Fragments of truth

This time, not even an entire sentence is required:

…the Republican position appears to be: “How do we preserve current tax rates and most current spending while getting Democrats to accept deep cuts to the small fraction of the budget called non-defense discretionary spending?”

(Could you improve that fragment by subbing in “is” for “appears to be”?)  Ezra Klein’s associated prediction is that a government shutdown is on its way.


Thank God all those former chairs of the Council of Economic Advisors signed that open letter in a remarkable display of unanimity or we.... oh yeah.

Anyone else noticed John Boehner's name rhymes with boner?

John Gay-nerd! Am I right?

How exactly is that not a complete sentence?

It lacks a capital "T" ?
Otherwise, it's only incomplete. I imagine, because Tyler borrowed it from a longer sentence and decided to call it a fragment. The message in this independent clause is clear, concise, complete, and in my opinion accurate.

The bigger news is the eight bills they plan introduce winding down government support of Fannie and Freddie. If you think the housing market is in the pits right now, think about the following. Who will buy mortgage back securities without the implicit government guarantee? Will banks ever write a 30 year fixed mortgage again? Will 20% down (or maybe even more) be required? Will any private sector company insure such mortgages? Inquiring minds want to know!! I suspect we will see another 10% or more drop in prices. Irrational exuberance indeed.

C'mon, you should have more faith in the market.

The last time anyone said that, "...have more faith in the market", it led to a multi-trillion dollar bailout of the banking sector.

Is that the banking sector controlled, supervised, regulated, and "encouraged" by USG?

Yeah - the same government controlled, supervised, regulated and encouraged by the banking sector.

Are we talking about the financial world AFTER Glass-Steagall was repealed? A free market world where you could stack a few AAA bonds on top of a many many CCC rated bonds and have the entire CDO rated AAA by top rating agencies-- who were stretching, but not breaking, the restrictions of the regulations as they existed at the time?

Oh no! Horrors! Homeowners might have to actually afford the loans they take out rather than having Uncle Sugar Daddy Sam as a backstop! People might have to make responsible decisions again!

A mature and intelligent response

I hope you're not implying that lenders played no role in the outcome and that irresponsible decisions by borrowers were the primary problem.

As a current renter, I have no problem with home prices dropping further.

It's one thing to talk.

It's another thing to govern.

I look forward to a shutdown and, in the memory of Alfonse and Gasconne, seeing the Tea Party Republicans go first with their proposals.

It’s another thing to govern.

Yes, and we already know that the Congressional Democrats can't do it, since they entirely failed to get the least bit into the federal budget process when they had a huge majority. Their entire policy since then has been to insist that the Republicans "go first with their proposals," so that they can sit on the sidelines and complain about whatever cuts are made.

Right now, they're complaining about the cuts being only discretionary spending. But the President himself has ruled out any cuts to entitlement programs, and even threatened to veto the earlier continuing resolution because it cut defense spending "too much."

Doesn't matter what the Republicans propose, the Democrats will object and never go first. Apparently there's not a cent of programs that the federal government pays for that largely benefit the rich, or else the Democrats just don't want to cut any of them.

This is really, really funny. You should write for a comedy show or something.

What is funny about it. John Thacker is consistently informed and grounded. Rarely funny ;)

Well, more than anything else, he bases his claims on the idea that the Republicans have acted as responsible stewards of the budget in the past decade (completely false) and have worked with the president instead of just making outrageous demands (even more ridiculous). There's also the fact that, as I said below, the P.P.A.C.A. was a big step towards tacking entitlements, and our biggest issue right now isn't deficits, but a lack of employment opportunity.

Not nearly as humorous as your claim that the P.P.A.C.A. was a big step towards tacking entitlements.

To the extent that it cuts entitlement spending, it's the new Sustainable Growth Rate. It will only engender a new "doc fix." Everything else in it increases entitlement spending.

It's very clear that you and others have absolutely no defense of the Democrats' behavior from 2006 onwards on the economy, since your only response is to say that the Republicans from 2000 to 2006 were also bad. Very true.

I dislike what both of the parties have done. But right now, the GOP House is slightly more sane than what the others are arguing for.

Again, part of the health care reform was to increase spending so as to cover more people. It's not reasonable tp expect that so many new people be covered without an increase in additional spending. Now, the other part of it was to stem the growth in the cost curve. You can argue that what's in there won't work, but as Jon Gruber said, pretty much everything anyone could think of when it comes to cost control was included. We just need time to see what works and what doesn't.

I have plenty of defense for the Democrats' behavior from 2006 to the present: PAYGO, more than anything else, which of course the Republicans abandoned. Other than that, there's really nothing that they've done that is outrageous. It's perfectly reasonable to compare them to the Republicans, especially when it comes to health care spending. While Medicare Part D was not paid for, Obama's health care reform bill was. That's a huge, huge difference.

I'm not sure what you believe is sane about what the Republicans are doing. They're talking about minor spending cuts that would barely make a dent in the deficit this year and make almost no difference in the years to come. Maybe that's not insane, but it's hardly respectable.

I'm confused why you think that Democrats would want to cut programs that benefit the rich. They are their biggest investors, and the bailout - coupled with decades of financial policy - prove rather incontrovertibly that both parties are far more likely to impart value to the rich.

And the Republicans proved they could govern from 1996-2006. . .Um. Er.

Sure, the Republicans were terrible from 2000 to 2006. But the Democrats decided from 2006 on to be even worse.

If anything, the experience from 1994 to 2000 demonstrates that we should give a Republican Congress with a Democratic President another try.

"But the Democrats decided from 2006 on to be even worse."

That's just false.

John, correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the Congressional republicans from 2000-2006 create the mess with spending increases and tax cuts that were set to expire in 2010 but didn't?

Social Security, Medicare, global military control, and a loose debt economy are not caused or salvaged by a 2-4% tax rate difference.

Congressional Republicans contributed to the mess from 2000-2006, especially with their Keynesian fiscal stimulus mix of tax cuts and spending in response to the 2000 recession. I certainly don't claim otherwise. Did Democrats do anything to resolve it when they took Congress or had unified power?


Which was exempted every time a new spending program came along. Was the stimulus paid for by PAYGO? Of course not.

PAYGO was as meaningless as Gramm-Rudman or voting against the debt limit increase.

(Could you improve that fragment by subbing in “is” for “appears to be”?)

No. Because what's described is not a position at all, but a question about how to achieve a goal. With that correction "appears to be" is probably better than "is" because the Republicans' actual goal is to make Obama look bad, and the means are secondary.

And since Ezra Klein (and TPM)'s actual goal is to make the Republicans look bad, and all else is secondary, perhaps "appears to be" is the right word for stories published by devoted partisans and relying on unnamed aides.

Despite what's actually in the story there, what we've actually seen so far in two continuing resolutions is Republicans letting Democrats entirely determine the substance of the cuts. Publicly, the Administration and the Senate leadership have ruled out making any changes to entitlement or mandatory programs as well.

But I suppose we should all ignore the deals that have already passed, and trust these mysterious unnamed sources.

"because the Republicans’ actual goal is to make Obama look bad, and the means are secondary."

He's done a fine job himself and they are too gutless.

Can you imagine if Bush launched a military action without Congressional notice (forget approval) and went on vacation-AGAIN?

"Will banks ever write a 30 year fixed mortgage again?"

If they won't, why the hell should the federal government?

Now that Obama helped extend the war making precedents for US emperors, I expect the next republican will happy to use these new powers.

You're probably right. As with deficits, the Democrats leap over the bar, and the Republicans are happy enough to keep up.

Tyler, earlier today you linked to "Man a Machine" by Julien Offray de La Mettrie whose first paragraph says
"It is not enough for a wise man to study nature and truth; he should dare state truth for the benefit of the few who are willing and able to think. As for the rest, who are voluntarily slaves of prejudice, they can no more attain truth, than frogs can fly."
I was wrong. I though you were a wise man, ready to follow de La Mettrie's advice. But then how can a wise man rely on a slave of prejudice in his search for the truth?

Obama doesn't need any help. He just pre-empted my wife's Inside Edition.

John Thacker,

And since Ezra Klein (and TPM)’s actual goal is to make the Republicans look bad, and all else is secondary, perhaps “appears to be” is the right word for stories published by devoted partisans and relying on unnamed aides.

Even if that's true, so what? Klein is not an elected official. The GOP reps are. The responsibilities are vastly different.

Right. Klein is a journalist.

Actually, Klein is a blogger and political commentator. That != journalist.

Not much difference these days.

PS. Is Tabborak an economist or a commentator?

I think the name for that used to be 'journalist'. I think they call it 'blogger' or 'commentator' now to excuse the lack of objectivity.

When were people who wrote opinion pieces for a living ever objective?

(can't reply below for some reason)

Maybe never, but the question at hand is who should be more expected to make the opposing side look bad, a politician or someone working for a newspaper? Do I think Republicans want Obama to look bad? Of course. Do I think they'd tank the country to do it? Not really.

Huh? Of course their responsibilities are different. I was simply saying that when a political partisan of one side writes about what he thinks the other side's strategy is, you should use the phrase "appears to be" instead of "is."

I wouldn't trust Republicans to accurately summarize the strategy of Democrats.

Yeah, it would be such a nightmare if cut Federal spending back to, say, 2008 levels.

Most of you are probably too young to remember those days. And you're lucky. Everyone was sleeping in the streets, eating dirt and trying to stay warm by burning printed copies of the Constitution. And we deserved it, for trying to run a country on a piddling $2.9 trillion per year!

Thank God we've rapidly cranked it up to $3.7 trillion. Now life is great.

How about cutting military spending, health care spending back to 2000 levels and then restored taxes to 2000 rates?

Ooh, that would result in huge cuts to doctor and hospital CEO pay and cuts in drug company profits not to mention payments to lobbyists!

And the military contractors would take a huge hit, not to mention the economy of the State of Virginia, to name one "red" State.

The horror of 2000 was taxes were so high that people were forced to get jobs and the rate of employment was the highest on record.

I am all for that, Mulp. Why didn't we see it in 2009-2011? It's not like Republicans could have stopped it.

Survey says!

Medicare costs was the biggest threat to the economy and reform would create new jobs.

Because the politicians of both parties are a confused nomadic band of idiots, led by the civil service, the university, and public opinion.

Virginia is a blue state. The part that relies on government spending, even more so.

You forget that the 2.9 trillion was not an accurate reflection because Bush refused to add the War supplemental bills to the budget for fear of looking even worse.

Nice try, but the $3.7 trillion for Obama does not include his ongoing adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq, to say nothing of his bizarre spontaneous invasion of Libya, and his $787 porkulus package from the year before.

Hey, old people! The problem is old people!

Logan's Run had the right idea.

So why don't those big brave Democrats raise taxes? They had two years to do it....Cowards...
Let's go back to the 2007 budget.

Democrats raising taxes in the early 90s without Republican support resulted in the largest deficits in history.

I blame Clinton for the decade of tax cut after job killing tax cut after job killing tax cut.

If it wasn't for two wars, two "broken window" hurricanes, plus a Wall Street ponzi scheme in housing finance, there would have been no jobs created at all during the two Bush terms and the deficit would have been higher than the trillion when Bush left office.

This man is so confused.

John Thacker,

the dems did go first. it is called the obama budget.

Along the same lines, they already tried to get started on controlling health care costs with the P.P.A.C.A. Every single Republican voted against it.

The problem with the Republicans, and with a lot of Democrats, is that they are ignoring the biggest problem in getting deficits under control: the lack of jobs. If job creation saw larger increases, dealing with deficits would be a lot easier.

While I don't doubt that Republicans would have voted against the health care bill no matter what its effects on health care costs, framing it like that is ridiculous, Brian. The Democrats tried to extend health insurance to almost all the population, then tried to manipulate the numbers to make people and the CBO "think" it would control health care costs. The cost control was a means to the end of getting millions of Americans on another entitlement, and there's no reason to think they'll go through with the unpopular cuts it would require.

Even if they did lie (who doesn't?), and that had the effect of "getting millions of Americans good health care", that seems as noble a goal as any to lie for. Better than lying to fight a war. Or lying to sell more guns. Or grab oil?

Hey, if citizens are going to get "yet another entitlement" anyways, might as well make that healthcare.

Vote for my plan: a complete suite of health care facilities in every home, a doctor for every 3 citizens!

I don't lie. And maybe there was something else in Obamacare other than cost reductions. And maybe even those cost reductions aren't as advertised. And maybe there might have been a better alternative. And maybe dicking around with healthcare at the depth of a recession and claiming it was going to end the recession was the wrong thing to do.

Part of the health care reform bill was cost control for public health programs that would hopefully be adopted by private ones. The other part was extending insurance to those who didn't have it and making it better for those who do have it.

The CBO wasn't manipulated into doing anything. It based its projections on a series of assumptions. If you have reason to believe those assumptions are wrong in some way, please prove it.

The CBO tells you why it thinks the assumptions are wrong, but, by law, they don't have the freedom to change a lot of them. It's not like the CBO is completely free to do an honest analysis- it is creature of Congress.

What assumptions does it say are wrong, Yancey?

The *CBO* believes that those assumptions are wrong, as does Medicare's chief actuary. They did everything they could to indicate that they don't believe that the numbers will actually be achieved, but are forced to assume that they will.

The cuts will drive down doctor's fees for Medicare below that of Medicaid. Just like with the Sustainable Growth Rate, there will be a new "doc fix" erasing these. These cuts will never be allowed to happen.

OK, so the Democratic proposal is a $1.7T deficit, and there are absolutely no programs for the wealthy or upper middle class that should be cut.

The Republicans so far have accepted every proposed cut that the Democrats have made. They are essentially farming out the decision over what cuts to make by focusing on a number. Keep the base happy with bills that won't pass the Senate or a veto pen, but the CRs actually passed have contained all Democratic-sponsored cuts. It would seem the perfect opportunity for Democrats to propose cutting Republican-oriented spending or spending aimed at the wealthy-- but no.

I see recently that the Administration and Senate Democrats have found some home heating oil programs for the poor and Pell Grants that they'd be willing to cut, but talk about cutting upper middle class subsidies like high speed rail, NPR, the pay of comfortably middle class civil servants, and boy, that's when they get upset. Try to cut defense spending, and Obama threatens a veto over that.

I'd love to support the Democrats in cutting wasteful spending targeted at the rich and upper middle class. But apparently that's anathema to them.

What are you basing these claims on, John?

President Obama's budget for FY2012, the various Democratic budgets for the rest FY2011, and the two CRs passed so far.

President Obama's budget for FY2012 and for the next ten years shows long-term budget deficits that far exceed anything under George W. Bush, even five to ten years out under full recovery. Sure, many of those things are not his fault (Medicare, Social Security, others), but he refuses to do anything to deal with it. Note that that budget includes letting the Bush tax cuts on the rich expire-- but making permanent the Bush middle and lower class tax cuts. We have a historically high budget deficit in the out years even with the Bush tax cuts on the rich raised.

The two CRs passed so far have consistent of the Republicans taking all the cuts proposed in Democratic budgets, but then only having the term of the CRs be prorated so that we're still "on track" for the full level of cuts the Republicans want. The big headline upper middle class political hobbyhorse cuts haven't actually been implemented. What's been implemented are some cuts to Pell Grants, some cuts to home heating oil assistance for the poor, and some other things.

With the GOP focus on a dollar number, one possible Democratic response would be to offer to cut programs that mainly aid the wealthy. They've refused, showing none of the enthusiasm that they had for, say, ending the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program.

It is absolutely impossible to get our budget deficit in line with only tax raises on the rich. Even assuming that the Bush tax cuts on the rich expire, our deficit will be worse than any year under Bush (as a % of GDP) ever year of the next ten if we follow the President's budget. Even if the marginal tax rate on the rich were raised to 100% we wouldn't close the deficit.

Our options are to increase middle class taxes-- which the President ruled out in his budget-- or to decrease spending. I would like to decrease spending aimed at the upper middle class and wealthy, which includes the benefit formulas for Social Security at the upper end (for those long from retirement, and *not* means testing of benefits, which penalizes savers compared to spenders), and also includes things like NPR. I'd like to get rid of inefficient tax writeoffs for the wealthy, like the mortgage interest deduction. I'd like to reduce defense spending, and eliminate corporate welfare, including farm programs.

The Democrats want none of this, or at least, haven't proposed a dime of cuts to any of these programs. They've proposed trivial cuts in Pell Grants, heating oil for the poor. They're endorsing either massive deficits, or inevitable tax raises on the middle class.

The problem is political fags are gay and John Boner wont stop crying.

To answer the question, my guess is that Republicans are asking 'what is in it for us?' and the reply is 'stuff like Obamacare.' Republicans are representing their constituency and Democrats are mad that Republicans aren't representing the Democrat's constituency.

John Thacker,

"The *CBO* believes that those assumptions are wrong, as does Medicare’s chief actuary. They did everything they could to indicate that they don’t believe that the numbers will actually be achieved, but are forced to assume that they will.

The cuts will drive down doctor’s fees for Medicare below that of Medicaid. Just like with the Sustainable Growth Rate, there will be a new “doc fix” erasing these. These cuts will never be allowed to happen."

This is false. I'm not sure what it will take to convince you people to drop this "doc fix" nonsense.

"This is false. I’m not sure what it will take to convince you people to drop this “doc fix” nonsense."

Either Congress currently not doing a "full" doc fix, or in ten years Congress not voting for a similar relaxation of the cuts in the recently passed law. I certainly don't accept your claim that my prediction of what a future Congress will do is "false."

I agree that there were savings in the recently passed bill. I simply say that those savings will prove as illusory as the Sustainable Growth Rate passed in the mid '90s. As soon as those cuts actually start to bite, seniors and doctors will rally against them, and they will be repealed.

When an end is lawful and obligatory, the indispensable means to is are also lawful and obligatory. (Abraham Lincoln, American statesman)

@orange14: "Who will buy mortgage back securities without the implicit government guarantee? Will banks ever write a 30 year fixed mortgage again? Will 20% down (or maybe even more) be required? Will any private sector company insure such mortgages? Inquiring minds want to know!"

Oldsters like me remember fixed rate 20 year mortgages (that you paid off by middle age) with 20% down (I paid 25% down for my first house) and private mortgage insurance. Incredibly enough, there was housing then. Even more incredibly, it was CHEAPER -- Fannie/Freddie presided over an era in which real estate got more expensive, and I don't think that's an accident. I think people forget that government support often tends to make things more expensive. Exhibits 2 and 3 are health care since the start of Medicare and college education since the large expansion of federal aid.

VJDFRy I'm not easily impressed. . . but that's impressing me! :)

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