Those Porky Amendments

The arrogance of the Obama administration and the democratically controlled Senate are finally starting to show through. Good ol Chuck Schumer now claims that we don't care about all the pork amendments in the new spendulus bill. Yep, spendulus is a neat new word coined by someone just recently to describe the bill. More spending than stimulus. Well, actually mostly spending and very little stimulus. The bulk of what's being thrown in this time around is going to help states who irresponsibly spent themselves into massive debt. Like California with our $40 billion deficit. When that money gets sent out, it's not stimulative for the state of California to use it to pay off debt to nebulous banks and other creditors. It does nothing to create jobs. It does nothing to help the economy grow. Neither does handing a $1,000 check to everyone in the country, regardless of whether or not you paid income taxes in 2008. Human nature being what it is, nobody is likely to protest getting it. Myself included. But the problem here is that it's a one-shot.

What we really need are tax cuts. Large, sweeping, permanent tax cuts. With more money in our pockets we can spend more on the things we all need and want. With more money flowing, less people will need to leverage credit. With less people trying to leverage credit who obviously can't afford it, there will be more available for banks to loan to the people who can pay the debts back. I think it's fairly safe to say though that you'll never hear the words "tax cut" uttered from a Democrat in office except when lying to get elected or to lie about their effects on the economy the way they did for the last 8 years.

Also, to you three special little traitorous pricks who jumped sides and voted to pass this in the Senate, your days are numbered. Already I am hearing their names cursed from the mountain tops. Provided people don't forget by November of 2010, count on losing your re-election bids to actual fiscally responsible conservatives. To those who remain, I say to you now. Stop mortgaging our childrens' futures on your lies just to stay in power in the present. Enough with the spending bills!
"It is pointless to resist, my son." -- Darth Vader
"Resistance is futile." -- The Borg
"Mother's coming for me in the dragon ships. I don't like these itchy clothes, but I have to wear them or it frightens the fish." -- Thurindil

Well. I guess that's that then.

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Posted on Feb 11, 2009 1:54 am by Samson in: | 25 comment(s) [Closed]
Not that I think we have a particularly productive discussion of the issue ahead of us, here, but a couple of observations.

1. If we're in the business of tossing out YouTube videos:

2. As to Schumer, not to defend the clip there, but he IS correct insofar as the really porky stuff (as best I can tell) is a very very small portion of the bill, which considering Congress is about as good as we can hope for, I suppose.

3. I am moderately unsure as to how broad sweeping tax cuts are somehow better than handing out hypothetical $1k checks (first I've heard of this?), insofar as both are taking nominal taxpayer money and giving it back to taxpayers to hopefully spend and help the economy, which seems to be your point - that giving people money back to spend, we can spend our way out of recession. In fact, by including people like me, who not only wouldn't see any benefit from a tax cut (I don't make enough to pay taxes right now in the first place), the $1k check actually helps MORE by including more people.

Only, well, I guess since folks like me didn't pay taxes, we aren't deserving of the money, which yeah, ok, whatever.

4. The bigger problem with your argument, though, is that I don't think it's anything like correct, and I have a couple reasons for that.

The brief, I'm not thinking really hard reason is that the vast majority of economists I read who I believe to not be idiots are largely unimpressed by the effects of tax cuts as relief measures for things like this, as opposed to direct spending, which may or may not work totally, but in any case works better. Fair enough, they're smarter than I am, let them argue it out and figure something out that works.

The reason where I use actual critical thinking and logic goes like this. The real direct issues of the recession are businesses failing - initially due to credit issues, running now into possible failures because we're laying off so many people they can't spend money places because they have no jobs.

This means that tax cuts (or big checks to the people) designed to get people to spend money are only attacking part of the problem - that second chain of businesses, which is good insofar as that goes, but doesn't really fix the root credit crisis, nor does it particularly go far enough in giving me enough money to materially effect much of anything, because on the one hand my $0 tax cut lets me do nothing at all, whereas my onetime $1,000 check covers about a month's worth of expenses for me, a poor apartment-dwelling college student, and not much else. It's a temporary band-aid at best.

Getting back to that whole job creation issue, it is entirely unclear to me how, considering the scale of credit issues facing various companies, my spending $0-$1,000 is going to actually allow a company to meet its deficits AND retain jobs. Nor does it seem particularly clear to me how my spending that small amount of money is going to allow new companies to take the place of old companies, because a one-time infusion of $1k isn't going to be enough to do that by itself, and since I still don't have a job at the end of the day, I don't get to infuse any more shots of $1k or what have you, which means everybody's still fucked.

And it's not like we can just let half our companies die off - once all those jobs die off, it's going to be pretty damn hard to get them back.

Which is to say that I don't really see a way that we get away from some large level of public spending to keep businesses going. Which is not to say that the current stimulus bill in either incarnation is necessarily the best way to do this, but I definitely don't see how the magical tax cut wand is going to make it all work.

#1: I'll watch those later. I really don't feel like wasting 12 minutes of my life on another Obama propaganda speech, which is frankly all they'll be worth because he's very good at saying things he doesn't truly mean. But you'll never ever in your life agree with that, so, yeah, anyway....

#2: The entire bill by definition is pork. Government spending has never once, not ever, recovered a recession. If you can find me documented proof otherwise I'll eat a piece of paper. What? You thought I'd say something grosser? I mean let's look at this. The Great Depression. The 1930s sucked ass from all reliable accounts. It didn't get one bit better regardless of how much money our wonderful saviors in the government spent on it. Only upon arrival at World War II did things change for the better economically. Wars can be great things from this point of view. It was just the thing our floundering mess needed to jump start industry and production and once the war ended all that new industry catapulted us into the greatest 40 years on record, despite the Democrats' best efforts during that time to steal the money back from us.

#3: Your failure to understand the benefit of tax cuts is precisely why Democrats don't deserve to be in charge of my money. Also, the checks are not hypothetical. It's been mentioned countless times from several sources. As I said, human nature being what it is, nobody is likely to complain about getting one. Which further illustrates the flawed mentality. The Democrats bitch, whine, complain, moan, and generally berate us Republicans for growing the deficit ( even though, documented btw, we did no such thing ) over the last 8 years. While at the same time ignoring the obvious fact that they're about to quadruple it with one bill. Yet they tell us deficits are bad and cause inflation. Guess what? If you can't also see that handing out checks to "taxpayers" who have paid no tax isn't actually a welfare payout then you're missing the entire point here. Welfare statism is simply bad economics. It's pork. It's just pork being sent to the people instead of to lobbyists and state debt. Hence why the entire bill is pork.

Tax cuts != spending cuts. That's the massive policy flaw you seem to be subscribing to. Tax cuts across the board benefit everyone, including those who pay none right now. Tax cuts mean more people can invest money. Tax cuts mean employers can hire more workers. Tax cuts mean you never stole the money from workers to begin with, therefore you can't be giving it back in the form of a $1,000 stimulus check. They never lost it to begin with. So the government is not spending their way out of anything. They're leaving the money where it belongs - in our pockets. As a result of all this, you actually take in more revenue. It's been proven six ways to Sunday that this happens, proof is in the fact that tax revenue under Bush went up and the deficit went down. All on lower taxes. Because if you stop to think about it, while the rates may have gone down by 2-3% you ended up with millions more people working which meant the tax base went up over all. More people paying taxes means more tax revenue. This is basic economics. The Dems refuse to accept that this works, hence they don't understand basic economics.

On to #4: I don't know which economists you're talking about. All the ones I've seen on TV, heard from on the radio, and read about in the paper have universally agreed that tax cuts mean more people are working and therefore more actual tax revenue is generated. It doesn't jive with the claim you're making about direct spending.

Here's where my logic and thinking comes in re: credit. There never was a crisis. There was a correction. A correction in the form of "gee, Congress, thanks a lot you asswipes, but we're going to stop making those risky loans you forced us to for 30 years. kthxbai". [God, I can't believe I just used that]. Congress read this as "oh shit, credit crisis, sound the alarms!" and then sicked their media hacks on us all to convince us. It didn't work on me. Know why? Despite being unemployed for most of 2008, I have received no less than 50 offers in the mail begging me to sign up for new credit cards. More than half of which were delivered after the supposed crisis began. I've also received 3 offers from car companies for super low interest rates on a new car loan and one offer from a mortgage company offering me my first super low interest rate ( prime+1% ) to go buy a new house. All based on the fact that they still think I'm employed and able to pay. The "crisis" wasn't that credit froze up. It was that the lenders were no longer able to continue making high risk loans to deadbeats despite Congress telling them they had no choice. After 30 years of this, it finally came back to bite them all in the ass. Credit had nothing to do with it other than the massive default rates. People not paying their loans back caused this. That includes businesses who weren't paying their loans back. The ones who did are still doing just fine, thanks.

You are correct on one count. Sending out checks for $1000 each won't solve jack shit. It never has and never will. The folks getting that money are highly unlikely to spend it. They're more likely to use it to pay down existing debt. Especially now that we've all been propagandized by the media to believe that debt is the whole problem. Paying down existing debt has no stimulative effect on anything. And given the debt loads most people carry, $1000 won't even dent it. So yes, checks are a temporary band-aid at best. Businesses are not going to make long term inventory planning based on a one-off from Congress that they already know won't do anything. They didn't make those plans based on Bush's stimulus checks either. It certainly isn't going to do anything to fix anyone's deficits, most especially not the Federal one since all this bill will do is make that one $800 billion larger - which is 4x the size of what it was under Bush.

Tax cuts on the other hand, as long as they're made permanent, will have lasting long term affects that businesses can make plans based on. At this point they know that people will have more money they can spend, so they can make long term inventory plans based on that. They can also make long term workforce plans based on that. It's already been proven to work during the last 8 years. Or it was until the Dems took over Congress in 2006 and fucked it all under.

Oh, and yes, we can in fact let those companies die off. If they're so badly managed that they allowed the "credit crisis" to bring them to the brink, bankruptcy exists for them to use. Stop bailing the greedy crooks out. One need only look as far as the auto companies to know that at least some businesses are deliberately playing on our fears to get their own handouts from the government. Repeatedly. Yes, those jobs will be hard to get back, but this is the end result of artificially inflating the economy the way the Fed had to after Congress fucked everything under for the last 2 years. It should be plainly obvious that cutting interest rates at the Fed hasn't worked and never will. It should also be plainly obvious that massive bailouts don't work and never will. It should be obvious that pumping air into a bicycle tire forever and not expecting it to explode is illogical. Why then did we not expect the same result from artificially propping up the economy for the last 2 years wouldn't do the same thing? Once exploded, you can't just put a patch on it and pretend it's all better.

Our tire developed a slow leak in 2006 after Congress fucked us under. Rather than letting the tire deflate and then patching it up, they hooked it up to a powered compressor and inflated it faster than the leak was deflating it. The resulting explosion is now unrepairable except by completely replacing the tire. That will take us years to do. It's a really big tire. In the process, the bicycle is moving on as best it can with one flat tire and the rider is praying that the other tire doesn't develop a leak. The current bill before Congress is asking for a whole lot of scotch tape and some Elmer's glue to piece the exploded tire back together so they can fire up the compressor again. I think anyone who stops to look at it this way can clearly see this won't do anything other than making the situation worse.

So basically, public spending isn't the answer. Apparently it took the Republicans ( except for the 3 traitors ) the loss of Congress and the presidency to finally wake up and realize this. Tax cuts and budget trimming is what we need. Or, perhaps another war on the scale of WWII. But I'm sure nobody really wants that.

Superman [Anon] said:
Comment #3 Feb 13, 2009 12:07 am
We need to stop shipping jobs and production overseas, that's where most of the money is going. There ought to be some kind of tax cut for stores and factories that only sell / reprocess American goods. Capitalism is great, especially when it occurs within our own borders instead of in bloody communist China.

And I remember Obama talking about investing in energy independence, that's a trillion dollar industry that's outsourced to the middle east currently, but I haven't heard of this new bill doing anything related to that.

I certainly would have no objection to tax incentives for companies who keep their jobs within the US, but the problem there is that the unions have driven the wages up so high these companies can't afford to do things that way and stay in existence, much less be competitive with other countries. Besides, in a lot of cases what we outsource to Mexico and China, Japan outsources here. In the end, it mostly balances out.

I remember Obama talking about a lot of things, energy independence among them. It remains to be seen whether he'll act on anything other than the policy he told Joe the Plumber about. We don't even need to wait the 30 years for so-called green energy. Sign an executive order lifting the ban on offshore drilling. Oh, wait, Bush beat him to that and then he re-imposed it. We have an assload of oil right here in our own country and we could be out there drilling it and using it within 5 years. The problem is now with Democrats in charge, the environmental wacko fringe will get its way and we won't get another drop of our own oil from our own supplies for decades to come. They'd rather support our enemies and fund future attacks against our nation.

This will likely be brief, as I have a girlfriend who believes that taking her out to dinner is a better use of my time than arguing economics. She may be correct.

Superman said:

We need to stop shipping jobs and production overseas, that's where most of the money is going. There ought to be some kind of tax cut for stores and factories that only sell / reprocess American goods. Capitalism is great, especially when it occurs within our own borders instead of in bloody communist China.

Read a thing recently, and damned if I can remember now off top of my head but I think Megan McArdle, who made the point that while doing this sounds good, it actually gets us into trouble. On the one hand, says the argument, we are in a certain number of treaties saying that we won't do this, and violating treaties is bad, which I can buy as an argument. On the other, slightly closer to home hand, there's the argument that this gets us into trouble because then people like the EU start doing the same thing, which hurts US companies that trade overseas, and they quoted Caterpillar as being one company against the idea for precisely that reason. And it makes sense to me, since the EU pretty much lives to do just that sort of thing.

Also Samson's points. I suppose there's an argument we could have on the future of unions in this country, but I don't particularly care to have it, so.

All that aside, it has always seemed to me that we'd be a lot better off if we could somehow find a way to revitalize the US industrial base while finding a middle ground between worker luxury and wage slaves to the company store. Another argument for another time.

On the subject of green energy, leaving aside the question of how oil is in any way green (other than in the pretty rainbow on the slick), there do appear to be provisions in the bill for a certain level of things like making the federal fleet into hybrids and what have you. Not enough, I think we all agree in our way on, but something.

Now, as to Samson, as best I can tell, we're not even living in the same economic reality, so it's a bit hard to have an actual discussion. A couple of notes on that:

With respect to Republicans, tax cuts, increased spending, and who grew the deficit, The US Treasury seems to be at slight odds with you, insofar as we're about 3.4 trillion more in the hole 2000-2008 when Republicans ran the whole shebang, and about another trillion on top of that for the Dem-controlled Congress period. Which is to say that either we aren't talking about the same thing, or you're wrong on this.

As you seem to know about this $1k rebate thing and nobody else on the internet that I can see does, would you mind telling me where you're getting the information?

As far as the credit crisis goes, if you want to talk anecdotes, I got all those same offers you did, and as far as it goes I'm more employed than you are. No luck on actually applying for these things, however, even though my bank isn't in particular trouble.

That aside, I am not General Motors, Circuit City, Caterpillar, or any other large corporation, who all appear to be having issues finding operating credit.

That aside, I guess insofar as everybody in the country, including all manner of leading economists, government officials, corporate officials, two Presidents of the United States, and many others seem to be under the impression that there is a credit crisis among other things, that this may well be the truth.

The same logic applies to the related solvency crisis - companies probably aren't dying all over the map for the hell of it, which suggests to me that maybe there's something to the thing.

Which brings us, I suppose, to the idea that either we should let them die, or we should do something to make them not die. Which, if it were one segment of the economy, say dot coms, I'd say let them die. Ditto if it was just a few businesses. When we're talking pretty much the whole economy, though, where if we just let everything fail we're going to be out a whole fucking lot of jobs, which is really really bad for everybody.

Which leads me back to my original point - it is difficult for me to see how tax cuts can be a whole solution to something of this magnitude. A part solution yes, but ultimately they can't provide the whole package of things needed, hence spending.

Which has, might I note, been successful at least a couple times, albeit it was a century ago in my knowledge of it - JP Morgan, some other guys, and the US Treasury banded together to, yes, rescue a bunch of banks and avert disaster, which was in fact averted.

There's also a large discussion of the Depression and WWII that I don't have time to get into right now, but suffice it to say I don't think you're entirely correct there.

All of that said, if we're going to get into the business of massive government bailouts, then we need to have some effective government regulation of how taxpayer money is getting spent, which Bush-era bills didn't have as best I could tell, and Obama-era bills may or may not have reasonable levels of because nobody appears to be talking about it, outside of a few things about pay caps.

One of the more obvious lessons of this whole thing, I think, is that the government needs to actually do its job as an overseer and regulator of (especially) the financial markets, because one of the things I keep seeing out of these things is that left to their own devices, the people in the business of making money will do any damnfool scheme in the aim of making it, without regard for the consequences, which is clearly bad for everybody as we're getting a graphic object lesson in right now.

Which is not to say that we need to suddenly go all Soviet Russia, but I don't have a lot of faith in businesses to avoid self-implosion right now.

Superman [Anon] said:
Comment #6 Feb 13, 2009 5:12 pm
Besides, in a lot of cases what we outsource to Mexico and China, Japan outsources here. In the end, it mostly balances out.

We've got a gigantic trade deficit which is payed for by ever increasing debts, if you add it all up we've got somewhere close to 81 billion in debts of which the 30 billion for medicare is the biggest one.

That offshore oil isn't going anywhere and is better left for emergencies. From the looks of it 35% of the bill goes to energy related issues, could be worse.

While I hate to think of Samson having to eat a piece of paper (that's the worst we'll get from this, eh?), I have just, this morning, returned from my honeymoon to Vegas where, among many other things, I took a tour of the Hoover Dam which was built via ~$48.9 million government paycheck as authorized by congress specifically to combat the great depression and it did in fact significantly help with bringing about the final end of the great depression not only by creating over 5000 new jobs but also by creating a new and significant source of energy via harnessing the Colorado River to generate previously unheard of amounts of electricity and also by creating a new government controlled grid for that energy & water distribution. It also created further new jobs less directly by requiring new roads and railway lines to be established, plus it utilized resources from all over the country, all of which helped drastically reduce the effects of the depression so that it could later be finally resolved by WWII. Otherwise, I would have to agree that I can not think of an instance where the government's spending has ever helped with a recession/depression. Please note that I may not have all my facts 100% here as this is all coming from memory from the tour, but it is as I recall the one instance you asked for. :P

As for the notion of incentives for companies that use only Americans as employees, or even for those who sell/reprocess American products, I'm in favor of the idea, especially since my own small two man company only employs Americans and could certainly stand to benefit from such incentives. ;)

The_Fury [Anon] said:
Comment #8 Feb 13, 2009 10:41 pm
1.2 Trillion bucks is absolutely ridiculous and that's on top of the existing 700billion. Here in aussie, 42 Billion is our stimulus and that was rejected by the senate first pass through because the Independent who holds the balance of power decided to use his position to bring forward 5 billion more that has been earmarked for the Murry River restoration. I dont thing this will have much of an impact, and i disagree with Samson's view that tax cuts are the way to go. There has to be a better way, but im not sure what that is.

Conner said:

and also by creating a new government controlled grid for that energy & water distribution

Which in the end has spent billions more than the Hoover Dam project has ever brought in in revenue. While I will readily admit that public works projects can stall a further dive into a recession or depression, they can never by their nature provide the necessary stimulus for a recovery from either one. Mostly due to the fact that they are publicly funded from the start.

Dwip said:

With respect to Republicans, tax cuts, increased spending, and who grew the deficit, The US Treasury seems to be at slight odds with you.

They aren't at odds with me. The deficit in the Federal budget is not the same thing as the "National Debt" which is a nebulous abstract that has no meaning whatsoever. It is routinely trotted out by liberals to try and prove that conservatism is a failure. But what they never bother to tell you is that under liberal management, that figure grows by considerably larger margins than it does under conservative management. Either way, the "National Debt" grows bigger every year regardless of who is in power so it's not a valid figure to use to bash Republicans over the head with.

The deficit is fairly simple and most people grasp this. It's spending more than you take in. Period. If the federal budget is $1 trillion and they spend $1.5 trillion, the deficit is $500 billion. Now go look up the data on this concept and the gap there and you'll find that for at least 5 of his 8 years, there is documented proof that Bush's policies caused the deficit to shrink. Had the Dems not taken over Congress in 2006 and filled their spending bills with massive amounts of pork, we would likely have been on the road to another Reagan style surplus despite Bush's drunken spending habits.

As you seem to know about this $1k rebate thing and nobody else on the internet that I can see does, would you mind telling me where you're getting the information?

It was widely reported earlier in the week on Fox News, talk radio, and the so-called "normal" media. It appears as though this has since been gutted from the bill and it will now arrive in the form of a $400 tax credit for individuals and $800 for couples. Which is in effect worthless because it's set up just like the last one Bush did. You get a check, but when it comes time to file for your refund that amount is stolen from it. For some people this can and will mean the difference between getting a refund and owing taxes.

I maintain the credit crisis was manufactured. It does not exist on paper or anywhere that a documented paper trail can find - unless the company was heavily involved in mortgage backed securities. Which it appears many banks and car companies were. But in general there is no crisis to speak of unless it's suddenly become a crisis for banks to wake up and realize they can't operate by giving out government mandated deadbeat loans, despite threats from Barney Frank and his associates to penalize them if they don't.

There's also a large discussion of the Depression and WWII that I don't have time to get into right now, but suffice it to say I don't think you're entirely correct there.

There is nothing to discuss. The Great Depression happened and nothing Hoover did had any positive effect on fixing it. The best possible outcome of government spending is to prevent it from getting any worse, but that's like treating your cancer with chemo. You don't get sicker, but you're still fucked up bad sick already. And I'm sorry if I'm going to trump liberal propaganda with stories told by firsthand witnesses to the events. Namely both sets of grandparents and their immediate families who all lived through it and all came to the same conclusion: The war ended the depression. This is corroborated by pretty much every history lesson I've ever been taught. But, as history teaches us, any mass employment that's bolstered by private sector investment will do the same. The spendulus bill that's being sent to His Holiness, The Almighty Barrack Obamassiah, is not going to do any of this since sizeable portions of it are apportioned to cover the deficits of states with irresponsible legislatures like California.

Or, well, ok, I'll take that back. It will have some positive affect because it does contain some provisions for tax cuts. So if there is any hint of recovery or stabilization it will be from those, not from the spending part.

The_Fury said:

and i disagree with Samson's view that tax cuts are the way to go

Many people here in the US disagreed with Reagan that tax cuts were the way to go too. However, history has since proven them all dead wrong. History proved Bush was absolutely right to stick by his tax cuts too. History will also prove Obama to be the worst president on record, surpassing even the debacle of Carter, once his 4 years in office are up. For Obama has not learned the lessons of history ( hardly surprising given he never learned our history in Indonesia ) and is therefore doomed to repeat them. At our expense, but such is life.

All this said, who here thinks it's wise for members of the Senate and House to vote in favor of a bill that most of them all agree nobody had the time to read? Who here thinks it would be wise for Obama to sign a bill he's clearly never read either? Who here thinks that rushing to pass this now so Pelosi can leave for her trip to Rome was the right thing to do for America?

Samson said:

Which in the end has spent billions more than the Hoover Dam project has ever brought in in revenue.

I'm curious as to how you figure that, since a quick browsing of Wikipedia and the US DOI page for the dam suggests rather the opposite. About the best I can find for you is a note that all costs related to construction were repaid through revenues by 1987, and there's $25 million in flood control that will be repaid by 2020 via long-term loan, which strikes me as relatively standard for this sort of project.

I'd be interested to know how the dam, in particular, is costing us billions.

Too, and this is getting far afield, but there's a certain level of argument to be made that projects such as the Hoover Dam (and the TVA, etc) are entirely worth the cost, especially at the time, because the provision of electricity (and subsequent rise in standard of living) to such vast areas outweighs said costs. Which is rather tangential, but.

Which doesn't mean I necessarily disagree with you entirely about works projects, or about their effects on the Depression, but where we differ is that I'm a lot more in favor of that sort of water treading than you are, especially for things like roads - New Haven in particular has some very very seriously crumbling road infrastructure.

To stick on the Depression for a moment:

Samson said:

There is nothing to discuss. The Great Depression happened and nothing Hoover did had any positive effect on fixing it.

I'm not sure if you meant Hoover or FDR here, but if you meant Hoover, you would be correct, especially insofar as Hoover didn't particularly do a whole lot, period.

That aside, talking about FDR, there's a lot of complexity here (and I just spent an hour listening to Megan McArdle and Dean Baker fanatically arguing obscure aspects of this), but I don't think you're particularly wrong - the war ended the Depression, and basically everybody agrees on that. That having been said, I don't really see how you get anything from WWII other than massive, massive government spending pulling us out due to the following:

- Massive, massive government employment projects (mainly the military);
- Enforced rationing leading to heavy amounts of demand by 1944-1945;
- Massive, massive government spending leading to heavy industrial jobs creation;
- Enforced retirement of all those people in the temporary government jobs programs (ie, military cutbacks post-war) coupled with high demand and all those ready factories allowed for high employment, essentially through into the 1970s.

Which seems to argue to me, at least at a certain surface level, in favor of gigantic amounts of spending by somebody in appropriate ways to create jobs and thereby save the economy. And given the enormous amounts of money required, I don't particularly see how anybody but the government, over time, can do what is necessary, at levels equal to or greater than what is already being done.

Again, I'm not seeing a really clear example of how tax cuts are supposed to accomplish that alone.

Unless, I guess, you think this, in which case it may sort of:

Samson said:

I maintain the credit crisis was manufactured.

If you mean "manufactured by shortsighted dumbassery in the financial sector" then I'm inclined to agree. Since you appear to mean "they're making this shit up," I shall disagree. Again, I'm guessing that very smart people who do this for a living are probably right when they say there is one. It's why they have econ degrees and I don't.

That aside, I don't know that I think you're thinking the implications of this all the way through, insofar as this chain of events is the case:

1. Many, many financial institutions invest in risky assets.
2. These assets fail, banks suddenly lack ability to give credit.
3. Businesses which rely on credit to operate are essentially fucked, can't make money, come to crashing halts and die.
4. Lots of people lose jobs.
5. Nobody spends money because they have no jobs, so businesses still make no money.
6. Repeat step 3 except with "rely on people buying stuff" instead of "bank credit"

I'll leave out the personal side of this particular thing for the moment.

You seem to be entirely about addressing the "people make no money" part of step 5, on the, I don't know, assumption that everybody still has jobs, when that's not actually the case, and that only a few businesses are failing, which is again not the case. Seems to me we need to be adressing at the very least steps 1 and 3 of this, and I don't really see a way to do that other than government intervention and spending. We can't really run around letting all levels of huge businesses fail, else nobody has jobs, nobody's spending money because they're poor, and the cycle continues ad nauseum.

Which is basically a long-winded way of me saying that I have no idea how to reconcile what you're advocating with what I see as reality, and I'd really like to see a concise, non-Democrat rantfest explaination of what you think the problem here is and how tax cuts are supposed to fix it. Because it's not making any kind of sense to me.

Samson said:

They aren't at odds with me. The deficit in the Federal budget is not the same thing as the "National Debt" which is a nebulous abstract that has no meaning whatsoever. It is routinely trotted out by liberals to try and prove that conservatism is a failure.

Some truth here on the definitional note. On the second part, I see several things wrong.

1. It's pretty much undisputed that during the Bush years, you got enormous spending coupled with tax cuts.

2. This was pretty roundly criticized, not in the least by you as I recall (you do so in the next paragraph even), as being not exactly fiscally conservative. Which makes me puzzled as to how it somehow magically is now.

3. In either case, I do not believe that the Congressional Budget Office agrees with your version of events, insofar as that chart shows enormous deficit freefall until 2005, after which it started going back up just in time for the economy to tank in 2008.

Speaking as the guy with the history degree, I'll give your last little bit a pass. I don't have the time or energy.

Besides. Buchanan.

I sure did biff that first closing quote tag, didn't I?

Dwip, I was guessing that he'd meant Hoover as in The Hoover Dam rather than Herbert or J. Edgar, but if not, I'm with you, no one named Hoover had anything to do with it, but FDR sure made a good effort at resolving the Depression, between the roads projects, the Hoover Dam (called the Boulder Valley Dam Project at the time), and so on.. but the war is what finally brought it to an end, though I have to agree with you that even that is certainly attributable directly to massive government spending overall. But I can't say that I think having the government literally hand-out billions of dollars is a valid answer by itself either.

The_Fury [Anon] said:
Comment #13 Feb 16, 2009 10:34 pm
gave my wife a porky amendment last night and she did not attach any amendments to the bill. :) Sorry its raining outside and that's the best humor i could come up with.

Dwip said:

Seems to me we need to be adressing at the very least steps 1 and 3 of this, and I don't really see a way to do that other than government intervention and spending.

The fact that you can't see any path around this other than government intervention and spending is exactly why I can't explain this to you in a meaningful way other than to go see how Reagan solved the problem through tax cuts, and how Bush 1 did the same, and how the Republican congress under Bill Clinton made sure the same thing stayed in place and again how Bush managed to keep things from disintegrating after Clinton handed him a recession. Despite two wars and a terrorist attack.

after which it started going back up just in time for the economy to tank in 2008

And you don't find it the least bit relevant that this coincided with the Dems taking over Congress in 2006? Cause I sure as hell am prepared to put the blame where it belongs. Who held the purse strings? That's right, Pelosi and Reid. Dear God help us all.

Hoover, FDR, I think you guys both got the point even if I got the timeline a bit off. Neither of them did anything to solve the problem. Public works projects are great, and the Hoover Dam does indeed stand as a monument to how useful they can be, but they do not recover economies due to their required ongoing maintenance costs which always end up being more than they generate in personal income. Let me remind you that personal income is what drives the economy, not government spending.

There's also a certain bit of disingenuousness to assume that government spending alone during the war was what saved the economy. There was a pretty large motivating force behind private industry that got them off their asses and willing to do the hard work - because there was a real and present danger of losing that war and becoming conquered territories if we didn't. No more useful example of this exists than right now. Despite still fighting two wars, our economy tanked because the people back home simply aren't motivated enough to do what needs to be done to spur the recovery along. Combine with the final result of 35 years of bad policy begun by the Carter administration and, well, there you go. Proof that government spending alone will not recover a broken economy. Which is why I blame Bush as much for signing the porky bills he signed as I do for the Congress drafting them for his signature when they should have been revising the tax code for permanent cuts and making sure any future Dems who got into office couldn't take those away.

In any case, no matter how you slice it, the bill Obama is about to sign is not the answer to this problem. It can't ever be. Throwing money at irresponsible debt only encourages further irresponsible behavior. And spending money to do stuff like save swamp mice in San Francisco surely isn't something that stimulates the economy. The bill is full of all sorts of bad shit like that and Obama doesn't know it because he hasn't read it.

The only people who have read it are the committee jerks who drafted it. They didn't even let the Republicans read the thing at all - ever - during the entire process. Then again, the Dems didn't bother either and many have freely admitted as much. So they have no idea what they voted on. It would be like you or I going to buy a house and signing the loan papers before knowing what the terms were. Why do we turn a blind eye when our elected representatives do the same in a mad rush to pass legislation so Nancy Pelosi won't be late for her flight to Rome?

Thank you for sharing that vital bit of intelligence with us, The_Fury... now we'll all surely sleep oh so much better. :P

I think FDR's efforts actually did have a significant impact, but it was also a very different country back then and circumstances were drastically different overall. I'm not sure that I agree that tax cuts alone are the answer either, but they'd probably do far more for the present situation than the current stimulus bill.

I don't know about The Economy, but you're absolutely right that personal income is what drives MY economy. ;)

Well, I certainly wasn't trying to say that government spending alone cured the great depression, but it was one case were government spending did have a major role in helping to resolve it. But I also agree that this current stimulus package doesn't seem likely to help even in the ways that Obama and his fan club seem to think it will. I also have to agree that in WWII the country was aligned very differently with even major famous movie stars dropping everything to join the Army (and the Army Air Force and the Navy, as it were) rather than simply publicly bad mouthing our nation and corporations genuinely trying to do their part to support the war effort rather than completely ignoring the war and just laying off more and more folks while coming up with newer and more creative ways to line their golden parachutes... maybe the real solution would be to reinstate the draft starting with movie/television stars, rock stars, and really wealthy CEOs... ;)

Yes, I think it should be a federal offense level crime for congressmen and congresswomen (especially the white house level folks) to vote on a [major] bill like this without even first taking the time to ensure they know what they're voting on, especially when voting in favor of it. Unfortunately, the reality is that as long as the American public won't hold our elected officials accountable for that, they will continue to do it. :(

I think everyone pretty much knows that the reason they didn't read it was because doing so would have given We the People a chance to read it as well. One senator even complained that they weren't going to be allowed to read it into the record, which I gathered was a routine practice. No doubt because C-SPAN would then have been covering it and it would have become big news as all the pork got read aloud and people would have jammed the phones to complain about it. Best way to pass a bill you don't want the people to read? Gang rush it in 2 days to get it out of Congress and to the President.

In the process of course, the folly of yelling "we have to pass this RIGHTNOWNOWAITINGPASSPASSPASSPASSNOW!" evaporates knowing that Obama will have sat on it for 4 days before signing it. Did he spend his 4 days wisely reading the bill? No. He flew home to Chicago to play basketball and get a haircut instead. The manufactured sense of urgency in all this has even caught our local liberal press off guard because people had time to call them and ask why nothing is being done over the weekend. The news reporting has been pretty comical. About 30 seconds of "he'll sign this important legislation after the holiday" while being forced to show him out playing games all weekend.

History degree or not, I need only say this: Carter. Epic Fail. Obama. Striving for the mega Epic Fail.

Sorry, I'm still not at home and on top of the news.. you're saying after the big super urgent push to get this huge bill passed within two days, Mr. President left it sitting on his desk so he could go play a bit of b-ball and have dinner at home for the weekend and celebrate "Presidents' Day" in peace before even looking at this super high priority bill? :(

I always cringe when our President has said that this spendulus bill contained "no earmarks" and often times "no pork." And that's only true from a very technical, typical politician, point of view. Anyone with half a brain can see that there is indeed pork in this bill. He has said it over and over when his own party has stood in the upper house chambers admitting and even defending the "porky amendments."

I keep thinking maybe he'll get called out by someone. Anyone. Maybe the media. But why would I expect that to happen? They never called out any of his other obvious and ridiculous half truths in the campaign.

I, for one, am an American who cares.

[And I'm still waiting for this transparency that he touted would be in place from day one.]

I love the logic put out by some of you posters that because the bill is SO HUGE that we shouldn't care about just a few BILLION dollars spend on private projects and trains connecting California to Vegas. [Nancy Polosi (D-Caifornia) and Harry Reid (D-Nevada) anyone?]

This is some of the biggest pork in history. If you aren't upset with this bill then you might be an example of a liberal who hasn't ever seen government spending they didn't like.


For the love of God, enough already! It's bad enough you've already doomed the economy with the porkulus bill, but now you want more spending? No way in hell do Democrats ever again get to call Republicans drunken spending machines!

I was wondering how long it'd take for you to catch that one. It's a good thing we're in such a bad recession, can you imagine what they'd be trying to spend if money was flowing freely right now instead?

Obama seeks $200 billion for war spending

Right. So now the Democrats don't get to bitch about it when Republicans ask for half that in war spending. I seem to recall Heir Obama being one of those people who endlessly bitched about spending being so out of control we'd never recover from it.... and now he's spent more money than any administration prior to his and it's only his first month. I sure hope people are paying attention so we can throw those bastards out of Congress in 2 years.

You mean to say that the Democratic Spin Doctors haven't found a way to couch this into something nice yet?

This is likely one of those fictional emails people like to pass on...
Anyway I thought it was pretty spot on funny.

As the CEO of this organization, I have resigned myself to the fact
that Barrack Obama is our President, and that our taxes, and
government fees will increase in a BIG way. To compensate for these
increases, our prices would have to increase by about 10%.

Since we cannot increase our prices right now due to the dismal
state of the economy, we will have to lay off six of our employees
instead. This has really been bothering me, since I believe we are
family here and I didn’t know how to choose who would have to go.

So, this is what I did. I walked through our parking lot and found
six Obama bumper stickers on our employees’ cars and have decided
these folks will be the ones to let go. I can’t think of a more fair
way to approach this problem. They voted for change; I gave it to them.

I will see the rest of you at the annual company picnic

Yep. Not only spot on funny, but entirely fitting. I wonder if that's the same CEO our new fascist dictator decided he had the authority to fire?

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