Right Thinking From The Left Coast
We didn't lose the game; we just ran out of time. - Vince Lombardi

The Budget Simulator

In dissing the GOP’s website on budget cutting, I wished for a tool that was far more thorough.  Here it is.  I got the deficit down to 60% of GDP by 2018, while not making any cuts I considered particularly tough.  Choices I made included:

Reducing Afghanistan/Iraq troops to 30,000 by 2015.

Allowing all Bush tax cuts, except the AMT, to expire.

Grow discretionary spending at the President’s projection (although I would grow non-security spending instead of security spending).

About $170 billion in defense spending cuts, canceling TARP and reduce food stamps to 2008 levels.

Raise the Social Security retirement age, change the COLA and include state workers.

Reduce insurance subsidies and enact Medicare vouchers (the tool actually increases the debt if you cancel healthcare reform completely, which is ... dubious).

Cut the federal work force by 5%, cut farm subsidies, earmarks and and some transportation programs.

Increase payroll tax, gas tax and carbon tax—balanced by a cut in the corporate tax.

Trim the mortgage interest deduction and kill biofuel subsidies.

The tools is not perfect, but I love it for giving people a taste of reality.  If you plugged either the Democrat or GOP platforms into it, the program would burst.  For example, is I take GOP boilerplate (maintain troops levels, cut all taxes, cut nothing on defense or Medicare, cut foreign aid and earmarks and TARP) we end up $4 trillion away from the objective with no possible way of balancing the budget.  You simply can’t make things work without cutting popular sending or increasing taxes.

Here’s the thing: as I went through this, I kept saying, “Well, I’d cut this, but there’s no way Congress would.” But none of these should be sacred cows, really.  Only in Washington are things like farm subsidies untouchable.  I’m reminded of a rant this week from Glenn Greenwald on the recent elections:

It makes perfect sense that the country loathes the political establishment.  Just look at its rancid fruits over the past decade:  a devastating war justified by weapons that did not exist; a financial crisis that our Nation’s Genuises failed to detect and which its elites caused with lawless and piggish greed; elections that seem increasingly irrelevant in terms of how the Government functions; grotesquely lavish rewards for the worst culprits juxtaposed with miserable unemployment and serious risks of having basic entitlements (Social Security) cut for ordinary Americans; and a Congress that continues to be owned, right out in the open, by the very interests that have caused so much damage.  The political establishment is rotten to its core, and the only thing that’s surprising is that the citizenry’s contempt isn’t even more intense than it is.  But precisely because that dynamic so clearly transcends Left/Right or Democratic/GOP dichotomies, little effort is expended to understand or explain it.

Glenn’s mad about different things than I am.  But across the country, incumbents—Republican and Democrats—are getting thrashed.  And it’s precisely because so much of Washington “wisdom” is anything but.  It’s because so many of our problems have obvious solutions, but those solutions are politically painful and will get politicians unelected.  The American people are getting sick of this attitude.  They seem to be saying, “You can stand for something and get unelected; or you can stand for nothing and get unelected.  Might as well do something.”

They could start by playing that budget game.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 05/21/10 at 04:17 AM (Discuss this in the forums)

Comments


Posted by on 05/21/10 at 06:37 AM from Germany

Hal, I have to say, speaking as a useless libtard, I would support every single one of those budget cuts.

Although I would want a little more detail on those Medicare vouchers.

Posted by on 05/21/10 at 01:19 PM from United States

We really need at this point to slash government spending to the bone and raise taxes.  It’ll be a rough couple of years but is necessary to prevent a greek style collapse under the weight of our debt.

Posted by on 05/21/10 at 02:22 PM from United States

I’d start phasing Social Security out, and get rid of foreign aid in general.  Let the foreign devils starve in the dark.

Posted by on 05/21/10 at 09:11 PM from Germany

I’d start phasing Social Security out, and get rid of foreign aid in general.  Let the foreign devils starve in the dark.

What? You think foreign aid is designed to help the foreign devils? You don’t think it’s tied to US security, strategic and trade interests?

Posted by on 05/21/10 at 10:27 PM from United States

We shouldn’t be paying them; they should be paying us.

“Nice little country youse have here.  Be a real shame if it had an...accident...one fine day, right?”

Posted by on 05/21/10 at 10:49 PM from United States

The carbon tax just rubs me the wrong way, even with the cut in the corporate tax.
Guess it’s all the dishonesty of AGW that makes me feel that way.

Sadly little to none it it will ever happen.

Posted by on 05/22/10 at 02:48 AM from Germany

Guess it’s all the dishonesty of AGW that makes me feel that way.

Here’s an excellent example of some recent tricksiness as regards global climate change.

Posted by HARLEY on 05/22/10 at 09:04 AM from United States

The carbon tax just rubs me the wrong way, even with the cut in the corporate tax.
Guess it’s all the dishonesty of AGW that makes me feel that way.

The Carbon Tax, so easy and simple that i could stay around like the old Excise Tax we use to pay on our home phones.

Posted by HARLEY on 05/22/10 at 09:16 AM from United States

What? You think foreign aid is designed to help the foreign devils?

Stogy,I really hope you are being dense on purpose, but if not, that term is a old phrase used quite some time ago, nowadays it is a throwback term to the bald old days.
Posted by on 05/22/10 at 09:22 AM from United States

What? You think foreign aid is designed to help the foreign devils? You don’t think it’s tied to US security, strategic and trade interests?

Yes, it should be the US devil handing apples to the foreign victims. Any way you want to spin it we need to quit pissing away money. And partly for this very reason. It will simply always be spun in the negative, so there will be no positive image, and we could put said money to far better use within our own borders.

Posted by HARLEY on 05/22/10 at 09:28 AM from United States

No Fair Tax? WTF.....

Posted by HARLEY on 05/22/10 at 09:33 AM from United States

“Nice little country youse have here.  Be a real shame if it had an...accident...one fine day, right?”

Notice our non-reaction to the recent North Korean sinking of the ROK frigate, our protection promises aint worth shit.

Posted by on 05/22/10 at 04:18 PM from United States

Notice our non-reaction to the recent North Korean sinking of the ROK frigate, our protection promises aint worth shit.

Which is exactly what China wanted to determine.  PRK doesn’t do shit without China giving the OK…

Posted by Ed Kline on 05/22/10 at 05:49 PM from United States

I got it down to 52% of the 2018 GDp, and sustainable through 2030. Most of my ‘savings’ came from Healthcare, Domestic spending, and Tax expenditures. I also managed to lower tax revenue, but I figured that was actually increasing revenue by freeing up more capital for investment.

Posted by on 05/22/10 at 06:41 PM from United States

To be fair, the South Koreans don’t really want a war with North Korea.  The damned fools insisted on keeping their capital at Seoul, which is all but in artillery range of the border with the Noruk-Hai (my pet name for the North Koreans) and then building it up into a major megalopolis.  And the Japanese don’t want one either because they’re afraid that the war will damage their country...and we can’t really move without them.

Posted by on 05/22/10 at 08:24 PM from Germany

And partly for this very reason. It will simply always be spun in the negative, so there will be no positive image, and we could put said money to far better use within our own borders.

Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough. US Foreign aid is much more about selling US products (from corn to bombs) than it is about PR or feeling all warm and fuzzy.

Having worked with USAID people before, most of them agree that untied AID (i.e. divorced from US strategic and trade objectives) would be a lot more effective in the recipient countries than it is currently. So you are right to a point…

But lets not suffer under the delusion that ODA is being used to help foreign devils

nowadays it is a throwback term to the bald old days.

You mean the days before I had hair?

Not my term, Harley - Technomad started it on this thread. I just regurgitated it.

Posted by on 05/22/10 at 09:50 PM from United States

Having worked with USAID people before, most of them agree that untied AID (i.e. divorced from US strategic and trade objectives) would be a lot more effective in the recipient countries than it is currently. So you are right to a point…

Getting rid of the despots that run half these places would be a start too in making funds more effective, but that’s not gonna happen, so speaking for me, I say QUIT THROWING MONEY AT IT. We’re not perfect Stogy, but the nonsense of any action we do is for 100% self serving purposes at the sacrifice of the recipient is perception that won’t go away no matter what we do. Personally my view of any country outside of the US is fuck’em. Of course not wanting to interfere is the ole spoiled American doesn’t care perception. It’s all a bunch of bullshit.

Posted by HARLEY on 05/23/10 at 03:35 PM from United States

Im of two minds on this.
One
SPENDING must be cut massively, even in area we would not want to cut, such as defense,veterans benefits,infrastructure, and so on. Given the current economic woes, i do not see how raising taxes will help at all. I see them dragging us further down the hole.
Two
Spend like there is no tomorrow, lets bring this dam thing to a head as soon as possible so we can crash the system and rebuild it from the ashes, other wise i see our children and grandchildren havening to deal with a bigger crisis down the road.

I am i crazy?

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