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Old 10-26-2010, 07:22 AM   #1
Drysdale
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Default How about

Spending less? (Pipe dream)

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...IDDLTopStories
Sacrosanct tax breaks, including deductions on mortgage interest, remain on the table just weeks before the deficit commission issues recommendations on policies to pare back with the aim of balancing the budget by 2015.

The tax benefits are hugely popular with the public but they have drawn the panel's focus, in part because the White House has said these and other breaks cost the government about $1 trillion a year.

At stake, in addition to the mortgage-interest deductions, are child tax credits and the ability of employees to pay their portion of their health-insurance tab with pretax dollars. Commission officials are expected to look at preserving these breaks but at a lower level, according to people familiar with the matter.

The officials are also looking at potential cuts to defense spending and a freeze on domestic discretionary spending. It is unclear if the 18-member panel will be able to reach an agreement on any of the items by a Dec. 1 deadline.

Even if they do reach an agreement, any curbs on current tax breaks would likely face tough sledding in Congress. The banking and real-estate lobbies have fiercely rebuffed efforts to rescind the mortgage-interest deduction in the past.
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Still, officials have found there aren't any easy ways to balance the budget, and they are expected to steer clear of more polarizing issues like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and a broad rewrite of the tax code in their short-term recommendations. The panel could still make long-term recommendations to change these issues, but they would be less concrete.

"My concern is that the talk of tax expenditures is couched as 'tax reform,' but it's not tax reform," said Alison Fraser, director of the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at the conservative Heritage Foundation. "It's simply a revenue-raising exercise."

Committee officials plan to try to broker a deal in November, after the midterm elections. They have until Dec. 1 to win the support of 14 of the commission's 18 members to endorse a final report. It is possible that the panel's Democrats and Republicans would issue separate reports if they can't agree, people familiar with the process said.

President Barack Obama created the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform in February, amid concern from lawmakers and economists that the growing budget deficit could damage the country's long-term fiscal condition. The bipartisan panel, made up mostly of lawmakers but also business and labor leaders, has met for months, at times more constructively than many expected.

"There's a lot of potential for agreement on the committee," said panel member Alice Rivlin, a senior fellow at the liberal-leaning Brookings Institution.

If the commission reaches a consensus, House or Senate leaders could agree to bring some of the changes up for a vote, perhaps early next year, although there is no deadline.

To balance the budget by 2015, excluding interest payments on debt, means officials would need to find roughly $240 billion in annual savings, according to commission documents. Panel officials also hope to issue recommendations that would "meaningfully improve" the country's long-term fiscal situation.

Even though officials are focusing on issues where they believe they can get broad agreement, they will likely face stiff resistance from certain lawmakers and interest groups. Some Republicans are expected to label any caps on tax breaks as a backdoor way of raising taxes. Several lawmakers' offices declined to comment on specific proposals as negotiations aren't yet under way.

Committee officials have also focused on the $700 billion in annual defense spending, which accounts for more than half of domestic discretionary spending. Critics say the government could cut some of the $400 billion spent on outside contractors. But many conservative groups have said cutting military spending would be a mistake, citing national security risks.

Changes to Medicaid and Medicare are unlikely to be recommended despite their looming presence in the U.S. budget. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that if laws don't change, federal spending on health care alone will grow from 5% of gross domestic product in 2010 to 10% in 2035.

Commission officials looked closely at making short-term changes to Social Security, but talks shifted in recent weeks toward incorporating those ideas into a longer-term plan. This is in part because any changes would probably have to be phased in over years, delaying the budgetary impact for at least a decade.

"My sense from talking to members of the commission is that's where they are focusing [on the long-term recommendation], Social Security reform," said Martin Feldstein, an economics professor at Harvard University who served as a senior official in the Reagan administration.

It remains unclear whether the panel will reach a consensus with negotiations taking place right after the midterm elections, when Washington tends to buzz with political jostling. The imminent debate over whether to extend all or part of the Bush-era tax cuts could also complicate its efforts. The panel isn't expected to weigh in on this issue.

The White House said this month that the budget deficit for the last fiscal year was $1.3 trillion, the second highest in 60 years. The government's revenue was roughly $2.16 trillion in the year ended Sept. 30, compared with $3.46 trillion in outlays.

The White House hasn't signed off on any of the potential proposals as it's waiting for the panel to complete its work.

Mr. Obama "expects that the fiscal commission will continue the process of discussing and analyzing a wide range of ideas and it is premature to describe any specific idea as a conclusion of a commission that has not even voted yet," White House spokesman Amy Brundage said.

The commission "is the last best hope right now for getting some substantive movement on the issue of the deficit, the debt, and the financial disaster we're facing," Sen. Judd Gregg (R., N.H.), a member of the commission, said in a recent interview
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Old 10-26-2010, 08:20 AM   #2
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"My concern is that the talk of tax expenditures is couched as 'tax reform,' but it's not tax reform," said Alison Fraser, director of the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at the conservative Heritage Foundation. "It's simply a revenue-raising exercise."
This.

I know I shouldn't be so baffled by something that's gone on for ages now, but it really is disconcerting to see virtually no efforts made in spend reduction while at the same time potentially crushing the middle class with tax hikes (the mortgage and healthcare issues alone will be very painful for a middle class already in trouble).
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Old 10-26-2010, 08:30 AM   #3
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It almost makes me want to subscribe to the black-helicopter crap. (ie. They're trying to bankrupt the country so that they can get rid of the Constitution). Almost. Not quite. But it's less laughable now a days.
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Old 10-26-2010, 08:54 AM   #4
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While philosophically I'm against tax breaks like the mortgage deduction thing, it does seem like they're overly quick to target it. I'm guessing they'll propose it and then immediately fold as soon as folks object with "Oh, the American public just doesn't want us to fix the deficit, they're not willing to make any sacrifices", and then keep on going with the $1.3+ trillion a year deficits.

And then they'll get confused & upset when they don't get re-elected. "The American people just don't appreciate how intelligent and wonderful we are"
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Old 10-27-2010, 01:26 PM   #5
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the White House has said these and other breaks cost the government about $1 trillion a year.

That statement by itself shows how screwed up the whole business in Washington and everywhere else for that matter really is.

How does any tax break "COST" the government? They confiscate our money, admittedly with our blessing at least in part, to DO THINGS individuals can't or shouldn't. "They" do not provide a service that we d not already pay for (because we pretty much pay for it all excluding foriegn tariffs and stuff like that.)
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Old 10-27-2010, 01:27 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Michael Cumberlan View Post
admittedly with our blessing at least in part,
Not with my blessing. I fear the men with the guns, who will come and harm or incarcerate me if I don't pay out.
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Old 10-28-2010, 11:07 AM   #7
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Social Contract.
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Old 10-28-2010, 11:46 AM   #8
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Never signed it. And they changed the terms long ago.
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Old 10-28-2010, 06:34 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Drysdale
Never signed it. And they changed the terms long ago.
You don't sign the social contract. You allow it to continue to exist by not rebelling or voting for people who would change or replace it. (I don't see you leading a rebellion, Drysdale.) I understand your point, that you personally oppose much of what your government does with what it taxes from you, but it was non sequitur. Just because the government does not have your consent doesn't mean that it doesn't have the consent of the governed.
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Old 10-28-2010, 07:11 PM   #10
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Actually, it would seem Drysdale makes a point of voting for folks who would change the social contract. It's just there's not enough votes to remove the establishment.

Jared Diamond makes the insightful comment in Guns, Germs and Steel that while the social contract is lovely philosophy, there's never been a government in all of history which has been formed by some sort of orderly "please apply here and agree to these terms" social contract. In the end, it's who's got the guns and is willing to use them (and is effective at using them).
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Old 10-28-2010, 07:37 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by FafnerMorell View Post
Actually, it would seem Drysdale makes a point of voting for folks who would change the social contract. It's just there's not enough votes to remove the establishment.
Bingo.

Rebellions are messy and a this point in time, would not only be ineffective, but also suicidal. Hell, a rebellion of one would probably hurt any cause I wanted to promote as well.
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Old 10-28-2010, 09:08 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Beal View Post
Social Contract.
I dont believe in Noblesse oblige. In reality, I would like to see every pretentious ass who thinks he is on top,
lose everything to confiscation, and join the hoi polloi.

There is no social contract. The rich pay what they must, to keep the lower orders in check. And no more.
And they bitch about paying it.

http://www.offthechartsblog.org/shared-prosperity-lost/

I wish I could cut and paste that chart. It shows exactly what I mean
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Old 10-28-2010, 09:19 PM   #13
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IN the modern world...civil war in the classic sense is suicide. The Prez can redeploy the 82nd inside 24 hours.
Lincoln had no such ability.

However, the fall of the USSR shows that it is not immpossible, just difficult
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Old 10-29-2010, 03:16 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Fafner
Actually, it would seem Drysdale makes a point of voting for folks who would change the social contract. It's just there's not enough votes to remove the establishment.
I couldn't agree more.

Originally Posted by Fafner
Jared Diamond makes the insightful comment in Guns, Germs and Steel that while the social contract is lovely philosophy, there's never been a government in all of history which has been formed by some sort of orderly "please apply here and agree to these terms" social contract.
Of course not, but the contract is between the government and the governed. "Governed" is plural. Michael Cumberlain wrote about "our blessing," not Drysdale's blessing. Perhaps the people of this country need to rethink their contract. Perhaps our government is violating the original contract and the majority either don't know or don't care. But the fact remains that the people allow this government to exist and to do what it does, regardless of Drysdale's musings. As long as that is true, it operates with the consent of the governed. That's all it takes.

You don't "sign" the social contract. It's not a literal piece of paper or even an oath, but it is an agreement that we affirm every day we allow ourselves to be governed.

Originally Posted by Fafner
In the end, it's who's got the guns and is willing to use them (and is effective at using them).
I started that book but grew bored after the 23rd case study on suitable precursors for agricultural domestication in Butfukistan. I don't necessarily disagree with his premise, but the book read far too much like a thesis to interest me. The other thing that bothers me is my belief that academia in general is biased in this arena. These are subject you don't discuss, unless it is to provide proof of the more...progressive stance on the issue. And I guess I can't blame them. Look at all the flack that Herrnstein and Murray took for hinting at the possibility of a genetic link between race and intelligence. Today's academics are all too aware that not too long ago, it was their brethren who sparked the eugenics movement. No one wants to be the Nazi. I guess my point is that I don't think I want to read someone try to prove their case for racial superiority, but at the same time it seems like anyone trying to prove the opposite is just saying what everyone wants to hear.
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Old 10-30-2010, 07:46 AM   #15
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I've often been intruiged by the notion of governments as actually being social contracts - in the form that, "Hey, I don't like the terms of this contract, I'm going to go to another provider" (like one might with cell phones or cable/satelite TV). I know a fair number of folks who have decided "I don't like living in India/Denmark/France, let's move to the USA" (ironically, the media loves to talk about how wonderful Denmark/Finland/etc is - but good luck trying to move from here to there, whereas there's a fair number of folks interested in moving out of there to here).
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Old 10-30-2010, 10:40 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Chiteng View Post
IN the modern world...civil war in the classic sense is suicide. The Prez can redeploy the 82nd inside 24 hours.
Lincoln had no such ability.

Nope.

For one thing, what makes you think the 82nd would be on his side? A good chunk of the military went confederate in the American civil war, including allot of it's leadership. One reason why the Union sucked so bad at allot of the early engagements.

For another, this country is losing the willpower to fight what can only be generously described as the arab version of hillbillies. No politician now would ever be able to keep the American will into long term occupation of their fellow citizens.

What can you really do? Bomb Detroit? (While it might be kind of fun and ultimately better for them in the long run) Drop one bomb on Detroit and you no longer have just Detroit rebelling. The President would suddenly find himself without any friends at all.

The constitution said succession was legal. In 1860 you can say "screw the law, you're not going anywhere!" and get away with it as long as you win and are assassinated (assassination makes heroes). Nowadays, I just don't see a President getting away with that. Not once the news cameras broadcast footage of the first massacre.
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Old 11-01-2010, 09:22 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Beal View Post
(I don't see you leading a rebellion, Drysdale.)
Unless it involves chain mail and Davek's nipple clamps../flees
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Old 11-01-2010, 09:58 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Karthanon View Post
Unless it involves chain mail and Davek's nipple clamps../flees
This, cumming from the one who wants to /poke me.
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I know, you're in Ottawa, Davek. Still, I can't help but /poke you.
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And you wonder why I don't play nice with you? You leave my man buttons alone.. Those are Davek's.
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Old 11-01-2010, 11:56 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Aolynd View Post
Nope.

For one thing, what makes you think the 82nd would be on his side? A good chunk of the military went confederate in the American civil war, including allot of it's leadership. One reason why the Union sucked so bad at allot of the early engagements.

For another, this country is losing the willpower to fight what can only be generously described as the arab version of hillbillies. No politician now would ever be able to keep the American will into long term occupation of their fellow citizens.

What can you really do? Bomb Detroit? (While it might be kind of fun and ultimately better for them in the long run) Drop one bomb on Detroit and you no longer have just Detroit rebelling. The President would suddenly find himself without any friends at all.

The constitution said succession was legal. In 1860 you can say "screw the law, you're not going anywhere!" and get away with it as long as you win and are assassinated (assassination makes heroes). Nowadays, I just don't see a President getting away with that. Not once the news cameras broadcast footage of the first massacre.
and then the TV or Radio station goes off the air permanently
The internet is shut down because of national emergency
and the people who keep causing problems simply vanish
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Old 11-01-2010, 12:19 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Davek View Post
This, cumming from the one who wants to /poke me.
Are you sure he doesn't want you to /poke him?
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Old 11-01-2010, 12:25 PM   #21
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and then the TV or Radio station goes off the air permanently
The internet is shut down because of national emergency
and the people who keep causing problems simply vanish

Na, not even that.

"Prominent political activist Bob Johnson was killed in an auto accident early this morning. No foul play is suspected."
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Old 11-01-2010, 01:43 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Foust Farseer View Post
Na, not even that.

"Prominent political activist Bob Johnson was killed in an auto accident early this morning. No foul play is suspected."
Obviously they had time to plan.
That isnt always the case.

Silkwood is an example
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