The Budget Deficits and Who’s to Blame

As I’ve said so many times in the past, this blog has provided much stimulating thought and debate. The level of commentary at differrent times has been stimulating, insightful, and provocative. Sometimes my own assumptions have been challenged (thankfully).

One such commentator, Logan46, recently took me to task for decrying President Obama’s handling of the economy. The implication was that a majority of the debt is the result of Bush 43’s fault. There is some truth to this. This assertion required some thought, hence your humble correspondent decided to do some research.

Please direct your attention to this graph:

Source: Heritage Foundation

Though I was against several of W’s domestic policies (Medicare Part D, No Child’s Behind Left Alone, the Dep’t of Homeland Fondling), the fact remains that the annual budget deficits that were run up during his administration were very manageable. Minute even, at least in comparison to what we are presently experiencing. In fact, they were smaller as a percentage of the GDP than the deficits run up under the Reagan administration. The only excption being the last year in which W foolishly importuned upon the Congress to pass the Toxic Asset Relief Program (TARP), which added $750 billion to the deficit. (Supposedly, the majority of this money has been payed back to the Treasury so it should be a wash.)

There’s much that’s arguable about this entire debate. I’m certainly in the traditionalist/libertarian camp, the one that thinks we should go back to a strict-constructionist form of governance in which the national government is thousands of times smaller than what obtains at present. Regardless, please note the stark differences: the Obama White House projects $1 trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see, whereas deficit spending was never more than $400 billion during the Bush years. And this mind you, during the most intense fighting in Iraq. Frightening.

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  1. Bernie Sanders Reveals The Truth About The Deficit
    The longest-standing independent member of Congress has something to say to the GOP!

    “This country does in fact have a serious deficit problem. The reality is that the deficit was caused by two wars – UNPAID FOR. It was caused by huge tax breaks for the wealthiest people in this country. It was caused by a recession as result of the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street. And if those are the causes of the deficit, I will be damned if we’re going to balance the budget on the backs of the elderly, the sick, the children and the poor. That’s wrong!”

    –Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Senate Budget Committee, 11-18-2011

    —It will take years to pay down the deficit and continue to operate our country in proper fashion. In reality, nothing to really worry about as the GOP would have you believe. The U.S. still remains “THE” power-house in worldwide economics and security. The GOP got us into this mess and it will take years to get out of – not insurmountable.

    • Will Harrington says

      A form of proof texting. The numbers don’t support you? Find an independent politician because surely he must be wise, smart, and honest. If one of my students used this as an argument in a persuasive paper they would fail. This is a logical fallacy. It is an appeal to celebrity.
      Will Harrington.

      • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

        What do you call an appeal to the Heritage Foundation, then, Will?

        • Your Grace, The Heritage Foundation got the numbers from the CBO. Of course Heritage is ideological but the numbers are not. For obvious reasons, none of the Liberal/Left think tanks decided to put out these numbers.

          • Jane Rachel says

            We see whatever we want to see. There are many graphs available online with a simple search “obama deficit chart”.

            Here’s a link to a graph from the Washington Post Article by Ezra Klein, “Obama’s and Bush’s effects on the deficit in one graph”:


            • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

              We see whatever we want to see? Only if you don’t value clarity. That’s why there has to be a baseline, such as the CBO numbers that George pointed out above. One you have that, the flaws start to appear. For example, in the graph you linked to, the Bush tax cuts are listed as a “New Costs.” The problem is tax cuts are not really a cost since no service is provided for them.

              • Jane Rachel says

                “We see whatever we want to see? Only if you don’t value clarity.”

                Truer words were never spoken, Father Hans. You want to see it one way, and that becomes the way it is. After that, there’s no use talking about it.

                • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                  Not true Jane. Not everything is ideological, not everything is relative. Base lines are important. Will is pointing that out in his post while George is indicating a reliable baseline is in his post.

                  You are implicitly arguing that no baselines really exist while Bp. TIkhon is undermining confidence in the source where that baseline was applied. That’s a different approach to clarifying and understanding problems than Will and George took. Your assertion should not be accepted at face value and doesn’t cancel out the need for baselines.

                  • Fr. Hans, I confess I’m not sure what George’s chart shows or what is meant by “baseline.” When Mr. Obama took office, the national debt stood at XX $trillions; it is now XX $trillions; it is projected to be XX $trillions. Except for Clinton (1998-2001), there have been 50 continuous years of accumulating deficits–why is it not relevant to point that out? Everybody knows that entitlement spending is the elephant in the room, but again Mr. Obama didn’t create that either.

                    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                      Logan, the analysis has to be clear — clear numbers and clear definitions. On the chart Jane provided for example, it lists tax cuts as a cost. This means the the author counted the Bush tax cuts as a cost to government.

                      This is an ideological assumption and skews the numbers. (Letting people hold onto to more of the money they earn does not cost the government anything. Government does not and cannot create wealth.) It hides facts like: Federal receipts in 2003 (when Bush tax cuts were passed) in constant 2005 dollars: $1.9 trillion. In 2008 (last budget that President Bush signed) in constant 2005 dollars: $2.3 trillion. Source. Put another way, the Bush tax cuts are portrayed as adding to the deficit while ignoring the actual revenue that was collected.

                      Baseline, then means, presenting the numbers in a way similar to say, basic accounting standards. That’s what the Heritage Foundation study does by using CBO numbers. The CBO (Congressional Budget Office) numbers are largely trusted by both Democrats and Republicans thus making the Heritage study more credible.

                      Put another way, if the chart used CBO numbers, it would look vastly different.

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Not only does the government “allowing” people to hold on to their money not cost the government anything, it’s a net good in that it takes more people off the dole. More accurately, it prevents the dole from rising.

                      Anyway, I reject the argument that the government should “allow” free people to do anything at all when they are not otherwise engaged in any criminal activity. Even if they were, the government has to make a case –follow due process actually–to prove that Citizen X deserves to “not be allowed” to do X, Y, or Z.

    • Diogenes, Bernie Sanders is no more “independent” than the man on the moon. He’s a Socialist. And he’s not serious. Nobody is serious about the National Debt unless they come forward and ask for an independent audit of the Federal Reserve. Until he steps forward and does this, then all he is is part of the kabuki theater that the Oligarchy puts on to fool the people.

      As for his actual argument, the graph explains it in vivid color. The wars in Afghanistan (“the good war” the LIberals told us about in 2004-6 when things were going badly in Iraq) and Iraq have cost so far a total of $1.4 trillion. Now look back at the graph. years 2003-6, add up to about that amount. What accounts for the other $3 trillion run up by Bush? Did we not have entitlement spending going on then? Was there no National Park Service? No Dept of Education/State/Justice/Agriculture/etc? No Federal Bureau of Prisons? How about the sixteen (16) different intelligence agencies we have? Did they close up shop during that time. Truth is, if we had none of those things and just prosecuted two wars, we’d be in the black now. (I’m not arguing about the justification for those wars btw.)

  2. Two main views regarding Orthodoxy

    Over the years, two main views of the Orthodox Church have developed. What are they and why are they different?

    The first view has been predominant in the 1900’s until now. This view is very legalistic and built around laws, rules and a very Western type legalistic system. It was as if Moses brought the Laws of Moses for the Jews, but Jesus brought His own set of laws, rules and regulations for Christians. From this line of thought stems the idea that the Orthodox Church has a very rigid set of rules and laws that must be followed at all cost to achieve the Kingdom of Heaven. “You must go to confession twice a year.” You must do this that and the other thing. You must pay your dues to have access to the priest, the church and any sacraments. The bishop is the head and whatever he or the priest says is absolute. The canons of the church say this or that and there are no ifs ands or buts. The Orthodox Christian who follows this view and many priests & bishops who impose this, make Orthodoxy simplistic and a “check list” for being a good Orthodox Christian or bad Orthodox Christian. The good go to heaven while the bad are questionable. Remember, “You can’t go to communion unless you have confession first; every time.”

    This entire line of thought is easy. It isn’t really Orthodox and derives it’s origins from Roman Catholicism of rules & regulations. This appeals to the uneducated Orthodox and converts. Bishops love this view because it makes everything black & white. Legalism. The “Conservative Orthodox.”

    The second view is based on what Christ said, Matt 22:39 “…Love your neighbor as yourself.” This view is based upon the “spirit” of Christianity and how we should live our lives. After all, we are free in Christ and the “Law” no longer applies to us. Christ said that if we follow him and love our neighbor as ourselves and our actions show this, we will be with Him in His Kingdom. Orthodoxy becomes a way of life, not a legalistic list of rules that must be followed. Whether we fast strictly or not; do we truly love our neighbor? The “SPIRIT” of the Truth is what these Orthodox Christians live by. This view is based on forgiveness, patience, humility and following Christ – LOVE for all mankind.

    Orthodox Christians who take this view are usually more educated; cradle Orthodox who understand who we are and are hardly legalists. This is why some refer to these Orthodox as the “Liberal Orthodox” yet, they are the ones who are most Christ-Like.

    Which are you?

    Think about it!

    • Do you know who you are?
      Think about it:
      phar·i·sa·ic  (fr-sk) also phar·i·sa·i·cal (-s-kl)
      1. Pharisaic also Pharisaical Of, relating to, or characteristic of the Pharisees.
      2. Hypocritically self-righteous and condemnatory.

    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

      What in the world does that stuff have to do with the topic of this thread? Looks like Diogenes, as usual, looked at his obviously bad seminary notes and just decided to paste up some of their content. it has NOTHING to do with the U.S. Budget discussion.

      • You are right about that, Your Grace, and I apologize for further disrupting this thread. But as a non-liberal, university educated, highly experienced in the ups and downs of earthly life cradle Orthodox christian (as many others who read/post here are), I find Diogenes’ “Two main views regarding Orthodoxy” so incredibly asinine that I couldn’t let it go by unchallenged, and possibly leaving a “wound in the side” of my non-cradle Orthodox brothers and sisters reading/posting here. Diogenes’ naivete and intelligence/experience level is that of a rebellious teenager-college student, and his battle against “religious legalism,” when unmasked, is in reality an opposition to any Orthodox Christian spiritual self-discipline. ‘Nough said.

    • Right on the money Diogenes!! It is quite scary when you read the “venom” coming out of some so call “Orthodox Christians” against the poor, the downcast, the ones that unfortunate are living as homeless. It shocks me when Christians become so arrogant and cold of heart, indifferent to the suffering of the called “parasites” of society.

      The Republican Party just passed a new budget (developed by representative Paul Ryan) that would live poor children or “parasites” struggling for basic food as food stamps would be cut tremendously. In this budget (🙂 the GOP would cut over $3 trillion from low-income families at the same time increasing the military budget. How can we call ourselves followers of Christ and think that this is the way to get out this financial crisis. The individualistic mentality of ignoring the ones that are going through hard time will eventually destroy any love and compassion we should develop in our journey towards Glory.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Joseph, there is inherent in your criticism the idea that the federal government should be the provider of all this largess, no matter what the cost. The assumptions that seem to undergrid your criticism come from falling into the ideological trap that modern politics has created.

        Constitutionally, the federal government is limited to the common defense and creating a climate for the common good in other areas. They are not Constitutionally empowered to meet our every need and whim or even to support the poor. All of the federal entitlement programs are un-Constitutional yet they take up 44% of our national budget and growing. They are considered Constitutional by the wildest speculations that such rights and powers appear in the pneumbra of the Consitution and a wildly exaggerated interpreation of the commerce clause and just plain ignoring what the Constitution says.

        The effect is to suck a great deal of money away from us and the states that could be used more efficiently and more compassionately closer to home. Another effect is to greatly increase the extent of centralized, federal power. That is not a good thing. If you think that OCA Central Administration has problems, multiply the waste and corruption by factorial 10 and you may be approaching the level of the federal government.

        Just because someone objects to the federal government programs does not mean they are cold-hearted, etc., etc, etc. IMO most of the political advocates for federal programs for the poor are demogoging tyrannts with little or no interest in the poor at all rather they Just want to make dependent clients whose votes they can count on to keep them in power. Many of these programs simply do not work or have ceased to work yet them roll on, unevaluated powered by a stange combination of bureaucratic inertia and momentum and the abomination of zero based budgeting.

        The federal budget cannot be unimited. It has to have constraints. All federal programs are tainted with the stench of power mongers desires and certainly the military budget is filled with corruption and waste. That corruption and waste is partly caused by the un-Constitutional manner in which the military is used these days by all Presidents.

        A return to the Consitutional limits of the federal government would free up an enormous amount of money, enegry and creativity that would amaze almost everyone. That’s not going to happen as long as we have a dependent apathetic electorate, political parties that have an ideological and practical strangle hold on power, a simpering captive media that engages in propoganda rather than in seeking the truth.

        Ultimately a good government is dependent on private virtue. Without private virtue we get the type of government we see before us–corrupt, increasingly tryannical and extraordinarily wasteful of our money, talents and lives. It is the excessive rules, regulations, laws, taxes and general incompetence from both sides of the isle that is sapping the spirit of the American people. When private virtue breaks down and the moral consensus of a people evaporates, all that is left is legalism and tryanny to keep us from anarchy. In such a scenario almost everything is illegal in some way or another and the ‘rights’ of certain protected classes are always enforced to the detriment of the rest of us. (For instance, if the EPA succeeds in lableling carbon monoxide as a pollutant is not breathing a polluting activity and therefore illegal? Could not a person who has contributed too much carbon monoxide over the years be forced to stop breathing?) Remember Orwell’s Animal Farm and Fr. Seraphim Rose’s treatise on nihilism?

        The Federal government is corrupt, power hungry, wasteful, illegal and amoral and you want to give them more money? You want to give them more power? There are better actually Chrisitan, actually loving and compassionate ways of helping those who need help. Will all their needs be met? No, but that is an impossible scenario anyway.

        The idea that the federal governement or any government or the Church can make everything better, equal and hunky-dory is a utopian fantasy and chiliastic dream.

        The American experiment has always been a debate about the limits and use of federal vs. local power. The tide has been moving toward the central axis for a long, long time. We need to reverse it or we will all be sorry.

        • Mike Myers says

          Lot of words, Michael. Just a few for you in reply. Add up all the money the US has spent since WWII on war (not “defense”), and then get back to us. Talk about wasteful spending.

          My experience is that a huge majority of American Orthodox Christians, at least the ones I’ve encountered in Southern California, appear to have had very little real problem with that spending. It’s a little late in the game to complain these days about the Federal government. I got news for y’all: the Federal Governemnt is you, whether you like it or not. This is a republic, and in effect most of you voted for, and, sure as hell, we all pay for, all of it. Did you vote twice for George Bush, Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon? If you did, spare me the BS and empty, posturing cant. A bit late now for the crocodile tears about Big Government. Where were y’all as this cold monster was growing and wreaking havoc? I’m almost certain most of you were cheering, at least for the wars. Get real.

          If just one tenth of all that money (tens of trillions) had been spent overseas on hospitals, schools, libraries, clean water, sustainable agriculture, infrastructure, disease prevention, and missions, etc., the human and humane basics, I bet we’d have few if any enemies on earth. But it wasn’t, was it? Thanks big time to “Christians.”

          • Michael Bauman says

            Mr. Myers, your ideological bias prevented you from reading what I said. I specifically said that all of the money spent on wars since WWII was illegal and un-Constitutional and a horrible waste of our money, energy and lives.

            The solution is not to give more money and power to an illegal and amoral government to supposedly “take care of the poor” That is simply nonesense.

            • Mike Myers says

              Michael, I repeat: did you vote twice for Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush? If you did, then you voted for the wars you claim were illegal, un-Constitutional and a horrible waste of money, energy and life — certainly, if you voted for any of their second terms. The rest is just cant. I’m less interested in what you said than in what you did. You don’t have to answer me, obviously; few around here ever do, and I’m used to it. I’m just saying.

              And I’m not saying I’m innocent, either. We’re all in this mess we’ve made, together. And it’s a BIG one. Real big.

              • Michael Bauman says

                I repeat I did not vote for either Richard Nixon or Ronald Regan even once. I held my nose tightly enough to vote for George Bush largely because of his horrible competition and the immorality espoused by the Democrat party. In retrospect, seeing the results and not having a choice for “none of the above” I would not have voted for anyone. If Romney or Santourm is nominated, I’ll probably not vote at all for President this year, I haven’t decided. I have that luxury because of the rotten-borough nature of Kansas in Presidential elections. If I lived in a state where there was an actual possibility that Obama would win the state, I’d have no qualms at all about voting for Romney. Obama has done all that he can to tear up the Constitution and throw it in the trash.

                HIstorically, the Deomcrats would have done little different than the Republicans you mention except their un-Constitutionality is more on view domestically. However, it was Clinton who bombed our brother Orthodox in Serbia (and non-Orthodox) on Pascha don’t forget. That was a wholly un-Constitutional use of the American military. During that unholy excrusion into Serbia there was one young man, a Christian, who dared to object to his orders as un-Constitutional. and illegal. He was court martialed and dishonorably discharged.

                We all of us bear responsibility for our leaders even in a dictatorship. We get the type, kind and quality of leader we want and deserve. The leadership is a function of the private virtue of the citizenry reflected into the public square.

                My views have changed over the years. The more I have studied both poltical/economic thought and seen the results in the real world, the more I have really listened to the Church (I hope) , the less and less I want a centralized federal government to have so much power. It has vastly exceeded the scope of its Constitutional powers for a long time. Most of the cabinet positions have no real Constitutional authority to exist.

                The President can commit troops quickly in the case of an immediate threat to American lives (as Reagan did in Grenada). After that he has to request the Congress to declare war. That has not been done since World War II by any President of either party. Actually, their failure to do that could have been a cause for impeachment. The Congress did authorize the second Gulf war but stopped short of declaring war. Not wholly Constitutional and probably does as much harm to genuine Constitutional governement as no authorization at all.

                Many folks claim that following the Constitution means that the governement couldn’t do much. That’s the point. The Constitution was designed to limit the use of federal authority and power while at the same time granting enough power to have a real functioning country instead of a confederation.

                However I reject most of your premises since I reject both parties un-Constitutional use of power. My choices are somewhat limited however in action. I can simply not vote at all in most cases. Sometimes I have done that. I think I voted for the Constitution Party candidate once when George H.W. Bush was running and they actually qualified for the Kansas ballot.

                • Mike Myers says

                  I didn’t see your post in time. I actually agree broadly with quite a bit of what you wrote in the post this replies to; we’re not too far apart, basically, believe it or not. In some ways I’m even more disgusted with the Democratic party than the Republican. Probably for different reasons than you, however, in part because I may have a less truncated and conventional understanding of immorality and corruption.

                  I’ve been appalled by the blatantly un-Constitutional activities of almost every president since Kennedy. But although I do think some Administrations have been worse offenders than others, the trend is from bad to worse, each building on the declination of the predecessors, and for this reason I’ve abandoned hope for the American political process almost entirely. I see next to no point in voting, although I still do, mainly out of habit I guess. But as you note, the corruption in government at all levels reflects the corruption of the American people — and of course I include myself in the indictment. To scapegoat “the government” strikes me as hypocrisy in a constitutional republic, even one as decayed as ours.

                  • Michael Bauman says

                    I don’t think I am scapegoating the government. I am objecting to the silly belief that they can actually help the situation of the ‘poor’. Government and rights lawyers largely created the homeless problem by allowing impaired folks to decide whether or not they wanted to be institutionalized. (Sure the institutions needed to upgade their care, etc, etc.)

                    The solution to problems that federal programs create is more federal programs and more tax dollars.

                    We basically lost the Constitution in the civil war what that didn’t wipe out the Progressives at the early part of the 20th century and FDR finished off.

                    • Mike Myers says

                      Did you learn most of this stuff from Glenn Beck and Limpballs? How scintillating and insightful.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Mike, you can’t keep on killing the messenger. It only worked in the old days when you Liberals controlled the networks. Those days are over, deal with it. Either tell us where we’re wrong or shut up.

          • Michael Bauman says

            Logan46: Again your ideological bias prevails over actually looking at what the Constitution says and how our governement is supposed to be balanced so as to allow for both freedom and decency. Like most you seem to suffer from presentism when evaluating history as well.

            Again, the central necessity for a limiting a central authority under a Constitutional republic (not a democracy) is the private virtue of the people and a common moral understanding.

            We lack that right now due, in part, to the capitulation of the Chrisitans to the horrible ideas of egalitarianism, relativism and privatism.

            The Federal government simply feeds our own money back to us (with a profit scimmed off the top) and then gets us to ‘love’ them while they continue to rape our pocketbooks and limit our freedom.

            Wars are part of that, regulations that assure that fewer and fewer local businesses are able to compete while favoring a fascist-like global crony captialism and the contiuned class warfare that seeks to make more and more indentured sevants with votes. All the while promoting the mass immorality of abortion, sexual promiscuity, and homosexual normality. That’s democracy.

          • Michael Bauman says

            As to my voting record: Yes on George W Bush, No, and No on the others. We long ago ceased being a republic. We are a participatory oligarchy. However, do you really think the size of government and defense spending would have gotten any less under McGovern, Mondale, Gore or Kerry? Please!

            That is the point, it is not a Republican/Democrat thing. That is the ideological trap the power brokers want us to fall into. That ideological trap is a false dicotomy given just enough real difference to act as a smoke screen. Even Ron Paul holds positions that I think are an unjustifiable extension of federal power.

            I can never vote for any Democrat: the party is publically for abortion and normalizing homosexuality. I live in Kansas, who I vote for for President as the state is a rotten borough for the Republican Party on the Presidential side. The national Libertarian Party is a freak show. The Republicans are just as bad. Sometime I have been unable to hold my nose tight enough to vote for anyone for President. I wish we had a “none of the above” choice.

        • When I read the comments by Michael I note the vitriol, contempt, and anger expressed towards the federal government. I find some irony in reading similar complaints here regarding church matters. Our institutions are made up of fallen humans–what do you expect? There are many things to complain about the federal government, but there are just as many good things as a result of the federal government. Our lives are touched every day in a beneficial way as a result of the federal government. And please don’t say unconstitutional this, unconstitutional that–we go by the rule of law as determined by the Supreme Court. When I read statements that we should return to a constitutionally limited federal government, I wonder what that really means. Hopefully, it doesn’t mean turning the clock back to our less democratic past.

          • Michael Bauman says

            The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. It was crafted by a legislative body and ratified by the vote of the people and their state legislatures.

            Making law is a legislative function, not a judical function. The fact that the Surpreme Court and other federal courts have assumed a quasi-legislative function is just another example of the distortion of the Constitution that has gotten us into trouble. Again not a Democrat/Republican thing. It is an idelogical thing. The fact that you buy into such an abberration is another example of your ideological bias.

            Neither does the President have legislative authority, despite the effort of many Presidents of both parties to use executive orders to accomplish legislative ends. Obama is not the first, won’t be the last, but he is the most eggregious in his use of them.

            The Balance of Powers written into the Constitution no longer exists in any meaningful way as the judicial and excutive branch have contiuned to usurp the powers of the legislative branch while the legislative branch gladly gives their powers away because it helps them stay in office.

            You brand my comments on the federal government as angry, vitriolic and contempous. Do you say in a similar veins the numerous comments on the hard heartness, un-Christianity, etc from those who support federal power as equally emotionally based?

          • Michael Bauman says

            Logan46. As our bishops become more aloof and less grounded in pastoring an acutual living parish and diocese, many of the same problems will occur due to the same source: human sin. That does not mean we should or have to just give into and encourage the sin while giving as much latitude as possible to its expression. Having non-resident landlords does not help the Church.

            Do you really go by the dictum that “Everybody sins, so what, just go with the flow man” God forgive us for the 60’s.

  3. Bipartisan group offers Obama deficit panel plan as alternative to GOP budget

    By Associated Press, Updated: Wednesday, March 28, 3:26 AM

    WASHINGTON — A bipartisan budget plan to cut the deficit by $4 trillion over 10 years with a mix of new tax revenues and spending cuts across the federal budget is headed for a House vote, but it is likely to be rejected by Republicans against higher hikes and Democrats opposed to curbs on Medicare and Social Security benefits.

    The proposal by Reps. Steve LaTourette, R-Ohio, and Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., is modeled after a much-praised plan by the co-chairmen of President Barack Obama’s 2010 deficit-reduction commission.

    The plan is one of several alternatives to a budget-slashing Republican plan that comes to the House floor Wednesday. Votes are expected Thursday, but the underlying GOP plan is dead on arrival with the Democratic Senate.

    The bipartisan measure calls for $1.2 trillion in tax increases over the coming decade, curbs on rapidly growing federal health care programs, new cuts to agency budgets and cuts to other programs like farm subsidies and federal employee pensions. It broadly mirrors a plan conceived by former White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles, a Democrat, and former GOP Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming, the co-chairmen of Obama’s deficit commission.

    The bipartisan Simpson-Bowles plan won a majority vote in Obama’s 18-member deficit panel, though it fell short of the supermajority 14-vote tally required to win the commission’s official endorsement. But the plan won the votes of conservatives like Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and liberals like Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., which was seen as a moral victory. The measure is regarded by many experts as a template for any budget plan that might ultimately pass into law.

    But the Simpson-Bowles plan, hatched in the wake of the Democrats’ drubbing in the 2010 midterm elections, received a chilly reception from the White House and leaders of both parties, and that’s unlikely to change this week.

    From a technical perspective, the measure leaves Social Security alone. But it contains a policy statement endorsing the Simpson-Bowles plan, which called for raising the retirement age and reducing annual cost-of-living increases.

    “It has real entitlement reform and real revenues,” Cooper said in an interview. “And those are two essential elements of any viable budget. It’s shared sacrifice. Everyone is asked to help make our country stronger, and that’s why it’s bipartisan.”

    But it’s those curbs on so-called entitlement programs — which include Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — that seem likely to limit Democratic support, just as most Republicans will recoil from the measure’s proposed tax increases.

    “It’s kind of dicey (politically), but it’s a bipartisan plan and something’s got to get done,” said supporter Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, who plans to vote for both the bipartisan measure and the official GOP plan authored by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis. “The reality is that in the long run, (Ryan’s budget) won’t get done.”

    Many lawmakers and budget experts agree that it will take a plan mixing both new revenues and spending cuts to wrestle the deficit under control — at least any plan that can pass with votes from both Democrats and Republicans.

    The measure, like the Simpson-Bowles plan, calls for a tax overhaul that would bring the top tax rate down from 35 percent to 29 percent or lower, financed by repealing various tax breaks, deductions and credits. Overall revenue would rise, since the revenue raised by eliminating dozens of tax breaks would exceed the revenue lost by lowering rates. Some supporters of revamping taxes say revenues would be even higher because it would spur economic growth.

    The measure would raise less new revenue than the Simpson-Bowles measure, which called for a $2 trillion tax increase over 10 years.

    In fact, the revised plan is closer to a “grand bargain” framework pressed by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, in talks with Obama last summer. Boehner at the time supported an $800 billion revenue increase. The talks collapsed.

    “This is a way to basically say: ‘We’ve got to do something about the deficit, we’ve got to do it in a bipartisan manner. We’ve got to have both more revenue and spending cuts,” said Rep. Daniel Lipinski, D-Ill. “No one has any belief that this is going to pass, but I think it’s important to sort of set that marker out there to say, ‘There are some of us who are willing to sit down and work something like this out in a bipartisan manner,’ which I think we need to do.”

    Added Cooper, “If we had a secret ballot, Simpson-Bowles would pass overwhelmingly.”

  4. George, my initial comment resulted from concern that well-intentioned people with legitimate conservative views may be sliding down that slippery slope into far right extremism. If I listen to the far right, I would conclude that the national debt didn’t exist and would have never existed, except for the election of Mr. Obama. To be fair, you acknowledge that conservative Presidents (Reagan and Bush) do run deficits, although you’re quick to point out they were much smaller and as such, manageable. But back to Mr. Obama–he inherited two wars (with no prior thought or means to pay for them), a financial meltdown bordering on total collapse, a deep recession, and declining government revenue, partly as a result of unwise tax cut policies (who ever heard of tax cuts when fighting two wars–can you imagine FDR proposing such a thing in WWII?)

    Certainly with the formidable challenges facing him, Mr. Obama had the opportunity to be a remarkable leader and President. That he failed is not surprising–most would have. What is surprising is the far right’s contention that he has been wildly successful in achieving his conspiratorial socialist, communist, constitution-destroying goals. The thought of every American having access to quality health care without regard to ability to pay–how un-American! The far right sees the only reason that many Americans don’t have health care is because they are lazy, self-indulgent, and feel they are owed everything. As such, they don’t deserve it, or anything else. The next step is to convince us that they are inferior and that makes us superior.

    The conservative right has convinced us that continued deficit spending is unsustainable. Yet, as Diogenes pointed out, they thumbed their noses at Mr. Obama’s real spending cuts that would have included social security and Medicare. Why, because the deal would have included that the wealthy should pay a slightly higher tax rate, while leaving all the tax avoidance provisions that favor them in place. What a coup! (Never mind that the brunt would have fallen on those who had paid into social security and in good faith.)

    Neither the right nor the left has the solution, because the solution is not ideological, but pragmatic in nature.

    • Fr. Hans Jacobse said:

      Logan, the analysis has to be clear — clear numbers and clear definitions. On the chart Jane provided for example, it lists tax cuts as a cost. This means the the author counted the Bush tax cuts as a cost to government.

      This is an ideological assumption and skews the numbers. (Letting people hold onto to more of the money they earn does not cost the government anything.

      I think it is appropriate to count the Bush tax cuts as a cost to the government–that was probably the primary reason they were made temporary in the first place. Notwithstanding that, it’s hard to ignore that the tax cuts had more than an ideological effect in terms of actual dollars (revenue) the government would have had.

  5. You can argue economic policy all you want; what you can’t do is change mathematics. Those figures are from the non-partisan CBO; Heritage has merely put them into chart form. I know they’re ugly, but you voted for him. You own them. You were deceived.

    Mr. Obama is a committed Marxist–I have no problem whatever saying this—and he and the his hard Left advisers have run the economy off the edge of the cliff. Already. It’s a done deal. You won’t see the results immediately because it will take several months for the effects of these policies to become clear to you. All the costs of so-called Obamacare, for example, were “backloaded”, or postponed, in order to deceive you. At the beginning of 2013, when the massive tax hikes they’ve put into place hit the public radar, you may realize that the waters are swirling about your ankles and that the ship is going down. Ultimately, even the dimmest among you will see. But it will be too late. It probably already is too late. A Republican in the White House will not be able to turn it around fast enough to avoid the pain.

    The reason the Democrat leadership in the Senate has not come up with a budget, as they are bound to do by law, is that the only way this ridiculous debt can be discharged—the only real way–is by forcing gigantic tax hikes on the middle class. Why? Because, as the bank robber said when asked why he robbed the bank: ‘that’s where the money is.’ If they taxed all millionaires at 100%, it would be a drop in the bucket compared to what we owe.

    Mr Bush was certainly a fool, but Mr. Obama is a knave. You can be quite sure of that.

    • asdf said:
      Mr. Obama is a committed Marxist–I have no problem whatever saying this—and he and the his hard Left advisers have run the economy off the edge of the cliff. Already. It’s a done deal. You won’t see the results immediately because it will take several months for the effects of these policies to become clear to you.

      The last 3 months have seen positive signs the economy is improving–I suppose it could fall off the cliff in the next few months, but it seems unlikely, barring a Mideast conflagration. The continuing stalemate over the budget and meaningful deficit reduction will be a negative though. I’m glad you have no problem saying Mr. Obama is a committed Marxist, though I suspect his ideology is more the self serving politician variety.

  6. I’m not a Bush hater and not a Clinton lover. But it bothers me that today’s so-called conservatives can’t face some simple budgetary facts.

    Chief among these: When Bush came into office, we were running large surpluses which were projected by everyone to continue for decades. If we changed nothing, we were projected by everyone to pay off the national debt in my lifetime. I should be using capital letters and exclamation points here. That is an astounding thing to pause and remember.

    If you fit a simple linear regression line to the chart above, what you see is an increase in the deficit of about $100 billion per year under Bush, and a decrease of about $10 billion per year under Obama. You can argue about whether a decrease of $10 billion a year is enough to avoid default on our debt. But those who choose to talk about “where things are going” will only help move the political debate forward if they can be honest, painfully honest, about how we got here.

    Honesty about the facts, and diligence in remembering what has happened in the recent past, are key to any constructive dialogue in a democracy.

    What if we returned to a budget that was the average of the last Clinton budget and the first Bush budget adjusted for inflation? How many conservative budget hawks would be willing to accept that proposal, with all it would entail? I don’t ask for perfection, I really just want to see more honesty in the debate.

    • A $10B decrease in the deficit under Obama? Tell me you’re joking—please. Can you read? [Obama Revises CBO Deficit Forecast, Predicts 110% Debt-To-GDP By End Of 2013, Worse Deficit In 2012 Than 2011]

      Also: Obama’s Budget Increases Deficit By 41% Over CBO Baseline Over Next Decade (Apr 2011)

      As for the national debt… (Mar 2012)

      “(CBS News) The National Debt has now increased more during President Obama’s three years and two months in office than it did during 8 years of the George W. Bush presidency.

      The Debt rose $4.899 trillion during the two terms of the Bush presidency. It has now gone up $4.939 trillion since President Obama took office.

      The latest posting from the Bureau of Public Debt at the Treasury Department shows the National Debt now stands at $15.566 trillion. It was $10.626 trillion on President Bush’s last day in office, which coincided with President Obama’s first day.

      The National Debt also now exceeds 100% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, the total value of goods and services.”

      “If Mr. Obama wins re-election, and his budget projections prove accurate, the National Debt will top $20 trillion in 2016, the final year of his second term. That would mean the Debt increased by 87 percent, or $9.34 trillion, during his two terms.”

      I honestly think you don’t know what you’re talking about.

      • Thanks for your honest opinion about me. It is really not relevant, but I do appreciate honesty wherever I can find it.

        If you would like to continue the discussion, it would be helpful if you could take a little time to clarify the difference between “debt” and “deficit” (a Google search might help). It is probably not possible to have a constructive discussion about this if we continue to confound the two.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Um, you will get no argument from the Right about Bush and his failures to curb spending. That is not what this graph was about. What it was was an attempt to show that despite all the spending, the economy grew more under Bush 43 and the deficits were smaller than what we are presently experiencing and are going to experience far into the future.

      I can point out the fact that FDR ran on a platform of “no foreign wars” but I cannot overlook the fact that we then got into the biggest one in history shortly after.

      the graph is just a model of numbers, pure and simple and is not a moral statement.

      • So are you willing to go back to the average of the last Clinton budget and the first Bush budget (or second Bush budget if you prefer … in the spirit of going above and beyond to compromise)?

        Thar’z the rub.

  7. Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

    CNN Breaking News:
    A mixed performance Friday capped a stellar three months for stocks, with the Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor’s 500 posting the biggest first-quarter gain since 1998.

    Despite a slight decline for the day, the Nasdaq had its best first quarter since 1991, according to the Stock Trader’s Almanac.

    On Friday, the Dow gained 66 points, or 0.5%, according to early tallies. The S&P 500 added 5 points, or 0.4%, the Nasdaq edged down 4 points, or 0.1%. Investors weighed a report on consumer spending and a boost in the eurozone bailout fund.

  8. Michael Bauman says

    The stock market is a rigged game actually worse than many casinos. Only way for a small investor (non-corporate) to make money there is:

    1. pure dumb luck; 2. they have a case of OCD and spend all of their time there investing only in what they actually know; 3. Even so, actually knowing about an industry or company can get you in legal trouble for insider trading which leads to; 4. Investing illegally–one has to have material, non-public knowledge of a company to invest intelligently. That is the definition of insider trading.

    Most small investors are simply not suitable for investing even in mutual funds, yet our omnipotent regulators refuse to enforce the suitibility rules, especially against the BIG broker-dealers because they realize the entire industry would virtually shut down. They surf the net for porn instead — all on our tax dollars.

    The knowledge that is put out publically is so much pablum as to be virtually useless or so hyper analytical as to be equally useless. Still most stock brokers don’t even know how to read that.

    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

      Yeah, right. It’s “so much pablum” unless it supports a Republican’s talking point, when it is transformed into a demonstration of what’s really wrong with America “under’ President Obama!

      • Michael Bauman says

        There you go again your Grace. So interesting and insiteful in matters historical and theological so incredibly bound up in the ideology of the left in matters social and political. You’ve been in California too long I fear.

        Financial Information
        I was specifically referring to corporate, stock, bond and mutual fund prospectie which I spent about 10 years reading and attempting to decipher as a licensed broker and registered principal before I could no longer continue in the business out of conscience.

        I have no idea whom to trust or how to verify the budget numbers.

        To repeat: I support neither of the two parties but have to vote for one if I vote at all (given the choices here in Kansas). The corruption, malfesance and demogogry exist on both sides. What I am against is statism. Right now Obama is much more of a statist than any other national political figure. Not only that, many of his policies are consciously anti-Chrisitan especially on abortion. He is also a racist mentored by communist/terrorist idealogs and fed black liberation theology to the max (I know he never actually listened, the way Clinton never inhaled or “had sex with that woman”). No way no how can I support that man even as a dog-catcher. My life-long adult avocation has been studying the philosophical basis for government and how such philosphies have been practiced historically. Due to our sinful, fallen nature government is both necessary and doesn’t work. We need to try for a happy medium between statist/personal depostism and hedonistic anarchy. Right now the cultural hedonism is tending to drive us toward the despotic/tryannical end of the spectrum. Both parties are furthing that trend because it gives them more access to power and money.

        But what do I know. I’m just one of those hicks who anacrhonistically hold on to my faith, my freedom and my guns. In that order. I could do without the guns but I do like to shoot them (at non-living targets).

        Self-protection has always been recognized as legitmate under the law. Whether that is an appropriate Christian response or not is quite a debate. Certainly the use of violence merely because one feels threatened is not appropriate. How personal and immediate the threat is and the proportionality of the response is always the crux of the matter. Some self-defense laws require that a person be actually physically attacked before any sort of response is appropriate and then the response must only be sufficient to stop the attack. The question here is who violated whom and the degree that fear of “the other” created the feeling of threat and did any physical attack occur. The sad reality is that the process has now become so tainted by fear mongers (both sides) that we will likely never know the truth. Right now the answer is simply assumed based on ideological grounds.

        I too would like to know the source of George’s statements as to the facts of the matter.

        Orthodox, incarnational (as revealed in the Bible and the Person of Jesus Christ, explicated by St. Athanasius, articulated by the Ecumencial Councils and taught by my priest and bishop). I do the best I can as a semi-literate, ill-informed, fat, white, Plains living, old crumdgeon convert and sinner.

        • Michael Baumann. You tell us you are semi-literate and ill-informed. That’s relevant in evaluating your teachings and lectures. You say you’re a hick, as well. I won’t challenge that, but why underline it by saying you’re semi-literate and ill-informed?
          I’m glad to make you better informed in one area. I was born into a wage-earner’s family in Detroit. My father immigrated from Canada. His father abandoned my father and his mother, younger brother and sister when my father was in the 9th grade. So he dropped out and became at first a haberdasher’s clerk, but went on to work “on the bench” at Burroughs Adding Machine Corporation, now “Burroughs Corporation” until retirement. My mother came from a mostly German immigrant family: she was the granddaughter of a pastor who immigrated with the founders of the Missouri Synod: Bishop Stefan and Pastor Johann Walther. One of five children, her own father, a scion of the Detroit Higginses, died young of acute alcoholism in the Texas Lutheran TB Sanitorium. As far as I am aware, all the adults on both sides of the family always voted Democratic; although my father preferred Norman Thomas, the perennial Socialist Party presidential candidate, but didn’t vote for him for the same reason people didn’t vote for Nader and won’t vote for Paul: they don’t have a chance of winning. My father resented very much all his life that Burroughs was a closed to unions shop, but he felt that holding down a steady job was more his responsibility as a husband and father to his own conscience than his belief in the labor union movement. I suppose John L. Lewis and Walter Reuther were his idols in the public arena, along with, of course, FDR. Having been born in a small town in Canada (500 pop) it’s not surprising that he believed all his life that black people stank and no one could shake him from that belief. My first two years of college (I ‘worked my way” through college, except for the last year which was GI Bill (that awful social engineering, leftish, pinko, program) funded) were at St. Olaf College in Minnesota, right next door to Wisconsin which had a famous Socialist party and elected La Follette several times, i’m sure there must have been some Republicans at St. Olaf, but i never met them. I transferred to Wayne State in Detroit, a much larger institution than St. Olaf (about 40,000+ enrollment for my last two years. (Tuition at Wayne in the 1950s ran around $75 (seventy-five dollars) a semester, and my bank account, built up in the year and a half after graduation from HS and before St. Olaf, was just about gone. If there were any Republicans at Wayne, i never met them, although Philip Saliba was a member of the Arabic Student organization around then. At the end of my junior year, I was broke and I enlisted in the Army, did three years there in the Signal Corps as a UHF Radio Repairman. None of my buddies, save one draftee, were Republicans. I suppose there must have been such in the various posts’ finance offices, but I don’t KNOW that. I finished Wayne after that Army service. Soon after that I was contacted by an enterprising US Air Force recruiter who persuaded me to enrol in the Air Forces brand-new Officer Training School. My roommate at OTS was a Republican from Texas. He used to wake up suddenly of a night and jump out of his bunk, yelling at giant green cockroaches he hallucinated as marching in formation across our room (I was our student squadron’s drill instructor because of my prior service), egged on by me! I served from 1960 to 1971, with a one-year break to try out SVS. Although I did QUITE well there (you may ask other students who were there when I was), i felt I was spinning my wheels and could do something more useful by going back on active duty. I applied for that and was accepted with alacrity: I served a couple months at Columbus AFB before being summoned to serve on the Air Staff at HQS, USAF, in the Pentagon, where I served from beginning of 1967 through May 1971. When our government began bombing Cambodia and keeping it classified Top Secret, although the Viet Cong and the Cambodians knew all about it (!), so the American public could be “honorably” kept in the dark, I applied to get out. I got out and eventually went to work at the World Bank (IBRD). My boss in the Pentagon and all but one employee in the office I headed up (one out of 16) were Democrats. I participated in some marches, as well. Bishop Dmitri ordained me a Deacon at St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox War Memorial Shrine Church in December 1971. I was invited by the Rector of the Los Angeles church to become the full-time Deacon the next year. I had picked up a fluency in Church Slavonic chanting/reading by then. I was extremely disappointed in the shallowness of California politics in both parties. Therefore, I found it ludicrous that anyone would say I ‘have been too long in California.” We used to joke in the Army that California was all “Commies and Queers.” Well, I’d heard something like that about Wayne State: “All Commies, Queers and Niggers.”

          So all this good-ole-boy, shucks and shuffle, proud-to-be-called-redneck rightist stuff just goes “whoosh” past me. Oh, yes, from kindergarten through high school, I always had black classmates. I dated one for a time in college and also one girl who was of German-Jewish and Trotskyite background and another who was that rare (after WWII, that is) bird, a GREEK Jewess.
          In Los Angeles, some parishioners mourned the passing of Father Kukulevsky, who fell asleep in the 1950s. They said the current Rector was “OK, but he never told us how to vote, like Father Alexander did.” (Father Alexander was a member of the America First party and thought the RSV Bible was a Communist project.) I’ve met more Republicans and Rightists in California than any place else in my whole life. I probably should mention that two of the people closest to me in the last decades have been Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick and Bishop Nikolai (Soraich) both of them died-in-the-wool Repubicans and also conservatives. I believe that Frs. Schmeman and Meyendorff were Democrat types.
          I confess that the notorious Protodeacon Eric Wheeler and the Steve’s wife, Mark, profess the principles of the Democratic party and the left, but I always have felt that they just don’t get it. They are an embarrassment, I confess. Their allies here, too (but not ALL by any means) can be awfully embarrassing as well. I support the Center for Victims of Torture, Amnesty International, Doctors without Borders, Human Rights Watch, and the NAACP, but I still feel the government doesn’t do enough with our tax dollars in the areas on which those organizations are focussed. They fritter away too much money on the military because pork-barrelers in Congress insist tax money should be spent on military manufactures even if the military doesn’t even really want some them. Just think how much money it takes to maintain and protect thousands upon thousand of U.S. nuclear warheads versus how much the food stamp program costs! Why do we need a capability for even ONE thousand nuclear warheads? Surely one or two can make life practically non-existent in great areas. Who’d have the strength or will to explode any more?

          • Michael Bauman says

            Your Grace, your credentials are impressive, never doubted that. I suffer greatly by comparison which was my point. I try to lean by having ideas challenged. I have absolutely no pretension to knowing much of anything but I’m not bashful about putting out what I do know and believe from experience, study and faith. I have my own ideological bias that I hope will be exposed and challenged.

            If I am wrong, so be it.

            However, merely attaching any of the appellations I scarastically applied to myself (as others here and elsewhere have done more seriously) doesn’t prove anything. Well, I am fat, white and pretty much a life-long plains dweller. I am also intelligent and devoted to the Church although I suspect you exceed me in both categories.

            They fritter away too much money on the military because pork-barrelers in Congress insist tax money should be spent on military manufactures even if the military doesn’t even really want some them. Just think how much money it takes to maintain and protect thousands upon thousand of U.S. nuclear warheads versus how much the food stamp program costs! Why do we need a capability for even ONE thousand nuclear warheads? Surely one or two can make life practically non-existent in great areas. Who’d have the strength or will to explode any more?

            I agree wholeheartedly. Militarism is a big part of statism thus my critcism of the un-Constitutional use of the military since WWII. Another part of statism is ‘social programs’ that do little except create indentured servants.

            Again governments reflect the virtue or lack thereof of the governed. So in a certain sense all the energy spent on trying to decide who is right is wasted. It is so easy to fall prey to whatever the ideological trends of the age happen to be. More important is to work on acquiring virtue and holiness so that the prophetic voice of the Church will be more clear and heard more easily.

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          Very eloquent Michael. What we now know about this tragedy is that two of the major networks (ABC and NBC) actually doctored transcripts and videotape to mitigate against Zimmerman. This is explosive. At the very least it lends credence to Zimmerman’s side of the equation.

          As for your other points re basic philosophy, I am in essential agreement. Self-defence is not anti-Christian and government isn’t either. We forget that in Eden, government was instituted with man having dominion over the earthy. Government after a fashion exists as well in the Kingdom of Heaven, where all are subject to the Lordship of the Triune God (a true monarchy). There is no legislature, judiciary, or bureaucracy in Heaven, hence no socialism, democracy, egalitarianism, etc. Therefore those of us who feel we can escape government here on earth are deluded. Having said that, Jefferson provided prescription for government: “That which governs least, governs best.”

  9. Deficits are a matter of revenue being lower than spending. They are not simply a matter of revenue. They are not simply a matter of spending. It is always necessary to look at both sides of the equation.

    Tax revenue fluctuates with the economy, government spending does not. If the economy grows faster than CBS estimates (which are not detailed in this chart) then the deficits will be lower than the chart projects.

    So the real issue for deficit control is not to try to match spending to revenue on an annual basis, but to try to contain spending so that in good years the deficits are made whole. And, of course, the best plan is to build up a reserve so that in bad years the deficits are paid from previously collected revenues.

    But this conservative approach was rejected by Alan Greenspan and George W. Bush at the dawn of the Bush presidency, budget surpluses were identified as a grave evil that would tempt liberals to spend, and thus it was necessary to pass economy-warping tax cuts in order to prevent that spending.

    And then came 9/11, Afghanistan, an optional side-trip to Iraq just for laughs, and Medicare D on the home front. All while passing further revenue reductions.

    By the end of the Bush presidency the economy was in the toilet, so revenues were further depressed than ever. The option facing Bush at the end of his term and Obama as the beginning of his was to allow the nation to enter the deflationary vortex, or to increase government deficits in order to prevent deflation. Both presidents made the sane choice to prevent deflation.

    And the right-wing went nuts.

    The nation resolved the WWII deficits by growing the economy, even as top marginal tax rates (with very few economy-warping tax cuts) were at 70%. The nation resolved the Reagan deficits by growing the economy even as the top marginal tax rates were 39.5%. The nation can resolve the current deficits by growing the economy.

    Cutting government spending does not grow the economy. Cutting taxes at the top does not grow the economy. In fact the fastest non-governmental way to grow the economy is to give a relatively small wage increase to those who earn the least, because they will spend freely. Giving a large tax break to those who already are not utilizing the surplus they’ve amassed will not grow the economy.

    To put it bluntly: a tax preference for self-declared “unemployed” Mitt Romney will not lead to economic growth. A minimum wage increase for the janitor will.

    • CQ, that was good, in my opinion. I especially appreciated your ability to write intelligently without any back-handed sideswipes at “Rightists” or Repubicans or the like.. There are some others contributing here who can’t seem to produce one paragraph without sideswiping “leftists’ or the like. You didn’t mention rightists even once Let’s see if anyone can contradict you on the merits without referring to lefties of leftists or liberals, OK?

    • Michael Bauman says

      The question is whether an increase in the minimum wage will restrict the low end job market more than it helps by creating velocity? Do you have any acutal, relative unbiased studies on the matter since most ot the information out there is simply an ideological position of the left or the right.

      Unfortunately, President Bush turned out to be nearly as much a statist as did his opponents, or so it seems.

      If folks would just eschew the left/right dichotomy….recognize the ideological positions as simply that==ideological and do more thinking it might just help.

      Do you think that any of Obama’s policies actually grow the ecomony? If so which ones and why? I’ll give you the how.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      CQ, Bush 43 pretty much reneged on basic conservatism, on that we can agree. My fear however is that there will never be a time when people will want to go back to simpler, smaller government in which the people themselves will be more self-sufficient. I’m afraid that the nanny-state has narcotized us to the point of complete dependence.

  10. JD Pomerantz says

    As a shadow-stalker of this blog I can no longer resist making a comment, so here goes: every analysis trying to pin the deficit on a particular party, group, or politician fails because it misses a fundamental point: to borrow from de Toqueville, the deficit problem arose because of individual Americans’ belief that they may vote themselves their neighbours’ wealth, and that they are entitled to positive rights. Welfare queens, crony capitalist CEO’s, able-bodied sluggards living on SSI payments, our $300/toilet seat military-industrial complex, student loan defaulters, house-poor middle class materialists (who believe themselves entitled to live in a Mcmansion in Hoity-toityville when they can’t afford it), and anybody receiving any “entitlement” for any reason, all have this in common: they are equally guilty of thievery of others’ equity. Until this issue is faced, there can be no resolution of the debt crisis.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Thank you JD for putting the problem in such a succinct fashion. De Toqueville was completely correct.

  11. Diogenes says

    Nobody Understands Debt

    In 2011, as in 2010, America was in a technical recovery but continued to suffer from disastrously high unemployment. And through most of 2011, as in 2010, almost all the conversation in Washington was about something else: the allegedly urgent issue of reducing the budget deficit.

    Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
    Paul Krugman

    This misplaced focus said a lot about our political culture, in particular about how disconnected Congress is from the suffering of ordinary Americans. But it also revealed something else: when people in D.C. talk about deficits and debt, by and large they have no idea what they’re talking about — and the people who talk the most understand the least.

    Perhaps most obviously, the economic “experts” on whom much of Congress relies have been repeatedly, utterly wrong about the short-run effects of budget deficits. People who get their economic analysis from the likes of the Heritage Foundation have been waiting ever since President Obama took office for budget deficits to send interest rates soaring. Any day now!

    And while they’ve been waiting, those rates have dropped to historical lows. You might think that this would make politicians question their choice of experts — that is, you might think that if you didn’t know anything about our postmodern, fact-free politics.

    But Washington isn’t just confused about the short run; it’s also confused about the long run. For while debt can be a problem, the way our politicians and pundits think about debt is all wrong, and exaggerates the problem’s size.

    Deficit-worriers portray a future in which we’re impoverished by the need to pay back money we’ve been borrowing. They see America as being like a family that took out too large a mortgage, and will have a hard time making the monthly payments.

    This is, however, a really bad analogy in at least two ways.

    First, families have to pay back their debt. Governments don’t — all they need to do is ensure that debt grows more slowly than their tax base. The debt from World War II was never repaid; it just became increasingly irrelevant as the U.S. economy grew, and with it the income subject to taxation.

    Second — and this is the point almost nobody seems to get — an over-borrowed family owes money to someone else; U.S. debt is, to a large extent, money we owe to ourselves.

    This was clearly true of the debt incurred to win World War II. Taxpayers were on the hook for a debt that was significantly bigger, as a percentage of G.D.P., than debt today; but that debt was also owned by taxpayers, such as all the people who bought savings bonds. So the debt didn’t make postwar America poorer. In particular, the debt didn’t prevent the postwar generation from experiencing the biggest rise in incomes and living standards in our nation’s history.

    But isn’t this time different? Not as much as you think.

    It’s true that foreigners now hold large claims on the United States, including a fair amount of government debt. But every dollar’s worth of foreign claims on America is matched by 89 cents’ worth of U.S. claims on foreigners. And because foreigners tend to put their U.S. investments into safe, low-yield assets, America actually earns more from its assets abroad than it pays to foreign investors. If your image is of a nation that’s already deep in hock to the Chinese, you’ve been misinformed. Nor are we heading rapidly in that direction.

    Now, the fact that federal debt isn’t at all like a mortgage on America’s future doesn’t mean that the debt is harmless. Taxes must be levied to pay the interest, and you don’t have to be a right-wing ideologue to concede that taxes impose some cost on the economy, if nothing else by causing a diversion of resources away from productive activities into tax avoidance and evasion. But these costs are a lot less dramatic than the analogy with an overindebted family might suggest.

    And that’s why nations with stable, responsible governments — that is, governments that are willing to impose modestly higher taxes when the situation warrants it — have historically been able to live with much higher levels of debt than today’s conventional wisdom would lead you to believe. Britain, in particular, has had debt exceeding 100 percent of G.D.P. for 81 of the last 170 years. When Keynes was writing about the need to spend your way out of a depression, Britain was deeper in debt than any advanced nation today, with the exception of Japan.

    Of course, America, with its rabidly antitax conservative movement, may not have a government that is responsible in this sense. But in that case the fault lies not in our debt, but in ourselves.

    So yes, debt matters. But right now, other things matter more. We need more, not less, government spending to get us out of our unemployment trap. And the wrongheaded, ill-informed obsession with debt is standing in the way.

    • Krugman is a hysteric. All last year he said that we haven’t spent enough money, that we needed more stimuli. Only a complete moron could say something that stupid.

    • Thanks, Diogenes. Krugman’s noticeably calm and lucid comments give the lie to those who would call him an hysteric, it seems to me. I guess that’s a substitute for taking one of his points and trying to demolish it. If Krugman said we needed more stimulus, I don’t see how that is a substitute for an IQ test, which is the conservative, accepted way of measuring intelligence and of labelling men ‘morons” “sub-morons” and so forth.
      I don’t think pontificating is a substitute for the IQ test.
      I really think I’m through this time. i began participating in this blog when it showed signs of focussing on the injustice of Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick’s deposition, of the hounding of Bishop Nikolai from Alaska, the rabid attacks on Metropolitan Jonah and Protopriest Joseph Fester all caused by the OCA’s contribution to the modern American scene, ‘The Ratty Pack.” The Protopresbyter, the Bishop and the rest were all attacked on personal, not ideological grounds, except insofar as some have an ideological attachment to SVS, and the Metropolitan Council and are willing to lie or die in order to preserve either one of them.
      I learned growing up that all Americans are absolute, unchallengeable experts on the question of race and that this is inborn and any systemic study or scholarly endeavors around that question are to evaluated ONLY on the basis ‘Does that coincide with what I KNOW?”
      Now the same syndrome has transformed asll Americans from racial experts to the unchallengeable savants on the American Economy, with the same criterion for evaluating scholarly or expert endeavors; ‘Does what they say coincide with what I KNOW?”
      I have some time left which would be better spent praying that Protopresbyter Rodion S. kondratick will have all his Priestly privileges and functions and blessings restored to him.
      I don’t question the motives or intelligence of anyone posting here: I just ask that it be understood that much of the talk about national economics and finance as well as race and crime and guns are just lock-step same-ole” same-ole” and resembling the playground more than any Athenian town square, and the idea the title of the blog is coming to seem inappropriate. Auf Wiedersehen! See you on Facebook, if possible.

      • Mike Myers says

        Your Grace, if you leave, the rationality index here would drop signficantly. The signal/noise ratio, too. I hope you’ll reconsider, notwithstanding the tiresomeness of most of the tendencies you point to. I ask partly because I enjoy reading you but also because your fact/reality checks and requests for accountablilty on things great and small are so needed here. In all the months I’ve read this blog I can’t recall such a flood of distortions, projections, irrationality, dishonesty and baseless assertions in so short a period as in the past week or two. And that is saying something. A dike is under construction in these cybernetherlands to postpone inundation by the Sea of Chaos. Your fingers (and toes) are irreplaceable. Please reconsider. Kissing your right hand, Mike.

        • Jane Rachel says

          This morning before I logged onto Monomakhos I was contemplating the same thing, and for pretty much the same reasons. I’m just disappointed. I think some of the less vocal contributors here have been wiser than I have. If the articles and discussions go back to being about the Church, or issues I can learn from, and if the discussions are about the OCA, and making right what was made wrong, I’ll probably end up contributing. I wish it would happen! I wish, I hope, I pray, that the wrongs will be made right in the OCA. (P.S. Mike, I really appreciate your comment to me earlier.)

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            Your Grace, your contributions to this blog have been signal and much appreciated. This blog however has been and always will be about the cutlure as well as religion. I for one have never bought into the illogic that said “my religion is private, I don’t care if my neighbor is starving.”

            The recent travesty that happened in Florida cannot be viewed in the context of our supposed immunity because we are Orthodox. I reject such a presupposition. The moral rot that led to Trayvon Martin’s death is due to a loss of basic decency.

            As for your other concerns about what happened to Fr Robert or Bishp Nikolai, I am vitally concerned for the truth and I am pursue it to the extent that I can.

            If anything, things have been rather quiescent on the OCA front, which to my mind is a good thing. Last year, Great Lent was absolutely ruined for me because of the Protopresbyterians who tried to do a hatchet job on our Primate. Perhaps the tide has turned.

            We go on, we ask hard questions and allow open debate. We welcome all comers and wish no one ill-will.

      • Diogenes says

        BT, that’s just nutz! It was proven RSK embezzled millions from the OCA. He should be in prison. It’s well-known he was laundering money in Las Vegas. Nicolai was thrown out of Alaska by ALL the priests who rebelled against him – why? Because he is nutz! Ask any of the priests in Alaska about his megalomania and having conversations with his own multiple personalities. Fester is another nut case. He should have never been put in any position of authority after being RSK’s hand-picked guy in Syosset. Fester should have been deposed. And Jonah, is clearly psychotic. Growing up in Calif doing more dope than could be grown. Turning his life around yet, in the same breath, he praises Schmemann and Rose and every other nut convert. Clearly, Jonah belongs back in his little monastery and not in any role to lead or pretend to lead. And as far you (BT) are concerned, as many have said, you should have never been ordained and never been consecrated. Single-handedly, you almost completely destroyed the Diocese of the West. You certainly have done more than enough trying to destroy the reputations of many good priests and bishops with your gossip, lies and innuendo. Get thee to a monastery and pray for your miserable soul; death comes to all of us much too soon.

        • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says

          After your latest string of invective and ad hominem attacks behind a comfortable veil of anonymity, “Diogenes,” I think it is time for you to live up to your pseudonym, demonstrate some integrity, and reveal your true identity. Otherwise your comments here are unworthy of additional response.

          • George,

            This comment of Diogenes is clearly over the line. Whether this person reveals his real name or not, these pathetic words are not worthy of this website. We may have strong opinions on these people attacked but this is written to hurt and somehow justify hatred.

            Diogenes, the only thing I feel for you is pity. May the Lord have mercy on your soul.

        • Nothing illegal was proven (in fact, the settlement paid by the OCA to the Kondraticks would likely have had an agreement that admitted no wrong doing on RSK’s part), and the County DA, the IRS and the FBI passed on any prosecution, even of a minor misdemeanor, of this suppposed multi-million dollar heist. The OCAers continue their false narrative simply because they can, even though every objective forum for justice (the various County and Federal law enforcement agencies breathlessly contacted by Wheeler, Stokoe, Skordinski, etc) refused to pursue any prosecution at all, not even open an investigation! Your silence on this particular issue is very telling, because you’re at a loss to explain it away. You know that the government passed on prosecuting him and you have nothing to say about it. They made you and the whole MC/Synod cabal look like idiots.

          You have absolutely nothing on RSK and the SIC report was a joke, so stop bloviating. It just makes you look more and more like an infantile jerk every time you write something.

          • Little do you know regarding the “back-room” deals that were cut. RSK shredded most of the files to incriminate himself. The emails from others at Syosset had and the secret bank transfers were found. They followed the money trail. Both + Theodosius & RSK were culpable. + Theodosius had to step down for “health reasons” and RSK was defrocked and should have been prosecuted and put in jail like his son. Don’t say evidence didn’t exist; it did, but these are now sealed files with the deals made. Next you’ll be saying that + Herman didn’t take mortgages out on St. Tikhon’s property illegally.

            • Back-room deals? “They” followed the money trail? Who followed the money trail?

              Let me understand what you’re saying here… The Metropolitan Council and the SIC were such incredibly brilliant investigators that they uncovered this evidence (“the money trail”), defrocked RSK, took the evidence to the County DA, the IRS, the FBI (and who knows whatever other federal agency), and the feds looked at this brilliant investigative work and did what, exactly?

              Yes, that’s right. They did NOTHING. Nada. Zilch. Nichevo.

              (Well, they probably did do something. They probably laughed, and then escorted Skordinski out of the office.)

              So, incredibly, what we have here is an objective forum, the county, state and federal governments, more than happy and willing to prosecute even minor offenses, let alone embezzlement, wire fraud, and tax evasion (all of the things that RSK was accused of), and they took a pass on prosecuting an “open and shut case.”

              One more time, for those of you keeping score…

              They did what? They did …..

              N O T H I N G.


            • Monk James says

              Apparently, ‘Diogenes’ is unaware that Fr Robert Kobdratick’s son was exonerated and that all charges against him have been dropped. So, if FrRK and his son are thought to resemble each other, perhaps they both should be regarded as innocent.

              • What very good news. I suppose we can now except an apology from Chris Banescu for his ugly comment about Fr Kondratick and his son. I won’t hold my breath.

                • Monk James says

                  Good news, indeed! Now let’s see how long it takes the prejudiced writers of ‘the apple falls not far from the tree’ condemnations to apologize to the Kondratick family and to all of us on the orthodox internet.

            • Just curious, where is all this money he stole?? Does he own a boat somewhere? A nice house, property, lots of vacations . . . ?? Did he pay the Church back hundreds of thousands? If I had lots of money that I stole, I might go off and live in cognito. What’s to loose? He lost his reputation, job, he’s scorned . . . .

              • Geo Michalopulos says

                Being fairly new to the OCA, I never knew anything about Fr Robert, Syosset, etc. However I knew I smelled a rat when Kondratick’s critics kept talking about “millions of dollars” that he supposedly pilfered from the OCA. The OCA or any Orthodox jurisdiction does not now have, nor ever had “millions of dollars” laying around, ripe for the taking. Even if we added up every parish, monastery, instiution, etc., we would certainly have real property in the realm of tens of millions of dollars but it would not translate into liquid assets. Nor are the properties in question owned outright by the central church administratioins.

                In other words, even if there was a united American Orthodox Church with 1800 parishes, 50 monasteries, 6 seminaries, and a dozen chanceries, this kind of money could only be raised if all the assets were lquidated.

            • M. Stankovich says

              The real Diogenes scorned, berated, and “hounded” (yeah, recall the dog too), as a means, not an end. My friend, I feel like a man standing in the street with a throng of creeps – some in cassocks & some not – but arrogant magpies, one and all. Precariously you stand on a ledge while they chant, “Jump! Jump!” The undercurrent down here on the street, however, is “but tell us every salacious detail before you do.” And when I open my eyes, the departing cassocks are saying, “Well, we can’t bury him…” and the rest of the creeps are tweeting “for your soul.”

              My thought: blow out the lamp and stand down. You could possibly hear a voice say, “Beloved, you are forgiven.” Whose voice would that be? Yours.

        • Sounds to me like Diogenes suffers from the Don Quixote Syndrome.

        • Oooh, now there’s a glaring omission from the official biography! Where, pray tell, should we squeeze in this tale of alleged drug use for the sake of completeness, Diogenes?

          Really, I gotta give Diogenes credit for finally coughing up a concrete allegation of sorts, even if it is completely bogus. Seriously, drugs? Just because he’s from California? There’s more than one California boy on the Holy Synod, you know.

          Diogenes, I don’t see how you can say Metropolitan Jonah shouldn’t be an active bishop, but that it’s okay for him to run a monastery. At least a bishop has to work with others, and people will notice if there’s something wrong with him. It’s interesting, by the way, to see how many common laypeople have come forward saying they think Metropolitan Jonah is a crazy crack-head… oh wait, it’s only his political and theological opponents who have done that. People who know him, care about him, and have no reason to get rid of him have strangely had no complaints about his sanity. Hmm…

          On the other hand, an abbot of a monastery can pretty much run that show with little oversight, until there’s a big and obvious problem, as we’ve seen in episode after tragic episode here in the US.

          The bottom line here is this: Your saying that the supposedly crazy, drug-addled Metropolitan should be taken out of office and put in charge of a monastery tells me that you don’t really believe your own accusations. Someone who’s truly messed up in the head shouldn’t be an active bishop, but they certainly shouldn’t be in charge of a monastery, either, where there’s a far greater potential for authority and obedience to be abused than in the episcopacy.

          The fact that you either don’t understand, or are ignoring that, tells me you’re not really motivated by any concern for the Metropolitan’s sanity, but merely a desire not to be under his leadership any longer. Falsely accusing someone of being drug-addled and psychotic is an abhorrent thing to do on its own, but doing it just to get rid of a leader you don’t like is even worse.

          I really don’t know what to say to you, Diogenes, except that you should print out your previous comment and show it to your spiritual father. Ask him what he thinks of what you have said and done here.

          • Helga, you assume that Diogenes is even a Christian, let alone Orthodox with a spiritual father. His comments have disqualified him from any serious consideration as a contributor to this blog.

            • Nikos, while I find Diogenes’ behavior completely abhorrent, it’s always a good thing to call people back from their sins.

              • Geo Michalopulos says

                Helga, PDNJ, Nikos, et al:

                we should pray for Diogenes. This kind of hatred is and bile is the product of a diseased mind.

                Diogenes: since of all the men you slandered, only Bishop Tikhon posts on this blog, you owe him a direct apology. As for the other people you slandered, you run the very real risk of a defamation suit.

                • Anna Rowe says

                  Very true George. The risk of a defamation suit is very real for all even if a pseudo is used. There have been many instances of slander posted by others and there is no reason for it. It is hateful and cowardly.

        • Yeah, way out of line. Is it just that you don’t like Californians? Or are you just intolerant of anyone who does not see the world as you see it?

  12. Dean Calvert says

    Just in from the WSJ this morning. Thought it might be instructive:

    ‎”At this point, the economy is 12% smaller than it would have been had we stayed on trend growth since 2007.”

    Anyone who doesn’t understand who’s to blame for the current mess simply isn’t paying attention.

    Oh…and then there’s this little exchange between Larry Kudlow and John Taylor (Hoover Institute, Stanford) last week at 1:18 Do you know what happens to an economy when you double the national debt, and then interest rates rise? Never heard the word “lethal” used before in an economics context.

    Wake up people. You can blame “Bush” and the wars all you want. Was Bush (or the Congressional Republicans) a good economic steward? No.

    But from an economics point of view, we are in a brand new game now..completely uncharted waters. This chart, of Monetary Base (Fed Res Bk of St Louis) shows everything you need to know. The raw material for money supply (ie the monetary base) has tripled in the past four years. This is not normal incompetence – this is Weimar Republic type stuff.

    The bottom line is that the lack of growth caused by this president’s policies, in addition to the debt he has piled on, is quickly sinking this country.

    “Lethal” may not be an exaggeration.


    • Dear and esteemed Dean,
      “the lack of growth caused by this president’s policies?”
      I know what megalomania is, but what would be attribution of First Cause to President Obama’s “policies” be?
      Is there a list of President Obama’s economic policies around? Are any of them the same policies as put forth by previous administrations/presidents?
      Is there a responsible economist (he doesn’t have to have a Nobel Prize in the field like Krugman, whose evaluations are to be discarded because of his obvious hysteria) who would say of America, “By 2012 President Obama’s policies caused the American economy to stop growing?”

      • Dean Calvert says

        Your Grace,

        The list of “anti growth” policies of this administration are too long to list comprehensively, but must certainly include:

        1.) devaluation of the US dollar
        2.) looming multi-trillion dollar tax hikes (jan 2013)
        3.) short term, one might say petulant, economic planning (cash for klunkers, payroll tax games)
        4.) constant and incessant anti-business rhetoric (nonsensical Buffet rule etc)
        5.) support a Federal Reserve policy of accommodating the voracious appetite of the US Treasury, resulting in the FED’s purchasing of 60% of the debt issued (unheard of in history)
        6.) an energy policy which verges on schizophrenic (declining leases on Federal lands, Excel pipeline decision etc)

        Forgive my bluntness, but I was a money manager for 20 years, with my own business, and studied the Fed as closely as anyone you are likely to ever meet. I left the field in 2001, (pre 911), because the valuation numbers were no longer making sense. By the way, I carried my love of history into the field, and as a result my money supply, interest rate, and economic database statistics go back well over 100 years (more than most banks).

        We have had good and bad presidents on both sides of the aisle…this is not about partisanship.

        Neither is this about “ordinary incompetence”..Jimmy Carter was simply incompetent. Gerald Ford was not far behind. The Republic can withstand that.

        This is magnitudes worse. From an economics point of view, Klugman notwithstanding (to be honest, despite his nobel prize, he is not a particularly highly esteemed economist), the actions of this administration have placed the entire system in jeopardy…SERIOUS jeopardy. For example, the interest on the national debt is approximately $400 billion a year…with t-bill rates at 0.2% What happens when T-bill rates go back to the historical norm of 3.5% (50 year average)?

        Here’s what happens..we have already witnessed it in Sweden, Iceland, Argentina, Mexico…all at various points in time. The currenty swoons, and domestic interest rates are forced up (in Iceland they ended up at 49%) to prevent a run on the currency…that’s what happens. Oh, and by the way, the sequel is that the parliament/congress meets, and settles all of these entitlement problems in an afternoon…BY CHOPPING THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS OUT OF ALL OF THEM. Go back and check the history…it happened in every country I’ve listed (1980’s thru 2010). It’s as predictable as the seasons.

        All politics aside, this administration will be looked back upon as the American equivalent of Commodus and Nero – and we will be lucky to survive it’s mistakes.

        Finally, for a very quick and easy to understand picture of what is really going on in the economy, simply listen to any of Kudlow’s weekly talkshows. He explains more in a couple hours, more clearly, lucidly actually, than the next 10 places I could direct you to.

        This is NOT rocket science. The data and economic history proves that most of the policies pursued by this administration lead to ruin. Ronald Reagan understood it, and so did Bill Clinton.

        Best Regards,
        Dean Calvert

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          Dean, thanks for your soberness (leavened with your wit). Yes, the entitlements will have be cut –massively. That means that Grandma’s SS check is going to be drastically reduced, that all the people living in the 10-storey housing project aren’t gonna get their Welfare checks, that GE and Boeing aren’t gonna build the next generation of jet engines, etc.

          Does anybody want to think about what America is going to be like when the next president goes on TV and says “Due to the severe economic crisis, Welfare checks are going to be cut in half”? You ever wonder why gun and ammo sales are going through the roof?

      • Archpriest John W. Morris says

        I am not an economists, but I am an historian. I have no doubt that once the dust has settled and the next generation writes the history of the Obama administration, that he will be considered one of the worst presidents in our history. By any objective standard, he has been a complete failure. We have had the longest recession since the Great depression, the cost of gas has doubled, we have high unemployment, we have lost respect abroad during his administration. He is the most radically pro abortion and pro gay president in our history. Our nation is more divided than it has been since the Civil War. He deliberately tries to win by divide and conquer. We have not had a federal budget since he assumed office. Our deficit is out of control. I used to think that he was just an ideologue in over his head. Since his efforts to convince the American people that anyone who does not favor free birth control and abortion causing medicine is at war on women, I am convinced that he is a very dangerous and dishonest man who will do anything to stay in power. Even if I were a liberal, which I am not, I would distrust him. Even if he is trying to do the right thing, which I doubt, his methods have done great harm to the fabric of our democracy.

        Archpriest John W. Morris, Ph.D.

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          Fr, I cannot disagree with you about what he and his party have wrought on our once-great nation. Where I disagree with you is that I believe that he really believes in what he’s doing. Think of it this way: we will go through a decade-long crisis (as I believe he will be reelected) and what will come out the other end will be a different nation. In much the same way that we were a different nation before WWII than we were after, when we went from being a constitional Republic to an Empire.

  13. Carl Kraeff says

    Sorry Diogenes but I cannot believe that Krugman is considered to be a reliable source of of information or or useful economic analysis.

  14. Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

    P.S. “People wish their enemies dead–but I do not; I say give them the gout, give them the stone.” (Lady Montagu)

  15. Push the Kool-aid away for a minute and read this: 10 Reasons Why the US Economy May be Getting Ready to Tank

    Also check out Harvard professor Greg Mankiw’s blog: Monitoring the So Called Recovery. It’s a chart.

  16. A sidenote on Social Security and Medicare in the USA

    Here’s the way it should be:
    Let’s put the seniors in jail and the criminals in nursing homes.
    This would correct two things in one motion:
    Seniors would have access to showers, hobbies and walks.
    They would receive unlimited free prescriptions, dental and medical Treatment, wheel chairs, etc.
    They would receive money instead of having to pay it out.
    They would have constant video monitoring, so they would be helped instantly… If they fell or needed assistance.
    Bedding would be washed twice a week and all clothing would be ironed and returned to them.
    A guard would check on them every 20 minutes.
    All meals and snacks would be brought to them.
    They would have family visits in a suite built for that purpose.
    They would have access to a library, weight/fitness room, spiritual counseling, a pool and education…and free admission to in-house concerts by nationally recognized entertainment artists.
    Simple clothing – i.e.. Shoes, slippers, pj’s – and legal aid would be free, upon request.
    There would be private, secure rooms provided for all with an outdoor exercise yard complete with gardens.
    Each senior would have a P.C., T.V., phone and radio in their room at no cost.
    They would receive daily phone calls.
    There would be a board of directors to hear any complaints and the ACLU would fight for their rights and protection.
    The guards would have a code of conduct to be strictly adhered to, with attorneys available, at no charge to protect the seniors and their families from abuse or neglect.

    As for the criminals:
    They would receive cold food.
    They would be left alone and unsupervised.
    They would receive showers once a week.
    They would live in tiny rooms, for which they would have to pay $5,000 per month.
    They would have no hope of ever getting out.