Good Riddance to the Super Secret Supercommittee

Why Washington should kick its spending habits in the clear light of day

The idea was laughable to begin with—that a “supercommittee” including Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) would be able to do what President Obama and the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, had failed to do in months of negotiations, and come up with a workable plan to reduce the federal deficit by $1.2 trillion.

Enough people fell for it back on August 1, though, that Congress was able to rush through an increase in the federal debt limit of $2.1 trillion. Everyone was so inspired at the time by the return of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) to cast her vote in favor of the debt increase that they failed to focus on whether the spending cuts promised in exchange would actually materialize. Even the page of the House Web site that lists the roll call vote is an illustration of what frauds our politicians are. Instead of describing the vote as “Borrow $2.1 trillion against a promise that a ‘supercommittee’ including John Kerry will come up with some cuts sometime in the future,” the House describes it as “To make a technical amendment to the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002.”

At the time even former Obama aide Lawrence Summers declared it remarkable that there was no agreement on the baseline from which the $1.2 trillion was to be cut. Speaker Boehner was in such a rush to pass the deal that he violated his “pledge to America” to publish the text of legislation online three days before a vote.

So where has it left us? The bipartisan, bicameral supercommittee, also known as the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, appears at this point to have failed. That, by current law, will trigger “sequestration,” which is either not so bad or a total disaster, depending on who is talking.

In the “not so bad” camp are the editorialists of the Wall Street Journal, the Cato Institute’s Daniel Mitchell, and CNBC’s Lawrence Kudlow. They say the automatic spending cuts are relatively tame and better than any supercommittee compromise that would include a tax increase. The left-leaning Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. is also sanguine about a supercommittee failure, but he wants a tax increase, or at least the expiration of the Bush tax cuts.

So what’s to worry about? One potential problem is that the automatic cuts that are part of the "sequester" target defense and health care. On the defense front, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is warning that the cuts would be “devastating.” He says, “we would have to reduce the size of the military sharply. Rough estimates suggest after ten years of these cuts, we would have the smallest ground force since 1940, the smallest number of ships since 1915, and the smallest Air Force in its history.” The navy would be reduced to 230 ships, far less than the 600-ship fleet envisioned by President Reagan.

I don’t believe that the defense department should be sacrosanct, but before slashing away, it’s worth asking who will fill the global power vacuum that such cuts would create. Communist China? Islamist Iran? Remember, this warning is coming not from some defense contractor or Curtis LeMay-type general, but from a former chief of staff to President Clinton, Mr. Panetta, who bears a certain physical resemblance to Michael Dukakis.

On the health care front, the same Wall Street Journal editorialists who now are assuring us that the Medicare cuts in the sequester are “hardly excessive” are the same ones who were warning us back in August that these same Medicare cuts “may jeopardize access to care and in many cases threaten the viability of hospitals and physician practices.” And as The New York Times reminds us, “the last time Washington tried for a quick fix of Medicare, in 1997, it did not turn out well. Congress devised a flawed formula that was supposed to hold down payments to doctors. Instead, many doctors simply expanded the number of services delivered to keep their incomes high, while Congress—after being lobbied—has postponed the payment cuts year after year.”

If there’s an upside here, it’s that these questions of taxing and spending will now be taken out from behind the closed doors of the supercommittee and thrust instead into the center of the 2012 election campaign. Let the candidates, not only for president but also for Senate and House seats, explain in detail how they’d accomplish what the supercommittee could not.

And if there’s a downside, it’s that it’s not just the politicians but today’s voters who have a tendency to be tempted by the status quo. That status quo keeps spending at levels far above current tax revenues, leaving the difference to be funded by borrowing to be repaid by Americans who, in 2012, will be too young to vote.

Ira Stoll is editor of FutureOfCapitalism.com and author of Samuel Adams: A Life.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Brett L||

    What's the over/under timeframe on the desequestration bill for defense and/or social services funds?

  • Krony KOCHitalism||

    Looks like being a KronyKoch pays-off.

    To: James W. Giddens, Trustee, SIPA Liquidation of MF Global, Inc. and Martin Glenn, United States Bankruptcy Judge

    From: Cathy Cuthbert

    RE: MF Global Heist

    I am a lucky, former MF Global client. Unfortunately, I’m not a multi-billionaire who got the memo. I had a modest account that was supplying me with a modest livelihood, when suddenly one Monday afternoon, my account was frozen, my livelihood was essentially gone and four years worth of trading profits vanished into cyber space....

    ________________
    What could destroy the market (and the religioeconomic dogma of "free" markets) more than a KronyKoch who got the memo just before the heist?

  • A msg from Koch Ind., Inc.||

  • Warty||

    "Supercommittee? I just met 'e! And then they built a supercommittee."

  • ||

    "Folks, give it up for Humorbot 5.0!"

  • anon||

    I laughed more at that than I have the Friday Funnies in a while.

  • kinnath||

    The purpose of the supercommittee was to kick the can down the road until it could "fail" on schedule providing talking points for both sides in the coming elections.

    It worked as planned as far as I can tell.

  • Id||

    "Rough estimates suggest after ten years of these cuts, we would have the smallest ground force since 1940, the smallest number of ships since 1915, and the smallest Air Force in its history.”

    So? By what measurement? Are you telling me that a tiny 2011 force is not orders of magnitude more capable and destructive than even a large early 20th century force?

    Using metrics like this is, as I'm sure Panetta is quite aware, incredibly misleading and disingenuous.

  • Brett L||

    WTF? There is no way in hell we have fewer warships than in 1915. Fuck that guy with a rusty chainsaw. I suppose if you don't count all the private US flag cargo ships we currently have that used to be tenders and supply ships under USN comission, maybe. But gimme a fuckin break. Six carrier fleets plus a bunch of submarines and you're gonna tell me about how we used to have 10 corvettes and 15 cruisers plus six paddle-wheeled dreadnaughts and 8 ships-of-the-line to a battle group?

  • ||

    well we gots to fight pirates somehow....

  • ||

    ""Both progressives and current Democrats ought to recuse themselves from this discussion as they are hobbled by a cynical adherence to a utopian fantasy,""

    Dog (panetta) barking viciously to defend his turf. Film at 11.

  • ||

    Wow, that clipboard did work. Redux

    ""Fuck that guy with a rusty chainsaw.""

    Dog (panetta) barking viciously to defend his turf. Film at 11.

  • RedDragon||

    Good point Id.
    I'll take a modern day cruiser equipped with an Aegis Combat System up against an entire fleet of WWII battleships any day. The whole point of advancements in weapons systems is to be able to do more with less.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    The problem becomes when those weapon advancements become so complex that it its prohibitively expensive to both develop and then maintain them.

  • ||

    like what?

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    The V-22, the F-22, the F-35, for starters. We're also using gold-plated F-15s and F-16s to perform CAS, when the A-10s are far more effective for the role and at less cost.

    There's a reason that there's a joke in the military that one day we'll develop a weapons platform that can do everything, but we'll only be able to afford one of it.

  • You're an idiot||

    "There's a reason that there's a joke in the military that one day we'll develop a weapons platform that can do everything, but we'll only be able to afford one of it."

    Yeah, it's because by and large, those in the military are fucking morons.

    And you're wrong about the "V-22, the F-22, the F-35".

  • Colonel_Angus||

    What is wrong about them? Those programs do not make fiscal sense. They suck balls.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    And you're wrong about the "V-22, the F-22, the F-35".

    Really? Pray tell, how? Because from where I'm standing, you don't seem to know shit.

    Apparently you've never seen the V-22's shitty mission capability rates (or the HUGE cut in the total buy from when the program was first launched), missed the recent lockdown of F-22 flights, and has completely missed the repeated delays in bringing the F-35 into operability, to the point where they had to consider getting a whole new ENGINE for the fucking thing.

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    I used to work for the V-22 program and it was where I became the bitter self-hating shell of a man I am today. The amount of waste, graft, and incompetence associated with that "defense" system was staggering, not to mention its poor reliability and the ubertarded contracts the government let itself bumble into. A child with a .22 could bring one down with a well-placed bullet. It's a fucking flying tomb and an embarrassment to everyone involved. And that is merely one (FUCKING ONE) of the hundreds (thousands?) of programs under the Department of "Defense". It's enough to make one vomit out organs they never had in the first place. I've coughed up a couple of gizzards just typing this screed.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    The amount of waste, graft, and incompetence associated with that "defense" system was staggering, not to mention its poor reliability and the ubertarded contracts the government let itself bumble into.

    I always liken the V-22 to dating a temperamental supermodel--it's really sexy and seems like it would be great to have it around when you look at it from the outside, but the amount of maintenance required to make it work behind the scenes isn't really worth the trouble.

    Incidentally, the Marines are trying to pull the same political games with the new amphibious assault vehicle they're trying to get online, that they did with the Osprey. I doubt they'll succeed this time around just due to the fiscal situation right now, but they've weathered storms like this before--if the Marana and New River crashes and even Darth Cheney didn't kill the Osprey, I doubt the Marines will let a little thing like us being broke stand in the way of getting the toys they want.

  • Old Salt||

    The USS Seawolf (SSN 21) and its sisters USS Conneticut (SSN 22) and USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23) are a PERFECT example of building something so badass that it too expensive under any but the most extreme terms.

    Originally designed and built to master the seas during the height of the Cold War, they were wonder weapons that would have let us dominate the Soviets under ANY condition. The thing was hunter/killer in the truest sense of the term because it was SPECIFICALLY designed to follow Russian Typhoons (thier ICBM platform of choice) and blow them to Mars before they ever had a chance come WWIII! A Seawolf is quieter at sea than a 688(I) shut down at pierside!

    Then the USSR went and shit itself so then future of submarine warfare was too expensive since nobody was quite so worried about nuclear armmaggedon anymore. They had barely finished laying the Seawolf's keel by the time the Cold War ended and they built the first three ships since it would have been too expensive to cancel the contracts.

    The Navy had to go back to the drawing board and completely rethink things with the new boat being the Virginia class; a MUCH cheaper comprimise between the Los Angeles and Seawolves!

  • ||

    we would still have the largest number of unmanned ariel vehicles however and the largest budget. Toys are goddamned expensive.

  • ||

    Please look up:

    Louis A. Johnson
    1950
    Korea - Pusan Perimeter

  • ||

    The only way that the supercommittee could have worked is if the members had been told a) they had 3 months to come up with a plan that would reduce the deficit by the agreed amount b) they would not be allowed to leave the committee room until they came up with an agreement c) any plan had to be in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and d) Congress had to approve it within 10 days. If any of these conditions were not met, the entire committee would be shot.

  • Brett L||

    No congresscritter is dumb enough to trust his life to the integrity of his fellows.

  • ||

    The solution to that is to tell them that if they do not approve a plan, you will burn Congress down.

    With all of them inside.

  • ||

    that's inhumane...to the pages.

  • ||

    I've met Congressional Pages - future Statists in training. I'll bring the torch.

  • ||

    any plan had to be in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles

    You're a funny guy, Aresen. These clowns wouldn't know GAAP from their own gaping assholes.

  • ||

    Oh come on! They can't all be Ped State Assistant Coaches!

  • ||

    I just wanted to make a GAAP/gape joke. It's amazing how the Venn diagram for people who'd appreciate both is actually pretty small.

  • ||

    90% of them are on this site however, so appropriate targeting.

  • Paul||

    Even I got it. *shrug*

  • duke||

    I got it too but might have been a little better if spelled "gaaping."

  • Sasha Grey||

    Gaping is NOT a joke! And I can prove it!

  • Mr. FIFY||

    I stole this joke:

    Sasha reading to kids is better than Jerry Sandusky reading to kids. At least she had sex with adults.

  • Not rectal or Episiarch||

    Ped State

    You mean the Nittany Rapists?

  • ||

    ) they would not be allowed to leave the committee room until they came up with an agreement

    ...even for bathroom breaks...

  • ||

    Bingo. I had that precise condition in mind.

    (I remember reading that Napoleon once did exactly that with a group of intransigent lawmakers. I forget the law in question and I've never found the reference again, but it always struck me as a good idea.)

  • Paul||

    My preference would be to lock them out of congress altogether. I mean, don't you think keeping legislators away from lawmaking is better than forcing them into it?

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Everyone was so inspired at the time by the return of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) to cast her vote in favor of the debt increase that they failed to focus on whether the spending cuts promised in exchange would actually materialize.

    In a sane world, that event would go down as piece of grotesque political theater, using a functionally disabled woman to provide a moral cover for their fundamental incompetency. It's one of the most disgusting maneuvers I've seen out of our Leading Lights in quite some time, and that's saying something.

  • ||

    Were you paying attention when the DHS was created in 2001?

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Unless your point is that Giffords' appearance was a microcosm of that, I'm not exactly sure where you're coming from.

  • ||

    Unless your point is that Giffords' appearance was a microcosm of that,

    Sort of.

    I was aiming at the fact that the event of 9/11/01 was a perfect example of Congresscritters and an Administration using tragedy to pass terrible legislation - legislation which had a far worse impact that raising the budget ceiling.

  • Uncle Joe||

    I think we can agree that the creation of DHS was terrible.

    But there is no comparison between one and the other. DHS was an anti-terrorism creation after a terrorist attack.
    That's completely different from using a mass murder and attempt on Gifford's life as a excuse to vote in favor of debt ceiling increase.
    What does Loughner have to do with increasing the debt ceiling, in the way that DHS has to do with Al Qaeda?

  • ||

    I grew up in Massachusetts - all our politicians are functionally disabled.

  • Tolly||

    There's a joke to be made there about how only your typical brain-damaged congressperson would vote for accelerated flushing away of public money.

  • Congressperson||

    No I'm don't!

  • Tony||

    Both libertarians and current Republicans ought to recuse themselves from this discussion as they are hobbled by a cynical adherence to a utopian fantasy, precluding them from ever raising taxes.

  • ||

    cynical adherence to a utopian fantasy

    ladies and gentlemen, your phrase of the day.

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    Amazing.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    There goes Tony again, pimping for the "tax hikes on evil wealthy people solve every problem" Team.

  • Tony||

    I didn't say that. You have a really bad habit of making strawmen in your head.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    You don't, but many of your Team members do.

  • sevo||

    "ladies and gentlemen, your phrase of the day."

    Shithead probably retires the chair in that regard.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Check out what he said in the Newsweek/extremism thread. He's starting to crack.

  • ||

    You mean like the utopian fantasy that you can save the world by passing laws and spending (other) people's money?

  • Tony||

    Who said anything about saving the world?

    It must be pretty nice being as batshit crazy as you want because every normal person can just be labeled the equal and opposite form of batshit crazy.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    And it must be pretty nice being completely ignorant of how debt and government spending works. It certainly makes your posts a lot more dogmatic.

  • Tony||

    Let me guess, because of some strange physics affecting only government ledgers, raising revenue is never effective and shouldn't ever be done, even though the single biggest policy contributor to the deficit is the Bush tax cuts.

    Your problem is you don't actually care about debt, you care about using it as an excuse to enact a utopian minimalistic government.

  • anon||

    Laffer curve. Google it up fuckwad.

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    the single biggest policy contributor to the deficit is the Bush tax cuts.

    You say this a lot, but how could you possibly know? We don't know where revenues would be if those tax cuts had been allowed to expire.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    It never ceases to amaze how Tony can use the term "utopian" with a straight face.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Let me guess, because of some strange physics affecting only government ledgers, raising revenue is never effective and shouldn't ever be done, even though the single biggest policy contributor to the deficit is the Bush tax cuts.

    The Bush tax cuts don't equate to $1.2 trillion a year in revenue, Tony--and that's presuming an employment to population ratio that wasn't nearly as bad as then as it is now.

    Your problem is you don't actually care about debt, you care about using it as an excuse to enact a utopian minimalistic government.

    Your problem is you don't actually care about tax revenue, you care about using it as an excuse to enact a utopian maximalist government.

  • ||

    actually i care about being spent into oblivion, but, spending never really was the problem just not enough money for rainbows and unicorns...

  • sevo||

    "even though the single biggest policy contributor to the deficit is the Bush tax cuts."

    Shithead puts the bar well below ground level.
    No, shithead, it's because you're not taxes at 120% of whatever some misguided employer pays you.
    See how easy that is, shithead?

  • Tony||

    If you're looking for the government choice that contributed most to the deficit, it was the choice of cutting taxes in the Bush years. You want to pretend all of the deficit is the fault of programs that we can't pay for because revenues were cut, conveniently all the programs your idiotic religion despises.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    How ironic, Tony... you, a liberal, talking about idiotic political religions.

  • ||

    "You want to pretend all of the deficit is the fault of programs that we can't pay for because revenues were cut, conveniently all the programs your idiotic religion despises"
    No, again, Tony. Tax revenues had largely caught up by the financial crisis. Unless you want to pretend that somehow or another economic policy skips time, you're blowing smoke out your ass.

  • ||

    Why didn't your enlightened Democrats raise taxes (roll back the evil Bush tax cuts) when they controlled all of Congress and the Presidency? Then we wouldn't be having all these problems.

    Or, were they hoping the Republicans would put their name on a tax-hike to pay for the Democrats' spending spree?

  • ||

    even though the single biggest policy contributor to the deficit is the Bush tax cuts.


    No, actually, the single biggest contributor to the deficit is the fact that the economy sucks. Unless you want to assume that, magically, a major tax hike would have had no effect on the state of the economy, a static scoring is an obscene joke.

  • We Kill the Batshit||

    normal person

    And your oxymoron of the day. Tony's on a roll today.

  • sevo||

    "It must be pretty nice being as batshit crazy as you want because every normal person can just be labeled the equal and opposite form of batshit crazy."

    No, shithead, just those who prove themselves to be so. Like you, shithead.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Both libertarians and current Republicans ought to recuse themselves from this discussion as they are hobbled by a cynical adherence to a utopian fantasy, precluding them from ever raising taxes.

    Both progressives and current Democrats ought to recuse themselves from this discussion as they are hobbled by a cynical adherence to a utopian fantasy, precluding them from ever cutting spending.

  • Tony||

    Except the Democrats have cut spending and have offered to cut much more, at significant political risk.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Except the Democrats have cut spending and have offered to cut much more, at significant political risk.

    What are you on? The Democrats haven't cut spending at all--spending slightly less of a planned increase over the previous fiscal year isn't a spending cut.

    You sound like someone who claimed they saved money on an expensive purchase because there was a sale. You still have less money than if you had never made the purchase to begin with.

  • Tony||

    The Democrats lost significantly in the 2010 elections in part because they were demagogued over $500 billion in Medicare cuts in the ACA. And, because of "socialized medicine," just to take the absurdity full circle.

  • You're an idiot||

    "because they were demagogued over $500 billion in Medicare cuts in the ACA"

    That was already addressed fuckwit.

    "The Democrats haven't cut spending at all--spending slightly less of a planned increase over the previous fiscal year isn't a spending cut."

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    The Democrats lost significantly in the 2010 elections in part because they were demagogued over $500 billion in Medicare cuts in the ACA. And, because of "socialized medicine," just to take the absurdity full circle.

    Where did they actually cut total spending, Tony? Cutting out your $50 dollar weekly dinner at Red Robin while spending an additional $300 beyond that on a weekly trip to the local casino doesn't constitute a spending cut.

  • sevo||

    "The Democrats lost significantly in the 2010 elections in part because they were demagogued over $500 billion in Medicare cuts in the ACA."

    No, shithead, there wasn't a penny cut from anything other than planned increases, shithead.

  • ||

    "The Democrats lost significantly in the 2010 elections in part because they were demagogued over $500 billion in Medicare cuts in the ACA."
    Offset by massive spending increases in other parts of the same bill.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Um, Red? To Team Blue, only spending 3.9 cents more, when the original budget for the next year was 4.2 cents more, IS a "cut".

    And they bitch about it like it actually *was* a cut.

  • ||

    The more you buy... the more you save!

  • Mr. FIFY||

    I'm going down to my bank tomorrow to take out a loan for around a billion dollars.

    They'll give it to me... right?

  • Chupacabra||

    You'll have better luck at the Dept of Energy.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    I'll start a solar-panel company. Brilliant!

    Thanks, Chup! See me on a cable news channel soon, being frog-marched out of my former swanky high-rise factory digs!

  • sevo||

    "Except the Democrats have cut spending and have offered to cut much more, at significant political risk."

    Shithead, it's amazing how far that bar can be lowered.
    I thought the ground was the limit, and here you bring a shovel.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Notice how he put "at significant political risk" in there...

  • ||

    Total Democratic cuts proposed for 2012 in the "grand bargain": $2 billion (and that's reductions in the rate of growth, not cuts per se).
    Current U.S. fiscal deficit: $1.2 trillion.
    Math is hard for you, isn't it?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    This is a spoof, right?

  • sevo||

    Doubt it.
    This is shitheads 'normal' form of argumentation: Make stupid claims, offer strawpersons, season with some misdirection, and hope someone is as dumb as shithead and might buy them.

  • anon||

    Both Democrats and progressives ought to recuse themselves from this discussion as they are hobbled by a cynical adherence to a utopian fantasy, precluding them from ever cutting spending.

    See how easy it is to form strawmen? Fuck you're a twat.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    +1 for anon.

  • Tony||

    Just not cutting spending in a weak economy, because they are economically literate, not to mention actually literate unlike the vast majority of people who believe your bullshit.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Yep, you're getting angrier and... dare I say it... more like the right-wing extremists you bitch about.

    Vote for Roseanne Barr... she advocates beheadings for rich people. Fits right in where you're going.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Dude, you're getting more incoherent with every post.

  • ChrisO||

    Any cuts that are backloaded by 10 years are purely illusory.

  • stephan||

    Deficits don't matter. People, btake an economics course.

  • ||

    "Deficits don't matter."

    Un huh.

    I'm sure that the Weimar Republic, the French Fourth Republic, the Ancienne Regime*, Zimbabwe, and any of the scores of other countries that have undergone hyperinflation would agree.

    *(How about that? France scores a double on this one!)

  • Troll for Thought||

    You misunderstood. When you're baked, do deficits really matter?

  • Towelie||

    YOU'RE a towel!

  • Mr. FIFY||

    I've never been clear where a mention of the Weimar Republic falls on the Godwin scale... does it get, like, milligodwins?

  • ||

    Hmm. Good question. Possibly it is anti-Godwin because it was ante-you-know-who.

    ("ante" is not a typo, BTW.)

  • Mr. FIFY||

    I was going for the peripheral connection, which I admit was a stretch.

  • sevo||

    Duc de WHO?

  • Chaos Punk||

    Welfare spending should be at 0. Let the poor die off.

  • Troll for Thought||

    That's totally what would happen, too. They'd die.

  • sevo||

    You bet. Why in 2002 or so, they were dying by the millions.

  • ||

    The goal of welfare spending is not to get people out of poverty, it is to create a permanent client* class dependent on the state.

    *"Client" in the Roman sense.

  • stephan||

    Libertarians and conservatives alike are just confused. If you're anti-government, why should you care how much money it spends? If government collapses, isn't in your favor since you are afraid of "big" government?

  • Troll for Thought||

    I'm anti-leaky windows so it's in my favor if my house burns to the ground with me inside.

  • Britt||

    Except they spend my fucking money you worthless shitstain.

    Goddamn it why the hell are we letting high school kids on the Internet?

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    Libertarian high school kids (all seven of them) laugh and point at people like stephan.

  • anon||

    obvious troll is obvious.

    If you're pro-government, why should you care how much liberty you have?

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Um, stephan?

    Conservatives aren't anti-government.

    Most people aren't anti-government, for that matter.

  • Team Red||

    Can't fight the War on Drugs without a big, expensive government.

  • Team Blue||

    Can't fight the War on Poverty without even more, expensive, government.

  • Team Neither||

    Notice that both Wars are both unnecessary and have not produced results...

  • Chupacabra||

    The War of Poverty has succeeded in creating a large class of permanently poor people dependent on the govt for their livelihood.

    Mission accomplished.

  • Poor Voter||

    I kan haz chezburgr for Teem Bloo vote?

  • Michelle Obama||

    Oh, HELL no.

    Turkeyburger from Hardee's... maybe.

  • Michelle Obama||

    Never mind, here's a stale saltine cracker with a dab of reduced fat peanut spread. Now go run 4 miles to please you President sexually.

  • ||

    I channel-surfed over to Bloomberg earlier, just in time to hear some fucking jerkwad limey blathering about what a tragic shame it is that our tax revenues are so much lower than the eurozone's. You cannot be considered "civilized" unless more than half of GDP is confiscated by the Ministry of Plenty, apparently.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Only half? Shit, a fifty-percent tax rate wouldn't make Tony wet at all!

  • ||

    You'd need at least 60 percent!

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Anything over 80% tax rate, Tony has a no-hands jizz episode.

  • ||

    Let's campaign for 90 percent -- he'll suffer a heart attack, and we'll have a few months rest from the guy, and that's worth burying our civilization in the crapper -- I shit you not.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    He wouldn't be the only one, Res. Especially if they got their pipe-dream of 90 cents on *every* dollar, not just that pathetic pussy "marginal" rate.

  • ||

    Yeah, that shit's for chicks, steers, and queers, man -- let's just fuck the rich completely and take 99% of their cash, and let them survive on food stamps on what we leave them!

    Then Michael Moore can finally gain that weight he's needed all these years, what with his anorexia

  • Mr. FIFY||

    But then the Occutards would be in the top one percent!

    It's brilliant!

  • ||

    Maybe they can drown in all that gold the evil capitalists are storing in their underwear and we'll be rid of them at some point in the future, eh?

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Making the people who earn fifty grand a year "the richest one percent" would be a grand goal for Team Blue, indeed.

  • Tony||

    You people are so stupid I can barely take it anymore. Not just because of your infantile giggling, but because you don't realize what pathetic toads you are of interests that have nothing to do with you. If a minor increase in taxes to those during a time of relative economic prosperity is equivalent to taking the rich out back and flaying them alive, how do you have any paranoid hysteria left over for actual problems?

  • Tony||

    Mr. FIFY:

    "You are a bigot for saying I'm not allowed to be right even though I'm stupid. Stupid people have a right to be right, after all a degree isn't a sign of anything, it's just a useless trinket for snobs and that makes me feel better about myself. Everyone's equally stupid, and I just happen to be the right stupid."

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Hey, asshole... I got pissed off because you can't use the word "bigot" properly.

    Use it when it's appropriate, prick.

    Oh, and shove that "I'm smarter than you because I went to college" bullshit while you're at it. That was old and tired the first time you used it.

  • Tony||

    I am likely smarter than you because I went to college. What do you think people do all those years? Surely there's some actual learning between radical marxist gatherings.

    You reject all normally accepted credentials for judging people's credibility, because you think the only credential that matters is agreeing with you, no matter what stupid things you say.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    There you go again... equating intelligence with where one went to school.

    Oh... and you're projecting again.

  • Tony||

    Not where, going to school itself. Your education at Harvard is probably only marginally better than one at another good school, though its prestige does open doors. You know what an undergraduate education is good for? Teaching you what you didn't realize you didn't know. Your entire political worldview and the misguided certainty behind it is all the evidence I need that you haven't quite gotten there.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    How condescending, as usual.

    I have nothing against people with knowledge... it's those who purport to be able to tell me how to live, that pisses me off. And YOUR Team is just as bad at it as THEIR Team... just in different aspects, though they cross at many junctures.

    Just because I couldn't stomach reading more than a few pages of John Maynard's bullshit, doesn't mean I haven't cracked any OTHER books open. But, in your view, I'm no better than a bumpkin who can't read at all.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    "Not where, going to school itself"

    Yah, more bullshit. If I went to a technical college, or some small general one, you'd look down your nose at me for not going to Harvard.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    And that's not even mentioning a hypothetical "I went to Hillsdale", which would be met with howls of derision from any respectable Team Blue cheerleader.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    I am likely smarter than you because I went to college. What do you think people do all those years? Surely there's some actual learning between radical marxist gatherings.

    From what I saw as a college TA, there's not as much learning going on as you think. At least 50% of the students whose tests I graded could barely read and write above an eighth grade level, or they were so lazy that they made it pretty damn easy to give them an F.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    I channel-surfed over to Bloomberg earlier, just in time to hear some fucking jerkwad limey blathering about what a tragic shame it is that our tax revenues are so much lower than the eurozone's.

    LOL--yep, the same Eurozone that keeps teetering on the brink of financial ruin itself.

  • ||

    The Eurotrolls are are an epitome of sociopolitical ruin on a civilization scale. And they aren't even realizing it in time to crawl back out and fix things. How sad.

    I wonder if we'll be equally fucked soon enough.

  • ||

    *al

  • Mr. FIFY||

    High tax rates + pretty much nationalized everything + pretty much universal welfare = fucked.

  • Team Blue||

    Workin' on it!

  • Ghost of Lenin||

    You tell chocolate-colored fellow in White House, he is lacking in fastness. When *I* was in charge of glorious Russian empire, shit got *done*, comrade.

  • Ghost of Marx||

    You say it, comrade!

    I would tell him, but I am dead as well.

  • Ghost of Feudal Lord||

    Back in my day we didn't have to play pretend.

  • Ghost of Lysander Spooner||

    fuck the post office!!!!!!

  • Mr. FIFY||

    "taking the rich out back and flaying them alive"

    Freudian slip?

  • Paul Krugman||

    Sound advice. We should make it the law of the land.

  • veemee sashimi||

    I think it's a fine time to be taking financial advice from the crack team currently overseeing the Eurozone economy.

  • ||

    I'll admit to wishing earnestly that we could spend ten times what we do now on the military. It would be awesome if it were possible to build battlefleets so colossal, so peerless, that they'd visibly cover the oceans. It would be awesome if we could march million-man armies on parade every fucking day. It would be awesome if we could operate sky-blotting fighter fleets. It would be fantastic if every infantryman's helmet had a teleportation device installed into it.

    But we're not an infinite empire. This is the real world. Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, most of the fucking federal, state, and local governments -- cut and destroy all of that, but even if we can afford such a military at that point, would it be right to spend money on it to cover every single precaution possible, no matter how tiny it is?

  • ||

    Uh. Just how many times did you watch Starship Troopers?

  • ||

    4? 5, maybe?

  • sevo||

    Res Publica Americana|11.21.11 @ 8:06PM|#
    "I'll admit to wishing earnestly that we could spend ten times what we do now on the military..."

    I gotta ask why.
    If Eisenhower had retired as a Colonel, with no need for him to do anything other than play "tanks" with Patton, I'd be more than happy.

  • ||

    Just because, in that alternate universe, we can -- that was my point, that we're not limitless and we can't do it in reality

  • sevo||

    OK, unicorns.
    To be honest, I'd go for zero hunger which would mean no governments required to distribute anything.
    Unicorns.

  • ||

    Where's Tony when you need him to bounce on military expenditures while sticking his penis in the way of the scalpel that must inevitably mutilate Social Security and the like?

  • sevo||

    Well, shithead is busy composing a brand new load of shit claiming libertarians are the cause of poor people dying from not getting university degrees.
    I've hacked his 'puter....

  • Mr. FIFY||

    That's "university degrees from universities approved by those who know best".

  • Chaos Punk||

    Nationalizing tuition costs, haha. Wouldn't more people obtaining degrees mean that degrees would be worth less? If I was a rich college kid, I'd keep my mouth shut about the poor.

  • Troll of Thunder||

    Been kind of wondering why no one is pointing out that the "99%" is really the 89% pretending they are the 10%.

  • chaos Punk||

    It's okay guys *zips pants* I'm only in the 45%.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    "Surely there's some actual learning between radical marxist gatherings."

    I can't tell if he was being cheeky, or serious.

  • Chaos Punk||

    I think the bitch ass liberals who support benefits for the poor need to be completely ignorant and oblivious to what the poor actually are.

    Nice to stick to this sally struthers, kid-holding-a-bucket-of-mud-for-breakfast image.

    Get to know the poor, you'll change your mind about wanting to help them.

  • Tony||

    You've got everything backward. The bad behavior on the part of poor people isn't genetic, it's a symptom of being poor. The goal is to alleviate poverty and make people upwardly mobile, not to give people something they don't deserve. Even though you seem to think there aren't things people deserve just for being people. I say if you don't like government then you ought not to ask it to behave like a strict parent acting on emotion. It's there to manage problems, like poverty, not provide divine justice. Being obnoxious isn't a crime, and I don't see why you want to maximize that behavior by cutting the poor off and keeping them (and their offspring) poor.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Funny, you're using the term "divine justice"... which is how you view tax policy.

  • Tony||

    I call it paying for the things we buy, but whatever.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Buy less stuff.

  • Tony||

    The American public isn't prepared to do that. You haven't convinced them why taking away the little assistance they get will be good for them. Do that and then policymakers will be free to cut taxes.

    There's no excuse for starving the beast. It's cynical and undemocratic. Pick the programs you want then pay for them. Wouldn't that be the logical thing to do?

  • Mr. FIFY||

    The American public is mostly stupid, in that they have been conditioned to view the state as a parachute - get shoved out of the plane, and the state will pop open and land you safely.

    We can't keep expanding the state - and its budget - exponentially. I can't see us surviving to the time when we have ten-trillion-dollar annual budgets... can you?

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Sorry, that should have read "mostly ignorant", though there are quite a few genuinely stupid people out there.

    Why, just the other day, I saw Chuck Schumer on TV, and...

  • n8||

    Cutting the poor off doesn't keep them any poorer than keeping them on the dole, it just wastes less of everybody else's money in the process. It's seriously not that hard to get yourself out of poverty provided you didn't pick up 3 or 4 kids along the way. Give plasma twice a week, that's >$200/mo, then work 20 hours a week at a shit job paying $7/hr, that's another $560/mo, say $480 after tax. Boom, $680/mo, enough for rent (w/ roommates), rice and beans, car insurance(or just buy a bike), cell phone bills. And plenty of time left over to look for a better job, or do I like I did on this budget and score a little weed and get my drink on. You may technically still be in the poor tax bracket, but you're not in debt and you're living basically middle class by global standards. Any sane, single person who isn't a drug addict can manage this budget w/o government handouts.

  • Chaos Punk||

    n8,

    Excellent post. You are absolutely correct. It's pretty crazy that it has to be said out loud, eh?

  • Rachel Maddow||

    You filthy fucking racist.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    You're giving the game away, n8--in Tony's fevered mind, ordinary people are completely incapable of surviving, without being cuddled in the warm embrace of government assistance from birth until death.

  • Chaos Punk||

    So increasing the amount of luxury/money somebody has causes them to behave better? *puzzled* Bullshit. Haven't heard the "crime is poverty" cop-out in a while. Good show.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Seriously, Tony... it's not going to work. Jack up the tax rates, and the money will just get sucked into the singularity.

    You'll say "no, it will help the poor", and I will say "aww, how cute! He thinks poor people are going to get a raise!" = which is exactly how it will go down.

    The ONLY way to make your vision come true, is to take every last cent from every American, put it in a pile, and divvy it up into tiny piles - right down to those pennies... and the next step would be to forbid anyone to have one more penny than anyone else.

    Except for those in power.

  • Tony||

    You can't justify a policy of never raising taxes, which is itself reckless, because government might be reckless. Clearly not having the money hasn't stopped them spending. Maybe my explanation of how a good government works is a fantasy in the USA, but that's no thanks to people like you who like it being dysfunctional to prove you right.

    But raising taxes to Clinton-era levels is really just a mundane policy choice to pay for the massive expenses those same tax cutters incurred. It's not a slippery slope to anything, as I'm sure you'll be on the case for every cent that's raised.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    And we're back to "it's only a nickel on the dollar, you fucking cheapskates".

    What is it about the number "39.6%", that is sooo fucking magical? It's like you pass a panhandler, and you throw 35 cents into his hat... then he chases you down the street because he knows you had FORTY cents in change, and by God he wants all of it.

    Leave tax rates where they are, and cut spending by that nickel on the G.W. Math may be hard for Barbie, but you don't have to be a self-described genius to suss that one out.

  • Tony||

    I see no reason why government spending should be in accordance to the policy choices G.W. Bush and his Congresses made. They weren't good at governing in any other way, so it's likely they got it wrong.

  • Tony||

    Not to mention, it costs money to clean up a mess. A lot of money for big messes.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Yes, it does.

    So... why did you vote for a messy man?

  • Mr. FIFY||

    After all, you yourself admitted above:

    "Clearly not having the money hasn't stopped them spending"

    Which means YOUR Team is not fiscally responsible.

    Or are you going to find an escape hatch for that slip-up?

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    I see no reason why government spending should be in accordance to the policy choices G.W. Bush and his Congresses made.

    Why can't they be in accordance with the policy choices FDR made, who only spent about $160 billion, inflation-adjusted, in 1940? Or the policy choices Eisenhower made, who only spent about $760 billion, inflation-adjusted, in 1960?

  • ||

  • NotSure||

    Tony at his typical buffoonery best, spending and debt levels are higher than ever before (other than WW2), yet this is not a spending problem it is a tax problem.

    You can raise taxes to 200%, it does not solve the problem, the problem is there is too much spending. Likewise having a country of useless educated shits like you, that bang their bongo drums like little children demanding their "fair share" to free stuff. Grow up little child, the game is over, if you want wealth it will have to be worked for it.

  • ||

    Incredibly sad to see a contributor at Reason arguing a need for our country's Defense spending.

  • abercrombie and fithc Milano ||

    This really is great content. You have loaded this with helpful, informative content that any reader can realize. I enjoy reading articles that are so quite well-written.

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