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October 30, 2014

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Letter to the editor:

Spending will catch up to us

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I understand the president’s position that raising taxes on the middle class and/or making large reductions in spending in this slow economy might very well send the country back into a recession. There are two problems with this position, however.

The first is that our government can never seem to find the right time to impose higher taxes across the board and/or to really reduce government spending. The second is that commissions and studies continually find hundreds of billions of dollars of waste, duplication and fraud in just about all government programs, yet this issue is never addressed.

Both parties, the Congresses and our presidents are to blame for allowing this to continue. Unlike many Americans, I have a real fear that continuing to do next to nothing about this problem is likely to lead to a debasing of the value of our currency, which will affect every American, rich, middle class or poor. Just like in our own lives, there is a point at which spending more than one can afford results in disastrous consequences. America is not immune.

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  1. "In a preChristmas Oval Office meeting Boehner queried Obama "I put $800 billion on the table. What do I get for that?" @ Future

    And threatened Boehner that if he didn't go along, he [the President] would blame the GOP for the fiscal cliff dive in the State of the Union address. Nasty president? Or just a 2nd termer making the same mistakes that other second termers made: Overreaching. Or both?

    CarmineD

  2. "Both parties, the Congresses and our presidents are to blame for allowing this to continue."

    Bull! We're all responsible. Not only for allowing it to continue, but resisting efforts to stop it.

  3. Jim,

    I did not intend to convey that Americans are not to blame for allowing the deficits and the debt. Of course we are. We put the people in office and then often return them to office, even though they never address the serious problems in a realistic way.

    Former President Bush and the Republicans were totally irresponsible fiscally and I am waiting to see people on the right, in this newspaper and elsewhere admit that, without conditions or excuses and express real anger about it... anger like I feel.

    President Obama and the Democrats continue to be equally irresponsible fiscally and I am waiting to see people on the left, in this newspaper and elsewhere admit that, without conditions or excuses and express real anger about it... anger like I feel.

    I am still not seeing it. I still see the same old tired arguments, support and justification for one party or the other.... and that fact does make us all responsible.

    I only hope that Americans wake up soon. If we don't, I am convinced an economic disaster will come our way; one that will shock us as the 1930's Depression shocked Americans during those years.

    Americans will be walking around dazed.... asking how could this happen here?

    Michael

  4. Some form of recession is virtually guaranteed whenever the government actually decides to seriously cut its spending and perhaps even raise taxes substantially.
    It seems that most economists counsel your politicians to wait out significant spending cuts and tax increases.
    I fully expect the inevitable eleventh hour fiscal cliff agreement to contain nothing of any consequence.
    It's more than possible that solving America's debt and deficit problems can no longer be accomplished. Certainly nothing can get done with the horrible divided current Congress. It's likely that 2013 will be just another overspending year in the life of America. I'm too lazy to do any research, but I wonder if America's current losing streak of spending way more than it takes in constitutes any sort of world record.

    Donald W. Desaulniers (FromBellevilleCanada)

  5. Jeff,

    I really have great difficulty understanding your view. Let's say that nothing is done and we are all (rich and poor) crushed in a terrible economy. When we all have to 'start over' at some point, the starting point for the 1 % isn't going to be the same starting point that you and I begin at. The 1 % will have a huge advantage going forward and I suspect very little of consequence will change. That's why I have real doubts about whether the nightmare scenario is such a good idea.

    I understand you and others 'hate' the 1 % and perhaps for you, having the 1 % feel 'pain' is reward enough...even though what comes along with that is absolute financial devastation of the 99 %.

    I continue to believe that a gradual walkback is the way to go. Higher taxes on the 1 %... fine, but then over time, higher taxes on all Americans... nobody gets a free ride. Military spending cuts? Yes...gotta do them. Entitlement reform? Yes. Gotta do it. Income tax re-write? Yes, gotta do it. Cut all the fraud, waste and duplication in government? Yes! Gotta do it.

    Term limits so elected office cannot be a career. Yes! Gotta do it. Public financing of campaigns so that our elected representatives are no longer beholden to the rich and powerful for funds to try to be re-elected? Yes! Gotta do it.

    Do you honestly think anyone in either major political party is going to do any of those things? I don't...

    Michael

  6. IT HAS. Overspending has already caught up to us. Our economy can't seem to right itself and faces steeper challenges cause we just keep taxing and spending. Weak and weaker dollar. Inflation forced level by Fed Reserve with unintended consequences. Fewer and fewer people able to get by, make a living, keep an emergency fund because taxes keep increasing--local, state and federal. Anybody else like to quote me: Obama wants to go off the cliff. Obama will raise taxes on EVERYONE. Obama will keep spending until somebody stops him--perhaps limits on raising national debt limit--under a trillion a year?

  7. Psst: we need to end deficit spending. Merely slowing the rate of increase won't revive the economy--cause we'd still have to find the wiggle room to fund the deficit spending--in addition to the overall debt. So, the deal must address all spending until there is no deficit spending and there is a substantial payment plan on the debt. THEN we'd see resounding economic recovery.

  8. Roberta,

    The turnaround we'd all like to see cannot exclude higher taxes or 'real' reductions in spending. The debt is too big to deal with by 'only' using spending cuts or 'only' using tax increases.

    That's where the real problem lies. One side has no interest in 'really' cutting spending, in the short but especially the long term and the other side has no interest in 'really' raising taxes, in the short or especially in the long term.

    We're going to have to do both, carefully and gradually to be sure, in this fragile economy, but both must be done.

    Michael

  9. Donald,

    I agree with you and that is why both spending reductions and tax increases must be implemented carefully and gradually.

    Our representatives and the President have no doubt been told that anything they do that isn't a bunch of 'smoke and mirrors' stuff is going to cause the economy to take a hit. That is exactly why we get the 'smoke and mirrors'.

    Our two parties and our own apathy and ignorance have made an ugly bed for us to lie in... and our elected representatives do not wish to be the people who now tell us we have to lie in that bed.

    Michael

  10. Michael

    We've been hearing "Repent now! The end is coming" since Reagan was President. And like other predictions of Armageddon, it hasn't happened yet. After 30 plus years of wolf warnings and no wolf, we've become immune to it. It well might happen and when it does we'll deal with it then. Washington rarely avoids a crises but waits for it and then acts.

    Jim

  11. Jeff,

    You'll not find me defending the Republicans these days. That said, your statement that if House Republicans put something like I suggested forward (I agree that they should), then Democrats would find it workable flies in the face of reality. Look at my list, Jeff. There are things in there that Democrats would support but just as many they would fight until hell froze over.

    And therein lies the problem. To both parties, compromise has come to mean: We get everything we want and you get little that you want. That isn't compromise ... on either side. I still here you saying that it's the Republicans. That's right, as far as it goes, but until people start blaming both sides, we will get the same crappy performance from both sides

    Michael

  12. MKC: Re your first paragraph. We gotta do it some time. We're in the spend-more-than-we-got addiction and rehab is gonna have some consequences. Now or never. Let's roll.

  13. MKC: As YOU know, I don't get into sides, but I do recognize that there are more than two sides to this. Some of the pundits are finally voicing the obvious: Obama wants to go off the cliff. We need to cut defense and how else would he get us there? We need for all Americans to pay taxes and more taxes, and how else would we get there? We need to cut spending, not merely slow the increase, in all programs ESPECIALLY discretionary. SS and Medicare can be fixed next year--although I tried to get Senator Harry off dead center on this 4 years ago. MEDICAID spending must be curtailed. I haven't solidified my leanings--copays from semi-indigents? Might help. Limiting coverage and procedures with an administrative nightmare? Not such a good idea but they might go this way--to lower unemployment. Probably, as usual, they'll force the doctors and hospitals to use crystal balls to predict what coverage they'll reimburse for in individual situations--and then deny reimbursement--so even fewer doctors will see MEDICAID patients.

  14. It is almost impossible to ever scale back government spending once a program has begun without economic consequences. The continued shift of tax liability to a smaller and smaller group is a natural outcome of having refundable tax credits.

    The true fix is to have more private sector jobs. And that isn't going to happen as long as we continue to run a trade deficit and have trade policies that benefit our partners far more than us.

  15. Jeff,

    I'll say it again. Republicans could offer such a bill and they will not. That is on them. President Obama and the Democrats could also propose such a plan but they don't. That is on them.

    Michael

  16. Joe, if Bill Gates had his way they would all be here on H1B work visas working at half the salary they get now.

    The simple fact is that our trade deficit is about the same as the rest of the world *combined*. We are effectively subsidizing the rest of the world with our imports. This is not sustainable!

  17. Jeff,

    No, it is not my coping mechanism. It is instead the reality and the truth. You always fall back on the 'I won't take a side' argument.

    You don't respond to the truth that while the Republican party doesn't put forth a reasonable plan along the lines I've suggested and they deserve criticism ... It is also true that there is nothing preventing the other side from putting forth such a proposal either, and they deserve criticism for not doing so.

    Jeff ... can't you lay your partisan attitude aside just long enough to agree that all these people owe it to us to place country above their own interests and that of their party? Do you see a side that is doing that? I don't. I say a pox on all their houses ... and so should every American.

    Michael

  18. Jim,

    If I say for 200 consecutive days that it is going to rain, and it doesn't, does that mean it will never rain? I don't think so.

    There are many Americans that believe as you do and I think that belief is unwise. I hope you are right but I fear you are not. Before the 1930's depression, few thought such an event could happen in America, but it did happen. Same with pearl Harbor and 9/11. A belief that something cannot happen is hardly a guarantee that it won't happen.

    Michael

  19. Those far right wingnuts in The House rely on ideology and will intentionally sabotage any agreement regardless of the damage done to the country. They won't cooperate with the president or deal with Boehner.

    This Congress 112th is the most incompetent and dysfunctional in the history of this great nation. It started with the elections in 2008 to stop Obama from being reelected. Why does it continue? I haven't a clue other than the fact they hate the government/Obama and are willing to force us into a double dip recession.

  20. When the fiscal cliff dive is inevitable, relax and enjoy it!

    Politicians like to create cliffs and bring the electorate to the brink, so they will beg to be saved. This is inherently risky. Like the young boy who cried wolf. When the wolf finally came, nobody believed him.

    CarmineD

  21. Vernos,

    Until more Americans get angry at both political parties and punish them both at the polls, we will not see better days.

    There are no proposals out there from either party that address the problems we have. Too many Americans still want to buy the crap that this is a Tea Party only, a Republican only, or a Democrat only problem. That is nonsense. It is an 'all of the above' problem.

    Here is the truth. To get us on the right track will take actions so unpopular that it will threaten elected members of both parties and whichever party makes the first bold move takes an awful chance of being successfully portrayed as a total villain by the other party.

    THAT IS WHY WE SEE ZERO BOLD ACTIONS OR PLANS FROM EITHER SIDE. IT IS CALLED "SELF INTEREST" and it is all about putting ones self and ones party above the interests of our country.

    You need to wake up and so do most Americans.

    Michael

  22. Jeff,

    I don't need to watch the video. The Republicans controlled the Presidency from 2000 to 2008 and controlled Congress for a portion of that time as well. Of course, if I was interested in 'allocating' blame, the Republicans would get more than 50 % of it.

    You just don't get it. I'm not interested in that. We have a huge problem and I want it solved for the good of all of us. Up to this point, neither party has even offered a plan that has any chance of altering the course we are on. THAT is what I care about. To me, anything else, including arguments over who is more at fault, are not important.

    Both parties and those in Congress are the ones who want you and I and everyone else to be kept occupied arguing over who is more at fault. Why? Because as long as they can, they remain protected from the American public and they can continue to do what benefits THEM instead of what benefits US.

    If you wish to play that foolish game, I cannot stop you, but anyone who wishes to be a part of any real solution must be willing to move away from the 'blame' game and just simply be angry at all of them on both sides and start to insist that both sides do a whole lot better job than they are currently doing.

    Michael

  23. The Iraq war consumed about $120 billion/year in military spending, with another $100 billion/year in support spending that came under the heading of private armies and homeland security. $220 billion/year for absolutely nothing.

    $5.9 trillion more debt after eight years of George W. Bush and his successor nearly gains the White House after only four years while the war party re-gains the House of Representatives. Some punishment. Now we hear: "Until more Americans get angry at both political parties and punish them both at the polls".

    Americas love war and spending for war and cannot bring themselves to stop unless pulled off their prey. The Iraq war was designed to demonstrate shock, awe and fear. Obey the US President or suffer the most dire consequences. No wonder the Iraqis do not want the US military presence in their country.

    Unlimited spending for six years in Iraq and all on MasterCard. The war makers now tell us that the country is spending too much and Social Security, Medicare, Education, Roads, Highways and Urban development are going to pay off the war debt. Wasn't that the plan in the first place?

    Those same people now want to hire armed guards for every school in America. They say a person can only be safe with an armed guard very close. The love of guns and the love of war go together. Paranoia creates wars, the need for guns while the death and debt tolls continue to pile up. Until this country becomes civilized, the worst is yet to come.

    The current level of Defense spending is not sustainable.

  24. Jeff,

    Let me alter one thing I said. Actually, one plan was offered that did have a small chance of changing the course we are on. It was the Simpson Bowles plan and I gave and give President Obama credit for calling for the commission. However, when it came right down to it, the reasonable and necessary steps proposed by this serious and mostly bipartisan group of people was REJECTED by not just those people you dislike in Congress, but also by the President you helped elect and then re-elect and many of those people in Congress you do not like.

    And that, my friend, just makes my point. That plan would have been tough to swallow, unpopular with Americans and put those currently in office at risk of losing their jobs....but it was the right thing to do for the country... and every one of those people knew it. What did they do? They put self interest above the national interest and they are still doing it today.

    So you just keep doing what they want....arguing over who is more a fault... while they continue to be self serving and our country just continues to go down the crapper.

    Michael

  25. Jeff,

    I understand where you are coming from now. I disagree but I understand. You are of the Paul Krugman mindnset. The debt doesn't really matter and whatever amount of money it takes to stimulate the economy (read bail out states, and spend lots on money on government programs), whether borrowed or manufactured is deemed 'well spent.

    I am not against the government spending money. I just happen to believe that we should at least make a real attempt to have taxes and spending be in the same ballpark and we should make an attempt to payback what has been borrowed.

    Even Krugman pays lip service to that idea and says we should address the debt and deficits ... in the future... but he gives no timetable for it.

    I believe I will be proven correct and you, Krugman and others wrong. I just hope I am dead when the chickens come home to roost.

    Michael

  26. Jeff,

    One other thing. I just watched President Obama's statement on the meeting today. If you'll note, when the President speaks about 'reductions', he never seems to say reduce the 'debt', only reduce the 'deficit'. That probably doesn't concern you but it does concern me.

    It's like if my wife says : 'I know we are in debt $ 20,000 and I know I spend $ 1000.00 more than we bring in every month, so I'll reduce the overspending to $ 500.00 a month.'

    I guess I could jump for joy over that, but somehow I don't think I would nor do I think many husband's would.

    Michael

  27. Michael, Jeff et al:

    WRT President Obama and cuts, I know exactly the logic he employs. My dear Wife has used it on me for 40 years. She goes shopping and there's a sale: 50 percent off. She buys. Or 30 percent off and she buys. Then she comes home and proudly says she SAVED money so she had to buy it. And I said, I don't bother anymore, if you're spending money you're not saving. She argues and says I just don't get it. And therein lies the President's thinking.

    CarmineD

  28. "Even Krugman pays lip service to that idea and says we should address the debt and deficits ... in the future... but he gives no timetable for it."

    @ Michael Casler

    Dr. Krugman is a proponent of John Maynard Keynes. Keynes said that the government should pay down/off the debt and deficit in good economic times. How? By raising taxes and use the revenue generated to do so. The problem is politicians didn't. Not here, not in Europe. Instead they spent/borrowed more and more. Thinking the good times would continue to roll.

    CarmineD