Balance the budget, bitches!

The US government has run deficit budgets for 31 out of the last 35 years. That is ridiculous. Check out this graphic showing the budget deficit from 1961 through 2005. So Ronald Reagan, hailed as the greatest Republican president in recent history, ran up the debt. Both Bush’s ran up the debt. Nixon, Ford and Carter ran up the debt. The only president to run a surplus budget since JFK was Bill Clinton. (Here’s another graphic showing the same thing.)


WHAT THE FUCK!

George W. Bush grew the budget by 1 trillion dollars during his 2 terms. He inherited a surplus and will be handing Obama a deficit. The war does not come close to explaining this.
I’m a self-proclaimed raging liberal and I think it verges on criminal that we allow these administrations to spend future dollars. While I understand that there are smart and legitimate reasons to occasionally run a deficit, it has become business as usual in Washington because we are governed by a bunch of pussies who preside over an electorate that is too stupid to realize that there is no such thing as a free lunch.

We have to raise taxes AND cut spending. We should balance the budget every single year. I just heard that by 2040 every dollar the US government takes in will go to social security, medicare and servicing the national debt. Does that sound sustainable to you?

I know most Republicans have already distanced themselves from Bush, but if you needed more proof of the utter disfunction of the Republican party, here it is — they suck at managing the budget and yet they claim they are fiscal conservatives. Bull. Shit.

Let’s see if Obama can get us out of this mess like Clinton got us out of Ford/Reagan/Bush’s mess.

2 thoughts on “Balance the budget, bitches!

  1. lolife, I dropped back to see if you had commented on the Rossiter thread. I applaud your calling for governments to run balanced budgets. The joke in Canada many years ago was that doctors didn’t need to slap babies’ bottoms any more to start them crying and breathing, they just whispered in their ears “You owe us $17,000 already!” and the babies would start crying all by themselves. I am sure the figure is now much higher.

    If left unchecked, government borrowing has the effect of indenturing the as yet unborn to support the living, who may be dead by the time the debts they incurred are actually paid by their successors. Just criminal, IMHO. In private life a debtor’s net debt dies with them, and an individual cannot will a liability to another. But for some reason we allow governments to do so on our behalf. I do not understand the difference, philosophically, as the latter simply introduces an intermediary institution, government.

    The other way of dealing with government debt, ie inflating/depreciating it away, has the effect of punishing mainly the poor, who cannot implement financial instruments to protect themselves. They are forced to see the purchasing power of their wage dollars erode, then battle for wage increases to offset that. But the rich can invest in vehicles that appreciate faster than inflation, and protect their capital.

    I looked at the graphics. I have studied some control and systems theory, which leads me to ask a question: “What do you think is the time lag between implementation of economic policies and the effect of those policies to be reflected in the government’s accounts? Also, do you know if those charts are “adjusted for inflation”, and what the corresponding GDP charts might look like?

    I don’t have figures, but do know that much government spending is “program spending”, many of the sources of revenue are “program revenue” and the net effect (ie surplus or deficit) for those are more based on general economic conditions. It would be interesting, I think, to understand what percentage a given administration “directly controls” versus how much they inherit from their many predecessors, over which they have only indirect control. Indirectly-controlled income/spend policies may take very different lengths of time to “work through the system.”

    If we knew something about that, we could say something about causality, as opposed to just the correlation we see here. Stats101: “Correlation does not imply causality…” I will add: “…especially in complex systems with multiple processes operating at multiple time-scales.”

    If we think the effects are almost immediate, and independent of general economic conditions and outside influences, I think the graphics indeed show Clinton “fixed” the US deficit problem: simplistically obvious, in fact, as the curve goes up during his tenure.

    If we think things take some time to work through, and the surplus/deficit also depends on the general state of the US economy, which takes years to have policy effects stabilize, and is subject to many outside influences, then I think the graphic is far less clear, and perhaps shows the opposite. Details matter.

    Interesting charts to foment discussion, but without the discussion on what goes on behind it all, hard to draw any tangible conclusions, I believe.

    thanks,
    b2b

  2. I guess I’d have to say yes and no.

    Yes, it’s complex and many factors take months or years to have an effect.

    No in that, the President creates a budget and none of those presidents sans Clinton, as I understand it, even submitted a balanced budget.

    Tax receipts fluctuate based on economic conditions but within a biennium the inflows and outflows are projected and the Presidents and the Congress spend more than the planned income every time.

    I’m not trying to be overly partisan with this — the Democrats have royally sucked at this, too.

    I am pretty much for a balanced budget amendment so long as we had the discretion necessary to do prudent things with debt occasionally.

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