[I just posted this on Google+, but I figured it was worth posting here as well.]
The debt ceiling is just for show; it hasn’t stopped the federal debt from increasing and politicians just keep raising the ceiling when it’s reached.
Failing to raise the debt ceiling will not necessarily result in default. The federal government has plenty of revenue to cover interest payments, even if it must shift that money out of other parts of the budget. Any claims of immediate default and imminent financial collapse are disingenuous fearmongering designed to fool a gullible and economically ignorant public and force an increase of the debt ceiling and an increase in taxes.
Tax cuts are not the reason for the debt crisis — spending is. Spending in excess of revenue is the cause of any debt, public or private. The federal government has been increasing spending with and without tax cuts for a very long time, under both parties.
The CBO’s inclusion of tax cuts as a major source of current and future federal debt is disingenuous. Why?
- Tax cuts are not spending anymore than tax breaks are subsidies (sorry Rachel Maddow).
- All of that estimated debt increase can be eliminated by cutting spending without eliminating tax cuts or raising taxes!
The solution is not to eliminate tax cuts and loopholes, let tax cuts expire, or raise taxes. Increasing taxes, however you do it, will inevitably lead to more spending because governments will find something to spend that increased revenue on and then some.
It turns our that after the voters of Colorado Springs rejected a tax increase for the city, the city’s politicians ordered their public relations staffers to bad mouth the city and to cast a negative light on the city in national media. Basically, since they didn’t get their tax increase, the politicians were determined to make the city look as lousy as possible in a sort of I-told-you-so campaign that would make the voters sorry for not submitting to their betters.
According to the Colorado Springs Gazette:
After much probing by us, it became clear that [PR Director] Skiffington-Blumberg was given direct orders, after the defeat of the proposed tax increase, to tell the outside media about the most negative aspects of Colorado Springs. The campaign may have cost our city countless tourists and jobs. The Gazette was unable to reach [City Manager] Culbreth-Graft for comment.
“Our strategic plan was to paint a picture of the dire straits of our city budget. If we could not do so locally, we would do so in the regional and national press — though I’d have preferred that it not play out with Diane Sawyer,” Skiffington-Blumberg said, referring to one of several media giants who blasted Colorado Springs.
After she admitted the existence of this scorched earth campaign against the city, by the way, Skiffington-Blumberg was forced to resign by the City Manager.
In the past I’ve noted that Colorado’s constitutional requirements for popular votes approving tax increases have created a sort of local cottage industry in which politicians and their agents manufacture hysterical little narratives in which Colorado is the worst in the nation on everything ranging from education to city parks to traffic. “We’re worse than Mississippi” is a sort of local mantra of the local pro-tax crowd. The voters haven’t drunk the Kool-Aid on this of course, and neither has most of the country’s population since demographic data shows sizable net population gains for Colorado in recent years.
But if this latest story is clear, politicians will say just about anything to get a tax increase, even it it means waging a PR campaign against their own city.
Consider Bastiat’s comments on Rome and how–if you substitute for slavery the drug war and tax slavery–they apply to the modern US:
What is to be said of Roman morality? And I am not speaking here of the relations of father and son, of husband and wife, of patron and client, of master and servant, of man and God—relations that slavery, by itself alone, could not fail to transform into a whole network of depravity; I wish to dwell only on what is called the admirable side of the Republic, i.e., patriotism. What was this patriotism? Hatred of foreigners, the destruction of all civilization, the stifling of all progress, the scourging of the world with fire and sword, the chaining of women, children, and old men to triumphal chariots—this was glory, this was virtue. It was to these atrocities that the marble of the sculptors and the songs of the poets were dedicated. How many times have our young hearts not palpitated with admiration, alas, and with emulation at this spectacle!
From Bastiat, Selected Essays in Political Economy, quoted in Geoffrey Allan Plauché, “Roman Virtue, Liberty, and Imperialism: The Murder-Suicide of Classical Civilization.” America is riddled with patriotism, with American flags senselessly displayed all over, and people mindlessly responding to criticism of the Fatherland with the retort, “You show me another country that’s better!” Its wars, the welfare state, its taxes and manipulation of money, its jails full of non-criminals have indeed debased morals. We have scourged the world with fire and sword, and statues of our modern warlord gods, such as Lincoln, adorn our capital city. As for the last line, about the youth swooning over our military might and conquest, one is reminded of the not completely tongue-in-check skit Wayne’s World during Gulf War I, when Wayne and Garth had fun watching the videos of US missiles destroying Iraqi targets.
“You had ample time over the last two years to make a proposal that would be fair to both sides, but you failed to do so. During the last week of the mediation, we waited the entire week for the NFL to make a new economic proposal … That proposal did not come until 12:30 (p.m.) on Friday, and, when we examined it, we found it was worse than the proposal the NFL had made the prior week when we agreed to extend the mediation.”
~ Letter from NFLPA to Commissioner Roger Goodell
While one would hope the fans and the public would understand what’s really going on with the NFL lockout, it is quite possible that not everyone will “get it.” Some people—and some libertarians—have used a somewhat misinformed, if catchy, description of the situation. That description is: The NFL lockout is millionaires fighting with billionaires over money. While certainly punchy, and containing a nugget of truth, this description also misses the point.
Consider: If this labor negotiation were between business owners and their workers in almost any other endeavor, but particularly one where the workers were paid sums of money that were more “normal,” almost no one would make such a statement. Were this ostensible dispute—it isn’t really a dispute, but more of a money-grab—between the owners of a string of car manufacturing plants and their assembly-line workers, not only would the public side with the workers, but the supposedly liberal media and some members of Congress would be crying loudly as well. Why? In those cases, it would be easy to sympathize with workers. In fact, in that scenario, it’s a safe bet that some would compare the plight of these workers with that of the Wisconsin teachers union. (That would be a huge mistake, but not one that will be explained here. Maybe in the next rant.) The amount of money has nothing to do with the logic.