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Friday, April 27, 2012



"I think that there is a lot more there to please conservatives, but it also shows liberals how a welfare state can be sustained."

Seriously? I thought that Republicans had replaced "Thou shalt have no other gods before me with "Thou shalt never raise capital gains."

I see myself as a moderate who knows that spending needs to be cut on both social programs and the military. I would take a tax deal that lowered rates and limited dedications while raising the rate on capital gains in minute

Bill Fleming

Yeah, that picture is pretty much what it used to look like around my house when I got ready to go to work. These days not so much since the kids all moved out and got their own jobs.

Bill Fleming

p.s. still trying to figure out who that shadowy figure is in the upper middle right of your pix, KB. It's either the nosey neighbor to the east who's always trying to figure out what all those naked people are doing over at our house, or an allegory for that rich guy up the hill who just got his taxes raised and is stunned senseless from the shock. Or maybe both?



If you and your wife were engaging in that rather kinky looking ritual while your kids were at home and watching, I'm surprised social services didn't step in.

Bill Fleming

LK, yeah, that armor and the angel wings were a little kinky, I admit. So was standing on the drunk kid, I suppose. But we didn't do that stuff around them until they got older. Plus it was more a "Monday" ritual than an everyday thing. A little performance art theater schtick to get everybody fired up for the work week. (Don't you think the garter on the leg thing is an especially nice touch, LK?)


Yes, especially for a work that's titled Champion of Virtue.

Bill Fleming

Oh, right! That's Nike, not an angel.

And those are Greeks.

Well, that explains everything (...except who the nosey neighbor is.)

Thanks, LK.

larry kurtz

legalize cannabis now!


"We could have acted decades ago, as Sweden did, but we did not."

Suffer from a selective memory disorder much KB? Remember the Clinton tax increases of 1993--the ones Republicans campaigned against and used to win both houses of Congress in 1994, but that also helped balance the budget by the end of the decade? Remember the Bush tax cuts that reversed Clinton's policies plus Bush & Company's two wars and Medicare part D--neither of which were paid for except by borrowing.

In other words, we did act decades ago just as Sweden did. Problem is, we undid those policies during the 2000's under a Republican president governing with a Republican congress. And now you say it's time for Democrats to stop blocking policies promoted by the oh-so-fiscally-responsible Republicans?

I agree though that Sweden does seem to be quite fiscally responsible. For one thing, they spend about 9% of GDP on health care to cover 100% of their population with a system that caps an individuals health care expenditures at $360 per year while we spend over 17% to cover less than 85% of our population in part with private policies that can still leave individuals liable for thousand in annual, out-of-pocket costs. Put another way, they spend half as much per/capita too achieve better results meaning if we could match their efficiency, we would spend about $1.3 trillion per year less for better health care.

Despite any cuts during the 90's, the Swedes still have robust welfare and employee-support programs that far exceed any in the U.S. For example, a new parent receives benefits for up to 480 days of stay at home child care. They have guaranteed retirement income starting a age 61. And instead of talk of cutting health and retirement programs, they are considering increased dental health coverage.

So yes, let make America as fiscally responsible as Sweden. Let's do that right after we make it as socially responsible.

Donald Pay

Thanks, A.I.

I know I have pointed all this out on other threads where KB's ideology blinds him to inconvenient truths. When KB puts on his ideological aires, he conveniently forgets history and selectively twists facts.

Another thing the Republicans conveniently did away with during their time in power was "pay-go" in Congress.

Ken Blanchard

A.I.: I have frequently written on this blog that Bill Clinton's presidency was largely a success in terms of domestic policy. While you accuse me of selective memory, I do remember that he had a lot of help from a Republican Congress. My aim above, however, was not to blame one party or the other. Yes, Republicans are just as responsible as Democrats from the fiscal problems we now face. I have also said that I think that tax increases will be necessary, something most Republicans want to deny.

It is nonsense to say that Bill Clinton dealt with our fiscal problems. His fix on Social Security was temporary and, as I had to explain to you, it provided a cash cow to cover other government spending. The fiscal trajectory of our major entitlement programs was toward insolvency in a few decades. This was entirely obvious back in the 1990's. Clinton did nothing to remedy the structural problems. Bush added trillions to the deficit. Obama has done about as much damage in three years as Bush did in eight.

President Obama, his Treasury Secretary, and the Trustees of Social Security and Medicare (so THAT is the vast right wing conspiracy!) have all acknowledged the severity of the problem. The Administration has offered no concrete proposals to address it. His budgets simply let the deficit curve climb toward the rafters. The Democratic Senate hasn't voted on a budget in three years. What is the response of my commentators here? Everything's fine! Budgets don't matter! Whatever fiscal virtues Clinton may have had, he didn't pass them on.

Bill Fleming

Not "everything is fine" but rather that budget laws trump budget resolutions. Why do you insist on being opaque about that, KB? Is it because you don't understand it?

Ken Blanchard

No, Bill. I have no idea what YOU are talking about. Resolutions ARE laws, if they are passed by both houses and presented to the President. That, however, has nothing to do with the Senate's refusal to pass an actual budget as required by law.

Bill Fleming

As I suspected, you appear indeed not to understand it, KB.



"Although it also does not have the force of law, the budget resolution is a central part of the budget process in Congress. As a concurrent resolution, it represents an agreement between the House and Senate that establishes budget priorities, and defines the parameters for all subsequent budgetary actions."

By contrast the Budget Control Act has been negociated and signed into law:

The reason the Senate hasn't passed a budget is because McConnell and Reid wanted to do the Budget Control act instead: http://www.nasbo.org/publications-data/washington-report/senate-forgo-budget-resolution instead.

Bill Fleming

My hunch is they're waiting to flush the lunatics out of the House of Representatives this coming election year, so those left with their senses can get on with the nation's business. The inmates have been running the asylum of late.


My point KB wasn't that Clinton's economic policies were the solution to every fiscal problem the U.S. might ever face or was attempting to deal with at the time. They were, however, starkly different from those introduced by Bush. And, in terms of keeping the budget in or near balance, they were vastly superior.

You, in your initial post, were the one accusing one party of being responsible for blocking efforts to restore some semblance of fiscal responsibility to government. You chose to place that blame with Democrats. I simply pointed out the obvious fact that Republican dismantled the fiscally responsible policies of the 90's when they took full control of the federal government in the 2000's. And they now block efforts to reinstate even a shadow of those policies.

You say in your response to my post that a combination of tax increases and spending cuts are needed. Democrats agree and have offered to reduce Medicare and Social Security benefits if Republican will agree to tax increases. Meanwhile, Republicans refuse to increase taxes. So, why place blame with Democrats when it is in fact Republicans that oppose the policies you advocate?

Ken Blanchard

Bill: the reason the Democrats in the Senate refuse to pass a budget is that they can't afford to explicitly acknowledge the realities. The President, to his credit, produced a budget honestly reflecting the current fiscal trajectory. It looks like a doomsday scenario. Not a single Democrat voted for it in the House. The Senate won't vote on anything.

You talk sense when you suggest that the Democrats are "waiting to flush the lunatics out of the House of Representatives this coming election year." The Democrats are not the least bit interested in policy. They only want the Republicans to actually propose something that they can then attack. Maybe, sooner or later, we will have to get back to actually doing the public business.

Ken Blanchard

A.I.: If the Democrats indeed have a concrete proposal for a budget, perhaps they should vote on it in the Senate. The President produced a budget. It got no votes in the House from either party. The Senate ignored it.

I agree that the Republican refusal to raise taxes is an obstacle to a rational budget. The Ryan plan reflects that, but it was at least a serious attempt to address the real problem. Contrary to what you say, the Democrats have offered nothing.


Democrats have offered something, it's called the people budget: http://cpc.grijalva.house.gov/index.cfm?sectionid=70

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