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Old 01-28-2013, 11:33 AM  
Direckshun Direckshun is offline
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Fiscal times: Government spending is *not* out of control.

This is a must-read for all my conservative friends here on this board, who are due for a challenge to long-held assumptions of our ability to stabilize our government spending. The truth is, it's already pretty freaking stable.

Federal spending did, in fact, balloon in 2009. But it was primarily due to a huge employment purge that took millions off taxable payrolls and put them on existing government programs to assist them in times of need. This is what's called an "automatic stabilizer," and it resolves itself as unemployment improves. Count in the fiscal measures needed to stabilize the economy like the Recovery Act, and we have two one-off issues that caused an imbalance in the wake of the Great Recession. Those are starting to right the ship.

Government spending actually came in below projections in 2009, but the cratering in tax revenue caused by the recession is what drove the deficit.

The point: this is a temporary aberration created by a once-in-a-century collapse of the global financial system, and as the financial system stabilizes (check) and unemployment creeps down (happening), the deficit will slowly degenerate on its own. (The $2.4 trillion in austerity measures we've passed will accelerate that process.)

According to the chart you'll see below, government spending on all these major programs has actually stabilized -- yes, including Medicare. Where things are expected to get messy is on interest payments -- but so long as American bonds are the gold standard for safe investments, we literally pay very little on interest. Read: it's a problem worth addressing, but not that severe of one.

So it's not that worthy of an interest to be obsessed with the near term deficit -- what's important is the debt-to-GDP ratio, which tells us the long-term sustainability of our current budgeting. This is all prior to the fiscal cliff deal, however, so we're on a healthy path forward, fiscally.

Which futher feeds my opinion that our focus right now needs to be on unemployment, not deficit reduction.

http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Column...rol.aspx#page1

Why Government Spending Is Not Out of Control
By BRUCE BARTLETT, The Fiscal Times
January 25, 2013

It is a standard talking point of Republicans and deficit hawks of all political stripes that federal spending is out of control; that major surgery is needed, especially on entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare, to get the budget on a sustainable course.

In fact, our long-term deficit situation is not nearly as severe as even many budget experts believe. The problem is that they are looking at recent history and near-term projections that are overly impacted by one-time factors related to the economic crisis and massive Republican tax cuts that lowered revenues far below normal.

Taking a longer-term view, such as that in a recent Treasury Department report, shows that our longer-term fiscal problem is in fact quite manageable.

As the chart below illustrates, federal spending ballooned in fiscal year 2009 mainly because of what economists call “automatic stabilizers” – programs already in law such as unemployment compensation that rises whenever a recession occurs. Spending rose from 20.7 percent of the gross domestic product in fiscal year 2008 to 25 percent in 2009.



Republicans would have us believe that all of this resulted from Barack Obama’s policies, but this is simply a partisan lie. Fiscal year 2009 actually began on September 1, 2008, and was based on the budget that George W. Bush submitted in January 2008.

Moreover, if we look at projections from the Congressional Budget Office on January 7, 2009 – while Bush was still in office and which do not incorporate any Obama policies – we see that the deficit was projected to rise from $455 billion in 2008 to $1.2 trillion in 2009 under existing law.

The actual deficit for fiscal year 2009 was $1.55 trillion. But the difference was due entirely to lower revenues than expected, not higher spending. Outlays in fiscal year 2009 actually came in below CBO’s projection – $3,518 billion actual vs. a projection of $3,543 billion.

The point is not to assess blame for the deficit; only to emphasize the temporary nature of the historically large deficits of the last few years and show that they did not result from an explosion of new spending initiated by Obama. This is important because Republicans continually make that claim, thus justifying their belief that spending must be massively slashed, especially for entitlements.

Getting back to the chart, we see that spending for every single government program going forward is remarkably stable as a percentage of GDP. Those who complain loudest about spending and deficits nearly always base their concerns on projections of nominal spending that are unadjusted for inflation, growth of the population or growth of the economy. This is intellectually dishonest.

In fact, virtually all the growth in projected spending comes not from entitlements or giveaways to the poor and lazy, as Republicans would have us believe, but rather from interest on the debt. This is a problem, but not nearly to the extent that it appears.

The reason is that interest on the debt is what economists call a pure transfer. Economically, it is little different from taking money out of your right pocket and putting it into your left pocket. That is because the vast bulk of interest goes to people and institutions who simply use it to buy more Treasury securities.

Back in the days when the federal debt was owned almost entirely by Americans, one could reasonably say that we owed it to ourselves and it was a matter of no economic concern. As Franklin D. Roosevelt put it Our national debt after all is an internal debt owed not only by the Nation but to the Nation. If our children have to pay interest on it they will pay that interest to themselves. A reasonable internal debt will not impoverish our children or put the Nation into bankruptcy.

Of course, we no longer owe the debt all to ourselves; about half of the publicly-held national debt is owned by foreigners, but most of that is held by central banks that will hold it pretty much forever. Nevertheless, there is still a fundamental economic difference between a debt arising from higher government spending on goods and services and one arising from higher interest expense.

When government buys stuff or employs workers, they are not available for use by the private sector. If the economy were growing and the unemployment rate was low, this would be a bad thing. Under current circumstances, however, when GDP is far below its potential and unemployment is high, government spending on goods and services is not displacing private use, but rather putting otherwise idle resources to good use.

My point is that economists have long differentiated between non-interest spending and that for interest, which, as I said, is a pure transfer that has essentially benign economic effects. For this reason, they are mainly concerned about what is called the “primary deficit,” which is non-interest spending as compared to revenues. As the chart shows, the primary deficit going forward is actually quite small – just 1.7 percent of GDP in the long run.

Moreover, this estimate is high because it was calculated before the effects of the fiscal cliff deal, which substantially raised revenues and reduced projected deficits relative to the assumptions used in the Treasury report. Consequently, the long-term budget situation is better than shown in the chart. It’s difficult to estimate that effect at this time – we will get additional data within the next two weeks in the president’s budget and CBO’s annual projections.

In conclusion, it is silly to obsess about near-term nominal budget deficits. What matters is the deficit as a share of GDP minus interest spending, which economists call the primary deficit. On that basis, we are much closer to fiscal sustainability than even most economists realize. Relatively small adjustments to the growth path of federal revenues and Medicare would be sufficient to eliminate the primary deficit. Taking a meat ax to every federal program, as Republicans demand, is neither necessary nor desirable.

It is a standard talking point of Republicans and deficit hawks of all political stripes that federal spending is out of control; that major surgery is needed, especially on entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare, to get the budget on a sustainable course.

In fact, our long-term deficit situation is not nearly as severe as even many budget experts believe. The problem is that they are looking at recent history and near-term projections that are overly impacted by one-time factors related to the economic crisis and massive Republican tax cuts that lowered revenues far below normal.

Taking a longer-term view, such as that in a recent Treasury Department report, shows that our longer-term fiscal problem is in fact quite manageable.
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Old 01-29-2013, 06:55 AM   #31
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Bruce Bartlett isn't a lefty. Chalk another one in the "wrong again" column CoMo.
He's not a true conservative either. So kindly go **** yourself.

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Old 01-29-2013, 07:37 AM   #32
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http://www.project-syndicate.org/com...t-and-delusion

Debt and Delusion
Robert J. Shiller
Jul. 21, 2011

NEW HAVEN – Economists like to talk about thresholds that, if crossed, spell trouble. Usually there is an element of truth in what they say. But the public often overreacts to such talk.

Consider, for example, the debt-to-GDP ratio, much in the news nowadays in Europe and the United States. It is sometimes said, almost in the same breath, that Greece’s debt equals 153% of its annual GDP, and that Greece is insolvent. Couple these statements with recent television footage of Greeks rioting in the street. Now, what does that look like?

Here in the US, it might seem like an image of our future, as public debt comes perilously close to 100% of annual GDP and continues to rise. But maybe this image is just a bit too vivid in our imaginations. Could it be that people think that a country becomes insolvent when its debt exceeds 100% of GDP?

That would clearly be nonsense. After all, debt (which is measured in currency units) and GDP (which is measured in currency units per unit of time) yields a ratio in units of pure time. There is nothing special about using a year as that unit. A year is the time that it takes for the earth to orbit the sun, which, except for seasonal industries like agriculture, has no particular economic significance.

We should remember this from high school science: always pay attention to units of measurement. Get the units wrong and you are totally befuddled.

If economists did not habitually annualize quarterly GDP data and multiply quarterly GDP by four, Greece’s debt-to-GDP ratio would be four times higher than it is now. And if they habitually decadalized GDP, multiplying the quarterly GDP numbers by 40 instead of four, Greece’s debt burden would be 15%. From the standpoint of Greece’s ability to pay, such units would be more relevant, since it doesn’t have to pay off its debts fully in one year (unless the crisis makes it impossible to refinance current debt).

Some of Greece’s national debt is owed to Greeks, by the way. As such, the debt burden woefully understates the obligations that Greeks have to each other (largely in the form of family obligations). At any time in history, the debt-to-annual-GDP ratio (including informal debts) would vastly exceed 100%.

Most people never think about this when they react to the headline debt-to-GDP figure. Can they really be so stupid as to get mixed up by these ratios? Speaking from personal experience, I have to say that they can, because even I, a professional economist, have occasionally had to stop myself from making exactly the same error.

Economists who adhere to rational-expectations models of the world will never admit it, but a lot of what happens in markets is driven by pure stupidity – or, rather, inattention, misinformation about fundamentals, and an exaggerated focus on currently circulating stories.

What is really happening in Greece is the operation of a social-feedback mechanism. Something started to cause investors to fear that Greek debt had a slightly higher risk of eventual default. Lower demand for Greek debt caused its price to fall, meaning that its yield in terms of market interest rates rose. The higher rates made it more costly for Greece to refinance its debt, creating a fiscal crisis that has forced the government to impose severe austerity measures, leading to public unrest and an economic collapse that has fueled even greater investor skepticism about Greece’s ability to service its debt.

This feedback has nothing to do with the debt-to-annual-GDP ratio crossing some threshold, unless the people who contribute to the feedback believe in the ratio. To be sure, the ratio is a factor that would help us to assess risks of negative feedback, since the government must refinance short-term debt sooner, and, if the crisis pushes up interest rates, the authorities will face intense pressures for fiscal austerity sooner or later. But the ratio is not the cause of the feedback.

A paper written last year by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, called “Growth in a Time of Debt,” has been widely quoted for its analysis of 44 countries over 200 years, which found that when government debt exceeds 90% of GDP, countries suffer slower growth, losing about one percentage point on the annual rate.

One might be misled into thinking that, because 90% sounds awfully close to 100%, awful things start happening to countries that get into such a mess. But if one reads their paper carefully, it is clear that Reinhart and Rogoff picked the 90% figure almost arbitrarily. They chose, without explanation, to divide debt-to-GDP ratios into the following categories: under 30%, 30-60%, 60-90%, and over 90%. And it turns out that growth rates decline in all of these categories as the debt-to-GDP ratio increases, only somewhat more in the last category.

There is also the issue of reverse causality. Debt-to-GDP ratios tend to increase for countries that are in economic trouble. If this is part of the reason that higher debt-to-GDP ratios correspond to lower economic growth, there is less reason to think that countries should avoid a higher ratio, as Keynesian theory implies that fiscal austerity would undermine, rather than boost, economic performance.

The fundamental problem that much of the world faces today is that investors are overreacting to debt-to-GDP ratios, fearful of some magic threshold, and demanding fiscal-austerity programs too soon. They are asking governments to cut expenditure while their economies are still vulnerable. Households are running scared, so they cut expenditures as well, and businesses are being dissuaded from borrowing to finance capital expenditures.

The lesson is simple: We should worry less about debt ratios and thresholds, and more about our inability to see these indicators for the artificial – and often irrelevant – constructs that they are.
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Old 01-29-2013, 05:00 PM   #33
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Out of morbid curiousity, how much stronger do you personally believe this economy can become?
Not enough to cover interest payments on the debt and entitlement payouts once we have to borrow at higher interest rates a stronger economy brings.

Like we've discussed before, the tax increase just signed into law on rich folk doesn't even cover interest payments. Hole gets deeper.

Bush tax cuts for the majority are permanent. Hole gets deeper.

Do you agree without budget surpluses the hole gets deeper? When do you project we'll run into $500-$600B surpluses unless spending is cut?
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Old 01-29-2013, 06:08 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by mlyonsd View Post
Not enough to cover interest payments on the debt and entitlement payouts once we have to borrow at higher interest rates a stronger economy brings.

Like we've discussed before, the tax increase just signed into law on rich folk doesn't even cover interest payments. Hole gets deeper.

Bush tax cuts for the majority are permanent. Hole gets deeper.

Do you agree without budget surpluses the hole gets deeper? When do you project we'll run into $500-$600B surpluses unless spending is cut?
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Old 01-29-2013, 06:08 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by mlyonsd View Post
Not enough to cover interest payments on the debt and entitlement payouts once we have to borrow at higher interest rates a stronger economy brings.

Like we've discussed before, the tax increase just signed into law on rich folk doesn't even cover interest payments. Hole gets deeper.

Bush tax cuts for the majority are permanent. Hole gets deeper.

Do you agree without budget surpluses the hole gets deeper? When do you project we'll run into $500-$600B surpluses unless spending is cut?


Next, we shall read an article from "republican" Charlie Crist arguing that Obama was the correct choice in 2012.
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Old 05-17-2013, 10:00 AM   #36
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Obama was able to sink the USA nearly $17 trillion into debt, making eventual economic collapse almost inevitable, in part through his massive Porkulus bill, which would supposedly solve our economic problems through deficit spending. Outrages included in this looting spree are still coming to light:

The $833 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), commonly known as the stimulus, awarded the tustees of Clark University, in Worcester, Mass., $152,000 to interview roughly 50 lesbian couples about their adoption experiences.

Despite the all lies about “jobs saved and created,” the effect on Obama’s unemployment rate was as predictable as it was typical.

The project, entitled, “Transition to Adoptive Parenthood,” was funded by the Department of Health and Human Services, and it created “0.00” jobs, according to the “jobs created” category.

If the money had been flushed down a toilet, it might at least have provided temporary employment for a plumber by clogging the drain. But the important thing is that our rulers mean well, as they prove to the politically correct by validating the adoption of innocent children into perverse situations.

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Old 05-18-2013, 07:16 AM   #37
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The Mystery of the Incredible Shrinking Budget Deficit

Read more: http://business.time.com/2013/05/15/...#ixzz2TeLJa3rX


The Obama Administration is having pretty much the worst week ever, but somewhere amidst the fog of scandal lies some pretty good news about the budget deficit, namely that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is predicting it will be much smaller in 2013 than was projected just a few months ago.

That’s right, the federal budget deficit, which topped $1.4 trillion in 2009, or 10.1% of GDP, and dominated the political discourse over the past several years, is shrinking rapidly. The CBO is now saying that the deficit will be less than half that amount in 2013: $642 billion, or 4% of GDP. That’s $200 billion less than the CBO predicted just a few months ago. What gives?

Basically, the change can be explained by a combination of a recovering housing market — which has improved the finances of government-owned Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — combined with a better-than-expected economy overall, which is boosting corporate and personal income tax revenues. This economic improvement is happening despite higher taxes and budget cuts enacted as part of the fiscal cliff deal reached in December, and the sequestration-related budget cuts that went into effect recently.


This change is yet another vindication of economists and commentators who argued that large budget deficits are the natural outgrowth of effective economic policy in the wake of a severe recession. Economic recession reduces employment and corporate profits, lowering tax revenues. At the same time, safety net programs like unemployment insurance and food stamps must spend more to accommodate the larger number of people who need them.

Congress and President Obama did take measures to permanently increase taxes and government spending through the healthcare overhaul, but it’s clear now that the historically large budget deficits we saw immediately following the financial crisis were mostly a result of the recession rather than new government programs.

In addition, the CBO notes that the growth in healthcare spending has slowed in recent years. For instance, spending on Medicare and Medicaid in 2012 was 5% below what the CBO predicted it would be in 2010. In a response to this slowdown, the CBO has reduced its estimates for the growth of such spending, projecting that those programs will cost $225 billion less than previously thought over the next ten years.

(MORE: Austerity Strikes Back: Budget Hawks Regroup After the Reinhart/Rogoff Affair)

That being said, none of these improvements change the hard reality that after 2023, spending on so-called entitlement programs will continue to rise faster than the payroll taxes which support them. Federal debt — that is, the accumulation of the government’s annual deficits, which must be financed with borrowing — relative to the size of the economy is expected to stabilize over the course of the next decade, but then begin to rise steadily thereafter.

Ideally, this temporary reprieve of the declining deficit should create enough breathing room for Congress to have a mature conversation about how to address the longer-term problem. A decade from now, taxes will have to rise above their historical norm, or benefits to future retirees will have to be cut. Likely, some combination of the two will have to be enacted. Crafting a solution will of course be politically difficult, but the CBO report shows that it need not be done under duress.



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A paper written last year by Carmen Reinhart and Growth in a Time ” has been widely quoted for its analysis of 44 countries over 200 years, which found that when government debt exceeds 90% of GDP, countries suffer slower growth, losing about one percentage point on the annual rate.

This study, the austerity Study Paul Ryan based his Budget on, had multiple errors in it:
"Using the same spreadsheet that Reinhart and Rogoff used for their research, Herndon, Ash and Pollin found that "Growth In A Time Of Debt" was built around a handful of significant errors. Correcting for those errors changes the findings dramatically: Average GDP growth for high-debt countries jumps from negative 0.1 percent to 2.2 percent"

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/0...n_3094015.html

Last edited by Loneiguana; 05-18-2013 at 07:20 AM.. Reason: added more info
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Old 05-18-2013, 10:01 AM   #38
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Old 05-18-2013, 10:51 AM   #39
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Left wing shills applauding a deficit of $642 bil as progress simply because it's less than the catastrophic, ill-considered deficits this administration brought to us in it's first few years. Good grief.
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Old 05-18-2013, 11:35 AM   #40
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That, coupled with exploding entitlement payouts will mean spending will have to be cut. There isn't any other way around it unless you can find a way to bring us back to 50's type growth, which isn't happening.
Entitlement reform must happen. It's killing us financially. It's a ticking time bomb. But, its not going to happen without the Republicans reforming the tax loopholes and breaks for huge corporations and the top 1%. It's the only way. Both sides need to lose something that hurts them politically for the good of the country.
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Old 05-18-2013, 11:37 AM   #41
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Left wing shills applauding a deficit of $642 bil as progress simply because it's less than the catastrophic, ill-considered deficits this administration brought to us in it's first few years. Good grief.
Come on man. This is good news no matter what side of the aisle your on. The Republicans can take as much credit for this as Obama.

http://money.cnn.com/2013/04/22/news...its/index.html



Deficits are falling.A lot.

Remember 2009, the depths of the economic crisis? That year, the country spent way more than it brought in andran an eye-popping shortfall that topped 10% of the size of the economy.




This year the deficit is expected to be half that -- around 5.3% of GDP, the Congressional Budget Office estimates.


And by 2015, it's projected to drop to 2.4%.


What's more, the national debt that has accumulated from annual deficitsis also projected to fall to an estimated 73.1% of GDP in 2018 from an estimated 76.3% today.
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I believe Hitler hated Jews and had a lot of them killed. I dont believe it was anywhere close to 6 million though. I'm not an anti-semite; I just think that number has been severely inflated and there is a lot of evidence that supports this belief.
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Old 05-18-2013, 12:34 PM   #42
patteeu patteeu is offline
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Entitlement reform must happen. It's killing us financially. It's a ticking time bomb. But, its not going to happen without the Republicans reforming the tax loopholes and breaks for huge corporations and the top 1%. It's the only way. Both sides need to lose something that hurts them politically for the good of the country.
What top 1% loopholes are you talking about?
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Old 05-18-2013, 12:39 PM   #43
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Come on man. This is good news no matter what side of the aisle your on. The Republicans can take as much credit for this as Obama.


Yes, as a matter of fact, they have.
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Old 05-18-2013, 12:40 PM   #44
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Wrong.
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Chocolate Hog 's phone was tapped by Scott Pioli.Chocolate Hog 's phone was tapped by Scott Pioli.Chocolate Hog 's phone was tapped by Scott Pioli.Chocolate Hog 's phone was tapped by Scott Pioli.Chocolate Hog 's phone was tapped by Scott Pioli.Chocolate Hog 's phone was tapped by Scott Pioli.Chocolate Hog 's phone was tapped by Scott Pioli.Chocolate Hog 's phone was tapped by Scott Pioli.Chocolate Hog 's phone was tapped by Scott Pioli.Chocolate Hog 's phone was tapped by Scott Pioli.Chocolate Hog 's phone was tapped by Scott Pioli.
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Old 05-18-2013, 12:51 PM   #45
CoMoChief CoMoChief is offline
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stopped at the thread title.

surely no one can be THAT stupid to really believe that crap.
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