The same people who pushed the Iraq War on us are now pushing fiscal austerity. Can you name any austerity hawks in this country who were not big Iraq War supporters? The arguments are similar too. We needed to invade Iraq to ward off the looming danger of WMD and spread freedom; we need to cut our budgets to ward off the bond vigilantes and teach ourselves discipline.
Don’t get me wrong, obviously, federal deficits can be problematic. I opposed the Bush tax cuts as well as their recent extension and believe that marginal rates for the wealthy should probably be higher than they were under Clinton (some of the deficit hawks believe the same thing, so I am not saying that they are all entirely crazy). The fact is, though, that we are in a recession and there is ample historical evidence to suggest that cutting spending is not a good thing during a recession.
With Iraq, we were told that we were for it or against it, that if we were worried that it might be an expensive disaster, then we were Neville Chamberlains, or even traitors. Real patriots don’t do nuance! It’s the same here, if you argue that we need radical changes down the road (my radical changes would involve tax rates and the medical system) but not massive spending cuts during the worse recession in 70 years, then you’re just “kicking can down the road”.
The middle part of the country — the great Red Zone that reveres Paul Ryan — is clearly ready for fiscal austerity. The decadent Left in its enclaves on the coasts is not dead—and may well mount what amounts to a fifth column.
Update. Ron Paul is an austerity hawk who opposed the Iraq War. I’d argue that he’s sui generis, given that military spending is one of the prime targets for his proposed austerity measures.
Yeah, that’s pretty astute.
Bring on the catfood. I understand that the Free Market means that the more virtuous and successful of the proletariat will be able to afford Fancy Feast.
I’d say you are onto something, Doug. Especially since inflation for all of 2010 was just 1.5% and without food and energy, it was 0.8% Pursuing an austerity package now could easily result in either watching our GDP shrink (as Britain’s did in the last quarter) or entering a deflationary spiral (hi Japan!). But hey, why should fact and reality matter any more this time?
It sure looks that way to Paul Krugman. As with the Iraq War, he’s practically the only person asking questions and calling out the established consensus’ supporters on their BS.
I think its that and a bit more. This a chance for republicans to try and force democrats to do their bidding and then run against it.
If Austerity tanks the Economy, they run against Obama for tanking the Economy. If the economy barely survives, they run against Obama for not going R enough. If Obama cuts entitlements, they run against him for that.
With the media in the Republican pocket yet again, they can’t lose. Watch the news, do they spend more time talking about horrible unemployment or Austerity? It’s already rigged, the media has already decided that the looming threat in Ira– American is WM–deficit.
You’re really REALLY on a bombing run against The Atlantic, aren’t you DougJ? I’m getting my popcorn.
Not to pat myself on the back but I said this exact same thing yesterday on the thread about the Dish and the pigford case.
I think it is the same exact dynamic. I was having coffee with a friend this am and someone sitting next to me was reading The Post and their Op Ed was about Obama as Punter in Chief. Wow! Who would have predicted eh?
Also–I heard the CBS line on the Obama budget and it was all he is lying it increases the debt. The report on the reepublican effort only mentioned that the tea party wanted more cuts but NO word on the actual content of it. Your Liberal Media at work!
I know austerity can lead to disaster, however a part of me wants to kick that teabagger out of their Rascal and revoke their Medicare and Social Security. I mean, there are some brands of cat food that even a teabagger can digest!
@Bulworth: The fiscal austerity the baby boomers so desperately want will be put on the backs of their children and grandchildren. As punishment for electing a non-white POTUS. I look forward to President Jeb Bush signing a reform of the tax code that pushes the tax rate to 75% for those under 60, and 95% for those under 60 and non-white the day after his inauguration in January of 2017.
I notice Sully is using the word “default” with alarming frequency these days. I hope that doesn’t become a part of the new conventional wisdom, that unless drastic cuts are made NOW the U.S. will be in Default. Unless we bomb the debt the debt will become self-aware and default on us.
A Commenter at Balloon Juice (formerlyThe Grand Panjandrum)
Deficit hawks must first raise marginal rates for top earners AND pay for Medicare Part D. THEN I will take them seriously. They are all full of shit and should be called out at every opportunity until they fix the shit they broke.
Villago Delenda Est
Of course Obama increased the deficit!
He put the entire clusterfuck in Iraq “on budget”, and whammo, it skyrocketed!
Ugh, and right on cue is the grinning rictus of old man McCain wanting to “Stop the Pork”. Has that asshole ever not suckled from the gubmint teat?
If suddenly the deficit and debt were to magically disappear, would people get their jobs back?
Assuming all else was equal — not different policies on stimulus nor the political space opened up, etc. Keep all policies and current economic conditions exactly the same.
I mean, the actual direct effect of there being no deficit or debt. Starting from the moment of deficit & debt disappearance. As an economic, not a political or policy analysis.
does this mean i’m Objectively Pro-Deficit ?
do i hate America because of its inflation rate ?
That quote should be the epitaph on Sully’s tombstone. It’s one of those lines that just so aptly defines a person’s horribleness, like Ledeen’s “Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.”
@Bulworth: Sully’s gone full circle. If we don’t destroy SS and gut every program that helps the young bucks and their Cadillac mommas then we will be destroyed by
Saddam’s WMD’sthe debt that Mitch Daniels helped to create. We must elect the people who blew up the debt in the first place in order to reduce it. Right after we invade Iran.
Villago Delenda Est
OK, history lesson, and this is ancient history, so pay attention, you kids of the Village:
In 2000, the US government budget was in surplus.
In 2001, an appointed by five total enemies of the US Constitution “president” called for massive tax cuts for his “base”, the parasite overclass.
In 2003, this same appointed “president” launched the first major war of aggression by a major power since 1939, and insisted that the costs of this war be put “off budget” so as to not make the deficit created by his tax cuts for the parasite overclass look even worse. But then again, as far as the racist scum that are the teabaggers were concerned then, Ronald Reagan had proved that deficits don’t matter. Dick “Darth” Cheney said so.
Flash forward to 4 November 2008, when suddenly it was discovered that the US government budget was seriously in deficit and something HAD TO BE DONE ABOUT IT right that fucking second.
@Cat Lady: It’s an easy target. That placed is filled with idiots(TNC and Fallows excepted, of course)
You see, the great thing about being on the Right is that you never, ever have to think. If you don’t think, you never have to re-examine your positions in the light of new information, because you never examined them in the first place, and furthermore any information that contradicts your positions must be false.
Another great thing about not thinking is that you get to simultaneously believe two completely contradictory things, like “Drastic Government spending cuts will unleash an economic boom of historic proportions” and “Greece deserves to suffer the economic consequences of drastic Government spending cuts.”
Villago Delenda Est
This has been another simple answer…
Well, no surprises here…
The Repubs have always used gloom, doom and fear to stampede the public into doing what they want. Remember the “smoking gun in the shape of a mushroom cloud”? If scaring the public worked there, why not apply the same methods to stampede the public into chopping the government down to nothing.
It’s one of the most disgusting things about Repubs. It’s not about appealing to the intellect any more, or making thoughtful policy decisions–it’s about going for the knee-jerk response, and appealing to the primitive emotions of the reptile brain…
One of my favorite idiot lines used over and over during the run-up to the second Iraq War.
“They must know something that we don’t.”
Turns out, not so much.
I tell ya I am getting sick and tired of all of these multi millionaire gas bags calling for some fiscal pain.
I got into this with Sully last night.
But something I could use clarification on: are these austerity hawks advocating deep cuts ASAP or are they advocating legislation that will come into effect in 10, 20 years, etc. Or both?
It seems to me that we’re mostly talking about doing something ASAP and applying the “washington consensus” to washington itself (well not to the ppl who live there who happen to be white, of course). But I can’t seem to get a straight answer on this one from said hawks.
Dang, DougJ, good comparison!
@Hunter Gathers: It’s pretty sick thay Sully is gushing over Mitch Daniels, when Daniels didn’t do squat about the deficit then, and won’t if he’s ever elected.
Yeah, it’s more like a strafing run.
Only until one of those cuts affects them personally. Then they will scream bloody murder. Poll after poll has shown that when you drill down to the specifics, very few people want social programs cut.
Actually, in 2000, some people say the US government budget was in surplus.
But other people say it wasn’t.
So, the problem is really both sides except Obama’s budget is a joke and the Democrats are spending too much and out of control spending and driving the country into debtdeficitdefaultbankruptcy.
Good god-damned point DougJ.
I was listening to NPR this morning and the Obama’s budget director had to point out to them that Social Security doesn’t add to the deficit and that fixing it is actually pretty easy. Apparently facts are hard for our “journalists” to grasp.
The tactics are the same, but the objective is different. With the Iraq War, it was further enriching all the fat cats in line to benefit from a foreign war in an oil-rich country (with the added benefit of showing up Pappy Bush). In this case, it’s defeating Obama and the Democrats. They’re smart enough to know that Keynesian policies work and supply-side ones don’t, but the prevailing folk beliefs support voodoo economics nonetheless. That gives them a perfect scenario — they can cheerlead policies that will sink the economy and with it the administration, and no one will see through what they’re doing.
As for the issue itself, IIRC, the prez submits his budget to the House, which then
mutilatesdebates it. Correct? If so, that’s not a bad scenario for him. He builds a framework, plays to the crowd by submitting it with much serious and conciliatory talk, then lets the spotlight shift to the cretins and shitheels in the House as they do the actual job of constructing a (supposedly) actual, workable budget. Under the circumstances, Obama could hold his budgetary press conference wearing a Ronald Reagan t-shirt and quoting from Milton Friedman, and I’d still be able to hold my water until I saw what landed on his desk.
Amanda in the South Bay
Sully and his douchebag minions may style themselves deficit hawks, but bring up raising taxes, and they’ll throw a hissy fit.
The decadent Left in its enclaves on the coasts is not dead – and may well mount what amounts to a fifth column.
Sullivan is such a worthless piece of shit.
They revere Paul Ryan because he’s the only Republican brave enough to write down his plan. Unfortunately, like most Republicans, math isn’t his strong suit and his plan doesn’t balance the budget for 75 years while continuing tax cuts for the wealthy and gutting SS and medicare benefits for the non wealthy.
I truly think we can do better than that. I do think long term we have to deal with the deficit, but realistically, we are going to have to raise taxes to do it without gutting the entire federal government. I think it should be approached like this:
Would you pay an extra 1% in taxes to pay down the debt?
I’d be willing to bet many people would say yes. I’d also bet many people making $200,000 yr would pay the extra 3% on their top income to balance the budget.
@Bulworth: I think the word “default” should be used more. Let me give you an example:
It would be a disaster for the United States to default on its debt to the Social Security program.
@atlliberal: Speaking of Paul Ryan writing down his plan, why did the journalists let him get away with the whole “ask again later” business on the Republican’s budget yesterday?
@Phil Perspective: Daniels, the Napoleon of the shit-hole known as Indiana, will just use budgeting tricks and sell everything that’s not nailed down to foreign interests to ‘solve’ the deficit, just in time for him to roll out his plan for invading Iran, at the cost of 75 cents.
OT but Balloon worthy:
I read this as Tunch having a mass 4x that of Jupiter
Villago Delenda Est
I think this snippet of dialog from The Secret of My Success is appropriate here:
Christy Wills: Just tell me one more time what your solution is to this crisis.
Brantley Foster: We don’t cut, we expand.
[the waitress, Sheila, arrives]
Sheila: I agree. Expansion is a positive reaction to the universe, while retraction, or cutting back, or pulling off, those are all negative forces. I used to be very negative, and then I took this personality workshop – my whole life turned around. Hiya, my name’s Sheila. You make a good-looking couple – how long you been going together?
Brantley Foster: About 20 minutes.
Sheila: Ohhhhh, first date, huh? Good luck.
Because the republican leaders didn’t approve of the plan. It would lose them the majority for another generation or two and they know it. So they won’t use the plan but they’ll trot him out as a serious thinker on the subject because he’s the only one of them who has given it more thought than “tax cuts”
Don’t forget that one of the main arguments for Bush Jr. draining the surplus in tax cuts was that the existence of a surplus meant that the government had stolen too much of peoples’ money.
Presumably a balance of zero on deficit or debt would be okay, as long as there’s no suggestion that there’s a revenue side of deficit and debt bookkeeping.
Because there isn’t. Also, too, cutting spending will mean revenues will go up, except that if they do it probably means that taxes should be cut so as to stop the Stalinist collectivist government from appropriating too much wealth.
@Villago Delenda Est:
Don’t be silly. None of those things you mentioned had ANY connection to the deficit or our economic problems. It all started with Nancy Pelosi and the 2008 Congress. Also, too, the blacks, snargle bargle, Fannie Mae, snargle snargle, Obama. See?
But that’s exactly the point. As a critique of media processes it works very well. The media is again not bothering to get the story right, but by linking it to a proven case of their negligence (with catastrophic results), one might have more of a chance breaking through the complacent narrative the media is using.
If the crew at The Dish actually cared they would be reading what people who know what the fuck they are talking about are saying. I know it’s TNR but the link samples what real economists who get this are saying.
That Obama is no coward at all and that the recovery is too fresh to do any of the stuff these people are clamoring for.
Well, it probably is this year, because The Very Serious Tax Compromise at the end of last year cut the SS payroll tax by 2%, and this 2% gap was to be funded from general revenue. But otherwise, yes, it’s hard for Villagers to recognize that SS surpluses have been funding their wars and income tax cuts for many years now.
You know, historically, when governments need to pay off debts, they, uhh …
Well, they raise taxes — which are at historical lows, the lowest they’ve been since before WWII.
Now I know there’s an argument out there that if we raise taxes on the rich, then they won’t expand businesses or share the wealth in better wages, but, uhh …
Well, they’re not expanding business or paying better wages now — even though they’ve been making out like bandits (‘cuz that’s kind of what they are) while unemployment went up to 10%.
We’ve got the lowest taxes in almost a century, and the biggest debt, EVAR!, and the top one percent has more money than ever.
So explain to me again why we’re not raising taxes on the rich? Because, uhh …
Well, I’m just not getting it.
@Amanda in the South Bay:
But that would be Punishing Success ™. Can’t have that. Sitting on your arse and typing agitprop all day is such a valuable skill.
I’ve already posted my depressing take on how I’m now convinced this is all according to plan on another thread, so I won’t repeat it here.
Cynics joke about about the public as a herd of sheep, or cattle, but even that is too noble an image now. We (or rather our wealth and welfare) are being harvested. Like wheat.
Also, remember that austerity fans will never give in no matter how deep the cuts are because there is always going to be some government spending somewhere.
The solutions are oh-so-easy but at the same time oh-so-difficult.
The big problem with the current and future deficit, is of course health care costs. So you have single player. Get rid of the competing bureaucracies. Easy. Well no. That puts an awful lot of people out of work.
So then you have to fix that problem, along with the more general unemployment issue. Government hiring is probably out. My suggestion is to increase overtime pay to 3x and to set the overtime limit at 32 hours a week for both salaried and non-salary individuals. It’s actually pretty clear that due to increases in productivity and efficiency, we really can’t rely on a 40-hour workweek anymore for an entire population. So we need to spread this around.
This will increase competition between employers, raising wages and working conditions significantly, resulting in both more tax revenue and a better society as a whole. It’s a win-win…well unless you’re in the investment class who has to deal with getting a smaller portion of the pie. Boo-hoo.
It’s ok to tie the hours to unemployment rates so you keep a nice and clean balance too, in the case of an economic boom.
These are the main things that gets the budget under control. But you won’t see these things proposed, not because they are bad ideas, or because politicians are corrupt, but because your average person doesn’t want to see their “lazy” neighbor get “something for nothing”.
Dougj, this is right on target. The wingers are hyping the “imminent threat” of a budget “mushroom cloud” so that they can use it as an excuse to destroy the remnants of the New Deal, same as they’ve been trying to do for the last 75 years.
Meanwhile, they’re denying the actual imminent threat of climate change because tackling it would require more — not less — New Deal-type solutions.
Because in a recession, tax increases would hurt the economy.* But in a recession spending cuts won’t hurt the economy. It’s all very simple. Are you some kind of fifth column person?
*although actually tax increases would hurt the economy during any period so taxes can’t be raised on anyone ever.
Amanda in the South Bay
And, obviously a big part of the problem is that a big chunk of those pushing for deficit reduction don’t rely on the services they want to eliminate.
He said that???!!! Didnt he remember anything from 2002-3003 when he got all strident and holier than thou?
This from a happily married gay man who vacations in Provincetown and lives in NYC. What a motherfucking asswipe.
Villago Delenda Est
The way to fix health care costs is remarkably simple, yet difficult to accomplish.
Don’t let it be a profit center for anyone. Particularly the parasite middlemen of the health “insurance” industry.
@Ash Can: I pretty much agree with that — Obama’s in the position where he can shift the spotlight to the charlatans. Heck, he’s done it before.
But this part is just too dark:
There’re probably a few conservative leaders who know this stuff, but for the majority of ’em, I think the stupid-or-lying meter is pegged at “stupid.” Or just self-delusional. Or just so goal-oriented that they don’t care what the truth really is, like Palin.
The economy is like a car. The deficit is a flat tire. Unemployment and slow GDP growth are a pack of rabid hyenas snarling at the doors.
Which thing should we fix first? Most people would get away from the rabid hyenas first even if it caused more damage to the flat.
Villago Delenda Est
Which leads us to one of the major structural problems with our entire economy. Too many people are doing totally unproductive makework like shuffling paper around. Or attempting to convince people to buy shit that has nothing to do with human survival. So much of our economic activity is creating the illusion of work where there is no actual need for it, in order for people to be “employed”, somehow.
That would be bad for business!
If you even look at the rich sideways, they will all beat you up, eat your lunch, and flee the country in a whirlwind of Galtian Supermanness.
My problem with the right is the common belief that they are the people that we’ve all been waiting for to take care of the worlds problems. There’s no issue they aren’t experts on at the moment and only they see the true danger in front of us because they are the ones we’ve been waiting for previous experience and failures be damned.
How did I miss that? I would have credited you here.
@Amanda in the South Bay: Yes. Here’s one reference to it. I can’t pull up the original on Sully’s site right now.
No it’s not. They don’t know (a) what “austerity” means, or (b) how what they are supposedly clamoring for will actually affect them. What they think – what they REALLY think – is that “austerity” means that lazy people who are not as hard-working and virtuous as Real Americans, will finally be cut off from the government teat and be forced to finally get a job. The definition of “lazy people” includes virtually anyone whom they (a) don’t know personally, or (b) believe is not just like them and/or people they know personally. “Real Americans” are necessarily excluded from the definition of “lazy people,” obviously. They honestly and truly believe that “austerity” will impose no adverse consequences upon them, because every red cent they get from the public coffers was “earned,” and therefore won’t be subject to cut-backs. Any adverse consequences resulting from their supposed belief system can easily be pinned on “lazy people,” and the Marxist Egyptian occupying the White House.
Just ask them
@Villago Delenda Est: Well, actually there is also his wife’s. He lives in HER houses.
@Villago Delenda Est:
Don’t let it be a profit center for anyone. Particularly the parasite middlemen of the health “insurance” industry.
Nothing pissed me off more about the HCR debate than insurance companies acting as though they were entitled to their business model.
Profits set in stone for me, stone soup for thee.
Villago Delenda Est
@Amanda in the South Bay:
A lot of them (see the teabaggers) don’t seem to understand that they are dependent on the very services that they are howling about. See “keep the government’s hands off of Medicare!” as an actual teabagger talking point.
Amanda in the South Bay
ah, I thought it was recent, i.e. from the deficit debate, not from 2002. He’s still a fucking douche.
I still can’t get past the Republicans looking to Obama for leadership. What happened to them? What is preventing them from laying out their own plan and then attacking the President for not listening to them? Why can they not do what they say is needed without waiting for Obama?
There is no logic or thought being put into the reporting or the critiques. Republicans want to kill jobs, increase the deficit, and follow Obama’s lead. This is all because the debt is too high and they need to cut the deficit.
Debtbloggers sure sound much more boring than Warbloggers, but at least they’ll be just as pedantic.
So they won’t mind if we do away with ag subsidies and close a bunch of military bases – right? Right?
1 – I hope your Chamberlain comment is due to Orrin Hatch calling Obama “Chamberlain on the deficit”.
2 – This post is 100% awesome. I feel like I did back in 2003 before invasion, watching these people make increasingly moronic claims, while the smart people who know stuff are sitting on the sidelines screaming, being ignored. When you bring up questions about facts/figures/numbers, crickets.
The serious republican policy cuts costs by $100 billion this year, while the tax cuts just passed will decrease revenue by $337 billion this year. This is our “very serious debate” about the deficit in this country.
Republicans are still pining for their Big Daddy to tell them what to do or what they want to hear.
Thanks! I could fish it out but hard to do on my phone. But I would like to think it’s more that we are all on the same brainwave!
It was Sulli being so fucking hung ho and idiotic and certain about it that out the thought in my head.
Y’all need to move on from this navel gazing. Obama has kicked the can on any more ‘stimulus’ You need to prepare for the spiral of lowered expectations that both parties actions guarantee. We aren’t going to invest in our infrastructure, we aren’t going to invest in our kids, and we aren’t going to invest in creating real jobs.
You and yours are on your own. I hope you make it to the other side.
He said that? I didn’t know. I will add it in an update or follow-up post once I find a link.
The MSM is on austerity like flies on manure because the MSM is owned by a small handful of multinational corporations. And the interests of those companies are low marginal tax rates on the wealthy, low corporate taxes, low bond rates, weak unions, and a submissive middle class.
Just wait for it – MSM will be pushing “tax reform” later this year. Bank on it.
Wrong. Ag subsidies are needed because of small farmers and military bases are needed to Protect Us. If we just cut all the money Obama is giving to Planned Parenthood, ACORN, the New Black Panther Party and illegal aliens then all would be well.
And of course the phone won’t let me edit. It should read Gung Ho not hung ho/runs off blushing
Villago Delenda Est
The thing about this entire debate is, the huge 700 pound gorilla in the middle of the room…the Department of Spend…er, Defense, is not being touched by anyone in any way.
Oh, Bachmann has said we need to look at fucking over Veterans through the VA, but the very agency that creates the Veterans (and all their attendant problems) cannot be touched.
The bombings of the brown people will continue (and their was much rejoicing amongst the Teabaggers).
Have you recently denounced the disastrous monetary policy of 17th century Spain, the hyperinflation of Weimer Germany, and the great broccoli inflation of the 1970s?
If not, we know where you really stand, you coastal elite fifth-sigma deficit columnist you.
Rethuglicans would be a lot more measured and reasonable in their calls for austerity if there was a Rethuglican president. I don’t recall much talk at all from the right about excessive spending while Bush II was in office. They waited for the Democratic guy to take office to put on their three-corner hats and don’t-tread-on-me t-shirts.
A good counterfactual will be the UK and their push for austerity. They have yet to implement the full plan and we already see a contraction (but bad weather probably played a role too)
The annoying thing is that the news (and the UK gov’t) keeps describing the contraction as a “shock,” as if it were a surprise, when its anything but (at least to people not named Cochrane, Fama, etc.)
And the UK isn’t a fluke case. One can look at Spain and Ireland as well.
Here is what the IMF’s take on austerity:
Short answer, it makes things worse in the short run. A lot of people know this. But, a lot of people are obsessed with the morality of budgets, confidence fairies, and other such “principles” and remain absolutely unwilling to actually LOOK AT DATA to see what has happened, is happening, and will happen if a gov’t suddenly decides to fire a lot of people and erase a whole bunch of economic activity during a recession.
Not surprisingly, cutting people’s pay, removing economic activity, and firing people during a period when everyone is broke and many can’t find jobs doesn’t make things any better.
And no, the magical confidence fairies won’t come riding in to the rescue to make everything all better.
A good case can be made that during expansionary periods, when companies want to borrow more and hire more workers, getting the gov’t out of the economy can be a good thing if the private sector can make better use of those funds and those workers, but those rules don’t apply during a recession when the private sector shows little interest in borrowing or hiring. Those fired workers and extra funds will just sit there going to waste.
Its like recommending that an anorexic cut calories from their diet because thats what a morbidly obese person should do.
Funny, after reading the previous thread, the same thought went through my head; the push for austerity, reality be damned, sure feels familiar.
…it’s almost like you’re making a point. Noting, somehow, that these people aren’t really talking about Iraq, or WMD’s, or budget deficits. It’s almost like you’re pointing out that these people are simply hateful paranoid fucks who should be ignored…but that would be going too far.
Do you think they couldn’t get up a mob for flag burning amendments, or anti-abortion laws, or anti-school busing? They have and they always will until our side develops a mechanism for pushing back, which I don’t see happening in my lifetime (and I ain’t that old).
@Villago Delenda Est:
Too true, and until we get into cutting some of that crap we’re not going to make any real progress. Maybe we could drop from spending seven times more on defense than anyone else to just four or five times as much.
But the VFW (who’d-a-thought?) handed Bachmann her ass on that one:
McArdle’s most recent post:
shoot me now…
Ultimately a society which is unable to achieve any sort of solidarity amongst its citizens, which is devoid of any sense of common purpose or mutual benefit capable of overriding other more narrow sectional, sectarian or partisan priorities, is going to be destroyed one way or the other. The actual agency of its destruction is merely a matter of details. A house divided against itself cannot stand.
And that is precisely what the right stands for today, nothing more and nothing less.
I just got back from Chicago where snow is piled up in five foot high snowbanks. And they haven’t had anything close to the worst of this winter’s weather — the east coast and southeast keeps getting slammed again and again. So anyone who tries to tell you that the only reason the British austerity program hasn’t worked is bad weather and we wouldn’t have the same problem needs to have some snow rubbed in their face.
@p.a.: Thankfully, our various wars for freedom around the world don’t cost anything, and tax cuts are free as well.
Almost any plan put forth by the Republicans, on a national or state level, transfers wealth from the mddle class to the wealthy. Thye can couch it all they want, but if you take into account gov’t services that is what they do. To me, the failure of Obama is that he doesn’t articulate that very well (if at all).
@Elia: Krugman has a column up called “Eat The Future” that addresses this a bit:
And Yglesias is on the money with this too:
Hope it helps!
So here is my little bit from yesterday, calling austerity the new Iraq war.
BTW Digby’s been on this kick for a while now, too. I think she was the first person, in fact, to make the connection.
I just want to remind you guys, however, that there’s no such thing as class in America; and that while the kind of thinking that I’ve seen in this thread is technically protected by the Constitution, it’s nevertheless worrisomely decadent and, what’s more, fails to maintain the liberal legacy of muscular action.
If we don’t tackle the deficit, we will end up like Weimar Germany, and we know where that went.
If you oppose austerity, you are objectively antisemitic.
Mike in NC
Pretty much a no-brainer to push for overseas military misadventures or domestic belt-tightening if you’re not going to have to be personally involved.
@SenyorDave: Because if he mentioned the looting, he would removed from office as a radical communist. Not just “No money for elections” but “No more term for you.”
Besides, he’s not naturally a class warrior and doesn’t want to be a culture warrior.
I don’t know if anyone else saw this yesterday, but one of CNN’s captions during a discussion of the deficit was (roughly) “What Will It Take to Get Americans to Cut Social/Security/Medicare?”
With of course the unspoken follow-up “..as we all know they must”.
This is what we’re up against.
@Brian H: Thank you!
I read this K-thug piece but had forgotten about it already and it is indeed clarifying. Part of my frustration is that various Heh Indeed blog types make a big fuss about us needing to get Very Serious about the deficit, but don’t actually put forth what semi-specific policies they’d recommend. “Reducing entitlements” doesn’t really tell me much…but it makes you sound authoritative, I suppose.
Villago Delenda Est
Austerity has its purposes. For example, when you must concentrate resources for a true, authentic, no shit sherlock existential threat, like Nazi Germany and Militarist Japan.
However, I do not think that diverting resources to insure that the vermin of the Village are flush in cocktail weenies and tiger shrimp quite reaches that threshold.
I liked the first version better. :)
Villago Delenda Est
@Mike in NC:
The neocons have an extensive history of pushing for for war when they have no intention whatsoever in actually putting their own skin in the game. See Bush, George W., and Cheney, Dick, as prime examples of this, both in their “youthful indiscretion” period and later.
Well the very unAmerican, undemocratic, hippy HCR bill is supposed to cut Medicare. That was, apparently, one of its major drawbacks according to our Media Villagers.
I’ve pretty much taken the position that if someone is arguing for austerity but won’t touch a budget item that accounts for just about half of the world’s military spending, then I’m going to ignore them, because they are categorically unserious. But ultimately, I doubt anything will come of this… first, no budget can be passed that lasts longer than two years (that’s actually in the Constitution), so anything beyond FY2 is patently worthless). Second, as Bruce Bartlett recently pointed out, most people who benefit from government programs don’t realize they are benefiting from government programs. So, when cuts actually come, there will be hell to pay.
No easy or simple answers this time, I’m afraid.
Funny, I sent Andrew Sullivan an email asking when the 5th Column posts were scheduled before reading this post.
I don’t know. What will it take to get you to stop beating your wife?
@Bulworth:not to wish evil on anyone, but I’d hope Great Britain would go in the tank hard and fast as an example to nip this deficit uber alles bullshit, but that would not help. These morons are evidence-proof. Q:Stupid or evil? A:Yes!
This shit has permeated my school board, too.
Thirty years ago, our school district became a national laughingstock and it took the better part of that thirty years stuck in court and outside of court to finally get back to something resembling a good school system…
…and there’s a deficit. Projected for 2012, that is. And even though we have a reserve that’s double the projected deficit (And there’s doubts about that projection, too), the default stance has been that we have to come up with $50 million in cuts to wipe out the deficit. Cut schools, slash teacher numbers, pack classes to overflowing, by happenstance pull the alternative classes out of the minority side of town, so’s no bright white kids are inconvenienced. Oh, and as a side benefit, break the teacher’s union, because the mayor and his Daley/Duncan buddy superintendent both hate hate HATE unions.
But whatever you do, don’t touch that reserve money. Heavens no.
EDIT – It doesn’t help that the local ‘liberal’ paper is foursquare for union busting because they’re all mad that the last two owners of said paper shredded their pensions and they’re packed full of advice from a glibertarian who only likes government when they’re slashing tax rates.
No. Shoot HER now.
Metaphorically speaking, of course. But, seriously, it’s time for these fuckers to pay for this shit. I don’t know how, but consequences, baby.
Maybe Egypt should become the role model for the West.
@Tom Q: I honestly could answer that question. If we do end up having to cut social security/medicare/medicaid its is really a failure of the elites and they know it. There is no reason to have this “crisis” and ever spiraling upward healthcare costs when we already spend 2-3 times as much per person annually than any other country. Those “cost controls” could have been put in place decades ago, but our elite opted not to. Instead they made some very poor decisions and whatnot.
So, if we do have to scale back entitlements, I will glady support that cut if I can list a random sample of 1,000 elite who will be executed and another 4,000 whose families will be impoverished. There need to be consequences or our elite will never get any better. The numbers seem large, but my definition of “Elite” is very broad.
Davis X. Machina
Oh, you economists can have your charts — or should I say ‘charts’ — with your supply and demand curves, your price and supply curves.
What I want to know is why you don’t have an axis labeled “V” for ‘virtue™’ — and a curve trending down! And one labeled ‘F” for ‘freedom™’ — and a curve trending down!
That‘s why we need austerity.
(Freedom™ and Virtue™ are registered trademarks of the Republican National Committee. Used with permission. All rights reserved.)
@NobodySpecial: um, has anyone bothered to ask, “then what the fuck is the reserve money for?” because that’d be the first question I’d ask at a school board meeting. Slush fund maybe?
Do you have links for Digby’s pieces on this? Thanks.
@KG: According to them, you don’t dare touch the reserve money because there’s only enough for about three months of operations right now.
Of course, no one has yet been able to explain what’s going to happen that neither the feds nor the state (who just passed a tax increase to pay their late bills, by the by) are going to be able to fund education for three months, either.
Yesterday on NPR Ryan said, “It’s too premature to say exactly what our budget is going to look like because we haven’t written it yet”.
Boehner said, “If Federal jobs are lost, so be it. We are broke”.
Sacrifice is a one way street.
I can’t believe I’m the only one here who understands that the only way to close our massive budget gap is by completely eliminating the tiny fraction of the budget that does anything to help the poor. If you were going to try to fill up the Grand Canyon, would you want to dump millions of tons of sediment into the canyon or would you throw in a couple of small stones? Exactly, the stones, because the other thing is hard work and, besides, secretly you love that canyon and it’s been very, very good to you over the years.
Is it just me? Or possibly the peyote I’ve started dosing myself with in order to make sense of the world?
I estimate that I’ll shuffle off this mortal coil right about the time the house of cards collapses. Lucky for me, not so lucky for anybody my junior. Just wish I’d done a little more to warn y’all when I was younger.
I still watch Morning Ho pretty much every weekday morning and Ho can’t stop talking about the cutting entitlements, social security, medicare blah blah followed by Mika going on abuot the defeeeceeet, the deffeeeccceeet. Then ofcourse they have the twit from NYT or Jim Cramer,Erin Burnett or Maria Antoinette Bartiromo or Donny Deutch going on about how their friends say they won’t invest until they know about taxes and its the uncertainty. Just, remember none of these people are ever going to worry about even paying out of pocket for healthcare and they are talking about austerity. Shove your austerity up your ar se.
I’m honestly hoping that before the whole ponzi scheme falls apart, we can come together in some sort of national convention at which all 50 states can agree to go their separate ways. At this point, forget allowing them to secede, I want to vote Texas and South Dakota off the island.
@Davis X. Machina:
Post of the motherfucking day.
Davis X. Machina
@KG: From a politician’s perspective you have it to have it, if you want to run for re-election. It is, like a sacrament, “a visible sign of an invisible reality” (Augustine’s definition). The invisible reality is ‘fiscal probity’ — and you have to be able to point to some visible sign of it. It’s not meant for use. The Eucharist isn’t meant for breakfast, come to that.
Mitch Daniels’ ‘surplus’ in Indiana is of the same sacramental nature.
I can’t fucking believe she still has a career after the Medicare exchange with Anthony Weiner.
There were no WMD in Iraq. It was obvious to me that there were none. And, I was proved right.
I knew that a war with Iraq would create a bloody mess in Iraq. And, it did.
Those Iraq hawks were strangers to the truth. They were either gullible; or, they were lying. And, none of them cared what happened in Iraq.
I have no respect for them.
The worst thing about Ryan’s plan is that it completely gets rid of taxes on dividends, capital gains and interest. He didn’t even have the CBO take a look at the revenue side because it is batshit crazy. Let the guy with $10 million dollars invested never pay a cent in tax, but tax the guy making $50,000 who owes $200,000 on his house, fucking brilliant!
Career? Why should she be any different than any of the other massfails who permeate the media? No responsibility, no consequence.
What you in the reality-based community don’t understand is that they’re still there! They’re clustered in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.
Peyote’s for amateurs. If you want the real vision of what’s to come, you gotta start main-lining cold hard cash, to the tune of tens of millions of dollars (single digit millions not enough anymore). Until then you just won’t be in synch with the austerity fanboyz.
Davis X. Machina
Work is the consequence of Adam and Eve’s original sin. So taxing wages is moral, because work is sinful.
But interest, dividends and capital gains — hey, that’s creating wealth ex nihilo — and is anything more Godly than that? After all, creation ex nihilo is the biggest line on His resumé.
@fasteddie9318: Not a surprise at all. She’s a useful tool of her superiors.
Why focus on the Iraq War cheerleaders? When we we running a surplus intended to pay the debt, which Crook and Sully are now all worried about:
They were fully willing to return the taxpayer’s hard-earned income in the form of tax cuts. I wouldn’t say they were cheerleading it, but they sure as hell weren’t fighting against it. Had we stuck with the Clinton plan, we wouldn’t have 80% debt levels and we wouldn’t even have 50% of the current deficit.
I was reading the Krugman piece and came across this:
5%? Jeez, I had no idea. It kind of puts a lie to the idea that we can get significant savings from freezing federal wages and cutting jobs.
I guess it makes sense when you look at the budget. SS and Medicare don’t cost a lot to run, most of the defense budget is spent on defense contractors and expensive toys, there’s interest on the debt, etc. Non-defense discretionary (where the cuts are going to come from) is the only part that employs a lot of civilians, and that’s only 12-15% of the budget.
I find it very hard to believe that those ‘deficit hawks’ actually care anything about the deficit. I say that they do not and all this wailing and knashing of teeth is just that.
Cut defense spending, cut the salaries of elected officials, restore the tax rates to pre Clinton. If that is done, I will consider taking them seriously.
I know. I can’t believe most of these assholes have media careers; intellectually I understand why they do, but part of my brain still rejects the absurdity of it.
Whoopsies! Turns out Citizens United spent over $100,000 on a sleazy TV ad campaign to get Clarence Thomas appointed to SCOTUS waaay back in 1991. And a complaint has been filed with the bar because Thomas didn’t disclose his conflict of interest before hearing the Citizens United case.
I’m sure our “adversarial media” won’t bother to report on this. It’s only news when it’s conservatives accusing liberals of conflict of interest.
And pigs can fly.
There were no WMB. Saddam was in a box with no way out. All that needed to be done was: every time he stuck his head out of the box, you hit him in the head and back into the box he goes. There was no problem; there was only minor aggro.
Oh for Christ’s sake, I didn’t know that. It shows how stupid this country is that he proposed this and wasn’t laughed out of town. If you got rid of all those taxes, billionaires wouldn’t pay any fucking tax at all. I know that’s the plan, but the overwhelming majority of
peasantsAmericans might have a little problem with that.
You know what they say…Gotta burn America to save it.
I don’t understand why people are so surprised about Sullivan. A scorpion is a scorpion is a scorpion. Sullivan is a reactionary Tory at heart. Even though he fell out with conservatives over torture, he hasn’t given up his identity.
Conservatives really need to rewrite the Gospels, because that Jesus dude is way too soft on poor folks and tax collectors. And what’s the deal with that “Pay unto Caesar” bullshit?
@agrippa: What part of “mushroom cloud” are you not understanding?
@Emma: I have never understood the fascination with Sullivan, here or anywhere else. Is his genius apparent to everybody but me? Maybe I need some more peyote.
you are on the money
take ireland instead, it’s going to go down soon for the same reason.
Deficit hawks “care about” the deficit in roughly the same sense that Christian fundamentalist war hawks “care about” the Jews in Israel. In both cases the apparent object of their demented affection is merely a means of bringing on the Rapture.
@Davis X. Machina:
heh, indeedy. you win a brand-new internet.
One interesting thing is that people sort of associate “deficit reduction” with “tax cuts”. People that want government spending cut to shrink the deficit think they’ll see themselves taxed less. You can see that the Republican “deficit reduction” plan from Ryan actually uses this false equivalence. It doesn’t reduce the deficit very effectively but it does a bang-up job cutting taxes. Thanks to inept media coverage and an idiotic populace, it’s possible for Ryan to say the plan is one thing (“deficit reduction”) have it be another (“tax cuts for the wealthy…um I mean everyone but mostly the wealthy”) and have people believe they are one and the same thing.
@Martin: Don’t forget Al Gore’s Social Security lockbox. What a hoot that was!
(Sorry, John, but you’d be the first to admit…)
fasteddie: I guess I’ll have to send you some of whatever it is I’m using because to me, Sullivan…. meh. Just another British conservative.
Along the lines of austerity as an effective means to pull us out of our economic mess I recommend everyone read the current Vanity Fair article on the mess that is Ireland. Kinda makes the U.S. greed machine look saintly.
Yes but he’s GAY so to Americans that’s such a novelty …
I love you for trying to have a reasonable discussion here but let’s remember: in 2002 Dick Cheney famously said, “Deficits don’t matter. Reagan proved it.”
Now suddenly they DO matter. Why is that? Thinking … thinking …
Face it, deficits, like war, are completely political (and politicized) conversations in this day and age. Deficits and war are only important to the Republic when certain people are in power.
Also, too, Moore Award! Moore Award!
You know what they say…Gotta burn America to save it.
…but from whom, is the question (which they never seem to answer honestly).
@Southern Beale: I wonder how many tunes the piper’s going to keep belting out before he decides to send someone a bill?
Sigh. Obama should propose cutting Bush’s Medicare D prescription drug “entitlement” benefit to make the Media Villagers happy Obama is cutting “entitlements” and reducing the deficit. Except in this instance, the Media Villagers love them some Medicare D prescription drug “entitlement” benefit. Therefore, along with Obama’s plan to curb charitable deductions and raise taxes on the $250k plus crowd, Obama’s Medicare D elimination would be a “non-starter” and why won’t Obama cut spending and the deficit and why doesn’t he care about the debt?!
Okay, which one of you wrote this dissent?
The first selection’s prose has “Juicer” all over it.
i don’t know about “fascination”…
but watch how he’s going through this debate right now. after a couple of days of breathlessly gnashing his teeth over Obama’s fecklessness, he’s starting to post well-thought-out reader opinions which tell him, flatly, that he’s being an emotional dummy about this stuff. and he’s not flailing around McArdle-style to defend himself against the charges, he’s just posting them, for now. and, if this time is anything like all the other times he’s done something like this, he’ll realize in a day or two that his readers were right and that he overreacted. and he’ll apologize. again, contrast with McArdle (or any of the innumerable bloggers who refuse to back down, ever, about anything).
yes, he’s emotional and short-fused and prone to crazy leaps. but, what separates him from many other bloggers, is that he’s generally willing to admit his mistakes. he’s honest, once he takes the time to think things through.
and yeah, he’s a conservative, but he’s not a partisan hack. so, it’s not all about partisan point scoring. you can actually learn things from him,
@freelancer: I didn’t, but I wish I had.
@Southern Beale: Yeah. We got to get over that “Gay Conservative” = “moderate” and “moderate” = “thinking and not ideological” thought train. I GOProud accomplished anything last week, it would have been that “I’m for gay issues because I’m gay and really conservative about everything else” means “I am a conservative” and not “Oh, they are moderates.” For Hetero equivalent, see David “Our Peasants are Too Lazy” Brooks.
Sullivan has never been happy that people have paid for social insurance and I believe he loses sleep over the fact that someone has paid for insurance and recieved a payment back. Why does it surprise people that he wants these things cut now? He does not like them in the hood, he does not like them when he could. He does not want them for the old, he does not want them when its cold.
@Emma: No, we must be on the same stuff, because I’m not getting it either. Just another British conservative, indeed, and not an especially bright one despite how people are always saying “OH, Sullivan is so BRILLIANT, except for the times when he’s an idiot!”
@Bulworth: Entitlements is a well worn phrase and if you use social security/medicare and “cuts” in the same sentence, for some reason people flip out. Entitlements, while technicaly correct, sound a awful lot like something that benefits the wealthy and related to the type payments made to the nobility in other countries.
Well, well, well…
Digby has a nice catch from one of the founts of all Village (not to mention, “fiscal” hawk) wisdom:
Does this mean the Village might actually be seeing reality, for once?
I think we should celebrate Raygun’s 100th by returning to his tax rates.
@cleek: If the draw of Sullivan is that he’s the lone conservative blogger who’s willing to listen to criticism and consider modifying his opinion based on reason or evidence, that strikes me as a low bar for praise. Sadly, you’re right that he’s one of the very few to rise to it, so I guess I can see the appeal.
i know that overall in the long term the american way of life is non-sustainable and all that, but i’m still going to look at 2000 as the period of time where we really could have done something substantial and dropped the ball as a society, giving ourselves W instead. we decided the garbage reagan pushed was too nice to ignore and asked for seconds.
@geg6: Means-testing used to be a reliable old Village standby; very late 80’s, early 90’s.I suspect now, though, that it wades much too close to the edge in its potential to affect actual benefits for
older teabaggersReal Americans.
Ann B. Nonymous
You know, most people with the capacity to learn don’t need to make every incremental advance an occasion of high drama. Does Sullivan want to be treated like a bewildered child in nursery school for the rest of his self-absorbed life?
“Oh very good Drew you have succeeded today! here is a silver star, just like the Queen’s tiara. no put down the crayon Drew it is not for the nose.”
I think the notion of a writer being willing to admit he or she is wrong should be tied to how frequently they argue vehemently during a time period in which an important decision affecting the public is being debated before that decision is made.
And “vehemently” enough to dismiss counter-arguments and counter-evidence as a moral failure or betrayal. Especially when such ‘vehement’ arguments are deployed in favor of the interests of the powerful and wealthy and against the interests of ordinary people.
If it’s regularly the case that a writer or pundit argues vehemently one way before a decision, and then concedes error after the decision has been taken, it’s not exactly some sort of admirable record of contrition.
@DougJ®: Here’s one. I feel like she’s reference this idea a few times since, but this is the one that has stuck in my memory.
@cleek: Agreed. It’s why I read him still and generally respect his take (though I’m dismissive of his libertarian-leanings). But I tend to forget how he walks shit back, for the most part, and thus sometimes feel exasperated by his detachment from reality.
It’s a sad, sad state of affairs when admitting you’re wrong — when you’re wildly and destructively so — is enough to vault you to the top (or near it) of intellectual integrity…but that’s American political journalism in 2011, I guess.
Well, I guess I see it as progress that even Mrs. Greenspan is off the “OMG, we MUST cut SS or we all DIE!!” thing and can at least admit that it’s medical costs that are killing us on entitlements. The only logical answer to that is to do some goddam thing about reining in medical costs. Oh, and raising the income cap for SS taxes, a better course than means testing.
I know it’s only a small thing, but our Village is so full of idiocy that it’s nice to see a little, teeny, tiny bit of reality peeking through the fog.
Herbal Infusion Bagger
“In 2000, the US government budget was in surplus.”
And the wingers were breaking out in hives that the gubmint might pay down the debt and !*horrors*! use that surplus to end up buying stock in private companies.
‘Cos it’d be awful if the gubmint ended up, umm, owning banks like or insurance companies or car companies. Heavens, that’d be comhmunismh! You’d never see a Republican support that, ummm, errr….
Anybody remember Greenspan’s testimony on the surplus in 2001, when he gave the nod to Bush’s tax cuts? When Democrats realized that Greenspan, who’d been an uber-deficit hawk under Clinton, saying he’d only lower interest rates if the deficit were reduced, had played them. Remember Cheney saying Reagan proved deficits don’t matter?
I guess the lesson is:
Deficits only matter when a Dem is in the White House, when they are evil evil evil evil gonna bankrupt us like Greece and Ireland and Spain and gonna mean we’ll have to sell our children’s vital organs.
Deficits while there’s a GOPer in the White House are the blessings of Ronaldus Maximus upon the Divinely Anointed Masters of the Universe.
My skepticism about the Iraq War dates back to the moment it was first mentioned by the Bush criminal syndicate, but for my money this quote right here was the one that should have signaled to any thinking person that they had no fucking idea what they were talking about and were lying through their teeth.
Seriously, sparky? Somewhere around Baghdad to the north, south, east or west? You didn’t happen to damage the Cracker Jack box while fishing that one out, did you?
Since the budget dynamics haven’t changed in years, and there wasn’t a care in the world expressed about extending the Bush tax rates, I wonder why the hysteria is hitting us NOW NOW NOW! It’s not like the deficit is a mystery that has come barreling towards us from outer space; it’s a pretty predictable phenomenom.
I’m guessing the hysteria is because some of the gargantuan numbers will start to go down as the stimulus winds down, the Bush wars wind down (I’m an optimist) and the power of the GOP winds down due to the inevitable blowback from reality that they will soon face from the voters. Shorter me: If they can’t repeal the New Deal now, they never will.
Without your blog I wouldn’t be able to stand reading some of the crap the clowns at the Atlantic come up with on a daily basis. Thanks for helping me keep an even keel.
Because they’re trying to make people believe they don’t have jobs because of the deficit and not because the economy sucks and Republican policies have hollowed out the country.
Got it in one
There were no WMD.
@Catsy: I’m pretty sure fasteddie was snarking here on something one of the Bush admin geniuses — maybe Rumsfeld — actually said about WMD during the invasion.
ETA: @agrippa too.
How many deficit hawks will admit that nationalizing health care is the most effective way to reduce the deficit without harming social welfare or the economy or raising taxes? I can understand moral arguments against it (if done in the most effective way, businesses that excel in the status quo are wiped out), but one has to at least admit the empirical truth of it. And even that only works in so much as if you think change that harms anyone is net immoral, even if it benefits far more people.
I have no clue why folks take Simpson/Bowles so seriously. It (option #1 in the chairman’s mark, which is what most folks have in mind talking about this I think) eliminates the employer healthcare exemption and increases taxes by 67, 41, and 19% for the bottom 3 income quintiles, but only 11% for the top quintile. It’s insane given the levels of income equality today.
No, we’re not ready for austerity, not for us, not for you, not for anyone. Don’t claim that we are.