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Saturday, May 14, 2011


larry kurtz

Raise taxes: http://www.npr.org/2011/01/29/133311907/for-many-companies-low-taxes-are-key-to-profits?sc=17&f=1001


Let's be clear about intentions: my intention and Democrats' intention is to find a way to save Medicare. Noem's and Ryan's intention is to kill it.

Suppose Medicare is a damsel tied to the railroad tracks. If we do nothing, she will get killed by the train. We Dems are trying to find a knife to cut the rope and set her free. We haven't found a knife yet, and if we keep bumbling around, she's toast (or, more accurately, jelly on the cowcatcher), and our noble intentions won't matter much. But Noem and Ryan just want to shoot her before the train arrives. That intention matters greatly.


Sorry Cory, but nothing the Democrats have done demonstrates seriousness in "saving the damsel", if anything they've been speeding up the train.

Ken Blanchard

Cory: I'm with William. You Democrats aren't trying to find a knife! You're going through everyone's bag to make sure no one gets near the damsel with a knife. You're screaming at anyone who even mentions knives. You are preparing campaign ads accusing Republicans of "knifeism".

That's the President's budget up above. It's not what happens if his plan fails. That's his plan! After the Ryan plan was announced, the President gave a great speech acknowledging the need to cut the deficit. Republicans asked him to put his recommendations in the form of an actual budget and he refused. He has absolutely no interest in honestly addressing the issue.

The Ryan Plan and the chart above are the only alternatives currently on the table. Until or unless someone comes up with a third realistic alternative, one or the other is going to happen. Accusing Rep. Ryan of wanting to shoot the girl on the tracks will do nothing at all to get her off the tracks.

Ken Blanchard

Larry: you obviously didn't understand the article you linked to. Taxes on American corporations are absurdly high, so they locate offshore. We can't tax operations in other countries. Lowering corporate taxes so that locating here is more attractive would in fact increase revenue. Thanks for the tip.


Where did you get that chart? A link would be nice.

I bring this up because unless I am misreading it, your chart seems more than a little off. Treasury Direct says interest paid on the national debt for fiscal year 2010 was about $414 billion http://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/ir/ir_expense.htm. That's not exactly chump change unless it's compared to your chart which claims two hundred thousand billion. I believe that translates to $200 trillion--just a tad more than the entire 2010 federal budget and, in fact, around triple the entire world economy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_%28PPP%29.

Were it expressed in millions, your chart might bear some resemblance to reality depending on what "net" interest means. Or maybe all would be accurate if the base year really is "20011" and the years expressed across the bottom are each missing a zero. After all, who am I to question the accuracy of what would be a nearly 18 thousand year projection?

Stan Gibilisco

Paranoia and hysteria about the opposition will move us nowhere except gradually toward civil war. I think that the majority of people in both parties (Republican and Democrat) want to save Medicare. They disagree on how to do it, that's all. Of course a few loons want to destroy it, but I can't belive that Ryan or Noem are among them.

Ken Blanchard

A.I.: You are correct, of course. It was stupid of me not to notice.

Stan Gibilisco

"Sooner or later the Republicans will have to agree to raise taxes."

May I suggest that Obama and his colleagues are counting on it? If so, they're probably on the right track, although a dangerous track. The danger lies in what might happen if the "probably" does not become "definitely" soon enough.

Mitch Daniels has apparently already taken the bait. So has Bill O'Reilly (although he's an independent, not a Republican.) They've both suggested a "small national sales tax." As if a small acorn, planted in the earth, will remain small. Ha, ha!

It will take the form of a value-added tax (VAT) such as they have in Europe. And it will rapidly grow to the threshold of violent taxpayer rebellion. Then we will, indeed, become another Greece, another Portugal, another Italy. (Maybe we'll get lucky and import their diet too!)

The only hope of preventing a brand new VAT on top of all our existing taxes lies in the possibility that the Republicans will sweep both houses of Congress in 2012.

I'm starting to "hem and haw" about this business, myself. With the increase in aging "baby boomers," demand for Medicare can only go up, and there will be fewer workers to pay for it. The proponents of a VAT will be taken more and more seriously as the public begins to realize that the only alternative might be to let old people become destitute or die prematurely in great numbers. Faced with such a choice, people will opt for the VAT.

The problem with this little "theory" (I was about to say "plan," but that might make me sound paranoid about the Democrats) is that it runs the risk of crashing our entire economy before the Great Utopia can be put in place. Could our President and his colleagues actally be willing to take that risk?


Be nervous, Stan: the President showed a propensity for risk-taking with the bin Laden raid.

Stan Gibilisco

I'm puzzled by your analogy, Cory. Do you mean to say that if the President did well by asking a few Navy Seals to risk their lives to get rid of a mass murderer, then he'd do even better to ask three hundred million American citizens to risk their livelihoods to get rid of capitalism?


At some point, in what I believe will be the not too distant future, the fact that Medicare and Social Security are primarily wealth transfers from the poor to the rich will finally have to be explained well enough by those individuals that have a "big enough soapbox" to tell the truth in such a way that the general public actually understands it.

In a Republic, politicians can only govern with the consent of the governed and unfortunately, generations of politicians of both major parties have told us "the party is never-ending", the problems are "in the future", the social programs are "guaranteed" and the public at large has believed them. A surprising percentage of the public still does.

Paul Ryan, may be such an individual, Herman Cain, Mitch Daniels might be others. We are at the point that "the times demand" a leader to step forth to make this case or we are no longer capable of producing such a leader.

We'll either be the generation that steps up to face the problems and take the steps necessary to restore a strong foundation to this nation, or we will be the generation that dooms it to a graveyard spin back to the harsh reality that "eventually you run out of other peoples money" to pay for the things you want.



"Medicare and Social Security are primarily wealth transfers from the poor to the rich."

The payroll tax is a clear transfer of wealth from rich to poor. If you do the math for S.S. of a Wealthy and Poor person, the poor person clearly gets more out of the system as a percentage of what they put in.



True, in actual dollar amounts, but my point (if I have one) is simply that the recipients (older Americans) as a group have more wealth than those younger Americans in the workforce that are paying the current benefits. Unlike a true benefit plan, it's not really "owned" by those paying in, if they die before reaching "retirement age" they get nothing (as my father did) and their benefits are not transferred to their survivors through inheritance (generally).


Robert Samuelson explains this better than I do, I came across this commentary he posted on Real Clear Politics - "The Affluent Elderly":

"We see every day that many people in their 60s and older live comfortably -- and still would if they received a little less in Social Security and paid a little more for Medicare. The trouble is that what's intuitively obvious becomes lost in the political debate; it's overwhelmed by selective and self-serving statistics that cast almost everyone over 65 as being on the edge of insolvency. The result: Government over-subsidizes the affluent elderly. It transfers resources from the struggling young to the secure old."


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