Government Spending

Barack Obama: 'We don't have a spending problem'



The media portrayal of the fiscal cliff standoff (and the debt-ceiling talks from which it sprang) generally portrayed President Barack Obama and the Democrats as pragmatists attempting to negotiate with intransigent Republican ideologues. But as ever, the stance of non-ideological problem-solving itself is rich with ideological content. For the latest example read Stephen Moore's Wall Street Journal interview with Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio).

What stunned House Speaker John Boehner more than anything else during his prolonged closed-door budget negotiations with Barack Obama was this revelation: "At one point several weeks ago," Mr. Boehner says, "the president said to me, 'We don't have a spending problem.' " […]

The president's insistence that Washington doesn't have a spending problem, Mr. Boehner says, is predicated on the belief that massive federal deficits stem from what Mr. Obama called "a health-care problem." Mr. Boehner says that after he recovered from his astonishment—"They blame all of the fiscal woes on our health-care system"—he replied: "Clearly we have a health-care problem, which is about to get worse with ObamaCare. But, Mr. President, we have a very serious spending problem." He repeated this message so often, he says, that toward the end of the negotiations, the president became irritated and said: "I'm getting tired of hearing you say that."

If this quote is accurate, it is both stunning and unsurprising. Stunning, because of this chart:

Chart should be pinned to the wall of every newsroom in the country

Note how federal spending, adjusted for inflation, zoomed between 2001 and 2010 on such non-health-related categories as military (70.5%), "other" (64.1%), and non-defense discretionary (55.9%). Overall federal spending has exploded, from $1.77 trillion in fiscal year 2000 to $3.72 trillion in fiscal 2010. If Washington had pegged federal government growth since 2000 to the rates of inflation and population growth, we would be spending well under $3 trillion today, and talking about what to do with the surplus.

At the same time, Obama's alleged quote is unsurprising, because a vast swath of Democrats well and truly believe that spending is not a problem.


Here's Steve Benen, at Rachel Maddow's blog: "Sorry, Boehner, spending isn't the problem." Or New York magazine's Jonathan Chait: "There really isn't money to be cut everywhere….The spending cuts aren't there because they can't be found." Or Mother Jones' Kevin Drum: "We don't have a spending problem. We have an aging problem."

Combine that with the widespread belief, articulated most recently by Robert Reich, that we have no entitlements problem either, and you get a clearer picture of how federal spending could almost double in a decade in the face of progressive complaints about "austerity": It's because Democrats are in denial about the true cost of their (yes) ideological commitments. If we taxed Americans enough to cover the cost (or even 90 percent of the cost) of what Democrats consider the minimal level of government, the result would be recession. That should, but won't, give big-government apologists pause.

And yes, as we've been reminding you for years, too many Republicans (and John Boehner in particular) have for too long effectively agreed with Jonathan Chait: There's nothing we can cut!

For an alternative view, read Reason's November 2010 issue on "How to Slash Government Before it Slashes You."

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  1. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!

    1. Why? Are Chait and Reich starting to make sense?

      1. Has anyone written a decent rebuttal or analysis of the Reich piece?

    2. You are and this is all just some bizarre, drug-induced dream. Now would you please snap out of it so the world can return to normal?

      1. It’s not the spending. Because there are no economic consequences to spending more than you have. Not ever.

    3. Given the response here (instead of what I was expecting), I might be taking crazy pills.

      1. Hey, welcome back. You were right about the bye week 🙂

        1. Although I still did have to miss the Dolphins game for the cruise, I’ve got 4 tickets in 328 for next week.

  2. From Woodstock right throught to the nursing home, this generation has been nothing but a pain in the ass.

  3. Boehner is not to be trusted either, but this is totally believable. BO’s behavior is that of a person of mediocre intelligence and zero curiousity, insulated in an sycophantic echo chamber. Emperor Pu-Yi probably had more idea of what was going on outside the Forbidden City than BO does.

    1. Well said, Tulpa.

    2. *Slow clap*

    3. I’m not sure who’s more to be loathed and despised, the guys who can see the train wreck coming and do fuck-all about it or the guys who shout, “More coal!” and keep Ol’ Number Nine roaring down the tracks.

    4. You see this same nonsense at the top of big corporations. Dumb shits who hit the life lottery but think they earned it and are better than everybody else.

  4. Top it off with gubmint money is easy money. (I actually read a liberal’s lamentation that military cuts would hurt because it would lead to the unemployment of working people.) As long as people believe government directive is the only means of employing people, they will not vote for someone who wishes to cut the monetary power of the government.

    1. unemployment of working people

      As opposed to the unemployment of non-working people?

      Did this person also use the phrase “ATM Machine”?

      1. “Working people”=”nice, cozy word Democrats use to draw up support from the ranks of the less-than-millionaires”

        Sorta like “middle class.”

        1. “Working people”=”nice, cozy word Democrats use to draw up support from the ranks of the less-than-millionaires”

          Yeah, yeah. I was just draw attention to the stupidity of the phrase. Let’s ignore the fact that the average “bankster” works until 3 am, because that’s when the Nikkei closes.

      2. “Did this person also use the phrase “ATM Machine”?”

        Yeah, about 10AM in the morning.

        1. And used his PIN number.

  5. How the hell does this clown still have any credibility?

    1. Racist!

      1. Homey D. Clown?

    2. He doesn’t need credibility when he has empathy.

  6. Jonathan Chait: “There really isn’t money to be cut everywhere….The spending cuts aren’t there because they can’t be found.

    Give me 20 minutes with a red pen, I’ll have us running surpluses.

    1. I dont need 20 minutes, but you might be doing more “thoughtful” cuts.


        There’s your first cut.

        1. Sorry I’m going with this.

          I’d so much rather pay for indian jewelry than to pay for the FDA.

          1. Oh yeah obviously the big stuff is more important. But what drives me nuts is that the statists push the debate with “SKOOLZ CHILDREN ELDERLY AND ROADDDZZZ”

            Someone should get Chait on camera and get him to repeat there are no spending cuts. Then bring up the Indian Arts and Crafts Board. Or the Office of Faith Based Initiatives.

            Don’t let them frame the terms of the debate. It’s one thing to bankrupt the future to pay for healthcare or the elderly. It’s quite another to bankrupt our children to give federal money to churches or Indian pottery barns. Or teepees. Or longhouses. Or whatever.

            1. most of the people before whose cameras Chait would appear drink from the same cup he does. They, too, see no problem with you subsidizing the stupid and frivolous.

              The red light moment should have been when people paying for their own birth control was painted as a bridge too far.

            2. Never forget “cowboy poetry festivals”.

              1. Or fifty year old puppets.

                1. Indian jewelry, pottery barns, cowboy poetry festivals, and all the congresscritters salaries put together don’t make a dent in spending.

                  Do away with all agriculture subsidies, means test Social Security, and drastically reduce military bases overseas. That would at least make a dent. Also defund the War on Drugs. Fuck them.

        2. But their logo is a penis, so cutting them would be homophobic.

          1. Or circumcismic.

      2. robc, you’re going to jam the shredder if you put the entire budget in all at once.

        1. That’s why pure, cleansing fire, not shredders, is the best means for dealing with the budget.

          1. Are there any volcanoes in DC with secret passageways into the lava conduit? Preferably next to a tower with a disembodied eye on top.

    2. That’s irrational wingnut talk. To cut intelligently, you have to consult with department leaders. And all the department leaders insist there is nothing to cut.

      So there’s nothing to cut. Too bad!

    3. You flint-hearted ogre, you’re just the type to send us back to the dark days of the Clinton Administration, where skeletal wastrels staggered across the wasteland, bitter winds howling and where the living envied the dead.

      1. … the dark days of the Clinton Administration, where skeletal wastrels staggered across the wasteland, bitter winds howling and where the living envied the dead.

        yeah… but at least the music was pretty good back then

  7. The president’s insistence that Washington doesn’t have a spending problem, Mr. Boehner says, is predicated on the belief that massive federal deficits stem from what Mr. Obama called “a health-care problem.”

    This president lacks imagination; why is he refusing to blame the whole mess on the college tuition problem?

    1. Maybe he wants to end Medica**?

    2. the president doesn’t see a college tuition problem, at least not in the sense that people who pay their own bills define ‘problem’.

  8. there are no economic consequences to spending more than you have.

    Not as long as you still have checks.

    Be reasonable, for a change.

    1. Why not just default on the debt? I mean, since there’s no problem with anything stupid that the government does, why not go whole hog?

      1. This has now become something they are openly, and seriously, talking about doing:…..-Disasters

        1. Which is worse:

          Defaulting on the debt or Monetizing the debt?

          1. Monetizing, by FAR.

            Defaulting on the debt will not debase my own personal holdings. It will give the US Gov a bad credit rating and make it harder for them to borrow more.

            Monetizing the debt is essentially stealing from all of us to pay the debt.

            1. Defaulting on the debt also means holders of T-bills lose their shirts. Most of them are held domestically, too.

              1. That is true, but that’s what *default* means. They invested in a bond knowing there’s a risk the bond holder will default.

                If the bondholder steals from me in order to avoid default, that is clearly immoral.

                1. They deluded themselves into thinking there was no risk in treasuries. They accepted woefully low rates due to this faulty perception.

                  They never believed that the same generation that they tried to sell out would sell them out. Karma’s a cruel mistress.

                2. ^^^Califernian

              2. Sure, but if the government monetizes those T-Bill holdings they are still worthless. Instead of holding a wothless T-Bill, you are holding worthless dollars.

          2. Defaulting on the debt or monetizing it? Which is worse – refusing to pay someone or giving him a hot check? Essentially they are both the same thing.

            1. Monetization wouldn’t have to make the dollar worthless, just worth less.

              Monetization spreads the pain evenly around the economy, while default hits holders of T-bills where it hurts. Considering that T-bill holders are uber-connected politically, that means it’s going to be monetization.

              1. They could make T-bills worth less, too. Pay them off at fifty cents on the dollar or something – but that would be much too obvious and aboveboard. People might get the idea they’d been swindled or something.

                1. Yeah, that’s probably more likely than an outright stiffing of treasury holders. Still, they will prefer monetization.

                  1. They’d probably come up with some euphemism – like a surtax on redemption of T-bills. Or maybe they’d call it a contribution. Maybe a redemption fee. They can always think of something.

              2. Yeah it spreads the pain around to working class stiffs who are saving and scrimping and offloads the risk from the investors. It spreads the pain of the loss in value of TBills to people who aren’t invested in tbills.

                It’s terrible, immoral, evil idea and of course that’s what they are going to do.

              3. “Monetization spreads the pain evenly around the economy.”

                Unless you’re Goldaman Sachs.

                1. Monetization would hurt them, too. A hell of a lot less pain than default, but not none at all.

                  1. Default would hurt them in the sense that they would be less rich, but with monetization the middle class would be end up becoming poor, and the poor even worse.

                    If rich people were dumb enough to buy bonds, they should be punished for it, not the rest of the country.

          3. Monetizing is far worse. Default (on govt debt) is a GOOD thing. Does anyone think that those financing the Mafia deserve to be paid back? Everyone knows what the money is for, aren’t the lenders complicit in the crimes? Isn’t that conspiracy before the fact? And isn’t the fact that the Federal Reserve/member banks (which are the main purchasers) use/s these instruments (T-Bills, etc.) to fuck us out of our savings enough to condemn the entire system and its willing participants? Fuck the govt, fuck the banks/Federal Reserve, fuck the lenders of blood money. Fuck ’em hard and repeatedly, fuck ’em frequently and at length, with vigor and enthusiasm. Fuck ’em.

      2. The trillion dollar coin is the essential example of magical thinking.

        1. But a trillion one dollar bills is just sound fiscal policy.

          This is what Paul Krugman actually believes!

          1. Yeah, and so does Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe

            1. does this mean Somalia has a competitor for Libertopia?

            2. Who’s that?

              /typical fucking leftist.

          2. I always felt Mr. Burns was right to steal that $1 trillion bill and preserve it.

        2. How so? It’s a workaround to avoid debt ceiling fights. I don’t think Krugman et al think it actually solves the debt problem.

          1. It’s magical to believe that the coin is suddenly worth one trillion dollars without one trillion dollars that are out there suddenly losing value. The concept of balancing accounts should make this clear.

            It’s like a frame of reference problem with velocities in a basic physics course, except with scalars instead of vectors. Or maybe a conservation of mass problem.

            1. It’s magical to believe that the coin is suddenly worth one trillion dollars without one trillion dollars that are out there suddenly losing value.

              The trillion dollar coin gambit is dependent on that coin never actually getting into circulation. It’s used to bypass the ‘debt ceiling’. I’m still not clear on it. Either way, what are the odds of it never actually being used, though? If it exists, politicians will find an excuse to spend it.

              1. Hang on, I’ve got a couple of Silmarils laying around we could use instead…

              2. Plus, how would you make change? You couldn’t really buy anything with it.

      3. Pro Libertate said:

        Why not just default on the debt? I mean, since there’s no problem with anything stupid that the government does, why not go whole hog?

        They won’t default on the debt because that’s a one-time trick with enormous ramifications for their power. They’d lose their ability to go into more debt. People wouldn’t buy bonds, or would insist on incredibly high returns, since the drastically increased risk of the government defaulting in the future, would have to be matched by potential profit.

        Without the ability to go into any significant debt, then they would really have to cut spending, by about $2 trillion a year. Instead, we’re adding about $4 trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years, which they prefer to cutting $20 trillion out of the budget over the same period. How would they buy votes under those conditions?

        This is part of the fun of having an enormous government shoving so much weight around the economy: it scares the hell out of people to consider the alternative.

        Oh wait. I forget: we just recently ceased living in a radical, wild west, laissez faire, capitalist economy, in 2008. Hard to tell.

        So, enjoy your taxes, your awesome military, and the government taking care of you for about 10 years before you die, while you fork over multiple houses worth of your life’s income to feed the beast. Rich politicians appreciate your support.

  9. What we have is an inability to manage scarce resources and an unwillingness to acknowledge that there aren’t enough health care services to go around.

    You can bleat that health care is a right as long as you want. That won’t magically cause more doctors and MRI machines to pop into existence.

    1. Of course, high-demand goods and services that are largely unregulated never have the insane pricing or other hallmarks of massive government intervention. In fact, they seem to move the other direction.

      But of course, it’s the free market’s fault that healthcare, education, etc. are a mess.

      1. Of course, high-demand goods and services that are largely unregulated never have the insane pricing or other hallmarks of massive government intervention.

        Really? Have you see what they charge for the Girlfriend Experience nowadays?

        1. *seen

          1. Except that prostitution is highly regulated, in that the government effectively prohibits anyone except willing criminals from running prostitution businesses. Hence, the black market premium.

        2. Probably still less than what you’d pay for the Wife Experience followed by the Divorce Experience.

          1. There’s a Wife Experience? Is that just getting to sleep next to the hooker?

            1. Yes, that and an endless stream of torment.

      2. Look at what it costs to buy an airplane versus a car. Small planes are lighter, have less powerful engines, and are less complex than your average minivan, but a new single engine airplane will run you at least five to six times the cost of a new car. And even cars are overly regulated, but at least they don’t have special graded components that cost more in paperwork than in manufacturing cost.

        1. they don’t have special graded components that cost more in paperwork than in manufacturing cost

          You just described my entire industry. Of course, the last company that had a major compenent fail ended up giving 20 billion to the feds, so we have some reason to be paranoid.

        2. This has less to do with regulation (though that is a factor) and more with spreading the engineering costs across a smaller number of customers.

          I think the highest selling Cessna sold only like 35,000 units.

      3. Have you even been to a grocery store? I go often, not because I need to buy my own groceries, but I enjoy stepping over the dead bodies of peasants too poor to afford their food outside the doors.

        1. And most of them are so fat it’s like runnning hurdles.

        2. don’t you have child labor to do that for you?

          1. The child labor is lifting my legs for me.

    2. Seems to me that there are plenty of health care services to go around. Or there would be, if it weren’t for the artificial restrictions on supply put in place by people just like Obama.

    3. The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it.
      The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.
      –Thomas Sowell

  10. We are so fucked. Short of an actual economic miracle, I can’t see the next decade being anything other than a complete slump.

    1. That’s what they’re expecting, you know? I mean – they think ol’ dumbass Atlas is going to pull their damned fat out of the fire again with another technology revolution of some kind to provide more abundant goods and services. Think “green energy” for example.

      I remember back in the 70’s what the irresponsible spenders’ solution to inflation and government spending was: “Increase production.”

      1. Tractor production is up 500% this year, Comrades! Is time for celebration!

  11. We don’t need to default. We’ll just pay off the debt with brightly colored beads and wool blankets. Just watch out for that extra special “New Blanket Smell!”.

    1. Just default without actually saying it. Or just pay it off with Ceres, the asteroid.

      1. We don’t have to pay it off, we can pay if forward!

        1. You’re right, we might want Ceres later. Instead, we’ll pay it off with a large asteroid located somewhere in the Sombrero Galaxy.

          1. And a meteor to be named later…

            1. Call it Obama’s Hamma?

              1. Jerry Pournelle, call your office!

  12. So, the teleprompter-in-chief has gone full retard. I guess edging out Plastic Man for the second term has amplified his conceit.


    1. not conceit, ideology. I have no trouble believing that Obama genuinely does not see spending as a problem. This is the same man who promised fundamental transformation. When the thing to be changed is the world’s wealthiest nation and largest economy, how can change be good? But pointing that out was racist or an example of being too obtuse to recognize the intellectual grandeur that is TheObama. Or both.

      1. Juan Peron had the same view of the Argentinian economy. And they’ve been fucked ever since.

  13. More proof that liberalism is a mental disease.

  14. Obama supporters shocked, angry at new tax increases

    1. Yes. They thought taxes would only go up on other people. The stupidity (and I refer to many on the right as well) is depressing.

      1. Who was it on here the other day that said “When a politician says he wants to raise everybody else’s taxes, he isn’t talking to you”?

  15. US Federal Expenditures 1789-1989:

    $3.7 trillion.

    US Federal Expenditures 2012(est.):

    $3.7 Trillion

    What spending problem?

    1. And the problem with discussing that is that the TEAM members are more interested in assigning blame than fucking fixing it.

      1. It’s easy. Both TEAMs are responsible for the past, and both are responsible for the present. Thankfully, for blame-assigning, they’re also responsible for the future.

        1. Not so fast, the future is the fault of austerity loving libertarians.

          1. I wouldn’t say I love austerity. I’d just like to see it from my government.

            I have no use for it, personally, as long as my orphan children can mine fast enough to keep me in monocles and top hats.

          2. How about solvency-loving?

      2. neither Team has high ground here. The Reds brought us No Child, Medicare Part D, Homeland Security, and were on board with TARP. The Blues loved all of the above and have simply accelerated the trend.

        For Repubs to claim fiscal religion is laughable given the spending explosion when they had both houses and the Oval. Obama simply raised it a notch.

    2. Are those adjusted for inflation?

    3. I’d love to see a cite and some charts on that. Alongside similar analyses for economic productivity, of course. One should probably expect a significant difference, even “deficit,” between the curves.

  16. Boehner: Federal government programs are wonderful! Keep ’em coming!

    Aide (whispering in his ear): Mr. Boehner, the president is a Democrat now.

    Boehner: We have a huge spending problem!

    1. ^This

  17. Spending 4 times what you earn is pretty much a definition of a “spending problem”

    1. Actually the govt spends infinity times what it earns.

      1. Well, a thief who spends 4 times the pawn value of what he steals might be a better analogy. But it’s still a spending problem.

        1. If you never have any intention of paying it back then it may as well be infinity.

    2. The government does not have a spending problem because it can always print more money to pay the debt.

      There are people who really are this stupid. What’s scary is that many of them are in positions of power. It would be nice if liberals would actually care about the poor and others (as their propaganda hypocritally claims to) who are going to be flattened by the irresponsible behavior of both parties instead of being satisfied with self-righteously dumping on anyone who disagrees with their ideology.

      1. The government doesn’t print the money anymore, anyway. The Federal Reserve does. and when you realize that the Federal Reserve is a NGO, then you have open eyes to see what shit this really is.

        1. The FED is more GSE than NGO.

  18. Democrats: We should spend eleventy three TRILLION dollars and tax people at 40%

    Republicans: You idiots, you monsters! What’s wrong with you? We should spend eleventy TWO trillion dollars and tax people at 38%!

    1. if Shakespeare were alive, he could combine comedy with tragedy.

  19. My current favorite PublicServiceAnnouncement, just substitute spending for gambling. Apparently winning was not the solution for BO.

  20. About four years ago, before he passed away, I ran into LP co-founder David Nolan at a conference. During our brief chat, he told me that the situation is hopeless and to save myself and my family. Best advice I’ve ever gotten.

    1. How do you plan to save yourself? Emigrate to Mars?

      1. Turns out crazyfingers is Musk.

      2. By becoming as self-reliant as possible. Trading in dollars for precious metals, food storage, weapons, solar panels, water purifiers, etc. while they’re still worth something.

      3. A well-concealed underground bunker. People can stack all the guns and bullets they want, but the real trick to surviving a SHTF scenario (in addition to water, food, hygiene) is simply not being anywhere to be found when it happens.

        1. OK, but that requires massively screwing up your current life based on a small probability of violent anarchy being the problem. To me it seems that creeping fascism is more likely to be the downfall…and that’s mighty hard to prep for.

          1. Probably the best solution is to just join up.

          2. Small probability? DHS doesn’t think so, and they mean to make the violent anarchy happen.

            What’s happening in Greece and Spain right now is a taste, just a taste of what’s coming here when the $ loses (what’s left of) its reserve currency status.

      4. By keeping my sexy ass in tight shape, and being willing to sell it at the slightest hint of trouble. Takes less effort than prepping.

  21. If you really want to be surprised, break that chart into three pieces. Show the percentage increase from 2001-2005, 2005-2009, and 2009-2013. Then decide which party you want to point the finger at.

    1. both…neither has claim to high ground. There may be a difference in the areas either party spends more on, but the common denominator is that they both spend more.

    2. No surprise. Reason has written plenty of articles on Dubya’s and the Republican’s eye-watering budgets.

      1. It isn’t like the GOP passed these bills over the shrill protestations of the American public.

        In 2000, the debates were around, “Which plan, Bush or Gore’s, will better provide funding to America’s schools?”

        I remember sitting and watching those debates, and wondering whatever happened to disbanding the Dept of Ed.

        The fact is, we were flush with cash in 2000, and 85% of the country felt we should spend more on America’s schools, or Medicare Part Deux. This isn’t a problem with the parties. It is a problem with the american public.

    3. Turns out I have two of each finger.

  22. What we have is a Godamobama problem.

    1. No, it’s a Team BERULED problem. The result of putting 546 people in charge of 311 million.

      1. Not sure I trust the 311 million any more than the 546.

        1. I’d trust a 1:1 mapping of rulers to ruled more.

  23. Then decide which party you want to point the finger at.

    Ooh, zinger.

  24. 52% of Americans apparently agree with the President. Their is a word to describe such delusion: Doomed.

  25. Barack Obama: ‘We don’t have a spending problem’

    “We’re here because we love you, and to let you know, you have our support. The path to recovery is to first recognize that you have a problem.”

    [T]he president became irritated and said: “I’m getting tired of hearing you say that.”

    “I don’t have a problem! YOU have a problem, but not me! I can manage it, I can! Really!!”

    Next on “Intervention”, on A&E…

  26. “We have a spending problem” means nothing more than “I won’t countenance any more tax increases.” They never, ever say what they want to cut (because they’re all very popular programs), or else they refuse to cut the other huge expense, defense, even though it’s the most bloated government program of all.

    1. Fuck off, Sockpuppet.

      1. Bringing the derp even harder than in past – maybe it has moved from sockpuppet to derppuppet?

    2. Re: Tony,

      “We have a spending problem” means nothing more than “I won’t countenance any more tax increases.”

      That’s exactly what it means, because the problem is spending, not revenue.

      They never, ever say what they want to cut

      The Dems don’t want anything to be cut except the military and the Repubs don’t want anything to be cut except for nothing.

      THAT does not mean that this country does not have a spending problem. What it has just as big is a politician problem, just like a house has a roach problem.

      1. That we have a spending, rather than a revenue, problem is a matter of opinion, but only just. We actually do by all reasonable measures have a revenue problem, considering the single biggest policy choice that led to our large deficits was the Bush tax cuts. To say we only have a spending problem is to say you want to do away with a bunch of government programs and are using the deficit as the excuse. Tolerating no revenues is a dishonest means of getting your way with respect to your preferred shape of government. I just feel we should pay for the things we buy. If we want to cut, we should cut programs first then the revenue streams that pay for them. The other way around is antidemocratic and anticonstitutional trickery.

        I’d rather you not call politicians roaches. Such language is a little too genocide-esque.

        1. “the single biggest policy choice that led to our large deficits was the Bush tax cuts”

          Sorry but no.

          Raise taxes back to pre-2001 and you’ll still find yourself with a deficit in excess of 800B.

          In the real world, it really is the spending stupid.

        2. I’d rather you not call politicians roaches. Such language is a little too genocide-esque.

          For someone who frequently insults as many people as possible, I had no idea you were such a gentle flower.

        3. Tony said:

          If we want to cut, we should cut programs first then the revenue streams that pay for them.

          OK, so that would require cutting programs, i.e. spending, as opposed to increasing taxes somewhat, and then pushing cuts in spending into the distant future, otherwise known as never.

          Glad we’re in agreement, then.

        4. CBO estimates Bush Tax Cuts “cost” us 800 Billion over 10 years.

          80 Billion per year as compared to the 1.6 Trillion dollar ANNUAL deficit…

          What specific level of taxation do you imagine would ever successfully make up the difference of 92% of over-spending?

    3. This is where Tony walks into his living room and finds an interventionist and his concerned family sitting on his couch, imploring “We just want to help” and “We couldn’t deny your progressive spending addictions any longer”.

      1. I don’t have a spending problem. I have a crazy, dishonest, dogmatic family problem. Now, give me 50 bucks.

    4. The “manditory” Defense BUDGET is less than 10 Billion.

      On the other hand discretionary Defense Spending is over 700 Billion.

      Now, I’m sure you’re aware that the discretionary budget is requested (negotiated with Congress) and spent by the President?

      Might be you want to see to that case of cranial rectal inversion you got going on there.

  27. Doesn’t the Federal Reserve buy about 80%+ of all treasuries anyway? Who holds the rest? Likely it’s not Ma and Pa Kettle; it’s institutional holders who are on the take from the Feds guaranteed interest rate holdback scam anyway. Who cares if this scam is exposed and the bonds and bills are revealed to be as worthless as the paper they aren’t printed on.

    So off course they won’t default openly they’ll just steal everyone blind by printing money. That’s been the whole point all along, and that’s why they are going to keep this train rolling as long as they can. The 86% of the real estate market is held by the big three banks.

    This is the result not only of Fannie and Freddie, but also the Federal Reserve going around and destroying banks, handing the assets to the big 3 and sticking the taxpayer with the bad debt by assuming the toxics.

    Printing money has been an ongoing process of surreptitiously removing wealth from the middle class and transferring it to those who shouldn’t have it. Why would they ever want to stop that?

    The only real question is how this ends. Do we get a nice abrupt collapse, or do we get that managed decline where we wake up one day and it’s normal that 90% of the country is impoverished? With 100 million people of working age out of the job market, we need a systemic realignment. Certain vested interests are holding that back with all their might.

    1. The only real question is how this ends. Do we get a nice abrupt collapse, or do we get that managed decline where we wake up one day and it’s normal that 90% of the country is impoverished?

      We get a three-month slide into Zimbabwe-land, which hastens rapidly on the final weeks as everyone on the planet dumps the dollar period and any business that can regroup out of the US, does. The federal government then fades into irrelevance while the states snatch from it whatever they can for themselves and dump the dollar for their own new currencies. Some states do nicely, others are mired for almost decades in civil unrest and poverty.

  28. No biggie, jsut print more money lol.

  29. And then we have this:…..employment

    So, all is well in debtville as long as your ass is an empire. This is the shit I’ve been arguing all week and it’s giving me a strong desire to cut my three days off booze to two.

  30. No WE don’t have a spending problem, we have an Obama problem.

    1. Bring back Dubya!

  31. Stack physical gold. Don’t get caught owning paper when the dollar goes down.

  32. For a while I was thinking it would be better to go over the cliff. Now I’m convinced.

  33. I invite everyone at Reason Magazine along with all its readers to learn more about how our monetary system actually works. It’s important to grasp the basics of our modern fiat monetary system, where the U.S. is an autonomous issuer of its own currency, existing within a freely floating exchange rate system. Solvency is not the constraint, inflation is the constraint. The debt ceiling is an outdated relic from before 1971, when we were still on the gold standard. I highly recommend reading Cullen Roche’s “Understanding the Modern Monetary System”. You can find the link to this on

    Having said all that, Libertarians (it seems to me) should be more concerned about what the federal government spends money on than how much money is being spent and borrowed. When certain government agencies (with their bloated budgets) consistently intrude on our freedoms, liberties, and produce all sorts of bad unintended consequences — then killing those programs and their budgets is worth discussing. If we could strip back the federal government to its essential functions (and I’m including Social Security), then we could have major tax cuts for all. In the mean time, we cannot run out of money — unless Congress decides to let checks bounce.

    1. Thanks for making this important point that often completely eludes these conversations.

      Here’s a time when libertarians and inside-the-beltway nonsense are in complete alignment. “We’re broke” is not an actual crisis. It’s an invented one, meant to serve as the excuse for cutting programs.

    2. “We cannot run out of money (i.e., we can print money)” != “Debt is illusory for the government, and they can arbitrarily spend as much as they want, with no consequences”.

      Either that, or you need to tell every credit rating agency in the world and tell them to always make exceptions for the analysis of the sovereign debt for nations that issue their own currency, in which case, there’s no need to consider it, apparently.

      You’re right, though: banana republics never technically “run out of money”. They always just destroy their currency, and everyone’s wealth with it. That’s definitely an inflation problem.

      It just illustrates that, when the fed controls the money supply, having a certain amount of money isn’t the same as having a certain amount of inherent value or actual wealth. It all depends on perception and government manipulation.

      However, don’t let me dissuade you and Tony from engaging in the magical thinking exercise and believing that being able to print money = having an unlimited supply of wealth. Feel free to disregard history.

  34. If you look at growth since 2009, the numbers are quite different. Federal spending went down 1.7 percent in 2010 and has returned slightly above 2009 by today. As a percent of GDP it has steadily decreased.

    So, yet again, an article in Reason appears to use strange facts about Bush to attack Obama. The fact is that the trends since Obama took office are exactly what is being asked for, and data from Bush’s disastrous fiscal policy are being used to hide the fact that spending growth is currently not what is being implied.

    1. So he doesn’t have to spend any less than Bush, no matter how out of control the Bush spending was? Who makes these rules? Is there a book? Fact is, Obama signed tarp 2 and the stimulus which have become our new baseline for spending. He owns this new reality. And even if he didn’t, why the resistance to him fixing it?

  35. We don’t have a spending problem? We do have a leadership problem, a Constitutional problem, a moral and ethical problem, a credibility problem, a failure to communicate problem, and a weird narcissistic, pathology problem, among those that come to mind.

  36. It’s because Democrats are in denial about the true cost of their (yes) ideological commitments.

    And the Republicans aren’t in denial about defense spending?

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