In Which I Praise Nancy Pelosi

Mark of New Jersey

Mark is a Founding Editor of The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, the predecessor of Ordinary Times.

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29 Responses

  1. historystudent says:

    “ ‘Well, I think that if there is going to a spending freeze, it should be across the board.’ ”

    Mm. Yes. I agree with her statement. Of course she mainly focuses on including defense spending in any spending freeze. That’s okay, but I think her across-the-board spiel is less than sincere. Oh, she would be happy to freeze or even cut defense and some other spending. But if it really came down to freezing or cutting all sorts of social spending, I suspect she would balk.Report

  2. Kyle says:

    It’s pretty obvious the White House is concerned about falling approval numbers of the President’s handling of national security issues which, unlike his handling of the economy or health care, are fairly decent.

    It might be smart policy to cut defense spending but independents would hear, “why is the President cutting funds during a war?” Then the President would be up a creek, with blood in the water. I’m not sure how much good policy, or for that matter any policy, we’d get from that scenario.

    What do you want to bet that before the year’s out we start hearing about the Iraq draw down savings once we stop asking Congress for additional appropriations for combat troops in Iraq?Report

    • Bo in reply to Kyle says:

      Without defense and non-discretionary spending included, it’s an obvious gimmick; with those, it lets Republicans claim Dems are cutting Medicare or SS or Defense (“during a war”). Obviously, Obama is a political genius for forwarding this idea.Report

      • Kyle in reply to Bo says:

        Without those you can call it a gimmick but depending on who you read it’s 1/6 to 1/8 of the budget and that may be small but it’s not meaningless. If it were, Democrats wouldn’t be complaining about it.

        As a practical matter, the President can’t call for a spending freeze on entitlements because you know they’re entitlements and not discretionary. He could ask Congress to do it but he’d get a veto-proof vote against him. I think he’s punting defense to live to fight another day because you know he’s an incrementalist who plays the long game.Report

        • Bo in reply to Kyle says:

          You just haven’t heard the word gimmick for the millionth time yet. Don’t worry: the Republicans will be along shortly to correct that oversight.Report

  3. mw says:

    Seeing how she is my representative in Congress, I’ll second that.

    I praised Nancy Pelosi once before. It is astonishing how little that buys you in the blogosphere.Report

  4. North says:

    Pelosi has been a trooper lately. A stable voice in the House and relatively unflappable. She pretty much single handedly kept the HCR bill alive while Obama napped after Brown. Despite myself I’m becoming a fan.Report

  5. Koz says:

    Mark, unlike most of the Right, I opposed Obama’s escalation in Afghanistan to save money. But surely you know that no major industrial nation ever restored its fiscal health by cutting defense, right?Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Koz says:


    • Bo in reply to Koz says:

      Well, except for nearly all of Europe and Japan following WW2 and South Korea, and the US in both the 1950s and the 1990s, … Hmm, except for pretty much every industrialized country, you’re completely right Koz.Report

      • Koz in reply to Bo says:

        Ok, let’s revise that to say nobody ever restored fiscal health from cutting defense where defense spending was already at a reasonably low rate, say 5-10% of GDP.Report

        • Mark Thompson in reply to Koz says:

          Unless you’re in favor of tax hikes, I would say that the relevant metric isn’t percentage of GDP, but percentage of revenues. If you agree that the US has significant fiscal problems that need correcting, and you agree that spending needs to be cut to correct those problems, then the question is where those cuts need to be made. Given the funding mechanisms for middle-class entitlements and the overall relative size of our military expenditures, the only way you’re going to effectively close the gap is if you cut military expenditures. Otherwise, you’re just talking about window dressing.Report

          • Koz in reply to Mark Thompson says:

            Well, this ought to be obvious it still needs to be emphasized that the first thing to do is, at least for a while, to stop expanding the welfare state.Report

            • Koz in reply to Koz says:

              In other words, there’s nothing really worth talking about unless we kill the health care bill. This isn’t a sufficient condition but it is a necessary one, and as of this writing is still up in the air.

              You and I probably agree on that but a number of people here might not so it needs to be said. Then we’ll get to what gets cut next, where might disagree, or might not.Report

          • Koz in reply to Mark Thompson says:

            Also, let me get some context on the revenue thing. What are our real short-term economic problems? For me, it’s essentially the fact that capital and entrepreneurial leadership are on the sideline because of the perception of long-term instability in the economy.

            You can call it inflation risk or currency risk or something else, but people who have gotten out of their financial risk are going to have to see something that leads them to believe that the economy is running on a sound foundation before they put themselves at risk again.

            Given that, let me ask you, what is it that is likely to be? Defense cuts, or something else? For me, the answer is entitlement cuts, starting with the defeat of the health care bill.

            Or maybe, you don’t accept my overall framework of the economic situation?Report

            • Mark Thompson in reply to Koz says:

              Perpetual war certainly isn’t good for perceptions of long-term stability, either. Just sayin’.Report

              • Koz in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                Do you actually have a train of thought there?Report

              • Mark Thompson in reply to Koz says:

                Hey, I’m all for entitlement reform, but that’s not about to happen anytime soon, especially with Congressional Republicans suddenly positioning themselves as the defenders of Medicare. Either way, Medicare/Medicaid/SS reform deals primarily with programs with dedicated (if inadequate) revenue streams and with pretty significant reliance issues; so even if we reform those entitlements, it will take years to get them to a state of balance. If we’re worried about spending, the overwhelming lion’s share of the rest of the budget is, well, defense.Report

              • Koz in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                Right but whether it takes a long time or a short time to actually achieve balance, the perception of whether we are ever going to achieve balance in some reasonable will change must faster, right? At least that’s what I believe.

                In contrast, I think it’s much more difficult to argue that the defense spending has ever been out of balance in recent memory. Certainly it’s a big big stretch to think that’s what’s causing our economic crisis.Report

              • Mark Thompson in reply to Koz says:

                I don’t think it’s what’s causing the economic crisis – though it’s certainly not helping; then again, the same is true of entitlements. It is, however, a major player in causing the fiscal crisis.Report

              • Koz in reply to Koz says:

                So is it fair to say you disagree with my thesis that, for now at least, the poor performance of the economy is due to the lack of confidence in its long-term stability and that perception is primarily because of out of control entitlements?Report

              • Mark Thompson in reply to Koz says:

                Oh, and also – ending our wars is a big part of restoring stability. That’s an easy and big fiscal fix.Report

    • Mark Thompson in reply to Koz says:

      In addition to the above, I’d add that there are certainly countries that have bankrupted themselves with excessive military spending. The USSR comes to mind.Report

      • Koz in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        Right, but the USSR was spending 35% of GDP on defense.Report

      • Kyle in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        I should say I agree with your earlier point about revenues versus gdp and generally that defense spending should come down (more on the r&d side than operations I would suggest).

        However, I question just how true that is of the Soviet Union. Spending as a proportion of gdp was certainly excessive. Isn’t part of the problem also that they ran the non-military part of their economy into the ground? IOW they kept high spending but didn’t invest in economic growth which made the spending levels unsustainable. Which would make military expenditures a critical factor but also one of several.Report

    • North in reply to Koz says:

      Canada as well.Report