Debt and the ticking clock

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James K

James is a government policy analyst, and lives in Wellington, New Zealand. His interests including wargaming, computer gaming (especially RPGs and strategy games), Dungeons & Dragons and scepticism. No part of any of his posts or comments should be construed as the position of any part of the New Zealand government, or indeed any agency he may be associated with.

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  1. Avatar North
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    says:

    I’m with ya there James. I mean the Canuks and the Kiwiis have plenty of legislative idiosyncrasies but the whole debt limit debate after the budgeting debate issue is just mind blowing.Report

  2. Avatar Mike Farmer
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    says:

    I wondered how long it would take for you to blame the Republicans, and it was at the end, so that’s good — you held off longer than most.

    I blame status quo, professional politicians. This whole deal has been a political manuever to frame limited government conservatives as extremists, then as the Prof Pols were manipulating, Reid and Obama saw this as an opportunity to associate the establishment Republicans with the limited government “extremists”. Boehner thought he was honestly working with Obama on a Grand Bargain, and he allowed his ambition to cloud his judgement — once suckered in, Obama turned on him and joined Reid in a scheme to bring down the Republicans, with the help of media, and secure reelection in 2012.

    Thus, the debt limit will go up, nothing will change in the statist system, and the debt will soar — nobody really wins. But short-term, the democrats will declare victory — afterall, it’s about the next election.

    If Democrats/Obama had really been serious about compromise and working out a deal, they would have taken the plan from the Republicans and said “We understand the importance of cutting government spending, and we appreciate you giving us something to work with, so here are our amendments — let’s work together to make this happen!” Then a process could have started whereby everyone workded to come up with a plan that could pass the House and Senate.

    Instead, what Democrats did was immediately denigrate the plan, block it from a vote and amendment process in the senate, and the president yelled “veto!” Then the president used media to blame the Republicans. A handful of people throughout the whole process manipulated in secrecy — it has been disgraceful.

    Of course, there’s also the possibility that the blow-up between Boehner and Obama was staged for optics, and that Boehner believes the limited government conservatives will be marginalized in the end, and that his speakership will be safe — that enough Republicans will capitulate to Washington power — thus, Boehner can go to Hoyer, work out a last minute deal and get the debt ceiling raised — for the good of the country.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Mike Farmer
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      says:

      I find this comment amusing. I like it when “compromise” means “accept the other side’s position with a few amendments.”

      Look, what happened here is that the Republican’s gambled on the debt ceiling. They figured that, with control of only one house, the best way to get blackmail the Democrats into a bunch of spending cuts without any revenue increases was to use a really serious issue like raising the debt ceiling to force them to do so in order to avert a global economic crisis. And for the most part it’s worked, because the Democrats have agreed to a whole shitload of spending cuts, and the current Democratic plan has no increase in revenue. What’s holding things up? The House Republicans don’t even like their own leader’s plan! In fact, once he realized it didn’t even do what he said it did, he decided to rewrite it, so even he doesn’t like his plan. But they haven’t even considered the Democrats’ plan, which is further to the right than the initial bipartisan recommendations!

      So pretty much any way you look at it, this crisis is, in fact, the fault of the Republicans. They created the situation to further their agenda, and there’s no other way to spin it. That it took James to the end of the post to point this out is not a point in his favor.

      In a rational world, we’d raise the debt ceiling independent of all this other shit, because we have to raise the debt ceiling, and then we’d deal with the other contentious shit on its own terms. But again, the Republicans know they can’t get what they want that way, so…Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Mike Farmer
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      says:

      Welcome back Mike, I’m happy to see you haven’t changed.Report

      • Avatar Mike Farmer in reply to North
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        says:

        Thanks North — it’s good to see the LoOG comment section has drifted further left — more entertainment, for sure. One thing about most of the commenters here — they are impressively confident in their statist beliefs. I give them credit for that. I’m not certain which party is worse right now, as far as the establishment types go — the Republicans should be blamed for knowing better. The Democrats are doing what they’ve always done, tax and spend, but establishment Republicans had a chance to change — once again they’ve blown it. The whole country is blissfully unconcerned with deficits, really, as long as they get theirs — but we’re approaching a reality check from external sources — this kind of spending has a limit even if government thinks its power is unlimited.Report

    • Avatar Barry in reply to Mike Farmer
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      says:

      Mike Farmer July 27, 2011 at 8:59 am
      ” I blame status quo, professional politicians.”

      Since the debt ceiling has been repeatedly raised without these crises, your statement is clearly false. Since the major factor here is the Tea Party, your statement is clearly false.

      You’re looking at a crisis, ignoring the changed factors, and claiming things which are in contradiction to those changed factors.Report

  3. Avatar Jason Kuznicki
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    says:

    Cosigning this one. I particularly liked

    “[T]here are any number of things that I can agree the US government shouldn’t do, but that doesn’t mean I think it should stop doing them immediately.”

    and

    “The whole point of fiscal responsibility is to avoid the type of crisis that this situation is threatening to unleash.”

    What the Republicans have done is to take a two-decades-or-so crisis and turn it into a two-weeks-or-so crisis. And even then, it won’t be resolved when it’s resolved. I can’t fathom why they think this is a good idea.Report

    • Avatar Rob in reply to Jason Kuznicki
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      says:

      “I can’t fathom why they think this is a good idea.”

      There are various reasons. The most terrifying of them is outlined neatly in this stunningly bizarre column from John Derbyshire, which argues that it’s 1956 and we’re Argentina and Obama is Peron and we might as well go ahead and collapse now, because it’s inevitable, and it doesn’t really matter anyways, because Americans will find jobs as cardboard box scavengers, and we’ll survive, because no one really starves in modern countries, and everyone knows that the only kind of suffering that is worth avoiding is starvation, and afterwards we’ll all live in a limited government utopia, because economic collapse usually leads to increased faith in the free market and expanding liberty, although it didn’t in Argentina for some reason, but we can safely ignore the example of Argentina, because the United States is different, except when it isn’t.

      I am not exaggerating. (Well, I added the part about the only kind of suffering. But the rest is, as far as I can tell, entirely fair.)Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Rob
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        says:

        Wow. “The crisis must come, and the longer it’s delayed, the worse it will be.”

        It’s completely false that “the crisis must come.” Everything after that is misconceived.Report

        • Avatar Mike Farmer in reply to Jason Kuznicki
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          says:

          The crisis is here — it’s just that our political culture chooses to ignore it.Report

          • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Mike Farmer
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            says:

            It’s cheaper for the US government to borrow money than to actually pay cash for stuff. We’re not in crisis – unless the GOP makes one.Report

          • Avatar Rob in reply to Mike Farmer
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            says:

            “The crisis is here…”

            Wait, what?

            I have to admit I was not anticipating this response.

            You mean that we are already in a state of economic collapse?

            This seems bizarrely contradictory of reality, but tell me more…Report

            • Avatar Rob in reply to Rob
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              says:

              In my “yes crisis” and “no crisis” scheme, I am calling this “now crisis”. Or would “already crisis” be better?Report

              • Avatar RTod in reply to Rob
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                says:

                I prefer The Ghost of Crisis Present.Report

              • Avatar Rob in reply to RTod
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                says:

                That works. I wish the No Crisis’ers and the Yes Crisis’ers and the Ghosters would get together and work out their differences (I mean, they can’t all be right, can they?) in a dark, sealed room somewhere. Presumably, while they are in that room, Congress can get a deal done and we can go back to worrying about crisis on a decades-long timeline instead of weeks.

                (You know, I almost get where the Crisis’ers are all coming from, which, if my amateur-mass-political-psycho-analysis is correct, is extreme frustration at the seeming inability of our political system to cope with long-term problems. I share that frustration. The difference between me and them is that I think there’s little chance that making things worse will make things better, and they seem to believe that our only way out is to blow everything up.

                Me? I can believe that there may be no way out and that collapse is inevitable. I’m pessimistic enough to see that as a possibility. But I see no way in which blowing things up is any better — it’s not better than the possibility of finding our way out of seemingly intractable political problems, and it’s not better than a long and slow decline towards a future collapse.

                Blowing everything up is, in my opinion, just a petty and juvenile response. This is hard! There must be an easy way out! Blow it UP!)Report

            • Avatar Mike Farmer in reply to Rob
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              says:

              The crisis is here, Rob, and the system is set to collapse. It took the Roman Empire a long time to bottom out completely — they didn’t wake up one day and say “Whoops, it’s over. What happened?”

              The USSR started collapsing from the beginning — they tried everything to prevent it, but it was systemically set for collapse.

              Britain started collapsing during WWI, and it took a while, but their empire collapsed. I know this is Amurica, by God, and we don’t do collpase, but hubris might be characteristic of collapse.Report

              • Avatar Rob in reply to Mike Farmer
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                says:

                “The crisis is here, Rob, and the system is set to collapse.”

                I think I have misinterpreted you. You don’t mean that we have already collapsed, but that we are about to collapse. (And presumably that collapse is unavoidable, and so we may as well go ahead and push ourselves off the cliff, and get the pain over with so we can restructure American society into a utopia of boundless liberty. If that’s accurate, you’re a Yes Crisis’er.)

                So let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that I have that right. The key point in your argument is the belief that collapse is inevitable.

                What is the mechanism for this inevitable collapse? If the debt ceiling isn’t raised, I know what the mechanism for collapse is. (I’ll assume that you do too.) If the debt ceiling is raised, why is collapse equally certain?Report

              • Avatar Rob in reply to Rob
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                says:

                Actually, reading your comment below, Mike (“short-term we have to raise it”), I think this is unfair.

                You seem to be of the opinion that, yes, we need to raise the debt ceiling, but everyone knows that, so we (the minority who recognize that collapse is coming soon!) are justified in using our de facto veto (due to the politics of the House) over the debt ceiling vote to force through our preferred policy solutions. We (the minority) believe that this will be successful, because the majority is more afraid of a catastrophe than they are of letting us have our way.

                Clearly this is at least partially correct, because all the offers that are on the table are intensely right-wing.

                It’s also intensely un-democratic, but that may not be particularly convincing if you’re convinced you’ve found a truth that everyone else can’t see.Report

              • Avatar Mike Farmer in reply to Rob
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                says:

                Oh jesus, spare me the lecture about “truth”.

                I’ve made my position painfully clear. If establishment Republicans or Democrats gave a rat’s ass about our economy, they would be working to make fundmental changes in the statist system to avoid economic collapse — we are forced to raise the debt limit, but it would be better if changes went along with raiswing the ceiling — this is not rightwing, it’s realistic and responsible — it’s economic sanity.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Mike Farmer
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                says:

                Ah, yes, the old libertarian line that unless we destroy the welfare state and give lots of money to rich people, we’re all doomed!Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Mike Farmer
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                says:

                Which libertarian suggested we ‘give lots of money to rich people’?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike Farmer
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                says:

                “We have to bail them out for 100 cents on the dollar or else the financial world will collapse in upon itself!”Report

              • Avatar Mike Farmer in reply to Mike Farmer
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                says:

                “Ah, yes, the old libertarian line that unless we destroy the welfare state and give lots of money to rich people, we’re all doomed!”

                You’re just a walking cliche with a pocketful of non sequitors, aren’t you?Report

              • Avatar Mike Farmer in reply to Rob
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                says:

                It’s only inevtiable if we don’t make systemic changes, and soon. We have 100 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities facing us, and is we tax enough to meet these obligations, we’d destroy the economy. The system is set for collapse as it is right now, and no one seems to have the courage to face it. With special interests possessing so much power in each party, getting any major changes to the system through is almost impossible.Report

              • Avatar rob in reply to Mike Farmer
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                says:

                Mike, I actually agree that both the deficit and the debt are a huge problem. For what it’s worth, I also agree that getting “major changes to the system through is almost impossible”.

                However, I would argue that economic growth is considerably more important to the future servicing of our debt obligations than immediate deficit reduction. (This is not terribly difficult to see using the various debt/deficit calculators available online.)

                It’s not that debt and deficit are not problems; it’s that they’re the wrong problems to be focused on right now. E.D. made this point well. It’s also worth noting that austerity is going really badly in that other English-speaking nation that’s ahead of us on it.

                That said, if we’re going to focus on the wrong thing, you have to admit that there is more than one way to approach the problem of deficit reduction — not just spending cuts, but also revenue increases. I realize that you’re not going to agree with that approach (it doesn’t accomplish the shrinking of the “statist system” you’re after), but that disagreement is kind of my point — even among people who would agree with you that deficit reduction is the central economic end the country should aim for right now, there is significant disagreement about the means for achieving that reduction. In a democratic political system, disagreement is resolved through compromise. When you reject compromise, you’re rejecting democracy. (And whether you would reject compromise or not, that’s exactly what the House Republicans have been doing.)Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to rob
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                says:

                What you planning to do? Macroeconomic policy has managed in the last three years to avoid a wretched economic contraction a-la 1929-33, but how readily manipulable is your growth rate over periods longer than two or three years?Report

              • Avatar Mike Farmer in reply to rob
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                says:

                I’ve been writing about increasing revenues through economic growth for quite awhile, but there is much in Government that can be cut which won’t hurt anyone except statists feeding off taxpayer dollars. We can start with the DOE, then the Commerce department, then the Fed — you know, unnecessary parts of government.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to rob
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                says:

                Yeah, the thousands of employees at the DOE and Department of Commerce do nothing for the local economies of those regions. Nothing at all. I’m sure the coffee shops, mechanics, and dry cleaners around those agencies love the idea of a total lack of business.Report

              • Avatar Mike Farmer in reply to rob
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                says:

                “Yeah, the thousands of employees at the DOE and Department of Commerce do nothing for the local economies of those regions. Nothing at all. I’m sure the coffee shops, mechanics, and dry cleaners around those agencies love the idea of a total lack of business”

                Damn, he’s also a dinosaur Keynesian — he’s checked all the boxes. These employees can go to work producing something of value — we actually do need people producing things, not just consuming.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to rob
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                says:

                Actually, I’m a social democrat. But yes, in many ways, I’m a Keynesian. Unlike neoliberalism, Reaganomics, libertarianism, Austrian economics, or whatever, it’s actually worked.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Mike Farmer
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                says:

                Every time a conservative talks about trillions upon trillions of dollars of unfunded liabilities, I have to ask a question. Did you say you have thousands of dollars of unfunded liabilities when you were only making crap money at your first job?Report

              • Avatar Mike Farmer in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                says:

                I’m not a conservative, but, to your question — huh? What has my first job got to do with a bankrupt welfare state? You guys are reaching, but your grasp leaves a lot to be desired.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                says:

                The assumption conservatives and libertarians make is that revenues will never go high enough to pay for things but they aren’t high enough right now, just like somebody at their first job obviously will never be able to pay off their student loans if they continue to make first job money.

                Or to make another analogy, I’m sure if you described the current welfare state to a conservative in 1910, he’d say the government could never pay for it all when it all reality, absent the Bush Tax cuts (and by that, I mean all the Bush tax cuts) and the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression, we’d be just about even right now.

                So, the idea we can’t pay for our future obligations is silly. Social Security is easy to fix. Turn the FICA tax into a flat one from a regressive one and maybe nudge the edges of benefits around. Open up Medicare to all people and use the full force of the federal government to negotiate better deals for prescriptions and such and offering free rides to medical school for any doctors who promise to accept Medicare/Medicaid for x amount of time.

                Oh, and cut the defense budget in half, return to the Clinton tax rates for most of us, tax all income as income, add a few new brackets above a million dollars, institute a transaction tax on stocks, and yeah, after that, we’re in good shape. Crisis averted.Report

              • Avatar Mike Farmer in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                says:

                “So, the idea we can’t pay for our future obligations is silly. Social Security is easy to fix. Turn the FICA tax into a flat one from a regressive one and maybe nudge the edges of benefits around. Open up Medicare to all people and use the full force of the federal government to negotiate better deals for prescriptions and such and offering free rides to medical school for any doctors who promise to accept Medicare/Medicaid for x amount of time.”

                Holy shit — you need to realize the progressive dream is a nightmare. Sorry, I can’t go down this road with you, but hang in there, you’ll get better.

                We’d be just about even, you say? Oh my. I’ll leave you to the others — I can’t take it.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                says:

                No Bush tax cuts – 1.7 trillion dollar lower deficit over the past ten years, 3 trillion dollars lower over the next ten years

                No War in Iraq – 1 trillion or so over the past ten years, a couple of hundred billion over the next ten, plus the associated extra costs in veterans health care that come with a couple of thousand wounded.

                Throw in the extra revenue from a transaction tax, a tax system with fewer loopholes, higher rates for the rich and an IRS with 4x the budget committed to going after the top 1% for any tax evasion, cutting the defense budget by 50%, and yeah, we’re in pretty damn good shape.

                Still a debt, but nothing outside the norms of the past sixty years that we’ve had.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                says:

                Eh, that assumes that everything else would have been equal.

                As awesome an assumption as that usually is, it’s not something to bet a trillion dollars upon.

                I’d say it’d have likely netted about half that, maybe a bit more… but growth wouldn’t have been as high for the good parts either.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                says:

                The good times? That only produced three million jobs?

                While Clintonian tax rates produced 22 million jobs?

                I’m sorry, the idea that a couple percent change in the effective tax rate over the past ten years would’ve meant anything more than a minute drop in GDP is silly.

                Yes, I’d admit that in my perfect world with my perfect tax rates, GDP growth would slow at first. But, not in a world where tax rates stayed at Clinton-level rates throughout the 2000’s.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                says:

                Please keep in mind that until the tail end, we had pretty sweet employment numbers for much of the aughts.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                says:

                Then again, it’s not like Obama’s unemployment numbers could be blamed on getting rid of the Bush tax cuts/raising taxes.

                For that reason alone, we should all be pleased that they didn’t raise taxes when they had huge majorities from 2009-2010.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                says:

                They only look good in retrospect and like a lot of the past thirty years, they were a mirage.

                Yes, people were employed, but wages were stagnant, health care costs were rising, housing costs were blowing up thanks to speculation, etc. Now, all the same is happening, but now more people are unemployed.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                says:

                I suspect that, someday, numbers that are worse will be touted as a major victory.

                Perhaps even by you.

                I hope that those numbers appear sooner rather than later.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                says:

                Hey, if Obama had just passed my stimulus plan of 5 trillion dollars, all going to organic soybeans and wind farms, we’d be at 3% unemployment by now. [/snark]

                Seriously though, yes, I’ll champion Obama when things get better. I never expected things to be turned around in six months like a lot of people did. We’ve had 30 years of gunk on the American economy, it’s going to take more than a centrist post-partisan to get it clean again. 🙂Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Mike Farmer
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                says:

                iThe system is set for collapse as it is right now, and no one seems to have the courage to face it. With special interests possessing so much power in each party, getting any major changes to the system through is almost impossible.

                So, nothing can be done. Right? You’re in the unenviable position of screaming obsenities at a brick wall because there isn’t a door.Report

              • Avatar Mike Farmer in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                I didn’t say that nothing can be done — obviously, if it’s a systemic problem, you change the system. See, that’s not hard to understand.Report

              • Avatar Rob in reply to Mike Farmer
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                says:

                I know this conversation is kind of over and all, but this post from Josh Barro seems relevant:

                “The truth is this: we are not facing an imminent debt crisis, except for the one that Congress might artificially create. Our current debt-to-GDP ratio is above the ideal level, but manageable. We can afford to run big deficits for a few more years. Our long-term fiscal course is unsustainable, but—as shown by the Bowles-Simpson commission and others—a set of manageable adjustments in the medium term can make it sustainable again. Panicking now about the public debt ratio is an error.

                As Joe Weisenthal wrote last year, bankrupt entities can’t borrow at 2.8 percent for 10 years. And indeed today, the 10-year Treasury yield is back down to 2.8 percent. Nervous investors are seeking shelter in the Treasury markets—even though a good part of the economic uncertainty is coming from the debt ceiling crisis itself. If we were really broke, that behavior would make no sense.

                The markets know the U.S. government isn’t broke. But unfortunately, a lot of politicians have convinced themselves that it is, are behaving accordingly, and are making a huge mess as a result. And anybody who has said that the government is “bankrupt” shares in the blame.”Report

      • Avatar Barry in reply to Rob
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        says:

        “…and afterwards we’ll all live in a limited government utopia, because economic collapse usually leads to increased faith in the free market and expanding liberty, although it didn’t in Argentina for some reason, but we can safely ignore the example of Argentina, …”

        And other places.Report

      • Avatar James K in reply to Rob
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        says:

        Oddly enough his prediction did kinda come true for New Zealand in the 1980s, the free market Rogernomics reforms were only possible because of the fiscal crisis. But while I’m glad the reforms happened, the suddenness of them caused some serious economic problems, we basically had a lost decade for growth and we ended up having to cut the government payroll in half in the teeth of a recession. IF we had been able to implement those reforms over 10-15 years instead of 4 years things would have been a lot smoother for us.Report

        • Avatar North in reply to James K
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          says:

          Humm and Canada did the same sort of thing in the 1990’s… hrm.. do we know any commonwealth countries that experienced this kind of restructure in the 2000’s because I think one count count ol Mother England as doing these kinds of reforms now in the 2010’s.Report

        • Avatar Koz in reply to James K
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          says:

          This is a very important point. If we could get the libs to pull their head our of their collective ass, we’d be in much better shape. They didn’t, so this is where we are.Report

          • Avatar North in reply to Koz
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            says:

            Hate to ruin your narrative Koz but in Canada at least (and quite possibly in NZ) the reforms were done by the liberals in the government while the country’s right wing self immolated.Report

            • Avatar Koz in reply to North
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              says:

              That’s true, but those countries are smaller and the political universe is different there. In particular, the lib-Demo’s in America are not the same thing as their counterparts in Canada or NZ.

              Here, especially among the lib activist base, libs console themselves by thinking that spending is out of control because Republicans insist on money for ethanol and defense. And what’s worse than maintaining a propaganda front, most of them actually believe it too. Therefore they go their merry way with stimulus packages and PPACA and the rest of it.

              That’s just fkkkkng not acceptable. Not Fkkkkng Acceptable. Get The Fkkkkkng Memo. I wish I could say that there was some less confrontational tactics that would be as effective, but frankly I’m not sure.

              We had to know, if push comes to shove, that the libs will be willing to dial back the welfare state for the sake of preserving economic civilization as we know it. In fact, we still don’t know. I for one am going to be very interested to see what the Mikulski’s, Leahy’s and Harkin’s of the world do if we get a vote on the Reid plan in the Senate.

              If anything, it should be clear the voters and the activists from both sides who wants to spend what and how much.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Koz
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                I don’t think you’ll hear anybody on the ‘lib’ side say spending is out of control. Now, spending on the wrong things and for the wrong reasons, sure. But, I have no problem with the current size of government if you just say – government is this size of GDP? Too big? Too small? Just right?

                But, I do agree with you on one point. People like you in the House ‘Publican Caucus have taken the economic status of the US as a hostage. People like Reid and Obama probably aren’t willing to let people like you shoot it in the head and they aren’t willing to use other means (ie. the 14th amendment) to bypass hostage takers like you.

                So, yes, you’ll get your win. Be happy that literally, millions of people will have worse lives so that the tax rates for the top 5% don’t have to go up a few percent. Console yourself with that.Report

            • Avatar James K in reply to North
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              says:

              Yes, it was the Labour party who implemented Rogernomics.Report

    • Avatar Barry in reply to Jason Kuznicki
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      says:

      “What the Republicans have done is to take a two-decades-or-so crisis and turn it into a two-weeks-or-so crisis. And even then, it won’t be resolved when it’s resolved. I can’t fathom why they think this is a good idea.”

      Furthermore, they’ve take a long-term problem, not a crisis, and are seeking to (a) make it worse, and (b) ‘fix’ the things which don’t need fixing (or at least as much), while maintaining or increasing the things which do.

      There’s an old SNL skit titled ‘Adventures of the Medieval Barber-Surgeon’, where they take this actress who’s been chalked so that her skin is paper-white, and tell the barber-surgeon that she’s still sick, despite being bled. The barber-surgeon cries out ‘she needs more bleeding!’, and they bleed her again.

      Mysteriously, she dies.

      That’s the story of the right in the USA.Report

    • Avatar Mike Farmer in reply to Jason Kuznicki
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      says:

      “What the Republicans have done is to take a two-decades-or-so crisis and turn it into a two-weeks-or-so crisis. And even then, it won’t be resolved when it’s resolved. I can’t fathom why they think this is a good idea.”

      Not really — they would settle for a long term plan like Ryan’s which goes out 26 years — but we’re headed for collapse because the statist system is set to automatically spend more and more — and no one has the courage to fight for systemic changes — no one except the Tea Partiers.Report

  4. Avatar Rob
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    says:

    “work out a last minute deal and get the debt ceiling raised — for the good of the country”

    You say this like it is a bad thing.Report

    • Avatar Rob in reply to Rob
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      says:

      Sorry, guess I missed hitting the reply button on Mike Framer’s comment.Report

    • Avatar Mike Farmer in reply to Rob
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      says:

      raising the debt ceiling just to spend more is not good for the country, is it?Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Mike Farmer
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        says:

        We’ve. Already. Spent. The. Money.Report

      • Avatar Rob in reply to Mike Farmer
        Ignored
        says:

        We’re not going to agree on this, but…

        If you want me to explain in unfunny detail why raising the debt ceiling is for the good of the country, you’ll have to explain whether you think the debt ceiling shouldn’t be raised because (a) not raising it will cause us to have to make huge, immediate cuts, but will not have disastorous effects on employment, the financial system, the dollar, etc. (the “no crisis” argument) or because (b) raising it will cause a crisis, but the crisis was inevitable anyways, and it’s better to have it now and get it over with (what I like to call “heightening the deficit contradictions”, but you can think of it as “yes crisis” for simplicty’s sake). (Could be (c), of course — some other argument. Those are the two I’m hearing the most. I’d love to hear a third.)Report

        • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Rob
          Ignored
          says:

          I think Rob is basically right. The “heigtening the contradictions” folks are wrong, because once you’ve started a revolution, there’s no telling where it will head. (My guess: backlash.)

          Note that there is nothing anywhere here that contradicts any belief in a gradual but very substantial reduction in the amount the government spends.

          The Republicans are just pushing for too much, too fast. (Whatever one’s views, “half of it” and “by next week” are very clearly too much and too fast, when taken together.)

          The country just isn’t behind anything like this yet, and by doing it the wrong way, House Republicans will likely ensure that massive government spending will remain in place indefinitely.Report

        • Avatar Mike Farmer in reply to Rob
          Ignored
          says:

          Rob, you’ll have to answer for me whether we’re talking about short-term “good” or long-term “good” — short-term we have to raise it, but we should at the same time deal with the fundamental problems which cause us to have to raise the debt ceiling over and over and over. It’s not too difficult to see that we are headed for big trouble by raising the debt limit without doing anything about out-of-control spending. It’s only incidental that Obama is president during a time when we’re reaching a tipping point — something has to be done about our system of government — it’s set for collapse. I swear I’m not a partisan — I swear.Report

  5. Avatar Rob
    Ignored
    says:

    “The “heigtening the contradictions” folks are wrong, because once you’ve started a revolution, there’s no telling where it will head.”

    That, and because economic collapse is a really painful thing for many people. I’m (becoming) a pretty left-wing guy, but I’d much prefer the country head in a rightward direction (as all the current debt-ceiling/deficit reduction combo-plans call for) than it head off the edge of a self-imposed cliff. Both because (a) I have some humility about my policy preferences (I think they’re right, and I think have good reasons for thinking that, but I’m happy to allow for a non-trivial chance that I might be wrong) and (b) even if I’m right about the relative merits of moving left (good) and moving right (bad) on economic policy, I don’t see any way that moving rightward is worse than self-induced recession and/or collapse.

    It is bizarre to me that there are people who wouldn’t take those stances, whether they’re on the left or the right.Report

  6. Avatar wardsmith
    Ignored
    says:

    One point of clarification. Again and again I’m reading here that the Republicans are evil for causing “this crisis” at this time. However, did not this discussion with the Republicans and Democrats BEGIN right after the elections? Was there not an “interim” bill that raised the debt ceiling to its current level back in February? I don’t know about you, but my calendar has quite a few weeks between then and now when this “crisis” might have been averted. However in the Wall Street Journal and elsewhere at the time, multiple commentators stated unequivocally that the Democrats would USE this “crisis” to gain political points, just as they had used it during the Clinton administration when they were able to recoup their losses from the midterm elections. In other words, deja vu all over again. Or am I the only one other than Mike who can remember things more than a month back?

    Now who here feels like a sheeple for being played /again/ by these same politicians?Report

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