Category Archives: The National Debt

Lunch time links

  • New York Mayor Bloomgerg’s ban on large soft drinks was shot down by the New York Supreme Court, calling it “arbitrary and capricious”.  There was no explanation for what makes this particularly more “arbitrary and capricious” than about ten gazillion other nanny-state laws.
  • Which Presidents presided over the largest increases in government spending?spending





An easy way to knock $53 billion out of the deficit

All this talk about how sequestration is going to devastate the government is getting me down.  The cuts during the first year are supposed to be something like $85 billion, which constitutes about 2.4% of total government spending (3.5 trillion in 2012) and only a fraction of the normal 6-8% annual increase in federal spending.  Of course, sequestration doesn’t permit tailoring the cuts to allow a more sensible approach, but that’s only because Congress and the President have an abysmal record of actually cutting anything even under urgent circumstances.

So, I propose we immediately end all foreign aid.  That immediately saves $50+ billion per year.  That would also have the immediate benefit of reducing corruption throughout the world, reducing U.S. intervention in the politics of other countries, and forcing many European and Asian countries to start paying for their own defense.

Ah, if only such suggestions could actually find their way into the deficit debate, but they can’t.  If Congress and the President had the integrity required to reduce spending and balance the budget, they would never have let us get $16T in debt to begin with.  But, government doesn’t attract people with integrity and people don’t elect candidates who exhibit integrity.  We have met the enemy and he is us.

Will sequestration really gut military readiness?

Despite all the doomsday hype coming out of our warmongering political class, here is what sequestration will do to defense spending.

From Wikipedia (referencing the CBO)

The spending sequester in the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) essentially freezes defense spending in current dollar terms for the 2013-2021 period, limiting growth to approximately 1.5% per year (about the rate of the Consumer Price Index) versus approximately 8% per year over the past decade. CBO estimated defense spending under the sequester (excluding war spending called “overseas contingency operations”) from 2012 to 2021 would be $5.8 trillion, versus $6.3 trillion estimated prior to passage of the BCA, an avoidance of about $500 billion in additional spending over a decade. Spending would decline from $562 billion in 2012 to $538 billion in 2013, then slowly rise to $637 billion by 2021.[2]

Here is what has to say:

Nevertheless, even if these sequesters do kick in, the feds will spend more in 2013 than they spent in 2012. That’s because the sequesters are not cuts to spending; rather, they are reductions in planned increases in spending. The reductions amount to about two cents for every planned dollar of increased spending for every federal department.

What you need to remember when assessing the reports in the establishment media is that sequestration, while hardly constituting even a minor dent in defense capacity, is income that the military industrial complex won’t be seeing and that is the reason for the fear mongering.   Exemptions steer many of the cuts away from most of the really politically sensitive spending (military pay, health care, retirement, and most benefits).  But, not a single defense program is  eliminated by sequestration, but the air force and navy will be buying fewer airplanes and conducting fewer costly operations.

Just to put things in proper perspective, the U.S. military spending isn’t exactly suffering.  We could actually cut spending in half and still be spending more than all of our so-called potential enemies combined.


Of course, since war spending is exempt from sequestration, we should all brace for more war as a path around the required cuts.  I doubt the public will even notice.


Politics as usual over the debt ceiling

As usual, Congress and the President are waging another juvenile political war over the need to raise the debt ceiling.  And, as usual, it’s all about republicans versus democrats with absolutely no room for rationality.   To the two main parties, it’s all about them.  It’s all about claims of superiority and denial of defeat.  It’s hard to imagine why anyone would want to include themselves as part of either faction.

Obama is correct when he says that Congress has already authorized the spending, but that’s about the only thing he’s right about.

“These are bills that have already been racked up, and we need to pay them.”

It sounds like he stands on the side of ethical responsibility.  And the media, almost without exception, paints the debate in exactly the same terms:  America should pay its bills!

Except that the Americans that are going to end up paying those bills aren’t old enough to vote yet.

Obama and Congress aren’t “paying “America’s bills”.  They are going to borrow more money so that they don’t have to pay the bills.  Why is that fact lost on people?

The republican resistance to raising the ceiling is just as fake as their posturing about how fiscally responsible they are.  Lies that obvious in reputable professions usually land people in prison or at least get them fired.

Contrary to the wailing of conservative idiots like Grover Norquist, the moral issue isn’t about how much spending there is.  And, despite the childish public debate between Congressional leaders, it’s not about how low or high taxes are.  The moral issue is that the U.S. government is spending money it doesn’t have and passing the bill to future generations who have no voice to complain about it. And that is the only point the media and the public should be focused on.

To review:  High spending?  Not a moral issue. High taxes?  Not a moral issue.  Enslaving future generations by loading them up with debt they played no role in creating?  That is a moral issue.

It can be fixed by reducing spending or by raising taxes or some combination of both.  Unfortunately, Congress has no incentive to behave morally because they can count on the  American public to do one thing:  keep reelecting the same immoral assholes to Congress.

Hopefully, our kids won’t rise up and kill us all when they find out how badly we fucked them over.