Monday, February 13, 2012

The budget

In case anyone thinks the video of the platypus dance or any of my other recent posts, are too frivolous, here's the entire White House proposed 2013 budget. After reading the whole thing, feel free to comment below.

20 comments:

  1. Why won't Harry Reid act on ther Prez's budget plan? I thought that the Senate's #1 fiscal responsibility is to pass a budget? I guess we could say this is a do nothing Dem Senate who has not passed a budget in three straight years and won't pass this one, either.

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  2. Kevin, I bet you didn't read the whole thing, so according the rules I set forth above, that should disqualify you from commenting.

    Anyway, it took me a while to find, but I found that I answered your point about the Congressional budget process before. http://www.hopeandchange.net/2011/12/republican-platform.html?showComment=1323072301842#c5671037972706755316

    You are talking about something different from the president's budget. And it's not the Senate's #1 fiscal responsibility to pass a budget. If it were that fundamental, it would be in the Constitution, and there is nothing about the Congressional budget process in the Constitution. The Senate's responsibility is to pass appropriation bills, and also to pass the revenue bills (that must originate in the House) to raise the money for those appropriations. The Congressional budget process as we know it today did not exist until the 1970's. And as you can tell from what has happened since then, we did a much better job balancing the budget before we instituted that process than after. So it is not fundamental. It might not even be such a good idea after all.

    Anyway, all that has nothing to do with the president's budget, which is a proposal sent to Congress, all the pieces of which get taken up by the appropriate Congressional committees.

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  3. < Kevin, I bet you didn't read the whole thing, so according the rules I set forth above, that should disqualify you from commenting. >

    Ha! Sweet :)

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  4. << If it were that fundamental, it would be in the Constitution, and there is nothing about the Congressional budget process in the Constitution. >>

    All this time, I had no idea you were a constitutionalist!

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    1. In law school I took a course that covered the (at that time) new budget process in Congress. I don't remember all the details, but I do remember my reaction after reading many pages of articles about it. First of all, my head hurt. And second, I wondered how Congress was ever going to get anything else done anymore, with all the budget resolutions they are now supposed to pass. I think I was right about that. You might remember from our youth that Congress used to spend time debating all kinds of important stuff, but now it seems like they waste half their time talking about and voting on the budget.

      And think about this before you criticize Harry Reid too much. How exactly is this divided Congress supposed to agree on a budget when you have House Republicans who will not compromise on proposals that are unacceptable to the Democratic majority in the Senate? Are the Senate Democrats just supposed to roll over and take whatever the House Republicans send them? This year is not the first time that Congress has failed to agree on a budget resolution. And it might sound strange to say this but the failure to agree on a budget resolution has little if any impact on how the government operates.

      I'm not sure what you mean by a Constitutionalist, but all I was saying was that the most fundamental and supreme laws of our government are found in the Constitution. I think we all should be able to agree on that.

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  5. << How exactly is this divided Congress supposed to agree on a budget when you have House Republicans who will not compromise on proposals that are unacceptable to the Democratic majority in the Senate? >>

    Good point. Recall, it is a two way street. The way the Dems handled health care reform tore this country apart. It was so offensive we are seeing the result.

    << Are the Senate Democrats just supposed to roll over and take whatever the House Republicans send them? >>

    Of course not. Neither are Republicans

    << And it might sound strange to say this but the failure to agree on a budget resolution has little if any impact on how the government operates. >>

    Yes, that alarming to hear you say. Almost alaring as you saying that social security is just fine and that our exploding debt is not a problem.

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  6. The way the Democrats handled the health care bill was they held more hearing on the bill than practically any legislation in history; they included ideas that Republicans had been championing for years; they bent over backwards to try to get some Republican support for the ideas; and they made sure that key Republicans were included in the drafting of the legislation. And then the Republican leadership made a tactical decision to refuse to support the bill no matter what, so they could make it look like a partisan bill that was being rammed through Congress over their objections. This is proven by the fact that you had Republican Senators like Charles Grassley work very hard on the bill in committee, and then disavow it, and then after it passed, start to take credit for some of the provisions in it. You had Olympia Snowe actually vote in favor of the bill in committee, then when Mitch McConnell made her get in line, refuse to vote for the bill when it came to the floor, without being able to give any coherent reason for her change of mind. And you had the entire House Republican Congressional caucus vote unanimously against the bill. Not one Republican would support it. That never happens with the Democrats. There are almost always a couple who will go along with a Republican proposal.

    To say that it was the way the Democrats handled it that caused this massive Republican resistance is to buy into the line that the Republican Party and Fox News was handing out.

    The same thing has been going on with the budget. And with taxes. And with financial reform. And practically every other big issue the last three years.

    If I decided that no matter what you suggested I would say no to it, even if you suggested something that I agreed with last week, would that make YOU the unreasonable one?

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  7. It shouldn't be so alarming to hear that we can get along without passing a budget resolution. We did fine without it for more than 200 years. And budgets seem more out of control with that process than they did before we had it.

    And Social Security is fine. But it's probably going to require some tweaking in a few years. Medicare, on the other hand, is not so fine.

    The exploding debt is a problem; I don't deny that. What I and others say, however, is that now is not the time to reduce the debt. First we have to get the economy up and running again, then we deal with the debt. In other words, we have to make the debt problem worse before it can get better. I know that's a hard sell, but most economists think that is true.

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  8. << To say that it was the way the Democrats handled it that caused this massive Republican resistance is to buy into the line that the Republican Party and Fox News was handing out. >>

    That is am emotional response by you. I go our of my way to listen to hype by both extremes and seek the truth. You openly report here that you are all about re-electing Obama and firing up the base. You have blind spots. No big deal. I get it. But it is not fair to suggest I am doing the far right's bidding. It is not true.

    Some day, we will see tort reform. I am interested to see if you are willing to give up as much as you expect physicians to.

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    1. What do you think I expect physicians to give up? I'm puzzled by that assumption.

      We have had a lot of tort reform, if you are talking about things like damages caps and special statutes of limitations, and things like that, at the state level. Maybe we need more or different kinds of tort reform, but I see that as primarily a state law issue. I think it's kind of ironic that the people who are asking for a federal statute putting some limits on common law negligence actions are usually the same people who complain about the overreaching power of the federal government. Except when it is serving some interest powerful people are in favor of, I guess.

      And I do worry about the erosion of our constitutional right to civil jury trial. It's hard to see a doctor nowadays without being asked to sign an arbitration agreement, and the courts pretty much uphold those. That is already pretty drastic tort reform, it seems to me. That's practically tort elimination.

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  9. << The same thing has been going on with the budget. And with taxes. And with financial reform. And practically every other big issue the last three years. >>

    Exactly, very little is being accomplished. I could argue that the progressives are holding up tax reform; that Obama is in bed with Wall Street and that you fail to see spending as a cancer to this country. I could also argue your point of view. Neither argument is fail safe.

    No matter how emotional you are, or how attached you are to your ideology, it doesn't make you right or wrong; only overly attached. Krugman is not the seer. Nobody is.

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  10. A couple days ago Mark Meckler (a key leader for the Tea Party) and David DeGraw (a key leader and organizer of OWS) met for the first time face to face. Not about crap like birth control or Republican or Democrat power.

    The Tea Party has been known to be anti big government. OWS is known to be anti big bank and corporate dominance. They had an incredible agreement coming out of their meeting: big government and Wall Street are in collusion. That is our number one issue in the country. But the left and right want to focus on wedge issues. There is power at stake. And they both want power. As long as ideologues play this game we inch closer to disaster. This is not a left vs right issue. When super bright guys like you fail to focus on real issues, I see little chance of solving our problems.

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    1. If you want to define the number one issue as the power of moneyed interests over the government, I'm with you, and you should be an Obama supporter also. That has been his number one issue from the beginning. What else have we been struggling over the last few years? It was the insurance companies who bankrolled the fight against the Affordable Care Act. It was the Wall Street Banks who fought new financial regulations, and who are giving tons of money to the Romney campaign, despite having been bailed out by the government. It is the Koch brothers and other energy firms who are fighting clean energy and environmental regulation. And what is the number one tactic that theses powerful interests use to create political opposition to these reforms? They play into the Reaganesque ideology that views government as the enemy trying to encroach on ordinary people's freedom, or taking away people's hard-earned money to fritter away on wasteful projects or give away to the undeserving. I do get a bit emotional when I see people falling for that nonsense.

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  11. You sound like you might be able to see my point (the one Meckler and DeGraw agree on) then it's clear you do not when you only point fingers at the evil right. I know this uncomfortable for Progressives, but there is no real difference between the far left and far right when it comes to attacking monumental structural changes that are needed in this country. Neither will do what is needed. You can argue Keynesian vs Austrian principles or theories all you want. We can have Murphy and Krugman in the Octagon; it will accomplish little structurally. We have two sets of rules in this country; one for the government and Wall Street (the haves) and one for the rest of us (have nots). Neither the left or right have the answer.

    << It was the insurance companies who bankrolled the fight against the Affordable Care Act. >>

    And Obama and Congress gave them keys to the store.

    << It was the Wall Street Banks who fought new financial regulations >>

    And Obama and Congress caved to them making them bigger and stronger than ever and just as leveraged.

    Obama and Congress are status quo and keep rolling along with the insider trading.

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  12. If by the far left you are referring to some of the people you run into at firedoglake or Daily Kos, the ones who think that Obama is a complete sellout to Wall Street and no different from Bush in his war policies, then trust me, I have just as many if not more problems with those people than you do.

    I am a pragmatist. I believe in doing what is possible in the real world. And I think the president is from that school also. So when anybody--whether left or right or even you supposedly representing the center--say that he is giving away the keys to insurance companies or caving in to Wall street--I am going to disagree, because I think he is pushing those interests about as far as you can in the real world, given the actual Congress that we have to work with and the actual power that those interests have.

    Now maybe somebody could argue that if we start a revolution--again from either left or right or center--and burn down all the banks and insurance companies, maybe we could effect more change. That sounds like the kind of pact that the Tea Party and the Occupy folks want to enter into. But I would not agree with that either, because when they're done all they will succeed in doing is destroying both our government and our financial system. So I guess I'm an incrementalist as well as a pragmatist, and I would argue that Obama is also.

    So where does that leave you? You are always attacking the left and the right, but at the same time you seem unhappy with the program of a moderate progressive in the White House, and you think we need to make massive structural changes. Maybe that makes you even more of a revolutionary than either left or right.

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  13. The President wasted most his political capital the first two years of first term. He could have led. He had public support and a Democratic Congress. He could have driven the bus. Instead he spent goodwill his on failed health care reform (some of it likely unconstitutional) while politically dividing our country at the worst possible time. He could have done so much for this country those first two years and it has cost most of us in American dearly.

    In my view he and Pelosi and Reid should have been dealing with tax reform (dumping Bush tax cuts, lowering corporate tax and closing loop holes) while stimulating growth and revenues.

    They should have been focusing on reforming TBTF banks that are leveraged at unconscionable ratios. These banks should be restricted from bundling derivatives, selling them and creating no value other than lining their pockets while posing grave risks to the world’s economy, let alone our own. This unregulated dark pool of money with no public market. Just four U.S. banks have about $235 trillion of OTC derivative leverage. Considering their total assets are about $5 trillion that is 50 to 1 leverage.

    They should have been creating jobs by constructively altering trade agreements, recruiting money back home from overseas to be invested at home and working on education reform. He could have encouraged private investment in infrastructure. Entitlement programs are in need of change. He should been reducing regulation on small business so that they can focus on job creation. To open one small service restaurant there are 57 regulations that must be met that on eleven pages of single spaced paper.

    Instead of doing these things as soon as he entered office with a Democratic Congress he let the country’s economy continue to slide, spending trillions and trillions of dollars in giveaways, while languishing over a health care debacle most Americans were not in favor of and an act that continues to undermine our ability to work as a united nation. We elected an economically naïve progressive who worked with an ideological Congress – both who had to have health care reform come hell or high water. Together, they squandered an incredible amount of the public’s goodwill and the opportunity to yank this economy out of the ditch and put people to work.

    Our President has miscalculated. At a time of peril he acted like Greece; buying votes instead of making the tough decisions. Their debt is lost. They agree to the austerity plan as requested by the EU, so that they can pay the March maturities, then will have their elections, and then will come back to the deal and refuse to implement it (explicitly or implicitly). They are in such a mess that they will not have much choice: they will default on the whole thing and go through at least ten (twenty?) years of an uphill battle to put their economy back on its feet; mostly their fault, in my view. Amazing to compare them with the Irish, who did not get any help (i.e. no EUR 100 billion gift), just “pulled up their sleeves” and got down to work. The people didn’t even riot. The EU wanted them to raise corporate taxes but they held firm at 12.5% and are recruiting international investment. They are working hard to make banks solvent. Which country we will emulate?

    << So where does that leave you? >>

    Where that leaves me is with the realization that this country needs a do over. We need desperately need another first two years where the President and both houses of Congress agree on a direction to save this country. Obama had the chance and fumbled it. Objectively, the only way the President and both Houses of Congress can be of the same mind next year is for Obama to be voted out of office and for the Republicans to take commanding control of the Senate. That looks pretty clear to me.

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    1. If that's your conclusion, you're starting to make me think I am wasting my time arguing with you.

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  14. I understand the idea of R's in control is unsettling for you. Recall, I posted here (long ago) that I was concerned that Obama was a Dem and that there was a Dem majority in both houses of congress. You assured me that occassionally that was a good thing (for either party) because significant movement could be accomplished. I thought about that quite a bit at the time and agreed with you. Unfortunately the Dems wasted their time on Obamacare.

    Do you think that I proposed anything above is far fetched or fringe?

    I could care less who does them as long as they are done. Like I said, Obama, Pelosi and Reid should have attempted these thing years ago.

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  15. Do I think your proposals are far-fetched or fringe? That is not the right question. The right question is whether I think your particular set of priorities and policy proposals are better than what the administration actually did. I hope you won't be offended if I say that honestly, I don't. In fact, I really don't care very much what you think the president should have done in his first two years, and it's just depressing and dispiriting for me to have to read and respond to the kind of criticism that says the president "should have" done this or "should have" done that.

    But it's not just you, so again, please don't be offended. Whenever I read a Paul Krugman column that says Obama should have done this or that, I have the same reaction. Or Frank Rich. Or Drew Westen. Or some others. And my reaction is to write a post that rips those guys apart as best I can. So you're in good company. And you have an even better excuse, because those critics should really be supporting the president, while you, I now better understand, are not a supporter at all.

    What this president actually did is remarkable enough. He saved the financial system from collapse. He turned a terrible economy around. He saved the auto industry. He increased manufacturing. He increased energy production. He got new regulations imposed on Wall Street. He got health insurance reformed so that there is finally a good chance health care will be available and affordable for everyone. He ended the war in Iraq. He killed Bin Laden. He repealed Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

    I'm sorry if that is not good enough for you. I'm sorry if you think the president should have spent more time messing around with the tax code or negotiating better trade agreements instead of doing what he was doing. I say, let's give him a second term, and see how much more we can accomplish.

    And if you honestly think we would be better off putting the people who got us in the mess we were in four years ago, back in charge, then I don't have time to keep refuting your suggestions point by point.

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  16. << And you have an even better excuse, because those critics should really be supporting the president, while you, I now better understand, are not a supporter at all. >>

    You, Joe, asked me a question. I tried to be honest. It doesn't mean I didn't support the President. In my view he misplaced national priority and political capital.

    << if you honestly think we would be better off putting the people who got us in the mess we were in four years ago, back in charge, then I don't have time to keep refuting your suggestions point by point. >>

    Use your time as you see fit, Joe. I'll take your cue and cease tempting you. Once more, there is very little difference between the left and right. In 2008 we put the 'same people in office' when we voted Obama into office and he brought along a Wall Street cabal. For goodness sakes, you have lost objectivity. The guy is GW.

    GW vs Obama:
    Banking?
    Taxes?
    Civil Liberties?
    Neighborhood Droning?
    Border Control?
    Trade?
    China?

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