13 Sep 2018

Image of burning money, symbolizing our nation's fiscal insanity
Fiscally sane commentators are abuzz with the stark data coming out of the latest Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report, showing our nation's dire deficit situation after 11 months of this fiscal year have passed. As has been the case for a long time, the primary problem boils down to one simple fact... Partisan Ideologues Refuse to Accept Basic Fiscal Math Every time either major party has had control of the White House and Congress, they've pushed through legislation that made the debt and deficit worse, while rejecting plans (like the Simpson-Bowles Debt Commission recommendations, or Rivlin-Domenici from the Bipartisan Policy Center) that would start lowering the debt to manageable levels that don't pose a serious threat to our economic future, and stop stealing so much from our children, their children and future generations. That's true for both major parties, but the party, and administration, currently in power is - as it has with s...

12 Sep 2017

chart showing the tens of trillions in debt Bernie Sanders' single payer plan would add to the national debt
Left wing Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is set to release legislation based on his 'single payer', socialized healthcare plan soon, which means it's time to revisit the false claims he made about it during the his presidential campaign against Hillary Clinton, and especially the huge gap between the reality of how much it would cost, and how much Sanders falsely claimed it would cost.     In line with Sanders' pattern - falling  inline with that of corrupt politicians from time immemorial - of giving more than he takes and passing the bill to future generations to pay off, the Sanders campaign released cost estimates of around $13.8 trillion over the first ten years. The problem with that is it's completely disconnected from reality - independent estimates from economic think tanks put it around half of the actual cost. This chart, from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget - a widely respected nonpartisan fiscal organi...

07 Aug 2011

In his usual rare form, Fareed Zakaria's monologue on the budget deficits, debt and credit rating this week cut to the heart of the issue. People are complaining up and down about the S&P downgrading our federal credit rating - which is likely to cost us hundreds of billions in increased debt payments and will damage our economy to an extent that can't be known until later, but many of them have been saying the exact same things that the S&P gave as their reasoning behind the credit downgrade. Really what it comes down to is people don't want to accept the reality of the situation that we're in. The fact of the matter is, the S&P's analysis is absolutely sound. Zakaria explains by saying that our leaders in Washington have demonstrated that our political system is broken, and that because the ideological and/or partisan zealots refuse to budge on issues that are required to be worked on if we want to start shrinking our deficits - ...

03 Aug 2011

There really aren't any political figures that look like winners coming out of the debt ceiling debacle - there are just losers, and those who look less bad. As I said in my last post on the subject, the GOP clearly won the fight over the debt ceiling, but I think it will end up costing them dearly in the next election. They won the battle much like a drunk who people will agree with just so they'll shut up. They might get their way, but nobody likes them for it. After taking a slew of House seats in last year's wave election, the GOP made the same mistake the Democrats did in 2009, and are pushing an agenda that is far too extreme for swing voters to stomach. So, in the long run, the folks on the far right, that got the vast majority of what they wanted and still didn't vote for the bill, are the people who look the most childish in all of this. They may be champions of their hard core base, but to the 80% of the American people that wanted a de...

14 May 2011

David Brooks' column from a few days ago makes a good point. We're not going to get some in depth and substantive compromise hammered out in just a few weeks - there just isn't enough time - but something more simple is possible, and could even be better in the long run. Not that we could reasonably expect the blind partisans running the two major parties to do something so logical, but if they chose to they have the power to make something like this happen: Congress won’t be able to produce specific program cuts and policy reforms in the next few weeks, but it can come up with structural rules that will obligate future Congresses to make cuts and reforms for years ahead. The important argument now is over what kind of restrictions to impose on future Congresses. (This by itself is a sign of just how far rightward the debate has shifted). Republicans and a few moderate Democrats are rallying behind a spending cap plan, co-sponsored in the Sen...

12 May 2011

Here are the spending cut ideas for different sections of the federal budget that I think would be the best way to avoid a fiscal disaster down the road, with some specific suggestions on how:   Social Security Social Security was initially created in the 1930’s to be a social safety net to reduce the level of poverty our senior citizens were experiencing.  I believe this goal is very worthwhile as I don’t want to live in a society where getting old is a key cause of poverty…and I want to pay my share of taxes to support this goal.   It’s important to fund Social Security as a social safety net and not a universal retirement program. My proposed changes: My proposed changes: Raise the retirement age to 70, over an appropriate period of time to allow for people to plan. Create a way for people to qualify for retirement at 64, 66 or 68 if they have worked enough years in a job that is physically more demanding. Change the calcu...

09 May 2011

I believe that most people, regardless of their political beliefs, would agree that the level of our federal government’s spending and taxes has been “highly influenced” by what our politicians have considered important to their re-election.   Add to this the reality that most citizens want their fair share of any “free lunches”, then you have Politicians + Citizens = we now have the perfect storm for excess spending and under-taxation. About half the citizens are duped into thinking they can get their free lunch in the form of low taxes and the other half are duped into thinking that they can get theirs via specific spending that benefits them.  Many citizens think they can get both - and they do.  Of course most of us citizens don’t think that we have been duped. No, we all “deserve” and have “earned” what we want… yeah right!!! All this patriotism on the part of our politicians and citizens just gives me goose bumps.  All kidding as...

26 Apr 2011

Traveling in the UK for a few days does not make one an expert.  However, if you are listening, you might hear something vaguely familiar.    Guess what the British media is reporting this week? First, it seems the government has budget difficulties and must reduce its deficit.  Unbelievable!  How could a modern government allow its finances to get so out of balance?  The answer is not clear but the remedy is straight forward. The UK has decided to reduce teachers pensions and require teachers to pay more towards their retirement.  How draconian.  Guess what the teachers are considering? Why yes, they are talking “job action” (more simply a strike). This approach to balancing budget should sound familiar.  Governments may mean well but they routinely miss the important steps.  Just because it is more difficult to increase taxes, the government thinks it can, instead, take away salaries and benefits.  This must be universal government pro...

23 Apr 2011

Just so you know - Jack is reporting from a vacation in Scotland. - SK Things are not always what they appear to be.  Here in Scotland there is scant news of the American crisis around the deficit.  It turns out that the UK has its own budget and debt difficulties.  The one advantage of being in Scotland is to pause and think about the American political crisis without all the Washington or media 7/24 spin. Upon reflection, I had hoped that the Democratic and GOP deficit reduction plans would be much more than what they appear to be.  Silly me. The GOP “Paul Ryan” plan is bold (at least a little bit) but shameful.  It slashes discretionary spending and tackles Medicare/Medicaid.  For no apparently good reason, however, it heaps the costs of tax breaks for the wealthy upon the middle class.  It is doubly shameful because it will drive the middle class and the most vulnerable to skimp on medical care because they might not be able to afford i...

21 Apr 2011

The news just keeps getting more and more grim on our debt and deficit problems. Congress finally passed a budget compromise, but nonpartisan analysis shows they were lying and it actually saved only a few hundred million, rather than the claimed tens of billions. Our nation could see its debt grow at an even faster pace if the Democrats and Republicans don't get their heads out of the sand and do something substantive, and now even the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is saying what both sides are saying about the other - and both are right about the other in some ways. The IMF released a report that said we don't have a "credible strategy" to work through our debt problems (probably because we don't) - pointing to a future where we will be forced to accept austerity measures, unlike which our nation has seen since the Great Depression. We're the only advanced nation in the world that actually increased our budget deficit this year, while ou...