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Posts Tagged ‘deficit’

Krugman opposed the stimulus because it wasn’t big enough and he disagreed with the administration’s position that they could always do another one, if need be.

He was, we now know, right on both counts.

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This is your semi regular reminder that our years long focus on the deficit in the face of very high unemployment and tepid growth is both terrible and stupid, having resulted in needless suffering by many.

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Seriously. Just stop.

[Obama] is also open to a bill that would avert the sequester for as little as two months.

Just cancel the goddamn thing. Or just implement it. Or do anything other than this. Constant, monthly fiscal fights and unceasing budget uncertainty prevent anyone from doing anything.

Oh, that’s the point, isn’t it?

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Sullivan:

These are not the words of a president serious about cutting the debt. Cutting “waste” in government isn’t going to get you anywhere near what you need. And the president needs to get serious about the burgeoning long-term costs of Medicare. That requires real honesty about real future sacrifice – not blandishments about how we might be able to bend the cost curve slightly.

Can we, please, get something other than typical deficit-scold group think? Andrew seems to think that all we need is more seriousness and more sacrifice and then we’re golden. He decries the President’s desire to raise additional revenue as not serious because it won’t raise enough. Well, OK, I agree it won’t raise a whole hell of a lot. But previously Sullivan complained that the President wanted too much (relative) revenue! 

I would ask how much, specifically, is thecorrect amount? 

More importantly, I would ask how much deficit reduction, specifically, is the correct amount? 

We’ve already done $2.4 Trillion. But I guess that’s just not enough serious sacrifice for the deficit scolds. They won’t be happy until, well, they will never quite say. Is stabilizing the debt to GDP ratio sufficient? We can do that with another $1.2 Trillion. Obama’s “not serious” revenue ask gets us half way there. 

Alas, we will now continue our charade of THE DEFICIT WILL KILL US ALL MORE AUSTERITY NOW I’M VERY SERIOUS AUSTERITY NOW! followed by AUSTERITY WILL KILL US ALL! (remember the fiscal cliff?) and then back again. 

If you’re having trouble making sense of the Very Serious beltway opinion on fiscal matters, its because it doesn’t make a goddamn bit of sense. 

Sullivan finishes:

If you want to go small, Mr President, and leave the real debt cutting to your successor, that’s your prerogative. But it is not the change we believed in. Or voted for.

Well, actually that’s exactly what we voted for. Obama made no secret of his desire to squeeze revenue out of the rich via sunsetting the Bush tax cuts for only high earners and via closing Mitt Romney’s favorite loopholes. In fact, it was the entire premise of his campaign. Voters overwhelmingly rejected Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan’s (conflicting) versions of austerity for Obama’s “balanced” and minimally austere (by comparison) approach. 

I don’t ever recall Barack Obama running on a platform of “serious” austerity. Sullivan has been lamenting Obama’s failure to “embrace Bowles-Simpson” for two years, a lamentation that made as little sense then as now. On spending, Obama actually has (very nearly) embraced BS (in terms of net amounts, if not line items). On revenues, he never intended to. He’s made that abundantly clear for almost two years. 

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This is your semi-regular reminder that we continue to ignore an actual, immediate problem in order to Get Very Serious about a hypothetical, future problem.

That is all.

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Hypotheticals

Jon Stewart on the paranoia that the government is going to take all the guns:

“Now I see what’s happening,” Stewart said. “So this is what it is. Their paranoid fear of a possible dystopic future prevents us from addressing our actual dystopic present.”

Funny, sounds exactly like the deficit scolds without the window dressing of reasonableness.

Or, you know, sanity.

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Chait gets this exactly right:

The two parties are currently at loggerheads over the manufactured crises of budget sequestration and the debt ceiling. President Obama’s position is that the two parties should enact a mix of cuts to retirement programs and revenue increases through tax reform. The Republican position is that no more revenue can be considered, and further deficit reduction must consist entirely of domestic spending cuts.
The merits of the two positions can of course be debated. What is beyond dispute is that Obama’s negotiating position is exactly the same as the centrists. If they believed that the $600 billion in revenue Obama secured, on top of the $1.5 trillion in spending cuts agreed to in 2011, was enough revenue, and Obama was demanding an excessively revenue-heavy solution to the deficit issue, then obviously they should argue as much. But they do not believe that. In fact, the Bowles-Simpson plan would raise far more revenuethan Obama is asking for. One party stands completely in accord with their position, and it has not happened entirely because the other party stands against it.
Why, then, don’t they say this? Part of the answer is careerist. The elite centrist drone is emitted by people who deem non-partisanship an essential part of their job description. If they concede that one party is advocating their agenda, then you could flip the sentiment around and correctly conclude that they are advocating the agenda of a party; therefore, they would be partisan and have thus forfeited the entire basis of their claim to respectability.

Yep. No one is actually interested in a balanced approach to deficit reduction. They aren’t noting that we’ve already enacted $2.4 Trillion worth of it, only a quarter of which was revenue. 
They just want to pat themselves on the back at how bipartisan and responsible they are. It’s all just status signaling.

Meanwhile, a whole hell of a lot of people are suffering in unemployment. We continue to ignore a very real, very immediate problem to make room for a “serious conversation” about a hypothetical future problem.

That’s pretty fucking insane. 

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