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Topic: Deficit Hawks... UNITE!!!

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fuzzynavol

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Deficit Hawks... UNITE!!!
« on: October 17, 2018, 03:48:41 PM »
Mitch McConnell says that Republicans will not take any serious steps to reduce the deficit, unless they can also share blame for unpopular entitlement cuts with Democrats... admitting that changes to programs like Medicare and Social Security might be “impossible to achieve” as long as Republicans controlled both houses of Congress and the White House. It was a quietly refreshing moment, in which McConnell effectively dropped the entire charade that Republicans are a party that prioritizes fiscal prudence—making explicit what has long been obvious to anyone who has paid the faintest bit of attention to Washington over the past decades.

During the interview, McConnell was asked about this week’s Treasury Department report showing that the federal deficit grew by 17 percent during fiscal year 2018, to $779 billion. Rather than acknowledge the obvious reality that the massive tax cuts Republicans passed last year had made the budget picture worse,1 McConnell opted for the standard GOP dodge and cast blame on out-of-control federal spending. “It’s very disturbing,” he said. “And it’s driven by the three big entitlement programs that are very popular”—meaning Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. “There’s been a bipartisan reluctance to tackle entitlement changes because of the popularity of those programs,” he added. “Hopefully at some point here we’ll get serious about this. But we haven’t been yet.”

Republicans have exercised total control over Washington since 2017, which should have given them an opportunity to make some changes to entitlement programs if they were so inclined. That’s complicated a bit by the fact Donald Trump promised not to touch Medicare or Social Security (with some big caveats). But McConnell didn’t attempt to blame the president for his party’s inaction. Instead, he simply suggested that Republicans were unlikely to ever tackle spending on their own. “I think it’s pretty safe to say that entitlement changes, which is the real driver of the debt by any objective standard, may well be difficult if not impossible to achieve when you have unified government,” the majority leader said.

To McConnell’s credit, this is a fair reading of recent history. Republicans, after all, only seem to care about the deficit when they are out of power. During the Bush years, the party was happily profligate. It passed massive tax cuts, funded a disastrous war of choice in the Middle East, and added a prescription drug benefit, then balked when Bush tried to privatize Social Security. Once Obama entered office, the GOP rediscovered its inner deficit hawk, elevating Paul Ryan as its spokesman for fiscal austerity, while insisting that the white backlash movement known as the Tea Party was really a sincere cry for entitlement reform. Of course, once Obama offered to make a grand bargain that would have cut spending while raising taxes, Republicans again rebelled, because they didn’t want to increase Federal revenues. (McConnell elided over that inconvenient detail in his interview, insisting that the Obama years would have been the “perfect time” for entitlement reform, but that, “Unfortunately, it was not achieved.”) With Trump in power, Republicans came within a hare’s breath of gutting Medicaid under the guise of Obamacare repeal, but were foiled by John McCain’s thumbs down. Other than that, they’ve been happy to pass tax cuts, increase defense spending, and push forward some reductions to food stamps, which would have a negligible budget impact while cutting off aid to eedy Americans. Any even-handed observer would have to look at all this and conclude that Republicans mostly see the deficit as a political club with which they can opportunistically beat Democrats, rather than an actual existential concern.

McConnell isn’t quite going that far. Instead, he’s simply admitting that Republicans don’t have enough courage to put their own necks on the line for fiscal conservatism. Still, it’s worth dwelling on the political implications of his comments.
1) McConnell thinks the deficit is a longterm threat to the country.
2) He also says that it is driven almost entirely by entitlement spending. (This is absurd, given that we could raise taxes to pay for those entitlements, but let’s grant it for argument’s sake).
3) Finally, he admits that it will be “difficult if not impossible” for Republicans to take the supposedly essential step of reforming entitlements as long as they maintain uniform control of government.

The obvious conclusion to all this is that, if you’re the sort of person who supports entitlement reform, you should vote for Democrats, since the cause is hopeless without them.
That’s not the point McConnell is trying to make, of course. He’s just a guy sitting in front of a journalist trying to excuse his party’s hypocrisy about the debt. It’s OK that Republicans attacked Obama over spending, then did nothing about it themselves, he says, because the debt will only be solved through bipartisan compromise (which, um, Republicans rejected as well). Meanwhile, he’s also setting the stage for Republicans to demand entitlement cuts as part of any budget deal with Democrats, should they retake the House in November—despite having failed to do them on their own in the past two years. It should go without saying that Nancy Pelosi and her caucus would be absolutely insane to agree (especially since there’s no evidence that the deficit is actually threatening our economy in a meaningful way right now).
https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/10/mitch-mcconnell-deficit-lies.html


P1tchBlack

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Re: Deficit Hawks... UNITE!!!
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2018, 04:27:04 PM »

This was the last straw for my departure from the Republican Party several years ago.

roadvol

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McConnell Is Just being Realistic...
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2018, 05:28:43 PM »
...although Slate made a great effort to put him in the worst possible light.
When entitlements take approximately 75% of the budget if you add in Defense spending... it would be impossible to make any progress in budget reduction without partisan help.
The last time a Republican leader attempted to make any real improvements in entitlement programs the Democrats demonized Paul Ryan by depicting him pushing Granny off the cliff...and the MSM went right along.
Republicans were depicted starving old people and children . It was messy.
The Dems have no interest in reducing the deficit if it costs them a vote so I see no real prospect of any real 
improvements anytime soon with deficit reduction.

DunkingDan

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Re: McConnell Is Just being Realistic...
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2018, 05:46:10 PM »
...although Slate made a great effort to put him in the worst possible light.
When entitlements take approximately 75% of the budget if you add in Defense spending... it would be impossible to make any progress in budget reduction without partisan help.
The last time a Republican leader attempted to make any real improvements in entitlement programs the Democrats demonized Paul Ryan by depicting him pushing Granny off the cliff...and the MSM went right along.
Republicans were depicted starving old people and children . It was messy.
The Dems have no interest in reducing the deficit if it costs them a vote so I see no real prospect of any real
improvements anytime soon with deficit reduction.
I saw a while ago that Trump has asked all Dept. heads to slash their spending by 5%
President Harry S. Truman said: “The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount.  The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings…  If we don't have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally wind up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the state.”

HK_Vol

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Re: Deficit Hawks... UNITE!!!
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2018, 06:34:25 PM »
Entitlements are the elephant in the room.
Americans continue to live longer, but eligibility age doesn't move along with it.
So, the numbers no longer work and get worse.
Either raise taxes, cut benefits, or extend the eligibility age.

I think the first two are untenable and the third can work.
Current recipients will not be affected and if you raise the age by one month per year, that means that someone who is currently 34 will have to wait until age 70 to be eligible.  That seems to be the logical tradeoff.  But we need politicians to understand that "doing nothing" simply bankrupts the system.  It seems that many politicians cannot do basic math.

fuzzynavol

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Re: Deficit Hawks... UNITE!!!
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2018, 07:14:25 PM »
When entitlements take approximately 75% of the budget if you add in Defense spending...
 
Defense spending is an entitlement?  I did not know that.

it would be impossible to make any progress in budget reduction without partisan help.

It's entirely possible, just politically undesirable, as McConnell publicly admitted (to his credit).  One party doesn't the fall-out from cutting popular programs.  As McConnell says, it would take both parties agreeing to do it in a bi-partisan way, so neither would take the hit (politically).  

The Dems have no interest in reducing the deficit if it costs them a vote
 
According to McConnell, neither do the Republicans.  That's the point of the article.  

so I see no real prospect of any real improvements anytime soon with deficit reduction.

Not as divided and partisan government has become.  

ATexasVol

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Re: Deficit Hawks... UNITE!!!
« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2018, 07:17:31 PM »
Entitlements are the elephant in the room.
Americans continue to live longer, but eligibility age doesn't move along with it.
So, the numbers no longer work and get worse.
Either raise taxes, cut benefits, or extend the eligibility age.

I think the first two are untenable and the third can work.
Current recipients will not be affected and if you raise the age by one month per year, that means that someone who is currently 34 will have to wait until age 70 to be eligible.  That seems to be the logical tradeoff.  But we need politicians to understand that "doing nothing" simply bankrupts the system.  It seems that many politicians cannot do basic math.
I don't disagree, but Medicare and SS should not the only source of cuts.  We have a number of federal bureaucracies that add no value, yet absorb $billions taxpayer dollars.   I'd love to see us start by eliminating the Dept of Energy, Dept of Education, IRS, FEMA, NSA, and Amtrak.   Then let's gut, if not totally eliminate, the EPA and FDA.  
Let's scrap Congress' cadillac pension plan and throw them in with the rest of us that are dependent on social security.   All federal workers should receive salary and medical and pension benefits on par with that of corporate America.   
That would be a start.   

HK_Vol

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Re: Deficit Hawks... UNITE!!!
« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2018, 07:31:08 PM »
No doubt.
There is easily 5% fat in almost all departments.
Some things cannot be cut, period - e.g. interest on existing debt.

The Government should privatize Amtrak.
I'd love to be the PE firm that bought it.
Amtrak is profitable, and could be immensely so in the Northeast.
The problem with Amtrak is that politicians insist on rail routes in their state / district - most of which are totally economic.  
So, owned by a private corporation, you can shut down about 80% of unprofitable routes, allowing Amtrak to actually be profitable.


P1tchBlack

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Re: Deficit Hawks... UNITE!!!
« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2018, 07:57:50 PM »
According to McConnell, neither do the Republicans.  That's the point of the article.  

I disagree. I think many Republicans have interest in cutting spending, they're just too chickenshit to do it.

I think most Democrats have interest in taking more of our money to redistribute.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2018, 08:00:09 PM by P1tchBlack »

fuzzynavol

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Re: Deficit Hawks... UNITE!!!
« Reply #9 on: October 17, 2018, 09:00:16 PM »
According to McConnell, neither do the Republicans.  That's the point of the article.  

I disagree. I think many Republicans have interest in cutting spending, they're just too chickenshit to do it.

Right.  That's the point of the article.  They're too chickenshit to cut popular programs by themselves.  It would cost them votes.  If it was bi-partisan, then neither party could point the finger at the other.  McConnell was just saying that Republicans wouldn't do it without Democrats support because they're too chickenshit to take the political heat for it.  

I think most Democrats have interest in taking more of our money to redistribute.

If you're a 1%er, then you're correct right again.  




P1tchBlack

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Re: Deficit Hawks... UNITE!!!
« Reply #10 on: October 17, 2018, 09:36:11 PM »

If you're a 1%er, then you're correct right again.  

Until the government does some legitimate spending cuts, program cuts and shows any ability to control spending, we should not agree to give them one penny more in tax increases. They bring in more than enough money. It's not our job to fund their irresponsibility.

harvestalvol

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Re: Deficit Hawks... UNITE!!!
« Reply #11 on: October 17, 2018, 10:44:30 PM »

https://youtu.be/5RDMdc5r5z8

Government is spending somebody else's money on someone else; by far the least efficient way to spend money. 

roadvol

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Re: Deficit Hawks... UNITE!!!
« Reply #12 on: October 17, 2018, 10:57:30 PM »
I didn't say defense budgeting was an entitlement. You're "projecting" again
But defense spending is similar to an entitlement that's almost impossible to reduce. It probably justified but still very hard to reduce

roadvol

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Re: Deficit Hawks... UNITE!!!
« Reply #13 on: October 17, 2018, 11:02:18 PM »
The problem with that Dan  is that even if Trump succeeded in reducing all departments by 5% the overall deficit reduction would less than 2% if nothing is done to entitlements.

 

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