Government Spending

Treasury: Doing Nothing, But Doing It Well

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He went to Harvard, he's got a right to schvitz.

Proving that friendly witnesses always get you in the most trouble, Matt Yglesias recounts his "double super-secret background briefing" with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and a few other officials.

Some conclusions:

1. Treasury sees the benefits of focusing on the deficit as political rather than macroeconomic. Not in the "low politics" sense of trying to get a 1 percentage point boost in the polls, but in the "high politics" sense that you need to engage on the long-term deficit to avoid political momentum shifting sharply in the direction of contractionary short-term fiscal policy.

To render the above in English would be a disservice to a work of truly airless vacuity. I believe the idea is that Treasury officials want to talk about wooly future deficit estimates as a tactic to head off people who actually want to reduce the deficit. Maybe "engage" has a meaning I'm not picking up.

Also on the menu: Hot-buttered HAMP:

3. Treasury claims that HAMP is currently working well, though it wasn't necessarily working well in the past.

I think the sarcastic-sounding tone may be intentional. You know how the kids these days say "ba-a-a-ad" when they mean "good."

One of the few places where you will hear about the successes of the (not endangered enough) Home Affordable Modification Program is right here. Loans modified under the HAMP show lower rates of redefault, and the program itself appears to have spent a very small portion of its stated funding level. (In 2011, when the government is slow to disburse money, you may just want to assume it can't find anybody to borrow from.) It also should be noted that if the HAMP actually succeeded we'd really be screwed. In any event, the weight of the argument seems to be against HAMP, and whether this is a faithful rendering or just japery by Yglesias, it appears the Obama administration has no plans to put out a coherent defense of the program.

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  1. I have gone from being a militant atheist to not giving a damn, is this normal?

    1. Yes. But why be normal?

    2. I have gone from being a militant atheist to not giving a damn, is this normal?

      Most would call it the atheist end game.

      Why should an atheist care…it is not as if you are saving anyone’s soul or anything.

      1. This has been an extraordinary week. The unions were slain in Wisconsin, and soon to be many other states. NPR was brought down by a kid that looks like he’s in high school. Colonel Qaddafi is on the run, and Obama is still back-peddling 10 months from the Iowa caucus. It’s been a great week to be a conservative!

        1. Thanks, I needed cheering up.

  2. Re: the picture

    Tony|3.11.11 @ 5:08PM|#

    Of course regulations limit choice. You don’t get to choose to be a wasteful slob if it affects other people.

    We need to regulate Yglesias’ clothing choices.

    1. We need to regulate Yglesias’ clothing choices.

      His dietary and hygienic practices need regulation as well.

  3. I picture that was Yglesias’ actual appearance for the briefing. I mean, come on, it’s Geithner. Who’s going to bother toweling off for that, much less getting dressed up?

    And the Obama Administration strategizing fiscal policy mainly by how they think the politics of it should play out? I can’t see that at all.

  4. I clicked over to his blog and read the comments. It seem encouraging at first. Lots of bitching about how political the Treasury is and how corrupt they are. Then, some of the comments further down went into more detail, and they I realized that they were bitching, not because the Treasury was trying to avoid cuts, but because they had the audicity to admit that the deficit was a problem….

    Holy shit.

    1. “I clicked over to his blog and read the comments. ”

      Fail

      1. I click on feminist websites too. Stupid people are funny. Have the collective works of Bevis and Butthead taught you nothing?

        1. touche sir.

        2. Beaver and Buffcoat to you, sir.

          1. Beaver and Buffcoat to you, sir.

            Beatrix and Lumpcoal.

  5. Matt Yglesias recounts his “double super-secret background briefing” with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner

    If I can read about it on a site reposting it from another site, it SOOO isn’t secret at all.

    1. Maybe he enjoyed the cavity search checking for hidden recording devices.

  6. Lots of government programs should be run like HAMP. Unemployment insurance, for example. By the time you finally get your first check, you should be saying, “Fuck this. I’m taking the first shitty job I can find.”

  7. disservice to a work of truly airless vacuity

    You have been waiting to use that one since English 101 or earlier, haven’t you!

    1. A leaky vacuum doesn’t suck as well.

  8. I see that the NFL is proceeding with its genius plot to destroy itself for more profit. Mwhahahaha…

    1. That is some full on stupid in action.

      With that said, best pro football EVER were the scab games during the strike back in the 80’s. I remember being in college and watching – those dudes were TRYING! We loved it.

      Gimme some more scab football, you overpaid pussies!

    2. The supply of people willing to make a living playing a game is greater than the demand for people willing to make a living playing a game.

      Send the current players packing and start over with college and HS players for 1/10 the cost. The NFL labor market definitely needs to clear. Maybe we can get a federal retraining program for the recently unemployed NFL players. Something like grade school…

  9. I wish someone could explain why anyone cares what Yglesias thinks about anything. He has never held a real job. His only claim to fame is having a degree from Harvard in a degree (philosophy) renown for not actually teaching you anything.

    In a more rational age, Ygliesias would be driving a cab and sharing an efficiency in the Village spending his time bumming drinks at McSorley’s while annoying and boring the shit out of everyone.

    1. With that background, it’s only a matter of time before he’s elected president.

      1. Yeah. Maybe he was editor of the Harvard Philosophy Review. That would seal the deal.

        1. President, not editor.

  10. That’s not the kind of alt joke I expected on a picture of a tranny lard-ass holding garnish.

    You’re kind-hearted.

    1. That is not fair to trannys. I have seen a few trannys and I have never seen one as repulsive as Yglesias. Trannys at least shower now and then.

      1. I love it when you scrub my ass 😉

      2. I have known some trannys who look like incredibly gorgeous women.

        Some do look like men with poor taste in lipstick and difficulties with accessorizing.

        1. Some do look like men with poor taste in lipstick and difficulties with accessorizing.

          Oh, you’re so on our list now, buddy!

          1. I have a list already started!

            1. We need to compare notes sometime.

  11. 1. Treasury sees the benefits of focusing on the deficit as political rather than macroeconomic. Not in the “low politics” sense of trying to get a 1 percentage point boost in the polls, but in the “high politics” sense that you need to engage on the long-term deficit to avoid political momentum shifting sharply in the direction of contractionary short-term fiscal policy.

    Translation: “We want to continue spending like drunken sailors in a whorehouse, despite driving the country off a cliff with trillion dollar deficits, but we have to keep those eeevul Rethuglicans from reining us in by slightly decreasing the rate of increase in the size of the federal government.”

    Now, was that so hard?

    1. Actually the better translation is

      Also, Timmy could do anything.
      Like run up bills on the joint’s credit.

      And why not? Nobody
      will pay for it anyway.

      Take deliveries at the front door and
      sell it out the back at a discount.

      Take a billion dollar treasury bill
      and sell it for five hundred million.

      It doesn’t matter. It’s all profit.

      Then finally, when
      there’s nothing left…

      …when you can’t borrow
      another buck from the Chinese…

      …you bust the joint out.
      You light a match.

      1. You know what? You really are a funny guy!

        1. What, like funny like a clown? Like i ammuse you? How am I funny?

      2. You insulted him a little bit.

    2. despite driving the country off a cliff

      Sometimes you gotta do, what you gotta do 😉

      1. A man has got to know his limits.

  12. It is actually scary how well the lines from Goodfellas fits with Timmy. Listen to this one.

    The hardest thing thing about leaving Washington will be leaving the life.

    I love the life.

    We are treated like movie stars
    with muscle. We have it all.

    Our wives, mothers, kids,
    everybody rode along.

    I have bags filled with jewelry
    and Goldman Sachs stocks stashed in the kitchen.

    I had a bowl of coke next to the bed compliments of the President.

    People call politicals rats because
    they will do anything to survive.

    – I know nothing about being a rat.
    – You know everything about it!

    Anything I wanted was a phone call away.

    Free cars. Keys to a dozen houses financed by Countrywide all over the world.

    Harry and Nancy would spend a couple hundred billion over a weekend…

    …then blow it all on the SEIU or Goldman in a week and go to the Chinese to pay the bond holders.

    Didn’t matter.

    It didn’t mean anything. When I
    was broke I would go rob some more.

    We ran everything.

    We paid off cops. We paid off lawyers.
    We paid off judges.

    Everybody had their hands out.
    Everything was for the taking.

  13. To render the above in English would be a disservice to a work of truly airless vacuity.

    Seems perfectly clear to me. And reassuring. They’re not actually true believers in Republican bullshit, but they have to manage the political reality that Republicans exist (and that people really do care about deficits). The second point, not quoted here, is about how Republicans are obstructing nominations to the reserve board. In other words, Republican bullshit is hampering work on making the economy better as we speak.

    1. Yeah Tony there is nothing make believe about thinking you spend massive amounts of money you don’t have forever.

      1. As a republican I totally agree with you!

        1. Good thing the Democrats ended all that stuff when they took over in 2008.

          It really will never get old rubbing you clowns’ noses in how stupid you were and what suckers you were played for in 2008.

          1. Good thing the Democrats ended all that stuff when they took over in 2008.

            Democrats took over the Senate and house in 2006 not 2008.

        2. I’m tightening the noose on the enemies of deficit. A lynching is long overdue.

          1. Soros shill.

          2. Why are the Drudge zombies always anonymous pussies around here?

            1. As willfully blind and ignorant as the worst Republican dogmatists.

            2. Because someone who posts as “Tony” isn’t perfectly fucking anonymous?

    2. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

      Whew! Good one….

    3. Remember the term “Reality-based community”?

      Yeah, I thought it was bullshit too.

      1. And then theres:
        “WTF!”

    4. Tony|3.12.11 @ 4:21AM|#
      “What I kinda think they were saying over at kos”

      Thanks, Tony, you’re good at that.

  14. Better alt text.

    “Son, fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life”.

  15. avoid political momentum shifting sharply in the direction of contractionary short-term fiscal policy

    I’m pretty sure that must be a clobbered transcipt. This version makes much more sense:

    “sharpen fiscal momentum shifting contractionarily in direct avoidance of short-term political policy”

    1. Actually, it was supposed to be “contract political sharpness momentarily policing short fiscal avoidance of direct-term shifts.”

      My bad. But I think you got the gist.

  16. lol, that is what they do best.

    http://www.anon-tools.es.tc

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