Government Spending

Joe Manchin Isn't the Fiscal Conservative We Need, but He's the Best We've Got

"Spending trillions more on new and expanded government programs, when we can't even pay for the essential social programs...is the definition of fiscal insanity."

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Back in 2005, I wrote that when it comes to spending, "Congressional Republicans Make French Socialists Look Like Ronald Reagan." Looking back now, from the perspective of fiscal prudence, those were the good old days. Yet, as irresponsible as Republicans have been with our finances since then, today's Democrats seem committed to making the spendaholic GOP look like Uncle Scrooge.

Let's recap: The worst of the COVID-19 emergency is hopefully behind us, meaning the country should focus on recovery, fully reopening the economy, and returning to work. Government should focus on scaling back emergency programs and reducing the deficit. It's not just the prudent thing to do, it's also what Americans want. According to a recent Pew Research Center poll, 72 percent of Americans view the federal budget deficit as a "very big" or "moderately big" problem. This concern is more pronounced than that surrounding any issues politicians are focusing on these days, including illegal immigration and crime.

They're wiser than most politicians. After spending almost $6 trillion on pandemic-related programs, the deficit is up to $3 trillion from $984 billion in January 2020 (an alarming figure in itself), and our long-term fiscal prospects are looking red. While a fiscal crisis may be a while off, the economic crowding out and distortions produced by high spending and low growth are already upon us.

However, the Democrats controlling the House, Senate, and White House ignore these facts and are pushing through more spending—trying to make many temporary COVID-19 measures permanent programs while expanding existing and already unsustainable programs.

Weary of the trend, Republicans are presenting a somewhat united front in opposition to the measures. But they're now joined by a few Democrats in both the House and the Senate. Sen. Joe Manchin (D–W.Va.) for instance, announced he wouldn't support the $3.5 trillion tax and spending legislation pushed through the reconciliation process. He also noted that he wouldn't vote for a reconciliation bill that's more than $1.5 trillion. That number would increase this fiscal year's spending to a whopping $5 trillion.

We should all be grateful to those resisting the entitlement explosion. While beneficiaries of those programs (including federal paid leave, universal pre-K, and expanded child tax credits) may like the upfront benefits they will get, studies have shown that these measures can backfire and hurt those they're trying to help. For instance, European governmental paid leave programs have resulted in outcomes that include lower pay, fewer promotions, and lower employment for beneficiaries.

The progressive members of the Democratic Party disagree. Hence, the political pressure they're putting on the opposition by refusing to vote on a separate $1 trillion infrastructure bill negotiated with Republicans by Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D–Ariz.) until they have an agreement on passage of the $3.5 trillion one. Never mind that as The Wall Street Journal rightfully noted the legislation is a "once-in-a-century bipartisan infrastructure bill" and is supposedly a priority on both sides of the aisle.

And if that blackmail doesn't work, they want to trick them into accepting the entitlement expansion by using some budget gimmicks meant to create the illusion of a reduced cost. For instance, speaking on CBS' "Face the Nation," New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D–N.Y.) noted that "Washington math is notoriously funny…one of the ideas that is out there is fully fund what we can fully fund, but maybe instead of doing it for 10 years, you fully fund it for five years."

Progressives are lashing out at the ignominy that some members of Congress are still allowed to disagree with them and that a radical transformation of American welfare spending isn't easier. But Manchin's $1.5 trillion compromise is enormous. Also, as the Manhattan Institute's Brian Riedl reminds us, it's not as if Manchin isn't himself a big-government guy. Riedl writes in the New York Post, "Manchin already voted for the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill in March, and helped craft the $550 billion infrastructure bill that passed the Senate. He also voted for a budget resolution that increases the discretionary spending baseline by $1 trillion over the decade."

Democrat-driven opposition to this spending expansion should give everyone pause, rather than incite the fury it has unleashed. At the very least, Democrats should take some time to answer Manchin's valid point that "spending trillions more on new and expanded government programs, when we can't even pay for the essential social programs, like Social Security and Medicare, is the definition of fiscal insanity." Indeed, we're definitely not in 2005 anymore.

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  1. He’s already increased the amount he’d support voting for up to 2.2T. So, no, he’s not a fiscal conservative.

    1. Yeah, he’ll cave.

    2. fiscal conservative.

      There are none. Tom Coburn was the last one in Congress.

      1. Who is Thomas Massie, chopped liver?

        1. Good one.

          House people don’t get the press.

          AOC excepted.

          1. Fuck off and die, lying piece of shit.

        2. Let’s actually tax rich people for once in two generations, cut the military and police state funding and then after a decade of doing this we can decide if we still need to cut spending on social programs.

          1. Tax revenues have gone up every year. Spending increases have far outpaced the tax revenue increases. Mostly from the 800 billion dollar “one time” TARP hit Bush agreed to, and Obama made the new baseline, and from the 2 trillion dollar “one time” COVID/lockdown recovery cash Trump agreed to, and Biden made the new baseline (jumping from 4 trillion in spending to 6). Then even 6 trillion was not enough, hence another 2.1 trillion in COVID/lockdown stimulus, 1.2 trillion in “infrastructure” and another 3.5 trillion (or maybe “only” 2.2 trillion) in climate/family/progress reconstitutionalization spending.

          2. The rich are paying a higher share of federal taxes than at any point in history currently dummy.

            Why are liberals so ignorant about taxes?

            1. Is it a fair share?

              Yeah… Didn’t think so.

              They should pay more. The rich should pay their fair share, which is always more so long as they remain rich.

              QED, m-f’er. QED.

          3. Fuck off and die, lying piece of shit.

    3. There’s 40 conservatives voting no to anything. 10 others at 1.6 infrastructure. But reason thinks it is better to support Manchin who is 1.6 plus 2.2.

      1. They aren’t supporting him. The article title even says ‘not the one we need.’ If you actually READ the article, you’ll notice reason isn’t saying to support him at all. They say that he’s a big government guy, supported those spending plans that you so aptly named, but if even THIS guy stops to take inventory, democrats should really stop and think a second. So, you go right on commenting on ‘headlines’ only and complaining about the decline of reason. this article is both informative, and spot on the money with the analysis

        1. Isn’t the Fiscal Conservative We Need, but He’s the Best We’ve Got

          Highlighted the part for you. Do you wish to try again?

          Is is not better than 50 other members of the Senate. Full stop.

          1. They don’t count. They have an (R) after their name.

            1. It’s a stupid headline. The correction: he’s the deciding vote, so he’s as fiscally conservative as we’re going to get.

    4. He’s never been a fiscal conservative, he’s just the 50th least fiscally ‘liberal’ Senator. If there’s any Senator who could genuinely be considered fiscally conservative, they’re probably a marginalized Republican facing a Senate that’s united against them.

      1. It’s like saying someone is ‘less psychopathic than Ted Bundy’. Which doesn’t t mean much.

  2. Actually Manchin would make a decent POTUS graded on elected Washington DC standards.

    Worst possible = Bernie Sanders then McDonald J Trump.
    Bad = Joe Biden
    Decent but not good = Joe Manchin, Mitt Romney, Jon Tester
    Good = Justin Amash

    1. What makes Trump so bad as to put him in Sanders’s category?

      1. Really? I think Trump’s blather and incompetence would land us all in a war with China, or even a civil war, in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. Plus all that anti-immigration BS. Certainly on economic grounds he’s not as bad as Sanders, but, on ‘we would be screwed-ness’ maybe he is. Especially now after he’s managed to polarize even more people with his “stop the steal” straw grasping and this ‘show me your loyalty’ crap.

        1. Ahh, you’re from the school of thought that Trump caused multiple World Wars

        2. Really? I think Trump’s blather and incompetence would land us all in a war with China, or even a civil war, in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.

          LOL

        3. An OBL Kenobi Padawan. Keep studying.

        4. Would? You didn’t notice he was president?

          All the to-do about polarizing people (which he didn’t accomplish alone), so what? How does it affect me? How does it affect, you know, actual Americans trying to do their business and have a good time?

    2. Yeah Biden is doing such a good job. You mean Biden from 10 years ago would be bad. The current is just a puppet. Romney is also horrible.

    3. Some advice: it’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.

      1. It is a requirement of being an Open Society member to prove oneself stupid.

    4. “Worst possible = Bernie Sanders then McDonald J Trump.”
      Fuck off and die, lying pile of shit.

  3. Part of that treatment disparity can be attributed to ideological tilt, but don’t sleep on the sheer unbeatableness of the 45th president’s compulsive dishonesty. “A good rule of thumb with Trump,” Jacob Sullum wrote one year ago, “is that the truth is exactly the opposite of whatever he says….Trump’s utter disdain for the truth, combined with his mercurial nature and complete lack of principles, makes it impossible to have a rational conversation with him.”

    Thanks, Welch and Sullum. Had not read that until today.

    1. But the point is, you didn’t need a rational conversation with Trump, because he was mostly on your side.

      1. Seems like it was entirely possible to have a rational discussion with Trump. He would say something outlandish and ridiculous, or propose something completely crazy, and then… Not do it. Afghanistan is an example. He drafted an order to withdraw by January, out of spite and anger I’m sure. Then Milley and the generals talked him out of it and the order was rescinded. Seems like someone who’s completely capable of listening to reason, even if it pisses him off.

        1. Look, that crazy SOB refused to bomb Iran, even after they attacked some other country’s oil infrastructure. Not attacking them almost started world war III. Then he retaliated for attacks on our troops by killing the terrorist leader responsible along with his Iranian general controller as they were meeting in Iraq…. Almost starting World War III.

    2. I think we can definitely do “both sides” on the truth and principles argument. Not sure how that’s a plus for Biden.

      1. Well, history (in this case, about a year) has proven Trump was telling the truth on numerous issues… issues that the press declared him lying on.

  4. Isn’t this exactly what you wanted? It’s so weird to see Reason Editors complaining about exactly the situation they gleefully envisaged just a few months ago.

    1. This is their schtick, endorse Democrats and all they demand, feign outrage when reality comes calling. I’d prefer the honest propagandists to these lying shitwheasels.

  5. The best way to drive a wedge into the heart of the Democrat coalition was to give them a razor thin majority.

    1. I think Pelosi is going to block so many bills that she won’t be SOTH for much longer. She’s trying to block the more radical progressive wing, but is just going to alienate everyone everyone else but them.

      1. Pelosi has caved to the Progressive wing though. She should have brought the infrastructure bill to a vote, as she promised to do. Let the Proglodytes explain to their constituents why they failed to deliver the 1.2 trillion in infrastructure and failed to deliver the 3.5 trillion in rainbows and unicorns as well.

        1. Yep we’re way past the ‘deadline’.

  6. If Joe Manchin represents the height of fiscal responsibility by refusing to vote for bills that expand spending by trillions yet will willingly vote for bills expanding spending by a mere 1,5 trillion (without apparently any reservations about what exactly the expanded funding is going to be spent on so long as it not literally trillions) then the answer to this conundrum is obvious – the Democrats simply need to break this 3.5 trillion dollar bill into 6 separate bills of 1.5 trillion each and Manchin will cheerfully vote for them. I suspect there are a handful of Republican Senators that would vote for them as well given that their definition of “conservatism” is doing exactly what the Democrats want except a little bit slower. They won’t vote for a 3.5 trillion dollar bill all at once, but they’re fine with 10 trillion dollars worth of spending as long as you spread out the spending increase a little bit.

    1. Hey, don’t give them any ideas.

      Because that is exactly what they have done to date.

      Trump’s $2.2 trilllion handout – passed and signed
      trump’s part two handout in December 2020 (forgot how much) passed and signed
      Biden’s $1-2 trillion boondoggle (forgot how much again) passed and signed.

      $3.5 trillion – TOO MUCH! BREAK IT INTO 4 PARTS!

      1. Break it apart and compost it.

      2. Fuck off and die, lying pile of shit.

  7. Joe Manchin Isn’t the Fiscal Conservative We Need, but He’s the Best We’ve Got

    The fuck? Talk about positive spin.

    Joe Manchin Isn’t the Fiscal Conservative We Need, but If You Ignore Between A Quarter and Half Of Congress, He’s Not Worse Than What’s Left.

    Joe Manchin Isn’t the Fiscal Conservative We Need, but He’s Better Than A Being Forced To Choose Which Of Your Children To Kill First.

    Even within the analogy; Two-Face Isn’t the Hero We Need, but He’s The Best We’ve Got.

    1. If Trump hadn’t tanked the Georgia Senate election that quarter to half of Congress would matter. But he did so they don’t.

      Which is why Manchin (and Simena) to save us from this bullshit. Or as much of it as possible anyway.

      1. I was just saying “last, best hope” is not the same as “best hope”, but go on leasing your head to Trump for free.

      2. The problem isn’t Trump, it’s Americans. Americans allowed half a century of neo-Marxist indoctrination at their schools and voted themselves one entitlement after another. The majority of Americans thinks that wealth and power are their birthright and that government’s job is to deliver it.

        That’s the problem.

        You are the problem.

        1. Both of y’all are full of shit. I’m not bro-Marxist. Marx is responsible for more human suffering than anyone else in history I think.

          And Trump ain’t in my head. But he did what he did. We’re about to pay the Build it Back Better Bullshit bill for what he did. They’re just arguing about how big the bill is going to be. One more R Senator and none of this would be happening.

          1. I didn’t accuse you of being a Marxist. I accused you of complacency.

            And one more R senator and the US would still be bankrupt. The problem isn’t the current $3.5 trillion bill, it’s the culture, education and belief system of the majority of Americans in 2021: a sense of entitlement , rejection of capitalism, lack of competitiveness, embrace of authoritarianism.

            1. Fixing the problem in front of him is no indication of complacency as to other problems. One more R senator and we’re ~$5t less in the whole than we’re about to be.

              And the only apparent basis to assert his complacency is his willingness to call out Trump’s failures (/sabotages?).

              So, the implicit premise in your accusation is that Trump is The Only Way, which is retarded.

              1. Fixing the problem in front of him is no indication of complacency as to other problems.

                Bloviating on Reason isn’t “fixing” anything.

                And the only apparent basis to assert his complacency

                … is that he is an American of voting age.

                So, the implicit premise in your accusation is that Trump is The Only Way, which is retarded.

                As I was saying “the culture, education and belief system of the majority of Americans in 2021”. Trump didn’t cause that. More than half a century of complacency and greed by the majority of Americans did that.

                1. Voting to obtain any result is a collective action problem. You, presumably, do not think you are complacent with respect to your chosen issue because you are complaining about it. In spite of your first and, presumably, second points in your last post – which amount to a ridiculous definition of complacency, by the way.

                  You could go ahead and admit you went after someone for criticizing Trump. Who is also the problem, in a far more proximate way vis a vis the current proposed ~$5t spending binge than your breathtakingly vague and centuries-in-the-making condemnation of American culture (raised specifically in response to someone criticizing Trump).

                  1. You, presumably, do not think you are complacent with respect to your chosen issue because you are complaining about it.

                    My “chosen issue” is to tell you and anybody who listens that this country is irrevocably f*cked as a country. No politician, no law, no SCOTUS decision, no street protests are going to fix that. The sooner people realize that the better.

                    your breathtakingly vague and centuries-in-the-making condemnation of American culture

                    No, not “centuries in the making”, only about half a century.

                    You could go ahead and admit you went after someone for criticizing Trump.

                    Oh, I did indeed do that. Not because I particularly like Trump, but because “criticizing Trump” is symptomatic of what ails people like you.

                    1. “My “chosen issue” is to tell you and anybody who listens that this country is irrevocably f*cked as a country.”

                      How, and as compared to what? Are you just nihilistic about the prospects for humans properly governing themselves?

                      I’m not usually the purveyor of hope but this is a bit much even for me. I’m here if you want to talk.

                    2. How, and as compared to what?

                      Compared to what it used to be and what it could be. That is, the US used to be one of the freest, most dynamic, most prosperous nations on the planet; it is turning into an undistinguished impoverished, stagnant, corrupt authoritarian social welfare state.

                      Are you just nihilistic about the prospects for humans properly governing themselves?

                      No, I’m just pessimistic about the US. The US had a good run, but Americans decided to piss it all away. Every empire does that sooner or later, though I did expect the US to last a bit longer. Some other nation will pick up the flame of liberty and prosper as a result.

                  2. Voting to obtain any result is a collective action problem.

                    The problem is that you and the majority of Americans believe that voting to obtain any result is a legitimate exercise of power.

          2. Both of y’all are full of shit.

            So, “last, best hope” is the same as “best hope” and despite not mentioning it one way or the other, the equivalency exists solely because of Trump?

            And Trump ain’t in my head. But he did what he did. We’re about to pay the Build it Back Better Bullshit bill for what he did. They’re just arguing about how big the bill is going to be. One more R Senator and none of this would be happening.

            Democrats bearing no responsibility for this is some shit.

            This isn’t even bothsidesism (assuming Congressional Republicans wouldn’t get squishy with a majority). It’s pure anti-Trump and/or anti-Republicanism for actions being taken directly and unilaterally by Democrats.

            1. The Democrats are doing what they do. Reckless spending. The only hope of really stopping them was to split the government. Of course they he e culpability in this. The discussion is about how much Machin and Sinema will hold them back. A split government would have shut it down.

              1. It is a silly thesis to try to split a states votes so close together. The easiest way was to vote for the guy saying no more spending.

                1. Trump already lost. So no, your insistence to vote for your guy is neither the easiest way, nor possible. This is about your guy taking the special election runoff in Georgia because he’s a egomanical retard who chooses his own (doomed, false) narrative over defeating the left.

                  1. *tanking the special election runoff

                    1. The unicorn like belief that an election 8 weeks apart with the same voting mechanisms and issues in place would provide completely different results is sophomoric thinking. Democrats had a single target focus, same mechanisms and hundreds of millions of dollars.

              2. The government would have been split, but as Time magazine reported, the opposite of that outcome had been “fortified”.

          3. This is the media narrative as to what happened. And that’s it.

            Biden won ga based on the rules and accounting practices, with a blind eye to fraud, put in place. It is magical thinking to say the same rules and regulations would swing suddenly to the GOP post elections.

            The same money funding the left was there for special elections. There was even solitary liberal focus for that election.

            Youre just repeating the anti trump spin post election.

          4. So even Biden is Trump’s fault. I like this theory.

          5. bevis the lumberjack
            October.7.2021 at 1:56 pm

            You are a steaming pile of shit, addled by TDS. Please fuck off and die, asshole.

      3. Fuck off you marxist apologist. You sincerely think after “fortifying” the election they’d leave the runoff in the exact same district to chance? You’re an idiot if you think that.

  8. Now that you manchin it, you’re right.

  9. So, why isn’t there general mockery of the progressives for their utterly empty blackmail threat? Everybody knows that if the choice came down to nothing or just the infrastructure bill, they’ll vote to pass the infrastructure bill. They’re three-year-olds in a tantrum declaring, “Well, if you won’t give me four scoops of ice cream, I’ll just eat no ice cream at all!”

    Manchin or Sinema is the one in position to exert pressure. Either could announce something like, “After the passage of the infrastructure bill, I’ll start negotiating about what should be in the $1.5 trillion reconciliation bill. Oh, by the way, every week from today, that total on the reconciliation bill goes down by a hundred billion. The day the total hits zero, I vote to make McConnell the Senate Majority Leader. Your move, progressives.” And what option would the progressives have except to cave?

    And if there were any adults in the Democratic leadership, they’d go into a back room to point these facts of life out to the Progressive Caucus, and tell them to condemn things like the bathroom insurrection or lose their committee assignments and staff budgets.

    1. Manchin and Sinema already said that. They are willing to negotiate on the 3.5 trillion silly-nation bill after the 1.2 trillion infrastructure bill passes. Sinema even called out the Progs for “holding one bill hostage” to another.

      1. Pelosi sided with the Progs, who knows why. Probably because she thought she could get everyone to agree on a wreck-the-nation bill pared down to 2.5 trillion instead of 3.5 trillion and pass both.

      2. Manchin and Sinema already said that.
        Um, no, they didn’t. They complained a little bit about the tactics the progressives are using, neither issued an ultimatum.

    2. That assumes Manchin and Sinema are on the level. Sinema specifically I think is going to “cave” and do what the left wants because she’s trying to build a reputation that can be reelected in Arizona. She has to look like she’s not a hard left whackadoodle (despite that being her background). What’s a little delay?

  10. 72 percent of Americans view the federal budget deficit as a “very big” or “moderately big” problem.

    “Yep, that big deficit should be a *lot* larger!”

  11. AOC “Washington math is notoriously funny…so here, let me engage in some.”

    This whole thing is pathologically dishonest.

    1. She might be too dumb to be dishonest.

      1. She is right here. The true cost of the 3.5T bill is 5T. But democrats put sunset gimmicks in it to drop the bill by 1.5 knowing congress won’t vote for the sunset.

  12. We have a major update this morning.

    I don’t see anywhere in the media that’s taking what’s happening in real time and interpreting for libertarians and Republicans in ways that make sense. The headlines are about McConnell and the Schumer coming to terms on a way to raise the debt ceiling through December 4, 2021, but the important part is the context.

    1) The debt limit will only be raised by the amount Treasury Secretary Yellen says she needs in order to pay our debts through December 4th, 2021.

    Even before Thanksgiving, the general consensus seems to be that Congress will be home campaigning and fundraising until after the New Year, and moderate Democrats will be even more reluctant to support Biden’s $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill in an election year. If the bill isn’t passed before December 4th, it probably won’t pass at all.

    2) The Democrats will need to pass the legislation through budget reconciliation, which means that these bills and amendments will need to be passed on a piece by piece basis. See the following:

    “Rather than allowing Democrats to pass a bill through normal legislation, Republicans insisted Democrats should use a process called reconciliation, which allows legislation to proceed with just a simple majority but requires complicated legislative steps, including two marathon sessions of amendment votes known as a “vote-a-rama.”

    Democrats, who are using reconciliation to pass much of Mr. Biden’s legislative agenda, had argued that embracing that procedure for the debt limit as well would be too risky and time consuming, and said that the easiest path was for Republicans to just step aside.

    —-Wall Street Journal, October 7, 2021

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/schumer-says-deal-reached-on-short-term-debt-limit-extension-11633617347?

    The real reason the Democrats don’t want to do that is because while they might be wiling to vote for a gigantic package deal called “Build Back Better” (or whatever), they don’t want to go on the record for some of the controversial and unpopular parts of that gigantic bill on a case by case basis. They may vote to raise taxes on natural gas as part of a bigger “Build Back Better” bill, but if they required to go on the record voting for an amendment to tax the hell out of natural gas right before winter, their opponents in red and purple districts and states will use that against them!

    1. Yes, it’s possible that some of the more controversial and awful parts of the Green New Deal portion of the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill won’t pass if moderate Democrats need to vote on each provision on an individual basis, but more than that (don’t get your hopes up), the whole package could fall apart once the moderate Democrats realize they’ll need to vote on each provision independently. There are 99 Democrats in the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and that means there are 101 Democrats in the House who aren’t as radical.

      We know there are nine moderate Democrats in the House who don’t want to vote for the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill–unless the infrastructure bill is conditional on that–but there may be far more if all of those 101 non-radical Democrats are forced to vote on controversial provisions on an amendment by amendment basis. McConnell is making a play to stymie those votes by giving Biden, Pelosi, and Schumer just enough rope to hang themselves with it.

      My understanding is that McConnell is letting them raise the debt ceiling in a way that will make it so that there is only one way to pass the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill–and that’s by making each and every moderate Democrat (in both the House and the Senate) take a stand on every controversial provision in the bill on an amendment by amendment basis. Ultimately, if you’re a fiscal conservative, raising the debt ceiling between now and December 4th is nothing if it kills as much of the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill as possible, and that’s because the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill is chock full of entitlement program expansion and the creation of whole new entitlement programs.

      1. I’d say just let the fed default. The democrats control all three branches of government. Let the default happen and let them own the hell out of it.

        1. The Feds won’t let the U.S. government default.

          They’ll buy all the bad government debt at face value just before the government defaults, and then the Democrats in Congress will have a moral hazard incentive to spend even more in the future–and stop worrying about the debt ceiling.

          Yellen might mint a $1 trillion coin and place it in the Fed’s vault before she’d default on debt.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trillion-dollar_coin

          1. The US is already defaulting, through inflation, regulations, and interest rate policy. And Yellen is fully behind that.

            1. That’s not defaulting.

              Defaulting is when you can’t roll debt over because you don’t have the funds or you miss an interest payment because you don’t have the funds.

              They’ll go the road of the Weimar Republic before they do that.

              1. Defaulting is when you can’t roll debt over because you don’t have the funds or you miss an interest payment because you don’t have the funds.

                Defaulting is when you don’t repay your loans; it doesn’t matter whether you default by saying “I pay back only 10% of what I owe” or “I pay back the same nominal amount in money that is worth only 10% of its original value”. The former is called a “hard default”, the latter is called a “soft default”. The effects on the borrower and lender are the same.

                1. The market is pricing inflation considerations.

                  We haven’t seen the price on our debt after we’ve missed an interest payment.

        2. A US default is inevitable: the US simply can’t pay for the current debt and entitlements. The default has already started, through inflation and low interest rates.

          A hard, immediate default would probably be a good thing, since it would drive this point home and discourage lending to the US. It would force more fiscal responsibility by Congress and the president.

          1. Sounds more than a bit like Greece.

          2. A US default is inevitable: the US simply can’t pay for the current debt and entitlements.

            Maybe your point, but we can pay for current debt and entitlements. We can’t continue to pay for them *and* continue to spend/borrow.

            1. And it is possible for the economy to grow faster than the inflation rate.

              1. Some hypothetical economy could grow faster than the inflation rate.

                The US economy won’t, in part because the effect of a lot of that government debt is to discourage growth in the first place.

                You need to eliminate the debt before the economy can grow fast; you can’t grow yourself out of this kind of indebtedness.

            2. US unfunded liabilities are several hundred trillion dollars and rapidly growing.

              1. US unfunded liabilities are several hundred trillion dollars and rapidly growing.

                I’m aware. But the definition of unfunded liability is that they aren’t due *right now*. Moreover, not to advocate anyone’s position, but the goal isn’t necessarily $0 in debt. $15T in debt 30 yrs. from now would be better than where we were 10 yrs. ago. Agreed that we can’t cut taxes, cut spending, *and* pay off the debt. But lots and lots of Americans carry debts that they can’t pay off for 30 or more years without defaulting. Again, not saying that we should do that, or that we’re in a good position, or even that we aren’t careening towards the edge, we just aren’t in freefall. Yet.

                1. I’m aware. But the definition of unfunded liability is that they aren’t due *right now*.

                  So? I said that a default is inevitable. It may happen now or it may happen a couple of decades from now. But large numbers of people will not be getting money that they are legally entitled to from the government.

                  Again, not saying that we should do that, or that we’re in a good position, or even that we aren’t careening towards the edge, we just aren’t in freefall. Yet.

                  Well, as far as I’m concerned, we are “in freefall”, not in the sense that the economy is falling rapidly (it’s not), but in the sense that we aren’t feeling pain yet but we will inevitably crash at some point.

                  That is, entitlements must be cut massively at some point; they simply can’t be paid out. With baby boomers retiring, we’re likely also going to see a crash in real estate prices and stock prices.

                  That’s the baseline. Government can’t fix these problems, but it can mess up further. For example, it can print massive amounts of money to appear to be meeting its obligations nominally. Or it can try to flood the country with third world migrants to drive up demand for land. All of those policies are worse than the problem they are trying to fix.

        3. Ultimately, the real brake on spending might just be interest rates and the public’s tolerance for inflation.

          Worrying about preventing problems before they happen is for serious, knowledgeable, and rational people.

          Every read the end of the story of Jonah and the Whale? Jonah finally relents, goes to Nineveh, and tells the people to repent. Against his expectations, the people do repent, and much to Jonah’s dismay, God forgives them.

          Jonah gets really pissed off at God for sparing them the destruction he’d promised. He thinks God has made him look like a charlatan in the people’s eyes for failing to follow through on this threats.

          If we don’t change course, we are going over a cliff someday, and recent inflation numbers, problems in China, the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill, etc. etc. are all pointing to the cliff being nearer than we like. I don’t want us to veer off a cliff just to prove me right. I want the people to repent, and I want the debt markets and the inflation rate to forgive us for our sins. But sometimes, I feel like Jonah.

          1. US debt, entitlements, and unfunded liabilities mean that we have already veered off the cliff; we are in free fall now. The only question is who will land on the bottom and who will land on top when we hit the ground.

            1. When the inflation rate and interest rates are in double digits, we’ll be on our way down the cliff. If China can’t or won’t load up on our debt anymore, or the rest of the world stops piling all their money into U.S. assets, when there’s a crisis, because we’re the prettiest horse in the glue factory, then we’ll be in much bigger trouble than we are now. And it will be far worse if we have even more entitlements to pay for. Judgement Day is coming like a thief in the night. No one knows the day nor the hour.

              1. No, we have already veered off the cliff: our financial obligations far, far exceed our ability to repay them, ever. In other words, there is no way to turn back. That’s what it means to be “off the cliff”.

                1. An interest rate of 1.5% on the ten year treasury isn’t what falling off the cliff looks like.

                  https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/data-chart-center/interest-rates/Pages/TextView.aspx?data=yield

                  If interest rates were 15%, the interest payments would crowd out much, if not all, of our discretionary spending, and that would happen because foreign investors stopped buying our debt, because we spent so much money that inflation took hold, and would probably be because of a combination of the two.

                  The yield on the 10 year treasury was up over 15% in 1981. We haven’t fallen off the cliff yet, but we’re headed in that direction, and no one can see where the cliff is because of the fog. The bottom could fall out of the bottom of the market at any time, and if we keep going in the direction we’re headed, someday it will.

                  And we’ll look back on today as the good old days.

                  1. The bottom could fall out of the bottom of the market at any time, and if we keep going in the direction we’re headed, someday it will.

                    That’s where your error is: you assume that there is still a way to avoid default. There is not.

                    The US government has liabilities that far exceed its ability to pay. The only question at this point is who isn’t getting what they are owed.

                    and that would happen because foreign investors stopped buying our debt

                    US government liabilities are not like private bonds in private markets.

                    For example, the majority of foreign lending to the US government is foreign governments, and they are lending to the US for political reasons. Their own fiscal situation is usually so dire anyway that even US government debt seems attractive in comparison.

                  2. Interest rates would already be 5+ percent (they have to at least exceed inflation for lenders to make real returns) if the Fed didn’t have a thumb on the scale (buying 1.44 trillion in Treasury and mortgage debt per year at below market prices). There were a few days in March 2020 when people realized the COVID lockdowns were going to be bad, stocks crashed and corporate debt interest rates went above 3% briefly. Then the Fed propped everything up, and now if they even mention maybe someday starting to “taper” their intervention, markets panic.

                    The only reason other debt buyers (i.e. people loaning money to the government) accept below-inflation (and below market) interest rates is because without the Fed intervention they would expect a huge financial crash and recession/depression, which would keep rates low long term and crash equity and real estate markets.

          2. More like a voice crying in the wilderness, Isaiah later quoted by John the Baptist.

            It’s just too gratifying flying down the road in Dads big assed Buick and not thinking about tomorrow [but it will soon be here].

          3. I don’t want the US to default. I derive no joy or personal vindication from watching the entire system crash and burn. I would certainly not make light of the millions of lives that would be upended by such an event, but default is best course of action. It’s better to take the pain now and get it over with than multiply it a hundred fold by kicking the can down the street just a bit further. At any point after WWII we could have made this choice and averted all the pain we are currently experiencing for a fraction of the price we will pay if we take it now, but the suffering that will be incurred by defaulting now is still nothing compared to the suffering if we default later still.

            I wish my father had shouldered this pain so that I wouldn’t have to, but I would rather shoulder it myself so that my child will not have to. Let’s just do it.

          4. Ultimately, the real brake on spending might just be interest rates and the public’s tolerance for inflation.

            Just raise salaries to match the inflation. For a standard family of four to live a comfortable middle class lifestyle, it’ll require a household income of $90million a month.

    2. Details of the deal are coming out, and it looks like McConnell sold opposition to the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill short out of fear that the Democrats were about to get rid of the filibuster.

      “Mr. McConnell met with Republican senators behind closed doors. He cited the pressure being applied to Mr. Manchin and Ms. Sinema to at least partially end the filibuster as a reason why he wanted to offer a short-term extension, said people familiar with the meeting. He expressed concern that the debt-ceiling issue, rather than other Democratic priorities such as immigration or voting rights, could prove to be the one that most threatened the filibuster, and suggested that giving Democrats more time to raise the ceiling through reconciliation would ease the pressure on the two centrist senators, the people said.

      —-WSJ

      https://www.wsj.com/articles/schumer-says-deal-reached-on-short-term-debt-limit-extension-11633617347?

      I think McConnell just fucked up. I think the threat to the filibuster was a bluff.

    3. Ken, your opinions on what’s in the bill are in the minority, as are it seems, all your opinions. That’s why the GOP has won only 1 presidential vote count out of the last 8 and GOP senators have not represented a majority of Americans since 1996, and their SC majority (5 of them) is made up of justices selected by presidents rejected by American voters.

      “The ambitious and expensive Democratic spending bills being debated on Capitol Hill have a big advantage: Most Americans support them.

      The $1 trillion infrastructure bill was backed by 63% of Americans in a new USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll. And the $3.5 trillion budget plan, the most significant expansion of the social safety net since LBJ’s Great Society, was endorsed by 52%.

      The infrastructure bill, which has passed the Senate and is scheduled to be voted on by the House late next month, was forged across partisan lines and is backed by 36% of Republicans as well as nearly all Democrats. The massive budget reconciliation measure, which so far has drawn only Democratic votes, was supported by 9 of 10 Democrats, 1 in 5 Republicans and close to half of independents….”

      https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2021/08/25/most-back-bidens-infrastructure-bill-and-budget-plan-poll/5577143001/

      1. Joe,
        You.
        Are.
        Full.
        Of.
        Shit.
        Fuck off and die.

      2. Ken, your opinions on what’s in the bill are in the minority, as are it seems, all your opinions.

        So? The majority of Americans don’t pay taxes, have a lousy education, don’t understand economics, and think they are entitled to wealth beyond the dreams of most humans on this planet. What kind of political opinions do you think those greedy ignoramuses are going to hold? What do you think the consequences for the country will be as their desired policies are realized? If you knew any history, you’d know that this is how rich and powerful countries die.

  13. Americans don’t like the deficit because the government is spending money on OTHER people. Almost all democrats and a majority of republicans support regular stimulus payments from Uncle Sam.

  14. While a fiscal crisis may be a while off, the economic crowding out and distortions produced by high spending and low growth are already upon us.

    It is just fascinating to me how Reason writers ignore the distortions produced by taxes; the word “tax” doesn’t occur once in the article. Yet, at the same time they spill rivers of ink over insignificant amounts of tariffs.

    And Reason writers seem to think that somehow compounding the crowding out resulting from government spending by depriving private individuals and business of money they can use to compete with government makes things better.

    The level of economic ignorance and ideologically driven propaganda we find in these pages these days is worthy of AOC and Sanders.

    1. They’ve been saying since the 1980s that borrowing is worse than taxing because the borrowing comes 100% out of investment but the taxes come only partly out of money that would’ve been invested, and partly out of consumption. But that ignores that the amount or proportion of money that flows to investment isn’t fixed.

      1. It’s even worse than that. Borrowing is less moral than taxing. Taxation, broadly, is stealing from current taxpayers to pay for current expenses. Borrowing is stealing from FUTURE taxpayers, who didn’t even get a say in the decision, to pay for current expenses, which may or may not benefit those future taxpayers, and the level of theft is GREATER, due to interest.

        1. That analysis is bogus. I’m a “current taxpayer”. I have no say in the decision and I don’t benefit from current government spending.

          If you pay for current spending with taxes, you effectively simply double the injustice and damage caused by government spending.

          Future taxpayers at least have the option of saying “we didn’t incur these debts and we aren’t going to honor them”.

          1. I wouldn’t call it bogus.
            There is little political will to raise taxes over 4 trillion a year.
            There is little political opposition to jacking the national debt up from 10 trillion to 30 trillion, as the USA has done in the past dozen years or so.
            That’s a moral failing of the voters who are willing to put their children and grandchildren into debt for benefits we enjoy now, and a moral failing of the politicians (Congress and the Presidents) for not holding the line on responsible government.

            1. I wouldn’t call it bogus.

              Well, I do call it “bogus”, because groups like “current tax payers”, “future tax payers” are a nonsensical way of looking at the world.

              That’s a moral failing of the voters who are willing to put their children and grandchildren into debt for benefits we enjoy now, and a moral failing of the politicians (Congress and the Presidents) for not holding the line on responsible government.

              The debt will never be repaid. It couldn’t be even if there was the political will. Most of that debt is held by foreign governments and pension funds, so people will have a less good retirement than they thought.

              Children and grandchildren (and their multicultural, fractured society) will simply and democratically refuse to pay for this b.s., among other things because they won’t see any reason to pay for the comfy retirement of wealthy white old people.

  15. This is what people voted for, no more mean tweets. It would be nice to know what is in the bill. Of course, that is how the Democrats do business now. We have to pass it to know what is in it.

    AOC and Sanders, the media talking heads. The media wonders why everyone tunes them out.

    1. “…the media talking heads. The media wonders why everyone tunes them out.”

      “Let’s go Brandon!”

    2. It’s worse than that.
      Dems and a fair number of Repubs agreed on a 1.2 trillion dollar “infrastructure” plan that would pass easily. Supposedly the country is in dire need of those improvements (although the Repubs originally suggested 0.55 trillion I believe, until they were bought off with pork.)

      But the Progressive Dems are holding that 1.2 trillion in “needed” spending hostage to their hostage demands of 3.5 trillion we don’t have being blown on fighting the weather (i.e. rewarding Green Energy companies that are not competitive in the free marketplace) and handing out new family benefits we somehow survived without for centuries, in order to try to lock in more Dem voters.

      Even Dem Senator Sinema called them on their hostage-taking tactics. Hopefully she doesn’t cave too.

  16. If he saves us 2 trillion dollars, that’s about 20K per each US taxpayer (100M people or so). I’ll take it and thank him.

    If he only saves us 1.2 trillion from the fever dreams of the Progressive Caucus, I’ll take the 12K and thank him a little less.

    But I suspect they will all rewrite the 10-year 3.5 trillion dollar plan into a 6-year 2.1 trillion dollar plan, spending the same amount per year, and the Repubs will be too afraid to end any programs once they are established and the recipients don’t want to lose the free cash.

  17. GOP ARE the biggest fiscal conservatives – when Dems are in power!

    1. Assholes like this TDS-addled piece of shit need to fuck off and die.

  18. “Spending trillions more on new and expanded government programs, when we can’t even pay for the essential social programs…is the definition of fiscal insanity.”

    What “essential social programs”?

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