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Author: Subject: Senator Al Franken on the budget deficit

Zen Peach





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  posted on 7/18/2010 at 06:19 PM
Excellent information and remarks.

The whole video is 39 minutes or so at Youtube. I highly recommend it. Here is the transcript and I apologize in advance for any difficulties reading it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55WANTsTFy0&feature=player_embedded

Full transcript at Frankes Senate site

http://franken.senate.gov/?p=news&id=931



Sen. Franken's Floor Statement On The Nation's Budget Deficits
Wednesday, Jul 14 | Legislative Session: 111th Congress, 2nd Session (2010)

M. President, I rise today to discuss an incredibly important subject, our nation's budget deficits. The deficit for Fiscal Year 2009 was about 1.4 trillion dollars. The total national debt is now just under 13.2 trillion dollars. These numbers are staggering-and represent a tremendous threat to our nation.

Now, we've been hearing a lot about these numbers over the last few months from members on both sides of the aisle. We've heard about the economic dangers of running these deficits, the dangers to us, to our children, and the very future of this nation. I share these concerns over the direction of our budget deficits and our rapidly-growing debt.

I've held these concerns for some time, as a matter of fact. In a New York Times op-ed way back in 1988, I expressed my alarm that we had gone from being the world's largest creditor nation to its largest debtor nation. I noted then that the accumulated trade and budget deficits of the Reagan years worked out to about $20,000 per family.

What frustrates me is that I've heard these deficit and debt numbers serve as an excuse for not passing an extension of unemployment benefits. We've been unable to get cloture on these extensions, despite spending weeks of the Senate's time on this matter and despite numerous attempts. Opponents say, our deficits must be addressed, our debt can't grow any larger. We've got to draw a line in the sand, and insist that these benefits be fully paid for.

This is troubling to me for two reasons. First, because these deficits aren't new and many of my colleagues seem to have suddenly become aware of them only a year and a half ago. More importantly, I'm troubled because one of the biggest threats to our long-term deficits is a double-dip recession and the stunting of our nation's economic growth. And this short-sightedness is not only jeopardizing our short-term economic recovery and our future economic health-it's also causing us to abandon the real and urgent needs of families at home in our states.

So please indulge me as I take a few minutes to take stock of exactly where we find ourselves today. You all know that our unemployment rate is 9.5 percent, which has been hovering at its highest level in over a quarter century. There are 14.6 million Americans looking for jobs but unable to find them. Nearly half of these friends and family and neighbors have been out of work for over six months, despite sustained efforts to find jobs. Long term unemployment is the worst that it's been in the 60 years that these statistics have been kept. You'd have to go back to 1983 to find numbers even half this bad.



And the competition for each of these jobs is fierce. It's not uncommon for hundreds of people to be fighting for a single job posting. This chart shows just how hard it is to find work right now. In 2006, there were about 1.5 unemployed workers for every job opening. That number has exploded to 5 unemployed workers for every opening.



So it doesn't surprise me that countless Americans have just given up looking - and aren't even counted in the bleak unemployment statistics I've been quoting. They've just given up.

Now, I can't imagine many things more demoralizing than not being able to find work, not being able to take care of your family. I've heard the claim from one of my colleagues that unemployment insurance provides an incentive for the millions of unemployed to just sit on their duffs and not look for work. I couldn't disagree more strongly. Unemployment insurance doesn't keep people from working. A lack of jobs keeps people from working.

I travel all over Minnesota talking to people who are out of work. I went to the Anoka County Workforce Center, I went to union halls in Duluth, in Bemidji, in Rochester. And I meet with folks who are literally depressed. These are people who have worked their whole lives. Folks who started their first paper route when they were nine or ten and took pride in doing their job, even when it meant delivering papers at 6 a.m. on a 30 below zero Minnesota winter morning.

And they've been working ever since. Work is an enormous part of their identity. These Minnesotans don't want an unemployment check. They want work.

Still, I've had a number of them come to me and say, "You know, if it weren't for unemployment insurance, I wouldn't be in my house."

One of my constituents wrote to me and said, "I was employed for 23 years since college graduation and now am in need of extended unemployment benefits as the economy slowly recovers via a 'jobless recovery.' As a college graduate with an MBA and 23 years of continuous employment at 'good jobs,' I never imagined even needing basic unemployment. . . As an active job seeker, I have met hundreds of other job seekers and virtually every one of them wants a job and wants to work."

Now, this constituent, and thousands of others like him, have to hear this junk about how unemployment insurance incentivizes people not to work! I don't know where the Senators who are saying that are going in their states, but from what I've heard from my other colleagues, it's like this all over the country.

But even if we ignore the human side of our economic crisis - even if we are to look only at what's best for our nation's economy, both in the short-run and long-run - it is still the right answer to extend unemployment benefits, and do so without offsetting them by cutting other important programs. Now I'm not an economist. Few of us here are. But there happens to be a pretty convincing record for us to draw from.

According to Mark Zandi, chief economist at MoodysEconomy.com and a senior advisor to Senator McCain's 2008 presidential campaign, extending unemployment insurance benefits creates $1.63 in demand for every dollar spent. That's pretty stimulative. And it makes sense - unemployment benefits are likely to be spent, quickly and in local communities. Unemployed workers no longer get a paycheck, but their bills don't stop. They have to make their mortgage payments and put food on the table and pay their electric bills.



Throughout this crisis, we've all heard from economist after economist who are closely watching the strength of consumer spending - our economy rises and falls on it. Unemployment benefits support consumer spending and stimulate the economy. Like other automatic stabilizers-programs for which eligibility is triggered when the economy sinks, and are used less as the economy recovers-unemployment benefits are effective and appropriate stimulus measures.

You know what else is proven to work? Food stamps. Increases in food stamps yield $1.73 for every dollar spent. General aid to state governments returns $1.38 on every dollar spent. That's why I've co-sponsored a bill with my friend from Ohio, Senator Brown, to deliver aid to states. The Local Jobs for America Act could save a million public sector jobs-the jobs of teachers, firefighters, police officers, childcare workers.

And of course, increased investment in our nation's infrastructure yields $1.59 for every dollar spent. Infrastructure spending repairs our crumbling bridges and roads, to keep us competitive in the global marketplace. We could build our way out of this crisis, just as we did after World War II with our interstate highway system.

The 21st Century version of the interstate highway system is our broadband network. Commerce is now highly dependent not just on bridges and roads, but efficient communication. There's no small irony in the fact that we have fallen behind other countries in our access to the Internet, a technology created by U.S. government research dollars and one which itself created so much wealth here in the United States and around the world.

The Recovery Act has already invested $85 million in grants and $32 million in loans to expand broadband coverage in Minnesota. And that's a good thing, because the more parts of the country we can reach with our broadband network, the more people that will be engaged in trade and in our economy. And this expansion can help reduce our nation's other deficit-the trade deficit.

The President's export initiative, along with improving exchange rates and global economic growth, can contribute to boosting our exports. And that means more jobs, more growth, and reduced budget deficits. Our country has plenty to offer, especially as countries throughout the world transition to new green economies.

In my home state, a National Science Foundation grant helped the University of Minnesota develop a technological breakthrough that will lead to an ultra-efficient solar cell. These cells can produce 60% more energy. We shouldn't be importing Chinese solar panels-we should be using this new technology to develop our own, for our own use and for export.

But, all these things-unemployment benefits, infrastructure, research-they all cost money, they all require spending. And some of my colleagues seem to think that long-term deficit reduction and short-term spending are somehow incompatible.

Take for example, the Recovery Act. Yes, it added to our short term deficit. Perhaps. But imagine where our economy would be now if we hadn't enacted it.

Now, I know that some of my colleagues will say, "The stimulus package was a failure! The President said that unemployment would hit 8 percent if we didn't enact the stimulus package and unemployment has been near 10 percent for months." Well, yeah. But there are a couple possibilities here. Either the stimulus package was a failure. Or the recession left by the Bush Administration was even worse than what his advisors thought it was when President Obama said that.

When President Bush left office, we were bleeding nearly 800,000 jobs in a single month. And we had already lost over 4.4 million jobs in his final year in office. Yet with the Recovery Act, President Obama was able to turn around the economy and immediately stem the growing losses. The number of jobs lost got smaller and smaller each month, and this year we had five straight months of growth, and we created 882,000 net jobs this year. Does anyone see a trendline here?



Now, some of you may point out this little negative bar here at the end. That's primarily a result of losing some temporary Census jobs. But if you look only at the private sector, we actually saw a net increase in jobs in June.

And imagine what it would look like without the Recovery Act!

Last month, CBO estimated that the Recovery Act has increased the number of people employed by 1.2 to 2.8 million. It is the view of many economists that, but for the Recovery Act, we would have slipped into a Depression. In that case our deficit would actually be higher than it is today, because that's what happens during a Depression.

Let's remember what was in the Recovery Act. Roughly a third went to state governments. Roughly a third went to tax cuts. For 95% of Americans. And roughly a third went for infrastructure projects, many of which are just now coming on-line.

You know, I travel all over my state and I talk to mayors, and county commissioners, and city planners, and small business owners, and usually I don't know nor do I particularly care which political party they belong to. And almost invariably they thank me for stimulus funds that financed the repair of an aging wastewater plant, or kept some cops or teachers working, or funded worker training or a home foreclosure counseling program that prevented folks from losing their homes - saving their communities money. Yes, local and state Republican officeholders and small businessmen thank me for the Recovery Act. A lot. And I wasn't even here to vote for it. And, you know what? After they thank me, they ask for more.

We have an economic crisis on our hands. Congress should be making investments that provide the highest returns on investment and can at the same time stimulate our economy.

Now is not the time to stop investing. Short-term shocks to the system will impair our economic recovery. We should simultaneously be looking for long-term budgetary solutions while continuing to invest in our recovering economy. These are not incompatible. In fact, I believe it is necessary to do both.

If we don't, we risk seeing a repeat of what happened in 1937. Our country had been making great strides toward a full economic recovery-production was up, wages were up, unemployment had come down from over 25% to 14% between 1933 and 1937. So, after his landslide reelection in 1936, President Roosevelt, upon the advice of the Treasury Secretary, declared the Depression over.

His Treasury Secretary, Henry Morgenthau, was getting uneasy about the long string of deficits they had been running. To reverse course, they cut federal recovery program spending and raised taxes.

This decision proved to be premature; the economy's impressive growth rate of the four prior years-it grew 11% in 1934, 9% in 1935, 13% in 1936, and 5% in 1937-came to a screeching halt, and the economy took another dive. The unemployment rolls increased by five million people, up to 19%, the economy shrank by 3.4% in 1938, and the country's remaining economic indicators remained low until the beginning of World War II. We shouldn't make the same mistake twice, we should continue investing in our future instead.

But some colleagues are skeptical of this approach and talk about the United States as if we were Greece. Let me be clear. We are not Greece. If you were to take a look at interest rates on United States Treasury bonds, you would see that a 10-year Treasury is yielding just about 3 percent in interest. That's the market's pricing. If the market really thought U.S. Treasuries were risky, the market would demand more than 3.09 percent interest on 10-year treasuries. The market says we're not Greece.

Yet the threat from taking some of the measures that Greece has taken is very real. Cutting back on spending now will jeopardize our economy and could push us into a double-dip recession. That would drive up unemployment even more, drive small businesses under, and stop us from growing out of the deficits that we all want to eliminate.



Growing our economy is how we have come out of far worse deficits in the past. At the end of World War II, our budget deficits had reached over 30 percent of our GDP. But we grew out of it. Today, it's just over 10 percent of GDP. After World War II, the publicly-held debt was 109 percent of GDP, compared to OMB's projection that we'll be at 64 percent by the end of this year. We grew ourselves out of it then, and we can do it again. De-stimulating our economy at this fragile moment is simply not wise.

But don't take my word for it.

Burton Malkiel, a member of President Ford's Council on Economic Advisors, said in 2003, "If there is any time in which one ought to have a deficit, it is a time where there is economic slack and a job market that is not recovering."

Manuel Johnson, one of President Reagan's Assistant Treasury Secretaries, said he didn't think short-term deficits have much to do with the economy's performance. And Reagan's chief economic advisor, Martin Feldstein, who is also one of our nation's most distinguished conservative academics, was one of the strongest voices for robust stimulus legislation last year.

Let's keep going. Michael Boskin, advisor to President George H.W. Bush, said, "The notion that deficits are bad is way too narrow. Deficits can be a serious problem over the medium and long term. There are times it's good to see the deficit worsen or the surplus turn into a deficit." He means in an economic downturn.

The Chair of President George W. Bush's Council of Economic Advisors, Gregory Mankiw, said, "It is a textbook principle of prudent fiscal policy that deficits are an appropriate response in times of war and recession." And earlier I mentioned one of Senator McCain's campaign advisors, Mark Zandi. He has said that it's typical to run large deficits during a recession, and the true problem is persistent large deficits.

So, to my colleagues who refuse to enact anything that adds a penny to the deficit, how else can I convince you? Short-term deficits during a recession are acceptable. In fact, many of the conservative economists advising Republican presidents and presidential candidates have said they are "prudent," and even "good!" When we distinguish between short and long-term deficits, we start to paint a different picture.

Now I don't want anyone to hear me as saying that I think we can just spend, spend, spend. Everyone agrees that we are on a track that is simply unsustainable. Without significant changes to policy, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities projects that our national debt could grow to 300 percent of GDP over the next forty years-that's almost three times as large as the post-World War Two level. The problem must be addressed with a careful, measured, and multi-faceted approach. The same approach that balanced our budget just ten years ago.

As you can see here, in 2000, we were running a surplus of over 200 billion dollars, and we were headed down the path to eliminating completely the publicly-held debt. In fact, the debt could have been paid off by today if no changes had been made to federal spending policy.



But President Bush and Congress did make changes when they took over in 2001 - like passing massive tax cuts for the wealthy - and as a result our national debt more than doubled under President Bush. In January 2009 when President Obama was just taking office, CBO estimated that he was left with a $1.2 trillion deficit for the fiscal year - and the residual effects of ill-advised economic policies.



Let's take a look at this chart, which shows our current 10-year budget outlook. As you can see, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities projects that there will be five major contributors to the deficit in 2019. The one that's obviously least under our control is the economic downturn. Then there are the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That proportion is pretty substantial.

[img[http://franken.senate.gov/images/news/20100714_Charts/20100714_Chart_L ongTermDeficits.jpg[/img]

But here, this little blue sliver, this is the Recovery Act. This is the legislation that is targeted over and over again for being such a huge contributor to the deficit. This sliver is what so many of my colleagues have complained about. Most of its contribution to the deficit is clustered here, in a two-year period, when the economy most needed a boost.

But its long-term budget effects are tiny when compared to its effectiveness in keeping us from falling into another Great Depression, and when compared to this orange block-the block responsible for over $7 trillion during this 10-year period.

These are the Bush-era tax cuts. Which were passed without being paid for. This block is the result of an experiment in economic theory. I think the record is clear that that experiment failed. But no matter what you think of the effect of that policy choice on our economy, you cannot deny the effect of that policy choice on our deficit. Because here it is in this orange block.

So when my colleagues come down here to rail against the Recovery Act, to blame the Recovery Act for increasing the deficit, that's technically accurate. A little bit of the blame-this much, maybe a centimeter-goes to the Recovery Act, even though it very possibly kept us from slipping into a second Great Depression.

But I also want the American people to have a sense of how much of the blame should go to the Recovery Act, and how much of it belongs elsewhere.

This chart gives you a good idea of where all the debt came from. As you can see, the debt accelerates upwards with President Reagan and President George H.W. Bush, smoothes out under President Clinton, and then skyrockets under President George W. Bush. As I mentioned before, President Obama was left with a projected $1.2 trillion dollar deficit for his first year in office.

However, even though this massive debt was handed over to us by our last President-it doesn't diminish our responsibility to address it.

I'm glad to see that many of my colleagues also appreciate the seriousness of this responsibility, and some are proposing common sense solutions to bring these long-term deficits under control.

We took a major step earlier this year by passing comprehensive health care reform. Health care costs were the number one factor contributing to long-term government deficits. The cost curve was out of control. Under previous policies, the costs of Medicare and Medicaid would have gobbled up a third of the total federal budget by 2030.

But health reform included reforms, such as the value index, that will finally provide incentives for providing high-quality care at a lower cost, like we do in Minnesota, instead of providing the most expensive care possible, without regard to outcomes.

This legislation alone will have an enormous impact on the long-term deficit. CBO estimates it will bring down the deficit by 143 billion dollars in the first ten years, and even more in the following decade. That's hundreds of billions of dollars - and that doesn't even include the reduction of private costs to families that will result from the improvements in the overall efficiency of our health care system.

Now these are CBO numbers. The same CBO whose numbers I quoted earlier about the alarming size of projected future deficits if we take no action. The exact same alarming numbers that my friends on the other side of the aisle quote. They're quoting CBO. If you want to rely on those CBO numbers, well, then CBO numbers are what we must rely on to score health reform.

I strongly support the health care reform bill we passed and am optimistic about the positive changes it will bring to the lives of millions of Americans. Including bringing down our deficit.

Now, let's look at our tax policy. As recently as 1980, our top tax bracket for the wealthy was at 70%. And for the two decades prior to that, the wealthiest Americans had income tax rates of between 70 and 90 percent. Today, it's 35 percent. These declining rates on the wealthiest Americans mean that more tax revenue is coming from middle-income earners.



And this is during a period when the gap between those at the top and those in the middle class has grown substantially.

On top of that, we've allowed the estate tax to expire completely in 2010. This is a tax that affects less than one half of one percent of Americans. My colleagues across the aisle will argue that the estate tax punishes our nation's most productive members - the children of the extremely wealthy. And this gift to our most fortunate sons and daughters costs the rest of us $14 billion this year alone. That tab for that $14 billion in lost revenues from America's multi-millionaires and billionaires will be passed to all of our kids. And not just the $14 billion, but the interest on it as well.

Teddy Roosevelt said it best: "The man of great wealth owes a particular obligation to the state because he derives special advantages from the mere existence of government."

Those who want to eliminate the estate tax, understandably, don't put the children of the incredibly wealthy in their campaign literature. Instead, they talk about family farms - as if family farms have been lost to the estate tax. Yet according to the New York Times, the American Farm Bureau Federation was unable to name one family farm lost because of the estate tax. And opponents of the tax insinuate that it's impossible to design a policy that continues to protect the family farms that might be even slightly affected.

Yet it is, of course, quite possible to do just that. I've co-sponsored a reasonable approach to estate tax reform offered by Senators Sanders, Harkin, and Whitehouse. It retains the 2009 exemption limits-$3.5 million dollars per person, and $7 million dollars per couple-with a progressive, tiered structure so that the ultra-wealthy pay more. And, yes, it makes provisions for family farms. This proposal will help ease the burden of middle class families who are now expected to close the budget gap.

Working families are also on the hook for the corporate welfare that's compounding the national debt. Our tax system is riddled with loopholes, so corporations can escape liability by shifting operations overseas. In fact, corporations are often actually rewarded for sending jobs overseas by our tax system. That has to stop.

And there's something even more offensive-if BP is taken to court because of their negligence in the oil spill, and a judge finds that they owe punitive damages, those punitive damages can be deducted as a business expense! Why do we allow these oil giants, who've earned hundreds of billions of dollars in profits in the past decade, to deduct punitive damages from the taxes they should pay?

And that's if they even do pay taxes-Exxon Mobil didn't pay any taxes last year. Despite its $45 billion profit, it paid no income tax last year.

I don't bring this up to inspire anger at corporations. I bring it up because these loopholes and allowances create revenue shortfalls. Revenue shortfalls equal deficits - unless they are shifted onto the backs of middle class families.

But we would be remiss to go after these big oil companies without also tackling our own spending problems. Secretary Gates has led the way in explaining how we can, and must, achieve savings in the defense budget. While nothing is more important than the defense of our nation, national security is not well-served by unnecessary, incredibly expensive weapons programs. Nor are we well-served by spending that comes in late, and way over budget.

Secretary of Defense Gates recently quoted his predecessor, Secretary Rumsfeld, who said it best: "A person employed in a redundant task is one who could be countering terrorism or nuclear proliferation. Every dollar squandered on waste is one denied to the warfighter." That was Secretary Rumsfeld on September 10th, 2001.

Our national security priorities must be matched to our real defense priorities in the 21st Century - not dictated by expensive weapons systems that are only benefiting the bottom line of big defense contractors.

These are all things that we can do to bring down long-term deficits.

We urgently need bipartisan solutions. One idea that I've supported, a deficit reduction commission, was proposed by Senators Conrad and Gregg. This commission would make recommendations that would then come up for an up-or-down vote by Congress. That proposal failed, despite its broad bipartisan support. The commission was ultimately supported by more on this side of the aisle than by those across it - including those who cosponsored the original bill and then voted against it when it came up as an amendment. I'm curious what changes could be made to such a proposal for it to attract more support. I welcome working with my colleagues across the aisle to find such an approach.

We're all agreed that the current path forward is unsustainable. But we differ on what changes need to be made. It is economically unsound, and potentially dangerous, to require that all spending be offset while we're still recovering from a recession, reeling from nearly 10% unemployment rates, and looking for ways to temper the jobs deficit of 12 million workers.

We're putting our economy back at risk just when it's finally turning a corner. Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz has warned that the upcoming phase-out of Recovery Act spending and state and local spending cutbacks are likely to exert further downward pressure on the economy.

Our working and middle classes are still struggling, and they continue to need our help. We can help them by extending unemployment insurance and COBRA subsidies for those who lost a job through no fault of their own. We can retain vital nutrition assistance programs in the Recovery Act to make sure kids don't go hungry. And we can make investments in renewing our nation's infrastructure.

These aren't government hand-outs-these are the most effective ways to get our economy going again and contributing to our economic recovery. Without these measures, we risk slipping back into a recession. And as I've noted, recessions directly contribute to long-term deficits.

I encourage my colleagues to join with me in standing up to the rhetoric that all spending is created equal. I encourage my colleagues to show compassion toward those still out of work. I encourage my colleagues to support spending programs that will help us emerge from this downturn. And I encourage my colleagues to join forces in coming up with new ways to tackle our long-term deficits, because they matter.

We face enormous economic problems: the short-term economic crisis and the long-term deficit. But we also face a seemingly intractable political problem. As long as this body refuses to face up to the simple facts about where our deficits came from and what we need to do to solve them -- as long as we turn a blind eye to the simple facts about what will get us out of this major downturn we will be unable to reach the solutions demanded by these problems and deserved by the American people.

Simply put, if we don't face facts, we can't do our jobs. And that would leave this country in serious trouble.

Thank you, and I yield the floor.

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 7/18/2010 at 06:32 PM
quote:
And that's if they even do pay taxes-Exxon Mobil didn't pay any taxes last year. Despite its $45 billion profit, it paid no income tax last year.


WTF????

 

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  posted on 7/18/2010 at 07:12 PM
quote:
quote:
And that's if they even do pay taxes-Exxon Mobil didn't pay any taxes last year. Despite its $45 billion profit, it paid no income tax last year.


WTF????


Amazing huh?

http://thinkprogress.org/2010/04/06/exxon-tax/

 

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  posted on 7/18/2010 at 07:27 PM
I wouldn't blame exxon. They are just doing what the government is allowing them to get away with. This is just another smoke screen to blame Wallstreet when it is the government that has failed us once again. It is pathetic that Exxon has been allowed to get away with paying no taxes, but if they government allowed you to not pay taxes, I bet you wouldn't pay them either.

Now the government is going to want to tax us to pay for their spending spree? WTF. How about cutting costs, ending wars, and getting back to fiscal responsilbility?

Now that would be change I could believe in.

End the wars, we don't want to end up like the USSR.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5_ThKD2g4U

 

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  posted on 7/18/2010 at 07:56 PM
I love it. Liberals be a thinkin'!

First, here he is touting the method to make solar panels at, of course,
his home state U. of Minnesota that is 60% more efficient.
That is all well and good, but the brilliant Bareesha Jimmah Obama decided to give
two other specific companies a couple of billion dollars instead of creating an
atmosphere where all companies and institutions can benefit and let the
best ideas and technologies win. But of course, no.

As for further unemployment benefits, yes, I am for it. What the republicans
are saying, in terrible communicative fashion, is that it should be paid for.

Throughout this brilliance, he fails yet again to understand why the Stimulus
Package didn't have more of a boost because it focused on the public bureaucracy
side of the equation instead of the private sector where actual real jobs are created,
those not dependent on tax payers money. Build infrastructure and broadband?
Yes, I am all for it because you get actual tangible results as opposed to keeping
union members and bureaucrats in place.

And now today, we have the federal government, who took over a couple of
automobile companies, now saying they should require these car companies to
close even more dealerships putting more people out of work. How can they do this?
Because the federal government literally is in the car business.

And, yes people, Franken decides to mention FDR's Treasury Secretary,
Henry Morgenthau, except of course, he leaves out Morgenthau's specific
quotes which I have posted often on here, and fails to mention that FDR cut
government spending by one third before enacting his programs- cough, cough.

I also love Franken mentioning the Reagan years deficits, when Reagan had to
battle an entrenched 40-year House to get his programs through, which
resulted in a 19-year economic expansion going into the Clinton years - those
deficit numbers pale by comparison.

So, to sum up Franken- number one - absolutely nothing new here. Zero.
Two, his advice is to stimulate the economy with food stamps, increase taxes
and do everything to deal with the symptoms and keeping folks afloat
while not dealing with the core issue of what brings about jobs in the private sector.

Franken for President!!

[Edited on 7/19/2010 by DerekFromCincinnati]

 

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  posted on 7/18/2010 at 09:53 PM
Meanwhile, Derek, how do account for the facts he presented? Youre great at killing messengers but not so adept at refuting the information presented.

 

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  posted on 7/18/2010 at 09:54 PM
quote:
I love it. Liberals be a thinkin'!


Yep. What are the Republicans and teabaggers doing?

 

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  posted on 7/18/2010 at 10:24 PM
quote:
quote:
I love it. Liberals be a thinkin'!


Yep. What are the Republicans and teabaggers doing?


Drawing pitchers of monkey presidents?

 

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  posted on 7/18/2010 at 10:44 PM
"Senator Al Franken"

That just does not sound right

 

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  posted on 7/19/2010 at 05:14 AM
quote:
"Senator Al Franken"

That just does not sound right


Ill defend the man. He has shown more backbone than any other 10 Democrats combined.

 

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  posted on 7/19/2010 at 07:20 AM
quote:
quote:
"Senator Al Franken"

That just does not sound right


Ill defend the man. He has shown more backbone than any other 10 Democrats combined.


Understandable.....Knowing nothing about his career as a Senator, my above comment was directed at Al Franken.

 

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  posted on 7/19/2010 at 03:18 PM
quote:
quote:
quote:
"Senator Al Franken"

That just does not sound right


Ill defend the man. He has shown more backbone than any other 10 Democrats combined.


Understandable.....Knowing nothing about his career as a Senator, my above comment was directed at Al Franken.



Ok, maybe I missed it...what about him? Just a comedian turned politician as far as I can see.

 

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  posted on 7/19/2010 at 03:21 PM

 

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  posted on 7/19/2010 at 08:34 PM
I'm sure Franken's little performance sat well with his leadership, and ignorant partisans who dismiss any sense of fiscal responsibility or more complete understanding of the issue. One wonders what point is he trying to make? That unemployment benefits should be extended? That we're in fiscal trouble, but should spend irresponsibly anyway? He constructs a twisted little narrative that will fool the politically & economically unsavvy. But its easily countered.

If the main concern is extending unemployment benefits, why doesn't the Congressional leadership do it the same way they did last fall? They found the money through savings and other budget options instead of adding to the debt. That's all the Republicans have asked for: don't add to the debt, and they'll be happy to vote for the extension.

Congressional leadership promised PayGo and passed that commitment back in Feb. Now they refuse to live by their own rules, or repeat what they did just last fall in order to get this passed. It's a reasonable question, especially so give our deficit and debt situation: why can't they find the money without adding to the debt? I guess given the fact that they've shirked responsibility to even pass a budget this year, maybe they don't know what money we have or don't have. What impressive leadership!

Truth is, there's a very easy way to pass this. Take it from the unused stimulus funds. There's hundreds of billions still in there. Republicans have already suggest that, so why is the Congressional leadership and the President standing so firm on adding to our debt when it's not necessary?

Another source - though less ideal - would be to take it from TARP funds. The banks have paid back almost all their money (with interest) so there's hundreds of billions in there as well.

Truth is, there is plenty of money to be found to fund this extension. They just need to repeat what they did the last time this came up. But Congressional leadership and the President just don't want to make a single hard choice this time. They refuse to keep their own commitments about PayGo. They would rather play politics over the issue and hold the unemployed as dependent pawns in the political game, the same way they do with illegals. Just Washington doing what it always does.

 

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  posted on 7/19/2010 at 10:09 PM
quote:
I'm sure Franken's little performance sat well with his leadership, and ignorant partisans who dismiss any sense of fiscal responsibility or more complete understanding of the issue.


What more complete understanding of the issue do you (well, rational people) need? Its pretty straightforward with charts and information YOU can go check yourself. Ignorant? The ignorance I see is the willful ignoring of where all this debt truly came from. You and several others here seem to think it all came around on January 20th, 2009. Im continually amazed at how blind and how intentionally blind some folks want to be.

quote:
One wonders what point is he trying to make? That unemployment benefits should be extended?


Uh, yeah...among others. Did you even see the chart specific to that?

quote:
That we're in fiscal trouble, but should spend irresponsibly anyway?


If thats what you took away from his information, then theres not much left to say.

quote:
He constructs a twisted little narrative that will fool the politically & economically unsavvy. But its easily countered.


The only ones I see twisting things are the Republicans and teabaggers. The facts are there and you *still* choose to ignore them. Color me surprised.

quote:
If the main concern is extending unemployment benefits, why doesn't the Congressional leadership do it the same way they did last fall? They found the money through savings and other budget options instead of adding to the debt. That's all the Republicans have asked for: don't add to the debt, and they'll be happy to vote for the extension.


Bullshiat! Complete and utter bullshiat. Republicans found money for things like two wars completely off the books and NOW you want to be frugal?!?!?! That stuff had to be paid for at some point. Now is that time. See the charts.

quote:
Truth is, there's a very easy way to pass this. Take it from the unused stimulus funds. There's hundreds of billions still in there. Republicans have already suggest that, so why is the Congressional leadership and the President standing so firm on adding to our debt when it's not necessary?


Republicans have offered nothing but obstruction since day **** ing one and they plan to continue to do so. I see absolutely no reason for Obama to continue this fake-ass bipartisanship nonsense when the Republicans have no interest at all. Hell, they are even tossing around the idea of impeachment if they take back the house. Yeah, they are trying to help...

Another source - though less ideal - would be to take it from TARP funds. The banks have paid back almost all their money (with interest) so there's hundreds of billions in there as well.

quote:
They would rather play politics over the issue and hold the unemployed as dependent pawns in the political game, the same way they do with illegals. Just Washington doing what it always does.


Talk about ignorant... unemployed as dependent pawns? Please, before you reply, go back and at least try to watch Franken and his speech or read the transcript. You dont know what you are talking about.

 

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  posted on 7/19/2010 at 10:37 PM
A Republican caring about budget deficits is almost as bad as a Democrat carrying about outsourcing. Barring a couple individuals here and there, both parties have, and continue to sell this country down the river through overspending and free trade. Oh, sorry I forgot, free trade bad under Bush, free trade good under Obama. Ok whatever.

Jobs for the 21st century, green jobs, health care, education. That is all well and good, but what about the jobs of the 20th century? Jobs we still need and jobs that millions of Americans rely upon, but are disappearing at an alarming rate and the powers that be seem to care little about. Are we not to make steel any more? Clothes? Furniture? **** that **** , we got some nice cheap foreign labor for that stuff, **** American steel, American clothes, furniture. Who needs it anyway? Why we have a green economy to save them. Come one, come all, the green economy awaits. **** !

If these people care about Americans working, care about bringing down the unemployment rate they would take steps to reward domestic production and punish imported goods and services, yet nothing on that.

Double exports? Any chance these free traders care by what percentage our imports grow by in that span? It makes me absolutely sick when foreign competition forces American products off our shelves and closes our plants, lays off our workers. Even as exports increase, we'll be increasingly more and more dependent upon imports for our every day needs and wants. This is the good and ultimate goal? To export more, carefree of what happens to our imports?

Go try buying a **** ing drill bit. A **** ing drill bit! You have to drive all over town, search high and low just to find something made in the USA to buy these days. American companies love Chinese labor. Sometimes I think our politicians do to. Can't piss China off, can't shut off the flow of their financing the spending we can't afford. Shove those Chinese drill bits up somebody's ass. Everything! All of it!

You want to put Americans to work? Make more of what we need here. Let the other countries around the world figure out how to support their own populations with jobs. Let's stop giving them ours.

 

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  posted on 7/19/2010 at 11:43 PM
Squatch; there's no need and no desire to waste my time replying to you point by point. You believe his little dog & pony show and I don't. You think his charts are built on rock-solid facts. But they are estimates built on projections based on expectations anchored in quicksand. You can make up any argument for govt spending you care to, based on any set of numbers you wish. There's a whole industry of lobbyists surrounding DC that helps politicians do just that every day. Both R's & D's are fed by the same nonsense to rationalize their silly positions. But in the end, they've both led us to the same place: screwed.

For all the bluster, you never once address the simplest question regarding the unemployment extension. Why doesn't Congressional leadership and the President do what they did last fall to pass the extension? They found money within the current funds, and didn't add to the debt. Isn't that the most responsible thing to do? Especially since there's plenty of money in the stimulus and TARP, ready to be tapped. Republicans said they'd happily vote for that. What is to be gained by ignoring that simple option? Why was that fine then, but not now?

Oh, we shouldn't be fiscally responsible now because those other evil guys weren't back....... whenever? Is that the best rationalization we have? Is it really in the best interest of everyone to keep using that tired old ploy? Continue to play that game if you wish, but building all the excuses for current bad behavior on the image in the rear-view only assures no one sees the cliff till its too late.

 

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  posted on 7/20/2010 at 06:03 AM
I have to admit listening to the same arguments over who caused what almost 2 years in is getting really old and tired. We're in a tough spot and we need to cut spending now. I want to know who is willing to address that problem today and into the future. Fuji's question is a legitimate one. Is there a legitimate answer?

 

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  posted on 7/20/2010 at 08:19 AM
Rich, I could be wrong, but I don’t think TARP funds, by law, can be used for such things. I think that money has to go back into paying down the debt. Sen. Gregg sort of admonished Orzag for wanting to turn it into something else recently. However, I don’t see why the untapped stimulus money can’t be tapped for it.

Many probably won’t agree with the following, but I find it an interesting angle nonetheless:


By ARTHUR B. LAFFER
The current debate over extending and increasing federal unemployment benefits encapsulates the disagreement between the Democrats in power in Washington and their Republican opponents. What the consequences will be of raising unemployment benefits in today's depressed economy is at issue.

The most obvious argument against extending or raising unemployment benefits is that it will make being unemployed either more attractive or less unattractive, and thereby lead to higher unemployment. Empirical research supports this view.

The Democratic retort is that the economy today is so different from the past that we have to suspend our traditional understanding of economics. With five job seekers for every job opening, the unemployed are desperate for work and increasing unemployment benefits will have very little if any disincentive effect. This view hinges on a total change in employee behavior from "normal" times to the current period of "the Great Recession."

On the face of it, the idea that higher unemployment benefits won't lead to more unemployment doesn't make much sense. Imagine what the unemployment rate would look like if unemployment benefits were universally $150,000 per year. My guess is we'd have a heck of a lot more unemployment. Common sense and personal experience indicate higher unemployment benefits will make unemployment less unattractive and thereby increase unemployment even in the Great Recession. As the chart nearby clearly shows, since the 1970s there's been a close correlation between increased unemployment benefits and an increase in the unemployment rate. Those who argue that things are different today don't have the data to back up their claims.


The Democratic argument also ignores the impact of unemployment benefits on employer costs. Employers don't usually hire people to assuage their consciences. They hire people to make after-tax profits. And if workers require more pay because of higher unemployment benefits, employers will hire fewer employees. Whether increased unemployment benefits incentivize workers to work less or disincentivize employers from hiring more workers, the effect will be the same—higher unemployment.

The second point made by the Obama administration is that unemployment benefits are a great way to stimulate demand. Increased unemployment benefits operate quickly and the recipients spend what they get, which makes these stimulus funds the best bang for the buck.

Here again the facts are in dispute. Studies have shown that previous stimulus spending—much of which was also targeted for the poor and unemployed—was to a large extent saved and not spent. But I'm not going to rest my case on the obvious failure of Washington's prior stimulus packages. Based upon the above logic (as described in the January 2009 white paper co-authored by White House economists Christina Romer and Jared Bernstein) the administration forecast that the unemployment rate would be a little above 7.3% in the third quarter of this year. That isn't going to happen.

The flaw in their logic is that when it comes to higher unemployment benefits or any other stimulus spending, the resources given to the unemployed have to be taken from someone else. There isn't a "tooth fairy," or as my former colleague Milton Friedman repeated time and again, "there ain't no such thing as a free lunch." The government doesn't create resources. It redistributes them. For everyone who is given something there is someone who has that something taken away.

While the unemployed may spend more as a result of higher unemployment benefits, those people from whom the resources are taken will spend less. In an economy, the income effects from a transfer payment always sum to zero. Quite simply, there is no stimulus from higher unemployment benefits.

To see this, imagine an economy that produces 100 apples. If 10 of those apples are given to the unemployed, then people who otherwise would have had those 10 apples now won't. The stimulus of 10 apples for the unemployed is exactly offset by the destimulus of 10 apples for those people from whom the 10 apples were taken.

Given the massive inefficiencies the government creates in securing resources from the private sector, there may also be a large negative income effect over wide ranges of stimulus spending. This is the proverbial "toll for the troll." These massive inefficiencies could lead to lower output.

To see these effects clearly, imagine a two person economy in which one of the two people is paid for being unemployed. From whom do you think the unemployment benefits are taken? The other person obviously. While the one person who is unemployed may "buy" more as a result of unemployment benefits, the other person from whom the unemployment sums are taken will "buy" less. There is no stimulus for the economy.

But it doesn't stop there. While the income effects sum to zero, the substitution effects aggregate. The person from whom the unemployment funds are taken will find work less rewarding and will work less. The person who is given the unemployment benefits will also find work relatively less rewarding and will therefore work less. Both people in this two-person economy will be incentivized to work less. There will be less work and more unemployment.


Not only will increased unemployment benefits not stimulate the economy, they will at the same time lower the incentives for people to work by reducing the amount people are paid for working and increasing the amount people are paid for not working. It's pretty basic economics.

No one opposes unemployment benefits as a transition aid for people to get back on their feet and find a new job. Unemployment benefits are a safeguard for individuals down on their luck. But to argue that unemployment benefits actually reduce unemployment is disingenuous at best, and could induce our government to enact policies that have the effect of destroying our nation's production base from whence all benefits ultimately flow.

Any government program that would reduce unemployment has to make working more attractive for both employer and employee. Since late 2007 the federal government has spent somewhere around $3.6 trillion to stimulate the economy. That is a lot of money.

My suggestion would have been to take all $3.6 trillion and declare a federal tax holiday for 18 months. No income tax, no corporate profits tax, no capital gains tax, no estate tax, no payroll tax (FICA) either employee or employer, no Medicare or Medicaid taxes, no federal excise taxes, no tariffs, no federal taxes at all, which would have reduced federal revenues by $2.4 trillion annually. Can you imagine where employment would be today? How does a 2.5% unemployment rate sound?

Mr. Laffer is the chairman of Laffer Associates and co-author of "The End of Prosperity: How Higher Taxes Will Doom the Economy—If We Let It Happen" (Threshold, 2008).




 

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  posted on 7/20/2010 at 08:38 AM
quote:
Rich, I could be wrong, but I don’t think TARP funds, by law, can be used for such things.
You're exactly correct Jim. I mention TARP only because the administration has referenced using it for other things in the past. Even Sen. Gregg, who famously lectured one of the administration's folks on that very subject during a hearing a few months ago, has said that ultimately he figured they'd just change the guidelines which govern the use of TARP funds. I'm betting that as long as new debt is not created, the R's would agree on this extension. That seems like a pretty reasonable compromise, and the responsible thing to do.

But I doubt it will matter. Once the new WV senator gets sworn in today, he may very well put the vote over the top. The leadership in Washington has known this, so the past week or so has been all about upcoming electoral politics.

 

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  posted on 7/20/2010 at 10:45 AM
quote:
Bullshiat! Complete and utter bullshiat. Republicans found money for things like two wars completely off the books and NOW you want to be frugal?!?!?!


Conditions change.

 

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  posted on 7/20/2010 at 11:06 AM
quote:
Squatch; there's no need and no desire to waste my time replying to you point by point. You believe his little dog & pony show and I don't. You think his charts are built on rock-solid facts. But they are estimates built on projections based on expectations anchored in quicksand. You can make up any argument for govt spending you care to, based on any set of numbers you wish. There's a whole industry of lobbyists surrounding DC that helps politicians do just that every day. Both R's & D's are fed by the same nonsense to rationalize their silly positions. But in the end, they've both led us to the same place: screwed.


And yet, when CBO estimates and projections fit a position of bagging on something you feel should be bagged on, they are taken as fact...

 

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  posted on 7/20/2010 at 11:23 AM
quote:
quote:
Squatch; there's no need and no desire to waste my time replying to you point by point. You believe his little dog & pony show and I don't. You think his charts are built on rock-solid facts. But they are estimates built on projections based on expectations anchored in quicksand. You can make up any argument for govt spending you care to, based on any set of numbers you wish. There's a whole industry of lobbyists surrounding DC that helps politicians do just that every day. Both R's & D's are fed by the same nonsense to rationalize their silly positions. But in the end, they've both led us to the same place: screwed.
And yet, when CBO estimates and projections fit a position of bagging on something you feel should be bagged on, they are taken as fact...
True enough Hawk, but I'd only reference CBO when they are pointing out excesses, corrections of previous rosy estimates, or issues of waste.

All through the Obamacare debate, I blasted the use of CBO estimates because they were entirely rigged by the leadership to create a desired result. They were told ignore the "doctor fix", told to add in Medicare cuts that will never happen, etc. Any corporation doing the same would be brought to court for fraud by shareholders. But when its govt, any lie can be told and then plausibly denied later with the liars almost never facing real consequences.

 

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Obamacare: To insure the uninsured, we first make the insured
uninsured and then make them pay more to be insured again,
so the original uninsured can be insured for free.

 

Zen Peach



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  posted on 7/20/2010 at 11:29 AM
quote:
quote:
quote:
Squatch; there's no need and no desire to waste my time replying to you point by point. You believe his little dog & pony show and I don't. You think his charts are built on rock-solid facts. But they are estimates built on projections based on expectations anchored in quicksand. You can make up any argument for govt spending you care to, based on any set of numbers you wish. There's a whole industry of lobbyists surrounding DC that helps politicians do just that every day. Both R's & D's are fed by the same nonsense to rationalize their silly positions. But in the end, they've both led us to the same place: screwed.
And yet, when CBO estimates and projections fit a position of bagging on something you feel should be bagged on, they are taken as fact...
True enough Hawk, but I'd only reference CBO when they are pointing out excesses, corrections of previous rosy estimates, or issues of waste.

All through the Obamacare debate, I blasted the use of CBO estimates because they were entirely rigged by the leadership to create a desired result. They were told ignore the "doctor fix", told to add in Medicare cuts that will never happen, etc. Any corporation doing the same would be brought to court for fraud by shareholders. But when its govt, any lie can be told and then plausibly denied later with the liars almost never facing real consequences.


So then, no projections are ever correct?

Rich, it seems that you don't believe anything anyone says about anything.

[Edited on 7/20/2010 by Bhawk]

 

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  posted on 7/20/2010 at 11:33 AM
Still no answer to Fuji's question. It seems like a legitimate on to me. I'd like to know the response.

 

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