Budget-mania

We’re getting close to the deadline for shutting down the government, so I better make this fast. Wait a minute, no need to hurry. I’m in the military, so I’m going to work even if there is a shutdown.

I wanted to highlight some good pieces from the Economist’s DIA blog on the budget wrangling going on. I nominate the following for Quotes of the Day (ok, maybe they’re not quotes, but I sure like them):

Regarding hypocritical Republicans – “I find it hard to watch the same people who ten years ago were desperate to avoid the supposed dangers of government budget surpluses now trying to zero out Teach for America and the United States Institute for Peace, in order to scratch together a few pennies for interest payments on the debt they helped create by cutting taxes. But the most disturbing part is that, then as now, they try to present themselves as “responsible”.”

Regarding the triviality of the cuts Republicans are trying to pretend are going to fix the budget deficit – “Once again, and for the umpteenth time: the United States faces a serious debt problem on the order of trillions of dollars over a 20- to 30-year time frame. This debt problem is overwhelmingly driven by rising Medicare and Medicaid spending due to rapid cost inflation in the medical sector. Other significant budget problems include a substantial but demographically limited increase in Social Security expenditures, and immense and spectacularly wasteful defence spending. The final serious budget issue is that American taxes are set at a level that remains several per cent of GDP lower than expenditures throughout the business cycle, a problem either created or severely exacerbated by the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003. Every other federal spending category apart from the ones I have mentioned is, from the point of view of our debt problem, trivial, and cutting any other category has a negligible effect on the debt (emphasis mine).”

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