Opinion

David Rohde

The sanity caucus

By David Rohde
October 17, 2013

Our government has failed us — again. Given the debacle over the last 16 days, it’s hard to praise anyone in Washington. Or anything.

The shutdown cost the United States $24 billion, according to Standard and Poor’s. Consumer confidence dropped by the largest amount since the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers. Our partisanship is undermining our international standing and slowing our economy.

Worst of all, it starts again in January. Unbowed by poll numbers that show their unpopularity, hard-line Tea Party conservatives are vowing to fight on.

“If the American people continue to rise up,” Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) declared in the Senate Wednesday after the deal was announced to avoid default and reopen the government. “We’re going to stop the number one job killer in this country that is Obamacare.”

We need to applaud the Republicans who stood up to Cruz this week: the so-called “sanity caucus.” A civil war is underway in the Republican Party. Democrats can vilify Cruz and the Tea Party all they want, but it is only fellow conservatives who can undermine their legitimacy in crimson states and congressional districts.

Here’s a cheat sheet for the post-shutdown Republican party:

The sanity caucus:

Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham and Lamar Alexander: Facing a Tea Party primary challenge, the Senate minority leader Mitch McConnel (R-Ky.) first stayed out of the fray. But his last-minute deal with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) prevented the nation’s first default. Yes, McConnell could have acted sooner. But it was McConnell — more than any other Republican — who prevented a default and crushed Cruz’s hopes for a Tea Party insurrection in the Senate. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) also deserve credit for supporting a deal while facing Tea Party primary challenges.

Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Kelly Ayotte: These three Republican senators who hail from states with strong Tea Party movements — Maine, Alaska and New Hampshire, respectively — spearheaded the effort to embrace a compromise that reopened the government on largely Democratic terms. They are expected to be key players in the fiscal negotiations now scheduled for this fall — and likely to fail.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce: In a rare moment of unity, the pro-business labor organization sent a joint letter with the AFL-CIO and United Way to President Barack Obama and Congress urging an end to the shutdown and a possible default.

More important, the chamber and other business lobbies are talking about funding centrist, business-friendly Republican candidates to run against Tea Party firebrands. Next year’s GOP congressional primaries could be just as interesting as the general election.

Grover Norquist: A man loathed by liberals for his no-tax pledge turned on Cruz and his fellow “defunders” with a vengeance. “It’d be a good idea if they stopped referring to other Republicans as Hitler appeasers because they opposed the strategy they put forward which failed,” Norquist told reporters on Wednesday. “I think if you make a mistake as big as what they did, you owe your fellow senators and congressmen a big apology — and your constituents, as well.”

Charles Krauthammer, Jennifer Rubin and Jonah Goldberg: The conservative commentators for the Washington Post and the National Review all openly criticized the tactic of shutting down the government to kill Obamacare. Krauthammer called the approach “nuts” and “really dumb.” Goldberg said the idea “works fantastically well for fundraising when you want to go and run in 2016 for president” but called it a “ludicrous” legislative strategy. Rubin called for the GOP’s “sanity caucus” to save the party.

“The shutdown strategy’s complete flop should demonstrate to all but those determined to create their own counter-reality that the shutdown squad doesn’t represent the views of voters or even of GOP voters,” she wrote on Tuesday.

The kamikaze caucus:

Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes: Night after night, Fox News sustains the Republican far right. Year after year, it has given the country’s most extreme conservatives enormous reach and credibility. Polls showing record low approval ratings for the GOP should give Murdoch and Ailes pause. So far, there is little sign of this.

Paul Ryan: In what turned out to be an exercise in wishful thinking, I wrote last week that the fiscal conservative might use the debt fight as a way to break from extreme conservatives. I was wrong. Instead, Ryan is trying to have it both ways. Last week, he was one of the first Republicans to drop the defunding of Obamacare as a condition for reopening the government. Yet on Wednesday night, he voted with House conservatives against the bipartisan deal to reopen the government and avoid a default.

Ryan and Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) will co-chair the bipartisan panel of lawmakers charged with developing a long-term budget plan by Dec. 13. Ryan’s no vote on Wednesday suggests that chances of any agreement are low.

Marco Rubio: The Florida senator who had courageously embraced immigration reform earlier this year continued the move back to his Tea Party roots during the shutdown. On Wednesday night, Rubio voted against the bipartisan deal. Clearly, Rubio is positioning himself for a 2016 presidential run against Cruz and Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), both of whom also voted against the deal.

Senators and House members who voted against the bipartisan deal: The Washington Post compiled a breakdown of the 18 senators and 144 representatives who voted against the agreement. Political survival drove the votes of Republicans from conservative states and districts. It was also clear, of course, that the measure would pass. But anyone who voted against a last-minute, bipartisan deal to avoid the first ever U.S. default is cause for alarm.

Heritage Action and Club for Growth: The two ultra-conservative, 501(c)4 organizations, formed shortly after the Citizens United decision, have been key funders of Cruz and other hard-line conservatives. Their threats to fund Tea Party primary challengers against those who supported the agreement are unnerving to moderate Republicans.

The challenge:

Though the deficit is dropping, conservative Republicans are right on one issue. The United States faces an enormous long-term debt problem. A grand bargain that involves entitlement reforms and revenue increases is needed. Moderate Republicans are the key to making it happen.

Opinions polls show that Americans are desperate for a government that works. Democrats winning control of the House in 2016 is a short-term solution to the gridlock. But the only real long-term fix is a more unified and centrist Republican Party.

 

PHOTO: Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) talks to reporters after a Republican Senate caucus meeting at the Capitol in Washington, October 16, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

PHOTO (Insert 1): Senate Minority leader Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) walks to his party’s working lunch on Capitol Hill in Washington, October 8, 2013. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

PHOTO (Insert 2): Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) attends the Faith and Freedom Coalition Road to Majority Conference in Washington, June 14, 2013. REUTERS/Mary F. Calvert

 

 

Comments
33 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

Let’s hope the Right gets its act together.

A functioning democracy needs a loyal, not a raving-mad, opposition.

And while they’re at it, Party elders should take a serious stab at promulgating reason and modern science among their savage rank-and-file in the Confederate South and the Evangelical heartland.

Posted by jrpardinas | Report as abusive
 

Those criticizing Boehner need only consider that if the tea party had been successful in placing their man in speakership, the vote would have been prevented by the speaker and today we would have a default on our hands. This is how close America came to being destroyed by the tea party.

Posted by UScitizentoo | Report as abusive
 

The number 1 job killer is Congress, not health insurance.

Posted by Dumdum | Report as abusive
 

I hope they do it again. The people of this country will never learn if they are not tested on their support for morons. In the end the businesses called off the dogs because Obama didn’t blink, but business with the help of their minion news organization are actually the primary actors in setting up these buffoons in the first place. The people of this country need to grow brains and understand that press manipulation and pandering to ancient hatreds is not a political philosophy, it’s simple mass manipulation, and unfortunately you simply cannot tell them that, they must experience the results. I say let the teabaggers destroy the country, it’s what the dumb populace deserves.

Posted by brotherkenny4 | Report as abusive
 

I don’t see any signs of the right getting its act together. All the focus has been on how to appease the rightwing extremists without burning down the house, and this is getting more and more difficult to do. Even the media is afraid to call it what it is, an inside threat to the United States of America as a sovereign democracy. They have rejected American democracy as a viable means of governing and, although they don’t present it in these terms, they are pushing toward a form of rightwing authoritarian rule. And that’s hardly hyperbole considering that they were trying to force this country into a catastrophic default if they didn’t get their way on defunding a popularly elected President’s signature legislative accomplishment. They represent a minority and yet they are demanding to have their way at the expense of the will of the majority, or deal a serious blow to the economy and security of this country. If that’s not a serious threat to this country, I don’t know what is.

History will not look favorably on this movement. If the American people don’t find a way to keep these people in check, it will someday be seen as a primary reason for America’s decline, and it’s very likely that the primary example reflecting this radical rightwing movement and how they conducted themselves will be revealed in their reaction to a President’s attempt to legislate a healthcare system that gave all Americans the opportunity to access affordable healthcare. People will read about this in the future and wonder why it was ever an issue in the first place, much less why this group of radicals would be so opposed to such a universally accepted concept: healthcare for all.

There’s one more thing I would add to this sad and alarming situation. The media is shirking its responsibility. The radical right has gleaned much of its power and influence from misinformation. For example, there were million of Americans made distrustful of our President because they were allowed to believe the lies about Obama not being American born, Obama being a socialist, Obama being a Muslim, and an endless stream of other lies that have been floated about and allowed to be perpetuated by the right and its considerable influences. There doesn’t always have to be two sides to the truth. Facts need to be given their place, as does science, which has also been compromised in this rightwing fundamentalist movement. Make no mistake, the country’s prioritized pursuit of science is one of the chief reasons for America’s preeminence in the world. Abandon that and it will guarantee our decline. And that’s one of the problems with this rightwing movement. America’s decline seems to be at least one of their goals.

Posted by flashrooster | Report as abusive
 

I left the position of Treasurer in my local Republican organization when I went to the State convention as a local “delegate” and some idiots there tried to tell me how to cast MY vote.

Beyond that, if one isn’t “anti-choice” on the abortion issue (hey, there’s SEVEN BILLION humans already here, and boatloads more coming every day) and unwilling to even consider the “young earth” theory of the creationists who, in the “Bible Belt” would have in our schools, there is no “place” for you. These people will neither tolerate nor debate other opinions. A “my way or the highway” agenda made my choice to leave easy.

It’s not “the economy, stupid”. It’s not “jobs, stupid. It’s LONG and LONGER TERM DEFICIT SPENDING AND THE ENDLESS COUNTERFEITING OF OUR DOLLAR BY OUR OWN COUNTRY. If a foreign power tried this, America would send in the military and quickly put a stop to a practice that threatens the very basis of world trade and all economies.

Instead it is as if aliens have abducted certain of our leaders who diligently and tirelessly pursue policies and goads that.. without question, will destroy our country in time, the single question being HOW LONG? COUNTERFEITING

There is no way to meaningfully address the issue of policies that encourage sloth and stupidity in our schools and economy by joining with Democrats. “We, the people” need a “COMMON CAUSE” party focused and dedicated to building consensus among ALL Americans. Time is running out to take back control from America’s agencies, bureaucrats, lobbyists and obscene income elitist exploiters of our economy

America, to survive ant thrive again must separate NEEDS from WANTS, take honest stock of how much is AVAILABLE to spend, authorize THAT much spending (and NO MORE). THEN, and ONLY then, can we hold “our” representatives responsible, term by term, for how well they do OUR BUSINESS.

Don’t hold your breath.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive
 

OneOfTheSheep: I agree with most of your post, except your focusing on the debt. It IS the economy, not the debt. You lower deficits, balance the budget, and get to a place where we can lower the debt ONLY through a healthy economy. The focus needs to always be on the economy. If we go the Paul Ryan route and just slash spending, too many people will be left unemployed, tax revenues will drop again, government costs will rise again (unemployment compensation, food stamps, etc.) and the deficit will start increasing again.

Conservatives seem to be having a tough time admitting this, but the deficit has been dropping at a rather precipitous rate. We’re exactly where we want to be. Bringing down the deficit is the first goal that must be achieved toward bringing down the debt and we’re doing that. I’m not opposed to cutting spending provided it’s services that aren’t needed. I never hear conservatives talk about what they want to cut. Nor do I hear them talk about closing loopholes for corporations and the wealthy. Obama was able to get taxes back up almost to where they were under President Clinton for individuals making over $400,000 a year and couples making over $450,000, but no one pays at the, I think it is, 39.6% rate. It’s more in the 15% – 20% range. Yet they enjoy all the benefits a government can guarantee them: security, low taxes (via loopholes), infrastructure, minimal regulations, etc. The US is increasing its number of millionaires, but at a faster rate, we’ve increasing the number of poor. That can’t continue.

I think we’re close to the sweet spot we found during the 90s where the budget was balanced, before we ended up with a Republican President, House and Senate. Let’s find areas where we can raise revenues by closing loopholes and areas where we can cut spending, provided they’re not necessary or beneficial services. But, please, let us not do anything drastic like when Bush took over the Presidency.

The debt is a concern, but right now we’re okay, provided we can balance the budget. The world’s best economic minds agree that the US is still the safest investment. They are fully aware of our debt and have yet to become overly concerned. We still have a AAA rating, the best there is, despite the Republicans’ best attempts to destroy that.

One last point. After the attack on the ACA this will probably be impossible, and that’s too bad, but we need to find a way to enact pricing controls on our healthcare. The costs of healthcare are killing us, both our government and as individuals. The ACA helps, but not nearly enough. That’s because if there were pricing controls in the ACA, it wouldn’t have passed. But we’re going to have to grapple with the cost of doing healthcare in this country sometime soon. I’d say let’s start by repealing the Republicans’ ban on Medicare officials negotiating with pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices. That should never have happened.

Posted by flashrooster | Report as abusive
 

I think highly of you, David Rhodes, but before you inadvertently influence anyone to embark on what might become a project to redefine as moderate-to-liberal Republicans the likes of Grover Norquist, Charles Krauthammer and Mitch McConnell, I’d like to point out something that I’d expect would’ve been learnt by most Americans, such as yourself in sometimes harrowing circumstances, who’ve spent significant time abroad, which is that it was unforgettable to use the threat of default once, but to do it twice was unforgiveable. From the point of view of a foreigner considering an investment in the United States, the applicable proverb in this case is: Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

A large part of the Republican Party chose to bargain by the tactic of obstructing the previously routine practice of raising the debt ceiling as needed with nothing worse than gratuitous grandstanding in tepid opposition. A large part of the Republican Party has now used this tactic twice, which is the proverbial once too often at best. By damaging America’s previous hold on the world by the tail, use of this tactic even once, and certainly twice, was suicidally counterproductive, as it cast doubt on the validity of United States Treasury Bills, Notes and Bonds, which had previously been sought after during flights to safety and calm times alike, thanks to their then exceptional volume and reliability having sufficed to render the USD the world’s #1 reserve currency.

Had a sufficiently large number of real moderates in the Republican Party unhesitatingly stood up to repudiate the tactic of threatening default to achieve policy goals, the tactic would not have been employed more than once. Senator John McCain attempted to lead such a timely repudiation, but he appears to have stood alone. He is, then, the totality of the supposed “Sanity Caucus” of the GOP. Saying “me too” only counts when doing so demands character and courage, or is not too late, at least. Membership to the Sanity Caucus cannot be extended to the pathetically small bandwagon of GOP latecomers who decided to support raising the debt ceiling only after the public debt of the United States had been called into question to such an extent that China can now be relied upon to redouble its efforts to substitute its renminbi in place of the USD as the world’s primary reserve currency. However, Dishonorary Lifetime Membership to the Suicide/Lemming Caucus can be extended to the still large part of the Republican Party that has not yet sworn off the tactic of bargaining by opposition to raising the debt ceiling.

As a personification of the Suicide/Lemming Caucus, consider its current poster child, Senator Ted Cruz. Senator Cruz is unpatriotic at best and treasonous at worst. There’s a fair chance that he falls squarely in the middle of these extremes by having violated his Congressional Oath of Office, insofar as he has damaged the Constitutionally established full faith and credit of the United States and he clearly swore his allegiance to the U.S. Constitution with the mental reservations or purposes of evasion that would necessarily follow from such conflicting loyalties as swearing to abide by non-Sanity-Caucus member Grover Norquist’s orders in the form of the so-called Taxpayer Protection Pledge. Every possible legal action should be taken against Senator Cruz and any other members of the United States House and Senate who are in like violation of their Congressional Oath of Office. It is very easy to identify who they are: They took the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, and they did not, in a timely manner, repudiate the tactic of using default as a bargaining chip.

Here’s the Congressional Oath of Office:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

Suicide/Lemming Caucus members who risk America’s default cannot be excused by claiming concern over America’s long-term debt prospects, by the way. Leaving aside the fact that America’s GDP growth and revenue projections were looking rather positive before the latest threat of default heaped doubt on the nation’s future, and leaving aside the fact that nobody can reliably project long-term debt prospects anyway, the mere consideration of default as an acceptable outcome should be seen as disqualifying a politician from membership in a major political party, let alone membership in the United States Congress.

As to your reference to Tom Friedman’s NYT column, it appears to revolve around a baby-boomer, Stan Druckenmiller, who is frustrated that today’s youth won’t take to the streets with the sort of revolutionary zeal that set America’s cities on fire in the 1960s. This fellow apparently thinks such violence hastened the United States’ withdrawal from Viet Nam. (Yes, you can fight fire with fire, but it takes judgement, brains and maturity.) It is more easily argued that the anti-war movement of the 1960s prolonged the war, as it strengthened the public backlash that so suited the presidential ambitions of – ahem – Republican Richard Nixon, who, we now know, was treasonously negotiating with North Vietnam to delay acceptance of the truce deal that the Johnson administration was close to sealing. Nixon feared that ending the war before the 1968 election would break the wave of unrest on which he hoped to surf to victory. Thus, it is not true, as was once said, that Nixon didn’t surf.

Posted by MoBioph | Report as abusive
 

Since the Plutocracy is firmly in control of both parties, it’s unlikely that we will see any changes in this deliberate chaos any time soon. This is the government of the people, by the Plutocracy and for the very, very rich. The Plutocracy thrives on chaos, conflict, deception, distraction, obfuscation, confusion, hypocrisy, stupidity, ignorance and corruption – the epitome of our Congress. Money talks to power.

Posted by ptiffany | Report as abusive
 

@flashrooster,

My compliments today. Your thinking is logical, so let’s consider your conclusions.

Yes, a “healthy economy” will cure many of society’s ills. So why can’t we just do what has always been to improve the economy? Because the RULES HAVE CHANGED!

The availability of cheap computers and good software have made production, commerce more and more efficient. Less and less people are required for each level of production. It may have been true in the past for some companies that “people were our greatest asset”. No more.

Full time workers get overtime if they work over forty hours in a given week. They get national holidays off with pay, usually some kind of “vacation” with pay. Larger companies usually offer paid sick time off and/or “family leave”, continuing education, medical insurance, etc. So “full time employees” have become unnecessarily expensive (outside of government, of course).

Business is not stupid. Today (and for so as long as it is legal), most are redefining employment “needs” (not “jobs”) such that anyone warm and breathing that isn’t a felon, weigh three hundred pounds or over, has Jr. High level English, math and writing skills, a minimum of visible body piercings and/or tattoos with reliable transportation can accomplish them 100% given a week or two “on the job”. That’s also why you see people with advanced degrees flipping burgers.

One thing Paul Ryan understands that many don’t. “We, the people” give Congress absolutely obscene amounts of money. They waste a huge amount of that money because members of Congress no longer believe there is any effective limit on how much they spend. That’s why they don’t prioritize expenditures. The mind set is “If we spend it they (taxpayers) will pay”. Giving such people in BOTH parties more tax revenue is like trying to put out a fire with gasoline.

When “we, the people” take BACK control and Congress “get’s it’s act (and a balanced budget) together, we can talk about more revenue. Not before (unless such revenue is somehow irrevocably set aside and cannot be spent for anything but debt reduction). America has GOT to abandon the idea that it can spend more and more forever and keep raising the limit on it’s credit card (the spending limit). The “solution” may be to make the “debt limit” instead an “authorized spending limit” so it can be questioned BEFORE our purse is empty and we have to pull our our credit card AGAIN.

This country did just fine for many, many years without unsustainable, incentive-destroying TWO YEAR unemployment benefits. Our government has become a malignant, boated monstrosity comprised of ever more alphabet-soup agencies who judge their success on the size of their budget and the legions of bureaucrats they employ.

These agencies frequently have goals nebulous at best, are fundamentally accountable to NO ONE, and enjoy an existence as near eternal as exists on this earth. What could possibly go wrong?

Much of the drop in the deficit can be credited to the sequester, an inconvenient stop-gap measure unloved by all (which means that it is generally fair to all “sides”) that reduces expenditures by only a fraction of that BOTH parties know is necessary in the long run. That’s BEFORE we toss the logs on the fire of Immigration Amnesty and the sustainability of Social Security and Medicare.

You and I differ in that I neither envy nor vilify the rich, nor do most Americans. Why SHOULDN’T they enjoy use of the security and infrastructure their government provides in exchange for taxes? Truth be known, we all want to be them, but are patient and understand the odds are against our achieving that financial achievement. But more do, here in America, than anywhere else. I’m not jealous of Bill Gates and others like him who came up from humble beginnings. I applaud them. America is “fertile soil” for such people!

The reason our “poor” (who, by the way DRIVE and have cell phones) are increasing in number is that our society PAYS them, by the head, to sit home and multiply. Available benefits such as food stamps (SNAP), Aid to Dependent Children, Medicaid, free school lunch programs (even through the summer), etc. are so lavish that they exceed what these people’s skills are worth in a free market (minimum wage). Forgive me, but I don’t think that should be an option…EVER!

“Closing loopholes for corporations?” Please. Corporations don’t pay ANY taxes EVER if they are competently run. Taxes are an expense of doing business and are buried in the price you and I pay for the products or services they sell. Business is FAR more nimble and quick in the efficient use of the legitimate write-offs (NOT “loopholes) in our tax code. You want to close expensive loopholes that encourage anti-social behavior, eliminate the mortgage deduction for luxury yachts, vacation homes, 4500 sq. ft. McMansions and the business deduction for high-dollar luxury vehicles.

Yes, “The world’s best economic minds agree that the US is still the safest investment.” But “safest” is relative. When everything “out there” is crap that could become worthless in an astonishingly short time, that just means the American dollar can be risky crap, but it’s the “best crap” available that all will take. That AAA rating and $5 may get you a Starbucks once other nations get tired of seeing Washington print dollars for the cost of paper, ink and press labor and then use them to purchase or invest elsewhere at full value. What a scheme (as long as it lasts).

I do agree without exception to what you say about health care.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive
 

@MoBioph,

You object to “…the tactic of obstructing the previously routine practice of raising the debt ceiling as needed…”

Needed by WHO? I’m GLAD Tea Party Republicans (I give credit where credit is due) had the stones to put a stick in the spokes of the “business as usual” Washington politicos who budget from somewhere in Never-Never Land from BOTH sides of the aisle.

The world SHOULD carefully consider the irresponsibility of the American Congress’s addiction to ROUTINE overspending. The Fed’s 24/7 printing presses incessant dilution of the purchasing power of the dollar should make anyone think twice about accepting them at full face value. If “we, the people” can, with such a financial 2″ x 4″ get Congress’s attention NOW maybe we won’t have to bring wheelbarrows of those dollars to Walmart to buy a loaf of bread in a few years.

I, for one, am tired of being, however reluctantly, a part of this international Ponzi Scheme. Whatever happened to the idea of “dealing in good faith” with one and all?

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive
 

OneOfTheSheep – No country can or should operate the way you think you’d like. The last time America tried it, during Andrew Jackson’s Presidency, it suffered its worst depression ever. President Jackson and his followers fell prey to the paradox of thrift, which is a central to the CIA-Factbook-checked plot of the next, thrilling episode of –

Requiem for a Republic

Who knew that the policy of subjecting America’s sovereign debt to a ceiling placed under the control of potentially adversarial groups of politicians in the form of the two houses of the legislative branch and the chief of the executive branch could go wrong? I mean, it’s not like America has ever fought a civil war or something.

Speaking ironically of the Party of Lincoln, it’s been argued that their Big Petri Dish plated now with three especially virulent strains of nihilists – the triple threat of Confederate nostalgics (to put it mercifully), apocalyptical evangelicals and pipedreaming libertarians (no offense to honest dope fiends) – can be traced to the GOP’s weakening its own ability to control its candidates and elected officials, despite their having just previously witnessed the same sort of tinkering yield self-inflicted damage in the Democratic Party for a couple of decades. Democrats have since taken a long walk on the mild side, so what’s with their steely resolve of late? As a now pointless academic exercise, let’s try to dissect this pickled corpse.

In a dispute where one group is nihilistic and everyone else is sane, there is no point trying to compromise, except perhaps to amicably propose a divorce. With respect to the parties to what Senator John McCain summed up as, “one of the most shameful chapters I have seen in the years I’ve spent in the Senate,” such a divorce would presumably bring joy to the hearts of the Confederate nostalgics, who would finally realize Lincoln’s dream of a strong and free CSA where states’ rights would never again be trampled. Or was that Jeff Davis? Either way, like their predecessor Andrew Jackson, who shut down the central bank, brought back the gold standard and, in the process of reducing the national debt to zero, also reduced the economy to a trim, slim, anorexic wisp of that which he’d inherited, they were sure that there was nothing paradoxical about thrift. Well, Jackson was, at least. The other guys, not so much. Which brings us into debt.

According to the paradox of thrift, for a nation, red ink accompanies rising standards of living as far as the eye can see, while thrift produces neither black ink nor rising standards of living. Unlike the household of a family of mere mortals, the economy of a nation has an indefinite lifespan. Thus, nations can carry large debt-to-GDP ratios indefinitely. This realization eventually came to the attention of all nations, and was then put to productive use by every nation, including the much vaunted Germany (public debt = 81.7% of GDP) and the much maligned U.S.A. (public debt = 73.6% of GDP).

It was widely understood that any given year’s debt was an investment in future years’ GDP growth, and, in effect, would be paid more through that future growth in GDP than by immediate tax revenues received. Tax systems began to be redesigned to discourage economically contractive behavior, like hoarding, and encourage economically expansive behavior, like investing, thus ensuring that, a mark, a yen, a buck or a pound, money makes the world go around in a facilitating manner.
It was reckoned that a monetary catastrophe, of which either deflation or hyperinflation would merely be a symptom, would only ensue if a change in the size of the economy were not commensurate with the change in monetary momentum, given by the sum of the number of currency units times their velocity of circulation. Once in a while, catastrophe would probably strike, despite the best laid plans to avert it, but as long as they didn’t strike too many countries at the same time, recovery could be expected on a publically acceptable timescale.

Then Ronald Reagan, wearing the really big duck shoes that he’d bought at a thrift store off Hollywood Boulevard just minutes before showing up for his job repairing the concrete on the Walk of Fame, strode upon the national stage, and, like the Jacksonian protégé[e]s who’ve serially filled that big ol’ pair of now semipetrified shoes since he exited stage far-right, looked Neville Chamberlain square in the eye and said, “Step away from the pair o’ ducks and nobody kicks the bucket.” Ah, but what bucket-kickers these mortals yet be. And the rest is Thatchery thriftery.

Posted by MoBioph | Report as abusive
 

Edit: Change “is a central” to “is central” in the first intro.

Posted by MoBioph | Report as abusive
 

@MoBioph,

Well, you write entertainingly enough, but my preference is defensible facts and reasoning therefrom.

“No country can or should operate the way you think…”. Well, the Swiss have done pretty well for hundreds of years.

“The policy of subjecting America’s sovereign debt to a ceiling placed under the control of potentially adversarial groups of politicians in the form of the two houses of the legislative branch and the chief of the executive branch…” is a non-issue today because both major parties AND the White House for decades have been in a race to outspend each other. With NO opposition, they have all “won”, again and again at taxpayer expense because NO ONE represents the taxpayer’s interests in “big government” today.

I have heard before the suggestion that red ink is what produces and supports a rising standard of living. The problem I see is that it’s very simple to buy lots ans lots of red ink, to spend and spend, the party never stops. Ask Greece how that worked out. But I agree that America’s currency has been intentionally inflated steadily over the years ahd it hasn’t collapsed yet. But that process is like leaving an aircraft at hign altitude without a prachute. Everything is just fine until the very end.

The “lifespan” of a nation’s economy is inseparable from the viability of the nation itself and what it produces that the rest of the world needs or will buy. Bull skat isn’t worth much by the pound. And I think you owe the legacy of Margaret Thatcher much more respect than you will ever deserve.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive
 

OneOfTheSheep: Why is it that every time we have an exchange you feel the need to say: “You and I differ in that I neither envy nor vilify the rich, nor do most Americans.” And, as always, I have to explain to you that I, too, neither envy nor vilify the rich. I have no reason to. Why is it necessary for you to always make that ridiculous, spurious charge? There is no rational reason, but the irrational reasoning can only be that you equate one’s concern for his fellow man with being envious or resentful toward the rich, thinking only befitting a wealthy plutocrat who knows he’s engaged in superseding the American people’s Constitutional right to true representative government, is benefiting from it, and wants to keep it that way. For you the only explanation for someone who favors a fair economic system that advances the best interests of a majority of the people is that they must be envious and resentful of rich people. How would I describe that thinking? Weird. Sad. Certainly cynical. Don’t do that. It’s not true.

Not sure if you have a poor memory or if you think you’re advancing your argument by trying to undermine my credibility. Don’t listen to flashrooster; he’s a communist. He hates rich people. To my mind your posts have always reflected a notion that capitalism is some kind of organic economic system that’s been around since Adam and Eve (that’s about 9,000 years, according Republican Rep. Paul Broun), we just needed to recognize it and tap into it. Capitalism is a construct of man just as socialism and communism are. Kennedy once said, “I’m a idealist without illusions.” Well, I’m a capitalist without illusions. The system needs to be structured in a way that benefits the most people. Right now the rich have tweaked it in a way that best serves them at everyone elses expense. It’s not their system to do that with. People should still be able to work the hardest and be the richest, but do they really have to make more money than they could ever spend in a lifetime when his workers are struggling to make ends meet, simply because he’s the boss who’s discovered that he can get away with paying a measly wage? Why not pay your workers, say, $20,000 a year more and your earnings drop from, say, $600,000 million to $500,000 million? Is that really unreasonable? It would certainly be better for our economy. Henry Ford figured that one out. Smart man. Or instead of paying 15% in taxes on your multi-million dollar earnings require 30% in taxes? A good country costs money. If you don’t want to pay taxes, go to Zamberia and work out a security agreement with General Bluto. Just prepare to be flexible on the agreement as things…evolve.

You write, “Why SHOULDN’T they enjoy use of the security and infrastructure their government provides in exchange for taxes?” I shouldn’t always have to repeat and explain to you. I know I’m being clear. I never said rich people shouldn’t enjoy use of the security and infrastructure. This shouldn’t need explaining, but my point was that they get the most benefit from that security and infrastructure and, therefore, should pay a higher percentage of their earnings in taxes. It’s not punishment. It’s the price of utilization. If I take my family to Disney World every month and you only take your family there once a year, shouldn’t I have to pay more? And that analogy falls far short of how much more the rich utilize our “security” forces than the average American, the grunt who actually does the fighting compared to the executive who makes the oil deal.

And I don’t buy your excuse, “So why can’t we just do what has always been to improve the economy? Because the RULES HAVE CHANGED! The availability of cheap computers and good software have made production, commerce more and more efficient.”

Nonsense. Can you name a time in our history when we weren’t making technological advancements that made “production, commerce more and more efficient”? I can’t. We need to do a better job of training our workforce, and make the training/education less expensive. That takes commitment, from the people and their government. But apparently we have to be reminded that it is OUR government and not be afraid to demand that it serve us.

The United States has the worst disparity of wealth among all developed nations. It is that of a 3rd world country. We also have one of the worst records for creating an environment that encourages economic mobility. We also have the most expensive healthcare system in the world. And not only is our healthcare system the most expensive, but we’ve allowed the healthcare industry to shape it in such a way that they reap enormous profits while it’s bankrupting millions of Americans, not to mention our government. These developments are relatively recent. Healthcare used to be affordable, for individuals and our government. We didn’t always have millions of Americans filing for bankruptcy due to healthcare costs. We haven’t always had the the widest disparity in wealth in the industrialized world. And upward mobility used to be much more achievable. You say times have changed. What do you think is happening in the rest of the world? How is it different for them compared to us? The other developed countries have fared better in all of these areas than we have, and yet they, too, have discovered the computer. Obviously they’re doing something that we’re not.

And please, stop with the, “our poor aren’t really poor; why, they even have cell phones.” Have you ever taken the time to consider why a lot of poor Americans have cell phones? Are you aware that there are government programs to help the poor have free cell phones and usage? Another government freebie for the poor? Remember what I said about the need for better training to aid in helping people find jobs? Well, they also need phones, cell phones. It’s not a luxury; it’s a necessity. You always claim that I resent the rich. Perhaps that’s your way of compensating for your resentment of the poor. You’re harder on them than I am the rich.

Let me make something clear about my attitude toward the rich. I have no resentment toward the wealthy, and those who made their wealth honestly and through hard work and using their brains, I admire. But I do very much resent those who have used their wealth to shanghai our government and force it to do their bidding. They are the worst kind of scoundrels and it’s time for the rest of us to retrieve our government from them by any means necessary. Preferably peaceful means, but that will be up to them.

Posted by flashrooster | Report as abusive
 

MoBioph: Great posts. You’re making too much sense. Your line of thought used to be more the norm, back when this country had a functional government and a populous that was less adversarial. Before Rush convinced millions of Americans that anyone who isn’t a hard right conservative is evil and out to destroy “your” America. Please keep expressing yourself, and do so frequently. Write a book. I’m guessing you already have.

Posted by flashrooster | Report as abusive
 

@flashrooster,

It was not my intent to offend. I don’t have a photographic memory, and certain words and phrases you use probably trigger similar responses from me over time on those subjects on which we seem to disagree.

Believe it or not, I seek agreement and consensus when there is the slightest possibility, and even prefer to disagree respectfully if a debate is fundamentally honest. I think one can be concerned with his fellow man by supporting equality of opportunity while being fundamentally opposed to any “system” that tries major redistribution of the rewards of success from the deserving to the undeserving. Subjective, I know.

Capitalism as an economic “system” is relatively new, but commerce has been around as long as money, barter and credit. In THAT guise, leaders and governments that have seen that their most capable and productive, whether they be Generals, merchants, or ordinary workers and soldiers do better than slackers and so both merit and achieve a “better life”. It is THAT which is the very kernel within Capitalism. Properly harnessed, I see Capitalism as both foundation and salvation of the “good life”

The United States was a “good country” for many, many years before there was an income tax, so I think it somewhat disingenuous to suggest that only a high, redistributive tax system is related or necessary. I see taxes as general, to be apportioned with appropriate priority to taxpayer needs; which is why I see no problem that the rich man’s single car pay no more to use the road than the hippy’s Volkswagen bus.

You tend more to the European custom of taxation based upon ability to pay in terms of defense. I don’t. In more than a few instances people with high incomes have been financially motivated to flee such systems. I deem America itself richer so long as these people base here and pay nominal taxes here. The person going to Disney world every month Does pay more, and not through the tax system. It’s a “use” tax.

“Can you name a time in our history when we weren’t making technological advancements that made “production, commerce more and more efficient”? I can’t.” No, but the RATE of advancement in the last forty years is absolutely without precedent in terms of changing how Americans live and how and where they work. Millions and millions of good, entry level middle class white collar jobs have ceased to exist. Not offshored, just GONE! Forever.

“We need to do a better job of training our workforce, and make the training/education less expensive.” I agree. But our educational system is pumping out more and more people qualified for jobs in shorter and shorter supply. Big debt, no good job to retire it…what is YOUR “fix”?

Commerce is hacking up complex job responsibilities into stone simple ones as explained in detail above. My point about the poor in America driving is that to be “poor” here is by means the same as being “poor” in India, Pakistan, Africa, China, South or Central America, Palestine, Egypt, etc.

On a per capita income or quality of life measure, America’s poor would be in the upper 20% worldwide. That’s an important perspective if you don’t give them “extra credit” for the windfall of having been born in these United States (and I don’t).

I deem my opinions and perspective fully as legitimate as yours, but as it is for me to advance mine, so is it for you to advance yours. Best!

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive
 

OneOfTheSheep – As Lord Keynes famously asked, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” I used to gravitate toward the paradox of thrift, but the weight of evidence levitated me away. For example, let’s turn to the CIA World Factbook for figures regarding the public debt of each nation.

Switzerland, which you cite as your example of thrift, has a public debt = 52.40% of GDP (2011 estimate). Here are some other debt figures from the CIA World Factbook:

In First Place, Japan, with a public debt = 214.30% of GDP (2012 estimate);

In last place, Liberia, with a public debt = 2.60% (2012 estimate).

Where would you rather live?

(By the way, the citizens of Switzerland, Germany (debt = 81.90% of GDP, 2012 estimate) and the Netherlands (public debt = 71.10% of GDP, 2012 estimate) are required to purchase private health insurance, and those countries are all prosperous democracies with freedoms that would raise the eyebrow of the average American visitor to Las Vegas.)

PM Thatcher and President Reagan were not keen on evidence-based policy making. Mrs Thatcher’s main departure from evidence-based policy making was due to her having succumbed to the paradox of thrift, which fosters a faith-based approach to economics. Post-Thatcher, the trend in the UK (public debt = 90.00%, 2012 estimate) has been to slowly step back from the faith-based abyss.

Despite the Reagan administration’s own steps back toward evidence-based policy, as for instance in deciding not to pursue the return to the gold standard that Reagan had proposed in his presidential bid of 1980, post-Reagan America has wobbled between faith-based and evidence-based governance, with the nation so far coming to its senses in the depths of most crises, as during the financial crisis sparked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, and in the two too many approaches to self-inflicted default to date.

And now, some major evidence-based accounting: Someone to whom we all owe everything is Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Petrov. On September 26, 1983, while on duty as the officer in charge of the USSR’s orbital missile early warning system, Petrov dismissed as false alarms several detected ICBM launches from the United States. Had he followed protocol and reported the apparent attack up the Soviet chain of command, it is quite possible that the USSR would have launched what they would have seen as a counterattack, in response to which the United States would probably have launched what would have indeed been a counterattack, and that would have been that.

In November of 1983, continued poor communication between NATO and the USSR again brought the world close to nuclear annihilation. The crisis resulted from the USSR’s mistaking Able Archer 83, a NATO simulation of a DEFCON 1 nuclear alert, for a real nuclear attack. PM Thatcher and President Reagan were participants in Able Archer 83. As debts go, I calculate that I owe absolutely nothing to Mrs Thatcher or Mr Reagan.

Posted by MoBioph | Report as abusive
 

Many thanks, flashrooster. I find your posts are very thoughtful and informative, and as each person has a different perspective, sharing our views can raise all our levels of understanding, so I hope you keep contributing, too. Cheers!

Posted by MoBioph | Report as abusive
 

I might as well add that the Reagan administration’s policies put a powerful wind in the sails of the boat that shipped one of my former careers to a foreign shore. I harbor no animosity toward the foreigners who’ve taken up that former career of mine. They owe me no debt worth pursuing. President Reagan is no longer in a position to repay any debts, but even if he were, I don’t imagine I’d pursue anything from him, either. With malice toward none, with charity for all, as somebody once said shortly before his own people killed him.

Posted by MoBioph | Report as abusive
 

OneOfTheSheep: “…certain words and phrases you use probably trigger similar responses from me over time on those subjects on which we seem to disagree.”

Thank you for you honesty. That was really what I figured. I really don’t have any resentment toward the rich, at all. In fact, as I stated, I admire the rich, at least those who worked hard and honestly for their money, which I choose to believe is most. I admire those who set out with a goal and make it happen. What I consider unfortunate is that our society has evolved in such a way where we only admire those whose goal is to make money, and succeed.

And also as I stated, I do have a lot of animosity toward those who are using their wealth to dilute our democracy to increase their wealth and influence at everyone else’s expense. That diminishes our democracy.

As you well know, our government, I suppose like all governments to one degree or another, is somewhat fluid, at least within a certain prescribed structure, as defined by our Constitution. It’s not perfect (nothing of man’s is) but it has worked well for us. Sometimes things move too far one way or the other (and stating it in those terms isn’t meant to suggest there are simply 2 ways, left and right. I’m sure you’d agree it’s much more complicated than that.) We had an example of this during the 1920s, where the wealthy were exerting their influence for personal gain. There were a lot of people suffering hardships while a few lived the life of Riley (a phrase that I think came from that era.) There was too much power in the hands of a few and they abused that power. Then we had the stock market crash followed by the depression. Americans had had enough. Things had to change. We elected the people’s president, FDR. FDR was a Democrat’s Democrat. Think about how popular he was (elected President 4 times) and I’m sure you’d agree he was far more liberal than Obama. Yet the right have falsely painted Obama as a radical liberal. But I digress.

What I’m trying to say is that we’ve reached one of those turning points when things have gone too far in one direction. Now, whether we choose to usher in change is another question. Those in power have made change extremely difficult. Once again, the wealthy (not all rich people) have too much influence and the majority of the American people have suffered.

We both hit on some of the problems with labor and some of the solutions, retraining, for example. I believe that the government needs to do a whole lot more for working Americans and those on the right are arguing that the government is already doing far too much. I don’t understand where they get that from, but I disagree. Invest in the American people. I don’t believe in trickle down economics and I do believe in investing in the American people. I’d argue that history backs me up on that. Economically, we were at our ne plus ultra during the 40s – 60s. Reagan had a different theory and he was allowed to test that theory. It hasn’t worked out nearly as well.

I believe if you invest in the American people it improves the economy and everyone profits, the rich, the Middle Class (especially the Middle Class) and the poor. Trickle down only benefits the rich and forces them to increasingly depend on international markets as the American Middle Class dries up. They don’t care, as long as they’re increasing their profits. But most of the rest of America does care, because we’re hurting, and it is within our power to improve that.

But first things first. We must take back our government. Special interests are able to use their wealth as leverage to get what they want from our government. That’s what we have to stop. The money has to be controlled and done in a way that promotes our democratic principles. In other words, the rich shouldn’t have any more influence than any one else. Otherwise, they will take advantage of that. But also done in a way where any viable candidate has a shot. In other words, let’s not limit money to candidates chosen by the 2 dominant parties, but at the same time you don’t want any idiot off the street to have equal access to money and time as a viable candidate. I think you know what I’m getting at. We’d have to come up with a way that would be fair, but would winnow down potential candidates so that Charles Manson doesn’t end up on the ballot.

I also think we need to devise a formula for redistricting our states in a way that best promotes equal representation and put an end to gerrymandering once and for all. This should never have been allowed to happen in the first place. I understand California has come up with such a system (in CA is protects Republicans) and I’ve been told that Arizona has come up with a system (where Republicans are trying to stop it in court.) But something has to be done about gerrymandering.

So the first step needs to be reviving our democracy, because until we do that we won’t be able to get anything else done. And then we need to return our focus to the American people, where our government focus should be. After all, it’s our government.

I saw an interesting post on FaceBook this morning. It read: “The USA should invade the USA and win the hearts and minds of the population by building roads, bridges and putting locals to work”

Of course they’re referencing what we’ve spent trillions on doing in other countries. If you think about it objectively, it’s bazaar that we’re so willing to do that in other countries but not our own. There’s a lot of resistance to doing it here and that has to end.

Posted by flashrooster | Report as abusive
 

The problem is not with the GOP you can expect anarchists, Maoists, another extreme undemocratic minority elements in government is some way. The problem is that rules limiting minority ability sabotage the normal functioning of government is not and what is there like the section 4 and 5 of the 14 th Amendment did not get to courts to enforce by injunctions and orders to Congress.

No organization can function effectively if after course is approved my what runs it, the course is blocked. In case of laws and programs that means the majority in congress funds them and otherwise provides what they need or if they do not work repeals them or amends them. Since we profess to be a democracy: minority beliefs must become majority beliefs before they are acted on. he only ones that want stopping government as a doctrine is anarchists and libertarians.

Posted by Samrch | Report as abusive
 

Rules and procedures must in place to block any attempt to stop normal functioning of government. The only ones that want stopping government as a doctrine are anarchists and libertarians. Also lobbyists need ways for their paid minority to run things.

Posted by Samrch | Report as abusive
 

There will always be undemocratic elements who will want to shut the government a goal (anarchists and libertarians) or as to a part of revolution (Maoist, Nazis). And there will be lobbyist buy few volts and have rules that allow them to rule.

What is needed is enforcement of existing rules like sections 4 and 5 of the 14th Amendment and new rules and customs to to take away the power minorities and lobbyists in congress to wag the dog. Hidden rules do not help. If the press does not say things are unlawful loud and clear money will talk.

Posted by Samrch | Report as abusive
 

OneOfTheSheep: I just read this op-ed that discusses an important aspect of the point I was trying to make in my posts on this thread. You might find it of interest. This is a problem that can be improved upon: http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/20 13/10/16/are-there-still-millionaires-ne xt-door/

Posted by flashrooster | Report as abusive
 

There’s only one conclusion to be reached:

Based on the amount of hand-wringing by Rooters Prize Winning Editorial Staff and Ye Loyale Bande of Statist Zomb… er… Sleepwalkers posting here (yo Flash whaaatuuuup)…

The Tea Party must be a statist’s worst nightmare.

I can’t come to http://www.rooters.com to get real news without being forced watch the statist leftists and the statist rightists chasing their logical tails – whimpering and yapping like puppies denied their chew toy.

Come on peeps! Its been going on for days now! Around and around and around. Same circular arguments, ad infinitum, over and over and over.

Do you clowns (dang that word again – unavoidable here in Rooters World) think that Pontificating Statists are going to arbitrarily force those dastardly and vicious Republican Radicals to move to “The Center”?

And oh they are vicious, aren’t they? They believe in stupid stuff. Like the UNALIENABLE rights of the not-yet-born and the restatement of Constitutional controls on the state before it spends us all into oblivion. Things like protecting the borders, and ensuring the integrity of the vote.

Yup, the Stupid Stuff.

And dare I say it, especially at Halloween?….

The RIGHTSIZING of the Federal Government!

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKKKKKKKKKK!!

Oh yes, the so-called Tea Party is such a threat that connivances must be undertaken to silence it’s voice, to shut it out, to make it go away at any cost.

Yup that Tea Party is just a bunch wackjobs. It’s why we must make them go away we must make them go away we must make them go away we must make them go away we must make them go away we must make them go away we must make them go away we must make them go away we must make them go away we must make them go away we must make them go away we must make them go away we must make them go away we must make them go away we must make them go away we must make them go away we must make them go away we must make them go away we must make them go away we must make them go away we must make them go away we must make them go away we must make them go away we must make them go away we must make them go away

Well, carry on!

Posted by HamsterHerder | Report as abusive
 

It was not my intent to include a functional URL in the previous post. I have reported the post to the admin as abuse.

My apologies to Reuters and those reading the post.

Posted by HamsterHerder | Report as abusive
 

Oh what the heck. Let’s just get rid of the Federal government entirely. We’ll have 50 different countries. (Or 51, if California splits into two.)

There really is no need for the *United* states of America. None at all.

So let’s just abolish the USA. Who’s with me? :>

Posted by RMoS | Report as abusive
 

The ‘my party right or wrong’ rhetoric doesn’t help reach any consensus. I’ll admit I’ve said some anti-tea party things due to my extreme ire at the pointless waste of money in 2 shutdowns 2011-2013.

Spending IS down with deficits that were a few years ago over 1 $ Trillion now falling under 1/2 $ Trillion and trending down more. Still a lot of money – but the fact is that Obama (with overall cuts as well as the sequester) is cutting spending faster than anyone since Eisenhower. Ike also used taxes as a tool to reach a balanced budget and taxes then were double today’s rates, but the thought of any tax increase at all puts negotiation on the skids. Back then infrastructure projects were also a regular response to unemployment that paid dividends long after jobs improved. If you remember Ross Perot made an issue of the deficit and debt, and lots of Americans listened and were willing to pay a little 25 years ago to help balance the books. That spirit is nowhere to be found now.

The biggest cost increase I deal as an ‘enough, already’ issue is workplace health insurance – family coverage going up 5-10% over last 10 years, premium cost is now double what I paid with the same kids in 2003, and co-pays are higher too (please tell me how ACA drove up my rates in 2003-2009, or why my doctor friends hated insurance paperwork even back then). My worst bureaucratic experiences are from insurance companies, not government: taking 2 kids to dentist same day and fighting ‘double billing’ accusation from insurer, or similar wastes of my time and dentist or doctor time almost every year. ACA/Obamacare can’t be any worse! And for the good already it adds coverage for my growing kids off to college and removes pre-existing condition concerns if anything happens and me or spouse get sick or change jobs. I’m willing to give ACA a chance rather than make it the rallying cry for a suicide charge to wreck the economy before ACA even takes effect.

One man’s bloated government is another man’s idea of investing in the future. One man’s “right-sizing” government is another man’s passing the global baton to China. US government funded science going back to the ’20s and ’30s helped win WW2, and in the 40s and 50s it built the tools for the space race, since then it mapped the genome and still advances technology bringing several dollars into our economy for each dollar spent here on research. Spending cuts have hit research and that WILL impact how US companies compete globally. I’d like to work toward a balanced budget, but don’t tell me that cuts are the only way to get there.

I disagree with the philosophy about taxes in tea party advertisements. The anti-tax ideas seem close to society’s move over the last generation away from caring about buying American-made goods instead of cheap imports, not thinking about the cost of losing jobs and skills. Now the same apparently selfish attitude applies to our government from Navy to NASA and NOAA to FEMA and CDC to VA. Do we want the best, or are we a bunch of cheapskates who want to cut other people’s programs, but keep your hands off mine?

I could agree with tea party that immigration out of control brings an untaxed, unlicensed cash labor pool, sometimes mistreated and exploited, and encourages greedy employers, even homeowners hiring street corner labor, to use that pool to dodge social security and other payroll taxes, thereby depressing wages and increasing costs for ‘law-abiding taxpayers’. If there was a fair way to make US immigration any closer to that of Australia we’d have a stronger economy.

If you believe ‘moochers’ do indeed use kids to get free stuff, as some have said, why take sex eduation out of schools, and make it harder to find contraceptives? But tea-party congressmen who love to cut programs like that include the guy from Idaho with 10 kids – all on government medical plans…

All the areas of possible common ground with Tea party about balancing the budget or strengthening jobs or long term immigration reform get lost in the damage of the shutdown and the level of all-or-nothing rhetoric.

There are more middle of the road Americans than burn-down-the-government extremists, so Cruz and others in his caucus should listen to McCain and start talking to their colleagues more, and playing less to the press. Work to a big picture consensus with all the players, and look at all the facts not just a few zingers picked out of context to get attention.

Posted by Decatur | Report as abusive
 

We spend $3.1 trillion per year and take in about $2.1 trillion. To balance this with taxes only, each taxpayer would need to pay an additional $8,000 per year.

Posted by 54100 | Report as abusive
 

@OOTS, flashrooster, MoBioph, thanks for a great debate! @Decatur, great post too.

Posted by tmc | Report as abusive
 

partisan politics supersede the common good…

Posted by rikfre | Report as abusive
 

Marxism (according to Groucho and Chico) offers the possible solution of requiring a “Sanity Clause” for public office.

spoiler alert

oh wait – ‘everyone knows there ain’t no sanity clause’..

Posted by Decatur | Report as abusive
 

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