After 2 continuing resolutions a lot of no real action to head of massive bankruptcy I’m with talk show host and columnist Mark Steyn.
On Thursday’s “The Hugh Hewitt Show,” Steyn likened Boehner to failed 1996 presidential candidate and former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and said they still don’t understand why what happened in November 2010 happened.
“No, I don’t. I don’t, to be honest,” Steyn replied. “I think John Boehner has been an incredible disappointment. I think John Boehner has basically climbed into the Bob Dole suit, and I think they misunderstand the lessons of the 2010 election, which is that the tea party chose to work within the diseased husk of the Republican Party it loathes. And it still hasn’t forgiven for 2006 and 2008. So for the Republicans to demonstrate that ‘hey, we’re back to 2006 again,’ except on Obama-level spending, is not a good idea.”
Steyn explained the recent small cuts the Republican majority in the House had been able to achieve through continuing resolutions were inadequate.
“We need Republicans to at least take the lead in broadening public discourse,” he continued. “This country is broke. It’s the brokest country in the history of the planet. And the idea of arguing over itsy-bitsy, half a billion here and half a billion there, and continuing resolutions staggering forward every ten days, is preposterous. It’s inadequate to the task. It’s inadequate for the challenge facing America”
Based on the reluctance of the GOP to take charge, Steyn wasn’t optimistic about the country’s ability to change course fiscally.
“Yes, and in fact, I think it’s teaching a lesson that’s actually more dangerous than that, which is that the political institutions of the United States are simply impervious to course correction,” Steyn said. “And there are no good conclusions to be drawn from that, because basically what we’re being offered it one party that wants to floor it and put its foot on the pedal as we go over the cliff, and another party that says, ‘Oh, no, no, no, it’s OK – vote for us. We’re only going to go over the cliff in third gear.’ That’s not enough of a choice for a functioning two-party system.”
It seems more likely that what we have is a two-tiered system.
There’s Washington and there’s everyone else. You are either for one or the other.
The two don’t seem to mix.
And the one has the power to destroy the other by it’s actions.
Despite the looming possibility of a government shutdown, federal layoffs and furloughs, there’s at least one thing members of Congress from both political parties can readily agree on these days: partying.
Morning, noon and night, more than 150 fundraising parties are scheduled all over Washington this week for Democratic and Republican politicians…(WT)
That is not balanced either.
And Washington can’t even be honest about the debt.
The CBO, the liberal gold standard for partisan figures:
A new assessment of President Barack Obama’s budget released Friday says the White House underestimates future budget deficits by more than $2 trillion over the upcoming decade.
The estimate from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says that if Obama’s February budget submission is enacted into law it would produce deficits totaling $9.5 trillion over 10 years — an average of almost $1 trillion a year.
Obama’s budget saw deficits totaling $7.2 trillion over the same period.
But don’t worry, we aren’t “broke”, everything is getting better. Hey, look we can even start another war!
The difference is chiefly because CBO has a less optimistic estimate of how much the government will collect in tax revenues, partly because the administration has rosier economic projections.
Like I said.
But Liberals hate it when you use the CBO (used to justify ObamaCare) against them.
Then there’s Social Security.…
Democrats never miss an opportunity to pander to older voters by demagoguing on Social Security — and Brooklyn Rep. Anthony Weiner seems only too glad to lead the way.
Weiner, who dreams of becoming mayor, has introduced a bill to require a two-thirds majority in Congress to enact any changes in Social Security — a near-impossible hurdle.
His goal: to “defend” an entitlement system he insists is “fiscally responsible” and fundamentally sound.
“We shouldn’t assume the program is on the brink of collapse just because Republicans say it is,” Weiner wrote last year — even as Social Security reached the so-called “tipping point,” when it paid out more in benefits than it received in tax revenue.
President Obama’s bipartisan deficit-reduction commission seems to differ, having recommended cuts in Social Security benefits and a hike in the retirement age.
Weiner and other like-minded Democrats cite the claim by Obama’s budget chief, Jack Lew, that the Social Security trust fund is solvent through 2037.
But, as Fox News analyst Charles Krauthammer notes, the same Jack Lew — in his days as Bill Clinton’s budget director — conceded that the trust-fund balances are merely a “bookkeeping” device. (See Below)
Weiner & Co. don’t want to accept what’s apparent to anyone who has actually studied the issue: Social Security needs changes to remain solvent.
You’d think someone aspiring to a position of responsibility, as Weiner likely is, would act a bit more, well . . . responsibly.
In his case, we guess not. (NY Post)
This is the same guy who has a mad on for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and wants him recused from the eventual case on ObamaCare (so that the liberals can win) or removed from the bench entirely (which is unconstitutional-but what do liberals care about that? Nothing!! if it advances their political power).
It’s all Politics. It’s all Washington.
It’s all very disappointing.
But don’t worry, the American people are smarter than this.
I beg to differ.
When NEWSWEEK recently asked 1,000 U.S. citizens to take America’s official citizenship test, 29 percent couldn’t name the vice president. Seventy-three percent couldn’t correctly say why we fought the Cold War. Forty-four percent were unable to define the Bill of Rights. And 6 percent couldn’t even circle Independence Day on a calendar.
The current conflict over government spending illustrates the new dangers of ignorance. Every economist knows how to deal with the debt: cost-saving reforms to big-ticket entitlement programs; cuts to our bloated defense budget; and (if growth remains slow) tax reforms designed to refill our depleted revenue coffers. But poll after poll shows that voters have no clue what the budget actually looks like. A 2010 World Public Opinion survey found that Americans want to tackle deficits by cutting foreign aid from what they believe is the current level (27 percent of the budget) to a more prudent 13 percent. The real number is under 1 percent. A Jan. 25 CNN poll, meanwhile, discovered that even though 71 percent of voters want smaller government, vast majorities oppose cuts to Medicare (81 percent), Social Security (78 percent), and Medicaid (70 percent). Instead, they prefer to slash waste—a category that, in their fantasy world, seems to include 50 percent of spending, according to a 2009 Gallup poll.
But I bet they can name all the winners of American Idol, Survivor, and The Housewives of (whatever) or Jersey Shore!
So with that backdrop….
Charles Krauthammer: The week before last, President Obama’s budget chief, Jack Lew, took to his White House blog to repeat his claim that the Social Security trust fund is solvent through 2037. And to chide me for suggesting otherwise. I had argued in my last column that the trust fund is empty, indeed fictional.
If Lew’s claim were just wrong, that would be one thing. But it provides the intellectual justification for precisely the kind of debt denial and entitlement complacency that his boss is now engaged in. Therefore, once more unto the breach.
Lew acknowledges that the Social Security surpluses of the last decades were siphoned off to the Treasury Department and spent. He also agrees that Treasury then deposited corresponding IOUs — called “special issue” bonds — in the Social Security trust fund.
These have real value, claims Lew. After all, “these Treasury bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government in the same way that all other U.S. Treasury bonds are.” Really? If these trust fund bonds represent anything real, why is it that in calculating national indebtedness they are not even included?
We measure national solvency by debt/GDP ratio. As calculated by everyone from the OMB to the CIA, from the Simpson-Bowles to the Domenici-Rivlin commissions, the debt/GDP ratio counts only publicly held debt. This means bonds held by China, Saudi Arabia, you and me. The debt ratio completely ignores the kind of intragovernmental bonds that Lew insists are the equivalent of publicly held bonds.
Why? Because the intragovernmental bond is nothing more than a bookkeeping device that records how much one part of the U.S. government (Treasury) owes another part of the same government (the Social Security Administration). In judging the creditworthiness of the United States, the world doesn’t care what the left hand owes the right. It’s all one entity. It cares only what that one entity owes the world.
That’s why publicly held bonds are so radically different from intragovernmental bonds. If we default on Chinese-held debt, decades of AAA creditworthiness is destroyed, the world stops lending to us, the dollar collapses, the economy goes into a spiral and we become Argentina. That’s why such a default is inconceivable.
On the other hand, what would happen to financial markets if the Treasury stopped honoring the “special issue” bonds in the Social Security trust fund? A lot of angry grumbling at home for sure. But externally? Nothing.
This “default” would simply be the Treasury telling the Social Security Administration that henceforth it would have to fend for itself in covering its annual shortfall. How? By means-testing (cutting the benefits to the rich), changing the inflation formula, raising the retirement age and, if necessary, hiking the cap on income subject to the payroll tax.
You can plug in whatever combination of numbers you prefer for the definition of “rich,” for the slope of the sliding scale of benefit-reduction, for the rate of the retirement-age increase or for any other variable.
Whatever the formula, we will ironically have been forced to adopt the very reforms needed to keep Social Security in balance for years to come — the kind President Obama’s own deficit commission recommended. Arguably, that would add to U.S. creditworthiness by finally demonstrating to the world our seriousness about bringing our unsustainable pension liabilities under control.
Invoking the “full faith and credit” mantra for those IOUs in the trust fund is empty bluster. It does not change the fact that, as the OMB itself acknowledged, those IOUs “do not consist of real economic assets that can be drawn down in the future to fund benefits.”
Yet Lew continues to insist that these “special issue” trinkets will pay off seniors for the next 26 years. Nonsense. That money is gone with the wind. Those trust fund trinkets are nothing more than a record of past borrowings. They say nothing about the future.
Consider: If Treasury had borrowed twice as much from Social Security in the past — producing twice as many IOUs sitting in the lockbox — would this mean the trust fund is today twice as strong? Solvent for 50-some years instead of just 26? Of course not.
The trust fund “balances” are mere historical record-keeping. As the OMB itself admitted, future payouts will have to be met by future taxes and future borrowings — or by Social Security reform that, by reducing benefits, makes such taxing and borrowing unnecessary.
There is no third alternative. There is no free lunch. And there is nothing in the lockbox.
And 10,000 people a day for the next generation are coming to see what’s in the box of goodies for them…