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Virtually every post on this site and every progressive I'm listening to says don't touch:  

* Social Security
* Medicare
* Medicaid
* Any welfare program
* Obamacare

This results in the vast majority of US government spending over the next 10 years being off limits to cuts according to the progressive blogsphere.  

Letting the Bush tax cuts for the rich expire is a start but addresses only a few hundred million dollars of a five to ten trillion dollar problem.  

I admit to not getting it .. just what is the progressive solution to this mess?  I'm not focused on what needs to be done in the next year alone where it can be argued that we don't want to risk a double dip recession with draconian cuts.  I'm focused on solving the problem so that my daughter isn't paying taxes that are for our generation's benefit rather than hers.

If I don't hear progressive's:

1.  Acknowledge there is a problem that is serious and must be acted upon
2.  Acknowledge that the revenue problem goes beyond just taxing the wealthy more and propose solutions
3.  Propose specific long term cuts and targets for federal expenditures that are realistic and not fantasy (liberal equivalent of supply side economics)

then I can only conclude that liberals are no more solution oriented than the Tea Party's insanity.

Right now .. I'm hearing a deafening silence of liberal solutions.  Help me out.  I don't happen to have the silver bullet and would love answers.  With facts.

Thank you to all who provided ideas.  In a nutshell, the following cost reductions have been presented so far:
* Eliminate wars
* Reduce defense even further (to 2.5%-3% of GDP?)
* Reduce health care expenses (single payer? drug negotiations?)
* Eliminate farm subsidies
* Eliminate oil/gas subsidies
* Eliminate policing of drugs via legalization (and tax them?)

The following revenue increases have been proposed:
* Increase taxes on the wealthy
* Eliminate difference between capital gains tax and ordinary income
* Eliminate corporate tax loopholes
* Increase tarriff's

And the following increases in expenses have been proposed:
* Invest in infastructure ($4T)
* Increase government jobs programs ala WPA

Starting tomorrow, I'll try and score these to see how they add up.  

I'll be not dialoging with those who don't believe we should worry about this .. I just think that belongs in a separate thread to debate the issue of whether deficits matter.  For this thread, I'm going to assume they do matter and need to be addressed.

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Comment Preferences

  •  No reason to "balance the books", particularly (7+ / 0-)

    when the economy is still in relatively poor shape.

  •  Raise taxes on the wealthy, cut defense... (12+ / 0-)

    ...and the remaining deficit is nothing I'd worry about.

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 04:35:30 PM PST

  •  I think the NY Times (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Karl Rover, ajpuckett, HeyMikey

    had an interactive graphic several years ago for readers to try to balance the budget using broad categories. It was fairly easy to come up with a plan that worked.

  •  There's no silence, just deafness (12+ / 0-)

    Tax the rich the way they were in the 90s, 80s, or better in the 50s. Tax all income the same. End corporate welfare and negative tax rates. Tax corporate profits that are stashed over-seas. Get serious about prosecuting tax criminals. End wars. Shut-down most of the hundreds of military bases around the world. Get public health care and let the parasitic industries like 'Health insurance" shrivel and die instead of thousands of humans every year. Etc, etc, etc.

    But you already should know that. Instead you'll go on claiming Social Security has something to do with the deficit.

    This Rover crossed over.. Willie Nelson, written by Dorothy Fields

    by Karl Rover on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 04:40:11 PM PST

  •  You're naive. (10+ / 0-)

    The Federal Government not a family budget, a small business P&L or a state government. The government can make as much money as it needs, the books don't need to be balanced and couldn't be in any case. Read some economics and don't be fooled by bad analogies.

    The free market is not the solution, the free market is the problem.

    by Azazello on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 04:46:06 PM PST

  •  Have the CBO score this: (6+ / 0-)

    1. Isolationism:  end the empire, and bring the troops home.

    2. Protectionism:  use tariffs to raise revenue and give domestic manufacturing an advantage against imports.

    3. Eliminate all foreign aid except disaster relief.  I know it is not that much, but it is the principle of the thing.

    4. Eliminate all tax breaks for people who make more than the median household income.

    5. Let all the Bush tax cuts expire, and restore the payroll tax.

    6. Tax capital gains at the same rate as ordinary income.

    •  I'll score most of these except (0+ / 0-)

      Protectionism ... a major contributor to the great depression was this behavior by governments.  While I think that the question of how to treat economies that operate by different rules (wages, healthy/safety, environmentalism) needs to be addressed (and quickly) it isn't and can't be for pure 'protectionism' reasons or we will kill the golden goose that is created by the good parts of globalism.  

      This is also worth it's own thread.

  •  Solution (9+ / 0-)

    -Cut defense.  No more wars, no more money spent on the Middle East protecting private oil interests.

    -Allow ALL Bush tax cuts to expire.

    -Allow gov't to negotiate drug $ with pharmaceutical companies.  Also allow reimportation of drugs.

    -End fossil fuel and farm subsidies.

    -Take some of the money saved and create jobs.  Direct job program ala the CCC or WPA.  Put people building roads, bridges and other public infrastructure or putting solar panels on public buildings.  If people are put back to work, the money will not only come back to the gov't in the form of taxes but it will be invested in the economy which will create more jobs and will raise more revenue for the gov't.  A third to a half of our annual debt can be wiped out just by improving the economy.

    -Immigration reform with a real path to citizenship.  The fines paid by the people in immigration limbo and the taxes they will pay after becoming citizens will provide a big boost to revenue.  

    -Raise cap on Social Security.  Not that SS adds to the deficit, but simply by raising the cap it would make the program solvent for decades.  

    -End the stupid War on Drugs.  Legalize pot and tax it.  

    You do those and we'll be talking about massive budget surpluses in no time.

    This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

    by DisNoir36 on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 05:00:06 PM PST

    •  War on drugs (0+ / 0-)

      I'll score most of these but not the war on drugs .. agree it ought to be legalized .. probably bigger savings in reducing the policing of drugs .. if someone else comes up with actual forecasted savings I'll include it.

      Ditto on immigration reform and increased taxes ...

  •  Cuts are not the answer (6+ / 0-)

    1--You are misstating the problem.  The state of the economy is the problem.  If one compares federal revenues and expenditures vs. GDP, then stop looking at the numerator.  Look at the denominator.  Do what is necessary to get GDP rising, more people working, and more people making higher salaries and paying more taxes.

    2--Yes raise taxes on the rich, then improve the economy so millions of middle class workers are making more money and paying more tax.

    3--Cut wasteful defense programs.  Bring intelligence analysis back under government employment, and cut redundant intelligence operations.  Cut corporate welfare that doesn't create jobs.

    Keep in mind that the government debt never has to be paid off.  As long, on average, that debt is growing more slowly than GDP, then it can continue forever.  The last four years are not average years.  Debt should climb in recession years and decrease, relative to GDP, in good years.

  •  Any cuts should come from military expenditures as (6+ / 0-)

    is was these expansions, along with the Bush tax cuts that subverted the economic surpluses of President Clinton's administration.

    This plot here does not include an additional $500 billion a year that needs to be added to get total military spending.

    Photobucket

    The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

    by HoundDog on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 05:17:48 PM PST

  •  There you have it in the comments. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Garrett

    Pretend the US is Switzerland.

  •  Long-term deficit is healthcare costs and to (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ashaman, ajpuckett, HeyMikey

    some extent military spending. Slowly cutting military spending to 2.5-3% of GDP will help. Getting healthcare costs to the level of Canada or other developed countries will help as well. ACA may bring these costs down somewhat but more work is needed. Also, some tax increases to get revenue to 20-22% of GDP (right now we are at 15% which is extremely low by historical standards) will help.

    •  Thank you for specific targets on defense and (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FG

      revenues .. more on health care costs later but there are huge behavioral costs built into our health care system that are less about 'efficiency' and quite about about choices: drug and alcohol abuse, weight related costs, and end of life care.  Just asking everyone in health care to make less money only goes so far ..

      •  Of course, asking people will get you nowhere. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Be Skeptical

        We need to have fewer specialists and more primary care physicians, cheaper medical schools, overall somewhat lower pay for doctors We need to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies. We need to minimize unneeded medical treatments. More government involvement in healthcare may help with this but it's going to be difficult.

      •  The Brits and Canadians are both almost as big as (0+ / 0-)

        we are, they smoke almost as much, and they drink more.

        It's not about "choices" - it's about wasting half of what we spend on trying to fill the bottomless appetites of shareholders feeding from the trough.

        "the Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of declared material at these facilities and LOFs."

        by JesseCW on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 07:09:35 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Let me echo: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ashaman, SoCaliana

    Kill the wars.

    Start "adjusting" and "optimizing" the war toy industries " safety net."

    -
    Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.
    ~ Jerry Garcia

    by DeadHead on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 05:51:00 PM PST

  •  Massive investments (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SoCaliana

    First, cut Defense. There's no need to spend more money on defense than the entire rest of the planet. And lots of military contracts are pure pork, we could double our combat effectiveness and troop levels on half the money, if we simply stopped putting generals in charge of procurement.

    But more importantly, we invest. We spend $3 trillion on bringing our infrastructure up to code. We spend another $1 trillion on replacing our current energy infrastructure with something modern and carbon neural. And we add in another few hundred billion making buildings more energy efficient, both homes and commercial buildings.

    When we stop sending money overseas for oil, and start spending it locally on wind towers and solar farms, we reshape the entire economy. More money stays within the country, and our technology becomes worthy of exporting to the rest of the world. That money is directly focused at growing our own economy, and thus turns into higher revenue for government spending in the long run.

    Oh, and as a side effect, we preserve civilization for the next few generations.

    •  Where's the FUN in that? LOL (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ashaman
      Oh, and as a side effect, we preserve civilization for the next few generations.
    •  Don't disagree with need to invest .. but (0+ / 0-)

      that increases the costs needed .. will have to add that into the ledger.

      Not sure I'm up for saving the world .. seems kinda expensive.  :)

      •  Investments pay for themselves (0+ / 0-)

        Unlike tax cuts for the wealthy, good investments actually pay for themselves. You have to add them into the ledger only for a few years, eventually the economy grows because of the investments and you reap the rewards down the road.

        Look at the Clinton years, the economy grew faster than our spending did, and he ended up with a budget surplus. But much of that growth was because of the growth of the technology and internet sector, which was created by investments from previous decades.

  •  As others have noted above, stop treating the (3+ / 0-)

    wealthy like some sort of job creating sacred cow.  They don't and they aren't.  Capital gains on your stock portfolio?  Sounds like income to me, tax it as such.  Making >$250k, $500k, $1M/year?  Welcome to the tax rates stratosphere as well!!!  But remember, Wal-Mart workers have to pay the same rate as you on every cent under $250K!  Bwahahahahaha!

    I lie to myself because I'm the only one who continues to believe me. - Vermin

    by 84thProblem on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 06:00:16 PM PST

    •  Stratospheric tax levels and a correction (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SoCaliana, ajpuckett, misslegalbeagle

      I would set it well above $250 k for a family--maybe $400-500k / yr.  For a working couple, both with good incomes, $250,000 is not an extraordinary amount.  And if you are living in SF, or NY, or Boston, or LA and have a couple of kids in college you may not be exactly rolling in the dough.  I am not remotely suggesting such an income is not a comfortable one, but "wealthy" may be a stretch.

      Also, it is not true that "Wal-Mart workers have to pay the same rate as you on every cent under $250K"  

      Say the Wal-Mart worker's household  earns $17,400.  That would be (federal) taxed at 10%. (Of course, it is extremely likely they would end up paying no fed income tax when tax credits, such as the earned income credit, come into play).

      For the household earning $250,000, their first $17,400 is also taxed at 10%.  Then their income from $17,400 to $70,700 is  taxed at 15%.  Then their income from $70,700 to $142,270 is taxed at 25%.  Then their income from $142,270  to $217,450 is taxed at 28%. The rest of their income would be taxed at 33%.  You can see they do not pay the same percent tax rate on their incomes as the Wal-Mart employees.

      The top rate starts at an income of $388,350, and it is currently $35%.  I think having additional layers above this, for the truly wealthy, would be wise.  Say 35% for $388,350 to $700,0,000 and 38% for $700,000 to $1M,  40% for those earning $1 M to $10 M, and 45% above that.  I think such levels would get political support.

      •  Then you have redefined extraordinary. (0+ / 0-)

        Less than 2% of families make that much a year.

        Most people consider luxury enjoyed by 2 in 100 people "extraordinary".

        Pretending that kind of income isn't "wealthy" is like pretending 6'5" isn't tall.

        Even in Sweden, it's tall.  That's just objective reality.

        This is the problem.  ALL of the wealthy need to start paying their fair share again.

        That doesn't mean that 100,000 should bring down the same rate as 5 million - we need at least 8 more brackets.  But lets drop the laughable Clintonian lie that there's anything "Middle Class" about incomes over 150K.

        "the Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of declared material at these facilities and LOFs."

        by JesseCW on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 07:15:01 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Making 100k? (0+ / 0-)

      Suck it the fuck up.

      I'm tired of politicians who are dedicated to protecting the sacred Middle Class from the poor.

      "the Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of declared material at these facilities and LOFs."

      by JesseCW on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 07:10:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Deafening silence? (5+ / 0-)

    You haven't been paying attention. Three comments and one diary since you joined in 2009 ... you haven't recommended anything here in all that time. Methinks you are pretending concern. Or something.

    "If you are sure you understand everything that is going on around you, you are hopelessly confused." Walter Mondale

    by klompendanser on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 06:01:15 PM PST

    •  To you and the five likes .. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Be Skeptical

      My abject apologies for not being there to respond instantly.  It was absolutely my fault that I've been afk in order to pick up my kid, feed her, help her with homework, and put her to bed.  I should have put that work to the side in order to be here for you.

      And yes .. I've not commented hardly at all .. this is my first diary? But I've read quite a bit.  If that is an issue for you or makes the question any less important to you, I can't help you there.

  •  Geez. All these solutions, and not one single (4+ / 0-)

    reply from Valislav "I'm Really Seriously Concerned About All You Idiots" Stein.

    Shocking!

  •  Those on the left have several ideas (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JesseCW

    that would dramatically cut costs.

    But Republicans don't want to hear it.

    First is single payer.

    Second is negotiating drug prices with all those foreign drug companies.

    •  Perhaps those on the left ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Be Skeptical, HeyMikey

      do have many ideas.  But I see far more response to Republican insanity than pro-active development of cohesive liberal budgets.  I don't want the Right wing to define the terms of the debate .. the left should do so by presenting completed ideas.  It would certainly help if the President did because every time he does .. he wins.

      •  Krugmanomics. And other rational policies. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Be Skeptical, bluezen, JesseCW

        Krugman has, over the last 4 years, made the following points:

        1. Short-term, we don't need less debt--we need more deficit-financed stimulus.

        2. Long-term, we don't need to eliminate the debt--we need a declining debt-to-GDP ratio. Growing GDP (in part through #1) would get us that. Just the opposite of the European austerity debacle, which was intended to shrink government debt but has grown it instead.

        3. The long-term deficit is essentially all healthcare. If we could get per-capita healthcare costs in the neighborhood of all the other developed countries (i.e., it ain't fantasyland, it's Canada or France or Germany), the long-term deficit would disappear.

        Other rational policies:

        A. A greenhouse tax. Start it very low now and increase it gradually; tie the rate of increase to GDP growth. Just the certainty that it's coming would prompt immediate investment in green tech. More or less like this: http://www.dailykos.com/...

        B. You mentioned in another comment thread how American life choices drive up American healthcare costs. But those life choices are essentially driven by government policies--subsidies of corn, meat, and fossil fuels; land use regulation. These lead to an unhealthy diet and suburban car-dependent sprawl. Reverse those policies.

        C. Stop invading Middle Eastern countries. That will allow significant cuts to the military budget.

        D. Return tax rates to where they were in the Clinton years. Link the increase schedule to GDP & job growth, so they don't have to be increased till the economy recovers.

        I think that should do it.

        AFAIK nobody is pushing all these ideas in a package. But they're all mainstream progressive ideas.

        "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

        by HeyMikey on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 09:27:14 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Put one book on one side of the scale (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HeyMikey

    Put another book on the other side of the scale.
    Tear out pages of the heavy one and put on the lighter one untill it  balances

    Happy just to be alive

    by exlrrp on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 08:06:56 PM PST

  •  First burn the strawmen (0+ / 0-)

    "They are an entire cruise ship of evil clowns, these current Republicans"...concernedamerican

    by Giles Goat Boy on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 08:35:38 PM PST

  •  You completely avoid the issue (0+ / 0-)

    "I'll be not dialoging with those who don't believe we should worry about this .. I just think that belongs in a separate thread to debate the issue of whether deficits matter.  For this thread, I'm going to assume they do matter and need to be addressed."

    Two comments:  (i) I'm not aware of anyone saying deficits never matter; the point is that the current deficit doesn't matter, and in fact should be bigger.  I would like you, or anyone, to articulate why it is so imperative to reduce projected deficits by $4 trillion now.  

    (ii) Can someone explain to me how we're "going to be like Greece" or "go bankrupt" or "run out of money"?  Even Alan Greenspan says that we cannot be like Greece.  Every economist I've read, including the most conservative, acknowledge this fact -- and it is a fact. The only reason Greece is in the position it is in is because it doesn't control its own currency.  The debt the government owes to itself (e.g., the Social Security trust fund) is meaningless (one pocket to another); the debt the government owes to the American people is beneficial (creating liquidity, giving investors a safe place to stash excess cash); if the government sector runs a surplus, that means the private sector has a deficit and recession results; and finally, external debt (e.g., what the federal government owes China) strengthens us, not weakens us.  So what if China were to "call the debt"?  We'd pay off with depreciated dollars, they'd be out of luck; so they'll never do that.

    "[W]e shall see the reign of witches pass over . . . and the people, recovering their true spirit, restore their government to its true principles." Jefferson

    by RenMin on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 06:36:15 AM PST

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