I’ll Be the First to Admit I’m Biased…

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Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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174 Responses

  1. Avatar Dara says:

    The Yglesias Award isn’t named for his career as a blogger, but rather for his courageous support for the Iraq War when others on his side opposed it. Which is obviously quite embarrassing in its own way, but it’s helpful to be clear when talking about these things.Report

  2. Avatar Christopher Carr says:

    I just find Yglesias to be a remarkably typical liberal, and unadventurous. I rarely disagree with him.Report

  3. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    Sullivan’s award is named for Yglesias as much just because he more or less mentored him in blogging at the Atlantic, or at least worked alongside him while he developed into a professional blogger, as because Yglesias is actually a particularly shining example of a writer who criticizes allies.Report

  4. Avatar Kyle Cupp says:

    The the coveted Isquith Award. Hear, hear!Report

  5. Excessively nice of you, Mr. Kelly. I’m blushing.

    I’ll just say that although the whole Awards thing is, I think, problematic, if I had to vote I’d give it to Freddie. Sometimes to his own detriment (but always to  his credit), he’s willing to be an honest writer who does his best to shirk convention and the social pressures of the public space.Report

  6. Avatar Koz says:

    I hope this isn’t pissing in anybody’s corn flakes but I’d nominate Blaise instead. His persona is about 81.4% cranky bastard but I have no doubt that his elevator can go to the top floor (not that it necessarily does every time out). And he’s willing to call Team Blue to the carpet if that’s how he sees it, in the spirit of what Sully is trying to get at.

    Elias is an intelligent man, but when he’s not cheerleading for Team Blue he’s mostly trafficking in intra-Left factionalism. That’s not such a terrible thing necessarily. Ie, if we can entertain ourselves with speculations about the cast of High School Musical we can do the same for the Left intelligentsia.

    The real problem is those people have nothing to offer us. For example, I chased a couple links from Elias and found this:

    http://coreyrobin.com/2011/08/01/572/

    Now this an interesting mini-anthology and even persuasive in some places. Here’s a reasonably typical passage:

    “Yet this is rooted in taking him at his word (and not thinking that he deceives or is manipulated). So the glitch is why he would present his preferred solution/plan as other than what it was. Maybe the only difference now between Tea Party crazy and mainstream conservative (Obama) is the willingness to embrace the becoming-Mad-Max-future-of?-the US v. lip service to the fragile veneer of governance/sociality still holding something like everyday life together.”

    Now, I have no doubt that there is a plausible world in which this makes sense. What I cannot see is what we think we can accomplish if we choose to live in that world. For all his enthusiasm, I don’t think Elias has any better perception. I’ve asked him directly several times, either he won’t answer or he can’t.Report

    • Avatar Elias Isquith in reply to Koz says:

      I honestly have no idea what the quoted section means or what question it doubles-back to that you’ve posed to me, Koz.Report

      • Avatar Koz in reply to Elias Isquith says:

        Simple. You were on a kick for 3-6 months about “Woe is us that President Obama isn’t going after the Republicans hard enough.”

        Some of the main items in that period were the debt limit drama, the summer jobs/stimulus (which failed) and the Suskind book (though they weren’t the only things and this concern is still not completely over).

        The mainstream hard left was feeling hard done by during this period and you wrote a lot of interesting analysis of political-group maneuvering. But that’s all it was. You laid out a lot of scenarios where the President or some other lib-Demo actor could do this or this, and maybe it would hurt the Republicans in the polls or whatever.

        But there was never any coherent accountabe argument that we can do it your way and actually solve some important real-world problem. I know because I asked, probably more than once.Report

        • Avatar Elias Isquith in reply to Koz says:

          I don’t think my posts during that period were ever reducible to that. In fact I wanted Obama to focus rhetorically more on Wall Street — not the GOP — and made a point of saying how that was an area where, at least for a time, the GOP and he would occupy the same rhetorical space. I’m not a big fan of the President or the Democrats and I think my work has on the whole clearly reflected as much.

          But as for big sweeping theories of saving the world; I don’t really do that. Guilty as charged. It’s not the way my mind is wired for one thing, but I also don’t think grand visions ever amount to a ton — unless you happen to be someone like, dunno, Rousseau or Marx or some other dead white dude. And those figures are pretty rare.Report

          • Avatar Koz in reply to Elias Isquith says:

            “But as for big sweeping theories of saving the world; I don’t really do that. Guilty as charged.”

            No no, a little different than that. Not a big-sweeping theory of anything, rather anything that you’re willing to be actual solvency. Ie, “do this, this and this, and we’ll fix that.” (And fwiw, that’s a typical beef I have with the Left in general.)

            For example, let’s remember the $450B stimulus/jobs bill that President Obama floated right after the debt deal. You, and most of the libs here, applauded the idea on the ground that finally maybe President Obama is standing up to the GOP. But it was widely acknowledged even among its proponents that it would have at best a minor marginal impact on jobs or growth.

            Or here’s another one: during the debt limit deal, like a lot of libs you felt that the public discourse was tilted too heavily toward deficit reduction, supposedly at the expense of jobs. But that can’t be Obama’s fault or the Republicans’ fault. You’ve written on average at least one post a day for the last eight months. If the Left or the Administration had a plan that you believed would actually improve employment I have no doubt you’d tell us.

            Or to bring it down to a more nuts-and-bolts level, why should the Administration spend its ammunition fighting the GOP in the Washington trenches if the lib advocates outside the Administration don’t really understand their own economic theories or don’t really belive they will accomplish anything?

            Given this general pattern, why spend so much energy antagonizing our team? At least we have interesting things to say on economic substance.Report

            • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Koz says:

              At least we have interesting things to say on economic substance.

              Cut taxes! Balance the budget by cutting taxes! Cut several/many/two or three Federal Departments and cut taxes! Cut social programs and fund tax cuts with the savings!Report

              • Mr. Still, I caught Gov Scott Walker [R-WI] on talk radio today and finally heard him in his own words.  Very impressive, and he didn’t say a single one of those things.  In fact, he came up with an extra $1B+ for Medicaid [poor people].

                It’s just possible these people are not monsters.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                I mentioned 4 things. 1) is a GOP rally cry:  2) is the laffer curve- a GOP staple; 3) is a featured plank amongst all the GOP primary candidates; 4) is effectively the Ryan Plan

                I know there’s more to it than that. But not much more. And citing Walker as a responsible politician after the shenanigans and ensuing political debacle up there isn’t really making your case.The biggest feature of his plan was to destroy unions to drive down wages and compensation packages to make Wisconsin attractive for new businesses (as well as other incidentals, like giving the Govs office unilateral control over the ‘public good’).

                I know the libertarians amongst us think his ideas are good because that’s just the way the market ball bounces. And I know that conservatives think it’s good because destroying the union-Democrat spin cycle is necessary to save our country. But liberals tend to see things a little differently. As I’m sure you’re aware.

                 

                 Report

              • I understand, Mr. Still.  But Walker didn’t say those things you caricatured Reps with, is the point.  I was impressed he expanded the funding for Medicaid.  More teachers too, as it turned out, by not overpaying the ones they have.  That’s real.

                The public unions in Wisconsin are out for only one thing—themselves.Report

              • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                @Still and Liberty, too screwed up here for this conversation, meet me below where my browser doesn’t jump all over the place when I click on “Reply”.Report

              • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Stillwater says:

                The biggest feature of his plan was to destroy unions to drive down wages and compensation packages to make Wisconsin attractive for new businesses

                That’s utter bullshit and you know it. The biggest feature of his plan (when the left water carriers are not screaming like the useful idiot banshees they are) was to remove the ability of the public sector unions to collect dues from members via something akin to a tax (via the paycheck), which the gov’t blithely collected and which the unions immediately deposited in the kitty of the DNC. This is well known to all but the most partisan, which I suppose you truly are. It was also done in other states to much less rancor. But as a liberal I’m sure you’re thrilled that states are going bankrupt because crony-capital politicians are busy scratching the backs of the unions who keep them in office by giving them unaffordable pensions and health care benefits. So what if the states are insolvent as long as the politicians get to go one more round. And when the state is entirely up the creek without a paddle, color me surprised when those self-same (democrat) politicians aren’t found elsewhere when the stinky stuff really hits the fan.Report

              • Avatar Liberty60 in reply to wardsmith says:

                So the unions negotiated on behalf of the workers, and got them a better compensation package.

                As a serious businessman, I am sure you are aware of entities called compensation consultants, who do that very thing on behalf of executive type workers.

                And like the unions, the consultants expect to be compensated for their efforts, and they expect the government to enforce the contractual agreement.

                Or should we make their payments voluntary as well?Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to wardsmith says:

                Liberty,

                Are you actually arguing in favor of government service workers using their coercive monopoly to lobby politicians for hidden pension benefits that get passed on to taxpayers? I thought you were against abuses of power?

                I could care less how a CEO negotiates for salary. The corporation is free to hire another executive, investors are free to invest in another company, and customers are free to buy another product.

                Seems like a REALLY BIG difference.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to wardsmith says:

                Are you actually arguing in favor of government service workers using their coercive monopoly to lobby politicians for hidden pension benefits that get passed on to taxpayers?

                Of course he is Roger. It’s exactly what he secretly – but not so cleverly that you couldn’t see right through it, eh?!!? – is arguing. It’s a truth buried so deep in his poisoned liberal heart – or his corrupted liberal mind? – that even he can’t admit it.

                Hanley would get a chuckle outa this.Report

              • Uhm, what am I supposed to be chuckling at?  I don’t think Liberty consciously intends what Roger suggests, but I’m not sure how he can conscientiously deny that Roger’s statement is effectively what happens.

                I’m not building an argument against public employees unions, here, but I think an honest supporter of them has to recognize that they are problematic precisely for the reason Roger notes.

                (Full disclosure:  I’m a member of my faculty union and have been on our contract negotiation team. And I was fully aware that we were in fact using student tuition dollars to lobby the administration for increased benefits that would cost students even more tuition dollars.)Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to wardsmith says:

                Uhm, what am I supposed to be chuckling at?

                How libertarians never tell liberals what they actually think.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to wardsmith says:

                Nice to see you back, btw. Hope you had a good holiday.Report

              • Still,

                OK, I was a bit slow on the uptake there.  Very fair (and, yes, I chuckled this time around).

                And, yes, had a great holiday w/o internet access (thank god hotels that charge for access!).  Hope your holidays were a treat also.Report

              • Avatar Liberty60 in reply to wardsmith says:

                Roger you managed to hit sort of the trifecta of red flag words with “monopoly” and “coercive” and “hidden”- who could resist so delightfully eeevil a combination?

                Actually I keep arguing that power is dangerous,and all power agglomerations need to be carefully balanced by competing forces.

                Government workers in my view should be allowed to collectively bargain for wages, so as to balance the power of the state; but their power to strike should have rules and boundaries to protect the public from being at unfair advantage.

                Preventing employee unions from being able to collect their dues is essentially preventing them from operating.Report

              • Avatar wardsmith in reply to wardsmith says:

                @Liberty, have to throw the BS flag on your post as well.

                Preventing employee unions from being able to collect their dues is essentially preventing them from operating.

                There’s not a DAMN thing in the Wisconsin bill that is “Preventing employee unions from being able to collect their dues”. A bald faced lie. What is DIFFERENT is that the dues are to be paid by the employees themselves, just like you’d pay any dues to any society to which you belong. Apparently the employee unions are so abysmal that they can’t collect dues on their own from their own highly (un)satisfied members.

                You all may be piling on Tom here, but I don’t blame him for getting a truth headache from this crowd. I expect these kind of posts from Kim, she apparently doesn’t know better (or my preferred theory is she’s a well-constructed blog bot).

                This isn’t even anything new, here’s an old article from Feb. Here’s where the rubber meets the road:

                But while collective bargaining by government employee unions in general may be offensive to one’s sense of justice and fair play, what’s truly unacceptable is government labor’s stranglehold over the local, state, and federal governments with which they bargain. This grave defect reflects not so much bargaining power but the increasing political power of these unions, which in turn results directly from their ability to divert members’ mandatory dues into a massive political slush fund, which labor invariably uses to support Democrats, who in turn grant them lavish contracts and benefits.Report

              • Avatar Liberty60 in reply to wardsmith says:

                True that, Wardsmith, that Walker was only preventing the dues from being collected by the govt; but of course, thats the most efficient way to collect them.

                And the point of removng that was what? What benefit is there to having the unions collect the dues via some alternate method?

                The only benefit I can imagine is that it makes it more onerous for them; would they have to dun deadbeats, and what collateral do they have? The can’t fire those who refuse to pay, so in the end it makes dues essentially voluntary.

                Which, I think, was the goal.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to wardsmith says:

                So eliminate the direct link between payroll and campaign contributions, Ward. Isn’t that enough? Surely you’re not going to say that people can’t financially support a party which promotes policies they benefit from, are you?

                Christ, you’re complaint isn’t against the ‘corruption’, it’s that members of public unions can use their wages to support a political party. That’s the injustice here, right? – that people who’s wages are paid with tax dollars shouldn’t be permitted to have a voice in determining governmental policy?

                If so, then say it that way.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to wardsmith says:

                Liberty, James, Ward and Stillwater:

                When libertarians rant about “taxes are theft,” I usually snicker at them like a progressive. But the potential abuse of a monopolistic government bureaucrat that lives off of the promulgation of problems using mandatory (coerced fees) to fund re-election campaigns of politicians that will provide uncompetitive pensions in unfunded, hidden liabilities that won’t even reveal themselves until the politician is long gone is pretty much my defining case of exploitation.

                You are right, I have every hot button word in there. That is because the situation is so totally egregious. I find it hard to believe anyone would argue for such shenanigans.

                I want nothing at all to do with paying for these parasites’ rent seeking activities. This is wrong. I understand that these are nice public servants. But they are stealing/defrauding/exploiting us.

                Here is something you don’t here most libertarians say… there should be a law against it.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to wardsmith says:

                I’m not stunned at all libertarians want to make it harder for the average person to band together for a better life.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to wardsmith says:

                “any number of libertarians” – don’t want Hanley to be upset.Report

              • Jesse,

                Thank you for that.  However for my part I am stunned that any number of liberals don’t see any problems at all with a group of people banding together to coerce more money out of the citizenry.  Again, I’m not making an argument against public employees unions (I’m fairly ambivalent on the issue), but I truly cannot comprehend how otherwise intelligent people don’t find this issue at least a little bit problematic.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to wardsmith says:

                Jesse,

                It is wrong for people to band together to extract coercive rents out of others. I believe the technical term is BANDIT.

                This is not a subtle political point. If you and Liberty support this type of action, then I believe your moral compasses are severely compromised.

                It is simply not OK for the “little guy” to defraud/steal/exploit fellow citizens.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to wardsmith says:

                Because I don’t consider people banding together to make a middle class wage coercion. I consider it decent. Yes, I know, there’s a couple of bad apples out there who double dip on pension. But, the average pension isn’t lavish and never has been. Indeed, I wish every single American had a decent pension.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to wardsmith says:

                Jesse,

                Please help me out here because your position is totally alien to me. I have two possible explanations, either you and those that agree with this position  have a radically different interpretation of economics, or radically different values than I do. I am not sure which it is.  I suspect it is a bit of both. Or it may be that you believe the world is zero sum and that bad actions on behalf of your team is good.

                To clarify my position, I am all for the little guy. I believe the path to prosperity comes from positive sum, value added voluntary agreements between responsible adults. The key to widespread human flourishing is to eliminate exploitation, fraud, theft, violence and threats. That is what i teach my grandson. It is an ethos of playing fair and respecting other people and never forcing your interests over theirs.

                The problem with the government unions isn’t that they are pushing for a middle class income or safe retirement pensions, it is the process that they are using. You would not support thieves stealing to get a middle class income, so why would you support government bureaucrats forcing higher wages upon an unwilling citizenry?

                Rent seeking activities are sleazy, regardless of whether they are done by multinational corporations or elementary school teachers. How do you justify this type of activity?

                 Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to wardsmith says:

                Because I don’t consider two sides working together to a mutually beneficial solution to be “thievery.” Again, I’ve never said Governor Walker has done anything illegal in Wisconsin. He got a majority of the vote, he can do what he wants if he can get it through the legislature.Report

              • I don’t consider two sides working together to a mutually beneficial solution to be “thievery.”

                But there’s a third side, the citizens who pay for the services.  And they’re not involved in the negotiations.  (And, no, I’m not going to agree to a claim that they are represented in the negotiations by their elected officials; politics just isn’t that neat, especially when we have a case of concentrated benefits (wages) and dispersed costs (taxes).)Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to wardsmith says:

                But there’s a third side, the citizens who pay for the services.  And they’re not involved in the negotiations. 

                So, does this mean we should abolish public unions? Or that public unions shouldn’t be allowed to negotiate for compensation packages? Or that public employees as individuals shouldn’t be allowed to negotiate for compensation packages? Or that public employees shouldn’t be allowed to vote on policy issues which would be reflected in their compensation packages? Or that they can’t engage in extra-political activities that would influence their compensation packages? Or etc.?

                If you’re only making the point that there is a tension here and you want Jesse to admit the tension, that’s one thing. But pragmatics and other principles come into play as well, and surely those aren’t opaque to either you or Roger. I mean, you’re the member of a union that negotiates with the University over compensation, and presumably you don’t consult the tuition payers for approval of every agreement, right? And I don’t mean that as a gotcha.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to wardsmith says:

                The voters may not have a seat at the table, but if they believe politicians have given union members too much in wages and benefits, they can vote for politicians who will cut those things.

                Again, I may disagree with what Walker has done in Wisconsin, but he has the legal right to do so. Just as the union members have the legal right to organize to try to kick Walker out of office.Report

              • I said above that I’m not arguing against public unions per se.  I’m only asking Jesse to recognize the tension.

                There is, however, a difference between private employee unions and public employee unions, in that the private unions’ employers are operating in a competitive market.  The customers aren’t necessarily captive in the same sense that citizens of a state are.  (Of course citizens of a state aren’t entirely captive, either, but exit in that case is more difficult than in the case of buying Coors instead of Budweiser.)  I think there’s less justification for public employee unions than for private employee unions–that’s not to say there’s no justification, just less.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to wardsmith says:

                I think there’s less justification for public employee unions than for private employee unions–that’s not to say there’s no justification, just less.

                Agreed.Report

              • … unless we assume the state is as exploitative an employer as private firms.  Would that be an awkward position for a liberal or not?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to wardsmith says:

                Well, I do think that’s an awkward position for a liberal ( I’ve never heard a liberal criticize the state on those grounds, so there’s that), even tho states have often but probably not often enough locked out union employees during contract negotiations. But I’d say that even if the state were as exploitative as a private firm, public unions’ demands would have less legitimacy precisely because of who’s paying the bill (assuming we’re not talking about a radically different type of state). In a private negotiation, each party has a direct, immediate interest in the outcome. In negotiations with the state, that doesn’t exist.So I think on this one measure, there’s a categorical difference between the two types of unions.

                 Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to wardsmith says:

                Actually, James, I’m going to revise that comment a bit. I think that insofar as management can find people who negotiate on their behalf in an aggressive manner, then the two unions are probably closer than I implied. There’s nothing that prevents the state from hiring arbiters for the express purpose of getting the best deal possible. And if so, then that gets us back the the more contentious criticism of public union-political corruption: that the state caves to public union demands for political reasons.

                Personally, I find this a bit of a mystifying criticism, since states with Republican governors/mayors/whatever are just as common as those with Democrats. Further, tho, is this: insofar as there are clear cases of collusion, then the remedy – at this point! – is political. Which is what Jesse was saying upthread.Report

              • Well, the awkward position bit was just an off-the-cuff thought.  I’m not wedded to it.

                As to there being a political solution, that’s true, but it’s constrained by the issue of concentrated benefits and dispersed costs I mentioned above.  It’s well established that in those cases political solutions are less reliable; it’s easier to manipulate the system in those cases.  That’s precisely part of the problem with rent-seeking in general.

                In fairness I should add that I have a viscerally negative reaction to the “there’s a political solution” argument.  It was the excuse the federal courts used for a long time to duck issues of disproportionate representation, and was also used by southern segregationists in their efforts to forestall legal action against the Jim Crow system.  From our discussions of democracy it should be no surprise that I’m not a huge fan of political solutions, because they’re based on who can muster votes, not on what is really defensible or not.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to wardsmith says:

                Fair enough. So let’s just take as a premise that public unions have just as much a right to exist as private unions. Insofar as a political solution isn’t optimal, what would be a better proposal?Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to Stillwater says:

                Jesse, Stillwater and James.

                I hope humanity advances enough over my lifetime that the thought of supporting government service unions to coercively extract rents from citizens becomes as socially unacceptable as witch burning, racism and cliterectomies.

                My reasoning:

                1) Government service unions are coercive monopolies. They force  citizens (most making less than them) at threat of gunpoint to pay for their service whether they want it or need it.

                2) They forcefully prohibit other companies and other workers willing to provide the same services from entering into these fields. This allows them to extract monopoly wages without any competitive checks.

                3) They force government service workers to pay dues whether they want to or not

                4) They use their coerced, monopolistic dues to buy political influence to nominate candidates that will support wage and benefit increases (above the monopolistic level) paid by the above captive citizenry. To avoid citizen outrage, they bury their benefits in complex underfunded pensions that won’t come due until well in the future.

                This is a shake-down racket. This is collusion between elected officials and government workers to exploit the average citizen. This is wrong. This is just the newest twist on the historic pattern of the elite and their bureaucracy using force, fraud and deception to exploit the masses.

                The above situation creates fundamental differences between private and public unions. The government plays the necessary role of having a monopoly on the use of force in society. This privilege carries with it responsibilities. I would include the responsibility to not organize this coercive force into a union, to not strike, and to not prohibit others from freely competing with them in providing their services. It also suggests strong limits of what areas are staffed with government service workers (as opposed to competing private contractors).

                I would even consider requirements that government service workers be prohibited from voting or contributing directly to politics. This probably goes too far though. Perhaps we could identify ways to ensure wages and benefits are always kept in line with similar roles in private industry.

                It is easier to identify the problem than to create good solutions. At this point I would be happy if the three of you agreed we have a problem.

                (note: I am well aware some states differ in details from the above)Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Btw Tom, I don’t think that traditional conservatives, classical conservatives, Burkean conservatives, are monsters. I don’t think you’re a monster. Hell, I agree with alot of their – and your – views. It’s just that I don’t see any reasonable views being put forth by their Reps, and the TP-swing that’s happened lately, as evidenced by the clown-show of a GOP primary, is incoherent and purely reactionary.Report

              • Thx, Still.  But I get most of my news through the same filters you do.  Scott Walker is impressive once you get him unfiltered.  Sheesh, I was amazed meself.

                As for the GOP primary, mebbe the rest were just stalking horses for Romney, and the quality candidates like Jindal laid out.  [Running against an incumbent instead of waiting until 2016 seems a bad call.] IOW, the low quality of the field as a whole doesn’t tell us much.  Rick Perry was the only other one with glossy credentials [11-yr governor of a big state] and hey, he’s just not ready for the world stage and likely never will be.

                As for Romney himself, how much do you or most people even know about him?  All the press carries is the attacks on him by his opponents. How many know about the beautiful story with his wife [who has multiple sclerosis], or that he has a law degree from Harvard as well as an MBA, or that the Salt Lake City Olympics were on the edge of disaster before he stepped in and rescued them?

                Hell, I’ve only stumbled on the last two in the past week or two, and I’m a newshound like you.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Impressive people don’t get fooled by a comedian on the telephone pretending to be a Koch brother.Report

              • Infantile, Jesse.  And Walker comes off like gold.

                Liberals are also seizing on Walker saying “we thought about that” when fake Koch suggested “planting some trouble-makers” among the protesters. But Walker actually goes on at length to explain why he doesn’t think it’s a good idea.  “Let them protest,” he said. “It’s not going to affect us. And as long as we go back to our homes and the majority of people are telling us we’re doing the right thing, let them protest all they want.”

                When Walker explained that they may have found evidence that unions were paying to put lawmakers up at hotels, which he said if true, would be an ethics code violation or felony, fake Koch chimes in “they’re probably putting hobos in suits, that’s what we do.” Yet Walker corrects him to say that he’s only talking about lawmakers: “People can pay protesters to come in, that’s not an ethics code (violation).”

                Throughout the call, Walker explains why he believes what he’s doing is right, and that he intends to stand firm. “This is about the budget,” he said. “This is about public sector unions – hell, even FDR got it…You’re essentially having taxpayers’ money being used to lobby for spending more of taxpayers’ money. It’s absolutely ridiculous.”

                At another point, he said: “If they think I’m caving, they’ve been asleep for the last eight years, because I’ve taken on every major battle in Milwaukee County, and won in a county even where I’m overwhelmingly overpowered politically. And it’s because we don’t budge. If you’re doing the right thing, you stay firm.”

                And toward the end, he said, “We’re doing the just and right thing for the right reasons, and it’s all about getting our freedoms back.”

                 

                http://spectator.org/blog/2011/02/23/prank-call-reveals-that-scott

                 Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                TVD,

                Walker may come across like gold…if you’re really that foolish.

                Tell me, how many people’s lives have been destroyed because of that one little prank?

                You wouldn’t BELIEVE how hard it is to find a decent comedian who sounds Exactly Like Koch. (as it was, the guy was barely adequate).

                … one might even say it’s impossible, without a little coaching…

                Jesse,

                Impressive people ask ImportantPeople to call them back. It’s standard operating procedure.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Here’s the deal with Gov. Walker:  nobody should be surprised by what he’s doing, it’s exactly what he said he’d do.   I live in Wisconsin and make breakfast for a Tea Party girl every morning.

                Walker was rootling around for some way to lift the cap on FamilyCare.   Two weeks before he was planning to act on it the Feds told him he had to lift it.   If Walker is now praising himself, patting himself on the back so acrobatically, let him apply to Cirque du Soleil as a contortionist.   He didn’t have all that much to do with it, though in fairness he was trying to find some means to that end.

                Walker has his supporters and his detractors.   I’m doing a little gig for a non-emergency transport company who are now deeply angry with how Wisconsin has privatized it.   LogistiCare is just awful.   If a customer complains, LogistiCare drops them.   If a transport provider complains, they drop them.   All to LogistiCare’s good:  that much less to pay out and that much more in their pocket.   Walker didn’t put in LogistiCare, that was Doyle the Dem but Walker hasn’t done anything to fix it and ought to.   It’s a waste of money, a hugely inefficient private bureaucracy.   Their scheduling process is madness.   This client of mine is being offered runs in Milwaukee, and he’s out here south of Eau Claire.   Madness, I tell you.Report

              • Avatar Liberty60 in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Just as an aside- what was Walker doing out in our neck of the woods,anyway?

                Turns out he was meeting with local Orange County Republicans, including the Costa Mesa City Councilmembers, who are attempting to outsource their city employees in order to break their union and force them to work at much lower wages.

                Maybe the subject of a different post.

                 Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to Stillwater says:

                “Cut taxes! Balance the budget by cutting taxes! Cut several/many/two or three Federal Departments and cut taxes! Cut social programs and fund tax cuts with the savings!”

                Stillwater, you need to catch up two or three steps before you’re even with Elias. And then somehow, both of you have to catch up to this:

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ARRA_Unemployment_Rate_Graph_2011-05.jpg

                The world already knows you don’t like Republicans, you don’t have any traction with that. What the world doesn’t know is what you believe about the economy, what your intended policies are, what you expect to accomplish with them, and how you intend to be held accountable.

                Elias can at least mumble a couple of sentences about aggregate demand if he had to.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Koz says:

                Ah yes, the standard bait and switch shuffle.

                “Deficits are important, we have to decrease the deficits!!!” Okay then lets cut spending and raise taxes.

                “But that’ll increase unemployment.” I thought you said deficits were what were important? If you wanna cut the deficit you need to cut spending and raise taxes. If your primary concern is employment then keeping taxes lower and spending the same is the better route.

                “No, we need to cut deficits and lower unemployment now.” Okay and how do you propose we do that?

                “Cut taxes on wealthy individuals and slash government spending by astronomical amounts! Lay off government employees, decrease government assistance to poor people!”  But that’ll increase unemployment, a lot! Laying off public servants increases unemployment; poverty assistance programs are some of the most quickly spent dollars in the market so slashing them also causes unemployement, giving more taxes to the wealthy in this market may help a little but with things so unsettled they’re more likely to just park it under a mattress or in government treasury bonds. If unemployment is your primary concern then this would be contrary to that goal.

                “We have to reduce the size of the government!” Wait, what? Where did that come from??

                 Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to North says:

                koz believes in magic pixie dust Entrepreneurs. Shows you he don’t know any.

                I do. Know someone who’s ran half a hundred businesses…

                Tax cuts for the rich equal more jobs in CHINA or INDIA. It’s flatly obvious that people invest where they get the best rate of return, if they’ve got ENOUGH MONEY to suffer the losses if they fail.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to North says:

                “Ah yes, the standard bait and switch shuffle.”

                North, we can back and forth on this but you do realize that you are quoting a nonexistent/amalgamated conservative, right? Just like Stillwater did. And so my point to you is the same as my point to him:

                You being schizophrenic here. You want to call the shots like you’re Batman, and be held accountable like you’re Robin. That’s not gonna fly. It’s not gonna fly with our team (which you can get with not caring about some of the time) and it’s not gonna fly with the American people (which you can’t).

                You’re going to have to deal with the fact that for the duration of the Obama Adminstration, your team was Batman. You made bad moves, they had bad consequences. Now, we argue among ourselves and in front of the American people who gets to be Batman going forward. Good luck.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Koz says:

                Koz, I am not literally quoting you but I’m nigh on doing the next best thing. Our arguements always go like this.

                You assert deficit reduction is a priority.

                I observe that multiple deficit reduction options were presented which included tax increases and spending cuts.

                You switch suddenly to unemployment concerns, ruling tax increases unacceptable because it’ll not help with unemployment.

                This is your classic response, so I’m not making this arguement up, it’s what you have yourself asserted. Now maybe this trick works somewhere with someone but it doesn’t hold water with me and I don’t think it holds water with anyone else around here either.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to Koz says:

                “Koz, I am not literally quoting you but I’m nigh on doing the next best thing.”

                No North, I wasn’t saying that. It’s somewhat related to things we’ve talked about in the past (and we can certainly go back to those) but this is a slightly different angle.

                We already know you don’t like Republicans. What we don’t know is what you believe about the economy, what your intended policies are, what you expect to accomplish with them, and how you intend to be held accountable.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Koz says:

                Obviously I’m no fan of republicans, sure, but mainly because I find them incoherent. As for me personally? My preferred policies would be generally what was proposed by Obama’s deficit comission: taxes increased with loopholes eliminated and simplification (which would result in a lower numeric tax rate but a higher amount of revenue generated by said tax); reforms to entitlements, a vigerous cut to defense spending etc.

                My pragmatic policy preferences (recognizing that no politician in the arena at the moment wants what the deficit comission proposed) are the natural expiration of the Bush tax cuts, the mandatory sequestrations from the debt ceiling showdown and then we’ll have to see where we stand vis a vis the deficit at the point.

                I’m pretty sure that was common knowledge round these parts.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to Koz says:

                You’re talking about Simpson-Bowles, right? Great, then you should vote Republican since it was the Demos who sunk the deficit commission. And at the same time, we can also wipe out the Demos for infecting us with with Demo unemployment.

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ARRA_Unemployment_Rate_Graph_2011-05.jpgReport

              • Avatar North in reply to Koz says:

                Hogwash. Coburn flat out stated the plan was going nowhere because it included tax increases and Ryan voted against it. They didn’t change their tune until Obama abandoned the thing. For the record I consider abandoning his own deficit plan one of Obama’s biggest errors in his presidency.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to Koz says:

                Well, it’s not like that was his only mistake. He had plenty of other opportunities to cut spending if he were so inclined. And Coburn supported the Simpson-Bowles Commission IIRC.

                In any case, put President Obama in front of the TV cameras and let him start talking about the economy.

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ARRA_Unemployment_Rate_Graph_2011-05.jpgReport

              • Avatar North in reply to Koz says:

                Everyone makes an assortment of mistakes. No surprise there. He’s had his share of hits as well as misses. Oh I checked and you recall partically correctly. Coburn supported the plan and every single other republican on the comittee opposed it, so the original point stands.

                Last I heard Obama was graciously letting the GOP nomination process have the limelight. He’s giving that way. Heh.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to North says:

                You’re going to have to deal with the fact that for the duration of the Obama Adminstration, your team was Batman. You made bad moves, they had bad consequences. Now, we argue among ourselves and in front of the American people who gets to be Batman going forward. Good luck.

                Remember when Bush was in charge between 2002-2006?

                “I don’t see what in the hell that has to do with anything.”Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to Jaybird says:

                Well yeah, that’s how Team Blue got to be Batman in the first place. With the benefit of hindsight, to some extent at least the American people fkkked that up. But, the American people are sovereign and (collectively speaking) they get to make those decisions.Report

              • Avatar Liberty60 in reply to Jaybird says:

                Oh, now it was the America People who fkked up from 2000-2006?

                By making bad policy or by electing Republicans?

                Or is that one and the same?Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Jaybird says:

                It’s important to understand that Republicans don’t fail, they’re only failed.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                To be fair to Republicans, I have reason to believe that Koz is a spectacularly brutal satirist.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to Jaybird says:

                “By making bad policy or by electing Republicans?”

                By electing Demo’s in retribution for what the GOP did from 2000-2006.

                During the Obama era, people wanted to know why the GOP wasn’t doing this, that or the other to stop the Administration and save the economy. The answer was, they tried but in the end they didn’t have enough offices and they got outvoted.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Jaybird says:

                Jay, I used to think that myself. I went from “Surely someone pays him to say this” to “Noone would pay him to say this” to “this is performance art” but I finally settled on “No artist is this comitted to a role; this dude’s believes what he writes.”Report

            • Avatar Elias Isquith in reply to Koz says:

              I’m only going to respond to one piece of this: I’m deeply flattered that you think I’m more influential to the public discussion than the President or the US House of Representatives. I think you’re wrong — but it’s flattering nonetheless.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to Elias Isquith says:

                “…you think I’m more influential to the public discussion than the President or the US House of Representatives.”

                I’m not getting that one at all. In fact it’s closer to the other way around. The less influential you are the better it is to explain yourself.

                Here’s a rough taxonomy I think you’d agree with. You represent the politically-engaged mainstream hard Left. The people you are in a few categories: the Demo establishment, neoliberals, the apolitical hard Left, and the center-Right. Now I represent the Right is this little dialog, and you’re probably the least interested in us out of anybody. But that’s completely ancillary.

                No matter who you’re talking to, the best line of engagement is always “Do this and we’ll fix that.” Instead, we get “Do this, and we can put a hurt on those guys over there.” If you win on policy, you can hope to carry the politics behind in the wake. If all you can do is fight on politics, you’ve got no shot to win on policy and can very well lose on politics.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Koz says:

                If all you can do is fight on politics, you’ve got no shot to win on policy and can very well lose on politics.

                I agree with this, actually. Which is why I say what I do about the GOP – they’re fighting a reactionary war on politics, not policy. In almost every case, the GOP advances policy views that are designed to hurt Democrats chances of winning elections – whether it’s destroying unions (because of union associations with the Democratic Party), or welfare (because poor people’s Dem votes are bought with tax payer money), or closing the Department of Education (because education has a liberal bias), or the Department of HUD (because poor people receiving public assistance buys their votes), or shutting down Acorn (because poor people will vote Democratic), or dismantling Medicare (because it’s a cornerstone of the liberal program)…

                Of course, I’m not going to say that there aren’t other justifications for these policies. But I’m pretty sure I’ve read you saying these exact things. If that isn’t putting politics in front of policy, then I don’t know what is. Hell, Wardsmith  gave this exact type of justification for dismantling unions in Wisconsin! And that’s to say nothing about the GOPs anti-democratic efforts at voter suppression.

                Now, one thing everyone agrees on is that Medicare is an unfunded liability going forward. So the GOP doesn’t get to take the moral high ground on that issue. Further, dismantling Medicare isn’t a solution to the Medicare problem, it’s only a solution to the cost problem, and it’s a radical one, especially since the Ryan Plan does nothing to bend the cost curve (even less than the PPACA!), leaving the elderly with a market-based spectrum of either unaffordable or useless insurance plans.

                On the flip side, all the TPGOP talk about balancing budgets and reducing the debt is empty – just talk – unless tax increases are actually on the table (I mean, how can you dispute this?). And insofar as tax hikes aren’t on the table, commonsense logic entails that balancing the budget and reducing the debt isn’t their primary goal. And that might be fine, all on it’s own. But it is their stated goal (so they’re either lying or stupid), and their views about achieving it are incoherent: Paul Ryan’s proposed fix for Medicare also included huge tax cuts for the wealthy. Why? How do you square all these circles? The laffer curve?Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to Stillwater says:

                “I agree with this, actually. Which is why I say what I do about the GOP – they’re fighting a reactionary war on politics, not policy. In almost every case, the GOP advances policy views that are designed to hurt Democrats chances of winning elections – whether it’s destroying unions (because of union associations with the Democratic Party), or welfare (because poor people’s Dem votes are bought with tax payer money), or closing the Department of Education (because education has a liberal bias), or the Department of HUD (because poor people receiving public assistance buys their votes), or shutting down Acorn (because poor people will vote Democratic), or dismantling Medicare (because it’s a cornerstone of the liberal program)…”

                All these things might be beneficial side effects but the main point of difference here is we are waiting for your team to Get The Memo that There Is No Money.

                There’s no reason the libs have to be as dense as they’ve been. You should check this out (probably haven’t seen it yet):

                http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/39625

                Two intelligent lib professors talking about the future of the welfare state, and they say a lot of interesting things. But as savvy and connected as they are, there’s doesn’t seem to be any acknowledgement of why we might see things differently now than fifteen years ago.

                Once your team Gets The Memo, things will probably work a lot more smoothly.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Koz says:

                 

                Except, of course, the memo you’re positing is flat out wrong. The US is taking in historically low amounts of revenue for instance, 1940’s levels in fact. If tax revenue was increased even to 2000 levels then that’d be a significant amount of money. Or, if raising taxes doesn’t work for you there is always borrowing: investors are currently –paying the US government to take their money- by accepting treasury bonds that pay zero interest (once you factor in inflation it’s a negative return). So the memo is flat out wrong.

                I’d hazard that the memo more accurately says “Some of the money is there, but people want to know which way you’re going to collect it and what you’re going to cut to make up the difference so they know what to expect. Sort the politics out!” And in the case of that memo I’d say the dems and the GOP are respectively only getting half the memo each.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Koz says:

                Once your team Gets The Memo, things will probably work a lot more smoothly.

                What memo? The one that says revenue increases are intractably rejected by the GOP? Or the one that says social programs based on GDP x and tax-base y and demographics z need to be revised?

                I think that Democrats got both memos, Koz, but it’s only the second that carries any empirical or otherwise neutrally justifiable content. Changes need to be made to Medicare, no doubt. But empirically, those programs could be supported by a combination of revenue increases and bending the cost curve. But the a priori rejection of revenue increases to support it is ideologically driven – not empirically driven – with the ultimate goal of dismantling it. So saying that there’s no money is question-begging in the extreme. And it reveals the ultimate goals and priorities of adopting that policy stance.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to Koz says:

                http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2011/11/15/rhode-island-update-the-meltdown-continues/

                (I wanted to get both these links in here without the pitstop through moderation purgatory.)

                “Except, of course, the memo you’re positing is flat out wrong. “

                Look around you North, what do you see? There is more to the world than just the federal government. There’s a collapse of public finance over the entire industrialized world: the feds, the states, Northern Europe, Eastern Europe, Southern Europe, Japan. Combined with very adverse demographic trends, cost structures and growth rates, we’re in for quite a ride.

                There is no amount of bullshit about expiring the Bush tax cuts or increasing rates above what they were in the 1940s to make those numbers add up. If you try to pretend otherwise then you are just Not Getting The Fkkking Memo.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to Koz says:

                http://modeledbehavior.com/2011/12/28/notes-on-debt-2/

                Here’s another good one, North. I mentioned Karl Smith to you before because he’s not in any way a conservative. This is a helpful little note on debt. Debt = promises. There’s an unlimited number of promises you can make, but a limited number that you can fulfill.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to Koz says:

                “I think that Democrats got both memos, Koz, but it’s only the second that carries any empirical or otherwise neutrally justifiable content. Changes need to be made to Medicare, no doubt.”

                Stillwater, pay attention around you. The feds aren’t the only aren’t the only game in town. Medicare is today’s sucking chest wound, it’s not the only one. Public finance is very serious trouble all over the industrialized world, and it’s not just Medicare. There Is No Money.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Koz says:

                I sure I have unfunded liabilities going into the millions if you expand my unfunded liabilities for the next 75 years as well.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Koz says:

                *sigh* Koz, you can yell “there is no money! I really mean it!!” as often as you’d like. The problem is it is empirically not true. We can see this is not true because we can see examples of countries where there is literally no money. Greece, for instance, has pretty much no money. They don’t make it themselves, they have astronomically high tax rates and enormous entitlements and outlay commitments. On top of that their economy and populace is so dysfunctional that it is virtually impossible for them to collect more than what they’re collecting now, or at least not in any politically plausible manner. In Greece there is no money. The United States is not Greece. The tax rates are low, there’s lots of room for them to rise. The tax system and economic system is sound. Tax evasion is a problem but it is not endemic. The money is there. The government could take it (a note, I strongly oppose raising taxes alone enough to cover the deficit, such a move would be economically dangerous). Yes, in some states and municipalities, there is very little money that’s easily or politically feasibly collectable (Ca springs to mind) and obviously someone is going to have to tell the electorate there to face the music but this is a side show. Even in CA there is not a titanic amount of change needed to fix their finances, the economy is there to tax, the programs are there to cut, the state can do it.

                And of course finally there is the printing press. Do you hear the bedlam? That’s the sound of every invesor in the world begging the US to print them dollars and begging the Treasury to sell them bonds (at negative effective interest rates!) the money is there. This is not a situation that can last, obviously, and I certainly don’t think a blasé indifference to the fundamentals of the country’s finances would allow this favorable market to go on forever (some other large economy in the world is eventually going to get its act together) but at the moment, yes Koz, the money is there.

                We can see states where “there is no money”. The US is not one of those states. The US financial crisis is an artificially manufactured one produced in Washington by politicians playing politics. A green eye shadow accountant could balance the budget in twenty minutes; hell the newspapers had apps out to let you balance it yourself not long ago. You can bet the Italy, Spain or Greece’s politicians would sell their children into penury to be in our shoes with only artificial debt problems to deal with. Over and over the Democrats have reluctantly (very reluctantly) allowed that cuts are needed hither and yon. Over and over the GOP has done much as you have; covering their ears and shrieking “there is no money” but it’s not true no matter how much they or you repeat it. Just like you they’re probably going to have to face up to the fact that revenues are going to have to rise even as expenses get cut. This is a simple fact, there is no constituency in the country for a 100% cut based solution to the problem. The party of old white government program (retirement and healthcare) dependant voters is not going to do enforce this. Neither is their opposition.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to Koz says:

                “Koz, you can yell “there is no money! I really mean it!!” as often as you’d like.”

                There’s your first mistake. I’m the least of your problems. It’s not (or at least it shouldn’t be) me who’s telling you There Is No Money. If you’re paying any attention at all, the world is telling you There Is No Money. Public finance is in a crisis everywhere in the world. Greece is in a worse state of crisis than we are. First of all because the problems in Greece are more severe than the problems here, but also from the contagion of Greece and the all the other public finance crises everywhere in the world, here and abroad.

                If the problem were only my particular opinion, you’d be in way better shape politically. You could run the granny-off-the-cliff ads and brazen your way through. But we’re not in Kansas any more Dorothy.

                And for that matter, some of your financial problems are a lot like your political problems. If you can’t move poll numbers in your favor by Mediscaring the public, you may not get political support for debt limit increases, you may not be able to create reliable unemployment projections, you may not get rating agencies to play ball with you, you may not get people to declare their income for tax purposes.

                It’s all a part of something I have failed many times to get you to appreciate. You want to beat the Republicans and control the government. But if you did control the government, your operational control over the real world is substantially less than you think. You can pass legislation that mandating that x happens. That doesn’t mean that x happens.

                This is why my ideas work and yours don’t. If we structure governance empowering the citizens and the private sector, we’re not relying on those things, we’ve got a better chance to get by when they break.

                “The US financial crisis is an artificially manufactured one produced in Washington by politicians playing politics.”

                No, it’s much closer to think we’re in artificially manufactured illusion that we can continue to fund the government at levels the Demos will find acceptable. After all, we could think think that Worldcom would be worth billions forever or that residential real estate values in Las Vegas would never fall.

                “A green eye shadow accountant could balance the budget in twenty minutes;…”

                Maybe, but if he tried the Demos would block whatever budget cuts he came up with, if they had an operational veto to exercise.

                “Over and over the Democrats have reluctantly (very reluctantly) allowed that cuts are needed hither and yon.”

                No North. I know you like to think that the Demos are willing to do budget cuts. But not only is it wrong in general, it’s also wrong in the particular context where you want to pretend it’s true. These have to do with news reports of negotiations that no important Democrat has even been willing to acknowledge publically.

                “Throughout all the fiscal issue negotiations for the better part of a year, there was a significant issue of a lack of commitment on the part of the D’s to their own proposals. And for the debt ceiling whatever they came up with was sure to be controversial on the left flank. Therefore, President Obama couldn’t advance a proposal on his own initiative. He has to have a written plan, and let Krugman, Digby and the idiots at Balloon Juice hit it like a pinata for at least one news cycle.”

                https://ordinary-times.com/blog/2011/08/16/no-one-cuomo-should-have-all-that-power/#comment-174894

                “This is a simple fact, there is no constituency in the country for a 100% cut based solution to the problem.”

                That’s true, but it doesn’t mean what you think it does because in fact there’s no “solution” of any kind for this crisis, which you agreed to after I led you through it before.

                https://ordinary-times.com/blog/2011/10/27/clearly-hand-grenades-are-the-answer/#comment-200758

                There are no solutions, only moves that will make the problem better or worse. And in that way what we do today is constrained by what’s been done in the past, and will be modified by others in the future.

                That is, the sphere of action is getting smaller relative to the size of the problem. Otoh, whereas Greece has virtually no sphere of action to cope with their fiscal problems, we do. Therefore, out of the things we can choose to do now to cope with our fiscal problems, we should choose one where we can actually solve the problem at some time in the future, if the powers at that time want to do that.

                And in that case, doing “100%” cuts is certainly a plausible move to do now.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Koz says:

                Yes yes, we can retreat back into the language quibbling if you insist. Yes there is no one “solution” if you define solution as something that eliminates the entire deficit and debt in one fell swoop. By this definition the only plausible action is something that sets the government on course to fiscal solvency in the mid to long term. That’s all well and good but even by this definition the fact remains that you are wrong on this issue because even defined this way a course change that combines BOTH revenue increases AND spending cuts will produce a sharper change in direction and a faster . The political obfuscation and GOP sound bites is just noise, you’ll forgive me for skipping over it since it’s just chest thumping, the salience and reality of which varies from viewer to viewer and which will be tested soon enough in the upcoming election for good or ill.

                No, it’s much closer to think we’re in artificially manufactured illusion that we can continue to fund the government at levels the Demos will find acceptable. After all, we could think think that Worldcom would be worth billions forever or that residential real estate values in Las Vegas would never fall.

                Again hogwash, the Dems have repeatedly come to the table with cut after cut (more on this later) so the assertion that they won’t accept any government funding level that’ll improve the national trajectory is laughable. There’s only been one intransigent party in this debate.

                I’ll throw out a swift aside to put down this Greece comparison once and for all. The US’s problems are nothing like Greeces; with Greece everyone clearly knows there’s no slack to tax, no will to cut and no ability to collect. Greece is broke. The US is flush with economic capacity to provide revenue and political space to cut programs. The only thing the ratings agencies and markets have asked is that the Feds demonstrate that they’re serious about the issue. The sorry performance (which I lay partially at Obama’s feet but mainly at the GOP’s) has done little to allay their concerns.

                These have to do with news reports of negotiations that no important Democrat has even been willing to acknowledge publically.

                This part is especially cute politically and I applaud you for it even if I refuse to accept the specious assertions. Anyone who has been paying attention to the politics of the last several years is well aware of the GOP created dynamic:

                Step 1: Obama/Dems can’t come out with concrete official proposals because the GOP (specifically tea partiers) reject them out of hand due to the proposals (no matter what they are) are coming from Obama/Dems (and then they try and string them up even if this involves rank hypocrisy; see for instance the GOP shrieks that Obama is cutting Medicare).

                Step 2: Obama/Dems accordingly negotiates behind closed doors with GOP leadership in hopes of reaching a compromise that the GOP can sell to their membership.

                Step 3: With most of these maneuvers the GOP leadership agrees in principal to a deal and then when they take it to their caucus they get paddled, tarred and feathered and disavow everything (weepy ol Boehner has had this happen so much that it’s a wonder he can sit at all).

                Step 4: Then in a gesture of impressive cheek the GOP declares “Obama’s never offered anything publicly and officially!”

                This is all clever and cute and all, but the problem is that Obama et all have publicly and repeatedly come out with reluctant offers of spending cuts of every size and shape. The public certainly is well aware of it. One look at the poll numbers on the subjects communicates that clearly. The GOP has just as publicly refused to deal in any way so long as it involves any compromise from the GOP at all. Indeed, they have a laundry list of spending they won’t even permit to be touched without screaming the sky is falling: defense (especially), social security and medicare for instance have all been campaigned on by the GOP as innocent victims of Obama’s nefarious cutting ways.

                Over and over both the GOP and you insist that Obama should do things entirely their way and in the manner and direction they demand. Obama and his party have merely asked that they, who control the executive and half of congress, get a say in this policy. The insanity of the GOP demands for their way or the highway are long past obvious.

                We shall see, I suppose, in a year or so whether this maneuvering will actually work electorally. I certainly hope it doesn’t and doubt it will but I’ve certainly been wrong before and Twain always had a scathing word or two for the aggregate cleverness of the great masses of the people.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to Stillwater says:

                “And insofar as tax hikes aren’t on the table, commonsense logic entails that balancing the budget and reducing the debt isn’t their primary goal. And that might be fine, all on it’s own. But it is their stated goal…”

                Actually no. Our bottom goal is to preserve economic civilization. Some level up from that is to cut spending. The deficit is important, but redundant in this context. We can’t raise taxes because There Is No Money. We’re not going to agree to try because that’s the thing that keeps you from Getting The Memo.

                This is related in an important way to what I was trying to get at with Elias (and you). This is policy, not politics. We want to attrit the funding levels of government in as fair and prudent way as we can until we are confident that public finance is stable (we’re not very close).

                The great part is, we’re telling the same story to ourselves, to you and your team, to the American people and anybody else we’re accountable to. No piece of evidence tells the whole story but every piece of evidence tells the same story.

                Frankly, I’m not expecting a nailbiter in November.Report

              • Avatar Liberty60 in reply to Koz says:

                We Have No Money?

                Where does this come from? The USA Today link you provided didn’t say anything of the sort.

                However I would present this graph

                http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/07/the-chart-that-should-accompany-all-discussions-of-the-debt-ceiling/242484/

                Which shows that the main driver of the deficits are the Bush tax cuts and the wars.

                So a sensible solution to deficits would seem to be winding down the wars and letting the Bush tax cuts lapse.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Koz says:

                Frankly, I’m not expecting a nailbiter in November.

                So, your predicting Perry Cain Paul Newt Romney by what … 8% and 2-1 in Electoral votes?Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to Koz says:

                “So, your predicting Perry Cain Paul Newt Romney by what … 8% and 2-1 in Electoral votes?”

                Yeah, about that. At this point I think it’s a little more likely that Willard lose the GOP nomination than he’ll lose to President Obama in a general election if he gets there. And I don’t think either one is very likely.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to Koz says:

                “So a sensible solution to deficits would seem to be winding down the wars and letting the Bush tax cuts lapse.”

                You can wind down the wars if you want. In fact you can cut WhereEver You Want. But you can’t raise any revenue. There Is No Money.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Koz says:

                But you can’t raise any revenue. There Is No Money.

                I’m pretty sure this is empirically false. I’d like to see Koz provide evidence of this, instead of simply relying on repeated assertions, as though just saying it enough times could make it persuasive.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Koz says:

                As I noted above this isn’t true… and once the libertarians start rolling their eyes at it Koz old boy ya gotta face up to the fact that what you’re peddling ain’t selling.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Koz says:

                Is Reason Magazine libertarian, or is it a No True Scotsman thing?

                http://reason.com/archives/2011/10/24/upgrading-the-usa

                “Following and building on the work of Alesina and Ardagna, American Enterprise Institute economists Andrew Biggs, Kevin Hassett, and Matthew Jensen published a working paper in December 2010 covering more than 100 instances in which countries took steps to address their budget gaps. They identify successful consolidations as those in which the ratio of debt to potential GDP three years following the first year of the consolidation has declined by at least 4.5 percentage points.

                Their conclusion: “Countries that addressed their budget shortfalls through reduced spending were far more likely to reduce their debt than countries whose budget-balancing strategies depended upon higher taxes.” What’s more, “the typical unsuccessful fiscal consolidation consisted of 53 percent tax increases and 47 percent spending cuts. By contrast, the typical successful fiscal consolidation consisted of 85 percent spending cuts.”

                 

                Finally, Biggs, Hassett, and Jensen look at how successful different kinds of spending cuts are at reducing the debt ratio. Consistent with other studies, they find that winning fiscal consolidations tend to focus spending cuts in two areas: social transfers, which largely means entitlements in the American context, and the government-wage bill, which means the size and pay of the public-sector workforce.

                I can’t stress enough the importance of these findings. At a time when many politicians and pundits are calling for a “balanced” solution that features an equal mix of revenue increases and spending cuts to address our debt crisis, we must remember that this path has systematically failed in the past.

                It may not be “balanced,” but what works is a package that mostly cuts spending. In the short term, that could mean means-testing Social Security and Medicare, increasing the programs’ eligibility age, and/or block-granting Medicaid. In the longer term, we must rethink the system on a fundamental level. A system that assumes an entitlement due to the simple fact of being American and over 65 cannot be sustained. ”

                Hey, I’m for whatever works.  But it seems there’s room for discussion here and Mr. Koz cannot simply be kicked to the curb.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Koz says:

                Van Dyke,

                But that’s a different question.  You’re responding to the (legitimate) question of what is the wisest course of action for budget balancing.  What Koz is arguing is substantially different, that there is no money for tax increases.  Taking him seriously, we can’t enact an 85% cuts/15% revenue increase solution, because “There Is No Money.”

                I’m all for more spending cuts than increases myself, so I find the Biggs et. al., findings gratifying ((I haven’t yet read it, but I know from other sources that as a case study, Canada supports their thesis).  But they’re not saying “There Is No Money.”  For my part, at least, that’s all I’m challenging Koz on.  Because if we’re going to have a reasoned discussion of how much spending vs. how much revenue increases we should have, we need to not start with empirically false claims.  If one of our liberals starts out by saying spending cuts are impossible (which none of them have done), we can all gang up on him/her, too.Report

              • Avatar Liberty60 in reply to Koz says:

                TVD-

                No being an economist, I won’t try to find the holes in the American Enterprise Institute paper; and although part of me rolls my eyes at the amazing coincidence that a think tank funded by conservative corporations would find that- oddly enough! the path to prosperity is by cutting things that no one involved benefits from, while protecting the things that do.

                But dismissal as predjudicial is a weak argument so I might hold my fire on that one.

                Instead, lets just look at where their argument takes us.

                In 2010, the Federal budget had only 5 main components:

                Defense/ Homeland Security- 1 Trillion

                Social Security- 1 Trillion

                Medicare= 0.6 Trillion

                Debt Service- 0.4 Trillion

                Everything Else- 0.5 Trillion

                Revenue was:

                Social Security- 1 Trillion

                Everything Else- 1.1 Trillion

                So by your argument, we should cut 1.4 Trillion from entitlements, AKA Social Security and Medicare, which would essentially zero them out.

                Social Security takes in about as much as it lays out- are you going to cut benefits while maintaining the tax?

                If you want to cut Medicare, do you have a plan for how the needy elderly will be treated?

                How do you plan to cut a full 1/3 of all government spending, if increased revenue is off the table?

                 Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to Koz says:

                Liberty,

                The problem isn’t current receipts vs outlays, but longer term trends. As for me, I’m fine with cutting defense by 80%, adjusting FICA/Medicare  age and rates via choice, and outsourcing government monopolies to private competition. The New York Times had a balance the budget app a few years ago and the intellectual exercise was easy breezy.  Heck, I cut too much. I had to give taxes back.

                The problem is that it isn’t an intellectual exercise, it is a political one.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to Koz says:

                “What Koz is arguing is substantially different, that there is no money for tax increases. Taking him seriously, we can’t enact an 85% cuts/15% revenue increase solution, because “There Is No Money.””

                No no no, hold on a sec. I’m not saying that there’s no money (in United States) that can be raised by the feds or other jurisdictions relative to current tax laws. What I am saying is that There Is No Money that will solve our fiscal problems.

                http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2011/11/15/rhode-island-update-the-meltdown-continues/

                And in fact I can go quite a bit beyond that. As I’ve been trying to get across to North, there is no “solution” of any kind to our public finance problems. Furthermore, there’s no tax that moves us closer to a solution as opposed to farther away. (Though there may be taxes which are good for other policy reasons.)

                There’s been studies claiming that for every $1 of marginal government revenue raised in tax increases, government then turns around and spends $1.15-$1.20. In that world tax cuts really do pay for themselves (of course not really because even if additional revenue justifies additional expenditures, less revenue never justifies less expenditures). In any event, that actually did happen in 1983, wherein President Reagan agreed to tax increases for budget cuts that never materialized. And perhaps more importantly, that’s also what PPACA did as well: raised some taxes, paid some benefits, and after some convenient accounting tricks, it was “almost” revenue neutral.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Koz says:

                What I amsaying is that There Is No Money that will solve our fiscal problems…There’s been studies claiming that for every $1 of marginal government revenue raised in tax increases, government then turns around and spends $1.15-$1.20.

                You know it’s a lot easier to have intelligent debates if you explain yourself clearly the first or second time around, instead of the 15th or whatever we’re at now.  I won’t apologize for mis-representing you, but I will think you for responding to my inaccuracy by pointing out my error and better explaining yourself.

                That said, your statement that “there is no money that will solve our fiscal problems” does not, and logically cannot, mean that there is no money that will help solve our fiscal problems.  And that’s because the over-spending is a tendency of Congress, not a law of nature.  It can be constrained by appropriate institutional rules, including the requirement of a balanced budget.  And most obviously, if we have a combination of spending cuts and revenue gains, then it logically cannot happen.  What you are doing is extrapolating from legislative budgeting behavior at times when they are not focusing on deficit reduction and saying it will apply to a time when they are focusing on deficit reduction.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Koz says:

                James, this is his standard line which remains, to my eyes, just as false as before. If spending cuts would improve our trajectory vis a vis the deficit then ceteris parabus spending cuts AND revenue increases would improve our trajectory significantly more. He tries, repeately to insist that the two together are impossible but has to retreat to koz-speak every time one asks on what basis he’s asserting such.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Koz says:

                Oh and in case I forget later, Happy New Year to the lot of you and an especial happy one to you Koz. If you didn’t exist some liberal would have to make you up. Tip o’ the tophat to you.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Koz says:

                @ North,

                If spending cuts would improve our trajectory vis a vis the deficit then ceteris parabus spending cuts AND revenue increases would improve our trajectory significantly more.

                Ditto that.  I say the deficit reduction committee’s report should have been the starting point, and would have been if both parties were being responsible.

                Ditto also your comment above about how disingenuous the GOP is being in blaming all the lack of budget progress on Obama and the Dems, who have made compromises that have their base screaming in frustration while the GOP does their best to avoid any compromising at all.  From a purely strategic perspective I admire the GOP’s ability to force Obama and the Dems hands so far (and sneer at the Dems’ political incompetence, weakness and cowardice).  But when we’re asked to take the GOP’s complaints seriously, it’s time for a big ol’ belly laugh.

                Ditto also to your wishes for a happy new year to all, excepting Jerry Sandusky and politicians to numerous to mention.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Koz says:

                Lib60, the question was “libertarian,” so I grabbed something from Reason, putatively libertarian.  Mr. Koz is outnumbered, but that doesn’t give his opponents the right to decree what the facts are.  The  Reason thing gives him 85% support for his argument, which is more than a leg to stand on, and so he cannot be summarily dismissed.

                This is such an epistemology war I seldom bother to get involved.  The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is usually offered up as an authority, which i find explicitly partisan toward the left, and that’s the way these things go.

                I used to use Reason as an impartial source in these Dem-Rep wars, but even that doesn’t seem to work hereabouts.

                As for soaking the rich, the best figures I have is that a return to Clinton tax rates nets under $100B, and that’s only if it doesn’t trigger tax avoidance or hurt the economy.

                Hey, I’m for what works.  All I hear on “cuts” is slowing the rates of increase, and screaming bloody murder about the poor and grandma and shit.  My head hurts, so I’ll sit this out until I see something interesting.  Abolish the military and take all the rich people’s money, and the math gets us to about even, as far as I make it.  I’ll give Mr. Isquith credit on that one.  At least the numbers add up.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Koz says:

                TvD,

                Again, I appreciate the link to the Reason article, but also again, it’s not saying what you say it’s saying.  It’s not saying that Koz is 85% right; it’s saying something completely different.  It’s not saying we we don’t have money available to cut the deficit; it’s saying that spending cuts generally do a better job of balancing their budgets than those that just rely on tax increases.  The researchers weren’t making statements anywhere near as absolute as Koz.

                the best figures I have is that a return to Clinton tax rates nets under $100B,

                Those are your “best” figures? Seriously? Look here.

                For Liberty60 and others, TvD didn’t mention the other research mentioned in the article, which had generally similar findings about the value of spending reductions–the research was done by Harvard economists Alberto Alesina and Silvia Ardagna and was published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.  However justifiable the skepticism of conservative-friendly findings coming from the conservative American Enterprise Institute, that skepticism doesn’t apply to this source.

                Hell, I appear to be arguing with both sides right now. But it just so happens that both sides are wrong. Or more accurately, both sides are only partially right, but seem to take their partial correctness for total correctness.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to Koz says:

                “I will think you for responding to my inaccuracy by pointing out my error and better explaining yourself.”

                You’re welcome. And I might as well point out that Get The Memo is figurative too.

                “And that’s because the over-spending is a tendency of Congress, not a law of nature…..What you are doing is extrapolating from legislative budgeting behavior at times when they are not focusing on deficit reduction and saying it will apply to a time when they are focusing on deficit reduction.”

                Yeah, that’s true. But like I’ve written on other threads (not this one) if you really want tax increases, vote Republican. That’s the way we’ll get credibility that there worth something.

                As far as the current circumstance goes, that’s where we successfully outmaneuvered them away from any kind of plausible deniability. Supposedly at a time where the Demo’s are focused on deficit reduction, we told them they could cut spending Whereever They Want. And they folded, so for me at least the conclusion is pretty clear.

                As far as the rules thing goes, I do think the rules of Congress could and probably should be changed to discourage spending. But, you ought to be able to appreciate that it might work to get Congress to enforce their own rules at some time in the future if they’re not willing to cut spending in the present.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Koz says:

                Sorry, gentlemen–& Dr. Hanley–I was referring to Clinton tax rates on the rich, which I’ve mentioned a half-dozen times and linked to before, as netting under $100B.

                The tax cuts for the rich have been the ones in dispute, not for the “middle class,” etc.

                As for the rest, I’m willing to look at any comprehensive package that’s halfway sane.  Even one-quarter sane, if the math works.  But there’s too much poetry about all this, and not enough prose.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Koz says:

                TvD,

                Clarification noted.  I’m dubious, and would want to see the source of the claim.  But I don’t have a source that counters the claim, and I won’t pretend to actually know.

                I will note that, if true, it’s a bit odd that conservatives claim that a return to Clinton era tax rates on the rich would either have drastic negative economic consequences or would unfairly soak the rich.  In those terms, $100 billion is neither here nor there.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to Koz says:

                “James, this is his standard line which remains, to my eyes, just as false as before.”

                Ok. Even if we are covering new ground, I think this is the same road we’ve been down before. So I’ll prob just chill for a few days after this one, which is just as well ‘cuz after I write a few things I want to tie this back into the reason I responded to Tod and Elias in the first place.

                “If spending cuts would improve our trajectory vis a vis the deficit then ceteris parabus spending cuts AND revenue increases would improve our trajectory significantly more.”

                First of all ceteris isn’t remotely paribus here that’s most of the point. In particular, if you really want tax increases, vote Republican.

                Let’s agree that tax increases and spending cuts will result in less Treasury debt than either one separately. But it’s a particular Team Blue corruption to say they have to be done together. Supposedly, Team Blue really didn’t want all the spending in the Administration’s FY2011 proposed budget. That’s exactly what the Demos weren’t willing to acknowledge publically. But they still wanted credibility as budget-cutters for their wink-and-nod games (as apparently you’re willing to give them).

                If (as you say), Team Blue wants tax increases and spending cuts both, and we just want spending cuts, then let’s do the spending cuts and draw a line under that and then see what happens. After all, we’ve already agreed (you and I) that we’re not going to solve the problem in one go-round anyway. So let’s make progress now and come back for more later. That’s exactly what the Demos weren’t willing to do either publically or privately until the debt ceiling forced their hand.

                Ie, Team Blue fears, with a fair amount of justification, that they’ll be on a slippery slope with spending cuts only and the tax increases will never come. But that’s where Team Blue is really fkkked up. The things that they’re afraid of giving up, they can’t credibly promise anyway. What we do today will be modified by other parties later. But their declarations of future intention to cut spending have no credibility at all if they’re unwilling to publically acknowledge the parts of the federal budget where they’re willing to cut spending in the present. (Ie, call this the Now/Later thing.)

                And the idea the GOP is unwilling to compromise is ridiculous. Team Red has told the Demos, you can cut expenditures Wherever You Want. That itself is a compromise and a very big one imo. Left to themselves Team Red would much rather cut here instead of there. But because they came off that publically they can cut through a lot of Team Blue bullshit and disinformation, and I suspect we’ll see the consequences of that later. (One of two really great moves the GOP has made since the midterm.) Addressing your points in particular, defense cuts were in the debt limit deal, but Team Blue wouldn’t touch anything from Medicare or SS.

                As far as taxes go, there’s a dynamic there you might not appreciate. We know, that at least for the present Team Red is won’t raise taxes. Certainly part of that has to do with Grover Norquist and the rest of it. What you might or might not realize is that there’s not that much give for us between revenue that we won’t raise and that we can’t raise. This is where the Laffer Curve comes in. Ie, that you can’t compound several tax increases together and raise the same revenue as you would if you did each one separately. The tax base goes underground or economic activity moves to the Cayman Islands or whatever. Or to put it another way, we represent the private sector but we don’t control it. (Call this the Public/Private thing). And if you look, there’s a lot of historical data that says percentagewise, tax revenues come in a fairly narrow band. We’re at the low end of that band now, but that’s because of the economy as much as the tax laws, eg, there are no capital gains to pay. We should expect that tax revenues to increase when and if growth returns. Btw, that’s the main derivative point of the studies TVD and James are talking about. The places that were trying the “balanced” approach were trying to get blood from a turnip. That’s what I’m getting at to say, Get The Memo, There Is No Money.

                This is a little bit complicated North, but still not too bad. Read this a couple times and don’t get distracted about Koz-speak or whatever. It really does make sense, and it really is where we are.

                When I first replied to Elias and Tod, it was about what Elias can argue that his favored policies actually solve. Then it changed a little to what President Obama can say his policies accomplished in the context of his reelection campaign. And from there to your preferred economic policy, which is all fine just bearing in mind those are at least a little bit slightly different things. Apparently you and James are in favor of Simpson-Bowles, at least as an outline. But your recollection of events is wrong.

                For the GOP, Coburn was in favor, Ryan had reservations and Norquist was opposed. Those are Actual Important Republicans. That’s not a slumdunk but you can definitely work with that if you want. The Demos who matter were just a plain Wall Of No. Of the Demos who supported the plan, some were respected within the party (some not), but they can’t swing anybody. And Simpson-Bowles wasn’t so long ago that it can’t be brought back, either to the President’s benefit or his detriment.

                In any case, President Obama has to campaign on something, which puts him in a real bind. His economic numbers are awful but what’s even worse is that he’s got nothing really interesting to say about them. Under some circumstances, the American people might be willing to put the boot in the Republicans. But what they really want is jobs and growth. Any candidate the American people believe can create them will probably win. He President Obama could do this, he would. But he can’t, it’s a year out and he’s on Plan B already.

                Happy New Year everybody.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Koz says:

                Shorter Koz : “If the Democrat’s want to do thing A and B, and the GOP wants to do thing A, we only should do thing A and I’m going to give a definition of compromise only a crazy person would agree to.”Report

              • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Stillwater says:

                @North, here’s a math question for you. If a spending INCREASE is not as large as planned is it still a CUT? Because that is the complete utter and maximum extent to which the Dems have agreed to “cuts”. Only in the beltway I suppose would a lowering of an increase be considered a ‘cut’. Or in your world too guessing to your response.

                As for Greece, like Rome, 50% of their population scofflaws the taxman. Greece could go a long way towards setting their financial house in order by simply collecting taxes and forcing everyone in business to follow such simple protocols as providing a receipt with purchases. When 1/2 the economy is “under the table” collecting taxes can be a problem and a tremendous burden on the honest 50%. In the US of course we have a different problem with 50% likewise not paying FEDERAL taxes (just to bypass your tired arguments about sales taxes etc.). The difference is the other 50% is somewhat able to carry the burden, unless and until the non-paying 50% place too heavy a burden on the other half in the form of entitlements and unfunded pensions.Report

              • Ward,

                I, for one, don’t count reduced increases as cuts.  But I don’t think you’re correct that the Democrats haven’t offered any actual cuts.  I’ll try to find some verification on that.

                But in the meantime, here’s a little perspective on how horribly resistant to spending, and wildly demanding about taxation, the Democrats have been. Source.

                The Democratic proposal also contains the same amount of specified cuts in Medicare and Medicaid ($275 billion) as the Toomey plan lists. And the Democratic proposal and the Toomey plan contain the same reduction in total program spending — $875 billion. … the deficit reduction under both plans would total close to $2.6 trillion. In both plans, this nearly $2.6 trillion in savings includes more than $5 in spending cuts for each $1 increase in revenues… By comparison, the bipartisan Bowles-Simpson and Gang of Six plans each had $1 in increased revenues for each $1 in spending cuts, relative to the same baseline.

                Report

              • Ward,

                Further commenting on real cuts vs. reductions in increases.  To the extent we’re talking about the real big social welfare programs, the Medicare prescription drug program and Social Security, reductions in increases is really the only game in town until the Baby Boomers start dying off.  The Census Bureau predicts the proportion of elderly in the population will continue to grow at least through 2030. Paul Ryan’s proposal would have substantially cut Medicare payments, but as the CBO review shows, it would have dramatically increased the amount the elderly would pay, so I doubt a majority of Republicans would really have gone along with it. Third rail of American politics and all that, and at the same time as they were accusing Obama of gutting Medicare; it just doesn’t seem plausible.

                The most solid place to get real spending reductions is in the military. The Democrats proposed $400 billion in reductions, frantically opposed by their own SecDef, Secretary Chicken Little, but also opposed by Republicans. I’m not sure whether those were baseline cuts or spending projection reductions–quite possibly the latter, but either way, there was more cut offered there than the Republicans were willing to accept.

                I can’t tell for sure whether you’re right in your criticism of Democratic cuts. You may be. And my purpose here isn’t to praise the Democrats. My purpose is simply to note that the Republicans really haven’t been doing that great a job, either.

                Both parties suck balls on this whole thing.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to wardsmith says:

                Ward, James beat me to it generally and before even beginning I’ll note that the Dems have hardly been paragons of spending reduction but I do consider “reductions in increases” to be cuts of a sort though obviously less impressive than reductions in actual spending which dems also proposed.

                What all this boils down to is that the dems have repeatedly come up with both types of cuts and reductions (to the shrill howls of their own base) only to then have the proposed deals spurned by the GOP. This is stellar politics for the GOP: the Dems depress their base with the proposals and then depress independants when nothing gets enacted. Meanwhile the GOP please their base by refusing to compromise. The only question is whether independants and voter in general will recognize and punish this intransigence or whether such subtleties are lost on the electorate. That question, coupled with the question of how quickly the current green shoots on the economy develop (and whether Europe collapses and blows us back into recession) will probably be the hinges of the upcoming election.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to Koz says:

                “Now, one thing everyone agrees on is that Medicare is an unfunded liability going forward. So the GOP doesn’t get to take the moral high ground on that issue.”

                Sure it does. Think of it this way. Imagine there were no Republicans in any political office at all, that the Demo’s in office could sort out between themselves whatever they wanted. With one stipulation: that they couldn’t raise taxes, period.

                What would you do? What would you want them to do? It might not be that different from the Ryan plan, but whatever it is once you’ve grokked the dimensions of the problem trying to find the best way forward might not be as difficult as you think.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Koz says:

      Very decent of you, sir.  Look, if we’re to avoid becoming Sartre’s Hell of Other People, there are some simple tests we can impose on ourselves before we press Submit:

      1.  Do I know what I’m talking about?  Simplistic criticisms only make the critique look stupid.   A simple litmus test for Knowing Enough is to reduce the other guy’s argument to axiom, assume everything I’ve been told is a half-truth and find the other half of the truth. Truth never takes sides.

      2.  Politics is personality.   we are the sum total of what’s happened to us.   Yes, there’s this genetic component to personality and that can be thrown into the sum without any harm to the premise.   But show me someone with a well-developed political stance of any sort, I’ll show you someone who’s seen codified injustice in his life and wants to change it.   The opposite of love is not hatred but indifference.  To hate something is to want to change it.

      We cannot know what shaped our opponent.   Platoons of psychologists couldn’t drag it out of him, either.   Truth is, he’s not aware of it himself.

      3.  Be willing to be wrong.   Nobody ever died of shame.   We damn our politicians for changing their tunes once in office, saying they only told us what we wanted to hear.   But the world changes us more than we change the world:  the hardest change of all is to change ourselves, to evolve.   If those changes arise from encountering the other side of the argument,  from close examination of the axioms of others, our rhetoric might transcend High Broderism and Bicameral Poxation and truly reflect what little light we are given.Report

      • Avatar wardsmith in reply to BlaiseP says:

        Blaise, when you write like this I get all misty eyed. And we’re not even on the same “team”, except for that getting to the whole truth part. 😉Report

      • Avatar Liberty60 in reply to BlaiseP says:

        May I add-

        You will never win an argument. At least, not in the sense that someone will clap their hand to their forehead and exclaim “My God! How could I have been so wrong! Thank you, Mr. Blog Commenter, for pointing out the error of my ways!”

        So accept and embrace the fact that anger is pointless, that however silly of spurious the argument is from the other side, ultimately you still get a paycheck on Friday and your manhood is still intact.

         Report

        • Avatar Roger in reply to Liberty60 says:

          Liberty,

          Well said. Best comment in this thread.Report

        • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Liberty60 says:

          “Someone on the Internet is wrong!”

          Nobody “wins” a good faith argument but he can stomp the life out a bad-faith argument with a few firm applications of the Boot of Fact.   Socrates said he always started with the proposition wherein he knew nothing.  That’s always the best place to start.   That way I can learn something.

          No opinion is worth having if it hasn’t been hardened in the forge of debate.    Most of ’em simply burn up — most of mine do, anyway.   Still I soldier on.

           Report

  7. “I might note that we have our own consistently left-leaning blogger here…”

    Singular?  Surely we jest.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

      Who else would you says is reliably left wing? E.D. is the roaming comet in the League solar system but most of the others, while having occasional left wing views, run more libertarian than liberal.Report

      • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to North says:

        Bedroom & bong libertarian, mebbe.  An occasional protest about Kelo.  Glenn Greenwald “libertarianism.”  The rest, not really.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

          We need more libertarians who support parental licensure, assault, and hospital visitation laws that refuse entry to “friends”.Report

          • Avatar dexter in reply to Jaybird says:

            We could use a few libertarians that say it is against the rules to have pollution from your whatever kill the Gulf of Mexico.  We could also use at least one that thinks, since corps are human,  BP should get twenty years making kevlar jackets at thirty cents an hour  in a private prison.Report

            • Avatar Roger in reply to dexter says:

              This libertarian believes we should not pollute the gulf and that those that do so should be punished via the rule of law.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to dexter says:

              The Libertarian idea is probably that we should have something akin to strict liability where if pollution does damage to an ecosystem and/or people’s livelihoods, the corporation ought to pay for cleanup as well as the livelihoods that have been lost.

              And if a corporation is shielded from that, there is a much deeper issue here.

              “We could also use at least one that thinks, since corps are human,  BP should get twenty years making kevlar jackets at thirty cents an hour  in a private prison.”

              I’m not keen to the idea that American criminal jurisdiction extends into international waters and into other countries. That way madness lies.Report

      • Avatar Ryan Bonneville in reply to North says:

        Tom thinks we can’t speak “meaningfully” about reducing the size and scope of government, even though we do it all the time. There’s no sense in feeding trolls.Report

        • Go ahead, Ryan.  Speak meaningfully of reducing the size and scope of government.  Insults are unnecessary.Report

          • Avatar Ryan Bonneville in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

            I don’t think the government should have a massive military that polices the world. We should reduce it dramatically – at least by half.

            I don’t think the government should run a massive paramilitary apparatus designed to combat the legitimate economic activity of selling and buying drugs anywhere, but especially in other countries. We should obliterate that.

            I don’t think the government should run a massive paramilitary apparatus designed to prevent the peaceful travel of people across borders. We should substantially reduce that.

            I don’t think the government should run massive subsidy programs designed to favor certain industries over others (see, for instance, ethanol). We should completely eliminate those.

            I’m sure you are going to ignore that I’ve written this or say something about how it’s “bedroom and bong libertarianism” or something equally ridiculous and useless, but it remains the case that implementing these things would substantially reduce the size of the government and drastically reduce its scope. Your continuing unwillingness to engage on these points is annoying, so here’s hoping you’ll stop.Report

            • No, Ryan, I’m going to ignore you for a different reason, because you’re insulting and rude. And your laundry list differs from run-of-the-mill leftism not a whit except mebbe the ethanol part, rather reinforcing my point.Report

              • Avatar Liberty60 in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                I lack a dog in this fight, and as much as I woul dlike to clasp Mr. Bonneville to my bosom as a fellow libtard, if his laundry listis to be in conformance with our way of thinking, it is startling in what it leaves out-

                Socials safety net, organized labor, progressive taxation, and government regulation.

                But yeah, the current communique from Comintern is that we favor reducing our global military footprint.Report

              • Avatar Ryan Bonneville in reply to Liberty60 says:

                It is, of course, worth being clear – as it always has been – that my libertarian leanings, such as they are, are decidedly a left-wing variety. My objection to Tom’s cranky argument, which again he doesn’t even bother to address, is that one of the core principles of liberalism is that government exists to protect liberty and that, when it fails to do so, it must be “reduced in size and scope”, to use the prevailing lingo.

                On your particular points, I favor a broad-based social safety net financed with a progressive consumption tax, and an understanding that collective bargaining rights are part and parcel of a well-functioning economy that respects the rights of all participants. My position on regulation largely comes down to a preference for Pigou taxes where possible. This is a hard thing to talk about in the abstract, given the varied forms regulation takes, but I generally prefer to solve social problems with taxes rather than mandates.

                You can claim I’m not a real libertarian, and I’ll be the first to agree! I’m a libertarian-leaning liberal. Like Mark Thompson, I see libertarians and liberals as cousins. Where I think both differ with Tom on this particular line of inquiry is that both are or can be interested in reducing the size and scope of government for a specific purpose, and in both cases it’s the same purpose: preservation of individual liberty. What I think he means when he says I can’t speak meaningfully about this is that he really wants me to say we should reduce the size and scope of government just because we should reduce the size and scope of government. The fact that I won’t go there with him does not imply that I am not interesting in reducing the size and scope of government.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to Ryan Bonneville says:

                “Where I think both differ with Tom on this particular line of inquiry is that both are or can be interested in reducing the size and scope of government for a specific purpose, and in both cases it’s the same purpose: preservation of individual liberty.”

                I don’t mean to get in the middle of the pissing match between you and TVD but this is bullshit on the substance. Over the last year, Team Red made some powerful moves and even now Team Blue is just barely getting their collective head around them. In one of them, we said the Administrations FY2011 budget and projections are spending too much money.

                You can cut them WhereEver You Want.

                Whatever purposes or opportunities you see to cut funding levels, we’ll agree to. The Demos refused, until their hand was forced by the debt ceiling. People can laugh at Michele Bachmann and Glenn Beck all they want, but it’s Team Blue who are the obstructionists.Report

              • Avatar Ryan Bonneville in reply to Liberty60 says:

                And, again, note that I am forced to essentially project what I think Tom’s argument is in the last paragraph because he is completely unwilling to state it or interact with any arguments I make.Report

              • Avatar Ryan Bonneville in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                You can choose whatever reason you want. It remains the case that you are ignoring my argument.

                When I call you a dishonest interlocutor, this is precisely what I mean.Report

              • I don’t owe you the courtesy of a reply, Ryan, esp when you’re discourteous to start with.  Perhaps some other time, with a clean slate.  I’m Charlie Brown & the football around here.  Although they always seem to fool me the next time too.  Shame on me.Report

              • Avatar Ryan Bonneville in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Duck and weave, old boy. I know you for what you are.Report

              • Actually, you proved my point with your own words, Ryan.  I originally wrote

                _________________

                “I might note that we have our own consistently left-leaning blogger here…”

                Singular?  Surely we jest.

                __________________

                ..which you objected to.  But along with Mr. Isquith, you make at least two, by your own admission.

                my libertarian leanings, such as they are, are decidedly a left-wing variety.

                Bob and weave that, brother Ryan.  You want to win an argument, put the ball in the net instead of crying foul to the gallery.  You just scored an own goal and you didn’t even realize it, such is your distemper.  Now, please, Ryan, let’s try a clean slate next time, but this was completely unfair and unjust to me.Report

              • Avatar Ryan Bonneville in reply to Ryan Bonneville says:

                …this was completely unfair and unjust to me.

                My mistake. You’re not a troll; you’re a clown.

                The woe is me act is hilarious, really, but you’re missing the boat. I said you don’t think we can speak meaningfully about reducing the size and scope of the government, and you told me to do it. So I did it. I didn’t object to you thinking we were “left-leaning”; I objected to your claim that our libertarianism is somehow fake.Report

              • Ryan, you might consider toning down the personal stuff.  Tom’s asking for a clean slate.  Try again another day, maybe, or just don’t engage with him.

                But I’m not enjoying witnessing a post I wrote to give (well deserved) props to a fellow leaguer turning into a bash-on-other-leaguers fest.Report

              • Avatar Ryan Bonneville in reply to Ryan Bonneville says:

                He’s not “asking”; he’s demanding a clean slate and using it as a shield to avoid having to respond. But, since you ask and it’s your post, I will gladly comply.Report

          • Avatar Ryan Bonneville in reply to Tod Kelly says:

            He explicitly ignores what other commenters say so he can score points. He mischaracterizes the people who write here because it’s easier than actually interacting with anything they say.

            Maybe he’s not a troll, but the alternative is that he is incredibly stupid. I don’t believe that.

            I don’t know why you people seem to like him so much. He is about as constructive as Bob Cheeks and a third as entertaining.Report

            • Because, when you’re not poking him in the eye, he is inclined to be forthright and honest.

              Add that to the fact that he’s fairly intelligent and he knows how to type, he makes for a wonderful archetype to argue against if you’re inclined to argue against archetypes.Report

              • Avatar Ryan Bonneville in reply to Jaybird says:

                Again, I don’t see it. He is a thoroughly dishonest interlocutor who contributes nothing but stereotypes. Maybe that’s your definition of “archetype”, or maybe you just don’t mind it, but it’s not something that particularly excites me.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Ryan Bonneville says:

                 

                My own humble two cents: Tom does have a strong tendency to duck and weave when arguing; he does have a penchant for strategically deploying a cloud of indignation with complaints of discourtesy or accusation that everyone is dishonestly liberally biased and similar such complaints. This can be annoying.

                That said he’s also an erudite and clever writer, has a good sense of humor and is full of interesting anecdotes and stories. Yes, he can be huffy and he will stick you with a shiv in a debate one moment and then swoon onto the fainting couch the next but on balance he’s a good gentleman to have around (so are you incidentally) if for no other reason than to present his alternative points of view.

                Also I have a huge crush on his gigantic sunglasses logo (strictly platonic I assure you Tom) which is rivaled only by my tendency to stare at Jaybirds cat picture logos like a mesmerized gecko.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to North says:

                Thx, well, sort of, Mr. North. You let me know when you think I’m ducking: I purposefully try to engage the strongest arguments.  I let most of the weak ones go or I’d do nothing else.

                And I do object to the steady tide of grandma down the stairs caricature.  When it comes from my side of the aisle, I have been known to tut-tut and ask them to cool it.Report

              • “And I do object to the steady tide of grandma down the stairs caricature.”

                I’s is fascinated by this phrase.  Explain?Report

              • Tod, I’d really prefer to de-escalate this.  But see the Scott Walker discussion or this, both from the last 12 hours.  I wouldn’t want to be accused of bobbing or weaving.

                I honestly think you and we are inured to this stuff, but it’s as much a rule as an exception, a steady dripdripdrip.Report

              • OK, sorry.  I was more wondering about the phrase, and not about the internal League stuff.Report

              • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                @Tod, you really don’t know about this?Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Of course Tom, you’re welcome.

                I must protest that I’m not caricaturing anything and the post you’ve referenced is one of Koz’s standard lines of arguement. I didn’t mean to imply it’s one I’ve seen you deploy since to my feeble recollection you haven’t.Report

              • I’m one of those people who has dialogs in his head all day.

                Argue the nuances of this position versus that one versus that one versus that one.

                Nothing pleases me more than to encounter an argument that I don’t have the perspective to come up with on my own. Tom has given a handful of these arguments and that’s a good thing for me, at least.

                Since it was good for me, I assume that it’d be good for most folks.

                Now, is Tom too thin-skinned? Yeah, by about half. I’m also not a fan of how he’s a fan of civility meaning “not being coarse” when it comes to his behavior and how it means “be downright charitable” when it comes to the behavior of others… but, you can’t have everything. If you want the perfect conservative to argue with, you’re going to be waiting a long goddamn time.

                Tom will do.Report

              • I have to say, Ryan, I just don’t see it.  Tom is the one Right Winger (not libertarian) here who I can consistently rely on to hold both sides to a single standard.

                Do Tom and I agree on everything?  God no.  But I do respect him, and find that even when I don’t find him persuasive I find him honest and I learn from him.Report

              • I have to stick up for Ryan here.  I think every criticism he has made is precisely accurate.  Of course, in the spirit of this thread, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m biased–after all, each of Ryan’s criticisms echoes exactly what I’ve said to and about the subject multiple times across multiple blogs.Report

            • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Ryan Bonneville says:

              I don’t know why you people seem to like him so much. He is about as constructive…

              Well, with me and North throwing in we’re a penny shy of a nickel, so here’s my two cents.

              I think TVD being here is very constructive – he’s a conservative who not only is willing but able to defend the main views he holds. That you, or I, think those defenses are lacking isn’t really the point, in my view. Tom may duck and weave when push comes to shove – but no more than anyone else, I’d reckon. Including me. Ducking and weaving seems to be something subjectively determined in any event. Sometimes the answer to the question ‘why do you believe P?’ doesn’t get the answer the questioner likes because it isn’t grounded in the right sort of data or argument structure. I mean, I’m a big believer that explanation has to end somewhere, and where it does we move to an account. As long as someone can provide an account of why they believe something – or I (subjective again, see?) can intelligibly ascribe one to them – I’m OK with agreeing to disagree. So at the very least, Tom provides insight into how conservatives think about and approach policy issues. And that informs not only how I think about conservative views generally, but it also shapes my own political views. It helps me to not dehumanize-via-caricature conservatives simply because they hold views I object to.

              I think what Tom (sorry TVD for talking about as if you weren’t here 🙂 ) does is often to challenge people on their presuppositions or their interpretations of the facts. Hanley made some headway doing that very same thing in earlier posts. Jaybird does it as well. I think it’s a fruitful line, even if it sometimes gets uncomfortably close to niggling.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Stillwater says:

                I’m sorry, but after hearing how he supports Walker (and, presumably, firesales on nuclear power plants…) and considers him a wiseish person, I’m having trouble treating him seriously.

                [yes, yes, a variety of people around here don’t treat me seriously. That’s probably for the best. I’m a raconteur, after all.]Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Kim says:

                But I think he’s talking about the ‘reformed’ Walker. The one who revised all his goals after the anti-TP, Repeal Walker Revolution.Report

              • Hey, I heard Scott Walker on the radio, is all.  He was impressive: articulate and cogent.  And he came off looking great in that prank call.  As for the rest of it, it’s policy.  I think it’s great, you don’t.  OK, fine.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                It’s the fact that he took the prank call that troubles me. That, and the consequences of that prank call… If you’re willing to support someone who’s actively funding that sort of shit, you shouldn’t be surprised if you start to smell too.

                When I smell skunk, I call skunk.Report

              • Avatar Scott in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Kim:

                Walker didn’t take the prank call his chief of staff did and then turned it over to Walker.  The things the libs refuse to accept and can’t stand is that every time, the imposter tries to suggest something outrageous or tries to provoke an answer Walker doesn’t bite. So with no meat, the libs are left with “look he took a prank call.”  Sorry for the sour grapes.Report

  8. Avatar wardsmith says:

    @Still: So eliminate the direct link between payroll and campaign contributions, Ward. Isn’t that enough? Surely you’re not going to say that people can’t financially support a party which promotes policies they benefit from, are you?

    @Liberty: The only benefit I can imagine is that it makes it more onerous for them; would they have to dun deadbeats, and what collateral do they have? The can’t fire those who refuse to pay, so in the end it makes dues essentially voluntary.

    This is corruption writ large. Just because it benefits /your/ team doesn’t make it any less so. I’ve already linked above to “lifeguards/ making $200K per year. Any of you make that kind of dough, lounging around on the beach ogling women? Any of you qualified professors have just a tinge of envy thinking about someone with a high school diploma (if that) making that kind of moolah?

    What has been going on for decades is a feedback loop wherein Democrats reward unions who in turn reward Democrats. The comparison can and should be made if you can show that Republicans reward a specific business who turns around and rewards the Republican. Unfortunately casting about, such as during the last presidential election cycle, Obama received far more from corporations such as (the obvious) GE and Exxon than McCain did. Meanwhile, even if a bridge to nowhere /were/ funded (it obviously wasn’t), is that this is largely a ONE TIME CHARGE! Unfortunately for those few present who actually understand actuarial arithmetic, putting a society on the hook for unfunded pensions is dramatically worse. General Motors and Crysler weren’t broke UNLESS you accounted for their unfunded pension liabilities (which the gov’t  dealt with). However, and this has been pointed out to the dullards on this site numerous times, the unfunded pensions of the US Gov’t and States are NOT accounted for properly (as would be required by LAW for a business). It is THOSE that we take umbrage with and rightly so. San Diego is merely the tip of the iceberg, how “solvent” is the US economy if the federal gov’t has to prop up 45 or so states massive debt? There simply isn’t enough tax revenue even if the wealth of the top 10% were confiscated completely (not income, total wealth). This is the problem!Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to wardsmith says:

      There simply isn’t enough tax revenue even if the wealth of the top 10% were confiscated completely (not income, total wealth). This is the problem!

      So let’s use that as a starting point Ward. I assume you’re willing to throw that into the batch of ‘cuts’ and ‘revisions’ that are required to get things back on track. So let’s confiscate the disposable income/wealth of the to 10%. How much further do we have to go?Report

      • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Stillwater says:

        @STill, we’re STILL talking about tens of trillions deficient.

        Since the regulation worshiping left wants more regs, we can start by retroactively deleting these illegally obtained contracts. The issue isn’t whether a teacher or policeman deserves a pension, the issue is does the cop I know in San Francisco DESERVE to be making $104K per year (plus another $40K in health benefits) when he retired a decade ago making only $78K?

        Maybe I’m in the top 10% and maybe they come and take my houses I legally purchased and paid off, just because they can. I could live with that if I could see a light at the end of the tunnel. On the other hand if it is just business as usual for the kleptocracy running things, then forget all about it. All I see so far is further kleptocracy and the left wingnuts cheering it on, as if they had a clue.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater in reply to wardsmith says:

          I’m on board with that Ward. I was just making a point about who’s gonna bear the burden during this readjustment. Too often – and I have to admit it always strikes me like needles piercing my tender cranial tissue – I hear people say that the ‘adjustments’ need to be borne exclusively by those that can least afford them: no more UI benies, welfare, Medicaid, Medicare, unions, voting-poor, etc.  As long as everyone agrees that ‘American Society’ has benefitted greatly from past successes (pretty clearly disproportionately!), and that ‘American Society’ needs to pull together to get back on track, then we do what we need to do. But lazy assertions that there is no money (because rich people find themselves in the unique position of not wanting to pay taxes), or that unions have destroyed America (aren’t you one of the people who claims that mutually agreed upon contracts voluntarily entered into are sovereign? maybe that’s Roger) leave me a bit jumpy.

          But on the other hand I don’t think the situation is as apocalyptic as you do, and I think (unlike you, so sorry about that) that there is an element of class warfare being perpetrated under the guise of ‘economic crisis’. Rich people continue to accrue incredible levels of wealth, and that stuff’s just sitting in banks (or wherever) like the cherry on a rotting cake. The reflexive refusal to think that their share of the burden is inconsequential (or counterproductive, or unjust!) strikes me as ideologically driven rather than empirically driven.

           Report

          • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Stillwater says:

            Rich people aren’t “unique” in not wanting to pay taxes. The so-called poor likewise have been known to neglect to report income, lie on tax forms, take illegal deductions and so on. But the difference is even though the IRS knows they’re doing it, they aren’t big enough fish to bother going after. Don’t tax you, don’t tax me, tax that feller behind that tree! Ring any bells for you? (Clue he was a Democrat.)

            As for union “voluntary” contracts, I’m not the one who made your statement, but it is prima facia evidence on the table that coercive contracts between corrupt politicians and corrupt unions are not valid in any court of law. Unions deliver cash and voters to the Democrats and the Democrats deliver (unfunded) benefits and unfireable jobs to those unions in return. Oh, and they collect their dues for them via payroll deductions so the unions don’t have to bother collecting them unlike every other business, club or society would. Not to mention that union members have NO SAY in how their dues are being spent.

            You and I can define Apocalypse differently. The riots in London will pale when compared to the riots we’ll see when the financial meltdown truly hits the fan. Think Mad Max across 150 countries.Report

            • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to wardsmith says:

              So, I take it you want all government contracts where the contractor gave any campaign contribution to be declared invalid as well?Report

              • Avatar Wardsmith in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                Does your contract go indefinitely? Because the pensions do.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Wardsmith says:

                They may not last forever in theory, but in reality, when was the last time Boeing or Lockheed Martin weren’t making something for the government?

                But yes, that’s the whole point of a pension. Give up some pay now, so you have a comfortable retirement. I realize that’s anathema to pay people decent wages and give them a decent retirement instead of cutting taxes, but I’m crazy that way.Report

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