And yet state and local governments are part of "the government" often criticized for being too big and intrusive (and they're the ones that interfere more with day to day actions). Even though Obama isn't responsible for it (and rather wanted more aid to fill budget shortfalls that resulted in state and local layoffs), the fact of the matter is that "the government" employs fewer people than it did before Obama took office.
Let me make sure I have this crystal clear here. You argue that total government size has decreased under Obama. I prove at the very least that the size of the Federal government (which Obama actually has control over) has increased. Your new argument is that although Obama is not responsible for the size of state government, his goal was to prevent layoffs, and now you're crediting Obama for reducing the size of "total" government because people at the state level lost their jobs
? In other words, by your own admission, Obama failed at the job he set out to do during a time when it was critical that he succeed, and you think that this supports your argument? I don't see that as decisive evidence.
And while spending has increased, it has been slower than during other recent administrations, enough so that spending as a percent of GDP has gone down.
Even if that is true, it's completely and utterly irrelevant. All you're doing is taking an extremely bad situation and trying to make it sound not so bad. Why would the rate of spending increase from year to year have anything to do with how much spending there has been overall?
As you can plainly see, spending merely went high and stayed high, and while taking in fewer revenues. The deficit is now a larger percentage of overall spending than "other recent administrations."
But to answer your question, Yes, Nixon was, and is, to the Right of Obama. No doubt about it.
But by what yardstick? Policies as implemented? The direction he steered things? How have you reached that conclusion?
Not sure how you want me to explain that. Might as well ask me to explain why a fox and a dog, being different animals, are still related. Someone on the Right can make a decision that a "Leftist" would normally make (like raising taxes) and still be on the Right. Are you suggesting that Nixon was actually a Democrat?
So then, what are you trying to imply by calling him that?
I'm suggesting that it was a liberal
thing for Lincoln to have abolished slavery and freed the slaves, seeing as it overthrew a long-standing cultural institution to correct a perceived wrong. The conservatives of the day wanted to maintain the status quo.
That seems like a very difficult thing for you to prove, considering that the labels of "Liberal" and "Conservative" did not really exist back then, or else people didn't define themselves that way. I don't think you really understand what it means to be a Conservative. It's not about some kind of effort to prevent societal change. Even so, Republicans "of the time" wanted to abolish
slavery, not continue it, or "maintain the status quo." It was the Democrat party that desired to prevent Republicans from changing that way of life and destroy the "cultural institution." Are you suggesting that Democrats "of the time" would be recognized as Conservatives by today's standards?
Also, I like how you call slavery "a perceived wrong." Sort of gives the idea merit, doesn't it?
[Note: You realize that if I said anything like that, I'd surely be labeled a racist? I'm sort of curious why no one else has called you out on that yet...]
Lincoln suspended habeas corpus (and did not reinstate it after a court ordered him to do so) and incarcerated thousands of US citizens without trial.
Conspirators who were trying to assassinate the President, secede from the Union and continue the abomination of slavery for years to come. I would do the same thing in his place. If that makes either of us dictatorial, then just call me Hussein.
He also spent money independently of Congress.
Citation? I don't remember ever hearing about that in school. Of course, I learned about much of Lincoln's history through public education. *rimshot*
But so what if he did? People on both the Right and the Left have done that. I don't think it's right for them to have done so, but why does that mean he's not a Republican or Whig or whatever it was he thought himself to be at the time?
Obama has so far displayed fewer dictatorial tendencies.
How about the fact that, in an election year when the problem he is supposed to be solving is unemployment
and problems with the economy
, he finds it more important to make sure that none of our immigration laws are enforced? He came out and suddenly declared that the US would no longer deport any illegal immigrants. Surely you don't think Obama wants us to be the only nation without enforceable immigration laws?
How about the fact that, when evidence exists that Eric Holder, head of the Justice Department, may have bypassed congress in order to promote his anti-gun agenda, Obama agrees to extend Executive Privilege on documents that may have been harmful to his case?
How about the Cybersecurity Act of 2009 (which thankfully failed) that would have given the President the right to shut down the internet without congressional approval due to any kind of "Cybersecurity Emergency?" That doesn't sound like a power a dictator might use? How many more things do I need to list here?
A secondhand statement that Obama's campaign manager proposed a Constitutional amendment to "stifle any and all free speech that challenges Obama" when what he actually proposed was an amendment to overturn the Citizens United verdict (Democrats have their own superPACs which would be outlawed too).
First of all, people are reading the Citizens United ruling and taking it to mean something other than its actual decision. It was not that Corporations Can Spend As Much Money On Political Ads As They Want; it was regarding a stipulation in the 2002 McCain-Feingold Act (A.K.A., the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act or BCRA) that said releasing a movie about a political candidate within 60 days of a general election or within 30 days of a primary constituted electioneering (paraphrasing) and that spending money on a communications that were considered to be electioneering was outlawed by the FEC. The ruling was that this provision of the McCain-Feingold Act was Unconstitutional. According to Wikipedia, "The case did not involve the federal ban on direct contributions from corporations or unions to candidate campaigns or political parties, which remain illegal in races for federal office."
The people who are in favor of a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United verdict are often in favor of removing "corporate person-hood" (a term that merely means that a corporation
---made up of people
---has the same right to free speech, etc, that a person
would) because they're afraid that "Republican" corporations will simply "buy" elections and make sure that only the candidates that they like will be elected. Most of these above people vote Democrat and hate Republicans anyway, and what they fail to realize is that Democrats have historically
been able to raise more money than Republicans by taking advantage of the Unions and holding fundraisers that tend to be targeted towards left-leaning businessmen, Liberal celebrities and anyone else willing to give them money.
One thing about Progressives is that they almost always seem to think government can do a better job than the private sector in every way given the chance,
You're describing Communists, not Progressives.
Did you read what I linked earlier
describing Progressives. Communists want public ownership of the means of production, rather than allowing private ownership while letting the government have the ability to control and influence the economy to give the illusion of a free market (which seems to be what is happening nowadays), which is what I'm trying to get at when I describe Progressives. Their solution to everything seems to be to throw money at their favored organizations (Solyndra), rather than letting the people take care of it themselves.
As for "The 'People's' Budget" it's just more of what I described above. It increases the size of government, reduces tax loopholes while jacking up taxes for millionaires and billionaires, addresses capital gains as just another source of income (thereby taxed by the Income Tax rate), assumes the cost of Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security will stay the same, assumes reduced deficits due to increased taxation and assumes that America's GDP will increase substantially---which is how they figure the debt will be 65% of GDP by 2021. It assumes significant economic growth while punishing the successful people who drive
the economy in the first place for their success. This plan of theirs is inherently flawed.
I think what you're doing here is identifying problems with Bush, labeling those problems as "Progressive" to identify Bush as one, and using that identification to judge "Progressive" policies as bad (and conversely, "Conservative" policies as good). ... If you want to use your definitions, you should first specify that they are different from how the terms are used in modern politics.
Perhaps. I should probably take a step back and rethink that a bit.
Progressives seem to believe staunchly in Keynesian economics and/or tend to advocate spending more than we take in over a longer period of time.
I mentioned this before, but the supply-side policies of Reagan and Bush rely on Keynsian-based models.
In either case, the Keynsian response is for the government to apply targeted stimuli to address the market imbalance. Then (in the part ignored by most real-world policy), once the imbalance is corrected, the government should raise taxes, end the stimuli, and run a surplus to do two things: maintain its fiscal soundness, and prevent the extra money injected by the stimulus from triggering a bubble as people speculate beyond what the fundamentals of the market can bear out.
How exactly does Reagan's economic profile match up with that of a Keynesian? Keynesian economics run on a demand-stimulus method, not a supply-side. According to Wikipedia, "The four pillars of Reagan's economic policy were to reduce the growth of government spending, reduce income tax and capital gains tax, reduce government regulation of economy, and control money supply to reduce inflation." This is nothing close to Keynesian economics, and in fact is in opposition to it. Where in the world did you get that Keynesian economics was supply-side?
Can we agree that we are on the low side of the Laffer Curve? Do I have to bring out that regression that shows the best economic growth at a 60%-70% top rate?
Why would economic growth naturally go with a 60-70% tax rate? Because high taxes and strong economic growth always
go hand-in-hand? I would like to see what evidence you have (and if you've showed me this before, I apologize but I can't remember exactly) that leads you to that conclusion.
I'm talking about excessive regulation. That's why the Constitution is a list of things the government CANNOT restrict, and not what the government can DO. The Founding Fathers wanted to avoid excess regulation.
The Constitution CONTAINS a list of thing the government cannot do, but it also has a bunch of stuff explaining what the government can do and the means it should use to go about doing them. Like, say:
All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.
And just before that, the Preamble outlines a bunch of stuff that the new Constitutional government is supposed to achieve. The Founding Fathers wanted the right amount
of laws and regulation.
That's not a directive for something the government can DO, that's a guideline to the formation of the government system. So, sure, the Constitution is really more or less a guide to a better way of governance. But it's core principles are about not restricting the rights of its citizenry and ensuring individual liberties.
The Founding Fathers were all worried about excessive government; things like the Proclamation of 1763, the Currency Act, Quartering Act, Stamp Act, Townshend Act, etc. were viewed as offensive encroachments on their personal liberties. They started to be regulated on far too much, and were really pissed that the government would support a monopoly on tea trade (the Tea Act). All of these things were a large part of why we decolonized from the British in the first place.
The part often omitted in rhetoric is that they were also worried about giving the federal government too little power, which was why they replaced the Articles of Confederation with the Constitution, which gave the federal government a lot more power than it had before.
Do you think that the right size
for the government to be is what the Founding Fathers worked with, or some other size to reflect the different jobs demanded of it today?
The right size, certainly. It was not intended to allow congress to pick winners and losers, which is what congress has been doing when they divvy up money to private companies (Solyndra, banks, etc.), which is something I'm strongly against.
Also, the Founding Fathers were against an income tax ["To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical." -Thomas Jefferson].
Their opinions varied. Thomas Jefferson was against cities, banking, and government intervention to protect rights.
Excuse me, but what Jefferson was against was corruption
. How many large cities do you know in America that have no
corruption? And how many see a lot of corruption? That's what he was getting at, and there is some truth there. As for government intervention to protect rights, I can't find anything that says he was purely against that. The closest I can find is, "I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them." That's more along the lines of an economic intervention, e.g., using the "general welfare" as carte blanch to give near-endless government handouts, even to failing businesses (Solyndra).
They saw it as an invasion of property rights ["The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence." -John Adams].Adams was referring to
nationalization and redistribution of all real estate and private property in a Communist-style overthrowing of society.
Your own source has Adams talking about property interchangeably with money as a form of prosperity. He did not literally mean only property like fine silver, jewelery, furniture, horses, land, etc. After all, property can also mean "the money you have earned," as people's wealth is often judged by how much property and investments and/or liquid funds they hold (commonly referred to as net worth). I am not ready to believe I have misinterpreted my original quote.
Until the early 1900s it was unconstitutional to have a federal income tax; that's why they needed an amendment to implement one. Prior to that, the government consisted on tariffs and sales taxes on a lot of popular goods such as alcohol, sugar, tobacco, and so on. But later on they did away with those sales taxes and funded the government almost entirely on tariffs.
Taxation of property and transactions was widespread in the colonial era and continued through the Revolution to the present. The main problem with a national income tax was the requirement to divide revenue from certain kinds of income proportionately among the states (rather than just having a national tax code as today). This requirement was in place due to concerns that certain national taxes could be abused, but it did not cover all types of income (hence the constitutionality of a corporate income tax enacted before the Sixteenth Amendment). But that's rather moot apart from its historical significance, since we have the Sixteenth Amendment today, and there is no (serious) question about the constitutionality of federal income taxes.
Are you saying my questions about the constitutionality of the 16th amendment are irrational? That strikes me as being dismissive of my concerns for no reason other than "It's The Law."
Let me put this another way. Let's say that the Constitution had a stipulation stating that congress could not restrict, for example, the sale of ice cream. Everyone likes ice cream and buys it frequently. Now, let's say that in order to satisfy a long-lasting shortage of dairy used in the production of making butter, ice cream, etc., congress enacts a temporary measure to restrict the sale of ice cream. The crisis passes and congress redacts the measure. Later on, the crisis recurs and congress enacts the measure again. Soon, the courts declare that this measure is unconstitutional and cannot be enacted legally. Shortly thereafter, congress issues an amendment to the constitution saying that congress has the power to restrict the sale of ice cream. If the amendment itself violates the intended spirit of the Constitution, does that make the amendment any more or less valid or constitutional?
Are you still suggesting my concerns are unfounded?
I think that proves a national Sales Tax, along with already-existing taxes on imports and exports, could work by them to fund a slightly smaller government as long as we put more power back into the hands of the people. I'm not talking about creating a civilian military; that's dumb. I'm talking about making education more privatized instead of relying almost exclusively on the government to provide a good education; things like that.
Can you describe a single example for each where, in the world, a modern government of the kind you would want for the US covers its expenses without an income tax and where a sufficiently privatized (for whatever standard you are getting at there) education system produces results comparable to modern socialized education? The main reasons for the near-universality of income taxes and public education are their economic incentives. People usually want more money regardless of how much they have, so (well-planned) income taxes introduce very little distortion of economic incentives for different behavior, letting market forces steer things to maximum efficiency despite bites that would wreck markets if implemented with different methods of taxation. They can also be made to target those who can most easily afford it better than other taxes, which helps the economy run better (poorer people spend more of their income, so a tax that hits richer people harder results in less lost economic activity). Education is a textbook case of large positive externalities resulting in private markets supplying less than is optimal for society as a whole. Education has enormous benefits for the entire economy, but few immediate benefits for students and their families. Private education has long been too expensive for the poor even though the expense pays off well over time. Since this payoff can't be captured well enough to be profitable by a single private company unless it sets up company towns or such, it falls to governments to make the socially-optimal level of investment of education.
I can't give you a real world example to my ideas because I don't believe that there's a good example of them anywhere. The best I can offer is to point out that our GDP is over $15 trillion and that even 20% of that (if it were a sales tax) is more than we take in in federal income taxes (income taxes account for only $1 trillion, the rest being excise taxes and so on). I realize that that's a very simplified way of explaining it, but if a flat national sales tax were to replace the federal income tax while still allowing a much smaller state income tax (but no state sales tax), and while still allowing a provision to give those below the poverty line (or those whose post-tax situation would place them below the poverty line) a "prebate" on the sales taxes they would spend, the situation moves from placing a burden on the lower-income families to allowing it to remain on the higher-income earners (as it already is and has been).
As for education, if you think the last bastion of hope for our education system lies in the public sector or its Unions, then I'm sorry to say you are completely and utterly mistaken. It's already been proven that private schools tend to dramatically outperform public schools. And your argument about private schools being too expensive is devoid of merit.
Especially when you consider that the costs of public
education are usually considerably higher than private education, we just don't see them because they usually come out of our taxes. In fact, the costs have been getting higher and higher as the years go by, and there has been almost no improvement in test scores in public schools. And if public and private were competing or equal terms with an equal or comparable funds, private education would very likely STILL trump public education, or else public education would slowly get better and rise in quality until it was better-matched with the private sector. The factors involved go deeper than just the money spent on each school. The issue with your way of thinking---and I'm not calling you out specifically, a lot of people think that way---is that they see public schools as "free" and private schools as a "purchase," which is where that idea comes from.
And even if your argument about private education being that much more expensive had any merit, there are already government programs that offer vouchers and tax credits/rebates, and public and private scholarships that allow lower-income students to attend much better schools. I would think you and I can both agree that those programs need only be made a little more accessible to the public in order to ensure that more students who receive a less-than-adequate education can find better schools. Especially in, for example, Washington D.C.
Regarding the issue of "placement" for private schools, profitability and so on, perhaps the answer is in how to make those schools more of an economic incentive. Otherwise, perhaps funding private schools with public funds and turning them into charter schools is a better idea. What are your thoughts on this?
Each dollar on the ground has its own note which says something of the painter's ideas relating to monetary and fiscal policy.
And yet I can't really find any general fault with anything he writes about them.
That was more to point out the difference in interpretation than to disagree. But if you want to look for fault, let's have a look:
1. The US is quite a ways form bankruptcy. The national debt is close to GDP, but that's not what matters for bankruptcy. US net worth and wealth are both quite a bit more. Also, most of the national debt is owed to US citizens. Also, interest on the debt was less than 5% of the budget last year, so the outlined scenario is not going to happen any time soon.
First, the National Debt is above
GDP right now. GDP is approx. $15 trillion right now. US National Debt broke
$16 trillion just last week (which I believe was after you made the above argument, so I'm not going to really fault you for not including that here), and it is still climbing with no end in sight. Pres. Obama's own budget projections
showed us taking on about $9 trillion in extra debt over the next 10 years---about $25 trillion by 2022. Assuming we're not close NOW, that will put us dangerously close to bankruptcy.
As for the interest being only 5% of the budget, is that including all of what we borrow
? That's not how those numbers go together. We should be looking at it in terms of interest versus income
. In which case, assuming that 2011 saw ~$2.3 trillion in revenue and interest on the debt was ~$454 billion (treasurydirect.gov), that comes to almost 20% of revenues. That's a completely unreasonable number, and we NEED to find a way to seriously cut spending and reduce the national debt before said interest gets much higher. If not, we are
headed for a financial meltdown.
3.IF such an unprecedented panic happens, it would indeed cause trouble, but it would be moderated by the large wealth of the US and countries that use the dollar or currencies pegged to the dollar and by the Federal Reserve acting to reduce the money supply. Another difference with Weimar Germany is that the Treaty of Versailles forced Germany to try to pay war reparations that it could not, economics be damned, and the resulting printing of money caused hyperinflation
. The US faces no comparable issue today.
I disagree. The rate at which we are spending and borrowing, and with no plans to halt either, seems to me that the situation is almost completely out of control, and unless we do something NOW, that is the road we are headed down. To not be worried about it and actively trying to prevent it would be folly.
4. This is accurate, but comparable to the situation after World War Two, which was handled easily by reasonable fiscal and economic policies.
The likes of which I do not see being enacted now, which is why we're having this discussion.
7. And what happened in the early eighties to cause that? Reagan began the era of "trickle-down" supply-side economics and high-income tax cuts where "deficits don't matter" except as an excuse to push policy. Do you think that reversing this trend could be accomplished by a return to preceding conditions like a high top marginal tax rate and demand-side stimulus?
I do not. Reagan's policies nearly doubled revenues by the end of his term. Congress was largely responsible for the debt that took place during that time. If spending had stayed at the level of his first term, Reagan's policies would have reduced the debt by a considerable amount. And yet, you would not be wrong in suggesting that Reagan allowed it to happen, which makes it partly his fault. However, Reagan's policies of lower taxation were not responsible for ALL of the debt. Maybe in the first few years, but after that, after revenues increased past their starting point, congress increased spending, and didn't stop.
8. Except that the Founding Fathers understood that such a debt could be paid down by increasing taxes, which they did. The debt was paid off in ~fifty years despite other wars over that period.
Except that Andrew Jackson paid off the national debt largely by selling land and preventing an increase of spending for federal projects. At the beginning of his term, the national debt was $56 million. He paid it off in six years
. No tax alone could have done that. Either way, they were debt free for a year and then they went into a six-year depression that forced them back into debt. We haven't been debt free since, despite congress keeping the top tax rate above 70% for most of the 1900s (it was above 90% between 1950 and 1963 and we still
spent more than we took in).
9. A couple of things here. Though China COULD cause trouble by calling its debt and pulling investments, it would cause trouble for them as well, since the Chinese economy relies on exports, about a third of which go to the US. If we assume that China does try to cut off its economic nose to spite the US, China can't foreclose on the US because the US is a sovereign entity. If a sovereign entity doesn't pay its debts, its credit rating falls, and that's about it unless someone wants to start a war. And if we want to propose that China is suicidal too, they could to that now.
Unless they figure out a way to do that and presumably win, in which case we're boned.
Another thing I think you're missing is that if the US decides not to pay its debts, or goes too far into debt that it cannot make enough money to pull itself out, other countries (China, et al
) may simply stop lending money. This probably wouldn't directly affect trade with the nation inasmuch as the products that are sold in America (unless of course America decided to enact an embargo or boycott or whatever), however it might force America into a panic to dramatically cut spending in an attempt to prevent austerity... which is something we should already be doing.
11. In a healthy economy, what the Fed did would be problematic. However, in a financial meltdown and housing market crash, what it did countered deflation and acted to stabilize the economy.
economy, lending money to people who can't afford to pay it back is a problem. Didn't the government bail out the banks that lent that money as a result? In other words, the taxpayer paid for the business decisions of the nation's corrupt banks? How is that good?
13. That depends on how it comes about. Besides, there is currently plenty of domestic capital. The problem is that the holders don't want to spend it because of lack of demand to justify investment. If the time comes that this is a problem, the economy will probably be doing pretty well otherwise. Besides, demand can create its own supply (If the demand exists, people have money to spend. That money can be borrowed to pay for investments to meet the demand.)
I find your optimism in the act of borrowing a little troubling. It seems like you don't care when we stop borrowing to meet our alleged needs. In any case, what you seem to be doing is dismissing the concern because it isn't catastrophic yet. Is that really the right attitude to have?
14. This seems to confuse the exchange rate of the dollar with its strength as a currency. Look at the higher-valued Pound and the lower-valued Yen. The strength of a currency (especially a fiat currency) is based on the governments and economies backing it, and while the Dollar is declining as a percentage of world currency, it is growing in absolute terms.
I don't think he is confusing the exchange rate with its strength. The dollar is getting weaker because our economy is slumping and because we are printing more money and borrowing. Are you saying that the dollar is getting stronger? And if so, how do you define that?
So, what, we're not discussing this because the trade deficit is not as vastly huge as it was when the numbers supported his claim, despite the fact that they still do? How in the world do you consider this out of date, when the trade deficit is still $42.9 billion, down from $48 billion? Especially when you consider that much of the reduction of the trade deficit was from the drop in oil prices? Or are you dismissing it simply because the numbers are slightly less bad than he made them sound?
Even if that Cherry Tree story is false, Washington was known to be a man of remarkable wisdom and virtue.
Except for the slaves thing.
Sigh... yes, he owned slaves. Are we going to have to get into a discussion of how humanely his slaves were treated or how his Will demanded that his slaves be freed? Do we have to go into how his perception of slavery changed over the years, or some of the other factors involved during that time period?
Anyway, what I was getting at is that Washington was a real person who popular culture has mythologized (including the cherry tree bit
). Sure, he did an admirable job setting precedent and running things, but he wasn't perfect, and his actions don't support all the causes that his idea has been invoked to support. For example, in the Whiskey Rebellion, the debt-ridden federal government decided to raise taxes, so it taxed whiskey (an unprecedented move intended to exercise the federal government's new power). Western distillers didn't like it for various socioeconomic reasons and because they didn't like taxes in general. Adding tensions on the border, they didn't think that the federal government was representing their interests. After protests and skirmishes, Washington arrived with an army and put a stop to things. So while Washington's government was very different from today's, Washington respected Congress's authority to decide what the government should be doing. So it's not very appropriate to invoke Washington to protest Congressional laws on ideological grounds like that.
Sure it is. You don't think Washington and the members Congress always got along as well as that, do you? I recall stories from the middle of the Revolutionary War where Congress refused to send Washington the pay for his troops. Washington was forced to let his troops make their own decision on whether to stay and fight or to leave and return to their families. Less than half of his troops stayed behind, and Washington bid the rest farewell.
What Washington was trying to do was prevent unnecessary bloodshed (people were attacking the tax collectors---government officials who were just doing the job they had been assigned). As Washington came to town with his army, the riot disbanded before he actually got there. It's not like Washington really did anything but show his ability and willingness to enforce the law. It turned out to be greater than the people's desire to protest it.
The Constitution may be supreme, but there are other written laws in force which constitute the Rule of Law in America, as decided by Congress and the States as outlined in the Constitution. Which actions have blatantly trod upon which parts of the Constitution?
Some of the things I mentioned above, as well as these
. Granted, some of those things are before he became President; perhaps a list like this
one, although a bit Birther-ish, is a better representation. It's still a list of decisions he's made and actions he's taken. If you'd like to discuss the above lists, perhaps we can do it in a separate discussion?