"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Three Great Points About the Debt Ceiling Debate

Here are three great points about the debt ceiling debate from three of my favorite bloggers.   The first is from Roger Simon, explaining why President Obama not only doesn't have a plan, but can't have a plan:
President Obama’s been taking a lot of flak lately for not having a plan. First it was about Libya, but now — even more importantly because, as we know, all politics is local (until it’s not) — about the budget.

The latest White House porte-parole Jay Carney has consequently been taking all kinds of in-coming himself about “where’s the President’s budget plan,” “why doesn’t he have a plan,” etc.

Well, the reason for the latter is simple: because he can’t. The minute the president evinces a budget plan, the game is up. No liberal budget will stand up to scrutiny. There is no money left for deficit spending in our aging society. The welfare state is kaput. It’s gone — probably for generations to come.

Of course, there’s always that canard about taxing the rich. That will save things. But the truth is even if you tax the rich at 100%, it barely sets back our entitlement crisis a year or two, while virtually bankrupting the few job creators who remain.
So no wonder Obama doesn’t have a plan. What would it be?
Next we have the great Ace from Ace of Spades HQ:
Republicans have a big problem with Clinton. I get that. I was on the impeachment train myself. I had the pompoms for removal from office.
But our hatred of Clinton is preventing us from using him for our own purposes.
To wit: How about asking the public, "In 1998, under President Clinton, with a 3.8% unemployment rate and GDP growth of 4.5% per year, did you feel the government was too cruel and too vicious to the poor and sick?
The Democrats are always claiming that are cuts are vicious.
In 1998 we spent -- I'm not sure, exactly, but eyeballing it from the figures I see, let's say it spent $1.6 trillion.
If the government was not hard-heartedly cruel and callous spending $1.6 trillion in 1998 -- if, by all liberal accounts, Clinton was doing okay by the poor -- then what exactly is the problem with spending that amount now?
Oh, okay, in inflation. Add in a very generous $0.8 trillion to account for that and that adds up to $2.4 trillion.
If we were spending $2.4 trillion now we wouldn't have a deficit.
I'd go Ace a step further.   Do you think government spending as a percentage of GDP was too low in 1938 at the height of the New Deal?   Do you think it was too low as a percentage of GDP in 1963 when JFK was President?   Do you think it was too low as a percentage of GDP in 1998 when Bill Clinton was President?   Let's take the average federal-government-spending-as-a-percentage-of-GDP for those three slices of time in liberal utopia, and let's say that's what we should be spending now.   The figures?   1938: 7.7%.   1963: 18.6%.   1998: 19.1%.    (Source here.)   I'll take the 15.1% average and run with it... based on current revenues we'd have a surplus and be able to start paying down our debt (an admittedly alien concept to the inside-the-Beltway crowd).   Heck, I'd even take the 1963 and 1998 average of 18.8% or 18.9%.  I could live with it.   What we can't live with is the projections from the Obama Administration of spending 24-25% of GDP ad infinitum.   Are liberals really telling us that FDR, JFK and the Comeback Kid were all cruel when they set their budgets?

Finally, the irreplaceable Mark Steyn:
If the CBO’s scoring is correct — that [the original Boehner plan] reduces the 2012 deficit by just $1 billion — then the ”cut” represents what the United States borrows every five hours and 20 minutes. In other words, in the time it takes to photocopy and distribute Boehner’s “plan,” the savings have all been borrowed back.

As for the rest, I’m philosophically opposed to “entitlements” because they strike at one of the most basic principles of representative government — that a parliament cannot bind its successor. But the same objection applies to jelly-spined legislators announcing grand plans for bazillions of savings years after their term of office has expired. Who knows what’ll be happening in 2017? Maybe North Korea will accidentally nuke the South Sandwich Islands and we’ll be expected to chip in for reconstruction.

That leaves now. And, in terms of spending now now now, the entire political class has made itself a global laughingstock. A month of shuttling back and forth between the Capitol and the White House for “a real, enforceable cut” of $1-7 billion? Boehner might as well have gone to the Turks & Caicos for July and worked on his tan.

Downgrade’s a-comin’.
Doom.   And gloom. 

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