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Has U.S. Democracy Been Trumped? Bernie Sanders wants to know who owns America?

#20901 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2023-May-18, 17:44

View Postjohnu, on 2023-May-18, 17:16, said:

The problem with that analysis is that it's not just year X that's the problem. It's the accumulated debt and interest for years X-1, X-2, X-3, X-4, X-5, etc., etc. The last debt ceiling increase in 12/2021 was $2.5 trillion (total $31.4 billion) to January 2023. By comparison, the US spending budget was only $6.3 trillion with a spending deficit of $1.5 trillion in 2023. The debt limit increase is currently about 40% of the total spending budget. What programs do you want to cut? The 3 biggest budget items are health services (inc Medicare,etc), pensions (e.g Social Security), and the military which are more than 2/3 the total US budget. And there's the problem. Nobody wants to cut anything (except other people's programs), and just keeping budget items the same is actually a decrease because of inflation.

By comparison, the Trump tax giveaway cost about $2 trillion and tax rates are historically low, but the QOP is hysterical in refusing to increase taxes.





The debt is cumulative but that is to be taken into account. Say that the cumulative debt in April of year X is Y. Then a decision could be made, in April or May of year X, that the total debt by the end of year X+1 shouldn't exceed Z. This would have a meaningful effect on the budget and on the spending in year X+1.
Basically, I am saying we should make the debt ceiling meaningful or we should abolish the debt ceiling. I am willing, more than willing. to consider alternative approaches to doing that but we really must do something. The current way of doing this is a bad joke. We pretend to have a debt ceiling but if we always adjust it to cover whatever the debt happens to be then it is not in any reasonable terms a debt ceiling. It is a very unfunny joke.
Ken
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#20902 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2023-May-18, 19:38

View Postkenberg, on 2023-May-18, 17:44, said:


The debt is cumulative but that is to be taken into account. Say that the cumulative debt in April of year X is Y. Then a decision could be made, in April or May of year X, that the total debt by the end of year X+1 shouldn't exceed Z. This would have a meaningful effect on the budget and on the spending in year X+1.
Basically, I am saying we should make the debt ceiling meaningful or we should abolish the debt ceiling. I am willing, more than willing. to consider alternative approaches to doing that but we really must do something. The current way of doing this is a bad joke. We pretend to have a debt ceiling but if we always adjust it to cover whatever the debt happens to be then it is not in any reasonable terms a debt ceiling. It is a very unfunny joke.


How do you get the GOP to relinguish their ticket to terrorize?

I think we have to talk honestly before we have a chance. The Democrats are imperfect; the Republican party is a terrorist organization as it is now,and should be treated as such.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter. / "I need ammunition, not a ride." Zelensky
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#20903 User is offline   johnu 

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Posted 2023-May-19, 00:42

View Postkenberg, on 2023-May-18, 17:44, said:



The debt is cumulative but that is to be taken into account. Say that the cumulative debt in April of year X is Y. Then a decision could be made, in April or May of year X, that the total debt by the end of year X+1 shouldn't exceed Z. This would have a meaningful effect on the budget and on the spending in year X+1.
Basically, I am saying we should make the debt ceiling meaningful or we should abolish the debt ceiling. I am willing, more than willing. to consider alternative approaches to doing that but we really must do something. The current way of doing this is a bad joke. We pretend to have a debt ceiling but if we always adjust it to cover whatever the debt happens to be then it is not in any reasonable terms a debt ceiling. It is a very unfunny joke.


There have been proposals to pass a law to automatically increase the debt ceiling each year. AFAIK, the current Democrats in Congress would not be opposed to this bill as they passed debt ceiling increases without restrictions under Trump when the debt ceiling increased more than anytime in history. The QOP will never support such a bill because it eliminates their ability to threaten the economy of the US solely for political posturing. I've got no idea why Congress didn't pass such a law way back when there was bipartisan support for just increasing the debt ceiling without threatening to tank the US economy. The only thing I can think of is that nobody thought it would ever be a problem so why waste time on a bill that was never going to be used.

I agree that always raising the debt ceiling is a bit of a joke, but what are the alternatives? According to responsible economic experts, defaulting would be a financial disaster. And then, the US would still have the previous debt, but would pile up even more debt. Nobody wants to pay more taxes, but with the current annual income shortfall, raising taxes has to be part of the solution.

Then there are the really tough decisions. What federal programs to cut? Social Security? Medicare? Military? Personally, I'm in favor of eliminating Federal grants to state and local governments. They can tax their own local or state citizens and companies if they want to spend money on various programs. Not surprisingly, red states dominate the listings for states receiving the biggest percentage of money from the feds.

What about military spending? The US spends as much money as the next 10 countries. There's a huge amount of waste in the military because Congress is bribed lobbied by military contractors trying to get their share of the pie.

What about increasing Medicare premiums for those with the economic means to do so? Increasing estate taxes. Increasing income taxes on Social Security benefits for the wealthy? Going through the tax code and eliminate tax giveaways that were bought by lobbyists?

Several constitutional lawyers have proposed that Biden is obligated by the 14th Amendment to prevent default and just raise the debt ceiling (by executive order). This is supported by an increasing number of Democrats in Congress.

14th Amendment, section 4:

Quote

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.


As a sidenote, any debt incurred as a result of suppressing the January 6 insurrection is specifically included as debt that cannot be questioned. And any "expenses" incurred by Trump and his insurrectionists are explicitly excluded.
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#20904 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2023-May-19, 04:11

It's all very well to have an elephant in the room so long as it sits quietly in the corner.
When it starts running around the room and eating all the snacks; then you have a problem.
Non legit hoc
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#20905 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2023-May-19, 07:16

View Postpilowsky, on 2023-May-19, 04:11, said:

It's all very well to have an elephant in the room so long as it sits quietly in the corner.
When it starts running around the room and eating all the snacks; then you have a problem.


It is especially troubling if you are one of the peanuts.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter. / "I need ammunition, not a ride." Zelensky
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#20906 User is offline   shyams 

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Posted 2023-May-19, 08:00

The federal debt ceiling could have been raised during the 117th US Congress, right?
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#20907 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2023-May-19, 08:22

On many issues, we are paralyzed. Way back when I was 10 or so I read about a law addressing the possibility that, through bad scheduling, two trains might come nose to nose on a single pair of tracks. The law said that both should come to a full and complete stop and neither one should move until the other had gone away. Even if the blame divides 90 percent to 10 percent, a solution is needed, and non-movement is not it. That's pretty obvious.

Winston asks "How do you get the GOP to relinquish their ticket to terrorize?" This is a good question, or, rather, sort of a good question. The problem with it is that like many questions it is also a statement. In this case, it is saying that nothing can be done.

I like to think, and I have some evidence to support it, that I enjoy being with friends who see things very differently than I do. I gave up religion when I was 14 or so. Last month I was visiting a friend from that time of my life who became a Methodist minister. He still sings in the choir, I attended a church service with him, and there was a discussion group afterward that I joined. I was welcome to join in the discussion, I did, and it all went well. Very well.

We are in desperate need of leaders who will spend more time discussing how to solve problems and less time discussing how awful others are. Ok, Trump is awful, truly awful. But I have conservative friends who would readily agree that Trump is awful but still ask where do we go from here.

There was a time, not so long ago when many economists thought that the national debt was not a big problem. It's different from personal debt. Ok, but I think it now has reached a point where far fewer economists say that it is not a problem. So what to do? Well, we could spend our time explaining that much of the increase in the debt occurred during the Trump presidency and the Republicans were not all that concerned about it then. That criticism is correct. But we could also hope that Biden would say "The national debt is a serious problem that must be dealt with seriously and I intend to do exactly that". Maybe he said such a thing but if so I missed it.

There are a great number of us out there who put problem-solving ahead of discussing who is to blame for the problem. If my suggestion for voting on the national debt ceiling, or something like my suggestion, is practical then there will be votes out there for the politician who suggests it. I am sure many people other than just Becky and I are very fed up with this yearly melodrama of potential default.

Ken
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#20908 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2023-May-19, 13:43

So today's news says that the negotiations have stagnated. I still wonder if they were lying when they said progress was being made earlier in the week, just to delay financial turmoil until we actually reach the cliff.

"This is your captain speaking. Pay no attention to that mountain in front of the aircraft, I'm sure we'll be able to climb over it soon."

#20909 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2023-May-19, 14:39

View Postbarmar, on 2023-May-19, 13:43, said:

So today's news says that the negotiations have stagnated. I still wonder if they were lying when they said progress was being made earlier in the week, just to delay financial turmoil until we actually reach the cliff.

"This is your captain speaking. Pay no attention to that mountain in front of the aircraft, I'm sure we'll be able to climb over it soon."


At the risk of sounding cynical: The Dow went up when progress was announced. I imagine it will go down now that stagnation is announced. Those who have early access to announcements can do well.

But they are honorable men. So are they all, all honorable men.



Ken
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#20910 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2023-May-19, 15:37

Quote

Winston asks "How do you get the GOP to relinquish their ticket to terrorize?" This is a good question, or, rather, sort of a good question. The problem with it is that like many questions it is also a statement. In this case, it is saying that nothing can be done.


I have to address this. I do not mean nothing can be done. I do mean that only the Republicans can do something about it. Only one party is acting as a terror organization. Until that party is not longer an enemy to be feared, they should be treated as enemy combattants.

As to what Biden should do about the debt, He has openly stated his position - the best method to address the debt is to expand the economy with new jobs nad new technology and that requires new spending. The best way to address the problem of the debt is expanding the economy, increasing the number of immigrants, and rewriting the tax codes to be more progressive and taxing coorporations at a flat minumum. No business pays zero tax.

Of course, this would require doing away with the Republican party, and that is OK too.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter. / "I need ammunition, not a ride." Zelensky
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#20911 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2023-May-19, 16:39

"What Biden should do about the debt"? Biden should do what the previous President did and invade congress to make america silly again.
This seems to be the new realpolitik in the USA.
Non legit hoc
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#20912 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2023-May-19, 20:34

View PostWinstonm, on 2023-May-19, 15:37, said:



I have to address this. I do not mean nothing can be done. I do mean that only the Republicans can do something about it. Only one party is acting as a terror organization. Until that party is not longer an enemy to be feared, they should be treated as enemy combattants.

As to what Biden should do about the debt, He has openly stated his position - the best method to address the debt is to expand the economy with new jobs nad new technology and that requires new spending. The best way to address the problem of the debt is expanding the economy, increasing the number of immigrants, and rewriting the tax codes to be more progressive and taxing coorporations at a flat minumum. No business pays zero tax.

Of course, this would require doing away with the Republican party, and that is OK too.




By "nothing can be done" I meant "nothing we, and those who share our general views, can do". It is always possible to find things for others to do. Biden could, if he thought my suggestion practical, suggest that after, and if, we get through the current trauma without default we then immediately set a cumulative debt limit through May 31, 2024 that we would seriously try to stay within. He will not be doing this.

Right now the Rs like to use the debt limit to jerk us around. That's true. But what is also true is that the Ds like the debt limit to be discussed after the money has been spent so they can say "Hey, the money is spent, we have to adjust the limit to cover it". The result is that the debt limit is a total fake. Except that sooner or later this gameplaying is going to bite us where it hurts. That's usually what happens when everyone pays lip service to something, say a debt limit, when that something does not really exist in any meaningful sense.

I suppose we will just continue on. We will pass a budget without regard for the current debt limit, and a year later, after suitable drama, we will adjust the debt limit as needed to avoid default. It has worked so far. I am not optimistic about it working forever.

Ken
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#20913 User is offline   Gilithin 

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Posted 2023-May-19, 21:55

Here's a British take some folks might find mildly amusing.
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#20914 User is offline   johnu 

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Posted 2023-May-20, 01:52

View Postkenberg, on 2023-May-19, 20:34, said:

Biden could, if he thought my suggestion practical, suggest that after, and if, we get through the current trauma without default we then immediately set a cumulative debt limit [/size]through May 31, 2024 that we would seriously try to stay within. He will not be doing this.

As nice as that idea may sound, unless Biden invokes the 14th Amendment as more and more Democrats are suggesting, that's not how things work in Congress. Under the current law, it's up to Congress to pass a bill raising the debt ceiling and the president to sign the bill. On his own, Biden can say anything like you suggest, but it means absolutely nothing to Congress, and Congress would still have to pass a debt ceiling bill that matches what Biden proposed (again, assuming the 14th Amendment isn't invoked which would undoubtedly be appealed to the Supreme Court).

View Postkenberg, on 2023-May-19, 20:34, said:

Right now the Rs like to use the debt limit to jerk us around. That's true. But what is also true is that the Ds like the debt limit to be discussed after the money has been spent so they can say "Hey, the money is spent, we have to adjust the limit to cover it". The result is that the debt limit is a total fake. Except that sooner or later this gameplaying is going to bite us where it hurts. That's usually what happens when everyone pays lip service to something, say a debt limit, when that something does not really exist in any meaningful sense.


The Democrats say "Hey, the money is spent, we have to adjust the limit to cover it" because that's absolutely true. And when there is a QOP president, that's what the QOP also says. It's only lately when there's a Democratic president that the QOP gets religion about holding down the debt and performs a publicity stunt threatening to shut down the government by refusing to raise the debt ceiling unless they get their way.

Once again, the time to discuss the budget is after the president submits a budget to Congress, and Congress debates and passes an appropriations bill which is then sent to the White House for the president to sign or veto. There's a reason that time of year is called budget negotiations. And no matter who is president and who is in control of Congress, nobody wants to cut spending or increase taxes enough to put a serious dent in reducing the gap between income and spending, so the deficit continues to increase.

And sometimes unexpected things happen, like the Covid pandemic where the US spent almost $6 trillion in relief efforts, with nearly a year and a half of serious business slowdowns and shutdowns that put a dent in taxable income. And there are natural disasters like earthquakes, fires, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, as well as wars (e.g. Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine) that cost hundreds of billions.

Instead of railing against a raising the debt ceiling bill which I and many others agree is a silly remnant from another time, do you have any suggestions on how to actually begin to decrease the debt?
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#20915 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2023-May-20, 07:49

View Postjohnu, on 2023-May-20, 01:52, said:


Instead of railing against a raising the debt ceiling bill which I and many others agree is a silly remnant from another time, do you have any suggestions on how to actually begin to decrease the debt?


First there must be agreement on the necessity of doing so, since the cuts in spending will be tough. I am 84. I have a pension. I have Social Security. I have Medicare, with all its various parts. I am not willing to say "Well, let's just cut back on Ken's benefits, that will help". However, if there is true agreement that something needs to be done, I would expect that cutting back on some of my benefits would be part of a reasonable plan.

So: When there is broad agreement that yes we must do something about the debt, I will accept that this will include cutting back on my benefits. But it will have to include other cutbacks as well.

Whenever the budget is discussed, it is said that we cannot compare a federal budget with a household budget, they are different things. Ok, I accept that. But they are not totally different. Household or federal, at some point we have to say "Hey, this debt stuff is getting out of hand". And then it is time to make some choices. Not easy choices such as steak or lobster for dinner, but tough choices. If we were to cut out Medicare entirely then I want access to a suicide pill so I do not leave my wife in poverty from my medical bills. But if cutting back on some of my benefits is part of a large program to get debt under control, I can support that.

None of this will happen until there is agreement that the national debt is a problem that may well become a catastrophe. I am not an economist. Perhaps it is economically ok to just sit back and let the national debt just keep rising to whatever it rises to. I am skeptical, but I admit that my training in economics consists of a required sequence Econ 101-102 some 65 years ago.


Ken
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#20916 User is offline   awm 

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Posted 2023-May-20, 14:30

One thing the democrats did to reduce the deficit which I thought was quite clever and should be uncontroversial was increasing the budget of the IRS. This apparently more than pays for itself by catching tax cheats, bringing in more revenue without raising taxes on anyone.

Guess what funding Republicans want to cut as part of the debt limit deal! Somehow they want to protect tax cheats now! Maybe they are worried that the Trump audit will turn something up?
Adam W. Meyerson
a.k.a. Appeal Without Merit
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#20917 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2023-May-20, 15:38

View Postawm, on 2023-May-20, 14:30, said:

One thing the democrats did to reduce the deficit which I thought was quite clever and should be uncontroversial was increasing the budget of the IRS. This apparently more than pays for itself by catching tax cheats, bringing in more revenue without raising taxes on anyone.

Guess what funding Republicans want to cut as part of the debt limit deal! Somehow they want to protect tax cheats now! Maybe they are worried that the Trump audit will turn something up?


Yes, it more than pays for itself, and, IMO, even more importantly, it maintains the right spirit. We really do not want people thinking that only fools play it straight with their taxes.
Play it straight. That's how I was brought up. There is a lot to be said for it.

There are a lot of things that Rs should be embarrassed by. Gutting the IRS is high on the list. Of course Trump is at the top of the list. Wake up folks, wake up. You do not have to become woke to wake up.
Ken
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#20918 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2023-May-20, 16:36

View Postkenberg, on 2023-May-20, 15:38, said:

There are a lot of things that Rs should be embarrassed by. Gutting the IRS is high on the list. Of course Trump is at the top of the list. Wake up folks, wake up. You do not have to become woke to wake up.


Ironically you literally do have to be woke to wake up.
My understanding of the term is that a common usage pre all the current BS is that a non-white mother might use the term to warn her children about being careful when confronted by the police (in Australia this also applies to 90+ year old white women in nursing homes).

Just "be aware of what could happen if approached by a heavily armed anxious young white man".

Apparently, the same applies if you risk going out to vote on polling day which is why The Florida Mouse Hunter is prosecuting the war on "woke".
The term has become a catch-all when white supremacists want to keep others from having a share of the pie.

Now we get to see what plan B looks like when they fail to storm the Reichstag.
Non legit hoc
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#20919 User is offline   johnu 

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Posted 2023-May-20, 19:37

View Postawm, on 2023-May-20, 14:30, said:

One thing the democrats did to reduce the deficit which I thought was quite clever and should be uncontroversial was increasing the budget of the IRS. This apparently more than pays for itself by catching tax cheats, bringing in more revenue without raising taxes on anyone.

Guess what funding Republicans want to cut as part of the debt limit deal! Somehow they want to protect tax cheats now! Maybe they are worried that the Trump audit will turn something up?


The QOP says
Spoiler
that the extra IRS budget will pay for an well armed (like NRA well armed) army of 2 million IRS agents driving tanks and armored personnel carriers who will drive through the doors of ordinary citizens' homes, seize every paper, smartphone, and computer in the house, and handcuff and haul off everybody who's in the way, all without any cause and without a search warrant, or at least without a search warrant issued by a valid DOJ (ie appointed and controlled by the QOP). So this has nothing to do with wanting to protect tax cheats.
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#20920 User is offline   Gilithin 

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Posted 2023-May-20, 21:58

View Postjohnu, on 2023-May-20, 01:52, said:

Instead of railing against a raising the debt ceiling bill which I and many others agree is a silly remnant from another time, do you have any suggestions on how to actually begin to decrease the debt?

Simplify the tax system, specifically removing the vast number of exceptions and exemptions available to businesses and wealthy citizens. Reduce the nominal corporate tax rate a little to compensate. Adjust tax law so that businesses that do the majority of their trading in the US but use cheap offshore tax havens to register their shell companies that book all of the profits also have to pay US corporate tax. Basically every company doing significant business in the USA should be paying taxes. This on its own would make more difference than just about every serious proposal currently being discussed. I seem to recall the numbers on switching from a sales tax to VAT are also highly favourable but baby steps... It will take some time to get the tax system efficient even with political will. Most likely the country will collapse before it actually happens in reality.
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