59 thoughts on “Open Thread 7/19/11”

  1. I know it was a futile gesture, and the Democrats do the same thing, but isn’t it really just a damn stupid waste of time and certainly loads of money (the Congressional Record, paper and ink, electricity, etc) to do that stupid Cap bill in the House, knowing it was just wasting everyone’s time? And the TeaBagger clucks who think it’s OK to default? Morons!!! This is money we’ve already spent.
    And jim, I happen to think Blyleven should be in the Hall. But then, so should Keith and Garvey. And let’s make room by clearing out all the dead wood. A simple guideline: Take out anyone the Veteran’s Committee let in who played mostly in the 30s, and probably the 40s (sorry PeeWee, Marion and Scooter, who belong), and Mazeroski while we are at it.

  2. I haven’t heard anyone say it was “ok” to default. What I have heard is that the deadline that has been set for default is artificial, since the gov’t can simply freeze other spending and pay creditors. What will matter, in the end, is the point at which markets start getting really rattled.
    I don’t mind that the Republicans are making a fight over this. I give them credit for it, in fact.

  3. Where the Tea Party has made things difficult for Republicans is the “no tax” pledges, which makes any kind of compromise with the Dems extremely difficult. If Republicans are going to hold to these, then there really isn’t much chance of them passing “cut, cap & balance,” or anything near to that without the Republicans owning the House, Senate and the White House at the same time. Maybe they think they can get Obama to blink, but I doubt it.

  4. jim – Good item on Bert.
    MVH – First of all, that Ebert item is hilarious in how he just baldly asserts that the majority of the public likes Obamacare and a host of other liberal priorities. Because he says so.
    As for the budget talks, the biggest problem isn’t taxes at all, it’s trust. There is an extraordinarily long history – from recent deals like the continuing resolution debacle to older battles like the HW Bush budget deal where conservatives got promised domestic spending cuts, accepted painful tax hikes and/or defense cuts, and got zero in return. Nobody on the Right wants to be played for a sucker again in taking a deal with a bunch of vague, unenforceable promises of future spending reductions. But Obama has never demonstrated even the slightest good faith on this – all he wants to do is kick the can past 2012, claim credit for spending cuts and then not deliver them. He’s put nothing on the table in terms of concrete spending cuts. And all McConnell wants to do is wash his hands and hang the blame for everything on Obama, which is fine as a matter of political positioning but it means delivering no results.
    And now we get the Gang of Six deal, which similarly offers up nothing of concrete value to conservatives – see here and here.
    It takes two sides to compromise, and for three decades now, conservatives have been offered nothing at the bargaining table. Even the SALT treaties were negotiated in better faith.

  5. Crank,
    It takes an amazing ego to think because you know something about film, you know something about politics. And good God, it wasn’t about a single issue or a candidate, it was a sweeping post about the historical significance of the Republican party. Apparently he is a political history expert, too.
    As for the budget talks, I had hoped the Gang of Six would have produced something more detailed, but they didn’t, and I don’t have a problem with Republicans wanting something different. My concern is that the Tea Party has set the bar too high as to what they would consider a “success” here. If this is just a negotiating posture, fine, I can understand that, but the Tea Partiers would not.
    In terms of pure economics, I also a problem with demanding immediate cuts in government spending. The economy can ill-afford that in the short term, and those who think that these cuts will quickly be replaced by private sector investment are really kidding themselves. But absent a grand bargain, Republicans are not shooting themselves in the foot with independents (well, at least not this one) by settling for something less.

  6. Oh by the way, I’m well aware that who is perceived as getting credit or blame for any agreement/disagreement is a big factor here. It was interesting to see Obama say, in public, that he was willing to take heat from his own party. I realize that he gave no specifics, but why don’t Republicans call him on that? Put together a package for long-term structural entitlement reform, agree to some personal tax increases if necessary, and fix the damn thing. Or at least call his bluff.
    My suspicion is that Republicans do not want to give Obama any opportunity to claim any credit for fixing the budget unless it is entirely on their terms. They do not want to remove a significant election issue for 2012, and I think Obama knows that.

  7. Crank,
    What do you say to a 24 year-old Josh Reddick (currently hitting .378/.432/.671 in 30 games) for Carlos Beltran with the Mets picking up 50% of his on-going salary?

  8. Not sure I see Reddick as a high-end prospect. Didn’t have great OBPs in the minors. Could just be another Morgan Burkhart/Rudy Pemberton type flash in the pan.

  9. I assume you are baseball-smarter than anyone who makes any sort of decisions for the Mets. Pretend you’re one of them. “Mmm, Josh Reddick, left-handed, good-looking, 24 year old outfielder putting up Ted Williams’ style numbers in the AL East. Can’t turn that down.” Good as gold. Get the papers.

  10. jim, I assume you mean Met ownership. I do think Sandy Alderson knows what he is doing. In thinking about it, what made Omar so bad? For want of a seat belt. Duaner Sanchez almost did the right thing. All he had to do was buckle up. Changed the team in ’06 when it was really rolling, and might have found two more wins in ’07 and ’08. If they make the playoffs three years in a row, was he still a failure? But ownership? Something about Brooklyn Dodger love that makes you put your brain in your back pocket. Or maybe same area, beyond the pocket material.

  11. Someone negotiated and signed the long list of terrible contracts the Mets have and have had. Are there any god contracts the Mets have signed in the past 5 years? There aren’t many bigger suckers in MLB so if y’all are willing to offer up CB the Sox (or at least me as their fake representative) are willing to low ball you.

  12. Um, that’s “good” contracts. I assume you aren’t signing up deities to play ball.

  13. The utter irresponsibility of Cantor and his fellow tea-baggrs is breathtaking. The Rush et al, watching only Faux News and having no connection whatsoever to the real world.

  14. jim, the Mets did sign two deities once. But both Seaver and Mays are long retired. Of course, I do remember the great god, Choo Choo Coleman. He was the god of “Can’t anybody here play this game?”
    And if I learn only one thing in life, expecially after an 18 year old Darryl Strawberry coming up, is to never ever ever, and then never after that, compare any upcoming kid to Ted.
    And interestingly enough, here we have probably the greatest first baseman ever in Sir Albert, and few say that about him. Best player today, sure, but I’ve never heard anyone call him what he is: As good a batter as Foxx and Gehrig, and a better fielder than either (Gehrig never gets the earned criticism as an immobile first baseman with a terrible arm). But we call a kid the next Kid. Go figure.

  15. Magrooder,
    It’s not irresponsible to force the government to address its spending problem. There have been no significant, negative consequences yet. If a grand bargain results from this that fixes some of our spending problems, are you willing to give them full credit for forcing a decision on the issue? In the absence of a fight over the debt ceiling, do you think the Democrats would have fixed this all by themselves?
    The problem I have with the Tea Party is that they are insisting on massive spending cuts *right now,* which is a bad idea. Also, they are overly rigid on tax hikes. Like conservatives in general, they are absolutely right about business taxes, but the opposition to personal income taxes is much too rigid, and is more about “not wanting to be taxed” rather than about economic growth. I roll my eyes every time hear opposition to taxing the personal income of the “job creators.”

  16. It was the rich who made the bulk of the $$ during the boom times, while working classes wages stagnated. So now everyone is going to have to tighten their belt due to the economic crisis.* It would be looked at as the bunch of Grade A Bullshit it is, if the (corporate-owned) MSM would take their fingers (and feet) off the scale.
    * a budget crisis caused by reckless financial deregulation, tax cuts for the richest of the rich, and the cost of multiple wars which exacerbate terrorism.
    I’ll ask with pretty pleases again, when will the rich tell the rest of us to eat cake, so we can FINALLY get to the fun part of class warfare?

  17. MVH,
    I agree with you that a balanced program containing both entitlement reform and tax reform would be the bset result. We probably disagree about where to draw lines, but compromise is feasible in that context.
    As you imply, getting enough people on both sides to vote in favor is the difficult issue. Whether you consider him disingenuous or not, the President has repeatedly expressed willingness to deal, as have some Senate Democrats.
    Cantor and his ilk, especialy the purile Paul Ryan, have been “my way or the highway” from the beginning. We can’t tell and likely never will be able to tell if their game-playing has had negative effects. The debt ceiling is a gimmick that the right has used to demagogue about spending — the spending has already been authorized, the only issue is whehther we will pay our bills.
    Obama should have invoked the 14th amendment to take the debt ceiling off the table and entered negotiations on a more even playing field.

  18. Without the pressure of default, neither side would feel pressure to deal with this at all. Both parties would be posturing and preening all the way to the 2012 election, and nothing would get done. At least there is a chance here.
    As for Cantor, there is so little information available about what is being negotiated between the WH and the Republicans, I’m not sure what he was walking away from. Nor am I sure what Obama means, if anything, about being willing to compromise. We might not know until its over what was being proposed and rejected. Maybe Cantor had good reason to walk away, or maybe he was being as unreasonable as the Tea Party wants him to be. Maybe Obama was just bluffing or offering so little in the way of compromise that it was meaningless.

  19. MVH you don’t, you simply don’t storm out in a huff from a meeting like that. Likely it was a childish pandering to the Teabaggers move, but if not, it was terribly played. Considering the clear on record statements by the GOP on their complete and total unwillingness to compromise, it’s foolhardy to say that maybe Obama offered so little in the way of compromise. He’s bent over so backward he could kiss his own ass right now.
    And let’s face it, if Cut Cap and Spend was in effect in 1941, we would have had to surrender by 1942. You see, the Teabaggers contemptuous non-caring for history, including clearly not know how we actually managed to pay for WWII (and, uh every other one besides, wartime credit goes back to at least Charles, the first Duke of Burgundy) is important. They don’t know how the Constitution was agreed to, they don’t know how or even why the Revolution was fought, they don’t seem to know nuthin’, but proudly shout it loud. Not knowing is ignorant, not wanting to know is stupid, not wanting to know but trying to wield lots of power is moronic.

  20. Cut, Cap and Spend had exemptions for military activities, so you can’t really argue that a similar law would have bankrupted us in WWII. In fact, the very idea that they would exclude types of military spending – and medicare, and social security – speaks volumes.

  21. MVH, once you include a balanced budget amendment, you make it almost impossible to gear up if need be. WWII was financed by asking sacrifices from everyone, including buying bonds and stamps. Iraq II was financed by asking the fetuses now just being born to pay for it in the years ahead. Neat trick. Make people who have no say the ones to pay the bill. No, you cannot hamstring a government like that. Or you will mandate a government that can provide nothing we expect it to do unless we (gasp) raise taxes.
    The silmple truth is the Republican Party is a cowardly one, hiding by Nordquist’s skirts instead of making hard decisions, and playing chicken with the planet’s finances. And remember when I referred to the Duke of Burgundy? He waged loads of wars until the Swiss bankers pulled the plug. It will be the same here.

  22. Crank,
    Since you fancy yourself a “victim” of 9/11*, what’s your take on being hacked by Murdoch’s News Corp?
    * Or did you stop playing this card after I exposed you here as a fetishist who cares nary a whit about 9/11?

  23. Berto,
    While I think many New Yorkers act as if only NYC was attacked that day, that is below the belt. Crank had a direct, personal encounter in that his office was in one of the WTC buildings.
    As wrong as he is on most political issues, I don’t see any basis for that attack.

  24. Berto, that is a total non-sequitor. I remember the day the towers fell also; I was in NY. Plus the Pentagon was attacked, Madrid and London later. Crank, this one isn’t worth answering. Shame Berto. There are generally accurate reasons to go after Right Wingnuts. This isn’t worty.
    I do wonder though if this applies anywhere. That poor 13 year old murder victim who’s phone was hacked, and had messages erased. Is that evidence tampering? Is it obtruction? Is it any kind of major crime? Is it in England? Would it be so in New York State?

  25. Magrooder and Crank,
    As i have pointed out on this site in the past, Crank doesn’t care about 9/11 in any other sense than to score political points (I know, shocker!).
    Ask him how important 9/11 was, and how that jibes with his support for the President who stonewalled and underfunded the 911 Commission, as well as named Condi Rice his Sec. of State after she bald-face lied to them as they tried to investigate how and why it happened.
    As for me, I’m with W on this one. I never thought 9/11 was that important to begin with, my condolences to those who lost family and friends in the attacks notwithstanding.

  26. Daryl,
    No. The text of balanced budget amendment being suggested provides a waiver of the amendment if Congress, by a 3/5 vote of both House and Senate, declares there is a military conflict that causes an imminent and serious military threat to national security.

  27. Yeah, the interesting consequence of that provision would be to restrict the President’s ability to make open-ended military commitments without a declaration of war. YMMV whether that’s a good thing, although the experience of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars has convinced me of the wisdom of getting Congressional approval in advance; all that would change is the title.

  28. I wonder how many of our previous military engagments would have garnered 60% approval of both houses of Congress.
    I don’t have a conceptual problem with a balanced budget amendment. As for the rest of CC&B, I wouldn’t cut this year an I wouldn’t tie yearly spending to GDP, but I’d love to see a ceiling on our overall debt-to-GDP ratio.

  29. Magrooder,
    That is the Democrats’ best argument, no question. When you increase spending, cut personal income taxes, and borrow; you become part of the problem. But of course, that doesn’t absolve the Dems from entitlement reform.
    The conservative counterargument, usually, is some variant of this one: the economy grows when you cut personal income taxes, and thereby making the debt more bearable by raising GDP.
    But the effect of -personal- tax cuts on economic growth is wildly oversold, because government spends in the private economy just like consumers do. As I’ve mentioned in another thread, the gov’t doesn’t take tax revenues and stuff them in a mattress.
    The better argument for leaving personal income taxes alone is that consumers, as well as the government, are suffering from debt overhang, and this is a huge problem for the economy. If you raise taxes, consumers have less to pay down their debt, thus delaying growth. So by helping the government debt through taxes, you are exacerbating the consumer debt problem.
    But this argument loses a lot of force once you account for the fact that Obama only wants to increase the income taxes of those earning over $250k. I don’t know the numbers offhand, but I doubt this is the segment of the population that has the most debt overhang. This is why I think it’s an acceptable way to generate more revenue, especially if you want to consider decreasing business taxes to spur growth.

  30. Some of the arguments made are so full of Newspeak it’s absurd.
    1. That the wealthy should be called job creators. Bush cut their taxes and they are still cut. So why aren’t they creating any new jobs?
    2. The balanced budget amendment. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. The Constitution is the document that specifies what a government can do, and even more importantly, what is CANNOT do. James Madison, one smart cookie (not as smart as the dumbest TeaBagger, in Republican eyes anyway) left the power of the budget in the hands of the House. I do think had he known about the supreme panderer John Boehner, he might have changed his mind. But he didn’t. An amendment to the Constitution is a basic law, and you don’t write and pass one with loopholes. That is NOT what it’s for. it’s just a gutless copout by the moronic.
    3. Stating that the end of a business credit is a tax is like stating a law goes on forever, and cannot end. Yes it can. We call it lawmaking.
    4. The Democrats have to wake up and realize they are not dealing with the old normal Republucan Party, wherein both parties sat in a room, yelled a bit, gave in a bit, and then compromised. Republicans now consider Compromise a dirty word. It’s not. It’s what allowed the Constitution to be formed…it was so important the big one was even called Great.
    And Magrooder, why are you muddling up the waters of TeaBag new history with a few facts? They don’t deal in facts, they deal in Fox Fake Facts which sound good even if they aren’t real. But Goebbels knew what to do with that, didn’t he?

  31. The most frustrating thing about this entire debate is the fundamental lack of knowledge people have on this issue. You can not have a true balanced budget unless the amount of money you take in is more than your entire debt (current and future committed expenses). We do this funny thing called selling Bonds and Treasuries. So do you see the problem with a balanced budget amendment. So the debt ceiling has to be raised b/c we run the country like most businesses on a line of credit with various means of raising cash. A cash surplus does not equal a balanced budget as most think. In order to get true debt reduction you have to cut spending and raise revenue.

  32. “The most frustrating thing about this entire debate is the fundamental lack of knowledge people have on this issue.”
    That’s a feature, not bug, of our corporate-owned mainstream media. Job One of the MSM is to confuse and misinform the public. For example, notice how when Karl Rove puts on a tri-cornered hat, the MSM falls all over themselves talking about how the Tea Party is a whole new political animal. You can’t have a representative democracy with an ill-informed public. Which is as good an explanation as any for why this country is circling the toilet bowl.

  33. It is not the MSM job to educate people they should inform. Huge difference not many people know or understand the difference. Open a book, hell watch School House Rock to educate yourself.
    As the Tea Party goes Thelma and Louise with the County’s future it is clear they do not understand the follow:
    The President does not write legislation. Where’s Obama’s plan? When you say that you show how ignorant you are to how the government works.
    Do not raise the Debt Ceiling until we balance the budget. You do know the debt ceiling is for stuff we already bought.
    Cut and Cap amendment. Really when you say that one thing you do not understand is the difference between cash surplus, long term or short term debt, and Securities to name a few. Let alone adding something to the constitution that would have to account for wars and natural disasters. Why worry about details when you have dogma.

  34. “So do you see the problem with a balanced budget amendment. . . . we run the country like most businesses on a line of credit with various means of raising cash.”
    Conservatives know very well how the government is financed, and the balanced budget amendment is an effort to change what you just described, except in the case of war. And it doesn’t necessarily stop the government from issuing debt, it would just have to reduce expenditures somewhere else to do it.
    You can hate it if you want, just don’t hate it for the wrong reasons.

  35. I’ll add that though I’m not opposed to a balanced budget amendment, I don’t think it’s the only answer either.

  36. Double talk there MVH, if that amendment is added how do we account for natural disasters in addition to wars. Would it not be easier to just have no more unfunded expenditures? That amendment can not work and will be toothless when all is said and done. To many exceptions makes it a stupid theory (war, nature disasters, infrastructure). But simply put how would a balanced budget be defined factoring in long term and short term debt among a few things. If we sell bonds we take on debt with risks.

  37. It’s not double-talk. You budget for natural disasters, just like anything else, and I doubt conservatives would object to including a provision to suspend the amendment for natural disasters that exceed the budget, subject probably to a supermajority vote of some kind. Many states have balanced budget amendments, and they issue debt, have disaster relief funds, etc. This isn’t exactly breaking new ground.
    As for toothless, just about any budget can be gamed to a certain extent, but at least a BBA would limit the extent to which that is possible, and the fact that it’s a Constitutional amendment means it can’t be repealed easily.

  38. MVH,
    I agree with you that entitlement reform is necessary. In fact, the health care legislation is a reform of portions of the health care entitlement package.
    Senator Reid and President Obama have unambiguously put entitlement reform on the table.
    When the history of this era is written, the GOP will bear the cross of having had the worst President ever, a war criminal Vice President, and the most irresponsible House of Representatives ever. Nice trifecta.

  39. MVH you just pointed the flaw with your crackpot amendment theory. Why rush to put something in the Constitution that will be full of holes and and only be enforceable by name only. That is reckless among other things (being nice about this). So your idea is to add to the Constitution an Amendment that will be able to worked around with basic accounting tricks and be full of expenditures exceptions. Then you can parrot a line of well it is in the Constitution. that sir makes no sense.
    States can have these amendments b/c they have the Federal government to fallback on.

  40. Now it’s -my- theory? How did that happen? I said I’m not philosophically opposed to it. I didn’t say that I wanted it passed now or ever for that matter. FWIW, if I got to draft the bill to solve all of our fiscal problems, a BBA would not be in it.
    My initial point was that conservatives understand very well what BBA would do to government finances – in other words, it’s not based on ignorance, which was the point of your first post.
    What I am also saying is that: (1) it’s not necessarily unworkable; (2) it need not be so full of holes that it’s meaningless; (3) it would be more difficult for the government to spend because of the BBA; (4) it doesn’t prevent the gov’t from issuing debt; (5) the US gov’t is not so radically diff’t than state gov’ts, where BBA’s are common; and (6) it wouldn’t be easy to repeal.
    The devil, obviously, would be in the details; and as I will say once again, it would not be in my bill to resolve this.

  41. Funny to see the lefties being opposed to an amendment because it won’t be followed to the letter or cover every exigency. As if that’s their MO. There are plenty of exceptions ‘read in’ to amendments, even though there would appear to be none allowed according to their plain meaning (Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, . . . the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed). The ninth and tenth amendment are almost entirely ignored. Somehow there are restrictions when there are no listed restrictions. Haven’t read the proposal, and wouldn’t expect it to pass unmolested, just find it hi-larious to see the left embrace strict construction. And javaman, nobody is prroposing a ‘Cut and Cap amendment’ – but why worry about details when you have dogma, right?

  42. Why would anyone add something to the Constitution that can not be enforced in the modern world. Only an idiot would advocate something that stupid. You are advocating placing a symbolic gesture in the Constitution. How would you address Bonds (Long Term debt) in that new amendment? I know you don’t have and answer b/c you did nt thing that far ahead.

  43. “How would you address Bonds (Long Term debt) in that new amendment?”
    States have balanced budget amendments. States issue long term debt. They aren’t incompatible concepts. What about that is unclear? As tanstaaf mentioned, it’s not like conservatives would be adverse to reasonable modifications.
    I can think of a number of legitimate arguments to oppose a balanced budget amendment, both in principle and in practice. Sadly, I’ve only seen the worst ones here.

  44. The reason states can have balanced budget amendments is they have the Federal government to fall back on for large expenditures. Kind of like if you have rich parents you can do things like send your kids to more expensive schools, buy a larger home, and take really nice family vacations with a little help from mom and dad. Here is another example have the Feds give out no highway funds see how many states can balance their budgets or how about no more emergency disaster relief funds see what will happen to the states. It is easy to put something on paper when somebody else is contributing a large portion of your budget and offsetting all unexpected major expenditures. That is why that amendment is stupid.

  45. Except that in this analogy, the states aren’t getting money from mom and dad, they’re getting from their ‘brothers and sisters’ (or, really, their ‘nieces and nephews’ – ie, the rest of us) – ‘mom and dad’ just shake down the rest of us for it.
    Also, I don’t get how highway funds are ‘another example’ – what was the first example??? Are states getting bigger houses because the feds help them out? WTF? Count me among those whoe think that bad things can happen when you start to think of the government as your parents.

  46. I can think of only one good reason for a balanced budget amendment, and that is to actually counter conservatives, who have lost whatever understanding that sacrifice entails. Because if Dubya and Cheney had to actually present the case to us to not only invade Iraq but PAY FOR IT NOW things would have gone differently. For that matter, I think we would have approached Afghanistan differently. Not gone in differently, but out of it. Now the wingnuts are claiming Reid is crazy for budgeting us out of the two wars we are stuck in? Fine wingies. YOU pay for it now. Oh wait, you don’t want to, you want our grandchildren to. And then the returning vets, who deserve everything we could possibly give them won’t have jobs to come home to. And maybe be reminded why the economy is in the tank. Realize this: they are our best and brightest young people, not the dumbass sheep you are bullshitting to now.

  47. Daryl,
    Re: returning vets.
    We supported our troops over there, so we wouldn’t have to support them here.

  48. Hard to believe I am saying this, but I am not in favor of a Balanced Budget amendment to the Constituion. Mainly because it is unenforceable. Too many lawyers will find too many loopholes. Then we will end with the Supreme Court having to create our Federal Budgets. While they could hardly do a worse job, it is the job of the other 2 branches.

  49. Lee, you are correct. But what is odd is all these folks that claim to be constitutional scholars failed to grasp that simple concept. Man, after we just watched a group threaten to drag this country down we are in troubel

  50. You see Lee? While we disagree on lots of the smaller issues, on this one big one, we can agree. I was clearly speaking sarcastically about my balanced budget amendment “support.” History, as I said, is not the Tea Party’s strongest subject. The last time we had what was clearly an unenforceable amendment, we let Prohibition grow the Mafia and teach an entire generation of citizens that ignoring the Constitution was an almost civic right.
    We can save even more money by eliminating our current drug law prohibition. Then narcotic suppliers would no longer be criminals but wealthy taxpayers. Uh, make that job creators.

  51. Well, our problems are now solved! We now have a deal that:
    (1) doesn’t address significant entitlement reform
    (2) probably doesn’t prevent our debt downgrade
    (3) cuts spending in the near term, which is dumb.
    In other words, a perfectly good waste of a manufactured debt crisis.

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