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June 09, 2009

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This spring, political "tea party" protesters ran around for awhile drawing fairly light press and pretty heavy ridicule. They were (they said) upset and angry about projected spending, increasing deficits, and the accompanying burden of taxation. Unfo... [Read More]

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Did you mention the Bush bailout money? Or the unwinding of Bush's two wars (and the ongoing and legacy costs of each)? Or were those Obama's choices.

Did you also mention Obama including the costs of those wars in the budgetary numbers which does create part of the apparent spike? Bush chose to leave them off the books.

Did you mention the Bush bailout money? Or the unwinding of Bush's two wars (and the ongoing and legacy costs of each)? Or were those Obama's choices.

Did you also mention Obama including the costs of those wars in the budgetary numbers which does create part of the apparent spike? Bush chose to leave them off the books.

That's all accounted for in the charts. (The military appropriations that you reference weren't part of the budgetary process, but that doesn't mean that there were "off the books.")

Did you also mention Obama including the costs of those wars in the budgetary numbers which does create part of the apparent spike?

this.

double this.

This Slate Magazine article regarding why conservatives did so well in Europe in EU elections a few days ago -- "For a start, they don't spend like drunken sailors"

The Slate article is a piece of uninformed, uninformative crap.

The raving righties - what the US calls "center right" - have been on the rise over all of Europe for some time. In the UK, for the first time ever, two members of the British version of the Republican Party got MEP seats: the BNP is now, disgustingly, able to join with other far-right parties in Europe. People do not vote for the raving-righties for positive economic reasons: they vote for them out of hatred and fear for the "other" - however defined, and as an expression of disgust for more mainstream parties.

I see that like other loyal Republicans, you have decided to ignore Bush's contributions to the deficit in favor of pretending that the deficit was chiefly caused by the President who is honest about it, not by the President who caused it. Hope it keeps fine for you on that one, Von, but the economy is a serious enough subject that it would be more useful to stick to the facts rather than broadcast partisan lies.

Von: Are you saying that Bush's bailout money is accounted for in 2008? Even though it hadn't been disbursed yet? Even though the 08 number is $400 billion, without reference to the trillion-plus for the bailout which is magically there for Obama?

I could be wrong, but do you have a link showing the work for this graph?

be sure to pay special attention to the far-left of that graph.

that's all you need to know about "conservative" protestations about deficits... well, that and Cheney's "Reagan proved that deficits don't matter" quip.

And right on cue, a Democrat becomes president, and suddenly the Republicans are obsessed with deficits again.

Never mind what the costs of allowing Republican economics to completely wreck the country would have been, or the benefits to be gained long term from short term deficits that are invested in things that pay back many times their cost, like infrastructure, or the huge debts of undone repair and upkeep work which are starting to be addressed, or the unfunded inspection and safety departments, or...

Never mind all that, and hey, it's all Obama's fault, and Good News for Republicans! ("Republican economics crash economy. Let's talk to Republicans about how this is good news for Republicans.")

Be sure to pay special attention to both ends of the graph. It pretty clearly demonstrates that, while a Republican President with a Republican Congress is bad, a Democratic President with a Democratic Congress can be worse.

Now, if you wanted to argue that Obama paired with a Republican Congress would result in fiscal discipline, I might agree that the evidence backs you up.

The above chart must be fiscal years, which means that '09 is Bush's final budget. While Obama was in office for the final 5 months, he didn't sign that budget.

Therefore, Obama's first full budget will be about $400 BB less than this year, and will be cut 60-70% by the time he runs for re-election.

BTW, the deficit numbers in the above table before '09 are fantasy numbers. Bush, in his 8 years, added $5 trillion to the debt. Now, how can you add $5,000 billion to the debt if your deficits only averaged $200 Billion per year? $5 trillion is not even close to $1.6 trillion. This Von and all the MSM just go along with this fantasy. Way to go.

Obama's deficits are structural deficits

Well, then it's a bit stupid to call them "Obama's deficits". They'd be any president's deficits barring major changes in entitlement and/or defense spending and/or tax policy.

So...shall I put you down for supporting a rollback of the Bush tax cuts and a freeze for Pentagon appropriations, von?

A couple of things (two posts):

I notice that the deficits go down over Obama's first term, then either stabilize (according to WH) or climb back up (according to GAO).

So first: Why should deficits shoot up in the future like this?

(tbc)

"This Slate Magazine article regarding why conservatives did so well in Europe in EU elections a few days ago"

I read this sentence, and said to myself "that's going to be by Anne Applebaum!"

Shorter everything Anne Applebaum writes in Slate: the European left are all nutters and and wrong, and the European Right is right!!!

But I'm sure this piece will be a stunning exception.

(Note: I respect Applebaum as an historian of Stalinism; as a neo-con columnist, I've read her note.)

"In the UK, for the first time ever, two members of the British version of the Republican Party got MEP seats"

Meet Andrew Brons, who loves Hitler!

It pretty clearly demonstrates that, while a Republican President with a Republican Congress is bad, a Democratic President with a Democratic Congress can be worse.

it demonstrates that a "conservative" will fnck things up so bad that it will take a generation to fix them.

thanks a lot.

Double Bubble time. I hope this is a fresh one. Sadly, I am uncomfortable when people bash Dora with a stick.

Eric: the Bush figures are are actual, and as Von points out, include all the war spending and everything else. "Off budget" stuff is almost all social security/Medicare, and is a net contributor to the budget through at least the middle of the next decade.

FY '09 is indeed Bush's final budget, but it's been massively increased by the stimulus package and other Obama programs. You can't lay this spending at the foot of Bush. You certainly can't lay the out-year Obama spending at Bush's feet. The math just doesn't work.

OK, second question:

I notice that, even if Obama serves a full eight years, both his office and the GAO project (growing) deficits three years into his successor's term.

If these deficits materialize then, would they become his successor's deficits? What does this imply about Bush's responsibility for the 2009 deficits (the largest projected)?

Oh God, for a second there I thought the Euro-election article you linked to was some kind of honest broker. Phew! Just more Applebaum drama.

In the two other large countries, Britain and Spain, left-wing ruling parties got hammered>

True for Britain, although how you count New Labour as left-wing baffles me. Also note that Conservatives epically failed to pick up much of that lost Labour vote...the bulk of it went to the Greens and various far-right protest parties.

Epic fail likewise for the always responsible Applebaumian LibDems.

Spain, likewise. The Socialists lost 5% compared with last time...but the conservatives only picked up 1%. The rest of the loss was split between a center-liberal anticorruption party and the far left.

In France and Spain, the ruling parties benefited from a stable banking system - thanks to an absence of Reagan/Thatcher/Aznar deregulation. So they didn't have nearly the need to "over"-spend that everyone else did.


i'll get that.

"FY '09 is indeed Bush's final budget, but it's been massively increased by the stimulus package and other Obama programs. You can't lay this spending at the foot of Bush. You certainly can't lay the out-year Obama spending at Bush's feet. The math just doesn't work."

What about the bailout/TARP funds? Should those be Bush's or Obama's?

FY '09 is indeed Bush's final budget, but it's been massively increased by the stimulus package and other Obama programs.

Strip off the ~$800 billion stimulus and you've still got a trillion. Although if these numbers are only this-year outlays, you can't credit Bush nearly that much.

Any way you slice it it's the biggest deficit in history. And it is, as you concede, indeed Bush's final budget.

Jesurgislac,
All the BNP votes have generally come from Labour supporters. Tory protest voters generally go for UKIP.

The BNP's economic policy's key features nationalisation and trade barriers.

Aside from that they discriminate on ethnicity rather than class, they'd make a decent Marxist-somethingist party.

What on earth makes you think that the BNP are right-wing?

Eric: the Bush figures are are actual, and as Von points out, include all the war spending and everything else.

How can those numbers be "actual" if, when added up, they are far less than the increase in the national debt during the Bush years? Per wiki, the US national debt was 5.807 trillion at the end of fiscal year 2001, at the end of fiscal 2008 it was 10.025 an increase of 4.218 trillion, which for seven years means an average of ~$600 billion per year. And yet von's chart doesn't show a single year in which the deficit was that large.

I guess the underpants gnomes were stealing the rest of the money.

Bush got half, Obama got half. Obama has, of his own free will, handed out hundreds of billions of dollars to banks and automakers.

This is a problem for President Obama and his supporters, not just an opportunity for Obama-skeptics like myself.

...

If Republicans are paying attention, they should be seeing a winning issue for 2010 and beyond

ah. there we go. it's all optics and politics. demagoguery. play up the public's ignorance of finance and economics in order to achieve political success.

fine. that's how the game goes.

but don't expect anyone who knows better to take your complaints about the deficit seriously. really, don't.

"Bush got half, Obama got half. Obama has, of his own free will, handed out hundreds of billions of dollars to banks and automakers."

Is that money accounted for that way in the chart?

Also, given Ugh's argument, may I repeat a request for the math/work/calculations underlying the graph?

I would like to check the methodology if at all possible.

Obama has, of his own free will, handed out hundreds of billions of dollars to banks and automakers.

his own free will. yeah.

just for fun, let's all imagine McArdle's postings if he hadn't. millions of people out of work, Wall St a smoldering crater: is she praising Obama for his fine economic stewardship, or complaining that he let America fail ?

Conservatives like von and Meagan "2X4" McArdle spent the last 30 years wrecking the American economy, and now begrudge us the money, time and effort it will take to fix their mess.

All the BNP votes have generally come from Labour supporters. Tory protest voters generally go for UKIP.

Got a cite for that?

What on earth makes you think that the BNP are right-wing?

Heh. Yes, Tom Whitehead (the Home Affairs Editor of the Daily Telegraph) yesterday echoed Norman Tebbit's claim that the BNP could be described as a left-wing party. Both Tebbit and Whitehead realize that raving righties like the BNP and the Christian Party (Proclaiming Christ's Lordship) force the right to move centerward to get away from their loonies. And this is a plus: it's why the mainstream right-wing in the UK is saner than the mainstream right in the US. Trying to claim that the BNP isn't really a right-wing party will not do it, however.

I think von has a good point about the divergence b/w the CBO and Administration numbers being worrying, since the CBO numbers are more likely to be accurate.

But von, like Patrick points out, your 2001-2008 numbers are just, um, completely wrong. Debt was 5.674 billion in 2000, and 10.699 billion in 2008.

Still, just as those on the right are "suddenly concerned about deficits", those on the left suddenly are not concerned with deficits. I'm still concerned. I'm more concerned that there is zero will in either party to do anything about the largest causes of this problem.

"just for fun, let's all imagine McArdle's postings if he hadn't. millions of people out of work, Wall St a smoldering crater: is she praising Obama for his fine economic stewardship, or complaining that he let America fail ?"

Well we could have spent much much less than that and paid every single Chrysler and GM worker their salary for 3-5 years while we helped them figure out what to do next...

Well we could have spent much much less than that and paid every single Chrysler and GM worker their salary for 3-5 years while we helped them figure out what to do next

there are more people involved in the US auto industry than just the GM/C workers, of course.

"What on earth makes you think that the BNP are right-wing?"

Oh, maybe it's that whole Hitler thing.

And the whites-only stuff.

Perhaps their constitution:">http://www.bnp.org.uk/resources/constitution_8ed.pdf">constitution:

[...] 2) The political objectives of the party are set out in the following Statement of Principles:-
(a) The British National Party is a party of British Nationalism, committed to the principle of national sovereignty in all British affairs. It is pledged to the restoration of the unity and integrity of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It believes that the indigenous peoples of the entire British Isles, and their descendants overseas, form a single brotherhood of peoples, and is pledged therefore to adapt or create political, cultural, economic and military institutions
with the aim of fostering the closest possible partnership between these peoples.
(b) The British National Party stands for the preservation of the national and ethnic character of the British people and is wholly opposed to any form of racial integration between British and non-European peoples. It is therefore committed to stemming and reversing the tide of non-white immigration and to restoring, by legal changes, negotiation and consent, the overwhelmingly white makeup of the
British population that existed in Britain prior to 1948.
(c) The British National Party is pledged to the maintenance of a private-enterprise economy operating within a broad framework of national economic policy. It is opposed to international monopoly capitalism and to laissez-faire free trade and free movement of plant and capital. Social stability and contentment is best achieved by the many enjoying a personal stake in our society. Accordingly, we believe that private property should be encouraged and spread to as many
individual members of our nation as possible. We recognise that Finance exists to serve the Nation and its industries rather than the other way around.
(d) The British National Party is implacably opposed to Marxism and liberal-capitalist globalism, which undermine our standard of living, human and ecological welfare, freedom and national identity.
Why would anyone think they're right-wing? It's a mystery!

Point 1: Over the long term, both governments and nations have to live within their means. Canada has done that, for some time now, at the cost of significant pain. As Andrew Bacevich points out in his book The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism, the failure (actually refusal) of Americans to live within your collective means goes back to Ronald Reagan's victory over Jimmy Carter. But all American presidents, from LBJ to Obama, have grappled with the need for financial responsibility. Some (Clinton, Carter) have done a good job at stewardship, or at least tried mightily. Others (LBJ, George II) have failed miserably. But deficits by leaders you like have the same effect as deficits by leaders you despise.

Point 2: In the long term, the boom and bust, self indulgent, tax-phobic and spend-crazed culture fostered by Republican ideologues in the 1970s and 1980s has dominated American policy for the last thirty years. The current melt-down in the American economy came about directly because of the ethos of competitive consumption, so that if you want to blame the sad state of the American economy and government finance on anyone, Arthur "turn that frown upside down" Laffer, Jack Kemp, Ronald "voodoo economics" Reagan, and George "prescription drug benefit" Bush make prime candidates. None the less, fixing blame for the disaster does nothing to make it any less important for Americans and President Obama to deal with it.

Point 3: Dealing with the deficit means one of three policies: cannibal capitalism, and a substantial shrinkage of government, rational management, a significant tax increase.

Eric - It looks like they're just doing cash in cash out, so the revenue from social security taxes is included to reduce the deficit.

But that money is treated as borrowed from the social security trust fund for national debt purposes, and thus the debt goes up not only by the amount of the cash "deficit", but also by the amount borrowed from the social security trust fund. Not sure if Obama's projections do away with that or not.

"Meagan '2X4' McArdle"

It's "Megan."

I pointed out again just last week at this blog that this trope is mischaracterized, misused, and generally not used honestly. People should quit it.

But that money is treated as borrowed from the social security trust fund for national debt purposes, and thus the debt goes up not only by the amount of the cash "deficit", but also by the amount borrowed from the social security trust fund. Not sure if Obama's projections do away with that or not.

IIRC, they don't. And Ugh is right: That's what explains why the debt increases by more than the deficit.

"Conservatives like von and Meagan '2X4' McArdle spent the last 30 years wrecking the American economy,"

Also, I think Megan is a tad young to have been wrecking the American economy for the last thirty years, although one does have to admire her scope and industry if this is true.

Gary, did you forget what "like" means ?

"like"

adj.
1. Possessing the same or almost the same characteristics; similar:

"Some (Clinton, Carter) have done a good job at stewardship,"

I'd like to replicate the Clinton years, too: First, in 2010 we'll have Democrats lose control of both houses of Congress, and then we'll spend the next 6 years with Obama and that Congress too preoccupied with trying to bring each other down to cooperate on spending.

I'll grant, it would probably work. But how to pull it off?

That's all accounted for in the charts.

Von, it obviously isn't. Look at 2007, which only accounts for the $160 billion deficit in the 2007 federal budget but manages to somehow overlook the $115 billion in supplemental spending for Iraq and Afghanistan (to say nothing of all the other supplemental spending the federal government did in 2007). In 2006, the "official" federal deficit was $248 billion (as per the chart) but the CBO's deficit estimate (IE, "the actual amount of money spent versus receipts taken in") was $500 billion.

Your claim doesn't stand up to one minute's worth of Googling, for crissake, so why make it?

Jes, did you really just equate the BNP with the Republican party? Really? You're completely free to take that back if you want....

"there are more people involved in the US auto industry than just the GM/C workers, of course."

And they wouldn't have all been out of jobs. Old GM/C cars would still need parts and maintainence. Some of the them would have shifted over to working for Ford or Honda or Toyota. The functioning parts of GM/C would have survived while (and here's the important part which likely is not happening now) the non-functioning parts would have ceased.

I think the SS thing comes into play when distinguishing National Debt from Public Debt. I can never keep straight which is which, but one simply counts any debt at all, while the other adjusts for inter-governmental debt, such as that in the SS fund. Can anyone expand on my horrible comment?

"Well we could have spent much much less than that and paid every single Chrysler and GM worker their salary for 3-5 years while we helped them figure out what to do next..."

Seb, what did we spend on Chrysler/GM?

Not the Wall St. bailout and autobailouts combined.

Just the Chrysler/GM expenditures. Would that amount equaled 3-5 years of salary?

Von, it obviously isn't. Look at 2007, which only accounts for the $160 billion deficit in the 2007 federal budget but manages to somehow overlook the $115 billion in supplemental spending for Iraq and Afghanistan (to say nothing of all the other supplemental spending the federal government did in 2007). In 2006, the "official" federal deficit was $248 billion (as per the chart) but the CBO's deficit estimate (IE, "the actual amount of money spent versus receipts taken in") was $500 billion.

Your claim doesn't stand up to one minute's worth of Googling, for crissake, so why make it?

Whaaa? This doesn't make any sense whatsoever. Supplement spending is spending outside of the ordinary budgetary process, but it does not mean that the spending is not ultimately reflected in the CBO's numbers. Moreover, one second of Googling generated a contemporary result from 2007 that's in line with the CBO's after-analysis. This article from the CSM (http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0221/p01s03-usec.html) notes that the CBO downwardly revised its deficit projection for 2007 in February of 2007 of 172 billion "Despite the ongoing costs of US military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan".

If you have a link to something that supports your assertion that the CBO is ignoring supplementals in its deficit calculations, please provide it. My understanding is that the CBO does not in its final accounting, although, of course, such supplementals can create greater uncertainty in forecasting.

Some of the them would have shifted over to working for Ford or Honda or Toyota.

are they hiring ?

The functioning parts of GM/C would have survived while (and here's the important part which likely is not happening now) the non-functioning parts would have ceased.

what do you mean "not happening" ? Pontiac is gone. Hummer, Saturn and Saab are going.

Chrysler is about to get gobbled.

intra-governmental, not inter-governmental ... bad day at work.

(c) The British National Party is pledged to the maintenance of a private-enterprise economy operating within a broad framework of national economic policy. It is opposed to international monopoly capitalism and to laissez-faire free trade and free movement of plant and capital.

Not exactly Milton Friedman, is it now?


All the BNP votes have generally come from Labour supporters. Tory protest voters generally go for UKIP.

Got a cite for that?

More circumstantial than hard data.

These regions are generally working class, Labour heartlands, and Labour were stoking up fear of the BNP in the week before the election.

Look at the "by region" results on the BBC website for (Yorkshire and Humber) and the North West. Labour and Lib Dems down, Tories hold steady and a whole flock of minors gain a bit.

Of course, the whole political spectrum could have shifted across a little bit :)

When it comes to right-wing authoritarians on one hand, and left-wing authoritarians on the other, could we agree that authoritarians are generally bad?

Why would anyone think they're right-wing? It's a mystery!

Hilarious.

I think some folks use the “libertarian” metric, that is, if the political party uses the “anti-state” rhetoric of free markets and limited government, while implementing right-wing theories concerning the state, then their conservatives. If they are upfront about their views concerning right-wing use of the state, they are Marxist.

Well we could have spent much much less than that and paid every single Chrysler and GM worker their salary for 3-5 years while we helped them figure out what to do next...

Yes, given how Republican politicians have fought tooth-and-nail against increased direct aid to the unemployed, I'm sure this would have passed muster with them. Or we could have used the money for their preferred solution of even more tax cuts at the top end, since that would have led to an employment boom during a collapse in consumer demand. Fortunately, debt incurred by cutting revenues somehow never manages to lead to "crowding out." Which right now would be true, since crowding out is unlikely to occur so far from full employment. And would also require the fantasy of a fixed capital pool, but that's another issue.

I think the SS thing comes into play when distinguishing National Debt from Public Debt. I can never keep straight which is which, but one simply counts any debt at all, while the other adjusts for inter-governmental debt, such as that in the SS fund. Can anyone expand on my horrible comment?

Yes. The SS surplus is used to offset the deficits year-to-year, so that it appears that there are proportionately smaller apparent deficits. But borrowings from the SS surplus are treated as part of the debt. This is how the debt could increase by $5 trillion (give or take) under Bush despite deficits that look far smaller than that.

I'd like to see the bars on these graphs broken out by the source of the costs. Has anyone done this anywhere?

I'd want to see how much of this is legacy costs and deferred payments. Breaking these out does not relieve anyone of the responsibility for additional deficits, but it does do a better job of clearing up who is responsible for what spending. Until we get something like that I'm not sure that anyone can make an informed policy decision based on just these graphs. They are too crude a measure of anything except the aggregate FUBAR factor.

I give you a chart from Dean Baker showing Bush and Obama's responsibility for the '09 deficit, according to your new friends the CBO.

Meanwhile, recent crashes have transferred at least 16 trillion dollars from the current owners of houses and stocks to their buyers in future generations. This number by itself exceeds the total cumulative deficit for all the years on your chart, using your more pessimistic forecasts. Oh, and people are now complaining (!) about the fact that public health insurance could save us, the customers, a metric ton of money on premiums. So paying off this horrible, shocking deficit sounds trivial.

I'm still a little confused on a couple of points:

1) I notice that the deficits go down over Obama's first term, then either stabilize (according to WH) or climb back up (according to GAO).

Why should deficits shoot up in the future like this?

2) I [also] notice that, even if Obama serves a full eight years, both his office and the GAO project (growing) deficits three years into his successor's term.

If these deficits materialize then, would they become his successor's deficits? What does this imply about Bush's responsibility for the 2009 deficits (the largest projected)?

I think some folks use the “libertarian” metric, that is, if the political party uses the “anti-state” rhetoric of free markets and limited government, while implementing right-wing theories concerning the state, then their conservatives. If they are upfront about their views concerning right-wing use of the state, they are Marxist.

So you have people who look at politics on a liberal-statist axis and believe rhetoric.

Believing rhetoric is bad, not sure what's wrong with the first bit though.

As I've said before, from a liberal perspective, there's not that much difference between fascists and communists.

It would be a hell of a lot more informative to separate revenue and expenditures. But then, that would be why you don's show such a chart.

Ah, Dean Baker's chart sure does call into question Megan's claim that:

"FY '09 is indeed Bush's final budget, but it's been massively increased by the stimulus package and other Obama programs. You can't lay this spending at the foot of Bush. You certainly can't lay the out-year Obama spending at Bush's feet. The math just doesn't work."

Looks more like Bush's spending/liabilities.

Sebastian: Really? With just the money we spent on bailing out GM/Chrysler, we could have paid their employees' wages for three to five years?

Which I would totally have been down with, actually. But if anybody had suggested that with any possibility of it happening, do you honestly think the screaming about "socialism" and "Letting great American companies die" would have been louder or quieter? 'cause the government giving money directly to people rather than to the CEOs who got their companies into the mess goes so much better with "conservatives".

Also, while yes, liberals were complaining about Bush's spending during his years, it wasn't just based on the amount of spending. It was the amount of spending that was a COMPLETE WASTE. Trillions went to the very very richest in the country as tax giveaways. Trillions were spent lying about Iraq and invading and occupying a country that posed no threat to us and had had nothing to do with 9/11 or anything else. Trillions were spent on a very badly designed Medicare drug benefit, with gaps to make it look smaller, denial of the ability for Medicare to negotiate with drug companies, etc.

And in the meantime, infrastructure decayed, millions more lost insurance, and trillions of dollars were bet by financial "wizards" on houses going up in price forever. New Orleans was wrecked by Katrina, and much of the money to rebuild it disappeared into the same kinds of pockets as much of the money to "rebuild" Iraq.

The Bush gang looted the public treasury, and fiddled while disasters grew and hit. And the whole time, they pretended that the answer was more tax cuts for the richest. THAT is why liberals complained about Bush's budgeting, not just "Wow, that's a big number." Government budgets in a country like America are ALWAYS going to be big numbers. It's HOW those big numbers are spent that makes the difference.

"Not exactly Milton Friedman, is it now?"

And therefore the actual Fascist Party of Italy and the National Socialist Party of Germany were not "right wing." Because they weren't libertarian followers of Hayek and Friedman. Check.

I hope you're not going to next explain that the Nazis were "socialists," and therefore left wing.

We can estimate what fraction of the projected deficits Obama is responsible for by looking at what the CBO would have projected without Obama's policies. I don't know if they ever did exactly that projection, but they did two similar things. The made projections in January, before Obama took office. But the difference between their Obama projections and their January projections will overstate Obama's responsibility, since some of the increase in the projected deficit is due to the worsening economy. And in the March document that von linked, they give a baseline projection for what will happen without Obama's budget. The difference between their Obama and baseline projections will understate Obama's responsibility, since Obama was responsible for the stimulus package which was passed before March and is included in their baseline projections (in the March document they state that the stimulus bill & the worsening economy are the 2 main reasons for the changes to the baseline). But that can give us a range for Obama's responsibility for the deficits, which I calculated:

2009: 10-36% of the $1.85T deficit is Obama's
2010: 17-49% of $1.38T
2011: 29-49% of $.97T
2012: 50-60% of $.66T
2013: 55-62% of $.67T
2014: 59-67% of $.75T
2015: 64-70% of $.79T
2016: 64-70% of $.90T
2017: 67-75% of $.95T
2018: 68-82% of $1.02T
2019: 64-80% of $1.19T

So Obama is responsible for a small part of the current deficit but most of the long-term projected deficit, according to CBO numbers.

Anyway, I'm glad we can all finally agree that CBO projections are the way to go.

"Although the economy is likely to continue to deteriorate for some time, the enactment of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and very aggressive actions by the Federal Reserve and the Treasury are projected to help end the recession in the fall of 2009."

"With a large and sustained output gap, inflation is expected to be very low during the next several years."

Phew! And here I was beginning to take loose talk of "hyperinflation" and "crowding out" seriously. Thanks, CBO!

And if a deficit between 4 and 6 percent of GDP from 2012 to 2019 is a problem, well, there's plenty of room for more progressivity in the tax code once the recovery is underway. Increased revenue when times are good is the part of Keynsianism that tends to get lost, so it might be good for the Obama administration to remember it. Though given the preponderance of clones of Lloyd Bentsen and his declamations of "Confiscatory!" while tapping the table, it's not looking promising right now.

"As the CBO itself explains, the primary drivers of the increasing deficits are (1) the short and long-term effects of the recession; (2) the short and long term effects of President Obama's stimulus package; and (3) the short and long term effects of President Obama's proposed spending."

And, quite obviously, #s (2) and (3) are to prevent #(1) (the Reagan-Clinton-Greenspan-Paulson Depression) from being much more costly. What's your solution to the crisis that doesn't require deficit spending?

Ah, Dean Baker's chart sure does call into question Megan's claim that:

"FY '09 is indeed Bush's final budget, but it's been massively increased by the stimulus package and other Obama programs. You can't lay this spending at the foot of Bush. You certainly can't lay the out-year Obama spending at Bush's feet. The math just doesn't work."

Looks more like Bush's spending/liabilities.

Dean Baker's chart makes a number of elemental mistakes, one of which is to assume that there is spending that is exclusively "Bush" and spending that is exclusively "Obama." Obama endorsed and/or agreed to the '09 spending, and his team approved of all of the significant '09 elements. Obama then added more.

In any event, even if you accept Baker's false dischotomy, you can't pin Obama's deficits after 2010 on Bush ('tho I'm sure someone will try).

Also, von, question.

How would you suggest dealing with the deficit? Raise taxes? Cut spending? What spending? How would you do this, and deal with Iraq and Afghanistan, plus decaying infrastructure, climate change, public health, and all the rest of the things going on?

Come on von. He couldn't come in and just gut everything that was built up in the budget before him. That's a bit rich.

Gary,

And therefore the actual Fascist Party of Italy and the National Socialist Party of Germany were not "right wing." Because they weren't libertarian followers of Hayek and Friedman. Check.

Well, for that to happen there needs to be a time machine in there somewhere.

This is more about definitions than anything else

Can we agree that:
(1) We have different definitions of "right-wing"?
(2) There's a large amount of intellectual real-estate between Hayek & Friedman on one hand, and Hitler and Mussolini on the other?

(3) Given (2), wouldn't it be wise to have one adjective to describe the views of H&F, and a different one for H&M?

(4) I'm choosing "right wing" for the former, and "fascist" for the latter. You're choosing "right-wing" for Hitler and what exactly for Friedman et al?

"Yes, given how Republican politicians have fought tooth-and-nail against increased direct aid to the unemployed, I'm sure this would have passed muster with them."

This line worked better when the Democrats didn't control both houses of Congress and the Presidency.

"But if anybody had suggested that with any possibility of it happening, do you honestly think the screaming about "socialism" and "Letting great American companies die" would have been louder or quieter? 'cause the government giving money directly to people rather than to the CEOs who got their companies into the mess goes so much better with "conservatives"."

Are we talking about worrying about screaming or about good policy? Are we talking about the party the controls Congress and the Presidency or the one that doesn't?

Screaming about socialism and letting great American companies die is contradictory. I suspect very few people are actually screaming about both. In fact only a minority of people are really opposed to letting Chrysler die. You don't have to fight public opinion to let Chrysler die, you have to fight public opinion to bail it out.

Anyway it is done. We already spent $7 billion to sort of save Chrysler and we will be spending more in the future.

Eric, I was probably wrong. We probably can't afford to pay their full salaries on that for 3 years. But we could easily afford the average salary for 2 years.

I hope you're not going to next explain that the Nazis were "socialists," and therefore left wing.

Been there, done that, got the teeshirt.

But then, at some point I realized I was completely wrong about that. Some people, though, are still attached to the thought that socialist is part of the name; therefore, Nazis were socialist.

"Chrysler is about to get gobbled."

If they're lucky. If the folks in Indiana have their way, Chrysler will be sold for scrap.

You know what? The worst projections about deficits under Obama could come true, and more, and I'd still prefer him to any Republican.

And I'm not that big of an Obama fan.

I'd prefer him because he's not blatantly criminal, not reflexively authoritarian, and he appears to give at least a nominal crap about the proper functioning of government.

After forty years of Nixonian culture warfare and thirty years of Reaganite crippling of the public sector, I'll take my chances on the spendthrift liberal.

Or at least, the guy who plays one in your imagination.

Sebastian:

The Republican screaming and yelling does matter, because thus far they've been holding every bit of legislation hostage to threats of fillibusters, just like they have since the Democrats got a majority in the Senate. The same reason Norm Coleman keeps dragging out the confirmation lawsuits in Minnesota.

Yes, Harry Reid is a useless toad, and should be telling the Republicans to put up or shut up when it comes to fillibusters, but as long as he's there, the 1 marginal Republican (Specter doesn't vote for closure or anything with "his" new party) is working as a veto on anything Congress tries to do.

And as we've seen, the Republicans in Congress DO care about the shouting from people like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Newt Gingrich, etc.

Also, I was pointing out the inevitable Republican objections to your idea of just paying the GM workers to point out that not only wasn't it suggested, it was something your own party would have fought against even harder than they did now.

Though maybe if we'd sold it to them as a way to kill the UAW and bribe the workers to do it... But we didn't.

Looks like we're kind of getting into my second question, with "how much of this is Bush, how much Obama?"

Von's response -- rejecting any notion of "spending that is exclusively 'Bush' and spending that is exclusively 'Obama'" -- seems to ignore that central role writing the budget and drafting the emergency response plays in these deficits.

(Plus, 2009 and 2010 are, according to these figures, larger than anything to follow, so it's enough to show that Obama had a lot on his plate.)

But that brings me to my first question:

"I notice that the deficits go down over Obama's first term, then either stabilize (according to WH) or climb back up (according to GAO).

Why should deficits shoot up in the future like this?"

"I'm choosing "right wing" for the former, and "fascist" for the latter."

I'd say "economically laissez faire" would be more accurate for Friedman and Hayek. That isn't necessarily right wing.

And there is a hell of a lot more overlap between "right wing" and "fascist" than you seem to recognize.

Come on von. He couldn't come in and just gut everything that was built up in the budget before him. That's a bit rich.

The big-ticket elements in '09 were either noncontroversial or features of the various bailouts .... which Obama agreed with.

How would you suggest dealing with the deficit? Raise taxes? Cut spending? What spending? How would you do this, and deal with Iraq and Afghanistan, plus decaying infrastructure, climate change, public health, and all the rest of the things going on?

I argued against the stimulus package as framed by Obama, which has a disproprotionate effect on the deficit down the road. I wanted a similar-sized stimulus for a shorter period of time. That's a spending cut.

For professional reasons, I don't offer specific comment on specific company/industry bailouts, but I do think that too much was spent there was well with little (or no) effect. That's another spending cut.

I favor means testing SS (which would improve the deficits but not the debt). Another spending cut.

....

von, none of those come even close to making up the difference in the deficit, though. Now or in the future. I agree, too much of the bailouts went to companies that helped cause the crash, without doing much of anything to prevent it in the future. That's got more to do with the power of the financial lobby than Obama, though. I've not been super impressed by his financial team, though certainly for reasons different than yours.

Means testing Social Security is a non-starter. Not only because cutting benefits right when millions of people have seen their retirement savings wiped out thanks to the financial hucksters, but because Republicans have been for years trying to make Social Security into something that they can demagogue as being for poor people. We'd probably start hearing about "Social Security Queens" and their Cadillacs within five years.

I'm not sure how a similar sized stimulus package delivered quicker would do anything to cut the deficits in the short term, or count as a spending cut. And again, the only tactics the Republican party used about the stimulus package were to yell Socialism!, propose more tax cuts for the rich, and pick programs that sounded kinda funny out of context and scream about them until they got removed.

"The big-ticket elements in '09 were either noncontroversial or features of the various bailouts .... which Obama agreed with."

So they're Obama's not Bush's?

(4) I'm choosing "right wing" for the former, and "fascist" for the latter. You're choosing "right-wing" for Hitler and what exactly for Friedman et al?

This is rather silly. For one, Hayek and von Mises didn't consider themselves right-wingers at all, but "classical" liberals. That's pretty funny considering von Mises carried water for the fascist Dollfuss regime in Austria, but there you go.

Second, describing free-market principles as "right-wing" is something of a novelty. Historically most right-wing parties in Europe have been dirigiste, not libertarian, in their principles.

So...if you want to argue that Hayek and Friedman are not right-wing you'd have more of a leg to stand on. It would still be a silly leg, but a leg nonetheless.

And there is a hell of a lot more overlap between "right wing" and "fascist" than you seem to recognize.

Such as Pinochet? Friedman ecomionics, check. Authoritarian, check. They fit the bill.

So, what does "right wing" mean to you, then?

How do you tell between left-wing authoritarians and right-wing authoritarians? Between Fascists and Stalinists?

I've always used economic policy as the decider. Hence my original point (by 'eck and internet argument has come back to it's original point)

What else is there?
Which breed of rhetoric they use?
The only other way of discriminating between them is fuhrerprinzip, which would leave DPRK being fascist.

I'm not making the "Nazis are socialist because they've got socialist in the name" argument. That's the sort of "dodgy definitions" argument I'm trying to avoid.

"How do you tell between left-wing authoritarians and right-wing authoritarians? Between Fascists and Stalinists?"

Authoritarianism is mostly right-wing by definition. This guy explains the social science.

"I've always used economic policy as the decider"

As noted above by Slaney Black, right wing regimes aren't reliably free marketeers.

To me, personally, "right wing" is about the privileged position of private capital and property, and of those that hold it.

So, economic policy maybe, but not necessarily free market or not. Oddly, perhaps, asserting the privileges of private capital is not really the same thing as being a free marketeer.

There are lots of ways to acquire private capital, some of which are quite hostile to free markets (or free anything).

And there are lots of free marketeers who wouldn't assert that acquiring a lot of money should entitle you to anything special, other than maybe the obvious ability to buy nice stuff if you want.

So, frex, clamoring for low capital gains taxes and no inheritance tax is kind of a right wing position, but is at most tangentially related to a free market.

While favoring strong anti-monopoly law is a strong free market position, but is hardly right wing.

That's my take, anyway.

I'm also not sure there's much to be gained trying to find the daylight between left and right wing authoritarians. Bullies are bullies.

Apologies for the OT ramble.

Second, describing free-market principles as "right-wing" is something of a novelty.

Novelty? like here?

You could argue that politicalcompass is a novelty, but that's definitions again...

Thinking about it, my own usage probably comes from growing up in Thatcher's Britain. Often called "right wing", she often espoused Hayek.
Given that Labour will still pushing command economics in the 80s, that would define the "left wing" and then confusion reigns supreme.

Next we can open the liberal, classical liberal and libertarian can of worms! Or not...

Historically most right-wing parties in Europe have been dirigiste, not libertarian, in their principles.

Dirigisme strikes me as a bit of a fudge between the two economic extremes. Thatcher was hardly libertarian, but preached Hayek and moved the economy in a Hayekian direction.

Historically most right-wing parties in Europe have been dirigiste, not libertarian, in their principles.

So, given it's possible to be Nazi or libertarian and still be right-wing, what's the common thread between the two? I really can't see it.

Obama and the Democratically-controlled Congress are creating debts and deficits larger than any other US government in the history of the Republic, under any measure,

Even if this were true (which I don't concede), my answer is "so what?"

We have 30 years of Reaganism to fix. Infrastructure has been run down. The medical care delivery system is a disaster. There has been virtually no wage growth for over 80% of Americans since the 70s; virtually all the new wealth being created in recent years has gone to a microscopic percentage of Americans.

At the federal level, military spending is obscene. At the state level, incarceration spending is obscene.

Even minor increases in taxes are demagogued by Republican mouthpieces as the end of the Republic.

Like many upper middle class white liberals (umcwls), I was fine with the idea of means-testing SS, until I actually read up on what that would mean, like (a) a regulatory body so intrusive that it would make the IRS look like the current version of the SEC; and (b) a massive transfer in wealth from the poor to the middle class.

And, like many umcwls, I'm delighted with the idea of cutting ag. subsidies and defense spending. But the first is financially irrelevant and the second requires terminating the single most effective middle class jobs program going these days. Taxpayer investment in GM and Chrysler is pennies on the dollar compared to the civilian defense industry, and at least those two make products that civilians can buy if they want.

So go ahead, von, mm and sh, bang the gong as hard as you want about the mortgaging of America's future and the risk of meltdown. I've heard it all before during the Clinton admin and I just don't care any more. If affordable available health care for all Americans means that the next Republican president really needs to cut defense spending in order to regain budget sanity, I'm fine with that.

I'm also not sure there's much to be gained trying to find the daylight between left and right wing authoritarians. Bullies are bullies.

I agree with this and the rest of your 05:38 post, Russell.

shep @ 5:30

Authoritarianism is mostly right-wing by definition. This guy explains the social science.

I'll check out the book, but from his introduction, he talks about right-wing authoritarians, fine - point granted.

That doesn't mean that you can't have left-wing authoritarians. Indeed, what do you call Stalin, Mao, and the DPRK dynasty?

To argue they are "right-wing" because they are authoritarians, is the same argument, deployed in the opposite direction, as "the Nazis are left wing".

Thanks all for your input, I'm off to bed.

Given that Obama hasn't done all that mush to increase spending or to reduce taxes in the long term - yet - how accurate is the placement of blame here?
To point out a couple of things, which have in various forms appeared upthread:
1) Payroll taxes have held down apparent deficits in the past, but with rampant medical inflation this is changing (Social Security revenue vs payment balance is also changing, but not nearly as fast): how much of the problem in the out-years is due to Medicare? Although this is a problem Obama must address, it's not a result of his policies.
2) How much of the problem, and its later growth, is due to interest payments on the national debt? I seem to recall that, long before he managed to balance the budget, Clinton's entire deficits, and more, resulted from payments on the debts (then considered massive) accrued under Reagan. Because of the way this problem builds, it's again a problem facing Obama but not of his construction.

And while a discussion of the BNP, European politics, and political alignments more broadly could be highly interesting and educational, what exactly is it doing in this thread?

How about if:
1. we accept that the present and future deficits are what the CBO predicts they are,
2. not argue about who caused what,
and 3. discuss what should be done about it.

"That doesn't mean that you can't have left-wing authoritarians. Indeed, what do you call Stalin, Mao, and the DPRK dynasty?"

Authoritarianism is not (exactly) about the nature of the leader or even the social system they are advocating/enforcing, it's more about who follows and why. The plain fact is, liberals make lousy authoritarian followers so authoritarianism is a lousy model for the left - I've come to believe that the very thing that separates the political left from the political right (in America, at least) is deep skepticism of authority, which was nonexistent on the right during the Bush years as that administration fulfilled every nightmare expressed by the right during the Clinton years (conversely, just look how quickly the left harshly pounced on Obama Administration conduct it considered out-of-line). Anyway, everything about the political right in this country typifies high right-wing-following behavior: the top-down hierarchy, lockstep (completely irrational) following, rhetoric designed to demonize others, propaganda-style media outlets, refusal to find common ground from which to have an honest debate about policy, etc. And almost everything on the left is the complete opposite.

If Republicans are paying attention, they should be seeing a winning issue for 2010 and beyond

I don't know which is funnier: The idea that you believe the "and beyond" or the idea that you expect anyone else to. See, even if the GOP were able to somehow ride this to victory -- and I'm not sure that "How dare this guy spend so much money trying to un-shit the bed that we shit?" is a winning strategy -- they'd have to actually, you know, govern. Which is something they've shown over the last decade plus that they're simply fundamentally incapable of doing right now, which would simply get them tossed right out on their ears again in 2012.

A couple of questions.

How much of this shortfall is due to a shortfall in revenue, because of the recession? Shouldn't that be separated out? If we are indeed experiencing the worst recession since the Depression, wouldn't one expect that the shortfall would be greatest -- most especially since the percent of the GDP represented by the Federal government has risen significantly over the many decades since the Depression?

Von makes the point that the deficits in 2009, while based on continuation of Bush policies with regard to the bailout, are likewise Obama's responsibility because he agreed to them. But what is the point of that argument? If Bush agreed to them as well, why continue an argument that is basically pretending they are Obama's responsibility, by highlighting that these policies hit under Obama's administration timewise?

And if one believes in Keynesian economics, and the idea that deficit spending is exactly what a government needs to do to recover from a loss in private demand, then why, again, in the face of the worst recession since the Depression, shouldn't deficit spending be the greatest?

If you're a Keynesian, shouldn't the deficit spending in at least the first couple of years be a feature, and not a bug, of economic policy?

It seems to me that at any given time the current president and current congress are responsible for the current budget. They play with the cards they've been dealt, of course. But they are the only ones who can do anything about changing things. If they wanted, they could rewrite every single federal law. So...

Let's not argue about how we got here. Let's argue about where we should go next.

According to CBPP, whom I trust long before I trust knucklehads like Von and Megan McCardle:

Contrary to some claims, President Obama’s 2010 budget would reduce federal deficits by about $900 billion over the next ten years compared to current budget policies. The $900 billion is the difference between deficits over the next decade under the President’s budget, as estimated by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and projected deficits under a realistic assessment of current budget policies. (See figure below.)

Some critics charge that Obama’s budget is fiscally irresponsible, and they cite CBO’s estimate that, under it, deficits would total $9.3 trillion over the next decade. They fail to note, however, that these future deficits result from the existing budget policies that Obama inherited — not those that he is proposing. Ironically, some of these same critics supported the large tax cuts and spending increases of recent years that helped convert the surpluses of the late 1990s into the record deficits that we face today and in the coming decades.

In fact, deficits would be $900 billion higher over the next decade under current policies than in Obama’s budget. That’s because, in the budget plan that he released in late February, the President includes a package of spending and tax proposals that reduce future deficits by that amount.

"And there is a hell of a lot more overlap between "right wing" and "fascist" than you seem to recognize."

I doubt he even realizes that "right wing" is derived from French politics.

But Dick Cheney said that Ronald Reagan said that deficits don't matter.

"Let's not argue about how we got here."

Sorry. How we got to this point matters a great deal. And anyway, you're perilously close to self-parody.

"Let's not bicker and argue about who killed who! This is supposed to be a happy occasion!"

Worrying about a small amount of inflation when trying to recover from a financial crisis is like worrying about getting your sofa wet when trying to put out the fire in your living room.

Spiny, you forgot to include the hyperlink for your quote.
Or you can watch the scene here (scene starts about 5:03).

On January 8, two weeks before Obama took office, the CBO was projecting deficits through 2019 (and especially substantial ones for the first few years). I wouldn't pin those on Obama, von.

But current projections under Obama's budget (from the March CBO report linked by von) are a lot higher than those January projections, especially for the long term (after 2012). The January CBO forecast projected that deficits would stabilize around $240B from 2012 onward; now the CBO has them getting down near $660B in 2012 and then increasing again. And, looking more closely at the March CBO report, it looks like almost all of the change in their deficit projections from January is due to the policies of Obama and our current Congress, rather than the economy (meaning that the larger numbers in my previous post for Obama's share of the projected deficit are more accurate). So "Obama's deficit" can be estimated as the March projected deficit minus the January projection:

2009: $1845B - $1186B = $659B
2010: $1379B - $703B = $676B
2011: $970B - $498B = $472B
2012: $658B - $264B = $394B
2013: $672B - $257B = $415B
2014: $749B - $250B = $499B
2015: $785B - $234B = $551B
2016: $895B - $272B = $623B
2017: $949B - $234B = $715B
2018: $1023B - $188B = $835B
2019: $1189B - $235B = $954B

Interestingly, a bit over 40% of the increase in the projected deficit is due to reduced revenues (mostly from modifying the AMT and extending the Bush tax cuts for the non-rich), rather than increased spending (technical note: the 40% is calculated for Obama's budget relative to the March baseline, since the changes to the economy from January to March reduced both projected revenues and projected outlays).

Personally, I'm not very concerned about our current deficits, but that long-term trend from 2012 onward is worrying. Obama has plenty of time to turn things around (let's hope that health care reform puts a big dent in them), but it's something to keep an eye on.

I hate to agree with d'd'd'dave....

but fixing the problem you have will not only take non-partisan thinking, it will also mean accepting pain. Either taxes will have to go up, or entitlements will have to go down. With any luck, you can fix some of the problem by eliminating waste and gold plating, but some Americans will lose their jobs. Some Americans will suffer a painful loss of income. Some Americans will probably have retirement plans disrupted. American politicians will probably have less influence over world events, and they'll have to accept that. Some (a lot) of military spending will have to go. Your armed forces will have to make do. You may have to choose between coherent solutions to your medicare dilemma: either a real market in medical services (which means reducing the power of the medical boards), or else something closer to a single-payer system.

All those things will hurt. Some of them will enrage many voters. Patriotic Democrats will have to do them. Patriotic Republicans will have to either accept them or else come up with realistic alternatives. Patriotic Americans of both parties will have to accept that American cannot keep saddling future generations with unlimited debt.

Here is a graph to go with my last comment.

1. This is not Obama's debt or deficit. This is the fault of we americans.

2. Being in the minority can be fun. All snark, no responsibility. But being in the responsible minority is a lot tougher.

"liberals make lousy authoritarian followers so authoritarianism is a lousy model for the left"

liberal != left

"some Americans will lose their jobs. Some Americans will suffer a painful loss of income. Some Americans will probably have retirement plans disrupted. "

For "will" read "are".

Not disagreeing with your point, if anything just adding emphasis.

"All those things will hurt."

IMO the big nasty thing Americans will need to accept ASAP is that they aren't top dog by birthright.

It will take some doing for us to get our heads around that.

"Americans will suffer a painful loss of income. Some Americans will probably have retirement plans disrupted. American politicians will probably have less influence over world events, and they'll have to accept that."

"Patriotic Americans of both parties will have to accept that American cannot keep saddling future generations with unlimited debt."

Of course, "patriotic Americans" should accept that saddling future generations with "painful loss of income", working 'till death and (even more) diminished world status is better than saddling them with "debt" to be paid off over time. I've got your salute right here.

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