Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Deficit Hawks 2, The Peacocks

"Deficit peacocks like to preen and call attention to themselves, but are not sincerely interested in taking the difficult but necessary steps toward a balanced budget." -Michael Linden, Associate Director for Tax and Budget Policy at American Progress

In looking for a good definition for the term "Deficit Peacock," the first thing that pops up on my Google machine is the January 20, 2010 essay by Michael Linden ( ) who probably coined the praise to begin with.
In it Michael points out four trends pundits and politicians follow when proclaiming to be all concerned about our growing national deficit ("The United States public debt is presented by the United States Treasury as two calculations: "Debt Held by the Public", defined as U.S. Treasury securities held by institutions outside the United States Government (i.e., China), and the "Gross Debt," which includes intra-government obligations (e.g., the Social Security Trust fund). As of July 28, 2010, the 'Total Public Debt Outstanding' was approximately 93% of annual GDP ($13.258 trillion)." -Wikipedia. GDP meaning a measure of a country's overall official economic output. To analogize, dear readers, your total income for your household for one year would be your personal GDP. And to put yourself in the position the federal government has gotten itself into (through many factors, the 2007/2008 recession being the main one, two ongoing military conflicts, and the Bush Tax Cuts adding significantly), you and your family's total debt burden would be 93% of your personal GDP, which a lot of families may actually face with decreasing housing values, low to zero savings, and high interest credit card debt. But considering the state of affairs the federal government is in, and the Bush administration and Congress that got us there, don't let Republicans calling out about irresponsible people living beyond their means get to you. They've done the very same thing, and for the very same reason).

1. "They never mention revenues"

That would mean taxes. Mr. Linden rightly points out that budget deficits occur when income declines and spending increases. To continue our personal analogy, my personal deficit would increase if I spent more than I made on a weekly, monthly, or annual basis, which is... as my lovely case manager Erin would say, duh! Not too hard to figure out. You put out more than you take in and you'll wind up with a negative total worth.
The Republicans, and a few Peacock Democrats like Senators Evan Bayh, Ben Nelson, Kent Conrad, and Blanche Lincoln, will never mention raising revenues because that would mean talking about raising taxes ("Individual income taxes and payroll taxes now account for four out of every five federal revenue dollars. Corporate income taxes contribute another 12 percent. Excise taxes, estate and gift taxes, customs duties, and miscellaneous receipts (earnings of the Federal Reserve System and various fees and charges) make up the balance" -Tax Policy Center).
Raising taxes! That's not what the Republicans are about! Every single proposal the Republicans bring up to dealing with the national economy (the latest ridiculously labeled the "Economic Freedom Act of 2010," yeah, freedom for the top 5% of earners in this country, and multinational corporations) involves cutting taxes for the wealthy and cutting spending on social programs for the lower and middle classes. Every single one! And these sociopaths propose these tactics with a straight face knowing they will do noting but increase the deficit and the mess we already find ourselves in, and which got us into this situation when the Republicans were last in power under Bush. Cutting taxes for the wealthiest of us does nothing to foster job growth (as proven for the last ten years while the Bush Tax Cuts have been in place), does nothing for small businesses, which they always claim (only 2% of small businesses would be affected by the expiration of the Bush Tax Cuts for the wealthy, and those 2% would be affected simply because they are already wealthy!), and absolutely does nothing to decrease the national deficit.

2. "They offer easy answers."

As Linden points out, "Beware anyone offering easy answers" (emphasis mine), and I would add, about anything! Like most problems in life they tend to be complicated, needing a complicated, nuanced response, and a disciplined response to be dealt with in a responsible, pragmatic fashion in order to actually solve the problem. To really deal with the situation rather than to pretend to deal with it as the Republicans do with their silly proposals that actually do nothing to fix the problem, but make it worse by following their own selfish agenda, which is to continue to rape the economy at our expense, the lower and middle classes.
Al Gore and John Kerry lost their bids for the presidency because they provided real answers to the difficult problems this country faced, and still faces. Complicated answers that did not fit nicely into fifteen second sound-bites that Bush and the Republicans are so fond of, and that their own constituencies are only able to understand. The more complicated the answer to an issue the Democratic candidate presented, the easier it was for Bush to make fun of it and turn it into a joke (remember "fuzzy math?" I don't even know what that means! What the hell is "fuzzy math?! Apparently Bush and the hordes of self-deluded voters and media that put him into office... two times (I won't go into how the Supreme Court gave him one presidency, and he stole the other, I just won't go into it), do not accept the study of quantity, structure, space, and change that the real world uses to solve real problems. It would appear a steady diet of Fox News tends to lower the average intelligence quotient of their viewers, as exampled by these latest polls that indicate a freaking fifth of the population of the United States believes Barack Obama is a practicing Muslim! As I heard John Fugelsang point out last Friday on the Stephanie Miller Newscast, this nation faces a greater threat, not from foreign terrorists, but from domestic morons.
As Michael Linden writes, "There are no easy answers to our budgetary challenges. We have an aging population, rising health care costs, and a tax code full of loopholes, exceptions, and targeted subsidies. It is going to take more than simple solutions to meet these challenges. If you hear the words, “all we have to do to balance the budget is…” then you know whoever spoke them hasn’t fully grasped the scope of the problem."

To be continued.

No comments:

Post a Comment