An observation on cutting budgets, and my beliefs

This probably deserves a longer, more thought-out post.

Maybe later.

Right now I just want to get this off my chest:

I do not believe, as the Republican budget insists, that America is no longer a great nation, that our greatest days are long past, and that America needs to hunker down and join the Second- or Third-World. I do not believe that America can afford to give up leadership in foreign affairs, nor leadership in education. I do not believe God will step in to save us from our own stupidity. America is an exceptional place because people chose to act, to make the things that make a great nation.

I believe we need to answer when the certain trumpets blow, and they are sounding now.  I do not believe the full-scale retreat proposed by the Republican budget is the proper, best, nor American response.

Back to regular programming now.

16 Responses to An observation on cutting budgets, and my beliefs

  1. Mark Duigon says:

    The Republicans are trying hard to make this true.
    They are trying to cut our ability to lead the world in scientific innovation and application by cutting funding for research and education. They are trying to cut the health and strength of the American people by making health care less affordable for millions of Americans. They are trying to cut our ability to carry on commerce by cutting funding for repairing and improving infrastructure, as well as cutting efforts to prepare our infrastructure for changes that will be necessitated by rising sea level and other consequences of global warming. They are cutting our unity as Americans by demonizing those who are not like them. All of this cutting by Republicans and their mouthpieces can help drag our nation down.


  2. Nick K says:

    Whoever wrote:
    Because if government doesn’t spend that money, someone else will.

    Oh really? So then you have no problem in reversing that right? Since the people and the businesses aren’t spending the money…government should right?

    Sorry, we’ve had 10 years of cutting taxes on the rich and the businesses and all we got for it was a worse economy. Your party’s hypothesis no more holds water on this score then your party’s hypothesis held water on the subject of taxes and the economy.

    And if your party really wants to hold that hypothesis then why pray tell are they not cutting the large budget items? You know…like the military. Or all the corporate welfare and taxes your party has given out to the rich and the businesses.

    Sorry, you don’t get to ask for sacrifices from the poor and the middle class when you refuse to ask for sacrifices from the rich, the powerful and the businesses.

    So either put up and pay up….or shut up.


  3. Ed Darrell says:

    Because if government doesn’t spend that money, someone else will.

    Wonderful hypothesis — never demonstrated to work in real life, in recessions. This is the principle that the Republicans keep citing in their backroom meetings.

    But it’s not true. If the government gives the money to the rich, the rich are not going to build a road, nor high-speed inter-city railway, nor any other public works project.

    Nor do the rich show tendencies to spend the money. It’s a recession, after all — time to hunker down!

    That’s why Keynes and understanding what he said are so important. Rich people holding money is no substitute for the government spending it.


  4. Nick K says:

    James writes:
    I.e., the focus should be on consumers, not labor

    Really? And who do you think those consumers are? If the government doesn’t focus on jobs then where do you think the consumers are going to come from?


  5. Nick K says:

    Just to see if any of the Republicans want to defend this:

    On the extremely crazy Republican front, there’s this:

    The governor of Michigan is proposing that he be given the powers to take over any town, county, school district, or any other municipality under the guise of “financial crisis” and install someone of his choosing, including corporations, to run said municipalities.


  6. James Hanley says:

    Oh, so much to disagree with, from both sides.


    It it is the who care about the greatness of the nation. Stop inflating your self interest and your Socialist agenda with “the Nation”, great or otherwise. It is the Democrat Party that hates everything this nation stands for and has sought to undermine it for generation.

    Idiocy. Unadulterated idiocy. Both parties care for the country, and only people of below room-temperature intelligence fail to see that having a different vision for the country != hating it.

    jnolan: Nothing but platitudes. “Cut the programs,” is so damned easy to say as long as you avoid specifics. I’ve noticed that the Republicans haven’t actually offered serious program cuts–they sure as hell aren’t willing to cut back our over-bloated military, or quit spending ridiculous amounts on the failed war on drugs, or quit subsidizing big Republican donors like Archer-Daniels-Midland. (Ah, just see NickK’s list–it’s more complete and it’s what I’m trying to say.) The Republicans, and conservatives in general, are cowards who find it easy to talk a big game but never get around to playing it. Don’t forget that non-defense discretionary spending tripled during the 6 years of Republican control of Congress and the White House during the Bush presidency.


    Can you tell us any time that cutting the budget created more jobs?

    The focus of the economy should not be creating jobs. It should be creating goods and services. I.e., the focus should be on consumers, not labor. And while government spending creates particular jobs, it doesn’t create jobs overall. Because if government doesn’t spend that money, someone else will. And government spending doesn’t have some magic route to being more efficient spending–it’s frequently less efficient. (As I was just telling my American Gov’t students, the Department of Transportation is largely a jobs program for road builders.) The idea that government spending creates jobs on net depends on focusing only on what is seen, and ignoring what is not-seen (c.f., Bastiat). It’s all a variant of the broken-windows fallacy.

    It wasn’t entitlements that added $800 billion to the off-budget costs of the last year of Bush’s administration
    Of course it was. It was also tax cuts. We can’t just blame one or the other. The Medicare prescription drug plan is our worst entitlement program, as it has no dedicated funding source, and absolutely has contributed dramatically to the budget. Entitlements are not the whole story, but they can’t be excluded as part of the story.

    Cut the budget, kill demand, ruin American industry and manufacturing. Kick America flat on her back, and beat her in the head when she tries to get up.

    If the government’s budget is driving demand and industry, that country is in trouble. Put the world’s countries on a scale by the amount of the GDP based on government demand, and you’re going to find under-developed countries at the high end (greatest % of GDP being based on gov’t demand) and the most-developed countries on the other end. Which direction do we want to move on that scale?

    I’m not arguing against government spending in general here. There are lots of things I want the government to spend money on. And there are things I don’t necessarily want it to spend money on that I accept as legitimate spending. But that spending is to get done tasks that we want done, whether that task is defending the country, treating waste-water, putting bad guys in prison, or educating our kids. It’s not done because that’s what drives the economy. (Although some of the spending can moderate economic swings, but that’s different from driving economic growth.)

    A book I would recommend to everyone is Hernando de Soto’s The Other Path. It shows the consequences of over-government involvement in the economy in Peru, and how small-level individual entrepreneurs are hindered by the government as they try to be productive, and how they do their best to work around the government hindrances.

    I have to say, neither conservatives nor liberals are, as a general rule, on the right track on economics. Conservatives (and libertarians) have such a religious belief in free markets that they are unable to recognize the limits of them, and liberals have such a religious view of free markets as a great Satan that they are unable to recognize the potential of them. Conservatives would throw away many important governmental roles such as ameliorating market failures (for example, preventing negative externalities), and liberals would add too many governmental roles to the point of strangling economic entrepreneurialism and innovation.


  7. Jim says:

    I am just going to ignore the typical “hit and run” post from hattip, who never returns to the scene of the crime for serious dialogue.

    Let me ask Jono a question, since it seems there’s some gray matter at work there.

    When you speak of cutting entitlements, can you be more specific? What is an entitlement program and what is not? Who receives entitlements? What percentage of the total federal budget are we talking about here?

    When conservatives speak, as they so often do, of lazy and indolent people “suckling at the gubmint teat” and being enslaved to entitlements…to whom are they referring demographically?

    My mother proudly asserts that she and my late father never, ever took a “handout” from big gubmint. They pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps. Worked hard, saved, didn’t spend much. And they would have rather died than take welfare.

    She doesn’t like it when I remind her that my brother was educated on the GI bill. Dad got some job training assistance money at one point. They received FHA loans. I was their little “tax credit”. And I’m not counting forms of (you choose the term — welfare, entitlement, services?) from state and local governments.

    See what I am getting at?

    What are entitlements? What is welfare? Who receives it? Stereotypes are entirely unhelpful, and I applaud you, Jono, for not going there. But please say more…


  8. Nick K says:

    Jono writes:
    We don’t understand economics? Your ideas of economics amount to little more than attempt to sustain, and possibly further, a “water empire” with government handouts and subsidies acting as the water.

    Your idea of economics amounts to little more than giving the rich all the water and hoping to God that they have the grace to dole out a few scant droplets to the rest of us.

    The United States had its greatest economic boom from the late 40’s to the 80’s. The time period that all those “entitlements” you so rail against were created. And yet there you sit in your ignorance pretending that the entitlements had nothing to do with it. You really should bother to pay attention to the fact that the two presidents that created the two biggest deficits in this country..were both Republicans…Reagan and the junior Bush. Sorry, I’m not willng to let the poor and the middle class suffer and die just because you are so morally depraved that you think that by punishing them you are helping them.

    Oh and i forgot one program that the Republicans also want to cut. They want to cut all federal assistance to homeless military veterans.


  9. Nick K says:

    Sorry, Jono, you lose credibility when your side doesn’t touch the entitlements to the rich, to the powerful and to the corporations. And lets not forget that it was your party that created this deficit and massively increased it in the first place through its tax cuts to the rich and starting two wars that it refused to pay for. We spend more on our military then nearly the next 30 countries. If we cut it by half we’d still spend more then the next 15 and that’s including China and Russia. But your party won’t cut it. It wants to increase it. Just as your party demands sacrifices from the poor and the middle class but won’t demand the same from the rich. And it was those entitlements you rail against, child, that made this country exceptional. You want to condemn this country to the mediocrity of if you’re rich you live if you’re not you die. It was our own efforsts that let America excel but if you think those entitlements have led to mediocrity then you’re an idiot. I bust my ass off every day, why should I give up social security and medicare? My parents busted their asses for 50+ years. Why should they give it up? 95% of the middle class and the poor bust their asses every day and you want to screw them over and make it harder for them to get by.

    Lets take a look at what the Republicans want to cut and what they want to save and then lets see if you can defend it:


    Things Republicans want to cut:
    Early Childhood programs: $11.2 billion
    Low income housing: $8.9 billion
    Supplemental nutrition for poor families: $7.6 billion
    Teacher training and afterschool programs: $4.6 billion
    Job training for unemployed and new workers: $4.1 billion
    Low Income Home Energy Assistance for poor families: $2.5 billion
    Community health centers: $2.5 billion
    Homeless assistance grants: $2.0 billion
    Legal services for the poor: $420 million
    Title X family planning: $317 million
    All programs above combined: $44 billion

    Programs Republicans want to keep:
    Per year cost of recent tax cuts for millionaires estates: $11.5 billion
    Cost of allowing mortgage interest deduction for vacation homes (est 10 year cost): $8.9 billion
    Cost of “estate planning” techniques used by wealthy to avoid taxes: $6.7 billion
    Cost of removing limit on itemized deductions for high income taxpayers, FY 2011: $5.2 billion
    Cost of tax breaks for offshore operations of US financial companies: $4.1 billion
    Tax breaks for oil companies (writeoffs for drilling and oil well costs, FY 2012): $2.5 billion
    Cost of extending alcohol fuel tax breaks: $4.9 billion
    Tax loophole for managers of hedge funds and private equity funds (FY 2012): $2.3 billion
    Cost of allowing companies to write off punitive damages (10 years): $303 million
    One year cost of extending Bush tax cuts for top brackets (FY 2012): $42 billion

    Now answer this, Jono, why should we liberals agree to cut the top list when your party wants to keep the bottom list? Tell me who do you think can better absorb the sacrifices needed?

    Sorry, Jono, unless and until your party is willing to make the rich, the powerful and the corporations sacrifice..and sacrifice more because they have more then you have no right under the sun to demand any sacrifices of the middle class and the poor.

    Sorry, we are not returning to the Gilded age despite your stupid delusion that we would be oh so much better off if the middle class and the poor worked their asses off and got nothing for it.

    You can cry that you want American exceptionalism all you want but America is not exceptional at all unless it takes care of its people. You don’t want American want American mediocrity..where the poor and the middle class wither away and die.

    And somehow I suspect that you and your family aren’t rich enough to make those sacrifices you want and survive it. Your party created this financial mess by giving the bank to its cronies. Let your party and its cronies pay for it instead of demanding that everyone else pay for it.


  10. Ed Darrell says:

    We don’t understand economics?

    Nor history. Can you tell us any time that cutting the budget created more jobs?

    Still waiting.

    I don’t quote Santayana for fun. I wish y’all weren’t so hell-bent on proving him right.

    You’ve never studied the Great Depression at all?


  11. Flakey says:

    I have to agree with Jonolan, when will people learn education, and research, are entitlements. You no longer need it, after all the fast food places, now have handy little pictures you press, reading is no longer necessary.


  12. jonolan says:

    We don’t understand economics? Your ideas of economics amount to little more than attempt to sustain, and possibly further, a “water empire” with government handouts and subsidies acting as the water.

    Would there be short term upheaval if we cut the entitlement programs? certainly. Being weaned or going through withdrawal are never pleasant.


  13. Ed Darrell says:

    Jonolan: It wasn’t entitlements that added $800 billion to the off-budget costs of the last year of Bush’s administration. Entitlement payments are not to blame.

    Cut the budget, kill demand, ruin American industry and manufacturing. Kick America flat on her back, and beat her in the head when she tries to get up.

    If it doesn’t kill her, it might make her stronger, right?

    What passes for common sense and compassion among conservatives is truly shocking. It is only surpassed by the lack of knowledge of history, and complete failure to understand economics.


  14. Ed Darrell says:

    The Left has owned education since the New Deal and look at the results. Mediocrity? We are lucky to get even that.

    Those of you too young to remember the Reagan administration probably never heard of the Excellence in Education Commission, and are probably unaware of the reforms put in place since then. The “left” has owned education only if we regard Attila the Hun as far left of center.

    Hattip, can you tell us how well the budget cuts of 1893 worked in slowing the Panic of 1893 and preventing the Panic of 1896? Cutting the budget in 1907 did what to prevent the Panic of 1908? Can you tell us how well the budget cuts of 1936 did in creating jobs, and cutting the Great Depression short?

    Better to be in the grip of socialists who understand a free market system than people hallucinating under the influence of powerful drugs.


  15. hattip says:

    Oh what nonsense. The only way to restore the nation is to go ahead with these cuts. Stop putting words in the Republicans’ mouths. It it is they who care about the greatness of the nation. Stop inflating your self interest and your Socialist agenda with “the Nation”, great or otherwise. It is the Democrat Party that hates everything this nation stands for and has sought to undermine it for generation. The Left and it embodiment in the Democrat Party is what stands in the way of “greatness” in the Republic. You have, once again, got it just backwards.

    Your claims are laughable on the face of the.

    As for education, that pack of apparatchiks we call the “education establishment” is not concerned in the slightest with education at all: These educational system in this country serves 1) as a patronage system for the Democrat Party and its attendant Nomenklatura, and 2) as an indoctrination center for Socialism.

    The Left has owned education since the New Deal and look at the results. Mediocrity? We are lucky to get even that.

    This is all clearly at the doorstep of the Democrats. You clearly have no notion of what a true education actually is, let alone excellence in the field.

    As usual around here, you show a complete lack of responsibility and intellectually integrity, and stoop to straw men and ad hominem assault. Here you add slander and libel.

    You should be ashamed of yourself, but you are as incapable of shame as you are incapable of facing reality.


  16. jonolan says:

    The problem with your assertion and belief is that you, like so many, forget that America is its people.

    The route that failures have led us down with their entitlements is what has hurt the exceptionalism of Americans because it encourages and rewards mediocrity.

    Cut the budget; cut the programs. Let Americans excel by their own efforts. You’d be surprised I think at what they can and will accomplish.


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