Here’s an amusing, and generally accurate, view of the 2012 Republican candidates: Column: The only GOP candidates guide you’ll ever need
Here’s a visual representation of Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan from Ezra Klein and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. If any of you reading this are in that Top 1% or even Top .1%, I’m sure you’ll be very happy to see that graph. The rest of us… not so much.
(Being elected President seems like kind of a long way to go for the pizza mogul to find a way to cut his own taxes by that large sum!)
Below is a great graphic published by the Boston Globe back on 31-Jul-2011. (I’d link to it but the Globe site is the poster-child for sucky web sites and the graphic would certainly go away some time soon; since this graphic is so good, it deserves to continue to see the light of day longer than the Globe site would otherwise allow it to be linked to.)
The reason I think this graphic is so good is because it clearly shows how the debt was “acquired” – or how we got stuck with it. You can’t look at something like this and not keep in mind that it charts absolute dollars and therefore, the fact that in all of our nations history prior to Ronald Reagan, we accumulated “only” 1 trillion of debt shouldn’t be so surprising. On the other hand, the rapid progression of debt is not solely explained by simply considering inflation. Clearly, we’ve been increasing our spending faster than we’ve increased our income.
But the most telling thing about our debt that is easy to see in this graphic is that the primary source of the debt was incurred during Republican Presidents. Ordinarily, being the moderate nonpartisan type that I am, I’d shrug and move on. But considering the current partisan nonsense from the Republicans about how they are the party of fiscal responsibility and how it is the Democrats who just want to spend, spend, spend, a graphic like this is just what we need to slap a little reality back into the debate.
Ronald Reagan, the godhead of current conservatism started the ball rolling by running up nearly twice the debt of all who had preceded him. As I wrote above, inflation accounts for part of that, but it’s important to remember that Reagan wasn’t about balancing budgets or making numbers work – he was about spurring the economy and he did that by incurring lots of debt.
Reagan managed 1.9 trillion debt in 8 years and his successor, Bush 41, managed 1.5 trillion in just 4 years! Directly following Bush 41, Clinton managed to incur less debt in his 8 years than Bush 41 one did in his 4. In fact, Clinton managed to operate with a budget surplus for his last 3 years making him the first President to run a surplus in 29 years and the first President to do it 3 years in a row in 49 years (which is even a little unfair considering that was during WWII meaning the surplus had more to do with a wartime economy than clever Presidential economic policy).
Bush 43 is far and away the record holder at 6.1 trillion of debt. A large chunk of that is from the two wars, it is true. I know it is still debatable but history seems to be settling on the side that the Iraq war was unnecessary and therefore a good chunk of that debt was optional. Furthermore, Bush 43 did a lot to reduce government income making the debt during his tenure even worse. Bush 43 was certainly not solely responsible for the economic “Great Recession” that started Obama’s Presidency but then he also can’t claim to have stopped it. And therefore, Bush 43’s economic policy was definitely not strong enough to fend off a recession.
And now Obama’s tenure already has him at 2.4 trillion. As the graphic notes, 1.1 of that is with a stimulus and as much as the current haters complain that “it didn’t work”, it does seem obvious that without the stimulus, we’d be worse off. In other words, if you subtract 1.1 trillion for stimulus, do you get 1.3 trillion of new debt under Obama? I think it’d be higher because of greater economic woes. But regardless, the train was already rolling with Bush 43 in charge and Obama is trying to wrestle that train to a halt. But it’s hard with people like Boener trying to throw him off the train and keep the debt train motoring on by not allowing Bush’s tax policies to expire. Remember, these were only meant to be temporary and even then, they were significant contributors to our current debt.
And one final analsysis. Of our current 14.3 trillion of debt, 6.1 was incurred by Bush 43 and 1.5 by Bush 41. That’s a total of 7.8 or more than half of all of our nation’s debt. Half of the debt load we have today is due to one father and son pair. Or even more if you consider the lasting debt obligations that Bush 43 put in place contrasting that with the quick dismantling of the surplus Clinton had left him.
So let’s not let the current Reubplican machine whitewash history and have you believe that the Democrats are fiscally irresponsible because they want a balanced approach to curtail deficit spending. Let’s be honest about where the debt comes from, that a lot of the Republicans responsible for the debt are the same ones active in congress today, and let’s let Obama apply the brakes on the debt train.
Since it is being talked up as the Obama Downgrade by one side and the Tea Party Downgrade by the other, I thought I ought to chime in with a name that reflects where the blame where it belongs: John Boehner.
Seriously. This is the guy that was all for the brinkmanship. This is the guy that says he got 98% of what he wanted out of the deal and therefore considers it a win. This is the guy who didn’t want to raise revenues through ending Bush’s tax cuts on the largest corporations and wealthiest individuals because he called them “job creators” (even though they are more likely to layoff than to hire in this economy).
I understand how people could see different sides of economic theory. It is obvious that the best way to get people hired is to create jobs but it is far less obvious how to go about creating those jobs. I know some people think that encouraging small businesses with tax breaks will result in jobs being created and I can see the sense in that. I can also see the sense in the converse that a progressive tax is the only true fair tax and monkeying with it temporarily only results temporary improvement for those directly impacted by the cuts. I’m sure there’s some truth to both and that the best solution is probably one of compromise somewhere in the middle.
But the beneficiaries of Boehner’s non-expiring tax cuts are definitely not the small businesses. I know of no small businesses that have corporate jets that need to fly them for free. (In my view, if the business owns a corporate jet, it is no longer a small business and is now a corporation!) And therefore, Boehner is being truly disingenuous when he claims that his 98% of what he wanted was anything but helping out large corporations. There cannot be any way that he truly believes that he’s helping out the middle class when he does things like this and to say so is utterly fraudulent.
Adam Serwer at the Washington Post has a good article on this subject.
Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign has begun. It may not be official yet, but his speech at a dinner in New Hampshire yesterday contained some real winners. He said he likes President Obama but then goes on to say Obama “doesn’t have a clue how jobs are created. He doesn’t know what goes through an entrepreneur’s mind when she borrows and scrapes to get the money to start a new company – because he’s never done it himself,”. While I’ll give him a few points for going with a feminine pronoun and recognizing that not just men can start businesses, the only appropriate response is “really?”. Really, Obama has no clue simply because he hasn’t done that job before? I’d imagine that Obama probably learned a thing or two in business school and I suspect Obama probably has hired some advisors who have firsthand experience. But okay, Romney, if you want to say that the country’s chief executive needs to have firsthand experience in all aspects of the job, then do please continue…
In the same speech, he criticized Obama’s reactions to the Middle East turmoil by saying “the President and his team looked like deer in the headlights”. Besides the fact that a Romney administration would have reacted exactly the same way (though the lack of Hillary Clinton might have been nice) since the current Middle East upheaval is entirely unprecedented (in the truest sense of that word), Romney can’t be serious in claiming he would have done better. After all, if he is going to say that the only way Obama would know how to create jobs would be if he had been an entrepreneur, then clearly the only way one would know how to create a suitable foreign policy is if one had been a diplomat stationed in the Middle East, right? And unless I’m missing a part of Romney’s resume where he did that, I think Romney should keep quiet about things he certainly can’t claim to know any better.
Romney’s talking out of both sides of his mouth is nothing new, of course. For years, he’s been talking about how great his accomplishments were as governor of Massachusetts where he helped pass universal health care while at the same time saying why Obama’s health plan, which is largely based on Romney’s own Massachusetts plan, is evil and needs repeal.
It’s just that this habit of trashing the current Presidency on all counts without a shred of respect for what he’s doing or without any recognition of being completely anti-Golden Rule shows what a slimy weasel Romney is. I know the common knowledge is that the only way to win the office is to tear the current guy apart. But I think Obama proved you can win the office without being quite so obvious and nasty about it and I hope the primary season treats Romney with all the contempt that he deserves for his attacks on the current President.
I know a lot of people are saying that the large number of Republican wins in the House of Representatives is a referendum on the agenda of the Democrats for the last two years but I think there’s a lot more to the story than that.
The Senate didn’t shift by nearly the same percentage as the House. With the final Senate results 47 to 53, that’s a change of 6 more Republicans or 6% of the Senate. In the House, there are 9 seats still too close to call (according to CNN this morning) but if we assume that the current leaders hold, 6 seats go Democrat and 3 go Republican. That means a total of 242 Republicans or an increase of 63 seats which is 14.5% – well more than double the increase in the Senate. In part, the House is, by Constitutional design, a more reactive body and therefore more likely to respond to swings in popular opinion. And popular opinion is on an anti-establishment wave as is frequently the case during midterm elections – especially during times of economic crisis.
But another part of it is the individual candidates. [ continue reading »» ]
The health care reform bill has passed. As of this writing, the motion to reconsider has not passed which means it is going forward and there is one more bill to go which should be a formality so it seems like it’s a done deal. I’m not usually one who watches C-SPAN live, but it was worth it tonight.
Of course passing the bill is only part of the battle. The next part of the battle will be implementing what has been passed. Needless to say, it’s going to be supremely important to get it all right. The last thing anyone wants after all the effort to get it passed is for the implementation to be lacking and give the whole reform effort a bad image. It’ll be a while before the positive effects trickle into the mainstream and hopefully, until it does, Obama can manage the expectations of the skeptical general public.
President Obama’s statement on Wednesday was brilliant. He made the case again for why reform was important and listed all the broken stuff that it would fix, he allayed fears about ruining the benefits enjoyed by people who like their current insurance benefits, he was clear that Medicare benefits would not be cut, and he described how the plan is paid for.
Still, some will say it is too much. So he explained why it isn’t too much – why if you don’t cover everyone, then the other changes can’t take effect: “unless everyone has access to affordable coverage, you can’t prevent insurance companies from denying coverage based on preexisting conditions; you can’t limit the amount families are forced to pay out of their own pockets”. You may not be a fan of the size of the bill but lots of people smarter than me (and admit it – probably you too) have determined that this is fact. No reasonable person disputes this fact. The only remaining debate, then, is whether you believe it is in the best interests of everyone to insure everyone.
I believe that it is. Again, as people smarter than me have determined, uninsured sick people cost the government/taxpayers more in the long run than getting them on some sort of insurance so it’s better for me if they have insurance. And that’s to say nothing of the “golden rule” – what if it were you that got sick and got dumped by your insurer? That may be a small minority of people, but a majority of us are one crappy turn of events away from being those people.
You can’t flip past Fox News without hearing about how the American people are against the current plan. And while it may be true that the current plan would be voted down if you were to hold a nationwide referendum, that has more to do with fear-mongering and an infatuation with the status quo than with intellectual disagreement over the policy issues I’ve described above.
In 2008, the country voted a Democrat into Presidential office who promised health care reform. Here it is. The country even voted into office a Democratic majority in the House and Senate to support the President. And while the economy isn’t doing the Democrats any favors right now, they still need to stick to the plan and look at the big picture. If you are a politician who got elected for purposes of power and every day you fear what happens if you make a risky decision, then clearly you aren’t cut out for the job. But for every member of congress that has the balls to do what is right, even if it means potentially losing that job and the power that goes with it, now is the time to vote the health care reform into law.
I get that people that try to blow up planes and kill many people are more evil than your run of the mill criminal up for murder 1. And I could even be persuaded to believe that such a person, if found guilty, should be punished according to rules of war instead of criminal law. But I have a question… How do we know that they are guilty of being an enemy combatant before trying them?
I’ll grant you that some dude trying to light his explosive-laden underwear on fire on an airplane on approach to DTW does seem to point to an act of war. But people who look guilty are found innocent every day. Now you could argue that some of those that are found innocent did do the deed but got off unfairly; but as we all know, that’s the price we pay for making sure that we don’t put away innocent people. And, to be sure, there are people who look guilty who didn’t do it.
Maybe the underwear bomber was an unwitting carrier to the explosives and the people who secretly put the explosives in his underwear at the laundromat knew that he has a thing for lighting his nuts on fire while the flight attendant says the tray tables need to be upright. Yeah, pretty unlikely. But isn’t there a time when somebody might look like they are an enemy combatant and be erroneously treated as such? And since we are a society of “innocent until proven guilty”, it seems wrong to say “yeah, but the thing that this guy is accused of is super evil so we’re going skip over due process and jump right into the war accusations”. Shouldn’t everyone get the same trial to determine guilt and then sentencing for an enemy combatant could be done differently from that of a common criminal?
I’m no legal expert so maybe I’m missing something. I do not mean the following rhetorically – I really want to know: Is there a reason why people who appear as enemy combatants can be legally treated differently from the start?