Monday, April 09, 2018

No, The Federal Budget Is Not Like Your Family's Budget


I just got back from Thailand. I was traveling for 26 hours. I went the wrong way 'round-- through Doha instead of someplace normal on the way like Shanghai or Hong Kong. So it took 26 hours. I'm beat. For anyone wondering why I go to Thailand so often... easy: I take an awful to of medics and some of it is very expensive-- even with insurance. One that treats neuropathy costs $4,000 a month. But I get it in Thailand for $600 a month. But everything is inexpensive like that. (Plus I love Thailand, so it's a pleasure. Still... I bought months worth of stuff this time.)

Anyway, while I was flying over India or somewhere, a post I wrote in advance came up, Destroying America's Social Contract-- Will Paul Ryan's Dream Come True?. A few people I had asked to help me out with it e-mailed me while I was flying. I added the first one I saw as an update, Pavlina Tcherneva's. She's a brilliant economist and I was so thrilled to get that feedback from her. So here it is again, along with comments from an old friend and two new ones-- Alan Grayson, Scott Wallace and Amy Vilela. All three are running for Congress this year/ First Pavlina again:
"The political establishment has convinced the American public that a balanced budget is the fiscally responsible thing to do. Nothing can be further from the truth. Every dollar that the government taxes (i.e., takes away from US families and firms) and that is not returned back to the economy via government spending is a lost dollar to the economy. In other words, surpluses drain money from the private sector while deficits add dollars to it. Now Republicans understand this very well. The large tax cuts will produce deficits which will in turn fill someone's coffers, but they prefer to fill the coffers of the wealthiest families. Once they've done that, they demand that the budget be balanced on the backs of middle income families, by cutting programs and entitlements, that benefit the majority of households. It is perfectly sensible to demand greater government deficit spending. But the responsible thing to do is to demand that this kind of government spending is done for the public purpose and in a way that supports the incomes of the vast majority of families, not the select few."
Do you know who Scott Wallace is? He's know as Scott Wallace but his full name is Henry Scott Wallace. His grandfather was the greatest vice president America ever had. Got it now? Henry Wallace, who served under FDR from 1941 through 1945. He has his own fascinating story of course, but we'll save that for another day. His grandson is running for Congress in the new first district of Pennsylvania, basically Bucks County. Before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court de-gerrymandered it a couple of months ago it was PA-08, Brian Fitzpatrick's district. Under the new boundaries Hillary would have won 49.1% to 47.1% and the district is much more competitive now. There's no reason why Scott won't be the new congressman come next January. "Republicans knowingly lied that their trillion and a half dollars in unfunded tax cuts would be free, due to "economic growth," he wrote while I was flying back. "Not a single reputable economist agreed. They planned all along to use the exploding deficit as an excuse to cut life-or-death programs for regular people-- Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Destroying entitlement programs has been their Holy Grail for decades. And now they can taste it. Every single Republican owns this callousness, this devotion to the 1% over the 99%. Now let's make them pay for it." Sounds like our kind of congressman, right?

Amy Vilella, out in Nevada does too. She's running in the north Las Vegas district Ruben Kihuen is giving up. It's a pretty blue bastion and if Amy gets through the primary, she'll be another solid progressive in Congress next year. And she's real smart: "As someone who has spent her entire career in finance, as an executive level accountant, the notion that the federal government's budget can be compared to a household budget is absurd. The federal government prints its own currency and levies taxes, payable only in that same currency. For starters, that's not how our families operate, but beyond that, the idea that American households do not spend more than they bring in is simply not true. In fact, our entire financial system is predicated on the fact that Americans do the majority of their spending-- especially for major purchases, like homes, cars, and higher education-- via credit. Debt, for better or worse, fuels American consumerism, and many of these so-called fiscal conservatives have been the ones pushing financialization into every facet of our lives. A balanced budget amendment is not about fiscal responsibility; it's about gutting the public sector and eliminating as many of the vital social programs that poor, working, and middle class Americans depend on."

And Grayson? Well even if I didn't mention whose quote this was, you might have been able to guess by the tenor and the rhythm: "Ayn Rand, and her humorless and pious court jester Paul Ryan, have done more to rationalize sociopathic behavior than anyone since Beelzebub. No, selfishness is not a virtue. Selflessness is the virtue. If you’re going to insist that selfishness is a virtue, then why leave out arrogance, anger, laziness, stupidity, cowardice, dishonesty and the ever-popular gluttony?" I CAN NOT wait to see Grayson back in Congress, making Republicans cringe and feel ashamed again!

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At 5:35 AM, Anonymous Pokey said...

I do not know the history of the word "entitlement," but it has become a pejorative used by people who wish to eliminate the poor and middle classes. Social Security and Medicare, for example, are based on taxes paid by the recipients. While I agree that every citizen should be entitled to free education, medical care, and a decent roof over his or her head, I would avoid using the word entitlement and encourage others to do the same.

At 5:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pokey, when a society forces very nearly half (so far) of its denizens into poverty and that society is also highly and delusionally religious, those that have will create phobic derision for those who have NOT.

The term 'entitlement' is one such perjorative in this shithole society. I'm actually surprised that it isn't 'demonic entitlement' or something similar as American Christo-Nazis believe (yes, TRULY) that their god gives freely of his love by making the favored very rich and the dis-favored very poor. Yes, American Christo-Nazis truly believe that their god hates.

A pre-requisite for making a society gullible to such "official" horseshit is, naturally, you must first make them stupid. Now do you understand why education in this shithole has been destroyed? Do you now understand why Reagan and cheney/bush could win elections run on the very issue of this horseshit (also the ever-popular hate)?

And, again, do you now understand how shitty the democraps are since they, even more than the Rs, had offered MORE austerity instead of trying to educate stupid americans?

At 6:08 AM, Anonymous Hone said...

My fingers are crossed for Grayson's return to Congress. But I am certain that evil forces will rise to smear him as much as possible, as they did last time. He is way too honest and forthright, which is why I like him so much! I hope Alan can fight them off this time. Go Grayson!

At 6:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Grayson's biggest barrier is the state he lives in. Voters in his old district elected him in the last anti-red wave, but they also UN-elected him when the wave switched to anti-blue.

He lost a statewide PRIMARY race last cycle. FL is not the best place for a guy like him. I suspect the DSCC also didn't want him in the senate.

So... Grayson has to overcome Nazi voters in FL *AND* his own party.

Again... how shitty must a party become before good people leave? He's rich. He could run an independent campaign. Why does he insist on staying in a party that doesn't want his type?

At 8:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had hoped that Grayson would recognize that he has more influence in the House and forget about running for the Senate last time, because I was pretty sure that the corrupt cabal which runs the "democratic" Party would add him to their "Dolchstoss" list. You know, like they did to Bernie. If he should return to the House, he should make that body his platform to address America's ills. Bernie and Liz Warren already have the Senate (not that they couldn't use that position more effectively than they have). The exposure of the Republican and Blue Dog / "New Dem" corruption would be improved.

At 6:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personal question - what is the name of the drug you buy in Thailand for neuropathy? My spouse has extreme neuropathy in his feet after chemo treatment and it would be wonderful to find something to help this debilitating problem.

At 6:44 PM, Blogger DownWithTyranny said...

It's an experimental drug for epilepsy that my doctor says can work for severe peripheral neuropathy. Mine is also post-chemo. The name is Vimpat (lacosamide). Medicare won't cover it:


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