Discussion in 'Political Discussion' started by NEPatriot, Mar 5, 2010.
CBO: $10 trillion jump in debt under Obama budget - Mar. 5, 2010
I think the 2020 date needs to be lowered ... Obie could end up being the worst President ever ... a noble achievement.
Escalating national debt threatens future | ajc.com
You raise an excellent point. I've always wondered how people rate presidents. Jimmy Carter gets a thumbs down around here due to his fiscal policies, high inflation during his presidency. Obama, could be the worst ever because of this budget. Where do wars come into play and how much do they register in regards to budgets. Heck, if you don't include wars, Lyndon Johnson was one of the greatest presidents ever. Clinton had great success with the deficit, but wasn't a war time president.
Well if we include wars then Bush becomes the worst for throwing us into Afghanistan and Iraq ... both of which are still costing us $$$. But Obama could pull us out and cut down on foreign aid.
I am very surprised the republicans and democrats are quibbling over 10 to 60 billion with no mention of decreased foreign aid. Imagine thousands of jobs lost in the USA from budget cuts and Pakistan and Afghanistan and Iraq still getting their welfare from us.
For the OP - This is an excellent link, displaying that some things are bi-partisan. Among them are the lamentable habit of doubling the inherited debt, and the means by which one doubles it:
But wait -- that only accounts for $3 trillion... how do we get from 3 to 10?
So what's clear here is that of $10 trillion, you can put down a $1.4 trillion increase over 8 years to spending of any species.
You can put down $5.6 trillion to interest.
You can put down $3.0 trillion to hacking revenue -- although these are the tax cuts to the middle class that we typically like uncontroversially.
So what do you cut of the big-ticket items? Stop paying interest? I'm pretty sure that's just called defaulting... and that's on the majority of the projected debt.
Or, bite the bullet and scale back that tax cut to the middle class - the 3 trillion dollar item?
The obvious next conversation is about the military and the entitlements. I think you guys know how I feel about the latter -- the first step is to reexamine what the wealthy are paying. In social security, for example, you have the phenomenon of that phasing out at something like 106K - extend that further up the income ladder. And Means-test the collection of it at the back end.
Medicaid and medicare are another matter. The costs are set to explode based both on the cost of medical care and on the march of Americans over the magical threshold of 65 years of age. The savings you can get out of those programs, under present conditions, don't happen magically. They're pretty much zero-sum: stop paying for things or you don't get your cuts.
I've said elsewhere that our revenues are unrealistic. It is not good for debt to be nearly the GDP, and of course it is even worse for debt to be above the GDP. But that is not the same as long-term debt to be more than long-term GDP -- in other words while the ratio is incredibly important, it is not the same thing as to say that debt for one year is greater than GDP for one year. It's the cumulative debt. It's so typical to get this wrong that it's worth noting up-front.
Having said that: you need your assets to be bigger than your liabilities to get out of debt. Cutting domestic discretionary spending -- about 15% of the total -- is not how you get that to happen.
Really slicing into the pentagon might be a start. As in, abdicating the notion of projection of force. Taking our longstanding forces out of Korea and Europe. Knocking out a few carrier groups. That sort of thing.
Hey, you want big ticket items? Those hurt.
It goes without saying that we pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan. The former is already in the works. Make the latter happen as soon as it doesn't get our guys killed. No-fly zones in Libya? Don't start. You know where it ends.
Everybody got a cool little stimulus gift in their paychecks this year, the supposedly "one time" social security cut. SS is off-budget, but we know we're going to have that mess on our hands sooner or later. Put that 2% back in, and put in another .1% or .2% to make up for the stimulus gift -- if you believe our problem, right now, is long-term debt rather than a deflated economy.
Me? I gotta tell you, I'm still in Keynsian mode. Keep the middle and low income tax cuts, extend unemployment insurance, keep the recovery on track. You're not going to collect revenue if there's no domestic consumption. Do A, then do B, even though B is harder down the road.
But if you want to sacrifice the recovery for the debt fetish (suddenly acquired after the conspicuous silence for 8 years of the Bush disaster,) you're going to have to recognize that the source of the problem is a national taxation policy that doesn't collect enough revenue. It hasn't for decades.
We don't have better benefits than comparable societies. We do have far lower taxes.
What else would you expect from a person who's never run as much as a lemonade stand. Seriously. Do you honestly think he'd have a clue as to how to run the largest corporation in the world?
forward this to Obama ... and hope he reads it.
Seriously ... cutting the budget means losing political power. Thus the difference between the democrat 10 billion and the GOP 60 billion. Now if the GOP had the White House might those numbers be in reverse? Probably so.
I think that is a low estimate. Rates for U.S. debt are bound to go up. The steep yield curve would normally be seen as predicting a recovery, but this time things are a little different:
Yield-Curve Anomaly Suggests, to Some, a U.S. Ratings Downgrade - WSJ.com
That's fine, but the reason that it is capped is because benefits are capped. FICA represents premiums for a future income stream (like an annuity). It might be easier legally to just raise income taxes.
Right now the GOP and Dems are in a game of chicken. Not sure either one of them will go anywhere near this.
Yes, but the actual total liabilities, including unfunded liabilities for Medicare, Medicaid, SS and Federal pensions push that figure up to a few multiples of GDP. Add on to that the unfunded liabilities and actual current debt for states and municipalities and you begin to think that this whole thing might fall apart.
I am good with not providing free defense for developed nations.
Foreign aid? That's right out.
How about corporate welfare? (BTW, it is interesting that one of the main sources I found for information about this is the CATO Institute, founded and funded by the dastardly Koch Brothers).
The Corporate Welfare State: How the Federal Government Subsidizes U.S. Businesses | Stephen Slivinski | Cato Institute: Policy Analysis
That was before TARP and the stimulus plan! Theoretically, TARP dollars will be repaid, but I think we can agree that it would be better to make cuts here than to say, eliminate mammograms for those under 50.
True, but not as much as a currency failure would hurt.
At this point we can no longer afford to be a super-power.
There are some who would argue that those two are linked.
Revenues as a % of GDP have returned to about the historic norm (18%) after reaching a nadir of about 15% in 2008. 18% of GDP was historically enough to fund our government and no matter how high marginal rates went the percentage stayed right around there. It may be that we need a new system that allows the revenues as a percentage of GDP to be in line with government expenditures (about 24% of GDP). The problem (as you pointed out) is that we now need to play catchup, so that almost 3% of that is the interest on the past underfunding/overspending (let's put that argument aside). Without that revenues at 21% of GDP would be enough to fund current spending and that level of revenue is in line with the historic range (the top end of the range, but in range).
True, but I think you need to take into account that there are compensating mechanisms and institutions in the private sector to make up for some of that. Americans give far more to charity than those in high-tax countries, and those charities provide many of the services that are provided exclusively by government in other places. The last time we were in London, we passed by a church with a large empty dwelling behind it. I noted that it had a sign that said "Alms House". The alms houses are closed now, having been replaced by govt. assistance. Why not give the unemployed a mansion instead?
Pictured: Inside the luxury Â£1.2m council house... complete with 50-inch plasma TV | Mail Online
Really good discussion and greatly appreciate - the last link I'll take as primarily the humorous and galling exception you can sometimes dig up in nations with tens of millions of citizens. Everybody remembers how hard we tried to get rid of the nefarious American welfare leeches... and in fact, people will occasionally trot out the same thing as if it's the rule. You have to get at these cases... looks like someone's getting at this one, from the looks of the link.
But since we're not giving everybody mansions, the rest of the conversation is at least solidly in the quantifiable realm and you've admirably, maybe more than me, stayed out of the "whose fault is it" quagmire. If there's time - there is a nursing home move afoot and work is busy - I might start wonky quibbling but I think, actually, we may be on essentially the same page.
It's a matter of telling the pols to pick their poison, and of course, to make our voices heard on which poison we want them to drink.
A haircut on medical services? Raising taxes? Imagine campaigning on either of these positions.
This is why I was so flummoxed that in the last days of the last congress, the pubbies dug in their heels on tax cut extensions for the rich, and the Dems said "oh yeah? then we're getting you to dish out another middle/working class stimulus" -- in the form of the social security tax break.
It wasn't so much that I'd abandoned my basically Keynsian stance, that we have to get A to happen before B... it was more like seeing all the campaigning, all the commission recommendations, all the hand-wringing, all about the debt... then pretty much the same people just threw a trillion dollars on the pile.
The really painful stuff is coming, whether it be taxes (yea, even unto the middle class,) or whether it be services -- services that are lifelines not luxuries, the funny link to the british case notwithstanding (I know in a nation of 300 million, you can find another dozen cases like that in the U.S. ... I would think, anyway.) But it ain't that dozen cases that are going to ream us. It's the main body of results.
So good to have the grownup conversation about the current state, and the beginnings of one on the future state. By what you're saying, we're looking at 6% more, that you say can come (and can only come) by replacing the income tax structure. I do remember researching the notion that you only get 18% in taxes regardless how much the tax is, and finding different outcomes, but I am tired -- so more on that later.
It's rather important, after all; you're going to need to get on that replace-the-income-tax project if the solution is going to be to collect revenues in line with our obligations.
The other solution, to not take care of the most needy, seems difficult to implement, particularly since (as you point out) we're already comparatively over-tapped for voluntary charitable giving. It'll come down to just letting people die. We're not that poor.
Sorry I wasn't clearer about that. I was trying to make the point that generous benefits from the state had largely replaced charity in the UK (with a little humor on top in the form of an example of really extreme govt. generosity).
Nursing home move? I assume that means a parent. Not to pry, but is the fact that your prospective inheritance is being rapidly depleted to provide the care that you cannot a part of why you are unenthusiastic about the idea of passing assets on to the next generation? How do you feel about people who move assets around (transfers to children) before they need care so that the parent's care will be funded by Medicaid while the children buy a second home? I am personally opposed to that (a point of disagreement with just about everyone in my family).
I really hope that we never have to face that (not from a financial perspective, but an emotional one)...
Was just reading that the reason that these deficits are so high, compare to the surplus under Clinton.. are these never ending wars that are so ingrained in our society, no one notices and no one cares..
Private pay in a nursing home runs, depending on the level of care needed, anywhere from say 7 grand and up per month - in my mom's case, my assumption had always been that the small amount she had and the small amount her place was worth was for her to spend. When she had the stroke, my immediate assumption was that her liquid assets would be gone, then sometime soon after that, her place would be sold, and that money would pay for her care -- then when she became indigent, thank God, there would be medicare. And thank God, for now, there still is. She's in a total care situation; we couldn't pick up that care in a home setting (the instant rejoinder of right-wing medical experts who don't know particulars.) We also don't have the >10K/month they charge for that care.
How do I feel about people who hide the assets by cheating the state's "lookback" period? I don't like it. I think there should be some kind of criminal penalty in addition to the requirement that it be paid back. Maybe not jail time but a huge additional financial fine, like a 10% per year interest hit.
How do I feel about people who "plan ahead" and put everything in their kids' names years early? I'm like you, in this sense: It's a big loophole that should be closed.
I've got nothing personal against the people who do it. It's like getting a good tax lawyer to decrease your tax obligation -- it's an outgrowth of our patchwork of laws. But my gut is 100% against it. I didn't do it because there wasn't really an option - my Mom hated talking about her own demise so much she basically refused to participate in anything practical until it was too late. A form of sentimentality far too common in that generation.
For those who don't get how nursing homes work -
Medicaid doesn't "get" the money. Medicaid pays money, on behalf of the indigent elderly; they try to prevent paying more than that by demanding you be indigent before their payment kicks in. What B5 is referring to is creating artificial penury so you still get your parents' money, but your parents are officially penniless.
Make all health care single-payer, and do you still have that? Seems like you don't have to prove poverty to participate.
How do you pay for that? In terms of the impact in the fairly typical case of my mom, you wouldn't recoup the program $ by lowering an inheritance tax threshhold to 500K, like we said elsewhere here. Would have to inheritance tax every dollar... and probably you would get the program funded and have money left over if we could digest that. (Let's say the current 35%, but on every dollar. Obviously the thoroughly truly indigent don't pay this tax because there is no estate -- but most people would.)
Time to work. Interesting perspective, that you are personally against asset transfer (I'm assuming you mean w/in the rules.) I think that's a very socially aware & patriotic point of view. It should be the law. It's very much like the Gates/Buffet point of view about "inheritance-taxing" himself and urging others to do likewise.
What can I say. I salute you, suh.
I am shocked that the media does not tie the stories together and puts pressure on DC. The wars and foreign aid payments need to be part of the cutting back - without question.
As do I. I wish more people thought and felt that way.
MrP has explained it all pretty good - I just wanted to add that my own pet peeve is people who justify the transfer of funds to a child as "Well, we didn't want the state to get it."
The state doesn't "get it." The nursing home "gets it." It is payment rendered for services performed - i.e. they provide your parent's care and your parents pay them for it. After the money runs out (and it will) the state pays for it and your parents, and you by extension, "get it," from the state. They are not taking anything away from you, you give the nursing home what you've got and the state pays for what you don't have to give them.
I am unsure where people got the idea that the state was taking your parent's hard earned money - all the state, in this case, is doing is taking care of your parents when their own money runs out.
And make no mistake about it - it is their (the parent's) money - not the child's money. Did the parent want the child to inherit the money? Sure, most likely, but at their own expense? I'd imagine that most people, parent's included, save their money throughout their lifetime so that they will have something to fall back on in their old age - something to see them through the "bad times," and the sicknesses. Nursing home IS the bad time that they were saving for. Why shouldn't their money be spent to take care of them?
MrP's mother is not the only one in a nursing home. My own mother has been in one for over a year now. My parent's always lived with my two maiden aunts and my grandparents. One by one they became ill and died - each had arranged their wills in a simple fashion - it was left to the survivors and then, when all 6 of them had died it would have fallen to my sister and I. They took care of each other in life and they intended to take care of each other until death.
My mother is the last one left - and the savings they all worked so hard for and the house they all lived in is just about gone - in little less than two years. We've pre-paid her funeral, cashed in the life insurance policies bought her all the clothes and acccessories and little extras that we could think of and now I'm spending the rest of it down in monthly nursing home and medical expenses. I think she's got about 4 months left and she'll be indigent.
But I feel good about it. I don't feel like I've "lost" my inheritance. I didn't do anything to earn it or deserve it in the first place. My dad and aunts worked so that everyone could be taken care of when they needed taking care of - and that's exactly where the money's going. My mother was given several choices of where she wanted to go and what she wanted to happen and this was the one she chose - it's (almost) what she wanted and it's what the money was left to provide for. It's the best my sister and I could do - and we are grateful that she had the money to make it possible.
We are even more grateful that the state of Indiana and the federal government (through Medicaid) are going to make it possible for her to remain where she is and receive the same care she is getting when she cannot afford it herself. We could certainly not afford it and we could certainly not take care of her ourselves without great personal and monetary sacrifice.
One does not transfer funds to keep the "state" from taking the assets - one transfers funds to steal the assets from the nursing home or caregivers.
Unfortunately, there never was an actual surplus. The Enron-style accounting of the government used to use the Social Security surplus as an offset against the deficit in the general fund. If you look at the outstanding debt year-by-year you see that it continued to rise. We have not had a true surplus (i.e. paid down the debt) since 1960.
[B]Fiscal Total Debt[/B]
[B]Year in Billions[/B]
Source: The 2011 U.S. Statistical Abstract
[B]Fiscal Total Debt[/B]
[B]Year in Billions[/B]
It is shocking to me how many people disagree with the three of us on this issue. It is welfare for millionaires.
I think it is tied to the idea that "they worked so hard for it, we can't just let it all go to a nursing home" under the idea that their parents have a right to be taken care of. Not much thought goes into the question of who is obligated to care for them.
That is commendable, as you could have engineered things so that you got every penny.
That's great that she will be able to stay in the same place. In Mass. it is sometimes hard to find care for Medicaid residents that is as good as private pay.
Actually, I think of it as stealing from other taxpayers. Those who are fortunate enough to have parents that did not end up in a nursing home wind up footing the bill for those that do. Furthermore, there are people who are not aware of the ways that they can hide their assets, so they end up spending them down while others who are not as "savvy" (maybe crooked is a better word) can use the funds to put an addition on their home or buy a boat.
That is one of my main issues with the current political advocacy, the focus is on chump change issues that are in reality small change.. all the while our military expenditures are off the chart..
No one ever discusses the "legacy" costs of our current military situation.. I shudder to think the future costs of all of these wounded warriors..
No one notices and no one cares, have said before and will reiterate, did you ever think about how many of these contractors are supported solely by the tax dollar, and use some of the money received to lobby for more funds?? INOW our tax dollars, are being used for lobbying.. this WTF moment brought to you by the War Profiteers..
A company that is in negotiations with the Pentagon can lobby a member of Congress to intervene on their behalf in that negotiation. That should not be allowed. The problem is figuring out how to bar that kind of political expression without violating the rights of constituents. I think the key may be to treat corporations and other organizations differently from people. I have posted previously that I think that we need a different mechanism than "a corporation is a person" for ensuring the enforceability of contracts, etc. for companies. Would it be possible to restrict lobbying by any group (corporation, non-profit, union) in matters that are being negotiated with a govt. entity such as a labor contract or that are related to an active procurement process? The right of individuals to lobby for or against anything would have to be retained so as not to restrict their freedom of political expression, but can we argue that groups are not afforded those same rights? Stuff like the "Citizens United" ruling that has so many upset would be moot. I think that part of the reason for the ruling was that the restrictions it overturned were not equally applied to all groups (did not apply to unions or media corporations). Whatever lobbying restrictions are developed must be applied equally to all groups.
I think what you describe dovetails with concerns about public unions. As with a defense contractor lobbying a rep to intervene in a procurement process, a union can lobby a rep to intervene in contract negotiations on behalf of the union members (especially if the union has been,ahem,helpful of late). Small potatoes, you say? Well, in 2007 the payroll for all state and local employees was $762 billion. (Source: The 2011 U.S. Statistical Abstract - Table 434).
Additional monies were spent on benefits but I could not find aggregate figures for that. I did find this report, which shows that benefits for all state and local employees were about 50% of salaries and wages in 2007--$13.85 vs. $26.25. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Economic News Release-December 8, 2010: Table 3. State and local government, by major occupational and industry group).
Table 3. State and local government, by major occupational and industry group
Using 50% as a rule of thumb, we get over $1.1 trillion in salaries, wages and benefits paid to state and local employees. Those kind of numbers might even get the Pentagon's attention!
Unions might also be interested in lobbying for more spending to provide justification for those jobs as well (in other words, the employees need a budget for other operating expenses). Total spending for all local governments was $1.5 trillion in 2007 (source: The 2011 U.S. Statistical Abstract - Table 454).
Total spending for all state governments was $1.6 trillion in 2007 (source: The 2011 U.S. Statistical Abstract - Table 452).
All told, there are over $3 trillion being spent per year outside of the Federal government. There are plenty of people who want to influence how that money is spent as well.
That's the issue with public unions. Just as lobbying by Boeing or Raytheon could influence a purchasing decision by the DoD (i.e. not in the public interest), lobbying by AFSCME could influence legislators (particularly those they support) to make decisions that are more in line with the interests of the union members than with those of the citizens of the state or municipality.
First step in balancing the budget: Get of lobbyist's, Union & Corporate contributions.
To name some dbags: The Koch brothers and George Soros funnel millions into campaigns and also put out the most misleading commercials ever made.
BTW: Cut military spending!
It's what I've been saying for years in here.
What's telling is that the surpluses were "projected" figures. Some were in upwards of $5+ trillion dollars, yet not a single one materialized. That's how bad the accounting and calculations were.
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