Wizardpc sums up the budget/debt ceiling debate most succinctly:
Democrats, Republicans, and Obama: Behold! We have a deal! And there are massive cuts.
Democrats: Republicans are evil, and these cuts are going to kill Granny.
Republicans: These cuts are awesome. We totally won!
Tea Party: Umm…these cuts don’t amount to much more than a rounding errror. $100b a year? And most of the cuts don’t come until like 8 years from now? If those were binding, wouldn’t the current budget be the one Republicans came up with in 2003? [emphasis added]
One Congress cannot bind another. That’s not how it works. Anyone claiming otherwise is trying to pretend cuts exist where there are none.
And when you borrow heavily to do so, with no hope of paying it back, you get downgraded.
The S&P’s statement read:
We lowered our long-term rating on the U.S. because we believe that the prolonged controversy over raising the statutory debt ceiling and the related fiscal policy debate indicate that further near-term progress containing the growth in public spending, especially on entitlements, or on reaching an agreement on raising revenues is less likely than we previously assumed and will remain a contentious and fitful process. We also believe that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the Administration agreed to this week falls short of the amount that we believe is necessary to stabilize the general government debt burden by the middle of the decade. [emphasis added]
No shit, Sherlock.
When the ruling class tries to claim an $8.5 trillion dollar spending increase (over ten years) is a $1 trillion dollar cut (thanks to the miracle of baseline budgeting; after all, if they hadn’t “cut” a trillion bucks, they would have increased spending by $9.5 trillion), it’s patently obvious that those in charge of budgeting have neither the ability nor the inclination to cut (or even freeze) spending.
We can’t ignore the problem any more.
There are 10^11 stars in the galaxy. That used to be a huge number. But it’s only a hundred billion. It’s less than the national deficit! We used to call them astronomical numbers. Now we should call them economical numbers.
Feynman died in 1988. The national debt in 1988 was $2.6 trillion.
It’s now $14.3 trillion. Five and a half times what it was at Feynman’s death.
And cuts so much you’d think he was emo. Entire departments get the axe, and by the end, he’s cut enough to get a $237 billion surplus.
That’s impressive enough; even if we cut that deeply, given the current debt situation, it would take more than sixty years to pay off the debt.
It’s a moot point, I suppose. No one in Washington is willing to cut enough to make a difference, and given baseline budgeting, any “cuts” are actually just reductions in the amount of increase.
Jerry Pournelle pointed out a couple days ago that because of how budget “cuts” are calculated, we could freeze spending at current levels for the next ten years and then claim that we “cut” $9.5 trillion.
Douglas Adams was wrong; bistromathics is kids’ play compared to bureaumathics.
Once again, the Senate has elected to put partisan politics over dealing with the nation’s fiscal house; Reid refuses to put up a plan of his own, while simultaneously shooting down every offer that passes the House.
If the debt ceiling is as big a problem as the Democrats are saying it is, then why aren’t they willing to compromise on anything at all to avoid default?
If anyone is playing brinksmanship games with the debt ceiling, it’s the President and Senate. You can’t say that default would be unbelievably bad in one breath and in the next claim that you aren’t willing to give up any of your demands.
Edit: I’m not saying that the Republican plans are ideal; but even the most unideal plan conceived would be better than failing to hike the debt ceiling and the ensuing default, according to the hyperbole.
But no longer.
Greek protestors (probably more of those “anarchists“) are so against the idea of budget cuts that they’ve rioted; the unions are against what the government is doing with the power system, and so there will be blackouts.
I hope they like living without modern conveniences.
Like the saying goes, “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”
The Greeks have run out.
I don’t think this new “austere” budget is actually going to accomplish anything; I think they’re going to continue their profligate spending (just like they did months ago after they passed the last “austerity” measures). They only went through the motions so that the IMF and EU would reinfuse them with cash.