Economics

Is It Really That Hard to Conceptualize Actual Cuts to Federal Spending? (All signs point to yes)

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I find Jim Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute to be one of the most consistently insightful and thoughtful free-market, limited-government economics writers around. So I was surprised that two of his five "economic heroes" advocate unsustainable spending policies for the United States. His list touts, among others, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson's financial plan and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.):

The co-chairmen of President Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform put the lie to the idea that government must inexorably and massively grow in coming decades. Their long-term budget plan capped spending at 21 percent of GDP, far below the minimum level many on the left think necessary to adequately fund the old-fashioned entitlement system and needed government "investments." …

Just as Ronald Reagan did in the '80s, Ryan is shaping the debate today about what kind of government America will have for the next generation and beyond. So in that sense, it's not just his policy proposals that matter but also his arguments. No U.S. public figure is as effective at reminding us how America became America, at reminding us of all that once was good, and what could be again. Free men pursuing happiness in free markets.

Whole list (including five "zeroes") here.

Pethokoukis studs his praise of Bowles-Simpson with some "to be sures" and other reservations, but the plain fact of the matter is that their plan is built around a level of federal revenue that has never been reached even for one year. Paul Ryan's budget plan, which was widely ignored by Republican leaders before a version of it was passed earlier this year by the House of Representatives, would increase annual spending from around $3.8 trillion to $4.7 trillion in 2021. That trillion-dollar increase comes on top of a $1.3 trillion increase between 2001 and 2010. Think about it: In 1991, total federal spending (in constant 2010 dollars) was about $2.1 trillion. By 2001, it was $2.3 trillion and by 2010, it was $3.6 trillion.

And Medicare spending, the single-largest time bomb in the budget (along with interest on the national debt!), is set to go off.

This is no time to be praising folks who would lock in massive, historic increases in across-the-board spending (defense, entitlements, you name it). It is a time to push politicians to actually start talking about how to right-size government, whether it's via "The 19 Percent Solution," which would balance expenditures with historic levels of revenue or plans such as those authored by The Republican Study Committee or Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), either of which would get the job done. With all due respect to Pethokoukis, those are the plans that need to be championed, not ones that jack spending even more over the future.

Here's a video in which Reason columnist and Mercatus Center economist and I talk with John Stossel about the shortcomings of the Paul Ryan plan and Barack Obama's proposed budget:

NEXT: Ron Paul vs. Everyone Else on Executive Power

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  1. The Original Affluent Society never did it.

    Every civilization does.

    You’re not changing it.

    1. Dear Mr. Civilized,
      You frequently reference a subject in your post that you never identify. I’d like to subscribe to your newsletter, but want to make sure that I can identify the subject properly beforehand.

  2. Jesus. We have huge revenues. Spend less than those every year.

    1. Exactly. People claim that we have a revenue problem, but $3 TRILLION(!!!) seems like enough revenue to run a government.

      1. Of course it is. Even including welfare and other crap we shouldn’t be letting the government run.

        1. And what are we even getting for all the money spent. Does the average citizen receive that much more in the way of government services than in 1991, or 2001?

          I’d argue not.

          1. It’s not even debatable. Not by sane people, anyway.

            1. Why do you hate roads and bridges?!

              Fascist.

  3. I wonder how many people see that chart, or spending numbers in general, as cumulative, instead of new annual outlays.

    “Of course it goes up every year, it’s a running count. How could it be otherwise? What’s the big deal?”

  4. John Stossel: Mr. Gillespie. Why don’t you pick a category?

    Nick Gillespie: I’ve got to ask you about the Penis Mightier.

    John Stossel: What? No. No, no, that is The Pen is Mightier.

    Nick Gillespie: Gussy it up however you want, Stossel. What matters is does it work? Will it really mighty my penis, man?

    John Stossel: It’s not a product, Mr. Gillespie.

    Nick Gillespie: Because I’ve ordered devices like that before – wasted a pretty penny, I don’t mind telling you. And if The Penis Mightier works, I’ll order a dozen.

    John Stossel: It’s not a Penis Mightier, Mr. Gillespie. There’s no such thing!

    Peter Suderman: Wait, wait, wait.. are you selling Penis Mightiers?

    John Stossel: No! No, I’m not.

    Nick Gillespie: Well, you’re sitting on a gold mine, Stossel!

  5. You don’t get to say “cut spending.” You have to say you want to put more old people into poverty in order to preserve record low tax rates on billionaires. If you can’t talk about the real-world consequences of your plans then maybe they suck.

    1. I’ll take “Catch the Semen” for $200 Alex.

      1. Don’t feed it, people.

    2. Jesus you’re stoopid, Tony.

      You do realize that a majority of Americans hate old people and would gladly feed them to the wolves.

      Old People:
      Wrong to spend money on!
      Wrong for America!

      1. A majority of Americans ARE old people. Forget Soylent Green.

        1. There’s a huge contingent of self-hating elderly out there just waiting to vote themselves into a fate of street-living and cat food eating.

          If I showed you the numbers you’d be absolutely shocked. Shocked, I tell you.

    3. You know old people are the wealthiest part of our society, right? What we’re doing is taking money from young and not-wealthy people, people who need to be saving their money for their future, and giving it to old people, people who don’t need it, in the form of Social Security and Medicare. It’s madness.

      1. Yes, but Tony is afflicted with a peculiar form of madness which afflicts about 50% of voters who believe that up is down and that Obama just spends money from his magical money trees.

        1. Why do you think that they call anyone who wants to end, or even audit, the fed nutjobs?

          1. Bernanke: “Wait, you mean printing money isn’t a solution?

            Oh shit.”

      2. All he needs to do is visit an Indian gaming casino or take a transatlantic cruise that costs upwards of $1500 pp to see that these old fucks are hardly starving.

        1. There are plenty beneficiaries who are living on SSI (even though it’s supposed to be only 1/3 your retirement). Cutting off SSI to retirees with greater than X dollars in savings makes sense.

          I’d say X = SSI * 4 * 30. If their saving and assets fall under X, they can reapply for SSI.

          1. Oh I agree 100%. As much as I loathe the entirety of the program, the incrementalist in me supports means-testing (although the hardcore in me believes it should be scrapped altogether with the needy placed on the normal welfare rolls).

            That said, there are some difficulties with the asset valuation model that I disagree with. I think if you move towards a means-testing, it should be based on lifetime earnings, not total assets. It makes little sense to me to punish prudent savers who earned less and reward profligate assholes who earned more. Moreover, how does one factor the non-liquid assets that comprise net worth, namely home equity.

            1. “needy placed on welfare rolls”

              Fuck that. Fuck those assholes. I say this with sincerity: If you have planned to live off the government dole for your retirement, Fuck You.

            2. For every dollar you earn over $30k, thre is a 100% tax if you don’t put at least 5% of it into a retirement account, up to about $200k annually. So you either save for yourself, or you pay into the system. Then, for anyone over 70, if you don’t have at least $1M in assets, you can draw from the system (on a sliding scale), with a new asset test every year.

              1. Yeah, no thanks to the tax idea.

                Here’s a novel one though:

                If you don’t save any money for retirement, you don’t get any money for retiring.

                See how easy that plan is?

                1. It’s wonderful except that’s it’s entirely unrealistic. Any realistic plan has to address the fact that most people want a safety net for the poor.

                  1. “Most people”

                    Not a democracy.

                    1. You favor direct welfare and a tax on personal behavior over social insurance? Odd.

                      I wonder how much you guys actually care about fiscal prudence instead of being obsessed with the moral fitness of others.

      3. Are you suggesting that when those young people grow old, they will suddenly become wealthy? I think you mean the wealthy skew toward being old.

        Old people have weathered the economic crisis OK. Because of SS and medicare. You’re not doing young people any favors by placing on them a larger burden of caring for their old relatives.

        1. You’re not doing young people any favors by placing on them a larger burden of caring for their old relatives.

          That’s kind of the point Tony. Our SS/MC programs are doing a dramatic disservice to young people by transferring their earnings to their significantly wealthier parents. Most elderly are actually doing quite well without govt transfer payments, and not only are they unlikely to need to move back into their progeny’s homes, the situation is almost the exact inverse, where we have establish middle age families having to move into their parent’s homes because they’re being taxed to death to transfer money to their wealthy fucking parents.

          1. I definitely agree that there should be more wealth in the hands of the young. That won’t happen by eliminating the safety net. That will only punish the children of the needy, causing not only inescapable poverty, but generational poverty.

            Nobody is struggling because of taxes. Tax rates are at historic lows. People are struggling because an economy that has only rewarded the already wealthy for decades has left them with too little money. Or, as you would say, everyone but the already wealthy has been extra lazy.

        2. Fine, then how about means testing?

          1. Means testing cannot be anything but a backdoor attempt to kill the program, and here’s why: it makes no sense for you to prefer it over the current system given your beliefs.

            Instead of a relatively simple program with equal access by all income groups, you want to make it like Medicaid, a handout to the poor, which, correct me if I’m wrong, you guys claim have all sorts of destructive incentive issues.

            Furthermore, means testing has the effect of taxing the rich (and whatever bad things you think happen as a result). Why not just make it simpler and tax the rich? Less intrusive on people’s personal lives…

            And it doesn’t actually save much money, since there are so few people who can afford to go without. And among those wealthiest, means testing places the same “tax” burden on people making half a million as those making billions. Most of the money in the country is in the hands of the ultra-ultra-rich nowadays. Your system further rewards them even at the expense of the somewhat rich.

            1. Your comments are unsubstantiated and don’t even make intuitive sense.

              Reall, I’d dump the entire program, but advocate means testing merely as a stopgap measure. Anyone (like YOU) who advocates taking money from poor young people and giving it to elderly billionaires cannot claim any moral high ground.

              Your lack of an ethical center is astonishing, Tony.

              1. The problem of billionaires getting too many benefits just isn’t a problem: there aren’t that many billionaires! Means testing won’t save much money up front and will only result in higher costs in premiums and copays.

                It’s just curious that your solution to a program that treats all income groups equally is a more progressive program, especially since it doesn’t make sense to do fiscally.

        3. Oh cool, relatives are a “burden” now.

          1. That’s the humor in the whole debate. The left routinely tries to paint opposition to SS/MC as being rooted in hatred of old people. But a sizable chunk of progressive SWPL crowd actually supports the programs as a sort of old-folks home subsidy to keep their parents out of their lives, albeit maybe not consciously.

            1. Yeah, it fits nicely with the entire liberal ideology of “The Government will take care of it.”

              I don’t believe there’s a single progressive out there that thinks anything is their own fault, or that there’s anything Government can’t fix.

            2. Don’t the same people want to force me to send my kids to school twelve months a year? For the kids’ good? Oh, wait, I mean to provide free babysitting.

              1. Shit, you call public schools babysitting?

                I wouldn’t hire a public school teacher as a babysitter. Seems most of them are turning out to be pedophiles.

                1. Hey, I agree. But many looney, self-centered parents don’t.

          2. You people need to get your sappy moral bullshit out of the conversation. Relatives can be a financial burden, they can cost you money you’d otherwise spend bettering yourself. These programs are pro-capitalism. The problem is you are pro-oligarchy.

            1. You people need to get your sappy moral bullshit out of the conversation.

              You have to say you want to put more old people into poverty

              You first.

              1. Dealing with the reality of poverty among the old is broadly a moral issue, I suppose, but that’s not what I’m talking about. You guys don’t care about saving government money, you care about punishing people you think are bad and rewarding those you think are good. In its most perverse expression you use someone’s wealth as the only measure of moral worth.

                Saying people should be punished for not saving for retirement (meaning for not predicting how long they would live!) is to be a quasireligious moral busybody.

                Society bears the financial cost regardless, so it makes sense to pay for it in the most efficient and least burdensome way possible. Poking your noses into people’s personal lives is pointless and very unlibertarian.

                1. you care about punishing people you think are bad and rewarding those you think are good

                  People who work hard, save thier money, plan for the future, and act in a responsible manner should be rewarded with the resultant fruits of their labor. That is all. Those that do not should not be allowed, in general, to sponge off of others.

                  If that is “rewarding” good (or virtuous) behavior, and “punishing” bad (or nefarious) behavior, then so be it. Life isn’t fair and those that engage in good behavior shouldn’t have to suffer the consequences of the bad behavoir of others.

                  1. Life isn’t fair and those that engage in good behavior shouldn’t have to suffer the consequences of the bad behavoir of others.

                    That’s a bit of a contradiction, but okay. What about the children of those who practice bad behavior? In your preferred society, not only does wealth stay in the family, so do sins?

                    The whole point is that elderly care costs the younger generation. That happens whether there’s a program to deal with it or not. It’s much more conducive to economically sound policy to ignore people’s personal behavior altogether. Libertarians who just want to be left alone seem overwhelmingly motivated by judging people’s behavior. A rigid and punitive work ethic, however, doesn’t always coincide with saving people money.

                    1. Not to mention that no tradition in the ethics of work expects people to work till they drop dead in their 90s. And expecting everyone to plan for an amount of nonworking time whose extent they couldn’t possibly predict is going beyond punitive to plain psychotic.

                    2. You should work until you can’t work anymore. The concept of a 20-30 year vacation at the end of your life is and always has been an unsustainable fantasy, especially as you rightly point out that people are living longer and thus spending less of their productive lives working.

                    3. Well medical costs won’t go away and it may not be useful to keep old people in jobs young people may need. It will only end up costing people more, just maybe not in taxes.

                    4. Well medical costs won’t go away and it may not be useful to keep old people in jobs young people may need. It will only end up costing people more, just maybe not in taxes.

                    5. Well, in the end there won’t be any money for all this stuff anyway, so it will be interesting to see how it all shakes out. Just hope it’s sooner rather than later, so my kids can build a life for themselves in the aftermath.

                    6. Or we could just make policy that has the effect of transferring some of the unprecedented loot in the hands of the top 1/10th of 1% downward. I guess a hellscape of mass poverty is preferable to doing anything like that.

                    7. Uh, transferring that wealth downward won’t do a damn thing to alleviate the suffering that’s coming – maybe it’ll buy a few more meals but it certainly won’t do much more than that.

                    8. Sure it will. The surest way to make money is to already have money to invest. A huge portion of the wealth in this country is being squandered on unprecedented luxury for the ultrarich. CEOs make hundreds of times what workers make, whereas the ratio was much smaller only a few years ago. The only people who’ve benefited from the economy in the last decades are the rich. Something’s fundamentally wrong, and I don’t know exactly how to do it but the effect should be more distributed wealth. That takes care of the problems at the bottom.

                    9. So, on the one hand you say capital formation is a necessary requirement for investment, and on the other hand you want to take that money and divvy it up among everyone else. all the while the government grabs its take. Seems inefficient.

                      You know, it reminds me, I asked you several threads ago how you would divide the everyone’s wealth among everyone. So how would you?

                    10. In the tax code.

                      You can’t just take the results of capitalism and proclaim them holy truth. Sometimes they are grotesque injustices.

                    11. The tax code is already grotesquely progressive.

                      And you still didn’t answer the question.

        4. How about if you haven’t saved enough to retire on you keep on working?

          That’s the means testing I’m in favor of.

          1. In other words, just getting old is not a reason why you should get to sponge off the state.

            1. The elderly have to be taken care of somehow, it’s just a fact of (recent) human existence. We’ve found it cheaper, fairer, and hugely beneficial to the economy to socialize these costs, since they are so universal.

              Economically these kinds of programs make total sense. It seems you’re more interested in having the state poke around people’s personal lives and rewarding or punishing them for their behavior.

              Old people are a drain, no doubt. But that’s something we’ve decided to pay for, since the alternative is a euthanasia-based dystopia.

              But again, even if you think society should punish people for the crime of living too long, should it also punish their children?

              You celebrate an economy based on maximizing free will, then look for every way possible to needlessly load people up with impediments to choice and action.

              Or perhaps you think the only costs societies bear are taxes.

              1. The elderly have to be taken care of somehow

                Maybe they should take care of themselves? Or rely on family memebrs, as was done for millennia before your statist bullshit that will inexorably bankrupt us and leave them in a worse situation?

                Economically these kinds of programs make total sense

                Maybe when there were significantly more workers supporting the beneficiaries, but demographics is working hard against you, moron, and won’t be reversed.

                But that’s something we’ve decided to pay for, since the alternative is a euthanasia-based dystopia

                a) well, we can – and will – be changing our minds about all this stuff very soon. Remember, you disingenuous fool, that you can’t spend other peoples’ money indefinately.
                b) who said anything about a euthanasia-based dystopia? Oh, that’s right, no one did, except you, and being the good, progressive-liberal statist liar that you are, it will be your side that implements something like that.

                even if you think society should punish people for the crime of living too long, should it also punish their children

                a) what the fuck are you talking about? People should take care of themselves and have a government that encourages that by 1) incetivizing savings and investment; and b) what the fuck are you talking about now? Punishing children? Where do you get this stuff? Oh, that’s right, you just make it the fuck up. More lies from a lying, dishonest, progressive douchebag. You’re the one that’s punishing our children with the crushing levels of taxation and bewildering array of disincentives that will be required to pay for all this nonsense.

                You celebrate an economy based on maximizing free will, then look for every way possible to needlessly load people up with impediments to choice and action

                My God, what an awesome fantasyland you live in, liar. Nobody here advocates impediments to choice and action. You’re the one that advocates that in the form of taxation, regulations, and mandates. More dishonesty and lies.

                1. Maybe they should take care of themselves? Or rely on family memebrs, as was done for millennia

                  Life expectancy hasn’t been in the 80s for millenia, but only for a few decades. It is a fact of life that people care for their elders. That’s exactly what I mean by “punishing their children.” People unlucky enough to have poor parents who didn’t plan well are burdened over others. Why do you think that’s fair?

                  You’re the one that advocates that in the form of taxation, regulations, and mandates.

                  And you would replace those burdens with the much greater burden of individualizing the costs of elderly care. Freedom is not low taxes. Freedom is the ability to act. Taxes impede that and so do healthcare costs for grandma. Plus we’re not even talking about the effect on private insurance costs.

                  1. That’s exactly what I mean by “punishing their children.”

                    If this is what you regard as punishment, I hope you never have kids. Oh, and Life. Isn’t. Fair. It has never been fair, and it never will be fair not matter how much progressive d-bags like yourself try to do.

                    Freedom is the ability to act, you are at least partially correct, imbecile, and that freedom to act is infinitely more realizable the more personal wealth you have. Bill Gates is richer than me, and has more freedeom to act than I. I am richer than others and have more freedom to act then they. Government intervention will not change this – as it limits the ability of individuals to accumulate personal wealth and enhance the freedoms that they should already have here. The less government, and the lower taxes society has to bear, will inexorably increase personaly mobility and freedom to act.

                    1. The less government, and the lower taxes society has to bear, will inexorably increase personaly mobility and freedom to act.

                      Yeah assuming that no other costs go up as a result of cutting programs. You don’t get to assume that. Medical and other costs for the elderly will have to be paid either way, and they’ll be paid socially either way given the way insurance works.

                      You don’t get to base everything around a truism about life not being fair. If that’s the case, then who cares what we do? Life isn’t fair, you pay 100% in taxes and I pay 0. So there.

                      Why do you want to maximize the role of luck, which is to say maximize unfairness, and call it freedom? The concepts are opposed to each other.

                    2. You’re are basing your arguement on the complete fallacy that anyone has the right to be allocated the wealth of others. No one but a progressive-statist like yourself thinks this way. You know how I avoid skyrocketing medical costs? I eat right, exercise, and limit my vices to a few glasses of beer/wine now and then. It’s called personaly responsibility and it is sorely lacking in this society right now – but I predict it makes a comeback really soon.

                      Actually, yes I do get to base a lot on life not being fair. Actually, the Founders attempted to make up for this by creating a limited form of government with as much persaonl freedom as possible to ensure that the individual citizen could rectify on his/her own the inherent unfairness of life, and especially the absolute unfairness of being born in a tyrannical society. So you are dead fucking wrong on that account.

                      There’s no such thing as luck. Next you’ll be telling me the fucking Tooth Fairy is real. Assclown.

                    3. It’s called personaly responsibility

                      Again with the obsession with people’s personal behavior. Okay so what happens if you suffer a serious injury? All that careful planning… No thought to whether simply universalizing the risk pool would make things cheaper for everyone. What really matters is that nobody gets something he doesn’t deserve.

                      Except life isn’t fair, so why should you give a shit?

                      Yes I’m in favor of making life less risky than it would be in a state of nature. It’s called civilization. That life isn’t fair isn’t a principle, it’s an excuse for you to take what you want and forbid others from taking anything else. You are articulating the very thing you accuse me of doing via taxation. Only difference is taxation at least can be done fairly.

                    4. Careful planning, clown face, also requires that you provision yourself for just such eventualities. It’s called insurance, or savings.

                      The fact that life isn’t’ fair is NOT a privion for me to take from others – it is a provision for you to do that and give it to people who are less willing, less able, or less interested in accumulating the same amount of wealth from themselves. It’s the progressives that take, and take relentless, without regard for anything except naked power.

      4. Only the crazies talk to me.

    4. When the debt crisis blows up on us, and it will, it will be a much bigger hit to your dependent class than volunatry budget cuts ever could be. You can’t finance welfare for all with higher income taxes and you know it. The spending cuts will happen eventually, whether voluntarily or by force of the bond market. The thing that’s saving us now is that Europe is a much bigger basket case than we are. It won’t last forever.

      1. Let all Bush tax cuts expire (Congress does nothing) and the deficit is pretty much plugged, and you don’t even have to force old people into starvation.

        1. More fucking bullshit, more lies.

        2. You don’t seriously believe this.

    5. preserve record low tax rates on billionaires

      Irrelevent, numbskull. You could raise the rates on the rich to 90% and it wouldn’t solve the problem. The problem is simple demographics you fucking moron. Oh, that and money doesn’t gorw on trees, which idiot statist-liberals like you seem to take as a foundational principle.

      1. Money doesn’t grow on trees? What happened to “creating wealth”? That thing the tax cuts were meant to do…

        1. That’s right, idiot, money does not grow on trees. And, the profligate spending of money that will never be paid back has completely any benefit of the niggardly “tax cuts” you are are howling at the moon about. Fucking imbecile.

          1. $7 trillion over 10 years is niggardly?

            The tax cuts are the single biggest policy contributor to deficits and the exploding national debt. If you aren’t addressing them before anything else then you are the one who’s not being serious about the problem.

            1. Yes. $700 billion in recouped taxes won’t cover the deficit we have – assuming your numbers are right, your penchant for lying makes me suspicious.

              1. It takes care of more than half. Does it all have to be covered before a single cent is raised? Fine, let’s raise more. The rich can afford it a lot more than the poor.

                1. Sure, imbecile, the rich can pay more but as you pointed out above there isn’t very many of them. So, the burden will fall on the middle-class, and guess what? That 45% of federal income tax filers who are paying nothing are going to start paying something. Once they have some skin in hte game we’ll be on the road to a far more ethical government – and I know how much asshats like you love the roads.

                  1. If the economy isn’t benefiting the middle class then it shouldn’t be benefiting the rich. Unless all boats are being lifted then something’s wrong. Already being rich isn’t the same as being morally virtuous, which is your obsession.

                    1. Wrong again. I’m starting to think that you’re not as smart as you seem on the surface, and are really just regurgitating left talking points you learned in some third-rate school.

                      The economy isn’t lift all boats right now because the government is doing all the wrong thing. Misguided tax and fiscal policy will do that.

                    2. The economy isn’t lift all boats right now because the government is doing all the wrong thing. Misguided tax and fiscal policy will do that.

                      I agree. We need a much looser fiscal policy and much higher taxes on the rich.

                    3. Yes, because in your fantasyland that is what will get things going, despite the overwhelming evidence that it actually doesn’t have the effect you believe, imbecile.

  6. I dont think this government has ever actually cut spending on anything. Reducing what you planned to spend is not a cut. Spending less than you did the year before is. Show me when this has ever happened.

    1. Military outlays after WWII?

  7. By 2001, it was $2.3 trillion and by 2010, it was $3.6 trillion.

    But don’t blame George Bush.

    Obama did it all on his own!

    1. Bush was everything the GOP strived for in the 20th century, and like Frankenstein he turned on his master and the next thing you knew the windmill was burning down.

    2. Yes, Bush’s spending was irresponsible but Obama’s spending is completely insane. There is a difference and that difference will bankrupt us.

      1. You thought it couldn’t get worse. You thought wrong.

        Obama 2012.

        1. Four more years of Obama and we’re all completely definitively fucked.

          We’re probably fucked with a Republican as well but at least there’s a slim chance of not being completely fucked.

          1. Can’t you imagine how much fun the apocalyptic wasteland’s going to be though?

            We can use the Capitol building as our very own Thunderdome.

            1. Fallout 3 was a blast. And some of the best fun was further trashing the nuked out remains of DC.

              1. I think I liked 3 more than Vegas, just because of the museums you could run around.

                1. Holy shit I’m a nerd.

    3. That’s why Romney scares the hell out of me. I can’t see the Dems retaining the Senate or winning the House. It’ll just be NCLB and pork and 3% across the board for at least 2 years.

      1. It’s the damned SCOTUS that scares me. We simply cannot have another Obama appointment.

        A Paul appointment, on the other hand, could rock the foundations of this planet. Janice Rogers Brown, anyone?

        1. I don’t think Paul could get an appointment confirmed. Not a snowball’s chance in hell the Republicans would let Paul turn back the clock 100 years.

          1. Well, Brown did get confirmed for the federal bench, so she’s someone who possibly could get through. There are others who could as well.

    4. Federal spending 2009: $3.1 trillion.

      So Bush took it up $800B in 8 years. Obama managed $500B in one year.

  8. http://www.washingtonpost.com/…..story.html

    In fiscal 2011, the cost of the promises grew from $30.9 trillion to $33.8 trillion. To put that in context, consider that the total value of companies traded on U.S. stock markets is $13.1 trillion, based on the Wilshire 5000 index, and the value of the equity in U.S. taxpayers’ homes, according to Freddie Mac, is $6.2 trillion. Said another way, there is not enough wealth in America to meet those promises.

    If the government followed corporate accounting rules, that $2.9 trillion increase would be added to the $1.3 trillion cash deficit for fiscal 2011 that has been widely reported. And a $4.2 trillion deficit is something that Americans need to know about.

    1. I’m not sure where the $1.3 trillion figure is coming from. Debt to the Penny charts show an increase of $13.61 trillion to $14.79 trillion in FY 2011. Yeah, that’s pretty close, but it’s not really accurate.

    2. Ah yes but Tony and his ilk are all too anxious to take every penny of that wealth by force in a doomed attempt to finance their promise to keep as many Americans dependent on government welfare as possible. Once it is all gone and they’ve destroyed the company they’ll once again blame “market failures” — i.e., the market couldn’t spin enough straw into gold to provide free shit for all.

      1. SS and MC aren’t welfare. You may want to turn them into welfare by means-testing them, but it’s not my fault you guys don’t know what you’re talking about to the extent that you are incapable of being consistent.

        1. Yes they are welfare. They are transfer payments provided by the government to provide a benefit to the recipients.

          Welfare.

        2. Your president is turing them to welfare as we speak by cutting the payroll tax and calling on a millionaire tax to pay for it. And they’re welfare anyway. How else could SS be running a deficit? Clue: people are taking out more than they put in.

  9. If you can’t talk about the real-world consequences of your plans then maybe they suck.

    How does that nut taste?

    1. Present!

  10. Nick could you please tell me why you subscribe to Seema Kalia’s facebook page? I gave it a try but she’s…rather dense.

  11. Pethokoukis is pretty good on a lot of things, but he’s such a pathetic little lapdog for Kudlow (who, in turn, is a pathetic little lapdog for GWB) I have an extremely hard time taking him seriously.

    ps- AEI can, in its entirety, die in a fire.

  12. $3 TRILLION(!!!) seems like enough revenue to run a government.

    Bureaucrats, as a species, would rather be whipped naked through the streets than accept static budgets.

    1. It doesn’t need to remain static; we could always reduce it.

  13. So Ron Paul wanting to cut $1T brings us back to the dark ages of 2001? He can’t be serious. Are we fucking neanderthals?!

    1. Are we fucking neanderthals?!

      Not with our consent. STEVE SMITH doesn’t seek our consent.

  14. This world is fucking insane. Asking for a mere cut in the rate of increase of spending is considered radical, much less than, say, and actually spending less next year than spent before.

    If I didn’t have a daughter, I’d cash my chips in and check out all together. If reality is indeed nothing more than one of Nick Bostrum’s simulations…. well, you fucking geek master programmer…. fuck you.

    1. Yeah, some days reading the news makes me want to commit suicide. Then I realize the internet has pr0n on it too.

  15. Meanwhile, the other day, some “authority” was on the teevee saying Ron Paul wants to do away with the income tax, which means he wants to END TEH GUVRENMINTZ!!!!!!11!

    1. How the fuck does nobody sincerely question the idea that the income tax equals the federal government?

  16. You thought it couldn’t get worse. You thought wrong.

    Obama 2012.

    FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL!

    1. Pretty much sums up how I feel about it too.

  17. OT: Why wasn’t this on ReasonTV on April 15th?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBSnWlpTPSk

  18. A balanced budget amendment along with a congressional term-limit amendment should do the trick I think. Also pass a law that says former members of the three branches of government cannot lobby the federal government after they leave office.

    1. I have a whole slate of amendments to propose. Those, along with repealing the 17th and replacing the 16th with something better. Maybe a few more to restate things like the Commerce Clause.

      1. The commerce clause isn’t bad, it’s the Wickard/Filburn case interpretation that’s shit.

        I mean, I don’t really have a problem with the Fed. Government basically saying “Hey, no tariffs on out of state products.” It helps prevent union thugs from legislating their competitors out of their market.

      2. I’m honestly afraid of a Constitutional Convention. Can you imagine the horrors of a compromise document between the statists and the statists? Better to pass Amendments one at a time.

        1. No convention. Slate of amendments. A convention might result in a Soviet style government.

  19. It’s the damned SCOTUS that scares me.

    What is the likelihood Ginsberg has a “relapse” and suddenly decides to retire next summer if it looks like the Big 0 is going to get the boot in November?

    1. If she retires in the summer there won’t be an appointment until 2013.

    2. Actually, if she retired right now there probably wouldn’t be an appointment until 2013. I don’t think the Republicans will give up an appointment until they know they’ve lost the presidential election.

      1. The Repubs would have to filibuster to block an Obama appointment before the election.

        The Senate Dems would go all “nuclear option” to force it through. And since it would be forced through regardless, Obama would just go right ahead and nominate a hard lefty.

  20. I can think of worse things than a Senate brought to a complete standstill by a grand melee over a SCOTUS nomination.

  21. So Bush took it up $800B in 8 years.

    How the fuck does this qualify as a rebuttal?

    “Bush only shot the dog. Obama was the one who whipped it with a chain.”

    1. More like Bush beat the dog and Obama paid the vet bill.

      1. Or maybe you’re just a lazy douche. Wapo and the Grey Lady? That’s the best you can do? Not very original.

        1. What does being ‘original’ have to do with providing a source?

          You deserve pity for the muddle your brain has been put in by never learning how to seek out reliable sources. When that happens, inevitably, one seeks out sources that confirm their prejudices. It’s amazing the layers of conspiracy theory an otherwise normal mind can impose on the world in order not to have to change it about politics. One who watches FOX News only (as is the case with tea partiers) really must feel like being under assault. Everything else on the entire planet is biased against you!

          1. It’s always Team Red’s fault, isn’t it?

            Talk about conspiracy theories…

  22. Again with the obsession with people’s personal behavior. Okay so what happens if you suffer a serious injury?

    Again, if you couldn’t be bothered to buy insurance against such an outcome, why are people who did responsible to restore you to some “normal” state?

    I can see why “we” might have a responsibility to mitigate your suffering and relieve your pain, but this an entirely different thing from maintaining a life you clearly weren’t interested enough in.

  23. The elderly have to be taken care of somehow…

    Fine, let them go on welfare. Just because someone got old is no reason to let them suck the public teat.

    And by “welfare” I mean a bare subsistence living to keep them alive and/or mitigates their suffering until the disease they have due to their not caring enough about their own lives, not wholesale access to healthcare etc which costs a huge investment and involves the work of countless people who di give a damn about their lives and weren’t just parasites who expected a free ride.

  24. Old people are a drain, no doubt. But that’s something we’ve decided to pay for, since the alternative is a euthanasia-based dystopia.

    But again, even if you think society should punish people for the crime of living too long, should it also punish their children?

    Again, all of the foregoing is total bullshit and further evidence that Team Blue players have the same faith-based issues that Team Red players have.

  25. well,i think everyone got there own trouble .May be that wasn’t true yes,but it’s hard to discount.

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