Sunday, May 01, 2005

Random Ramblings Again

First things first - I'd like to invite y'all to check out Andy's blog at It's certainly a lot more amusing than the dry bullshit you read here. And Andy correctly used the word "dingleberry" in a sentence, which gives him 50 official "cool points."

Now, a little complaint about the new budget. I hear there's some sort of deficit afoot. So, of course, Republicans propose cutting taxes by $108 billion (or so). Apparently, in their love affair with absurd economic models, they seem to have forgotten their third grade math - subtract from a negative number and you will always get a negative number. And the cuts in programs are understandable, but keep in mind that the deficit is about equal to the entirety of our discretionary spending budget. So unless we cut all discretionary programs and leave ourselves with Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and defense, we're still in the red. Bush started to take money out of Medicaid, but didn't bother attacking widespread waste in defense and is ignoring Medicare. Oh, and his Social Security "fix" will cost an extra $3 trillion or so. My suggestion to Bush - learn to add.

I might add that the economy sucks now because we have a deficit, and will continue to suck until we don't have a deficit. So the economists on Bush's side seem to have forgotten that tax cuts don't fix the underlying problem (and indeed will exacerbate it), and thus won't produce more revenue. You can sell tax cuts on ideological grounds all you want. Just be honest about what they'll do to the economy.

Second, as I badmouth Bush's private accounts plan, he just did something intelligent . (Save this remark - I may never make it again.) He backed "progressive indexing" - that is, a change in benefit structure that will keep benefits to the poor intact while cutting them for the middle and upper classes. It's not the ideal solution - I'd still like to see a hike in the payroll tax ceiling. But at least Bush is recognizing that the poor are far more dependent on Social Security than the middle class and the rich, who tend to have pensions and 401(k)s to fall back on.

Of course, Democrats oppose this plan. This puts Democrats in the odd position of defending a welfare payment to the middle and upper classes. You know, sometimes I wonder if my party is really serious about policy at all.

(Critics do point out that Social Security has such strong support precisely because it pays to the rich and middle class as well as to the poor. Thus, all Americans feel like they're getting a slice of the program. But I think Americans will be more sympathetic to the needs of those less fortunate than Democratic critics expect them to be. Call me naive, but I don't think everyone is George Will.)

Lastly, Adolf Hitler knocked himself off 60 years ago yesterday. Before you start cheering, realize that the further into the past World War II slips, the easier it will be to be anti-Semitic again. People sure forgot the Crusades and the Black Plague genocide in a hurry.

And one more thing... fuck corn syrup.


Mike said...

While I don't always agree with everything you say, I must applaud you for your frank opposition to corn syrup.

Anonymous said...

I have always been a bit boggled about Republican assertions that tax cuts actually increase government revenues... I've never quite understood it but from observations on how it went for Reagen and Bush II, i'd have to say the concept is full of shit.

The funny thing is that cutting taxes hurts the ecnomy ( in the long term, anyway) while eliminating taxes will probably save it.

- miguel

Mike said...

Spoken like a true libertarian. Which Miguel is, so it makes sense.

While I'm not sure about his second claim, I do agree with the first: Bush's tax cuts will hurt in the long run. I still don't understand how we went from the budget surplus of 2000 to today. You're absolutely right about the deficit Jeff.

Jacob Grier said...

What accounts for the rant against corn syrup? Did you finally get a sip of real sugar cane soda?

I agree with Miguel about the senselessness of tax cuts raising revenue in the short-term. In the long-term, though, they can be good if we make a credible committment to maintaining them (see Ireland or New Zealand). While I'm glad to see people on the left discovering fiscal responsibility, I'd like to hear some serious proposals from them about what spending they'd be willing to eliminate instead of opposing every tax cut.

I'm with you on Social Security. Clarity about this program is essential. If we want it to be a reitrement program, we should do what it takes to make private accounts possible. If we want it to be a welfare program for the elderly poor, we should drop the retirement pretense and call it that. With the prospect of Bush leading the way toward a good private accounts plan looking increasingly dismal, I wouldn't mind seeing a shift to the latter way of thinking.