In this case, the Republicans are the victor, and the spoils are in the President's "austerity" budget, which will slash and burn over 150 programs while still making the deficit worse. Spoils you say? Remember: the voters said that punishing people for being poor is just standing for good old Christian values. At least, that's what somebody in the White House seems to think the voters said.
Of course-- simply freezing spending for one year and reversing the President's tax cuts-- in their entirety-- as Howard Dean proposed (and was duly attacked and ridiculed by John Kerry, among others)-- would reduce the structural federal budget deficit from around 3-4% of GDP to between 1-2% of GDP in two years, more than meeting the President's purported goal of halving the deficit in four years. The Democrats could get behind this, but they would have to be as honest (and hence craaaaazzzzzyyyy) as Howard Dean, i.e., more honest than John Kerry, and take back the (bogus and illusory) "middle class tax cuts" too.
The other thing to note is that the President is proposing cuts in only 2/5 of the federal budget pie, while affirmatively doing everything in his power to make 2/5 worse; I suppose his plans to destroy the other 1/5 have to be graded neutral, but they will make 1/5 so much worse, as to not be funny. What in God's name am I talking about?
This: Of the $2.5 trillion federal budget (as usual, around 22% or so of GDP, give or take), roughly 20% covers social security transfer payments (pensions and survivor/disability benefits), 20% covers medicare/medicaid, 20% covers interest on our national debt, 20% covers defense (including "homeland security") and 20% covers everything else, from education to courts to roads to Amtrak to farm subsidies to the National Weather Service. EVERYTHING. ELSE. So-called discretionary spending is only 20% of the federal budget. Thanks to the accelerating effect of the back-loaded (and therefore, NOT STIMULATIVE) Bush tax cuts, our current deficit exceeds all discretionary spending: all of it.
ALL. OF. IT.
Interest on the national debt is, of course, the only part that is unassailable, as defaulting on it ends the "borrow and spend" game immediately. Defense spending could be slashed and burned, with a probable improvement in our actual security (we built dozens of planes during World War II for less than the cost of one these days in real dollars, for example), but I expect no member of Congress to want to give away the single most important source of pork-barrel spending there is (or the Bush family friends ability to steal from the taxpayers by the billion). Social security is complicated (though simply changing the cost of living adjustment ("COLA") to adjust from the inflation in prices rather than in wages will, as a historical matter, make social security solvent more or less forever, pretty much by itself. The problem here, as you might imagine, is Democrats who would scream that this was "killing old people", even though, of course, it would assure them of pensions forever, albeit not quite as generous at the expense of working people.) Medicare/medicaid is actually complicated-- too much so for this little snippet. And everything else is... well, everything else. Again-- "discretionary", but think passports, national parks, air traffic controllers, postmen, courthouses... all other federal services: only so much you can do here-- devastating 20% cuts in this area would be felt significantly, though only lower the total budget around 4% or so.
Which leaves taxation as the only thing we really can control, to deal with the deficit, at least in the near and intermediate (and long) term.
Well, I've made it easy here for any smart Democrat to step up and offer a statesmanlike solution to the financial disaster we are headed for (which, for those wondering, involves a significant increase in the debt service portion of the budget exacerbated by higher interest rates and lower tax revenues). Or any principled Republican is free to step up.
Sometimes, I feel a little like Diogenes...
Given that from your point of view we are swirling fast down the shitter, what are your economic predictions for each year up until 2010?
Posted by Jihad Jay at February 7, 2005 11:18 PM
What's that old saw about insanity? Doing the ssme thing over, and over, and over, again... expecting a different result?
2010? Bwha, ha, ha, aha, bwhahahaha...
Got a gun?
Posted by Thomas Ware at February 7, 2005 11:51 PM
Not just a gun, TW, but stock up on plenty of ammunition, canned goods, bottled water, ammunition...
I can't make exact predictions, JJ, because of the infinite variables; let's just say, 2005 more of same, 2006, worsening, 2007, worse still, etc., with a culmination kind of like... Argentina, probably well before 2010. Large scale unemployment, large scale reductions in government spending, price collapses (except for oil)... people dying in the streets... rich people safely in their gated communities. Just look to South America now, and you'll see what I'm predicting. If you find yourself in the happy, say, top 2-4%, well, I guess you'll have no complaints. Everyone else, see first paragraph, and don't just get the guns and ammo... take gun safety lessons and target practice-- very important.
Posted by the talking dog at February 8, 2005 9:18 AM
Here we go again more BS from the GOLD, GUNS and GOD crowd or the equivalent chicken littles on the left. I don't see a collapse any time soon. We'll survive Bu$HCo, just as we survived Reagan and Nixon.
Posted by GlennK at February 8, 2005 12:59 PM
Oh, where's your sense of humor, man? (And btw, I said nothing about gold or God, and most people in Argentina survived their fiscal and social collapse. And carry guns.)
Posted by the talking dog at February 8, 2005 6:00 PM
BTW-- the "we survived Nixon and Reagan" bulls*** has to end among the left-- and fast.
While Dubya has coopted the rhetoric of Reagan, there is a certain lack of soul or competence (think good government types like Don Regan, completely absent in the current regime; the '86 tax reform was fair, even if it dropped top rates, it also got rid of massive abuses enjoyed by the super rich). And Tricky Dick, saddled with overwhelking Dem Congresses, was a freaking liberal for many purposes. Wage and price controls? Abandoning the gold standard? Forming the EPA?
The current Bush is even more insidious than the prior Bush-- someone undermining the very underpinnings of societal valuations for the benefit of a crime family.
Much scarier. We'll all survive this bunch too. But please-- don't hearken back to happier days with "we survived them". Because we didn't "survive" them. We look back at them somewhat nostalgically and longingly.
Posted by the talking dog at February 8, 2005 6:05 PM
That son of bitch back-stabbing mother f'er testifies against me. ME!
I made the little turd, and this is how he says THANKS!
Well, because the moron put his trust in the US Attorney's Office, I'm gonna walk. The jury is gonna laugh their heads off about the coffee filters all the way to deliberations, which because of the nickel & dime coffee filters, are going be short and confused.
End result: I walk. Thanks Attorney General.
Posted by Bernie Ebbers at February 8, 2005 7:37 PM
Dog I meant that in a positive way. We're stronger them these bastards and will prevail in the long run. Bu$hCo's regime is so disfunctional and out of touch it will eventually take itself down. The in fighting has already started.
Posted by GlennK at February 8, 2005 8:35 PM
First they steal the coffee filters, and then they take my Diet Cokes. They are my f**king Diet Cokes. And my Slim Fasts. Who's popping my f**king popcorn? I can't believe that piece of shit is ratting on you. What kind of bastard would rat on someone to avoid jail? You'd have to be a real lowlife. Huh? Whaddaya mean?
Posted by Hal Doll at February 8, 2005 9:22 PM
Touche, and hear hear! I do so love to watch the rats heading for the sinking social security ship led by Captain DeLay!!!
Bernie and Hal--
You guys are like old news... you're like so 1993...
Posted by the talking dog at February 8, 2005 9:57 PM
Dog the problem with Bu$hCo et al. is they believe their own Press. Most of the GOP Congressmen though know damn well if they touch SS they're toast. Bu$h could do what he wanted with the A-RABS but he's messin with Granma and Granpa now!!
Posted by GlennK at February 9, 2005 7:45 AM
You people crack me up!
"Regime", "crime family", "Bu$HCo".
I, too, refer to Clinton as a Stalinist but never mean it in the true sense that Stalin was a hemmorhoid on the ass of humanity.
Somehow I get the feeling you crazy asscrackers believe your own bullshit.
Well, that's ok.
I plan on being in the top 2-4% anyway and I got a rifle with which I can put a round through a flea's asshole at 100 yards.
As for the Dog's predictions, I'm gonna tuck this link away in a cyber time capsule. If this site is still around in five years I'll open it up.
Y'know, if you clowns were as quick with real solutions to real problems as you are with your Bush criticisms and blame-America rhetoric, you'd all be 6-star Generals or running the DNC instead of Howard Scream.
Posted by Jihad Jay at February 11, 2005 12:58 AM
Well said, Jay. Though at least, we try to occasionally offer proposed policy alternatives here, even if no one in either party listens to them.
And remember Jay-- it's not "Blame America" rhetoric... it's "Blame America First" rhetoric. A subtle, but important difference.
Posted by the talking dog at February 11, 2005 10:34 AM
Fair enough. I got a similar problem on my blog - except that we're like the Evil Talking Dog - same problem but in reverse.
But here, when I catch a policy alternative I can recognize in the forest of hate-Bush-speak and blame-America-first rhetoric it shall stand in my mind as duly noted.
Have a good weekend.
Posted by Jihad Jay at February 12, 2005 12:53 AM