlement” in the context of government spending, which is the core issue under debate here. Patently reject this characterization at face value. I “take” NOTHING from the Fed that isn’t in the domain of shared public services or common defense. Nothing. Read: Zero$, zip, nada. My tax obligation is NOT an obligation until it is computed on my tax forms.

I hold an MBA from a well-reputed private University where many of my instructors were Federal Reserve Bank Managers. I’m not an economist, but again, I patently reject your leftist slant on the mortgage interest tax deduction and again point out your economic perspective is a MAIN REASON why your party needs to be defeated politically, and I can assure you I am contributing to those efforts.

redneckbluedog

July 25th, 2011
11:48 am

@Obozonomics, 10:49,

The Senate and the White House are both prepared to act…The problem is that the House of Representatives cannot seem to pass any legislation for anyone exept themselves…and then they thump their chests like they’ve actually DONE something…How many Texans does it take to change a light bulb..? 5…One to change the bulb, and 4 more to tell everybody else how GREAT they are…..

WOODSTOCK MIKE

July 25th, 2011
11:57 am

“The problem is that the House of Representatives cannot seem to pass any legislation for anyone exept themselves…and then they thump their chests like they’ve actually DONE something”

The real problem is that on Friday there was a deal and Obama wanted to add 400B in tax increases at the last second. Once that happened Boehner walked out. Obama could have easily signed the deal, he chose not to…

DixieDemons

July 25th, 2011
12:07 pm

Obama could have easily signed the deal, he chose not to…

We will hear more about this later when we default on our debt obligations and J BO and Reid throw something together the Pres VETOES

The Truth

July 25th, 2011
12:09 pm

If welfare recipients did not vote Democrats would never win another election.

The reason this is an issue presently is since 2006 when the Democrats were in charge of Congress we doubled down on spending. Since 2008 when Obama was elected it has quadruled.

Obama did present a budget this year. It INCREASED the deficeit 10 trillion dollars. IT was voted down in the senate 0-97. Not a single Democrat voted for Obama massive failure of a budget.

Jefferson

July 25th, 2011
12:29 pm

The bills the president Bush, the GOP ran up and the spending president Obama had to do to pull the country out of the ditch it was left in has to be paid. Cowards say no.

DixieDemons

July 25th, 2011
12:31 pm

@ The Truth ….. Call your local DFCS / Welfare office . They give applicants voter registration forms and help them register to vote. Based on your voter theory it might be a Democratic landslide the next election cycle if we default on our debt obligation which the experts claim will lead to more job losses/ recession. Job losses send people to the DFCS / Welfare office for help

Bye bye Obozo

July 25th, 2011
12:36 pm

Obama = one and done.

Sucks to be a loser lib these days.

Cutty

July 25th, 2011
12:36 pm

The Truth- What about from 2001- FALL 2006. Two wars, two tax cuts, a Prescription Drug Benefit (gasp, the Socialism), and no spending bill was ever vetoed by the President. Forgot about that? You don’t think all of that helped dramatically get us in this financial hole?

All put on a credit card. At least Obama had the good sense to put the wars IN the actual budget, which did increase the deficit. TARP was signed by a republican president. Oh, and 7 increases in the debt ceiling all done in legislation the length of two sentences. If you want to talk about smoke and mirrors, well there you go.

Bye bye Obozo

July 25th, 2011
12:37 pm

DeborahinAthens

How many times have you fallen off the short bus?

Bye bye Obozo

July 25th, 2011
12:38 pm

Obama and the Dems didn’t propose a budget for 2 years. I love how left wingers point fingers at the GOP as if they are the problem.

WOW

July 25th, 2011
12:39 pm

Time to impeach Obama.

Sandra

July 25th, 2011
1:07 pm

@ Crazed Lunatic and Bye bye Obozo,
I think your names speak for yourselves without even having to read the dribble you spout. You really are nuts. All these ‘facts’ you speak of come straight from talk radio and not from real facts. Enough said.

Obozonomics

July 25th, 2011
1:20 pm

Here is the real decision, raise taxes, which will not make a dent in the deficit, do we borrow money we don’t have and keep spending like drunken liberals, or do we make a budget and live within our means?
Only an idiot would side with the democrats on this, right debrainathens?

Gator Joe

July 25th, 2011
1:28 pm

The Republicans, indeed the Right, are not serious about debt reduction and have zero credibility regarding fiscal responsibility. They stood by while the Bush/Cheney and the Republicans ran up the debt and deficits without saying a word. Now that a Democrat is in the White House they suddenly became concerned.
The Debt and Deficits cannot be solved without raising taxes and closing tax loopholes.
If the Republicans choose to allow the US government to default then so be it, I’m looking forward to hearing the whining and howling from their corporate and fatcat masters.

Toby

July 25th, 2011
1:54 pm

Mitch McConnel (GOP) said that the main goal of the GOP was to defeat President Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012; if the GOP influences economic downfall then that might help them with their horrible goal.

Bye bye Obozo

July 25th, 2011
2:05 pm

Sandra

Unless you’re a total moron, which you obviously are, you would know that Obama and the Dems NEVER proposed a budget. Period.

Bye bye Obozo

July 25th, 2011
2:06 pm

“The Republicans, indeed the Right, are not serious about debt reduction and have zero credibility regarding fiscal responsibility.”

Gaytor Joe has a very low IQ.

Bye bye Obozo

July 25th, 2011
2:07 pm

“Mitch McConnel (GOP) said that the main goal of the GOP was to defeat President Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012″

Well duh, tard.

Obozonomics

July 25th, 2011
2:10 pm

Gator Joe,
When Bush wanted money for toilet paper the democrats screamed bloody murder, so where is all the screaming now that Obozo has quadrupled 8 years of Bush spending in 3 years? So that seems to be OK with all the crybabies, why is that?

Tranny Crapzilla

July 25th, 2011
2:10 pm

“I think your names speak for yourselves without even having to read the dribble you spout. You really are nuts. All these ‘facts’ you speak of come straight from talk radio and not from real facts. Enough said.”

Sandra, like most left wingers, can’t even argue facts. What “facts” are you talking about, cupcake? You come in here, call people nuts and then end with “enough said.”