Debtor Nation: Congress Approves A Staggering $1,300,000,000,000 Budget

Destitute_man_vacant_store
(United States Government archives)

As many on this blog know, I have long been a critic of our sprawling national debt and reckless budgets. I admit to being adverse to our long history of kicking the can down the road with new taxes and higher budgets.  Well, we are about to push our kids further into debt with an obscene $1.3 trillion budget bill.  The White House and Congress yielded to virtually every temptation in adding to our national debt at a time of tremendous economic uncertainties. We have added $1 trillion to our debt in just the last six months.

The 2,232-page tax bill is bursting with massive benefits for favorable projects, including huge increase in the military budget.  Speaker Paul Ryan admitted “No bill of this size is perfect.” I would call a $1.3 trillion pretty far from perfect.

The national debt is now rising 36 percent faster than the economy.  What trend will not end well as we watch other countries around the world thrown into political and social chaos from years of running away spending and debt accrual.  We constantly speak of our love for our children and future generations but we are leaving them with crippling debt and government bonds held by foreign powers like China.

We start this trend when we abandoned the commitment to balancing budgets and found excuses for debt accrual on promises of increased productivity or economic expansion.  Politicians are always quick to find a reason why they do not have to make difficult choices in favor of spending more and more money on a leveraged debt.

Even projects removed from the budget are expected to still be funded. For example, President Trump made a big deal about cutting the rail tunnel under the Hudson River – a priority of his political rival DemocraticSenate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York.  However, Schumer’s staff said that more than half of the $900 million is likely to still be secured this year.

440px-Rand_Paul,_official_portrait,_112th_Congress_alternateKentucky Sen. Rand Paul registered his frustration with a biting tweet: “It’s a good thing we have Republican control of Congress or the Democrats might bust the budget caps, fund planned parenthood and Obamacare, and sneak gun control without due process into an Omni … wait, what?”

196 thoughts on “Debtor Nation: Congress Approves A Staggering $1,300,000,000,000 Budget”

  1. Since we are on the subject, here are some latest figures:

    Right now, we are spending 32 million dollars per hour on wars. Each and every voting person owes more than $24,000 on war expenditures, which is being passed on to our children and their children.

    1. “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun”

      – Mao Tse-tung
      ____________

      Wealth derives from the “strength effect” generated by a powerful military.

      Do you prefer dominion or subservience?

      The budgetary problem for America is compulsory redistribution to nurse parasites which include the “poor” and public worker unions.

      The American Founders gave the power to the People.

      – Article 1, Section 8, Clause 1

      “…Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes,…to…provide for the…general Welfare of the United States;…”

      Congress has no power to tax for “individual welfare”.

      Unconstitutional dictatorship is back with unconstitutional, compulsory and communistic redistribution of wealth, central planning and social engineering.

      The American welfare state must be abolished per the Constitution.

    2. “Right now, we are spending 32 million dollars per hour on wars. Each and every voting person owes more than $24,000 on war expenditures….”

      Ok, when you figure out how to keep humans from fighting with each other let us know.

      1. We could start by looking for an answer instead of feeding the beast. UN might be a good starting point if we only let it do its job unfettered from imperialistic pressures and if we respect the sovereignty of all countries, however small they are, however they are governed, and whatever religion they profess. We all share this speck of space dust and we all share its destiny. We all depend on each other for survival. In the great scheme of things, we are nothing.

  2. Well, you know what they say: “A billion dollars here and billion dollars there, and pretty soon you’re talking about serious money.”

  3. The Center for Media and Democracy has an updated list of ALEC lobbyists and legislative members posted at its site. ALEC drafts state laws and disseminates the template so that the corporate agenda can be easily rolled out across the nation.

  4. George Soros, Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg can pay these off in no time. Tap them to take care of these asap. They owe Americans everything theyve got

    1. The Koch’s have $400,000,000 to throw at the 2018 midterm elections. That’s a lot of spare cash that, in a free enterprise system, would be improving products or lowering prices.

      1. Absolutely….if only Hillary had spent the $1.2 Billion “spare cash” on “improving products or lowering prices” instead of campaigning, we’d all have better products and lower prices.
        Add the $400 Million of the Kochs’ to it, and that $1.6 Billion would have dramatically improved all of our lives in a $20 Trillion economy.
        Keep telling yourself that, Linda. And a few hundred more posts repeating the same theme will succeed in convincing the rest of us….( the last few hundred times you mentioned this didn’t convince everyone).
        😴😴😴

        1. Rhetorically, how many of the regular commenters at this blog who defend Russia, Trump and the brothers Koch are typing away in Kosovo?

  5. The Saudi heir apparent is the topic of a damning political story, today, which is related to Kushner (CNN). He is making a world tour to sell people on his vision. The vision includes $3 bil., as an investment in Uber. One description of the Uber model is, it enlists peasants to rent out to strangers, personal assets that they can’t afford otherwise. Of course, schemes like Uber put taxi drivers out of jobs and/or drives down their wages and benefits.
    The Saudi Prince is a perfect fit with American Republicans.

    1. Linda is against progress. I am not saying Uber is good or bad, but destructive innovation is something that seems to scare Linda to death. If it weren’t for such innovation we would still be picking up horse manure off the streets.

      I think the idea behind Uber is great for many things. One can take an Uber instead of driving drunk. One can take a train (or bus) to a location instead of a gas eating car and then for the short portion of the trip use an Uber. Older people can give up their licenses knowing that they can call an Uber. In NYC one can now get a cab or an Uber or even a shared car that saves both money and gas.

      I’ll let Linda live in her world, the world that existed before the invention of the wheel.

  6. If we borrowed $20 trillion, as interest rates rise we will be on the hook for even more $ to pay it back. I’m no accountant but if interest rates go up to 5%. Then wouldn’t the annual amount owed on $20 trillion be 1 trillion a year. That would mean that the first 1 trillion collected in taxes be used to pay the interest on the debt, not the principal, just the interest. This would be before money is used for the military, or highways, or entitilments. I think there are going to be some very unhappy people in this country down the road. Just saying.

    1. bob,
      sign up for an economics course. If the debt is owned by Americans, Americans receive the interest payments which they spend, benefitting the nation through the economic multiplier effect.

      The salient points about national debt are limited to (1) the amount it is as a percentage of GDP and (2) how much of it is owned by foreign nations.

      The complexity of the trade deficit is much more important but, Pete Peterson, who has spent one half of a billion dollars to destroy Social Security wants you to focus on the national debt.

      1. Linda, it sounds like you are the one that needs the remedial course in economics. When the debt reaches a certain point in relation to our GDP and government expenses the government will no longer be able to finance its spending. When that happens it doesn’t go bankrupt. The government prints money which reduces the value of the debts causing hikes in interest rates and causing money to have a reduced value. Therefore if in your retirement you had $100,000 in the bank in a matter of a few years its value could be reduced to $50,000. That is not a tax, but that is what the government does and has done in the past.

        I don’t know what type of schooling you had, but you apparently weren’t taught very much about economics, the Constitution, and good government.

          1. “Allan thinks “good government” is oligarchy.”

            No, but you don’t understand much of anything past Stalinism so it is hard for you to put into words what other people think.

            I believe in the Constitution and the free market. I fight against oligarchy by permitting the regular working individual to compete with those that have huge corporations. I use competition instead of the gulag or killing of others. Your only question is whether you should kill them with a knife or a bullet.

              1. You wouldn’t know what a free market was if you tripped over it. Anyhow you quoted someone, not me, but a lot of times what you think is closing a free market is merely closing the doors on fascism.

    2. I BOB,..
      – You are exactly right. Historically low interest rates HAVE enabled us to more easily service that $20 Trillion debt.
      That 8-10 year trend of abnormally low rates is coming to an end; going forward, it’sa matter of how fast/ how far the Fed will go in raising rates.
      My guess is that the increases will be gradual, with the Fed slowly inching up rates over the long term.
      Another factor in budget matters is the lack of annual surpluses in the Social Security system.
      If the SS system was taking in $200 Billion more than it was paying out in some previous years, the official deficit was $200 less than it would otherwise be.
      Now that the SS program is no longer posting annual surpluses, that “reduction” in annual deficit numbers will no longer be showing up.

      1. And Bob, there you have it. The deficit hawks didn’t fight the spending bill because they are plotting against Social Security.

  7. Dear Mr. Turley while I agree the national debt level is insane why are you bitching about higher taxes all the time? The fact is starting with Kennedy and accelerating under Reagan the federal tax rates have been consistently lowered and the national debt has continued to increase. We don’t even raise taxes to pay of our endless illegal wars and massive war budget. Give me an old fashioned FDR Tax and Spend Democrat any day over a Endless Tax Cut and Spend Republican! Btw, given the great trips you and your family take it doesn’t seem like your taxes are hurting you.

  8. The current republicans are still going by the “newt” playbook. drive the debt up to cut the services of the American people that they paid for thru their taxes. Sell off public lands, schools, etc to pay for more tax cuts to the top 5%. Facts are there, the Dems pay the debt, and the republicans drive it up.

    1. And yet the debt increased dramatically during the 8 Obama/Dem controlled years. Why didn’t they pay the debt then?

          1. There are two types of debt that our government owes. One is the debt you are talking about. The other is the debt that is pledged without a guarantee of ever being paid. Examples of that type of debt are Medicare and Social security. The actuarial total debt owed by our government is about 5 times the debt you are concerned with. The only President who actually reduced that total debt was GWB. That doesn’t mean he was a financial wizard or a good President. It only means that in one year that total debt did not rise.

            We are dealing with a house of cards and neither our politicians nor most of the people on this blog are willing to deal with the realities of what we face. Instead, we are bombarded with comments that demonstrate a total lack of understanding of the problem the nation faces.

            1. Tax the richest 0.1%… problem solved. If they want to leave the country with their families and live in a low tax rate country in Central America, point them in the direction of Enterprise Rent-a-Van.

              1. You have already accomplished that in part. Over 2 Trillion American profit dollars sits in offshore accounts. American businesses have left the US and that has caused a reduction in jobs in this country. Zuckerberg’s partner in Facebook took his billions to I think Singapore. They made their settlement after he left. Many Americans can reside elsewhere and can rent instead of own in America.

                You need economics 101.

                Of course, Linda, you believe in the techniques of Stalin who made the biggest corporations his friends and those that were not were forced to act on his behalf. Stalin knew how to use guns and terrorize an unwilling population. One doesn’t need to know economics to force people into doing things they don’t want to do. Of course, that is a very inefficient method.

          2. Fishwings states:
            ” Facts are there, the Dems pay the debt, and the republicans drive it up.”

            So Linda points out that Republicans (Bush) drove it up following Clinton. Fair enough.

            But Fishwings said that “Dems pay the debt”. And when I asked why didn’t Obama’s group pay it down in 8 years, rather than increasing it more than it had ever been, I have somehow “fallen” for something.?

            The liberal logical inconsistency is making my head hurt.

  9. Clinton was not a choice. She controlled the Democratic Party and denied Democrats the ability to vote for alternative candidates such as Bernie Sanders through means that were neither Democratic nor fair.

    Trump, on the other hand, was a choice proven by the Republican Party’s firm opposition to him. He only won the Republican nomination because people chose him. They chose an outsider.

    I think the fact that outsiders developed so much influence is healthy for it might constrain the insiders from doing business as usual. However, it seems that both parties prefer insiders and will fight against anyone attempting to break their monopolies.

    1. These trade war billionaire oligarchs like Wilbur Ross are tryin to punish the Chinese but they will hurt da middle class. Clinton discouraged opposition but she did not keep Bernie off my ballot. What states was he kept off? She won cause southerners voted for her. They thought my guy was too liberal. They don’t like da single payer stuff in da south.

      1. Competition is a way of spreading and growing wealth. Government’s tendencies are to listen more to those with money and experience in industry but those leaders have a tendency towards protectionism that garners them more wealth.

        If one is upset with “the oligarchs” one should be supporting freer competition and less government.

        1. Even Z-berg admits the need for regulation.
          Research found that when regulation evens the playing field, it creates opportunity. Why are American conservatives so opposed to regulation…..answer….they like monopoly, oligopoly and oligarchy…they’re not big fans of free markets.

          1. All the big corporations admit the need for regulation as long as it doesn’t affect them. They would like monopoly status and people like you like to give it to them even when people like you don’t recognize what you are doing.

            A free market requires some regulation, but most of that is done via contract so that all are equal under the law. Equality under the law scares Stalinists and other types of facists

  10. We need to be fair and balanced. To reduce the budget we need to: end housing projects and vouchers for the so called poor to live in private condos or homes; end military in the world and that means pull out of Europe, Asia, the Muddle East and all points off shore.
    Vote out RepubliCons and Democraps who support this budget.

  11. Instead of reading Turley’s posted reiteration of PR from the oligarchy, which employs an emotional argument to sell a falsely identified problem and solution, read “a southern victory that is a blueprint for defending” the common goods, published at “In These Times” and Alternet.
    Quick summary- The billionaire Gov. of Tenn. convened a secret privatization cabal. The result was the biggest contract in the state’s history given to a corporation – same corporation that the Gov. disclosed as a major investment, when he was running for governor.
    Tennessee’s 99% defeated the plot through hard work. That’s the advantage that labor has, they know how to contribute to productivity unlike the financial sector that drags down GDP.

  12. The Constitution provides Congress the power to tax for “general Welfare”.

    The Constitution does not provide Congress the power to tax for “individual welfare”.

    The power of Congress to tax for “Individual welfare” was and is deliberately omitted and, thereby, excluded.

    Redistribution of wealth in any and all forms is unconstitutional.

    Article 1, Section 8, Clause 1

    “The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;…”

    1. Going back a couple of generations …e.g., the Eisenhower-JFK-LBJ years of the 1950s and 1960$…defense spending was 50-60% of total U.S. spending.
      It is currently about 18-20% of the U.S. budget.
      That doesn’t mean that defense spending can’t be cut; but what it does mean is that the “budget-balancing by cutting defense spending” is not realistic.
      As a percentage of spending, non-defense spending….primarily entitlement programs…. have (and are) taking up an increasingly large percentage of the U.S. budget.
      Any realistic discussion or evaluation of the U.S. budget and deficits and debt has to include a basic knowledge of the major cost drivers.

  13. “Iraq war costs U.S. more than $2 trillion: study”

    by Daniel Trotta

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iraq-war-anniversary/iraq-war-costs-u-s-more-than-2-trillion-study-idUSBRE92D0PG20130314

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. war in Iraq has cost $1.7 trillion with an additional $490 billion in benefits owed to war veterans, expenses that could grow to more than $6 trillion over the next four decades counting interest, a study released on Thursday said.”

        1. And then there’s “blowback.”

          http://www.tomdispatch.com/books/175985/tomorrow%27s_battlefield%3A_u.s._proxy_wars_and_secret_ops_in_africa/

          “Tomorrow’s Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa”

          April 17, 2015

          “You won’t see segments about it on the nightly news or read about it on the front page of America’s newspapers, but the Pentagon is fighting a new shadow war in Africa, helping to destabilize whole countries and preparing the ground for future blowback. Behind closed doors, U.S. officers now claim that “Africa is the battlefield of tomorrow, today.” In Tomorrow’s Battlefield, award-winning journalist and bestselling author Nick Turse exposes the shocking true story of the U.S. military’s spreading secret wars in Africa.”

          1. USA Today (2017) “,,,Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater and now chairman of Frontier Services Group, a logistics company focused on Africa….”

  14. This post makes me weep.

    Our kids are so screwed, as our our grandkids, great-grand-kids, and probably on until some evolutionary adaptations become noticeable. Maybe we will evolve to become genetically averse to over spending as a result of the financial pressure we create today. After all, that’s what evolution is – the response to pressure and time.

  15. The Republican concept of stimulating the economy has always been to increase the money at the top, to pay off the oligarchs that fund elections and throw some bones to the middle and lower classes, the true drivers of the economy. Without the cheap labor and consumers of cheap imported goods, the boys and girls at the top would have to buy shorter yachts; that’s it in a nutshell.

    The only true long term worth of increasing the debt is to invest in infrastructure, technology, new industries, alternative energy, education, social well being, and higher wages. The true choice for Americans is to make more money working shorter hours and have the choice to spend the money and/or time on crap or invest it in self advancement. As it is, it’s longer hours, lower pay, and lots of cheap crap to assuage the wounds inflicted by our oligarchy.

    1. IB,

      Your first paragraph is true as far is it goes. I don’t know how you can write such a sensible second paragraph will ignoring that Democrats are up to their necks in the same malfasance as Republcans. Citigroup picked Obama’s cabinet and it is a myth that congress can’t pass bipartisan legislation. If you look at the war spending and financial industry give aways you will see they can all work together quite well.

      I find these partisan rants frustrating because we do need to actually solve the problems in our nation. This will never happen as long as partisans refuse to reckon with the reality of our situation. Telling yourself lies about your “great” party while ignoring the reality of your party is exactly how the status quo stays in place.
      Maybe that’s your true aim? I don’t know. But if you do want to have the ideas your laid out in paragraph two come to fruition, you need to stop supporting the status quo and get way more honest about Democrats. If this was just a one party problem it would be fairly easy to address. Unfortunately it’s a systemic problem which will remain intractable until we the people stop lying to ourselves and others and stand up any time we see a politician doing something wrong, no matter what their party may be.

      1. Nah T rump Kusshner is da most crooked. Even da Saudi prince knows. In da end the women will bring this porno prez down.

      2. Well said, Jill. Thanks. I’ve grown tired of making the effort. Spending years beating on W, giving Obama a chance for two years, then hammering him. It’s hard when you try to argue with people who are apparently hard-wired for partisan leanings. Makes you wonder how you can improve things with that hurdle.

        1. I wonder about this also. We’ve deliberately been propagandized to “believe” in parties and, as you pointed out earlier, to even deify various leaders. That is such a dangerous impulse. I believe it has been cultivated in our population and it most definitley keeps people from seeing what is really going on.

          I think that is why Occupy was such a threat. It wasn’t so much about belonging to a party, it was about trying to understand what was really going on and directly confronting the powerful. No wonder the govt. and oligarchy threw everything they had at that movement.

      3. Jill

        You are correct, generally speaking. Obama, Clinton(s), and every politician both Democrat and Republican is fastened to the oligarch teat. However, consistently, Republicans have gone whole hog in the direction of paying off the oligarchs and special interests at the expense of the common person, or almost all Americans. It is not so much about my ‘great’ party it is about those very very few in the Democratic Party that truly do desire to advance the condition of the average or common American. Given that we have only two choices, one more than the Russians, and are not truly represented as a people but on an us or them constructed and manipulated condition; I must side with the liberal, progressive, and common party. There are Republican values that are admirable and that are admired and followed by Democrats. However, recent expressions by this distasteful Republican Party and our less than nothing President make it hard not to recognize the focus of this latest borrowing spree. The stupidity of those that actually believe that giving more money to the top will trickle down and elevate the conditions of the majority, is frightening. Reagan tried it and the standard of living for the middle and lower classes declined; all masked by rising GNP-who got the big bucks? Bush tried it and with 8 years of almost total incompetence reduced the country to depression era conditions. Obama was no saint, but along with his pandering to those at the top, he did attempt to focus on the majority. First comes the focus then comes the moves. Tell me about the Republican focus and our pathetic President’s focus.

        As far as the status quo goes, I do not support all of it. The US is way behind its peer nations in governing. We need to first get all private funding out of government. The rest, starting with the addition of parties or representation, will follow. That includes the money vacuum cleaners like Clinton and her ilk. Imagine an independent candidate running for President, on the issues, and refusing any financial contributions other than $100 from a registered voter. We have the media to do this. The only ones against this are the oligarchs and their puppets.

        1. Isaac,..
          – The focus and concern of the electorate and the candidates has not been on decifits and debt.
          How many of the 17 GOP candidates, or c.6 Democratic candidates, even discussed this as an issue in 2016?
          Or 2012, for that matter.
          There is unprecedented apathy when it comes to issues like the U.S. debt and deficits.
          Given that apathy, I think we’re “on autopilot” to continue stacking on more and more debt, regardless of who is in the White House, or who controls Congress.

        2. Under Saint Obama poverty increased, wars increased, drone kills increased, food insecuity increased, single payer universal health care proposals got you an arrest, he was deporter in chief, surveillance increased, immigrants were dying in custody–if that’s what you mean by helping the majority, I’d really rather not have been “helped”.

          Republicans and Democrats are all in, all the time. If you don’t see this you’re not looking.

          1. Da T rump threat level is an an all time high with da appointment of Jon Bolton. Worse than anybody so Don’t say they are all da same.

            1. “with da appointment of Jon Bolton.”

              Trump isn’t an ideologue. He has promoted both Liberal and conservative ideas. He is a pragmatist. I think the Dems made a bad mistake for he could have worked with them as easily as he could work with Republicans. Now you have John Bolton. The Dems could have had others they preferred but they tried to push Trump into a corner and that is not how you deal with a tiger.

              HRC has one wing of the Democratic Party and is on her way out but how about all those Dems that are anti-HRC or pro-Bernie or are Obama supporters that don’t give a cr-p about Hillary. You Dems and your pernicious attitudes have hurt your own party and badly injured the nation.

            2. Bolton went to Yale just like both Bushes, Kerry, Ford, Bill ‘n Hill, etc. And he worked at the same law firm as Eric Holder – you know the one making sure banks were too big to jail ‘n fail. So it’s not a partisan thing – it’s a club and we are not in it!

          2. Jill

            Poverty or the distance between the rich few and the majority of workers has been increasing since the seventies. The main reason is the oligarchy that is the US governing system. Obama did not create the war, Bush and his idiots did. Bush and his handlers bungled both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. The Iraq war was more criminal than the Vietnam war, if that is possible. Drone killings took the place of American soldiers in planes or on the ground doing the killing. Drones are an instrument of war. Food insecurity came with the recession that was caused by Bush and ended by Obama. During the last two years of Obama’s tenure, wages began to rise. The problems were not solved by Obama but lessened. The problems are being caused by American refusal to understand that they do not govern themselves.

            Yes Republicans and Democrats are all in but the damage done, or the downward slide accelerated by the Republican administrations of Reagan, Bush, and now Trump far outstrip the damage done by the Democrat administrations.

            I agree with you that the cause of our mess is both Republican and Democrat, however, it seems to get worse under Republican administrations.

            1. The income/ wealth gap continued to increase unabateduring the Obama administration.
              There are some very early, tentative signs that the gap might narrow due to wages recently increasing at a somewhat faster rate.
              Even a summary of all of the factors involved in the c.40 year trend of income/ wage disparity would be involved and time consuming.

      4. Your reply is a perfect example of partisan excuse making and why “we the people” are in deep trouble. Clearly the Republicans run the show at the moment. The recent tax bailout for billionaires was rammed through by Republicans and will add a trillion plus to our national debt and the Republicans control what goes into this budget. Our responsibility whether Democrat or Republican is to hold the people in power responsible for what goes on under their watch. If the Democrats pulled this bs then we should be hammering on them. Stop defending your team and defend our country. Both of these parties are killing us but right now the Republicans are running the country.

        1. f.v.,

          How do you explain all the Democratic Congresspeople who vote for MIC, Banking industry give aways, the surveillance state. These issues are completely bi partisan. That was true under Obama and it is still true under Trump. Repulbicans aren’t running the country without the help of Democrats. Trump is helping Democrats and they are helping him. Clearly, something is very wrong here and it goes well beyond parties.

  16. The huge tax cuts Congress approved last fall will provide little bang for the buck. Since unemployment is already at historic lows, there is no need to stimulate the economy. Two thirds of that tax cut will go to the richest 1%. No statistical model suggests they need tax relief.

    1. Since unemployment is already at historic lows, there is no need to stimulate the economy.

      Agree except with that statement. The devil is often in the details and here the gaping hole is that while unemployment is indeed low, the jobs people do have are mostly temp or contract jobs that pay very low wages, are temporary, and have no health or other benefits. In aggregate, that means what is usually the largest sector of the economy, the middle class, is working, but still has little money to spend.

      Public infrastructure spending would kill two birds with one stone. It would increase good paying jobs and benefits AND it would provide much needed infrastructure improvements that would directly benefit our industry (such as it is) and other business entities. Better highways (as long as they are not privitized with expensive toll booths and such) mean less down time and easier distribution, better electrical grids mean cheaper power, and so on.

      That WOULD stimulate the economy, unlike tax breaks for the rich that are largely swallowed up by stock buybacks or offshore accounts.

  17. I get so weary of the constant demagoguery on both sides of the aisle… It’s kind of sad, but we collectively get the exact government we deserve. Heck… I mean WE elect them! Repeatedly.

    As for the fiscal irresponsibility… There isn’t a thin dime’s difference between the R’s and the D’s.

    One party is robbing the bank and the other is driving the getaway car… doesn’t matter who is in charge, the roles simply reverse.

    “Tax the rich, tax the rich, tax the rich”… You could take every cent from the Walton’s, Gates, Bezos, Buffett, and the Koch’s and not get to $1.3 trillion!

    We DO NOT have a tax revenue problem in this country… We HAVE a spending problem. The last several years the US Federal Government has taken in over $3 trillion in taxes, but has spent approximately $4 trillion.

    The real problem is that IF the government taxed us at $4 trillion, our wonderful congress would spend $5 trillion. THAT is the problem.

        1. So you think the government should continue spending money on overseas skirmishes and clandestine operations, and paying thugs in power with dark money or the bailing out of too-big-to-fail banks?

          And, apparently you prefer partisanship. Disgraceful position to take; one that only ensures deadlock.

          USN420 decried the failures of both parties.

    1. The Baby Boomers began retiring in 2011. They will continue retiring until 2027. This isn’t surprising news. But it’s surprising that first Bush, then Trump, decided we needed huge tax cuts amid all these retirements. Until the Baby Boomers begin dying off, we will have a large senior population to support. That alone will drive massive spending.

      So this idea that we “don’t have a revenue problem” is Libertarian claptrap. It assumes we can all agree on what programs to cut. The problem is that everyone has a different idea of what constitutes wasteful spending.

      Oh, did I mention our infrastructure needs? Those needs alone could easily cost about $1.5 trillion. About the same amount we are wasting on this useless tax cut.

          1. Social Security and Medicare are unconstitutional. Congress has only the power to tax for “general Welfare” not “individual welfare”.

            Social Security is a Ponzi scheme – the first ones in get their money back; the last ones out get nothing. Congress has no authority to tax to compel individual retirement accounts. The concept is absurd: Congress takes your money when you’re young and gives it back to you when you’re old. Why not just let free Americans keep their money and take care of themselves?

            Medicare is charity for parasites and unconstitutional. Congress has no authority to nationalize the charity industry.

            You despotic collectivists are unstable, irrational and incoherent. Your preposterous unworkable and nonviable schemes require force to impose them because sane people know inherently that there is no such thing as a “free lunch”. Wealth is not created by parasites.

            All of the scams and schemes that democrats promote and impose by force are perishable redistribution of wealth. Communists are like drug addicts they constantly need a new fix.

            “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.

            Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

          2. Obama tried to cut Social Security. Remember his “grand bargain”? Drop the partisan nonsense. Obama was the most perfect Manchurian candidate ever!

            1. The Cat Food Commission! Obama set it up to ‘review and recommend where cuts could be made’ and he stacked it entirely with people from both parties who publicly HATE the safety net.

              Ha,ha, If it hadn’t been for John Boehner – who thought he could get more out of Obama and pushed him just a wee-bit to far – that conservative’s wet dream would have gone through both houses like a train to hell and resulted in a significant set of cuts to SS, Medicare and Medicaid.

              1. B. Brisge,..
                That bipartisan commission was set up to make recommendations to slow down the spiraling federal debt.
                They made their recommendations, and most politjcians said “than you”, and ran away from the commissions recommendations.
                Offhand, I can’t think of any prominent politician who embraced that panel’s suggestions.
                That commission basically concluded that there’s no easy fix to the perma/ mega deficits….the public did not want to hear that, and the politicians didn’t want to try to “sell it” to the public.

        1. Theoretically S.S. is supposed to be self-supporting. That’s no longer the case. Seniors used to retire at 65 and die off by 72. But now they’re living well into their 80’s.

          This whole debate played out in Campaign 2000. Back then Al Gore proposed the ‘radical’ idea of using what was then a budget surplus to create funding for retiring Baby Boomers. Gore said we should put that money away in a “lockbox” separate from general revenue. But Bush got the White House and rammed through a massive tax cut. No funding or lockbox was created for retiring seniors.

          And now Trump has rammed through another huge tax cut when we have yet to pay-off Bush’s invasion of Iraq. So ‘no’, that Social Security funding isn’t socked away anywhere.

          1. “Theoretically S.S. is supposed to be self-supporting. ”

            Peter, that seems to be the problem. Politicians pick out the theories that match their desires and then what is supposed to happen doesn’t happen. That tells us we have to do less on the federal level. It also tells us that we need a balanced budget amendment and we need to cut federal spending.

            1. A Balanced Budget Amendment would only hamstring the government in the event of a national emergency. Like a huge hurricane, for instance, or unexpected military confrontation. In the event of emergencies like that, Congress would bicker for months on ‘where’ to get the money. Even without a Balanced Budget Amendment, Congress bickers forever with regards to spending. That’s not good government.

              The Balanced Budget Amendment sounds seductive to simpletons who think the government can balance its checkbook like any middle class family. In reality it doesn’t work that way.

              1. “A Balanced Budget Amendment would only hamstring the government in the event of a national emergency.”

                There are many provisions in any amendment of such a nature that would manage temporary needs. Right now we automatically increase the budget so even when it is said that the budget was cut more likely it means that the automatic increase was cut.

                If such an amendment could satisfy the needs of flexibility for emergencies would you still not support such an amendment?

                Your use of the word simpletons in our frank discussion wasn’t necessary. One of the most seductive things I can think of is spending someone else’s money, Don’t you agree? That is why we are spending our children’s money rather than our own. How long do you think that can last? What happens if we have an “interest emergency” where our interest rate payments rise to such an extent that there isn’t enough money to cover expenses and the interest?

                We know what happens to a person that takes out loans on their homes and can’t pay those loans back. They lose the house. The federal government doesn’t need to lose the house because it can print money and in the process impose costs on middle-class citizens far greater than the taxes being imposed today. Remember Carter? Inflation was so high that many seniors on fixed income became impoverished and many lost their homes.

                1. Well-managed government is like democracy; an every day work in progress. Good honest government doesn’t cruise on auto pilot. Ideally you want government officials who believe in quality government. People who love the Social Sciences are good for government. It’s all fun to them. They love discussions that would seem wonky to others.

                  What you don’t want in government are people who ‘hate government’. No corporation would hire a manager claiming to hate their business. But in Republican politics it’s almost necessary to say you ‘hate government’. How anti-intellectual! And the fact that Republican vote that way shows how right-wing media has dumbed the country down.

                  Good, honest government requires real professionals. And a media that ‘explains’ government instead of bashing it. Any dumb journalist can bash government. Dumb journalists are sometimes leftists with stupid conspiracy theories. Anti-intellectual news should be unfashionable.

                  1. Peter, your ideas seem to be confused. Very few people hate government. Libertarian thinkers such as Hayek say they need government to exist in order for their ideas to work. You should put away such false ideas as you have expressed above. I love government and I love this country because of what it has to offer the individual. That doesn’t mean government should steal money from the individual nor take the rights of an individual away. It’s hard to follow a righteous path without mistakes and our government has made many of them, but it is still, IMO, the best government in the world. The problem is with those that hate this country and wish to bring it down and feel individual rights aren’t important.

                    Just like businesses need good managers so does government, but remember the best ones to manage a business are the ones that created it, not some third party that resides in Washington.

                    1. Well Allan you might be a ‘Progressive Libertarian’, if indeed they exist. But the Tea Party movement that sprang to life in 2009 (bankrolled by The Koch Bros) is generally hostile to government. The candidates they sponsor tend to be fire-breathing fiscal hawks.

                      The Kochs have several proxy groups. Americans For Prosperity and The American Legislative Exchange Council are probably the best known. These groups push an austerity best-described as ‘penny wise, dollar foolish’.

                      An austerity where tax cuts take priority over infrastructure. Just put off repairs until everything falls apart! An austerity that pretends the nation’s healthcare can be guided by free-markets. An austerity where Climate Change is too expensive to acknowledge. Like Climate Change will go away if we just ignore it!

                      These positions are grounded in the belief that free markets are an all-purpose solution. Yet hostility to government drives these beliefs. It’s anti-intellectual.

                    2. “But the Tea Party movement that sprang to life in 2009 (bankrolled by The Koch Bros) is generally hostile to government.”

                      Not so, Peter, but based on the press accounts I can understand your statement. The Tea Party sprang organically and was a totally unorganized movement at its inception. It probably varied in different parts of the nation and then different individuals tried to direct the movement. The Koch’s did support the libertarian aspects of the movement as did others.

                      I attended a number of rallies in different locations and what I noted was white, black, Hispanics, families, children, etc. were all gathered very peacefully to hear people speak respectably without any violence. When the rally was over the space utilized was clean and neat, no one pushed. If I had to summarize what the people believed I would say they believed in the Constitution, a balanced budget, and smaller government. Though appearing smaller in numbers Democrats participated. People differed on abortion and all other issues. I met no one who hated the government and in fact, most seemed to have a strong love of country and their neighbors.

                      The Gallop Poll at the time demonstrated strong support from the public. At that time Democrat positions were closer to where much of the Republican Party stands today. In fact, on issues such as immigration, many Democratic leaders made speeches against immigration and many of the things Democrats support today.

                      Be careful with your interpretation of what different people want because the idea of federalism along with other ideas enter the picture and that might lead you to errant conclusions. No one I met was an anarchist and the hostility was towards the misuse of government not government itself. As far as being what you call “anti-intellectual” I think you are totally wrong. I found them far more intellectually endowed than I typically see here on this blog. I suggest you read Hayek, “The Road to Serfdom”, Friedman, “Free to Choose” and a few other books before you draw any conclusions.

                      If you are old enough then you might have come across these two giants. If you are young you may never have heard of them. Our education system of today stinks and we are raising nonthinking ideologues.

                      Have a good evening.

                  2. Peter, I recommend Thomas Frank’s excellent book “Listen, Liberal Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?” After writing two books on the Republicans, Frank turns his attention to the Democrats.

                    “Hailed as “the most prescient book” of the year, Listen, Liberal accurately described what ailed the Democratic Party even before the election of 2016 made their weaknesses obvious. It is the story of how the “Party of the People” detached itself from its historic constituency among average Americans and chose instead to line up with the winners of our new economic order.

                    Now with a new afterword, Thomas Frank’s powerful analysis offers the best diagnosis to date of the liberal malady. Drawing on years of research and firsthand reporting, Frank points out that the Democrats have over the last decades increasingly abandoned their traditional goals: expanding opportunity, fighting for social justice, and ensuring that workers get a fair deal. With sardonic wit and lacerating logic, he uncovers the corporate and cultural elitism that have largely eclipsed the party’s old working- and middle-class commitment. And he warns that the Democrats’ only chance of regaining their health and averting a future of ever-increasing inequality is a return to their historic faith.”

                    He’s an engaging speaker as well

          2. Talk about consumer spending going to nothing. Cut out SS and Medicare and the economy collapses. Instantly.

            1. Don’t keep the safety net because citizens paid hard earned taxes for their SS and Medicare. Don’t keep it for humanitarian reasons. Don’t keep it because Democracy is Of The People, By The People, and FOR the people. Keep it because corrupt politicians, corrupt bankers, Wall St. finance cats, will all lose their slimy corrupt greedy larcenous shirts when the economy collapses if the programs are taken away.

            2. Since US citizens paid for their social security and medicare, those are debts the US government owes to its people (you know, the ones who give their blood so others can envy us for our ‘freedom’). American HONOR dictates that the US pay its debts to China, and American generosity dictates that it GIVES billions away outright to Israel (their fully funded world renowned universal health care for instance that we can’t have cause we already give that much and more every year to Israel). So it is fully understandable that American HONOR requires that it DOESN’Tpay what it owes to its own citizens and that instead it ROB them blind with taxes that are immediately given as tax cuts to the rich* and the already bloated military to further the killing of whole countries such as Yemen.

              *Oh yes, there are some tiny cuts for the Middle Class. These are, of course, bait and switch because they go away around 2025 when Trump has loaded his billions in tax cuts into one of his jets and scrammed.

              1. “Oh yes, there are some tiny cuts for the Middle Class. These are, of course, bait and switch because they go away around 2025”

                With just a few Democratic votes for the bill, the tax cuts for the middle class wouldn’t have to disappear. If this is your complaint blame the Democrats.

                1. No, sorry, my complaints on the giant cuts for the wealthiest .01% are that it is a huge wealth transfer from the middle class to the rich who simply don’t need it. Don’t need it, didn’t earn it, and will do nothing to invest it, except in stock buy-backs or off-shore accounts, neither of which do the economy any good at all. This was simply grand theft in plain sight. Like our bail out of the banks under Obama. The tiny tax cuts for the middle class were an insult and it doesn’t really matter if they disappear or not; it’s just that many workers are not aware they will vanish which is why I call it bait and switch. The cuts average out to about a 4 cent an hour increase in pay for the average worker so who gives a flying foobar if they go poof once Trump is on his way – it’s just not knowing. BTW, yes Democrats are complicit, but they did not invent it. Both Dems and Repubs can be proud.

                  My rant on SS is a general rant and it rants against a pernicious attitude of negativity and selfishness that has been cultivated over the last 5 decades by think tanks, Universities and conservative corporate interests and then by neoliberal Democrats starting with Carter and blossoming with Clinton, perfected by Obama and his Cat Food Commission, and is, frankly, as un-American as torture. I apologize for the confusion of sticking it in the middle of this particular discussion except as follows (and it has already been touched upon in this thread),

                  Part of the purpose of any huge deficit with our bi-partisan congress (at each others throats or not) is starving the beast; setting up an atmosphere where dismantling the safety net can be made to look inevitable and unavoidable. It doesn’t matter if it is a valid argument or not, only the optics count that can be exploited by people that have been trained to positively loath the little guy and the idea of a common weal (except for guns) or any of the collective wisdom that enabled us to survive as colonies. That on going effort in the form of a huge deficit that will be used in the future as an excuse to dismantle the safety net is definitely a part of this tax cut and explains why normally fiscal conservatives are willing to forgo their usual deep reservations of such excess.

                  1. I quoted one of your comments to which I responded so don’t walk away from it to argue other points. I’ll take your points one at a time but first deal with that issue.

                    1. I did respond to it. Read the comment. No need to reply unless you care to. You will refrain from telling me what to do or how to respond. -Thanks

                    2. “You will refrain from telling me what to do or how to respond.”

                      You are the one telling people what to do so stop complaining. I told you what I intended to do, “I’ll take your points one at a time but first deal with that issue.”. As far as you responding to the point I made, your response was tangential at best and not a very good response at that. Overall your rant rambled too much even though it may have touched on points of agreement, but I don’t like looking for things in a forest of words.

                    3. I quoted one of your comments to which I responded so don’t walk away from it to argue other points. I’ll take your points one at a time but first deal with that issue.

                      No Allen, I responded (as in AFTER) to your, command telling me what to do, “[…] so don’t walk away from it to argue other points[…] first deal with that issue” (your words – not mine).

                      I’ll respond to you, or not, as I please when I please.

                      You have a problem with twisting logic that I’m not suited to deal with.

                    4. “No Allen, I responded (as in AFTER) to your, command telling me what to do,”

                      BB, Firstly, I didn’t command. If you remove the ellipses from your quote anyone can see that it wasn’t any more of a demand than a statement of how I intended to manage your response. Read the statement again closely and note the lack of a pronoun. It is easily apparent to recognize that you don’t want a discussion rather you want to argue acting strong when your arguments are either weak or disjointed. Stop complaining and be responsive.

                      “I’ll respond to you, or not, as I please when I please.”

                      Such statements don’t move an argument forward. You didn’t have to even respond. You sound like a kid mouthing off.

                      “You have a problem with twisting logic that I’m not suited to deal with.”

                      That is probably true except it is not as much twisting logic as stretching it to demonstrate where your logic fails.

              2. If the U.S. ever defaults on its debt, it would likely cut
                off payments to foreign creditors first.
                The money owed to the S.S, TRUST FUND would not likely be targeted first for defaulting.
                MediCare was never sustained solely by payroll taxes, so the “payment” for theMC program has involved subsidies from general tax revenues+ ever higher MC payroll taxes on each suceeding generation.
                That’s why a family with an income of $10,000 in 1965 would pay only$23 a year in MC payroll taxes, and a family today making $100,000 pays$1450 in payroll taxes.
                (The employer would match the $23 in 1965, and has to match the $1450 today with “the $100,000 a year family”.
                And those MC payroll tax hikes don’t “self-fund” the program….those taxes pay c.60% of the MC budget.

                1. The money owed to the S.S, TRUST FUND would not likely be targeted first for defaulting.

                  I’m not at all sure how much faith I would put in, “likely” (it’s a good choice of words), but even granting the point for the sake of argument, there are other ways than defaulting to renege on a debt . One of them is to mount a sustained assault on the safety net programs and dismantle them slowly, and that has already happened with considerable bi-partisan support and not simply from the blue-dogs. See my comment in response to Autumn on the ‘CAT Food Commission’ set up for that very purpose by Obama. Of all people, John Boehner saved us from ourselves. And it will continue with a thousand little bi-partisan cuts in propaganda, the MSM, in legislation, Televangelists, by ‘on purpose’ side effects of deficits, and when ever possible by legislation. It’s theft in the form of a debt not honored.

                  We live in crooked times – your thesis, elsewhere, of keeping an even keel (referring perhaps to both legislative bodies as well as “responsible” critics) is increasingly unsupported by whats going on.

                  1. B. Bridge,.,- So far, it’s been political poison to even hint at “cutting back” on SS or MediCare spending.
                    I don’t see that changing in the foreseeable future.

                    1. What do you mean? Regan already cut SS by raising the age of eligibility (full benefits from 65 to 67).. Obama was constantly talking about doing the the same thing again only pushing them to 70. What do you mean by, hints of cutting back, a baseball bat? 🙂 (no offense).

                      A sober summary*: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Commission_on_Fiscal_Responsibility_and_Reform
                      * note that all members (appointed by Obama himself) were avowed haters of the safety net.

                      This body, in the vernacular, was called The Cat Food Comission (so the elderly could have Cat Food) and the link above gives pretty much only the publicly permissible conventional analysis of intent.

                    2. B. Bridge,…The primary driver of the massive SS surplus built up ( as a result of the bipartisan 1986 SS reforms) was a sharp increase in the tax rate, and in the taxable base; e.g., up to c.$130,000 of wages is now subject to the 6.2%`payroll tax.
                      The gradual, incremental raise in the elibility age was, in effect, a cut in benefits.
                      So I’ll concede that.
                      It was ostensibly sold on the basis that peolple were living longer, and therefore ahould start full benefit eligibility a bit later. That did save the system some by raising the age to 67, but it was primarily the patroll tax increases that build the surplus.
                      If they ever get around to the next round of 30-40 year planning for SS solvency, I think it’ll be primarily another payroll tax hike that rebuilds or preserves the surplus.
                      But on the payout formula, I wouldn’t rule out either neans testing/ and/ ora higher retirementcage.

              3. Ted Cruz already invited Dems like Bernie to co-sponsor a bill to make the individual tax cuts permanent. He declined. So you might as well retire that meme.

                1. What in the world are you talking about? Where do I blame only Repubs? I’m an equal opportunity critic. Of course the Dems are in on it. But that hardly lets Rebups off the hook. I don’t recall any of them getting on the railroad tracks to stop the bill from chugging on through.

                  1. Because they claimed that the individual tax cuts should have been made permanent in the original bill. That’s why.

              4. Great post BB! Yes, let’s stop giving millions to Israel – and if Bibi wants to continue the chaos let him shoot off rockets straight from Tel Aviv – we do not need to be involved with his insanity. Did Bibi tell Trump to put that warmonger Bolton into place today???

                re: “These are, of course, bait and switch because they go away around 2025 when Trump has loaded his billions in tax cuts into one of his jets and scrammed.” Not just Trump – all the elites who live in gated, guarded villas will either scram to hideaways.

                1. Hey Autumn! Yes, the elites imagine they are going to escape their own creation, the extraordinary success of extinction capitalism.

                2. “let’s stop giving millions to Israel ”

                  I can understand the ideological viewpoint regarding foreign aid, but when people focus too closely on one side of the issue where the dollar amount is small compared to the total amount spent one can see that the individual relies on anti-Semitic opinion pieces or is anti-Semitic themselves.

                  In any event along with the most recent foreign aid bill came the Taylor Force Act which cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority if it continues funding terrorists which is where most of our aid to this group is eventually spent.

          3. A massive surplus was built up in the Social Security Trust Fund after the payroll tax hikes of the mid-1980s.
            I think it peaked at about $3 Trillion a few years ago…the system was more than self-supporting in that it was taking in more every year in taxes than it was paying out in benefits.
            Now, as anticipated, the system is paying out more every year than it is taking in.
            Since about 2013?, the surplus built up in anticipation of the large waves of baby boomers retiring is being “eaten away” as more money is paid out annually than is collected in payroll taxes.
            By law, that surplus can only be invested in U.S. Treasury bills, notes, or bonds.
            That surplus earns the same interest rate as any institution or country or individual who invests in Treasuries would get.
            Essesntially, the U.S. Treasury “owes” the S.S. Trust Fund the amount of the surplus, which I think is now about $2.5? trillion.
            Unless the U.S. Treasury “defaults” on its debt….stops paying interest and principal…the current existing surplus ( in addition to annual payroll taxes) can continue paying benefits currently promised for another 12-15 years, I think.
            Once that surplus is gone, payroll taxes alone will only cover about 70-75% of scheduled benefits after about 2030.
            There will probably be more payroll tax hikes before then to prevent the reduction in benefits ( to the 70-75% of promised benefits).
            Medicare is largely subsidized by general revenues…MediCare payroll taxes keep going up and up, by those payroll taxes only pay about 60% of the expenses of the program.
            The MC system will probably continue to rely primarily on general tax revenues and payroll tax hikes to try to sustain itself.
            There’s always talk of “cutting benefits” —- the amount of reimbursements paid to health care providers—- but that never
            happens.

            1. Squeeky,..
              – Gore’s “loxkbox” proposal would probably have resulted in more transparent accounting presentation.
              For the most part, the electorate was not clamoring for that (transparency) in 2000, and they care even less about it today.

    2. I have to ask. In what metaphysical sense (for I see no other category in the realm of possibility) do you see Hillary or Trump being, ‘a choice’ without stretching the definition of choice well beyond the event horizon where even far flung fantasy can’t escape the gravitational pull???

    3. Agreed.

      All I ask is that our politicians spend like it’s their own dear granny’s tax money from her fixed income. Spend money like someone worked really hard to make that, and it hurt to hand it over. So use it wisely and live within your means.

      It will never happen, however, because it is so easy to spend other people’s money.

    4. Agreed. Both major parties sell their political favors and have a spending problem.

      All I ask is that our politicians spend like it’s their own dear granny’s tax money from her fixed income. Spend money like someone worked really hard to make that, and it hurt to hand it over. So use it wisely and live within your means.

      It will never happen, however, because it is so easy to spend other people’s money.

      (I tried to comment before, but it ended up on the wrong thread down below. So here goes…)

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