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What if Deficit Spending Were Outlawed?Follow

#1 Nov 08 2012 at 6:10 PM Rating: Good
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With the fiscal cliff once again looming, the eternal questions of taxes versus spending will dominate headlines. Both Republicans and Democrats will argue why their idea is the ony workale solution, and how the other party wants to destroy (insert politically-convenient group) and the middle class.

Supposing deficit spending were outlawed, how would you balance the budget? Feel free to take the unrealistic approach of political compromise, with Republicans agreeing to tax increases and Democrats agreeing to program cuts.

Here are the figures from 2010:

Quote:
Where the Money Went

Because the 2011 numbers are still unfolding, it's easiest to look at the 2010 budget, which "largely resembles the patterns of recent years," according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). (Note that the government organizes its budgets on "fiscal" years that begin Oct. 1, so the following numbers are for fiscal year 2010, which began Oct. 1, 2009).

In fiscal year 2010, the federal government spent $3.5 trillion. The CBPP, a non-profit think tank, provides a useful breakdown of where it went:
•Medicare, Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program ($732 billion; 21% total spending)
•Social security ($707 billion; 20% total spending)
•Defense and security ($705 billion; 20% total spending)
•Safety net programs including unemployment benefits, food stamps, school meals, low-income housing assistance, and others that provide aid to families in need, as well as abused and neglected children. ($496 billion; 14% total spending)
•Benefits for federal retirees and veterans ($245 billion; 7% total spending)
•Interest on the debt ($196 billion; 6% total spending)
•Education ($105 billion; 3% total spending)
•Transportation infrastructure ($105 billion; 3% total spending)
•Scientific/medical research ($70 billion; 2% total spending)
•Non-security international ($35 billion; 1% total spending)
•All other programs ($105 billion; 3% total spending)

Roughly 63% of 2010 spending, or $2.2 trillion, was funded through taxes. The remaining 37%, or $1.3 trillion, was money the government borrowed by issuing bonds and other debt.


This is the issue facing both our politicians and the country. If no deal is reached, and the MSNBC's and Fox News' of the world are to be believed, the tax burden of average citizens will increase by $3500, and crippling cuts to both domestic programs and the military will trigger another recession.

So how would you balance the budget?

And no, this is not for college.
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#2 Nov 08 2012 at 6:18 PM Rating: Excellent
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Outlawing deficit spending sounds to me like one of the stupidest decisions possible. Right up there with trying to balance a deficit in the middle of a massive economic recession.

So I guess my response is that I wouldn't balance a deficit. I'm a strong proponent of spending in bad economic times and then paying down the debt during economic spikes.
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#3 Nov 08 2012 at 6:21 PM Rating: Excellent
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The probem with that is government typically does great with the increased spending during tough times, then forgets to pare that down when we're flush.
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#4 Nov 08 2012 at 6:31 PM Rating: Good
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I'd outlaw going to war on a credit card, to start. We're still paying off the Iraq war and its going to take a decade to knock out Afghanistan. In WWII the debt was eventually paid off via war bonds, but if war bonds aren't a choice, we're going to have to go with war charity or no war at all.

No subsidies to companies that outsource anything. Either you're providing jobs within the country, or you're not. The exception would be raw resource extraction for multinational corporations, and even then, they could not receive subsidies for their off-shore operations without equivalent in-shore labor. Also, to receive subsidies they must produce a tangible good. Too much investing is done in imaginary products and speculative real estate, instead of manufacturing or R&D.

No state is allowed to receive more in federal benefits than it provides in federal tax revenue. (Ironically, most Dem states will be just fine with that. It's primarily the red states that will squeal when the teat is yanked away.)

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#5 Nov 08 2012 at 6:36 PM Rating: Excellent
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Yeah, that can be an issue.

But I'd argue that its an issue dwarfed by continued economic stagnation due to the refusal of the government to stimulate a market when it is most needed. The people will be hurt far more in the long run by an ailing market than they will from increased public debt.

At the end of the day, you'll never balance our deficit while in a recession. It's just not going to happen. Better to stop pretending it will, grid locking our entire political system, and get on with encouraging economic growth.

Keynesian philosophy frankly worked fine until our deficit exploded due to Cold War era military spending.

Which brings me to my next point: balancing the deficit is never going to happen as long as reducing defense spending (even when it won't reduce our effective military strength at all) remains a huge political issue for the right. The sad part is that I doubt most people care--this, to me, seems like one of those issues that has become extremely important to the politicians for image sake rather than anything else.
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#6 Nov 08 2012 at 6:44 PM Rating: Decent
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catwho wrote:
I'd outlaw going to war on a credit card, to start. We're still paying off the Iraq war and its going to take a decade to knock out Afghanistan. In WWII the debt was eventually paid off via war bonds, but if war bonds aren't a choice, we're going to have to go with war charity or no war at all.

No subsidies to companies that outsource anything. Either you're providing jobs within the country, or you're not. The exception would be raw resource extraction for multinational corporations, and even then, they could not receive subsidies for their off-shore operations without equivalent in-shore labor. Also, to receive subsidies they must produce a tangible good. Too much investing is done in imaginary products and speculative real estate, instead of manufacturing or R&D.

No state is allowed to receive more in federal benefits than it provides in federal tax revenue. (Ironically, most Dem states will be just fine with that. It's primarily the red states that will squeal when the teat is yanked away.)



The whole point is you can't do anything on a credit card anymore. I'm talking about a complete Dave Ramsey'ing of the federal budget.

On a seperate note, Ramsey'ing is now a word.
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#7 Nov 08 2012 at 6:47 PM Rating: Decent
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idiggory, King of Bards wrote:
Yeah, that can be an issue.

But I'd argue that its an issue dwarfed by continued economic stagnation due to the refusal of the government to stimulate a market when it is most needed. The people will be hurt far more in the long run by an ailing market than they will from increased public debt.

At the end of the day, you'll never balance our deficit while in a recession. It's just not going to happen. Better to stop pretending it will, grid locking our entire political system, and get on with encouraging economic growth.

Keynesian philosophy frankly worked fine until our deficit exploded due to Cold War era military spending.

Which brings me to my next point: balancing the deficit is never going to happen as long as reducing defense spending (even when it won't reduce our effective military strength at all) remains a huge political issue for the right. The sad part is that I doubt most people care--this, to me, seems like one of those issues that has become extremely important to the politicians for image sake rather than anything else.


You and catwho both mention the military, and I agree that a post-war drawdown both makes fiscal sense, and reflects historical trends following conflicts. It's interesting that neither of you have mentioned domestic cuts: Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid take up a far larger portion of the budget than wartime militray spending.
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#8 Nov 08 2012 at 7:29 PM Rating: Excellent
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We get a ROI on entitlement spending, though. Money provided to American citizens is generally spent in America. WIC and SNAP benefits prevent desperate people from stealing to feed their children. Medicare and SS spending ensures that our elderly population is not dying in the streets. A SS check of a thousand dollars to my Aunt Lucille paid her rent and her groceries; both things directly fed that money back into the Detroit economy.

There is no ROI on war, despite all the "blood for oil" noise during the Iraq war.
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#9 Nov 08 2012 at 7:56 PM Rating: Excellent
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And it's not like we're saying the current programs are perfect. But the issue with our healthcare programs in particular comes down to the nature of American health services and insurance law. Serious reform there would be hugely beneficial.

The problem is that very reform is now a huge political issue grounded in the socialization vs. privatization argument. So we aren't going to see it any time soon unless socialized health care is put in effect. Until then, we're stuck.

I'm not willing to just abandon those people because the rest of us can't get our **** together though.
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#10 Nov 08 2012 at 8:04 PM Rating: Excellent
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allenjj wrote:
The probem with that is government typically does great with the increased spending during tough times, then forgets to pare that down when we're flush.

That might be the problem but it doesn't mean slash-and-burn cuts during a downturn are the answer.
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#11 Nov 08 2012 at 9:18 PM Rating: Decent
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catwho wrote:
We get a ROI on entitlement spending, though. Money provided to American citizens is generally spent in America. WIC and SNAP benefits prevent desperate people from stealing to feed their children. Medicare and SS spending ensures that our elderly population is not dying in the streets. A SS check of a thousand dollars to my Aunt Lucille paid her rent and her groceries; both things directly fed that money back into the Detroit economy.

There is no ROI on war, despite all the "blood for oil" noise during the Iraq war.


I'm not arguing against the merits of social programs; I'm questioning their sustainability. Even if you removed all the war-time spending and cut back normal military spending, the government still has a deficit driven primarily by Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. With an estimated 10,000 baby boomers reaching retirement age every day, those deficits will increase.

Couple that with an economy growing at a snail's pace and persistant high unemployment (not an attack on Dems just a fact), and the long-term sustainability for existing seniors becomes questionable, not to mention people under 40.

I'm all for helping people who need it, but how long can the government help others when it's worse than broke, it's in the hole?
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#12 Nov 08 2012 at 9:21 PM Rating: Good
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Jophiel wrote:
allenjj wrote:
The probem with that is government typically does great with the increased spending during tough times, then forgets to pare that down when we're flush.

That might be the problem but it doesn't mean slash-and-burn cuts during a downturn are the answer.


I'm simply positing a scenario to solicit ideas and discussion. What would you say the answer is? We can't continue to drive up deficits forever.
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#13 Nov 08 2012 at 9:34 PM Rating: Excellent
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There is no "balancing the budget". The idea that there is, or should be, is a massive problem. Treasuries "balance the budget", that's how central bank based economies work. Without treasuries, and specifically without US Treasuries and the Dollar as a reserve currency based on them, the global economic system suffers catastrophic failure. Instantly. That's not an exaggeration. Without the liquidity provided by the Fed, global commerce becomes a nightmare, exchange rates for floating currencies fluctuate wildly, etc.

Nation states *are not* households or small businesses. There is no "going broke". That aside, *now* in the midst of a very tepid recovery, is absolutely the worst possible time for the Federal government to borrow less. The federal government should be borrowing more, far more, literally trillions more. The rates we pay right now to borrow money are effectively zero, in some auctions, actually zero or below. If you're worried about the debt *now*, you have a massive misunderstanding of basic macroeconomics. It's not a zero sum game. "Future generations" won't be *stuck* having to pay for money borrowed *now*, because the premium for borrowing that money is effectively nothing. The problem with debt accumulation occurs when debt is added during growth periods when the premium is higher. Those are the periods that outstanding debt should be paid down (or defaulted on in some circumstances, but that's a separate discussion).

This puritanical notion that because growth has slowed we have to sacrifice and "tighten our belts" or whatever the misguided metaphor is, is fantasy. It's not how large scale economies work, and never has been.
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#14 Nov 08 2012 at 9:58 PM Rating: Good
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allenjj wrote:
catwho wrote:
We get a ROI on entitlement spending, though. Money provided to American citizens is generally spent in America. WIC and SNAP benefits prevent desperate people from stealing to feed their children. Medicare and SS spending ensures that our elderly population is not dying in the streets. A SS check of a thousand dollars to my Aunt Lucille paid her rent and her groceries; both things directly fed that money back into the Detroit economy.

There is no ROI on war, despite all the "blood for oil" noise during the Iraq war.


I'm not arguing against the merits of social programs; I'm questioning their sustainability. Even if you removed all the war-time spending and cut back normal military spending, the government still has a deficit driven primarily by Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. With an estimated 10,000 baby boomers reaching retirement age every day, those deficits will increase.

Couple that with an economy growing at a snail's pace and persistant high unemployment (not an attack on Dems just a fact), and the long-term sustainability for existing seniors becomes questionable, not to mention people under 40.

I'm all for helping people who need it, but how long can the government help others when it's worse than broke, it's in the hole?


But you're pointing at a symptom, not the problem. The primary reason our healthcare costs are so high is because we leave those services to the private market, where insurance companies are essentially controlling healthcare providers profits. End result is that rely disproportionately on public insurance to stay afloat, because it's so unprofitable to rely on those with private insurance.

Yes, we can't maintain our rising healthcare costs. But cutting off funding for healthcare is a stupid *** response that leaves every other issue. How expensive American healthcare is happens to be far from just a deficit-related problem. We fix it, the sheer cost issue goes away. We stop funding social healthcare and we may save that money, but we've done nothing to make healthcare affordable and millions of Americans are now dying because they can't afford it.

Problem is that reforming healthcare means putting heavy controls in place, and introducing a new system for funding that doesn't leave insurance companies with all the power when negotiating with hospitals. Right now, insurance providers make HUGE profits. Healthcare services make mediocre ones. The best part is that insurance profit margins have continued to grow since the passing of Obamacare, despite outcry on the right that they would all crash and burn.

There is one other factor that will vastly reduce healthcare spending in the future--invest in healthy living education to reduce complications in the future (most notable for Americans is health disease). The right has gone out of the way to viciously attack Michelle Obama for her healthy living "crusade." Fact of the matter is that she's right--Americans are seriously under-informed regarding health risks and disease prevention. In the long run, her efforts alone will probably save the government more money than half the politicians who were bashing her for them. Even if we limit that effect just to the children she actively engaged with as part of her healthy living programs, and not the outreach.
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#15 Nov 08 2012 at 10:11 PM Rating: Decent
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idiggory, King of Bards wrote:
But you're pointing at a symptom, not the problem. The primary reason our healthcare costs are so high is because we leave those services to the private market, where insurance companies are essentially controlling healthcare providers profits. End result is that rely disproportionately on public insurance to stay afloat, because it's so unprofitable to rely on those with private insurance.

Yes, we can't maintain our rising healthcare costs. But cutting off funding for healthcare is a stupid *** response that leaves every other issue. How expensive American healthcare is happens to be far from just a deficit-related problem. We fix it, the sheer cost issue goes away. We stop funding social healthcare and we may save that money, but we've done nothing to make healthcare affordable and millions of Americans are now dying because they can't afford it.

Problem is that reforming healthcare means putting heavy controls in place, and introducing a new system for funding that doesn't leave insurance companies with all the power when negotiating with hospitals. Right now, insurance providers make HUGE profits. Healthcare services make mediocre ones. The best part is that insurance profit margins have continued to grow since the passing of Obamacare, despite outcry on the right that they would all crash and burn.

There is one other factor that will vastly reduce healthcare spending in the future--invest in healthy living education to reduce complications in the future (most notable for Americans is health disease). The right has gone out of the way to viciously attack Michelle Obama for her healthy living "crusade." Fact of the matter is that she's right--Americans are seriously under-informed regarding health risks and disease prevention. In the long run, her efforts alone will probably save the government more money than half the politicians who were bashing her for them. Even if we limit that effect just to the children she actively engaged with as part of her healthy living programs, and not the outreach.


I agree that the health care system is seriously flawed; anyone who has taken their kid to the doctor for their 9-month shots and ended up with three seperate bills knows that. But since government and the private sector are either unwilling or unable to fix the problem of rising costs, is the government obligated to pay, in perpetuity, exorbitant costs for an ever-increasing pool of users?

I'm not trying to advocate the sort of fire sale approach that you and Jophiel are suggesting.
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#16 Nov 08 2012 at 10:12 PM Rating: Excellent
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Ask Canada; it seems to be working out quite well for them.
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#17 Nov 08 2012 at 10:15 PM Rating: Excellent
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agree that the health care system is seriously flawed; anyone who has taken their kid to the doctor for their 9-month shots and ended up with three seperate bills knows that. But since government and the private sector are either unwilling or unable to fix the problem of rising costs, is the government obligated to pay, in perpetuity, exorbitant costs for an ever-increasing pool of users?


Yes. The solution to this is, obviously, single payer, taxpayer funded health care. Not a mystery. Every other first world nation on the planet has figured this out.

I'm not trying to advocate the sort of fire sale approach that you and Jophiel are suggesting.

You're not advocating anything. You're afraid of things you clearly don't understand very well. I can't wait til we get to magnets.

Edited, Nov 8th 2012 11:15pm by Smasharoo
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#18 Nov 08 2012 at 10:34 PM Rating: Good
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We're going to keep paying because its our own **** fault nothing is getting fixed. People don't deserve painful, slow deaths because they can't afford simple healthcare procedures.

Either way, the system NEEDS to be fixed. Not just because we can't afford it, but because it's not sustainable. When a hospital can't afford to keep its doors open, with no lack of qualified care/doctors or patients, because insurance companies are the only ones making money, its eventually going to collapse on itself. Hospital closures are going to continue to be increasingly common, which will force a change one way or another.

In the last 20 years, we've lost over 35% of hospital emergency rooms to closures (meaning, total number of emergency care units, accounting for new units as well, is down by over 35%). Quick google searches (though to nothing with enough credibility to bother linking) are suggesting we could see as high as 1/3 of our hospitals close by 2020.

Thing is, demand is only increasing. The ONLY reason those hospitals will close is because they're losing money, and the only reason they'd lose money is because they have no power to negotiate prices.

This'll become a much larger issue long before our medicare spending does. It also tells me that we're going to see a huge increase in public support for socialized healthcare in the next decade. So, really, the GOP is fighting a losing battle anyway.
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#19 Nov 08 2012 at 10:37 PM Rating: Default
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Smasharoo wrote:
You're not advocating anything. You're afraid of things you clearly don't understand very well. I can't wait til we get to magnets.


I appreciate that you're trying to keep that old-school 'Asylum' feeling alive Smash, but the old 'you have an opinion I disagree with so you're stupid!' approach is a bit pointless.

You are right about one thing; I'm not trying to advocate anything. I simply asked people how they would allocate the government's resources if deficit spending were outlawed. You know, the sort of ultimately pointless academic debate that drives 90% of Asylum threads? I'm trying to have an interesting discussion, you're being an Internet tough-guy.

See the difference?
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#20 Nov 08 2012 at 10:41 PM Rating: Excellent
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You are right about one thing; I'm not trying to advocate anything. I simply asked people how they would allocate the government's resources if deficit spending were outlawed. You know, the sort of ultimately pointless academic debate that drives 90% of Asylum threads? I'm trying to have an interesting discussion, you're being an Internet tough-guy.

It became interesting when I started posting, shitbird. Prior to that, it was pity driven exposition by people trying to help you. Nothing could be more boring.
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#21 Nov 08 2012 at 10:49 PM Rating: Default
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In that case, thanks for making my thread interesting! It's nice to see that you consider a wide range of ideas, instead of blindly attacking anyone with a concept you disagree with. I'm off to bed; keep being awesome and open-minded Smash!
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#22 Nov 08 2012 at 10:52 PM Rating: Good
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No, he's actually not wrong. Posts doing nothing but trying to find out what others think without offering any opinion of your own, or sharing information, are not interesting.

All you're doing is responding to our posts with what-ifs. You haven't contributed any value. We're posting because we're bored and want to +1.

This isn't a discussion, it's us talking at you.

[EDIT]

And how can we even disagree with you? Have you even offered an opinion? The most I can think of is if you wondering if something's feasible. That's actually the lack of an opinion.

Edited, Nov 8th 2012 11:53pm by idiggory
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#23 Nov 08 2012 at 10:57 PM Rating: Good
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In that case, thanks for making my thread interesting! It's nice to see that you consider a wide range of ideas, instead of blindly attacking anyone with a concept you disagree with. I'm off to bed; keep being awesome and open-minded Smash!

Blindly? Let's add that to the list of things you don't understand.

Do you think this approach of "what do you think of this?" as a way to tee up easy talking points to respond to is novel? Really? Or somehow intellectually valuable? The Socratic method, which you're butchering presupposes a certain level of competence held by the questioner. It's missing in this thread.
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#24 Nov 08 2012 at 11:11 PM Rating: Excellent
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The only realistic solution to the problem is compromise. A few tax hikes here, a few spending cuts there. The republicans refuse to accept tax hikes on the rich, and the democrats refuse to make cuts to social programs. Realistically, they should consider the middle ground option: tax hikes across the board and spending cuts across the board. As long as both sides refuse to give any ground, there will be no solution. The sad reality is that everyone involved knows this, but nobody wants to be the first one to admit it (or rather, actually do something about it).
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#25 Nov 08 2012 at 11:18 PM Rating: Excellent
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We could always trick some giant asian country into buying all our government backed debt and then get them to go to war with us as an excuse to declare that whole pile of debt a war casualty and invalid!
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#26 Nov 08 2012 at 11:23 PM Rating: Excellent
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**** no, I saw Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
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#27 Nov 09 2012 at 1:07 PM Rating: Good
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catwho wrote:
Ask Canada; it seems to be working out quite well for them.


I almost feel like going to the doctor 'just cause' now

actually I've got like 3 minor problems I've been meaning to ask a doctor about but haven't gotten around to yet

Edited, Nov 9th 2012 11:10am by Olorinus
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#28 Nov 09 2012 at 1:36 PM Rating: Decent
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I'd cut NPR and PBS; that'd probably be enough, right?

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#29 Nov 09 2012 at 1:42 PM Rating: Excellent
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Need to cut out Planned Parenthood as well, you math-illiterate communist.
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#30 Nov 09 2012 at 1:45 PM Rating: Excellent
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BrownDuck wrote:
The only realistic solution to the problem is compromise. A few tax hikes here, a few spending cuts there. The republicans refuse to accept tax hikes on the rich, and the democrats refuse to make cuts to social programs. Realistically, they should consider the middle ground option: tax hikes across the board and spending cuts across the board. As long as both sides refuse to give any ground, there will be no solution. The sad reality is that everyone involved knows this, but nobody wants to be the first one to admit it (or rather, actually do something about it).


Ironically that's exactly what's in the 'fiscal cliff' package everyone is actively trying to avoid. Makes me wonder if the grand compromise will simply end up being a last minute deal reducing the fiscal cliff to half height.

Edited, Nov 9th 2012 11:45am by someproteinguy
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#31 Nov 09 2012 at 4:32 PM Rating: Excellent
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In a completely unsurprising bit of politicking: the "fiscal cliff" term is really just designed as fear-mongering to the public. If we don't reach a deal by the date, we don't go instantly and catastrophically careening off some metaphorical cliff into recession - it just causes an economic drag for as long as we're in that state. If it takes a few extra days or weeks to get a deal done, we only have that long of an economic drag, which isn't a huge deal. So really it's a "fiscal downward slope."

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#32 Nov 10 2012 at 2:40 AM Rating: Excellent
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The measures in the fiscal cliff itself aren't going to careen us into recession, but that very fear-mongering and hysteria probably will if we hit it. Especially if local and state governments start panic budget cutting again.
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#33 Nov 10 2012 at 3:01 AM Rating: Good
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trickybeck wrote:
So really it's a "fiscal downward slope."


Or as the poster once known as Gbaji would say, a fiscal slippery slope.
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gbaji wrote:
You guys keep tossing facts out there like they mean something.


#34 Nov 10 2012 at 8:31 AM Rating: Good
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Ironically that's exactly what's in the 'fiscal cliff' package everyone is actively trying to avoid. Makes me wonder if the grand compromise will simply end up being a last minute deal reducing the fiscal cliff to half height.


Don't be a moron, they'll just push the effective date out. It makes good TV but Congress can't really legislate itself into a corner. It's theater. Best possible result would be maintaining the payroll tax cut, or tying it to the Bush cuts. I'm glad he won, but in case you hadn't noticed in the last 4 years, the President is a pussy who gets rolled by the hill daily. He'll be inclined to "compromise" by extending the Bush cuts, paying for that with letting the payroll tax expire and extracting some meaningless token, maybe ending the carried interest exemption.
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