Political Animal


March 24, 2013 9:31 PM Political Animal readers continue to stick it to “Fix the Debt”

By Samuel Knight

I have been overwhelmed - in the best possible way - by your responses to Fix the Debt’s appeal for stories about how the national debt is supposedly affecting American families.

Tim Marteny emailed saying he sent them a message entitled “Fix the Unemployment”:

Narrow the ever-widening wealth gap. Tax the wealthy, relieve the middle class, boost the elderly and the poor. Stimulate demand for good food, robust infrastructure, quality consumer goods and quality education rather than for a few more yachts.
The ensuing healthy economy will soon take care of the debt, as the marginally improving economy even now is starting to slowly shrink the debt.

Nancy Cadet had a similar take:

…the US problem is not enough revenue—and that can be resolved, not by debt and deficit fear mongering, but by stimulating the economy, creating more jobs,and taxing high earners at the Eisenhower administration rate and including capital gains and earned income at the regular wage income rate, as well as bringing in a “Robin Hood tax” on high speed multiple stock trades.

Grant Kid highlighted the deleterious effect “the debt” has had on infrastructure:

The debt is a terrible burden and has affected myself and my community in horrendous ways. The infrastructure in my city, state and country is crumbling. The “entitlement” funds, to which I have paid into throughout my 35-year working career, are in jeopardy of being weakened (or as proposed the Paul Ryan Budget Plan, abolished altogether). The food pantry across the street from my place of work, providing meals for those who have lost their jobs, is working at more than double than their intended capacity, and all of those dirty homeless people are scaring away my customers.

Tobie, who said that the debt doesn’t affect her/him “one iota” pointed out what won’t “Fix the Debt”:

One need only look at what’s happened in the UK, Spain, Ireland or Japan to know that austerity doesn’t work. It’s a funny thing but the more you cut, the more the debt grows, because your economy shrinks and people lose their jobs, which means less revenue for the government.

T-Rex commented that as a professor at a state university, s/he is feeling “the debt” significantly:

Well, “state” universities are “state” in name only these days, because states pinched by federal cutbacks have slashed funds to them, gleefully abetted by Republican governors and legislators who are convinced that universities are hotbeds of radical indoctrination and other such subversive ideas such as climatology and evolutionary biology. So, we have been forced to raise tuitions, which in turn has caused serious financial pain and debt to our students.
So, how is the debt affecting me? Because it provides the likes of Governor Snyder with an excuse to do what he wanted to do anyway, namely, gut public education. If you go on encouraging conservative politicians with your astroturf organization, you may succeed in making American students totally unable to compete in the global economy because you’ve destroyed one of the nation’s greatest strengths, its education system.

Briinhild had another comment about how “the debt” is affecting research institutions:

Under the sequester the National Institutes of Health will cut back funded grants by the thousands, slowing the pace of cancer research and the discovery of new diagnostics and treatments. Many more people will needlessly die agonizing deaths.
A lot of them will be children. Some day you will answer for the suffering and untimely deaths you brought upon those little angels, and all your extra cash from tax cuts will do nothing for you.

Biggerbox pointed out that “the debt” has rattled her/his confidence in civil society:

The Debt affects me by acting like an acid, eating away at the body politic of the land I love. Politicians, many of them the same men who threw away the Clinton surplus on foolish tax cuts and a pointless war of agression, use “the Debt” as an excuse to promote their attacks on our social safety net, and to defeat spending on the vital infrastructure improvements we need. Meanwhile, millions of hard-working men and women see an unfair tax system that allows wealthy oligarchs to prosper, while they must fight for every dime, an injustice that destroys their faith in a government “of the people, by the people, for the people.”

RaflW said much of the same:

Fixing the debt matters to me because far too many conservatives and Republicans have been demagoguing the debt for the past five years or so. Ohh, how these self-same conservatives have forgotten Karl Rove’s chant that “Deficits don’t matter,” and more to the point, our former VP, Dick Cheney said “Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter.”
The Debt matters in the short term only inasmuch as a propaganda tool to dismantle the great policy advances of the 20th century, the ones that built stability and general prosperity for the lower and middle classes.

Jack Gibson echoed this point, coming up with a nice turn of phrase at the end:

The debate over the debt is important because it serves to distract from real issues. Income inequality, global warming, lack of gun control, and expensive health care are issues which affect most Americans, including me and my family. But these real issues are ignored because of your “Fixation on the Debt”.

Mimikatz wrote to say that she told “Fix the Debt” much of the same:

I excoriated them under my own name for not only distracting DC away from real problems liike jobs and income inequality, but also making it impossible to cope with climate change

Yastreblyansky had a unique take: if the national debt actually did have a significant inflationary effect, it might benefit the staggering number of indebted Americans by lowering the real value of debt.

How does the debt affect me?
Not all that much, to tell you the truth. If the debt was driving up inflation rates the way it’s supposed to do that would be nice, as like most Americans I owe plenty of money and nobody owes me. But then it would be driving up interest rates and that wouldn’t be so great; on the other hand maybe the bank would be less dawdly about our refinance, which is seemingly taking forever and driving us crazy.

LaFollette Progressive said the national debt “has become a marketing gimmick for the people who are robbing this country blind — namely, you — to advocate for policies that hurt everyone else at your expense.”

Scum. The only word to describe you is scum.

Derek Todd added a comment to the same effect:

In 2008 the world economy was thrown into a crisis from which it is has not really emerged. Of course this affected my family in many ways. What has this got to do with the debt? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. What it does have to do with is the greed and sociopathic lies of organizations like yours. The jig is up gents.

Dweb pointed out that it “sure is fascinating that they don’t seem to make posts public isn’t it:” I agree. S/he also said:

Sorry guys. Sacrifice is needed, but its from you, and considering how much you make each year, the pain won’t be anywhere near as severe as the pound of flesh you are are trying to carve off my fanny for no good reason other than your own greed.

14All says that debt shouldn’t be a dirty word:

Yes, I have debt, and I’m glad I do.
Without it, I wouldn’t have a medical degree and be a licensed physician.
Without it, I wouldn’t own a home.
I will have debt when my stepson goes to college and we take out loans to help pay for it.
But you, and other ridiculously-transparent corporate-owned trolling organizations like to suggest that the U.S. government, effectively the world’s only superpower, should run its budget as if it were the average American family.
Guess what: the average American family knows that debt is worthwhile if it is an investment in our future. We know that, for example, it’s not worth paying off our mortgage early if it means our children starve to death.

Last, but certainly not least, Priscilla Bremser emailed with this:

Positively K Street
(with apologies to, and greater appreciation for, Bob Dylan)
You got a lotta nerve
To say “Let’s Fix the Debt”
Ten years ago
You were all for an invasion
You got a lotta nerve
To put Medicare under threat
While refusing to put Defense
In your equation
You say let’s cut tax rates
So our economy can grow
But we tried that, and all it did
was stifle and slow it
You say we need a broader “base”
To keep our tax rates low
While your own just keep on shrinking
And you know it
I know the reason
For your Astroturfing schemes:
Partner groups each with millions
From the same source
Do you take me for such a fool
To think I’d buy your memes
And allow you in your greed
To drag us on the wrong course
Just look what “austerity”
Has done to Britain and Spain
In London we now see
A second recession
CEO’s could pay your share
And not be a giant drain
But an indecent level of wealth
Is your true obsession
We should cancel the F-35
Fix our cities and our towns
Help older people,
Help children who are still growing
But your lobbyists
Hoopes and Wroe and Brown
Do the bidding of G.E.,
Lockheed, and Boeing
I wish that for just one time
You could stand inside the shoes
Of a worker on her feet all day
At minimum wage
Yes, I wish that for just one time
You could stand inside her shoes
Then you wouldn’t be eager to raise
The retirement age

I love it. Thanks, guys. It’s been a pleasure.

Samuel Knight is a freelance journalist living in DC and a former intern at the Washington Monthly.


  • zandru on March 24, 2013 11:02 PM:

    Thank YOU, Mr. Knight! Look at all the good you've done in just this weekend, by siccing a horde of angry liberal prose-masters on that astroturf zombie, "Fix the Debt".

    It was a great idea, and the results seem to have been excellent. Please do this again.

  • dp on March 24, 2013 11:48 PM:

    Priscilla Bremser is my hero!

  • dweb on March 25, 2013 11:37 AM:

    I got more....more user names and more e-mails and more comments.....like this:

    Hey guys....if you believe so strongly in your cause, one would think you would be making public the postings being submitted here. The fact that you don't might make us believe you aren't getting what you hoped for.

    Are you so afraid of the truth that you haven't got the courage to let site visitors see what people are really saying about your con game? How do we know that "our leaders in Washington" are going to hear what we are really saying? You wouldn't be so crass as to cherry pick the results would you?

    How about a list of donors to your cause, their affiliations, and the amounts they have given.....and that includes both individuals, corporations, PACs and any other scam astroturf organization paying for this PR debacle.

    Whassamatta? Chicken?

    I thought so.

  • smartalek on March 25, 2013 3:52 PM:

    If this hasn't already been done, it needs to be:
    Since we can have high confidence (read: "epistemic certainty") that a significant fraction (could it even be a majority?) of the submissions to "Fix the Debt" are never going to see the light of day thru the good offices of that site, it would be great if someone -- someone big enough to be noticeable -- could set up a shadow site seeking CCs of the submissions that people know will be censored.
    Make 'em *all* public, under a headline daring FTD to stop censoring the submissions they themselves solicited.
    I'd think the best candidate for doing this would be a consortium: this site, of course, plus Kos, atrios, ThinkProgress, Democratic Underground, HuffPo (if they'd deign to be involved)...
    For that matter, every site that actually cares about Americans, and what we think, really ought to have a piece of such a project... and help promote it.
    Anyone with decisionmaking power reading this?

  • Apinak on April 13, 2013 12:13 PM:

    The FixthedebtQA went from bad to worse on Twitter yesterday.