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(Huffington Post)   Amidst all the doom and gloom over "out-of-control" government spending, the Treasury Department notes that in January, the U.S. had a $3 billion surplus. No, that is not a typo   (huffingtonpost.com) divider line 326
    More: Spiffy, Treasury Department, Uncle Sam, government spending, Dean Baker, federal government, Inside the Beltway  
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8629 clicks; posted to Main » on 13 Feb 2013 at 10:09 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-02-13 10:49:36 AM

YixilTesiphon: You said "if it's a good idea". The obvious real-world substantiation of that is "if Congress likes it".


No, it's not. You asked me about whether I would support a given amount of spending. You didn't ask me what would pass Congress. I really have very little say over what Congress thinks is good spending. I vote for my Congressmen and there's not much more I can do about that.

YixilTesiphon: But sure, let's say it passes your magical "good idea" test. Is there a limit?


No, there's no abstract limit which exists in a vacuum. Any limit is always contextual and must be judged policy by policy.
 
2013-02-13 10:50:00 AM

X-boxershorts: Obamacare (Actually, Republicare) does quite a bit to reduce our spending, as a nation, on health care....


That calculation relies on the CLASS act, which has been ignored by HHS and I believe is getting repealed.
 
2013-02-13 10:50:49 AM

DamnYankees: untaken_name: Because of joint and several liability. Why are you not?

In what way are you jointly and severally liable for the debt. Are you under the impression that if the US government goes bankrupt, China can take you to court for $4 trillion?


http://definitions.uslegal.com/j/joint-and-several-liability/

http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/public

Either you don't know what "Public" means, or you don't know what "joint and several liability" means. Here you go.

/note: regarding the definition of "public": you want to pay attention to the legal definition. That's the one they use in court.
 
2013-02-13 10:51:07 AM

DamnYankees: No, there's no abstract limit which exists in a vacuum. Any limit is always contextual and must be judged policy by policy.


So if you could come up with enough policies which are good ideas - let's say that's a concrete thing for the purpose of argument - government could spend 1000% of GDP per year, and that would be OK?
 
2013-02-13 10:52:15 AM
Yes, we had a $3 billion surplus for January, but we still managed to add $16 billion to the national debt.
 
2013-02-13 10:52:52 AM

untaken_name: Arkanaut: untaken_name: Arkanaut: untaken_name: Oh, good. I thought we had a 16 TRILLION dollar national debt. Good to know we paid that off.

Yeah, Obama is so irresponsible! I can't believe he would spend so much without paying off the debt, like all the presidents before him like... um... Andrew Jackson?

Feel free to bold the part of my post which, in your twisted imagination, blamed Obama.

Whatever.  Why are you even worrying about the debt?

Because of joint and several liability. Why are you not?


Because the bond market is letting us roll over the debt practically for free not just now, but for the foreseeable future.
 
2013-02-13 10:53:13 AM

netcentric: So we have raised taxes and are still going to be 857 billion dollars short for the year.    Got it.

Defecit.    Meaning spent more than you got.

Gert jerb Wershingtern....


If yer unemployed or underemployed, do you sometimes borrow money to pay bills?

I mean, is 8 farking percent unemployment the new farking normal? Do you assholes not get it?
The farking economy is STILL recessed because ONE PARTY IN WASHINGTON doesn't give a fark if you are unemployed.
 
2013-02-13 10:53:23 AM

X-boxershorts: untaken_name: Englebert Slaptyback: DamnYankees

untaken_name: Oh, good. I thought we had a 16 TRILLION dollar national debt. Good to know we paid that off.

Is there a reason you put trillion in capital letters?


He wanted to be ABSOLUTELY sure everyone saw that he doesn't know the difference between DEBT and DEFICIT.

Right, because clearly I said deficit above. Oh wait, no I did not. I understand the difference. Do you understand that when you are so far in debt that the interest payments will shortly be the largest budget item, a short-term windfall of 3 BILLION dollars over the current quarter is functionally nothing? I could have mentioned the 290 BILLION dollars we are in deficit for 2013 alone, but the impact of the debt is larger than the impact of the deficit, and although they are not the same thing, it will be extremely difficult to pay off the insurmountable debt we owe when we continue to run a large deficit year after year. Every time we complete a year with a deficit, we increase the debt by not just the amount of that deficit, but the amount of interest on the loans required to run that deficit in the first place. You can't just forget about the previous year when the new year begins. Or are you trying to claim that there is no relationship at all between the constant deficits and the debt? HUH? MR SMARTY PANTS? HUH?
[blog.heritage.org image 600x528]

Ah HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA

Quoting the ALWAYS wrong heritage foundation on things economic?

Is your name Peter G Peterson or something?


Well, with facts backed by evidence like that, I'm surprised you haven't won the argument. Oh, wait. If you have an issue with their chart, go ahead and point it out. Or spout off in an attempt to "win" some imaginary prize you think you will get for conning people on the internet into thinking you're super smart without having being actually, you know, smart. Your choice.
 
2013-02-13 10:54:31 AM

Arkanaut: untaken_name: Arkanaut: untaken_name: Arkanaut: untaken_name: Oh, good. I thought we had a 16 TRILLION dollar national debt. Good to know we paid that off.

Yeah, Obama is so irresponsible! I can't believe he would spend so much without paying off the debt, like all the presidents before him like... um... Andrew Jackson?

Feel free to bold the part of my post which, in your twisted imagination, blamed Obama.

Whatever.  Why are you even worrying about the debt?

Because of joint and several liability. Why are you not?

Because the bond market is letting us roll over the debt practically for free not just now, but for the foreseeable future.


www.mysurfbaby.com
 
2013-02-13 10:54:41 AM

brap: I just want to use this opportunity to pretend I'm an economist.


I play one on the internet.

Interested in a Title and Certificate?
 
2013-02-13 10:54:44 AM

untaken_name


Right, because clearly I said deficit above. Oh wait, no I did not.


You didn't need to say the word. You intimated that there couldn't be a surplus because the (very large) debt is still there, neatly demonstrating that you didn't really understand the difference. However, you did some research and it looks like you learned something.

Who's the Smartypants NOW, huh? HUH?


It is still I but you're making progress.
 
2013-02-13 10:54:51 AM

YixilTesiphon: DamnYankees: No, there's no abstract limit which exists in a vacuum. Any limit is always contextual and must be judged policy by policy.

So if you could come up with enough policies which are good ideas - let's say that's a concrete thing for the purpose of argument - government could spend 1000% of GDP per year, and that would be OK?


It's extraordinarily unlikely that would be possible, but if you're stipulating to me in your very question that the good done by those policies would outweigh the bad done by not doing so, sure. An example would be, in a crazy case, if an alien invasion occurred which requires is to build some sort of crazy defense system which cost $150T. I'd support spending that rather than be wiped off the face of the Earth.

And yes, that's an absurd example, but so was your hypothetical.
 
2013-02-13 10:55:09 AM
The only problem is that the $3 billion surplus was the money left over for this years spending, everything beyond that will be debt.
 
2013-02-13 10:55:27 AM
Obama says to fix the deficit we need to spend more, tax more.

Cool though, cheapest plan under the new Obamacare is $20,000 for a family. Think of the opportunity for spending by the government!

We will be saved! We should spend 10 trillion this year, then we will all be millionaires!
 
2013-02-13 10:55:30 AM
ITT: people who think household budgets and businesses work the same as governments.
 
2013-02-13 10:56:44 AM

BolloxReader: "Entitlements" are benefits already paid for by beneficiaries. You don't get to charge people for 40 years and then say "sorry, changed our minds."

I mean, companies do but they have to file for bankruptcy to do that.


Actually, you are not entitled to anything. The Supreme Court ruled that SS taxes are just that, taxes. They are not payments into an account or anything of the sort where the worker has ownership. If Congress wanted to suspend or cancel it tomorrow, they could.
 
2013-02-13 10:57:34 AM
Thunderpipes:
Cool though, cheapest plan under the new Obamacare is $20,000 for a family. Think of the opportunity for spending by the government!

no it's not
 
2013-02-13 10:58:09 AM

DamnYankees: Which one of his budgets were the ones that are responsible for that drop?

The ones under which the government has been operating for the past several years.


Those are the ones that mandated lower spending? I must have missed him taking a leadership position on that one.
 
2013-02-13 10:58:15 AM

ManRay: BolloxReader: "Entitlements" are benefits already paid for by beneficiaries. You don't get to charge people for 40 years and then say "sorry, changed our minds."

I mean, companies do but they have to file for bankruptcy to do that.

Actually, you are not entitled to anything. The Supreme Court ruled that SS taxes are just that, taxes. They are not payments into an account or anything of the sort where the worker has ownership. If Congress wanted to suspend or cancel it tomorrow, they could.


You actually are entitled to it as long as the program exists. Like, the HHS can't simply choose to not pay YOU Medicare. That's why its an entitlement, since as long as the program itself exists, everyone has a claim on it.
 
2013-02-13 10:58:22 AM

X-boxershorts: netcentric: So we have raised taxes and are still going to be 857 billion dollars short for the year.    Got it.

Defecit.    Meaning spent more than you got.

Gert jerb Wershingtern....

If yer unemployed or underemployed, do you sometimes borrow money to pay bills?

I mean, is 8 farking percent unemployment the new farking normal? Do you assholes not get it?
The farking economy is STILL recessed because ONE PARTY IN WASHINGTON doesn't give a fark if you are unemployed.


If I may,,

Still about the money. One party is doing exactly what it's financial owners want done. Somehow, they make PROFIT out of this mess. No profit for society, just for themselves, business as usual.
 
2013-02-13 10:58:33 AM

Voiceofreason01: ChuDogg:
Not according to the CBO.

link please


http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/43692-Defi citReduction_print.pdf

By 2020 the US government will have just enough revenue for 3 current programs: Social Security, Defense, and interest payments on the national debt. ZeroHedge did an analysis that this even overly optimistic as predicts 6% GDP growth from 2013 on (lol!)

All other goverement spending will be done with more debt. We are already pretty much past the point to prevent negative amortization. Even if you cut defense to zero and ignore the resulting hit to the economy of one of Americas last industries, it still wouldn't be enough to bring government spending to solvency.

There will be austerity. The only question and opinion a person may have is when. You can be in favor of it now, or you can be in favor of it a little later after spending some more money. The other alternative is currency collapse.
 
2013-02-13 10:58:53 AM

ManRay: Those are the ones that mandated lower spending? I must have missed him taking a leadership position on that one.


Apparently you did, yes.
 
2013-02-13 10:59:32 AM

untaken_name: X-boxershorts: untaken_name: Englebert Slaptyback: DamnYankees

untaken_name: Oh, good. I thought we had a 16 TRILLION dollar national debt. Good to know we paid that off.

Is there a reason you put trillion in capital letters?


He wanted to be ABSOLUTELY sure everyone saw that he doesn't know the difference between DEBT and DEFICIT.

Right, because clearly I said deficit above. Oh wait, no I did not. I understand the difference. Do you understand that when you are so far in debt that the interest payments will shortly be the largest budget item, a short-term windfall of 3 BILLION dollars over the current quarter is functionally nothing? I could have mentioned the 290 BILLION dollars we are in deficit for 2013 alone, but the impact of the debt is larger than the impact of the deficit, and although they are not the same thing, it will be extremely difficult to pay off the insurmountable debt we owe when we continue to run a large deficit year after year. Every time we complete a year with a deficit, we increase the debt by not just the amount of that deficit, but the amount of interest on the loans required to run that deficit in the first place. You can't just forget about the previous year when the new year begins. Or are you trying to claim that there is no relationship at all between the constant deficits and the debt? HUH? MR SMARTY PANTS? HUH?
[blog.heritage.org image 600x528]

Ah HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA

Quoting the ALWAYS wrong heritage foundation on things economic?

Is your name Peter G Peterson or something?

Well, with facts backed by evidence like that, I'm surprised you haven't won the argument. Oh, wait. If you have an issue with their chart, go ahead and point it out. Or spout off in an attempt to "win" some imaginary prize you think you will get for conning people on the internet into thinking you're super smart without having being actually, you know, smart. Your choice.


The issue I have is that our GDP (nation's earnings) shrank by almost 10% in 2007 and has NOT YET RECOVERED
MILLIONS of your fellow Americans lost jobs and they have NOT YET RECOVERED
Millions more got laid off into lousy jobs

Unemployment Insurance
Food Stamps
WIC
Medicaid

THAT is the spending your tax deductible charity is deriding. Spending that ALWAYS increases when the nation experiences a recession.

Did or did not the economy collapse in 2007?

THAT chart likes to pretend that 2007 never happened.
Do you pretend that 2007 never happened?
If not, why do you push that crap on the rest of us then?
 
2013-02-13 11:00:20 AM

X-boxershorts: Did or did not the economy collapse in 2007?


It was 2008, actually. But your overall point is correct.
 
2013-02-13 11:01:32 AM

DamnYankees: YixilTesiphon: DamnYankees: No, there's no abstract limit which exists in a vacuum. Any limit is always contextual and must be judged policy by policy.

So if you could come up with enough policies which are good ideas - let's say that's a concrete thing for the purpose of argument - government could spend 1000% of GDP per year, and that would be OK?

It's extraordinarily unlikely that would be possible, but if you're stipulating to me in your very question that the good done by those policies would outweigh the bad done by not doing so, sure. An example would be, in a crazy case, if an alien invasion occurred which requires is to build some sort of crazy defense system which cost $150T. I'd support spending that rather than be wiped off the face of the Earth.

And yes, that's an absurd example, but so was your hypothetical.


Well, if you think the multiplier is greater than 1 and there's no practical limit to how much a government which relies on taxes on the private sector can spend on a yearly basis, your plan makes sense.
 
2013-02-13 11:01:41 AM

Thunderpipes: Cool though, cheapest plan under the new Obamacare is $20,000 for a family. Think of the opportunity for spending by the government!


Government spending to pad insurers' profits to ensure that people don't freeload when they get sick or injured.

If you accept the principle that ERs cannot turn away emergent patients, then you have no quarrel with Obamacare except that it was enacted by Obama.
 
2013-02-13 11:02:13 AM

miss diminutive: miss diminutive: enough to buy

Sweet merciful crap, I need coffee.


Well....by!
 
2013-02-13 11:02:32 AM

ChuDogg: Voiceofreason01: ChuDogg:
Not according to the CBO.

link please

http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/43692-Def i citReduction_print.pdf

By 2020 the US government will have just enough revenue for 3 current programs: Social Security, Defense, and interest payments on the national debt. ZeroHedge did an analysis that this even overly optimistic as predicts 6% GDP growth from 2013 on (lol!)

All other goverement spending will be done with more debt. We are already pretty much past the point to prevent negative amortization. Even if you cut defense to zero and ignore the resulting hit to the economy of one of Americas last industries, it still wouldn't be enough to bring government spending to solvency.

There will be austerity. The only question and opinion a person may have is when. You can be in favor of it now, or you can be in favor of it a little later after spending some more money. The other alternative is currency collapse.


Which is about the only way you are going to get the offshore money back.
 
2013-02-13 11:02:47 AM

YixilTesiphon: Well, if you think the multiplier is greater than 1 and there's no practical limit to how much a government which relies on taxes on the private sector can spend on a yearly basis, your plan makes sense.


What plan? The plan to spend money on stuff where the ROI (not just monetary, but overall utility) is better than doing nothing? I didn't think that was a crazy plan.
 
2013-02-13 11:02:48 AM

ChuDogg: Voiceofreason01: ChuDogg:
Not according to the CBO.

link please

http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/43692-Def i citReduction_print.pdf



Page not foundThe requested page could not be found.
 
2013-02-13 11:05:02 AM

untaken_name: Oh, good. I thought we had a 16 TRILLION dollar national debt. Good to know we paid that off.


Clearly you need to watch the Rush Limbaugh clip where he mocks liberals who don't understand the difference between the debt and the deficit.
 
2013-02-13 11:10:04 AM
ChuDogg:
http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/43692-De fi citReduction_print.pdf

page not found

but maybe this  http://www.cbo.gov/publication/43861  is what you were looking for? But all this is predicated on the existing laws remaining in effect. If we could pass a new budget that increases tax revenue and decreases spending(these things don't need to be super painful or drastic) the outlook for the deficit would change dramatically.
 
2013-02-13 11:14:24 AM
For the federal government having a $3 billion surplus is like you finding $5 in your couch cushions.
 
2013-02-13 11:15:08 AM

YixilTesiphon: DamnYankees: YixilTesiphon: DamnYankees: YixilTesiphon: Have you looked at forecasts for the percentage of revenues which interest on debt will take up?

Is that going to happen tomorrow?

No, but the decisions we make tomorrow have an effect. We can't afford to be nonchalant about the debt.

So my post was correct and you agree with me - we will be solvent at some point in the future, like tomorrow.

If somebody has a mortgage they can't afford and nearly as much credit card debt as they make in a year, are they solvent? Technically, maybe, but let's not confuse that with "in good shape".


What does that scenario have to do with the US government's debt? Is the national debt more like credit cards or a mortgage? Which of those 2 debts you mentioned corresponds to the national debt in your mind?
 
2013-02-13 11:16:43 AM
TFA: "The Treasury Department said Tuesday that the government took in a surplus of $2.9 billion in January, helped by nearly $9 billion more in Social Security taxes. Last month Congress and the White House allowed a temporary cut in Social Security taxes to expire."

Wait wait wait... so you're saying that we can bring the deficit down just by *paying* for the shiat our legislators voted to create and sustain?
Who knew it could be so simple!

It's almost like the deficit is a political football; where actually addressing the problem took a back seat to all the grandstanding, rhetoric and whipping the base into a froth.
 
2013-02-13 11:18:27 AM

X-boxershorts: Increasing spending is exactly what happens when one becomes unemployed.


Is that what you meant to say?
 
2013-02-13 11:20:30 AM
Damn Yankees: "The plan to spend money on stuff where the ROI (not just monetary, but overall utility) is better than doing nothing? I didn't think that was a crazy plan."

To say nothing of the parts where money was going to be spent on things *we need to buy anyway* and spending it now will be *cheaper* than waiting.

/ due people essentially paying the US Gov't to hold their money, labor and materials being incredibly cheap, etc.
 
2013-02-13 11:21:50 AM

royone: X-boxershorts: Increasing spending is exactly what happens when one becomes unemployed.

Is that what you meant to say?


It's more accurate to state that, even when one becomes unemployed, the bills you have racked up still need to be paid.
In other words....Spending "continues" but you often have to borrow.

So, no...what you posted is not at all what I meant to say.

But, nice try.
 
2013-02-13 11:22:33 AM

No Such Agency: ChuDogg:
I'm really surprised there are still people under the illusion that the United States government can be or will be fiscally solvent at some point. You will all be in a rude awakening in a few years.

If a business was run the way the government is run - constantly failing to generate a profit, acquiring operating funds by continually borrowing money from its competitors - its shareholders would be able to sue the directorship into the ground for incompetence.  Unfortunately the US government can simply force its "shareholders" to buy more "shares" at gunpoint, with their taxes, and can declare itself immune from legal action by fiat.   This is what happens when the lowest 46% of this country decide to elect lawyers to be President, instead of successful businessmen.  We get "lawyer-style" government where cleverly worded legislation trumps the bottom line.


How does a non-profit organization turn a profit? What products or services should the government be producing and selling and to whom? How about the military? Would they sell war bonds and then invade countries for plunder to repay their investors?

/there are good reasons why government is not like a corporation
 
2013-02-13 11:22:48 AM

AbiNormal: For the federal government having a $3 billion surplus is like you finding $5 in your couch cushions.


Then maybe we should turn the government upside down and give it a good shake.
 
2013-02-13 11:24:15 AM

royone: X-boxershorts: Increasing spending is exactly what happens when one becomes unemployed.

Is that what you meant to say?



Let him go, he's on a roll

/Germans + Pearl Harbor
 
2013-02-13 11:28:02 AM

DamnYankees: ManRay: Those are the ones that mandated lower spending? I must have missed him taking a leadership position on that one.

Apparently you did, yes.


I heard a lot about claims of lowering rates of spending increases in the future, but not a whole bunch about the government actually spending less money now. In fact, most of his proposals involve more spending, or spending money "saved" from cutting elsewhere ("saving" money from ending the war in Afghanistan and spending it domestically) which is not a net reduction.
 
2013-02-13 11:29:14 AM
Fuzzy math makes me feel all fuzzy!
 
2013-02-13 11:29:34 AM

ManRay: I heard a lot about claims of lowering rates of spending increases in the future, but not a whole bunch about the government actually spending less money now


I don't know what you're arguing about. Actual spending fell. In reality. For the first time in 50 years. This isn't really something to debate.
 
2013-02-13 11:31:27 AM
HAHAHAHA cool, at this rate it will only take 5333+ months to pay off the national debt.
 
2013-02-13 11:32:46 AM

AbiNormal: For the federal government having a $3 billion surplus is like you finding $5 in your couch cushions.


More like a quarter.
 
2013-02-13 11:33:06 AM

untaken_name: Arkanaut: untaken_name: Arkanaut: untaken_name: Oh, good. I thought we had a 16 TRILLION dollar national debt. Good to know we paid that off.

Yeah, Obama is so irresponsible! I can't believe he would spend so much without paying off the debt, like all the presidents before him like... um... Andrew Jackson?

Feel free to bold the part of my post which, in your twisted imagination, blamed Obama.

Whatever.  Why are you even worrying about the debt?

Because of joint and several liability. Why are you not?


How does joint and several liability apply to any individual taxpayer regarding the debt? As I understand it, there seem to be a large percentage of the population (47%) who have no federal tax liability at all.
 
2013-02-13 11:33:51 AM

GranoblasticMan: cfroelic: How about some spending cuts now?

Okay, where?


We cut all funding for Planned Parenthood and public broadcasting, then give the ultra-rich a tax break. Deficit solved! Suck it, lib!
 
2013-02-13 11:33:56 AM
Socialism with a budget surplus???

It's SURPCIALISM! And it's the greatest threat to American democracy ever!

/and he's still black so vote Republican
 
2013-02-13 11:33:59 AM

Mr. Eugenides: Big Man On Campus: This is because every federal agency with a budget had no idea how much they could spend in the first quarter, so they cut back on overhead spending like it was going out of style.

Obama =/= Clinton

Clinton knew what to do when congress shirked its responsibility to pass a budget, he shut down the federal government. Obama is an idealistic weakling.

Actually no.  It's because farm income has to be reported and taxes paid by Jan 15th much like regular income has to be reported and taxes paid by April 15th.  What you are seeing is witheld income/taxes that are being sent in causing a bump in the revenue numbers just like every year.

The structural deficit is still there.


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