Budget Snippets

April 10th, 2013 at 6:02 pm

I’ve been gum flapping on the President’s new budget all day in two cities and I’m not done yet.  But here are some brief thoughts, if not for your enlightenment then for your entertainment.

–From the department of “who didn’t see that coming?” here’s Rep Eric Cantor’s response: “Let’s set aside our differences and come together on things we can agree on.”  In other words, let’s just cut Social Security benefits (chained CPI) since we both want to do that, and not fool around with new revenues, cuz only one of us wants that.

And there you have the risk of leading with your last offer.  The White House has to have expected that and I believe them when they say no deal—it’s not a menu.  But why go there?

–I think I can answer that, and offered some thoughts here.  But reading Krugman’s take earlier, I found myself in rare disagreement.  Paul believes the President is grasping for the approval of “imaginary grownups,” and he rhetorically asks: “who do you think could possibly be persuaded by this budget who hasn’t already been persuaded?”

Actually, I predict—and this is a testable hypothesis—that the White House actually might be successful in changing the rhetoric of some of the elites—the Serious ones, in PK’s vernacular—who make a living off of the “pox on both their houses” arguments.

From where I sit, that’s been an pretty wildly incorrect take for a while now, but I suspect some influential commentators will begin to shift their take on this in ways that the White House believes will help their politics.  Whether that’s true or not, and whether it’s worth it, I don’t know.  But I think that’s at least part of the play here.

–The President said something very important and very true in his budget presentation today: “…nothing shrinks deficits faster than a growing economy.”  I’ll post a graph on that later, but for now, it just reminds one of how often discussions that begin with “let’s focus on the economy” immediately devolve to discussions of deficits, tax reform, and grand-freakin’-bargains.  And they just don’t have nearly as much to do with each other as that horrible DC affliction–deficit attention disorder—would lead you to believe.

[BTW–weird thing: though the TSA uses the same machines in both places, in DC you don’t have to take your belt off; in NYC, you do.]

 

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10 comments in reply to "Budget Snippets"

  1. Perplexed says:

    -“Paul believes the President is grasping for the approval of ‘imaginary grownups,’ and he rhetorically asks: ‘who do you think could possibly be persuaded by this budget who hasn’t already been persuaded?’

    Actually, I predict—and this is a testable hypothesis—that the White House actually might be successful in changing the rhetoric of some of the elites—the Serious ones, in PK’s vernacular—who make a living off of the ‘pox on both their houses’ arguments.”

    It might be a good idea to place that bet on a $5 table though if you can find one:

    “It’s hard to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding.” – Upton Sinclair


  2. SeattleAlex says:

    I sit somewhere in between you and PK. While I think this budget is about as far as I’d ever consider compromising as a progressive, what would be an alternative? If the Barackness Monster (TM) releases the Progressive Caucus/Patty Murray’s budget (shout out to WA state) he gets killed by the right and the Very Serious People as just another contributor to the deadlock and lack of compromise in congress. If he successfully sits on this ‘compromise’ at least he can say he tried reaching out. I know this hasn’t worked well in the past, but he seems to be doing a better job of holding out after his initial compromises rather than letting them end up as center-right starting positions. Yes congress sucks and our media coverage sucks…but in the interim we have a country to run. PK can do the yelling and drawing attention to a need for change while our prez pragmatically navigates Washington.


  3. Tom in MN says:

    “…nothing shrinks deficits faster than a growing economy.” is one of the best things I’ve heard too. I think it is time for us to double down on the debt. When we came out of WWII with 140% of GDP debt, we doubled down and built the interstate highway system and grew until the WWII debt was trivial. We need to do that again, and as I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, this was also when taxes where much much higher than now.


  4. Fred Donaldson says:

    Changing the opinion of the elites is like appeasing an aristocracy – it never ends until you are bereft of new offers.


  5. Aidan says:

    Hlong would chained CPI extend the program’s solvency compared to current law? And what effect did the payroll tax rate and payroll tax cap increasing have on solvency?


  6. Spencer says:

    The sensitivity of each machine the TSA uses can be set individually,
    so the standard or norm varies widely.

    The most sensitive machine I am exposed to regularly is at the Boston Federal Reserve Building. For a while I thought my belt was causing the problem. But I’ve discovered that if I take my watch off the belt gets through OK.


  7. PeonInChief says:

    As someone who is definitely not an Obama fan, I have to wonder what good will come of the cuts to Social Security. Social Security has no impact on the deficit–none. Obama has, by making up some connection, fed the Beast.


  8. Jim says:

    Those of us old enough to be working in the 70s remember the tweaking that was done to the SS system to extend solvency. Let’s tweak the system again.


  9. Jill SH says:

    “the White House actually might be successful in changing the rhetoric of some of the elites…” Whenever some of my leftie/progressive friends start yapping about how O is starting his negotiations at the end point/giving away the store, I’m thinking Wait a bit. This guy may be playing a very long game. Each time he takes a step toward the Rs and shows them a compromise position, they seem to take yet another step backward. And I think they (Rs) end looking increasingly rigid, one-note, inflexible, ridiculous, out-of-touch, backing themselves into a corner (pick any that apply). O did win the election and it doesn’t look like approval of Republicans is rising.

    The result: we have Republican Austerity-Lite; we don’t get off the dime and get stimulus to get the economy going. Neither does the safety net get shredded. We just limp along.

    And of course: “…nothing shrinks deficits faster than a growing economy.” (I hope O repeats that a lot!) As I like to say: We need jobs, good jobs, better jobs, better-paying jobs. Then we can all help pay down the deficit. (Am I repeating myself?)

    I’ve got a 20-something son (and his wife) living at home, working at a pizza place, with 20k+ debt to pay off. Send help soon.


  10. Procopius says:

    Jill SH: “Each time he takes a step toward the Rs and shows them a compromise position, they seem to take yet another step backward. And I think they (Rs) end looking increasingly rigid, one-note, inflexible, ridiculous, out-of-touch, backing themselves into a corner (pick any that apply).” Well, the result is “the middle” keeps moving ever farther to the right. I still think Obama is proposing the Chained CPI because this is something he really, really wants. Perhaps he is convinced that it is “not really cutting benefits, it’s slowing their rate of increase.” In 2014 the Republicans will show him how few people agree with him on that. I was completely flummoxed in 2010 by the failure of the Democrats, who admitted they “took a shellacking,” to recognize the cause of their disaster. They made no effort at all to sell Obamacare to the people, and they still haven’t. Now Obama is proposing a “reform” which the Republicans can easily sell as “cutting Social Security” and he seems totally oblivious to the arguments against it. Certainly neither he nor any of his spokespersons ever present a real argument in its favor. I watched Axelrod on Kindly Doctor Maddow’s show and he had no coherent reasons for it. Also, I notice that in the budget proposal there is not one word about “protecting the most vulberable.” The proposal is simply put forward as a more accurate measure of inflation (it’s not) that heppily will save a trivial amount over ten years that will not even affect the deficit.


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