US borrowing, and history

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mjkuhns
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US borrowing, and history

Postby mjkuhns » Wed Dec 20, 2017 5:52 pm

Steve Benen wrote the following for Washington Monthly in 2011, to which I have added a few updates in italics.

1980: Ronald Reagan runs for president, promising a balanced budget

1981 - 1989: With support from congressional Republicans, Reagan runs enormous deficits, adds $2 trillion to the debt.

1993: Bill Clinton passes economic plan that lowers deficit, gets zero votes from congressional Republicans.

1998: U.S. deficit disappears for the first time in three decades. Debt clock is unplugged.

2000: George W. Bush runs for president, promising to maintain a balanced budget.

2001: CBO shows the United States is on track to pay off the entirety of its national debt within a decade.

2001 - 2009: With support from congressional Republicans, Bush runs enormous deficits, adds nearly $5 trillion to the debt.

2002: Dick Cheney declares, “Deficits don’t matter.” Congressional Republicans agree, approving tax cuts, two wars, and Medicare expansion without even trying to pay for them.

2009: Barack Obama inherits $1.3 trillion deficit from Bush; Republicans immediately condemn Obama’s fiscal irresponsibility.

2009: Congressional Democrats unveil several domestic policy initiatives — including health care reform, cap and trade, DREAM Act — which would lower the deficit. GOP opposes all of them, while continuing to push for deficit reduction.

September 2010: In Obama’s first fiscal year, the deficit shrinks by $122 billion. Republicans again condemn Obama’s fiscal irresponsibility.

October 2010: S&P endorses the nation’s AAA rating with a stable outlook, saying the United States looks to be in solid fiscal shape for the foreseeable future.

November 2010: Republicans win a U.S. House majority, citing the need for fiscal responsibility.

December 2010: Congressional Republicans demand extension of Bush tax cuts, relying entirely on deficit financing. GOP continues to accuse Obama of fiscal irresponsibility.

March 2011: Congressional Republicans declare intention to hold full faith and credit of the United States hostage — a move without precedent in American history — until massive debt-reduction plan is approved.

July 2011: Obama offers Republicans a $4 trillion debt-reduction deal. GOP refuses, pushes debt-ceiling standoff until the last possible day, rattling international markets.

August 2011: S&P downgrades U.S. debt, citing GOP refusal to consider new revenues. Republicans rejoice and blame Obama for fiscal irresponsibility.

November 2014: Republicans win a U.S. Senate majority.

December 2016: President Obama winds down his presidency having reduced annual deficits by $1 trillion since 2009. The American right nonetheless denounces the cumulative effect, of larger total national debt, even though the trend has shifted steadily from the Bush administration's legacy toward a balanced budget.

January 2017: Republican Donald Trump becomes president, giving Republicans the initiative on federal policy.

December 2017: Every Republican Senator, including supposed "deficits hawks," votes for a tax cut that every real study concludes will results in $.5-1.5 trillion in new borrowing. Every one of them declares without evidence that the experts are wrong and that economic growth will raise more revenue than the tax cuts' cost.


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Tim Liston
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Re: US borrowing, and history

Postby Tim Liston » Sat Dec 30, 2017 1:23 pm

OK Matt I’ll play. It’s been a while since I last posted. And I like it down here below the fold….

I’m not sure of the point you are making. If it’s that both the Rep and Dem branches of the Uniparty are about equally to blame for growing the debt, I agree. They’re pretty much equally responsible for lots of things these days. E.g. both parties also welcome warmongers into their ranks. And both are about equally responsible for income inequality, the only difference is that the Dems utter vacuous platitudes about social justice while manipulating the system to acquire great wealth. Reps don’t bother with the platitudes.

With respect in particular to the debt, it works like this: the Reps want to lower taxes and raise spending, and the Dems want to raise taxes and raise spending a whole lot more. So both branches are about equally irresponsible for deficits. They just get there in different ways.

There is a lot missing from your post. For example, Benen notes that Reagan added $2 trillion to the debt in his eight years, and that GWB added $5 trillion in his eight years. Then your rejoinder fails to mention the $9 trillion (wow!) Obama added to the debt in his eight years.

Also noteworthy I think is that when it comes to a budget, a President ultimately has only two choices: sign what is put in front of him by Congress, or don’t sign what is put in front of him by Congress. Over the last 50 years or so the Dem branch has mostly controlled Congress. Since Reagan’s first term it’s been pretty much 50/50. Both Reagan and GWB had a Dem house for the first six of their eight years, so pinning deficits on them is at least a bit disingenuous.

Plus I also think it should be noted that Clinton’s so-called budget surpluses would not have occurred had he not substantially raided Social Security. I’m not a historian, but I think Johnson was the first to use Social Security funds for general expenditures, and many years later Clinton got it down pat. Clinton also presided over a booming Internet economy and record (at the time) tax receipts. And Newt’s Reps controlled Congress during Clinton’s second term, when Clinton's self-proclaimed surpluses occurred. Clinton's claims of budget surpluses are dishonest.

But I hope we could all agree that the deficits and the resulting debt are much to the detriment of younger people especially, and irresponsible. And both political parties are more or less equally irresponsible. In real life, “compromise” means both sides give something up. In politics, compromise means Dems will give Reps absolutely everything the Reps want if the Reps give the Dems absolutely everything the Dems want. Quid pro quo. It’s sad. And the primary victim of deficit malfeasance are younger people like yourself Matt, and my children, unfortunately.


mjkuhns
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Re: US borrowing, and history

Postby mjkuhns » Wed Jan 03, 2018 8:48 pm

Tim Liston wrote:OK Matt I’ll play. It’s been a while since I last posted. And I like it down here below the fold….

I’m not sure of the point you are making. If it’s that both the Rep and Dem branches of the Uniparty are about equally to blame for growing the debt, I agree. They’re pretty much equally responsible for lots of things these days. E.g. both parties also welcome warmongers into their ranks. And both are about equally responsible for income inequality, the only difference is that the Dems utter vacuous platitudes about social justice while manipulating the system to acquire great wealth. Reps don’t bother with the platitudes.
I'm not sure how usefully it is possible to reply to a comment that begins by positing a "Uniparty" (completely with invalid-by-every-standard proper noun capitalization) in an era when party sorting on policy is historically high.

With respect in particular to the debt, it works like this: the Reps want to lower taxes and raise spending, and the Dems want to raise taxes and raise spending a whole lot more. So both branches are about equally irresponsible for deficits. They just get there in different ways.
The suggestion that political parties are branches of government also makes responding a challenge.

There is a lot missing from your post. For example, Benen notes that Reagan added $2 trillion to the debt in his eight years, and that GWB added $5 trillion in his eight years. Then your rejoinder fails to mention the $9 trillion (wow!) Obama added to the debt in his eight years.
Did you read the section where I wrote "The American right nonetheless denounces the cumulative effect, of larger total national debt, even though the trend has shifted steadily from the Bush administration's legacy toward a balanced budget"?

Barack Obama entered office facing a nightmarish combination of high deficits and a steep economic downturn. None of which it is easy to assign to anyone besides Republicans, given that they controlled both the presidency and congress for six of the preceding eight years. I will tell anyone who asks that I believe the Obama administration made many poor choices, but I am genuinely curious what debt scolds would like President Obama to have done to avoid the increase in America's national debt which occurred during his presidency.

Rapidly slash government spending? Rapidly hike taxes? Please show me the professional modeling which suggests that either of these would have been possible without substantial offsetting negative impacts on America's economic product. Particularly during the first two years of the Obama presidency which took place during a steep downturn (which was, again, inherited from a Republican administration). After that, Congress was controlled by Republicans, who (as was mentioned in the timeline that I posted) adamantly refused even to consider a "grand bargain" offer of tax increases and spending cuts.

If my point remains unclear, it is that both political parties are not remotely equally irresponsible on the issue of federal budgeting. Least of all now, a month after (as noted at the end of the content which I added to the timeline) every Republican senator rejected every single credible study that said their tax legislation would increase US deficits.

If and when Democrats commit an equivalent act of irresponsibility, by all means they should be criticized accordingly. Until such a time, however, it is inaccurate and indeed irresponsible to promote a belief in bipartisan equivalence on spilling red ink.


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