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August 29, 2012

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Rosen wrote an insightful piece and I would like to see some more about his point #5 wrt the following:

1. Who are these crazy loons Democrats who have "remained within normal bounds"? One could possibly point to an array of leftist types, but they generally are not members of the Democratic Party.
2. Yes. How can these crazies be stopped?
3. Worldwide phenomenon? Look at what is happening in Hungary. It could be this example is not germaine, given the country's short fling with democracy, but hey, if idiots can assert that the level of our public debt and our current deficits will make us "just like Greece", then why not join the broad brush brigade?

bobbyp: I'm confused. What is Rosen's point #5? I don't see numbered points ...

Except Obama did, by fiat, remove the requirement. The also true fact that he did that by requiring them to assure him that they would move more people to work, with no enforcement possible, doesn't change the first fact. Granting an exemption is removing the requirement. If the states move more people to work thats great, he can talk about that after it happens.

CCDG: Except Obama did, by fiat, remove the requirement.

The "fiat-ness" being....? Also, relevance?

The requirements were passed by Congress, signed into law by Clinton, there is not a process for executive branch exemption in the law.

So it is another announcement by Obama that his administration just isn't going to enforce existing law.He undid them by fiat(an authoritative or arbitrary order : decree ). It matters, and more each time he does it.

The American people elected a Republican House that he can't, or won't, compromise with. So he bypasses that branch entirely.

It's relevant.

the claims, they spiral, thinning all the while

This seems like a pretty good analysis.

I'm curious to know what requirement Obama has removed, and I'm curious to know what is meant by "fiat".

Here is my takeaway: a person running for office as a Republican will never go wrong by kicking poor people in the nuts.

An example of a response from one the states, in this case Utah.

Fiats are notoriously unreliable, is all I know about this.

The HHS presents a legal argument for its authority to waive certain requirements in the federal TANF program.

I'll let you all read it for yourselves, however if the cited brief is accurate, HHS does in fact have authority to do the kinds of things they are in fact doing.

I haven't taken the time to reality-check the claims the brief makes by following the bread crumb trail all the way down to the relevant US Code sections, but the code is right here if anyone wants to take a look.

Fiats are notoriously unreliable

The good old 128's were a not-bad car, at least for their time.

Of course, that time was 40 or more years ago by now, but the same argument can increasingly be made about me, so I'm not pointing any fingers.

shorter Romney campaign:

"we’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact"

Interesting that the WaPo fact check is pretty clear, four pinocchios as Doc mentioned, but again, based on the administrations intent. Noting:

On the surface, one would think conservatives would applaud the federal government giving greater flexibility to the states. But the administration appears to have done this without much consultation with Congress, and it also asserted a novel waiver authority that took GOP lawmakers by surprise. (Essentially, work provisions are contained in section 407, which cannot be waived, but because 407 is mentioned in section 402, which allows waivers, the administration asserted waiver authority.)

And they also noted it was a three Pinocchio misstatement that Romney applied for a waiver while Governor.

so "your" money goes to "those" people.

Doc, these quotes imply that someone actually said this. Can you supply a link?

Still shorter Romney campaign...

"Obama baaaaad!"

McK:

My bad, I was using scare quotes, not quotation quotes. I was referring to the implicit racism of Romney's ads -- as evaluated by e.g. Ron Fournier, who is very much *not* a leftist. The Romney campaign appears to be using the Atwater approach to talking about race.

Though I disagree with Atwater's conclusion, that being forced to move from one metaphor to another proves race is becoming less of an issue. That's like saying that having to move from one euphemism for sex to another (as usage makes each euphemism more of a synonym) means that people aren't thinking about sex as much.

we’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers

I think this is totally reasonable, for both campaigns. Fact checkers are just a bunch of self-appointed weirdos who tend to have odd and idiosyncratic notions. Sometimes they can fact check reasonably, but other times they just go way off the deep end. I think that even if you run a fair-minded and very clean campaign, you can still get criticized by fact checkers.

Now, I also think that Romney's campaign is lying in order to appeal to racist voters, but I think that because I've actually looked at their statements and made a judgement, not because some fact checking idiot awarded them -17 pinocchios on their way to the fourth grade.

But the administration appears to have done this without much consultation with Congress, and it also asserted a novel waiver authority that took GOP lawmakers by surprise. (Essentially, work provisions are contained in section 407, which cannot be waived, but because 407 is mentioned in section 402, which allows waivers, the administration asserted waiver authority.

OK, so for anyone who wants to play the home game:

USC para 1315, which grants HHS authority to waive requirements under section 602 (which apparently is the same as "402"?).

USC 602 (apparently the same as "402"?), which lays out the requirements on the states for complying with the rules for TANF.

USC 607 (apparently the same as "407"?), which lays out the work requirement rules for TANF.

Among other things, para 1315 gives HHS the authority to:

An agreement under this subsection shall be entered into between the Secretary and the State agency designated under section 602 (a)(3) of this title. Such agreement shall provide for the payment of aid under the applicable State plan under part A of subchapter IV of this chapter as though section 607 of this title had been modified to reflect the definition of unemployment used in the demonstration project but shall also provide that such project shall otherwise be carried out in accordance with all of the requirements and conditions of section 607 of this title

Bolds mine.

In other words, in the context of a demonstration project, an individual state can agree with HHS to modify the work requirements as defined in section 607/407, for purposes of satisfying the TANF requirements.

And section 407/607 isn't "mentioned" in 402/602, the latter explicitly gives HHS the authority to modify the requirements of 407/607 in the context of demonstration projects undertaken with individual states.

And by "explicitly" I mean that's exactly what the law - the US Code - says.

There's nothing "novel" about this, waivers to legislation concerning federal aid were much of what led to welfare reform in the first place in the mid 90's. Waivers are explicitly accounted for in the original act.

Unless I misread the law here, there is NO requirement for the executive to ask permission of Congress before soliciting state's input regarding what would make the TANF program more effective, nor is any Congressional input or permission required to grant waivers as allowed for under section 602 so that individual states can try things that they believe will be more effective in getting people off of welfare and into the workforce.

I suppose the executive could have done so anyway, out of some abundance of politeness, but I'm not sure what the point or value of that would have been. If it took GOP lawmakers "by surprise", perhaps they should pay closer attention next time.

So, long story short, Romney can piss up a rope.

And the WaPo can do likewise. It took me something less than an hour to look this stuff up, and I don't get paid to do it. The WaPo, including their "fact check", are a bunch of lazy-ass punks.

IMVHO, of course.

Please feel free to look over the cited sections of the US Code and explain to me what I'm missing.

Thanks.

Fact checkers are just a bunch of self-appointed weirdos who tend to have odd and idiosyncratic notions.

I am in general agreement with this.

Everybody's got an agenda. If you want good information, you need to go get it yourself.

bobbyp: I'm confused. What is Rosen's point #5? I don't see numbered points ...

click on your link "huge tensions within the Republican Party".

I could have been taken to a different place....poor mousemanship, simple distractions, unknown internet portal, acid flashback....hell, according to current (it's only a theory) particle physics, anything is possible.

Oh. And the Romney campaign is lying big time.

Where was the GOP hue and cry over NCLB waivers? And George Bush? In addition to governing by executive order ("fiat"), he also granted http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Daily-Reports/2012/August/20/states-medicaid.aspx>waivers.

So where's the beef?

And this howler from above: "...there is not a process for executive branch exemption in the law." Well, yeah. But only if you unilaterally define a lawful waiver as an "exemption from the law". It's amazing the beating the English language can take at times.

I wait with great anticipation for the Republican convention to denounce those Republican Governors who were among those who applied for the waivers. I mean, how could anybody be in favor of the kind of Federalism which would allow states to experiment with different methods to achieve a desired end (in this case, getting more poeple off welfare and into work)? Shocking, simply shocking!

russell:

Everybody's got an agenda. If you want good information, you need to go get it yourself.

But that means you'll fail, because there are more things you need good info on than there is time for you to get it yourself. If you follow me.

Look, science is a *really good* info system, probably the best one ever, and it's based on taking other people's word for (most) things. But I don't know what peer-reviewed political information would look like ...

But that means you'll fail, because there are more things you need good info on than there is time for you to get it yourself. If you follow me.

You're right about the number of things, but I'm not sure you're right about the "fail" part.

Fail at what?

There are individuals who I find trustworthy, because they back up what they say with information, and because over time what they say has generally proved out.

Other than that, I generally take it all with a grain of salt. If it's something I feel like I need to run to ground, I spend the time. If I can. Otherwise, I live in "grain of salt" land.

For stuff at the level of "what does the US Code actually say", it's actually not that hard or time-consuming to go look it up.

But no, I don't assume that if a fact-check site weighs in, that they are correct. They have their own agendas and blind spots, like everybody else.

good post, doc. thank you.

Ok, so Russell researches and concludes that waivers are ok. Fine. So, is the lie that Obama's admin is allowing waivers or is the lie that the admin is doing so illegally? Seems to me, it can't be both.

That's a good question, McT. I guess the question is does one classify blatant hypocrisy a lie? And if not, what is it?

McKinneyTexas,
The lie is the Obama eliminated the work requirment, which he did not do but ad asserts he did. He has not even granted waivers to any programs that would eliminate the work requirment.

That is the lie in this case. As far as I can tell Romney has yet to demonstrate that he can open his mouth to defend his positions without a lie coming out.

As far as I can tell Romney has yet to demonstrate that he can open his mouth to defend his positions without a lie coming out.

because, as he's been demonstrating for the last 8 months, there is requirement for doing so and no penalty for not, we should expect more lying from the "conservative".

s/ there is requirement / there is no requirement

It's topsy-turvy day! CNN dismissed outright "factual errors" in Paul Ryan's CNN speech as no big deal, because hey, what a speech! Whereas a soon-to-be-fired FOX News contributor noted what a big pack of lies it was.

(The latter, btw, immediately subjected to gendered attacks for daring to fact-check the lovable Paul Ryan.)

It's interesting that there are people out there maintaining that the Janesville plant was closed before Obama was sworn in.

It's almost like someone is trying to adjust the facts to fit the narrative.

not sure how Sally Kohn managed to get herself a Fox News contributor gig, but she's certainly no "conservative".

It's almost as if our media believes that people are too lazy to Google.

JANESVILLE — Exactly four months after General Motors ended sport utility vehicle production in Janesville, the automaker will shut down its medium-duty assembly line.

Production will end Thursday on the local plant's Isuzu line that dates back to 1994. Fifty-seven production workers will lose their jobs.

GM spokesman Chris Lee said another 40 to 50 employees in skilled trade will work to decommission the plant that after nearly 90 years is no longer in the automaker's immediate production plans.

GM said last June it would end local production of light-duty trucks—Suburbans, Tahoes and GMC Yukons—by the end of 2010 at the latest. It also said it would shut down the medium-duty Isuzu line sometime in 2009.

SUV production ended in Janesville on Dec. 23, a little more than five months after the plant lost a second shift of production. More than 2,000 hourly and salaried GM workers were laid off as a result of the production cuts. Supplier companies laid off another 1,200 people.

For the Isuzu line, "sometime in 2009" means Thursday.

Vehicle production at the Janesville plant can be traced to 1919 and the Samson Model M tractor. Chevrolet production started in Janesville in 1923.

GM and Isuzu strengthened a partnership in 1994 with the launch of the NPR gas-powered trucks in Janesville. Two years later, GM and Isuzu started a separate project that put Isuzu-designed cabs on GM's medium-duty chassis. That line eventually moved from Janesville to Flint, Mich.

What remains in Janesville—until Thursday—is the NPR "W" series. The cab-forward truck is Isuzu designed and engineered, has a GM power train and is commonly used as a delivery vehicle.

The Isuzu line and its employees have been producing about 25 trucks four days a week.

What will happen with the 4.8 million-square-foot plant that sits on 250 acres on Janesville's south side is uncertain.

GM spokesman Dan Flores said GM works hard to ensure that its surplus properties become productive for their communities.

Typically, the automaker takes one of three paths to dispose of property.

GM sometimes sells the property with some or all of its buildings demolished.

In rare cases, the automaker will transfer ownership to a nonprofit organization.

In most cases, GM will work with others to redevelop the property into shopping centers, industrial or recreational parks or for a variety of other uses.

All three options include a detailed review of the property and a decommissioning process, Flores said. Equipment that can be used in other GM facilities will be transferred, while other materials and equipment will be recycled.

The assessment also will include an environmental assessment that includes soil and groundwater testing. If a cleanup is necessary, GM will develop a remediation plan in conjunction with state and federal environmental agencies.

"We have to make a careful assessment of what we want to do with the plant," Flores said. "Before that's done, it's way too early to speculate on what will be done with the Janesville plant."

Maybe it's a "mostly dead" thing.

It's interesting that there are people out there maintaining that the Janesville plant was closed before Obama was sworn in.

the announcement the plant was to be closed in Dec 2008 was made in Oct 2008. it wasn't totally shut down until June 09, because they were finishing-up a contract.

let's blame Obama for that!

(PS the captcha thing is completely unreadable 50% of the time)

Indeed, GM Chairman Rick Wagoner announced the Janesville closing at GM's annual shareholder meeting on June 3, 2008 noting that it would close no later than 2010, but earlier if dictated by market conditions. Perhaps Obama traveled back in time to force him to make that announcement.

I wouldn't break my arm patting myself on the back for Google skills if I were you, Slarti.

So this is the argument:

Republicans: "Obama made it easier to get welfare during a time of massive and persistent unemployment. We hate welfare!"

Democrats: "Liars! Obama did NOT make it easier to get welfare during a time of massive and persistent unemployment. We hate welfare too!"

Thank goodness there's a difference between the two major parties.

Or, we could listen to what Ryan ACTUALLY said:

Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said: “I believe that if our government is there to support you … this plant will be here for another hundred years.” That’s what he said in 2008.

So unless candidate Obama didn't say that then it sounds like government wasn't there to support them, or he was just wrong. There were lots of plants closing announcements where the plants were reopened.

Ryan didn't say Obama closed the plant, or that there wasn't a problem when he became President, in fact he said in the paragraph before that line:

President Barack Obama came to office during an economic crisis, as he has reminded us a time or two. Those were very tough days, and any fair measure of his record has to take that into account. My home state voted for President Obama. When he talked about change, many people liked the sound of it, especially in Janesville, where we were about to lose a major factory.

It's tough to be fairer and more honest than his actual words.

I guess the question is does one classify blatant hypocrisy a lie? And if not, what is it?

I am fine with calling blatant hypocrisy a lie, although, for me, it's just more Vaseline than I'd prefer in this season of political intercourse. Do we hold both sides to the same standard, or will this be another campaign where one side's lies are much worse than the other's and the other's "lies" really aren't "lies", they're just the normal hyperbole of an election season?

you know what's really obnoxious about this whole plant closure issue?

Let Detroit Go Bankrupt

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/19/opinion/19romney.html

what a bunch of hypocrites. no need to parse anything, Romney and Ryan are trying to have it both ways.

When it comes to lies, I tend to differentiate between what a politician says his opponent has done (or will do), and what he say he will do. I expect that he will distort his opponent's record as necessary. (Ryan was world-class at that, but not outside the norm.) Regretable, but not surprising.

But then there is what the politician says he will do. If he says he will do a bunch of things which are diametrically opposite of what he has been saying for years that he wants to do, there are two possibilities:
1) he has had a sincere change of heart. That can, and should, happen occasionally. But it does not happen wholesale, across a variety of issues, all at once, and just at the most politically convenient time.
2) he is lying in his teeth. Whether his previous rhetoric was all lies, or whether his current statements are, can be difficult to tell. But if he actually voted for a bunch of stuff that is the opposite of what he says now, I'm going with the former being what he really thinks.

On that basis, it seems pretty clear that Ryan is lying now. Admittedly, part of that is because, as a Vice Presidential nominee, he has to follow the line laid out by the Presidential nominee. But I expect an honest man to focus on talking about the things that they agree on -- not on blythely ignoring everything he has done and proclaiming that he now wants to do the opposite, like his past never existed.

So unless candidate Obama didn't say that then it sounds like government wasn't there to support them

right. a government which Obama was not at the head of, at the time he said that.

and, are you people seriously complaining that Obama hasn't bailed out enough auto companies? seriously?

Ryan's full comments re: the Janesville plant, from this transcript of his speech:

President Barack Obama came to office during an economic crisis, as he has reminded us a time or two. Those were very tough days, and any fair measure of his record has to take that into account. My home state voted for President Obama. When he talked about change, many people liked the sound of it, especially in Janesville, where we were about to lose a major factory.

A lot of guys I went to high school with worked at that GM plant. Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said: "I believe that if our government is there to support you. this plant will be here for another hundred years." That's what he said in 2008.

Well, as it turned out, that plant didn't last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day. And that's how it is in so many towns today, where the recovery that was promised is nowhere in sight

The charge Ryan is making is that Obama made a campaign-speech claim, and failed to bring that claim to fruition once in office.

Which is, factually, true.

Whether that is a fair charge to bring, or not, is less clear. To me. Obama was not the only actor involved.

But yes, I think it's fair to say that, in 2008, candidate Obama wanted to leave the people of Janesville with the impression that, if they voted for him, the GM plant would be that much less likely to close.

And, in fact, it closed.

I think it's fine to hold Obama (or any President) accountable for the results he has, or has not, been able to make happen under his watch. In Obama's case, as in most cases, it's been a mixed bag.

That's not totally down to him, but being held responsible, fairly or unfairly, "on your watch" kind of comes with the Presidenting gig.

I also think, however, that that needs to be balanced against what we might expect from a Romney/Ryan administration.

I believe cleek has addressed that, quite clearly, upthread.

any of you Ryan/Romney defenders feel up to defending the fact that your guys are using "The Government Didn't Built This!" as a primary theme of the convention?

your entire party is a celebration of (yet another) bald-faced lie from the people at the very top of your ticket?

And not for nothing, but here is the opening para from Romney's NYT editorial:

IF General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won’t go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed.

As it turns out, he was wrong. Completely and thoroughly wrong.

And had Romney been President for the last four years, the Janesville plant closing would have been the tip of the iceberg.

The two parties and the two candidates are not the same.

"any of you Ryan/Romney defenders feel up to defending the fact that your guys are using "The Government Didn't Built This!" as a primary theme of the convention?"

Defend it? I'm absolutely delighted they're doing this.

Look, Obama is standing things on their head. As, I think it was (Rand) Paul said, the highways didn't create the businesses. The businesses created the highways. The government couldn't do anything without the revenues they got from businesses they didn't create. Everything the government does, it does only because there's a private sector for it to tax, and usually to delegate the actual work to.

It's a vile insult to say to somebody who, faced with the same circumstances a thousand other people faced, created the business they didn't, "You didn't build that!" Just because they're using infrastructure the government could only provide because *other* somebodies had built something for the government to tax.

No, this "The Government didn't build that!" theme is great.

"As it turns out, he was wrong. Completely and thoroughly wrong"

Well kind of, Chrysler didn't really fare well. GM still can't get out of it's own way and is profitable because it uses, oh wait, tax credits from it's carryover losses, and it got the benefit of a nonexistent Toyota competition for a year after the devastation in Japan.

Oh, and they closed another plant yesterday,

General Motors plant in Shreveport, LA closes, Detroit News reports

Thats one of those comparison things, would they be better off with a managed bankruptcy? Can't know. But I will say that I, and I assume Romney, am pleased it turned out better tha expected so far.

Have we kissed it goodbye?
Is it's demise virtually guaranteed?

It's one of those comparison things.

It's a vile insult to say to somebody who, faced with the same circumstances a thousand other people faced, created the business they didn't, "You didn't build that!"

Fortunately for all concerned, nobody made that statement.

There seems to be a lot of confusion about that point, though. In fact, some folks seem to be deliberately fostering confusion about that point. So, I can see how you may have come by your misunderstanding honestly.

I would also say that "contribute to through taxes" and "build" are not exactly the same thing. That's just my take.

As, I think it was (Rand) Paul said, the highways didn't create the businesses. The businesses created the highways. The government couldn't do anything without the revenues they got from businesses they didn't create. Everything the government does, it does only because there's a private sector for it to tax, and usually to delegate the actual work to.

i'm not sure framing something as a chicken/egg situation does much for people who want to insist that chickens don't need no stinking eggs.

and that's not how the GOP is framing it. no, they are sticking with the I Built This line, which is entirely based on Romney's fraudulent misquoting of Obama.

"The government couldn't do anything without the revenues they got from businesses they didn't create. Everything the government does, it does only because there's a private sector for it to tax, and usually to delegate the actual work to."

There's a chicken and egg thing here. There wouldn't be much in the way of business to tax if there weren't a government, unless (like some anarchists apparently did), you think Somalia was a good model for how a society should be run. Anyway, it doesn't conflict with what Obama said to point out that we live in a mixed economy, not a centrally planned socialist state.

"It's a vile insult to say to somebody who, faced with the same circumstances a thousand other people faced, created the business they didn't, "You didn't build that!""

How fortunate then that Obama didn't say that. He was talking about the infrastructure.

Got the captcha on the fourth or fifth try that time. I'd have sworn I was right on the third attempt, but the software didn't agree.

Well russell, Ford didn't get a bailout at all, Chrysler went through bankruptcy and is not an American company anymore and GM is still run by the government. So, they didn't quite get the bailout they asked for and it's demise is not yet assured, nor is it's success nor is it the industry that it was. "It won't go overnight" may still be prescient, especially if we get four more years of the current economy.

"any of you Ryan/Romney defenders feel up to defending the fact that your guys are using "The Government Didn't Built This!" as a primary theme of the convention?"

Defend it? I'm absolutely delighted they're doing this.

Of course you are! Especially since they're doing it in a building that was financed 60%+ through government funding!

was financed 60%+ through government funding!

Not that that is very important. I would bet good money that the RNC did not get that venue for free.

Doesn't matter who built the building, actually; if it hadn't been that one, it would have been a different one.

"It won't go overnight" may still be prescient, especially if we get four more years of the current economy.

Fine.

You tell me how long we have to wait for the US auto industry to go belly up before we can say Romney was, in fact, wrong.

I draw the line at 20 years. Longer than that, there are too many other factors in play.

In the meantime, I'm happy to say his quite strong prediction has thus far failed to materialize.

And yeah, I'm sure Romney is happy that the industry hasn't gone belly up. I'm not saying he's a sociopath, I'm just saying he was wrong.

That's actually a relevant data point, considering he wants to be the guy calling the shots.

Also - not for nothing, but if I'm not mistaken Ford was given a substantial line of credit from the feds. So, not totally free of government support.

Long story short: Romney predicted disaster, disaster has yet to occur. On the contrary, the American auto industry is doing kind of OK.

So, that sounds kinda like "wrong" to me.

Yes, it stands to reason that they would have held the convention in a different convention center if they didn't hold it in that convention center. Unless it's some kind of Schrodinger's Convention Center where they both hold and don't hold it simultaneously.

It hardly matters, since convention centers generally rely on both public and private money, property tax abatements, development incentives, etc., rather than the sheer will of Galtian supermen. Which was exactly the point.

Someone's been keeping current on the talking points, though.

Yes. Convention centers are built with tax dollars. And convention center space is rented out so that the convention centers may not operate at a dead loss.

Depending on who sprung for initial financing, convention centers can be built based on any combination of bonds, local, state or even federal assistance, all of which funding comes ultimately from the taxpayers.

I'm not sure how relevant is the point of how the building, which they rented space and time from, was funded. Maybe you'll have to draw a picture or two.

Seriously, all buzz words aside, does anyone want to make the case that public investment in infrastructure does not foster private economic activity?

Or, maybe, that it's really not public investment, because private businesses and individuals fund it through tax payments?

I mean, the floor is open, but I just don't see what the argument there would be.

Maybe Rand Paul can fill us in.

I'm not sure how relevant is the point of how the building, which they rented space and time from, was funded.

I'm sure you don't. Moving on.

Unless it's some kind of Schrodinger's Convention Center where they both hold and don't hold it simultaneously.

That's actually a pretty good description of the GOP convention these days.

I guess Democrats too.

"That's actually a pretty good description of the GOP convention these days."

Missing the cyanide gas that's a crucial part of the original thought experiment. Maybe that's what the speeches are for.

Moving on.

I think that's a really ingenious defense, there, Phil.

It's not a patch on "here's the first Google result I found," but I try.

It's not a patch on "here's the first Google result I found," but I try.

A search for the quoted string on this page yields only one result.

Super!

russell,

The argument goes that the people who build businesses wouldn't be able to do that without the government investment in infrastructure that supports the economy. So much of their success is based on this infrastructure being there, and they didn't build that infrastructure.

The alternative argument is that the businesses came first, they either built their own infrastructure, or in the case of roads and bridges (and, the extension of the thought process, the internet), the tax dollars collected from their businesses and the people they pay built it as a choice in the budget.

No government built infrastructure would exist if there hadn't been businesses and tax payers to fund it, and in most cases build it on contract. The idea that government built it and then all the businesses took advantage by using it is farcical.

The idea that modern businesses would have exactly the infrastructure they have without the government building it is certainly questionable. But, barring governments building the highway system, would it have been built? Quite probably in some form, probably all toll roads, something Mass is good at also. People built bridges before the government did. They built roads, they built dams.

Demeaning the accomplishments of business people by pretending they are leeches off the largesse of "governments" investment is.just.wrong.

I'm not sure how relevant is the point of how the building, which they rented space and time from, was funded.

Actually, it is quite relevant to those who assert that government efforts to promote the common good by "building stuff" are just fine if they can nick a bit of profit out of the deal, obtain a subsidy, have their private property protected, or derive some other economic benefit, but that similar public efforts to "build stuff" that they do not approve of are deemed wholly illegitimate based on some kind of half assed universal principle having to do with freedom, liberty, free enterprise, "crowding out" or the stultifying dead hand of socialism.

It is further astounding to see it asserted that government spending "depends" on taxes when plainly it does not in the case of the federal government.

Perhaps too, Brett has some pictures of businesses out in the middle of nowhere just waiting for the interstate highway system to come by...like in the old days when towns sprung up trying to guess where the railroads would be built. Chicken and egg. Indeed.

The idea that modern businesses would have exactly the infrastructure they have without the government building it is certainly questionable.

questionable?

no, farcical.


Demeaning the accomplishments of business people by pretending they are leeches off the largesse of "governments" investment is.just.wrong.

nobody is doing that

we don't live in libertarian Utopia. we live in the actual USA, where the actual, real-life, government did actually, in real-life, no-shit, build the no-fooling-there-they-really-are roads and bridges that these businesses depend on for, not only their day-to-day activities, but in a real way, their entire existence.

or, maybe you find a lot of thriving businesses located at the end of self-made roads which don't connect in any way to any government-build roads?

the government, which yes, gets its money from tax-payers, built the infrastructure that American businesses use. and it didn't do it out of spite, or out of a desire to put the shackles on all these energetic entrepreneurs who would've gone out and by-golly built their own roads(!); it built them because Americans want roads so that they can use them to run and patronize businesses.

and the government provides a legal and financial infrastructure which businesses rely on. and that infrastructure was put in place so that businesses could thrive. and the government provides military protection of US business interests - not because it wants a monopoly on the use of force but because Americans want the government to do that.

nobody's trying to hold back your fncking business. just quit pretending your business is not taking advantage of infrastructures (physical, legal, financial) that have been built up by centuries of government and business partnership.

The idea that modern businesses would have exactly the infrastructure they have without the government building it is certainly questionable. But, barring governments building the highway system, would it have been built? Quite probably in some form

I think both of these statements - that it's questionable whether the existing infrastructure would be there absent some form of public action, and that something else would have built instead - are accurate.

I also think the choice between "the government built it" and "private business built it" is a false one, and a foolish one.

Absolutely from the inception of this country, both the public and private sector have worked together to build the physical, legal, and social infrastructure needed to facilitate and encourage private enterprise.

It has been that way from day one.

"Chicken and egg" is actually an inaccurate way to describe the relationship between the two. "Hand in hand" is probably more accurate.

IMVHO all of that is completely appropriate, and as it should be.

Demeaning the accomplishments of business people by pretending they are leeches off the largesse of "governments" investment is.just.wrong.

As above, I agree with this.

Fortunately, nobody is accusing private business of being "leeches" off of government largesse.

Here's the relevant passage from Obama's statement:

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together

Kindly note that the word "that" in the first graph refers not to folks' businesses, but to schools, roads, and bridges.

Yes, there are some instances of private individuals building those things, but in the *vast majority* - and I do mean vast -
significant infrastructure like schools, roads, bridges, etc are built out with, at a minimum, the participation of the public sector.

Kindly also note the "but also" in the last graph.

Obama is not claiming "either / or". He is claiming "both / and". Which I, personally, believe is both historically accurate, at all periods of our national history, and appropriate.

And all of this - all of our discussion about this, here on this thread - is beside the point of how his statement has been distorted and used by the Romney campaign.

Romney would have us think that Obama is claiming that private individuals who build businesses have not really built their businesses. That is false, and at this point any possibility that Romney simply misunderstood Obama's statement is risible.

Romney is lying. Full stop. Not spin, not "coloring" what Obama said. He is lying.

It is further astounding to see it asserted that government spending "depends" on taxes when plainly it does not in the case of the federal government.

Yes, I know. Government can, does and maybe even should spend in a way that's completely disconnected from any consideration of revenues.

It's a lovely assertion; one that you might even find some agreement for in certain circles. But repetition of it isn't going to have me believe it any more quickly.

If revenues were unimportant, taxes could be eliminated altogether.

"nobody is doing that"

Yes, yes they are. Here is two paragraphs on how you didn't really do it yourself:

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me, because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t -look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something – there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business. you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

The only person that did anything good in those two paragraphs is "somebody". Anybody except you.

Here is two paragraphs on how you didn't really do it yourself

Yeah, CCDG, it's two paragraphs on how you didn't really do it yourself.

As in, all by yourself, with no assistance or support from anybody else.

Are you thinking that Obama is saying, if you have a successful business, that everybody except for you is responsible for that?

Or do you think he is saying other people in addition to you contributed to your success?

Can you point me to one successful person whose achievement was accomplished with no contribution or support from the public sector?

The only person that did anything good in those two paragraphs is "somebody".

this is just so fncking ridiculous. it's such a stupid, dishonest, bad-faith, deliberate misreading.

If revenues were unimportant, taxes could be eliminated altogether.

It's the possibility of revenues that is important. Right now the U.S. gov't is spending 50% more than it takes in and yet it can still borrow $$ over 30 years at 2.75%.

If it was taking in $0, what would the rate be?

"Are you thinking that Obama is saying, if you have a successful business, that everybody except for you is responsible for that?"

Yes, this is just his best summary

OK then.

That seems like a basically nutty reading of his statement to me, but everybody's got their own set of baggage.

Different strokes.

If it was taking in $0, what would the rate be?

My answer is: no one would issue an uncollateralized loan to you for the required funds at any rate of interest, if you don't have an income and you're already substantially indebted.

Can you point me to one successful person whose achievement was accomplished with no contribution or support from the public sector?

No, depending on how broadly you define 'contribution or support', *but* the role of gov't in the vast majority of cases is very limited.

Public education, roads, police and fire protection, courts, life safety regulatory bodies and services(sanitation,clean water, food, public air travel, offshore drilling, etc) are miniscule gov't outlays. Add in national defense, and it's still easily affordable.

The infrastructure needed to sustain a vibrant private sector is chump change compared to current combined local, state and national spending.

So, if the subject is misleading statements, implying that we need the full range of gov't programs and services for someone to start or maintain a business, well, that is misleading. We *need* far less than we are bestowing on ourselves for the private sector to thrive.

McK:
Public education, roads, police and fire protection, courts, life safety regulatory bodies and services(sanitation,clean water, food, public air travel, offshore drilling, etc) are miniscule gov't outlays. Add in national defense, and it's still easily affordable.

Where are you getting these figures? The data at this self-identified "conservative" site shows that education and defense are almost a trillion dollars each, which is not what I think of as "miniscule". And I don't know how much of the "Pensions" slice represents the cost of ed or defense, either.

If there's any interest, I could crunch the OECD numbers and see what they say.

No, depending on how broadly you define 'contribution or support', *but* the role of gov't in the vast majority of cases is very limited.

Public education, roads, police and fire protection, courts, life safety regulatory bodies and services(sanitation,clean water, food, public air travel, offshore drilling, etc) are miniscule gov't outlays.

OK, IMO you're making an interesting point here. Because Obama is making his pitch to call for, among other things, an increased tax burden on wealthier folks.

I agree that the outlays for the kinds of things we've been discussing up to now - material public infrastructure like roads bridges and transportation, legal and social institutions, education and support for professional training, etc. - makes up a relatively small, and quite affordable part of the federal budget.

The big ticket items are Social Security, Medicare, defense, and Medicaid.

Leaving defense off the table for the moment, what I take to be your point is that the very largest expenditures - SS, Medicare, Medicaid - are not relevant, or are at least far less relevant, to enabling successful private enterprise.

You might want to include welfare per se -- TANF, food stamps, etc. -- in that bucket as well, but IIRC they are actually not that large a piece of the federal budget, either.

If I'm missing your point please advise.

If I'm not missing your point, I think you're correct as far as considering things that directly support the operation of private business.

More broadly, however, I would argue that the "safety net" stuff supports a relatively unregulated labor market without the downside of widespread poverty.

That's why the programs were put in place.

There's also, apart from the issue of supporting private enterprise, the idea of basic mutual responsibility that is often part of what people think of as belonging to the public sphere.

That, of course, has little to do with enabling entrepreneurial effort directly, it's just a good thing on its own merits.

IMVHO.

I wonder if Govenments have any way of raising revenues aside from taxes? Some enterprising person should use Google and find out!

we don't live in libertarian Utopia. we live in the actual USA, where the actual, real-life, government did actually, in real-life, no-shit, build the no-fooling-there-they-really-are roads and bridges that these businesses depend on for, not only their day-to-day activities, but in a real way, their entire existence.

Not only that, businesses WANT IT that way. If they had to build and maintain that infrastructure themselves,the barriers to entry would be insurmountably high for all but the highest market cap corporations. The way it works now, Joe's Hardware can take advantage of the same electrical grid and freewy off ramps that Home Depot does, and everyone is (more or less) better off for it.

More broadly, however, I would argue that the "safety net" stuff supports a relatively unregulated labor market without the downside of widespread poverty.

Not only that, they enable people to, you know, *buy things*. Businesses like when people are able to buy things. It really helps their cash flow.

Also, given the state of our national infrastructure, that spending should be many, many times what it is now. If it isn't it's only a matter of time before we have more Minnesota bridge incidents.

Doc, you are correct. Education is 1/6th of the fed budget and defense about the same, all up slightly under 1/3. And, affordable. Actually, we'd run a big surplus.

Russ, you are not missing my point at all. There may be good, even excellent reasons, for a safety net. However, a safety net is not a condition or even much of an aid to a strong private sector. Education, yes. Roads and all the rest, yes.

The question I always have in my mind--and this is kind of what drives my fundamental thinking-goes like this: what can we least do without and survive as a society? The answer I get every time is: a strong private sector. Good, bad or indifferent--I think 'good', but that's just me--if we take that piece out of the engine, it doesn't run. The next two questions are: how much of a load can the engine, the economy, pull and what gets put on the load first (and what goes last?)?

Think of it as bare infrastructure and then as add-on's. How much can we add on without breaking the engine?

Not only that, they enable people to, you know, *buy things*. Businesses like when people are able to buy things. It really helps their cash flow.

Sure, that's what I want. Tax me at 35-50% so that maybe a safety net recipient of some fraction of my tax burden will hire me.

Surely you know someone who owns a grocery store.

The major shift of America from an agrarian nation to an industrial nation in the 1800s was in large part due to the development of railroads. These were largely subsidized by government grants of land. IMO this is the original basis for government having helped build America's private industrial wealth.

Before then, the agrarian nation was built on land that the British and US governments obtained through their power and then gave to settlers. The homesteads that continued until about a century ago are a logical extension of this concept.

// Used to be, conservatives studied history. Nowadays forgetting fits the right’s narrative better.

IMO this is the original basis for government having helped build America's private industrial wealth.

I go back further than that, to the essentially mercantilist policies of the first half of the 19th C., based on Hamilton's American Plan.

That came out of the first few Congresses. So, founders.

Think of it as bare infrastructure and then as add-on's. How much can we add on without breaking the engine?

IMO that's a pretty reasonable way to think about it. I'd even go further and ask what we can do to make the engine stronger.

"Can you point me to one successful person whose achievement was accomplished with no contribution or support from the public sector?"

We do not say to a brick mason, as he walks away from a wall, "You didn't build that!", just because he bought the bricks, instead of digging up the clay and baking it himself. We don't tell the baker, "You didn't bake that!" of the loaf coming out of his oven, just because he didn't mill the flour, and build the oven.

Businessmen DID "build that", in every sense the phrase is normally understood to mean. Did they use roads? Yeah, and paid for them. Did they employ workers educated in schools? Yeah, and paid them salaries.

The "You didn't build that!" rant, (And it was quite a rant, in context, makes you understand why Obama doesn't usually do extemporaneous, if that's what's lurking in him.) is an accusation of something more than that. It's a claim the success was due to somebody else, and so the reward is, too, and be thankful the government responsible for your success lets you keep anything at all.

It's a way of thinking some people share, and so they don't see that rant for the PR disaster it was. But it's going to be thrown in Obama's face from now to November, and justly so. He let the mask slip for a moment, and isn't going to be allowed to pretend it didn't happen.

I wonder if Govenments have any way of raising revenues aside from taxes? Some enterprising person should use Google and find out!

No need to google. Some governments have (and some still do) draw(n) significant revenue from control of natural resources and have used that to keep taxes low. Most oiligarchies (no misspelling) seem to run that way.
And if we follow Romney that fees are not taxes (the very basis of his claim of orthodox Groverism in his Mass. govrnorship) 'ideal conservative' government does not need taxes at all. OK that is pure sarcasm on my part

the agrarian nation was built on land that the British and US governments obtained through their power and then gave to settlers

Thank you. The Government gave it away. No individual person had to "win" it. People, perhaps, had to "build" it, but they were given the freaking land. Just imagine, in the 20th or 21st century if people were "given" stuff. Socialism!!!!!!

Tax me at 35-50% so that maybe a safety net recipient of some fraction of my tax burden will hire me.

nobody is proposing taxing anyone at that level. and you know it.

We do not say to a brick mason, as he walks away from a wall, "You didn't build that!", just because he bought the bricks, instead of digging up the clay and baking it himself. We don't tell the baker, "You didn't bake that!" of the loaf coming out of his oven, just because he didn't mill the flour, and build the oven.

which would be a fucking awesome point if that was in any way what Obama actually said.

you people have gone full Limbaugh. you're piling delusion on top of delusion, mistaking your own tumescent fantasies for reality. you can't even read a banal restatement of what it means to have a functional democratic government without concluding that it's rock-solid proof of your delusions.

pathetic.

Sapient replied to me:

the agrarian nation was built on land that the British and US governments obtained through their power and then gave to settlers

Thank you. The Government gave it away. No individual person had to "win" it. People, perhaps, had to "build" it, but they were given the freaking land. Just imagine, in the 20th or 21st century if people were "given" stuff. Socialism!!!!!

This is not as socialistic as it sounds. These governments profited on the development of the land they gave away, including taxing its fruits. This sounds a lot like selling inkjet printers under cost, to create customers locked in to your ink cartridges.

We do not say to a brick mason, as he walks away from a wall, "You didn't build that!", just because he bought the bricks, instead of digging up the clay and baking it himself.

Yeah, not to pile on, but you are correct, we don't say that, because it's not true.

It's also got nothing whatsoever to do with the point Obama was making.

Brick masons work in a social, legal, and material context that allows them to work efficiently and in a profitable and useful way. As do we all.

They, individually, did not create that context. Nor, individually, did any of the rest of us.

I do in fact have a "way of thinking", that I do in fact share with a lot of people. According that way of thinking, what I do affects other people, and what they do affects me. So it's freaking bone ignorant for me to say that any success I have in life is purely down to my personal effort.

I've worked my ass off, and I've also benefited from the efforts of thousands of other people. Both things are true.

If you want to tell me everything you've achieved in life has been due to nothing but your own effort, you have a hell of a lot of convincing to do.

Give it your best shot, I'm all ears.

This is not as socialistic as it sounds.

Yes, I agree. I'd say that taking public property and handing it over to private actors so they could develop it for their own profit is about as far from socialism as you can get.

There were in fact public benefits flowing from the arrangement, but "socialism" it was not.

My answer is: no one would issue an uncollateralized loan to you for the required funds at any rate of interest, if you don't have an income and you're already substantially indebted.

A convenient phase shift and totally inappropriate little allegory that somehow skips over the fact that in our current monetary system the government essentially floats bonds to satisfy the public's liquidity preference (and provide a nice little subsidy to the financial sector to boot).

How we get from an entity that has the monopoly power to issue THE currency at will to some pitifully busted flat "you" who nobody will loan money to even at infinitely high interest is, well, mind boggling.

As to taxes (federal). Taxes create a demand for the currency.

what can we least do without and survive as a society?

Public health, public safety, etc. People tend to forget that capitalism (read, 'private sector') is a relatively new way of social relations, and societies got along without it for thousands of years. And I don't really give much credence to this particularly utopian scheme of endless accumulation getting us much further into the future if it insists, socially speaking, on not internalizing the true costs of externalities such as climate change....but you could make the argument that it is human (social) nature to do so, and the wonderful Soviets (pokes finger in my chest)did the same thing. I wouldn't deny it. That could make for an interesting discussion.

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