Tag Archives: debt

My Romney peeps will pull the Romney lever anyway, but . . .

I’m not listening, I’m not listening . . .

. . . do note that Romney’s constant campaign rhetoric has been “Obama promised to cut the debt/deficit in half but instead he’s doubled it (debt/deficit)!”

He uses the terms carelessly and interchangeably. The debt is not the deficit. The deficit is not the debt.

Obama promised to cut the deficit in half. He did. Actually, he said his ‘proposed budget’ would cut the deficit. I can’t even remember if that budget ever passed the House.

But this is just political trivia – there’s not a conscious Romney voter to whom that fact will make a difference.


Economy and debt: How to make it all better!

Atrios explains in just a few words what Democrats can’t seem to explain at all.

 “It looks like the LTRO is having a positive contribution. Does it solve all of the problems sustainably? Probably not,” said Andrew Bosomworth, a senior portfolio manager at Pimco.

At the end of the day, it comes down to growth — that’s what these countries need to keep their debt sustainable.”

Everybody has been getting it backwards.
1) Cut spending
2) ??
3) Growth
When the reality is:
1) Increase spending
2) Growth
3) pay down debt

The phony balanced budget jibber-jabber

Everytime I visit Bruce Bartlett ‘s blog, Capital Gains and Games, I learn such interesting things. Like this:
Next week, House Republicans plan to debate a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. . .  In fact, it’s just more political theater designed to delight the Tea Party.
Historically, those supporting a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution were only interested in balance per se. That is, requiring that revenues and expenditures be as close to equal as possible. The view was that if the states – almost all of which are required to balance their budgets annually – could do it then so could the federal government.
One problem is that the states don’t really balance their budgets. All have separate operating and capital budgets and only the operating budget is required to be balanced. By contrast, the federal budget lumps together operating and capital expenses, such as roads and buildings that will last for decades. Moreover, the states are notorious for using gimmicks to give the appearance of budget balance even though they run deficits. . . .  If Republicans were really serious about putting a balanced budget amendment into the Constitution they would . . .  held weeks of hearings with such experts and planned many more weeks of floor debate. GOP think tanks would have been urged to hold conferences and publish studies of the proposed amendment.
None of this was done, of course, leaving the inescapable conclusion that this is nothing but a political ploy designed solely to appeal to the GOP’s Tea Party wing. The time wasted debating a balanced budget amendment would be better spent taking care of the House’s long list of unfinished business, such as passing appropriations bills.

The debt ceiling and the Fourteenth Amendment

As rhetoric heats up about the debt ceiling (not to mention the indignity of being ordered to come to work on a weekend), a new talking point has emerged. This is very interesting - expect sputtering rage when the radio talkers retake the air on Tuesday morning. From the linked post at Crooks & Liars:

It’s an untested concept, but rooted in some really strong history. I cannot recommend this post enough for the backstory and history around the adoption of Section Four of the Fourteenth Amendment:

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

When I first heard about this I was completely confused as to how language about the public debt became part of a constitutional amendment, which is why you really must read the post on Balkanization. Here’s a snippet:

What do we learn from this history? If Wade’s speech offers the central rationale for Section Four, the goal was to remove threats of default on federal debts from partisan struggle. Reconstruction Republicans feared that Democrats, once admitted to Congress would use their majorities to default on obligations they did disliked politically. More generally, as Wade explained, “every man who has property in the public funds will feel safer when he sees that the national debt is withdrawn from the power of a Congress to repudiate it and placed under the guardianship of the Constitution than he would feel if it were left at loose ends and subject to the varying majorities which may arise in Congress.”

more from Jon Chait:

This means that the very existence of the debt limit is unconstitutional because it calls into question the validity of the debt. So would any other provision of law. That is a key reason why Congress created a permanent appropriation for interest payments at the same time that the Fourteenth Amendment was debated. Previously, Congress had to pass annual appropriations for interest.

Paul Krugman also had a word on the same subject yesterday.

UPDATE: I urge you to read the comment below by John Nail re a 1935 ruling by the Supreme Court on this very matter.

Is he still considered to be ‘the shrill one’?

Paul Krugman is often the best practitioner of the succinct summary. Today he writes about the moralizers who want to punish debtors (individuals, not the financial institutions so much). And after a brief summary of how an economy works and making a case – yet again – for increased government spending (around the world by the way) . . . well, here he is:

“And if you point out that their arguments don’t add up, they fly into a rage. Try to explain that when debtors spend less, the economy will be depressed unless somebody else spends more, and they call you a socialist.”