The Solution to the Debt Crisis is an Easy One.

Respectfully submitted by Lawrence Rafferty-Guest Blogger

I have a slightly different take on the debt ceiling discussion started by Mike Appleton earlier.  The Debt ceiling issue is on every cable and broadcast TV channel and on just about every website and blog including here on Prof. Turley’s blog. The debt limit and its feared default has controlled the airwaves for weeks now, and it isn’t going to end soon if the news reports are to believed. The Democrats want increased revenue and the Republicans want cuts only to spending in order to convince both sides to do something that was done about 19 times during the preceding administration without much fanfare from either side. No matter who you support there is an easy solution to the problem and the majority of Americans agree with it. The Hill

A very easy solution to the U.S. Debt problem is to simply tax the wealthy and corporations at 1960 levels and according to one source, the debt would be erased within a decade. “Some numbers — from an Institute for Policy Studies report released this past spring — can help us better visualize just how monumental this political failure has been. If corporations and households taking in $1 million or more in income each year were now paying taxes at the same annual rates as they did back in 1961, the IPS researchers found, the federal treasury would be collecting an extra $716 billion a year. In other words, if the federal government started taxing the wealthy and their corporations at the same rates in effect a half-century ago, the federal debt to investors would almost totally vanish over the next decade.” Our Future

The Center for American Progress has provided additional evidence that corporations in the United States are taxed at a low rate when compared to other nations. I know we keep hearing about that corporations are over taxed and if we keep taxing them they will move their jobs out of the country. Here is a link to a series of charts that proves that US corporations are paying lower taxes than some would admit to.  American  

‘ “Conservatives like to claim that our budget deficits are purely a “spending problem.” Said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY): “We don’t have this problem because we tax too little. We have it because we spent too much.” ‘ It’s a popular talking point, but it simply isn’t true. Deficits do not stem from spending levels alone. They are the product of a mismatch between spending and revenue. And when revenue is as low as ours is, you end up with big deficits.”  American Progress

Now, it may sound trite or sarcastic, but the facts are clear that our so-called debt problems would be solved very easily without any draconian cuts to socially important programs important to the Left, and without deep cuts to the military budget that the Right wants to avoid. So why is it so difficult to reach this seemingly obvious solution? Why do the wealthy and Corporations have such a tight wrap on the DC regulars on both sides of the aisle? Could the answer be that both the wealthy and large Corporations have the funds to buy or at least ‘rent” Congress and convince Senators and Representatives to look the other way on tax increases?

It couldn’t be the money, could it? And all this time I thought that Gordon Gecko was a fictional character!

Respectfully submitted by Lawrence Rafferty-Guest Blogger.

135 thoughts on “The Solution to the Debt Crisis is an Easy One.

  1. The debate is phony. O is pushing for minor tweaks that will only require
    slight changes in the tax code. If that weren’t true, his coffers wouldn’t
    dwarf all of the GOP candidates combined.

    O is more of a right-winger than President George W. Jetson.

  2. Which debate is phony tom K? The debate between the Dems and the Republicans or the debate I am initiating here?
    O as you call him, I call him President Obama, even if I don’t agree with everything he does, has offered more than most progressives would have wanted him to and yet he is rebuked by the Rebublicans. To me that is why I wrote this article to suggest that the answer to the problem is to tax the wealthy and corporations at 1960 rates and we would not have any debt problems.

  3. rafflaw,

    Both my husband and I thought the following blog post by Simon Johnson, who is a professor at MIT, at the New York Times site was interesting. Johnson is also the former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund and co-author of “13 Bankers.”

    Could Tax Reform Make the Financial System Safer?
    July 21, 2011

    In the deafening cacophony of voices in Washington on the debt ceiling, it is easy to miss a potentially more significant development. There is growing bipartisan interest in tax reform, including changing the corporate tax system to make it more sensible and a bulwark against financial sector instability.

    The House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee held a joint hearing last week — the first time these two committees had met in this fashion to discuss taxation in more than 70 years, their chairmen said. The theme of the hearing, “Tax Reform and the Tax Treatment of Debt and Equity,” might sound dry, but in fact it was well designed to carve out some space for agreement across the political spectrum.

    The basic question at the hearing was: Did the tax code contribute to the severity of the financial crisis in 2008-9? At one level the answer is a simple yes, because the tax deductibility of interest payments encourages families to take out bigger mortgages and companies to borrow more relative to their equity capital. (Dividend payments to stockholders are not tax deductible.)

    But where in the tax code should we focus attention if the goal is to prevent similar crises in the future?

    I testified at the hearing and argued that banks and other financial institutions should be the priority, because their overborrowing was central to past crises and is likely to be a salient issue in the future. It is also ironic — perhaps even bizarre — that while we try to constrain how much banks borrow through regulation, we give them strong incentives to borrow more through the tax code.

    This “debt bias” is covered in detail by two very good Joint Committee on Taxation reports that were released at the hearing, one on business debt and one on household debt. (This committee comprises a subset of members from the Ways and Means and Finance Committees; on these technical issues it makes sense to get as many legislators as possible on the same page.)

    One goal is “tax neutrality,” meaning that from a tax perspective it would be equally attractive to raise capital through issuing debt or through issuing equity. This could be done by limiting the tax deduction on interest payments or creating an equivalent type of deduction for dividends. In other words, you could raise more or less revenue with such a change, but the debt bias can be addressed.

    I proposed that we go further and consider a tax on “excess leverage” in the financial sector. The idea — already being applied by some European countries and further developed by some of my former colleagues at the International Monetary Fund — is based on the premise that a high level of borrowing relative to equity is a form of pollution, creating negative spillovers for the rest of the economy.

    When any entity in the financial system has little equity relative to its debts, it has moved closer to becoming insolvent. We need big banks, in particular, to have strong loss-absorbing buffers, and that is the role played by equity capital. But the same logic applies to insurance companies, hedge funds and even leveraged buyout firms.

    When anyone has a great deal of leverage, this amplifies the upside return on equity — for a given return on assets, equity holders get more. It also amplifies the downside returns. And executives do not generally pay sufficient concern to the effects of their firm’s potential bankruptcy on the rest of the financial system.

    One way to structure this approach would be as a “thin capitalization” tax — so companies of any kind would be taxed on debts that exceeded some reasonable multiple of their equity (perhaps a multiple of three or four).

  4. The whole “debate” is a sham. Of course, increasing taxes on the wealthy
    and on big corporations is needed, but what permanent, significant
    solutions is O offering? None. Just minor loophole closings etc. His coffers
    wouldn’t be overflowing otherwise. He and the GOP want the same things.

    THIS progressive isn’t buying the notion that O is doing the right things.

  5. tom Does not matter what Obama wants or does not want. The tea party is in control of the house.

  6. tom,

    I’d say that President Obama is a man of half measures. He is not a true progressive. Otherwise, I doubt he’d get so much money from Wall Street.
    Otherwise, he would have nominated Elizabeth Warren to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have caved on a public option. Just my opinion.

  7. I never thought Obama was a true progressive. He might not look so bad matched up against Rick Perry.

  8. Elaine,
    I agree with your linked article, but Corporations will put millions into the political system to prevent having to pay 1 dollar in taxes let alone new taxes due to their financial instability.
    I agree with your comments about Elizabeth Warren. If President Obama was a true progressive, he would have fought for Warren, not to mentione Prof. Johnson as the head of the OLC earlier.

  9. My god what a no brainer….Raf your absolutely right tax the people and corps who are making all the money ……hell any dummy should be able to figure that out….How can those idiots in Washington not know the right thing to do, it bloggles the mind…

    Also as for as O or Pres. Obama goes….I come from a long line of liberal democrats and even tho on a couple of occasions I have voted for the odd .Sen Danforth I always considered myself a loyal Dem…but I’m having a harder and harder time dealing with the presidents position I find myself not hardly able to watch him on tv anymore I get so mad…lord help me i don’t dislike him as much as I hated the shrub but every day this all gets harder to watch…

  10. Warren was not going to get confirmed. Probably Cordray won’t be either. The republicans don’t want that position to even exist. Warren is better off running for the senate.

  11. Left out of the debate are hidden “Taxes”. No one seems to remind people that when the price of my vehicle registration or Drivers license goes up that is a a “tax”.

  12. Forgive me if I sound too simplistic but I wonder what would happen if we just elimnated the debt ceiling altogehter? I’m not necessarily suggesting that, but is the amount that government spends based in any way to what
    the debt ceiling is?

  13. Curt Sjostrand:

    Your question is perfectly legitimate. In my opinion eliminating the debt ceiling entirely would have absolutely no practical consequences. First, it is not a limit on debt to begin with. Debt is a function of the spending authorized in the first instance by Congress. The so-called “debt ceiling” is really a limit on the borrowing authority of the government.

  14. Curt–A government official or Wall Street person, I forget which, suggested that we eliminate the debt ceiling about two weeks ago (no other country has this) and no one paid any attention to him. This entire display shows how broken our government is. I think the President needs to follow Pres. Clinton’s advise on this one. Simply raise the debt ceiling and let the Rethugs take him to court.

    Elaine–The article you posted is just not practical. The wealthy, America’s true Welfare Queen, are going to go into convulsions if they have to pay taxes. Since both parties are in their pockets, this is just not going to happen. The American experiment is a failure.

    For those of us who can stomach it, we will have to wait and see what the President says tonight. I am not at all hopeful though. Oh boy, my cynicism has fully returned.

  15. Let’s just raise the ceiling to 1 quadrillion “dollars” and revisit when we reach the limit in 2028.

  16. SwM,

    Elizabeth Warren isn’t a proven campaigner and I’m not at all sure she’d do well against Brown in Mass. … perhaps if she waited for the possibility of Kerry’s seat opening up if he is picked to replace Clinton.

    She’d make a hell of a senator for some lucky state.

  17. Swarthmore,
    You may be right about Warren and Cordray, but some fights need to be fought, even if you do lose. The vacancy in the OLC is a glaring example of that.
    I have read differing reviews of Clinton’s suggestion, but Prof. Tribe just came out in favor of its legitimacy.

  18. Swarthmore mom,

    “Elaine, Do you think Elizabeth Warren could beat Brown in 2012?”

    I don’t know. I’d definitely work for her. She’d certainly be a breath of fresh air in the Senate–in addition to Bernie Sanders of Vermont who is one of the only politicians in Washington who is working for us average folks.


    From Matt Taibbi
    October 2009
    Elizabeth Warren for President

    “Beyond monitoring how the government is mopping up after the financial crisis, Warren is pushing a proposal that could help prevent the next one: creating a Financial Product Safety Commission to protect consumers from abusive lenders. Mortgages and credit cards, she wrote in a 2007 journal article about the proposal, “should be subject to the same routine safety screening that now governs the sale of every toaster, washing machine, and child’s car seat.”Straightforward as that sounds, it would represent a fundamental shift. “Regulating financial products based on fairness, simplicity, and appropriate risk is an entirely new paradigm,” notes Reid Cramer, director of the New America Foundation’s asset building program. In the wake of the financial meltdown, the idea has gained traction in Washington, thanks in part to Warren’s plainspoken advocacy. “Almost unique among people with deep financial insight, Professor Warren speaks a language that ordinary people can easily comprehend,” says Laurence Tribe, a colleague at Harvard Law. For example, when testifying before a congressional committee in June, Warren summed up the shift in banking this way: “Today’s business model is about making money through tricks and traps.”

    via Bank Buster: Elizabeth Warren is Wall Street’s Worst Nightmare, Mother Jones (via

    We’re coming up on the one- year anniversary of Barack Obama’s election. I think it’s maybe time that we asked ourselves how he’s doing.

    He didn’t close Guantanamo Bay, and not only didn’t reject the idea of pre-emptive detention but added spice to his own new version of pre-crime prosecution, “prolonged detention.” He promised health care reform and campaigned on a public option, and we all know how that is going to turn out.

    But most importantly, he came into office amidst sweeping crises in the financial sector and did not do what needed to be done, and what had been done the last time the U.S. was sent careening into a depression because of Wall Street: he failed to push for tough financial reforms. Barack Obama needed to be the FDR figure who remade the American capital markets and made them fair again, and he barely laid a finger on the whole scene.

    Instead, he put the people who created the problem in charge of fixing the mess, and ended up bailing them out instead of the rest of the country, at huge current and (presumably) future cost.The total bill for the Bush-Obama bailout is certainly above ten trillion at this point — Inspector General Neil Barofsky thinks it might hit nearly $24 trillion ultimately — and this went through without much fanfare. Meanwhile, the congress is stuck in the mud, panicked at the thought of paying three or four trillion over a decade or so for a health care program.

    None of this is new news. What is new is the question of what to do about it. I’m personally of the opinion that our main problem lay with the fact that the Democratic Party as currently constituted is more afraid of losing the financial support of Wall Street and the health insurance industry and the pharmaceutical industry than it is of losing progressive voters. In fact, I think I’ve put that wrong, because it implies that the Democratic Party pushes the agenda of industry insiders out of fear. That is a misread of the situation, I think.

    I think they prefer those people to their voters. I think they feel more comfortable with them. I heard a story recently from a Democratic Party operative who tells me that certain members of one of the president’s cabinet departments only got wind of how hard it is out there for ordinary people to pay their bills when they invited in a major corporation to give them a presentation about their financial outlook for the holiday season — and through that report found out that this company’s prospective customers were spending less because large numbers of them had been laid off, or had huge medical bills, or had maxed out their credit, and so on.

    Letters from customers, survey answers and such, were read to the cabinet group. And they were shocked. This is how they find out about the economic reality of this country — accidentally, from a major campaign contributor! That’s how out of touch these people are.

    On these financial issues, not just the issue of financial regulation on Wall Street but the larger issue of income distribution and what kind of country we want to be — the Democratic Party no longer has a policy that makes any sense. They do not seem to understand or even recognize that real wages in this country have not grown for most people for decades. Or if they do understand, they refuse to imagine any solutions that are not in some way a compromise with their major campaign contributors. They talk about closing tax loopholes and phony corporate addresses in the Caribbean as solutions to economic problems, policy initiatives as absurd and inconsequential as then-comic Al Franken’s fictional decision (in the novel Why Not Me?) to run on a campaign promise of “ending ATM fees.”

    This is all a long-winded way of saying that we have problems whose solutions involve taking on powerful interests, political challenges that will necessarily involve prolonged and hard-fought conflicts, but what we have in the Democratic Party is an organization dedicated to avoiding such conflicts and resolving issues in the manner of a corporate board, in closed meetings with the chief cardholders where things get hashed out to the satisfaction of everyone present.

    The problem from the standpoint of the typical voter is that he is not terribly present in those discussions. When Rahm Emmanuel met with Billy Tauzin and Merck and Pfizer in the Roosevelt Room (how ironic!) of the White House earlier this summer to work out the details of exactly how much of a bite the new health bill was going to take out of the pharmaceutical industry — the answer turned out to be none, and all the insane subsidies of big Pharma are going to remain in the final bill — were you there? Was anyone representing you there?

    The Democrats feel safe in leaving you and me out of that room for two big reasons. One, our main electoral alternative is the party that put George W. Bush in office. Two, the last time significant quantities of Democrats decided to buck and send the party a message, they helped get George Bush elected by giving Ralph Nader the deciding votes of what turned out to be the tightest of elections. Or at least that’s the storyline that’s been popular since that incident. The Nader “debacle” forever closed the notion of third-party progressive challenges to mainstream Democrats, at least in the minds of the Democratic Party bigwigs, anyway.

    It seems to me then that the only hope of getting any of these problems is to get ourselves a national candidate who on the one hand is a mainstream politician and on the other is willing to embrace the notion of an open protest against the Democratic Party doctrine. We need for someone who has some legitimacy with both the media and the Democratic Party constituents themselves to come out and publicly campaign to re-seize the Party from the Wall Street interests that have come to dominate it. We need someone who understands the finance stuff (which automatically reduces the pool of possible applicants to a small handful), will know the difference between real regulatory reform and a dog-and-pony show, and will not be likely to fill a cabinet with bankers from Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

    The question I have lately is, why not draft Elizabeth Warren to run for president? And I don’t mean in 2016, I mean in 2012.

    This sounds like a crazy idea for a couple of big reasons. One, a primary challenge to Barack Obama will almost certainly fail and may hurt Obama enough to get a Republican elected to the presidency. The other is that if this is done as a third-party run, it’ll probably achieve the same thing.

    That all might be true. And it may, indeed, be a terrible idea. If it is, I’m genuinely open to hearing the reasons why, and I’m sure it’s a long list.

    But I’d like to see it get talked about anyway. The way I look at it, the problem with the Democratic Party is not the voters, it’s the 19 or 20 people who are paying for the campaigns and sitting in at those meetings with Rahm and Billy Tauzin. We have to get rid of those people, herd them all to the edge of a very tall cliff and push them off and be done with it. I think this can be done by electoral referendum if we actually put it all on the table openly and let people decide for themselves. And maybe it takes an electoral cycle or two to get it done, but it has to get done. This stuff won’t get fixed otherwise.

    We need someone in there who is willing to run one this one issue: who owns the Democratic Party? Is it the voters, or is it Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley and United Health Care? There are plenty of candidates out there who’d fit — Toledo’s Marcy Kaptur got a nice bounce from the Michael Moore movie, and Jan Schakowsky is another who comes to mind — but Warren to me makes the most sense for the simple reason that it will be virtually impossible for the Democratic Party hacks to dismiss her as a fringe character, given that they themselves gave her such a big public position as chief of the Congressional Oversight Panel.

    This is a woman who understands the finance issues as well as we can hope to expect from any politician and moreover seems to connect the dots when it comes to dissecting the problems on Wall Street:

    I just don’t think we could talk yet in terms of a recovery. I think the right way to understand this is that we stabilized the patient. No one goes to bed at night wondering when you wake up in the morning and will this financial system have collapsed. We clearly are past that point, but we have to remember the way we stabilized it. We stabilized it by saying the American government is going to put its money, its guarantees, the taxpayers’ money behind our financial system to hold it up…

    And that may have given, you know, some cheery news to investors in the stock market who say I want to invest in some of those companies that have those sorts of government guarantees to back them up, but it doesn’t tell us that the economy itself is turning around. It doesn’t tell us that there are good jobs out there or even that we’re starting to build the infrastructure that’s going to produce those good jobs.

    I think someone needs to put a scare into the Democratic Party leaders. Someone needs to make it clear that the progressives in the House might really kill the Health Care bill if it comes out of the Reid-Pelosi consult sucking as much as we expect it to, but even more importantly, someone needs to let Barack Obama know that someone else’s face is going to start being silk-screened on t-shirts at political rallies if he doesn’t get real on the finance stuff.

  19. Swarthmore mom, Blouise, & rafflaw,

    Scott Brown Taps Wall Street For Cash In Advance Of Possible Elizabeth Warren Challenge
    By Amanda Terkel
    First Posted: 7/21/11 05:35

    WASHINGTON — As Democrats urge Elizabeth Warren, one of Wall Street’s most public foes, to seek a U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts next year, the financial industry is already throwing its support behind the seat’s current occupant, Sen. Scott Brown (R), giving him nearly $315,000 in the most recent fundraising quarter.

    The contributions from people and interests associated with the financial industry represented nearly 16 percent of the approximately $2 million Brown raised in the second quarter, according to his filings with the Federal Elections Commission. $48,000 of the financial contributions came from political action committees.

    The donations, which came in between April and the end of June, were just below what Brown took in during the first quarter of 2012. Between January and the end of March, Brown raised $404,206 from the financial industry. During the first quarter, he received the third-highest amount of money from this sector of any senator or senatorial candidate.

    This week, President Obama announced that he would not be nominating Warren to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), freeing her up for a possible Senate run. Warren, a law professor at Harvard University, has lived in Massachusetts since the 1990s.

    Brown’s fundraising obviously came before Obama made his announcement, but Democrats have been floating her as their ideal candidate for months.

    On Monday, Massachusetts Democrats said they would be “thrilled” if she were to be on the ticket in 2012. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee launched a petition to draft her and is already fundraising on her behalf.

    Warren’s work was the inspiration for the CFPB, and progressives view her as one of their strongest advocates for working families and financial regulations. At the same time, congressional Republicans and many Wall Street entities have fiercely opposed her, with GOP senators saying they would block her nomination to head the CFPB at all costs.

    “Scott Brown is Wall Street’s favorite — and for good reason,” said Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman Matt Canter. “He did their bidding behind closed doors during financial reform and he looks out for their interests every day, voting nearly 90 percent of the time with Mitch McConnell.”

  20. In 2004, spending per capita was less than $8000.

    If this was recycled, there would be a budget surplus even if this year’s revenues are the same as last year’s revenues.

  21. I just finished watching the President. My initial reaction is that he did more than I expected he would do. He called out the Rethugs for sure. Quoting Regan was great, pointing out the fact that others have raised the debt ceiling without all of this fanfare, derailing how we got into this mess, providing details regarding the two plans under consideration, outlining the consequences of default on both rich and poor alike sealed the deal, and urging the American people to contact their congressional reps regarding which plan they support was a slam dunk. I am on the phone first thing in the morning. Cynicism in retreat.

  22. Sorry folks I meant to say “detailing” how we got into this mess, not derailing.

    SwM–Bonehead has proven once again how extreme he and his party are. It is frightening.

  23. SwM–Bonehead has proven once again how extreme he and his party are. It is frightening.

    We need someone like Ron Paul.

  24. What did TOTUS say? I missed it.

    Rafflaw do you decide this on the makeup on the politicians, or the makeup of the plans?

  25. The President in his speech seemed t embrace both his original balanced
    approach which includes new revinue and Reid’s plan which doesn’t.
    When he asked everyone to contact their members of congress, is he counting on that response so that the Reid plan becomes a plan that
    includes new revenue? I agree that Obama came off as the winner,
    Boehner looked like the wiked stepmother from the Tea Party.

  26. Obama is as Republican as they come in fact he’s Bush jr’s third term the way it worked out. He’s absolutely no progressive and “caving in” is his way of compromise. i can’t believe our next election is going to be an all Republican choice – either Obama or one of the bat-shit crazies.

  27. Now, comes a new ABC News/Washington Post poll with a whole harvest of revelations, among them, strong indications that Obama’s liberal base is starting to crumble. Among the nuggets:

    Despite those hundreds of billions of blown stimulus dollars and almost as many upturn promises from Joe Biden, 82% of Americans still say their job market is struggling. Ninety percent rate the economy negatively, including half who give it the worst rating of “poor.”

    Are You Better Off Today Than Jan. 20, 2009?

    A slim 15% claim to be “getting ahead financially,” half what it was in 2006. Fully 27% say they’re falling behind financially. That’s up 6 points since February.

    A significant majority (54%) says they’ve been forced to change their lifestyle significantly as a result of the economic times — and 60% of them are angry, up from 44%.

    To be sure, 30 months after he returned to home cooking, George W. Bush still gets majority blame for the economy.

    But here’s the breaking news for hopeful Democrats: George W. Bush isn’t running for anything except exercise.

    “More than a third of Americans now believe that President Obama’s policies are hurting the economy, and confidence in his ability to create jobs is sharply eroding among  his base,” the Post reports.

    Strong support among liberal Democrats for Obama’s jobs record has plummeted 22 points from 53% down below a third. African Americans who believe the president’s measures helped the economy have plunged from 77% to barely half.

    Obama’s overall job approval on the economy has slid below 40% for the first time, with 57% disapproving. And strong disapprovers outnumber approvers by better than two-to-one.


  28. Kd Liberal democrats will vote for Obama in the end but not so enthusiastically. I don’t think we will want Rick Perry. I would not wish a Perry presidency on anyone. He is much worse than Bush. There is no viable third party. Hope it does not turn out like Gore v. Bush. Nader was a spoiler. Most people are not happy with politicians period.

  29. Back to Rafflaw’s point of restructuring tax laws. When corporate taxes were at 1960 levels it was expensive for owners to withdraw money for personal use and investment. They, therefore, kept money inside the company and used it to modernize facilities and equipment, training, wages/benefits. This contributed to stronger retained earnings, tighter debt-equity ratios and provided a cushion for surviving the down business cycles.

    Since the 1980’s tax rates at the top end have been dramatically lowered and we’ve had three major bubbles burst (commercial bldgs in the 80’s; dot.come in the 90’s and residential housing in the 00’s) caused in part by too much money chasing paper gains with money that used to stay inside companies’ treasuries.

    David Stockman, the guy who “invented” Reagan’s voodoo economics has agreed there’s been very little trickle down effect from the low tax model and calls it a failure.

    Anyone suggesting the GOP path of no tax increases on the wealthy is an apprpriate one can only come to that conclusion by accepting that only the middle class should bear the burden of debt restructing. Any American who can accept that absurdity has forgotten completely what the American experiment is about.

  30. @swarthmore mom, each party has an automatic base of 35%-40%, the fight is the midle 20%-30%. That’s why our suystem works so well, we fight over moderate voters, parliamentary fight for the extremes

    @rcampbell, your simplistic analysis ignores the disaster that was the 70s, when all that mal-investment caused by the tax policy you hold so dear caused the economy to come off the rails.

  31. kd The fight is over the independents as you say. Obama got them in 2012. The republican tea partyers got them in 2010. Read something this morning about how much independents like compromise. That does not look good for Boehner’s approach.

  32. Are You Better Off Today Than Jan. 20, 2009?

    A slim 15% claim to be “getting ahead financially,” half what it was in 2006. Fully 27% say they’re falling behind financially. That’s up 6 points since February.

    A significant majority (54%) says they’ve been forced to change their lifestyle significantly as a result of the economic times — and 60% of them are angry, up from 44%…

  33. If the Social Security checks quit going out, the impact will be huge.

    It would be no one’s fault but Obama’s

  34. bdaman That is your party’s opinion. I think the tea party wants to burn the house down to make Obama look bad. It has always been their goal.

  35. You gotta get up earlier to get the worm, Bdaman.

    @swarthmore mom, depends on whether they desrire for compromise trumps their hatred of an awful economy and 3 years of failed plans. I’m thinking it’ll be the latter.

  36. Bdaman

    That’s complete BS. The fault lies squarely with those who created the huge debt (Republicans) and who refuse to answer for their irresponsibility. No one who suggests supporting the absurd Republican plan of requiring ONLY the middle class to pay for the debts the GOP ran up deserves any respect.

  37. The economy was so severely damaged by Bush’s financial crisis that it will take years to come back if it ever does.

  38. No worries we go to lazarus get digiovannis sauce and Mantias pizza with cheddar cheese. And dont worry bout pamela desiree or lee or or or the gettine 3 square meals:))

  39. I need to call my tea bagger congressman, Pete Sessions, this morning. He is more concerned about holding fundraisers in strip clubs than whether or not a senior is getting a social security check. See his wife filed for divorce.

  40. bdaman That is your party’s opinion. I think the tea party wants to burn the house down to make Obama look bad. It has always been their goal.

    Obama is doing a fine job of that on his own. Instead of partying like it’s 1999 and wanting to be the next Tiger Woods maybe it would be different.

  41. @rcampbell — “No one who suggests supporting the absurd Republican plan of requiring ONLY the middle class to pay for the debts the GOP ran up deserves any respect.”

    Let’s not let the facts get in the way of a good rant.

    Who Pays Income Taxes and how much?
    Tax Year 2008

    Top 1% (AGI threshold = $380,354) pays 38.02%
    Top 5% ($159,619) pays 58.72%
    Top 10% ($113,799) pays 69.94%
    Top 25% ($67,280) pays 86.34%
    Top 50% ($33,048) pays 97.30%
    Bottom 50% (<$33,048) pays 2.7%

    Note: AGI is Adjusted Gross Income
    Source: Internal Revenue Service

  42. That’s complete BS. The fault lies squarely with those who created the huge debt (Republicans) and who refuse to answer for their irresponsibility.

    The economy was so severely damaged by Bush’s financial crisis that it will take years to come back if it ever does.

    People get tired of hearing the same old crap true or not, It’s all Bush’s Fault. This maybe true but Obama has made it 10 times worse. Failed Healthcare and Stimulus would be your two prime examples.

    Like Obama you keep looking in the rear view mirror. Watch out your about to run into the back of the dump truck.

  43. Oh and look how sneaky he is. A ploy to change the gun laws in this country.

    Bdaman 1, July 26, 2011 at 10:06 am

    A gunrunning sting gone fatally wrong

    Phoenix — They came from all over the country, agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, brought here in a bold new effort to shut down the flow of U.S. guns to Mexican drug cartels. It was called Operation Fast and Furious, after a popular movie about street car racing.

    But from the beginning, much of the fury was inside the agency itself.

    On his first day undercover, John Dodson, who had been an ATF agent for seven years in Virginia, sat in a Chevy Impala with Olindo Casa, an 18-year veteran from Chicago. They watched a suspected gun trafficker buy 10 semiautomatic rifles from a Phoenix gun store and followed him to the house of another suspected trafficker. All of their training told them to seize the guns.

    The agents called their superior and asked for the order to “take him.” The answer came back swiftly, instructing them to stay in the car. The message was clear: Let the guns go.

  44. SwM

    This is common for republican administrations in recent decades. Run up the debt so that democrats can’t enact social programs when they take over. Republicans declared war on the majority of citizens in this country a long time ago. This is simply part of their slash and burn campaign. It plays well in the south and with certain personality types.

  45. Remember who controls spending: Congress.

    You need 60 votes in the senate and half the votes in Congress to control spending.

    So when did the Republicans have this kind of control to run up the debt?

    Running up the debt has been very much a bipartisan effort.

  46. The beauty of static scoring — how to lie with statistics and have the rubes fall for it.

    The Top 10% (AGI=$113,799+) already pays 69.94% or all federal income tax. How much more would you have them pay?

  47. “The national debt-ceiling law should be judged by what it actually does, not by how good an idea it seems to be. The one thing that the national debt-ceiling has never done is to put a ceiling on the rising national debt. Time and time again, for years on end, the national debt-ceiling has been raised whenever the national debt gets near whatever the current ceiling might be (see chart above, courtesy of today’s “The Gartman Letter”).

    Regardless of what it is supposed to do, what the national debt-ceiling actually does is enable any administration to get all the political benefits of runaway spending for the benefit of their favorite constituencies — and then invite the opposition party to share the blame, by either raising the national debt ceiling, or by voting for unpopular cutbacks in spending or increases in taxes.

    The Obama administration is a classic example. When all its skyrocketing spending bills were being rushed through Congress without even being read, the Democrats had such overwhelming majorities in both the Senate and the House of Representatives that Republicans had all they could do to get a word in edgewise — even though their words had no chance of stopping, or even slowing down, the spending of trillions of dollars.

    Now that the bill is coming due for all that spending and borrowing, Republicans are suddenly being invited in to share the blame for either raising the national debt ceiling or for whatever other unpopular measures will be legislated.

    Many years ago, someone said, “If you didn’t invite me to the big take-off, don’t invite me to the crash landing.” This was Obama’s big spending spree, but “bipartisanship” requires Republicans to either split the bill or be blamed if the government shuts down or defaults.

    What would happen if there were no national debt-ceiling law?

    those who got the political benefits from handing out trillions of dollars of the taxpayers’ money (plus borrowed money) would also get the clear and sole blame for the resulting skyrocketing national debt and all the unpopular consequences.”


  48. “This was Obama’s big spending spree(kderosa) …Fractured Fairy tales … teabaggers love this kind of stuff … they even pay to hear it … suckers

  49. Here is President Obama’s budget for fiscal year 2012 (and outlook through 2021). And here is a look at some of the numbers that stand out:

    $3.73 trillion — total spending this year (25 percent of GDP, highest levels since World War Two).

    $46 trillion — total spending over the next decade.

    $8.7 trillion — total new spending over the same period.

    $26.3 trillion — Total new debt, including entitlement obligations, predicted by 2021.

    $7.2 trillion — Total deficit predicted by the end of the decade.

    $1.1 trillion — How much the White House estimates the proposal will reduce the deficit over the next ten years.

    $4 trillion — How much the president’s deficit commission recommended reducing the deficit over the next ten years to avoid financial catastrophe.

    $1.6 trillion — The projected annual deficit for 2011 (11 percent of GDP), up from $1.3 trillion in 2010.

    $2 trillion — Amount the budget will raise taxes on business and upper-income families over the next ten years, which includes letting the Bush-era tax rates expire in 2012 (for incomes $250,000 and up).

    $50 billion — Amount the administration plans to spend this year on infrastructure and transportation “investments.”

    $30 billion — Amount dedicated to a “National Infrastructure Bank to invest in projects of regional or national significance to the economy,” including the much-touted high-speed rail initiative.

    $77.4 billion — Funding allocated for the Department of Education, a 22 percent increase from 2010 levels, and a 35 percent increase from 2008 levels.

    $29.5 billion — Total spending on the Department of Energy, a 22 percent increase from 2008 levels.

    $9.9 billion — Funding allocated for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a 30 percent increase from 2008 levels.

    $150 billion — Total amount the White House plans to spend next year on research and development programs.

    8.2 percent — Predicted unemployment rate in 2012.

    Zero — Political risk the president was willing to assume by proposing meaningful reform to entitlement programs. That said, Republicans haven’t exactly been willing to stick their necks either, at least not yet.

  50. It was an $800 billion misadventure that will be wreaking havoc on the econ omy for years to come.

    No, not the war in Iraq, where an American combat-troop presence officially comes to an end tomorrow.

    We’re talking about President Obama’s economic-stimulus program.

    Remember the stimulus? The miracle cure Obama said would boost the economy and save millions of jobs?

    Well, the president’s panacea turned out to be an $862 billion bottle of snake oil — and it cost $100 billion more than the entire Iraq campaign to date.

    According to the Congressional Budget Office, the total Iraq tab comes to $709 billion this month, a costly engagement in terms of treasure.


  51. In the early months of his presidency, President Obama has shown he isn’t afraid to spend billions of dollars on corporate bailouts or to run up trillions of dollars in U.S. debt to battle an economic crisis.

    But in doing so, he has initiated the largest expansion of federal government since World War II and set up a massive challenge for his administration — one that officials are already warning will be fraught with peril.

    During the first 100 days of his presidency, Obama has signed a $787 billion stimulus bill into law, proposed an eye-popping $3.6 trillion budget for the next fiscal year, taken over a massive $700 billion Wall Street bailout program and created other billion-dollar programs to help grease the economic wheels.

    Analysts call the spending spree “unprecedented” when the nation is not in a declared war, and they say the challenges that accompany it are a logical result.

    (a href=””>Source)

  52. In making his case for tax increases last night, President Obama described past deals in which Democrats promised spending cuts in return for tax increases, and said:

    The first time a deal passed, a predecessor of mine made the case for a balanced approach by saying this: “Would you rather reduce deficits and interest rates by raising revenue from those who are not now paying their fair share, or would you rather accept larger budget deficits, higher interest rates, and higher unemployment? And I think I know your answer.” Those words were spoken by Ronald Reagan. But today, many Republicans in the House refuse to consider this kind of balanced approach.

    Well, yes, those words were spoken by Ronald Reagan (in August of 1982) in reference to TEFRA—the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act—which congressional Democrats promised would involve a ratio of $3 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax increases (which they said would consist only of closing loopholes). TEFRA passed later that year, and the tax increases certainly happened but, as Reagan later put it in his autobiography, “the Democrats reneged on their pledge and we never got those cuts.”

    TEFRA was one of Reagan’s great regrets about his time in the White House, and should serve as a warning to Republicans contemplating similar grand bargains. Obama’s reference to it only highlights the fact that he tried to pull off something much like TEFRA. Luckily, he appears to have failed.


  53. I couldn’t agree with Lawrence more. A big part of the problem has been the conflation of government with running a business or a household. Police Departments shouldn’t have to turn profits. Building up this mythology of government being run like a business is the work of a corporate media and of a corporate elite constantly congratulating themselves and rewarding compliant legislators with their support. The sickest thing about it is the mythology that large corporations are well run. One example of that absurdity is the corporate jet. the expense entailed in maintaining and running one is stupidly prohibitive. Yet many corporations run fleets, simply because it tickles the egos of their leadership. Also, to me having worked hard all my life, anyone who thinks a day at a posh golf course with its attendant meals and drinks is work, is a self-indulgent fool, not a businessman.

  54. How could police departments possibly turn a profit? That’s just plain silly. It’s also a traditional gov’t function. However, when gov’t takes over an industry and tries to run it, then it should turn a profit. See the post office, Amtrak, and the like.

  55. kderosa,
    Taken over a bailout? do you mean he was stuck with the Bush Bailout of the banks and you are sticking on Obama? You are comparing the Iraq war bill to the economic stimulus? Wow. first of all, the stimulus did create and save millions of jobs. Secondly, most of the stimulus was necessary because of the hole we were left in by President Bush. Actually if anything, the stimulus was too small as suggested by Paul Krugman.
    You also plug in line items for the high speed rail, which is a good way to not only create jobs here, but also rebuild our infrastructure which helps individuals and corporations alike.
    As to the businesses and the wealthy, the number is too low. the corporations are paying little or no taxes now and in too many cases, these same companies are getting refunds or credits in the millions when paying little or no taxes. For ten years the wealthy have been getting a break because they are the “job creators” and guess what, they haven’t produced the jobs. No surprise because it didn’t work during the Reagan years either.
    Was Reagan’s autobiography written before he had dementia symptoms? I seem to recall that he had dementia starting to creep in during his last years inn the White House. I don’t think I would trust anything attributed to Reagan after he left office.

  56. “the corporations are paying little or no taxes now and in too many cases, these same companies are getting refunds or credits in the millions when paying little or no taxes”

    Not sure if you’ve actually ever worked in finance at any multi-billion dollar firm, but they pay a hefty amount of taxes. I’ve seen, with my own non-politically affiliated eyes, the amount that two separate multi-billion dollar consumer goods companies pay in taxes. It comes nowhere near your assumption of ‘little to no taxes.’

  57. @rafflaw, when you say “Bush bailout” Do you mean the bi-partisan supported Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of Oct 2008 in which 108 R’s and only 63 D’s voted against and 91 Rs and a whopping 172 D’s voted for, which candidates Obama and McCain wholeheartedly endorsed. Is that the one?

    Also, the stimulus has not been shown to create any jobs, the unemployment rate still remains far higher than Obama predicted would be the rate without any stimulus.

    Breaking the financial sector was a bi-partisan effort, by mostly Dems like Frank and Dodd. Krugman hasn’t met a stimulus that wasn’t too small. We’re spent TRILLIONS of dollars with almost no descernible effects on the economy. The stimulus was a failure.

  58. kderosa,
    The Bush bailout was necessary because of the regulations that were relaxed and the banksters took advantage of them. The stimulus did create jobs and protected jobs, just not as much as Obama had predicted. Even though his prediction was too high, you can’t claim that a lot of jobs were saved and produced. You could I guess, but you would be wrong.
    With all due respect, I will take Krugman’s word and knowledge over yours any day when it comes to the economy.

  59. @rafflaw, regulations were relaxed prior to Bush’s term to enable the poor, minorities and poor-credit risks to afford housing according to Democrat policy desires. Bush merely bought into it.

    The headline of your cited article “Jobs Created and Saved By Stimulus Cost At Minimum An Average of $228,055 Each” tells you all you need to know. These jobs weren;t created or saved, they were bought. Big difference.

    It’s not my word against Krugman, it’s other economists’ word against Krugman. And Krugman’s word has not exactly been reliable indicator or economic success. What happened to the multiplier effect? It failed to materialize.

  60. A corporate jet can be money saving too. They get a tax deduction for the jets. More trickle up economics…………..

  61. kderosa,
    you did not ask how much they cost, you claimed that the stimulus bill did not create or save significant numbers of jobs. You would be incorrect.
    Name your economists and stack them up againsts Krugman and Krugman still wins. Have a nice day.

  62. @rafflaw, By your theory, why don’t we just spend a quadrillion dollars and get ourselves back to full employment? Each job onlys costs about $200k to “create or save” Let’s go for it.

    Krugman’s brand of Keynesianism was even opposed by Keynes.

  63. kderosa,
    I have said too much already, but there are many experts, Krugman is one of them, that think the best way to get out of a hole like this is to spend your way out of it. Corporations aren’t creating jobs here so the demand has to be created in order to jump start the economy. Thanks for commenting.

  64. @rafflaw, I know how fond you are of proof, so where is the empirical evidence that shows where government spending is capable of getting us out of a recession/depression other than when there is national unity, such as during a war, specifically WWII. (Also, other than the appeal to Krugman Authority. which seem to invoke as some sort of economic talisman.)

  65. “a corporate jet can be an important time saving tool.”

    That is just the bullshit used to justify them to weak minds. A corporate Jet is a penis for Executives.

  66. “Not sure if you’ve actually ever worked in finance at any multi-billion dollar firm,”


    What was the percentage GE paid out last year in taxes, find out and get back to me.

  67. Mike Spindell, how much did Exxon pay out last year in federal income taxes, find out and get back to me. Now find out out what the bottom 49% paid in federal income taxes and compare the two. Which is more?

  68. It’s not about how much a company pays out, it is about the percentage of income it pays and with it in Exxon’s case the amount of money it gets from government. Economics 101.

  69. Actually the percentage has nothing to do with economics 101. ACtually Economics 101 tells you that any corporate taxes will often be passed right along to consumers in the form of higher prices. Why do you hate the poor so much, Mike , that you want to raise their prices on everything?

  70. Mike Spindell:

    Lets say I am an executive of an oil company drilling for oil in Nigeria. The rig is a big ocean going one and costs me a couple of million dollars a day to operate. My main focus is making sure that rig is drilling because that is how I measure my money, number of feet drilled per day. The more I can drill in a day the faster I hit oil or gas.

    I dont like to have the rig idle because it is a waste of money. Now lets say I hit a snag and use a special piece of equipment [I have 2 on the rig because they cost $100,000 each] which is instrumental for my operation and it breaks. I now have one left and I still need to have a reserve on hand.

    If I ship it by Fedex or some other carrier it may take 3-5 days to get there, if I use my corporate jet it will take me 36 hours. You do the math.

    All corporate jets are not about stroking their egos. Some actually are doing work. And the construction of a corporate jet puts a good many people to work.

    I imagine the young man or woman who works on the assembly room floor of Lear would not have the same disdain for those executives you have. Their livelihood depends on those executives stroking it.

  71. all taxes on business activities are paid for by the consumer. It is a common misunderstanding of those with limited understanding of economics and business in general.

    If a company wants to make $5 dollars per unit, the tax burden is figured into their costs.

  72. The only thing corporate taxes affect are dividends and the price owners pay to withdraw money from the company. Neither of those qualifies to justify the GOP’s position that obnly the middle class should bear the burden of the debt problem.

    Taxes do not affect expansion or hiring decisions nor officers/managers’ bonuses. As a former board Chairman of a publically traded company, I do know about business decisions and economics. No company run by anyone with knowledge of business or economics decides to build a plant or hire people because of a tax. Such decisions are made based on the impact to the PRE-TAX bottom line. The decision to expand or build is most affected by having potential customers with money in the hands to buy what’s being sold or made. Therefore, the more important holder of tax breaks are the 98% rather than the 2% of high income earners. The wealthy don’t need tax breaks or more money in their pockets, consumers need it. The tax rates have been what they are currently since 2001 and still no jobs. There’s tons of profit, but the low tax rates have not produced jobs——-because it’s a LIE, another GOP fantasy. Time for the wealthy to shut up and pay up.

  73. You guys crack me up everytime i come here. Did you ever meet a problem that couldnt be solved by stealing more money from rich people? Healthcare? Tax rich people. Government debt? Tax rich people. I mean do you even have any other solutions besides that? Lets pretend for a minute that you got your way and those evil rich had to pony up for everything. Perhaps this thought has never occurred to you, but suppose there was no rich or poor anymore and any variance is negligable, what do you do when you still cant pay for healthcare, when you still cant fund social security, when your debt to gdp ratio hits somewhere around 500%? What do you do when you get your wish and there are no more rich and poor people, but you find out that your problems are still there? What solution will you offer up when you have eliminated the supposed villian of this story but you are as far away from your happy ending as when you started?

    Back to the specific topic however, you do realize that rich people didnt become rich by just letting other people take their money. Whether they acquired their wealth legitimately or illegitimately, they dont like parting with it. Point being, setting aside all moral dinstinctions we might differ on for your planned course of action, what happens when they decide enough is enough and simply take their money elsewhere? You could jack up the tax rate to 80% but what will it matter when anyone who might make enough to be taxed that high decides his money is better spent sending his resources somewhere else? You can bluster and fling rage filled spittle all you want about “the rich” but what happens when they pick up stakes and leave you to your diatribes?

    Id be happy to hear an argument that the us empire should have the purview to confiscate resources on a global scale. Let me know how that works out for you.

  74. Raff,

    Krugman thinks the price of gold hitting 1600 dollars is due to glenn beck’s impeccable salesmanship. You really want to keep backing that horse?

  75. @rcampbell — “No company run by anyone with knowledge of business or economics decides to build a plant or hire people because of a tax. ”

    Stop being a jackass.

    Of course tax consequences factor into the equation. Why do you think Microsoft, for example, has a media distribution plant in Puerto Rico?

    It’s also why George Soros runs his hedge fund from overseas.

  76. ekeyra,

    I’m sure we agree that the US has already been confiscating resources on a global scale… leading with our wars for energy. Perhaps as you suggest we will levy an empire “protection” tax on the billions of individuals now living under US control? Scaling up the pizzo so to speak.

    In the future the US will tax not just incomes but will seize accumulated wealth directly, as France does.

    We agree that this level of taxation will simply result in capital flight to Asia or other friendlier tax venues, resulting in lower overall revenues. That lesson will have to be learned the hard way, just as NJ is learning it on a smaller scale today.

    Government will seek to control this capital flight at all costs.

  77. On the other hand, they probably don’t live as well as the top 1% with all their government sponsored tax breaks.

  78. SM,

    The US subsidizes the world with our medical innovations. The motives for this pace of innovation will vanish once the US is on a socialized system. Pharmaceutical companies will become utilities. Those are invisible losses, of course, since most people will never realized what improvements to quality of life and longevity that they are forfeiting in such a system.

    France has a lower standard of living than the US, with about $10K less in consumer spending per capita.

    The top 1% pay more than the bottom 95% in the US. What number do we need to get to?

  79. puzzling:

    you are exactly right re medical innovation. we do subsidize world markets and when we go to a national system the quality of medicine in the rest of the world will decline.

    government control is robbing us of innovations across all sectors.

  80. You can’t redistribute income . . .

    Income really is the Achilles heel of the progressive movement. The income statistics simply don’t mean what progressives think they mean–something like “resources available for redistribution.” If you want something closer to resources available, you’d use consumption, or wage income. If you combine wage and capital income in the same aggregate, you are counting the same resources twice. This is deeply counter-intuitive, yet all public finance economists understand this. The policymakers in Nordic countries understand this. But progressives don’t seem to understand this. Even Paul Krugman, who must know better, keeps citing income distribution data, which is about as informative as examining the entrails of a chicken.

    A rich guy with lots of income has three choices, consumption, savings/investment, and charity. Let’s dispose of charity quickly. Yes, we could redistribute the money Gates in spending on malaria in Africa, and give it to other Americans. Would that be a gain? I think everyone would say no. On the other hand if a rich guy gives a lot of money to Princeton, to have his name on a building, perhaps that’s really a form of consumption. I’m fine with treating it that way, if the tax authorities decide that’s the way to go.

    But the real money here is obviously in the consumption/investment categories. You can redistribute consumption from the top 1% and give it to average Americans working in a car factory, or a Walmart. But it’s an illusion to think you can redistribute investment from the top 1%, so that average Americans can have a higher living standard. Where do people think the car factory comes from? Or the Walmart building? BTW, this has nothing to do with trickle-down economics, a theory I reject. This is simple accounting. Money put into investment projects isn’t available to boost living standards for the lower classes, unless you don’t do those investment projects.

    So what’s available to be redistributed? Basically consumption (including a modest amount of vanity charity.) And that’s it. Now come back to me with the consumption distribution data, and let’s see what that looks like. I predict that consumption inequality is far lower than income inequality. And that consumption inequality is rising at a far slower rate than income inequality. I’m not saying there’s no problem, but it’s way smaller that the progressives imagine, as the data they use is pure nonsense. Consumption inequality is economic inequality. Income inequality is . . . well it’s meaningless gobbletygoop.


  81. Speaker Boehner has lost control of his party and default looks like it is going to happen. Some of the bills will go unpaid. A few days after that it could go nuclear and then nothing will get paid and the economy will crash. This is what the tea party wants.

  82. Speaking of the Tea Party, an acquaintance of mine has just recorded an ode to them. He is a New Orleans composer and musician.

  83. “Speaker Boehner has lost control of his party and default looks like it is going to happen. Some of the bills will go unpaid. A few days after that it could go nuclear and then nothing will get paid and the economy will crash. This is what the tea party wants.” -Swarthmore mom

    You’re correct, Swarthmore mom. This is exactly what the tea party wants.

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