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(Fox News)   This could be it, folks: Sequestergate. Leaked email shows that Obama has been deliberately trying to make the sequester a bad thing   (foxnews.com) divider line 469
    More: Scary, President Obama, Sequestergate, White House, Kristi Noem, Gene Sperling, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, austerities  
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3443 clicks; posted to Politics » on 06 Mar 2013 at 9:51 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-03-06 04:36:27 PM  
the email from the white house official implies that there is discretion of make cuts that 'are not contradicting what we said the impact would be'.  It doesn't say to make cuts according to the law.  It says to make cuts consistent with what the dems said the impact would be.

If there is discretion to make cuts to make impact, there is discretion to make cuts to reduce impact.
 
2013-03-06 04:37:51 PM  
MattStafford:

As someone above stated, the amount we borrow per year should never exceed what we are spending on "productive" programs.

Of course, the problem becomes determining what is a productive program, and that is a complex issue.  Each instance of government spending will operate in a relatively unique situation, with a unique combination of variables, and determining how this spending will affect the economy is a difficult action.  You can't make a blanket statement along the lines of "increasing the amount of police in a city will increase the economic activity in the city" - that will be completely different for different cities.  You can't say "building a bridge will increase trade in the area" because it entirely depends on the bridge, the area, and a whole host of other factors.

Which is all fairly straightforward stuff.  The problem is, some Farker's can't grasp the concept that it is possible for the government to spend on things that aren't productive, or in other words, the government can never make a bad investment.  And those are the people who fight me tooth and nail on this kind of stuff.

All I'm looking for is someone to say "increasing the amount of money we give to retire people will increase economic activity enough to pay for that program" - which no one is able to do.  You can easily show how building a hypothetical bridge will increase economic activity enough to pay for the bridge, or providing a hypothetical police force, or a hypothetical youth education/healthcare program, but you cannot show how a hypothetical increase in spending on retired people will create the economic activity to pay for the program.


Ok, I see what you're trying to say. SS payments for example aren't really an investment in the economy, they're for humanitarian purposes. I just don't think framing it as borrowed spending on investments vs taxed spending on other programs is very useful. Because even though SS payments aren't necessarily a good long-term economic investment, I would still say it's necessary as a developed country. So I think splitting the number into two portions is too difficult to be useful. Also, ideally taxes should cover some of the investment capital as well imo.

The bottom line is eventually the US is going to have to run a surplus for awhile, and to do that you'll need targeted spending cuts (these automatic cuts are insane), with tax increases (a few more points on the wealthy now imo, then extend the raises to the middle class once the economy is on it's feet a little more) AND you'll need economic growth. Which is hard when you're cutting spending and raising taxes, so the cuts and raises need to be phased in slowly. Unfortunately the politics in the US right now are so crazy this will never happen.

So while I agree with you that cuts are necessary, I disagree with you that the sequester cuts are good because they're likely going to stall the little economic growth the US has gained since the recession. 

Finally, while I agree the US could have a large issue with borrowing in the future as you suggest (if the US doesn't make progress towards a surplus) I don't think the crisis is as imminent as you think and believe that the economic harm caused by sharp tax raises/spending cuts needed to offset the current volume of borrowing would be pretty catastrophic. So for now a support continued borrowing. I don't think anyone is arguing this is a permanent solution though.
 
2013-03-06 04:39:41 PM  
MattStafford:

Is there ever government spending that is not a good thing, in your opinion?

To this point, yes.  And anyone would be a fool to say otherwise.  The trouble is in accurately assessing the financial and ethical "goodness" of various kinds of spending.  Unfortunately there is no formula, per se.  Which is why democracy is so awesome.  We get to answer that question together.

Does the VA add Value to our economy (grow our GDP)?  NO!  Is it "Good"?  YES!  Is it "good" enough to justify being an expense?  Difficult to answer.  Let's ask a followup question:  How "Bad" is the financial drag the VA places on our economy in terms of Real Value?
 
2013-03-06 04:44:41 PM  

MattStafford: Yes - if medical technology allowed us to have an increased length of livelihood (which it has) - that would be good for the economy, with one caveat - we would actually have to work for that increased amount of time, which we haven't.


Actually, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, the average retirement age has been increasing since the 1980's.  So yes, we are working longer.

MattStafford: If your argument relies on secondary expenditures, things beyond the control of government, it isn't a good fiscal policy. Your argument is that government should spend on the elderly, and that hopefully that money will end up somewhere productive after they spend it? That isn't a smart fiscal policy, particularly when that money is borrowed. What happens when it doesn't end up there?


Your arguments do as well.  There is absolutely no specific productive benefit to constructing a road until it can be used (secondary expenditures of transportation).  This would be similar for education, or almost anything you can think of.  Nearly all government expenditures follow the same situation.

MattStafford: Is there ever government spending that is not a good thing, in your opinion?


I don't know.  I'm not advocating a position for cuts in specific programs.  I'm merely pointing out that your method of determining whether a program should have government expenditures involved makes little sense.  Without knowing more about program spillovers/externalities, taking a stance on one program versus another just doesn't make sense.
 
2013-03-06 04:59:40 PM  

SlothB77: the email from the white house official implies that there is discretion of make cuts that 'are not contradicting what we said the impact would be'.  It doesn't say to make cuts according to the law.  It says to make cuts consistent with what the dems said the impact would be.

If there is discretion to make cuts to make impact, there is discretion to make cuts to reduce impact.


Sounds to me like the far-right wing just misinterpreted (or lied...as is often common with those afflicted with the conservative disease) an email and then imagined context (those afflicted with the conservative disease do have very active, child-like imaginations) into the email that was not there.

Where is this "White House official" in this email that you speak of?  Where does the email say to make the cuts consistent with what the Dems said the impact would be?  Are you imagining things that aren't there?  Do the voices in your head come from your own thoughts or do they sound like they are somebody else speaking?

USDA cleared it up today and it makes a lot more sense than some grandiose conspiracy theory from the far-right wing.   http://www.politico.com/politico44/2013/03/usda-instructs-make-sure-y o ure-not-contradicting-the-158502.html I'm sure this won't put an end to the gibberish and lunatic ramblings of the far-right wingers even if actual context is supplied to them.  As I said, children do have very active imaginations.
 
2013-03-06 05:04:05 PM  

steppenwolf: MattStafford: People who think that the sequester won't be painful are ignorant.  You're cutting 85 billion from the economy.  Regardless of what those people who receive that money actually do - that's 85 billion less that people will be spending/investing.  That said, spending cuts are both necessary and a good thing, regardless of the pain.

Conservatives complain about the country turning into Greece, which is hilarious because austerity is exactly what would turn us into Greece.


Conservatives are only complaining about liberals turning the country into Greece. If they do it themselves, it's ok, because they can a) spin it to the base b) blame the libs c) move their investments offshore or hire cheap labor at home.
 
2013-03-06 05:32:32 PM  

MattStafford: Satan's Bunny Slippers: But there is still the difference that many of us think that investing in programs to ensure the welfare of others regardless of their future earning potential is worthwhile, but you do not. You make no secret of that, and that's ok, just stop acting surprised when we say that letting old people die because you would not recommend borrowing money to help keep them cared for is ok. It's not ok. It will never be ok.

I understand that people think that it is a worthwhile decision, but financially speaking, they're wrong.  And that is what it comes down to.


No that isn't what it comes down to. You are wrong. And I will not argue it with you.

Good day.
 
2013-03-06 06:39:57 PM  

BillCo: It's called the Washington Memorial Strategy.

And, we really don't need the memo to prove that Obama is engaging in it.  He shut down tours of the White House for fark's sake.  Can't get much more transparent than that.  He is doing everything in his power to make the American public think that this is still the end of the world.

It's pretty sad when the President of the United States resorts to such childish tactics to scare the American people.  Whatever happened to the concept of leadership?


You should ask the GOP led house. You know, where spending bills originate.
 
2013-03-06 07:47:58 PM  

BillCo: It's pretty sad when the President of the United States resorts to such childish tactics to scare the American people. Whatever happened to the concept of leadership?


The republican response to it during his first four years in office?

This fight is just a continuation of all those bs fights we've been suffering through already, the fights caused by people who have said on record that they hope obama fails.
 
2013-03-06 07:59:34 PM  
Still plenty of room in the budget for Michelle to attend her award shows and the president to go on late night TV
 
2013-03-06 08:03:55 PM  

BeesNuts: Smackledorfer: Munchausen's Proxy: Outstanding

70 posts in and absolutely nobody has actually address the article.  Someone posted a copy of the email mentioned in the article, but then asked about "Lucy"  Many here will moan about people working together, then post crap about "the other side".  In the same post complaining about the other side only looking to place blame, the poster then tries to place blame.

Good job, keep at it

A. People did address it.
B. It was a bullshiat piece misreoresenting what was said in the email.
C. The important thing is you managed to make a meta-post that addressed the thread instead of the article to feel superior to those making posts about the thread instead of the article.

I wish I could barf through my monitor into your eyes and mouth.

It's been a long time coming, but it's official:
[img9.imageshack.us image 761x52]

You said something that made coffee come out my faceholes.


*I* came...
 
2013-03-06 09:21:29 PM  
Leaked e-mail shows that Obama Charles Brown, a director at the Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service office in Raleigh, N.C. has been deliberately trying to make the sequester a bad thing

FTFY
 
2013-03-06 10:21:04 PM  

somedude210: I_C_Weener: Those of us in the private sector have been dealing with that for years now.

you also, in theory, get paid a lot better than those of us in government

/we're just a bit more secure in our jobs


Having read the government pay scales, allow me to say.

BWAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
 
2013-03-07 07:43:37 AM  

Dusk-You-n-Me: I_C_Weener: now it is time for the Democrats to give in on spending cuts.

It's like the $2.8T in spending cuts signed already into law don't even exist.


But the New Deal programs are still in place. The Rape-ublicans won't be happy until the US is in the same shape it was in under Hoover. God help us.
 
2013-03-07 07:45:43 AM  

Hack Patooey: St_Francis_P: The talking points are always a little confusing, but lately they're just flat contradictory. The sequester is and isn't bad, but the government is hoarding bullets to shoot patriots who riot because of the sequester, but the GOP wanted to cut spending the whole time, but it's Obama's fault. There, did I cover all the salient points?

I dont see Jesus or gays mentioned.  Rewrite it and I'll re-grade your paper by Friday.


He also omitted Benghazi.
 
2013-03-07 09:01:07 AM  

Muk_Man: Because even though SS payments aren't necessarily a good long-term economic investment, I would still say it's necessary as a developed country. So I think splitting the number into two portions is too difficult to be useful. Also, ideally taxes should cover some of the investment capital as well imo.


It is entirely useful and absolutely necessary.  If you finance all of your humanitarian spending via borrowing, if you ever face a situation where you can no longer borrow, you can no longer finance your humanitarian spending.  If we were shut out of the bond markets tomorrow, and could no longer finance our borrowing, we would be forced to dramatically reduce our military/welfare budgets - throwing millions of people into the streets.  And that is a serious problem.  If we financed those programs via tax revenue, there is nothing to worry about, as we could still afford them.

That distinction is extremely important and needs to be discussed.

Muk_Man: The bottom line is eventually the US is going to have to run a surplus for awhile, and to do that you'll need targeted spending cuts (these automatic cuts are insane), with tax increases (a few more points on the wealthy now imo, then extend the raises to the middle class once the economy is on it's feet a little more) AND you'll need economic growth. Which is hard when you're cutting spending and raising taxes, so the cuts and raises need to be phased in slowly. Unfortunately the politics in the US right now are so crazy this will never happen.


We need more than targeted spending cuts and a few tax increases - we have a serious deficit that will require serious action.

And increased spending doesn't necessarily mean increased economic growth.  Humanitarian spending, as we called it before, will not strengthen our country's economy.

Muk_Man: Finally, while I agree the US could have a large issue with borrowing in the future as you suggest (if the US doesn't make progress towards a surplus) I don't think the crisis is as imminent as you think and believe that the economic harm caused by sharp tax raises/spending cuts needed to offset the current volume of borrowing would be pretty catastrophic. So for now a support continued borrowing. I don't think anyone is arguing this is a permanent solution though.


I guess I'll just have to disagree with you on this one.  We're going to have an extremely difficult time financing trillion dollar deficits in the next few years.
 
2013-03-07 09:04:55 AM  

KhanAidan: Your arguments do as well. There is absolutely no specific productive benefit to constructing a road until it can be used (secondary expenditures of transportation). This would be similar for education, or almost anything you can think of. Nearly all government expenditures follow the same situation.


You can determine whether or not a road will be a good investment through studies.  You cannot determine whether or not the money that you give to a person will ever end up funding a good investment.  To argue otherwise is rather asinine.

KhanAidan: I don't know. I'm not advocating a position for cuts in specific programs. I'm merely pointing out that your method of determining whether a program should have government expenditures involved makes little sense. Without knowing more about program spillovers/externalities, taking a stance on one program versus another just doesn't make sense.


Obviously.  I'm making the argument that you should only borrow and spend if you are borrowing and spending on a productive project.  To determine whether or not something is a productive project, you need to do studies and research it.  It seems as though you are suggesting that direct transfers of money to individuals could be productive - depending on what they spend it on - which is certainly possible, but I doubt that you could show it through any sort of study (and it doesn't seem too likely, particularly in this investment free economy) which is why I don't think you can call it productive spending.
 
2013-03-07 10:55:12 AM  

MattStafford: You can determine whether or not a road will be a good investment through studies. You cannot determine whether or not the money that you give to a person will ever end up funding a good investment. To argue otherwise is rather asinine.


I think you underestimate the difficulty of deciding whether any project is necessarily a good investment.  Very very rarely are the studies done with any decent analysis.  The reason?  Studies about specific projects almost entirely ignore any spillover or externalities created with the funding of the project.  For example, when California attempted to implement Tennessee's STAR program for their education system; it created all sorts of problems.  Studies had shown the effectiveness of lowering class size on student performance, but they had completely ignored knock-on effects that the program would create in teacher hiring.  California actually saw a decrease in student achievement despite lowering class sizes.

The more one tries to get an accurate description of the true effects of any policy, the more it costs and the more time it takes, preventing or delaying effective action.  My point simply remains; doing a cost-benefit analysis to decide government expenditures makes little sense given that most government choices are specifically targeting spillover/externality problems.

MattStafford: Obviously. I'm making the argument that you should only borrow and spend if you are borrowing and spending on a productive project. To determine whether or not something is a productive project, you need to do studies and research it. It seems as though you are suggesting that direct transfers of money to individuals could be productive - depending on what they spend it on - which is certainly possible, but I doubt that you could show it through any sort of study (and it doesn't seem too likely, particularly in this investment free economy) which is why I don't think you can call it productive spending.


Again, I am suggesting that if transfers to individuals could be productive, then we shouldn't just dismiss it as unproductive.  As I mentioned earlier, there has already been a little bit of work indicating that the stereotypical idea of consumption as a non-productive sector may not be accurate.  Which makes sense given that an increase in a firm's revenues likely leads to at least some portion of that income stream moving into investment/R&D (one might think of it as the marginal propensity to research or invest).  However, I am not suggesting that consumption is necessarily a positive thing either.  I am merely pointing out that as I have mentioned before, this cost-benefit analysis that you are suggesting is not a realistic way of deciding how best to allocate government funds.  In theory, it's a perfectly legitimate (and I as well as most economists would agree, a useful) idea.  In practice, it just doesn't jive with reality.
 
2013-03-07 09:28:15 PM  

Weaver95: so basically it goes like this:

GOP: 'we love spending cuts.  spending cuts are GREAT!  [arranges sequester].  oh yeah, this is gonna be AWESOME!'
Obama: 'um...this isn't necessary. we can find other ways to cut spending and minimize the impact on the poor and middle class.'
GOP: 'SPENDING CUTS NAOW!'
Obama: 'but...
GOP: CUTS NAOW!'
Obama: fine.  its your budget, you live with it.
GOP: 'hey, wait!  people are mad at us!  OBAMA!  THIS IS YOUR FAULT!  GOTDAMN YOUUUUUUUUUU!'


Sometimes, I think you're off your rocker. With this though, I agree.
 
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