Friday, February 18, 2011

Truth and the Deficit

Here is Senator Bernie Sanders pointing out the hypocrisy of those who never said a word about the deficit when Congress voted for $3 trillion worth of spending for an unpaid war in Iraq; or when Congress extended tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans; or when Congress voted for prescription drug benefits that will generate many billions in profits for pharmaceutical companies; or when Congress voted to bail out the financial system. (He acknowledges that the last one didn't end up costing taxpayers much, but there was always a risk that it could have.) Now all of a sudden Congress has developed deficit fever when that means taking benefits away from the poor and the sick.

And click on this link to read Paul Krugman's latest column where he spreads some more truth about the "fraudulent" deficit debate, namely that all of the cuts in discretionary spending that are being discussed right now will do almost nothing to rein in the deficit. The only credible way to deal with the deficit, Krugman points out, is to take serious steps to control health care costs, and also to pay some attention to increasing revenue. Krugman gives credit to President Obama for doing "more to rein in long-run deficits than any previous president. And if his opponents were serious about those deficits, they’d be backing his actions and calling for more; instead, they’ve been screaming about death panels."

The only reason politicians can get away with talking so much about reducing discretionary spending, which will not do much at all to reduce the deficit, is that they are able to take advantage of the public's lack of knowledge of the components of the federal budget. We need more truth-tellers like Sanders and Krugman to force Congress to come to grips with reality.


  1. Bernie and I see things similarly when it comes to financial reform and somne other issues. My point, Bernie and even Kucinich have me nodding in agreement on some issues. Boehner and Cantor on others. Why is that? It's because I don't give a hoot what party you call yours -- just give me good ideas. Stop running for office!


    If only there was more of it when it comes to Dems vs Repubs and politics. What a shame that the majority of America is left wanting. Wanting a politician to tell them the truth and act on it instead of opinion when it's time to be re-elected. What a career?!

  2. Paul Krugman really is just so wrong about so many things that citing him doesn't help your cause. And the war has cost $1.1 trillion, not $3 trillion. You must be confusing that with the debt Obama has given us (8 years of war cost less than 1 Obama "stimulus" package!).

  3. I'm not sure where you get your figures on the Iraq war, or where Bernie Sanders got his. But I looked it up and the Washington Post calculated the cost of the Iraq war at more than $ 3 trillion. Obama's stimulus package was $800 billion, and more than a third of that was tax cuts, presumably something you favor Harrison. Most of the rest was infrastructure spending, so that we got value for that money in the form of highways and bridges and stuff like that, meaning it is an investment not a cost. Most of the debt created during the Obama administration, as you must be aware, was due to a severe decline in revenue due to the recession. You could argue that war spending also helps the economy, especially if you are a defense contractor, but most of the stuff you build during a war gets sent overseas to be destroyed, so it is a particularly wasteful kind of spending.

    I agree that Krugman is wrong about a lot of things, usually not economics but he is frequently wrong about politics. But you haven't pointed out where he is wrong about the causes of the deficit.


    The highlights:

    "The key point in the mantra is an alleged $3 trillion cost for the war. Well, it was expensive to be sure, in both blood and treasure, but, as Hoven notes, the CBO puts the total cost at $709 billion."

    * Obama's stimulus, passed in his first month in office, will cost more than the entire Iraq War -- more than $100 billion (15%) more.

    * Just the first two years of Obama's stimulus cost more than the entire cost of the Iraq War under President Bush, or six years of that war.

    * Iraq War spending accounted for just 3.2% of all federal spending while it lasted.