A Philosopher's Blog

Debt Deal

Posted in Law, Politics by Michael LaBossiere on August 3, 2011
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 30:  House Speaker-d...

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At almost the last minute, congress meandered into action and voted to raise the debt ceiling. As part of this deal, there will also be spending cuts. As with all compromises, most folks are not happy.

The mainstream Republicans had hoped to get more cuts. However, they are no doubt pleased that they were able to protect their beloved “job creators” from a return to the tax rate that existed before the Bush-era tax cuts. For the most part, the tax loopholes and so forth also were left intact. As such, the Republicans did seem to achieve two key goals: spending cuts and no increase in government revenue.

The Democrats were probably pleased that they got the debt ceiling raised, thus preventing (for now) America going into default. They were probably also pleased that the Republicans refrained themselves from introducing a bill calling for the harvesting of both kidneys from the Democrats in congress (which would have been heroically negotiated to one kidney by the might Democrats). The Democrats were probably less pleased by the fact that they seem to have handed Republicans what they wanted while getting little in return.

The President is probably a bit divided. On the one hand, the country did not default (yet) on his watch. On the other hand, he did not get the revenue increases he had wanted. Whether this situation will help him or hurt him (or neither) in 2012 remains to be seen. Perhaps it will help him by making the Republicans appear willing to wreck the country to score ideological points. Perhaps it will hurt him by making him appear weak. Perhaps it will have no effect. After all, the 2012 elections are a ways off and people have short memories.

The Tea Party folks seem rather upset. As some wits have noted, they would only be happy if there was no government left. Of course, this is not exactly true-Tea Party folks seem to love their entitlements as much as everyone else. The Tea Party does have a good point though: the cuts are not enough.

My take on the matter is that it is a lame compromise that merely buys us a bit more time until the next crisis. While there are cuts, they are (as the Tea Party folks correctly point out) not significant enough to properly address the real problem, namely the debt. What is needed is, as others have argued, more substantial cuts. However, these cuts need to be from our “luxury”spending (subsidies to profitable industries, for example) and our wasteful spending (such as entitlements for those who are not in need) rather than from necessary and useful spending. What is also needed is an increase in revenue by closing loopholes and removing the Bush-era tax cuts.

I also contend that America should take the approach of other over-spenders who are serious about dealing with their debt. We need a clear, coherent and viable debt reduction plan with tangible goals and accountability. I suspect that our current crop of politicians cannot do this for us. In part this is not their fault. First, the current election system (“money talks”) makes it difficult for them to take actions that would dry up special interest money. Second, the voters are (as always) a problem-they tend to not be inclined to vote for people who would, in fact, do what must be done.

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6 Responses

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  1. ajmacdonaldjr said, on August 3, 2011 at 10:39 am

    Good post. I predicted this to be the final death-blow to the TEA Party and I was wrong about that, but I was correct about the whole debt ceiling “crisis” being all about the TEA Party, which it was. But where I thought the TEA Party would fail it has succeeded, which all Americans should take note of. Although some, few, high profile TEA Partiers may take government assistance the vast majority of Americans and TEA Partiers do not and we are sick of being fleeced, or robbed, of our hard earned money. Sick unto death. This fact cannot and should not be ignored, especially by the Left. There are good reasons for why TEA Party people are angry. Most are working class folks, which the left SAY they support. How many prominent leftists are white rather than blue collar workers? How many leftists live in urban as opposed to rural America? Rural America is, for the most part “America” itself. I know, because I have travelled the entire nation many times over. Large urban areas are few and far between, except for the Northeast. If the Right is 70% correct on issues and 30% wrong the Left has the 30% right which the Right need and the Right has the 70% which the Left needs. For the most part, the most vocal of the Left hate Jesus, hate (traditional) America, especially the flag, and hate life (i.e., pro-abortion). This is losing “strategy” for the Left to cling to. Period. America will never become the socialist utopia the far Left hopes for. No utopias exist and it’s dangerous to presume that they can (think: Communist China, today). The Right, especially the religious Right needs to listen to the wisdom of the Left on many issues, especially the issue of America’s ongoing wars. The Pentagon and the wars is where most of our money is going. And our troops are losing more than life and limb overseas, they are losing theirs souls and their humanity too, which is far worse. A man can be fitted for an artificial limb but not an artificial soul. Science can’t fix that, and neither can the VA. It’s up to us, the American people, to demand and end to the misuse and abuse of our troops; to bring them home and keep them home, now.

  2. WTP said, on August 3, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    No, Mike, you’re not biased. “Job creators” gets the sarcastic quotes, but “revenue increases” doesn’t. Why not just say “taxes increases”, or predicting what your weasly logic response might be, “tax and fee increases”. You’re not biased at all. And this piece throws just enough token complements to the Tea Partiers so as provide cover but not do enough damage to the sarcasm toward such people as the fine folks at Fox and their audience. A bias, after all, seems to imply an unwarranted view…I read that somewhere.

    As for this:

    “I also contend that America should take the approach of other over-spenders who are serious about dealing with their debt. We need a clear, coherent and viable debt reduction plan with tangible goals and accountability.”
    Typical philosopher talk. Why, by God somebody has to do something and it damn well better show some tangible results. Reminds me of a report a student gave in my AP History class way back in high school. He used that same sort of “I call for” language (I think he purloined some of it from a congressman’s speech) and our teacher tore him apart for having Lubner’s Disease. You remember what Lubner’s Disease was, don’t you Mike?

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 3, 2011 at 1:43 pm

      “Job creators” gets the quote marks because it is the term used by the folks in congress as a stand in for the wealthy. But, I do admit some sarcasm here. Revenue increases need not be tax increases. However, if some fine congressperson was using “revenue increase” when s/he meant “tax increase” I would throw on the “”.

      The Tea Party folks do have some good ideas. They are right about the need to cut spending and are right to be concerned about taxes. I also think that the government should be required to balance the budget. Debt should only be allowed for true emergencies.

      Having tangible goals seems like a good idea. For example, we could aim at reducing the deficit by 10% per year. I have found that in many long term things (ranging from marathon training to managing my divorce debt) having set goals and a plan helps a great deal. The challenge is, of course, in the details and having the will to act.

  3. WTP said, on August 3, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    “or predicting what your weasly logic response might be, “tax and fee increases”. ”

    “Revenue increases need not be tax increases”

    If I could only read the stock market as well…

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 3, 2011 at 5:00 pm

      There are no weasels in my logic, although there were squirrels in my attic once.

      • WTP said, on August 4, 2011 at 8:20 am

        Squirrels in you attic? Well don’t look now, but…

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