Friday, April 17, 2009

You Say Tomato, I Say Tomahto...

[I swear, fridge post tomorrow...I don't have any empty food storage containers left]

Hoo, boy! My head hurts. After yesterday's comments, I decided to research such facts as deficits, budgets, etc. After a lot of reading, I just have one request:

Don't make me do that again. It was excruciating.

Anyway, the most balanced assessment and complete numbers (that was readable) was here at politifact.com. Take some Tylenol before reading - you'll need it. And if anyone could elaborate on the difference between deficit and national debt - gently - I surely would appreciate it.

Reading it, I can see why a lot of people are upset about the numbers. They are very, very large. (Stop me if I am getting too technical here.) But I stand by yesterday's assertion that when you inherit a whole lot of problems, it costs money to fix them. In theory, President Obama could cut the deficit more right away. But then he would be unable to address long-ignored problems that in the long run will cost us even more: health care, foreign entanglements, energy dependence, to name a few. He's thinking that to bequeathe to our children an economy that isn't ready for the 21st century and a health care system that, while extremely expensive, does not cover millions of people in our country, is more damaging than leaving them with a deficit to pay off. It is a choice between 2 evils, isn't it?

I agree with Obama's approach, because he's African-American.

(Ha, ha, kidding! Just making sure you're paying attention!)

Seriously, I agree with his tendency to think long-term on these issues, while the Tea Partiers (some of whom commented yesterday - thank you!) think it is the worst idea since...since...I don't know...FDR pushed LendLease through Congress? (I'm sure one of you has a better analogy there.)

I also stand by my assertion that the Tea Party movement is at least in part headed by some mighty cynical/hypocritical people, people who benefited from the tax cuts and deficit spending of the Bush administration but who are now raising their hands in mock horror at the thought of leaving their children to pay our debts. If these people really cared about the future, they would have questioned the expenditures years ago, not just now. They say that it is because the deficit is growing larger, but that is a relative term. It's been growing larger for years now.

Also, if you are that concerned with paying off the deficit, why are you protesting taxes? Shouldn't you want to pay more taxes, to pay it off faster? From what I understand, the Obama budget returns us to 1993 tax levels, hardly an unprecedented level of taxation in our country. I'm sorry, but the Tea Party gig smacks of insincerity at the leadership levels. Hey, whatever happened to "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's"?

Look - I've been in the military. I have seen our government at its most inefficient and wasteful, believe me. I totally agree with those people who say that the government wastes boatloads of our money. You are absolutely, positively correct. What I have seen would curl your hair (whatever that means). Government, in my mind, is a necessary evil. Appealing as it is to say, "Let me keep my money, I'll make better use of it than politicians would," that approach doesn't help us solve problems involving energy policy, foreign affairs, and inadequate health care coverage for millions of Americans. I will go with the guy who at least is trying to spend some of the money on issues I consider important.

But don't worry, Tea Partiers - it's a democracy. Election 2012 isn't too far away, you know. 2010 is even closer...

Further reading:

WSJ report on the passing of the budget - makes me more aware of how complicated the whole thing is, and how much political wheeling and dealing goes on in this process...

Commentary on the protests at the Atlantic Monthly website - fairly evenhanded, I thought

Thanks to the readers who sent me those sites!

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23 comments:

  1. You know, I've been trying to avoid commenting on things like this. Mostly because I'm a hypocrite. I want things to be fixed, but I don't want in on the fixing end. I want my taxes lowered, and things to magically work out. Is there a fairy tale that I can step into?

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  2. If you find it, let me know - I'll join you!

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  3. Your posts are making me learn stuff and I am not sure I can keep this up!!

    I have to agree with you yet again. I AM in government and I've seen the nonsense first hand. However, there is always pressure to fix it immediately to stop a hemmorage, so you end up with band aids all over the place - and we all know how the stickyness wears off. SO, yes, we have to pay. We can all bitch, but if you want a long term solution - it is going to take time, you won't see results for a while, but when you do, they will be lasting.

    I will now step down off my soap box and look forward to the empty mayo jar!

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  4. Empty mayo jar? Did I miss something?

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  5. Amen, again...and thanks for the links to some specific information.

    Just out of curiousity, if you had curly hair already, what would government spending do to you?

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  6. I love your post. I am totally confused by the Tea Party thing. I mean, wasn't Bush all over this whole "stimulus" like white on rice? But now it is Obama's problem/fault from start to finish? Quoi?

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  7. Your cartoon reminds me of Monty Python's "Meaning of Life" LOL

    Other than that, you're making my head hurt! Between my dh talking about the Tulip Bubble of the 17th Century and the resurgence of tea parties (I'll take mine with milk and sugar, thank you)...

    The more I see President Obama in action, the more I like him.

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  8. Deficit = difference between income and outgo. The government collects less money than it spends. If you collect $20 from parents on your soccer team, and spend $25 on a gift for the coach, that's deficit spending.

    Debt = the accumulated totals of all the deficits from budgets gone by. The government has spent the money, so it does the equivalent of charging on a credit card and then not paying it off every month. That "credit card" is (mostly) government bonds, purchased by individuals, institutions, and other countries. Just like with credit card debt, the government owes interest as well, which adds to the debt. Every time you spend an extra $5 on the coach's gift, you are adding to your debt. Your total debt is the accumulation of all those extra $5's plus interest.

    If you can manage a household budget, you can understand the government debt/deficit situation. It's all the big numbers and use of jargon that trip people up. HTH.

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  9. If we ignore interest and the like....

    Deficit- This year I got $100 and spent $200.

    Debt- Every year I have gotten $100 and spent $200. After ten years, my debt is $1000.

    So basically- if Obama reduced the deficit to zero, all it would mean is that he wasn't adding anything to the national debt. It wouldn't be doing anything to reduce it.

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  10. i LOVE the cartoon! did larry ever say something like this?

    franzi

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  11. I've been teaching Hammurabi, Ruler of Mesopotamia this morning. I think rushing into US tax policies would give me a brain hemorrhage. But I'll try. Soon...

    Thanks for the research!!!

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  12. You explain my opinion so well. Thank you.

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  13. You, my friend, have cojones. I love it. Especially that you dare write, even in jest, that you agree with Obama because he's African-American. I heart your political posts.

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  14. No, no, you say Tomayto, I say tomato. I'm deep like that.

    I had a headache before I started reading this, trying to understand another countries politics and policies had just made it made my brain creep into a corner of my skull and hide. I am no closer to getting what this is all about but I can now spout phrases like "I read that..." and sound knowledgable. Thank you Suburban Correspondent. As always I'm on the edge of my seat for this super fridge post!

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  15. I think that I will just look forward to your fridge post....and leave it at that.

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  16. Even though the Tea Parties were held on tax day, it wasn't really about taxes. There are many people, myself included, are getting really scared about the direction of this government. We are cruising toward socialism. This president and the congress wants to control too many things in our lives.

    Although I voted for George Bush, he made some bad decisions. I feel Obama is making a mess into a catastrophe.

    The tea parties occured to show government and others the frustration of many people.

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  17. My point exactly - it wasn't about taxes - it was protesting the results of last November's election. But as I already said, 2010 is right around the corner, with 2012 not too far behind. Maybe all the protesters should concentrate on that.

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  18. Amen to commenter Shawn, politics is such a sticky-wicket to get into. I happen to agree with the tea partyers and look so forward to 2010 and 2012, this "change" we are having now is down right SCARY!!!!!

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  19. Love this! Come over and check out my post on tea parties. Not as wonderful as yours, but if you comment on it, I'd be SO happy. :)

    And love your blog. I can't believe I lost of track of you. I am putting you on my blogroll right now so I won't ever miss your brilliance again.

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  20. Socialism is NOT the worst thing in the world. We are not going to become a total socialist country. However, it's not bad to adopt some socialist programs. Look around you, your police and fireman are courtesy of the socialist government. Public schools where the majority of kids go, are courtesy of the socialist government. Oh, hey... how about that expansive military that keeps you safe... the gov't funds them too. I'm just saying there's nothing wrong with a healthy mix so long as we get the desired outcomes.

    proudliberalmom.blogspot.com

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  21. excellent post.

    lets throw a tea party in celebrations of how smart and politically astute you are!!

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  22. This is such a great post. Wow. I agree--it's not ideal, but Obama hasn't exactly stepped into an ideal situation, has he? What other solution is there besides fixing the mess we're in?

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  23. Not to make you feel worse...but the national deficit figures don't include social security and medicare obligations. The government doesn't record them even though it's required of business pension plans. So the current value of all projected medicare/social security payments over the next 75 years is $49 trillion. Which means the national debt is actually about $59 trillion.

    http://www.gao.gov/financial/citizensguide2008.pdf

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