Author Topic: Fiscal cliff  (Read 47160 times)

Another Reader

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #100 on: December 06, 2012, 08:04:35 AM »
Spoken like a true 20 year old!

Social Security is not an "entitlement" and payments into it are not a tax to create a welfare system for poor retirees, which is what it would become with means testing.  I was forced for decades to pay into a retirement annuity I did not select and would not have selected.  Never the less, the money was paid.  That annuity had better be paid as well.  The 55 plus crowd will be out in force if it is not.

Medicare is a different story.  It's a bloated mess full of waste and fraud.  The overhead is ridiculous.  Privitization makes a lot of sense here.

tooqk4u22

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #101 on: December 06, 2012, 08:16:51 AM »
I am tired of people blaming the wars - the cost of which in total over the 10 or so years is less than the deficit we have each year right now.

4 trillion and counting:

http://costsofwar.org/

A lot of fluff in those numbers, a lot....and I think is not just for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan it includes the war on terror in overall and it includes costs for the next 10-50 years - ok.  But it has not cost that in the last 10 years - so the current deficit has not been caused by this, it is simply part of it and the future costs (soft or not) will be part of future deficits, again I was talking about from the start of the wars until now, which is what most comments are about.

http://costofwar.com/

http://www.cbo.gov/latest/national-security/iraq-and-afghanistan

And I'm tired of faux fiscal conservatives who fail to acknowledge that this nation's military (i.e., waste) spending is out of control.  When you spend more than the next 20 largest military forces combined, you have a "war" problem.

Ok.....please go back and remind me where I said we should increase defense spending and by under no circumstance should it be cut, please please show me.  Actually, I think I said it could be cut and run more efficiently.  Actually, I also think it was part of the sacred cows comment. 

That said, defense is an important role of the government and we should spend more than any other nation for a number of reasons - population, geography and economically we are significantly larger than most other countries and we have been playing global police officer (although not always requested).  Is this for the better or worse, I don't know, but it seems worse because any time we signal that we may sit something out the world gets mad, any time we want to get involved the world gets mad. Either way someone is pissed at us.
 
Should we stay the hell out of others business - again I don't know. Would I like to - yes, but what are the consequences. 9/11 happened because we didn't keep to ourselves and our support of Israel (mostly because of this) - but if we stayed out of it then Israel may not exist today.  The US has muted its support of Israel under the current administration - which is fine as long as we don't hang them out to dry, I am all for letting them handle their own business for a while, but when they take actions on things we can't then tell them to back off.

Our defense helps with this - it may be schoolyard tactics but some times the fact that "I am bigger than you" is enough.  The cold war was "We are both big and will both die if we fight, so lets not".  I wouldn't want to be on the other side of the coin where another country is threatening us with those terms.  It is not good for anybody if Iran does go nuclear - although there is no need to rush into it either, we know how that works out - can you say WMD - but you can't wait to long either.  Politicians suck IMO, but for these types of decisions I am so glad I am not a politician - these are some tough f'in calls to make.

Why have we not completely exited Iraq and Afghanistan - because it is not that simple. 

Somalia is a major issue and while the regime there tears apart the country and its people it really is of little consequence to the US.  Diplomacy first but at some point (maybe it has passed, maybe it hasn't) there are many people there suffering that need help - and we have the resources to do that if and when the time comes.

So yes defense is important and should be heavily funded, but it doesn't mean it can't be cut.


Russ

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #102 on: December 06, 2012, 08:29:57 AM »
Spoken like a true 20 year old!

I feel like we've been over this part once already. Just a friendly reminder that us young folks can have well-reasoned opinions too.

bo_knows

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #103 on: December 06, 2012, 08:32:39 AM »

The 55 plus crowd will be out in force if it is not.


To make this thread a little more light-hearted, I got quite a laugh out of this quote thinking of a scene of a mob of 65yr-old greybeards trying to fight it out with Riot police.

tooqk4u22

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #104 on: December 06, 2012, 08:49:54 AM »
Okay, so I'll call you a liar and raise you a willfully ignorant liar and call it a day. "I don't really care about individual line items..." translates into "I don't feel like looking at the actual math but damn it I'm pissed because someone told me I should be." Cute. 

Wow - again not sure what your issue is. Maybe you should look at the numbers - look at p. 244 where the assumption is that GDP will grow 4.5% for 2012, 4.7% for 2013, and up and up from there.......hmmmm, isn't the US growing at <2%. I guess a 2.5% swing is no big deal, afterall it is pittance given the size of the US economy. Who cares, what is a few percent on such a small economy mean anyway? p. 246 shows the debt continuing to increase and assumes that the budget is passed, which is yet to happen under the current administration, so this is the best case scenario and as I have already pointed out is behind plan right out of the gate. Also look at inlation - assumed to remain low. So on one hand we assume that GDP is growing at a healthy clip, debt is still increasing AND inflation remains low.  Sounds realistic.

Hmm, as someone who works in Data Analysis, I will have to say that I generally have to "analyze" the data before I can come to any conclusions. I don't know, maybe all of that math is just an illusion...a soul crushing illusion, but I can't "attest" to anything that hasn't been crunched, pulled, and mashed into something comprehensible and useful. When my VP looks at my data, it's not my job to say "Oh this is great! Look we've hit all of our metrics! Now, let's go snort some coke in the restroom!" I present the data and then my internal customers (VP and management) make their moves from there.

I agree with this approach, so clearly you must not work for the CBO. And given above comments maybe you should find a new field or go and work for the CBO.


tooqk4u22

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #105 on: December 06, 2012, 09:14:05 AM »
Spoken like a true 20 year old!

Social Security is not an "entitlement" and payments into it are not a tax to create a welfare system for poor retirees, which is what it would become with means testing.  I was forced for decades to pay into a retirement annuity I did not select and would not have selected.  Never the less, the money was paid.  That annuity had better be paid as well.  The 55 plus crowd will be out in force if it is not.

Medicare is a different story.  It's a bloated mess full of waste and fraud.  The overhead is ridiculous.  Privitization makes a lot of sense here.

Your are correct on both accounts - the were both designed as safety nets and everybody pays into them.  SSI was originally intended to ensure that that people wouldn't be destitute once they were unable to work any longer (retirement really didn't exist when SSI was formed) and people generally died within three years of stopping.  The the program evolved in mid-century and later into being part of a retirement plan (1/3rd each from SSI, Pension, Savings) but the life expectacy was aproximately 5-8 years http://mappinghistory.uoregon.edu/english/US/US39-01.html beyond standard retirement age.  Now people expect it to be their full retirement plan because there are few pensions left and nobody saves coupled with the largest population in history starting to retire (remember that SSI is a pyramid scheme) and life expectancies that are now much higher - see table people age 50-65 are expected to live to 81-83  http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s0104.pdf - full retirement age for the boomer generation is 66 years so - a 15-17 year gap from life expectancy.

You are right that you paid/me and even Grant have paid and/or are paying into the system and those benefits should be there.

Unfortunately due to poor assumptions upfront and changing inputs over time both need to be changed.  But the fact that the 55+ crowd shouldn't be affected is just wrong - there is no reason why benefits age can't be increased by a few year even for them right now - most of which can't retire anyway. It won't happen purely because boomers are the largest block of voters that actually vote - so no politician will even think about this, but that doesn't make it right especially when younger generations generally feel that it won't exist at all (I don't feel this way, but don't count it out either).

« Last Edit: December 06, 2012, 09:36:41 AM by tooqk4u22 »

Another Reader

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #106 on: December 06, 2012, 09:36:38 AM »
20 year olds can have well reasoned opinions but their opinions inevitably will be tempered in the future by experience.   I would be very interested in having Grant report back his opinions in 20 or 30 years.  My bet is they will have changed. 

With decades of such experience, I have learned to view academic and political compilations of numbers and statistics as interesting and supportive of various positions, but inferior to common sense.  Searching through them to make arguments for and against how to spend tax dollars deflects the discussion away from common sense approaches. 

tooqk4u22

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #107 on: December 06, 2012, 09:38:40 AM »
20 year olds can have well reasoned opinions but their opinions inevitably will be tempered in the future by experience.   I would be very interested in having Grant report back his opinions in 20 or 30 years.  My bet is they will have changed. 

With decades of such experience, I have learned to view academic and political compilations of numbers and statistics as interesting and supportive of various positions, but inferior to common sense.  Searching through them to make arguments for and against how to spend tax dollars deflects the discussion away from common sense approaches. 

There is an absolute void of common sense in politics so you won't get any disagreement from me on this.

smedleyb

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #108 on: December 06, 2012, 09:42:35 AM »
edit:  premature post.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2012, 09:45:19 AM by smedleyb »

matchewed

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #109 on: December 06, 2012, 09:53:19 AM »
I don't want to derail the thread but being dismissive of someone's opinion because their opinion may change is still being dismissive. Grant's future opinion is unknowable. You could start with maturely discussing his current opinion instead.

unitsinc

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #110 on: December 06, 2012, 12:25:32 PM »
20 year olds can have well reasoned opinions but their opinions inevitably will be tempered in the future by experience.   I would be very interested in having Grant report back his opinions in 20 or 30 years.  My bet is they will have changed. 

With decades of such experience, I have learned to view academic and political compilations of numbers and statistics as interesting and supportive of various positions, but inferior to common sense.  Searching through them to make arguments for and against how to spend tax dollars deflects the discussion away from common sense approaches.


And younger people could just as easily say you old geezers' opinions are formed because you've grown jaded with age.

See....just as pointless.

Another Reader

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #111 on: December 06, 2012, 01:21:23 PM »
Generally, people with more experience are paid more because of.......their experience!  In other words, experience has value.

My point is common sense and wisdom are generally accompanied by experience.  Not all experience leads to common sense and wisdom (which is different than knowledge, by the way).  It depends on the mindset of the person.  Occasionally you will find a person that puts it all together at a fairly young age.  I think MMM is a good example of one.  Grant is an example of someone trying to speed the process up through reading lots of books.  Since he's a really smart, analytical guy, he understands and analyzes what he reads.   However, in my opinion reading alone cannot make a person wise or give them common sense.  It takes experience.

My suggestion to the younger people here is that they sit down with their parents and grandparents and talk about what this country and its government were like in the 1940's, 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's.  Get a really good feel for the place of government then vs now.  Then ask those folks if they think we are better off with the amount of government we have now.  And ask them what we have accomplished with the trillions government has spent over their lives.  I'd be interested in hearing their answers.

JohnGalt

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #112 on: December 06, 2012, 01:45:49 PM »
My suggestion to the younger people here is that they sit down with their parents and grandparents and talk about what this country and its government were like in the 1940's, 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's.  Get a really good feel for the place of government then vs now.  Then ask those folks if they think we are better off with the amount of government we have now.  And ask them what we have accomplished with the trillions government has spent over their lives.  I'd be interested in hearing their answers.

Experience can also come with biases, nostalgia, (unintentionally) selective memory and the like - so there are issues with that approach as well.

But that's not the point... the point is that when comments like "spoken like a true 20 year old" are made - it's just a flippant marginalization of someone's (or a group of someone's) input based on a demographic line item in their profile.  Remarks like that do nothing to promote productive and interesting discussions and, often, will have the reverse effect of derailing the conversation all together. 

If your point was meant to be the above suggestion - fine, but can you just start with that?  I think everyone would appreciate it. 

COguy

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #113 on: December 06, 2012, 01:54:04 PM »
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Generally, people with more experience are paid more because of.......their experience!  In other words, experience has value.

But does experience actually have value or does it really have a price?  This makes me think of the Benjamin Graham quote:

'Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.'

One profession that comes to mind is teaching.  In many districts pay is almost entirely based on years experience and not on quality of teaching.  Of course, that is changing (at least here on the frozen front range, from what I understand).  Another, is active mutual fund managers of huge mutual finds who are shown to have a very difficult time beating the averages after cost.  Many have a large amount of tenure yet they have a very difficult time producing the value they are paid for. 

I agree that real experience is valuable.  But, as a huge proponent of life long learning, I cringe when I hear people dismissing others who are younger because they are trying to use books to get ahead.  Heck look at guys like Charlie Munger.  Probably one of the most well rounded human beings to walk the earth in the last 100 years, or dare I say ever.  His grand kids say he is like a book with legs. 

Anyway, I will take my devil's advocate hat off now as this doesn't really pertain to the conversation. 

JohnGalt

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #114 on: December 06, 2012, 02:04:15 PM »
Call me what you will - but focus on the second paragraph of my comments, I really don't care about individual line items if the whole thing is still going up - there are not cuts if it is increasing.  Republicans have and still are playing the same game - does that make you happy, as I have made clear both political parties are out of control with spending (albeit on different things, but both seem to be getting it done) and are completely disfunctional and incompetent and not interested in anything other than protecting themselves and the compromise you elude to often results in more of the same and nothing getting addressed.

And those sacred cows.....well IMO they should be shot and eaten. 

I think this is it right here.  We (as in broadly the public) are, by and large, attached to one of two political parties that pretend to offer two different view points that we have to choose between.  However - when you look at the end result - there really isn't much difference between the two.  Their primary concern is getting reelected so they pander to whatever symptom happens to be the hot topic of the day and never really solve anything or even really work towards a long-term real solution.  As long as we keep rewarding this behavior by leaving them in office, we'll just continue to see band aids to get us through to the next term.  Eventually it will catch up to us, someway, somehow. 

Personally - I'm a libertarian who, generally, wants smaller government all around.  However - I'm willing to set that aside and say the more important thing is to get the fiscal ship in order.  If no one is willing to give up any of their public services - let's stop half-assing it and properly fund it.  Stop shifting the costs to the future.  If we, the public in general, want healthcare, comfortable retirement once you hit 67, safety nets, education and whatever else to all be entitlements and we want to police the world, protect our interests locally and abroad, and fund foreign aid. Fuck it.  Let's do it.  We really are wealthy as hell as a nation and can probably afford to do it all. But let's also pay for it, now.  And let it all come out of everyone's paycheck, dividend returns, and capital gains so they can directly see it, feel it, and, ultimately, decide if it really is worth it.  A trillion dollar debt is just an uncomprehendable line item on a federal report or bullet point on a news channel.  10%, 25%, 50% (or whatever it ends up being) less in their paycheck every month is something they'll get. 
« Last Edit: December 06, 2012, 02:09:32 PM by JohnGalt »

Another Reader

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #115 on: December 06, 2012, 02:04:41 PM »
I'm totally in favor of well rounded.  In fact, that's my point.  Well rounded includes experience, and Charlie's got lots of it.

Russ

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #116 on: December 06, 2012, 02:40:59 PM »
I'm sorry, maybe my post wasn't as clear as I thought. It would have been more accurate for me to say "us young folks can have valid opinions too," but since well-reasoned and valid go hand in hand for me I made the substitution. Earlier you tried to counter the validity of Grant's argument by saying "yeah, but you're young". Now you've revised that to "yeah, but you're inexperienced". While I agree that past experiences can give one a good intuitive sense of a problem and its solutions, the declaration of one's opinions as invalid due to a lack of age or experience is still an ad hominem, does not prove or disprove anything, and does not further the discussion.

My suggestion to the younger people here is that they sit down with their parents and grandparents and talk about what this country and its government were like in the 1940's, 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's.  Get a really good feel for the place of government then vs now.  Then ask those folks if they think we are better off with the amount of government we have now.  And ask them what we have accomplished with the trillions government has spent over their lives.  I'd be interested in hearing their answers.

That's a super idea! I'll get back to you on it. It's been a while since I've had a good chat with my Grandma, and I'm curious to see what she thinks.

Anyway, sorry everyone for derailing the thread. My bad.

DoubleDown

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #117 on: December 06, 2012, 02:54:08 PM »
Sadly, the typical American wants the impossible (polling has demonstrated this). They want:

- The debt to go down
- Taxes must not go up for anyone (or maybe only for those earning more than them)
- Don't cut any programs they care about, particularly the big ticket items like defense, social security and medicare.

So, their wants are incompatible, something must give. It's no wonder our dysfunctional government behaves like the average consumer, pulling the CC out to pay for things it can't afford and continuing to kick the problem down the road. Ridiculous.

I wish they'd go for everything: Let the previously enacted (Bush) tax cuts expire, let the payroll tax cuts expire, reign in all spending including defense, medicare, social security, come up with an overall tax code that makes sense and is less than 1 million pages, you name it. And I don't just mean "going off the [current] cliff." I mean reign it all in for the future as well, so that the debt can be wiped out in 10 years or less.

unitsinc

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #118 on: December 06, 2012, 03:08:46 PM »
Sadly, the typical American wants the impossible (polling has demonstrated this). They want:

- The debt to go down
- Taxes must not go up for anyone (or maybe only for those earning more than them)
- Don't cut any programs they care about, particularly the big ticket items like defense, social security and medicare.

So, their wants are incompatible, something must give. It's no wonder our dysfunctional government behaves like the average consumer, pulling the CC out to pay for things it can't afford and continuing to kick the problem down the road. Ridiculous.

I wish they'd go for everything: Let the previously enacted (Bush) tax cuts expire, let the payroll tax cuts expire, reign in all spending including defense, medicare, social security, come up with an overall tax code that makes sense and is less than 1 million pages, you name it. And I don't just mean "going off the [current] cliff." I mean reign it all in for the future as well, so that the debt can be wiped out in 10 years or less.

I'm no economist, so I have no idea what the ramifications would be, but I've had extremely similar thoughts.
If this debt crisis is as serious as they want us to believe, then go all out. Cut no corners. Cut all spending on everything, tax everyone more. For say 10 years.

Another Reader

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #119 on: December 06, 2012, 03:35:02 PM »
Lots of things can be well reasoned and just plain wrong.  Every scientific hypothesis over the centuries given credence and later proven incorrect was well reasoned enough to convince highly educated and experienced folks of its validity.

My point is unchanged.  All the pretty charts and the discussion of percentages of GDP undermine the application of common sense to the problem.  We have too much government.  We can't afford it nor, if we thought about it, do we really want it.  We have a huge amount of debt that needs to be paid.  The folks in Washington and in every state capitol should be running around like their hair is on fire.  Instead they are playing brinksmanship games with each other while reaching into our pockets for the credit card.

DoubleDown is on the right track.  Maybe we will find going off the fiscal cliff won't be the fatal tumble it is made out to be.  Some real pain might galvanize resistance to the buy now, pay later politicians.  We can only hope.

grantmeaname

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #120 on: December 06, 2012, 04:36:44 PM »
Social Security is not an "entitlement"
hmm. "An entitlement is a guarantee of access to benefits based on established rights or by legislation." Looks like an entitlement to me.

Quote
and payments into it are not a tax to create a welfare system for poor retirees, which is what it would become with means testing.  I was forced for decades to pay into a retirement annuity I did not select and would not have selected.  Never the less, the money was paid.  That annuity had better be paid as well.
If your payments were of a sufficient amount that you were paying for your entire annuity, I might have slight respect for what you're saying. Since your payments are coming out of my paycheck, and your benefits will be dramatically higher than your payments (barring a tragic young death, of course), I don't.

Your are correct on both accounts - the were both designed as safety nets and everybody pays into them.  SSI was originally intended to ensure that that people wouldn't be destitute once they were unable to work any longer (retirement really didn't exist when SSI was formed) and people generally died within three years of stopping.
If you make or have enough money that means testing would prevent you from receiving your social security benefits, then you are not destitute. Therefore means testing is in keeping with the original intent of SS.

grantmeaname

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #121 on: December 06, 2012, 04:59:02 PM »
20 year olds can have well reasoned opinions but their opinions inevitably will be tempered in the future by experience.   I would be very interested in having Grant report back his opinions in 20 or 30 years.  My bet is they will have changed.
God, I so thought we were past this by now.

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Since he's a really smart, analytical guy, he understands and analyzes what he reads.   However, in my opinion reading alone cannot make a person wise or give them common sense.  It takes experience.
Right, and since I'm 20 I must have no experiences. I've never done things like working on Habitat for Humanity homes and soup kitchen drives to see the scars poverty leaves on the poor, leading people different from me who I disliked to meet a goal on time and in an effective fashion, running a household on a shoestring budget, seeing firsthand the remains of history and piecing together an interpretation of the past from them, touring my city and seeing how things got the be the way they are and how they are changing today, analyzing a business to determine how to turn it around... Turns out, every single insight I've got about the world around me is pieced together from the Bureau of Labor Statistics website! You've convincingly and effectively proved I'm an intellectual charlatan with a mere three sentences! Ass.

My point is unchanged.  All the pretty charts and the discussion of percentages of GDP undermine the application of common sense to the problem.
Common sense is not an answer. Common sense is an excuse to be divisive and play "my way or the highway" politics. None of the things you say is demonstrated by common sense, except for the comment about debt (which, by the way, is wrong, because you're conflating the functions of households with the functions of government). Seriously, have you actually demonstrated a single one of these things? Can you even make a logical argument for them, or are we back in "here's the way I misremembered the 1950s so that's the way it's always got to be" mode again now that you're done with your offensive dismissal of people with ideas different than yours?

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We have too much government.
That's a normative statement, not a positive one. Try again.
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We can't afford it
I'm sure we could. Germany collects 40% of its GDP in taxes and the country hasn't even fallen into the ocean yet. I bet we could collect an amount equal to our spending.
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nor, if we thought about it, do we really want it.
The American people are not unequivocal about that. Not even slightly. How many elected officials in this nation wouldn't expand a single item in the budget? Who doesn't have a pet project?
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We have a huge amount of debt that needs to be paid.
Or not paid, and kept around, like the rest of the free world does. Again, the US government is not a 47-year-old trying to retire.

NWstubble

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #122 on: December 06, 2012, 07:37:29 PM »
For shits sake, why must the age card always be pulled when someone younger has a differing opinion? Enough people have weighed in on this topic that I will leave it at that.

Or not paid, and kept around, like the rest of the free world does. Again, the US government is not a 47-year-old trying to retire.

I disagree with the notion that we can just keep raising the debt ceiling, keep our debt around and everything will be just fine. The rest of the free world is also having debt issues (Europe anyone?), so I am interested to hear your examples with regards to that. 

I think increasing revenues, improving efficiencies, cutting in areas that are being served by the private sector, and some form of entitlement reform is urgently needed.

smedleyb

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #123 on: December 06, 2012, 09:48:06 PM »
And I'm tired of faux fiscal conservatives who fail to acknowledge that this nation's military (i.e., waste) spending is out of control.  When you spend more than the next 20 largest military forces combined, you have a "war" problem.

Ok.....please go back and remind me where I said we should increase defense spending and by under no circumstance should it be cut, please please show me.  Actually, I think I said it could be cut and run more efficiently.  Actually, I also think it was part of the sacred cows comment. 

That said, defense is an important role of the government and we should spend more than any other nation for a number of reasons - population, geography and economically we are significantly larger than most other countries and we have been playing global police officer (although not always requested).  Is this for the better or worse, I don't know, but it seems worse because any time we signal that we may sit something out the world gets mad, any time we want to get involved the world gets mad. Either way someone is pissed at us.
 
Should we stay the hell out of others business - again I don't know. Would I like to - yes, but what are the consequences. 9/11 happened because we didn't keep to ourselves and our support of Israel (mostly because of this) - but if we stayed out of it then Israel may not exist today.  The US has muted its support of Israel under the current administration - which is fine as long as we don't hang them out to dry, I am all for letting them handle their own business for a while, but when they take actions on things we can't then tell them to back off.

Our defense helps with this - it may be schoolyard tactics but some times the fact that "I am bigger than you" is enough.  The cold war was "We are both big and will both die if we fight, so lets not".  I wouldn't want to be on the other side of the coin where another country is threatening us with those terms.  It is not good for anybody if Iran does go nuclear - although there is no need to rush into it either, we know how that works out - can you say WMD - but you can't wait to long either.  Politicians suck IMO, but for these types of decisions I am so glad I am not a politician - these are some tough f'in calls to make.

Why have we not completely exited Iraq and Afghanistan - because it is not that simple. 

Somalia is a major issue and while the regime there tears apart the country and its people it really is of little consequence to the US.  Diplomacy first but at some point (maybe it has passed, maybe it hasn't) there are many people there suffering that need help - and we have the resources to do that if and when the time comes.

So yes defense is important and should be heavily funded, but it doesn't mean it can't be cut.

Exactly.  That said....

What follows is a litany of ideologically charged justifications for U.S. global hegemony, which is precisely the point.

To repeat, the faux fiscal conservatives talk a good game about cutting waste spending, but when it comes to the military budget -- and unlike most, I find all spending on weapons and such to be "waste" spending, i.e., completely worthless for the purposes of bettering and improving society -- they'll give you a million reasons why it shouldn't be slashed to the bone.  At least with the social security check I know granny has a little coin to buy some food and pay some rent.  The lefty inside me is okay with that.  I'm still not sure what the social utility of a carrier battle group is, or why we have 11 of them when most (of the few countries that do) have 1 if any at all.  For defense?  Yeah, right!

When the clowns in charge are willing to take military expenditure down to 2-2.5% of GDP while relinquishing this silly desire to "police" the world -- and you're right, nobody asked us to play cop -- then real progress can be made toward rectifying our national budgetary issues.  Until then, I view the recent "fiscal cliff" media show as just another ploy by the one percenters to grind the social welfare system into a Randian pulp. 




   




smedleyb

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #124 on: December 06, 2012, 10:03:17 PM »
Spoken like a true 20 year old!

You know what?  I can't stand 20 year olds.  No, seriously.  I mean, I'm 40, got a wife, two kids, a crazy business, slight weight issues, elderly parents who need assistance, dysfunctional in-laws, confused nephews, divorced friends, etc.  Basically, I have absolutely nothing in common with any of these fucktards and their dumb ass ideas and silly problems.

That said, Grant is a different breed of cat.  I know he'll get pissed and try to defend his generation.  But he really shouldn't.  They're completely fucking lost.  He's not. 

arebelspy

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #125 on: December 06, 2012, 10:20:20 PM »
I have been ignoring this thread because it doesn't interest me much.

However, mods have been asked to lock this thread as it has gotten out of hand.

I am loathe to do this, but also don't care for the personal attacks and negativity here, quite unbecoming of the people posting.

I understand political discussions always get a bit tetchy, but can we return to civility?  Otherwise, if we're done here, just let me know and we can move on to less sensitive areas.  :)

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #126 on: December 07, 2012, 09:27:28 AM »
If you make or have enough money that means testing would prevent you from receiving your social security benefits, then you are not destitute. Therefore means testing is in keeping with the original intent of SS.

I don't have a problem with that, I absolutely think it should revert back to what was orginally intended - in which case the payments would be small enough to just to cover basic living needs (and this doesn't mean a single family home and vacations) and the retirement age should be increased to 75 now. I wonder how that would go over.   

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #127 on: December 07, 2012, 09:33:47 AM »
Spoken like a true 20 year old!

You know what?  I can't stand 20 year olds.  No, seriously.  I mean, I'm 40, got a wife, two kids, a crazy business, slight weight issues, elderly parents who need assistance, dysfunctional in-laws, confused nephews, divorced friends, etc.  Basically, I have absolutely nothing in common with any of these fucktards and their dumb ass ideas and silly problems.



I've retyped my response to this a number of times and can't come up with anything that doesn't make me sound like a complainypants, so I'll leave it at the fact that I understand your view, but find it bordering on ageist(similar to racist.)

I'm not offended, but if I typed something that came off how this comes off to me, I would like to be made aware of it so I could work on expressing my opinions in a better manner.

tooqk4u22

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #128 on: December 07, 2012, 09:56:50 AM »
Exactly.  That said....

What follows is a litany of ideologically charged justifications for U.S. global hegemony, which is precisely the point.

To repeat, the faux fiscal conservatives talk a good game about cutting waste spending, but when it comes to the military budget -- and unlike most, I find all spending on weapons and such to be "waste" spending, i.e., completely worthless for the purposes of bettering and improving society -- they'll give you a million reasons why it shouldn't be slashed to the bone.  At least with the social security check I know granny has a little coin to buy some food and pay some rent.  The lefty inside me is okay with that.  I'm still not sure what the social utility of a carrier battle group is, or why we have 11 of them when most (of the few countries that do) have 1 if any at all.  For defense?  Yeah, right!

When the clowns in charge are willing to take military expenditure down to 2-2.5% of GDP while relinquishing this silly desire to "police" the world -- and you're right, nobody asked us to play cop -- then real progress can be made toward rectifying our national budgetary issues.  Until then, I view the recent "fiscal cliff" media show as just another ploy by the one percenters to grind the social welfare system into a Randian pulp. 

We will agree to disagree on this. Having a strong military is absolutely essential, it is foolish to think otherwise - how it is deployed and how much it is funded is a different story, not playing global police and reduce spending to 2.5% of GDP may be ok, maybe not - I don't know but it is worth exlporing. 

And why do we have 11 carriers when other coutries have only one if any - partly as we discussed is that we play police officer so they don't feel the need to invest in this (it is not a coincidence that Canada spends little on defense), partly we are dealing with a lot of small nations that couldn't afford it, and partly because a lot of these countries are land locked.  Eliminating the roll of police officer would likely reduce the amount of defense spending that is needed (maybe we would only need four carriers then) - I bet by simply doing this we could cut the spending in half or more. 

But this also would have consequences that may not be acceptable such as when tyranny is happening elsewhere then we have to accept it as not our problem so those moments of genocide would be tragic but deemed an acceptable loss because we wanted to spend less. The liberal in you should view this as the reason why it is important to have a military that is 2-3x more than what is needed to protect the US directly. 

It would also result in about 500,000+ fewer jobs (direct military personnel and defense contractors) but that is different argument.

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #129 on: December 07, 2012, 10:48:48 AM »
If no one is willing to give up any of their public services - let's stop half-assing it and properly fund it.  Stop shifting the costs to the future.  If we, the public in general, want healthcare, comfortable retirement once you hit 67, safety nets, education and whatever else to all be entitlements and we want to police the world, protect our interests locally and abroad, and fund foreign aid. Fuck it.  Let's do it.  We really are wealthy as hell as a nation and can probably afford to do it all. But let's also pay for it, now.  And let it all come out of everyone's paycheck, dividend returns, and capital gains so they can directly see it, feel it, and, ultimately, decide if it really is worth it.

I wish they'd go for everything: Let the previously enacted (Bush) tax cuts expire, let the payroll tax cuts expire, reign in all spending including defense, medicare, social security, come up with an overall tax code that makes sense and is less than 1 million pages, you name it. And I don't just mean "going off the [current] cliff." I mean reign it all in for the future as well, so that the debt can be wiped out in 10 years or less.

There it is.
Couldn't be summed up better.

I read this whole thread, was happy to see many things I would have said get expressed, so I don't have to (where were you guys in the Opinions on the 99% thread??!?), so only a couple comments from here and there.

-This was alluded to, but never simply stated outright: no one is proposing any tax increases.  Allowing a temporary tax reduction to expire is not an increase.  If a store has a sale, and the sale ends, they didn't just raise all their prices, they ended the sale. 

-Am I the only one who noticed Tooqs chart?


Think about that for a moment.  Think about in the context of the common claim that government has too much debt, too much deficit spending, too much waste and inefficiency and therefore jobs done by the government should be turned over to the private sector.
I could see that argument being made between about 1943 and 1952 - when government debt was used to pay private industry for the war effort. 
At any other point in time, before or since?


Then there is Swiper's:

that says that DOD, SS, and Medicare alone account for more than 50% of the entire budget - which means that if anyone is serious about reducing the "size of government" or the deficit, that is where the focus needs to be, period.
If a person drives a leased 2011 GMC Yukon 50 miles to work everyday, they don't become Mustachian by clipping coupons. 
Even anti-big-government tooqk is defending having 4 carrier groups!  Sorry, but you are falling under that "poll finds American's unrealistic, want it all" category the DoubleDown mentioned.  The military IS our "big government".  What do we do when a tyrant does bad things somewhere?  We send a few troops, along with every other country in the UN peacekeeping force.  That's what the UN is for.  Our "interests" are being threatened overseas?  Well, then our intervention is no longer being a cop.  Its being a bully.


-Just in general, when people say they want "smaller government" or to "cut spending", do they ever have any specific idea what that means?  Nothing the Republicans say officially or on record ever seems to be specific.  These discussions rarely are specific (though thankfully some here agree that military, SS, and medicaid should be "killed and eaten" - even if the person who originally said it now wants to just put the largest cow on a diet afterall). 

Exactly what evidence is there of a massive level of waste and inefficiency, over and above what happens to ANY bureaucracy of a certain size?  We aren't going to have a government the size of a single-location-independantly-owned-and-operated small business.  We aren't even going to have one the size of a regional limited liability partnership.  We might come close to a federal government the size of a mid-size international corporation - IF we divided all 50 states up into their own country (perhaps not a terrible idea, but noones suggesting it as a means to reduce waste).  In case you hadn't noticed, this is a BIG FREGGIN COUNTRY.  With a whole lot of people.  Any large bureaucracy, public or private, inherently ends up with some level of waste and inefficiency.  What reason is there to think that simply slashing budgets would automatically make it all go away?  What percentage of the total budget do you think is being wasted?  1%?  5%?  10%?  That's a still whole lot less than the military, SS, or medicare, less than all of the "safety net" programs combined, even less than "everything else" combined.  So, eliminating waste is not going to "shrink government" by any significant amount, and will not solve any problems.  What's left?  You have to start actually cutting programs.  Ones which are large enough to have an impact.  Which takes us back to the first two quotes.

tooqk4u22

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #130 on: December 07, 2012, 11:55:01 AM »

Even anti-big-government tooqk is defending having 4 carrier groups!  Sorry, but you are falling under that "poll finds American's unrealistic, want it all" category the DoubleDown mentioned.  The military IS our "big government".

Well down from 11 currently would be a pretty big cut, would it not?  We do have a lot of coasts/ports/etc to protect.  So no I don't think it falls under the category of "want it all". Also nevermind the fact that I am not a military or defense expert - so maybe we need 11 or 0 or 5, who the heck knows. 


What do we do when a tyrant does bad things somewhere?  We send a few troops, along with every other country in the UN peacekeeping force.  That's what the UN is for.  Our "interests" are being threatened overseas?  Well, then our intervention is no longer being a cop.  Its being a bully.

I agree with this and I am ok with that, which is why I said we could cut our defense spending significantly if we simply focused our defense efforts solely on defending the US.  My points earlier weren't intended to suggest that I want it all, it was quite the opposite and intended to say you can't have it all - there are always choices and consequences for those choices - you can't expect to cut the defense budget in half AND still be able to protect the world (if that is your desire).  I also said that I don't know if our protecting the world results in a net positive/negative/neutral to US or the world,  and if we stopped what would the unintended consequences (positive or negative) be - like I said I don't know. 

Also agree that we shouldn't be protecting our interests overseas, because we shouldn't and don't any actual interests overseas.

-Just in general, when people say they want "smaller government" or to "cut spending", do they ever have any specific idea what that means?  Nothing the Republicans say officially or on record ever seems to be specific.  These discussions rarely are specific (though thankfully some here agree that military, SS, and medicaid should be "killed and eaten" - even if the person who originally said it now wants to just put the largest cow on a diet afterall). 

Come on! The killed and eaten comment was more to the aspect of eliminating them AS sacred cows and not to disband the programs - as I said above a strong defense is critically important but so to is having safety net programs, but they can all be cut. 

And read my other comments about what both sides consider cuts - they are just slower spending rates - I want to see actual cuts as in our spending overall next year is lower than this year, shit I would even settle for flat.

Exactly what evidence is there of a massive level of waste and inefficiency, over and above what happens to ANY bureaucracy of a certain size?  We aren't going to have a government the size of a single-location-independantly-owned-and-operated small business.  We aren't even going to have one the size of a regional limited liability partnership.  We might come close to a federal government the size of a mid-size international corporation - IF we divided all 50 states up into their own country (perhaps not a terrible idea, but noones suggesting it as a means to reduce waste).  In case you hadn't noticed, this is a BIG FREGGIN COUNTRY.  With a whole lot of people.  Any large bureaucracy, public or private, inherently ends up with some level of waste and inefficiency.  What reason is there to think that simply slashing budgets would automatically make it all go away?  What percentage of the total budget do you think is being wasted?  1%?  5%?  10%?  That's a still whole lot less than the military, SS, or medicare, less than all of the "safety net" programs combined, even less than "everything else" combined.  So, eliminating waste is not going to "shrink government" by any significant amount, and will not solve any problems.  What's left?  You have to start actually cutting programs.  Ones which are large enough to have an impact.  Which takes us back to the first two quotes.

You are absolutely right, but that doesn't make it right not to try to curb it.  Also, lets say there is 10% waste in government - why wouldn't it help to say every department has to cut actual spending by 10% - to your point there would still likely be waste (probably less than 10%) but the overall spending would be down 10%.


Sylly

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #131 on: December 07, 2012, 12:38:24 PM »
Come on! The killed and eaten comment was more to the aspect of eliminating them AS sacred cows and not to disband the programs -

If it's any consolation, that's how I understood your statement. IMO, considering the magnitude of our financial issues, there should not be any sacred cow, in the sense that everything should be on the table. Reading the other comments in response to the 'shot and eaten' comment, my interpretation seems to have been in the minority.

JohnGalt

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #132 on: December 07, 2012, 12:54:30 PM »
Exactly what evidence is there of a massive level of waste and inefficiency, over and above what happens to ANY bureaucracy of a certain size?  We aren't going to have a government the size of a single-location-independantly-owned-and-operated small business.  We aren't even going to have one the size of a regional limited liability partnership.  We might come close to a federal government the size of a mid-size international corporation - IF we divided all 50 states up into their own country (perhaps not a terrible idea, but noones suggesting it as a means to reduce waste).  In case you hadn't noticed, this is a BIG FREGGIN COUNTRY.  With a whole lot of people.  Any large bureaucracy, public or private, inherently ends up with some level of waste and inefficiency.  What reason is there to think that simply slashing budgets would automatically make it all go away?  What percentage of the total budget do you think is being wasted?  1%?  5%?  10%?  That's a still whole lot less than the military, SS, or medicare, less than all of the "safety net" programs combined, even less than "everything else" combined.  So, eliminating waste is not going to "shrink government" by any significant amount, and will not solve any problems.  What's left?  You have to start actually cutting programs.  Ones which are large enough to have an impact.  Which takes us back to the first two quotes.

You nailed it.  In my opinion - this is the primary source of the problem right here.  This country is too big to be efficient at the federal level.  I won't go so far as to say that we should divide into 50 countries - but I do think that a small federal government (provide for national defense, foreign trade agreements, decide on interstate disputes, coordinate inter-state law enforcement, enforce the constitution, etc) should be the goal and then let each state decide and implement, individually (or collectively I suppose if say some of the smaller states in the north east wanted to combine to offer state run medical care to their residents/citizens) their own policies, public services (social security, medicare, etc), moral policies (abortion, gay marriage, drug legalities) as their citizens decide. 

smedleyb

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #133 on: December 07, 2012, 01:37:10 PM »
You nailed it.  In my opinion - this is the primary source of the problem right here.  This country is too big to be efficient at the federal level.  I won't go so far as to say that we should divide into 50 countries - but I do think that a small federal government (provide for national defense, foreign trade agreements, decide on interstate disputes, coordinate inter-state law enforcement, enforce the constitution, etc) should be the goal and then let each state decide and implement, individually (or collectively I suppose if say some of the smaller states in the north east wanted to combine to offer state run medical care to their residents/citizens) their own policies, public services (social security, medicare, etc), moral policies (abortion, gay marriage, drug legalities) as their citizens decide.

I think you just described the EU. 

I'll pass.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2012, 02:38:32 PM by smedleyb »

arebelspy

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #134 on: December 07, 2012, 03:44:58 PM »
Or rather he described the US system before federal government got so much power via stuff like interstate commerce clause rulings.
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smedleyb

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #135 on: December 07, 2012, 03:54:21 PM »
Or rather he described the US system before federal government got so much power via stuff like interstate commerce clause rulings.

And before that Civil War thingy...

dionysiandame

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #136 on: December 07, 2012, 06:12:36 PM »
Do you mean corporate welfare or like, welfare welfare, an exceedingly difficult and humiliating program to go through which was majorly reformed, but that states have the ability to modify requirements if they absolutely need to?
No, neither. I mean social security and medicare, which currently are not means tested and both target the single richest demographic in the country.

Aha! Okay I see, I see. So you've totally just given me some delicious thought meats and I hope you'll go down this rabbit hole with me? Feel bad for my husband, imagine how terrible it must be to be married to a neo-hippy turned data nut.

Okay so say we do implement some kind of means testing; where exactly where we draw the lines for qualifications? Would we, say, nullify contributions from those who make over a certain figure? Maybe $250k? Once they reach that mark could they receive payments from the government, with interest, on their contribution?

But if we only rely on those who make mid to low income for Social Security, the program risks becoming severely underfunded, while also ignoring that thing that so many people hate to admit exists; luck. (O, Fortuna, velut luna, statu variabilis) So where do we draw the line? And who gets to decide who meets the "means" and who doesn't? Are we willing to admit that the needs of the Republic (most Roman citizens understood this concept, alas it seems it has been lost on their American children) may outweigh the base needs of the Equestrians?


Bakari

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #137 on: December 07, 2012, 07:24:34 PM »
I think this may be unprecedented:

I just checked the responses to something I wrote in a political / economic discussion board, there were several replies to it and...
There is nothing that I disagree with in any of them!  I have no follow up comments.  Now if only this thread could get the attention of congress....

grantmeaname

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #138 on: December 08, 2012, 10:11:28 PM »
...
The problem with your question is that we as the citizenry have two schizophrenic expectations for SSI, and like most people who discuss the matter you're equivocating between the two. With one set of rhetoric, it's like a 401k: you pay into it, you draw out of it an amount related to what you paid into it, and you're 'entitled' to it because it's "your" money. But on the other hand, we also talk about it as a form of welfare guaranteeing that no citizen should have to die destitute. It can't be both: it fails miserably, as evidenced by the horrible fiscal state its now in. You have people on one hand demanding that means testing not be implemented into it because it's their right to draw out of their SS that they paid into, and on the other demanding that the program not be cut and benefits not be changed because it will impoverish the elderly poor.

My preference would be to means-test the shit out of SS and increase the tax expenditures subsidizing retirement savings. Then SS would lose the dual nature, and it would be only the welfare for the poor, and individual retirement savings would really be yours and nobody could take them away while the government still supported our attempts to save and retire both fiscally and morally.

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #139 on: December 09, 2012, 08:28:30 AM »
YOU talk about Social Security as if it were a form of welfare.  The problem with that idea is Social Security evolved into something else not that long after it was created.  It has been sold to the American worker and taxpayer as one of the three legs of the retirement stool at least since the 1970's.  None of the folks that are retired or have paid into the system for many years agreed to pay for yet another welfare system from which they would not benefit.  They were paying into a system from which they expected a defined benefit.

This sort of rationalized, revisionist history-based proposal of theft should be an object lesson to the younger folks reading this forum.  One of the biggest benefits of ER is getting out of wage based taxation schemes.  Asset based income is not subject to FICA and the Medicare tax.  Even if the tax cuts expire, asset based income, especially real estate income, will continue to be preferentially taxed. 

grantmeaname

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #140 on: December 09, 2012, 02:55:56 PM »
Wait, why is this my fault?

tooqk4u22

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #141 on: December 10, 2012, 10:06:18 AM »
YOU talk about Social Security as if it were a form of welfare.  The problem with that idea is Social Security evolved into something else not that long after it was created.  It has been sold to the American worker and taxpayer as one of the three legs of the retirement stool at least since the 1970's.  None of the folks that are retired or have paid into the system for many years agreed to pay for yet another welfare system from which they would not benefit.  They were paying into a system from which they expected a defined benefit.

This may be true, which was part of what I said above, but it was based on poor assumptions or factors that changed dramatically over time, so there is no reason why it can't or shouldn't be changed now - means testing may make sense at some time but right now the best change and least favorable would be to up the retirement age to 72 (even for boomers).

This sort of rationalized, revisionist history-based proposal of theft should be an object lesson to the younger folks reading this forum.  One of the biggest benefits of ER is getting out of wage based taxation schemes.  Asset based income is not subject to FICA and the Medicare tax.  Even if the tax cuts expire, asset based income, especially real estate income, will continue to be preferentially taxed.

Exactly - don't rely on current or future politicians to determine your fate.

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #142 on: December 10, 2012, 01:39:22 PM »
Generally, people with more experience are paid more because of.......their experience!  In other words, experience has value.
Spoken like a true 55+ year old ;-)

NWstubble

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #143 on: December 11, 2012, 08:30:02 AM »
Exactly - don't rely on current or future politicians to determine your fate.

Couldn't agree more!

WageSlave

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #144 on: December 18, 2012, 11:08:47 AM »
I think the takeaway from all this is that Grant shouldn't have exposed his age in his public profile.  :)

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #145 on: December 19, 2012, 01:35:52 PM »
I wish they'd go for everything: Let the previously enacted (Bush) tax cuts expire, let the payroll tax cuts expire, reign in all spending including defense, medicare, social security, come up with an overall tax code that makes sense and is less than 1 million pages, you name it. And I don't just mean "going off the [current] cliff." I mean reign it all in for the future as well, so that the debt can be wiped out in 10 years or less.

One semantic point about "reign in all spending including defense." The way that sequestration is currently written is on January 3rd there is a 10% cut to budgets. In order to meet that lower budget level requires more than just "no new programs." Some programs would need to be cut. The problem arises from the way that defense contracts are written with cancellation fees.

Imagine you sign a contract with some painters to paint your house. In your contract it will say "If they do a shitty job, you don't have to pay them" but it also will say "if you decide you no longer want them to paint it before they are done, you still have to pay 50% as a cancellation fee." All defense contracts (for the most part) have a cancellation fee.

If sequestration happens the way it is currently written, there will be HUGE cancellation fee's paid by the government to defense contractors. I work for a defense contractor and even I'll say this is in NO ONE's best interest. The government pays money for non-delivered items so they pay more and get less and have 10% less budget for the year to fix the problem.

So, if congress fixes nothing else, can they please change sequestration to a ramp down schedule? How about budget levels go down 2% every year for the next 10 years or something like that? That way, we wont have the huge amounts of waste and inefficiencies that a 10% cut in one year will cause.

nawhite

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #146 on: December 19, 2012, 01:41:36 PM »
Also a while ago, someone was saying that you can't compare historical marginal tax rates because different things were taxed. Instead one would need to look at historical effective tax rates which fortunately the Congressional Budget Office has done this for 1979 - 2005 : https://www.cbo.gov/publication/41654

In summary, effective tax rates on the poor have steadily gone down, and effective tax rates on the rich have wavered a little but we are currently on one of the lower effective rates (and the 90's were one of the higher effective rate times)

fiveoh

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #147 on: December 20, 2012, 08:19:38 PM »
Get your cash ready!  The ride is about to begin.

smedleyb

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #148 on: December 20, 2012, 08:57:41 PM »
Get your cash ready!  The ride is about to begin.

Congress just killed Santa's rally! lol.

When did compromise become such a dirty word in the hallowed halls of Congress? 


grantmeaname

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Re: Fiscal cliff
« Reply #149 on: January 07, 2013, 04:59:00 AM »
2010.