Maxed out

As of yesterday, the federal government is officially maxed out on the  great national credit card.  We reached our credit limit of $14.294 trillion.   Government accountants think they can keep the bills paid using accounting tricks until August 2.   In the meantime, Congress needs to raise the debt ceiling.  Otherwise, the government could go into default.

Usually, raising the debt ceiling was more or less automatic, like passing resolutions celebrating Flag Day, but this time fiscal conservatives in Congress are threatening to keep that from happening unless the current administration agrees to major expenditure cuts.

Should Congress up the limit?  If it doesn’t, a default would surely be devastating for the economy, sending the dollar, government bonds, and foreign investment into a nosedive.  Would it be worth that to make a statement about out-of-control budget deficits?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • SKPeterson

    A technical default would not be devastating, which is why the banking sector is screaming bloody murder. A technical default will actually allow for the prospect of a full-blown default to be averted (see the outcome a la Greece as noted in the post above). I would also refer readers to comments made by Stanley Druckenmiller in an interview in the WSJ: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703864204576317612323790964.html

    He parses pretty well the current situation and puts into words something quite close to my own sentiments on the matter.

    But in short, yes, it is very worth it to make a “statement about out-of-control budget deficits.” They are the real problem, and they are leading on a path of unsustainable debt growth in which any default will be truly devastating.

    P.S. – I’m not too sure about the overall mustard yellow affect of the sidebars.

  • SKPeterson

    A technical default would not be devastating, which is why the banking sector is screaming bloody murder. A technical default will actually allow for the prospect of a full-blown default to be averted (see the outcome a la Greece as noted in the post above). I would also refer readers to comments made by Stanley Druckenmiller in an interview in the WSJ: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703864204576317612323790964.html

    He parses pretty well the current situation and puts into words something quite close to my own sentiments on the matter.

    But in short, yes, it is very worth it to make a “statement about out-of-control budget deficits.” They are the real problem, and they are leading on a path of unsustainable debt growth in which any default will be truly devastating.

    P.S. – I’m not too sure about the overall mustard yellow affect of the sidebars.

  • Tom Hering

    “I’m not too sure about the overall mustard yellow affect of the sidebars.”

    Yes, they should be a little darker and browner, matching the trim around the new header. Stewart is working on it.

  • Tom Hering

    “I’m not too sure about the overall mustard yellow affect of the sidebars.”

    Yes, they should be a little darker and browner, matching the trim around the new header. Stewart is working on it.

  • http://www.roundunvarnishedtale.blogspot.com Cheryl

    What I have read is that there is no reason we should default. We have enough money coming in to make our debt payments. But yes, we will have to cut spending on other things. And that is what the White House does not want to do. So they are trying to scare us with default horror scenarios.

  • http://www.roundunvarnishedtale.blogspot.com Cheryl

    What I have read is that there is no reason we should default. We have enough money coming in to make our debt payments. But yes, we will have to cut spending on other things. And that is what the White House does not want to do. So they are trying to scare us with default horror scenarios.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    I think our government should be required to go into financial counseling, just like every other person facing bankruptcy.

    I am with Cheryl, I do not think the prevention of raising the debt ceiling is as disastrous as the WH and others are making it out to be. I think it is more along the lines that they do not want to make hard decisions and make real cuts in the Federal budget and in spending.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    I think our government should be required to go into financial counseling, just like every other person facing bankruptcy.

    I am with Cheryl, I do not think the prevention of raising the debt ceiling is as disastrous as the WH and others are making it out to be. I think it is more along the lines that they do not want to make hard decisions and make real cuts in the Federal budget and in spending.

  • Porcell

    The Republicans should hold to their view that for every dollar of debt-limit increase there should be an ironclad, specific commitment to decrease spending .

    The American people need to realize that we are nearing a very real debt crisis caused by a lack of confidence in American Treasury paper and the dollar. Bill Gross, the largest bond trader in the world has exited the Treasury market and even shorted it. Standard and Poors recently revised its outlook for U.S. government debt to negative.

    Should the debt crisis happen, the financial markets will seriously tank within days causing a recession that will make the recent one look like a picnic. Here is Alan Simpson’s take:

    Is there a debt reckoning ahead? Former Sen. Alan Simpson, who co-chaired the bipartisan debt commission that last November recommended a set of spending cuts and tax increases to the president, says yes. Addressing an audience earlier this year, Simpson said a debt crisis could strike suddenly. “It won’t be the old slippery slope crap that we read about,” he said. “It’ll be very swift and very dramatic, like in Greece or Ireland or Portugal or Spain or wherever. I don’t know where this is going, but I tell you, it won’t take long.”

  • Porcell

    The Republicans should hold to their view that for every dollar of debt-limit increase there should be an ironclad, specific commitment to decrease spending .

    The American people need to realize that we are nearing a very real debt crisis caused by a lack of confidence in American Treasury paper and the dollar. Bill Gross, the largest bond trader in the world has exited the Treasury market and even shorted it. Standard and Poors recently revised its outlook for U.S. government debt to negative.

    Should the debt crisis happen, the financial markets will seriously tank within days causing a recession that will make the recent one look like a picnic. Here is Alan Simpson’s take:

    Is there a debt reckoning ahead? Former Sen. Alan Simpson, who co-chaired the bipartisan debt commission that last November recommended a set of spending cuts and tax increases to the president, says yes. Addressing an audience earlier this year, Simpson said a debt crisis could strike suddenly. “It won’t be the old slippery slope crap that we read about,” he said. “It’ll be very swift and very dramatic, like in Greece or Ireland or Portugal or Spain or wherever. I don’t know where this is going, but I tell you, it won’t take long.”

  • Jeremy

    @Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    “I think our government should be required to go into financial counselling, just like every other person facing bankruptcy.”

    LOL! That is Onion-worthy!

  • Jeremy

    @Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    “I think our government should be required to go into financial counselling, just like every other person facing bankruptcy.”

    LOL! That is Onion-worthy!

  • DonS

    A debt limit that is merely automatically raised every time it is approached is a joke.

    It is clear that the Democrats and their special interests are not going to back down on spending without a fight. So, this is an opportunity for that fight. Automatic spending cuts must be imposed, whether that comes through elimination of federal departments that really shouldn’t exist in the first place or through across the board cuts, by department. Any increase, conditioned on those cuts, should be sufficiently small so that the issue is forced again within the year, and especially as the 2012 elections draw near. The issue of the excessive and burdensome national debt should be the first thing Americans think of when they think of government today.

  • DonS

    A debt limit that is merely automatically raised every time it is approached is a joke.

    It is clear that the Democrats and their special interests are not going to back down on spending without a fight. So, this is an opportunity for that fight. Automatic spending cuts must be imposed, whether that comes through elimination of federal departments that really shouldn’t exist in the first place or through across the board cuts, by department. Any increase, conditioned on those cuts, should be sufficiently small so that the issue is forced again within the year, and especially as the 2012 elections draw near. The issue of the excessive and burdensome national debt should be the first thing Americans think of when they think of government today.

  • Jonathan

    “The full consequences of a default — or even the serious prospect of default — by the United States are impossible to predict and awesome to contemplate. Denigration of the full faith and credit of the United States would have substantial effects on the domestic financial markets and the value of the dollar in exchange markets. The Nation can ill afford to allow such a result. The risks, the costs, the disruptions, and the incalculable damage lead me to but one conclusion: the Senate must pass this legislation before the Congress adjourns,”
    – Ronald Reagan, urging a raise in the debt ceiling in 1983.

  • Jonathan

    “The full consequences of a default — or even the serious prospect of default — by the United States are impossible to predict and awesome to contemplate. Denigration of the full faith and credit of the United States would have substantial effects on the domestic financial markets and the value of the dollar in exchange markets. The Nation can ill afford to allow such a result. The risks, the costs, the disruptions, and the incalculable damage lead me to but one conclusion: the Senate must pass this legislation before the Congress adjourns,”
    – Ronald Reagan, urging a raise in the debt ceiling in 1983.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Let’s see. The White House is “trying to scare us with default horror scenarios” (@3). “The prevention of raising the debt ceiling is [not] as disastrous as the WH and others are making it out to be” (@4).

    Look, if all the fear-mongering is only from the White House, how do you explain Porcell’s comment (@5), including the statement from former Senator Alan Simpson (R)?

    Kinda seems like the scary stories are coming from all around, no?

    Also, interesting find, Jonathan (@8).

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Let’s see. The White House is “trying to scare us with default horror scenarios” (@3). “The prevention of raising the debt ceiling is [not] as disastrous as the WH and others are making it out to be” (@4).

    Look, if all the fear-mongering is only from the White House, how do you explain Porcell’s comment (@5), including the statement from former Senator Alan Simpson (R)?

    Kinda seems like the scary stories are coming from all around, no?

    Also, interesting find, Jonathan (@8).

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Anyhow, I’d like to propose that every Congressman who opposes increasing the debt limit, arguing instead for major expenditure cuts, have their own district or state taken off federal funding.

    I mean, their constituents clearly don’t want the federal funds, right? And they want their representative to slash federal spending, right? And charity begins at home, right?

    It might not be enough, but it would be a good start.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Anyhow, I’d like to propose that every Congressman who opposes increasing the debt limit, arguing instead for major expenditure cuts, have their own district or state taken off federal funding.

    I mean, their constituents clearly don’t want the federal funds, right? And they want their representative to slash federal spending, right? And charity begins at home, right?

    It might not be enough, but it would be a good start.

  • Louis

    Todd,

    That’s just the point. At some stage, the deficit has to end. But they all know that if the cuts happen in their district, they are not going back to Washington. Hence – it is the other man’s problem.

    In that link I presented yesterday, the author emphasised this point quite strongly.

    The problem is not giving people money – that is an (ultra) libertarian issue. The problem is giving people what you don’t have, and evidently, what you are not going to have any time soon either.

  • Louis

    Todd,

    That’s just the point. At some stage, the deficit has to end. But they all know that if the cuts happen in their district, they are not going back to Washington. Hence – it is the other man’s problem.

    In that link I presented yesterday, the author emphasised this point quite strongly.

    The problem is not giving people money – that is an (ultra) libertarian issue. The problem is giving people what you don’t have, and evidently, what you are not going to have any time soon either.

  • Porcell

    Todd is right that not a few congressmen including Republicans are wedded to federal government largesse mainly for political reasons. I would have to say, also, as Ryan has remarked, that the Bush II administration including the Republican congress were far more spendthrift than necessary.

    However, this fiscal situation has become truly alarming. My fervent hope is that somehow this will get through to Obama who at present is the key player along with Ryan. The best thing that could happen to the country would be for Ryan and Obama to sit down and talk turkey.

  • Porcell

    Todd is right that not a few congressmen including Republicans are wedded to federal government largesse mainly for political reasons. I would have to say, also, as Ryan has remarked, that the Bush II administration including the Republican congress were far more spendthrift than necessary.

    However, this fiscal situation has become truly alarming. My fervent hope is that somehow this will get through to Obama who at present is the key player along with Ryan. The best thing that could happen to the country would be for Ryan and Obama to sit down and talk turkey.

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 8: The debt ceiling in 1983 was raised to $1.49 trillion, which represented the accumulated debt of the U.S. government since its inception. This was approximately 30% of GDP. It’s funny how all of a sudden the liberal blogs are all aflame quoting Ronald Reagan about the debt ceiling, as if somehow that it determinative of the issues today, when the ceiling is some $14 trillion and is not so far from 100% of GDP.

    Would you like to hear some quotes from JFK about the benefits of reducing taxes? They’re out there, in abundance.

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 8: The debt ceiling in 1983 was raised to $1.49 trillion, which represented the accumulated debt of the U.S. government since its inception. This was approximately 30% of GDP. It’s funny how all of a sudden the liberal blogs are all aflame quoting Ronald Reagan about the debt ceiling, as if somehow that it determinative of the issues today, when the ceiling is some $14 trillion and is not so far from 100% of GDP.

    Would you like to hear some quotes from JFK about the benefits of reducing taxes? They’re out there, in abundance.

  • Joe

    tODD – its only scary if you beleive that there are only two choices – raise the debt ceiling or default. There are plenty of Republicans who don’t want to deal with the real problem. Spending less is an actual choice and there are some people trying to achieve that. Wouldn’t it be better to support those efforts than to mock them?

  • Joe

    tODD – its only scary if you beleive that there are only two choices – raise the debt ceiling or default. There are plenty of Republicans who don’t want to deal with the real problem. Spending less is an actual choice and there are some people trying to achieve that. Wouldn’t it be better to support those efforts than to mock them?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Joe (@14), let’s be real here. My comments here will have zero effect on what the Congressmen do. The most effect I could hope to achieve would involve contacting my various Congressmen and tell them what I think. I would not do that via comments on this blog.

    But I wanted to make a very real point — one that Louis (@11) understood, at least (and yes, Louis, I did like that article you linked to yesterday). And that is that I’ll know that someone is serious about cutting spending when they sacrifice their own political future for it.

    It’s easy to demand that the other guy make sacrifices. It can’t have escaped your notice that the only time in recent history that Republicans in Congress have been serious about debt reduction have been when Democrats were in the White House. As such, until Republicans pony up serious cost-cutting measures that will take funds out of their own districts and states, I have little reason to believe that this isn’t just political posturing.

    It’s not like the deficit just knocked on our door in 2010 and said, “Surprise! I’m here, and I’m huge!” Where were all these cries for fiscal responsibility when the Republicans ran the House, the Senate, and the White House?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Joe (@14), let’s be real here. My comments here will have zero effect on what the Congressmen do. The most effect I could hope to achieve would involve contacting my various Congressmen and tell them what I think. I would not do that via comments on this blog.

    But I wanted to make a very real point — one that Louis (@11) understood, at least (and yes, Louis, I did like that article you linked to yesterday). And that is that I’ll know that someone is serious about cutting spending when they sacrifice their own political future for it.

    It’s easy to demand that the other guy make sacrifices. It can’t have escaped your notice that the only time in recent history that Republicans in Congress have been serious about debt reduction have been when Democrats were in the White House. As such, until Republicans pony up serious cost-cutting measures that will take funds out of their own districts and states, I have little reason to believe that this isn’t just political posturing.

    It’s not like the deficit just knocked on our door in 2010 and said, “Surprise! I’m here, and I’m huge!” Where were all these cries for fiscal responsibility when the Republicans ran the House, the Senate, and the White House?

  • DonS

    tODD @ 10: A number of principled Congressmen, including my own, have steadfastly refused to request earmarks and other pork for their districts. This is commendable, in and of itself. To deny citizens of certain congressional districts federal benefits that are granted to citizens of other districts, on the sole basis of their political representation, would, of course, be an unconstitutional infringement on their rights under the equal protection clause, at the very least. But, even if it were possible, all it would accomplish would be to further reward irresponsible profligacy, and to further discourage fiscal responsibility. I cannot see how that would benefit anyone in the long run.

    Of course, if the proposal also included excluding taxpayers of those forsaken districts of certain taxpaying obligations, in exchange for giving up rights to forage in the federal benefits trough, then I am all ears. ;-)

  • DonS

    tODD @ 10: A number of principled Congressmen, including my own, have steadfastly refused to request earmarks and other pork for their districts. This is commendable, in and of itself. To deny citizens of certain congressional districts federal benefits that are granted to citizens of other districts, on the sole basis of their political representation, would, of course, be an unconstitutional infringement on their rights under the equal protection clause, at the very least. But, even if it were possible, all it would accomplish would be to further reward irresponsible profligacy, and to further discourage fiscal responsibility. I cannot see how that would benefit anyone in the long run.

    Of course, if the proposal also included excluding taxpayers of those forsaken districts of certain taxpaying obligations, in exchange for giving up rights to forage in the federal benefits trough, then I am all ears. ;-)

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@16), “refusing to request earmarks” is not the same as “denying citizens of certain congressional districts federal benefits” — you know that. Federal funds still flow to your district.

    And how is it “unconstitutional” if your district gets a bridge, or a new municipal building, or light rail, but mine doesn’t? It’s not. Funds do not flow equally, and they never have. But your representatives can do their best to make sure that your district and state use none of the funds they say they — and you — don’t want.

    “I cannot see how that would benefit anyone in the long run.” Really? Because it would do exactly what you want: it would cut spending! Someone has to be the loser here. Shouldn’t it be the people who don’t want so much federal spending?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@16), “refusing to request earmarks” is not the same as “denying citizens of certain congressional districts federal benefits” — you know that. Federal funds still flow to your district.

    And how is it “unconstitutional” if your district gets a bridge, or a new municipal building, or light rail, but mine doesn’t? It’s not. Funds do not flow equally, and they never have. But your representatives can do their best to make sure that your district and state use none of the funds they say they — and you — don’t want.

    “I cannot see how that would benefit anyone in the long run.” Really? Because it would do exactly what you want: it would cut spending! Someone has to be the loser here. Shouldn’t it be the people who don’t want so much federal spending?

  • DonS

    tODD @ 17: Earmarks are the means by which federal funds are specifically directed to a particular district for a particular pork project, such as bridges, dams, and the like. All other federal funds are appropriated by program, and the expenditure of those funds is in the discretion of the administration. For example, federal gas taxes are consigned to the Federal Highway Administration (FHA), under the Transportation Department, and appropriated according to need and in view of general federal funding formulas. To include specific limitations in those appropriations saying that the funds, generally paid by all taxpayers, could not be used in certain congressional districts would be, at the very least, a clear violation of the equal protection clause.

    The people who don’t want so much federal spending also don’t want so much federal taxation, or federal borrowing. They also often don’t want so many people relying on government transfer payments rather than being productive citizens. Your suggestion rewards the irresponsible, at the expense of those who have the courage and ethics to oppose the reckless course our government is on. Everyone is entitled to equal treatment by our government, and is also entitled to a government that lives responsibly within its means.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 17: Earmarks are the means by which federal funds are specifically directed to a particular district for a particular pork project, such as bridges, dams, and the like. All other federal funds are appropriated by program, and the expenditure of those funds is in the discretion of the administration. For example, federal gas taxes are consigned to the Federal Highway Administration (FHA), under the Transportation Department, and appropriated according to need and in view of general federal funding formulas. To include specific limitations in those appropriations saying that the funds, generally paid by all taxpayers, could not be used in certain congressional districts would be, at the very least, a clear violation of the equal protection clause.

    The people who don’t want so much federal spending also don’t want so much federal taxation, or federal borrowing. They also often don’t want so many people relying on government transfer payments rather than being productive citizens. Your suggestion rewards the irresponsible, at the expense of those who have the courage and ethics to oppose the reckless course our government is on. Everyone is entitled to equal treatment by our government, and is also entitled to a government that lives responsibly within its means.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Come now, Don (@18), if your reading of the equal protection clause were correct, then earmarks would also be unconstitutional — they are, after all, “specific limitations in … appropriations saying that the funds, generally paid by all taxpayers, could not be used in certain congressional districts,” though they accomplish this not by proscribing certain districts’ funding, but by prescribing only a few.

    Either way, federal monies don’t get spread around equally (as has been noted by others, it usually ends up going disproportionately to those boot-strappin’ states voting for Republicans who make lovely rhetoric against federal funding).

    Though, I suppose, using the current system, one might be able to pass earmarks for every district except the ones with tough, waste-slashin’ Congressmen. Same thing.

    And even barring that, there’s certainly nothing prohibiting waste-slashin’ Congressmen from petitioning the administration to preclude their districts from any funding (“Please, don’t improve our highways or fund any research in my district, I beg of you!”), or from doing the same at the local level. I wonder why you never hear much about such petitioning?

    “Your suggestion rewards the irresponsible.” Well, again, the “irresponsible” regions — those disproportionately on the government teat — tend to be the same ones that vote for budget-slashin’-rhetoric politicians, so my suggestion would likely punish the irresponsible.

    Still, is it me, or is it the job of the responsible to lead the way and show that it’ll work? Once the districts and states of the budget-slashin’ Congressmen show that life is happier and better in their districts without all those nasty federal funds, surely it’ll be an easier sell to all those horrible, irresponsible places! Once we have empirical data on how much better private industry works than the government, it’ll be a slam-dunk case! Why does no one want to volunteer their district/state for this important experiment?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Come now, Don (@18), if your reading of the equal protection clause were correct, then earmarks would also be unconstitutional — they are, after all, “specific limitations in … appropriations saying that the funds, generally paid by all taxpayers, could not be used in certain congressional districts,” though they accomplish this not by proscribing certain districts’ funding, but by prescribing only a few.

    Either way, federal monies don’t get spread around equally (as has been noted by others, it usually ends up going disproportionately to those boot-strappin’ states voting for Republicans who make lovely rhetoric against federal funding).

    Though, I suppose, using the current system, one might be able to pass earmarks for every district except the ones with tough, waste-slashin’ Congressmen. Same thing.

    And even barring that, there’s certainly nothing prohibiting waste-slashin’ Congressmen from petitioning the administration to preclude their districts from any funding (“Please, don’t improve our highways or fund any research in my district, I beg of you!”), or from doing the same at the local level. I wonder why you never hear much about such petitioning?

    “Your suggestion rewards the irresponsible.” Well, again, the “irresponsible” regions — those disproportionately on the government teat — tend to be the same ones that vote for budget-slashin’-rhetoric politicians, so my suggestion would likely punish the irresponsible.

    Still, is it me, or is it the job of the responsible to lead the way and show that it’ll work? Once the districts and states of the budget-slashin’ Congressmen show that life is happier and better in their districts without all those nasty federal funds, surely it’ll be an easier sell to all those horrible, irresponsible places! Once we have empirical data on how much better private industry works than the government, it’ll be a slam-dunk case! Why does no one want to volunteer their district/state for this important experiment?

  • Porcell

    Don S, at eighteen: The people who don’t want so much federal spending also don’t want so much federal taxation, or federal borrowing. They also often don’t want so many people relying on government transfer payments rather than being productive citizens.

    Exactly. Todd seems not to get it that just now federal spending has brought the nation to a severe crisis.

    Todd, at seventeen: And how is it “unconstitutional” if your district gets a bridge, or a new municipal building, or light rail, but mine doesn’t?

    You don’t understand that local bridges, municipal buildings, or light rail ought not to be a federal government responsibility. The reason that the federal government has gone broke is that it has assumed too much of what ought to be state and local government responsibility. Don has made this point clear.

    When your pension and Social Security funds tank during the next almost inevitable recession or depression due to a federal government debt crisis, you might begin to get this.

  • Porcell

    Don S, at eighteen: The people who don’t want so much federal spending also don’t want so much federal taxation, or federal borrowing. They also often don’t want so many people relying on government transfer payments rather than being productive citizens.

    Exactly. Todd seems not to get it that just now federal spending has brought the nation to a severe crisis.

    Todd, at seventeen: And how is it “unconstitutional” if your district gets a bridge, or a new municipal building, or light rail, but mine doesn’t?

    You don’t understand that local bridges, municipal buildings, or light rail ought not to be a federal government responsibility. The reason that the federal government has gone broke is that it has assumed too much of what ought to be state and local government responsibility. Don has made this point clear.

    When your pension and Social Security funds tank during the next almost inevitable recession or depression due to a federal government debt crisis, you might begin to get this.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 19: No, that’s not correct. Appropriations to particular projects are not per se discriminatory, because others don’t get money. It is easy to craft a rationale justifying a particular appropriation based on federal need, etc. But a blanket discrimination against a particular district, excluding a particular district from all funding under a program to which all taxpayers contributed, based solely on the geography of that district, would surely fail the equal protection test. It’s not even a close call.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 19: No, that’s not correct. Appropriations to particular projects are not per se discriminatory, because others don’t get money. It is easy to craft a rationale justifying a particular appropriation based on federal need, etc. But a blanket discrimination against a particular district, excluding a particular district from all funding under a program to which all taxpayers contributed, based solely on the geography of that district, would surely fail the equal protection test. It’s not even a close call.

  • DonS

    Porcell @ 20: Precisely. And you are right, the way to avoid the problems of earmarks and power-mad appropriators is to stop funding local projects with federal tax money.

    tODD, that is a spending reduction I can live with.

  • DonS

    Porcell @ 20: Precisely. And you are right, the way to avoid the problems of earmarks and power-mad appropriators is to stop funding local projects with federal tax money.

    tODD, that is a spending reduction I can live with.

  • Jonathan

    @13 I quoted St. Ronald precisely in order to provoke your statement of his irrelevancy. If , as you say, liberal blogs are all aflame quoting Ronald Reagan, it’s because even a 1980s conservative would be called a “liberal” by today’s GOP.

  • Jonathan

    @13 I quoted St. Ronald precisely in order to provoke your statement of his irrelevancy. If , as you say, liberal blogs are all aflame quoting Ronald Reagan, it’s because even a 1980s conservative would be called a “liberal” by today’s GOP.

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 23: Hmmm. Well, that, or, more likely, as I pointed out substantively above, we are in far more precarious shape now than we were thirty years ago. Not to mention that we have raised the debt ceiling at least twenty times since then without any regard for how to actually try to avoid having to do that.

    Are you ready for your JFK tax quotes?

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 23: Hmmm. Well, that, or, more likely, as I pointed out substantively above, we are in far more precarious shape now than we were thirty years ago. Not to mention that we have raised the debt ceiling at least twenty times since then without any regard for how to actually try to avoid having to do that.

    Are you ready for your JFK tax quotes?

  • Jonathan

    @24 Thanks again for confirming Reagan’s irrelevancy to today’s modern GOP.

  • Jonathan

    @24 Thanks again for confirming Reagan’s irrelevancy to today’s modern GOP.

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 25: Huh? The principles espoused and supported by Reagan are as relevant today as ever. His response to a particular political situation in 1983, to the extent that the same situation does not exist today, not so much. Cherry picking one particular statement Reagan made under specific circumstances of the moment, and attempting to give them universal applicability, is nonsense. However, if you are now a convert, and wish to become a Reagan adherent across the board, welcome to enlightenment.

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 25: Huh? The principles espoused and supported by Reagan are as relevant today as ever. His response to a particular political situation in 1983, to the extent that the same situation does not exist today, not so much. Cherry picking one particular statement Reagan made under specific circumstances of the moment, and attempting to give them universal applicability, is nonsense. However, if you are now a convert, and wish to become a Reagan adherent across the board, welcome to enlightenment.

  • Jonathan

    If a man’s worth admiring, you can’t really separate his principles from his responses to a particular political situation, unless your aim is merely to exploit the man’s reputation. I twice voted for Reagan, but I eventually left the GOP during the Bush II years. Like Reagan said about his former party, the Democrats, I didn’t move, they did.

  • Jonathan

    If a man’s worth admiring, you can’t really separate his principles from his responses to a particular political situation, unless your aim is merely to exploit the man’s reputation. I twice voted for Reagan, but I eventually left the GOP during the Bush II years. Like Reagan said about his former party, the Democrats, I didn’t move, they did.

  • DonS

    Jonathan: Yes you can. In 1983, we were in the midst of an escalating cold war with the Soviet Union and its eastern bloc allies. Additionally, at the time, the national debt was relatively low, as I mentioned before, at approximately $1.5 trillion TOTAL, or about 30% of GDP. With those circumstances, Reagan judged that it was more important to ensure that the government did not default or lose any stature internationally, in view of the threat posed by the communist world, and the need to build up our defense systems. Recall also that 1983 was the year when the Social Security system was shored up under a bipartisan agreement with the congressional Democrats, so action was being taken to strengthen our long-term financial future as well.

    Today is a far different circumstance. We now have $14 trillion in debt, ten times as much in fewer than thirty years, which is about 75% or more of GDP. We are very near to unsustainability, and there is no end to the debt pile-up in sight. Our primary national threat today is not another nation and its military might, but our own fiscal irresponsibility. Under the present circumstances, I am confident that Reagan’s view of the debt ceiling issue would be quite different, and he would want us to take a stand for fiscal sanity, by tying any future debt limit increases to concrete spending control measures.

  • DonS

    Jonathan: Yes you can. In 1983, we were in the midst of an escalating cold war with the Soviet Union and its eastern bloc allies. Additionally, at the time, the national debt was relatively low, as I mentioned before, at approximately $1.5 trillion TOTAL, or about 30% of GDP. With those circumstances, Reagan judged that it was more important to ensure that the government did not default or lose any stature internationally, in view of the threat posed by the communist world, and the need to build up our defense systems. Recall also that 1983 was the year when the Social Security system was shored up under a bipartisan agreement with the congressional Democrats, so action was being taken to strengthen our long-term financial future as well.

    Today is a far different circumstance. We now have $14 trillion in debt, ten times as much in fewer than thirty years, which is about 75% or more of GDP. We are very near to unsustainability, and there is no end to the debt pile-up in sight. Our primary national threat today is not another nation and its military might, but our own fiscal irresponsibility. Under the present circumstances, I am confident that Reagan’s view of the debt ceiling issue would be quite different, and he would want us to take a stand for fiscal sanity, by tying any future debt limit increases to concrete spending control measures.

  • Jonathan

    @28 You wrote: “Our primary national threat today is not another nation and its military might, but our own fiscal irresponsibility.” There’s truth in what you say, yet any GOP candidate who called for a sharp decrease in defense spending would be laughed out the party. Today’s GOP is not what it was 25 years ago. There’s no room in it today for a guy like Reagan, and that’s why your confidence in what he’d do is misplaced.

  • Jonathan

    @28 You wrote: “Our primary national threat today is not another nation and its military might, but our own fiscal irresponsibility.” There’s truth in what you say, yet any GOP candidate who called for a sharp decrease in defense spending would be laughed out the party. Today’s GOP is not what it was 25 years ago. There’s no room in it today for a guy like Reagan, and that’s why your confidence in what he’d do is misplaced.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS said (@28), “Our primary national threat today is not another nation and its military might, but our own fiscal irresponsibility.”

    Right. I guess we’ll have to wait until another Republican’s in office before our primary national threat will, once again, presumably become another nation, and not our own fiscal irresponsibility. I mean, that was the case under George W. Bush, right? “No time to think about the deficit, Iraq! Iraq! Iraq!”

    Just makes you wonder who will distract us next time. Maybe a full-scale escalation of our efforts in Libya? Or how about Iran? Maybe North Korea?

    I think the sure bet is that “fiscal irresponsibility” will not be a pressing matter the next time a Republican’s in the White House. (Unless the Dems happen to control Congress, of course.)

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS said (@28), “Our primary national threat today is not another nation and its military might, but our own fiscal irresponsibility.”

    Right. I guess we’ll have to wait until another Republican’s in office before our primary national threat will, once again, presumably become another nation, and not our own fiscal irresponsibility. I mean, that was the case under George W. Bush, right? “No time to think about the deficit, Iraq! Iraq! Iraq!”

    Just makes you wonder who will distract us next time. Maybe a full-scale escalation of our efforts in Libya? Or how about Iran? Maybe North Korea?

    I think the sure bet is that “fiscal irresponsibility” will not be a pressing matter the next time a Republican’s in the White House. (Unless the Dems happen to control Congress, of course.)

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 29: I agree with you that the defense department shouldn’t be immune from spending cuts. That department tends to be a sacred cow of the right in much the same way that entitlements and government employee benefits are sacred cows of the left. But, let’s keep in mind that providing for the national defense is a constitutional responsibility of the federal government. Many other functions the federal government has taken on are not. So, though reductions in defense spending are necessary, the bulk of the cuts will need to be made in entitlements.

    Reagan would do fine in today’s GOP. He would bring it farther to the right, where it belongs.

  • DonS

    Jonathan @ 29: I agree with you that the defense department shouldn’t be immune from spending cuts. That department tends to be a sacred cow of the right in much the same way that entitlements and government employee benefits are sacred cows of the left. But, let’s keep in mind that providing for the national defense is a constitutional responsibility of the federal government. Many other functions the federal government has taken on are not. So, though reductions in defense spending are necessary, the bulk of the cuts will need to be made in entitlements.

    Reagan would do fine in today’s GOP. He would bring it farther to the right, where it belongs.

  • SKPeterson

    We could halve the defense budget and still be number 1 in total military spending. We’d just be concentrating on defense not the opposite. But what’s the fun in that? It might even lead to hundreds of news anchors being put out of work and left to panhandle on the streets of New York and D.C. Oh the humanity!

  • SKPeterson

    We could halve the defense budget and still be number 1 in total military spending. We’d just be concentrating on defense not the opposite. But what’s the fun in that? It might even lead to hundreds of news anchors being put out of work and left to panhandle on the streets of New York and D.C. Oh the humanity!


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