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Tom Hall

Obama-Democrats won't hesitate to shut down the government

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I don't think they are offering anything, nor do I think they should. That premise is flawed. What were the Democrats offering when this started? Please reply with that.

 

Edit: The reality here is that the Democrats know their healthcare law is so unpopular that they had one and only one chance to pass it, back when they controlled all branches of government. Because they know they'll never get another crack at something this hated, they refuse to negotiate. The Republicans knew this bill was hated, and despite that they flinched. They are now negotiating. I predict that once the spotlight is turned away from who "wins or loses" this negotiation, the Democrats will agree to a few very minor tweaks to the law to fix some things that are bad for everybody in exchange for tweaking it a little in favor of their political allies (see SoftwareNerd's above post). The Democrats will claim victory in having convinced abusive Republicans not to "blow up the world economy" (As if!) and the Republicans will claim victory in "repealing part of the healthcare law." 

 

The Democrats offered nothing too! The difference is that they didn't tie nothing to a government shutdown and debt default. Duh. Here is what happened:

 

Dems: Offered nothing in exchange for nothing. (they already had their bill passed so of course they are going to offer nothing duh)

Reps: Rejected Dems offer and offered nothing in exchange for not shutting down the government.

Dems: Rejected Reps offer and offered nothing. Again a rational response.

 

Now which was the dumbest and most idiotic and irresponsible offer here? (Clue I have underlined it.) So why on Earth do you think that this underlined offer is rational? I really hope Obama continues to offer nothing because the Republicans really don't have anything to offer him as you guys have acknowledged.

Edited by Kate87

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Kate, nothing in exchange for nothing would be exactly what we have now... Spending bills must be proposed and passed to avoid shutdown or collision with the debt limit. All such bills must originate in the house. So factually speaking, your description of the process is incorrect. But again, the point I was trying to make earlier is that a normative conclusion based on a critique of procedure is an exercise in rationalism ("sports-fan politics"). How you feel about the procedure is completely dependent on your evaluation of the law, so don't try to reverse the process and pretend the procedure is what is at issue here.

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Moreover, while many people may not like this new law, many of them would not agree that repealing it is worth blowing our government to bits in order to repeal the law. 

 

Holy crap, I didn't realize the government was going to blow up... Does the Democratic agitprop apparatchik who found out about this plot have any tips for law enforcement, so we can catch these terrorists?

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Holy crap, I didn't realize the government was going to blow up... Does the Democratic agitprop apparatchik who found out about this plot have any tips for law enforcement, so we can catch these terrorists?

 

I told you a million times to stop exaggerating.

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Holy crap, I didn't realize the government was going to blow up... Does the Democratic agitprop apparatchik who found out about this plot have any tips for law enforcement, so we can catch these terrorists?

Crows point is more that Republicans take a stance of "Do what is right though the world should perish." In other words, it's an intrinsic view of morality which only fails miserably in the long run. 

 

In terms of game theory though, the rational (read: least bad) thing to do is for both sides to make concessions. It's all the prisoner's dilemma here. I'd make a chart of it even, but no time right now.

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Crows point is more that Republicans take a stance of "Do what is right though the world should perish." In other words, it's an intrinsic view of morality which only fails miserably in the long run. 

 

In terms of game theory though, the rational (read: least bad) thing to do is for both sides to make concessions. It's all the prisoner's dilemma here. I'd make a chart of it even, but no time right now.

 

Actually I wonder if some of these lawmakers really fear a default and/or a continued shutdown, or whether they've even thought about it much. They might actually take the "small government" concept very literally. We know for sure they don't understand the underlying concepts behind liberty, so why do we imagine they dig any deeper than the most surface-level precepts? "GOVERMENT BAD. MUST KILL GOVERNMENT". Yes, the minute their constituents social security checks bounce, the moment their rich donor's businesses crap out because the economy goes down a sink hole, etc. etc.--then they will be bounced from office. They may not understand what happened though, since they were just doing what the voters asked them to do.

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If you have the stomach, here's something from Sarah Palin:

 

Obama’s Debt Default is on His Shoulders While We Shoulder His Impeachable Offenses

Apparently the president thinks he can furlough reality when talking about the debt limit. To suggest that raising the debt limit doesn’t incur more debt is laughably absurd. The very reason why you raise the debt limit is so that you can incur more debt. Otherwise what’s the point?

It’s also shameful to see him scaremongering the markets with his talk of default. There is no way we can default if we follow the Constitution. The Fourteenth Amendment, Section 4, requires that we service our debt first. We currently collect more than enough tax revenue to service our debt if we do that first. However, we don’t have enough money to continue to finance our ever-growing federal government (with our $17 trillion dollar national debt that has increased over 50% since Obama took office). That’s why President Obama wants to increase the debt limit. He doesn’t want to make the tough decisions to rein in government spending. So, he’s scaremongering the markets about default, just as he tries to scaremonger our senior citizens about their Social Security, which, by the way, is funded by the Social Security Trust Fund and is solvent through 2038.

It’s time for the president to be honest with the American people for a change. Defaulting on our national debt is an impeachable offense, and any attempt by President Obama to unilaterally raise the debt limit without Congress is also an impeachable offense. A default would also be a shameful lack of leadership, just as mindlessly increasing our debt without trying to rein in spending is a betrayal of our children and grandchildren who will be stuck with the bill.

- Sarah Palin

 

 

This is a good concrete example of why so many GOP (including their "maverick") are not just bad on social policy, but also on fiscal policy. Anyone making the case that the U.S. should not pay some bill somewhere can only have two approaches (unless they're "furloughing reality"). Either, they should make the case that we really don't have a deficit issue, and if we keep paying what's budgeted, we'll be just fine. Or, they should say what we ought to stop paying. Palin says we should service the debt and pay social-security. Okay, then, let's move on to the next budget-head: medicare, medicaid, food stamps, unemployment compensation, military, ... FDA, department of education. Anyone who wishes to address a reasonable person (rather than anti-intellectual supporters) should say what they would cut.

 

The basic problem, applicable across the board to most GOP folk -- not just politicians, but the lay-people who get worked up about this too -- is that they want cuts in theory, but not in practice. When one starts to drill down into how the money is being spent, they don't want to touch enough to make a deficit go away.

 

I've always thought it would be interesting if every voter had to fill out a budget form for their vote to be valid. The form would have 20 categories of government expenditure (including entitlements). Each category would cover approximately 5-10% of current expenditure. Each voter would have to distribute $100 among these. That's all. This would not go any further: not used in any actual budget. Discard it, after checking that it adds to 100%. [Though I'd be interested in seeing how it aggregates up.]

 

Since fiscal issues are such a key part of government, I think it is reasonable to ask voters to spend 5 minutes thinking about it in terms of some numbers. Hopefully, that will make them less susceptible to non-arguments from people like Palin.

Edited by softwareNerd

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So, is everyone on the same page that if we bump up against the debt limit, we retain the ability to service the debt?

 

I don't want to sound like I think what gets cut is unimportant; on the contrary, SoftwareNerd is absolutely right about the need for prioritizing the cuts. But I wonder if Republicans haven't had some of these discussions behind closed doors. It would seem that running into a budget crunch is the kind of cover a morally uncertain politician would look for. "We didn't want to cut these entitlements, but the constitution makes me pay the debt first and foremost. My hands were tied!"

Some kind of political master stroke is out of the question, of course. They only control the house, they don't have unified leadership, and Democrats have a lot of leverage in proposing their own painful cuts. However, a real reduction in short-term spending seems possible.

Edited by FeatherFall

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A deal has been struck with the Republicans gaining no substantial concessions. Great job in pointless grandstanding Republicans. You offered nothing, you got nothing. Meanwhile the country suffered.

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So, is everyone on the same page that if we bump up against the debt limit, we retain the ability to service the debt?

Very roughly, the total take is $2 Trillion, outflows are $3 T and the annual interest is $0.5T billion. So, the math would work if one wanted to put interest payments at the top. Won't work politically though.

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In other words, outflows would need to be cut by %50. That would spell disaster for the leadership of both parties due to the abrupt hardship of constituencies on both sides of the aisle. I agree that it has nearly no chance of happening. But if neither side comes to an agreement, they'd be left with a choice. Which is politically more workable at that point, paying debts or finding creative solutions to sell assets/cut services? Lets pretend there were enough Ted Cruz clones. Who makes the decision on what to pay for and what do they decide?

Edited by FeatherFall

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But if neither side comes to an agreement, they'd be left with a choice. Which is politically more workable at that point, paying debts or finding creative solutions to sell assets/cut services? Lets pretend there were enough Ted Cruz clones. Who makes the decision on what to pay for and what do they decide?

If they come to an impasse, I suspect the President will ignore the Congress.

He'll probably go on T.V. and say that Congress and the law is asking him to attempt a contradiction. He is just the executive. On the one hand, Congress says how much tax he must take. On the other, Congress tells him what he must pay out. Congress has not given him any discretion. It has not said that he must only pay out unemployment checks if he can collect enough taxes. If one looks at the laws passed by Congress without looking at the debt-ceiling law, there is an implicit command to take on debt. Then, we have the debt-ceiling law, which says that he must not take on more than a certain amount of debt.

The only way to resolve this contradiction, he could say, is for Congress to ask for tax and spending changes when the debt-ceiling nears. This was the intent of the debt-ceiling. It is Congress that must decide, not he. When the debt-ceiling is approached, it is the task of Congress to avoid pushing the president into a contradiction, where he has to disobey one of the two contradictory laws from Congress.

In such a situation, having exhausted all other possibilities and having waited till the last moment, he can say that he is choosing to uphold all the laws passed and ignore the one, now contradictory, debt-ceiling law. He could say that he will not stop paying Social Security checks, stop old people getting Medicare, and stop paying our soldiers abroad just because Congress cannot resolves its own contradiction.

If the president wants, he could try a gimmick -- like the trillion-dollar coin or some special arrangement with the Fed. The essence would be to create money of some type. The debt ceiling is a debt ceiling, not a money ceiling. However, I think it is quite likely that the SCOTUS would buy an "acting in face of a contradiction" argument and say that the President may exercise discretion when faced with impossibly contradictory commands. If that happens, the debt-ceiling will forever be truly useless.

I think the GOP understands that people will blame them if we hit a crisis. I think they also understand that pushing their luck might empower the president to do what he wills. Instead, they would rather keep the threat on the table, by agreeing to a few months extension. This way, we can have some entertainment in Jan.

Seriously, while I understand the anti-Obamacare angst, i think the GOP did not prepare people for it. I think they'd be better served putting something else on the table: asking for some reductions to spending every time we hit the debt-ceiling.

Edited by softwareNerd

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Seriously, while I understand the anti-Obamacare angst, i think the GOP did not prepare people for it. I think they'd be better served putting something else on the table: asking for some reductions to spending every time we hit the debt-ceiling.

 

I still don't see this as a rational strategy. The way to get spending cuts is for the Republicans to win people over to their argument about debt levels, thereby winning elections and to pass normal legislation that cuts spending.

 

If you are negotiating with someone who thinks spending shouldn't be cut, then offering not to shutdown or default in return for those spending cuts is offering nothing and will always lose.

Edited by Kate87

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I still don't see this as a rational strategy. The way to get spending cuts is for the Republicans to win people over to their argument about debt levels, thereby winning elections and to pass normal legislation that cuts spending.

 

If you are negotiating with someone who thinks spending shouldn't be cut, then offering not to shutdown or default in return for those spending cuts is offering nothing and will always lose.

Sure, but all the grand-standing is just a means to an end: which is to bring some issue to the forefront of public/voter discussion. This recent episode had a lot of regular people talking about Obamacare: both pro and con. The problem is that using a topic like that, where people do not see the obvious link to the debt and -- more importantly -- where everyone is taken by surprise, is seen as disruptive. On the other hand, tying debt-ceiling increases to demands for spending cuts is seen as clearly linked. People get the analogy: "when I max out my card I can get an increase, but I also ought to be planning spending cuts".

 

It's easy to say that Congress should follow "regular order" and get budgets passed in the normal course of things, but the way this works is when the White house coordinates and bargains with both parties in the background. Obama shows no inclination to do so. He's on 365-day campaign mode. It's unfortunate that we have someone in the job who has never run anything sizable. (A governor like Clinton or Romney gets experience doing so.) Also, people with particularly firm intellectual/ideological underpinnings -- like Obama -- have a harder time seeing the other side as genuine and honest. So, much of his vilification of them is probably something he genuinely feels -- which keeps him away from crafting deals. 

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