Chart of the Day

So tell me again who busted the budget.  Yes it was one George W. Bush!  It’s those bills the Republicans don’t want to pay.  The Bush tax cuts alone exceed the entire projected budget impact of Obama’s policies and didn’t contribute a single job – it’s alleged purpose.  Bush’s stimulus spending also exceeds Obama’s.  And don’t forget Bush inherited a  balanced budget and a good economy.  Obama inherited the worst economic conditions since the great depression and a sky rocketing deficit.

Chart from the NYT via Outside the Beltway

Author: RON BEASLEY

39 Comments

  1. FIrst of all, put it in context by showing the other diagram, too.

    http://www.nytimes.com/images/.....mbWide.jpg

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07.....4sun4.html

    Second, I laugh at the creative use of “costs.” I’m surprised that tax cuts weren’t classified under spending.

    Correct attribution of the 2009 deficit mostly to Bush is found here, along with a more correct graph to use to show the blame for here and now (more important) as well as then. We all know that Obama had intended deficits forever (which shocked wiser people) in his early 2010 address to Congress, and little better has been sought since then.

    http://www.cato-at-liberty.org.....9-deficit/

    * * *

    Nothing about the conditions Obama inherited justifies what has happened since he took office, nor can it blamed on Bush after 2 1/2 years.

  2. Sorry but both of these are bad analyses (the original and the CATO analysis). The best analysis I’ve seen on the subject was done by the CBO.

    http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/121.....ctions.pdf

    It provides a very detailed breakout of the causes for the nearly $12 trillion change over the fiscal years 2002 to 2011 between the CBO projection in the summer of 2001 and the actual results.

    There are questions in terms of how you want to interpret the data (e.g., which President gets which deviations from the projection).

    In my own view, the fair way to assess the projections is as follows

    Taxes: Tax policy changes assigned to the President who did them. Bush tax cuts to Bush through 2010 and into fiscal 2011 (the last 3 months of 2010) and Obama tax bill to Obama.

    “other” tax policy changes unallocated because they are not specified

    Spending: Specific spending programs (e.g., Medicare Part D, ARRA) allocated to the President who passed them. Discretionary spending gaps applied to Bush from 2002 to 2008 and to Obama from 2010 to 2011. 2009 unallocated because of the silly debate over who owns it.

    “other spending” again unallocated.

    Interest split separately

    Technical and economic assumption difference split separately.

    If you do it that way, you get the following percentages of the nearly $12 trillion.

    Bush 32%
    Economic and technical assumptions 28%
    Obama 17%
    Interest 12%
    Unallocated 11%

    To me, that’s a fair analysis. You can argue the assumptions but unless you want to be very partisan in how you do them, it’s hard to move the numbers very much. Lots of interesting things can be gleaned when you go back to the source data.

    In no way can you get to the numbers in the NYT chart unless you want to say that discretionary spending numbers approved by President Obama and a Democratic Congress are somehow caused by President Bush. Now of course you can say this and many on this website would but in my opinion, that’s a pretty biased approach.

    If anyone wants to propose a different attribution methodology, I have all the numbers on a spreadsheet (no big surprise to any here I’m sure)

    My more macro point is when you just post a chart with no understanding of how it was constructed, you don’t advance the dialog very much, particularly when it’s from the CBPP

  3. Attributing blame for the 2009 “results” among Bush and Obama was honest. As to the Times’s graph (the one that the Left has loved to reference), I found it amusing, as I said earlier.

    CBO is, yes, a good standard reference for these things (as is the Budget of the U.S. Government when reviewing tax and spending history and trends, for example). It’s also in the news of sorts, as it checked the Boehner and Obama plans and reported that neither plan would achieve the spending reductions they claimed.

    (Past tense because both plans obviously should be changed now)

  4. Of course, after all of these pretty graphs and memes and other types of finger pointing, I’m still left with the same age old question:

    So?

  5. So?

    The people who are so deeply concerned about the deficit & the debt today didn’t give a hoot about either of them as long as Bush was racking them up.

  6. The thing is according to polls and basic humans most of us run into everyday no question exists as to how we got here. I understand some GOP activists fight any responsibility since this runs counter to their core PR.

    We also know that Obama 1. put the wars on the books and 2. went all Keynsian(sp?) which is what we do in such a crises and McCain likely would have done the same.

    That still begs the question how do we get out of this and reverse the trend. 3:1 spending cuts to added revenue at minimum is the first answer.

    Since the trend will actually get worse even with that, major changes to entitlements are also mandatory though what ones is up for debate but most options are already being debated.

    I fully understand how we got here and I basically agree with Steve’s breakdown(someone help Steve up that statement may have made him pass out). The only side note I would make is on the Keynsianism move which he knows and understands though we may debate whether that was correct or not. Regardless the discussion is only over who’s fault it is on the far right and many of them only do it to shift blame if at all possible.

    The real discussion now is how to fix it and double taxing the top 1% for last decades tax cuts is a nonstarter and even if it were an option it wouldnt be enough. We are screwed, we all acknowledge it, we all know who primarily raped us but the question now is how to stand up and go about life. That is where the focus should be.

  7. “The people who are so deeply concerned about the deficit & the debt today didn’t give a hoot about either of them as long as Bush was racking them up.”

    Where as that is 100% valid it in the end makes no difference. The problem is here and it has to be dealt with for the good of the nation. Doing it or starting the process while the Dems are in power results in nothing but making them look good so why dont we start doing that?

    The GOP has already nuked what little credit they may have achieved from this due to TP game playing. It is time to pick up the ball and start moving it down the field again now that we have the penalties that everyone witnessed take place.

    Sorry watching too much Friday Night Lights.

  8. It is absolutely ignorant to think that President Obama and the Democrats even came close to running up the treasury busting deficit that Bush and the Republicans have done. When the Republican party had all three branches of government sewed up, we are extremely lucky that they didn’t completely gut Social Security and Medicaid. Rather they left it intact and destroyed our ability to fund it. Pretty much what they did under Ronnie Ray-gun, only this time it was much worse with this added hateful poison pill attack that leaves Democrats little else but to raise the debt ceiling.

    At this point, you have to say that either Republican voodoo economics simply don’t work, considering the massive job losses on their watch, or they are the most hateful, selfish, vindictive, evil political organization within the western hemisphere.

  9. Ah Allen,

    I guess you must be right, you’ve certainly proven your point.

  10. MSF,

    I actually didn’t drop to the floor. I figured that even if you disagreed with the assumptions (I didn’t know if you would), you would just tell me what you disagreed with and we’d go on from there. It’s why I put the assumptions out there in black and white. Core to the process of discovery is transparency and core to transparency is identifying data sets and methodologies. Posting the end product without the data and the methodology (even if by link) is more or less useless.

    Now onto the substance of your post.

    1. On the subject of “going all Keynesian”, I’m of several minds. First off, Keynesianism is running deficits countercyclically. President Obama’s deficits are pretty high by Keynesian standards but it was also a pretty steep recession. My issue with going all Keynesian is less theory than ROI. The best numbers I can find say that per job year saved or created, we spent between $100,000 and $1,000,000. While the lower bound might be an acceptable number, the likely outcome within that range really isn’t. My own view is that the effectiveness of going all Keynesian is a declining function…negative second derivative and by running deficits in the 10 to 12 percent of GDP range, we went far outside the nice part of the curve.

    If we were having a debate about whether the deficits were “good” or not, you’d probably get me to agree that some amount of deficit spending (maybe in the 5 to 7 percent of GDP range would have been a good idea from probably early 2009 through the end of 2010. Sitting here in 2011 staring a $1.5 trillion (11% or so of GDP) deficit in the face seems like a pretty bad place to be.

    2. I actually don’t think we’re screwed MSF. I think there’s a pretty good chance we could find our way out if we could change only 1 thing…make government recognize a budget constraint. I’ve done the math. If we could hold the growth of government to inflation plus population (hardly austerity) for the next decade, we’d get spending under 20 percent of GDP. If we would raise taxes from the current baseline by a very marginal amount (.5% of GDP would do fine), we’d have revenue in the 19.0 percent range by the end of the decade and be in a very strong place in a world when my kids are going to be looking to earn a living.

    While those two changes are hard, I don’t think them impossible. Indeed, I believe a large majority of Americans would support that type of a “grand bargain”. But we have to get off of the numbers (now you may be on the floor) and onto the principles.

    Principle A: Leaving aside cyclical responses (another recession), government needs to live with a budget constraint that forces it to make choices between competing goods. This could be enshrined in an appropriately worded BBA that would tear through the states given where we are right now.

    Principle B: That alone is not enough. Part of what we must do is recognize the reality and plan for it. Now I would probably get the extra revenue by doing away entirely with certain tax deductions…state and local income tax and mortgage interest and property tax spring to mind…but we need to do it.

    Maybe just maybe that type of an agenda would work. I suspect many in the oft-maligned TP would come along if they really believed there was a hard line on A. What I don’t know is whether any on the left would. Based on the web, I’d say not although I don’t really know why but I’m sure you or someone else here will educate me : )

  11. Generally speaking the responsibility for the recession rests with Bush, the responsibility for the recovery rests with Obama. As others have said already, it’s immaterial who was more to blame – neither party did anything to reign in spending under Bush. I would also point out that the GOP approach to spending is hugely different now than it was under Bush, and much of the Tea Party movement was born of unhappiness with Bush’s spending.

    Blaming Bush is largely accurate but not material to getting us out of this mess. Woohoo! Bush sucked but what do we do now?

  12. I admit that we need to cut government spending. But how? S&P is saying we have to cut government spending and repeal the Bush tax cuts to avoid a downgrade. I’m not sure why anyone should listen to any of the rating agencies but I think this is a reasonable assessment.
    Medicare costs need to be cut and we need “Death Panels.” We can’t afford to give people in their mid to late 80′s medical procedures to keep them alive for another 6 months if they survive the procedure. Of course Medicare is expensive because it covers the people that require the most medical attention. Giving people vouchers for insurance that no company in their right mind would sell them is not a solution. If Medicare ends hospitals will close, medical device companies will go out of business and drug companies will suffer. The solution to the Medicare problem is not increasing the age of Medicare recipients but decreasing it – put everyone on Medicare.
    And of course US must give up it’s lust for empire. We can’t afford to be the world’s policeman. The instability in the Middle East is a greater threat to Europe, Russia and China than it is to the US but it is the US that is spending it’s blood and treasure.
    Up to this point Obama has been as guilty as Bush in pursing the wrong policies.

  13. I think if the left felt we were resolving the problem and the burden was rather equally placed they would support it as well. This actually goes beyond “the role of gov” debate and if the GOP can be silent on that issue until we are out of the fiscal woods then the left would likely trust them enough to stop freaking out.

    In many ways this is already happening with some in the GOP that are not in the TP group. The main flaw with the TP people is that they are the mirror image of the far paranoid and conspiratorial left. For them NOONE on the left can be trusted. If the left would agree that this is no longer a time to grow gov but merely to safeguard what we have then I think the TP types would also start to come along.

    The main problem with this fantasy I have just woven are the voters. The media wing of the GOP has painted Obama with such a stark brush that it will be difficult to reverse and allow their reps to actually govern. The same goes for those on the far left that have watched how the GOP has spoken and acted the last few years. They will need to be ignored and both parties need to actually lay down their swords. We needed this moment two years ago, now it is becoming increasingly imperative that it happen immediately.

    In short I think the path out of this is an end to the “role of gov” decades long culture war just until the budget issue is resolved. This will result in the left not trying to grab for more while they can and the right not trying to gut things just to prove they cant work.

    Of course this is possible in theory but getting our ideological reps to actually become statesmen overnight will be a rather hard sell. Worse yet any action on one side will result in reaction from the other. A BBA in theory could be a good starting point with no 2/3 vote lunacy. If a BBA basically said if you cant find cuts in X time taxes will auto go up to make up the difference I think both sides would scream cry at claw at their hair and sign on if the alternative makes them look like partisan hacks that do not care about our fiscal health. It is after all a safegaurd against the Bush II years antics as well as a shift against a constant growing gov with no revenue to match.

    I think we have reached a point where the serious and the patriotic are closing ranks, hence the odd agreement over the last few days on the boards. The game is over and politics need to be laid down for a moment, it is time to fix the problem.

    I know I sounded pesimistic but it is primarily exasperation with the growing whining from both sides which I do not deal well with and never have. I do think it is possible but one key component in my view would be a split between the GOP and TP forcing the statesmen to stand up in both parties or a GOP that decides that its only path forward for good PR is to start acting like statesmen and grownups. McConnell may not allow that but I think Boehner, for as long as he kept his position just may.

    The root of the problem in my view is the GOP’s desire, mostly on the fringes, to roll back HCR and debate the role of gov. To do this is a red line for the left and nothing will move forward. Conversely the left needs to agree that cuts need to happen in big ways and also to limit any growth and stop trying to sell new forms of candy we cant afford. The hard part is this would reverse both parties main strategies for 2012 in my view though the act of reversal from both sides would result in a neutral result which is a good price to pay for the good of the nation. I do think if Obama wins in 2012, which I am almost 100% positive of, this is nearly how it will go down. The problem is we need to do this NOW not in a year or two and not after more anger, venom and resentment has built up because that is the poison that is currently destroying us from both sides.

    Basically I think the framing, PR and psychology of this is what is keeping both sides apart, not the prescriptions. Obama and Boehner showed deals can be made and truth be told I think regardless of the show they somewhat respect and at least mildly trust one another which is a positive sign.

  14. I would also note that the recovery and fixing our fiscal house need to be de-coupled. If we want to blast the failed recovery no reason exists for the left to help fix the fiscal debacle since cuts will result in making the recovery worse to one degree or another. Another sword that needs to be lain down.

    Let the GOP candidate and Obama have a slug fest over those issues. If the rank and file reps quiet down and stop screaming commie for a second we could shift from recovery to fiscal crises. As it is the recovery is not enough to fix the hole that was created yet is nearly sinking us. To ask for cuts is to make this problem worse and the GOP needs to respect that while noting that the fiscal crises is currently more dangerous. This would give Obama and the left cover to start shifting to fiscal crises much as taking tax increases off the table gave the GOP cover to get a smaller package of cuts(which is opposite of what I desired but still). The screaming from both sides in my view is precisely why neither side can win or get their way and is the main cause of a paralysis during a time of crises.

  15. Thanks for the long reply MSF. It is interesting to me that you can make the distinction between the size of government (budget) and the role of government. I suppose there are places you can do that but in general, a lower level of spending must result in government doing less than it would with a higher level of spending. If many on the left see it as you do, that is very encouraging.

    I guess I have two point of contention. One, I nowhere near the confidence in a second Obama term that you do. I think he is a fairly ineffective leader and we are going to need a very effective leader to get this done. He is too much the technician and when roused he gets too angry.

    The BBA is something we should take up another time. The type you described would never pass from the right. It would make people think it was just a way tomauto raise taxes. Pass a budget that spends 30 percent of GDP and you get auto tax increases. But I am sure that something could be worked out.

  16. Steve-I think the 30 deal could be worked out. It doesnt have to be tax or cut only we only need controls and I think 30 is a pretty valid one that could be negotiated.

    I think Obama has been ineffective because he doesnt know how to lead from the left. He knows how to lead from the center which means he has no ammo for those that paint him as extreme and vote as a block or those that scream he is selling people out. In his view he is trying to avert a long list of crises that the nation was and is faced with. The GOP saw a huge threat to their future in 2009 and they created an environment that he is ill suited for whether on purpose or by accident. He is a deal maker, if they can take what they can get they will get things, as shown so far, that are beyond what they got even from GOP POTUSs. This is part of why I note I am not a lib. I am an Obama Dem and when he is gone I will likely shift, probably to the libertarians.

    Size is often due to growth, “role of gov” is a bit different. The left has heard that the gov has no place in retirement/health care/schools and the like for so long that any cut is seen as a stealth path to redefining that role. If instead we are trying to control growth of the existing system and improve our fiscal house by getting rid of the chaff and keeping the wheat I think the left would sign on heavily. They know this is unsustainable. They know part of it was over spending for stimulus and that many things are corp giveaways or no longer help those that it was intended for. Letting go of the “role of gov” sword will make cons feel like me-to republicans but in reality they will mostly just be acting like Reagan for the first time in many years. The Dems got HCR, they got their binky. If you let them keep it and ask for help to right the ship I think they will pile on. Any fiscal crises puts all of their binkys in jeopardy and most understand that.

  17. The main problem I see is that Romney nor Perry can get the Dems to lay down their swords, Obama can. This is why he is actually rather important to making this work. W proved that a Rep cant touch SS or any entitlement, as is common in US politics only the party that adores the vision thing can and still be trusted. Like Nixon going to China only Obama can give 3 to 1 or more in cuts vs revenue and fixing entitlements without the Dems filibustering and screaming their bloody heads off until the populace again turns on the GOP..

  18. “Tax policy changes assigned to the President who did them. Bush tax cuts to Bush through 2010 and into fiscal 2011 (the last 3 months of 2010) and Obama tax bill to Obama.”

    The BUsh tax cuts are and will be ongoing. They may have “expired” under Obama, but he and the Dems did not want to extend them. They were only extended by the Republicans in Congress. Even now Obama wants to do away with tax loopholes, but teh Republicans want none of it. Any tax loopholes that remain intact will be because of negotiations with Republicans and Dems compromising with Republicans. Not because the Dems want the Bush tax cuts to continue, or loopholes to continue.

    The fact is the extension of the Bush tax cuts were continued at the behest of Republicans and the Democrats compromised with them. This is the problem with people understanding what’s going on in Washington. They blame Dems for doing it, when in fact it is a Republican proposal the Dems were forced to accept in the spirit of compromise. And in my opinion the Dems went too far and did not get enough from the Republicans in return. This was a Republican component. Still is.

  19. “Bush 32%
    Economic and technical assumptions 28%
    Obama 17%
    Interest 12%
    Unallocated 11%”

    Fair analysis. OK.

    So explain again why anyone can defend threatening financial cataclysm unless you get a bill that is

    100% things republicans want, democrats don’t want, will dampen the recovery
    0% other things.

  20. Stockboy

    This is why partisan arguments are silly. A democratic house and senate was forced to pass a bill? You might have an argument if failure to pass a bill meant the cuts would continue but in this case, no bill mean rates went up. I am sorry but this was the President’s responsibility. He could gave done nothing but chose not to.

    As to tax loopholes, for the most part you are wrong. With the exception of a few financially meaningless ones (corporate jets) , the President does not want to end loopholes, he wants to limit their application which is simply a tax increase not an ending of loopholes

  21. Axel.

    You will have to look somewhere else for an explanation. My view is anyone who chooses not to vote for both the Boehner plan and the Reid plan is an idiot. The BATNA here is really bad and holding out for your preferred solution is unnecessarily risky.

  22. “My view is anyone who chooses not to vote for both the Boehner plan and the Reid plan is an idiot.”

    53 dem senators just told Boehner to go eff himself, and that his bill will never pass.

    They chose an inopportune time to grow some sack, but grew some they did.

    A US that has to submit to and validate terrorist tactics in order to not default hasn’t really dodged a bullet.

  23. Well then you are pro default as are those 53 senators if they follow through. That is unfortunate IMO but people make their own choices. The Boehner and Reid bills are far closer to each other than either is to default

  24. The BUsh tax cuts are and will be ongoing. They may have “expired” under Obama, but he and the Dems did not want to extend them.

    As Steve points out, rewriting history based on what the players wanted rather than what they did doesn’t accomplish much.

    But I think you’re mistaken about what the Democrats wanted. I’d say they were conflicted. On the one hand they wanted the revenue from letting the cuts expire. On the other hand they wanted the economy to recover, or at least not to be blamable for prolonging it. (Probably more the latter, as they profess not to believe that letting the rich keep their money helps the economy.) In any case, the other hand won.

  25. “Well then you are pro default as are those 53 senators if they follow through. That is unfortunate IMO but people make their own choices. The Boehner and Reid bills are far closer to each other than either is to default”

    Yes, except the Reid bill does more for the deficit you supposedly care about and *also doesn’t make us go over this again during an election year, thus making the bill counter-productive*, you [SILLY GOOSE].

    I know the Boehner bill is one of the last echelons before default. This is a fact that should increase animosity towards the terrorists, not the democratic senators.

  26. Axel,

    The Reid bill does not do more to avoid default. The bills are within $5 billion of each other on deficit reduction. The difference in scoring is that the Reid bill changes the CBO baseline for OCOs (the wars). This baseline is irrelevant because the plans are already in place to end OCOs. So in terms of policy changes, the bills are virtually identical.

    As for the rest, I prefer the Reid bill to the Boehner bill with the exception of the fact that I would like to see a vote on a BBA. That said, I’d vote for both and any who do not are choosing to increase the possibility of default.

  27. But emboldening those who use terrorist tactics makes for a future just as untenable as one where the US defaults. Debt ceiling hostage taking is simply not acceptable, and now that tactic is validated.

    The current GOP unleashed makes for a future just as pathetic and squalid as a future after a default.

  28. “The people who are so deeply concerned about the deficit & the debt today didn’t give a hoot about either of them as long as Bush was racking them up.”

    True enough, and the proof was in his re-election in 04 (a genuine and utter failure of American credibility). Meanwhile we have to deal with the current fix – one the GOP has really lost any right to mess with, but as they seem to have no shame, no memory, and no clue their input will make an impact.

    I think Ron’s suggested outline goes in the right direction, but people don’t want to make the hard choices. I recently saw data to the effect that 1% of the people in Camden, NJ were responsible for 30% of all hospital costs. That is just one illustration of waste and inefficiency that will need to be dealt with, and it will be an uphill battle with both the bogus moralists and hospitals themselves who won’t want to lose the profits that would come from a saner approach to healthcare.

  29. Just curious JS, what was the total debt run up under Bush from 01 to 04?

  30. The Magical Sky Father wrote:

    A BBA in theory could be a good starting point with no 2/3 vote lunacy. If a BBA basically said if you cant find cuts in X time taxes will auto go up to make up the difference I think both sides would scream cry at claw at their hair and sign on if the alternative makes them look like partisan hacks that do not care about our fiscal health. It is after all a safegaurd against the Bush II years antics as well as a shift against a constant growing gov with no revenue to match.

    NO — spending has to be curtailed if there’s insufficient tax revenue. “Outlays shall not exceed receipts”!

  31. Steve, there was enough writing on the wall prior to Bush’s first election to keep any but partisans and fools from voting for him. That particular choice was far from rocket science. So was your question a hope that first time voters would be let off the hook because the legacy wasn’t in yet? Too bad cuz we ALL know what his legacy is now – even if some prefer to spin it – or forget it. ;-)

  32. “the President does not want to end loopholes, he wants to limit their application which is simply a tax increase not an ending of loopholes”

    SteveinCH – I think Obama proposed limiting some of the loopholes as a practical political move to make their passage easier to swallow given the lobbyists pressure. However, he does want to eliminate some loopholes completely, carried interest, for example.

  33. JDL,

    The large loopholes are things he does not want to eliminate because his primary objective is a more progressive tax code, raising more money is only a secondary objective, or so it appears based on his policy choices.

    Carried interest and corporate jets and oil subsidies are small potatoes. Taken together they are less than 1% of total loophole costs.

    BTW, I am still waiting for you to describe how you intend to get expenditures back to Clinton levels since I described how I would get taxes above the historical average of 18.5%

  34. Excellent non answer JS. I’ll take it as a sign that you don’t know.

    As for the “writing on the wall”, allow me to quote to you the CBO assessment of the President’s 2005 budget, which would have been available in 2004 prior to the election…

    http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/49x.....Report.pdf

    Here the CBO projects declining budget deficits with a primary balance (deficit below interest payments) by 2006.

    Now here is the CBO projection for the most recent budget submitted by President Obama

    http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/121.....Report.pdf

    The CBO projects no primary balance and increasing budget deficits from 2015 on.

    Now help me understand how “the writing was on the wall” then but it isn’t now.

    I didn’t do any analysis here JS. I quoted the country’s official budgetary arm. And yet, you claim the writing was on the wall (in response to Merkin’s comment about fiscal matters)

    Meanwhile, earlier today, you were complaining about ignorance…pots and kettles my friend.

  35. DLS-For me that is a red line. Saying that either taxes need to be raised OR spending needs to be cut is valid though. This would bring balance to the budget.

    Cuts only would just be an excuse to cut taxes and get involved in foreign adventures for excuses to cut spending the GOP does not like but lacks the courage to openly get rid of. The reason I noted the auto option is since we went through the last few decades of tax cuts with spending increases I have learned that accounting tricks and slights of hand are in both parties. Leaving, lowering or cutting taxes or war as a backdoor to be “forced” to cut programs the right does not like to me results in that being a valid backdoor for an ideologue to use to push through an unpopular change in the nation. Like say not counting the costs of a war for your entire presidency and then forcing the next guy to 1. put those on the books and then 2. since he did so now HE is forced to cut programs that are popular.

    We do not want a future POTUS to decide to go to war not out of necessity but instead because it would allow a stealth cut they desire.

    I think you see where I am going here.

  36. DLS-Also keep in mind I am speaking of the structure of the BBA NOT what needs to happen to balance the books now.

  37. I think MSF is right insofar as the consequences/sequestration/autoincrease part of the BBA is the hardest thing to get through the two parties.

  38. Gotcha, Sky. A (good) “BBA” is needed, effectively, but not essential to budget reform, not now (debt limit hostage-taking), and technically never.

    (There are pathetically weak hints at reform, already, which the activists in the U.S. House GOP overlook: Democrats as well as the GOP have now been discussing spending reductions! What they seek are ridiculously small, but the long-needed precedent has been set.)

    It’s worth reintroducing here what the late Milton Friedman claimed, based on so much real-world observation: the real problem is the size of government and of spending. Friedman preferred an unbalanced $1 trillion budget to a balanced budget of $4 trillion.

  39. Debate all you want who’s to blame. Show all the charts you want, make all the arguments and accusations you want.

    It doesn’t matter.

    The money’s been spent. And the bill has come due.

    Time to pay up.

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