All right. OK. Here’s a post about the stupid debt “debate”

Kept hoping — against hope, of course — this debt thing would get resolved before I had to say something about it. I’ve had observations to make about it along the way, but just haven’t wanted to get into it. I hate the subject; it bores me to tears. But it also makes me angry. Part of the anger is over the substance, of course. But part of it is that they’re making me think about this stuff. This is why we have representative democracy, you see. We elect people to go off and handle this stuff and make sure they don’t drive the country onto the rocks — and NOT bother us with the excruciating details.

They’re not getting the job done. Part of the reason, of course, is that there are a bunch of people in the House — the Tea Party guys — who don’t get what the responsibility of public office is all about. They think their bumper stickers slogans, the things that got them elected, are reality, and don’t understand that the world is more complicated than the concepts that got them elected. Unfortunately, they also have a certain cognitive block from ever learning they are wrong. Most people go into elective office with all sorts of misconceptions and foolish ideas. Most, whether they are “liberal” or “conservative,” realize with experience that there are broader responsibilities to the country (and in this case, to the entire world, since the already-weakened worldwide economy is poised to go over the brink with us). It’s not just about how they and their constituents feel about things, and unfortunately they have very powerful resistance to learning, ever, how wrong they are.

Part of the problem is that a significant part of their ideology involves rejection of the idea that experience is valuable. This is a common populist fallacy, of course, but it’s particularly malignant in this case, in terms of its effect on the world. People who go to Washington — or Columbia, or wherever — and study issues and come to understandings different from the prejudices they had originally… are considered sellouts, under this ideology. Such people who embrace larger responsibilities are not wiser in this view; they are corrupted.

Another obstacle is that this ideology is particularly nihilistic toward what happens to the world at large, as long as the ideology is served.

This makes it very dangerous for people with such a worldview to hold office. Oh, it’s not so bad to have one or two of these anti-Mr. Smiths at the table (Mr. Smith went to Washington to make the world a better place; these guys go to Washington to tell the world to go to hell). Unfortunately, the party that now holds a momentary (and at my age, I consider two-year cycles to be “momentary”) majority in the House knows that it holds that tenuous power because of the knot of such people in its midst. And is held hostage by it.

Speaking of “hostage,” did you see that performance by Boehner last night? He was like the prisoner forced to recite the propaganda with an AK-47 pointed at his head just off-camera. The only think lacking in his performance was the blinked Morse code (or maybe it was there; I don’t read Morse) saying “I don’t really believe this stuff; I just have to say it.” But his tone and body language did that. The performance brought to mind all those meetings I read about in which Boehner was the Soviet commanding officer caught in the middle, trying to do the right thing, and Eric Cantor was the sneering zampolit, ready to report him to the Central Committee for the slightest lack of revolutionary zeal.

Obama, by contrast, was more convincing last night. Part of that was pure talent. I’m not accustomed to watching Boehner, but I doubt that he’s nearly the orator Obama is. Almost no one is, particularly at communicating sober conviction.

I heard some commentary on the radio (NPR) this morning that said neither man gave America what it wanted last night — a way out — but simply acted as apologist for his own side’s position.

I suppose that’s true. But Obama’s position is the defensible one. He wants cuts and revenue increases, which is what a rational person who is not blinded by ideology would choose. Neither is what said rational person would want. Until the economy is ticking along a lot more strongly, both spending cuts and tax increases could have a chilling effect.

But here’s the thing: NOT getting control of our mounting debt, under these circumstances, would have a much worse effect. It’s not just about raising the debt ceiling. If you do that, and don’t reduce the gap between spending and revenue, we’re still likely to have a devastating downgrade of the nation’s credit rating. And we can’t afford that.

To let one’s natural reluctance to cut spending or raise taxes get in the way of dealing with that would be unconscionable. And letting a narrow ideology (particularly one that holds that it is ALWAYS right to do one and NEVER right to do the other, regardless of circumstances, which is the height of foolishness — but I guess that’s a workable definition of ideology) get in the way is much, much worse.

55 thoughts on “All right. OK. Here’s a post about the stupid debt “debate”

  1. Betsy R DuBard

    I thought the exact same thing about Boehner — that he looked like a man with a gun held to his head. I watched clips again this morning, observing body language without really listening to the words, and his reluctance was even more visible. Unfortunately, the gun is actually being held to our heads collectively as a nation. So, over the cliff we go.

    Reply
  2. Stan Dubinsky

    Thank you for some exceedingly insightful commentary on this mess.

    Your first paragraph says it all. They (the elected representatives and the president) are not doing their jobs.

    At USC (where I work), if a department chair (like the president) and the department faculty (like our congress) were to fail to “do their jobs” in this way, and brought their bickering out in public for the whole university to witness, my college dean would likely place the entire department into receivership, and appoint a caretaker administration to sort it all out. Too bad our government doesn’t report to my college dean … she would settle them down in a couple of meetings. 😉

    Reply
  3. bud

    Brad makes some great points but ruins it (at least partiall) by continuing this needless bi-partisan ranting:

    “Most, whether they are “liberal” or “conservative,” realize with experience that there are broader responsibilities to the country.”

    But I suppose he just can’t help himself so I’ll cut him some slack. Boehner was absolutely awful last night. His rant was simply not true on any level. The debt we have accumulated is in very large part due to the decisions of Bush and to a lessor extent Reagan. For him to mendaciously use the prejoritive term “blank check” in reference to Obama is simply reprehensible. Betsy’s observation is spot on that Boehner seemed to have a gun held to his head. But he is the speaker of the house and should show much better judgement.

    I don’t even think we have a severe debt crisis at the moment. What we have is an employment problem. Solving that first will help with the debt problem down the road. But even if that was a critical problem this “cuts only” approach is reckless and an insult to all working class Americans. To allow Hedge Fund managers to get off with only a 15% tax rate because their money is “earned” from capital gains is simply indefensible. Kudos for the President in making that point.

    So now what? The Reid plan was a complete capitulation by the Democrats and the GOP still didn’t budge. At this point the Dems just need to let it implode. Otherwise the lose all credibility with the American public. And that’s a damn shame.

    Reply
  4. Doug Ross

    Why do you speak about a narrow ideology? If it’s so narrow, why can’t it be overcome by the Democrats?

    When you start with the premise that the best solution is to compromise your basic principles, you think the other side is narrow minded. This is about a fundamental belief that government spends too much and should not spend more than it takes in. It’s not narrow minded. It’s sound fiscal policy – a policy that both Republicans and Democrats have ignored for years. It’s about never making tough choices until now.

    Lindsey Graham is standing side-by-side with Jim DeMint on this one. That should be all the evidence you should need that this is a serious issue that has to be addressed by reining in government spending FIRST before looking at how to raise taxes.

    It may take awhile but you’ll eventually have to realize that the views of the Tea Party on taxes and government spending are not some fringe extremists.

    I never can grasp how you are such a fan of representative government right up to the point where the elected officials do exactly what the people elected them to do. 2010 was the Tea Party saying “Enough!” to government. It’s time to swing the pendulum back toward sane fiscal policy.

    Reply
  5. Steven Davis

    Like I said many times before, how is getting out of debt by increasing debt limits a “solution”? You don’t get out of debt by taking out another credit card to pay off the ones with late payments due. That’s something that I believe even 5 year olds are smart enough to figure out.

    “I can’t be broke, I still have blank checks.”

    Reply
  6. Lynn T

    No, Doug, Lindsey Graham doesn’t have that kind of credibility at this point. He is trying hard to ward off a primary challenge from the right wing. I’m sorry because he has sometimes done good independent-minded things in the past, but at this point all the evidence suggests that Lindsey Graham is about his own retention of a powerful position. Period.

    Reply
  7. tired old man

    Of the $14.3 trillion in national debt, $5.7 trillion is IOUs to the Social Security and Medicare programs, money that a succession of Congresses has stolen after people have paid taxes into those programs — for use in their retirement.

    I would like to see some energy from Joe Wilson and the rest of the Grover Norquist/Tea Party on that issue, beginning with an admission that their conservative votes throughout their careers have contributed to that situation.

    Congress has to heal itself, and a beginning point would be to leave the Medicare and SS trust funds alone. After that, there is no alternative other than to increase taxes on the very rich and to freeze entitlements.

    Meanwhile, the congressional websites have crashed, and mail.house.gov is down. That’s because a lot of people are trying to tell their congressmen that they do not like them playing chicken with their investment portfolios.

    Brad, I think you have framed the argument — “This ideology is particularly nihilistic toward what happens to the world at large, as long as the ideology is served.”

    People are waking up — well, they are being scared into consciousness if not scarred by this nihilistic, toxic ideology that is sadly more consistent than coherent.

    Give Joe a buzz at 939-0041. Tell the intern to send a message to Butch Wallace that a lot of people are fed up with his votes.

    Reply
  8. bud

    Doug, while we can agree that the federal government spends too much money, heaven knows I’ve railed against military spending for decades, the fact is the obligations have already been made. This is not the time to have that discussion. Ideally a simple increase in the debt ceiling would be the best solution. Then we can figure out what to do about spending. Since according to the constitution spending bills must originate in the House that GOP controlled body can push their spending agenda after the debt ceiling is increased and financially armegedon averted. Now is just not the time and place for that discussion.

    Reply
  9. Michael Rodgers

    President Obama’s plan, which includes major spending cuts and minor tax increases, is reasonable, sensible, sound, and correct. Nevertheless, it is NOT POSSIBLE. The controlling faction of the Republican Party will not ever, under any circumstances, raise any tax, ever. Sens. Reid and Schumer have the answer to this ridiculous crisis, and I sincerely hope they can get it enacted.

    Reply
  10. bud

    The Reid/Schumer plan, though reprehensible, is clever in a sense. They know that the Bush tax cuts are due to expire in about 17 months. Hence they can get their tax increase without lifting a finger. The GOP really needs to consider that prospect in order to get some concessions from the Dems before they end up with tax cuts after all.

    Reply
  11. Brad

    About Graham:

    Lindsey Graham, being a thinking man, holds some ideas that the right agrees with, some ideas that centrists agree with (yay!), and even some that the left agrees with.

    These days, for strategic reasons (I suppose; I haven’t spoken with him lately), he’s emphasizing the things he agrees with that the right supports.

    Reply
  12. bud

    Just got through reading the USA Todays editorial on raising the debt limit. They made all the rational conclusions even though I disagreed somewhat in their tone. Still, it was a sensible editorial. Like all USA Today ediorials they had an opposing view. In this case it was from a Tea Party congressman from Georgia. He said he would not raise the debt limit under any circumstances. Apparently there are quite a few of those sorts. So we’re stuck with a very scary situation where a large number of democrats in the house HAVE to agree with a reduced number of GOP congressman in order to raise the debt limit. Given the large block of “not under any circumstances” congressman this is really starting to look scary. In the words of Betty Davis let’s “fasten our belts we’re in for a bumpy night”.

    Reply
  13. bud

    Lindsey Graham, being a thinking man,…
    These days, for strategic reasons (I suppose; I haven’t spoken with him lately), he’s emphasizing the things he agrees with that the right supports.
    -Brad

    Un****ing believable! This is not in any way shape or form evidence that Lindsey Graham is a “thinking man”. Brad, do you actually think before you write nonsense like this? Could it be that Brad is not a “thinking man”?

    Reply
  14. Doug Ross

    @Brad

    So Lindsey Graham is picking sides on issues based on his ability to get re-elected? Gee, I’ve been saying that for years. He’s a political butterfly flitting back and forth to achieve one purpose: getting re-elected.

    I still don’t get all the scare tactics. We’ve been told for years that Social Security is solvent for decades. Or did they mean its solvent as long as we can keep borrowing money? That’s typically how pyramid schemes work.

    This is all political games. Obama and the Democrats are using the same scare tactics that Bush and Republicans used with the War on Terror.

    Life will go on if the ceiling isn’t raised. Social Security checks will go out. Medicare bills will be paid. If not, then politicians have been lying all along about their stability. My social security and Medicare taxes will still be flowing in along with those of millions of other workers. Why wouldn’t that money be able to flow back out to the recipients? Unless… unless… you mean they spent it on something else?

    Cut, cap, and balance. That’s the correct solution.

    Reply
  15. Brad

    Speaking of Lindsey. A few minutes ago, he put out a release positioning himself to the right of Boehner:

    “Unfortunately, I cannot in good conscience support the Boehner proposal in its current construct,” said Graham. “The Boehner proposal, no matter how well-intentioned, will be a straight-jacket on real spending reform.

    “It locks in spending levels well beyond what our nation can afford,” said Graham. “It also makes it much more difficult for Congress to enact structural reforms like passage of a Balanced Budget Amendment. I also have little hope that yet another joint committee of Congress will bring about real change. I believe it will be seen as yet another attempt to avoid the hard choices.”

    Reply
  16. Bryan Caskey

    I have to disagree with you about the President being “convincing” last night. He pretty much said the same exact things he’s been saying the last week or so. I don’t think he brought anyone over to his side of the fence that wasn’t already there.

    As for Boehner, I think he did a workman-like job. Nothing flashy, but it’s tough to follow the President. I love your metaphor of Cantor being the hard-line Soviet political officer ready to remind the commanding officer of the political issues during the heat of a battle.

    My guess is that we’ll see 8/2 come and go without a “grand bargain”. The real problem is I just don’t think Washington can tackle the spending problem, and US debt is going to get downgraded by the ratings agencies anyway.

    It’s like watching the governments of Germany, Russia, France, and Britain all slowly slide into a horrible war in 1914. Everyone knows it’s coming and it could be averted if people would realize the consequences, but no one does until it’s too late.

    I see a metaphorical repeat of WWI coming. It’s going to be bad, and after it’s over, the historians are going to look at our political parties and wonder why everyone was so dumb.

    Reply
  17. Brad

    And Bryan…

    Without a grand bargain, we get the shaft. The ratings agencies are going to lower the credit rating without that, even if we raise the limit.

    Reply
  18. Brad

    I just realized. This conversation is off to a good start, but y’all are mostly ignoring the fact that TWO GOP officials have “liked” a blog post advocating the killing of cops. Which is the kind of thing that usually creates some buzz.

    Y’all are really wonks, aren’t you? I kind of like that about y’all…

    Reply
  19. Steven Davis

    USA Editorial… who was it written by Ed (I’m going to burn this #@*$ing place to the ground) Schultz?

    Reply
  20. Doug Ross

    @Brad

    Yes, I agree with Lindsey. This week… we’ll see what his position is next week.

    As for why nobody cares about two unknown GOP nobodies liking a Facebook post that advocates (under specific extreme circumstances) killing cops… it’s because it’s two unknown GOP nobodies. This is news that is created for the purpose of trying to stir stuff up. Who cares what those losers think? They aren’t elected, right? They can be as dumb as they wanna be.

    Reply
  21. Burl Burlingame

    Throwing the nation into a financial crisis will help undercut Obama’s election chances, GOP strategists believe. So will getting Obama to cave with an economic gun pointed at nation. That may be the actual goal. So, win-win for the GOP, lose-lose for the nation.

    Reply
  22. Scout

    If I understand this correctly the thing that seems so stupid about it to me is that it is completely arbitrary. The debt ceiling is something we created and imposed on ourselves. It’s like if I made a personal vow to not borrow more than $100 dollars to pay my expenses and refuse to budge from that position even though it develops that my expenses are $200 and I’m approved to borrow $300. My vow may have been based on a reasonable premise that it would be bad to borrow too much, but the consequences of not being able to pay my expenses are certainly equally bad if not worse, and to not adjust to circumstances at hand when the capability is there is just stupid. And these people talk about priorities – can they not prioritize the consequences of default vs. the consequences of borrowing more? To need to borrow more is not the best case scenario but it is doable and it is better than default. Yes we need to change trajectory by spending less and increasing revenue also or we won’t continue to be approved to borrow more, in my analogy, (i.e. the market won’t continue to bear ever increasing debt) but right now, borrowing more to stay alive while also changing the trajectory of future debt are things we can do – if we will.

    At least that is how I understand it.

    Reply
  23. kc

    Scout, my understanding is similar.

    Re the consequences, I have the distinct impression that a frightening number of newly elected Republicans genuinely do not grasp the repercussions of default. And the ones who do, like Lindsey Graham, are cynically gambling that someone other than them will do the right thing so they can take credit with the GOP’s insane base for being tough.

    Reply
  24. bud

    And these people talk about priorities – can they not prioritize the consequences of default vs. the consequences of borrowing more?
    -Scout

    That seems so obvious. But this is an opportunity for the Tea Party to flex their muscles.

    Reply
  25. kc

    There’s a school of thought that we should just eliminate the debt ceiling: http://tinyurl.com/4y34u5m

    The link goes to the economics blog Calculated Risk. I like the blogger’s line, “Unfortunately, some politicians forgot the debt ceiling is just for posing . . .”

    Reply
  26. `Kathryn Fenner

    @scout–excellent. It’s even more like we have an unlimited credit line, but we told ourselves we wouldn’t borrow more than $100. We have a big bank account (the wealth of the United States of America –we, the people)…and we are going to default on paying our bills and wreck our credit rating because we won’t take money out of our big bank account.

    Reply
  27. Steven Davis

    @kathryn – Who’s the loan officer of this bank? This country spends money like a heroin addict and the Democrats don’t have a problem with it.

    Reply
  28. Doug Ross

    @Scout

    Your analogy is incorrect. The debt ceiling is like your credit limit on a credit card. If the limit is $2000 and you owe $2500, how many banks would raise your limit to $3000 unless you could prove first that you were able to pay off the $500 you overspent in the first place?

    If you had a track record of consistently spending more than you made, your only hope would be a payday loan at high interest rates. That’s the U.S. right now. Time to hock the Lexus and the big screen TV and get spending back in line with income.

    Reply
  29. Karen McLeod

    Steve, in case you haven’t noticed, the Democrats have proposed a plan which deeply cuts much spending, and restores some of the taxes on the very rich which had been cut by the previous president (who held 2 unfunded wars, which explains why we’re in so much debt). The last president to show a surplus was Clinton.

    Reply
  30. bud

    This country spends money like a heroin addict and the Democrats don’t have a problem with it.
    -Steven

    2 wars. A huge new prescription drug bill. A proposal to send men to Mars. And the “Democrat” who proposed all those things? Yup, George W. Bush, Democrat. Who knew?

    Reply
  31. AM

    CNN had something on its website a few weeks ago saying that Obama had been the first to “blink” by agreeing to cut spending. I think that “blink” now has Republicans backed into a corner. The speaker says he wants to be sure that Obama is a one-term president. Maybe big problem at this point is the fact that Boehner doesn’t want his party’s candidate to have to run against a Democratic president who has acted like a grown-up and agreed to Republican-like massive cuts in spending. As far as I can tell, the Republicans have not really brought a single thing to the table in this debate and they don’t mind if it means the country goes to Grover Norquist-induced tea-party hell in the meantime.

    Reply
  32. `Kathryn Fenner

    WashPo had a graphic that showed how much more of the deficit was attributable to Bush.

    Doug–the USA is not subject to the same rules as an individual, and it is TOO BIG TO FAIL. If the debt is defaulted on, severe worldwide economic consequences occur, not at all like those that follow a personal bankruptcy!

    Besides, the US can get a “raise” any time its legislators suck it up and make it happen. There is plenty of wealth in this country to pay our debts and we need to tap it.

    Reply
  33. Doug Ross

    @Kathryn

    Are you talking about the 50% of Americans who pay no income tax?

    Or are talking about Social Security and Medicare payments that everyone makes but apparently do not go to Social Security and Medicare recipients — otherwise why should they be part of any debt ceiling discussion? Shouldn’t both of those systems be separated from any budget and taxing discussion? They’re both solvent, right?

    It’s all gamesmanship by both sides. Democrats want the people who already pay the majority of taxes to pay more. Republicans want to protect their rich donors.

    There is no real crisis. It’s invented.

    I have yet to see anyone lay out exactly what will happen if the ceiling is not raised.

    Reply
  34. bud

    Are you talking about the 50% of Americans who pay no income tax?
    -Doug

    Of all the weasely, nonsensical, conservative, meaningless canards this one is the most blatanly disingenuis. The rich pay so much in INCOME tax, repeat INCOME tax because they have so much INCOME. The richest 1% command an enormous amount of the nation’s wealth and they are hoarding it for selfish reasons that I can’t really fathom, but hoarding it nonetheless. The rich should be paying much more and certainly short-term capital gains should be taxed at a much higher rate than 15%, perhaps as high as 50%.

    But the most disgusting part of this big lie is the simple fact that everyone pays the payroll tax, currently 6.5%. But only up to about 108k of income. That means the super rich pay a miniscule percentage of their income into SS. And of course the poor and middle class pay proportionally far more in sales tax since they spend more and are able to save less. Hence interest income is taxed as income and counted toward the rich’s share of INCOME tax paid while the sales tax is conveniently ignored.

    But what is really missing here is who actually benefits from INCOME tax money. The rich of course. The rich oil barrons. The rich pharmacutical CEOs. The rich hedge fund managers. The rich military contractors. All benefit from the rules enacted by congress that essentially funnel money into their corporate coffers. It’s a system of welfare for the rich that rewards greed over work. Luck over skill and talent.

    So let’s call this 50% nonsense the big lie that it is. The rich pay far less than they should and the rest of us pick up the tab one way or the other.

    Reply
  35. Tim

    “The subjects of every state ought to contribute toward the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities; that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the state ….[As Henry Home (Lord Kames) has written, a goal of taxation should be to] ‘remedy inequality of riches as much as possible, by relieving the poor and burdening the rich.'”
    Adam Smith
    — AN INQUIRY INTO THE NATURE AND CAUSES OF THE WEALTH OF NATIONS (1776)

    Reply
  36. Steven Davis

    @bud – those who hit the SS ceiling with their first paycheck, don’t receive any more SSI than those who do with their last paycheck.

    That said, I do believe the ceiling does need to be raised because in some sections of the country the ceiling salary amount is “middle class income”.

    At what salary level does one begin hoarding their income?

    Reply
  37. Doug Ross

    @bud

    But the payroll tax is for social security… So that money theoretically goes back to the person eventually. What are those 50% who don’t pay income tax contributing to actually running the government? Nothing. Just freeloading.

    Reply
  38. `Kathryn Fenner

    Those 50% are usually working multiple jobs just to feed their families and put roofs over their heads. There isn’t much left. That’s a big contribution.

    Those who do pay income tax, pay it because they have benefited far more greatly from society. What exactly do you do to benefit society, Doug? Is it more important than the hospital workers and nursing home aides and garbage collectors? Why?

    Reply
  39. `Kathryn Fenner

    FICA does not “theoretically” go back to the person who paid it. The theory is that workers pay into the pot and retirees collect. This happened on Day One in 193? before any retiree had paid any money in–they drew money out, and has persisted. Why give the most fortunate a pass on contributing their fair share?

    Reply
  40. Norm Ivey

    This 50% don’t pay federal income taxes argument has always bugged me. According to Kiplinger’s, 50% of taxpayers pay 97% of federal income tax. Almost, but not quite “all” the federal income tax. It’s hard to find the breakdown of the remaining 3% of income tax because most sources lump them together as the bottom 50%.

    My question has always been why don’t the rest of the people pay taxes? Unemployment is at 9.2%, or maybe 15% if you count those who have given up. That still leaves 35% paying virtually no taxes. For some, they simply don’t make enough money to be required to pay taxes. Half of the country makes less than $33,000, or about $15.00 an hour for a typical full-time job. It is difficult to support even a small family on so little. If taxes impact me some, won’t they impact someone making $33,000 even more?

    This spring when I was doing my taxes (a task I actually enjoy–I feel patriotic when I file), I had an epiphany. Many people pay little or no taxes because of tax breaks that benefit the middle class. For example, I received deductions or credits for dependents, mortgage interest, tuition, property taxes, insulating my home, charitable deductions, educator expenses, and probably a couple I’m forgetting.

    It seems that most folks who complain about 50% not paying taxes are people in my general income bracket–we pay taxes, and our income is such that taxes have a significant impact on our finances. We could broaden out tax base without raising tax rates by eliminating some credits and deductions, which would force some of those who pay no tax to pay more. Of course, people in my income bracket would pay more also. Any takers? Not me.

    Here’s another way to look at it. Still using Kiplingers as my source, the top 10% of income earners pay 70% of all taxes. The bottom 50% pay 3% of the taxes. The remaining 40% pays 27% of all taxes–less than our share. I’m not going to be one of those who whine about being taxed. The solution may wind up costing me more.

    http://www.kiplinger.com/features/archives/how-your-income-stacks-up.html

    Reply
  41. Norm Ivey

    I am dismayed by the debt debate–mostly because it should never have happened, and is incredibly easy to solve. The whole thing is just childish.

    One positive unintended outcome (if it is resolved successfully) may be that the Republican party will be forced to deal with its extreme right faction. I guess Boehner gave some of them an earful today, and a few have started to come around to at least supporting a solution other than default. Some of that group may come to understand that governing is not as easy as it seems when you’re sitting back home talking to a bunch of folks who think exactly the way you do.

    Reply
  42. Doug Ross

    @Kathryn

    You didn’t address my question: if Social Security is solvent and funded via payroll taxes, why is it even in the discussion of the debt ceiling? If the Social Security model works, the money coming in should be sufficient to fund the money going out. But we know it’s not… and it never has been. The payroll tax percentage has increased multiple times over the years as has the maximum amount paid per year… and yet now with the baby boomers reaching retirement, the system cannot support itself. It’s a pyramid scheme.

    As for what I do for society, I am a law abiding citizen who pays more taxes than most people do. I’ve never cost society a dime in welfare, food stamps, unemployment, incarceration, disability payments, drug treatment, Medicaid, reduced lunches for my kids, cheaper student loans, grants, etc. Please enumerate the benefits I have received as a person who has worked since age 17 and contributed more than $100K into Social Security, probably $25K or more into Medicare…

    I’m very satisfied that my contributions to society are on the positive side of the ledger. It’s the way it is – some of us have to carry the load for others.

    Reply
  43. Doug Ross

    And let’s be honest here – there are plenty of people who don’t pay income taxes who aren’t working multiple jobs and supporting families.

    My belief has always been that if everyone contributed an equal percentage of their income, we would see a different government. When half the people pay for the other half, it creates two competing mindsets: one side wants to pay less and the other side wants to get more.

    Reply
  44. bud

    Many of those 50% freeloaders, in addition to the working poor Kathyrin describes, are low paid part time workers who can’t get any other kind of work. This also includes teenagers who may work a few hours during the summer or on weekends to help with the family budget. All of these folks pay into SS which is a huge chunk of the federal budget. All of these folks pay a disproportionately large percentage of their income in sales tax and State Income tax. All of these folks contribute to corporate income taxes, gasoline taxes, cell phone excise taxes and a host of other revenue situations. The 50% nonsense is nothing but a selectively disingenuous canard made famous by Rush Limbaugh. It’s a phony and completely meaningless statistic and it needs to be called for the big lie that it is.

    Reply
  45. Doug Ross

    @bud

    Please separate Social Security from the discussion. Social Security should not be part of the federal budget discussion. It is supposed to be a free-standing system paid for by the contributions of workers and employers. It should have nothing to do with the debt ceiling if it is what it is supposed to be. Or are we borrowing money to pay Social Security benefits to current recipients? If so, then it is a pyramid scheme destined to fail.

    Many of those folks you mentioned also get back money that far exceeds their contributions. They are being supported by those of us who pay a significantly higher AMOUNT of taxes to those who pay much less in and get more out.

    Just because someone pays in 5% of a lower number and gets back most of the money doesn’t make them the equivalent of someone who pays in much more and gets back much less. They are putting in X and getting back X+Y where Y is coming from my pocket.

    Reply
  46. Steven Davis

    If Congress wouldn’t have put their hand in the Social Security cookie jar to pay for other pet projects, Social Security would to this day be self-sustaining.

    Reply
  47. Steven Davis

    Also, maybe we need to raise the age when people can collect Social Security. When it was formed, the average person lived to the age of 67 years old, and you couldn’t touch it until you were 65 years old. So the average person collected SSI for two years. Now with the average person living into his mid-70’s, maybe we need to raise the minimum age to collect to 70-72 years old.

    Reply
  48. Doug Ross

    From a Christian Scientist Monitor news article today on the status of Social Security payments:

    “For starters, Social Security is technically an off-budget program, which receives its revenue from three sources: payroll taxes, the interest from its $2.6 trillion trust fund, and taxes on Social Security recipients themselves. For now, the program brings in more revenue than it pays out, so there’s a strong case to be made that it’s a self-funding entity that should be allowed to continue operating, whatever the status of the debt limit.”

    They have a plan in place to keep the checks coming. Now it’s time for Obama to stop lying about those checks to scare people. He’s as bad as Bush.

    http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/2011/0728/Will-Social-Security-checks-keep-coming-if-US-goes-broke

    Reply

Leave a Reply to Lynn T Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *