Twin challenges facing the U.S. political system

NOTE: This post includes some material published in earlier blog posts. It is posted here as the electronic version of today’s AJC print column:

As marriage counselors will attest, more marriages are broken up by fights over money than for any other reason. That’s particularly true during tough economic times, when dreams falter and tough choices have to be made. That reality also helps to explain the current state of American politics, which is bitter and highly emotional. The 2012 campaign season is at root a battle over money, with two partners each angrily insistent that the other one has lost all contact with the real world.

In trying to sort it all out, however, it’s important to acknowledge that we are actually struggling with two related yet very distinct challenges, and it’s important to think each of them through on their own terms.

Let’s start with this one: How do we finance our government? It is undeniably true that the U.S. government is living beyond its means and has been doing so for a long time. It is equally true that such a practice is unsustainable. For decades we have been spending more and more money while slashing the taxes needed to support that spending. And while a great deal of the responsibility for that failure falls on our political leaders, the ultimate buck stops with we the people. We like lower taxes, we like more government programs, and so we elect people who give us those nice things, future consequences be damned. Then, of course, we get mad at them because they gave us what we demanded.

There is only one way out of this. We have to cut projected spending and raise taxes. Period. You can quibble about what the ratio of spending cuts to tax increases ought to be. You can quibble about which programs ought to be cut deepest, and about whose taxes ought to go up more quickly. But politically and mathematically, there is no way out without a compromise that includes spending cuts and tax hikes.

Personally, I would start with an end to the Bush-era tax cuts, across the board, for taxpayers in every bracket. It would have to be done gradually, to avoid an economic backlash, but the goal should be reverting to the Clinton-era tax rates that by 2000 had brought the budget close to balance.

That would have to be accompanied by plans to rein in spending, including changes in entitlements, such as reducing annual cost of living adjustments to Social Security. Medicare spending would also have to be brought under control, and we have to come to the psychologically difficult realization that we can no longer afford a military capable of dominating in every little corner of a very big and unruly world. Meeting such a challenge will be difficult, but it is at least possible to envision a way to do so.

Unfortunately, the second major economic challenge facing the United States is much more complex, with no clear path to resolution. In brief, the U.S. economy has lost its vigor and its job-producing ability, and it has been trapped in those doldrums for a long time. It is not simply a product of this recession. Let’s look at some numbers:

When George W. Bush ended his first term as president in January 2005, the U.S. economy boasted 913,000 fewer private-sector jobs than it did when he took office. The major tax cuts that Bush championed in 2001 and 2003 simply did not produce the growth promised on its behalf. By the time Bush left the White House in January 2009, we had added 20 million people but the economy boasted 646,000 fewer private-sector jobs than it had eight years earlier.

Since then, we’ve turned things around at least a little. In August, the most recent numbers available, we had 414,000 more private-sector jobs than when Barack Obama was sworn in. That’s not terrible considering that we had to overcome the loss of 2.1 million jobs in the first three months of his presidency alone.

“Not terrible,” however, is not good enough, not by a long shot. The U.S. economy is in the middle of a profound transition, with wealth concentrating at the top, fewer new jobs being generated and fewer of those jobs paying decent wages. For the most part, those changes are not the fault of a presidential administration or a party or even of politicians in general, but a consequence of deeper, more stubborn economic trends that are global in scale and unstoppable as a glacier.

The second problem — the underlying changes in our economy — makes addressing the issue of government finance more complex. And as we’ve found, the interaction between those two challenges is almost impossible to discuss intelligently in the midst of a campaign season.

– Jay Bookman

425 comments Add your comment

The Leg Lamp is a "Major Award".....

September 19th, 2012
8:04 am

So tell me, how much will Soetoro’s “fair tax increases on the wealthy” generate? Now compare that to the national debt.

Quagmire

September 19th, 2012
8:07 am

1st……………………What’s up Jay

The Leg Lamp is a "Major Award".....

September 19th, 2012
8:07 am

Quagmire
September 19th, 2012
8:07 am

Try again. :cool:

Thomas Heyward Jr

September 19th, 2012
8:08 am

“In brief, the U.S. economy has lost its vigor and its job-producing ability,”
.
No..the U.S. has not lost its vigor.
Its vigor is being repressed.
And oppressed.

Normal Free...Pro Human Rights Thug...And liking it!

September 19th, 2012
8:09 am

Leg,
I forgot how well you can divert the issue. Welcome back, by the way…

The Leg Lamp is a "Major Award".....

September 19th, 2012
8:10 am

Thomas Heyward Jr
September 19th, 2012
8:08 am

I think both sides of the political spectrum will think you’re supporting their beliefs.

Fred ™

September 19th, 2012
8:11 am

So tell me, how much will Soetoro’s “fair tax increases on the wealthy” generate? Now compare that to the national debt.

And that is logical how? (I mean to folks OTHER than talk radio drones). Because a tax increase only partially helps the deficit then it should never be considered?

So last time your boss wanted to give you a raise you looked at how much you still owed on your house and said, “Hell no boss you cheap bastich. I owe $175,000 more on my house and you are only giving me a $10000 a year raise. I don’t want it.”

Here’s your award……….. http://tinyurl.com/8vxa7qj

Just damn………..

Jay

September 19th, 2012
8:11 am

Who is this “Soetoro” character, LegLamp?

A figment of your imagination? A boogeyman that your minders use to frighten you? Is he the modern version of the Emmanuel Goldstein figure in “1984″?

The Leg Lamp is a "Major Award".....

September 19th, 2012
8:12 am

Normal Free…Pro Human Rights Thug…And liking it!
September 19th, 2012
8:09 am

And just how did I divert? How much revenue will the “fair share” tax increases on the rich raise? What type of impact will it have on our debt?

If you’re $10 short of having enough cash to pay for something and someone gives you 17 cents, you’re still out of luck.

JamVet

September 19th, 2012
8:12 am

Regarding jobs, what do you expect when the tax code rewards corporations for sending them overseas?

A BIG part of the reason that we have either lost or done that very thing with 40 MILLION American jobs (and climbing) since 1973…

TaxPayer

September 19th, 2012
8:14 am

Leg,

You and kayaker, et al, should be able to have a pleasurable exchange. You say Soetoro and he say Bozo. Lather, rinse, repeat. Who knows. You might even manage to entertain a few others in the process. Give it a try.

The Leg Lamp is a "Major Award".....

September 19th, 2012
8:16 am

Jay
September 19th, 2012
8:11 am

I must have hit a nerve, Jay. A figment of my imagination? Um, no. Maybe you need to check the “tweets”.

JamVet

September 19th, 2012
8:16 am

Lamp, what do Mitt Romney, Donald Trump, Steve Forbes, John Kerry and George Soros have in common?

They all love you…

Welcome to the Occupation

September 19th, 2012
8:17 am

Jay, why are you speaking of private sector jobs as the be-all, end-all for job production?

Am I correct in assuming that you, like this president, believe that it’s the private sector that is the ‘true’ generator of jobs?

Why is that?

Jay

September 19th, 2012
8:17 am

That’s being childish, Leglamp. By that silly definition, I “hit a nerve” everytime you post here, right?

Set aside your childish ways and join the adult world, in which adult issues are discussed in adult fashion, Leg. At least give it a try. Stretch a little.

Paul

September 19th, 2012
8:18 am

How can anyone take seriously a blogger who doesn’t even know the name of the President of the United States?

TaxPayer

September 19th, 2012
8:18 am

Leg proves Santorum’s statement regarding the inability of the GOP to attract the intelligent. Leg, if you need $10 and someone gives you $0.17, then you need $9.83.

The Leg Lamp is a "Major Award".....

September 19th, 2012
8:19 am

Fred ™
September 19th, 2012
8:11 am

Save the award, Fred, but do enlighten us with your infinite wisdom. We’re $16 trillion in debt and POTUS says we need tax increases. If he gets the increase he thinks is “fair” then how much will that generate? Will that solve the problem of the national debt?

We’re in a deep hole, dude, and we need leaders who will tell us the truth about what is needed to right the ship. Sadly, neither candidate will.

Fred ™

September 19th, 2012
8:19 am

Notice Leg Lamp has nothing to say when he gets nailed with logic…………..

http://tinyurl.com/9zwebwh

Jay

September 19th, 2012
8:20 am

Yes, Welcome, the private sector is the generator of true wealth. The public sector is essential, providing services that the private sector needs and cannot perform. But it is subsidiary to the private sector.

The Leg Lamp is a "Major Award".....

September 19th, 2012
8:20 am

Jay
September 19th, 2012
8:17 am

“join the adult world, in which adult issues are discussed in adult fashion”

Where does that take place, Jay?

The Leg Lamp is a "Major Award".....

September 19th, 2012
8:21 am

Fred ™
September 19th, 2012
8:19 am

Still dodging the questions in my 8:19 post, Fred?

Welcome to the Occupation

September 19th, 2012
8:21 am

Wouldn’t government jobs be all the more critical, not less, now precisely because of the structural changes that you cite?

Wouldn’t government jobs be all the more important to provide jobs where the private sector has so manifestly failed?

The Leg Lamp is a "Major Award".....

September 19th, 2012
8:22 am

TaxPayer
September 19th, 2012
8:18 am

You missed the point, but I’m not surprised….you’re a democrat.

skipper

September 19th, 2012
8:22 am

Well, Jay,
All we’ve done here is to establish a fact: there just “ain’t no easy way out,” is there!

Welcome to the Occupation

September 19th, 2012
8:22 am

But it is subsidiary to the private sector

I see, thanks.

DebbieDoRight - A Do Right Woman

September 19th, 2012
8:23 am

Medicare spending would also have to be brought under control,

Can’t Medicare be brought up under Obamacare? Why can’t the two be combined?

and we have to come to the psychologically difficult realization that we can no longer afford a military capable of dominating in every little corner of a very big and unruly world.

That would be a hard sell for the warmongering set or for those heavily invested in the military war machine. They’ll argue heavily that, even though the Pentagon doesn’t want or NEED a certain aircraft, it should STILL be built.

Meeting such a challenge will be difficult, but it is at least possible to envision a way to do so.

You know i’m always amazed that the US has suddenly turned into a bunch of wimps. During WWII when we had even bigger challenges, we didn’t whine and cry about how we couldn’t do something, what we did was roll up our sleeves, develop a plan, and got it done.

When Kennedy said let’s reach for the moon, we didn’t scratch our heads and moan about why we couldn’t do it, we DID IT.

Now all of a sudden, we’re just one big whining, screeching whimpy nation who’s constantly complaining about what we can’t do; and why we can’t do it.

This is AMERICA — we come from people who left their countries and carved this nation into a mega power. We come from people who were natives who, even though others tried to exterminate them, proved that they were tougher and more resilient than their detractors thought. We come from people who arrived in this country in chains who kept their heads held high and refused to be broken by whips and segregation. We’re not a bunch of weak pure breds, we’re MUTTS. the heartiest “breed” of dog there is.

Yet we’re whining about making sacrifices and doing without. Life is pain; most Americans know about pain; we can overcome this just like we’ve overcome every other obstacle in our path.

It’s time to stop whimping and man up.

Fred ™

September 19th, 2012
8:23 am

Save the award, Fred, but do enlighten us with your infinite wisdom. We’re $16 trillion in debt and POTUS says we need tax increases. If he gets the increase he thinks is “fair” then how much will that generate? Will that solve the problem of the national debt?

It’s really quite simple Leg. You RAISE revenue and CUT spending. I know thta is a difficult concept for you since Rush or Neal don’t advocate it, but free your mind. Dream a little dream.Pretend you have the power of free thought.

Come on now, you get more money to pay off the debt and ongoing expenses and at the same time you cut the amount of the ongoing expenses so that more money can go to the debt. I can’t dumb it down any further for you.

And like Jay asked, and you didn’t answer, who is Soetoro?

Jay

September 19th, 2012
8:23 am

Yes, Welcome, in the short term that is true. But an economy that cannot generate more private-sector jobs also cannot support public-sector jobs in the long term.

ZoSo

September 19th, 2012
8:23 am

Best article you’ve written in a while Mr. Bookman. I agree with it entirely.

Georgia on my mind...

September 19th, 2012
8:24 am

Jay, this is one of your best arguments!! This is “transcendental knowledge” that America must face!!

The Leg Lamp is a "Major Award".....

September 19th, 2012
8:24 am

JamVet
September 19th, 2012
8:16 am

Wow, what a zinger. So following your rapier wit, what do Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid……

TaxPayer

September 19th, 2012
8:25 am

Is that the best you have to offer, Leg. Then again, need I ask. Did Kyle’s place get too boring with Tiberius and Co. agreeing with your every quip.

Fred ™

September 19th, 2012
8:25 am

And now Leggie, I’m going to get a cup of coffee and an English muffin so if by some chance you DO answer it will take me a minute to get back to you. I know this tests your limited attention span, but one isn’t :”dodging” a question if one doesn’t immediately respond. Quit being petulant, it’s not becoming.

Welcome to the Occupation

September 19th, 2012
8:27 am

I suppose if you speak of a job market as having the purpose of producing ‘wealth’ – as opposed to, say, providing equitable opportunities to all for participating in and reproducing the common good, etc. – then it pretty much follows that the private sector is the privileged one. But needless to say, I don’t accept that as inevitable.

The Leg Lamp is a "Major Award".....

September 19th, 2012
8:28 am

Fred ™
September 19th, 2012
8:23 am

“You RAISE revenue and CUT spending.”

Brilliant, Fred, just brilliant. Now try to make a mathematical equation out of your simple solution by inserting numbers. You raise how much revenue by give POTUS his tax increase on the rich – that’s your revenue. Now give numbers on how much you’ll cut spending and where. Then show me how that gets us out of the mess we’re in.

Brilliant scholars on both side haven’t figured it out, Fred, but we’ll all be waiting with great anticipation for your simple solution.

Granny Godzilla - Union Thugette

September 19th, 2012
8:28 am

Leggs

Is Jm out sick or something?

Ken

September 19th, 2012
8:28 am

Raising taxes without slashing spending is really a moot point…in addition, somehow we must find ways to improve the types of jobs produced in this country. Banking, technology, entertainment, etc are all well and good, as is profitible small business, but not all of the blue collar middle class can jump into these industries. Tarifs on imports could possibly be an answer, but there’s the reality of inflation hitting before salaries catch up in this case- oh Lord- we need the wisdom of another Soloman, please send us one.

The Leg Lamp is a "Major Award".....

September 19th, 2012
8:29 am

TaxPayer
September 19th, 2012
8:25 am

Please give me an example where I’ve posted on “Kyle’s place”. It will consume a tremendous amount of your time.

Not Blind

September 19th, 2012
8:31 am

Jay, as these various AJC blogs show, your “…we…” is WAY too inclusive.

Goldie

September 19th, 2012
8:31 am

Cons, you can start printing some new bumper stickers:

Romney/Ryan — Because Class Warfare Is Our Game!
Romney/Ryan — The New Not Ready For Prime Time Players!

:)

HDB

September 19th, 2012
8:32 am

Part of the political problem is the economic problem that wealth is concentrated amongst the few rather than the nation as a whole. I’m not advocating communism (as many would think!)..but in order for the few to become more prosperous, the wealth must be spread! A vibrant middle class ensures that the national wealth is maintained….and the wealthy class would achieve a greater wealth! As it stands now, since the middle class is in decline, the national wealth is also in decline. Politically, those who are wealthy are desirous in maintaining their wealth at the expense of everyone else….and are voting to maintain that wealth at all costs!! Those who are voting with the wealthy class find themselves voting against their own economic interests because of the pervasive idiom that they are soon to be wealthy…..even though their avenues to wealth acquisistion are being stymied by those same who block their access to wealth!!

Marc

September 19th, 2012
8:32 am

Jay I agree but blaming Bushes tax policies for job losses ignores the fact that the Housing crash started under his administration. It also doesn’t substantiate your idea of returning the tax code to what it was under Clinton.

TaxPayer

September 19th, 2012
8:33 am

As Jay has pointed out, we had an equation during the Clinton administration that proved capable of solving our deficit and debt issues. But like most debt, it is not something that is paid off instantaneously (although many more people should consider at least paying off their credit card debt monthly in order to avoid the interest). Otherwise, there would be no need for 30-year home loans, etc.

Mick

September 19th, 2012
8:33 am

leg

Go back to the 90’s and see how it was done with a dem president and a repub house. Then along came mr. tax cut and blew it all to hell…

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

September 19th, 2012
8:33 am

we are actually struggling with two related yet very distinct challenges

1) The conservatives have gone bat$hit crazy.
2) The Democrats can’t get organized — it’s like herding cats.

Welcome to the Occupation

September 19th, 2012
8:34 am

Jay, 8:23,

Yes, that is perhaps true – under current conditions of capitalism, that is.

Paul

September 19th, 2012
8:34 am

” Then show me how that gets us out of the mess we’re in.

Brilliant scholars on both side haven’t figured it out, Fred, but we’ll all be waiting with great anticipation for your simple solution.”

So, Leg, you admit even Romney/Ryan haven’t a clue.

Revealing.

You seem to enjoy ridiculing others. So how about being constructive and telling us your answer to eliminating the deficit, generating jobs and establishing a vibrant, growing economy?

TN_Realist

September 19th, 2012
8:34 am

While it is blatently obvious the 2 prong attack is the only realistic way to address the deficit issue I fear any effort to do so by Congress is DOA. The extent of the polarization is such, that despite the overwhelming need to act, neither side can bear to be preceived as “weak”. We are reaping the results of the those we have elected. Neither side gives two cents what’s good for the american public. Instead their focus is on who can we B.S. enough to get elected. I’ve never missed an opportunity to vote since I have been of legal age and I’m not about to do now. But it’s getting more and more difficult to find a person who I can support without reservation.

Jay

September 19th, 2012
8:34 am

Marc, I do not blame Bush’s tax policies for job losses. I merely observe that those tax policies did not have the effect that we were promised. We dug ourselves much deeper into a fiscal hole, and got little or nothing out of it in terms of economic boost.

JamVet

September 19th, 2012
8:35 am

Lamp, if you were a billionaire, wouldn’t you want an army of Republican stooges protecting you from paying your fair share?

i.e, .even the same effective tax rate that they do on wealth one ten thousandth the size of yours?

TaxPayer

September 19th, 2012
8:35 am

Leg,

Your posts fit right in over at Kyle’s whether you acknowledge it or not.

Not Blind

September 19th, 2012
8:36 am

The more I think about it the more I see your title is wrong also. It should be “The Twin Challenges Facing the US Voter” or “…US Taxpayer”. The US Political System is just worried about being reelected. It’s completely broken at this point in time. Term limits might be a good start along with completely removing all the ridiculous perks our mostly wealthy ‘representatives’ have voted for themselves. Utterly impossible to implement because the implementers are the problem.

EJ Moosa

September 19th, 2012
8:38 am

And while we are at it, let’s go back to the Clinton era of minimum wage rates, the Clinton era of sales tax rates, and the Clinton era of Federal Government Regulation.

Jm

September 19th, 2012
8:38 am

In honor of “talk like a pirate day”, I say: I rrrrespectfully disagrrrrrrree you scalawag :)

barking frog

September 19th, 2012
8:38 am

It is still about jobs. Stop the
wars. Full employment. End
the occupation bases in all
countries. Finance business
growth at all levels. When
banks borrow from the
Federal Reserve at 0% they
get 0% interest on US Securities. We are over the
hump and the Fed is feeding
the housing industry. Stay
the course.

Butch Cassidy (I)

September 19th, 2012
8:39 am

Let me get this straight. If you’re a millionaire and you use the tax code to your advantage, you’re “brilliant” and “Presidential”. But if you make less than $30,000 a year and you use the tax code to your advantage, you’re “lazy” and a “moocher”. Got it.

EJ Moosa

September 19th, 2012
8:39 am

” I do not blame Bush’s tax policies for job losses. I merely observe that those tax policies did not have the effect that we were promised.”

How do you explain their effect up to 2006? Were you complaining about job losses in 2006?

Mary Elizabeth

September 19th, 2012
8:40 am

Welcome to the Occupation: “I suppose if you speak of a job market as having the purpose of producing ‘wealth’ – as opposed to, say, providing equitable opportunities to all for participating in and reproducing the common good, etc. – then it pretty much follows that the private sector is the privileged one. But needless to say, I don’t accept that as inevitable.”
————————————————————————

I agree with that statement. Moreover, if “the private sector is (viewed as) the privileged one,” then one class of Americans is viewed as more valuable to the well-being, and even to the continuation, of this nation than the other. Yet, today we can all witness, firsthand, what an over-emphasis valuing of the private sector, over the public sector, has created in today’s America. It is not a pretty sight.

Stevie Ray..Clowns to the left and Jokers to the right..here I am...

September 19th, 2012
8:41 am

JAY,

Wouldn’t you agree that until we take the private money out of politics, the probability that any of these issues being solved is greatly reduced? I agree, nothing that Bush or Obama has done can be proved by objective data to have changed the path we are on…

Your idea about gradual return of tax rates from Bush era is spot on…..no country has risen up from any, remotely similar economic debacle without the support of ALL taxpayers…suggesting the we can improve out lot by increasing revenues by 2% or spending cuts of single digits as well, is absurd and an insult to us all….

Fred ™

September 19th, 2012
8:42 am

Gee Leggie, this is too easy. Oh and while you are correct that asshats on both sides who refuse to do one or the other can’t figure it out, those of us in the middle who say do both HAVE figured it out.

Let A=tax revenue
Let B=spending
Let C=the deficit
Let X=tax raise
Let Y=spending cut

As it stands right now A+B=C
Therefore (A+X)+(B-Y)>C

That was too easy……..

The Leg Lamp is a "Major Award".....

September 19th, 2012
8:42 am

Paul
September 19th, 2012
8:34 am

I haven’t positioned myself as an expert on the problem like many have, Paul.

When the minions of the POTUS holler “fair share tax increases”, just how much will that raise? And how will that help get things in balance if deep, deep cuts are not included. Let’s face it, EVERY program needs to be cut to some degree. Defense spending, food stamps, medicare, medicaid, things like programs that study the sex lives of endangered frogs or whatever. Nobody will make that claim because it’s political suicide.

Now to your comment about Romney. You must not think Romney has a clue. Maybe you’re right. The big difference here is that Romney not having a clue is an opinion while Obama has proven he doesn’t have a clue.

Moderate Line

September 19th, 2012
8:42 am

Marc

September 19th, 2012
8:32 am
Jay I agree but blaming Bushes tax policies for job losses ignores the fact that the Housing crash started under his administration. It also doesn’t substantiate your idea of returning the tax code to what it was under Clinton.
++++
I believe the reason given for returning the tax code to what is was is the deficit not the job losses. Also, the right is always telling us that tax cuts leads to economic growth, however, that has not happen. We have been cutting taxes since Bush was in office. It is obviously not the panacea promised.

straitroad

September 19th, 2012
8:42 am

Jay, Soetoro was the name Obama went by during his formative years while he was being raised in Indonesia and attending a muslim school.

Jm

September 19th, 2012
8:43 am

Jay’s 8:11

Dodging the question. Shark bait mateys.

Stevie Ray..Clowns to the left and Jokers to the right..here I am...

September 19th, 2012
8:43 am

BARKING FROG,

Couldn’t agree more..bring them all home and let the world know we are going to take time off from telling the world how to live as we need time to clean up our own backyard….its like we are selling a democracy that is smoke and mirrors..

Cut DoD by 25%…its a good start..

Not Blind

September 19th, 2012
8:43 am

The housing crash happened during the Bush years but the housing bubble was pumped up by Clinton. This pumping up made his fiscal numbers look good but was obviously unsustainable. Just like Obama now seems to escape Bush’s post-911 forays, Bush got clobbered by Clinton’s actions on housing and bin Laden. Whoever comes after Obama will be whacked by Obama’s policies as Obama’s own charts show.

EJ Moosa

September 19th, 2012
8:45 am

From the March 28,2007 Fed Report:

Economic growth in the United States has slowed in recent quarters, reflecting in part the economy’s transition from the rapid rate of expansion experienced over the preceding years to a more sustainable pace of growth. Real gross domestic product (GDP) rose at an annual rate of roughly 2 percent in the second half of 2006 and appears to be expanding at a similar rate early this year.

+++++++++++

http://www.federalreserve.gov/newsevents/testimony/bernanke20070328a.htm

The Leg Lamp is a "Major Award".....

September 19th, 2012
8:46 am

Fred ™
September 19th, 2012
8:42 am

That was a fast breakfast, Fred. I see you’re still dodging the question. How much revenue will the “fair share tax increase on the rich” raise? And give numbers on program cuts, etc.

A + B = C? Wow, now plug in real numbers. Problem is, Fred, you support the tax increases but you have no idea how much money it will bring in.

You’re solutions aren’t simple, Fred, they’re simple minded.

Welcome to the Occupation

September 19th, 2012
8:46 am

Mary Elizabeth,

Yeah, I believe when Adam Smith spoke of ‘wealth’ he meant it not the way contemporary free market fundies mean it, as private wealth, but precisely as the common good, common weal, etc.

Redneck Convert (R--and proud of it)

September 19th, 2012
8:46 am

Well, Bookman’s right for once. We got to raise revenue and cut spending.

So let’s raise revenue with some big tax cuts. Then Trickle Down will take place and there’ll be all kind of jobs and more money will come in to the guvmint.

Then let’s cut spending by getting rid of all the guvmint programs I don’t like—Obamacare, Medicaid, SS, WIC, food stamps, unemployment payments, and all welfare except what we give to the corporations. We can raise the Defense budget some more because I want to be safe from the Terrists while I’m enjoying my tax cuts. But keep the guvmint’s hands off of my Medicare.

It’s pretty simple. Long as I get my way I’m OK. Have a good Hump Day everybody.

barking frog

September 19th, 2012
8:47 am

The US Government is not
like a household unless the
household can print money.
All US debts are payable in
dollars. The US creates dollars.

too little time

September 19th, 2012
8:47 am

Jay says: There is only one way out of this. We have to cut projected spending and raise taxes. Period.

As a conservative, I agree.

Brosephus™

September 19th, 2012
8:47 am

Unfortunately, the second major economic challenge facing the United States is much more complex, with no clear path to resolution. In brief, the U.S. economy has lost its vigor and its job-producing ability, and it has been trapped in those doldrums for a long time. It is not simply a product of this recession.

In short: We sold our cow for a few magic beans that didn’t sprout jack sh*t. We’re done without the ability to make our own stuff. Opening up the global market to trade didn’t mean that we had to institute free trade agreements with everyone who has cheap labor. We had been trading globally for as long as we have been a country. When it was decided that free trade was the way to go, we screwed ourselves forever.

TaxPayer

September 19th, 2012
8:48 am

The key to paying down the federal debt is no different than any debt. You have to make payments that cover the interest due plus some amount toward the principal and the more you pay toward the principal, the sooner you pay off the debt. Now, is there a con in the house capable of explaining how tax cuts, the Bush tax cuts or others, pay down the debt. That dynamic scoring trash talk has clearly not proven itself in the real world and anyone that took a closer look at the assumption of an unemployment rate of 2.8% needed in order to make those tax cuts work should understand why those tax cuts will never provide returns sufficient to cover the losses in revenue due to the tax cuts. If climate scientists used such assinine assumptions in their work, Republicans would have a sound basis from which to attack them.

Joseph

September 19th, 2012
8:48 am

I’m glad your finally being honest Bookman. You want to raise taxes on everyone to keep gubmint programs going. Why can’t your dem leaders just come out and say that????

Keep Up the Good Fight!

September 19th, 2012
8:50 am

Jay, excellent post. The only thing I would probably add is that it is silly to think that the deficit will disappear tomorrow. Like a 30 yr mortgage, it will take time to pay it off and every bit of additional revenue helps (for those who like to make claims that even if you eliminate the Bush tax cuts it doesn’t [insert diatribe]).

EJ Moosa

September 19th, 2012
8:50 am

Perhaps Jay will explain how the tax policies led to the housing crisis.

Did the Federal Government go without funds during this time? How would those tax dollars have been used and how would they have averted the housing crisis?

This seems more like a red herring and an opportunity to get back on the message of “Blame Bush”.

Lt Col Razorback

September 19th, 2012
8:50 am

“We like lower taxes, we like more government programs, and so we elect people who give us those nice things, future consequences be damned.”
That is exactly what Romney said, and he’s getting pilloried for it by the liberal Press. He spoke of the “47 percent of Americans who pay no net income taxes, and believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.”

MARK THIS DAY DOWN IN HISTORY – Jay Bookman saying exactly the same thing as Mitt Romney. :)

Welcome to the Occupation

September 19th, 2012
8:51 am

Mary Elizabeth: “Yet, today we can all witness, firsthand, what an over-emphasis valuing of the private sector, over the public sector”

Indeed, and that’s why it would be interesting to hear Jay address the public sector job hemorrhaging we’ve seen under Obama.

Even if you believe the private sector is the true engine of job growth, what if that engine is simply broken? What then?

Jay

September 19th, 2012
8:51 am

Moosa, does the term “bubble” have any economic meaning to you? The housing bubble and all the jobs that came with it, all the refinancing of loans, all the false prosperity it generated until it went POP! — that’s what produced the pre-’06 job growth. If the tax cuts had driven that growth, it would have been a sustainable growth, which it clearly was not.

Think about that for a minute, before you respond with knee-jerk ideology, because it’s true and logical.

I’d also note that in this mythical golden period, things weren’t as golden as you seem to recall. What would you guess average monthly job growth to have been in 2006? It was roughly 170,000 a month, little more than what is needed to keep pace with population growth.

And then of course we hit the iceberg, everyone panicked, Bush warned “this sucker could go down” and the band struck up “Nearer My God, To Thee.”

Moderate Line

September 19th, 2012
8:52 am

Since then, we’ve turned things around at least a little. In August, the most recent numbers available, we had 414,000 more private-sector jobs than when Barack Obama was sworn in. That’s not terrible considering that we had to overcome the loss of 2.1 million jobs in the first three months of his presidency alone.

“Not terrible,” however, is not good enough, not by a long shot.
++++
The United States can not compete for low skill jobs and it is losing ground on the high skilled jobs. Look at our exports compared to outher countries. Also, think of the population of these countries. Germany is exporting as much as us with less than a third of the people. We are consumers not producers.

1 China $ 1,904,000,000,000 2011 est.

2 European Union $ 1,791,000,000,000 2010 est.

3 United States $ 1,497,000,000,000 2011 est.

4 Germany $ 1,408,000,000,000 2011 est.

5 Japan $ 788,000,000,000 2011 est.

6 France $ 587,100,000,000 2011 est.

7 Korea, South $ 556,500,000,000 2011 est.

8 Netherlands $ 551,800,000,000 2011 est.

9 Italy $ 523,900,000,000 2011 est.

Fred ™

September 19th, 2012
8:54 am

The Leg Lamp is a “Major Award”…..

September 19th, 2012
8:46 am

Fred ™
September 19th, 2012
8:42 am

That was a fast breakfast, Fred. I see you’re still dodging the question. How much revenue will the “fair share tax increase on the rich” raise? And give numbers on program cuts, etc.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Learn to read. I said GO GET not EAT. That’s your problem. You read what you pretend is there not what really is there.

As to the rest of your drivel leggie? ANY real numbers will be a help.There is not magic finite WORKABLE number that will make the budget balance and the deficit go away in 35 seconds. Your “question” as you keep trying to push it is juvenile and petulant. You have been given an answer and a correct answer. Your unwillingness to acknowledge that is meaningless.

You asked a question containing variables and therefore you can only be logically given an answer containing variables. When you define with finite numbers “fair share tax increase on the rich” and a time frame for a zero balance deficit and balanced budget then you can get an answer containing finite numbers.

Until such a time you are merely being an annoying asshat who has no desire for informed reasoned debate.

Stevie Ray..Clowns to the left and Jokers to the right..here I am...

September 19th, 2012
8:55 am

Interesting how Keynsian thingy included both spending and tax cuts…

The Leg Lamp is a "Major Award".....

September 19th, 2012
8:56 am

Fred ™
September 19th, 2012
8:54 am

“Until such a time you are merely being an annoying asshat who has no desire for informed reasoned debate.”

This from someone who puts a TM sign beside his post name.

bob

September 19th, 2012
8:56 am

Fred, nice try but the fact is we are told by the left that the deficit is because of the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy. What the left never says is that the tax cuts given to those not in the top bracket amounted to much more money than the cuts for those at the top. I am open minded though, if the debt is because we need a higher income tax, why did debt start increasing so fast under LBJ when the top bracket was around 70%. And remember that prior to LBJ the SS trust fund was actually a trust fund. So with a seventy % upper bracket and the looting of Social Security and the fact that dems controlled everything, ( house, senate and exec), what caused the deficits to start growing ?

Fred ™

September 19th, 2012
8:56 am

Oh and Leggie? Regardless of how “simple” you think the equation A+B=C is, it IS the equation. Tax revenues plus current spending DOES in fact equal our current budget. It ain’t a skill level two problem.

alittlecommonsense

September 19th, 2012
8:58 am

Ok, here’s the truth about jobs. It’s hard to swallow but true.

1. Highly skilled people are doing fine for the most part. The days where you could have little or no job skills and still get a decent job are passing us by. Note – I said job skills, not education. You can be well educated and still have no job skills.
2. Manufacturing is the engine of our economy. It has typically employed millions of low skilled workers. As manufacturing dies in this country, low skilled workers will have a harder and harder time finding jobs.
3. Manufacturing is moving overseas for a variety of reasons, but primarily because low skilled labor can be purchased overseas at a small fraction its cost in the U.S. We will continue to lose these manufacturing jobs that depend highly on low-skilled labor until the cost of labor in the U.S. more closely matches other markets.
4. You can largely blame this on unions. They have been very useful in expanding the middle class here in the U.S., but they have also driven the cost of labor so high that our manufacturing sector is forced to move overseas to compete.
5. Solutions are tough and it won’t make good politics. U.S. salaries will have to get more in line with the rest of the world if we are to keep low skilled people working. Businesses need tax incentives to manufacture here in the U.S. Not just targeted at a few favored industries – across the board. The workforce has globalized to a large extent and we can’t operate as if there isn’t international competition for both products and labor.

The Leg Lamp is a "Major Award".....

September 19th, 2012
8:58 am

Fred ™
September 19th, 2012
8:54 am

Since you seem to like simple things, Fred, I’ll shorten my request to one question:

How much revenue will be raised if the POTUS gets his “fair share tax increase for the wealthy”? Just give us that one. Then you can go back to pontificating about your superior intellectual debating skills.

TaxPayer

September 19th, 2012
8:58 am

I suppose we can wait and see how that sequestration goes if Republicans continue to be the obstructionist party. After all, they did agree to it.

Fred ™

September 19th, 2012
8:59 am

The Leg Lamp is a “Major Award”…..

September 19th, 2012
8:56 am

Fred ™
September 19th, 2012
8:54 am

“Until such a time you are merely being an annoying asshat who has no desire for informed reasoned debate.”

This from someone who puts a TM sign beside his post name.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

And that is supposed to mean something? There is relevant information to be gleaned from my screen name? Really? That is the BEST you can do? I see I was correct, you really do have no desire for intelligent conversation, you just are lacking attention and want to be annoying. No problem, enjoy yourself annoying others who feel like amusing themselves playing little games with you. I’d rather watch paint dry or have conversations with rational human beings.

Have a great day.

BlahBlahBlah

September 19th, 2012
8:59 am

Bookman: “How do we finance our government?”

Easy! Rich people just pay a 100% tax rate. Oh wait, even that won’t work, to the dismay of those who live in Maddowland.

The Leg Lamp is a "Major Award".....

September 19th, 2012
8:59 am

Fred ™
September 19th, 2012
8:56 am

“Tax revenues plus current spending DOES in fact equal our current budget.”

Excellent, Fred. So we must not have a budget deficit. Again, simple minded.

Don't Tread

September 19th, 2012
8:59 am

“We have to cut projected spending and raise taxes”

Seems we never get to the “cut spending” part. “Soaking the rich” is easy.

“the U.S. economy has lost its vigor and its job-producing ability, and it has been trapped in those doldrums for a long time”

You can thank Clinton for that…he signed the “most favored trade nation” agreement allowing importation of nearly everything from China. That sucking sound you hear is dollars going away forever. And you wonder why our economy struggles while they try to control growth and inflation.

Ross Perot was right. Too bad people weren’t listening.

Paul

September 19th, 2012
8:59 am

Leg Lamp

“I haven’t positioned myself as an expert on the problem like many have, Paul.”

Fair enough. But if the goal is to find answers, there are better ways to do it than to ridicule people offering ideas.

“When the minions of the POTUS holler “fair share tax increases”, just how much will that raise? ”

I’m sure you can see those advocating that do not see it as the single silver bullet but as merely one element. Others have made the point it’s not just about raising revenue but restoring the rates that existed…. before recent history demonstrated that top-tier cuts to not result in the job creation predicted.

“And how will that help get things in balance if deep, deep cuts are not included. ”

I believe even the bloggers on the Left have stated deep cuts are required. The disagreements from them occur when the bulk of the impact is borne by the middle and lower class.

“Let’s face it, EVERY program needs to be cut to some degree. Defense spending, food stamps, medicare, medicaid, things like programs that study the sex lives of endangered frogs or whatever. Nobody will make that claim because it’s political suicide.”

Given the Republican insistence our $600 billion-plus defense budget needs to be increased, will you shift gears and criticize the Republican ticket? You know, fair and balanced?

Budgets for some may need to be increased. Prosecutions for Medicare fraud, for instance.

“Now to your comment about Romney. You must not think Romney has a clue. Maybe you’re right. The big difference here is that Romney not having a clue is an opinion while Obama has proven he doesn’t have a clue.”

I did not say that. I said, from your comment, it appears you think even Romney doesn’t have it figured out.

Off to the gym – later.

Donovan

September 19th, 2012
9:00 am

Totally unacceptable. This Bookman essay is nothing more than Democrat doctrine. Taxing our way out of trouble, blaming the troubles on a past Republican administration, and proposing defense cuts is the same old rant and campaign speech.

The created job numbers are false and disingenuous. Unemployment numbers are false and do not take into consideration those who have given up looking for work.

You Democrats are responsible for getting us into this mess with your incompetent supervision of the economy and your irresponsible spending. It’s on your watch and you own it.

Your denial is never going to be admitted so enough with the intellectual speech of how WE need to fix things.

Get out of our way and let some other team fix things. What we now need is a businessman, rather than an intellectual political hack running a social experiment with this country.

barking frog

September 19th, 2012
9:01 am

The government creates and
maintains poor people in
order that the wealthy have
a standard by which to
measure their success.

Mary Elizabeth

September 19th, 2012
9:01 am

Welcome to the Occupation,

And today, even the term “common good” is held in suspect by those who espouse an out-of-balance advocacy of the “private sector.” It makes me think of the continuing battle for the soul of this nation as debated by Jefferson vs. Hamilton, over two centuries ago. Our founders, however, did agree to include the phrase “promote the general welfare” in the Preamble of our nation’s Constitution, as one of the reasons for the creation of this nation.
————————————————————

Preamble to the U.S. Constitution (worthy of study, today, for we, the living to understand our roots):

“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Stevie Ray..Clowns to the left and Jokers to the right..here I am...

September 19th, 2012
9:01 am

DONT TREAD,

What I meant to say is that Keysian policy to stimulate the economy was to increase government spending AND cut taxes…my bad..

Isn’t his guy the economic idol of the left or am I confused??

BlahBlahBlah

September 19th, 2012
9:02 am

“For the most part, those changes are not the fault of a presidential administration or a party or even of politicians in general, but a consequence of deeper, more stubborn economic trends that are global in scale and unstoppable as a glacier.”

In other words, it was OK for me to hit Bush for a jobless recovery, but now that my guy is running the show? OMG OUT OF HIS CONTROL! Not his fault! UNSTOPPABLE FORCES AT PLAY!

What a joke.