debt limit

Conservatives to Congress: “Spend one dollar less”

A new strategy has emerged from conservative groups over the debt ceiling as they emerge from a fractured fight over the government shutdown. The message to Congress: spend one dollar less than last year.

The coalition of 20 groups, first reported by National Review, has written a letter to lawmakers urging them to take caution in their approach on the debt ceiling and government funding as House and Senate tackling the budget.

“The undersigned public policy organizations are writing to you today about the upcoming debt ceiling debate and our belief that Congress has a moral obligation to pursue additional spending reductions before taking on additional debt,” wrote the organizations in the letter to members of Congress.

“Specifically, we propose the following: If Washington wants to take on more debt, isn’t it fair that they at least be forced to spend One Dollar Less next year than they’re spending this year?” the letter continued. “Most families are reducing their budgets by far more than one dollar, shouldn’t Washington at least do this much? The American people certainly think so.”

Signers to the letter include Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, Andrew Moylan of the R Street Institute, Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and Phil Kerpen of American Commitment.

Confessions of an OPM Addict

I am an addict. A junkie. For years I’ve maintained an air of respectability in public, while behind closed doors I’m always looking for my next fix. With every year that passes it takes more and more for me to satiate my need. I will tell any lie, distort any claim, and do whatever I need to do to maintain my habit. I used to be embarrassed about it, covered it up, but no longer. I am who I am and everybody can just deal with it. I used to be able to shuffle the finances around to fund my habit, hide it so that no one would notice. Now, my habit is so bad that I can’t cover the cost with what I earn. I had to find a way to pay for it.

I took out a second mortgage on my house, telling myself that my habit was not so bad, that I could quit whenever I wanted; that this was only a short term solution and I’d pay it back quickly. That is what I told myself anyway. But days turned to weeks, weeks turned to months and months turned to years, and I’m more addicted than ever, with no way to pay for my fix. I’ve maxed out my credit cards, emptied my savings account, borrowed from family and friends. I’ve emptied the trust funds that were supposed to be for my kids. I’ve stolen anything I could get my hands on that I could sell. I’ve gone to loan sharks.

Putting “politics” aside is capitulation

With the August 2 deadline fast approaching, many people are getting more than a little anxious for some kind of deal on the debt ceiling.  One of those is syndicated columnist Donna Brazile.  In her column, she calls on Congress to “drop politics”.  Unfortunately, like most any other person who calls for folks to drop politics, her motivations are political.

You see, any time anyone calls on the opposition group to drop politics, it’s really a call for that other side to shut up and do what the person wants.  It’s no different than calls for bipartisanship.  It doesn’t matter on political affiliation either, because both major parties do it pretty regularly.

However, if Brazile was serious about helping the nation, I would argue, then she would also beg for deep, deep spending cuts that exceed John Bohner and Harry Reid’s plans.  She would be calling for a serious rollback on intrusive government and job hampering regulations that would, ultimately, lead to increased revenue for the federal government.  She would call for a lot of things, but she isn’t.

Like so many others out there, Brazile is just wanting Republicans to shut up and do what she thinks they should be doing.  Is she necessarily wrong?  Well, that’s a topic for debate all on its own.  I honestly don’t want to get into that one right now.  But right or wrong doesn’t really matter, not for the purposes of this post as it applies to the debt ceiling.

August 2nd: A Day That Won’t Live In Infamy

If a deal hasn’t been reached by the time this is posted (the agreement reached by congressional leaders and the White House over the weekend is pending caucus approval), then tomorrow will be a day of infamy. According to public consensus, our credit rating will be downgraded, our borrowing rates will skyrocket, Social Security checks won’t go out, we’ll have to lay off millions of government workers (oh hyperbole), China will get mad, and our cost of living will sharply increase while the quality of living decreases dramatically. The sky will fall, the world economy will collapse, unemployment will make what we have now look like a cakewalk. It will be Disaster;.

Except it will be none of these things.

August 2nd, if a deal is not reached, will not spell the end of the world. Even if S&P and Moody’s try and downgrade the United States. Why? Three reasons: One, if the markets thought we were going to be screwed, they would have done it before. Second, the credit rating agencies are utterly superfluous and worthless when it come to US debt. Third, even if we hit the debt ceiling, Turbo Tax Geithner will be permitted to prioritize interest payments on the debt and send out Social Security checks, meaning we won’t have a default (and Grandma can still buy the ingredients for her damned fruitcake.)

Taken together, these three things illustrate a picture where August 2nd isn’t the end of the world, and that we should really slow down, take a deep breath, and then have a shot of whiskey. Preferably rye, but that’s just me.

Article the First: The market was supposed to explode under the debt ceiling, showing how urgent and necessary it is to raise it, according to John Carney:

House Democrat: “This is almost like dictatorship”

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz recently claimed that GOP efforts to get what they want in the debt ceiling debate is akin to dictatorship in recent comments reported by Politico.  I understand that tensions are high right now.  The debt ceiling issue is dominating the political landscape right now and a lot of folks just want it over.  I have little doubt that Wasserman Schultz is one of them.  Unfortunately for her, she really needs to understand the difference between GOP efforts and dictatorship.

Her quote from Politico:

“This is not leadership. This is almost like dictatorship. I know they want to force the outcome that … their extremists would like to impose. But they are getting ready to spark panic and chaos, and they seem to be OK with that. And it’s just really disappointing, and potentially devastating.”

Please note the scare words, namely “dictatorship” and “extremists”.  This is a usual tactic designed to paint your opponent as unreasonable, regardless of anything approaching a fact.  Now, I’m not saying the GOP hasn’t be intransigent, because to an extent they have been.  But dictatorship?

Here’s the definition of dictatorship, courtesy of dictionary.com.

Senate kills “Cut, Cap and Balance”

The Senate voted along party lines this morning to table “Cut, Cap and Balance,” the budget plan offered by House Republicans that passed that chamber on Tuesday evening:

The Senate voted 51-46, along strict party-lines Friday to kill the House Republicans “cut, cap and balance” legislation.

The measure would have cut spending by $111 billion in 2012, capped spending over the next decade and prohibited more borrowing until Congress passes a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.

President Obama had threatened to veto the bill, which was dead on arrival in the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called the legislation “very, very bad” and said it was a waste of the upper chamber’s time.
[…]

During the debate on “cut, cap and balance,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) argued the GOP plan would solve the nation’s deficit crisis if Democrats would join Republicans in supporting it.

“This isn’t rocket science,” said McConnell. “We could solve this problem this morning if Democrats would…join us in backing this legislation that Republicans support.”

Supporters of the proposal have cited a CNN poll in recent days showing that voters support some parts of it, specifically the Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA). That’s not a surprise since BBA proposal are politically popular. However, the “Cut, Cap and Balance” proposal passed by the House only called for a BBA. It didn’t attain the 2/3 requirement to pass a constitutional amendment.

Rejecting False Choices and Exposing Lies

As August 2nd approaches, stipulated by Treasury Secretary and tax cheat Timothy Geithner as the date when the U.S. will reach its statutory debt limit, our illustrious president, Barack Obama, becomes more and more unhinged. From highly partisan, contemptuous and fact-challenged press conferences, to his angry and petulant exit from a meeting with Republicans on the issue, it is clear that Obama is feeling the pressure. This is compounded by the fact that the historically weak-willed Republicans seem shockingly willing to be proven vertebrates, and actually refuse to back down on principle (Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s recent suggestion to completely abdicate constitutional duty and give all power to the president notwithstanding).

From class warfare rhetoric about tax breaks for corporate jet owners (signed into law by Obama in the 2009 stimulus bill, and less than a rounding error on the federal budget) to fear mongering the elderly to think Social Security checks will not go out, nothing is beneath this integrity-challenged president in his quest for power. He tirelessly repeats his Marxist mantra of needing to get “millionaires and billionaires” to “pay their fair share” and be a part of the “shared sacrifice”, despite the fact that the top 1% of all income earners (a group starting at $380,354/year and including millions of small businesses that file taxes under personal returns…hardly millionaires and billionaires) paid 38% of total tax revenue, while the bottom 50% paid only 2.7%. The top 5% starts at $159,619 and accounts for 58.7% of taxes paid.

The Debt Debate, “Cut Cap Balance,” and Bush (Video)

As the debt debate continues with no end in sight (not even Aug. 2nd) some people are getting understandably upset. They want to know who to blame, and if anything that’s come up so far will actually fix the problem. Well, I have good news and bad news.

The good news is that the Cato Institute has come out with another outstanding video on the situation. The bad news is that you have to blame everybody, and no, there isn’t really a good solution coming out yet:


Again, there will be no dismantling of unconstitutional (or just flat out bad) programs and departments, just “trimming” around the edges, which won’t be good for the long term as they’ll a piece of cake to overcome. The “Cut Cap Balance” idea is a good start, but the Democrats will never go for it, and it’s only that—a start.

The Imperial Presidency, Round #43917

So Senator Mitch McConnell has released a “solution” to the debt ceiling crisis. Jason has already jumped on this topic, but I feel the need to add my own two cents. For me, the crucial portion of this non-solution is that it gives additional power to the White House, and perpetuates a seeming tradition of Congress abdicating responsibility that we’ve seen over the past decade.

The entire deal punts the debt and spending over to the President. Essentially, he decides to raise the debt limit. While Congress can pass a “bill of disapproval” with a two-thirds majority, the President can simply veto, which would then require a 2/3 vote to override. The plan would also require the President to make spending cuts roughly equal to the increase in the debt limit (as I understand it.) Yet there is no enforcement mechanism that I can see to ensure he does so. What would Congress do if he raised the debt limit with no corresponding cut in spending? Stamp their feet? It might be all they can do.

Haven’t we seen enough power consolidated in the Oval Office yet?

I mean, the President can assassinate people with a drone without so much as a whoopsie-daisy; have anyone imprisoned on suspicion of terrorism and interrogated; can have a lovely jaunt off to war and only send Congress a politely-worded letter; formulate budgets and tax policy while merely requesting Congressional approval; through executive agencies and department make and enforce law without a vote; and now we’re going to give him the power to unilaterally raise the debt limit with requirements that are so wishy-washy they make Natty Light look good?

Mr. President, Think of the Children

In his press conference, President Barack Obama said that we must close the deficit by tackling everything—naturally, with as many contradictions as possible—including entitlements, though we must still “keep faith with seniors and children with disabilities.”

It sounds grand and noble, but the problem is that if Obama decides to “keep faith” with seniors, he’s going to have to do that by vigorously screwing over the next generation. As Professor Lawrence J. Kotlikoff of Boston University points out in a recent Bloomberg column, we’re broke. (Yes, I know that’s his schtick. But he’s absolutely right.)

How big is the fiscal gap? By my own calculations using the CBO data, it now stands at $211 trillion — a huge sum equaling 14 times the country’s economic output. To arrive at that figure, I assumed that annual noninterest spending, as well as taxes, would grow indefinitely by 2 percent a year beyond 2075, the point at which the CBO’s estimates end.

Most of that comes from entitlement spending, which was where Cato policy analyst Michael Tanner came up with the $119.5 trillion in the hole figure just a few months ago. Obviously, it’s getting worse all the time.


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