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January 08, 2013

*Now* They Tell Us!

After months of ridiculing those fear mongering Rethugs for actually paying attention to the nation's fiscal trajectory (and warning about further downgrades to our credit rating!), the Intrepid Investigative Reporting Staff at the Washington Post suddenly discover a strange, alternative universe in which reality unexpectedly (!) clashes with DNC and the White House talking points:

The U.S. government may default on its debt as soon as Feb. 15, half a month earlier than widely expected, according to a new analysis adding urgency to the debate over how to raise the federal debt ceiling.

The analysis, by the Bipartisan Policy Center, says that the government will be unable to pay all its bills starting sometime between Feb. 15 and March 1.

The government hit the $16.4 trillion statutory debt limit on Dec. 31 , but the Treasury Department is able to undertake a number of accounting schemes to delay when the government runs into funding problems.

The Treasury has said that the accounting schemes, known as “extraordinary measures,” ordinarily would forestall default for about the first two months of the year, though officials were clear that they could not pinpoint a precise date because of an unusual amount of uncertainty around federal finances.

“Our numbers show that we have less time to solve this problem than many realize,” Steve Bell, senior director of economic policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center, said in a statement. “It will be difficult for Treasury to get beyond the March 1 date in our judgment.”

Who could have predicted such a surprising turn of events?

“Let’s worry about Social Security when it’s a problem. Today, it is not a problem,” Reid said to applause.

In an MSNBC interview, he added: “Social Security does not add a single penny, not a dime, a nickel, a dollar to the budget problems we have. Never has and, for the next 30 years, it won’t do that.”

Social Security, until now a huge lender to the government, will begin demanding repaiment to its trust fund to cover the shortfall. If fully repaid, the trust fund can fully finance benefits until 2036, when people currently about 40 years old will begin to retire. Once the trust fund runs out, monthly benefits will decrease by about a quarter.

Such statements have not been true since at least 2009, when the cost of monthly checks regularly began to exceed payroll tax collections. A spokesman said Reid stands by his comments and his view that Social Security is entirely self-financed. But Reid’s position has frustrated some Democrats who argue that fixing Social Security — the government’s single-largest program — would go a long way toward restoring confidence among future retirees and the nation’s investors.

“It’s the one thing I’ve had the most difficult time grasping,” said Erskine Bowles, the former Clinton White House chief of staff who co-chaired Obama’s fiscal panel with former GOP senator Alan Simpson.

The Bowles-Simpson plan would have righted the system’s finances with a combination of payroll tax increases and reductions in scheduled benefits, mainly years down the road. It would have hit upper-income workers while raising benefits for the most needy, those with average lifetime earnings of less than $11,000 a year. “By making these relatively small changes, you make it solvent and you make it be there for people who depend on it,” Bowles said. “I thought that’s what we as Democrats were supposed to be for.”

Just as the GOP has rejected any form of tax increase to contain the debt, however, Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have ruled out any reduction in government retirement benefits.

Why does this President keep convening commissions and blue ribbon panels and then ignoring their recommendations?

More importantly, why do the media let him get away with it?

Posted by Cassandra at January 8, 2013 07:34 AM

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Comments

For the same reason that he ignored the advice of the military panel he asked to give him a reading on Afghanistan. He insisted on fewer troops and a published end-date for his 'surge,' in direct defiance of the advice of the people he had assembled to look it over carefully.

Twice as many Americans have died in Afghanistan in his one term as died in Bush's two terms, but this somehow stubbornly remains a non-scandal. Didn't really merit a mention in the recent Presidential campaign, certainly not among the media but not really even among attack ads from partisans.

Posted by: Grim at January 8, 2013 11:50 AM

The man loves chaos and conflict. He sees that as evidence of his political power to challenge the perceived order of things.

And he always thinks he is the smartest man in the room. I mean, he won, didn't he?

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at January 8, 2013 10:55 PM

Why do the media let him get away with lying? Because the media are about as interested in the truth as he is. They have a mission, just as he does, and it's not to inform.

Posted by: Texan99 at January 9, 2013 09:16 AM

Good old Senator Reid. The scary part is that he's partially right. Social Security payments, up until 2010, have not been a contributor to the budget problem. The net effect has been that the SS surplus has helped mask the deficit problem,

That's the insidious part, "revenues are the problem not the spending." So they say. Really? Who is going to make good the SS money that's been spent? The first two guesses don't count.

"We must raise SS taxes, and reduce payouts to recover the money you already sent in."

That's the plan? I have a heck of an investment for you. Send me 6% of your income, matched by your employer, and I'll send you a newsletter, and a brochure for projected payouts.

Pinky Swear. I'm good for it.

Posted by: Allen at January 10, 2013 12:50 AM

Hitting the debt ceiling limit is not debt default. It merely means that you cannot issue new debt. The result is that your spending is limited to current income. Since current spending exceeds current tax revenues there would have to be spending cuts.

A default would be a political decision not to repay existing debt in order to continue paying other things.

The looming debt ceiling limit is actually our second chance to get federal government finances under control. The Republicans should simply refuse to raise the limit.

The first chance to control the federal budget was, of course, going over the cliff which was an even better way to fiscal sanity.

However, the Republicans are every bit as addicted to big government as the Democrats. The Democrats are a full-blown socialist/communist party, and the Republicans are a European-style center/left party. So there is no chance the debt limit will stand.

Posted by: bob sykes at January 10, 2013 08:52 AM

I've lost the link, but my husband sent me an article the other day about California vs. Texas. Both faced budget deficits two or three years ago. California decided that it didn't have a spending problem, so it not only raised taxes but raised spending, too. Tax collections went down. Now its deficit is bigger than ever -- about $27 billion. Texas decided that it had a spending problem. Amid howls of protest, Gov. Perry left taxes alone and cut spending. Now Texas is coming into a budget surplus instead of the $10 billion deficit it had before. Somehow the children of the state continue to get an education, and the roads and highways still function.

As Iowahawk commented, Pres. Obama isn't the only one who inherited an economy from George Bush.

Posted by: Texan99 at January 10, 2013 09:13 AM

However, the Republicans are every bit as addicted to big government as the Democrats. The Democrats are a full-blown socialist/communist party, and the Republicans are a European-style center/left party. So there is no chance the debt limit will stand.

That's probably true, but understanding the "why" behind it is critically important.

Honestly, I'm not sure how we control the federal budget without the backing of the American people. That's how our system was designed to work, and so far as I can see it is working as designed.

Until some critical mass of voters come to support - strongly - controlling debt/spending (otherwise known as "don't spend money you don't have", nothing is likely to change. The majority of American households engage in household deficit spending, so they clearly have no moral objection to it. Therefore we're left with practical objections (what happens when the consequences of excessive deficit spending begin to affect them personally). And that's the real issue here: voters aren't being personally affected yet by any of this, so it seems remote and not terribly real.

Grim (and others) want to speed things up - generate a crisis. The question is, will that accomplish the stated goal? When things begin to get painful, will voters smack their foreheads and exclaim, "DANG! *That's* why we have to rein in deficit spending!"

Or will they say to themselves, "This is a manufactured crisis that didn't have to happen"? I suspect the latter, mostly because it's actually true - it doesn't have to happen (or at least, doesn't have to happen now). I agree that the eventual crisis will be more painful the longer we kick the can down the road but this is a bit like dealing with alcoholics - they usually have to hit bottom themselves before the big light bulb in the brain housing group switches on. Attempts to speed that process up artificially almost never work.

I say this with great unhappiness. I wish the world worked differently, but I see no real evidence that it does. Plans that depend on Congress acting independently of what their constituents want are fatally flawed and won't work. They're every bit as unsustainable as our fiscal policy but the inconvenient presence of term limits makes it easy to win the battle but lose the longer war.

Other than my moral objections (which are considerable) that's my biggest problem with Grim's suggestion that the GOP adopt what I see as a passive-aggressive approach to governance: "You elected me to help run the federal government, but instead I'm going to just block 100% of what the other party wants even if that conflicts with what the public wants".

If any politician openly ran on such a plank, he wouldn't get more than a handful of votes. Bait and switch doesn't impress me as a particularly ethical practice in business and it's arguably even worse when it comes from public servants.

We hated the tactic when Pelosi suggested it for good reason, but somehow when we do the same thing it magically becomes right and good because the end justifies the means?

If we really believe in representative government (and there's a pretty big doubt in my mind that either side really does when it undercuts their policy preferences), then we have to accept the outcome.

The solution to moving public opinion is the clue bat - if current policy is truly unsustainable, that will eventually become painfully apparent. I am all in favor of continuing to make the argument continually spending more than we take in and amassing huge debts that can't be paid off unless the economy grows at a pace that was only achievable b/c of unsustainable deficit spending in the first place is stupid and will end badly.

But I see way too many people assuming that arguments that persuade them will persuade people who don't agree with them or share their values. The fact that conservatives don't even agree with each other about which arguments are persuasive ought to be a big clue to the weakness of that argument.

Whoever said that democracy was a crappy system, but it's the best of a bunch of even crappier systems wasn't kidding :p

Posted by: Cassandra at January 10, 2013 09:38 AM

I remember my government professor, way back some time 1991, saying government spending (as out of control as it might be) would not really be a problem (I think in the meaning of "the consequences of the profligate spending have caught up with us...") so long as we could service the debt the government had accumulated. We've been kicking that can down the road for even longer ago than when I, as an undergrad, took that government class. I believe getting very close to that Day of Reckoning...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at January 10, 2013 10:48 AM

Your govt. prof nailed it.

The problem is that so far, we've been able to service the debt because the economy boomed during the 90s for a whole host of reasons mostly unrelated to public policy. But that was the best case scenario - you can't rely on the best case continuing indefinitely, especially if part of the boom is fueled by household deficit spending that artificially inflates demand.

If interest rates go up (as they will if our credit rating is downgraded again), we'll be in a real pickle.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 10, 2013 11:07 AM

The solution to moving public opinion is the clue bat - if current policy is truly unsustainable, that will eventually become painfully apparent. I am all in favor of continuing to make the argument continually spending more than we take in and amassing huge debts that can't be paid off unless the economy grows at a pace that was only achievable b/c of unsustainable deficit spending in the first place is stupid and will end badly.

Dear Lord. This is what happens when I type with half my brain... :p

Hopefully you know what I meant here! Let's try again:

I am all in favor of continuing to make the argument that spending more than we take in and amassing huge debts that can't be paid off unless the economy grows at a pace that was only achievable b/c of unsustainable deficit spending ... is stupid and will end badly

Posted by: Cassandra at January 10, 2013 11:11 AM

"You elected me to help run the federal government, but instead I'm going to just block 100% of what the other party wants even if that conflicts with what the public wants".

If any politician openly ran on such a plank, he wouldn't get more than a handful of votes. Bait and switch...

You're talking about House Republicans, who aren't elected by "the American People." They're not responsible to the American People, either.

They're elected by district, and their constituents are the citizens of that district. It happens to be the case that all the competitors for the 9th Congressional District here in Georgia did run on a platform of obstructing Obama's initiatives. That's just what we hired them to do. If they fail to do it, but instead voted to 'get along' with the Democratic agenda, that's what would be the bait and switch.

Posted by: Grim at January 10, 2013 11:21 AM

It happens to be the case that all the competitors for the 9th Congressional District here in Georgia did run on a platform of obstructing Obama's initiatives. That's just what we hired them to do. If they fail to do it, but instead voted to 'get along' with the Democratic agenda, that's what would be the bait and switch.

And if I had any evidence that this were true of ALL House representatives, you'd get a different answer out of me.

You are suggesting that ALL Congressional Rethugs do this. So I think my comment still makes sense.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 10, 2013 11:30 AM

I suppose it's possible that some Republican somewhere ran on a platform of "A Vote for Me is a Vote for Compromise with Barack Obama."

Posted by: Grim at January 10, 2013 11:53 AM

That's not a serious response to the point I just made, Grim.

Refusing to oppose and obstruct all legislation unless you get your way 100% of the time is not the same as slavishly supporting ALL of Obama's policies.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 10, 2013 12:16 PM

Your characterization of my position is less serious still. I made a principled argument from uncertainty, aimed at the problems with the economy arising from Federal rule-changing and supported by a fair number of economists; you're insisting on painting it as 'passive aggressive,' 'temper tantrum,' and other sorts of emotionally laden phrases that imply that you are the adult and I am a child.

I gather you think that parenting is a good model for government, at least some of the time. I think that's a terrible idea: it is what feminists used to call "paternalistic." The government is not our parents, and indeed the analogy could only hold if we came from a very wretched family.

Posted by: Grim at January 10, 2013 01:15 PM

It's also unfair, by the way, to describe the position as 'artificially creating a crisis.' My position is that what has become the government's normal mode of operation is artificially creating the crisis we are in.

Putting the brakes on that is designed to stop the Federal government from continuing to create crises. The whole point is to restore some certainty and stability to the system by preventing any new rule changes from Congress.

Posted by: Grim at January 10, 2013 01:20 PM

If you really do think, at your heart, that this is just some childish, emotionally-laden argument by a wild-eyed partisan, read these remarks by DOD Comptroller Robert F. Hale.

He's a pretty stable adult, as Comptrollers tend to be. His major point? The thing that's causing DOD the most trouble is instability in the budget process. "We need -- I would say desperately need -- more stability."

Posted by: Grim at January 10, 2013 01:43 PM

...you're insisting on painting it as 'passive aggressive,' 'temper tantrum,' and other sorts of emotionally laden phrases that imply that you are the adult and I am a child.

I think you are confusing what you infer with what I am implying. They are not the same, as people draw incorrect inferences all the time. Those adjectives describe the tactic, not you.

If I thought you were a child, Grim, I would hardly bother to respond to you. If something I say makes you feel like I think you're a child simply because I disapprove of something you've proposed, that is not the same as my actually thinking you are a child (and indeed, my actions do not support that conclusion).

Resisting by doing nothing is pretty much the definition of passive aggressive:

Definition of PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE

: being, marked by, or displaying behavior characterized by the expression of negative feelings, resentment, and aggression in an unassertive passive way (as through procrastination and stubbornness)

And that's *exactly* what you proposed:

I think what Congress should do is absolutely nothing. It should spend the next two years passing no laws, raising no ceilings, agreeing on nothing and compromising on nothing.

...Dig in your heels. Do nothing. Refuse every change.

So far I have refrained from pointing out the obvious consequences of such a policy. The only reason the government is functioning at all in the absence of a budget is continuing resolutions.

You would have Congress block even those. Which means troops in Afghanistan and Iraq have no money. Military folks don't get paid. Government employees don't get paid.

You call this "terrible policy". I call it an intentionally precipitated, artificial crisis that would not exist, but for the intentional and deliberate attempt to shut down the federal government (including parts of it conservatives think are appropriate and necessary).

I doubt Barack Obama could design a more effective way of getting the public 100% behind his horrible policies than doing what you propose.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 10, 2013 01:48 PM

This is what I mean by the normal functioning of government being the producer of the crises. We are in a position where things like this are in a constant hostage crisis: compromise on giving us more, more, more, or troops in Afghanistan don't get paid! Why? Because we won't pass a serious budget, coupled with the fact that we insist on mass deficit spending at a rate that requires constant, regular increases in the debt limit.

This is exactly the process that is driving the serial crises that the DOD Comptroller is complaining about. When he says in the article that he has overseen four shutdowns, two of which went to midnight, it's because of this process. This is what we have to stop.

You're blaming the crisis that would result on me, which makes as much sense as saying, "It's you getting those hostages shot by not going along with the demands."

But look where we are. There isn't anything a minority party with control of the House can do to stop it, though, except to lock up the process until people come to the table with serious minds.

The other choice is getting rolled, over and over, in a series of manufactured crises designed to push us to accepting another debt limit raise, another continuing resolution in place of a budget, another tax increase, and so on. It's a recipe for failure: not just for the party's failure, but for the collapse of the nation.

Posted by: Grim at January 10, 2013 02:01 PM

Grim, this has been going on since I was just a girl. Absent a balanced budget amendment, it's not going to stop (yet you say, "This is what we have to stop).

But it's not going to stop. Ever. Because the basic human desire to have it both ways isn't going away anytime soon and the ONLY way around it is through it.

The idea that letting the government shut down will magically solve this problem isn't supported by history. There have been nearly 20 government shut downs in the past 30 years. Did any of them solve the problem? Even if Gingrich made sense, why selectively cite one government shutdown out of nearly 20, none of which solved the problem of deficit spending (or even slowed it down by much)?

Did these shutdowns make Congress more "serious" about addressing runaway deficit spending? Or entitlement spending? No - in fact, both snowballed.

Shutdowns are by nature unsustainable - they will force a compromise and all that happens (other than a whole lotta pain and a spike in the very uncertainty you think will decrease) is a whole lot of collateral damage and someone gets left with egg on their face.

If Congress refuses to do *anything* (even pass continuing resolutions ... or a budget), government will stop functioning. This isn't me just talking: it's a stone cold fact.

As to your link, there's not enough discretionary spending to balance the budget so Gingrich's premise doesn't hold up. And by the way, about 2/3 of discretionary spending goes to the military so Gingrich's big bargaining chip is the very thing the GOP doesn't want to cut!

Also, the brief surplus (which did little/nothing to slow down the debt, which is a separate issue) was largely due to the housing and Internet bubble artificially boosting income and therefore revenue. And it didn't solve the long term problem of the rising debt.

Using the 90s economy (which was anything but typical) as a model for what would happen in a recession (the opposite of a boom) just doesn't pass the common sense test.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 10, 2013 03:53 PM

Just for a moment, Grim, let's walk through your scenario.

Say the GOP shuts the government down. The military doesn't get paid. Contractors and govt. employees are laid off or furloughed.

What happens next? All those people whose paychecks just went away get angry and start screaming. Who do they blame? Obama? I don't think so.

What you are relying upon is that at some point, the pain and damage become so devastating (to... ummm... this is problematic) that you think the Dems will be forced to do... what?

Agree never, ever to spend more than we take in in revenue? Pay off the debt? Entitlement reform?

Why would they do that? I am honestly completely puzzled as to why you think this will solve the problem.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 10, 2013 04:07 PM

When you say that "this" has been going on since you were a girl, and that "this" will never stop, you can't mean the "this" that I'm trying to stop. We used to have budgets. It hasn't been that long ago, in fact, that we had budgets. The law requiring them was obeyed up until the Harry Reid Senate.

The "this" that cannot be stopped, because it is an eternal feature of human nature, is wanting something for nothing (or, wanting to have it both ways). Perhaps that cannot be stopped: human nature is not much subject to change. But it is a quality that has been restrained at times, by processes like budgets and institutions like the law requiring a budget.

As recently as the Clinton administration, these tactics forced a balanced budget (or even, depending on your accounting mechanisms, a modest surplus). It's true that the majority of discretionary spending is military, but it's also true that this maneuver is partially designed to bring entitlement reform to the table.

I think just going along to keep the money flowing for a little while longer is a bigger disaster by far. To use your metaphor of alcoholism, this 'going along' strikes me as the attitude of the wife whose husband drinks up half his paycheck. She doesn't want to challenge the practice because, although it is slowly destroying their family finances and will eventually reduce them to bankruptcy and the loss of their home, she fears that creating a confrontation may cause him to do something rash right now.

In a way you can sympathize with her position in the analogy, because she is weak and frightened. Nevertheless, it should be clear that simply trying to manage as best as she can while the addictive behavior continues is an unwise course. A more emphatic response is needed if she is ever to have any real hope.

Posted by: Grim at January 10, 2013 04:11 PM

As for why they would do that, it's because transfer payments are the source of much of their power. I'm sure it will hurt the bad elements of the Republican Party too -- the ones who have allowed themselves to become tied into cronyism, so that their clients are also hurting -- but in the end it will hurt the Democrats more.

As for the services, I suspect one thing that could get forced through is a special exception for paying of soldiers, Marines, etc. That problem could be handled on a separate track: let the Democrats block a measure to remove servicemembers from the the hostage crisis they are creating if they dare.

Posted by: Grim at January 10, 2013 04:16 PM

When you say that "this" has been going on since you were a girl, and that "this" will never stop, you can't mean the "this" that I'm trying to stop. We used to have budgets. It hasn't been that long ago, in fact, that we had budgets. The law requiring them was obeyed up until the Harry Reid Senate.

So you think if House Republicans shut down the federal government, Obama will be forced to submit a budget that House members can support?

Again, why will that happen. Shutting down the government is precisely the type of crisis he wants and won't let go to waste. It's how he governs.

I'm trying very hard to understand why you think this will work and for the life of me, I can't. Saying, "We have to DO something" is precisely what conservatives have been complaining about.

Show me why this will work. Show me how it changes the incentives. Because I'm not seeing it.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 10, 2013 04:19 PM

As for the services, I suspect one thing that could get forced through is a special exception for paying of soldiers, Marines, etc. That problem could be handled on a separate track: let the Democrats block a measure to remove servicemembers from the the hostage crisis they are creating if they dare.

That's a tactic that works both ways, Grim.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 10, 2013 04:21 PM

I think just going along to keep the money flowing for a little while longer is a bigger disaster by far.

But that's not my argument. I'm not against a shutdown because my goal is to "keep the money flowing for a bit longer".

I'm against a shutdown because we've had 18 or so of them over the past 3 decades and things have gotten steadily worse. Shutdowns are a tactic, not a strategy. And they're not even a particularly effective tactic if we're using our own history as a guide.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 10, 2013 04:25 PM

One thing it does is defangs a part of the Federal government. If we can cut off funding to the administrative bureaucracy, for example, it can't be used to hurt the country. You can't implement the Federal exchanges for Obamacare, for example; and since many states have opted out, that means Obamacare can't be implemented. The same is true for all the Federal agencies being used by the administration to harm the traditional life of the nation.

Congress will likewise be shackled, so that it can't make new laws. Laws can be a good thing, but not when they are 1,000 page monstrosities that don't get read before they are voted upon. The way Congress does business is harmful, not good. Stopping it helps.

Shutting down the government may actually be a strategy at this point. I've been thinking of it tactically, too, but maybe actually shutting down the government long term is the answer. We could focus on letting through only things we really have cause to support, like pay for soldiers. The House could pass no continuing resolutions, but only single-item funding bills for particular purposes.

Posted by: Grim at January 10, 2013 04:42 PM

The Answer: Platinum Dimes!!

Posted by: Ron Paul's silliest daydream at January 10, 2013 05:25 PM

If reducing spending is not politically possible and increasing revenues is not physically possible, the only solution I see is to ramp up spending and get the default and/or inflation over with. It's going to happen anyway, might as well buy some cool sh1t while we can. It's not like the debt is secured by real property.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at January 10, 2013 05:55 PM

Or, instead of letting events take their natural course (with the distinct possibility that we'll work out a solution somewhere along the way just as Canada did once the you-know-what begins to hit the fan), we could lose patience and sabotage the ship of state on the theory that there will be a government still standing when the dust settles.

Alternatively, we could try the Romanian solution.

Either way, the details are a little fuzzy but the important thing is that we DO *something* :p

Hmmm....where have we heard this line of reasoning before?

Posted by: Cassandra at January 10, 2013 06:36 PM

Words have no meaning in this debate, apparently. I started off by advocating that we do nothing; this is now "Do something!" I said I wanted to act in ways designed to limit uncertainty; this is now a policy designed to produce uncertainty. I said I wanted to stop the cycle that was causing DOD budgets to reach crisis points; now I'm trying to cause a crisis.

I don't know what to say except I think you're wrong, and I think you're just not understanding me at all. I also think that we're more likely to see the end of the government on your road than mine; but, frankly, I'm not acting on the theory that the government will still be standing. It will or it won't. The government is disposable: it's the things the government was supposed to secure that are not. Insofar as a government becomes destructive to those ends, well, we've got a recipe for that.

Posted by: Grim at January 10, 2013 08:25 PM

That's about where I am. I think the risk of governmental collapse is higher under the status quo.

I'm almost certain we will see bloodshed before its over.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at January 10, 2013 09:00 PM

That's about where I am. I think the risk of governmental collapse is higher under the status quo.

I'm almost certain we will see bloodshed before its over.

In Wyoming, there is a bill being proposed making it a felony to enforce any federal gun ban. Read that again. A state legislature is seriously considering using armed resistance against federal agents. This would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at January 10, 2013 09:10 PM

Words have no meaning in this debate, apparently. I started off by advocating that we do nothing; this is now "Do something!"

I am responding to your comment at 4:42 (the one of yours immediately preceding my response):

Shutting down the government may actually be a strategy at this point. I've been thinking of it tactically, too, but maybe actually shutting down the government long term is the answer. We could focus on letting through only things we really have cause to support, like pay for soldiers. The House could pass no continuing resolutions, but only single-item funding bills for particular purposes.

Now maybe you can redefine "shutting down the government" or "passing no continuing resolutions but only single funding bills as "doing nothing", but I can't get there from here.

I said I wanted to stop the cycle that was causing DOD budgets to reach crisis points; now I'm trying to cause a crisis.

And you also said (at 4:11):

The "this" that cannot be stopped, because it is an eternal feature of human nature, is wanting something for nothing (or, wanting to have it both ways). Perhaps that cannot be stopped: human nature is not much subject to change. But it is a quality that has been restrained at times, by processes like budgets and institutions like the law requiring a budget.

You have presented no evidence that shutting down the government would do any of the things you say it will. When I pointed out that the govt has been shut down almost 20 times in 30 years and that didn't do what you claim it will and in fact spending continued to escalate over time, your response was, "Well maybe we should shut govt. down permanently".

Which you now claim is "doing nothing".

Posted by: Cassandra at January 10, 2013 09:18 PM

But I agree. We shouldn't just *do* something. We should do something smart. Or failing that, something right. /Serenity

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at January 10, 2013 09:25 PM

What you are proposing is that public servants should intentionally try to shut down the federal government because somehow (and I've asked you several times to explain how this will work) that will pressure the Dems into proposing a budget Republicans will find acceptable.

You cite as authority a man who points out that when CLINTON shut down the government, the public blamed the Republicans. And that didn't even make a dent in the federal debt. It just kept on escalating.

But despite the fact - demonstrated over and over and over again - that your tactic has not reversed the trajectory of the federal debt OR federal spending, you (afactually) assert that it will work (or alternatively that you don't care if it works).

This must be like Communism - it hasn't worked yet any time it has ever been tried, but this is not attributed to it being unworkable, but rather to "poor implementation". Actually, you haven't even made that argument. You're just saying that it will work (never mind how) but you don't really care if it fails either.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 10, 2013 09:30 PM

In Wyoming, there is a bill being proposed making it a felony to enforce any federal gun ban. Read that again. A state legislature is seriously considering using armed resistance against federal agents. This would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.

Lots of things are proposed, and have been proposed. The Dems propose crazy laws all the time. California proposed to let kids vote. It didn't pass.

If it passes and is enforced, that will be a different kettle of fish, and I agree that would really be something.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 10, 2013 09:33 PM

We should do something smart. Or failing that, something right.

I agree. But neither of you have convinced me that shutting down the government is smart or even right.

What you are ignoring - what you continue to ignore - is the possibility that if things continue and the consequences gradually become clear, the public will come to its senses. Our current level of debt is not unprecedented, though it's scary as hell.

We went head over heels in debt after WWII and we got back out. So it's quite possible. But you are ignoring that and insisting on a doomsday scenario that is possible but by no means certain.

This is a problem, especially when you have no idea whether it will work or not (and in fact, previous shut downs have not worked).

Posted by: Cassandra at January 10, 2013 09:36 PM

I'm just not seeing the learning. Not in Greece, not Spain, not Italy or the rest of Europe. Not in California, where they call projections surpluses and use that as a basis for more spending despite actual revenues falling far short. The places that do fix the problems have done it pro actively not reactively.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at January 10, 2013 11:24 PM

And yes, many stupid laws are proposed. But sponsors typically know their proposals don't have a snowball's chance.

This bill's sponsor seems to think its passage is highly likely.

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/heres-how-wyoming-lawmakers-are-trying-to-beat-obama-admin-to-the-punch-on-possible-gun-ban/

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at January 10, 2013 11:30 PM

Well, that's a good point. I'm not sure I have a problem with it, though.

I don't know enough about law to opine on the likely legal fallout, but it seems to me that states ought to be able to resist federal authority on Constitutional issues. Of course, I would prefer that they work through the system (IOW, challenge any gun law they view as unconstitutional in court) but there are other ways to do the same thing.

They appear to be making their case to the court of public opinion and essentially daring Obama to defy them.... and if this law passes, it seems fairly certain this will end up in court anyway. And unlike Grim's proposal, Wyoming's law won't put people out of work or risk another market crash. It's a narrowly tailored remedy that offers Obama few palatable options.

I don't see him sending in federal stormtroopers to enforce federal law at the point of a [banned] gun. It would be out of character for him, because so far his style has been to whine a lot and point fingers at Congress. How many times has he said, "Congress must act..." or "I can't do this all by myself". I'd like to see him try, though. I don't think it would play well :p

Posted by: Cassandra at January 11, 2013 07:35 AM

Federal Stormtroopers, no. But a couple of average, ordinary, every-day FBI Agents? Possibly. He's already got Uncle Joe talking about implementing gun control by executive order and bypassing congress.

And even if not Obama, what about the next guy, or the guy after that, or the guy after that?

Regardless, we have a state legislature seriously proposing that State Armed Men with Guns™ stop Federal Armed Men with Guns™ both of whom believe they are following the law.

*understatement* This will not end well. */understatment*

But my point is, that enough people are so frightened by the Federal Government that this is no longer considered crazy talk.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at January 11, 2013 08:55 AM

I am mostly frightened by my fellow human beings, and I suspect that will continue to be the case whether or not we have a government :p

I'm not trying to make light of your concerns, Yu-Ain. It's just that all of these problems are grounded in human nature and competing interests. There's no permanent cure for these ills - the battle against human stupidity and shortsightedness will always be an ongoing one.

We learn best by trial and error. All I'm saying is, don't discount our ability to meet the challenges posed by problems we create for ourselves.

Posted by: Pandering to the Oink Cadre at January 11, 2013 10:00 AM

I am mostly frightened by my fellow human beings,...

...after another 20 years of the status quo coming to burn down my neighborhood for our Capitalist Crimes.

As I said on the other post. Demonization of the right comes from the very top of the gov't, violence against the right is ignored, the police even pull a "nice business you got here, be a shame if anything were to happen to it" threat in Wisconsin, and now we are seeing pushes for Gun Control that would even bypass congress (and which primarily effect those on the right).

It's starting to look to me that this is about making sure the undesirables can't fight back.

I worry that after 20 more years of blaming a tiny minority for the problems of the masses we really will see roving gangs of OWS putting neighborhoods to the torch.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at January 11, 2013 10:24 AM

The problems you're citing must be resisted, but they're hardly new. Look back through American history - there are plentiful examples of government enabled thuggery. We survived them. We'll survive this.

I worry that after 20 more years of blaming a tiny minority for the problems of the masses we really will see roving gangs of OWS putting neighborhoods to the torch.

If that happens, I suspect we'll be hearing from more than a few of those 20 gazillion assault weapons already out there :p

If we are correct about strict gun laws not working as advertised, then it stands to reason that they'll still be around.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 11, 2013 10:37 AM

Oh, they will.

As soon as they're no longer out of stock *everywhere*, I'll probably buy one. Not because they're anymore powerful than their wood-stocked brethren, but because "**** You!"


I just *really*, *really* don't want to shoot someone.


But I will if I must.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at January 11, 2013 10:47 AM

I should expand. They'll be around, but the Mafia backed Union mobs will have real automatic weapons.

The law abiding will be mostly that, and will be stuck with dressed up deer rifles until the SHTF and then be playing catch-up.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at January 11, 2013 12:51 PM

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