Two budget fights loom — one that matters, and one that doesn’t

The looming budget fight in Washington has two components, the short term and the long term. And it’s important to keep that distinction in mind as events play out.

The short term is going to be brutal. House Republicans are itching for a spending fight, and they’re going to get one. The occasion might be passage of the continuing resolution needed to fund the rest of this fiscal year; it might be the debate over raising the debt ceiling; it might be both. The House GOP is proposing budget moves they know won’t be accepted — a 29 percent cut in the hated EPA, eliminating funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Americorps and slashing college tuition aid while defense spending increases — but they show every sign of stamping their feet and throwing a major hissy fit if the rest of Washington doesn’t bow to their every wish.

The damage those cuts would do is serious. But in terms of the deficit, the short-term fight will mean nothing and accomplish nothing. By concentrating on non-defense discretionary spending, which accounts for just 12 to 18 percent of federal spending depending on how you define it, the short-term battle sidesteps entitlements, defense or taxes, which means it doesn’t address the deficit at all. Its sole impact will be to strengthen or weaken the political position of the various participants as they prepare for the longer game.

That’s where the money is, and where the change will come. For the first time, we’re seeing signs from President Obama and congressional leaders of both parties that they’re willing to work toward a grand compromise. To his credit, U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia is reportedly playing a major role in leading a bipartisan, behind-the-scenes discussion in the Senate in which all ideas — entitlements, taxes, defense — are on the table.

Let’s breeze through the major areas of concern:

1.) Saving Social Security is relatively easy. You don’t have to privatize it, you don’t have to slash it. The president’s bipartisan deficit commission laid out a common-sense approach of reductions in long-term benefit increases combined with slight increases in SSI taxes to make the program actuarially sound. Remember, the maximum Social Security benefit for someone retiring this year at age 66 is barely $28,000, so any effort to slash that is going to hit a lot of vulnerable people very hard.

2.) Medicare, on the other hand, is relatively impossible. We’ve got a health-care delivery system that already spends twice as much of our national GDP as any other industrialized country, and we’ve got large numbers of Baby Boomers about to retire over the next decade. That’s a hugely expensive combination.

The House GOP approach to Medicare is essentially to abandon it, converting the program to vouchers that senior citizens can use to buy health insurance on their own. However, those vouchers would be scheduled to diminish in value over time, leaving seniors to somehow pay their own medical bills. The numbers just don’t work, and the impact of that approach on seniors’ access to health care would be far more devastating than the imaginary death panels could ever have been.

Somehow, you’ve got to lower health-care delivery costs not just in Medicare but throughout the health-care system. (Doing it in Medicare alone is impossible.) You’ve also got to means-test benefits to a degree and raise taxes if necessary to cover what’s left. You can’t “solve” Medicare, but you can certainly contain it.

3.) Defense spending also has to be cut. Everyone knows it, although some refuse to acknowledge it. You cannot sustain a globally dominant military without a globally dominant economy, and if you try to do so, you weaken your economy still further. Today, we lack the means to permanently finance a military establishment that spends as much money as the rest of the world combined on defense. Those days are over.

4.) Taxes have to go up. We have to trash the nonsensical idea that tax cuts pay for themselves, because they don’t. Taxes aren’t too high — as a percentage of national GDP, they’re lower now than they’ve been in decades. If we simply allow the Bush tax cuts to expire as now scheduled in 2012, taxes as a percentage of GDP would still be at or below the historical average since 1970.

Those are the raw ingredients of a deal: Entitlement cuts, spending cuts, defense cuts and tax increases. How much of each will be a matter of negotiation and sometimes bitter political gamesmanship, but without all four components, no deal is possible and we’ll continue right off the cliff.

– Jay Bookman

489 comments Add your comment

Paul

February 16th, 2011
9:55 am

just posted this for jm downstairs, but I can see people bringing it up before this thread is over, so I thought I’d lead with it and comment on this topic in a bit.

’sides which, I wanted to try for firsties –

jm

“Hey Paul, dug some more on the FY 2008 Deficit. Looks like it was $458B total (cash). Here is the source. http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/fy10/hist.html”

Thanks. That was for FY 2008, the last full year of Pres Bush’s administration. The way it works is, given the amount of lead time, the President begins preparing the budget for the next year over a year out. They put together the numbers, send it to Congress, they adjust and the Pres signs. The fiscal year begins in October before the calendar year. So, FY 2009 begins 1 Oct 08 and ends 30 Sep 09. The new pres comes in in Jan and has to live with the budget of his predecessor, as the fiscal year’s already one-fourth over.

So back to those tables. You are correct, in FY 08, the last full year of the Bush Administration, the deficit was $459 billion.

But, the last budget Pres Bush prepared, that was already a fourth over when Pres Obama took office, that deficit (still an estimate) was not what I initially said. You are correct. It was not $1.1 trillion.

The latest GAO estimate, according to that table, is the Bush budget racked up a deficit of $1.8 trillion.

Doggone/GA

February 16th, 2011
9:57 am

Jay – part of your paragraph on SS is missing

Vinny

February 16th, 2011
9:57 am

Obama is obviously nothing but an incompetent boob and does not have a clue as to how lead this country out of the recession. Let’s make sure he doesn’t get re-elected in 2012. America won’t last with such a miserable excuse for a “leader”.

Lord Help Us

February 16th, 2011
9:59 am

This is a great example of what infuriates me about both sides of the political debate…

Few of the A$$hats we see on TV or in print even acknowledge the FULL picture…they pick one tree out of the entire forest and concoct an asinine position that only addresses the one ‘tree.’

They know better, but have been taught that their constituents are dumb…

Normal

February 16th, 2011
9:59 am

Good ol’ Vinny…always good for a laugh… :lol:

Doggone/GA

February 16th, 2011
10:00 am

“Good ol’ Vinny…always good for a laugh”

A card-carrying member of “the Tribe”!

Vinny

February 16th, 2011
10:01 am

Jay – Feel free to pay more taxes if you think that you are not taxed enough. Lead the way, compadre!!

joe

February 16th, 2011
10:02 am

The cuts that need to be made have to be across the board, along with elimination of some of the departments–we don’t need a dept of education as they do nothing but spend money (plus, our property taxes provide the local schools with the money they need, not the feds–the feds spend money on teachers unions and other unnecessary entitlements), we don’t need dept of agriculture either. EPA should be slashed. IRS should be eliminated and replaced with the fair tax.

Everything else should be cut 25% with defense cut to 40% or so. We have to get serious about this or lose our American way of life. Our currency and our future and our kids future depends on it. That is why I’m giving more consideration to Ron Paul, where 4 years ago, I laughed at him.

Lord Help Us

February 16th, 2011
10:02 am

‘does not have a clue as to how lead this country out of the recession.’

Yo, Vinny…he already did…

Paul

February 16th, 2011
10:03 am

I like that. Main point, supporting arguments, tie-in back to the theme.

“U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia is reportedly playing a major role in leading a bipartisan, behind-the-scenes discussion in the Senate”

Pres Obama did it with Congressional Republicans, Spkr Pelosi wasn’t happy but the deal was cut. That’s how, to use a worn metaphor, sausage gets made. Gotta bypass talk radio and special interest websites and activist special interest groups.

Sen Rand Paul was on tv this morning, said in the next two weeks they’ll propose ‘modest’ changes to SS to fix it. If he’s talking ‘modest’ and it appears to mirror the deficit commission, maybe we can fix it.

For the rest, the contrast between public pronouncements and appeasement vs private accommodation. I hope accommodation wins.

Paulo977

February 16th, 2011
10:03 am

Vinny..”Bush was obviously nothing but an incompetent boob and did not have a clue as to how lead this country” There I’ve fixed it for you!!!!!!

jm

February 16th, 2011
10:03 am

Paul, i saw it.

Paul 9:51- you’re correct about how the fiscal year works. But Obama signed the 2009 fiscal year budget, not Bush. They spit out CR’s so that Obama would have his choice over how to spend the money.

So, Obama decided to blow the cash. The guy’s the worst President we’ve possibly ever had… and if re-elected, will probably be the overseer of US bankruptcy / hyperinflation. It makes me ill.

But, at least I can salve my conscience by shorting Treasuries. Makes me feel better. Prosperity insurance so to speak.

Vinny

February 16th, 2011
10:03 am

Doggone / Normal. The only joke is Obama. Too bad it’s not funny that HE is the one leading America “right off the cliff”

Vinny

February 16th, 2011
10:04 am

LHU – The recession is over?? Hallelujah – the messiah Obama did it! All is well! Nothing to worry about!

TaxPayer

February 16th, 2011
10:05 am

But that’s not what the GOP promised me and what Rush and Sean and Glenn and the rest of gang says. By the way, your No.1, appears to end rather abruptly, Jay.

jm

February 16th, 2011
10:06 am

RE Saxby – rumors are he’s ready to go make a real living selling his services as a lobbyist or some such thing. Meaning, that has either freed him to do the sensible thing. Or he’s trying to make a name for himself to get a more lucrative job later. I don’t know which.

Lord Help Us

February 16th, 2011
10:06 am

‘The recession is over?? Hallelujah – the messiah Obama did it! All is well! Nothing to worry about!’

Are there others out there that did not know?

Southern Comfort (B.P.O.I.B.W.)

February 16th, 2011
10:06 am

1) Quit trying to use SS funds for anything other than what they’re collected for. Demand that politicians all quit using that money to try to balance the budget. There’s a specific tax collected for a specific purpose. SS is not funded from the general budget, therefore it should not be included in the general budget either.

2) Our entire health care delivery system needs to change to address costs. Neither patients nor providers have control over the costs as much as the middlemen (ins. providers) have. Personally, I don’t think health care should be a for-profit area, as I think it’s morally wrong to try to make a profit based on the wellness or sickness of a person.

3) Good luck with that. Our defense spending is going to do to us what it did to USSR. Is it a coincidence that the two nations where we have troops share a common neighbor? Maybe… Is it also a coincidence that IED technology from that common neighbor has appeared in both theatre’s of opperation? I think not… Our hubris will end up being our demise if we don’t watch out.

4) I just heard the collective explosion of about 5.5 million conservatives across the country.

… btw: Seems like you had an incomplete thought about #1 Jay. Seems like your were trying to mention the maximum amount of taxable SS income or something.

Normal

February 16th, 2011
10:07 am

No, Vinny…you only hope he’s leading us off that cliff, so you can point and say “he failed!”

Ragnar Danneskjöld

February 16th, 2011
10:08 am

I’ll vote against anyone who does not stamp his feet.

TaxPayer

February 16th, 2011
10:08 am

It makes me ill.

We can’t cover that because it sounds like a pre-existing condition, leftover from the Bush era.

jm

February 16th, 2011
10:08 am

Jay, nice column. Agree with most points (not all though). You left out Medicaid. Medicaid could use some real help, and the best solution as I see it, is let states innovate by providing block grants….

Vinny

February 16th, 2011
10:10 am

Normal – Correction – He HAS led us off a cliff and he HAS failed as a leader. He is a miserable failure. It’s obvious to all but you libs..

jm

February 16th, 2011
10:11 am

SoCO 10:06 – Item 1 – there’s no way to do that without using partial privatization….

Paul

February 16th, 2011
10:13 am

jm

“Obama signed the 09 budget.’

Are you minimizing or ignoring that when Pres Obama took office we were over a fourth of the way into the fiscal year? You speak of Pres Obama being incompetent in this area? Why do you lay the charge at his feet when it was his predecessor’s watch when he went months without a ’signed budget’?

What did you really espect? Realistically? That a new administration would take office during what Bush officials called the gravest economic crisis since the Great Depression and say “hey folks, I know the year’s partway over and I’ve looked at this budget. We’re spending too much. Looking at discretionary spending, I think I’ll eliminate almost all of it so we can balance the budget.” Do you think that’s at all realistic? If that’s not what you’re saying, then what are you saying? That he should have raised taxes?

jm

February 16th, 2011
10:13 am

“Why did you duck?” Ryan asked Obama’s Budget Director Jack Lew at a hearing Tuesday. “You know the drivers of our debt are entitlement programs, and yet you do nothing to address that.”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0211/49613.html#ixzz1E8RMIpLS

jt

February 16th, 2011
10:14 am

“That’s where the money is, and where the change will come”

Relax………………………………

The change is coming from the people. They are recognizing reality far quicker than federal politicians.
Thankfully, The Federal chicanery played upon We the People is almost at a well-deserved end. Ponzi schemes always are tragic for the majority of investors, but amid the tragedy good things will come.

Regardless, the quicker the end the better.

Local control is best, centralized authority or planning is never effective, freedom always prevails, (however fleetingly), and the cult of “corrupt pull” will be shrugged off by the cult of “ability”.

So be it.

jm

February 16th, 2011
10:14 am

Most Democrats, with the exception of a handful of senators working on a bipartisan debt proposal, have no intention of jumping into the debate anytime soon. When asked what Obama should do when the GOP releases its proposal, one Democratic aide, snapped: “Nothing.”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0211/49613.html#ixzz1E8RWLIod

jm

February 16th, 2011
10:15 am

The Post editorial writers, seldom in line with the House GOP, concurred: “If Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn could sign on to a deficit-reduction plan that included raising tax revenue, is it too much to ask for such bravery from Mr. Obama? And if Illinois Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin could sign on to a plan that included raising the Social Security retirement age, is it too much to ask for more from Mr. Obama than an airy set of ‘principles for reform?’ Sadly, the answer appears to be yes.”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0211/49613.html#ixzz1E8RkhGZG

jm

February 16th, 2011
10:15 am

Obama as POTUS – Politician of the United States

RW-(the original)

February 16th, 2011
10:16 am

Paul

February 16th, 2011
10:16 am

jm

“They spit out CR’s so that Obama would have his choice over how to spend the money.”

ummmm…. NO.

Funds are available for spending only when specifically authorized by law. There’s not a big pot of money the pres gets to divvy up. Congress passes specific amounts for the various agencies, and within those agencies, they restrict the spending further by category. So the pres canNOT take money from Defense and give to Interior, nor can he take money appropriated to pay military salaries and use it to fix weapons. He is restricted by law.

jm

February 16th, 2011
10:17 am

Look, I don’t doubt that the entitlement reform has to be done in a back room deal manner. But Obama isn’t even making the right sounds….

USinUK

February 16th, 2011
10:17 am

“not have a clue as to how lead this country out of the recession”

psssst … don’t anyone tell Vinny that he US has had positive GDP growth for the last year … his head might a’splode … and we’d hate for that to happen

TaxPayer

February 16th, 2011
10:17 am

If a retiree cannot live on less than $28,000 per year, then clearly that person is not ready to retire.

Road Scholar

February 16th, 2011
10:17 am

Vinny, a legend in his own mind!

TaxPayer

February 16th, 2011
10:19 am

But Obama isn’t even making the right sounds….

What do you want in order to make you happy, a grunt, a fart…

Dudley (you're just jealous cause the voices ain't talking to you)

February 16th, 2011
10:19 am

This endless debate about ss is kind of useless. It will never end and continue to go into the hole.

TaxPayer

February 16th, 2011
10:20 am

Have the Republicans worked out the slope on that Laffer Curve yet so they can calculate just how big the tax cut needs to be in order to get rid of our deficit.

jm

February 16th, 2011
10:20 am

Paul 10:16 – guess you don’t know what a CR is. Just like you didn’t know how big the 2008 budget deficit was. Just pointing out facts.

The CR was there so that a full budget wasn’t passed until after Obama took office. Then he could tweak the 09 proposal as he saw fit…. dude, seriously go get your facts.

Doggone/GA

February 16th, 2011
10:21 am

“It will never end and continue to go into the hole.”

to “continue” into a hole, you have to be IN a hole. SS is fully funded through 2037. That “hole” is currently a mountain.

larry

February 16th, 2011
10:22 am

Sorry, jm, grandma is not going to be pushed out on her kester on the side of the road.

And no privatization….period. Someone must have forgotten what happened 2 1/2 years ago plus whenever we try to privatize something , the middle class and the working poor get screwed.

USinUK

February 16th, 2011
10:23 am

“Then he could tweak the 09 proposal as he saw fit”

:LOL:

omg. yeah. like he’s going to start the budget process all. over. again.

Jimmy62

February 16th, 2011
10:23 am

Some of those are great ideas, Bookman. And many of them look like they are copied right out of the Tea Party playbook. Too bad the best answer we’re getting from the Democrat leadership is “We haven’t spent enough money!”

jm

February 16th, 2011
10:23 am

Doggone 10:21 – time for me to go short more Treasuries.

TaxPayer

February 16th, 2011
10:23 am

How many jobs will the Republican deficit reducing tax cuts create. Do they have a graph similar to the Laffer Curve that they use.

USinUK

February 16th, 2011
10:23 am

doggone – you know, someone really should put that in writing or something

Jay

February 16th, 2011
10:24 am

Noises like this, jm?

“As a start, (the budget) freezes domestic discretionary spending over the next five years, which would cut the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade, and bring annual domestic spending to its lowest share of the economy since Dwight Eisenhower.

Now, some of the savings will come through less waste and more efficiency. To take just one example, we’ll give — we’ll save billions of dollars by getting rid of 14,000 office buildings, lots, and government-owned properties that we no longer need. And to make sure special interests are not larding up legislation with special projects, I’ve pledged to veto any bills that contain earmarks.

Still, even as we cut waste and inefficiency, this budget freeze will also require us to make some tough choices. It will mean freezing the salaries of hardworking federal employees for the next two years. It will mean cutting things I care about deeply, like community action programs for low-income communities. And we have some conservation programs that are going to be scaled back. These are all programs that I wouldn’t be cutting if we were in a better fiscal situation. But we’re not.

We also know that cutting annual domestic spending alone won’t be enough to meet our long-term fiscal challenges. That’s what the bipartisan fiscal commission concluded; that’s what I’ve concluded. And that’s why I’m eager to tackle excessive spending wherever we find it -– in domestic spending, but also in defense spending, health care spending, and spending that is embedded in the tax code.

Some of this spending we’ve begun to tackle in this budget -– like the $78 billion that Secretary Gates identified in defense cuts. But to get where we need to go we’re going to have to do more. We’ll have to bring down health care costs further, including in programs like Medicare and Medicaid, which are the single biggest contributor to our long-term deficits. I believe we should strengthen Social Security for future generations, and I think we can do that without slashing benefits or putting current retirees at risk. And I’m willing to work with everybody on Capitol Hill to simplify the individual tax code for all Americans.”

That’s from Obama’s remarks yesterday.

jm

February 16th, 2011
10:24 am

USinUK 10:23 – no doubt he didn’t want to start it all over. Especially given the circumstances.

BUT MAKE NO MISTAKE. OBAMA SIGNED THE FY 2009 BUDGET.

USinUK

February 16th, 2011
10:24 am

“And many of them look like they are copied right out of the Tea Party playbook”

the only thing that needs to be copied out of the tea party playbook is the paint by numbers to keep the little kiddies occupied

larry

February 16th, 2011
10:25 am

But of course , you have something against old people.

Mick

February 16th, 2011
10:25 am

Jay – nice work on your points, I concur and agree that medicare is the ball breaker. My plan? God willing, stay as healthy as possible through good diet and exercise. The republican plan? To quote grayson, “die quickly”.

Doggone/GA

February 16th, 2011
10:25 am

“you know, someone really should put that in writing or something”

I don’t know about writing…but for the FIRST time I actually heard someone SAY it on a news report about the deficit.

jm

February 16th, 2011
10:26 am

Jay, $400 Billion over a decade is beyond a joke, considering the Federal Government will be spending $47 TRILLION over that same time frame.

AmVet

February 16th, 2011
10:26 am

Vince, aka Rip Van Winkle, that is a really interesting analogy of going over the cliff.

He inherited the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. Massive implications and fallout. From one coast to the other. Devastation on a scale never seen before. Well, at least in 80 years.

Using your creative metaphor we were already in free fall when he was inaugurated.

And I presume that you disagree with any of that, correct?

I mean after all, to lay it at the feet of those responsible (and there are many) just doesn’t jive with the Party of Personal Responsibility, does it?

Nonetheless, the cataclysms of September 2008 did happen.

And he had to try and “fix it”. You loathe him and so disagree with every single thing he says or does. In spite of cold hard facts.

But the questions remains, who other than yourself, are you fooling?

Bosch

February 16th, 2011
10:27 am

OMG, jm telling Paul to get his facts straight. That’s about the most classic thing evah on this here blog.

Russ555

February 16th, 2011
10:27 am

Good article. Glad to hear Saxby is working on a long term fix.
There are a couple of ways to cut medical costs. One is building and using equipment that is less expensive. It’s being done in some countries already. Another is to find a way to cut down on unnecessary tests and procedures.

USinUK

February 16th, 2011
10:28 am

mick – well, the good thing about climate change is that there will be more ice floes for us to push our elderly out on …

jt

February 16th, 2011
10:28 am

“Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions.” Proverbs 18:2

“Fools have no interest in good government: they only want to send their money to other foreign corrupt LAYERS of government”. Comman Sense,101 , jt.

USinUK

February 16th, 2011
10:29 am

“One is building and using equipment that is less expensive”

CAT scans … using real cats!

USinUK

February 16th, 2011
10:30 am

jt – for it to be effect, it needs to be pithier than that … yours barely makes any sense.

jm

February 16th, 2011
10:30 am

Obama is a chicken. The guy didn’t even mention Social Security reform, very conspicuously absent, in his more widely viewed State of the Union. And SS reform is considered comparatively easy.

I understand he wants to be re-elected. He’s a politician. And somewhere, way down, no wait, not even on the list, is his attribute of “leader”.

Dudley (you're just jealous cause the voices ain't talking to you)

February 16th, 2011
10:30 am

Doggone @10:21

The fact that ss has an approximate date until it is in negative numbers means that it is going into the hole

Normal

February 16th, 2011
10:30 am

Vinny,
The difference between you and me is that I accept the fact that even though i do not agree with all of his beliefs, Barak Obama is my President. I will do everything I can do to help my President because I am a patriot.

Paul

February 16th, 2011
10:31 am

jm

Are you serious in saying that when I gave an //example// of what Pres Obama’s options were (”guess I’ll cut most discretionary spending”) that that was to be taken as an exact amount of discretionary?!!?

Or was it a way to deflect answering the intent of the question?

“The CR was there so that a full budget wasn’t passed until after Obama took office. Then he could tweak the 09 proposal as he saw fit…. dude, seriously go get your facts.”

Sigh.

“guess you don’t know what a CR is….The CR was there so that a full budget wasn’t passed until after Obama took office. Then he could tweak the 09 proposal as he saw fit”

double sigh.

You’ve ascribed a political motive to a Continuing Resolution (or Continuing Resolution Authority, CRA), not defined what a CRA is. They’re passed so agencies/departments have the legal authority to obligate funds. Generally they allow agencies to continue existing programs, at historical levels, and prohibit any new starts.

Tweak? Are you serious? Tweaking’s what caused the quadrupling of Bush’s last budget?

Back to the original. What should Pres Obama have done when he took office and was presented with a budget that was already more than one-fourth of they way done? And remember, the funds committed or obligated were more than one-fourth expensed, as many are front-loaded contracts.

At least, that’s if “I” have ‘my’ ‘facts’ correct -

larry

February 16th, 2011
10:31 am

Russ555

February 16th, 2011
10:32 am

Cut down medical cost: unplug terminal patients sooner.

TaxPayer

February 16th, 2011
10:32 am

Jay, $400 Billion over a decade is beyond a joke, considering the Federal Government will be spending $47 TRILLION over that same time frame.

REALLY! Sounds to me like we might have to hike taxes to get to that level of spending.

Mick

February 16th, 2011
10:32 am

usinuk

You know I always enjoy a good swim in the ocean, no plans to be pushed out by anyone but plan b is move to new zealand or argentina if this country implodes..

jm

February 16th, 2011
10:32 am

I got it. I’m a profligate American consumer spending too much on my credit card and I have an underwater, overlevered, high interest rate mortgage for a home that I can’t afford. I’m going to go start saving money by eating at McDonald’s instead of Wendy’s…. right…..

thomas

February 16th, 2011
10:32 am

Mick

February 16th, 2011
10:25 am

There is another option…

Along with a good diet and excercise another good idea would be to begin being more frugal with your money now begin financial planning now. Do not sacrafice your needs of tomorrow for your wants of today.

Take care of yourself both physically and financially, do not rely on any other entity to do so.

That is another option.

Paul

February 16th, 2011
10:32 am

make that “Tweaking’s what caused the quadrupling of Bush’s last budget DEFICIT?” (initial estimate vs latest estimate).

Bosch

February 16th, 2011
10:32 am

USinUK,

I know it’a a bit early, but have you got some more popcorn?

Jay

February 16th, 2011
10:32 am

jm, Obama agrees with you. That’s why, if you look, he introduced it by saying “as a start….”

As a start.

And personally, I think it’s worth noting that , as a percentage of GDP, it would bring nondefense discretionary spending to the lowest level since Eisenhower.

Doggone/GA

February 16th, 2011
10:32 am

“The guy didn’t even mention Social Security reform, very conspicuously absent, in his more widely viewed State of the Union. And SS reform is considered comparatively easy”

And will have NO EFFECT on either the deficit or the debt. What part of “SS is NOT PART OF the Federal budget” are you failing to understand?

Dudley (you're just jealous cause the voices ain't talking to you)

February 16th, 2011
10:33 am

I am just glad I will have a retirement plan, as well as ss for when I retire

TaxPayer

February 16th, 2011
10:33 am

well, the good thing about climate change is that there will be more ice floes for us to push our elderly out on …

That just will not do. What we needs is more volcanos to sacrifice our elderly to.

jm

February 16th, 2011
10:34 am

Paul 10:31 – I’m not saying Obama shouldn’t have signed the bill. But you were trying to argue it was Bush’s fault. In my world, the buck stops with the person who signs something. Or maybe you let other people write checks for you…. you and Obama.

Mick

February 16th, 2011
10:34 am

paul

Thanks again for complex answers to simple questions…have you ever thought of trying out for jeopardy?

Doggone/GA

February 16th, 2011
10:35 am

“That just will not do. What we needs is more volcanos to sacrifice our elderly to”

Wouldn’t that just make them angrier? I mean, think about it, when you are expecting a beautiful young virgin…and what you get is a dried up old person….?

jm

February 16th, 2011
10:35 am

Jay 10:32 – I’m ok with freezing the spending, although that never happens, which is why Republicans are pushing for cuts from a discretionary budget that is 25% higher than it was 2 years ago. The world got along ok without a discretionary budget 25% higher for a good long time, so in my book, there’s room to cut discretionary.

But yes, I’ll give Obama credit for his sentiments to freeze discretionary spending even though it won’t happen.

Mick

February 16th, 2011
10:36 am

thomas

I’m there too my friend, getting my debt wiped out slowly but surely…

USinUK

February 16th, 2011
10:36 am

Bosch – it’s SO my turn! how about a little cheddar popcorn and beer … while not as stoopid as the “debate” (ahem) downstairs, seeing someone tell Paul that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about does make me want to hunker down and watch the fireworks.

here … here’s a cushion and the ottoman …

TaxPayer

February 16th, 2011
10:36 am

Darn that Obama! If only he had ended the wars the day he took office, he could have avoided signing Bush’s budget!

USinUK

February 16th, 2011
10:37 am

“And will have NO EFFECT on either the deficit or the debt. What part of “SS is NOT PART OF the Federal budget” are you failing to understand?”

fwiw, my £££ is on ALL of it.

Left wing management

February 16th, 2011
10:37 am

The numbers just don’t work, and the impact of that approach on seniors’ access to health care would be far more devastating than the imaginary death panels could ever have been. ….

Somehow, you’ve got to lower health-care delivery costs not just in Medicare but throughout the health-care system. (Doing it in Medicare alone is impossible.) You’ve also got to means-test benefits to a degree and raise taxes if necessary to cover what’s left. You can’t “solve” Medicare, but you can certainly contain it.

Repeat this very slowly: “Single – Payer – System”. It’s the only way, the one true way. A single payer system is the only way to rein in health care costs. And yet we can’t even have that conversation because what passes for an opposition to the Robber Barons is a DLC-gutted Democratic party that’s essentially conceded that the Robber Barons are basically right about economics and so they simply cede that terrain to them. (The DLC that has just closed its doors having done all the damage it could do has given us the spectacle of Barack Obama, a perfect jumble of empty phrases and meaningless ‘uplift’ without the slightest idea how to do battle with an opposition that has grown fatter and bolder even while wrecking the country).

Finally, you add Citizens United and the insurance lobby consolidates and redoubles what was already a complete stranglehold on this crucial issue for fiscal stability and social justice.

Taxes aren’t too high — as a percentage of national GDP, they’re lower now than they’ve been in decades. If we simply allow the Bush tax cuts to expire as now scheduled in 2012, taxes as a percentage of GDP would still be at or below the historical average since 1970.

And yet, with the likes of Paul Ryan passing for intelligent opposition for the Robber Barons, we can’t even have that conversation, now can we?

Robber Baron America on steroids here we come!

Normal

February 16th, 2011
10:38 am

larry

February 16th, 2011
10:31 am

Larry,
Good article. I too, was surprised when I “did the math” as to what I’d get when I retire years from today. I will actually get a raise!
A small one, but enough.

TaxPayer

February 16th, 2011
10:38 am

Wouldn’t that just make them angrier? I mean, think about it, when you are expecting a beautiful young virgin…and what you get is a dried up old person….?

Ouch! I fergot about that aspect. Sacrifice our youngins instead!

USinUK

February 16th, 2011
10:38 am

dammit, doggone … Bosch, please pass the screencleaner for Doggone’s 10:35

Paul

February 16th, 2011
10:38 am

“it would bring nondefense discretionary spending to the lowest level since Eisenhower.”

Uh-oh…. Pres Obama’s going to get kicked out of the Socialist Society.

oh yeah…. //sarc//

thomas

February 16th, 2011
10:39 am

Mick

February 16th, 2011
10:36 am

Thats all we can do!

Take care of ourselves and make the best decisions we can then accept responsibility for the actions that follow and look at any help or service the gov. gives us as a bonus and be thankful. But as anation we have got to stop expecting government to take care of us and all of our problems.

Especially problems the government has no authority on… such as how we live our fiscal lives both good and bad.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

February 16th, 2011
10:39 am

These quotes may restore my faith in Congress:

“In the last two years, under President Obama, the federal government has added 200,000 new federal jobs,” Mr. Boehner told reporters. “If some of those jobs are lost, so be it. We’re broke.”

Republicans argued that Democrats were exaggerating the impact, noting that the $61 billion is a small part of a $3 trillion federal budget. “Democrats don’t like it, but don’t call it slashing and burning,” said Rep. Jack Kingston (R., Ga.).

jm

February 16th, 2011
10:40 am

Jay, look, I’m not ideological. I don’t like higher taxes. But if crazy Americans want to try to close the whole deficit by raising taxes instead of spending cuts, then fine. But I think those tax increases should be levied on everyone. And if people don’t want tax increases, then they should rethink their position that we shouldn’t be cutting spending.

Crazy damn americans. Our politicians are a half decent representation of us, tax cutting big spender spendthrift debtors.

Bosch

February 16th, 2011
10:40 am

Thanks USinUk — all comfy now.

Here’s the cleaner….

….yeah, like jm trying in vain to debate Paul? I’m at a loss on words for that one. Seriously.

larry

February 16th, 2011
10:41 am

Didnt the president for FY 2009 also take the wars in off of supplemental budgets and add them to the regular budget?

Adam

February 16th, 2011
10:42 am

I’ve made suggestions before, but screw that this time. I think it’s absolutely hilarious that conservatives see Obama’s budget proposal as the end-all be-all of budget proposals, as though he’s not going to budge on it at all. Of course, “No, we’re not going to even look at your budget and we’ll propose a budget instead that attacks ONLY entitlements, even the entitlements that actually have nothing to do with the budget” is not likely to be taken seriously by anyone except the Republicans, and that’s only because of their constant ideological purity tests.

Doggone/GA

February 16th, 2011
10:42 am

“In the last two years, under President Obama, the federal government has added 200,000 new federal jobs,” Mr. Boehner told reporters. “If some of those jobs are lost, so be it. We’re broke.”

Rated FALSE by Politifact:
http://politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/feb/15/john-boehner/john-boehner-says-200000-new-federal-jobs-have-spr/

buck@gon

February 16th, 2011
10:42 am

“The damage those cuts would do is serious. But in terms of the deficit, the short-term fight will mean nothing and accomplish nothing.”

Jay,

You prove yourself to be a true Washington Man, so I will call you Washington-Man-Jay or WMJ for short. Of course, short-term fights will mean nothing and accomplish nothing–unless republicans cut the government.

This is typical Washington-think: we are prosperous as a nation if the government is prosperous, and it is this notion with which (one can only suppose) the adolescent President is making the case (NOT making really) whereby we will have eliminated the deficit by the end of the decade.

Sad to say, WMJ, this is just not true. You can caterwall all you want about Hitler’s arms and legs (again) but common sense is common sense, and the hissy fit is going to be Barack Obama’s (and the Marxist WMJ left) to have when the Republicans don’t grant HIM all the treats he and his green, union and free-loading bloated government bureaucrats want.

If, WMJ, your readership at the ajc is increasing, it is only because the federal government is borrowing money from our children’s futures to spend right now on imbecilic “officials” who will soon cause us to tap out financially. When that happens, we can kiss “recovery” goodbye. A “recovery” based upon printing money and green jobs fantasies is not one to last very long.

If, on the other hand, your readership is decreasing, well, you’ve shown quite clearly why that can and should happen every day–uncreative and unintelligent writing.

Southern Comfort (B.P.O.I.B.W.)

February 16th, 2011
10:42 am

SoCO 10:06 – Item 1 – there’s no way to do that without using partial privatization

Yes it is. Do it through legislation as it is designed. All it takes is politicians to do what they’re supposed to do instead of doing what they want to do. It’s not that hard.

Doggone/GA

February 16th, 2011
10:43 am

“Didnt the president for FY 2009 also take the wars in off of supplemental budgets and add them to the regular budget?”

short answer: Yes