Friday, July 22, 2011

Angry Democrats

This link is just as angering to me as any Tea Party article:

You can bang your head against a wall until you knock yourself out but the wall doesn't care (this is true of any time, when any side on any position wants to try to force their position on others who have the power to resist).  It all comes down to the immeasurable wisdom of Captain Jack Sparrow: "There are two things in life: what a man can do and what a man can't do."

There you have it.  The Tea Party Republicans cannot pass a balanced budget amendment.  They will not pass the Ryan plan.  The Democrats do not have the House and can say "should, should, should" till they lose their voices.  It is what it is.  It doesn't matter whether you're right or wrong.  It's what you can actually do and what you can't do.  This is why I like Obama--he gets what he can and then compromises on what he can't.  This is the sign of a wise leader--not the imbecilic Mr. Smith goes to Washington--a case study in stalemate, failure, and leadership stupidity.

When it gets to this point, "principled" people are some of the stupidest people in the world.  Next step, they start blowing themselves up in marketplaces.


Martin LaBar said...

Paying our legitimate obligations is a moral duty. We need to raise the debt ceiling, for that reason, if no other.

Seth Conley said...

Respectfully, I have to ask: How is raising the DEBT ceiling "Paying our legitimate obligations?" If I owe someone money, paying them by borrowing from another source isn't 'paying' my debt - it is shifting my debt around. Living within your means and spending the money God has blessed you with (and not excessively more) is our moral duty - not raising the debt ceiling so we can continue to spend for things we WANT. However, devising a way to cut unnecessary spending and getting ourselves from a vicious cycle of spending beyond our means does seem like a moral duty and a wise compromise. To me, leadership on this issue comes from setting an example and sometimes that means looking to the future now and not only to the short term debt ceiling debate. Let's don't buy into the fear mongering of how the country will crash if we have a short government shutdown. That often is what makes both sides really get to work and agree on a plan. We need a plan to get us out the debt we are in. As a 30-year old father, I would like to see us start to make a country less-reliant on debt to pay our bills so we can stop handing our costs down to our childen's generation. This takes long-term changes, not temporary compromise.

Alan said...

I agree with Seth. I am a 46 year old husband and father.

My mom and dad taught me not to spend something I don't have. I never have run credit cards up nor hav I bought something that I couldn't afford.

Govt is way too big. That and borrowing money has gotten us into the plight that we are in.

When will we step up and stop this foolishness?

Raising the debt limit just gives everyone and excuse to spend more money because it can be borrowed. My bank wouldn't dream of doing that. As a matter of fact, my credit card company lowered my limit. Not because I am a bad risk, but they recognize what others have done and want to prevent anymore losses.

elbryanlibre said...

How comparable is a family budget to a government budget? I don't think the analogy really fits.

It made you upset that the Senate didn't agree to the House's bill? It made you mad that Democrats didn't vote forthebill in the Senate?

Seth Conley said...

Elbryanlibre: I believe it fits - maybe all too well.
Although our national budget is on a massive scale...math is math.

You spend more than you can go into debt. Whether it's your family...or Congress. The problem is many families have been acting like Congress by charging and spending more money than they can ever repay. They buy what they want, not what they can ever really pay for. The nation does the same thing.

Have we learned nothing from our current crisis? People took loans they couldn't afford...and then blamed the banks for repossessing their houses. Although this is horrible...the government must realize that one day our debtors will call in our debts or we continue to pass it to younger generations. So, unfortunately, this is very much like our personal finances and the analogy does fit all too well.

Random Arrow said...

Morality? The moral obligation is for Obama to keep his promises to mortgage debtors in order to forestall foreclosures and to curb unemployment. Big fat zero. Unemployment is going up. Obama foresaw this and said so in his campaign. His morality is that he’s now in bed with finance and has become another Wall Street banker. Take the money and flee to – er, where, Greece? - our latest model? Why am I really thinking that Obama is into trickle down Reaganomics? I’m no economist and I know none who say this – yet. Crises? Crises? Crises? Why did Obama’s former chief say that a crises is too important to waste? Morality? Promise keeping? Why doesn’t something smell right?

FrGregACCA said...
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FrGregACCA said...

Okay, let's try this again, this time with negative words in the appropriate places:

Well, okay: I'm a principled economic lefty, but I also like to think that I'm pragmatic.

Obviously, thank God, the Tea Party crowd is not getting what they want; however, at the same time, Obama should NOT even be THINKING about putting Medicare and Social Security on the table. His whole idea of a "grand bargain" was faulty to begin with in that sense. What is needed is a restructuring of Social Security taxation, perhaps exempting the first 20 or 25K/per year for both employers and employees, but taking off the cap at the other end. As it stands now, income above c. 106K is NOT taxed for SS purposes.

We also need to make taxation in general much more progressive: "much is expected from those to whom much is given". In general, let's just start at the top and work downward.

Obviously, these things cannot happen either at this point. What is needed, therefore, is a clean debt ceiling increase, that or Obama acting unilaterally, as he apparently can. Under the circumstances, I expect that it will come down to the latter.

Obama is trying to govern from "the center" as most Presidents ultimately do. The problem is, "the center" has shifted pretty far to the right.

JRS said...


I’m continually amazed at your repeated leaps of faith in taking Mr. Obama seriously. His spending is a primary, maybe the primary reason for the problem.

The problem he exacerbated he now pretends to care about solving? Really?

Your leaps appear to have your feet firmly planted in mid air.

When you are ready for a firm foundation, we’ll welcome your return to the solid ground of reality.

Ken Schenck said...

The spending came from two wars and the necessary TARP bail outs. Both things Obama inherited. The non-partisan budget commission says "Obamacare" will reduce rather than increase costs. The president is in trouble with his party for agreeing to unprecedented cuts in domestic spending and even many Republican pundits are amazed.

So, no, I will maintain my claim to be more objective than the vast majority of angries on both sides on these issues. In the end, the issues here are deeply psychological. The deficit is not the only player in the room, not even the biggest one. If it were, then the House would be willing to remove the tax breaks big oil companies get.

Anonymous said...

obviously you are absolutely out of your mind

Anonymous said...

Obama woulnd't know the center if it rose up and bit him on his butt

Ken Schenck said...

I assume the center is half-way between Nancy Pelosi and Michele Bachmann, which is me. ;-)

JRS said...


I'm smiling at your assumptions!

FrGregACCA said...

Ken, the center of which you speak is indeed, I suppose, the nominal center at this time, and it apparently is this center from which Obama seeks to govern.

However, leaving aside fringe figures like Bob Avakian (q.v), but factoring in folks like Bernie Sanders and Michael Moore, it would seem that Pelosi is actually closer to the real center.

Having said that, some problems may require solutions from farther left. However, this does require a level of common sense.

Personally, I think that Robert Reich makes a great deal of sense in these matters, and I will continue to point to Germany as a model economic system whose structures we would do well to re-create here on these shores.

We are in this situation primarily because of the fact that for the last 30 years, those at the very top of the socioeconomic food chain have essentially been getting a free ride, raking in virtually of all the returns from the immense productivity gains over that period.

Random Arrow said...
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Random Arrow said...

Ken - “ .. I assume the center is half-way between Nancy Pelosi and Michele Bachmann, which is me. ;-)”

I’ll be praying for you. Praying you be hid in the cleft of the Rock. Before your rocks get busted between those two. “Caught in the middle with you!” What does it look like in the middle? – between certain death on both sides? Snick.

appFrGregACCA - “the center .. is .. the nominal center.” That helps me. I had given in to wondering whether the center involved non-parametric behaviors? Like non-parametrically asking the center – “what is your nominal name?” Answer – “our name is Legion. For we are many!”

FrGregACCA said...

Random Arrow, we need to be very careful about who or what we imply is demonic. Jesus had some very serious words to say about that in Matthew 12.

My point is simply that the center has moved sharply to the right over the last 30 years. That is all.

So what are YOUR solutions?

Anonymous said...

"We are in this situation primarily because of the fact that for the last 30 years, those at the very top of the socioeconomic food chain have essentially been getting a free ride, raking in virtually of all the returns from the immense productivity gains over that period."

FrGregACCAC once again you show your ignorance. these people that yes have been blessed and done well pay the majority of the taxes.

Medicare and social security should be absolutely on the table. and saying pelosi is close to the center shows how completely out of touch with reality and common sense you are.

Random Arrow said...
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Random Arrow said...


No attribution to demonic entities in my mind.

I’ll take the correction for ill defined usage.

The demonization I had in mind follows closely after Christian thinkers like Rick Beck. Who see demonea in political and group processes. The socially distributed plural - legion. Otherwise see Hannah Arendt. It’s ubiquitous political usage. Understandable by those who do not live in a demon haunted universe (after Carl Sagan).

Ill defined the way I used it. So thanks.

Pandæmonic legion legal plural –

The constitutional debates by legal scholars. Debating unilateral Presidential power. Tribe, Balkan, Dorf and then Posner and Vermuele (NYT yesterday). The voices (none the nominal center - be careful here) are fighting over the Emperor’s clothing of unilateral Executive power under 14th Amendment. The clothes get threadbare fast. The idea involves the President invoking emergency-like presidential powers to avert a crises.

Like I wrote above, everything is a crises. Every day. So now we have the statistically distributed demonea of crises. Always a crises. We may as well live in a permanent state of Executive privilege. Which makes me wonder whether the Republicans want Obama in the nominal center limelight? – sort of like dangling thread before a frisky cat? – maybe forcing Obama into being the Emperor and the nominal center? – setting up Obama the tragic hero? – for now?

It’s a gamble. Like our accounting gimmicks. Obama seemed yesterday to reject playing the Emperor under 14th Amendment. We’ll see. So many other promises broken.

My solution? - Obama do not invoke the 14th Amendment!

Cheers, Jim

FrGregACCA said...

Anonymous, you are simply incorrect. Research some history, please. Such widespread economic inequality as we have now, besides being unjust, is inherently unsustainable (as in, the crash of 1929 and the Great Depression). Want to go there again? I sure don't.

BTW, why "Anonymous"?

Random Arrow: a secular economic libertarian, are you? How refreshing!

I agree that Obama invoking the 14th Amendment would not set a particularly good precedent, but in the end, he may have no other viable choice.

Random Arrow said...

FrGregACCA, now you’re killing me. I’m profoundly respectful of secular libertarianism along with atheism and agnosticism as viable interpretations. I’m no Randyian. I’m really a charismatic after Mircea Eliade’s eastern tradition of seeing en-Spirited stuff everywhere. Salted with Pyotr Kropotkin’s mutual aid (I’m a biologist at heart), but not necessarily his politics. Though tempting.

Because of where I went to school, I’m supposed to think that Milton Friedman is god and that God gave Rockefeller his money.

But, I don’t.

I worship equally with liberal Quakers and conservative Vineyard Pentecostals. I’m in an expansive season. Uncomfortably. Figuring out who I really am. Wondering – just wondering (think of it!) – what would have been – or might be – had Israel following Samuel’s advice took no king? Kings and taxes you know! “You think my father was bad, wait ‘till you see how I tax you!” Old game. We say we don’t have a king – but we allow episodic and schizophrenic uses of Emperor power under the 14th Amendment.

I have no distant horizon answers, really.

FrGregACCA said...

Thanks for the clarification, Random Arrow. Notice that there is a debate carried in the pages of Israel's early history: king or no king?

God gives them a King for several reasons, including to begin the process that would lead to the coming of Messiah, but the main immediate reason, I think, was to prevent them from destroying each other. Sort of like why patriarchy was allowed to emerge, along with economic and ethnic differentiation and oppression.

St. Paul, in Romans, goes even farther about the status of the state as divinely instituted. Of course, that doesn't mean that it cannot degenerate into the vehicle of antichrist, as in the Apocalypse. But would you seriously argue that the United States is anywhere close to that at this point?

Some say, "No state without Messiah". I say, "The state cannot disappear until Messiah comes (again)".

Random Arrow said...

FrGregACCA, thank you. A good exchange. About the current state of the U.S. – please grant me a bit of a bye. It’s not hostility against the U.S. on my part. Just that (putting my mathematician hat on) I really do believe that catastrophe mathematics have described a great deal of the history of national declines (including catastrophes to biological systems and ecologies). All this blather just means that slow and gradual changes add up slowly and sometimes unnoticeably over time – then boom. Catastrophe. “Suddenly.” See all the “suddenly” references in the gospels. And Revelation. The theory and math are way too much to elaborate now. And I’m not queuing to apply catastrophe maths to the U.S. right now.

I’m not generally hostile to my country. But quite hostile in case-specific situations. Case by case. This is my bye-way of saying about the current state of the U.S. – I don’t know. I don’t know how many more financial catastrophes we can take. Bye the bye – mutual aid is possibly equally applicable to Pytor’s biological-sociological anarchism as mutual aid is applicable to high-tax socialism! We get the system we make. My beef with the current ‘crises’ is that we’re really bailing out finance and banks. Obama has gone Wall Street. Pretending to care about the poor. Thus, a fair riff on your part about the kings. That Messiah would come as king – doesn’t fully predict – the mode – of coming. No? Thanks, ~ Jim

Anonymous said...

Obama does have leadership skills! As the old saying goes; "coordination strikes every 10 seconds, what happened to you?" What happened to Obama's leadership skills when he doubled the U.S. debt in just 3 years? I wonder what happened to him?

Fair and balanced

FrGregACCA said...

Thank YOU, Random Arrow. Good exchange indeed.

Here's the conundrum: the bank bail-out, which, BTW, started under Bush, should have been handled very differently, but without it, complete economic chaos would have resulted, and we, even now, would be looking back at the thirties with a great deal of nostalgia (even if we are too young to have actually lived through them).

Related to this, we cannot simply abandon or destroy the state. The result would be the same, and inevitably, some form of tyranny, official or unofficial, would emerge. Given the size and scope of private (corporate) power these days, the state, controlled more or less democratically, is the only possible effective counterweight.

Regarding the coming of Messiah, I am, of course, speaking of what we as Christians understand to be his SECOND coming.

Ken Schenck said...

From Fact Check. org:

False. Obama did not double the debt in one year. The debt owed to the public was $6.3 trillion the day he took office. A year later, it was $7.8 trillion, and as of June 1, it was $9.7 trillion. That's a huge increase, to be sure, but nothing close to a doubling, either in Obama's first year or in his first two-and-a-half years. The same holds true when looking at the total outstanding debt, which includes both the public debt and money the government owes to itself. That figure was $10.6 trillion on Jan. 20, 2009; a year later, it was $12.3 trillion, and it’s $14.3 trillion today.

I'm not making any claim that the Democrat controlled presidency and Congress were on a good financial trajectory. Like I said, despite my sense that the Tea Party congressmen are dangerous idealists, I will thank them if the result of their agonistic struggle is a tough but urgent trajectory toward solvency.

But Bush himself nearly doubled the debt during his presidency and Obama inherited most of this trajectory. Economists can debate the stimulus package, but it wasn't a partisan thing. It was a mainstream attempt to make a drastic turn around in a major crisis.

Anonymous said...

actually im not incorrect. having studied policy for 20 years with degrees in it, the historical research is on the side of those who know that the top 10-20 % of earners do pay the vast majority of taxes.

However, whether it is unjust is a totally separate question.

If anyone should be research it should be you who obviously doesn't know the first thing about the issue but is just a bleeding heart liberal..

Anonymous said...

Most off the debt problem is a spending issues and not a revenue issue.

JRS said...


It's odd that you refer to Tea Party congressmen as "dangerous idealists."

Yet you give President Obama a pass. His ideals are just as, maybe more extreme on the left. You don't consider him a "dangerous idealist?"

FrGregACCA said...

Ken, thanks for that.

Anonymous, congratulations on your academic attainments. You are still incorrect. BTW, I am not a "bleeding heart liberal", whatever that means. I just happen to value both justice and sustainability, and also think that they tend to run together.

JRS, whatever Mr. Obama is, he is no "idealist". "Pragmatist" would be a better word, and pretty much a center-right pragmatist at that. If he were a white Republican, the only criticism he would be getting would be coming from his left.

Ken Schenck said...

By "dangerous idealists" I meant the sort of approach that will not compromise on things that have no chance of happening. It's the "I'll blow us all up before I let you take me alive" or "if I can't have her no one will" approach. Obama has consistently taken less than he wanted (no public option in Obamacare, proposed cuts in Medicare and Medicade, etc...).

Whether Obama's ideology is dangerous is a different issue. If the Democrats had both houses, I would be worried about what they might do on some things, but since that's not the case, I don't feel in danger from Obama. Maybe I don't know stuff... then again, the stuff that circulates by email and on partisan websites is usually way off on both sides, IMHO.

Anonymous said...

The facts are on my side, im not incorrect. you are

Anonymous said...

Robert Reich? Give me a break, He is a crack pot. I agree with the previous anonymous, your out of touch. No wonder if your reading him.

JRS said...


Okay, that’s a helpful clarification.

Yet you still seem to hold the, to use your term, tea party responsible for potential danger.

Mr. Obama has refused to compromise; he insists on tax increases. Apparently he is willing to refuse a deal unless it includes tax increases. Why is his position not the equivalent to what you deride in the tea party? Isn’t he taking a “blow us all up” position? He talks compromise, but seems to mean the other side should come to him. That’s not really compromise. His past compromises have been in large part because his own political allies wouldn’t go as far as he wanted.

The House leaders have stated steadfastly that tax increases won’t pass. The president’s insistence on tax increases, by your definition, becomes dangerously idealistic.

It’s at least refreshing to see you tacitly admit the danger from the Democrat party ideology. Now if you would only pressure them as robustly as you pressure the conservative representatives.

FrGregACCA said...

Out of touch, am I? Actually, I'm about a week away from potentially being on the street along with my wife. I am definitely in touch, thank you very much.

JRS, tax increases on those at the very top are only fair, even if this only means letting the Bush tax cuts expire. We are in this mess precisely because, over the last thirty years, far too much income has been flowing to those at the very top, while the incomes of the rest of us have been stagnating or even declining even as, up until 2007, the American economy itself continued to grow. Thus, we are now in a situation where the net worth of the Forbes 400 is approximately the same as that of the 150 MILLION Americans who are at or below the 50th percentile on the socioeconomic food chain. This situation is not only unjust, it is unsustainable, and therefore, extremely dangerous. (Think the emergence of Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia.)

Warren Buffett gets it. Bill Gates gets it. The Kochs and their acolytes in the Tea Parties obviously do not. Several of YOU obviously don't get it.

FrGregACCA said...

"Anonymous" writes:

"...once again you show your ignorance. these people that yes have been blessed and done well pay the majority of the taxes."

The majority of FEDERAL INCOME taxes only. But let's look at this. Some time ago, the Republicans adjusted tax rates so that people at or below the 50th percentile in terms of income pay little or nothing in Federal income taxes. So now, we get this argument that those who do pick up most of that tab are somehow being charitable, deserve extra consideration, are paying too much, etc.

Here's the rest of the story: it turns out that when ALL taxes are factored in, including state and local taxes, Social Security, etc., all of us pay about 30%- 40% of our income in taxes. Obviously, this is too far high for some. However, it is way too low for others.

THOSE are the facts here.

"Much is expected from those to whom much is given." - Jesus of Nazareth.

FrGregACCA said...

Reich: "If consumers can’t and won’t buy, and employers won’t hire without customers, the spender of last resort must be government. We’ve understood this since government spending on World War II catapulted America out of the Great Depression — reversing the most vicious of vicious cycles. We’ve understood it in every economic downturn since then.

Until now.

The only way out of the vicious economic cycle is for government to adopt an expansionary fiscal policy — spending more in the short term in order to make up for the shortfall in consumer demand. This would create jobs, which will put money in peoples’ pockets, which they’d then spend, thereby persuading employers to do more hiring. The consequential job growth will also help reduce the long-term ratio of debt to GDP. It’s a win-win."

Crackpot? I don't think so.

Anonymous said...

well FrGregACCA,

good riddance

Anonymous said...

In the past 10 years (2000-2010), revenue to the federal government has grown 7%. We have not lost revenue because of tax cuts, wars, etc. Federal spending, on the other hand, in the past 10 years, has grown 93%. In 10 years, we’ve spend $28 trillion and taken in $23 trillion. $5 trillion deficit . . . $1 trillion was war, $4 trillion is other spending.

FrGregACCA said...

"....under Mr. Bush, tax cuts and war spending were the biggest policy drivers of the swing from projected surpluses to deficits from 2002 to 2009. Budget estimates that didn’t foresee the recessions in 2001 and in 2008 and 2009 also contributed to deficits. Mr. Obama’s policies, taken out to 2017, add to deficits, but not by nearly as much.

"A few lessons can be drawn from the numbers. First, the Bush tax cuts have had a huge damaging effect. If all of them expired as scheduled at the end of 2012, future deficits would be cut by about half, to sustainable levels. Second, a healthy budget requires a healthy economy; recessions wreak havoc by reducing tax revenue. Government has to spur demand and create jobs in a deep downturn, even though doing so worsens the deficit in the short run. Third, spending cuts alone will not close the gap. The chronic revenue shortfalls from serial tax cuts are simply too deep to fill with spending cuts alone. Taxes have to go up."

BTW, "Anonymous" visiting my blog and making the one-word comment: "crackpot" is an extremely effective mode of argumentation, don't you think?

Are you getting paid to troll?

Ken Schenck said...

I at least seem to be in the center today: 82% disapprove of Congress, 43% of Americans think the Tea Party has too much influence on the Republican Party