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Thu Dec 13, 2012, 10:28 AM

Brilliant Article: Why Republicans Can’t Propose Spending Cuts

This article is VERY worth the read.

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2012/12/why-republicans-cant-propose-spending-cuts.html

“Where are the president’s spending cuts?” asks John Boehner. With Republicans coming to grips with their inability to stop taxes on the rich from rising, the center of the debate has turned to the expenditure side. In the short run, the two parties have run into an absurd standoff, where Republicans demand that President Obama produce an offer of higher spending cuts, and Obama replies that Republicans should say what spending cuts they want, and Republicans insist that Obama should try to guess what kind of spending cuts they would like.
Reporters are presenting this as a kind of negotiating problem, based on each side’s desire for the other to stick its neck out first. But it actually reflects a much more fundamental problem than that. Republicans think government spending is huge, but they can’t really identify ways they want to solve that problem, because government spending is not really huge. That is to say, on top of an ideological gulf between the two parties, we have an epistemological gulf. The Republican understanding of government spending is based on hazy, abstract notions that don’t match reality and can’t be translated into a workable program.
Let’s unpack this a bit. We all know Republicans want to spend less money. So the construction of the debate appears, on the surface, to be a pretty simple continuum based on policy preferences. Republicans like Mitch McConnell say government spending is “out of control” and would, at least ideally, like to bring it into line with revenue entirely through spending cuts. Democrats like Obama endorse a “balanced” solution with revenue and taxes. Right-thinking centrists, like the CEO community and their publicists like Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei, think we should cut deeply into entitlement spending while also raising tax revenue. (VandeHei, in a video accompanying his execrable story, asserts, “There’s money to be cut everywhere.”)
There really isn’t money to be cut everywhere. The United States spends way less money on social services than do other advanced countries, and even that low figure is inflated by our sky-high health-care prices. The retirement benefits to programs like Social Security are quite meager. Public infrastructure is grossly underfunded.

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Arrow 39 replies Author Time Post
Reply Brilliant Article: Why Republicans Can’t Propose Spending Cuts (Original post)
DonRedwood Dec 2012 OP
Melissa G Dec 2012 #1
phantom power Dec 2012 #2
Johnyawl Dec 2012 #7
mac56 Dec 2012 #13
sulphurdunn Dec 2012 #24
DonRedwood Dec 2012 #32
sulphurdunn Dec 2012 #39
upaloopa Dec 2012 #26
mindwalker_i Dec 2012 #27
iemitsu Dec 2012 #34
rainy Dec 2012 #12
Sadiedog Dec 2012 #31
Sheepshank Dec 2012 #3
TahitiNut Dec 2012 #4
backscatter712 Dec 2012 #5
vlyons Dec 2012 #6
Johnyawl Dec 2012 #8
closeupready Dec 2012 #14
Stonepounder Dec 2012 #15
closeupready Dec 2012 #19
docgee Dec 2012 #9
LeftInTX Dec 2012 #16
ReRe Dec 2012 #38
riverbendviewgal Dec 2012 #10
ProSense Dec 2012 #11
Liberal1975 Dec 2012 #17
Martin Eden Dec 2012 #30
uponit7771 Dec 2012 #18
s-cubed Dec 2012 #20
SunSeeker Dec 2012 #35
Cha Dec 2012 #21
JackHughes Dec 2012 #22
horsedoc Dec 2012 #23
underpants Dec 2012 #25
freshwest Dec 2012 #28
BlancheSplanchnik Dec 2012 #29
Bjorn Against Dec 2012 #33
jmowreader Dec 2012 #36
nxylas Dec 2012 #37

Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 11:06 AM

1. kicking for a good read.

Thanks for posting.

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 11:09 AM

2. first of all...

Republicans *don't* actually care about cutting spending. What they care about is diverting public spending, to private corporations run by themselves and their cronies.

Secondly, there *is* a big fat low-hanging fruit of public spending we could cut: military spending. But even if they wanted to, they'd have a problem there because so much of the GOP brand is built on worshipping the military industrial complex, and at this point their own constituency would consider it a betrayal.

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Response to phantom power (Reply #2)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 11:31 AM

7. That "big fat low-hanging fruit"...

...provides a LOT of good paying, middle class jobs. Many of those jobs are union jobs in states represented by Democrats, which is why neither side is proposing serious cuts to the defense budget.

It's not just the republicans and their constituency's worship of the MIC; a great many Democrats, and their loyal union constituency need those MIC jobs.

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Response to Johnyawl (Reply #7)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 12:32 PM

13. True, but

just about everything the Repos are hell-bent-for-leather to cut also provide a LOT of good paying, middle-class jobs.

Sauce for the goose. If that's a reason to leave military spending alone, it's also a reason to leave other spending alone.

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Response to Johnyawl (Reply #7)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 07:07 PM

24. Then convert the MIC

from the making of swords to the making of plowshares...and maybe beer.

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Response to sulphurdunn (Reply #24)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 11:47 PM

32. i like your fish

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Response to DonRedwood (Reply #32)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 12:18 PM

39. Actually,

he's his own fish and never lets me forget it.

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Response to Johnyawl (Reply #7)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 07:46 PM

26. We spend billions outside this country on defense.

We do not need to be the world cops and we do not need to be some other countries military. Cut the shit out of that

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Response to Johnyawl (Reply #7)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 08:15 PM

27. I kill people

If you make that illegal, I'll be out of a job.

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Response to Johnyawl (Reply #7)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 01:08 AM

34. All those good paying union jobs can be retained

by retooling the military industrial complex into a domestic infrastructural complex.

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Response to phantom power (Reply #2)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 11:42 AM

12. You nailed it Phantom power:

"Republicans *don't* actually care about cutting spending. What they care about is diverting public spending, to private corporations run by themselves and their cronies."

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Response to phantom power (Reply #2)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 10:59 PM

31. Yes indeed! NT

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 11:12 AM

3. Sometimes stating what IS the obvious but unrecognized reality.....

....makes the article resonate, and you just know it true!!

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 11:22 AM

4. "How much am I bid for these hostages?"

Rusty Boner's "offers" sound more like ransom demands.

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 11:27 AM

5. The funny thing is that Obama already stuck his neck out.

During election season, he said he wanted to raise taxes. Granted, only on the wealthiest, but even that's enough to freak out a lot of people.

He said it outloud, said it proud, made his case, and you know what? The people agreed.

Meanwhile, the right-wing is still spewing bullshit and trying to come up with new ways to bamboozle the people into going against their own self interests.

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 11:30 AM

6. I'd like to see POTUS be first to name

DOD spending cuts, in excess of the sequester. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the GOP is adjourning to go home and decorate the tree.

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Response to vlyons (Reply #6)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 11:35 AM

8. Don't hold your breath...


...President Obama is not that stupid.

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Response to Johnyawl (Reply #8)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 12:57 PM

14. Why would promoting DOD cuts be "stupid"?

Seems like that's the first thing we need to do if we are all serious about balancing the budget.

Obama can't run for a third term, so who better to do it?

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Response to closeupready (Reply #14)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 01:10 PM

15. The Republicans are SO screwed.

If the Repubs actually propose cuts to Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid, they know that the public will effectively line them up against the wall. The Republican Party is already headed for the dust bin of history if it doesn't make significant changes, and we don't see any indication of that. Cutting the social safety-net would be the end of the GOP.

By the same token, if they propose cuts to the DOD, all the deep-pocket Military-Industrial companies who are getting filthy rich off war would line them up against the wall.

So the GOP is screwed either way. They are trying to make Obama make the proposal on where the cuts should be so they can blame him for it.

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Response to Stonepounder (Reply #15)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 01:20 PM

19. Yep. And I think everyone sees it, too.

That's why Obama is saying, "No, you first."

And welcome to DU!

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 11:40 AM

9. I don't understand...

If Medicare is a separate tax and is solvent to 2024(?) and Social Security is paid for by a separate tax, how do either of these contribute to the deficit? Why are these being discussed?

If they are talking about food stamps and welfare, we can probably pay for that with the tax Exxon, BP and GE should be paying.

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Response to docgee (Reply #9)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 01:13 PM

16. I think Medicare B & D is partially funded via income tax?

Hospital Insurance (HI) Trust Fund
How is it funded?

Payroll taxes paid by most employees, employers, and people who are self-employed
Other sources, like income taxes paid on Social Security benefits, interest earned on the trust fund investments, and Medicare Part A premiums from people who aren't eligible for premium-free Part A


What does it pay for?

Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) benefits, like inpatient hospital care, skilled nursing facility care, home health care, and hospice care
Medicare Program administration, like costs for paying benefits, collecting Medicare taxes, and combating fraud and abuse


Supplementary Medical Insurance (SMI) Trust Fund

How is it funded?

Funds authorized by Congress
Premiums from people enrolled in Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) and Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D)
Other sources, like interest earned on the trust fund investments


http://www.medicare.gov/about-us/how-medicare-is-funded/medicare-funding.html

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Response to docgee (Reply #9)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 10:20 AM

38. Because they want to get their fingers on all that money...

...they see an opportunity to make money, and they will do anything to get their hands on it. Lie, cheat, steal... They'll do anything. They have no conscience. They don't care about the people who will be harmed by privatizing something in our commons.

Now your second sentence is a very good idea (for us, aka, the People). But. did you know that we actually give all of those you mentioned subsidies? In other words, WE PAY THEM!!!

Welcome to DU.

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 11:40 AM

10. it is good article

K & R

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 11:41 AM

11. I don't agree with this point:

Let’s unpack this a bit. We all know Republicans want to spend less money. So the construction of the debate appears, on the surface, to be a pretty simple continuum based on policy preferences. Republicans like Mitch McConnell say government spending is “out of control” and would, at least ideally, like to bring it into line with revenue entirely through spending cuts. Democrats like Obama endorse a “balanced” solution with revenue and taxes. Right-thinking centrists, like the CEO community and their publicists like Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei, think we should cut deeply into entitlement spending while also raising tax revenue. (VandeHei, in a video accompanying his execrable story, asserts, “There’s money to be cut everywhere.”)

No, they don't. They don't care about spending less. They care about offsetting tax cuts for the rich with cuts to programs that will end up hurting everyone else.

The next point is an excellent one:

There really isn’t money to be cut everywhere. The United States spends way less money on social services than do other advanced countries, and even that low figure is inflated by our sky-high health-care prices. The retirement benefits to programs like Social Security are quite meager. Public infrastructure is grossly underfunded.

Why Aren't We Talking About EXPANDING Social Security and Medicare?
http://www.democraticunderground.com/10021950679

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Response to ProSense (Reply #11)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 01:14 PM

17. It's even worse...

"No, they don't. They don't care about spending less. They care about offsetting tax cuts for the rich with cuts to programs that will end up hurting everyone else."

I agree they don't care but like another poster pointed out above, what they really want is to keep spending the same, but divert the funds to themselves via their cronies.

The right wing base is living a pipe dream if they think the Republicans are going to lower their FICA or payroll taxes, no no no...they want to keep that delicious slice of revenue coming in, just as it is now. They just want to "reform" the programs that are fed with the money so that they they can get a huge cut.

The only real tax cut they have ever cared about is the one to the corporations and the ultra rich, the middle class cuts that where sprinkled in there by W were just cover.

I think even Republicans realize this that is why polling shows they are opposed to cuts in either program. "keep your government hands from my Medicare" and all that.

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Response to ProSense (Reply #11)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 10:35 PM

30. Yep ... "spending less money" is not what the Republicans are really after.

The overriding goal of the right is the destruction of the social contract between the government and the citizenry. They don't want to "reform" and definitely don't want to save "entitlement" programs like Social Security & Medicare -- they want to eliminate them.

Their long term strategy has been explicitly articulated and for the most part adhered to:
STARVE THE BEAST
Shrink government to a size that can be drowned in a bathtub.

They know these programs are popular and will never be eliminated as long as there is funding to keep them going. So their strategy is to make these programs unaffordable.

And how do you starve the beast?

Starve it of revenue. Fight tooth & nail against any tax increase, regardless of deficits.

In fact, deficits are absolutely essential to the Republican strategy.

That is the only way for them to achieve their long term goal.

Pretty obvious, but never mentioned in the MSM.

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 01:18 PM

18. This would be a great time to DEFINE the rethugs by what we "THINK" they want to cut the let them...

...say no to it all

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 03:21 PM

20. CUT DEFENSE! nt

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Response to s-cubed (Reply #20)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 01:46 AM

35. +1

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 03:39 PM

21. Boner wants to suck America dry now so he can give to wealthiest..

they didn't want Less Spending when bush-cheney were throwing money like mad fiends on two wars and a medicare drug plan without Paying for them.

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 05:48 PM

22. Republicans, policy and propaganda

If Republicans were to propose actual budget cuts they would be engaging in "policy."

But Republicans haven't engaged in actual "policy" since the Gingrich Revolution. Republicans leave policy to the Democrats, and then attack the Democrats' policy proposals.

Republicans don't make policy. Republicans just make propaganda.

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 06:05 PM

23. Cut our bloated defense budget

Im a veteran and support spending on providing for our troops and fellow vets but the JSF is going to cost over $1.5 trillion, come on!

http://nation.time.com/2012/12/11/more-bad-news-for-the-joint-strike-fighter/

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 07:31 PM

25. GREAT ARTICLE and the links in the article are must reads

I just spent 15 minutes clicking on the links and it is a wealth of information

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 08:37 PM

28. These paragraphs:

It’s true that Paul Ryan’s budget plan had some deep cuts. But none of those cuts touched Medicare for the next decade or Social Security at all. Ryan just kicked the crap out of the poor. So, that provision aside, if you’re not willing to inflict epic levels of suffering on the very poor, there just aren’t a lot of cuts to be had out there.

Republicans and even many centrists like to endorse taking away Medicare benefits from people like Warren Buffett. But even defining “Warren Buffett” at a level way below Warren Buffett’s income level yields pathetically little money. (The very rich have a vastly disproportionate share of income but not a vastly disproportionate share of entitlement benefits, which means taxing them produces way, way more savings than reducing their social spending.) This is why the spending side of the fiscal cliff negotiation is so discouraging. The potential cuts on the table range from fairly painful steps like reducing the Social Security cost-of-living index to even more painful steps like raising the Medicare retirement age, and none of them would save all that much money — certainly not on the scale that Republicans want.


Blood from a turnip.

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 09:38 PM

29. very good read. I was impressed at "epistomological" :)

Great job of analyzing the basic repuke understanding of gov't--which is to say, a poor understanding, separate from reality.

And this: the only budget cuts the pukes have "depend on a WILLINGNESS TO INFLICT EPIC AMOUNTS OF SUFFERING ON THE VERY POOR."

They hide that agenda from the public with their social conservatism...which kicks the crap out of the people their dumbass base is looking to offer as sacrifice to their god of punishment.

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 12:25 AM

33. There is actually lots of money that can be cut

Pentagon spending truly is out of control, if the Republicans truly cared about the deficit they would admit it but instead they call for more Pentagon waste.

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 03:03 AM

36. The problem in four parts

Part 1: The fat in the budget is mostly in the defense department. We are talking things like a radar-invisible fighter to use on countries that have no radars. Or huge armored divisions that burn a million gallons of fuel a day to go up against insurgents who wouldn't want tanks if they were free. We are gearing up to go to war against enemies who became our trading partners before some of the soldiers we have now were even born...and NOT gearing up to fight the enemies we actually have, which are terrorists.

Part 2: The Republicans will not accept defense cuts.

Part 3: Forty percent of our general budget is funded with borrowed money. But fifty percent of our general budget goes to the defense department.

Part 4: The only solution, then, is to raise taxes and that, too, is unacceptable.

So you see the problem: without raising taxes and getting the useless glory items (F-35, new Navy ships) we can't balance the budget because there isn't enough fat to cut. And even if we tried cuts-only we would still have to cut defense because the second huge slice of the budget is interest on the bonds sold to finance 31 years of delusion.

The GOP won't recommend cuts because they know spending cuts alone can't - not won't but can't - do what they demand. Remember, The Path to Austerity doesn't balance the budget for nearly 30 years.

Imagine taking a three year old daughter to get twelve shots and her ears pierced in one afternoon. She is going to scream and fight before the process starts, and before every needle goes in. That's where we are right now with the GOP - they know what is going to happen but are fighting every inch of it.

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Response to DonRedwood (Original post)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 06:48 AM

37. "simply pretended the federal government could have everybody do a lot more work for less pay"

I am reminded of the scene in Trading Places where one of the Duke Brothers protests that they are paying their employees too much and someone (I think it was Dan Aykroyd's character, but it's been a while since I saw the movie) replies "Ah well, can't get around that old minimum wage".

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