Government Spending

More Spending Denialism From the Best and Brightest


Protip: Hashtag #slatepitch! Co-sign! Also, Republicans are irrational, unserious, and epistemically closed. Yay team!

Earlier this week I noted President Barack Obama's reported quote (as relayed by House Speaker John Boehner) that "we don't have a spending problem," and pointed out that even if the words weren't verbatim the sentiment is widespread on the left, from the likes of Steve Benen, Jonathan Chait, Kevin Drum, and Robert Reich.

Since then, other commentators have come out of the woodwork with variations on the spending-denialism theme. A quickie roundup:

Ezra Klein, Washington Post:

We don't have a spending problem, we have a military spending problem.

Jamelle Bouie, The American Prospect:

We don't have a spending problem. But we will have lots of old people in the future.

Michael Cohen, The Guardian:

For decades, Republicans and more than a few Democrats have peddled this nonsense in calling for the government to trim its fiscal profligacy. 

Let's see, $1.77 trillion in fiscal year 2000; $3.72 trillion in fiscal 2010. Nope, no spending problem there!

Less sarcastically, I will say this to my Democratic friends: When entitlements chew up an ever-larger piece of the pie (a bit more than one-third of federal outlays now; an estimated one-half by 2030), then it can sure feel like the government is spending less money. And yes, the bulk of that 2000-2010 run-up was done under Republican watch. Neither change the–what did that guy call it again?–the arithmetic of the bottom line.

We are spending a helluva lot more money now than a decade ago, and we will be spending a helluva lot more money than that a decade from now, while never coming close to paying the bill with current taxes. No wonder so many people would rather talk about trillion-dollar fantasy coins.

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  1. Let’s see, $1.77 trillion in fiscal year 2000; $3.72 trillion in fiscal 2010. Nope, no spending problem there!

    It’s not a spending problem if you really, really need to spend it. And if it’s popular. Popular and necessary = not problematic. Math.

    1. They’re spending denialists, just like those creationist kooks.

    2. At least the Democrats admit that they don’t want to cut spending.

  2. Here’s another one.

    WARNING: Above link may induce vomiting.

    1. One family, the Walton family of Wal-Mart, owns more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of Americans.

      Yet Walmart has done more to help poor people than the federal govt ever has.

      1. So what? How well do they think our economy would do if we simply redistributed all of that wealth? Have the failures of communism not sunk in yet? People need incentives to perform, in most cases, and redistribution is never fair or free of politics, anyway.

        1. Have the failures of communism not sunk in yet?

          That’s the worst part of all. Despite millions dead at the hands of failed socialist policies, people make excuses for it still. It wasn’t “socialisms fault” it was the “bad leaders/people/business environment” etc.

          It’s never the fact that it’s a terribly flawed foundation.

          1. Communism?!! I’m no commie!! I just think that everybody should have roughly the same amount of money, regardless of what they do for a living or how successful they are. Communism! How dare you!


            1. In the end, they want a small pie, distributed to people based on political pull. No more, no less.

              Me, I want a gigantic pie that’s divided up via the free market. Yeah, some people may get giant pieces, but if the government doesn’t tip the scales in their favor (better yet, doesn’t have the power to do so), I think it’ll all work out just fine.

              1. A true free market doesn’t just divide up a pie: It constantly enlarges it.

            2. Fatty, that was a perfect impression.


          2. Don’t even waste your breath trying to explain the “no true Scotsman” fallacy to the true believers.

      2. Do they really?

        I mean there is no question they do if you assume that all of their assets are actually worth what they are currently valued at, however given that we know the net worth of the US is negative (Sum all assets public and private minus all debts public and private is less than $0) and net consumption currently exceeds net production it means that there are a significant number of assets that are overvalued, we just don’t know which ones and by how much yet.

    2. That hurt me deep in my soul, man.

  3. Heidi Montag and Warren Sapps were probably thinking the same thing before they went bankrupt.

  4. Oh and btw, once the money runs out and President Not My Fault cashes in the rest of his platinum coins, we will begin our inevitable slide in to a bigger uglier version of Europe.

    Here’s what the EU looks like now-

    20 Facts About The Collapse Of Europe That Everyone Should Know…..hould-know

    The following are 20 facts about the collapse of Europe that everyone should know…

    #1 10 Months: Manufacturing activity in both France and Germany has contracted for 10 months in a row.

    #2 11.8 Percent: The unemployment rate in the eurozone has now risen to 11.8 percent ? a brand new all-time high.

    #3 17 Months: In November, Italy experienced the sharpest decline in retail sales that it had experienced in 17 months.

    #4 20 Months: Manufacturing activity in Spain has contracted for 20 months in a row.

    #5 20 Percent: It is estimated that bad loans now make up approximately 20 percent of all domestic loans in the Greek banking system at this point.

    The rest are at the link above.

    Did you know that two people set themselves on fire in Spain last week to protest the economic woes of the poor?

    Can’t wait to see how Cali looks when this comes to our side of the pond.

    1. Just as long as the poor don’t set themselves on fire on my Cali lawn.

      1. That would be one way to bring down the unemployment rate though.

    2. Dammit, austerity! How DARE you make Greek banks have so many bad loans, austerity? And now you’re making people light themselves on fire? Is there no end to your cruelty?

  5. They should put Obama’s portrait on the trillion dollar coin. It would be fitting, since in 10 years we’ll need a bucket of these trilly dollar coins to buy a loaf of bread.

    1. IIRC it’s illegal to put living presidents (and I think living anyone) on coins, bills, or stamps. Not that that would necessarily stop him.

      1. living mortals, yes. Not living icons.

      2. We could put his silly Change logo on the coin instead, since in ten years you’ll be gettings those 1T coins as change.

  6. We don’t have a spending problem

    The marching orders have been given, so the robot sheep will regurgitate them verbatim from now on.

    1. It’s like peak retard. You always think the last set of talking points were the stupidest…until the next set.

      1. For me the most ridiculous part is not the stupidity, but the way in which they say virtually the exact same thing, all of them, with no sense of awareness. It’s so completely obvious that they’re just repeating the exact same talking point that they’ve been fed, but they seem to either not realize they all sound identical, or they just don’t care. Considering how stupid they are, I figure it’s much more the former.

        1. Hmm, I thought they wanted to all sound the same. That way all the “reasonable people” are saying the same thing, and voil?, consensus! How can you argue with consensus among reasonable people?

          1. Seeing how both Teams do the same thing when it’s time to get a message out, I’d be inclined to agree with the consensus angle.

            1. I hate to stick up for TEAM RED, but the Republicans are nowhere as near monolithic as the Democrats. The GOP actually has ideological factions, whereas all the Democrat factions are all pretty much the same ideology. I can point you to thousands of non-interventionist Republicans, thousands of no-bailouts Republicans, thousands of pro-gay-marriage Republicans, but I dare you to show me one Democrat who’s against universal/singlepayer healthcare, one Democrat who’s against spending increases, etc. I dare you.

              p.s. Oh sure, some blacks didn’t like gay marriage a few years ago, but as Tony told us yesterday, they’re all back on the bandwagon singing Kumbaya with the evolving president.

              1. That’s not really true. Minorities who vote Democrat are far more likely to be socially conservative than the rich, white liberals that run the party. Also, 40% of gun owners vote Democrat, whereas if you listen to the liberals in the media, guns are a scourge that only those evil right wing Rethuglican NRA members could possible be in favor of.

                I think that it just appears that there are no factions within the Democratic party because the Dems who go into the media are the farthest left wing faction of the party. The gun owning, socially conservative Democrats are by and large lower income, and are therefore less likely to have a real voice in the party. They’re just less noticeable than the libertarian wing of the Republican Party.

          2. Yeah, I hear you, but their utter tone-deafness in not realizing that it sounds not like consensus but rather them all reading from a script is amazing. But that’s my point: they think they’re doing one thing, and to everyone else not on their TEAM their regurgitation is fucking blindingly obvious.

            1. it sounds not like consensus but rather them all reading from a script is amazing

              It’s all just part of the herd mentality.

          3. Consensus like the one among the Nazis to slaughter Jews and other “undesirables?”

            1. You know who else had a consensus?

              1. The American Dental Association?

                1. THAT WAS ONLY 4 OUT OF 5 DUMBASS

                  1. Only for patients who chew gum.

                  2. They have a new commercial out saying that the ADA has reached a consensus that all children should have their first scheduled dentist appointment by age one.

                    Sorry, it’s the MA Dental Society. But have a look.

                    1. I don’t listen to Masshole dentists. Or Massholes at all. LIKE YOU.

          4. JournoList FTW!!! Home of Reason’s (formerly) own Dave Weigel!

            I for one find it absolutely delightful to think back to when Weigel insisted he was a libertarian. Precious!

      2. So, it’s not like peak retard, but the retard level just keeps increasing.

        1. I mean “because” not “but”

        2. Yeah, sorry, my comment assumed a disbelief in the possibility of peak retard.

          1. Peak retard will never be reached because perfection is unattainable.

            1. “Treatise on the mathematical proof of peak retard, by Sparky”

              1. You’re not just a regular moron. You’re the product of the greatest minds of a generation working together with the express purpose of building the dumbest moron who ever lived.

                1. “Oh, yeah, they say madness runs in our family. Some even call me mad. And why? Because I dared to dream of my own race of atomic idiots, atomic supermorons with octagonal shaped bodies that suck intelligence…”

                  1. “Don’t mock me my friend. It’s a condition of mental divergence. I find myself on the planet Ogo, part of an intellectual elite, preparing to subjugate the barbarian hordes on Pluto. But even though this is a totally convincing reality for me in every way, nevertheless Ogo is actually a construct of my psyche. I am mentally divergent, in that I am escaping certain unnamed realities that plague my life here. When I stop going there, I will be well. Are you also divergent, friend? “

      3. I think it goes to singularity, not a peak. Peak implies that there is a downslope on the other side.

    2. The chocolate ration has been increased!

  7. I say this to my Democratic friends: you’re not my friends, and fuck you, cut spending.

  8. Say, that’s not $1T on the coin. It’s $1 raised to the Tth power. Which means it’s really still just one dollar, right? Hey, what are they trying to pull here?

  9. Well, trillion dollar coins will at least have some value, since they’re made of platinum. Admittedly, this might mean that inflation will continue until each trillion dollar coin will only be worth what people would exchange for that weight in platinum. Can’t you just see buying donuts for $100 million?

  10. can someone name one country in the history of this shabby little world that spent money on such a grand scale, but yet survived many years afterward, turning prosperous?

    1. Hey, man! You can’t cut your way to prosperity! Look at what austerity did to Europe!

    2. Just because it hasn’t happened before doesn’t mean it can’t happen. The good ole USofA is gonna be the first. USA! USA! USA!

    3. Without invading and stealing it from other countries? Because that’s the deadly secret solution to our ills.

      1. Oh, Canada…

        1. Exactly. Most of the population is with 100 miles of the U.S. border. Oops, just realized that you’re all actually in the U.S. No, really, you can see it on Google Maps.

    4. I don’t know. It is really hard to draw direct comparisons given how radically different the structures of the economies were and the difficulty in seperating what was spending by “the country” and spending by “the rich” but there were probably periods during the Crusades where England at least came pretty close

  11. If the $1 trillion coin is such a good idea, why not mint 17 of them and pay off the debt? Why not 100 of them and pay for everything on the progressive wish list, too?

    As for entitlement being “a bit more than one-third of federal outlays now”: I thought SS, Medicare, and Medicaid alone were already about 43% of spending.

    1. Why stop at $17 trillion? Why not go to infinity?

      1. And beyond!

        1. Good point. If one infinity is good for the U.S. economy, two would be infinitely better!

    2. Except the $1 trillion coin is NOT a good idea! It’s a stupid suggestion put forth by ignorant money cranks that the media is paying far too much attention to.

      Just because some toothless yokels click on a petition doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. Get real.

      1. Whooosh!

  12. ‘We don’t have a spending problem, we have a military spending problem’ -Ezra Klein.

    Two questions:

    1. Ezra Klein is convinced that increased spending results in stimulus. If spending results in stimulus, then why does Ezra have a problem with military spending? Krugman has similarly criticized military spending in the past. Isn’t increased military spending just another type of stimulus, so why should they be in favor of cutting it?

    2. Our military spending has increased about 200 billion dollars in the last ten years. That’s a shit load, and it should be cut back. But our overall spending has increased almost two TRILLION. Military spending accounts for one tenth of the increase, so what in the hell is Ezra Klein talking about?

    1. Answers:

      1.) Because shut up.

      2.) Lefty Math is the new Math. You wouldn’t understand it. Also, shut up.

    2. Liberals, for all their talk of being modern, are often stuck in the past. They heard that military spending was a huge chunk of spending back in the ’50s and ’60s, and think it’s still true. They heard nice things about Scandinavian welfare states in the ’70s, and think we should be like that now, despite what’s happened in Scandinavia since then. Etc.

      1. It still is ‘a huge chunk’ of spending. It’s just that it’s the third largest huge chunk.

        1. Not really.

          In the 1960’s military spending frequently approached and may have exceeded 10% of GDP. Today it is less than 6% of GDP

          I agree that is still WAY too high (by at least a factor of 3) but in historical terms our military spending is quite low.

    3. Of course, the funny thing is, that military spending tends to have a higher multiplier than domestic spending.

      Still less than 1, but higher.

    4. Klein is right, in part, in that we do have a military spending problem. But it is only like 1/3 of the total spending problem.

    5. A lot of military spending winds up overseas.

    6. 1. Military spending pays a bunch of people who vote Red and they must be stopped no matter what.

      2. See 1.

  13. I don’t like Republicans, but I really fucking hate Democrats.

    1. That’s called the South Park Stance.

  14. Here’s another gem of stupidy I read recently courtesy of syndicated columnist Froma Harp:

    “Programs are sustainable if you sustain them”

  15. Just as long as they put Charles Ponzi on it.

  16. For decades, Republicans and more than a few Democrats have peddled this nonsense in calling for the government to trim its fiscal profligacy.

    profligacy: reckless and extravagant spending or behavior

    Really, people…

    1. I saw that quote and did a WTF…
      Let’s see if I get the logic.
      ‘We don’t have a spending problem, we have a reckless spending problem and it’s not a problem’

  17. The Treasury should cheerfully accept platinum coins fifty feet in diameter and five feet thick at their Terabuck face value.

    The only problem is minting the damn things and rolling them down the street to the Fed.

  18. very super blogos thanks admin sohbet & sohbet odalar?

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