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August 23, 2011 8:35 AM Understanding the politics of the debt

By Steve Benen

CBS News went to some effort yesterday to promote this piece from CBS White House correspondent Mark Knoller: “National debt has increased $4 trillion under Obama.” That’s a shame; the piece is woefully devoid of context and meaningful details.

The latest posting by the Treasury Department shows the national debt has now increased $4 trillion on President Obama’s watch.

The debt was $10.626 trillion on the day Mr. Obama took office. The latest calculation from Treasury shows the debt has now hit $14.639 trillion.

It’s the most rapid increase in the debt under any U.S. president.

When adjusted for inflation, and when looking at the deficit as a percentage of the larger economy, that’s not quite right.

But, really, that’s just the start of the problem with Knoller’s analysis. The piece doesn’t mention, for example, that the debt increase “on President Obama’s watch” includes a $1.3 trillion deficit that was sitting on his desk the day he took office, left there by Bush/Cheney.

Knoller tells readers that the White House “blames policies inherited from his predecessor’s administration for the soaring debt,” but doesn’t tell readers whether the White House’s claims are true or false — Knoller just passes them along without any scrutiny or context.

In this case, when the White House blames policies Obama inherited, the White House happens to be telling the truth. Information from an image like this one offers a more complete picture for the public:

For that matter, it also matters which administration’s policies are driving the debt. Here’s another image that provides context Knoller’s piece did not.

And even after we take all of these facts under consideration, there’s another angle that often goes overlooked: must this additional debt necessarily be deemed a bad thing?

Looking back over the last several years, we can say definitively that Republicans were entirely responsible for the nation’s fiscal mess. But given the larger circumstances, we can also say with confidence that it makes a lot of sense for the Obama administration to run large deficits: he inherited a brutal recession that required expensive federal intervention and led to low revenues, as well as two ongoing foreign wars, which his predecessor never even tried to pay for. Of course the president is running large deficits; trying to eliminate them now would make an economic catastrophe even worse.

Knoller’s piece doesn’t provide any of this information. It’s a bit of a mess.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.

Comments

  • c u n d gulag on August 23, 2011 8:42 AM:

    CONTEXT matters!

    And, unfortunately, too many other MSM outlets do what FOX, the WSJ, and the radio yappers do - they pull numbers, often legitimate numbers, and lay them out before the public without explaining their context.

    This is better that making stuff up, which they also do.
    But, it's still very misleading.

    But it takes time and effort to understand something so you can properly explain it to others.

    And who's got the time, if the effort's not required? but the Editors and Publishers/Producers?
    Better MSM, please!

  • Anonymous on August 23, 2011 8:44 AM:

    We are here simply because of the Bush Tax Cuts of '01 and '03, combined with two instigated wars whose costs were so inhibitive they were kept off the books, and a not-paid-for senior drug program that has taken too much from the public coffers for the benefit of big pharm!

    But who needs context?

    Oh, and Knoller, perhaps, didn't mention any of this because one of the simplest fixes is to let the Bush Tax Cuts expire, and better yet, let them expire on the uber-rich alone!

    Is Knoller shilling for the uber-rich? -Kevo

  • flyonthewall on August 23, 2011 8:48 AM:

    Republicans memories only date back to election day 2008. Just read a piece here in WV local paper basically saying the same jibberish. They too blamed Obama for FY2009 budget deficit, along with some other figures that were off the mark, so fly posted the facts.

    http://www.journal-news.net/page/content.detail/id/566435/Deficit-crisis.html?nav=5003

  • Holmes on August 23, 2011 8:49 AM:

    I suspect Knoller knew exactly what he was doing. If not, he is way too ignorant to have that position.

  • RepublicanPointOfView on August 23, 2011 8:54 AM:

    I enjoy seeing Benen tilting at windmills!

    We have our narrative. Obama created all of the deficits! We are sticking with our narrative.

    Our corporately owned media will continue in their functions as message amplifiers and echo chambers for our republican messages.

    Get over it Benen! Our narrative will win because that is what the Amerikan Sheeple will continue to be told. Facts are inconsequential!

  • DAY on August 23, 2011 8:58 AM:

    use ta be dat reportin' da news was an agenda, all by its self.

  • Mac on August 23, 2011 9:00 AM:

    Knoller is being lazy in the worst sort of way (because his laziness is cloaked as analysis). It's like saying, "Under Obama CO2 concentrations have risen faster than under any other president. Whether true or not, this kind of statement is meaningless.

    What were the policy changes that Obama initiated that cost so much money? How much do recessions typically cost? Why? How big was the last recession in comparison?

    If someone is finger pointing at deficits, but not addressing any of those questions (which are the bare minimum that need to be asked), then they are a hack. Pure and simple.

  • Goldilocks on August 23, 2011 9:05 AM:

    Mood swings are common in politics, but this kind of story is just so depressing - and typical.

    It generates a mood where throwing in the towel seems the only option. If the fact-deniers are so keen to run the show, why stop them? They made a mess the last time, they will make a bigger mess the next time, and they'll convince themselves that their new mess is the greatest success story ever.

    I say: let them have it. In the end you have to give screaming kids their toys if you want to have your life back.

  • berttheclock on August 23, 2011 9:05 AM:

    As anonymous points out, much of the war debt under Bush was kept off the books. The Obama Administration brought this into the open, but, as a result they get slammed for that "debt creation" as though it, suddenly, was caused by Obama on January 21, 2008.

    This has become a major talking point by the Heritage Foundation and used by the rest of the RepuGs.

  • Peter Pitchford on August 23, 2011 9:10 AM:

    Here is a summary in text of the second chart that I wrote for my facebook status.


    Policy changes that effected the deficit - a comparison by the Congressional Budget Office and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
    Bush 2002-2009
    $1469 billion Iraq, Afghanistan wars
    $1812 billion Bush tax cuts ($1.812 trillion)
    $608 billion Non-defense discretionary spending
    $224 billion Tarp and other bailouts
    $180 billion Medicare drug benefit
    $773 billion 2008 stimulus and other changes
    Total:$5.07 Trillion

    Obama 2009-2017 (including projections)
    $711 billion Stimulus spending
    $278 billion Non-defense discretionary spending
    $425 billion Stimulus tax cuts
    $152 billion Health reform and entitlement changes
    Total: $1.44 Trillion

    These figures show that $5.07 trillion dollars of the deficit is the result of Bush's policies and if Obama completes two terms, his policies will have created $1.44 trillion. Obama's health reform and entitlement changes will have created only a $152 billion deficit

    The Bush tax cuts alone are $370 billion more than ALL the deficit spending that is projected for Obama if he gets 2 terms. ($1.812 trillion compared to $1.44 trillion)

  • walt on August 23, 2011 9:14 AM:

    Obama didn't do enough, either through direct action or persuasion to address the real crisis. That said, the current narratives parroted by the oligarchy's media servants show that he had a very limited window in which to get something or anything done before it slammed shut.

    I hate being conspiratorial about things. I want to hold Obama's feet to the fire for being so cautious and bipartisan. But from all appearances, it seems that our ruling class is not only decadent, it's greedier than anytime since the 1920s. It won't rest until it has everything. And the cruelest irony is that at least half this country's middle class is fully on board with them - damnable fools who will get what they deserve.

  • ckelly on August 23, 2011 9:18 AM:

    Damn corporate-owned, slavish lapdog to the uber rich, white men elite "liberal" media.

  • thisdave on August 23, 2011 9:44 AM:

    Lazy psuedo-journalism that would earn an 8th grader a C- in civics class. Some CBS executive must have suffered an attack of market share palpitations, and said "I know. Let's get Knoller on it."

  • sparky on August 23, 2011 9:47 AM:

    I have republican/tea party friends who spout this crap to me almost daily. I can just about count on receiving at least one or two of what I refer to as chain emails that originated in the bowels of the Heritage foundation everyday. The people that forward this stuff are not inbred half-wit yokels, they're college educated people who are on the cusp of social security and medicare. They live on a diet of talking points from fox news and talk radio; the big lies for the week become their truths and they ARE NOT INTERESTED in considering any logical arguments to the contrary. They're susceptable to the same propaganda as those half-wit inbred yokels that we all wish were the core of the right wing. They have let the uber right wing define their politics for them and they're simply too intellectually lazy to seek the truth. On those rare ocassions when the mass media presents the unvarnished truth they stay in denial because they've been conditioned (by faux news, talk radio, and those mysterious chain emails) to believe that the mass media is a liberal tool that cannot be trusted.

  • Lee Gibson on August 23, 2011 9:58 AM:

    Knoller is a hack and a long-time GOP sympathizer. His "reporting" should always be taken with several shakers of salt.

  • Missouri Mule on August 23, 2011 10:07 AM:

    The best response ever to Knoller's hackery was on Twitter when the debt ceiling deal was struck.

  • Texas Aggie on August 23, 2011 10:37 AM:

    Sparky mentions something that I've noticed for a long time. I used to get those emails from a friend of mine who fits the criteria of being college educated intelligent, but when I replied to them pointing out how the "accountant" who fabricated the analysis couldn't count on his fingers, much less his fingers and toes, the answer I got was about how opinions could differ. For the rightwing, opinions and facts are the same thing.

    Off the subject, but I would like to forward some of these posts of Steve's, but there isn't any way to email them other than just emailing the address. Is there someway to do it that isn't obvious?

  • Gregory on August 23, 2011 11:23 AM:

    Knoller�s piece doesn�t provide any of this information.

    Of course not. Providing that information would make Republicans look bad, and that wouldn't be "balanced," or something.

    By the way, I'm curious about something. Obama ended Bush's dishonest practice of keeping the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan off-budget. Is that acton in any way responsible for the changes in the budget figures?

  • Goldilocks on August 23, 2011 12:40 PM:

    @Peter Pitchford

    it's "affected" not "effected".

  • bardgal on August 23, 2011 12:47 PM:

    In Canada it's illegal for NEWS people to LIE. Why don't we have that law here?

  • bloomingpeony on August 23, 2011 12:48 PM:

    Steve,
    You seem to be guilty of the same thing here when you write "when the WH blames policies Obama inherited"

    When did telling the truth and /or facts become about blaming, period?

    Stating facts and telling truth are not blaming!

  • bardgal on August 23, 2011 12:59 PM:

    @Grerory

    "By the way, I'm curious about something. Obama ended Bush's dishonest practice of keeping the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan off-budget. Is that acton in any way responsible for the changes in the budget figures? "

    DING DING DING!

    WE HAVE A WINNA!!

    I keep getting upside down captchas - COME ON! (yes, I can go to that website and cut/paste, but COME ON.

  • LWC on August 23, 2011 1:27 PM:

    The problem is all the MSM, including NPR and PBS are now so conditioned to being blamed by the right wing for being liberal that they go out of their way to be conservative. If Democrats would start loudly and continually calling the MSM what it is, CONSERVATIVE RIGHT WING maybe something would start to change. And it needs to be done the way the right does it, with fingers in your ears and yelling at the top of your lungs so the other guy can't get in a word of defense.

  • sparky on August 23, 2011 2:35 PM:

    SteveAR
    You appear to be claiming that "Democrats went on a spending spree" and that's what led to the 1.3 trillion deficit in 09. Could you provide us with some specific examples of aparently huge spending increases that you're attributing to them. You're not just regurgitating 'facts' fed to you by Limbaugh, Hannity, and the foxy news crew........are you?

  • neil b on August 23, 2011 3:05 PM:

    Knoller is a Groveresque hack who often makes digs at Obama to serve Republican talking points, see for example http://www.ihatethemedia.com/white-house-making-voodoo-doll-that-looks-like-cbs-correspondent-mark-knoller

  • neil b' on August 23, 2011 3:13 PM:

    SteveAR: you are stating deceptive half-truths. First of all, even with no spending at all we'd run a deficit from not paying existing bills due, if we didn't collect *any* revenue. Second, revenue increases change from a variety of reasons, including overall population and technology growth, etc. It's all relative to comparing "what if" between different possible policies, any genuinely knowledgeable person gets that. If we'd raised some taxes like the hedge-fund income rate, we'd have gotten more revenue without hurting the economy, AND reduced that debt. If you and yours care so much about debt, why don't you support such careful tax increases or at least loophole removals? Finally, so what there was a $4T increase in deficit, during a recession government stimulus is more important.

  • SteveinCH on August 23, 2011 3:32 PM:

    It is indeed unfortunate that people rely on the CBPP for budgetary analysis.

    The CBO did a far more balanced assessment of the same question. It would be instructive of both Mr Benen and his readers to look at it as opposed to relying on the CBPP.

    The conclusions it reaches are neither biased as the CBPP is nor lacking context as the CBS story is.

    For any who are interested, you can find it here.

    http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/121xx/doc12187/ChangesBaselineProjections.pdf

    In a nutshell, if you are in the blame game, it's still more about Bush's policies than Obama's but on a policy impact/year in office basis, Obama is winning quite handily.

  • AK on August 23, 2011 3:32 PM:

    Hold on a second. Bush started the wars, but Obama continues to prosecute them. Bush cut taxes, but Obama continued those tax cuts. Bush gets blamed for TARP, but Obama voted for it.

    Obama owns much more of this spending than you people will admit.

  • blue on August 23, 2011 3:35 PM:

    amazing. You speak of context yet have the gall to post the policy changes under Bush and Obama. Talk about apples to oranges. Why don't we add LBJ policies or Carter's EPA while we're at it? Could it be because it would show the obvious flaw that the longer a policy has been in effect the more costly it becomes.
    Should we mention that these "wars" were actually voted on by Congress and received large bi partisan support. Should we mention that Obamacare was jammed down our throats in a strictly partisan fashion and the costs have not even begun.
    Context....please you have no idea the meaning of that word.

  • PS on August 23, 2011 3:37 PM:

    If it's context you want then it's context you will get. Running the risk of be repetative here, the Democrats took over all of Congress in '07 and the White House in '09. This is exactly when the deficit and debt began to explode. What did the Democrats not notice? They basically controlled all the levers of power to overturn Bush's agenda lock stock and barrell and especially during the first two years of the Obama presidency. Instead, they spent this time creating one of the biggest budget and job wrecking regulations in history (Obamacare) and finding new and interesting ways to throw money away. Where is the "change we can count on?" Unfortunately, none of us can count that high.

    You may be for or against what Obama has passed, but the point here is that he did not pay for it any more than Bush and Bush never encountered the fiscal mess which his policies may or may not have contributed to creating. This was on Obama's and the Democrats watch and they did not focus on it or jobs when they had all of the power. Now they want to play catch up when they can blame the Republicans for gridlock. Let's just be honest here, both Republicans and Democrats jammed their decades long pipe dreams through while they could. What we need now is to sort through it all and prioritize so that someone wins and someone loses. Otherwies we all lose. Wake up America!

  • harrassee on August 23, 2011 3:38 PM:

    I agree with AK. Bush was an out of control spender, but Obama needs to be responsible for the laws he signed.

    One of those is the Bush/Obama tax cuts. Bush intentionally had them expire because the long term deficit aspect would make it look bad. Obama understood it, but agreed to extend it (provided that congress provide other spending to further incur debt).

    Obama owns those tax cuts now.

  • Scott in Montana on August 23, 2011 3:43 PM:

    I don't have a problem with either of the two articles this link pertains to... what I do have a problem with is the constant blathering on about "The Bush Tax Cuts".

    THE BUSH TAX CUTS ARE OVER... THEY EXPIRED 12/31/2010... THE CURRENT TAX RATES WERE VOTED ON AND PASSED BY THE DEMOCRATS IN THE HOUSE AND THE SENATE IN DECEMBER 2010 AND SIGNED INTO LAW BY PRESIDENT OBAMA.

    THEY ARE THE OBAMA TAX CUTS... NOT THE "BUSH TAX CUTS".

    They should have let them EXPIRE!

  • Anonymous on August 23, 2011 3:46 PM:

    At this point I don't care whose watch this massive debt took place under. What I do care about is coming up with solutions that address the problem. If we spent as much time trying to solve the debt problem as we do finger pointing we'd be much better off.

  • Mojo on August 23, 2011 3:49 PM:

    Some elements of your context strike me as somewhat divorced from reality - I'm being kind and not calling them outright lies.

    For example, your handy graphic blaming the Bush tax cuts for the lion's share of public debt by 2019. According to you, something like 30% of GDP - assuming, which doesn't seem too far-fetched, that this remains mired around its current size of ~$14 trillion, we're then talking over $4 trillion - will be lost because of these tax cuts. Never mind that Bush was generating tax revenues of $2.5 trillion after his tax cuts, compared with around $2 trillion when he took office. Never mind that the infamous "millionaires and billionaires" paid MORE in personal income tax after the cuts than before. Never mind any of that, because the idea that we ought to be confiscating something like 25% of the nation's GDP in taxes flies in the face of history and reason. Even that figure, significantly higher than almost any point in this nation's history, understates the case, since GDP includes the bloated spending of the federal government. Take that into account, and the level of taxation rises to about 33% - and this in a country where virtually half the population pays no income tax at all! This might seem fair to President Obama and his dwindling band of coastal cheerleaders, but it doesn't to me.

    Then there's the cost of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, projected to be eating up around 8% of GDP in 2019. Notice how these costs, about which then-Senator Obama and his Leftist cronies howled during Bush's presidency, only really take off after Bush leaves office. Funny, that. Almost as if we're indulging in some creative accounting to project these costs out of nowhere.

    Don't even get me started on the disingenuous inclusion of TARP - which has virtually paid for itself - with Fannie and Freddie, or the no-less disingenuous omission of the Fed's trillion-plus program of 'secret loans' and equally vast 'quantitative easing' plans.

    You say 'context' ... I have another word for it.

  • Jack Davis on August 23, 2011 3:52 PM:

    Yeah, yeah...just keep blaming Bush. How well will that play on Election Day 2012? The curtain won't even come up on an opening act, THAT'S how well it'll play.

  • CJH on August 23, 2011 3:53 PM:

    This article is a typical liberal lie and the article that this clown complains about is correct (Sometimes the truth hurts). Obama spent 4 trillion dollars on his watch, no matter how you slice it or dice it. The table above is very pretty, but it is a lie. It leaves out all of the spending that happended on Obama's watch, including defence, the wars that he continues to support, and the tax cuts which he continuned, etc. Democrats are tax and spend freaks and will always outspend republicans every time (There is no exception to this in history). That is a given, so for this clown to try to spin the facts and say Obama did not go on a wild liberal spending spree is actually funny.

  • Ray Louis on August 23, 2011 3:54 PM:

    The deficit by any measure -- for instance measured by its relationship to our GDP -- is overwhelming us. Tit- for-tat articles such as this one, in which blame is attempted to be apportinioned as "Bush's" or "Obama's," are totally time-wasting exercises that satisfy only partisan impulses. In fact the deficit is an existential threat for all of us and our children, and we need constructive plans to address it, which means facing the realities of our entitlement spending, which is about 2/3 of our spending.

    That reality thing is really a beast, isn't it?

  • President Lindsay on August 23, 2011 3:56 PM:

    Oh PLEASE! Enough with the BS about Obama extending the Bush tax cuts and thus being responsible for them. Surely it was recent enough for you to remember that the extension of the tax cuts was the ransom demanded by the Republicans for a whole host of necessary actions (extension of unemployment benefits, etc)that they otherwise refused to even consider. Whether Obama could have managed to pass any of that without paying the ransom is doubtful. That was but one in a series of hostage scenarios that the right continues to pull. To hold him responsible as if he wanted to extend them is ludicrously dishonest.

  • HTuttle on August 23, 2011 4:04 PM:

    Hey, I notice those charts really shoot up right at 2007. Whadyaspose might have happened there that lasted to recently? Hey! Wait a minute! Wasn't there an election in November 2006? Ya know, I think there was, now that I mention it! Gee, I wonder what the results of that election were?....................AHA! Now I remember! Democrats took control of both the Senate AND the House! And didn't I just see some Liberal pundit shifting spending blame off of Obama by citing that "Congress controls the purse"? Ya know, I DID! Well, GO FIGURE!

  • Toledo on August 23, 2011 4:16 PM:

    First time to this site - I didn't realize it was going to be slanted towards idiotic party pap.

  • Daoud on August 23, 2011 4:18 PM:

    Hold on a second. Bush started the wars, but Obama continues to prosecute them. Bush cut taxes, but Obama continued those tax cuts. Bush gets blamed for TARP, but Obama voted for it.

    Obama owns much more of this spending than you people will admit.
    -----

    Good luck getting such people to admit that. But on a positive note, Guantanamo is closed...

  • Cman on August 23, 2011 4:28 PM:

    Steve, do you really want to argue that Obama has been helpless in the face of Bush policies?

    This raises the obvious question: why didn't he pursue his own policies?

  • coachingnews on August 23, 2011 4:44 PM:

    Difficult to make the argument that Republicans are responsible for the past several years' fiscal disasters - since the Democrats controlled BOTH houses of Congress for the last four years of the Bush presidency and the first two years of Obama's.

    And the argument that the "Bush tax cuts" cost the Treasury? You assume that economics is a series of snapshots - but in fact economics and economic behavior is a very long movie. By assuming that raising taxes on those making $250,000 or more the Treasury will automatically collect the additional revenues. WRONG! People adjust their behavior to avoid confiscation of their income - whereas lowering tax rates encourages economic activity and a greater volume of taxable income.

    Quit the subterfuge - Obama has buried the American economy and there is no getting around facts.

  • digitusmedius on August 23, 2011 4:50 PM:

    I'm long used to rightwingers trying this sleight-of-hand with the deficits on places like Newsvine. It seems if you don't count Bush's last budget, which went until Sep. 30, 2009 -- a good 8 months after President Obama took office -- then the numbers don't look so bad for Bush, as long as you don't count them all. There was a small amount of stimulus spending added to the 2009 budget, but a very small fraction of the total. But to have an acutual "jornomalist" making the same propagandistic message is beyond shameful.

  • Dude Kembro on August 23, 2011 4:53 PM:

    There's no such thing as Bush tax cuts for the rich. They're Obama tax cuts for the rich. The Bush tax cuts for the rich expired in December 2010.

    Obama and a Democratic-controlled Congress extended them. Blaming the GOP for "forcing" or "extorting" Obama into extending them is a silly argument that merely reinforces the point that Obama is too weak and inexperienced to fight for working folks and stand up to the Tea Party.

    If Obama could not with a Democratic House and Senate muster the courage to call the Republicans' bluff and let the Bush tax cuts expire with public opinion firmly on his side, then he is completely failed as a leader and completely useless as a President.

  • Moder8 on August 23, 2011 5:07 PM:

    This piece is not as biased as the CBS article but still biased. You can't simply look at new initatives and say a president has to own all of those items. Some items attributed to Bush had bipartisan support such as Prescription drug benefits, TARP, 2008 stimulus, and a whole lot of non-defense direcretionary.

    The big factor for tax receipts and debt is the rate of economic growth. All of the new regulations don't exactly help with growth and thus the deficit.

    Also, the author doesn't even mention that most view tax cuts as stimulative toward the economy and therefore at the very least partially offset the reduction of revenue from higher taxes (the extent of which could be argued for days on both sides). Bottom line is both articles are biased and you are looking through blue colored glasses if you think this is an accurate picture.

  • kevo on August 23, 2011 5:13 PM:

    Mr. Benen, I didn't think your article on understanding the politics of the debt would bring so many professional painters to this thread!

    A whole lotta painting in the color of blame going on here, when a very succinct and simple dynamic produces deficits - not enough revenue to cover the expenditures obliged!

    The biggest hole in the revenue stream occurred in '01 and '03, exascerbated by two costly wars and a big pharm Medicare give away! Recently the political will to end the Bush Tax Cuts wasn't there among our Congress Critters, so a temporary extention was passed.

    What say ye anti-Obama posters? Without painting blame, can you agree to let those cuts expire the next time round to help balance the revenue/expenditure equation?

    If not, why not? -Kevo

  • Anonymous on August 23, 2011 5:17 PM:

    Awesome propaganda piece. Like Obama/Democrats did not support TARP and the 2008 stimulus . . . oh wait, they not only did, they complain that it wasn't big enough! Also I think maybe 1 or 2 Democrats supported the medicare drug benefit (especially since they can do nothing but scream at seniors how Republicans want to take their medicare away).

    Funny how all these things Democrats support are solely the fault of Republicans.

    And didn't Obama campaign on how he supported the war in Afghanistan? Why yes I think he did! Also according to his campaign, weren't we supposed to be out of Iraq already?

    Finally, and know that this will be painful to many in here, tax cuts do not cause deficits. Saying that they do is akin to someone complaining that it's not their refusal to live within their budget that's causing them to go into debt but that it's their employer's fault for not paying them enough.

  • SteveinCH on August 23, 2011 5:19 PM:

    Kevo,

    I argued for letting all the tax cuts expire on schedule at the time. Did you? The President has not. No elected official to my knowledge has done so. Steve B has not done so. The reason is that many people prefer tax cuts on the people they think should pay more only. That is exactly what happened in 2010. It would have been quite easy for the President to do what you claim you want. He could have simply vetoed the legislation...the votes did not exist in Congress to override. He chose not to.

    As to your argument on the hole in the revenue stream, it's false. The biggest hole in the revenue stream is economic growth underperforming expectations, far larger than the tax rate changes.

    But my return question to you is, will you agree to cut entitlements or do we have to raise taxes by double on everyone (over time) to pay for them?

  • Johnnie Linn on August 23, 2011 5:30 PM:

    Can you re-do the graph where the "projections" run from 2009 instead of 2001?

  • Anonymous on August 23, 2011 5:43 PM:

    SteveinCH - why yes, I too advocated the return to the Clinton tax rates during the budget battle of late last year.

    Your 2nd point is well taken also, an underpreforming economy is, by large, the biggest obsticle in trying to balance a nation's books, but a review of postings above sees very little of this observation.

    The question becomes how do we spur a better preforming economy so our red can move to a more stable black, and not cut back on the level of services our nation's citizens have become comfortable with over the years of entitlement creep?

    Context does count, and if you recall, this year has seen the introduction of hostage taking within the halls of our nation's Congress. An honest view of this new political tactic would lead the honest observer to conclude members of one of our nation's two political parties are not serious about deficit reduction, they're only using it to beat their opposition over the head, hoping as our nation tanks their chances to regain power will be successful.

    Now about entitlements - I receive none, have a defined retirement package, and don't mind one bit if the means tests are tightened, the age threshold is raised, or any other reforms are implemented to keep our existing safety nets intact for generations to come.

    Of course, the Clinton tax rates would do a measured good in getting us closer to sensible solvency! -Kevo

  • digitusmedius on August 23, 2011 6:53 PM:

    There was not a majority of Dems in the House voting for the AUF in Iraq. A slight majority of them in the Senate did, but 23 did not not. Altogether, the full Democratic congressional caucus voted decidedly against going into Iraq. As for the first Bush tax cut (PL 017-16), only 11 Dems in the Senate voted for it and only 28 of 181 voting House Dems voted for it. For the 2003 cuts (PL 108-27) Senate Dems voted 48 to against and House Dems 198 to 7 against. Trying to make the war and these tax cuts belong to Dems as much as Republicans just isn't supported by the facts. But facts have never stopped right wingers from putting out lies.

  • digitusmedius on August 23, 2011 6:57 PM:

    "One of the first lies of the left is that the Bush tax cuts decreased receipts"

    That, of course, is the lie that we're claiming that. The truth is that receipts went up but not nearly enough to cover rampant Bush overspending. And they didn't go up anywhere as steeply as revenues increased for all the years after the Clinton tax INCREASE in 1993. What liberals say, and is irrefutably true, is that lowering taxes has never produced revenues sufficient to cover expenditures, at least while Republicans hold the WH and controls Congress.

  • digitusmedius on August 23, 2011 7:02 PM:

    So $40B a year isn't enough to solve everything so we just shouldn't bother. Christ, no wonder the people who think like that vote in people who get us into such deep fiscal shit.

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