Balanced Budget In Lifetimes of Fruitflies!

In Black-billed Bird, Emerald Green, Methodical, Northeast on April 14, 2011 at 12:15 am

Just when some of us may have tentatively wondered whether we really can trust the President again, after one of his more inspiring speeches in many months,  Ryan, like a typical spoiled child, in the subsequent House Budget Committee meeting,  declared  the President’s magnanimity and  tempered reserve, “hyper-partisan.”  That is indeed a moment for which Krugman’s blogpost “Everyone Has An Ideology” was written.  Ryan’s “The president gave a hyper-partisan speech” outburst is exactly like telling  someone who would say that that reintroducing slavery is unacceptable, “Well, that’s just your ideology.”

(And I was one of those lucky many who was told exactly that, as teacher after teacher in my southern state told me, K-12, in public schools, that the Civil War was not about slavery, it was about state’s rights.  What is the correct answer going to be on the standardized test?  Or do north and south take different tests? [right now, they do, and this is exactly why, because the Civil War is still being fought in everyone’s minds] Can you imagine Paul Ryan and Bernie Sanders writing the standardized test questions for U.S. history and social studies?  This is precisely the problem with the idea of one, unified, national standardized test.

See this fantastic article about what a rigged money-making scheme the national standards are…billions for the testmakers, and THAT money is the point, not the children, or the fact that the tests are high stakes and mean little to nothing.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/a_not_so_modest_proposal/2011/04/11/AFRTkZKD_blog.html?wprss=answer-sheet )

For those of us expecting the President to cave on medicare, social security, and tax cuts for the wealthy,  today’s speech wasn’t dragged irredeemably to the right like it normally is.  But if he is saying this to get re-elected, and then when the time for letting the tax cuts expire comes,  he revives the “I had no choice but to cave” logic…?  Especially if a double dip in the recession comes true…what if unemployment is soaring to 11% by that time? Will he claim we have no choice but to extend the Bush tax cuts indefinitely?

Since anything Obama says is going to be considered “left pole” anyway,  he should have come out singing the praise of Bernie Sanders’ “Robin Hood in Reverse” soliloquy (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n33AJfR52M8&feature=youtu.be)

Then he could have given a shout out to Mayor Gray and the 6 council members arrested and detained in jail for 7 hours over the fact that their D.C. city budget was rejected by congress because the city is still fighting for autonomy (statehood)–for the capacity to spend its taxes as it sees fit, not subject to the federal congress.  Can you imagine any other state passing its budget and then having to send it to the federal congress for approval?  And the civil war was about states rights?  Why couldn’t they iron this out then?

But the Republicans who had to deny the approximately $65,000 of D.C. tax money that funded abortions for poor women continue to be quite happy to subsidize businesses that ship all their labor to China where one child per couple is the law of the land and millions of abortions are performed.  They just count on their pro-life  factions not to think of that.

Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Florida, praising this “open, honest process” on the House Budget Committee hearing is lauding  the shut ears of the Republicans who harp over and over again about the credit card limit and families tightening their belts  while ignoring impassioned, heartfelt pleas from the likes  Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver to remember the most vulnerable among us… Rep Cleaver regaling us with how, when his grandfather was asked if he had a favorite of his 18 grandchildren, he slowly answered, “Yes.  The one that was sick, the one that was unemployed.  And as soon as they were well, they went back to being equal.”  ( I actually met him [Emmanuel Cleaver] on the sidewalk outside the congress one day…he was carrying way too many boxes for one man to carry.  I had no clue who he was, so I ran over to help him.  It was a desolate Saturday, and he and I were the only ones around.  He refused at first, but I insisted.  He asked what I was doing out there.  I said I was hoping to reach a few members of congress with my message of peace/get out of Iraq.  He said, well, I am a member of congress…and when he told me his name, I was horrified I had not recognized him. But then, months later, when I was standing in a line of hundreds of people in the hall of one of the congressional office buildings to get in to hear Bernanke/Paulson make their $700 billion bailout pitch to congress, he walked by…and recognized me! He remembered me carrying his boxes, and he shook my hand and said some warm words…as small and as ridiculous as this all sounds, to me it is proof positive that he is all for the nobodies in the world, and when he tells his stories about the poor, they are rooted in all too direct experience.)

These refrains occur over and again… Democrats balance the budget, Republicans create soaring deficits in their tenure…then when Democrats are in power the Republicans declare we have no choice but to cut, cut, cut, whining, “Oh, I just hope we will ever see a balanced budget in MY lifetime! ”

Are even lifetimes subject to creative accounting tricks of the Republicans?  Are we talking about the lifespan of fruit flies?  So it seems, because a mere 3 years ago there was nary a mention of deficits.   Were none of these Republicans alive when we had $69.2 billion surplus in 1998, $76.9 billion in 1999, and $46 billion in 2000?   And weren’t they whining the exact same refrain about hoping to see a balanced budget “in my lifetime” in the Clinton years?


The last time we handed the Republicans the balanced budget they wanted on a silver platter,  they took handed it straight to Halliburton, Blackwater, and all their corporate cronies.  Isn’t the whole point of remaining solvent on our national debt to maintain investor confidence so that investors can invest in their stock market inventions that have nothing to do with most of us?

If you have taken out a 4-year-degree student loan, do you stop at the 2-year mark to “balance your budget”?

Apparently a large percentage of Americans agree that would be just the time to “tighten your belt,” abandon the degree, and go to a low-wage job that does not require a degree to pay off the first 2 years of debt.

This is the ludicrous logic of belt tightening at the very moment when we could be heading to the next dip, or just an unending decade-long stagnation like Japan…where, not only are their birth rates low because they feel they can’t afford children (according to a quote from a recent front page Washington Post article), but now they have a huge elderly population having their golden years a little too luminescent with all the radiation falling in the form of rain, if we are to play in Brook’s poetry of everyday life.  “It’s a hard, hard, hard rain’s a gonna fall, ” indeed.–I wonder if Dylan sang that in China, what went through their minds, since they’re even closer to Japan than we are…

  1. Hello:

    I am a regular reader of Dr. Krugman and noticed your comments today.

    There is a saying in Canada that if you live next to the elephant, you need to understand the elephant.

    I thought I understood America but over the last years, I have come to the point where I do not understand your country at all.

    What kind of a future do Americans have if the politicians seek to make them poorer, with poor education, no hope and cares nothing about the less fortunate that is in all societies, dwindling values of their homes and pensions, thinks that paying less taxes will buy some kind of nirvana, has a pathological hatred of government, believes in the separation of church and state and keeps a military ten times the size it really needs?

    While it is easy to list off all that ills America, solutions and actions to take place needs to come to the fore – and solutions whose end goal is to create an America based on equality, creativity, caring, industry, inquisitive, educated and concern for the planet would be my platform.

    While Canada has a different political system inherited from Britain, the major social programmes like medicare and unemployment insurance were initiatives the left of centre New Democratic Party and adopted by the centrist ruling Liberal party
    as a way of maintaining power.

    A similar party needs to be created in the US to counter the loonie right or otherwise American will end up adopting their policies.

    The new party needs to be enough of a threat to the Democrats by a) gaining enough seats in the house of representatives and senate to hold the balance of power and b) vote en-block for their party’s platform and c) forcing the Democrats to adopt legislation need to
    get America back on track.

    To get there, a grass roots collective needs to grow and nuture which provides an alternative image of what it means to be an American and the positive things in life, no matter how small, that we can do to bring about change at the local to national level.

    Are you the person to start the movement?

    Jim Collier

  2. What a lovely note, Jim. Alas, if we are the elephant, Canada is the swan…svelte, effortlessly graceful, floating, independent, preens her own feathers, but keeps them glistening white, not worm-eaten…I could not agree with your assessment more.

    I felt so despondent about the lack of “recommends” for my comments today, compared to the thousands for others, all of which are deeply committed to the current 2-party system…I would be absolutely the last one to lead, but I have this cockamamie notion that all the regular commentators together can indeed represent an alternative to both parties, a grass roots uprising, if you will…if nothing else, our speech is truly free, whereas even Krugman is paid to write his columns…all we see and hear in the public eye, from our pols to our papers to video is paid speech, and consumes outrageous sums of money, which are never compared to military expenditures, etc. All the money politicians spend to buy advertising and to get their message out amounts to a travesty and distortion, fundamentally, of any notion of public service. Billions of dollars just on advertising that could be feeding our children and building solar panels…

    Thus, if nothing else, the blogs rest as the final frontier of free speech, and a restoration of the original intention of a peoples’ press. It seems a lot more successful, in action, however, in the Mid-East, than here–for a multitude of reasons, we in the U.S. are distracted, as opposed to civically engaged. And the propaganda and jargon spewed by FOX and friends has a way of perpetuating itself into mass culture, even though it is not very deep, just like many people who weren’t original hippies in the 60’s went around saying “groovy” and at least pretending to be “counterculture,” while keeping the meaning vague…that’s why I think left and right in this country are more similar than different, in that we are both engaged, and that is actually a remarkably rare condition these days…the vast middle is profoundly apathetic, I would say apoplectically obtunded, and unarousable–but I couldn’t even get 26 people to agree with that remark on the Times site the other day…so then I despair that I am a complete looney and these are all pipe dreams, and I’m ready to fold the blog down and stop commenting on the Times site…until the next irresistible hook pulls me back in…
    Doug Terry is very much in the mold of the old regime newsman who grew up with the fairness doctrine…and his comments are profoundly under-recommended and ignored…even though that was the mainstream until just a few years ago….this new rabid-dog mode seems to need to play itself out long enough for left and right to understand they’re the only ones who even have a concept of nation, fairness, freedom, etc…literally, no one else cares.

    As I said before, I’m not holding my breath for revolution here anytime in the next several decades, if ever. I think we’ll continue to decline politically while a few of us agonize over the death throes of our democracy, and environmental disasters subsume us more and more frequently and render all our political beliefs and debate moot.

    The fact that so many Canadians comment on the Times site, but I don’t know of any Canadian papers, or anyone in the U.S. who has a clue what happens in Canada, let alone Egypt or Japan, shows how low we are sinking. Thousands of schools across the nation right now are packed with millions of U.S. children who have no clue that there was an earthquake, tsunami, and a nuclear disaster on par with Chernobyl recently. I was just talking to a substitute teacher from the mid-west (who is doing fantastic work) at a protest at the White House this week, and we are so woefully uneducated, I don’t know where we should start.

    But at least knowing our neighbors are interested in us gives me some much needed optimism and hope…perhaps the Canadians are the ones to inspire the U.S. into revolution, as tiny Tunisia did for Egypt…!

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