Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 4, 2010

THE WRONG ANSWER TO THE WRONG QUESTION.... As a rule the weekly addresses offered by President Obama and a Republican official aren't especially important. But yesterday's address from Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) was one of the weekend's more noteworthy developments.

This week offered new evidence that our fragile economic recovery is on very shaky ground. The monthly job totals from June were deeply disappointing. The real estate market continues to struggle badly. Reports on construction spending and manufacturing activity both disappointed.

It wasn't surprising, then, that the president's weekly address talked about the economy, with Obama trying to highlight some more encouraging developments, and talking up initiatives that will generate some new jobs.

But that's why Chambliss' GOP response is so striking. His articulation of the Republican message of the week sent an unmistakable signal about exactly what the minority party considers important right now.

"As the Declaration's parchment has yellowed with age, America has become a rich nation whose ideals and economy have been the envy of the world. We have faced down many enemies at home and abroad.

"But one of the most dangerous threats confronting America today doesn't come from without, but from within. And I'm talking about our national debt.

"Wisely, the Declaration's author, Thomas Jefferson, warned of this danger early on. As he once said, 'There does not exist an engine so corruptive of the government and so demoralizing of the nation as public debt. It will bring us more ruin at home than all the enemies from abroad against whom this Army and Navy are to protect us.' As usual, Jefferson was right.

"At a time when many Americans are clipping coupons and pinching pennies, President Obama and the Democrats in Congress continue to spend money that they -- we -- do not have."

Chambliss went on (and on) from there -- talking up the size of the debt, the debt burden per person, the debt growth per day, the debt as a proportion of every federal dollar spent, the expected rate of growth of the debt, interest on the debt, foreign financing of the debt, etc.

The key to America's continued greatness, Chambliss concluded, is to "secure America's fiscal future."

So, literally just one day after the release of the worst monthly jobs report since October, and with a genuine employment crisis undermining the economy, the official Republican message of the week is to talk about the debt -- a debt, by the way, that grew by $5 trillion during the Bush/Cheney era because of breathtaking Republican recklessness.

How many times did Chambliss mention the word "jobs"? Literally none. How many references were there to "unemployment"? Zero. What did Chambliss offer in terms of ideas to improve the economy? There weren't any -- he didn't talk about growing the economy at all.

The most important issue on the minds of Americans went completely ignored, because the GOP has decided a different issue matters more than the economy.

There are few things more important in American politics right now than the realization that Republican lawmakers have no intention of even trying to create jobs. As Chambliss helped demonstrate, by their own admission, Republicans believe strengthening the recovery isn't the goal; lowering the deficit they created is the goal.

Republicans aren't just offering the wrong answer; they're asking the wrong question.

Steve Benen 11:35 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (56)

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Comments

This fixation on the deficit does several things for Republicans. It distracts people from the fact that they have no solutions to offer for any actual problems, like unemployment, and it provides an easier-to-swallow reason for obstructing any legislation proposed by the Democrats.

When do you suppose the news media will get around to asking any of these deficit hawks what it is precisely they recommend being cut. And sorry, "10% across-the-board reduction" doesn't qualify as "precise."

Posted by: karen marie on July 4, 2010 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

"Republicans believe... lowering the deficit they created is the goal."

Even that gives the bastards too much credit. Their goal is to take power at any cost -- any cost to others.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on July 4, 2010 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

To lower the national debt, we could raise taxes. Maybe to the rates in existence during the Reagan administration. Just a thought.

Posted by: Tigershark on July 4, 2010 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

...by their own admission, Republicans believe strengthening the recovery isn't the goal; lowering the deficit they created is the goal.

The goal is election in the fall, and especially in 2012.

The steps they seek to address the deficit are such as to guarantee an increase in voter immiseration.

Voter immiseration equals anti-incumbency scapegoating.

And the Democrats hold both Houses, the White House, and a majority of State Houses.

Reducing the deficit is not the goal. The immiseration is the immediate goal. Gaining control of the government is the medium-term goal.

Control of the government means you get to write the regulations, you get to name the judges, you get to dictate tax policies, you get to direct spending, you get to set monetary policy…...and you get to deploy the apparatus of state security if anyone gets obstreperous.

Petty criminals snatch purses. Organized crime suborns accountants, cooks books, launders money.

This is organized crime at the nation-state level -- why drug the security guards when you can just have the legislature write larceny out of the statute books?

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on July 4, 2010 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

I suspect most people now have bought into the Republican meme that it's the deficit that's causing the high unemployment rate and the crappy economy. Hence, most people think that railing about the deficit is the same thing as addressing the unemployment crisis.

Unfortunately, it's hard to underestimate the ignorance of the American public.

Posted by: Walldon on July 4, 2010 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

Macroeconomics and microeconomics have different names because they are different. The Republicans play into every family's attempt to deal with their personal debt by eating more Spam and less steak by conflating it with national debt. They are not the same thing.

As long as the Republicans get away with convincing the public that because they are cutting expenses to get out of debt the government must, the Repugs have a hot button. The Dems either need to try to disbuse the public of this non-quivalence or use it to their advantage..one way to get out of debt is to lower your standard of living by cutting out steak and eating Spam (austeriy, cutting programs), another is to get a better job that pays more (stimulus, GDP growth, taxing the rich) and allows you to maintain standards while paying off debt.

Posted by: Mudge on July 4, 2010 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

"lowering the deficit they created is the goal."
Bullshit. Destroying Social Security in order to fund the Bush tax cuts forever is their goal.

Posted by: Bloix on July 4, 2010 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Hope everyone can find something to CELEBRATE THIS GREAT NATION'S FOUNDING.

Posted by: steve on July 4, 2010 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

I suggest LOADING UP YOUR TV WITH YOUR FAVORITE VIDEO and letting it numb your brain some more.

Posted by: steve on July 4, 2010 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Somebody ought to immediately ask Chambliss and every other Republican if that means they're willing to let Bush's tax cuts expire right now. Any other answer than "yes" should be greeted with derisive laughter.

Posted by: markg8 on July 4, 2010 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

markg8 - won't matter - THEY DRINK THE KOOL-AID AND ENJOY IT

Posted by: steve on July 4, 2010 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

The Republican goal was to bankrupt the government in order to justify shutting down social spending and make the government small enough to drown it in a bathtub. All this scare-mongering about the deficit is merely the second phase of that plan. Transferring all the money to their friends and themselves was mostly just a convenient side-benefit.

Posted by: N.Wells on July 4, 2010 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

Paul Krugman is scaring the s--t out of me with his dire predictions for our tanking economy. Is nobody listening????

Myths of Austerity

Posted by: msmolly on July 4, 2010 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

Is nobody listening????

Listening, but not hearing.

Deficitmania at this point is a purely theological argument, based on the eternal truths of the revealed religion, Marketolatry.

You can't refute a religion with facts. In fact, the greater the gap between the facts and the position held by the believer, the more tenaciously he will hold it, because the greater the faith, the greater the merit.

In the middle ages you refuted them with a pile of kindling, a stake, and a medieval box of medieval kitchen matches.

Things were simpler then.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on July 4, 2010 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, your cynical take on the response by Chambliss simply isn't... cynical enough. Couple of points to keep in mind as you watch the Republicans fight for debt reduction:
1. Dick Cheney's infamous quote: "Reagan proved that deficits don't matter". Unless you're the opposition party, apparently;
2. If you spend all of the government's money while you're in power, there won't be any left over for those pesky social programs like social security, medicare or unemployment benefits.

What possible motive does the GOP have for helping the Dems succeed in creating more jobs and a stronger economy? To help the Americans they supposedly serve? Get real...

Posted by: Kiweagle on July 4, 2010 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

"At a time when many Americans are clipping coupons and pinching pennies, President Obama and the Democrats in Congress continue to spend money that they -- we -- do not have."

And who exactly are these "many Americans"? Obviously Chambliss is not clipping coupons or pinching pennies, so how can he speak collectively for "we"? Where was this dumb fuck when his party was spending money "we" didn't have and has added to deficit spending and the debt, that must now be carried forward into the future? How'd that taxy cutty and spendy thingy work out?

Posted by: flyonthewall on July 4, 2010 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

I think Republican deficit/debt talk is just the new phase of welfare-bashing. The idea is that when Obama became president he spent a lot of money he didn't really have to give people free stuff -- but not you. (In contrast to the Bush deficit, which was spoken of as "giving you your own money back," rather than benefiting _other_ people.) Thus to solve the deficit involves cutting spending... for projects that benefit the less-well-off (i.e., black people and Mexicans). This is also why there's been such callousness from the Angle/Paul wing of the party about how there's work to be found unless you're lazy.

Posted by: FlipYrWhig on July 4, 2010 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

This is the same old show...and did anyone really expect them to confront the facts, speak the truth and offer up reasonable strategies in correcting our current economic problems? Of course not...All that the Republicans are capable of doing is exploiting the moment for a calculated power grab using the same old sing-song bullshit they have plied for years...and a good portion of the media, along with a wide berth of a certain segment of society gladly will jump on that wagon at a moments notice.

Posted by: Benmerc on July 4, 2010 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Ok. Ok. I hear the Republicans' message of concern over the debt, but I have yet to hear their plan for what to do about the lack of jobs and the enemployed. Are they planning to start soup lines and stimulate the economy by an expansive building program for more homeless shelters? Will they agree to fund that? Of course not. The debt! Maybe someone should suggest that they each take in a homeless and jobless person or family until things turn around with their party's austarity push. After all, with us being a Christian nation as they so frequently insist, it would be the Christian thing for each Republican to do. McCain certainly has the space. Maybe he can lead the way.

Posted by: sparrow on July 4, 2010 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

A piece in this week's New Yorker outlines how the majority of people have little knowledge of finance, personal, national, or global. It's therefore not a stretch to say that people also know little about either the economy or economics. Ignorance is the devil's playroom, and the Rethugs are well acquainted with the levers of fear and propaganda. Reckless spenders when they are in power, fearsome deficit hawks when they're not is just another example of situational principles: I'm for something until I'm against it, etc. Until more people pay attention, this will continue and take the country down with it.

Posted by: rrk1 on July 4, 2010 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think nearly enough is being said about the obviousness of this part of the neoconservative / movement-conservative agenda. This is what the flipside of overspending to exacerbate the government's obligations in order to scale back government itself looks like. Neither Chambliss' comments nor their timing should be at all surprising: they fit well within the "government is the problem" model, and should be anticipated responses from adherents to that model.

The question at this point is how to refute those arguments. The simplest approach is to continue to highlight how much of the obligation Chambliss et al denounce is product of their own policies.

It would also be useful to point out that the policies Chambliss requires were in place ten years ago - and were promptly eliminated when GWB assumed the presidency; if the debt is truly so important, then we have a proven set of tools for dealing with it, which the GOP has consistently prevented the US from using.

Posted by: boatboy_srq on July 4, 2010 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Chambliss elided an important part of Jefferson's full statement:

"... cease borrowing money and to pay off the national debt. If this cannot be done without dismissing the army and putting the ships out of commission, haul them up high and dry and reduce the army to the lowest point at which it was ever established. There does not exist an engine so corruptive ..."

In other words, one should be prepared to shrink the size of the army to help reduce the debt. If Chambliss want to cite Jefferson in support of his agenda, he should do so more fully.

Posted by: quirp on July 4, 2010 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

I just saw Naill Ferguson on GPS. He disagrees with Krugman on most economic issues as usual.
I am sure there is some truth in what all economists say. The problem is that they are so sure of what they know until next year when their predictions turn out to be half right. Of course they only recall the good part.

Posted by: hornblower on July 4, 2010 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

No one should ever forget: these guys are running the long con. The pattern should be clear to everyone by now: take power, trash everything, then when the voters get pissed about the mess you've made and kick your asses out, sit on the sidelines and bitch about how the other guys aren't cleaning up the mess you made fast enough. After 30 years you'd think people would catch on, but as rrk1 notes, not enough people pay attention and have attention spans of significantly less than one or two years.

This being Independence Day, I'm going to celebrate my freedom to blogwhore this post about what "freedom" and "patriotism" might actually mean, since it's pretty good if I say so myself. If we could all get on the same page with repeating these conclusions enough, it might make a dent in the vast wasteland of stupid out there.

Posted by: Jennifer on July 4, 2010 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Tax the rich @90% like we used to. The National debt will decrease with increase GNP!

Posted by: MLJohnston on July 4, 2010 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

It's simple: A group of people have a bill to pay, so they take up a collection. Everything else doesn't directly pay the bill, but draws from the future revenue stream. Let's say the group wants to build a Church. Instead of having bake sales (doing work) Saxby Chambliss wants the group to build a smaller and smaller Church, more cramped by the day. What the government builds, whether infrastructure, defense, services, is what America has decided to build together as a group. Republicans appeal to greed. It's better to keep the money in your pocket, they say, than to pay your dues and help create an America we can be proud of.

Posted by: Keeping Track on July 4, 2010 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

It's notable that the Left have decided to pretend that it is settled fact that deficit spending "creates jobs". All recent evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.

Posted by: a on July 4, 2010 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

a,
Uhm, care to site even ONE example? Even one from some discredited clown on FOX would be nice. Something that has some accepted facts, not excepted facts?
Keynsian economics is complicated. A lot more complicated than "Trickle Down." Read up on it "a." Maybe then you can get to b,c d, etc... in your thinking.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on July 4, 2010 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

You're partially correct, a. Not all deficit spending creates jobs. Notably, the deficit spending most favored by Republicans didn't create jobs; failing to pay for the Medicare prescription drug benefit while at the same time blocking the government from negotiating for better prices ensured that instead of "creating jobs" the program would function as a transfer of wealth from the taxpayers to pharmaceutical company shareholders and executives.

Similarly, cutting rich people's taxes by a few percent was never going to create jobs and despite what you were told and believed, it was never intended to. If my taxes on income over $200,000 were 91% before taxes were cut and are only 70% after they were cut, every additional dollar I earn is worth 3 times as much to me as it was before the tax cut, which is a pretty powerful incentive to invest so I can earn more. If my taxes were 36% before the cut and 33% after the cut, every additional dollar I earn over that $200K is worth only another 10% to me - not much of an incentive for investment. It wasn't intended as such - it was intended to transfer wealth from you to me.

Also, no-bid contracts for Blackwater and Halliburton weren't intended to create jobs; they were intended to help favored companies make more money without competing in a free market. The intent was to transfer wealth from you to them, not to create jobs.

In fact, that doubling of the national debt that Bush accomplished in only 8 years - none of that was intended to create jobs; all of it was intended to transfer wealth to people who already had the lion's share of it. How do I know? By looking at the results. Not one net job created in 8 years, while a much larger portion of wealth flowed to the already wealthy.

This ain't rocket science. There is a parallel here to family budgeting: if mom blows all the money on designer clothing or if dad blows it on a boat, neither of which are necessities, the family will not be able to save up what they need to make a downpayment on a house, which is a long-term investment. There are smart ways and stupid ways to spend money. The Bush administration did a lot of stupid spending; the Obama administration has done a lot of smart spending, much of it necessary because of the stupid spending Bush did. Only a moron such as yourself would belief that the best way to respond to the threat of a depression, where too little money is circulating, is to make sure even less money is circulating.

Posted by: Jennifer on July 4, 2010 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

You're partially correct, a. Not all deficit spending creates jobs. Notably, the deficit spending most favored by Republicans didn't create jobs; failing to pay for the Medicare prescription drug benefit while at the same time blocking the government from negotiating for better prices ensured that instead of "creating jobs" the program would function as a transfer of wealth from the taxpayers to pharmaceutical company shareholders and executives.

Similarly, cutting rich people's taxes by a few percent was never going to create jobs and despite what you were told and believed, it was never intended to. If my taxes on income over $200,000 were 91% before taxes were cut and are only 70% after they were cut, every additional dollar I earn is worth 3 times as much to me as it was before the tax cut, which is a pretty powerful incentive to invest so I can earn more. If my taxes were 36% before the cut and 33% after the cut, every additional dollar I earn over that $200K is worth only another 10% to me - not much of an incentive for investment. It wasn't intended as such - it was intended to transfer wealth from you to me.

Also, no-bid contracts for Blackwater and Halliburton weren't intended to create jobs; they were intended to help favored companies make more money without competing in a free market. The intent was to transfer wealth from you to them, not to create jobs.

In fact, that doubling of the national debt that Bush accomplished in only 8 years - none of that was intended to create jobs; all of it was intended to transfer wealth to people who already had the lion's share of it. How do I know? By looking at the results. Not one net job created in 8 years, while a much larger portion of wealth flowed to the already wealthy.

This ain't rocket science. There is a parallel here to family budgeting: if mom blows all the money on designer clothing or if dad blows it on a boat, neither of which are necessities, the family will not be able to save up what they need to make a downpayment on a house, which is a long-term investment. There are smart ways and stupid ways to spend money. The Bush administration did a lot of stupid spending; the Obama administration has done a lot of smart spending, much of it necessary because of the stupid spending Bush did. Only a moron such as yourself would belief that the best way to respond to the threat of a depression, where too little money is circulating, is to make sure even less money is circulating.

Posted by: Jennifer on July 4, 2010 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

quirp picked up on the hidden irony in Chambliss' quote of Jefferson.

Jefferson was opposed to a standing army and navy, and his argument against debt was a strategic element of his opposition to standing forces, especially a navy.

Our current large debt is precisely the result of the GOP's huge spending on our military, going back to Reagen's un-funded defense build-up and grossly aggrieved by Bush's two simultaneous wars in Asia.

So Chambliss is utterly and rather foolishly misusing the Jefferson quote. In attempting to prove Jefferson's support of modern GOP talking points, he's actually underlined how very far the GOP is from Jeffersonian values. The quote is actually an indictment of the GOP.

Posted by: Jon on July 4, 2010 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

Well, *obviously* the Reagan-Republican fix would be to further cut taxes on the rich, and, oh yes, outsource more jobs overseas. You can see the effect *that* would have on the deficit & debt!

Yep, time to put them back in charge of the guvmint. Speedy results will follow.

Posted by: Raven on July 4, 2010 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with about all the posts here...but they miss the point. You need a positive "morning in America" message. Hey, we made it through the dark of the night and now's the time to invest in our infrastructure, our climate, our children so they can really shine in the bright day. To be at the forefront of technology, to have the roads and rails, seaways and bridges in place for commerce, broadband access across our country, strong schools and police and fire departments essential for strong communities, to have a healthy populace and workforce with their entrepreneurial spirit unleashed, to have a healthy environment with safe watersheds and vibrant bayous, to have all this we need to invest in our country now. To have new industries and more jobs, to be the world's leader, to be that shining beacon calling everyone to be their better selves where we can work together building a better world for everyone, to be the model of stewardship we need to invest in our country now....

you get the idea (and feel free to steal anything I post--though I've not check it with Bartlett's)

But these need to be the points Democrats need to press home all the time--and be on message. As for those lily-livered, #$^$%^$%, duplicitous "oh I'm afraid of the deficit now" ninnies, let the attack dogs call them out.

The wonks, and more than just Krugman, need to stress the difference between structural deficits and investing in our future. Indeed the investment now can be paid off, at least in part, by overhauling our subsidies to agriculture and oil and...that will be phased in over 5 years. End the Bush tax cuts, but extend (most of) Obama's. Strongly support Gates in his moves to end nonsense Defense weapons systems, with those savings going to help our troops, Darpa and Homeland Security, and reduce the deficit. And for Homeland security, I'd focus on Coast Guard and FEMA.

ok, so I've gone on too long...

Posted by: golack on July 4, 2010 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

"We have faced down many enemies at home and abroad".

The GOP has no qualms declaring fellow Americans to be domestic enemies-- they never have. And make no mistake about it, that's what Saxby is doing here. They also believe the term 'class warfare' is a talisman that wards off truth-tellling.

And mush minded, and mushed mouth democrats just sit there and take it, year in and year out.

Posted by: JL on July 4, 2010 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

Wrong wrong wrong. Wrong.
Right question, wrong time. The smug condemnation is another sucker's play. It makes the smug look like they are too stupid, greedy and lazy to understand debt is a problem.

"On date x we will eliminate the deficit through revenue y, cuts z, and restore the good balance sheet we creates and gave to the republicans, who promptly stole social security to shift wealth from the middle class to the rich. First, we will get the middle class back to work because it is right and it is necessary".

See the difference? Get out of the Village more.

Posted by: Razor on July 4, 2010 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

This country was founded on debt. To get it running Hamilton issued tons of debt. Just because the TeaPublicans like hurting the poor is no reason to vote for them

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on July 4, 2010 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

Saxby Chambliss is the sleaebaggiest douche among all of the sleazebaggy douche GOBPs in the senate.

He got elected by questioning the patriotism of a quadriplegic Vietnam vet, Max Cleland.

If I believed in hell, I'd really be hoping that the whole bunch of them rot there.

I hate those people.

Posted by: efgoldman on July 4, 2010 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

OK, so... I'm mad as hell that Republicans are going to ruin our economy. What am I supposed to do about it?

Maybe I'll call Shelby and Sessions' offices on Tuesday morning. I'm sure they'll be happy to hear a constituent's view on the issue.

Posted by: Equal Opportunity Cynic on July 4, 2010 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

"Republicans believe strengthening the recovery isn't the goal; lowering the deficit they created is the goal."

I beg to differ. Lowering the deficit is not the goal (as evidenced by their continued support for wasteful defense spending, wasteful agricultural subsidies, continuing the war in Afghanistan, permanently eliminating the inheritance tax for inheritances greater than $7,000,000, and fighting to prevent any portion of the Bush tax cuts from expiring). Their goal is returning all power to corporate America.

Posted by: Chris on July 4, 2010 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Raise Tariffs like a motherfucker!!!

If you want access to the largest market in the world you gotta buy a ticket.

Posted by: Fed Up and Tired on July 4, 2010 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

This is the GOP I knew when I was growing up in the Midwest. Government existed to protect wealth, not to redistribute it or provide a safety net for those who had failed to exercise personal responsibility. Government debt was bad because it led to higher taxes -- and that was bad because those higher taxes would be paid mostly by the wealthiest.

We'll hear more of this as the election approaches. And what we'll hear is that government debt is tantamount to personal debt that reduces your spendable income because you're paying higher taxes. There's a sound counter-argument, but Democrats lack the courage to make it.

Posted by: James Conner on July 4, 2010 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

Starve the beast and Shock Doctrine at the same time. Tear up govt in the name of fiscal discipline, and damn the consequences. Despicable.

Posted by: DNS on July 4, 2010 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

Gee, I seem to recall that when it was suggested that we'd never previously financed a war, much less two, without raising taxes for it, that Chambliss and his GOP buddies were aghast that someone would be so unpatriotic as to suggest we might need to pay for Afghanistan and Iraq. And that's before we even get to the Bush tax cut or the Medicare Part D scams they ran.

In other words, when Chambliss and the GOP leadership in Congress make a shameful apology for flushing the Clinton surplus down the toilet, and offer to resign from office because their stewardship of the federal budget during the Bush years got us into this mess, THEN I will listen to them braying about the deficit as a threat.

Until then, I say, with feeling, STFU already, Senator.

Posted by: biggerbox on July 4, 2010 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

Most conservatives consider Jefferson an economic illiterate with his fear about banks and the financial elites. Alexander Hamilton is cosidered the father of American capitalism by conservatives and Hamilton said a national debt "is a national blessing."

And the reason for this is that capital should never be treated as some finite entity of value in and of itself -- which is why tying the availability of capital to the amount of gold you have is so ludicrous. Capital is simply a fuel that allows economic activity to occur, that permits markets of buyers and sellers, and which unlocks economic potential.

And with 10 percent of our workers and consumers sitting idly on the sideline, pouring more capital into the economy (and yes, raising our deficit) also creates wealth -- not inflation. That's because inflation is too many dollars chasing too few goods; but deficit spending to put people to work also creates more goods and services, reducing inflationary pressures.

Republicans are fear-mongering on the deficit because they know people are using their own experience as their families have to tighten their belt as the measure for judging the economy as a whole. But macro-economics and federal fiscal policy is a whole different animal from home economics. CCheney is actually right, for once: deficits don't really matter, not by themselves taken out of context. What matters is economic resources and potential. And we've got lots of that being unused at the moment.

Why is it that Republicans and conservatives instinctively understand that when the capital markets seize up and there are no buyers and sellers for stocks, bonds and other financial instruments, that the way to get Wall Street unstuck is to flood it with liqudity -- to go into debt.

Yet when it comes to the real world where you and I make a living, conservatives want to take that lovely word "liquidity" and turn it into something dark and sinister called "debt."

Republican fear-mongering on the deficit is about politics, not economics, since economics demand that we go further into debt right now to bring down the unemployment rate, increase the number of consumers, and put factories and small businesses back to work. We can worry about our debt levels later. The proof of this is that Republicans don't care at all about increasing the deficit -- just so long as tax cuts are the culprits rather than direct government expenditure, but in terms of its economic impacts the two are entirely identical. The only difference is ideological and political.

Posted by: Ted Frier on July 4, 2010 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

"Chambliss went on (and on) from there -- talking up the size of the debt, the debt burden per person, the debt growth per day, the debt as a proportion of every federal dollar spent, the expected rate of growth of the debt, interest on the debt, foreign financing of the debt, etc." I studied these issues when I was in college. Some said we were at tne "end of times". That was 1968. I get tired of that rhetoric.

Posted by: lk on July 4, 2010 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

clearly electing obama was a huge mistake. he is a naive twit with not the vision, the maturity, or the skills to tackle the unprecedented catastrophes that bush encumbered on the nation or the ability to take advantage of the unprecedented opportunities that those bush/republican catastrophes presented to right the nation for the long haul.

Now that obama owns bush's catastrophes without coming close to fixing any of them, and in fact exasperating many of them, about all that is left is the republicans further destroying the nation (with obama's and vichy dem help) enabling (hopefully) a true cleaning of the government's house can occur sometime in the distant future.

Posted by: zoot on July 4, 2010 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

@ zoot

...in fact exasperating many of them...(emphasis added)

Clearly you went to the same English class as her Palinness

Posted by: efgoldman on July 4, 2010 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

This of course, from the out of touch Chambliss, after the Republicans --through the ubiquitous and suntanned John Boehner, offered to raise the every day working person's retirement age to 70, and Republicans voted against the extension of life-saving unemployment benefits to cash strapped families, likely nearing foreclosure--blocking that extension for the 3rd time-- and, in a most horrid way, Republicans dissed America's veterans, as they blocked aid to homeless veterans and their families.

Yeah, get real. The GOP does not at all care about America, working families, or the economy.

Tanned, relaxed, and recently outed as hardly working --John Boehner --as former colleague Scarborough suggests that the Republican Majority Leader is lazy-- Boehner is the unpleasant looking, spoiled, vacationing out of touch poster boy for the Republican Party.

Next Republicans will be voting against or blocking food stamps for the poor, the unemployed, and the homeless.

Posted by: Remember this in November on July 4, 2010 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

"Republicans believe... lowering the deficit they created is the goal."

Fat chance. Republicans believe that sending America back into recession (or even Great Depression II) will return them to power in November and / or 2012.

Millions of Americans losing their jobs and retirement? Unfortunate, but necessary, collateral damage.

Posted by: Alan on July 4, 2010 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK

As every recent poll I've seen concerning the economy has "jobs" listed as the primary concern of everyone, employed or not, Senator Chambliss is apparently continuing the fine Republican tradition of being completely clueless about the real world.
I have a suggestion: have the Democrats in the House introduce a cap-and-trade bill. Insure that the certificates sell at a profit to the government; after all, this IS a capitalist country, isn't it? Then split the government's share; about 20% should provide enough to subsidize low-income people affected by higher utility prices and another 20% can be used for grants to increase energy conservation. Then apply the remaining 60% against the deficit.
It seems practicable to me and if it passed it would kill two birds with one stone: shut up the faux deficit hawks AND provide further income for government spending at a time when it is deserately needed.
Of course, we can raise the limits on SS taxes and increase the income tax marginal rates as well...

Posted by: Doug on July 4, 2010 at 8:54 PM | PERMALINK

reagan said deficits dont matter. how could reagan [and dick cheney] have been wrong?

yes. snark.

Posted by: Kill Bill on July 4, 2010 at 9:16 PM | PERMALINK

It is hard to believe that the discussion when Bush took office was about the evils that would ensue if we actually paid down the debt entirely, as we were then in a position to do. Thanks, Dubya and Rs generally for your wonderful gift of the biggest tax reduction in US history that completed the evisceration of the federal budget that Reagan began. [Yes, I know, the budget was in deficit before Reagan, but never before had people willingly run deficits as a matter of course, even as a matter of policy, to "Starve the Beast," and lead people like Cheney to claim that "Reagan proved that deficits don't matter," lol. What a group of unmentionables!

Posted by: Sam W on July 4, 2010 at 11:29 PM | PERMALINK

Mike K: "I know you will block this but you are so clueless about the economy and what would work you should be in Obama's administration instead of writing this fluff."

Well, your comment hasn't been blocked, so you're paranoid on that count. And I suppose you're going to spew some failed conservative economic mythology fluff of your own? Faulty conservative economic philosophy largely got us where we are, conservative obstructionism is keeping us there longer than we have to be, and you imply you've got all the economic answers? Conservatives are in no position to be critical. Of anything. And they shouldn't be allowed near the economy anytime soon, if ever.

Posted by: Varecia on July 5, 2010 at 12:56 AM | PERMALINK

The same crappy products that are being sold at Sears are also sold at the dollar stores. Raising tariffs on imported goods is the only way to force jobs back into the united states.

Posted by: Fed Up and Tired on July 5, 2010 at 7:14 AM | PERMALINK

"There does not exist an engine so corruptive of the government and so demoralizing of the nation as a public debt. It will bring on us more ruin at home than all the enemies from abroad against whom this army and navy are to protect us.
What interest have we in keeping ships in service in the Pacific Ocean? To protect a few speculative adventurers in a commerce dealing in nothing in which we have an interest. As if the Atlantic & Mediterranean were not large enough for American capital! As if commerce and not agriculture was the principle of our association!"

The folks at the Chamber of Commerce are going to love that quote--written in 1816, when Honest Tom was so hopelessly in debt that he was selling off his children to pay for his wine bills.

You've got to be dumb or desperate to quote the Old Fraud anymore--everything he says, given context, blows up in your face.

Posted by: Steve Paradis on July 5, 2010 at 8:20 AM | PERMALINK

...at least they're off the goldbug stuff...for now any ways...

Slavish devotion to wrong ideas has always been society's greatest challenge. I don't see much reason to think we will be any better able to meet it this time than all of the previous times, from WWII to the Civil War to just about any other senseless conflict in our past....

Posted by: Jim Pharo on July 5, 2010 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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