Debt downgrade

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Debt downgrade

Post by spikegirl7 » Sat Aug 06, 2011 5:54 pm

So the US credit rating has been downgraded.
NPR wrote:Xinhua said the U.S. must slash its "gigantic military expenditure and bloated social welfare costs" and accept international supervision over U.S. dollar issues.
I agree with China on the spending issue. Perhaps now they'll sit down and address this issue.
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Re: Debt downgrade

Post by collegestudent22 » Sat Aug 06, 2011 6:45 pm

I doubt it. I happen to have a few friends that honestly think Obama can do no wrong. Who are they blaming for this issue? Eric Cantor, the House Majority Whip and "member of the Tea Party". The problem is that we didn't raise taxes, according to them. As long as they, and the leaders they elect, believe that, the problem will never be solved.

China's statement is right, though. The military expenditures we spend to defend Europe and Southern Asia need to be cut heavily. More importantly, our social welfare is a huge drain on our economy, and will only get worse as we become more like Europe, where they are going under from these costs (Italy is the most recent European nation to have a debt crisis - they are now calling for a balanced budget amendment), despite not even having to spend on military defense.
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Re: Debt downgrade

Post by spikegirl7 » Sat Aug 06, 2011 6:50 pm

Wait, they seriously believe that? When S&P, Moody's, and many other say that it's due to bloated open-ended entitlement spending along with huge military expenditures?

I've heard about the tea party pushing for the balanced budget amendment. What exactly is the problem that people have with this? What is the objection to only spending as much as you take in?
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Re: Debt downgrade

Post by StruckingFuggle » Sat Aug 06, 2011 6:56 pm

I'm not sure if I'd want to take advice from China on anything, except maybe how to transform an advanced civilization into an empty shell littered with the wreckage of its former glory.

I find it awfully funny that the people doing the downrating, S&P, were also the financial geniuses who rated those awful mortgages as AAA and helped create the circumstances of the housing bubble's eruption which helped put us here to begin with. Clearly, they know money e.e... I also find it kind of awfully hinky that the debt ceiling has been raised many times - by every president - but it's only under Obama's administration, and heading into an election season where he's already being challenged by obstructionism and "if stuff happens, no matter why, it will be blamed on the president, so if we create problems, or put off on helping things, we can get him kicked out, come to power, and then reap the benefits"ism.

Really, the whole thing is a smoke screen to get the world and, more importantly, the american public, focused on the small-time debt issue, distracting us from the very dire public sector issues that are responsible for the actual shitty economic environment of the average american citizen.



(also, Spike, I really hope you're not including Social Security in your description of "entitlement" spending, as a lot of people seem wont to do. Technically, it is an entitlement, but in the most strict and actual definition of the word: if your money was put into it, you are entitled to get your money from it.)
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Debt downgrade

Post by Deacon » Sat Aug 06, 2011 7:14 pm

StruckingFuggle wrote:I also find it kind of awfully hinky that the debt ceiling has been raised many times - by every president - but it's only under Obama's administration, and heading into an election season where he's already being challenged by obstructionism
You might want to double check your history. And obstructionism? Really? Is that how far this discussion has fallen?

Here's what Obama has to say about the debt ceiling:

"The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the US Government can not pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government's reckless fiscal policies.... Increasing America's debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that "the buck stops here." Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better."

Full text at http://t.co/3TZl7Ph
Really, the whole thing is a smoke screen to get the world and, more importantly, the american public, focused on the small-time debt issue
The...debt issue is a small time issue? Really?
distracting us from the very dire public sector issues that are responsible for the actual shitty economic environment of the average american citizen.
Please elaborate.
I really hope you're not including Social Security in your description of "entitlement" spending, as a lot of people seem wont to do. Technically, it is an entitlement, but in the most strict and actual definition of the word: if your money was put into it, you are entitled to get your money from it.)
Cool. I'm all for your version that people can get out what they put in. I'm surprised you actually took that rather radical leap. In addition to stopping benefits at what was originally vested by the individual, in your plan can I elect to get back what I've put into it and no linger be forced to put anything into at all, waiving any claim to future benefits?
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Re: Debt downgrade

Post by collegestudent22 » Sat Aug 06, 2011 7:26 pm

StruckingFuggle wrote:I'm not sure if I'd want to take advice from China on anything, except maybe how to transform an advanced civilization into an empty shell littered with the wreckage of its former glory.
Once China opened up (somewhat) to a free market, its economy has thrived - whereas the transformation to an "empty shell" occurred under protectionist emperors and communist dictators. China now is experiencing vast growth - partly because it is building on already existent technology, but partly because it isn't hamstringing its economy with dreams of central planning as much as we are.
I find it awfully funny that the people doing the downrating, S&P, were also the financial geniuses who rated those awful mortgages as AAA and helped create the circumstances of the housing bubble's eruption which helped put us here to begin with. Clearly, they know money e.e...
This is a logical fallacy. Earlier error does not mean that future action is also wrong. Just because they caved to government pressure to make housing easier to buy (because everyone deserves to own their own house), doesn't mean that they are wrong this time - especially since they are doing the opposite of what the government would like here.
I also find it kind of awfully hinky that the debt ceiling has been raised many times - by every president - but it's only under Obama's administration, and heading into an election season where he's already being challenged by obstructionism and "if stuff happens, no matter why, it will be blamed on the president, so if we create problems, or put off on helping things, we can get him kicked out, come to power, and then reap the benefits"ism.
The debt ceiling isn't the issue. It is the lack of will to control spending when the debt is now over 100% of GDP that is the issue here. The debt ceiling just provided an opportunity to get spending under control - which did not happen. I suppose you, like Krugman, wish we just kept spending. That a $1T stimulus wasn't enough, we need $2T - and if that isn't enough, let's try $3T, right?
Really, the whole thing is a smoke screen to get the world and, more importantly, the american public, focused on the small-time debt issue, distracting us from the very dire public sector issues that are responsible for the actual shitty economic environment of the average american citizen.
Small-time? So the reason Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Spain, and Greece are having problems with their budget and getting loans has nothing to do with their debt? As for the economic environment, much of the problem is government here - whether it is Obamacare, consumer "protection", or merely calls for more regulation, all of it is a huge drain on the economy. Further issues are caused by proposals for "revenue increases" (i.e. tax hikes) and the DOW nosedived 500 points precisely because of this debt problem.
also, Spike, I really hope you're not including Social Security in your description of "entitlement" spending, as a lot of people seem wont to do. Technically, it is an entitlement, but in the most strict and actual definition of the word: if your money was put into it, you are entitled to get your money from it.
People take out more from SS then they put in. If that was the case, why is it that I cannot opt-out and invest that money myself?

[youtube]sMGAi8aGeYM[/youtube]

The whole system would benefit from becoming privatized - allowing citizens to invest on their own would do two things. One, they could choose riskier investments and end up helping the economy, and two, they would make more money, even if they did not - investing in Treasuries on your own with the money would prevent it from being subject to a 100% death tax.
spikegirl7 wrote:Wait, they seriously believe that? When S&P, Moody's, and many other say that it's due to bloated open-ended entitlement spending along with huge military expenditures?
They think along the same lines as Fuggle - that the ratings agencies are wrong because they messed up on the mortgage thing earlier.
I've heard about the tea party pushing for the balanced budget amendment. What exactly is the problem that people have with this? What is the objection to only spending as much as you take in?
Keynesian economists tell us that deficit spending helps the economy. Somehow. Frankly, it's just an excuse for central planning and government tax-and-spend policies. I'm with Calvin Coolidge here:
There is no dignity quite so impressive, and no one independence quite so important, as living within your means.
Deacon wrote:
StruckingFuggle wrote:I also find it kind of awfully hinky that the debt ceiling has been raised many times - by every president - but it's only under Obama's administration, and heading into an election season where he's already being challenged by obstructionism
You might want to double check your history. And obstructionism? Really? Is that how far this discussion has fallen?
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Frédéric Bastiat wrote:And now that the legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon society, may they finally end where they should have begun: May they reject all systems, and try liberty; for liberty is an acknowledgment of faith in God and His works.
Count Axel Oxenstierna wrote:Dost thou not know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed?

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Re: Debt downgrade

Post by adciv » Sat Aug 06, 2011 7:31 pm

*written before Deacon's and CS22 latest posts.

Spikegirl, I can't say I'm completely unbiased in this, but I would like to know how you define "huge military expenditures".

I agree with fuggle for the most part. (How many times have I said that?) Although the knock against S&P may be unwarranted or at least misdirected. We could argue their past mistake means they are too optimistic in their rating, not pessimistic. Under their logic at the time, I do know why they rated mortgages as AAA. It was due to the insurance on them, not the underlying borrowers. If you think that's a bad idea, I'd suggest you look at disbanding mortgage insurance in general (which would also include part of what fannie and freddie do).

One counterpoint on the debt ceiling debate is it's not like there has been controversy before on it. Obama himself voted against the last increase. This may also be the first time we've had a significant push to cut back on the deficit which would also contribute to that. If I remember right, the last time we had a debt/GDP above 100% was WWII with a major war going on. One way for examining the limit is how to categorize Social Security. Some people like to play it as the best of both worlds. If Social Security doesn't add to the debt, then neither does it add to any surplus. Unfortunately, SS taxes are counted as revenue in the budget, which contradicts this. Alternatively, if we look at SS taxes as revenue, then it should be counted as adding to the budget, but the SS trust fund should not be counted as adding to the debt. (see bottom for some statistics on the debt.

Fuggle, I do have a question for you. What do you mean by "the very dire public sector issues that are responsible for the actual shitty economic environment of the average american citizen"? I don't think I know enough about your thoughts to take a guess in this.

I agree that Social Security should probably not be included in the entitlement spending description, if only because of how the law is implemented for its current funding. It isn't funded from general revenues, and if it ever runs out of reserve and revenues is too little, it automatically cuts entitlements. Contrast this with Medicare/Medicaid which is funded come hell or high water. Solving Social Securities issues is another discussion.

The combined OASDI trust fund is about $2.6T. The total for all government held debt, which is still included in the debt ceiling, is about $4.67T. Leaving the public debt at $9.9T. The Federal Reserve holds another $1.75T (which they can sell at any time, and should if inflation kicks up and interest rates need to rise). If we back that out, the debt currently not held by the US federal government or federal government entities is about $8.15T (assuming I did my math right).
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Re: Debt downgrade

Post by adciv » Sat Aug 06, 2011 9:04 pm

Which is a BS statistic given how few countries have the same population as the US and those that do have a much lower cost of living, such as China, which has cost of living about a fifth as much as the US. How about we use the combined military spending of the European Union for comparison? EU $410B v. $530 (excluding Iraq & Afghanistan)
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Re: Debt downgrade

Post by Springy » Sat Aug 06, 2011 9:52 pm

spikegirl7 wrote: I've heard about the tea party pushing for the balanced budget amendment. What exactly is the problem that people have with this? What is the objection to only spending as much as you take in?
How would you feel if someone took away all your credit cards and told you that you were no longer allowed to take out a loan of any kind? Mortgage, student loans, etc. Of course you can simply save up for many years to afford to pay for things like a higher education, but people generally want things immediately, and have no concept of saving for the future.

Same goes for government.
Lucksi wrote: Like 5 times more than China, a country with 10 times the inhabitants...
Why does military spending have to be directly related to population?

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Re: Debt downgrade

Post by ampersand » Sat Aug 06, 2011 10:05 pm

One of the problems with the Balanced Budget Amendments that are in place at the state level is that...it really only forces states to spend as much as what it takes in and it is often not flexible enough to include a "rainy day" fund that could be used in case their estimates turn out to be wrong (in most good years, revenue that comes in beyond estimates are just sent back to the taxpayers). In addition...they just end up getting into a debt situation anyway which requires by the amendments to trim until they get to the point where they are back to zero. (I've never seen a BBA that had a tax increase clause.)

I'm not saying a Balanced Budget concept isn't something worth pursing at the federal level, but I just think the current version sounds it has a lot of potential loop-holes and potential judicial scrutiny for it to really work. It also relies on sustained good economic years in order for the amendment to succeed. Plus, I think there are times of crisis and emergencies where at the very least the discussion of going into debt to rescue a national (if not global) economy is worth addressing.

I'm more concerned at this point at the notion that because of the polticial stalemate that they've diverted the main political process to supercommittes that requires Congress to vote down their recommendations or the President veto (and thus override the veto by 2/3 vote) otherwise it becomes law. At best it's prolonging the gridlock. At worst it's side-stepping much of the political process by committees which may not be made responsible should their choices turn out to be wrong. I think this "Super Congress" maybe one of them. I wouldn't be surprised if the Supreme Court gets involved to see whether such a mechanism is even constitutional, as Ron Paul suggests.

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Re: Debt downgrade

Post by collegestudent22 » Sun Aug 07, 2011 3:00 am

ampersand wrote:Plus, I think there are times of crisis and emergencies where at the very least the discussion of going into debt to rescue a national (if not global) economy is worth addressing.
Most proposals for a BBA that I have seen include the possibility of an exception for crisis or emergency recognized by a 2/3 vote in both houses of Congress. If it is really an emergency, I don't think this would be an issue.
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Re: Debt downgrade

Post by Deacon » Sun Aug 07, 2011 5:38 am

adciv wrote:How about we use the combined military spending of the European Union for comparison? EU $410B v. $530 (excluding Iraq & Afghanistan)
How can you exclude Iraq and Afghanistan?
ampersand wrote:I think there are times of crisis and emergencies where at the very least the discussion of going into debt to rescue a national (if not global) economy is worth addressing.
Even if we assume that's correct, that's not the way we do business now. We don't "go into debt" as you say. We live in a perpetual state of new debt accumulation. It's just a question of suddenly diving even deeper into debt. There's not even a token attempt at establishing a balanced budget. The system's not set up for it: it requires politicians to make unpopular decisions. Even when those decisions are unpopular only among a fairly small subset of people and only for purely selfish reasons, those people tend to be strong voting blocs that actually get out and vote, generally for the purpose of securing for themselves other people's money. And because being in Congress is such a cherry gig with potential for lots of power, prestige, and money in both the short and long term, politicians don't ever want to cross those voters.
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Re: Debt downgrade

Post by collegestudent22 » Sun Aug 07, 2011 8:24 am

Deacon wrote:The system's not set up for it: it requires politicians to make unpopular decisions. Even when those decisions are unpopular only among a fairly small subset of people and only for purely selfish reasons, those people tend to be strong voting blocs that actually get out and vote, generally for the purpose of securing for themselves other people's money. And because being in Congress is such a cherry gig with potential for lots of power, prestige, and money in both the short and long term, politicians don't ever want to cross those voters.
That's why you need to cut the budget like pulling off a Band-aid. Quickly, and all at once.

Instead, our "cuts" involve RAISING the expenditures from $3.8T now to $5.7T in 2021. It's all nonsense.
Frédéric Bastiat wrote:And now that the legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon society, may they finally end where they should have begun: May they reject all systems, and try liberty; for liberty is an acknowledgment of faith in God and His works.
Count Axel Oxenstierna wrote:Dost thou not know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed?

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Re: Debt downgrade

Post by adciv » Sun Aug 07, 2011 4:01 pm

Deacon wrote:
adciv wrote:How about we use the combined military spending of the European Union for comparison? EU $410B v. $530 (excluding Iraq & Afghanistan)
How can you exclude Iraq and Afghanistan?
It's a temporary expenditure and not a baseline expenditure. The difference is between what you need for just maintaining a military that isn't involved in fighting and one that is. You use more munitions when fighting and you wear out your equipment a lot faster. If you don't exclude it, it's like comparing the upkeep cost of a car you drive daily and one that sits in a show room. If Europe ever got involved in a war, it would have to increase military spending. Although given some of its latest problems in Libya, they probably need to do that anyway.
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Re: Debt downgrade

Post by Deacon » Mon Aug 08, 2011 3:57 pm

adciv wrote:It's a temporary expenditure and not a baseline expenditure.
I think you're starting to stretch the definition of temporary.
The difference is between what you need for just maintaining a military that isn't involved in fighting and one that is. You use more munitions when fighting and you wear out your equipment a lot faster.
Well obviously the cost of fighting a war is immensely greater than not fighting a war. But they're expenditures either way. You're writing checks that have to come from somewhere. Ask every king ever: war is an expensive prospect. You can't just say, "Oh, well I'm not including it in my spending reporting since it's only been going on for 7 years now."
If Europe ever got involved in a war, it would have to increase military spending. Although given some of its latest problems in Libya, they probably need to do that anyway.
But that's a large part of the reason that Europe (and the UN) avoids actually doing anything. They expect us to do it, so they can continue to live in their socialist cocoons and look down their noses at us for it. Sure, a few nations (generally other English-speaking ones like the UK and Australia) will contribute to the US effort, but I'm really not sure the last time anyone other than the US took the lead in either funding or fighting.


As to the bigger picture, I remain frustrated with how many people are saying that Obama was just trying to do what's best for the country and that the congressmen associated with the Tea Party movement are destroying the economy, etc. Sure, many of those freshman congressmen (and women--*cough*Bachmann*cough*) are inexperienced or just plain incompetent or unintelligent--hard to tell the difference sometimes--but it's like a drunk driver speeding recklessly down the road toward a cliff with an increasingly concerned passenger who finally wants to throw the transmission into park, and the drunken jackass in the driver's seat is bellowing belligerently about having to get the transmission worked on now and to fix the flat spot in the tires from skidding to a stop at the crumbling edge of this cliff right here.

Dubya and the Republicans certainly didn't do the US any favors. The tax cuts helped stimulate the economy and increase revenue, but without any legitimate cuts and with two wars started and raging and the whole TARP fiasco to bail out the Democrat's horrible ideas (that are much easier to stomach when the economy's doing well) like Barney Fwank's housing initiatives and such, by the end of his 8 years old Georgie Boy left us with a $4.9 trillion increase in the national debt. That is just awful, a ridiculous failure. And since Obama has taken office, in just these two and a half years he's put an additional $4 trillion on top of that. In just 2.5 years. He's an ambitious one, that Obama.

Giant government spending has gotten so far out of control that all the business done in all industries across the entire country still doesn't add up to the national debt, much less the incredibly massive amount the government takes for itself: $2.2 trillion last year just in federal taxes, not including all the state, local, sales, and property taxes!

Yet the best we can do--what the Democrats and pundits are screaming about and the Republicans are patting themselves on the back about--is a trivial cut to spending at less than $2 trillion over 10 years. That's an average of only $200 billion every year when we're spending starting at $3,500 billion each of those years, adding nearly $2 trillion every year to the debt!

Even John Stewart admitted on the Daily Show (which, yes, I do watch daily) that he doesn't understand what all the hoopla and argument was about in that it barely shaved off a tiny bit off that massive graph.

Our debt should've been downgraded a long time ago, and I'm so disappointed and frustrated that this hasn't led to a frank reassessment of our incredibly out-of-control, head-spinning government and global trade picture, but has instead lead to the further entrenchment of the political parties (and the idiot public that parrots them) and an outcry that we're not speeding toward the cliff fast enough.
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