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February 28, 2015

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Letter to the editor:

Delaying cuts is no solution

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Now that the “fiscal cliff” legislation has passed, increased taxes on those making more than $400,000 are in place, right now; not tomorrow, not in 10 years; not phased in over time, but right now. Good. I would have supported even higher taxes on more Americans.

Let’s contrast the revenue increase with the other half of the so-called balanced approach. The spending cut piece is made up of proposals and plans — few if any of which start now. This leaves plenty of time to do what is always done, which is to find ways to not implement the cuts.

Americans say the out-of-control spending scares them. If it really does, they must demand that reduced spending is treated exactly like increased revenue. Both have to start immediately! No more starting the revenue piece immediately and the spending reduction piece later.

Baseline budgeting must also end. Reducing a 5 percent increase in spending to a 3 percent increase is not a cut. It is a smaller increase. This type of farcical accounting must stop.

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  1. Bradley,

    I agree with part of what you said. As you well know, I have been someone who does not give the GOP a 'pass' for their terrible stewardship of the economy. Although they were in the drivers seat and must be held 85 % responsible, neither do I absolve the Democrats of any responsibility. Democrats did not in large part fight what the GOP did and in fact supported much of the spending related to 9/11 and the wars. They were also not standing up and screaming for higher taxes on any Americans to pay for what was being spent. This was because they were afraid to oppose the spending and call for higher taxes after such a terrible event as 9/11. That's our present system for you: Place my own interests above what is right and what is best for the country.

    Now let's leave history and move to mathematics. It's been said over and over again (and it is true) that we could take all the wealth the wealthy had and it would not be able to make the debt and deficit spending go away. There are few wealthy and millions of middle class people in America and the middle class is where most of the money is, not on an individual basis but in the aggregate.

    I have said that I favor defense cuts and an end to our role as world policeman and benefactor. I also favor a re-write of the income tax code. I favor doing all that before cutting programs you would favor, but given the math of the deficit spending and the debt, spending must be reduced and or higher taxes on every American must be imposed.

    Bradley, surely you can see that our government and both parties have not been and still are not serious about dealing with the deficit spending and the debt.


  2. OK Michael. We get that you want real spending cuts but get specific. What spending do you want to cut and by how much? What are the near-term and long-term consequences of that cut? Rank the cuts by priorities as you see them.

    You may have a sensible philosophy but don't oversimplify the practical ramifications.

  3. To all who write here and all Americans, I say this:

    About half of the 60 % of Americans who actually pay attention are mad at Republicans, and with good reason. The other half of the 60 % of Americans who actually pay attention are mad at Democrats, and with good reason. That's why elections are close and we often have divided government.

    Until a much larger proportion of Americans that pay attention are mad at both Republicans and Democrats, the status quo will continue as our living standards slowly fade downward, more people fall out of the middle class and more Americans depend on government to live.

    Too many of us are still too comfortable in our own lives to be willing to honestly admit that Congress is totally broken and that both parties willingly perpetuate and and are a part of this broken system.

    I believe Americans will eventually get angry enough at both parties to demand change, but we have not declined far enough yet... although we will have at some point.

    I think Americans who actually believe we have a good system in Congress and that all our problems are caused by one party and are solvable by the other party to be unbelievably naive. I can and do talk about that and largely get nowhere, so I and the rest of you must wait until things get bad enough here for enough Americans that people finally wake up and demand changes in the way Congress works and major changes in the way both parties operate.


  4. Jim,

    The ramifications of any 'real' action will be very painful. That's why none of them are taken. Let's start with defense for example. If we cut spending and brought military people home from all around the world, a huge amount of money could be saved. That said, such an action would unemploy many that work in the private defense sector and those that are stationed abroad in the military. If we stopped being the world's policeman and benefactor, many people employed because we are would be unemployed.

    There are many more examples, but I am sure you get the point. Do I want to see all that unemployment, either all at once or over time? No. Do I think we have to do both over time and suffer the consequences? Absolutely I do, if we want to avoid a larger crises later.

    Do I think entitlements must be addressed? Yes. Do I think it can be done without hurting people. No, I do not. Do I think taxes must be raised on many Americans? yes. Do I think it will hurt the economy somewhat to do that? Yes.

    This is the real problem. We and our government have stupidly created a box and jumped inside. There is NO painless way out of the box, although both parties continue to say either that we are not really in this box, or that we can get our painlessly and most importantly work to keep our attention focused on WHO is MORE responsible for placing us in the box.

    It would be laughable if it were not so serious.


  5. Good article Michael. May I suggest that you/we Americans only look as far as the CBO, Congressional Budget Office, for a reasonable, responsible solution to automatic cuts aka sequestration. The CBO reports a ONE PERCENT reduction in growth for the US budget for each of the next 10 years will net a savings of at least $2 TRILLION. One percent! That's not even as large as a rounding difference. In Washington DC budget speak, a reduction in future growth is a legitimate SPENDING CUT. Right? So let's do it.


  6. Jim,

    Another thing I wish to point out is this. It is common practice for someone that says what I say to be asked for specifics. These are enormously complex issues not given to quick, back of the note pad solutions.

    These decisions are what we elect our Presidents and representatives to make. I am reasonable and since I do realize how complex the issues are, I am willing to provide the time necessary for careful consideration and reflection, but I think that 15 years is 'far' too long. It is time for some of these tough calls to be made by the people we elect to make them.


  7. Chuck333,

    I fully understand the people I argue with on both sides. A big problem with people on both sides is that they pick a position and then cherry pick whatever they need to support that position and ignore everything else. Backward logic.

    Most Americans did and do support the tax reduction for the middle class enacted by former President Bush. If we go back and look, if the Clinton era tax rates would have stayed in place for the wealthy and were sill in place, our deficit spending and our debt would still be gigantic. That is a reality that most Progressives just don't want to see.


  8. Drop the sacred cows. The republicans faced the tax hike. The democrats must face cuts in social security and medicare. The republicans must face cuts in defense,and additional tax increases. The American people have had it and demand results. Give the negotiations to Biden and McConnell again. Boehner and the House are too extreme and this is mainly caused by the House extremists who are not about to make a deal. In the end everybody must give, not everybody will be happy. Get used to it. The sooner theses two can get on the phone or in a room together with acup of coffee, the sooner there will be some positive results. Obama is more extreme than the House. Keep him out of the negotiations. I say lets get going now. We all know the areas that must be addressed.

  9. "It is time for some of these tough calls to be made by the people we elect to make them."

    Mr. Casler favors immediate cuts that would likely send us into another recession.

    Take it from the CBO:

    "We and many other forecasters had warned that, if all of the fiscal tightening that was scheduled to occur at the end of 2012 had actually occurred, the economy probably would have fallen into a recession," the CBO reported.

    The CBO said that now that Congress had avoided most of the tax increases included in the fiscal cliff, the economy would grow by 1.5 to 1.75 percentage points more than it otherwise would have, avoiding the recession forecast for the first half of 2013.

    The deficit and debt are long-term issues that need to be addressed reasonably, and not while we're still struggling to reduce unemployment. The immediate cuts that Mike seems to favor - but refuses to detail, of course - would have damaging effects on our economy.

  10. Motorsports,

    I am a fiscal conservative and I WILL admit that defense spending is out of control and I will support reducing it. Neither the GOP or Democrats will willingly cut spending. It is too unpopular and painful. We must force them to do it. Taxes on all Americans must also go up and neither party wants to do that, again because it is painful and unpopular.

    Does this financial conservative think the GOP should try to use the debt ceiling fight to extract spending reductions? No. There is too bad a down side risk to do that. Do I think the GOP should make an all out effort to explain why we need to reduce spending and point out that President Obama and most Democrats are not serious about cutting anything other than the military? You betcha!

    Look at it this way:

    Democrats will fight for higher taxes on the wealthy, even though it is abundantly clear that what is really needed is tax increases over time on all Americans.

    Republicans will talk about reforming entitlements when it is abundantly clear that what is really needed is entitlement reform, defense spending reform, an end to our role as world policeman and benefactor and higher taxes on all Americans over time.

    Anyone that is honest sees that neither of these parties is serious about handling the debt and deficit spending issues.


  11. "I agree, we should cut spending in all major budget categories then raise tax rates on everyone to make up the revenue should a budget deficit still exist."

    Wow, a complete 180-degree turn from RefNV.

    Back in October, RefNV recognized the threat of recession from irresponsible cuts in spending.

    In fact, he said that Obama, "prefers... to send our country back in recession. Obama really doesn't understand the plight of the 23 million unemployed/under-employed Americans. It is why so many Americans silently declare that he should be replaced."

    Which RefNV post do we believe? Today's post, or October's?

  12. Kevin,

    How many times do I have to use the words 'over time' for you to stop using the word 'immediate'. I understand the economy is weak and any tax increases and or spending cuts need to be implemented over time.


  13. Michael

    I certainly agree with you that major spending reduction will not be painless. The trick would be to share the pain as fairly as possible.

    In my opinion the biggest thing we could do would be to adopt a universal single payer healthcare program that reduces healthcare costs from 18% of GDP to 12% of GDP. Medical costs are not only eating our lunch but breakfast and dinner too.


  14. For once, I'd like those who are so ardently in favor of raising taxes on the "rich," those making $250,000 & up per year, would reveal just what their annual income is. Truth be told, I'm willing to venture that not one of them makes anywhere near that amount. Most probably are on one form or another of government subsistance and don't want the gravy train to go off the rails and their source of income stopped. Living off the productivity of others suits them just fine.

  15. Re Freeman,

    I hate to break it to you but if we don't control the deficit spending and the increasing debt through a combination of tax increases and spending reductions, you and everybody else is going to have to do a lot more than dispense with lawn and home cleaning services.


  16. Jim,

    I've not favored Universal Health Care in the past but the reality is that Conservatives will do little to control the skyrocketing cost of health care and Progressives give us unworkable solutions like the ACA, so maybe a government controlled single payer system is a better alternative than the other two.

    I agree that sacrifice should be shared as fairly as possible. The problem I see is that not only do we not make any of these changes over tome, we don't even start on them. We made a tiny start with the higher taxes on the wealthy, but that's not nearly enough and we still sit at the starting line on spending reductions. That cannot be acceptable!


  17. Bradley,

    I see and understand your anger, but let's be real. In this country, no group, including the wealthy, will be retroactively 'punished' for something that happened in the past. It just isn't going to happen here. Even if it was tried, the wealthy could and would pick up and leave and you'd still get little to nothing. So, while I understand the rant, let's remove it from the table.

    The problems still exist and without higher taxes on everyone and reduced spending, they cannot be resolved. That's just a fact... a fact that either will be recognized and acted upon or one that will be forced upon us.


  18. "How many times do I have to use the words 'over time' for you to stop using the word 'immediate'. I understand the economy is weak and any tax increases and or spending cuts need to be implemented over time."

    You didn't use the words "over time" when referring to spending cuts. In fact, let's refer back to your letter to the editor, Mike:

    "The spending cut piece is made up of proposals and plans -- few if any of which start now."

    "Both have to start immediately! No more starting the revenue piece immediately and the spending reduction piece later."

    Sorry that you think you've been clear, but what you're saying now directly contradicts what you wrote in the letter.

    The facts are clear: spending cuts starting now, which you have directly advocated in your letter to the editor, will detrimentally affect our recovery. They will increase unemployment.

    Sorry for the reality check.

  19. RefNV, you evaded the issue.

    In October, you railed AGAINST cuts because you said they would send us into a recession.

    Three months later, you are in favor of sending us back into a recession.

    "Government spending shows no signs of decreasing under Obama so consequently, our unemployment state is the new normal for the US. "

    Here are the facts that RefNV does not want you to know:

    "Since the start of fiscal year 2011, President Barack Obama has signed into law approximately $2.4 trillion of deficit reduction for the years 2013 through 2022. Nearly three-quarters of that deficit reduction is in the form of spending cuts, while the remaining one-quarter comes from revenue increases. (see Figure 1) As a result of that deficit reduction, the projected rise in debt levels from today through 2022 has decreased by nearly 10 full percentage points of gross domestic product."

    "Over the subsequent several months, Congress engaged in a protracted debate over the looming debt limit. The result of that debate was a bill titled the Budget Control Act. The act--also known as the debt-limit deal--reduced spending again. It did so mainly by setting caps on the overall amount of discretionary resources that Congress could allocate each year for the next decade. These caps were set even lower than the just-enacted, inflation-adjusted 2011 levels. So after already cutting spending several times to the tune of more than $500 billion, the Budget Control Act cut spending again--this time by approximately $860 billion. Together, the fiscal year 2011 appropriations process and the Budget Control Act are responsible for nearly $1.5 trillion in discretionary spending cuts. This is a whopping 10.6 percent reduction from inflation-adjusted 2010 spending levels."

    "So where does all this deficit reduction leave us? Since the start of fiscal year 2011, Congress and the president have cut about $1.5 trillion in programmatic spending, raised about $630 billion in new revenue, and generated about $300 billion in interest savings, for a combined total of more than $2.4 trillion in deficit reduction. The result is a substantial cut in how much publicly held debt the country is expected to hold 10 years from now. Instead of reaching nearly 93 percent of GDP, debt is now projected to total about 83 percent of GDP--fully 10 points lower. And while that won't be enough to finally put the budget onto sustainable footing, it is a massive improvement. In fact, it's about two-thirds of the way toward stabilizing the debt-to-GDP ratio."

    This right-wing myth that Obama has done "nothing" to help is a Limbaugh-Hannity fantasy. Turn off the talk radio and join us in the real world.

  20. Kevin,

    Implementing some spending cuts immediately but doing it over time in a manner that accomplishes a goal but does not crash the economy are NOT mutually exclusive. You constantly want to place me in a box where I don't believe I belong.

    In my opinion, we cannot keep putting off almost any true reductions in spending. We been doing that for a long time and the longer we do it, the riskier it becomes. I think the Europeans have gone overboard in some cases with austerity, but I also believe we are delinquent, as we refuse to address spending in any way that matters.

    If you disagree, fine, but please don't try to make me out as someone who favors drastic spending cuts, all implemented in full and immediately and all directed at the middle class and the poor. That's not where I am. I an not a zero sum guy. I'm not a 'if you're not with me, you're against me' guy. Maybe you are but I am not.


  21. Bradley,

    Unless the economy magically starts growing at 15 % a year, entitlement reforms must be part of any real solution. Even more reasonable Democrats agree with that Reasonable GOP people will also admit that Defense, our role as global policeman and benefactor also have to be reduced.

    I have disagreed with Houston Jack when I think his solutions are 'one track' solutions, just as I disagree with you when you solutions are 'one track' solutions.

    I think ranting is unproductive, and when I see rants, I either ignore them or comment on them. You directly addressed me so I responded. I have no ill will toward you and actually agree with some of your views, as I have stated.

    It's going to take a multi-track approach to resolve our problems and there are going to be parts of it that everybody hates, but it is what is necessary.


  22. Kevin,

    I cannot prove all the claims you make about all the reductions in spending the Obama administration has made or will make are a myth. I do understand baseline budgeting however and I also have a lot of history to look at that tells me spending by the Federal government is rarely, if ever, reduced. The government has its own accounting method and it has little if any resemblance to true accounting that you find outside Washington DC.

    You choose to believe that reductions that will make a difference are actually being made, will not be undone or overcome by more spending in other places.

    That view was fine when our debt wasn't 16 trillion dollars and deficit spending wasn't 1 trillion per year in a very weak economy, even though the spending cuts promised were never implemented. Now it does matter, and I think anyone who believes this government is actually going to reduce spending in any way that really matters is incredibly naive.


  23. Motorsports,

    It's easy to explain why the GOP didn't cut spending when they held the White House and Congress. It is because popularity and retention of power flows directly from government spending. DUH! The Democrats act exactly the same way, which is why we need term limits and public financing of campaigns.

    There are GOP members who would support defense cuts, but admittedly not a whole lot of them.


  24. I'm not placing you in any box, Mike.

    You've written a letter to the editor in which you demand spending cuts, and spending cuts which should begin immediately. You've further admitted these spending cuts will have a detrimental effect on our recovery.

    Of course, you refuse to outline WHICH spending cuts, HOW MUCH those reductions should cut, and the TIMEFRAME you believe they should be implemented.

    Which cuts would you start implementing now? Which would you delay? How long would you delay them?

    You've called for "entitlement reform." Great! Oh, wait... when we tried to reform Medicare by reducing subsidies to Medicare Advantage, you were the first to protest. Why? Because you benefit from those subsidies. Those reforms strengthened Medicare and extended the solvency of the program, but your self-interest took priority over what you have deemed crucial.

    I replied to RefNV countering the narrative he suggested: that nothing has been done to deal with the deficit. You seem to also believe this narrative, contrary to the facts. You have asserted that "spending cuts promised were never implemented," yet provide no evidence to prove that assertion.

    Once you have some facts to contradict my own, let me know and the analysis can continue.

    Simply: your rhetoric is empty and your solutions are non-existent.

  25. Frankly I don't see anything in this thread that I cannot get from listening to CSpan or Congress persons back home to press the flesh. Despite several requests Michael will not or cannot delineate what he would cut or what revenue he would increase nor can any other correspondent. Save a few nostrums....cut defense, bring the troops home, cut entitlements and raise taxes, no one has posted any specifics or explained what the effects might be. If you want specifics there are several federal budget calculators on line which allow you to see the effects of your revenue and expenditure decisions. I use the one at the New York Times although it is a year or so out of date....since we don't have a budget in that time period maybe it doesn't matter.

    I moved from LV on retirement last July and ended up in North-Eastern Washington. Our Congressional reps, Kathy McMorris Rodgers and Doc Hastings are conservative Tea Party fellow travelers. But talk about reducing federally subsidized power and water or farm supports or rural assistance and they launch into the spiel of struggling farmers, the drought, the American Way, Manifest Destiny, and the contribution of ag to the AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE. No help there.

    I noted this morning that another report referencing health outcomes shows the US dead last among the western industrialized nations. My own experiences with health care in Europe, Canada and the US give hints as to why this is so. I receive Social security and, correspondingly, Medicare and understand that those programs may need to be part of the discussion....but if my sacred cow is in the butcher shop then so must they all.

  26. Mr. Sun,

    Please get Casler and his friends their own blog page, which will allow them to repeat themselves ad nauseam without boring the rest of us.


  27. One of the arguments that you always see, in the comments above as well as from various politicians, is that cutting spending would be bad. The problem is that they know about HUNDREDS of billions of dollars of cuts that could be made without harming services. They do not do it because no department in Washington DC would stand for a cut of money without portraying it as devastating to them. The argument about the unemployment has some weight but history has generally shown that if the private sector is working reasonably well, it will adjust and absorb those people fairly quickly. It is a matter of resources. At the end of World War II we had millions of soldiers coming home and the government cut the budget dramatically and we were fine. And if we trimmed back what the government does we would probably be better for it today. If we could just restrain the rate of growth of government, it would help.

    From World War II until 2008, the federal government spent on average about 20% of GDP and collected 18-19% of GDP in taxes. And that was independent of whether the top tax rate was 91% in the 1950s or 28% in the late 1980s. Today we are spending close to 25% of our GDP at the federal level and either we have to look at a way of raising 5-7% more of GDP in taxes, which would be a huge drag on the economy, or we have to figure out how to shrink the government some. We had a surplus under President Clinton because we hit an high in tax revenue of just over 20% and we had spending down around 18%. We had managed to trip government back a little bit and we were in the middle of the dot com bubble. And despite what people say, under the Clinton tax rates, EVERYONE paid more. It is strange that so many people were saying that it would be so much better if we had the Clinton rates, but only for some. Yet it seems clear that nobody wants the Clinton era spending. If we had Clinton era levels of spending today, when almost everyone says life was good then, we would be have a roughly balanced budget. So, where is the $1T (6% of GDP) a year going that we did not have 13 years ago? Military is part of it but there is a lot of other places it goes. We could get by with a lot less spending in Washington DC, but they refuse to make it happen and we refuse to push the issue very hard.

  28. None of this will improve until the real issues, those of employment and trade policy, are addressed and corrected.

    We are not in a closed system, and there is not an equilibrium between us and our partners. There is an economic "Maxwell's Demon" at work against us under our current arrangements.

  29. There is also another quicksand pit that is being overlooked.

    Any really significant reduction in government size and/or spending will result in an increase in unemployment, with the attendant increase in UI payments. So cutting, say $1B in jobs from the government (which would be pretty easy, actually) will not save $1B but somewhat less due to the increased spending on UI and probably other social programs. We already see this to some extent whenever people are released from the military and there are no jobs for them to go to.

    Again, solve our employment problems and almost everything else, including healthcare, becomes much easier to manage.

  30. Michael 5:23: Have you ever heard of a spending cut you opposed? I haven't. Many programs have wiggle room and then some. We can let the heads of agencies find ways to cut--after INSISTING they cut AT LEAST 5% this year and another 5% next year. Additionally, many programs must be ELIMINATED. If it's not an enumerated responsibility of the federal government, the associated federal programs need to disappear--some with say 25% less this year and another 3 years to disappear. Ditto with State and local programs. It is not a correct or feasible role for government to play Big Daddy to anyone, foreign or domestic.

  31. Close a U.S. Military base in England, one in Guam, one in Japan, one in Germany RIGHT NOW. Close a few more next year and the next. At the same time, do NOT increase the staffing at remaining installations. What are all these hundreds of thousands of American soldiers doing anyhow? Rhetorical question, please don't go there. The point is they are NOT defending America. As mentioned elsewhere, we can transition troops from military to civilian live by giving each and every one who wants the assignment, a year to three on the southern border and/or locating and expelling illegals already here. The stipend for transition work would be less than current military pay but would extend their UC--since they wouldn't claim the UC for awhile.

  32. Jeff,

    I'm sure CDF, Freeman, future and the like (as you put it) would say we need a program to quarantine people like you.

    As for the second part of your suggestion, such a program already exists. It's called a full-time job. (And given the nature of my work my wife would disagree about my getting out even on weekends.)

    I'm pretty sure you would like to see vastly increased spending on social programs, especially healthcare including mental illness.

    Here is a starting point. Boost spending for mental illness, but anyone who requires such treatment is not only not permitted to have access to weapons, but also not allowed to vote. After all there is no guaranteed right to vote in the Constitution, only criteria that can not be used to prevent voting.

    Joking aside, an increase in productive employment would result in not only more tax revenue, but also a reduced need for social assistance programs. Couple that with realistic wages/salaries for public servants and we would be on the road to recovery.

    Our present problems simply can NOT be solved without including employment levels in the factors creating them.

  33. Motorsports and others,

    Please respond to the following. I just watched NJ Governor Christie launch all over the Republican controlled House for delaying disaster assistance to his state and others due to hurricane Sandy. Then I watched a little known Republican house member provide, in great detail, all the pork that the bill had in it, that had zero to do with relief from hurricane Sandy.

    This is the reason I have no faith in Republicans or Democrats. Instead of appearing in a photo op as Christie did and this Republican House member did, I'd rather see Christie call for an end to Congressional Omnibus type bills, where they title a bill for a specific purpose and then lard it up with spending that would have a hard time passing if considered separately. Rather than the R Congressman telling me about the larded up bill, I'd rather be told he just submitted a bill that will force Congress to consider and vote on separate bills for spending, rather than cramming a lot of spending into one bill. We all complain that Congress has too many vacations. Perhaps if they were forced to vote on individual bills, we could keep them busier.

    This is why when letter writers attack me and throw their support to their party of choice, I am amused. Doing away with omnibus type bills, where pork can be hidden, would seem to be an absolute 'no brainer', right? Please name me one member of the party each of you revere so much that has made such a proposal.


  34. Motorsports,

    Could you try to respond to what I said in my 2:15 PM letter instead of obfuscating?

    I am registered NP which I have disclosed in the past. I am financially conservative, which I regularly disclose. I most often vote R, something else I have never made a secret of. If you doubt me, do research and look at all the abuse I have taken over supporting Bush ... twice. I am an independent thinker; I disagree with the R's on many social issues, but there is no independent party (that stands a chance of electing anyone) for me to vote for and since the R's at least lie and say things closer to my fiscally conservative views than D's do, I usually vote R.

    I hardly think I have been hiding from the truth here. My message is that both parties stink. I say this to everyone, vote however you want. I won't criticize you. But realize that whatever party you support stinks, and be willing to admit it.

    That's me, Motorsports... in a nutshell. It you think that makes me disingenuous, so be it.


  35. Re Freeman,

    Thank you for the support, but it won't matter. The issue here for most that write in is that: If you are not totally on the side they are on, or you criticize someone on their side, or you support anything about the side they don't support, you cannot be independent.... you must be part of the 'enemy' on the other side.

    That's a big part of what has gone wrong in America. We won't admit that anything might be wrong about what we believe. We won't find anything positive about the other side. We won't compromise and completely ignore anything that doesn't support our view.

    It's sad.


  36. At 10:48 this morning, "wharfrat" (Pat Hayes) commented "I noted this morning that another report referencing health outcomes shows the US dead last among the western industrialized nations." At 11:34 Rusty57 replied "More diversity. Are you comparing the US to the Japanese?"

    Very astute, Rusty. As a matter of fact Japan IS one of the countries with better healthcare outcomes than the US. Among the other countries doing better than we can manage are heavyweights like Australia, Canada, Finland, Portugal, Spain. Most of these countries also have a higher life expectancy; a lower rate of mortality from injuries; a lower mortality rate from both communicable and noncommunicable diseases. One area where the US is the clear leader is in the overall cost of health care. Right - we pay more and get less. . .

  37. One point that MUST be considered: in some important respects our domestic economy is a zero-sum game: One person's "wasteful spending that must be eliminated" is another person's "income necessary for my survival."

    Example: Roberta indicated we could save money if we were to "(c)lose a U.S. Military base in . . . Japan . . . RIGHT NOW." And not increase staffing at other installations. Close MCAS Iwakuni (by coincidence in Japan). That'll bring some 5,000 Americans home. But, with no other Marine Corps jobs for either the Marines or their spouses, that would be another 5,000 people to be supported by unemployment insurance. Much of the property would probably be surplused in Japan - eliminating some Japanese demand for American products and creating unemployment here. Some would be returned to the US, to replace items that would otherwise have to be replaced with new purchases - creating yet more unemployment here.

    Solution? Nothing satisfactory - don't start the spending cycle to begin with, but we're already well past that point. Whatever we do has to be carefully thought out, with due consideration of how all effects of a change will cascade through the economy, and must be implemented gradually. Cutting spending CAN NOT be the sole solution - we also will have to increase taxes on virtually all of us.

  38. Personal accusations are sometimes considered to be the same as personal attacks and may be treated the same.

  39. Motorsports,

    I don't attack you or anyone else. I am a concerned American. If it would help I would agree to place 100 % of the blame on Republicans. I don't really care a lot about that.

    My focus is in the now and what to do. In my opinion, we cannot just keep spending without raising taxes on all Americans. I would favor using real accounting in Washington DC, ending baseline budgeting, re-writing the tax code and many other changes, none of which I expect to see from either of our major parties.


  40. "I disagree with the R's on many social issues, but there is no independent party (that stands a chance of electing anyone) for me to vote for and since the R's at least lie and say things closer to my fiscally conservative views than D's do," - Michael Casler, 3:01 PM


    It is your parenthetical remark that is part of the very problem you point out. If everyone who feels as you do about out fiscal policy, and social policy, would come together behind a third party then that party would become a very, very powerful force almost overnight.

    But sadly, far too many people in your category also share your opinion that they can only support an *established* party, not realizing that their very reluctance to strike out in a different direction is allowing the conditions that you decry to continue.

    Disclaimer: I am an officer of the Modern Whig Party and Chairman of the Nevada Whigs.

  41. Teamster,

    I'd be happy to sit back and watch... if President Obama was making a real attempt to get deficit spending under control and start to pay down the debt.

    Instead I see the same voodoo accounting used by the Republicans to try to claim stuff is happening that isn't happening. I also see a President that has an agenda to make changes in a country that he sees as terribly flawed.

    The President won election twice, so I think he has a right to pursue his agenda, even though I disagree with much of it. My problem is that, like former President Bush before him, he places the economic health of the nation below his goal of enacting his agenda.

    That was dangerous and damaging when former President Bush did it and it is dangerous and damaging now.

    President Obama claims that the economy is his number one priority, but the facts and his actions say that isn't true.

    For me at least, I'm much less concerned about what he wants to do than I am about what is not being done and is clearly a secondary priority for him.

    Look at it this way: Former President Bush decided we needed to be protected from terror with DHS and 2 wars and we also needed tax cuts... and he set the economic well being of the country on autopilot. The result was not good. President Obama decided we needed the ACA and to ramp up social spending in many areas while not addressing entitlements and leaving taxes low on 98 % of Americans, all while our deficit spending is huge and our debt continues to rise quickly. He also has paid far too little attention to our economic well being.

    And that is the problem I have with his leadership.


  42. "Jeff,

    I'm sure CDF... and the like (as you put it) would say we need a program to quarantine people like you." @ boftx

    Truth be told, rather than hypothetical, I've posted to Jeff that I would prefer one poster like him to 99 who agree with me. Why? It would be a dull and boring conversation/exchange if everyone agreed with one another. And quite likely unproductive for humane progress and enlightenment.


  43. BTW, I took the editorial license to presume CDF referred to me. My apologies if I'm wrong.

    May I return to my original post here and again support and confirm the CBO [Congressional Budget Office] recommendation to reduce the growth of the US budget by 1 percent per year for the next 10 years to save [read cut in Washington DC parlance] $2 Trillion dollars. Simple solution that all can embrace. Uses a scapel rather than an ax. Just takes the will and cooperation of Congress and the President. And the peoples' will to know, to choose, and to act.


  44. robert 4:13: You pick and choose. I provided an option for former troops to be gainfully employed at their option. Further, Japan doesn't need or want our military technology. They have smaller, better, less expensive of their own AND they tend to stay out of international squabbles--so NO NEED.

  45. "Otherwise a plan with measured implimentation for weight reduction and rehabilitation (targeted stimuli) to stay leaner could work." @ Jeff

    Exactly what the CBO plan offers. One percent reduction IN FUTURE growth for each of the next ten years saves $2 Trillion. In budget terms, this is the equivalent of the dead skin we shed in a daily shower [if you like to use anatomical comparisons]. And will be missed just as much [or little depending on how often you shower].


  46. "PRESIDENT OBAMA is trying to fix our economy as
    painless as possible for average and low income
    Americans." @ Teamster

    In 2008, candidate Obama called President Bush unpatriotic because he presided over an $8 Trillion dollar deficit. Telling Americans that Bush had a credit card with China with no limit. Today, thanks to 4 years of Obama, it's over $16 Trillion and projected to be over $20 by the time Obama leaves office. And Obama and Carney and a host of other "yes" staffers say the USA does not have a spending problem. Where Obama stands depends on where he sits.


  47. Roberta 4:28. I saw. An interesting plan - move trained Marine flight crews, mechanics, maintenance staff to the southern border where they can walk a post. Moving them from one government job to another. And we have already nearly doubled funding for "protecting" that border over the last 4 years. Additionally, what are their currently working spouses to do?

    My example considered only 5000 Americans living at one station - including families. There are some 83,000 active duty military alone overseas, plus possibly the same number of dependents. Move 83,000 active military to the southern border, and they won't have to do much "walking" of posts. They could just stand there.

    In meantime, what to do about all that surplus equipment? It'll be reused, cutting new procurement, hence cutting production, and hence cutting jobs throughout the country.

    Any such action must be very carefully considered. As I said in the same comment - One person's "wasteful spending that must be eliminated" is another person's "income necessary for my survival."