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People still talk as if the deficit were exploding, as if the United States budget were on an unsustainable path; in fact, the deficit is falling more rapidly than it has for generations, it is already down to sustainable levels, and it is too small given the state of the economy.
that's from the 2nd paragraph of Dwindling Deficit Disorder, Paul Krugman's powerful New York Times column this morning, which I strongly urge you read.    As he says in the paragraph immediately before,
A few lonely economists have tried from the beginning to point out that this fixation is all wrong, that deficit spending is actually appropriate in a depressed economy. But even though the deficit scolds have been wrong about everything so far — where are the soaring interest rates we were promised? — protests that we are having the wrong conversation have consistently fallen on deaf ears.
As is usual with Krugman, he supports his assertions with irrefutable data and presents it with a clear command of effective phrasing.

He reminds us that the deficit IS shrinking, having peaked at $1.4 trillion in 2009 while CBO estimates for 2013 are down to $845 billion.  What is important, according to Krugman, is debt as a percentage of GDP.  As he puts it,

all we need is a deficit small enough that debt grows more slowly than the economy.
 He reminds us that in the 3 decades after the Second World War, our debt doubled but during the same period as at percentage of GDP debt fell 3/4 in the same time frame.

Please note -  the key number is the debt percentage, so even if debt - the accumulation of deficits - is going up, if the economy is growing faster it is not to Krugman the real issue.

Krugman argues that a sustainable deficit would be around $460 billion,

according to new estimates by the budget office, half of our current deficit reflects the effects of a still-depressed economy. The “cyclically adjusted” deficit — what the deficit would be if we were near full employment — is only about $423 billion, which puts it in the sustainable range; next year the budget office expects that number to fall to just $172 billion. And that’s why budget office projections show the nation’s debt position more or less stable over the next decade.
That is, without the draconian cuts from the sequester, and without any so-called Grand Bargain that would at least partially roll back if not slash the reach of the social safety net.  

Krugman acknowledges that there are long-term issues with the growth of health care expenditures - as one over 65 I can see how that would be were my wife's current medical expenses being paid by Medicare.  He nevertheless argues that no coherent argument has been presented as to why those long-term concerns should be driving current economic policy now, when in fact the deficit may even be too small.

Here let me remind readers of something Krugman has pointed out before, even if not a focus in this column.  The cost of borrowing is currently very low.  The amount of economic activity that could be stimulated by more federal government borrowing makes it foolish not to do more stimulus activity with borrowed funds. The ROI is close to spectacular, and it is the one way we could be creating enough more jobs to begin to truly recovering the economy.  The taxes on those additional jobs would have a real multiplier effect in the public sector -  sales and state and local income taxes would go up, the spending at the retail level would create not only more retail jobs but more jobs in manufacturing, the additional income in private hands would begin to push real estate values back up, and we would not be continuing to lose state and local government jobs.

Krugman knows that inside the Beltway there are those who are invested in fear-mongering about the deficit:

Fiscal fearmongering is a major industry inside the Beltway, especially among those looking for excuses to do what they really want, namely dismantle Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
 They don't want the data to undermine the arguments they are pushing, and may even resort to using bogus or irrelevant numbers in an attempt to persuade us that we are still in a fiscal crisis.
But we aren’t. The deficit is indeed dwindling, and the case for making the deficit a central policy concern, which was never very strong given low borrowing costs and high unemployment, has now completely vanished.
If there is any integrity in the Pulitzer Prize process, this column should get Krugman a Pulitzer for commentary to accompany his Nobel for Economics.


Originally posted to teacherken on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 04:37 AM PDT.

Also republished by ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement.

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  •  Tip Jar (173+ / 0-)
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    a2nite, WakeUpNeo, Williston Barrett, TomP, 207wickedgood, WheninRome, ZedMont, citizen dan, Gareth, SCFrog, jm214, onionjim, coppercelt, Question Authority, JanL, Glass Navel, Byron from Denver, JayDean, SD Goat, psnyder, gulfgal98, hazzcon, jamess, shanesnana, effervescent, filkertom, jadt65, Dartagnan, borndem, Crashing Vor, Dallasdoc, Buckeye54, One Pissed Off Liberal, Helpless, Kevskos, Jim Tietz, lennysfo, ItsSimpleSimon, profundo, fenway49, Eddie L, Sybil Liberty, ReverseThePolarity, No one gets out alive, crankypatriot, dotsright, cybersaur, Joieau, greenbastard, zenox, Robobagpiper, Loudoun County Dem, Leo Flinnwood, tampaedski, Tom Anderson, ArchTeryx, marleycat, newfie, rapala, bluegrass50, zerelda, Mary Mike, paradox, kkjohnson, Alma, sarvanan17, CwV, OIL GUY, angry hopeful liberal, roses, shopkeeper, anodnhajo, xaxnar, RFK Lives, renbear, drofx, faithnomore, Aureas2, countwebb, jediwashuu, Tool, Keone Michaels, Zinman, rmonroe, TRPChicago, bfitzinAR, Laconic Lib, Mokurai, sostos, wonkydonkey, opinionated, JimWilson, orlbucfan, The Jester, Calamity Jean, JWK, Dem Beans, basquebob, Plox, solesse413, sfbob, fixxit, Shippo1776, Gowrie Gal, Jim R, Rumarhazzit, Mad Season, rasbobbo, BradyB, Dodgerdog1, tofumagoo, JBL55, ColoTim, fisheye, artmartin, GAS, poliwrangler, GeorgeXVIII, Laurel in CA, Themistoclea, MadRuth, papercut, Arahahex, kbman, Azazello, elwior, Oaktown Girl, jam, Just Bob, Polly Syllabic, sgrAstar, ivy redneck, slowbutsure, happymisanthropy, Dobber, Words In Action, stlsophos, greengemini, chimene, Catte Nappe, Bob Guyer, GDbot, Jackson L Haveck, VTCC73, milkbone, blueoasis, cocinero, JayBat, dewtx, clinging to hope, linkage, venger, brentbent, fiercefilms, Chaddiwicker, JekyllnHyde, tidalwave1, monkeybrainpolitics, Shockwave, Youffraita, elmo, Involuntary Exile, SherwoodB, emal, OleHippieChick, Aaa T Tudeattack, xynz, vigilant meerkat, radical simplicity, ItsaMathJoke, Fireshadow, TexasLefty, Eric Nelson

    "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

    by teacherken on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 04:37:17 AM PDT

  •  Borrowing the money today (22+ / 0-)

    and paying it back when the interest rates go up means.....we will get a windfall.

    But people apparently are not capable of seeing the big picture. They think in finite terms as if the month's bills are paid and a chapter is ended. But economics is not like that, it cycles[v] within cycles[n] ad infinitum.

    •  don't know why this is so hard to grasp (27+ / 0-)

      almost everyone with a mortgage has refinanced at least once as mortgage rates have gone down.  We have three times in past few years, lowering our rate from just under 6% to just above 3%.  In the process we have rolled other debt into the mortgage, been able to skip a number of mortgage payments, etc., and as a result been able to do things like upgrade a bathroom (necessary for my spouse's safety with her back), and address some previously unmet needs around the house and dental issues for both of us.  That additional spending contributes to the economy as a whole, but would not have been possible absent the refi.  

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 05:05:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not entirely true (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      That would be true if the government was primarily financing its debt using 10-30 instruments, but in fact a lot of debt is financed for much shorter durations and thus does bear some interest rate risk.  

    •  But Conquest IS Like That nt (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Words In Action, elwior

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 06:39:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  People like to think of economy as religion. (10+ / 0-)

      They set up dogma despite evidence and then, when their actions inflict severe pain and/or catastrophe, they blame their 'god', aka the market, in order to absolve themselves of their own wrong choices, leaving them free to perpetuate those wrong choices, ad infinitum.

      It's all cycles, not just economics. We're all about perpetuating cycles. Just the wrong ones. We're just a stupid species.

      I will not say do not weep, for not all tears are an evil.

      by ReverseThePolarity on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 06:41:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  (Borrow today)It depends on bond duration (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elwior, hrvatska, Meteor Blades

      Before pronouncing this as a good thing, one has to look at the composition of the debt in bond terms . If daily funding of the deficit is through short maturity bonds, they will have to be rolled over in the future. If interest rates rise , then the short term bonds have to be rolled over into higher interest rates.

      While short duration bonds have very low rates today imagine the debt at what used to be considered a great rate at 4-5% from the coupon rate.

      To understand the maximum effect , one has to imagine say 18t-20t at 4-5% Then you have 720B to 1T in debt service costs.

      In short there many calculations that have to go into the current debt level. The easiest way is to look at the annual interest rate costs. So far this year it's at 168 Billion for the first 5 Months.   In Fiscal 2012 $359,796,008,919.49 (Billion) in interest was paid (around 2.2%).

      It is interesting to note that this interest bill is less than the one in 2000 when interest rates started to normalize. The debt was 5.9 Trillion then (6%).  If Interest rates were to normalize , depending on the mix, we would see 1T in annual interest costs +/-200 B.

      That's a crap load of money that isn't getting spent on things that would necessarily stimulate the economy. One thing we do know is that debt service costs are pretty well bottomed here and have only one place to go and that's up as long as the recession is adding 1T in debt per year.

      To get the deficit to a normal level even by Krugman's analysis, we need increased income and that only comes through jobs. But there is one other issue that is seldom addressed unless someone like MB is dissecting the employment numbers. The quality of the jobs plus the pay levels cannot keep shrinking. Otherwise increases in employment will have little effect on revenue.

      Any other increase in revenue would have to come through congressional action and I believe that won't happen.

      Finally, looking at GDP, we have to start looking at the quality of the GDP number. For example, Health Care is  19-20% of GDP right now and rising by 100-400 Basis points per year. Govt spending, last I looked was 40% (total by all govt not just Fed) of the GDP.  Then we look at finance at 20% of GDP. Of course GDP figures don't show this unless you specifically search for it. It has a breakdown of where the money is spent. It makes it look better. Although the sector breakdown I've seen seems to exclude Health care completely.

      If Interest rates go up, finance will become a greater percent of GDP along with Health Care. I just don't see how that's going to do us much good. Especially if annual receipts are mired in the sub 20% range. Right now they are the lowest they have ever been.

      Finally, Krugman's thesis seems to be at odds with Keynesian economic theory which calls for surpluses (rainy Day funds) during good times and deficit spending during bad times. He seems to suggest a net add onto debt is good regardless  of good times or bad.

      •  That's a second reason to push infrastructure (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elwior, Dburn

        The first reason is that we have a huge infrastructure investment deficit.

        As for the second reason, infrastructure bonds are typically long term bonds.

        Others have simply gotten old. I prefer to think I've been tempered by time.

        by Just Bob on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 12:56:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Makes no difference if the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      austerians onn the Right and in the Middle don't want to believe it.

      They want another round of sticking it to the 90% and they will get it, common sense, reality, justice, truth be damned.

      One of the major differences between Democrats and Republicans is that the former have the moral imagination to see the moral dimension of financial affairs, while the latter do not. Some pragmatists are exceptions.

      by Words In Action on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 12:07:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Comorbidity (9+ / 0-)

    I think the comorbidity of dwindling deficit disorder with obama derangement syndrome is high.

  •  Krugman: fighting valiantly (25+ / 0-)

    The entire MSM except a few shows on MSNBC, are blasting away the message that we can't afford America. There isn't enough money for anything but wars. Krugman is like a lone voice in the storm, and they are trying to drown him out.

    A true craftsman will meticulously construct the apparatus of his own demise.

    by onionjim on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 05:09:12 AM PDT

  •  Krugman is Cassandra, (12+ / 0-)

    as far as policy-makers and Villagers are concerned.

    The GOP can't win on ideas. They can only win by lying, cheating, and stealing. So they do.

    by psnyder on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 05:29:42 AM PDT

  •  Something that Krugman doesn't discuss but (17+ / 0-)

    is nevertheless vitally important is that not only are borrowing costs low currently, but borrowing costs are under the control of the fed and they are set as a matter of policy, not by the vague dictates of bond vigilantes and other fairies. The Fed controls interest rates because it controls bank reserves and the overnight funds market. This is especially true when the government deficit spends because that spending goes directly into reserves and forces the overnight rate down until the fed intervenes by trading treasuries for reserves. The longer bonds are all based on the overnight floor and the expectation of inflation during the term of the bond. With the U6 near 20% and industrial capacity running anemic at 80%, there is ZERO expectation of inflation and significant fear of deflation.

    So the 10 yr bond pays 2% and that is in itself proof that Krugman is mostly right and ObamaBoehner et al are wrong. But isn't this little bit of bipartisanship delightful? Togetherness, solidarity in their mutually held false premises should really advance the cause of their real constituents in New York, London, Zurich, and the other money centers. For the rest of us, not so much. But isn't it the function of the modern politician to deliver his voting constituency to his funding constituency? And haven't they done a superlative job of it during the last decade or so?

    •  and deficit hawks dislike Fed independence (6+ / 0-)

      because it undercuts their narrative and gainsays the arguments they make for "austerity"

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 06:10:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Frankly with the Fed holding the rates down, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      happymisanthropy, elwior

      rate increases in mortgages/30 year bonds are actually GOOD things as far as indicators go.  Since long term rates are just an aggregation of expected short term rates, increases in the long term rates in this world are a sign of things going improving.

    •  The Fed only controls... (0+ / 0-) the extent that the market allows it to.

      If people are unwilling to lend to you at a given interest rate, that's it, the Fed is powerless.

      The market always gets the last word. Always.

      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

      by Sparhawk on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 09:16:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Powerless? Hardly. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        There is no economic reason to encumber deficits with debt. That is a policy choice, and rather a stupid one. Nevertheless, the primary dealers have no choice in the matter. And, if the holders of bonds would rather be holders of cash or reserves, that their choice. There are relatively few storage facilities for fiat money that can guarantee repayment on maturity.

        The market always gets the last word. Always.
        This is idiotic - the market players say it outright: you can't fight the fed. You, a firm, a state, a nation without a sovereign currency monopoly have no option but to borrow to cover deficits. We've discussed this before, Sparhawk. I guess you never checked out the references or you would know better.
    •  Well *said.* (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      if necessary for years; if necessary, alone

      by SouthernLiberalinMD on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 11:25:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The debt hysteria benefits the 1% (10+ / 0-)

    Krugman needs to write about how the 1% benefit by screwing the rest of us.

    There's no mystery about why this is happening.

    The Fail will continue until actual torches and pitchforks are set in motion. -

    by No one gets out alive on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 06:40:09 AM PDT

  •  Krugman also says that when we do (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    address the unsustainable growth of Medicare (in 10 years?), we are going to have to have, in his words, "death panels" (denying "extreme care" -- i.e., end of life care) and "sales taxes" (a VAT or something similar).

    That's not where I want to be in 10 years.  

    •  Note the date of Krugman's post (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Laconic Lib, elwior

      and it might help to read beyond the headline. (Not saying you didn't...)

      First, the post is dated Nov 14, 2010 when conditions were not quite what they are now. Something about an election I seem to recall that had some effect on the political atmosphere in Washington... Perhaps Krugman will revisit the issue in due time and revise and extend his remarks. At any rate, a blog post in 2010 is hardly definitive of a permanent position on dynamic issues. Things have a tendency to change over time.

      Second,  he states clearly that he was being deliberately provocative on This Week, using terms that would get a rise out of the panel (and perhaps the audience.) "Death panels" and "sales taxes" are terms that get noticed. "Adjusting medical costs downwards" and "enhancing revenues" do not.

      Third, public policy makers (and not solely through Medicare and Medicaid) are already confronting questions of outrageous medical costs  -- including the costs of extreme end of life care. Krugman doesn't refer to "denying" end of life care, he wrote about the policy question of "how much we're willing to spend" for "extreme care." That question is still open. No one I know of has a universally agreed upon answer, but more and more people are recognizing that "extreme care" is the most expensive -- and often completely futile -- option.

      Fourth, when he wrote, soon after the 2010 elections that handed House and effective Senate control to the Rs, Krugman and some others saw a VAT as the most politically feasible means of raising additional revenue. It was never proposed as the only means nor the best means. It is a means.

      Of course unlimited spending for medical care and continued reductions in government revenues are always an option...

      Blogging as Ché Pasa since 2007.

      by felix19 on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 08:30:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sorry, he restated it in January 2013. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        At a speech at he gave for 6th and I..  

        Promo for the speech here.

        There are several videos of the speech on Youtube, like here and here.

        •  Sorry, nothing at that link (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Words In Action, elwior

          backs up your claim.

          It is an old strategy of tyrants to delude their victims into fighting their battles for them. FDR

          by Betty Pinson on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 11:18:15 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  "The snarky version is death panels and (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            sales taxes."  

            Did you watch the video?  

            It's a restatement of what he said in the 2010 op ed I linked to.  Here'sthe video the op ed refers to.

            He's said it a few times.  His way to handle the unsustainable growth in Medicare is the oversight review board to make decisions about what they will and won't pay for "in extreme care" as he says, along with a broad based middle class tax like a VAT.

            •  I've been reading Krugman for years (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Words In Action, elwior

              So, no, I'm not a sucker for these kinds of diversions.

              It is an old strategy of tyrants to delude their victims into fighting their battles for them. FDR

              by Betty Pinson on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 11:37:28 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Krugman's own words (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                posted in the NYT under his name are "diversions"?  

                A video of him saying the same thing on ABC This Week is "diversions"?

                •  Yes, here they are: (5+ / 0-)
                  So, what I said is that the eventual resolution of the deficit problem both will and should rely on “death panels and sales taxes”. What I meant is that

                  (a) health care costs will have to be controlled, which will surely require having Medicare and Medicaid decide what they’re willing to pay for — not really death panels, of course, but consideration of medical effectiveness and, at some point, how much we’re willing to spend for extreme care

                  I'm sorry, but I'm a long-time health care activist, so I actually know what he's talking about.  He's referring to "medical effectiveness" or, in the parlance "evidence-based medicine".  That's the practice of providing treatment to patients based on the results of sound, scientific evidence, as opposed to the current practice by some physicians of prescribing expensive tests and treatments during end of life care that are known to not be effective or necessary.

                  Now, members of the Tea Party call these "death panels", but I'm sure you don't want to be lumped in with that group.

                  There are a large number of scholarly articles on the topic, I can provide you some links if you really want to learn more about it.

                  It is an old strategy of tyrants to delude their victims into fighting their battles for them. FDR

                  by Betty Pinson on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 12:00:13 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  He called it "death panels" as well. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    Several times.

                    Yes, he means that, as he says in that op ed, we are going to have to make decision about what "extreme care" (end of life care) we are going to pay for.  In that January 2013 video, he says the "snarky term" is death panels, but he doesn't flinch from the notion that some oversight board is going to have to make a decision that we are not going to pay $100,000 for a treatment that has a 30% chance of increasing the life of an 80 year old for 6 months.  I understand exactly what he was talking about.  I wonder how comfortable people are with that notion.

                    He says that we will ALSO need a broad-based middle class tax increase, like a sales tax or a VAT.  (If you look at the numbers, that kind of tax raises a LOT of money.) I suspect that far fewer people are comfortable with the notion of a national sales tax or VAT.

    •  Then produce your plan (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      for how to control health care costs.

      Discussions of Medicare costs without concurrent discussions of health care costs are specious.

      if necessary for years; if necessary, alone

      by SouthernLiberalinMD on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 11:26:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If I knew, I'd be on TV or advising the President (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The reason I posted is that people here rely on everything Krugman says, and they seem to forget that, along with Krugman's view that we ought to wait 10 years to address the Medicare/Medicaid issue, Krugman says that the way he thinks we are going to handle it in 10 years is by deciding what "extreme care" we will not pay for, and a broad-based sales tax or VAT.  

        If people adopt Krugman's view on "wait 10 years," are they ALSO adopted Krugman's view "and then do death panels and sales taxes"?  

  •  Also important is what Gov't spending should do (0+ / 0-)

    To me, most important is to revive industrial growth in our country.  Not service sector jobs, but manufacturing and construction (re-construction).  This is the root of the problem in my view - the moving of wealth creating activities outside the United States.

    How can Gov't spending and tax policy drive these jobs back into the U.S.  This is complex, so regardless of how it's done, we have to be united behind what we do.

    West. No further west. All sea. --Robert Grenier

    by Nicolas Fouquet on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 07:09:35 AM PDT

  •  What's most inexplicable (5+ / 0-)

    is that sufficient deficit spending now to stimulate the economy back to health would ultimately benefit many of the same special interests who are pushing for austerity, especially big business and Wall St. So what IS their problem, other than this being yet another phony issue being used to put the GOP back in power--ironically, helped by many Dems too stupid or cowardly to resist?

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 07:10:59 AM PDT

    •  But that would help non-rich people, too (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kovie, dfarrah, happymisanthropy, elwior

      See Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class, about the imperative not only to be rich, but to be as much richer, more powerful, and more important than everybody else as possible, and to let everybody know it. As Gore Vidal put it,

      It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.

      Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

      by Mokurai on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 09:07:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  So they're more interested in being (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        orlbucfan, elwior

        relatively richer than absolutely rich? Austerity will ultimate make them less rich, but so long as they're richer, in comparison, that's preferable? I don't know if this qualifies as psychotic, but it's got to be close.

        In any case, all the more reason to not give a flying fuck what they want.

        "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

        by kovie on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 09:09:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  it's not psychotic (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          it's rational when you understand that, like Koch, they only want their fair share:  all of it.

          Your end of the Constitution is sinking.

          by happymisanthropy on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 12:05:05 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  All of what, though? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            A less prosperous and productive society means less in real worth to them. They want a bigger slice of a smaller pie. That's psychotic.

            And it IS psychotic--ok, sociopathic--to want everything, because it necessarily means that everyone else has nothing.

            "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

            by kovie on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 12:34:12 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  So what happens when the economy recovers? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Once the economy gets more healthy and we get all the pent up consumer spending going again, what happens then?  Won't interest rates rise in order to combat inflation, especially with all the extra money that has been circulated?

    I think a lot of the worry is that while borrowing is very cheap now and deficit levels may get to what appears to be sustainable levels, if you keep such massive amounts of debt then even small increases in interest rates could cause the cost of servicing the debt to rise quite a bit long-term.  It seems imprudent to me to base longer-term forecasts of debt sustainability based on record-low interest rates.

    •  the borrowing is not on variable rates (7+ / 0-)

      which is why it makes sense to borrow now at low fixed rates to spend to stimulate the economy

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 07:53:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But if we stay in deficit? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        If we stay in deficit then the borrowing the gov't did at low rates will have to be rolled-over into whatever the new, higher rate is though, right?

        Imagine that in March 2018 you have $50B borrowed at 2.5% coming due, but you're still running deficits.  At that point don't you need to pay back that $50B and then borrow that $50B again but at whatever the current rate is?  What if the rate is closer to the historical norm, say 5%?  Then in April 2018 you have to do the same thing, and every month after that.  Servicing the debt would become much more expensive, wouldn't it?

        •  That is why the Krugman plan is to borrow (5+ / 0-)

          cheaply now to invest in what will build up the economy so that taxes on increased incomes will result in paying down the debt later.

          Education and infrastructure, not the military and corporate subsidies.

          All of this assumes that we can get away from Republicans creating massive deficits at every opportunity in order to Starve the Beast. To them, the Beast is anything that helps anybody other than the rich and the racist pseudo-Christian allies of the rich who can be induced to vote against their own interest "because Blacks get hurt worse," in the words of Southern Strategist Lee Atwater. Programs for the poor, financial regulation, consumer product safety, environmental protection, renewable power, science, Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid&ellip;

          If they were serious about wanting people to be "makers", making enough money to pay income taxes, they would be helping to rein in corporations and empowering labor unions, and would fully fund education and other anti-poverty programs. Then we could cut the programs after poverty is eliminated. Which brings us back to borrowing at the current spectacularly low interest rates.

          Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

          by Mokurai on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 09:17:32 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The plans is never anything other than spending (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            And its not a plan of "lets do this now and then change it later" its a plan of "lets do this now with justification X, and then do it later with justification Y" or "lets do this now, and we'll change it at some undefined later which never arrives"

            Krugman (and I suspect others) know that once you start spending, you don't ever stop.

            Then we could cut the programs after poverty is eliminated.
            aka never.
        •  Pay down debt in good times (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elwior, VTCC73

          As our government was doing in the 90's, right up until Bush II was selected.

          It is an old strategy of tyrants to delude their victims into fighting their battles for them. FDR

          by Betty Pinson on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 11:20:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Not entirely true (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        a lot of our debt is constantly maturing and being replaced and is thus subject to current rates.  Also, a lot of debt is still purchased in short duration notes (which is lunacy in this rate environment).  

        •  debt being rolled over is independent of new (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          borrowing unless the latter drives up interest rates

          "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

          by teacherken on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 12:28:10 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It is the same (0+ / 0-)

            when you roll over debt, you simply are issuing a new note to pay off the old one, however, the new note has its own interest rate (and term) and will be the current rate, not the same as the one it replaced.  Hence the risk is that when the debt comes due, we are rolling it over at higher rates.  This is why the government should be issuing as many 10s-30s as possible and a lot less of <2 year notes.  

            Effectively, there is no difference between debt rolled over and new debt issued (at least from an interest rate standpoint).

    •  Rates will rise - but because they cannot go much (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      faithnomore, Calamity Jean, elwior, VTCC73

      lower than they are now.  That said, with a good economy, the government can attack the debt then.  And in any case, the majority of debt is money we owe ourselves.  As long as the current obligation/the interest payments are not a total drag on the budget, things will be fine.

      Honestly, it's REALLY REALLY hard to get into a deficit crisis if you can print and borrow in your own currency.  History has borne this out ... it's not impossible and I am not an MMTer, but most of the real disasters have been tied to having constraints on liquidity.

      •  I give up. What is MMTer intended to explain? (0+ / 0-)

        I do wish people wouldn't do that. If it's code for telling the world you're an insider and know much more than the rest of us, it also divides us into the informed and the ignorant. More than that, it simply fails to communicate.

        Others have simply gotten old. I prefer to think I've been tempered by time.

        by Just Bob on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 03:57:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sorry, MMT is modern monetary theory - (0+ / 0-)

          which is a boring term anyway, but thought it might have been in the media sufficiently.  One of the economics movements that says deficits don't matter at all ... not trying to be an insider so much as poorly understanding how much the term has (or hasn't) propagated.

    •  You have hit upon something (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      in your first paragraph.  There is plenty of cash sitting around doing nothing -- three to four trillion on the books of large corporations for starters.  Lending this money at current low interest rates could turn out to be disasterous for the lenders in the long run.  Pushing so much money into the economy would triger a boom, precipitating an increase in interest rates.  The value of the loans will decline proportionately to the rise in rates, so the big boys sit on the cash, and we are all left with a bag full of air.

      Bene Scriptum, Bene Intellectum.

      by T C Gibian on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 09:24:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  For who? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Nothing remotely indicates that 90% have or will recover. At least four things indicate that they will not:

      1) After all the job "recovery"we are still about 7-8 million in the hole from where we should be based on population growth. At the rate we are going, that will take decades.

      2) In the meantime, wages have fallen, so lots more people who might be full participants in the economy are below, at or around the poverty level.

      3) Wealth and income continue to concentrate. With them goes influence and power. So, 90%n continue to lose influence over their future.

      4) Climate change impacts will increasingly disrupt markets and economic activity until growth is impossible.

      One of the major differences between Democrats and Republicans is that the former have the moral imagination to see the moral dimension of financial affairs, while the latter do not. Some pragmatists are exceptions.

      by Words In Action on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 12:26:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  There IS a Spending Problem (9+ / 0-)

    The problem is that our government is not spending enough!  Not enough on educating our youth and also adults needing a new career!  Not enough to replace essential infrastructure!  Not enough to defense contractors....err, scratch that.

    •  should be governments - plural (6+ / 0-)

      one reason it is critical that the feds do this is that 49 states must run balanced budgets (VT is the exception) and while some (eg VA) have rainy day funds to cover short-term crises, either those are now drained or the states do not have.  IN either case we are seeing state and local government jobs disappearing, which puts more pressure on unemployment compensation and which removes their incomes from spending on the economy which continues a downward pressure felt most fully at state and local levels

      and remember that for local govts education is almost always one of the top two categories of spending, so we are eating our seed corn for the future by slashing teaching jobs and increasing class sizes

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 07:56:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Can't cut spending and increase jobs (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      unless you believe the private sector will reward the government for cutting spending--as the private sector wants it to--by gratefully showering private-sector jobs at a living wage on a happy populace.

      After thirty years of testing out that proposition, I think we can shelve it as untenable.

      if necessary for years; if necessary, alone

      by SouthernLiberalinMD on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 11:28:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Lots of Krugman on TV this week (0+ / 0-)

    He was preaching to the choir on Rev. Al on Friday and then on George Stephonopoulos on Sunday.  

    I wonder if Krugman is trying to make up for a lackluster "debate" he had on Charley Rose a week ago.  An hour supposedly debating with Joe Scarborough in which he came off poorly - as he acknowledged on his blog.  Some debate - no opening statements, no structured  rebuttal times, only a slight nod to concluding statements; just a couple of guys arguing, giving ignoramus Joe the advantage, since Joe interrupts, talks over, and obfuscates with the best.  Krugman got in a few shots, but mostly a wasted opportunity for the forces of Reason against those of Conventional Wisdom.

    At least he got on with some "adults" on "This Week." and made some good points.  Too bad he can't get more exposure.  One commenter on his blog suggested that he come out from Princeton and get into the media mix for a while.  If only.

    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." General Nathanael Greene, Continental Army, April, 1781.

    by faithnomore on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 09:09:26 AM PDT

    •  I can't speak for Krugman (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elwior, faithnomore

      but if I were in his situation, I'd be getting tired of repeating the same arguments to fools who fight or ignore it.

      He's been making these arguments for several years now, while watching our economy circle the drain as political leaders ignore it.

      Casting pearls before swine probably gets tiresome after a while.  Trying to talk over idiots like Scarborough and Stephonopoulus probably gets boring after a while.

      I'm just glad Krugman is still willing to find new ways to keep getting the same message out there on how to fix the economy.

      It is an old strategy of tyrants to delude their victims into fighting their battles for them. FDR

      by Betty Pinson on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 11:24:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't blame him either (0+ / 0-)

        He frequently, during the "debate" had this "WTF am I even bothering talking to these idiots? " look on his face.  But  if it is pointless,, WTF even bother?
        The real tragedy is that he is the only face of economic reality to be allowed to consistently come before the public.

        If there were a couple more, hopefully really good in front of the cameras, economists who were allowed on TV, things might be better. ( Jared Bernstein actually does this, and he has cred as a former Clinton economic official).  But Krugman needs more backup.

        "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." General Nathanael Greene, Continental Army, April, 1781.

        by faithnomore on Tue Mar 12, 2013 at 05:15:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The deficit emergency is manufactured by the (7+ / 0-)

    corporate imperialists. These barons need to squeeze as much resources (ie money) out of Americans as they can before moving on to other countries.

    We've seen this before. Bush 2, Walker...cut taxes for the rich and corporations, then cry about the deficit and how we don't have enough money to pay for things. It's a self-imposed, self-inflicted wound.

    It's like a man voluntarily leaving his good paying job to work at McDonalds, and then complaining to his family that they don't have enough money.

    "Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities" Voltaire.

    by JWK on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 09:14:53 AM PDT

  •  Deficit as (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mokurai, orlbucfan, dfarrah, elwior, VTCC73

    a distraction from the looting of our nations wealth by corporate interests.

    We need to change the conversation. I'm done talking about our deficit, unless it's related to the deficit of ethics or the deficit of lawful behavior by the financial industry. How about we talk about the utter deficit of convictions of the criminal enterprises that have stolen from us so brazenly?

    So, we can talk about reducing the deficit of criminal charges. Once that deficit is reduced, we can talk about the rest.

  •  And no Grand Bargain needed, so President (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Should stop pushing for one with so called "entitlement reforms" which is short for cuts to the New Deal programs.

    Plato's " The Cave" taught me to question reality.

    by CTDemoFarmer on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 09:51:51 AM PDT

  •  Whoops (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Christine Romans and Ali Velshi on CNN have been on the verge of on-air suicide for years about the deficit, oh my Gawd, the deficit.

    The deficit!

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 09:59:43 AM PDT

  •  The Krug is Gaining Ground (3+ / 0-)

    It's possible, even likely, that this will reach a tipping point and the austerians will start folding their tents and slinking away.

    The reason will be the relentless Paul Krugman. He keeps after them, repeating plain and obvious facts.

    I would not know what I know about the economy had I not been reading his column and books, and there are millions of others in the same boat. It's a growing number, and the other side is weakening.

    Pundits who never heard of the Keynesian model are now writing about it, and doing so with some intelligence. That's how grand changes in thinking start.

    We've just got to make it happen sooner.

    A Southerner in Yankeeland

    •  Hope you're right. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      He's been telling truth compellingly for years. The Right and Middle seem to have no trouble ignoring him. The Left hasn't figure out how to make his points -- i.e., reality -- matter in the national conversation enough to influence mass attitudes or government policy.

      One of the major differences between Democrats and Republicans is that the former have the moral imagination to see the moral dimension of financial affairs, while the latter do not. Some pragmatists are exceptions.

      by Words In Action on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 12:28:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Even the Versy Serious People (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elwior, Words In Action

        Brad Delong, Dean Baker, Larry Summers, IMF economists, Ezra Klein...and now the Huffingtonpost features his statements on an almost daily basis.

        That just touches the most well known, and I think it's fair to say that most of them (the first two being the obvious exceptions) wouldn't be writing realistically, or at all, about the deficit and Keynesian theory if it wasn't for Krugman.

        He not only put the topic into the public arena, he's made it a serious issue. (You can tell it has become a serious issue when the very unserious VSP Joe Scarborough thinks the topic will build ratings.)

        A Southerner in Yankeeland

  •  full employment doesn't last (0+ / 0-)

    Are we to rack up debt every recession and let it roll over forever until the percentage of revenue we pay on interest overwhelms the budget?

    I agree now isn't the time but I don't understand spending such a large portion of our nations revenue on debt interest in perpetuity. It's another manner of transferring wealth to rich t-bill holders and foreign interests.

    Middle class growing policy has got to escape the confines of taxation and budget concerns and move into regulatory statutes.

    Entitlement reform should not be a choice between making it's funding a more progressive tax scheme or reducing benefits, but through incentives and regulations that promote the growth of incomes in the lower brackets that capture FICA payments.

    Small increases in lower and middle class incomes will expand revenue dramatically.

    •  During full employment, we pay down debt (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fisheye, BradyB, elwior

      It's been done before, most recently during the mid to late 90's.  It's fairly simple.  

      It is an old strategy of tyrants to delude their victims into fighting their battles for them. FDR

      by Betty Pinson on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 11:27:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  A deficit budget never pays down the debt (0+ / 0-)

        so when Krugman talks about a sustainable deficit he isn't explicit in how that pays down the long term debt, even if paying off cyclical debt is implicit in his commentary, as you suggest.

        •  In the 90's, Clinton/Gore ran a budget surplus (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          they used that to pay down the debt.

          You can look it up.  That's what happens when you avoid unnecessary, illegal wars, raise taxes on the wealthy and fix the economy.

          That was the final straw for the GOP, they were furious They couldn't stand to see the federal government turning a profit and paying off debt.  That's why they were so passionate about getting Bush II selected, so they could take all that money away from the federal government and taxpayers.

          It is an old strategy of tyrants to delude their victims into fighting their battles for them. FDR

          by Betty Pinson on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 12:07:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sry I am losing track here. (0+ / 0-)

            A surplus is not a deficit. The word surplus does not arise in Krugman's article. And he does not explain what he means by "sustainable deficit", so I can't look that up. Is it a deficit that is counterbalanced by a cyclical surplus? Does it take into account the long term debt?

            Bear in mind that the budget doesn’t have to be balanced to put us on a fiscally sustainable path; all we need is a deficit small enough that debt grows more slowly than the economy.
            Fiscal sustainability is not a reason by itself for long term revolving debt.
            •  Ok, bye (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              elwior, BradyB

              I can see you're not interested in a fact-based discussion.

              It is an old strategy of tyrants to delude their victims into fighting their battles for them. FDR

              by Betty Pinson on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 12:34:06 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Long term debt? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Who gives a shit right now?  We have an economy that is facing a very real JOBS deficit and all the deficit scolds seem to do is increase that deficit by laying off government workers.  How stupid is that?  We need more jobs so the solution is to lay people off.

              Only in Conservatardia!  Down is up!  Black is white!  Jobs are created by getting rid of them!  Revenue is raised by cutting it!

     can we have an honest debate in this country when one side are nothing but posturing, incompetent, hypocritical malcontents?

              •  U.S. debt produces Chinese (0+ / 0-)

                jobs not American jobs, and exacerbates wealth disparities, here and globally, unless you buy into wacko trickle down conservative economic theory, that up is down and blah blah. You won't find many credible progressive economists or Democratic politicians who agree with Republican debt building. So I pointed out an issue that Krugman avoided in his article.

                I clearly didn't claim it was an immediate priority, or contradict Krugman's deficit advice, but I do realize raising questions to a Paul Krugman analysis is immediate hay for straw man construction. So carry on.

    •  Why don't we try it and see how it goes. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fisheye, elwior

      We've already tried deficit reduction, and so have others. Things still suck. Let's try what has, in the past, been at least a partial solution. Let's not let the perfect, which we haven't yet imagined, be the enemy of the good, which has worked fairly well before when dealing with economic contraction.

      if necessary for years; if necessary, alone

      by SouthernLiberalinMD on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 11:30:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The real reason for the deficits (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, venger, Russycle

    The Bush Tax Cuts and the Bush Wars.

    Ironically, the things the deficit scolds were all supportive of back then...back before they were deficit scolds.

  •  Well, the cost of borrowing is low because (0+ / 0-)

    the federal reserve is charging banks a minimal amount to cover processing and record keeping costs. Which is as it should be. After all, when the Federal Reserve takes dollars from the Treasury, they cost nothing when it's done electronically. Bills printed by the Bureau of Engraving cost eight cents, regardless of the denomination (one dollar bill costs the same as a hundred dollar bill and in 2012 they issued over three billion of the latter).
    The dollar is intrinsically worthless. It is a certified IOU, which, like a certified check, has a guarantee. Similarly, when two people apply for a certificate of marriage, that gives their relationship additional weight -- more than a common law marriage has.
    A dollar is a symbol of value, much as an inch is a symbol of distance or an ounce is a symbol of weight. The things symbolized are real and important, but an abstract inch is worthless.
    Why we borrow certificates from people who accumulate them like used postage stamps and then pay a premium for their use is a puzzlement. I suppose it all goes back to the Dutch, who managed to acquire all the gold stolen and brought back from the Americas and to sequester it in vaults, while they gave people credit slips to pass around instead of the gold. Presumably, the Dutch took a portion of the gold for themselves in payment for keeping it safe. How Spain, which had plundered the gold managed to lose it within a generation, I don't know. The Dutch used it to finance the industrial development in Britain. Also, industrial agriculture in the American colonies was financed. The inability to pay off loans led to the routine bankruptcy of the plantations and accounted for slaves being sold off and their families disrupted.
    Poor financial management by modern corporations affects modern families in a similar negative way.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 04:16:08 PM PDT

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