Politics (formerly Election 2012)

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Re: Election 2012

Postby Brekkie » Sat Sep 29, 2012 9:18 pm

The Bush administration gained office with a big budget surplus left over from Clinton's management.
They promptly spent it through the Medicare prescription drug entitlement, and the Bush tax cuts which disproportionately favored high-earners.

This isn't necessarily bad.
The GOP argument has been and continues to be that our tax rates do not occupy the optimal point on the Laffer Curve. Specifically that we overshot, and are taxing too much, and with a non-optimal distribution. That's a reasonably defensible argument.

The Laffer Curve basically predicts that if you cut taxes by X, government revenue will obviously decrease by X, but there will be more economic activity because people will have more money. Due to there being more economic activity, overall people will be making more money, and as a result pay more in taxes, even at the now-lower rate. This increase in tax revenue is Y.
If Y would be greater than X, than you are taxing at too high a rate, and should cut taxes. This would be both good for the population, good for the economy, and good for government revenue.

The Laffer Curve specifically talks about optimizing government revenue treating taxation as if were a business, essentially looking at the population as a resource to be "farmed" in the ideal way to maximize "profits". If you start to try to factor in what is best for the PEOPLE or the ECONOMY at the same time, things can get confusing.
If you go the the logical extreme, the more you cut taxes the more happy everyone will be and the more economic activity will increase. So cutting taxes by 100% would bring maximum happiness and maximum economic activity, assuming somehow that it occurs in a vacuum where all government spending and programs and services continue as normal.

When the Bush administration spent the Clinton surplus on the tax cut and the Medicare prescription drug benefit, and was then suddenly confronted with the expensive War on Terror, there were faced with the problem that they had to pay the bills for two occupations with no corresponding increase in revenue. They didn't want to back out of the tax cuts or the Medicare program, nor did they want to find any new sources of funding.
So they just borrowed, and covered up how much the war was costing by not including it in the budget, but instead periodically going to Congress for rubber-stamp one-time "Contingency Operations funding". Effectively the entire war was deficit spending within the Federal budget, they just refused to call it part of the budget and take responsibility for it.

When conservatives talk about how "Obama massively increased the deficit" compared to Bush, a big piece of that claim is really just that the Obama administration finally added the War on Terror to the official budget and properly accounted for it and how much it was costing. The remaining deficit spending by Obama have been recession-countering TEMPORARY tax cuts (for example the Making Work Pay tax credit, which was allowed to expire after 2 years) and one-off stimulus.

The difference between Bush deficit spending and Obama deficit spending is that, in macroeconomics, you are SUPPOSED to deficit spend during a recession, and then pay down the debt when times are good. But Bush's administration did the opposite, increasing the debt during good times, and leaving Obama with no choice but to continue increasing it during the bad times he inherited. This is why it is not inconsistent to consider Bush's deficit spending irresponsible, but Obama's to be OK. It's not partisanship.

Until recent decades, taxation was viewed as a relatively uninteresting way to pay the bills. Republicans and Democrats disagreed over exactly what money should be spent on, but after consensus had been reached there was a general understanding of the necessity to match taxation to the spending level that had been determined as necessary.

More recently, the Republican party has committed to a different tactic entirely, called "Starve the beast". They view Democratic programs such as the social safety net as unacceptable, but instead of arguing against them on their merits have instead started to combat such programs by making them unaffordable through irresponsible accounting.

The goal goes something like this:
-GOP leaders make an unbreakable commitment to NEVER raise taxes
-When the GOP is in power, they quietly deficit spend and increase the debt to set up further deficit spending in the next administration to look profligate
-When the GOP is not in power, they point at the deficit, the debt, and then at the social programs and demand that the only responsible thing to do is cut them in order to balance the books.

"Starve the beast".
There's a reason why Democrats are always complaining about having to do the hard work to clean up Republican financial messes.




As for Obamacare contributing to the deficit, I really am not sure on that. Conservatives claim doomsday scenarios where it costs huge sums of money. The CBO and the Obama administration, as well as independent think tanks and hospitals, seem to think it will be a wash and break even as revenue neutral. I don't know enough about the guts of the law or the relevant economics to have an informed opinion myself.
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Brekkie » Sat Sep 29, 2012 9:28 pm

He never extended an olive branch, he never gave them anything at all that they could go back to their constituency with, he ignored them and chastised them at the same time.


For the record, it was the House Republicans, Boehner and Ryan in particular, who sabotaged the Grand Bargain which included modest tax increases ONLY on high-earners, and $2 of spending cuts for every $1 of tax increases.

The Tea Party Republicans killed it with their mantra of "No Compromise". The Democrats sacrificed all their sacred cows, and the GOP was willing to give them nothing in return.
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Fridmarr » Sat Sep 29, 2012 10:13 pm

aureon wrote:Enriching the higher shrines brings more investment and less spending, for even more overproduction.
Wasn't the sole cause, or perhaps not even a major one, but to say it had no responsibility at all is quite debatable.
A crisis this long is triggered by something (Oil shock + housing bubble burst), but then keeps going due to worse underlying issues (In this case, overproduction and sticky prices/wages, and if we want to go there, misallocation of talent and capital into non-producing zero-sum schemes such as derivative markets, but that's.. debatable again)

The deregulation didn't happen under Bush (we've seen it going since Reagan), but more than that, what was needed in the wake of electronic fast-communication explosion was the regulation of shadow banking, which didn't happen. And yes, that responsibility was Bush's.
Of course, i highly doubt Gore or Kelly would've done that, either. But "tu quoque" isn't a valid justification.

Overproduction is pretty debatable and certainly I would think that the effects of the US tax cuts would be pretty inconsequential on a global production scale for whatever value you assign to the overproduction issue as a whole.

I think saying that deregulation wasn't an issue (which is what I said), is fairly different than saying a certain set of regulations could have helped. So what I think you are finding debatable is not something that I did say. In other words, I'd agree that some regulations on the subprime market could have helped, I'm simply saying that there wasn't particularly problematic deregulation under Bush.

I don't think subprime regulation in 2000 would have prevented things, but yes we probably would not have been as leveraged nearly as far. Subprimes ballooned in the early/mid 90s, and I really do not think that even if the Bush administration wanted to reign them in that he could have, because they were happening disproportionately for minorities, and any attempt to stop them would have racial implications in congress.

aureon wrote:The truth is, this is the first time that Filibuster became standard operating procedure. Not counting Lieberman, Obama had filibuster-proof majority for less than six months.
Sure, he could've rushed more in those six months, but telling anyone that there wasn't a ridicolous amount of scorched earth opposition from the GOP is laughable.
Even before i actually sit down and studied what had happened in America in the last years, the whole debt ceiling debate over anything makes one notice that something is wrong in the GOP's idea of "compromise" and "politics".
It certainly is not the first time it was SOP. Bush found it pretty regularly with his judicial nominations...I think it reached double digits. However, the filibuster proof majority doesn't really matter to my point, and I'm aware it only existed for a short time. Obama had a handfull of GOP votes for the stimulus which is when he lost control with his divisiveness and he's never made even the smallest effort to do anything about it.
The debt ceiling debate was hardly one sided if you want to talk about things that are wrong with compromise and politics. It's amazing what had to be at risk to get a bi-partisan bill passed on any contentious issue in this administration (70% Rs and 58% Ds voting for it). Scorched earth on one side, zero level of compromise on the other...they just beget each other. There's no right side there, but there is a leader who has done much more to cause it than to solve it.
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Fridmarr » Sat Sep 29, 2012 10:44 pm

Brekkie wrote:The Bush administration gained office with a big budget surplus left over from Clinton's management.
And I bet republicans would counter that it wasn't from Clinton's management but rather it stemmed from their management being the first time in 40 years that they had control of congress. Remember the whole republican revolution and all that.

Starve the beast isn't meant to be accompanied by increases in deficit spending or some conspiracy to bring down the government. The idea actually has quite a bit of merit because you will never get congress to not spend their expected revenue. Bush took a lot of shit over Plan D, in fact it was part of what brought about the tea partiers, in theory deficit spending was their primary aim and many of them (at least early on) chided Bush. Keep in mind their initial focus in elections was on republicans who they felt were not pushing for corresponding spending cuts.

I do think Obama gets a bit of a pass on his deficit spending...to a point. The various stimulus packages have been pretty big and of bleh effectiveness. He also, as you point out now takes ownership of the Bush tax cuts, at least on the part for income earners of less than 250k (all of it for a little while), but that comprises about 75% of the cost if I remember right.
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Paxen » Sun Sep 30, 2012 1:00 am

Starve the beast: "Government doesn't work, and here's how we'll prove it"
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Brekkie » Sun Sep 30, 2012 2:35 am

Here's the problem I have with fiscal conservative ideology:

When I look at government spending, I start from the goal, and work backward.

I evaluate proposed government programs by the following criteria:
1)Is it something worth doing that betters society?
2)Is it something it appropriate for government to be doing, according to the Constitution?
3)Is it something that government is capable of doing more effectively than alternatives, such as private businesses, or that government assistance would complement through a joint effort?

If a program meets all three criteria, I add it to the list of things I want my government to do.
When I've done all my evaluating, I tally up the cost of everything on my list. That is the price of government. I then figure out the most effective way to raise that revenue through taxes.



Fiscal Conservatives look at the problem from the opposite direction. Their process seems to be something like:

1)How much money am I comfortable being taxed/the government having?
2)The government has that much money to use as best it can.
3)Anything more than that is "big government", and must be cut at all costs.


I don't like this. It seems to say "cut things that are worth doing and make society better and that only government is really capable of, for no other reason than my arbitrary discomfort with big numbers".
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Fridmarr » Sun Sep 30, 2012 4:32 am

Brekkie wrote:Here's the problem I have with fiscal conservative ideology:

When I look at government spending, I start from the goal, and work backward.

I evaluate proposed government programs by the following criteria:
1)Is it something worth doing that betters society?
2)Is it something it appropriate for government to be doing, according to the Constitution?
3)Is it something that government is capable of doing more effectively than alternatives, such as private businesses, or that government assistance would complement through a joint effort?

If a program meets all three criteria, I add it to the list of things I want my government to do.
When I've done all my evaluating, I tally up the cost of everything on my list. That is the price of government. I then figure out the most effective way to raise that revenue through taxes.



Fiscal Conservatives look at the problem from the opposite direction. Their process seems to be something like:

1)How much money am I comfortable being taxed/the government having?
2)The government has that much money to use as best it can.
3)Anything more than that is "big government", and must be cut at all costs.


I don't like this. It seems to say "cut things that are worth doing and make society better and that only government is really capable of, for no other reason than my arbitrary discomfort with big numbers".

Meh, that's a slippery slope. I don't think people are particularly good at accurately describing the logic of those that they are ideologically opposed (especially as it turns out, when the left attempts to understand the right). I think we should tread very lightly here, or the thread could quickly get out of hand. Further, when you say fiscal conservatives, that term covers a rather broad set of beliefs.

I'd argue that your first list explains the more main stream fiscal conservatives fairly well, although there would be something there dealing with the level of government (ie. local/state/federal) with a preference towards better accountability in that regard, and a notion of fiscal stewardship all around. Of course, the first item on your list is incredibly subjective too, and can be molded to fit about anything from either perspective.

Your second list seems silly to me and doesn't follow any logic path that I've really ever come across. I don't think it's accurate at all. I believe we ran into this issue pretty frequently in a previous thread (or maybe earlier in this thread?) where you were articulating your perception of conservative ideals.
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Skye1013 » Wed Oct 03, 2012 6:13 pm

Presidential debates ongoing. Should be somewhat interesting to watch.
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Klaudandus » Wed Oct 03, 2012 6:24 pm

Skye1013 wrote:Presidential debates ongoing. Should be somewhat interesting to watch.


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Re: Election 2012

Postby Skye1013 » Wed Oct 03, 2012 7:10 pm

Debate drinking game:
Take Two Big Gulps If...
•One of the candidates says the word "marriage"
•One of the candidates says "equality"
•One of the candidates says "civil rights"
•One of the candidates mentions "Defense of Marriage"

Take One Drink If....
•One of the candidates says the word "Arizona"
•One of the candidates says the term "DREAM act"
•One of the candidates says the term "Deferred"
•One of the candidates says "Job Creators"
•One of the candidates says "Small Business"

BONUS RULES:
•Chug Your Drink If... the term "47%" come up
•Chug Your Drink If... either of the candidates says the whole terms "marriage equality," "traditional marriage," OR "a man and a woman."
•Toast the person to your right if someone says "Obamacare"
•Toast the person to your left if someone says "Romneycare"
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Fridmarr » Wed Oct 03, 2012 7:34 pm

Lol, I didn't watch the debate, but my guess (not being a big drinker), is that I'd be passed out in about 45 minutes by those rules.
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Fetzie » Wed Oct 03, 2012 7:58 pm

My impression (I have no idea how one decides a winner in these debates):

Romney: "I'm going to name as many policies as I can, say we can make them happen while not making the deficit even larger, but not tell you how we'll do it"
Obama: "I'm going to say lots of numbers, but not really say how those numbers make for better policies than Romney's"

Romney showed off how slippery he really is by the way that he avoided responding to Obama's comments and went on to say something else. Also, Obama's closing statement sounded more realistic, Romney's "I'm going to halve unemployment" wouldn't happen if he forced people to work.
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Skye1013 » Wed Oct 03, 2012 8:12 pm

Missed the end of it because of lunch, but I'm not sure Fox News' "fair and impartial" view that Romney "stomped" Obama is true.
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Skye1013 » Wed Oct 03, 2012 8:14 pm

Fridmarr wrote:Lol, I didn't watch the debate, but my guess (not being a big drinker), is that I'd be passed out in about 45 minutes by those rules.

Three rules were hit (from what I heard), but they were definitely hit enough for all but the heaviest drinkers to have at least a good buzz going:
Take one drink if...
•One of the candidates says "Job Creators"
•One of the candidates says "Small Business"
And:
•Toast the person to your right if someone says "Obamacare"
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"Here are the values that I stand for: I stand for honesty, equality, kindness, compassion, treating people the way you wanna be treated, and helping those in need. To me, those are traditional values. That’s what I stand for." -Ellen Degeneres
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Klaudandus » Wed Oct 03, 2012 8:18 pm

Skye1013 wrote:Missed the end of it because of lunch, but I'm not sure Fox News' "fair and impartial" view that Romney "stomped" Obama is true.


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