Yeah, if you put it that way, Obama is a very successful president

December 18, 2014

Got this chart from the national Democrats, The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC):

Obama is a very successful president.

Obama’s presidency is a success, by the GOP’s favorite numbers.

An old friend on Facebook told me he wants verification of the numbers, because he doesn’t feel it. Few of us below the very, very rich feel it — which is what Obama’s been saying, and what Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Paul Krugman and Robert Reich have been saying in various ways daily.  That’s what the struggle on income inequality is all about.

But the numbers check out.  Go see for yourself (some of the sites I list below update monthly, or daily, so if you’re not looking at this in December 2014, they may vary; look for the link to historic numbers).

I wrote:

Numbers are dated in Consumer Confidence (but much higher than I thought! See below).

But the other numbers are well published.

Dow Jones Index plugged at least nightly on NBC, ABC, CBS and PBS — hourly at least on CNN and MSNBC (I don’t get the latter two).

http://stockcharts.com/freecharts/historical/djia1900.html

Unemployment is updated monthly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics — and again, plugged on national news when it happens.

http://www.bls.gov/bls/unemployment.htm

GDP growth:

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.KD.ZG
and
http://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/glance.htm

US deficits as % of GDP:

Bloomberg press report:
http://www.bloomberg.com/…/u-s-deficit-decline-to-2-8…

St. Louis Branch, Federal Reserve:
http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/FYFSGDA188S

Consumer Confidence is tracked by the anti-Obama Conference Board:

http://www.conference-board.org/data/consumerdata.cfm

Reuters report on October Consumer Confidence report:

http://www.reuters.com/…/us-usa-economy-confidence…

As a socialist anti-free market guy, Obama is the worst in history.

Now will you listen to Obama when he tells you that we need to do something OTHER than what the GOP says, to make the growth something YOU feel? Please?

So tomorrow, and every day until January 21, 2017, when your very conservative and otherwise not stupid friends tell you we must “cut government” because “America can’t afford to be great any longer,” instead of flipping them the bird like you usually do, send them here to get the links to look at the numbers for themselves.

Don’t take my word for it, nor the DCCC’s word for it. Look for yourself, using the sites I’ve listed above.

Now ask: Why can’t Congress figure this out, and give Obama some support?


Can America afford to be great anymore? Many say, “no”

May 1, 2014

A friend posted this on Facebook:

“As of today our total national debt is roughly $17 1/2 trillion. Of that number nearly $12 1/2 trillion is publicly owed. Can you even get your mind around it?”

To which I responded:

As a portion of GDP, our national debt was much greater in 1946.

So, the Congress did what it had to do.

Congress borrowed money to educate millions of returning veterans, and to subsidize their homes. The greatest education aid and housing aid programs in history, both in the GI Bill.

Poster honoring the Marshall Plan, to rebuild Europe after World War II -- on borrowed money.

Poster honoring the Marshall Plan, to rebuild Europe after World War II — on borrowed money.

Congress borrowed money to give it away to our allies in World War II, to rebuild their industrial capabilities, on the assumption that an ally with a strong industrial base and good economy is stronger, and can come to our aid if and when we need it.

Congress borrowed money to give it away to our enemies in World War II, to rebuild their industrial capabilities, because a nation with a good economy and health trade tends to stay out of war. Those nations became our allies.

Congress borrowed to build the greatest road system in history, connecting nearly every corner of America — under the pretense that such a road system would allow us to move troops and armaments quickly from coast to coast in event of a defense emergency.

Congress borrowed to finance space exploration, to go to the Moonbecause, you know, it’s hard.

Congress borrowed to build a library in every county in America, and fill it with books — so that if there were ever nuclear war, everybody who survived would be close to the information necessary to rebuild civilization.

Congress borrowed to build the world’s greatest air transportation system, with airports for sport, business and commercial aviation all over the place.

Congress borrowed to build sewer systems and water systems, doubling down on public health service spending, to prevent disease and make health people.

Funny things happened. Our economy boomed. The world economy boomed. Millions of new jobs were created, filled by people who paid whopping taxes. And the debt sorta melted away.
___________

When I hear people complain about our national debt, and how we as Americans must stop spending money, I hear them saying, “We cannot afford to be great anymore. Our time as the world’s leading economy and leading democracy has passed. It will be a lot cheaper for the nation to curl into a national fetal position, and then taxes won’t be so high.”

That’s what I hear the GOP saying, when they urge tax cuts for the rich, while taking away food stamps from the families of our military deployed overseas.  (Can you imagine anything like that happening during World War II? Not even “interned” families of soldiers went hungry.)

In 1946 — and in 1948, 1950, 1952, 1956, 1960, 1962, 1964, 1968, and other election years — there were plenty of Americans who said “we can’t afford the Marshall Plan; we can’t afford foreign aid; we can’t afford to build all these roads; we can’t afford to go to the Moon; we can’t afford to pay for college (or other schooling) for all these veterans/students.”

What would America look like, had leaders listened to those people, and then NOT borrowed the money to build America?  What would the world look like?

I don’t think George Washington spent 8 years at war to curl into the fetal position and give up.

Am I wrong?

The future of an America that is afraid to be great, even if we need to borrow money to do it? (Image from Brogan Knight)

The future of an America that is afraid to be great, even if we need to borrow money to do it? (Image from Brogan Knight)


Bernie Sanders’ righteous anger at deficits caused by “two wars, unpaid for”

November 21, 2011

Slightly more complete story at Raw Story:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Thursday urged the congressional debt committee not to propose any cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.

“This country does in fact have a serious deficit problem,” he said to about 200 people packed in the Senate Budget Committee room.

“But the reality is that the deficit was caused by two wars — unpaid for. It was caused by huge tax breaks for the wealthiest people in this country. It was caused by a recession as result of the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street. And if those are the causes of the deficit, I will be damned if we’re going to balance the budget on backs of the elderly, the sick, the children, and the poor. That’s wrong.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) speaks to 200+ attending the Hands Off Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid Summit on Nov. 15th in Washington DC.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) speaks to 200+ attending the Hands Off Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid Summit on Nov. 15th in Washington DC.


How did we get into this deficit mess?

July 26, 2011

From the New York Times:

Costs of policy changes under two presidents, Bush and Obama - New York Times chart

From the New York Times, article by Teresa Tritch, "How the deficit got this big"

Teresa Tritch wrote the story, published on July 24.  Sources for the chart were the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.


Hard truths about the debt ceiling and uncertainty in the Treasury market

July 16, 2011

Two organizations provide information to Congress in an unbiased manner, with great care for accuracy and completeness of information:  The Congressional Research Service (CRS), an arm of the Library of Congress, and the General Accountability Office (GAO), formerly the General Accounting Office.  Both agencies share the unique status of being organs of the Congress, and not the executive branch.

Consequently, we and Congress should give particular consideration to a report issued by GAO on February 22, 2011:

Debt Limit: Delays Create Debt Management Challenges and Increase Uncertainty in the Treasury Market

GAO-11-203 February 22, 2011
Highlights Page (PDF)   Full Report (PDF, 52 pages)   Accessible Text   Recommendations (HTML)

Summary

GAO has prepared this report to assist Congress in identifying and addressing debt management challenges. Since 1995, the statutory debt limit has been increased 12 times to its current level of $14.294 trillion. The Department of the Treasury (Treasury) recently notified Congress that the current debt limit could be reached as early as April 5, 2011, and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that under current law debt subject to the limit will exceed $25 trillion in 2021. This report (1) describes the actions that Treasury traditionally takes to manage debt near the limit, (2) analyzes the effects that approaching the debt limit has had on the market for Treasury securities, and (3) describes alternative mechanisms that would permit consideration of the link between policy decisions and the effect on debt when or before decisions are made. GAO analyzed Treasury and market data; interviewed Treasury officials, budget and legislative experts, and market participants; and reviewed practices in selected countries.

The debt limit does not control or limit the ability of the federal government to run deficits or incur obligations. Rather, it is a limit on the ability to pay obligations already incurred. While debates surrounding the debt limit may raise awareness about the federal government’s current debt trajectory and may also provide Congress with an opportunity to debate the fiscal policy decisions driving that trajectory, the ability to have an immediate effect on debt levels is limited. This is because the debt reflects previously enacted tax and spending policies. Delays in raising the debt limit create debt and cash management challenges for the Treasury, and these challenges have been exacerbated in recent years by a large growth in debt. In the past, Treasury has often used extraordinary actions, such as suspending investments or temporarily disinvesting securities held in federal employee retirement funds, to remain under the statutory limit. However, the extraordinary actions available to the Treasury have not kept pace with the growth in borrowing needs. For example, unlike the past, the amount potentially provided by the extraordinary actions for 1 month in fiscal year 2010 was less than the monthly increase in debt subject to the limit for most months of the year. As a result, once debt reaches the limit, Congress will likely have less time than in prior years to debate raising the debt limit before there are disruptions to government programs and services. This trend is likely to continue given the long-term fiscal outlook. Failure to raise the debt limit in a timely manner could have serious negative consequences for the Treasury market and increase borrowing costs. Also, some of the actions that Treasury has taken to manage the amount of debt near the limit add uncertainty to the Treasury market. In the past, Treasury has postponed auctions and dramatically reduced the amount of bills outstanding, which compromised the regularity of auctions and the certainty of supply on which Treasury relies to achieve the lowest borrowing cost over time. GAO’s analysis suggests that borrowing costs modestly increased during debt limit debates in 2002, 2003, and most recently in 2010. In addition, managing debt near the debt limit diverts Treasury’s limited resources away from other cash and debt management issues at a time when Treasury already faces challenges in lengthening the average maturity of its debt portfolio. Observers and participants suggested improving the link between the spending and revenue decisions that drive debt and changes in the debt limit. Better alignment could be possible if decisions about the debt level occur in conjunction with spending and revenue decisions as opposed to the after-the-fact approach now used. This practice, which is similar to practices used in some other countries, might facilitate efforts to change the fiscal path by highlighting the implications of tax and spending decisions on changes in debt. To avoid potential disruptions to Treasury markets and help inform fiscal policy decisions in a timely way, Congress should consider ways to better link decisions about the debt limit with decisions about spending and revenue. Treasury provided technical comments on a draft of this report, which GAO incorporated as appropriate.

Recommendations

Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from “In process” to “Open,” “Closed – implemented,” or “Closed – not implemented” based on our follow up work.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

Matters for Congressional Consideration

Recommendation: The projections of a growing debt burden have raised concerns both in Congress and in the public. Well-designed budget processes and metrics can help as Congress and the President seek to address the federal government’s long-term fiscal challenge. The current design of the debt limit does not engender or facilitate debate over specific tax or spending proposals and their effect on debt. In addition, the uncertainty it creates can lead to disruptions in the Treasury market and in turn to higher borrowing costs. To avoid these potential disruptions to the Treasury market and to help inform the fiscal policy debate in a timely way, Congress may wish to consider ways to better link decisions about the debt limit with decisions about spending and revenue. Such a process would build on the approach used in 2008 and 2009 when Congress passed and the President signed three laws that were expected to increase borrowing with a corresponding increase in the debt limit. This report presents a number of approaches that could serve as a basis for better linking decisions about spending and revenue with decisions about the debt limit.

Status: In process

Comments: When we determine what steps the Congress has taken, we will provide updated information.

Use the links near the top of the report to get to the full report.

Pay particular attention to this, repeated from above:

The debt limit does not control or limit the ability of the federal government to run deficits or incur obligations. Rather, it is a limit on the ability to pay obligations already incurred. While debates surrounding the debt limit may raise awareness about the federal government’s current debt trajectory and may also provide Congress with an opportunity to debate the fiscal policy decisions driving that trajectory, the ability to have an immediate effect on debt levels is limited. This is because the debt reflects previously enacted tax and spending policies. Delays in raising the debt limit create debt and cash management challenges for the Treasury, and these challenges have been exacerbated in recent years by a large growth in debt.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Michael A. Ryder.

_____________

Wall of shame:  Bloggers and others who do not have a clue


%d bloggers like this: