September 7, 2016

"It’s three agencies of government when I get there that are gone – Commerce, Education and the um, what’s the third one there?"

The department that Rick Perry forgot — in his infamous "oops" moment — was Energy.

I'm thinking of this today because Donald Trump might be going after the same 3:
At a private meeting of conservatives in Cleveland this summer, Donald Trump’s senior economic adviser, Stephen Moore, said the candidate planned to pay for his costly proposals by eliminating the departments of Commerce, Energy and Education.... Together, these agencies employ an estimated 150,000 people, and they oversee things ranging from nuclear security to federal student loans to the U.S. patent system.

“I’m going to press as hard as possible to [eliminate the agencies],” Moore said. “We’re putting a budget together right now that is going to not only pay for the tax cut, but balance the budget in six or seven years. And to do that, you’ve got to make very significant cuts in those kinds of programs.

“I mean, my God, why do we need an Energy Department?” Moore asked, semi-exasperated. “All the Energy Department has done in the last 25 years is make energy prices more expensive!”

In an interview Friday, Moore said he has spoken to Trump about eliminating the Energy Department. “I don’t know if he’d shut it down, but there’s a good chance the energy subsidies are going to be on the chopping block. I haven’t talked to him about the Education Department, so I was speaking for myself. As for Commerce, I call it the department of corporate welfare, and I know Trump has been specific about ending the crony corporate welfare systems.”
(Via Instapundit.)

139 comments:

Unknown said...

I suggest the EPA for another.

Weird, isn't it? How the Federal Department of Commerce inhibits commerce (that's its main goal, it appears). The Department of Education makes sure our children don't learn, and the department of energy tries its best to destroy our energy.

And of course the EPA actively harms the environment.

--Vance

Fritz said...

You could do worse than to pick one at random, to scare the rest.

MikeR said...

I remember Rand Paul made a budget that eliminated a massive amount of the Federal Government. I'm sure that each department has some sections that are actually needed, but every part should have to justify itself, now.

Paul Snively said...

Only Nixon could go to China.

Also, only Nixon, a Republican, could create a raft of Three-Letter Agencies that would've made FDR blush.

Smilin' Jack said...

I'm glad he's going to increase Defense spending, though. We only spend a little more than the rest of the planet combined on defense, and we need to be prepared for an attack from Mars.

Paul Snively said...

MikeR: I remember Rand Paul made a budget that eliminated a massive amount of the Federal Government. I'm sure that each department has some sections that are actually needed, but every part should have to justify itself, now.

I've always been a fan of the suggestion that any piece of legislation or formation of a new federal agency be required to make reference to where, exactly, in the Constitution the power authorizing such legislation or agency is granted to the legislative or executive branch, accordingly. Of course, some 75% or more of the current federal bureaucracy wouldn't pass muster, which is, of course, part of the point.

Luke Lea said...

Also, the Dept. of Homeland Security might be dismantled into the components it was mantled from? Having that super agency added an additional layer of bureaucracy overseeing what were better managed as independent agencies , or so it seems to me. The Secret Service for instance.

walter said...

"“I don’t know if he’d shut it down, but there’s a good chance the energy subsidies are going to be on the chopping block."
--
Oohh..like Iowa's Ethnanol?
I wonder how many are on the payroll implementing Pelo/ReidCare.
Sure boosted the IRS ranks.

320Busdriver said...

What do you call 3 bloated federal bureaucracies at the bottom of the ocean?

MountainMan said...

I would get rid of HUD before Commerce. Commerce does have some Costitutional functions: the census and regulating weights and measures.

David Begley said...

Patent Office is not going away as patents and copyrights are mentioned in the constitution.

Get rid of EPA before Commerce.

150k federal workers laid off is probably about the number of jobs lost in coal, oil and gas in two years. BFD you DC crybabies.

buwaya puti said...

Ditto re Energy, he is completely correct.
But it's the EPA and it's hangers-on that have done most of the cost- raising, and it's one of the worst offenders in suppressing the economy.

Brando said...

Pledges to get rid of a department or agency are generally gimmicky crap unless they are accompanied by an explanation of what will be done about that agency's current functions. For example, getting rid of the IRS sounds great but then if you're asked "how will we collect taxes?" and you answer "another office within the Treasury will do that" all you've done is passed the same duties off to another entity.

For Dept of Education, does eliminating it simply mean education is purely a function of states and localities, with no federal rules, functions or funding? That's fine, if that's your plan. But if you still say "no, we'll keep spending on education and have some standards to enforce our federal whims, it'll just be done by this new office I'm setting up" then you're just doing window dressing.

We can argue about what functions the federal government should be up to, and whether to scale them back. But simply eliminating a department and keeping the same functions at the federal level is nonsense.

buwaya puti said...

You need to be prepared for China, not Mars.

Original Mike said...

Aside from the fact that each of these agencies make things worse, we are massively in debt. While shutting down these agencies will only make a dent, it's a start. If we are not willing to aggressively prune the deadwood, how can we ever get a handle on the problem?

buwaya puti said...

D of Education does nearly nothing useful.
College loans and Pell grants and the like could go straight to the states and they can decide what they want to do with that.
Que hagan escabeche.
The only things I would keep out of that is NAEP.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

We’re putting a budget together right now that is going to not only pay for the tax cut...

No.
NO.
FUCK NO!

Tax cuts do not need to be paid for. They do not cost anything, because they are not spending. ( I'm not claiming they are revenue neutral. They reduce revenue ( not one-for-one ) and therefore need to be offset with spending cuts. But terminology shapes perception, and we should not perpetuate the lie that not confiscating someone's money is the fiscal or moral equivalent of spending money. )

buwaya puti said...

It's a curious thing to demand great detail from statements at a venue that does not lend itself to great detail. More so as the details are things that have to be negotiated anyway. A general direction statement is just fine. Quibbling about them is pettifogging.

rehajm said...

...getting rid of the IRS sounds great but then if you're asked "how will we collect taxes?" and you answer "another office within the Treasury will do that" all you've done is passed the same duties off to another entity.

Though it's correct to suggest it doesn't have to be, consolidating government functions can be a legitimate cost saving operation. Consolidating 25 'employment programs' into one operation can not only save costs but consolidate and improve the focus and benefit for citizens.

Eliminating corporate taxation and reducing the personal income tax under consolidated rates while eliminating tax expenditures would create a tex code that could be collected and enforced by a consolidated Treasury and IRS.

eric said...

He isn't going to lay anyone off. It's attrition. His proposal is to let people go through attrition.

Bruce Hayden said...

Not all of Commerce though. I would keep Census (because of its Constitutional role in reapportionment - which is why I went to work for them 40 years ago), USPTO (again, for their Constitutional role of protecting inventions), NIST, and maybe a couple more agencies. Maybe a stripped down NOAA, for its Weather Bureau, at least. But kill anything that supports its leadership in the Athropogenic Global Warming/Cooling/Climate Change/Weirding fraud. Not surprisingly to me - these are the agencies that I have either worked for or dealt with (Census, PTO, NOAA), or my kids is doing so now (they got their NIST badge the first day of grad school).

Parts of theEnergy may also be salvagable. A number of their national labs have, and continue to do, important work. I had a DOE Q clearance maybe three decades ago, when Sandia (where I almost lived for a year) was designing our newest nuclear weapons. Also visited for shorter stays maybe a half dozen others. Now, they are mostly repurposed, which may not be a good thing. But they are doing research that no one else really can - such as on nuclear fusion. We are not yet to the point where fusion research is economically viable. Hopefully soon. We shall see. And, the world can really thank their Hanford facility for doing the testing that gave us fission power. Maybe because they built the NREL headquarters where we used to ride horses in high school, but I even see some use for that lab - again for research that is far enough out there that it isn't yet financially viable. But cut out the AGW crap there too.

Education? Definitely number one on my chopping block.

rehajm said...

FUCK NO! Tax cuts do not need to be paid for. They do not cost anything, because they are not spending.

It's definitely cringeworthy when the myth of static scoring of tax policy is perpetuated. Static scoring belongs in The Museum of Shit Thinking with the universe revolves around the Earth, the ships will sail off the end of the Earth and killing all the witches will make the crops grow.

richardsson said...

A good start as others have said, But oh boy, the K Street fur is going to fly. Daschle, Boehner, and all the other slimey K Street bandits will be fighting for their livelihoods.

TreeJoe said...

Commerce, energy, and education employ 150,000 individuals? WTF? That's Exxon + Pfizer total global employees. That's ~$25 billion in salaries, benefits, and overhead costs alone.

What's interesting is these three departments have a ~$120 billion dollar annual budgets.

Trump should make a case that we're spending almost as much overseeing education, energy, and commerce departments as we are on SERVING all our veterans, and that some of that money is going to go into increasing services and support for Vets.

Brando said...

"Aside from the fact that each of these agencies make things worse, we are massively in debt. While shutting down these agencies will only make a dent, it's a start. If we are not willing to aggressively prune the deadwood, how can we ever get a handle on the problem?"

I can't speak for those particular agencies, but cutting back at some agencies would end up costing more in the long run--e.g., less enforcement at IRS may mean more tax cheating, or less enforcement at SSA or CMS may mean more improper claims processed through. Anyway, the real budget buster isn't the cost of running agencies--that's a drop in the bucket compared to actual transfer payments (SS, Medicare) and if we don't address the latter, we're in trouble.

Humperdink said...

I'm on board for eliminating the Dept of (no) Energy. The dept that produces nothing but paper and pixels.

And also for disposing of the Dept of Reducing SAT Scores (aka Dept of Education) to the trash heap of history. If their mission was to totally screw up education from top to bottom, they have succeeded admirably.

As an aside, my sister-in-law is a lifer in the public school system. I asked her what the Dept of Education has to done help her, other than funding. Blank stare.

Brando said...

"Though it's correct to suggest it doesn't have to be, consolidating government functions can be a legitimate cost saving operation. Consolidating 25 'employment programs' into one operation can not only save costs but consolidate and improve the focus and benefit for citizens."

It's true--and if that's the selling point in eliminating agencies, it's a legit one--efficient operations and fewer contradictory regulations (don't get me started on banking regs! You can't win in that business and just have to hope the regulators are smarter than the people writing their regs) are better for the free market anyway. And some agency functions simply should not exist (or if they should, they should be at the state level. I don't see why we need a national education policy).

"Eliminating corporate taxation and reducing the personal income tax under consolidated rates while eliminating tax expenditures would create a tex code that could be collected and enforced by a consolidated Treasury and IRS."

They need a major overhaul. Our corporate tax rates make us in some cases less competitive than EU countries. And reducing the income tax rates and replacing some of that revenue with sales taxes is worth considering. But at the very least, the income tax system needs simplification.

tim maguire said...

I doubt any agency is 100% useless, but most are ripe for the gutting.

Smilin' Jack said...I'm glad he's going to increase Defense spending, though. We only spend a little more than the rest of the planet combined on defense, and we need to be prepared for an attack from Mars.

Right, because that's how we determine how much to spend on defense. You know how we can topple Saddam Hussein with a relative handful of causalities? By spending more than he did. Do you own stock in a body bag company?

You know why international trade works? Because the United States Navy protects the sea lanes that goods travel on. Do you know why the internet works? Because the United States Navy protects the sea lanes the cables lie under. You know why international disaster relief efforts work? It ain't the U.N., baby! That's right--it's because the United States Navy can move anything anywhere.

Notice a pattern? Keeping the world stable, peaceful, and prosperous costs money, money nobody else is spending. Under Obama, the world is less stable, less peaceful, and less prosperous. And that's cool, right?

Martin said...

Someone might tell the genius Mr. Moore that Energy Dept is responsible for the National Laboratories and producing our nuclear weapons.

All those Departments and agencies exist because Congress passed laws and then funded implementation.

Sure, there is waste and inefficiency. Sure, some (many) programs could be cut or eliminated.

But you don't just go around willy-nilly trashing Departments that you don't even know what they do. Rationalize the programs and the budget, then reorg the Executive Branch along its new, hopefully smaller, tasks.

buwaya said...

"the real budget buster isn't the cost of running agencies--that's a drop in the bucket compared to actual transfer payments (SS, Medicare) and if we don't address the latter, we're in trouble."

The real budget buster is regulatory overhead and consequent economic growth suppression and market distortions. Healthy rates of economic growth can solve a lot. Like pension burdens.

I DONT expect to see any improvement here though, the monster is too big to be killed by normal politics.

Bill Harshaw said...

Good idea to do away with Energy Department. Obama is planning to spend $1 trillion dollars on the Energy Department, and that's in addition to the $60 billion a year he's wasting now. What's all that money buying: nuclear weapons. We don't need any nukes;DJT can protect us with his deals. (Hint, back in the day we had the Atomic Energy Commission which grew out of the Manhattan Project, then it was folded into the Energy Department, but it's still the biggest slice of the Department.)

Lucien said...

So is the idea to eliminate cabinet level Departments, or specific Agencies, or particular Functions or Program within agencies,or what?

What happens to the regulations promulgated by the entities involved? If the agency charged with promulgating, revising, and interpreting regulations disappears, but the regulations do not, then they may be unchangeable except through interpretation/construction by judges. Is increasing judicial power an intended or unintended consequence of whatever it is Trump will propose?

David Begley said...

One reason to elminate an entire Department is because then the employees' due process rights regarding their jobs is elminated. Just move Patent, Census over to Transportation.

Martin said...

For all that EPA gets carried away and thinks it's on a mission from God, the fact is that in many cases business would rather have one nationwide standard than 50 states and untold sub-state jurisdictions each making up their own environmental rules.

These things are a lot more complicated than 10-second sound bites or even 100-word blog comments.

Worth the effort to rein many of them in, but neither simple nor easy to do in the real world.

buwaya said...

"Rationalize the programs and the budget, then reorg the Executive Branch along its new, hopefully smaller, tasks.'

Impossible. The sheer mass of regulatory complication, the private sector entities attached to each comma and semicolon, the felled-forests of judicial precedent, the mind boggling mess we are talking about means that they can't be rationalized by any human agency. An enormous effort will be expended for any microscopic dent that can be made in that mess.

I have shown you guys the slightest taste of reality, citing core regulatory documents which are already past human understanding. Consider that, and then consider that there is 100X that in the form of further findings, implementation documents, settlements, compliance protocols and consultants reports.

Thorley Winston said...

In an interview Friday, Moore said he has spoken to Trump about eliminating the Energy Department. “I don’t know if he’d shut it down, but there’s a good chance the energy subsidies are going to be on the chopping block. I haven’t talked to him about the Education Department, so I was speaking for myself.

So basically, what you’ve been reading is Stephen Moore’s opinion on where he – not Trump – would like to see cuts made in the federal budget.




buwaya said...

The only way out of all this is Alexanders solution of the Gordian knot.
But that sword-slice is not an option in normal politics.

Humperdink said...

Martin said: "Someone might tell the genius Mr. Moore that Energy Dept is responsible for the National Laboratories and producing our nuclear weapons."

So Martin, what department produced nuclear weapons PRIOR to the Dept. of Energy? I await your enlightened response.

Humperdink said...

Hey, maybe Obama could create a new Dept of Fair Elections prior to the November elections (with his pen and his phone). It has been reported Lois Lerner is in need of gainful employment.

Martin said...

"The Republican Party...encourages the elimination of the federal Department of Education"
-1980 Republican Party Platform

"We are committed to the termination of the Department of Energy."
-1984 Republican party Platform

Sure, throw in Commerce too, Herr Trump.

Even pigs eventually getting tired of swallowing the same garbage.

damikesc said...

I have zero problems with this plan. The line about the Energy Dept was golden.

For Dept of Education, does eliminating it simply mean education is purely a function of states and localities, with no federal rules, functions or funding?

The Feds produce about 7% of the funding for schools, and just eliminating the overhead of abiding by asinine regulations would save the school way more money than the loss of revenue. It'll suck for "Chief Diversity Officers" (and they have Diversity Officers in elementary schools where I live, sadly), but omelettes and eggs.

But if you still say "no, we'll keep spending on education and have some standards to enforce our federal whims, it'll just be done by this new office I'm setting up" then you're just doing window dressing.


It's exceedingly difficult to justify allowing any federal oversight of education. It certainly isn't producing results.

I can't speak for those particular agencies, but cutting back at some agencies would end up costing more in the long run--e.g., less enforcement at IRS may mean more tax cheating, or less enforcement at SSA or CMS may mean more improper claims processed through. Anyway, the real budget buster isn't the cost of running agencies--that's a drop in the bucket compared to actual transfer payments (SS, Medicare) and if we don't address the latter, we're in trouble.

Valid concerns. But the behavior of the IRS recently will go a long way to insure that taxes are cheated on. If the IRS is rigged to favor one side, the other is an idiot for not making them work doubly hard to get any revenue.

Someone might tell the genius Mr. Moore that Energy Dept is responsible for the National Laboratories and producing our nuclear weapons.

Transfer it to Dept of Defense, where it belongs as is.

Know what could cut spending quickly?

President simply says "These laws are too vague and give far too much power to the executive. I will not prosecute these laws at all until Congress re-passes them with far more specifics so what the law means isn't decided by an unaccountable bureaucrat"

Thorley Winston said...

"the real budget buster isn't the cost of running agencies--that's a drop in the bucket compared to actual transfer payments (SS, Medicare) and if we don't address the latter, we're in trouble."

I agree and Trump pretty much ruled it out when he attacked his Republican opponents during the primary by accusing them of wanting to “cut your Social Security” when he campaigned in Wisconsin. It was at that point where I realized I probably wouldn’t be voting for President this fall.


Tommy Duncan said...

Martin said:
But you don't just go around willy-nilly trashing Departments that you don't even know what they do.


To paraphrase Nancy Pelosi: "You have to eliminate the department to find what's in it."

I'm serious. The smoke is so thick that nothing short of attempting to eliminate a federal department will reveal what's at stake.

Mac McConnell said...

Clean house!

Humperdink said...

@Martin. A question was posed to you up thread regarding the Dept of (no) Energy.

Allow me to repeat: who produced our nuke-e-ler weapons prior to the Dept of Energy?

Mac McConnell said...

FYI, the vast majority of taxes aren't collected by the IRS, they are collected by employers. The IRS just processes paperwork.

rehajm said...

But you don't just go around willy-nilly trashing Departments that you don't even know what they do.

At the state level that strategy has been used quite effectively to achieve dramatic cost savings. With so much bloat, waste and fraud it's sometimes impossible to untangle the web so you just cut funding then wait to see who shows up to squeal about the cuts.

Martin said...

Different Martin, here. But I'll answer your question: the federal government. Now pay your taxes and shut up.

Humperdink said...

Different Martin, here. But I'll answer your question: the federal government. Now pay your taxes and shut up.

What dept?

Humperdink said...

Think of the money we could save if we eliminated local police, county sheriffs and state police and rolled them into Homeland Security. We could call it Stasi or somethin'.

Freder Frederson said...

Allow me to repeat: who produced our nuke-e-ler weapons prior to the Dept of Energy?

The Atomic Energy Commission. The Manhattan Project was operated by the Army Corps of Engineers (talk about a worthless agency).

Brando said...

"For all that EPA gets carried away and thinks it's on a mission from God, the fact is that in many cases business would rather have one nationwide standard than 50 states and untold sub-state jurisdictions each making up their own environmental rules."

This raises the good point that in some cases federal regulatory oversight has the benefit of federal preemption of more burdensome state laws--that's the case in banking particularly. Regulatory agencies don't necessarily have to be onerous on the public, it has more to do with their enabling statute (blame Congress) and the way the particular regulators function. I'd rather see the agencies run better, but that's easier said than done.

"I agree and Trump pretty much ruled it out when he attacked his Republican opponents during the primary by accusing them of wanting to “cut your Social Security” when he campaigned in Wisconsin. It was at that point where I realized I probably wouldn’t be voting for President this fall."

On the one hand, at least he was blunt about it--usually Republicans promise to cut the budget and then do nothing of the sort. He's making it clear up front that his budget will be as bloated as ever.

"It's exceedingly difficult to justify allowing any federal oversight of education. It certainly isn't producing results."

It's one we should do away with, simply because there's no compelling reason why education should be regulated or funded at the federal level. Some industries really need to be, but education shouldn't.

"Valid concerns. But the behavior of the IRS recently will go a long way to insure that taxes are cheated on. If the IRS is rigged to favor one side, the other is an idiot for not making them work doubly hard to get any revenue."

Would probably help to do away with a lot of the complicated tax rules that even call for such enforcement. I'm not certain what justification there is for non-profit entities being non-taxed, short of Congress deciding that some things should be subsidized through the tax code (which is absurd--the tax system should be about revenue only--if they want to subsidize, go ahead and put it in the budget).

Humperdink said...

Humperdink asked: "Allow me to repeat: who produced our nuke-e-ler weapons prior to the Dept of Energy?"

Freder responded: "The Atomic Energy Commission."

The AEC was created after WWII.

I am be in error here, but I believe we dropped a couple prior to the conclusion of the aforementioned war.

Original Mike said...

"I can't speak for those particular agencies, but cutting back at some agencies would end up costing more in the long run--e.g., less enforcement at IRS may mean more tax cheating, ..."

The tax code MUST be overhauled. No deductions, much less need for enforcement.

Fabi said...

If DJT eliminates any three departments I'll adopt quadruplet boys and name them "Donald", "Trump", "Iz(zie)", and "Awesome".

Freder Frederson said...

I am be in error here, but I believe we dropped a couple prior to the conclusion of the aforementioned war.

Read my post again. Answered.

Bruce Hayden said...

The IRS isn't getting any more money as long as it refuses to clean itself up, and the Republicans hold at least one House or the Presidency. The Director has been held in contempt of Congress, and probably escaped impeachment only because the upcoming elections. Double digit hard disk crashes, many seemingly coordinated by coworkers, and the supervisor at the middle of the Tea Party scandal given her full pension after taking the 5th Amdt before Congress. The work force there is unionized, and highly politicized, which is a good part of why the ringleaders of that scandal got away scott free.

Hagar said...

Manhattan Project (under General Leslie Groves, CoE) -> Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) -> Energy Research and Development Agency (ERDA) [Jimmy Redeless' "War on Energy"] -> Department of Energy (DoE), and you won't believe all the things the department is into by now.

Humperdink said...

I am be in error here, but I believe we dropped a couple prior to the conclusion of the aforementioned war.

Read my post again. Answered.

I did. You missed my point. We do not need a new federal agency every time something new surfaces. Gasoline crisis? Dept of Energy. Some idiot wants to be known as the "education president". Voila - the Dept of Low SAT Scores. 911? Homeland Security, color coded terror chart, and nitrile glove prostate exams at airports.

Brando said...

"The tax code MUST be overhauled. No deductions, much less need for enforcement."

Yep--I'd start with the central principle that the tax law is solely for collecting revenue and not for subsidizing whatever Congress wants, so no deductions, credits or favorable tax treatments for one type of entity or another. There'd still be other complications keeping the Code from being simple (e.g., when is revenue recognized? What exactly counts as revenue?) but it'd go a long way towards simplification and also have the benefit of not encouraging economically inefficient behavior. With that, it'd make the laws a little easier to enforce and reduce mistakes.

walter said...

rehajm said...
FUCK NO! Tax cuts do not need to be paid for. They do not cost anything, because they are not spending.
It's definitely cringeworthy when the myth of static scoring of tax policy is perpetuated.
--
Yep. Yet that's how OMB scores them.

walter said...

There's also the issue of majority of programs operating on baseline budgeting..allowing a decrease in the rise of a budget to be construed as a cut.
This just in Donna Brazile:
Have you heard of dancing bear syndrome?
It's the idea that when you see a bear dancing, you don't criticize him for dancing badly -- you give him credit for dancing at all.
Tonight, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America is hosting both candidates at a primetime Commander-in-Chief forum. It is going to be the first real test of Donald Trump's mettle as a general election candidate, and I'm afraid that as long as he manages not to burn the place to the ground, we're in for an earful about how he looked "presidential" or has become a more serious candidate.
We can't just keep holding Donald Trump to the dancing bear standard.
I will be watching closely -- and I hope you will, too -- because we need to hold him accountable for his past words and deeds, regardless of what he says on stage tonight.
We can't let folks forget this is the same man who insulted American prisoners of war.
The same man who lied about the charitable donations he's given to support our veterans.
The same man who personally attacked a Gold Star family who dared speak out against him.
The same man who has reportedly questioned why we don't use the nuclear weapons at our disposal and threatens to alienate some of our most important allies every time he opens his mouth.
Donald Trump has proven time and again that he is uniquely and fundamentally unqualified to be our Commander-in-Chief. So, if you can, pitch in $3 or more so we have the resources we need to keep him far away from the Oval Office.

Go ahead and Google Dancing Bear...

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Brando said...

I'd start with the central principle that the tax law is solely for collecting revenue and not for subsidizing whatever Congress wants, so no deductions, credits or favorable tax treatments for one type of entity or another.

Unfortunately not politically possible. Every one of those deductions represents a special interest. Currently 30% of households itemize, skewed heavily toward the wealthy. You would need to start by reducing the value of itemizing to the people currently doing it. My suggestion: raise the standard deduction enough so that the vast majority of people, say 90%, do not need to itemize. That alone would simplify taxes for many people, and shrink the number of people who would object to later cutting the deductions.

Hagar said...

The OMB is non-partisan, but not independent. Even its non-partisanship is as defined by Congress.

rehajm said...

Unfortunately not politically possible.

You could persuade people to give up their expenditures in return for a lower rate. I don't believe that would be impossible.

Brando said...

"Unfortunately not politically possible. Every one of those deductions represents a special interest. Currently 30% of households itemize, skewed heavily toward the wealthy. You would need to start by reducing the value of itemizing to the people currently doing it. My suggestion: raise the standard deduction enough so that the vast majority of people, say 90%, do not need to itemize. That alone would simplify taxes for many people, and shrink the number of people who would object to later cutting the deductions."

Yeah, I know my idea is just wishful thinking--Congress has too much at stake controlling people's lives and getting credit for tinkering. The standard deduction idea is a good one, though I wonder if Congress would have the same problems with it as getting rid of deductions completely.

Comanche Voter said...

150,000 fewer Federal employees. I call that a good start. Don't care which agency they come from.

Brando said...

"You could persuade people to give up their expenditures in return for a lower rate. I don't believe that would be impossible."

I think a lot of the public might be sold on this (if they aren't fooled into the whole "but I bought a house! I need the mortgage deduction!" line) but all of those special interests that push each part of the tax code adjustments will do a lot to scare voters and congressmen away from such reforms. It's why even when reformers talk about simplification, they still try to keep deductions for charity and home mortgages in place (and before you know it, everything is too important to get rid of).

cf said...

and please take the top 15,000 irs managers, exchange their neverending pension into one soggy sum and then haul em out to the edge of their various towns and throw them into a ditch. don't come back, bitches.

rehajm said...

Yet that's how OMB scores them.

We can tell them not to score that way.

buwaya said...

Taxes, the rate and complication thereof aren't the real issue.
There is a great deal of excess complication in taxation, too many costs in collection and avoidance, creating inefficiency, and much that can be fixed strategically, like corporate rates and fixes to bring overseas funds back to the US, but thats not the killer.
Its a nice to have but not a have to have.

The real deal is the Schumpeterian mess of business regulation. Thats your growth killer.
And there really isn't anything anyone can do about it, without some truly revolutionary, extraordinary erasure of every sort of institution. There are just too many interests and process impediments attached to those.

damikesc said...

Would probably help to do away with a lot of the complicated tax rules that even call for such enforcement. I'm not certain what justification there is for non-profit entities being non-taxed, short of Congress deciding that some things should be subsidized through the tax code (which is absurd--the tax system should be about revenue only--if they want to subsidize, go ahead and put it in the budget).

Agreed fully. Churches have a claim, based on Constitutional protection against any state support (or, also, opposition) to a religion. But, much as I may love, say, pediatric illness charities --- allow people to donate where there isn't a benefit (I don't deduct tithes to my church) and permit the states to handle grants of money to the entities.

For all that EPA gets carried away and thinks it's on a mission from God, the fact is that in many cases business would rather have one nationwide standard than 50 states and untold sub-state jurisdictions each making up their own environmental rules.

Then states with absurd regulations would get hammered by business and states with insufficient regulations would be hammered by their citizens.

buwaya said...

"Then states with absurd regulations would get hammered by business and states with insufficient regulations would be hammered by their citizens."

Correct. There is a way to discipline them.

Also, the fact that there are Federal EPA and DOE regs doesn't mean that you are sheilded from state regulators. California for instance has a thick layer of trouble on top of Fed whatever in every area.

EsoxLucius said...

Can I ask why you twilighters are always so interested in ballooning the debt under Republicans (Reagan, both Bushs) but so fiscally tight under the Democrat (and black) Obama. Thirteen trillion dollars went out the door at Treasury to the banks during W's last months alone, and everybody on this blog is complaining about $79B for education, $52B for energy, and $10B in commerce. You want something to complain about, the defense department takes in $585B annually and has not won a war in 70 years. If you've seen the movie "The Big Short" the Steve Carrel character is a real guy, Steve Eisman, who wrote this NYT op-ed: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/07/opinion/dont-break-up-the-banks-theyre-not-our-real-problem.html?_r=0 Not trying to make a point, just curious.

Hagar said...

I don't know quite how to put it, but I think Trump may be the most "conservative" of all the various candidates just because he is talking about actually going out there to govern - win a few, loose a few, compromise sometimes - rather than just writing articles and going on talk shows to complain about the Democrats.

MikeR said...

"Can I ask why you twilighters are always so interested in ballooning the debt under Republicans (Reagan, both Bushs) but so fiscally tight under the Democrat (and black) Obama." That's so odd - I thought the debt ballooned under a Democratic Congress (Reagan, both Bushes), and was (a little more) fiscally tight under a Republican Congress (Obama). On the other hand, under a Democratic Congress (Obama toward the beginning), the debt ballooned awesomely.

buwaya said...

Er, the increase in the national debt under the Obama admin was @9Trillion, almost doubling it from 10 to 19T.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_debt_of_the_United_States
No comparison.

And the banks and all the financial interests are and were pro-Democrat. They have been since the original Clinton administration.

And AFAIK 13 Trillion didn't go to the banks in Bush's admin. TARP was for 700B, of which @ 400+B was actually disbursed.

EsoxLucius said...

Another myth I'd like to explode: Norm Coleman fought Al Franken until July 2009, and Ted Kennedy died in August 2009, so Obama had a two month window of a Democratic senate. The budget in 2009 was Republican and Bush's.

Wilbur said...

Day One.

Eliminate the Dept of Education.
Repeal every word in the CFR in the last 8 years. By executive order.
Repeal Obamacare and replace it with something better (maybe nothing). Shouldn't be hard.
I could go on with this for a while. A good long while.

Hey, President Trump will have a pen and a phone too!

The key is to appoint Cabinet heads with the correct mindset. If they get Potomac Fever, replace them immediately.

You might as well go whole hog. The media's going to shit their collective pants no matter what you do.

MikeR said...

"so Obama had a two month window of a Democratic senate." A Senate that's one short of an un-filibuster-able Democratic majority is known as a Republican Senate? Thank you for dispelling that myth.

rehajm said...

Taxes, the rate and complication thereof aren't the real issue.

There's over $2 TRILLION being held by US Corporations overseas because of our penal corporate tax rate.

MikeR said...

"You might as well go whole hog." A lot of things are easier if you go whole hog. If you suggest getting rid of one deduction, you have a massive political fight. Do simple, sweeping things, it's politically easier.
Repeal Obamacare entirely, with a two-year window; let the politicians fight about passing fresh laws to keep the parts of it that they like.
Repeal all deductions and lower the tax rate to make it revenue neutral. Most Americans would be in favor of repealing all deductions - just not theirs!
Make a law that any federal regulation that requires a certain number of employees (50 is a common number) - now requires twice as many employees before it goes into effect. A one-line law that drastically lessens regulatory burden.
Make a law that any federal law has an automatic ten-year sunset; the ones on the books already for more than eight years sunset in two years.

Mike said...

Baloney. Trump will cut nothing. This is just another dog whistle he's blowing. If he were serious, his advisors would have plans for what to do with the functions of those departments that are constitutionally mandated (e.g., Census Bureau) or programs that conservatives support (i.e., not shutting down every inner city school from lack of funds). If he were serious, the most bloated Department in the nation -- Homeland Security -- would be on the table. He's not. You would think people would have learned from his flip-flop on every issue so far. Apparently not.

Hagar said...

Replacing Obamacare with "something" better, means that you have already bought into the Democrat model and so has lost the battle before you start.

What is needed is to get the Federal government out of the business entirely, except for the DoJ's traditional duties of investigating and prosecuting theft, fraud, and other crimes.

buwaya said...

The Dems had a Senate majority from Jan of 2009. Thats not a "Democratic Senate"? With a President?

Kennedy was replaced by Kirk, a Democrat, who voted with the majority on Obamacare.

They didnt require 60 votes for nearly anything other than judicial appointments, and even that was by courtesy. And if they had gone with a reasonably humble healthcare bill - a Medicaid expansion say - they wouldn't have been filibustered.

And they had a large house majority. They could have passed what they wanted, and did, including with Republicans collaborating, like the crap they passed on private pensions.

MikeR said...

"The Dems had a Senate majority from Jan of 2009." Since 2006.

buwaya said...

It was nearly an even split in 2007-2008, the Dem majority being by courtesy most of the time due to Lieberman and Sanders as independents.

Unknown said...

Not as much of a money saver as some, but good heavens get rid of all armed federal officiers except in one agency, probably the FBI though they certainly haven't covered themselved in glory lately. Treasury, BATF, Education (if we can't get rid of it), none of them should have guns. Maybe some Marshalls for the judiciary for seperation of power issues, but that's it: local cops and the FBI.

SukieTawdry said...

The case for the Commerce Dept: Regulating commerce between the several states, the Indian tribes and foreign nations is an enumerated power of the federal government. The three departments we should be looking to eliminate are HUD, HHS and Education. Nowhere in the Constitution is the federal government empowered to regulate housing, urban development, health, welfare or education (although I suppose an argument can be made that the 14 Amendment makes a federal authority necessary). This is a pipe dream, of course. These departments will never be abolished by Donald Trump or anyone else.

Rusty said...



"But you don't just go around willy-nilly trashing Departments that you don't even know what they do."

If you don't know what they do then it's a good bet that we don't need them.

EsoxLucius said...
"Another myth I'd like to explode: Norm Coleman fought Al Franken until July 2009, and Ted Kennedy died in August 2009, so Obama had a two month window of a Democratic senate. The budget in 2009 was Republican and Bush's."

"All bills to raise revenue must originate in the house of representstives." So in reality the budget belongs to the democrat house.

I might add that defense is one of those things that congress is constitutionally obligated to do for us. You may disagree on the amount, but it would be illegal for congress not to fund defense. The EPA? Not so much.

mockturtle said...

If you don't know what they do then it's a good bet that we don't need them.

:-D Exactly!

cubanbob said...

Not that he would do it but if Trumpy were to get elected I would be happy if he issued a presidential order stopping the various agencies and departments from issuing any new regulations indefinitely and rescinding every regulation issued during the Obama Administration followed by handing Congress the following demand: every department and agency must provide within 12 months its purpose in being, a summation of the intended goal, its limiting principle, citation of authority and its sunset date. Then advise Congress that he will decide which he will attempt to faithfully execute if not compliant. He can start by permanently suspending the Davis-Bacon Act and cease all implementation of Title 9 that aren't specifically women sports related.

Mark said...

I expected everyone here to suggest slashing anything but their Social Security and health benefits.

Turned out I was right.

You don't get to a small government by going after the small things, you do it by addressing the massive entitlements today.

Wilbur said...

"If he were serious, his advisors would have plans for what to do with the functions of those departments that are constitutionally mandated."

Maybe so. But consider that if Trump wanted to do what many people consider to be simply a return to licit constitutional government, like abolishing the Department of Education and repeal most of the recent CFR, e.g., why would you tell the world about it now? You'd want just a very few people to actively know about it and planning the implementation.

See, that's what you do when you want to transform America.

I'm not saying this is how it is: I'm just a wishin' and hopin', like Dusty Springfield told us.

Wilbur said...

Mark, you're 100% correct.

Achilles said...

Trump has already stated he wants to cut several agencies. Because he has spent his life working under their thumb and having to pay required bribes all of us small businesses have to pay it is possible for him to hate the bureaucracy as much as I do.

This is our best chance to peacefully resolve this in decades.

SukieTawdry said...

Thirteen trillion dollars went out the door at Treasury to the banks during W's last months alone...

First of all, $13 trillion?? Hardly. The $700 billion bailout (about which, by the way, many of us complained loudly and often) was expected to be repaid, with interest, and was supposed to be put back into the treasury to offset the debt it created. Barack Obama, however, found "better" uses for that money so not only did it remain debt, it contributed to increasing baseline spending.

rehajm said...

You don't get to a small government by going after the small things, you do it by addressing the massive entitlements today.

You get small government by addressing massive entitlements 23 years ago. Now you get smaller but still bloated dysfunctional government some household suffering from some boomers.

SukieTawdry said...

I expected everyone here to suggest slashing anything but their Social Security and health benefits.

Well, we were talking about the executive branch, not entitlements. But, as long as it's come up, I, a Social Security recipient, believe there are lots of affluent seniors out here who can withstand a shave and haircut. Good luck trying to sell a majority of them on it, though. Most consider Social Security my money. And don't bother to try to explain that once they've been "repaid" the amount they and their employers paid in over their lifetimes, it becomes a plain old welfare, transfer of wealth scheme that has to be funded by working men and women (and their employers). Their eyes just glaze over.

You are right, though. It's entitlements (and debt) that will do us in.

cubanbob said...

SukieTawdry said...
I expected everyone here to suggest slashing anything but their Social Security and health benefits.

Well, we were talking about the executive branch, not entitlements. But, as long as it's come up, I, a Social Security recipient, believe there are lots of affluent seniors out here who can withstand a shave and haircut. Good luck trying to sell a majority of them on it, though. Most consider Social Security my money. And don't bother to try to explain that once they've been "repaid" the amount they and their employers paid in over their lifetimes, it becomes a plain old welfare, transfer of wealth scheme that has to be funded by working men and women (and their employers). Their eyes just glaze over.

You are right, though. It's entitlements (and debt) that will do us in.

9/7/16, 7:17 PM"

First SS was sold as a retirement annuity, you do get those annual statements? Second for those who are now in their fifties (especially for the self-employed) they have been paying 12.4% of their gross ordinary income up to for most folks their entire income for an average of 35-40 years when they retire. If they were able to have opted out of SS with the proviso that the income were allowed to be put into a $401K or IRA to grow over that period of time there wouldn't be a need for SS for the vast majority of middle class people. I'm 60, been paying in since 16, paying the maximum in since 1978 and won't be able to get the max amount for another six years. After having to kick in for 44 years to get back an average of 33% of the average wage that I earned for SS purposes I sure as hell am more entitled than the civil servant who gets 60% of their average final wages which includes deferred sick and vacation days. Want to cut my SS, fine but only after civil servants get their pensions deferred to the age of SS and the amount reduced to same they would get under SS then fine. Until then, hell no.

Sebastian said...

"And don't bother to try to explain that once they've been "repaid" the amount they and their employers paid in over their lifetimes, it becomes a plain old welfare, transfer of wealth scheme that has to be funded by working men and women (and their employers)." Plus it would be wrong to try to explain it that way,since SS is a plain old welfare, transfer of wealth scheme funded by working men and women right now.

EsoxLucius said...

Where to begin with the corrections?

MikeR and Rusty: We were talking about Obama's presidency, which unfortunately didn't begin until 2009. Paul Kirk was replaced by underwear model and New Hampshire resident Scott Brown in Feb 10. And bills have to be written to pass the senate as well. Checks and balances.

buwaya: I too wanted Medicaid for All. But Obama made a concession to the Republicans and the drug companies who threatened to bring back the Harry and Louise ads. I do think that, as the PPACA gets implemented, a lot of the state systems are going to become too expensive, the elerly death panel crazies are going to their maker, and we will eventually have what I was hoping for.

buwaya and SukieTawdry: TARP was just the tip of the iceberg. Do you not know about the $13T Goldman Sachs executive and Bush treasurer Hank Paulson gave the banks, no strings attached, as he went out the door? Refer to my Steve Eisman NYT op-ed above and http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2011-11-28/secret-fed-loans-undisclosed-to-congress-gave-banks-13-billion-in-income Republicans should be banned from holding office for that little piece of work.

Sebastian said...

"First SS was sold as a retirement annuity, you do get those annual statements?" And you do know they mean nothing?

"After having to kick in for 44 years to get back an average of 33% of the average wage that I earned for SS purposes I sure as hell am more entitled" You mean, "entitled." You are only entitled to what Congress decides in any one year. Most likely scenario is they'll just tax away benefits for the top half of retirees, and increase the extortion from richer workers. People will get what they are "entitled" to, and Congress will get it right back.

Sebastian said...

"Obama made a concession to the Republicans" One of the funniest things written on this blog in recent weeks. Made my evening. Thanks.

SukieTawdry said...

Do you not know about the $13T Goldman Sachs executive and Bush treasurer Hank Paulson gave the banks, no strings attached, as he went out the door?

Those were Federal Reserve "discount window" loans; the amount wasn't $13 trillion; Hank Paulson may have been kept apprised of the details, but the authority and money weren't his; the "strings" were that all loans were properly collateralized (and, I believe, repaid); Republicans and Democrats alike were kept in the dark and were equally unhappy when they found out.

cyrus83 said...

This gets back to what do we need the government to do and where is the best level to do it?

Schools everywhere waste a lot of resources because they are frequently trying to deal with the dictates of the local board, the state education bureaucracy and now the federal bureaucracy. As with many things the federal government does, a lot of the money it dispenses requires schools to hire pricey grants administrators or consultants to get it and follow a raft of regulations. e-Rate is a notorious example for schools (this is what the Universal Service Fee on your phone bill pays for) - frequently a consultant is hired to apply for the funds on an annual basis, and the consultant may charge up to 10 - 25% of the funds intended for the schools as their fee for the service. Even if a school does not use a consultant, bet on there being pricey administrative staff who are there to manage handling all these "free money" programs.

Commerce seems duplicative when considering the SEC, Customs, and Small Business Administration. As for Energy, anything in the security portfolio can go to Defense, the remainder seems unnecessary given the states and the EPA seem to be the big movers on this one.

As far as getting the rest of the government to work better, my preferred solution is to threaten a 2% cut to a department's budget every time it oversteps its bounds or inflicts a notorious bit of jackassery on the public. Even government workers will get the hint if they know that misbehavior will lead to less money for raises and perks. A bit of reverse psychology, but it's better than the current insane policy of rewarding federal fark ups with increased budgets.

Rusty said...

Mark said...
I expected everyone here to suggest slashing anything but their Social Security and health benefits.

Fine. Just give me my money back. Everything that I've paid in since I was 13.

EsoxLucius said...

Social Security may have been sold as an annuity, but it never was one. Conceived in the Depression when another Republican left a Democratic president a mess, this time 25% unemployment and seniors who were the greatest percentage of the people in poverty, it initially coaxed the elderly out of jobs, reducing the unemployed, and eventually made seniors the most wealthy cohort in America. The annual statements were always a lie, the money was never invested anywhere, just put in treasury coffers like other taxes. The "Greatest Generation" in the '30s were stoic givers, but they raised a "Me Generation" of pampered, whiny, Trumpy brats.

sane_voter said...

How about rescinding the executive orders of Kennedy and Nixon that allow Federal employee unions?

That would do more than anything to allow proper oversight of federal employees.

Rusty said...

EsoxLucius said...
Where to begin with the corrections?

MikeR and Rusty: We were talking about Obama's presidency, which unfortunately didn't begin until 2009. Paul Kirk was replaced by underwear model and New Hampshire resident Scott Brown in Feb 10. And bills have to be written to pass the senate as well. Checks and balances.

You referred to Bush. Congress was substantially democrat for most of his eight years.

Rusty said...

EsoxLucius said...

Like I said. Just give me my money back. I don't even want the interest just write me a check.

SukieTawdry said...

Cuban Bob: Of course I know it was sold as an annuity. And a modest annuity at that which at the time kicked in at an age past that of the average lifespan. Of course I got annual statements which is how I'll know exactly the point at which I will have recouped all the money I and my employers paid in.

Don't take me to the woodshed about privatizing SS; I've always been in favor of it. Nor about public pensions which as we all know are excessive. I'm in the camp that expects public employees to accept the fact that they quite likely will not get every penny on their pension dollar. We all got into this mess together and we'll have to get out of it together and the fact that some of us were taken kicking and screaming does not mitigate that.

EsoxLucius said...

Rusty: social security is a tax, like any other. Do you want your income tax back as well? Again, I'm just trying to understand your reasoning here.

Gimmie, gimmie, gimmie...
I'm voting Mitt, he's against the takers.

cubanbob said...

Sebastian said...
"First SS was sold as a retirement annuity, you do get those annual statements?" And you do know they mean nothing?

"After having to kick in for 44 years to get back an average of 33% of the average wage that I earned for SS purposes I sure as hell am more entitled" You mean, "entitled." You are only entitled to what Congress decides in any one year. Most likely scenario is they'll just tax away benefits for the top half of retirees, and increase the extortion from richer workers. People will get what they are "entitled" to, and Congress will get it right back.

9/7/16, 7:55 PM"

All the more reason to abolish welfare and student loans. If I'm not "entitled" even after paying into this after nearly fifty years, welfare recipients don't deserve a dime of my money and I don't need to finance other people's education. As a practical matter you are right, I'm the taxpayer and prospective retiree that is going to get screwed. If only the civil service would screwed the same way I'm going to get screwed.


"EsoxLucius said...
Social Security may have been sold as an annuity, but it never was one. Conceived in the Depression when another Republican left a Democratic president a mess, this time 25% unemployment and seniors who were the greatest percentage of the people in poverty, it initially coaxed the elderly out of jobs, reducing the unemployed, and eventually made seniors the most wealthy cohort in America. The annual statements were always a lie, the money was never invested anywhere, just put in treasury coffers like other taxes. The "Greatest Generation" in the '30s were stoic givers, but they raised a "Me Generation" of pampered, whiny, Trumpy brats.

9/7/16, 8:34 PM"

You conveniently overlook the role the Fed played in causing the stock market bubble that burst and lead to thee depression. It's doing it again. You also overlook it was Hoover's progressive meddling that worsened matters and FDR's economic idiocy that resulted in the depression lasting as long as it did. As for whiny brats, that's your typical progressive, the core Democrat Party voter.

Mark said...

Sure Rusty, give mine back too.

I might have paid in 10 years less, but the Boomers insisting on their elderly welfare payments pretty much guarantee that I will pay SS all my work years and get nothing.

As they are serving those younger than them a shit sandwich, why don't they take the first bite?

Go ahead, Rusty.

buwaya said...

"But Obama made a concession to the Republicans and the drug companies"

There wasn't a Republican vote for that thing. The entire problem was they couldn't get enough Democrats, not Republicans, in the house to go along with it. And that was when they had a large majority in the house.

If they had simply expanded Medicaid, increasing coverage somewhat (not universal single payer), it would have been enormously cheaper and simpler AND it would have picked up all the Democrat votes it needed. The monstrous mess was hated even by its own party because it was a monstrous mess, thats why it had to be so desperately engineered.

The discount window is a loan for short term liquidity. This has been going on for many decades. The article is clear, but it doesn't say what you want it to say. The USG is not on the hook for $13T. Thats like counting outstanding borrowing as the sum of loans made over a period without subtracting payments. You could add up similar Fed transactions over the last few decades, and over the Obama administration too, and end up with a like number. That this was greatly increased and was done without explicit permission, transparency and oversight, and that banks made excess profits ($13 billion as per the story) off interest rate margins is the beef here. And, note, as the article makes clear, most of the lending took place after the Obama admin was running the executive agencies.

And Goldman Sachs is a Democrat-oriented operation and has been since the Clinton administration if not earlier. Go have a look at who they were backing then. Who are they backing today?

EMD said...

less enforcement at IRS may mean more tax cheating

Simplify the damned tax code already.

buwaya said...

"social security is a tax, like any other. "

Yes it is. A not-too-well-hidden tax. Most tax burden calculations in, for instance, international comparisons include US payroll taxes as tax revenues.

Its also quite a regressive tax. US taxes are quite progressive, in that a majority of the population is exempt from Federal income tax, but the SS/Med payroll taxes bite. Its almost as bad as the European VATs that way.

EsoxLucius said...

SukieTawdry: Bloomberg, hardly a leftist source, says the total was $13T, and other papers have corroborated. Whether Republicans or Democrats were outraged doesn't change the fact that it was done and a paltry $10B commerce department is going after the couch coins. Collateralized? With what? Underwater mortgages? Paid off? They only came to light when Jamie Dimon stiffed the government while receiving $20B in 2013.

EsoxLucius said...

buwaya: Since when are Republicans for Medicare? I've got an old record of Governor Reagan saying a vote for Medicare is a vote for communism. He was as right about that has he was about star wars, supply side economics, dealing with Iran, and his wife's horoscopes. While you're right, no Republican voted for PPACA, it was stolen from Romneycare, had riders attached by Republicans, and has been whittled away by activist Republican judges. That it still stand at all is testament to how well it was crafted.

Friedrich Engels' Barber said...

Isn't Trump promising to build a wall around D.C?

buwaya puti said...

Bloomberg say the total amount lent was a cumulative 13T over the period, in short term loans, only a fraction outstanding at once, which were paid back. The article points out, quite fairly and accurately, what was wrong (plenty) with this program and it has nothing to do with the USG owing money. We were discussing the national debt and deficits. This thing has nothing to do with either.

buwaya puti said...

The Republicans arent for it, its a Democrat thing. And we arent talking Medicare, but Medicaid. Geez.
If they had stuck to something along those lines, something humble, expanding Medicaid, they would have got it because they had the freaking majority and could have had every Democrat on side, and ignored the Republicans. They passed a huge lot of "stimulus" programs at the same time, have a look.
Keep up man, dont be lazy. This is totally obvious. Go look at the record of the 111th Congress, its all online, its even all on Wiki.

EsoxLucius said...

cubanbob: I'm hardly the core democrat voter but there's no way else to keep that lady fingered racist sunset out of the white house. I wish I could vote for Jack Kemp's party but, sadly, that doesn't exist anymore. Does caring for others and being proud of giving something, whether it be in taxes or as a public employee make you a progressive? Then that must be what I am. My father proudly served in the military, it took him off the farm, trained him to be an electrician and put his four kids through college. When someone wanting my vote says he's a loser and should have dodged the draft like he did, I am filled with revulsion. Really, is that so hard to understand?

buwaya puti said...

PPACA had zip attached by Republicans. It was written in Dem party offices by Dem legislative staff and probably a bunch of lobbyists, and with zero amendments proposed by Republicans.

The history of the whole mess is online.

buwaya puti said...

What isnt hard to understand is now isn't then. Back then there was a dynamic economy that delivered the resources for all sort of thibgs, useful or silly.
Right now, your country has been paralyzed and is declining in a terminal state, with effectively zero economic growth for a decade, flat productivity growth for the same decade, no way to pay for mandated liabilities (because of that zero growth), a generation of unemployed/underemployed youth unable to get a start in life and etc ad infinitum.
That all is fatal waterline damage on the ship of state.
You are screwed totally with no possibility of recovery, and it is entirely the fault of the Democratic party and its mentally challenged backers.

buwaya puti said...

And note, the current disastrous condition is in no way the fault of Mr. Trump. Some considerable part of the blame probably lies with Goldman Sachs and its ilk, but consider whom they have been backing the last couple of decades.

Whatever Mr. Trumps faults may be, he certainly isnt one of the guilty parties. The other side though is, it seems, the consolidated alliance of the guilty parties.

buwaya puti said...

The real problem with the executive agencies actually isnt that they are costly in terms of salaries and etc. This is all wasted money, but of course in the grand scheme of things, savings there, in eliminating positions, certainly is like looking for change in the couch cushions.

No, the problem isnt what they are paid, but what they do.

They are simply paralyzing the economy. The cost of that, that 1-3% of real per capita growth that hasnt been there, is whats causing most of your problems.

buwaya puti said...

Btw, an amusing bit.
Look it up.
A couple of days ago Goldman Sachs actually banned its executives from contributing to the Trump campaign.

SukieTawdry said...

EsoxLucius: Okay, I looked up your vaunted expert Forbes piece. Where does it mention $13 trillion? It does say this:

Add up guarantees and lending limits, and the Fed had committed $7.77 trillion as of March 2009 to rescuing the financial system, more than half the value of everything produced in the U.S. that year.

The Fed claimed the loans were backed by "appropriate collateral." You'd have to ask them what they consider "appropriate." In any event, the loans were repaid. And you'll note March 2009 is after the Bushies left town.

Seems to me your argument is with the Federal Reserve, not the Bush administration. Those loans were not the Republicans' "little piece of work" after all.

cyrus83 said...

Things will go on until the money runs out, then it will get interesting. Social Security statements are about as legit as a Bernie Madoff statement, there's no actual cash on hand to fund the program other than what the FICA tax brings in every year, and it's no longer enough to pay out the current year's benefits. Everything the government says it will pay is based on its ability to borrow the funds necessary to pay the benefits, the "trust funds" are little more than IOUs from the Treasury. We might have been able to squeeze through had the last 2 administrations not burned through more than $10 trillion we didn't have on their various projects.

I don't know how all this shakes out, but do consider that the media is trying awfully hard to make euthanasia socially acceptable. Given a large retiree population, there are three main ways to rein in costs - deny expensive care, tax retirement income heavily, or reduce the retiree population. If the millennials are already conditioned to look on this as a "mercy" killing (not that difficult given moral relativism), don't be too shocked if official policy switches to strongly encourage or mandate that end as finances get tighter.

320Busdriver said...

Considering the average retiree couple uses 3X the medicare dollars that they paid in by the time they expire(387k/122k)its easy to see where this ends up. That combined with the fact that todays 40M plus seniors will reach 90+M by 2060 it quickly becomes untenable. SS fixes will be relatively easy as compared to needed Medicare reforms.

Bruce Hayden said...

One of the things makes no Social Security and Medicare worse is that the Obama Administration loosened up Social Security Disability to hide some of the unemployment caused by their disastrous economic policies. Anyone they could get on SS Disability didn't count in the work force so wasn't officially unemployed. Which is part of why the entire program is significantly closer to insolvency than when he entered office. Oh, and massive amounts of Medicare money were moved over to ObamaCare. My memory is a half a trillion over a period of time. Yes, the program is wasteful (just think of all the stuff you see on TV that it will pay for, as well as most of those new drugs being peddled there). Obama and the Dems did an amazing job at raiding AlGore's Lockbox. And, yes, by giving these undisabled SS Diability, they also became eligible for Medicare.

As with others here, I paid into SS for most of a half century. There was an explicit promise for retirement income. In the past, it was essentially a small disability and welfare plan wrapped inside a slightly progressive retirement plan. The retirement part of it was where it got its political legitimacy. Welfare has little political base, because it's recipients mostly don't vote (except for Obama), and they are considered lazy bums by most everyone else. By raiding SS and Medicare, Obama and the Dems have reduced the political support for these programs. Plenty of the younger generations see increasing payments and a good chance at never collecting that my ch, and would be just fine gutting the programs. Much happier with just putting that money into 401(K) plans instead.

I agree that unionized govt employees are a big part of the previous blemish, but my understanding is that, despite being overpaid, the federal employees have been under mostly a defined contribution system for many decades. The big problem there is with state and municipal employees who mostly still have defined benefit retirement systems. They are starting to implode, and it isn't going to be pretty. It was mostly caused by an unholy alliance of Dem politicians and the govt employees who elected them negotiating in bad faith. My guess is that it will be one of the biggest economic stories of the next decade, as Congress will be called upon to bail them out, and since both the cause and the recipients are mostly Democrats, there isn't going to be much sympathy on the Republican side. Why should we, who have defined contribution retirement plans, pay for the far, far, more generous defined benefit plans for govt employees, many of whom are considered overpaid and underworked to start with?

Rusty said...

EsoxLucius said...
Rusty: social security is a tax, like any other. Do you want your income tax back as well? Again, I'm just trying to understand your reasoning here.

Of course it's a tax.(at least you admit it) Sold as a retirement scheme. We were told that it would always be there and it will be because suckers like you are paying for it. We were all lied to. Remember "The Great Society"? What do you think funded it. The "lock box' is full of IOUs. Phase it out and allow people a choice on how their money is invested. Give those who don't need it the option to donate it and deduct the donation from their taxes.
"Do you want your income tax back as well?" Not at all. Why would you say that? What I want is a smaller government footprint and the concomitant reduction of income taxes. You seem to think that everyone wants what the government has to offer. Nothing could be further from the truth. Washinton DC could shut down tomorrow and most of us would hardly notice.

Brando said...

"The real deal is the Schumpeterian mess of business regulation. Thats your growth killer."

As far as restraints on the economy, yes--I think Republicans focus too much on tax rates as business killers when regulatory burdens (particularly at the state and local level--try cutting someone's hair for money in your backyard and see how long before some local bureaucrat tells you you need a license) are far worse. After all, tax rates only affect you when your business is in the black--getting something started usually means some time in the red at first and the regulatory burdens affect you from the beginning.

"I agree that unionized govt employees are a big part of the previous blemish, but my understanding is that, despite being overpaid, the federal employees have been under mostly a defined contribution system for many decades."

This is mostly true--though there is some smaller defined benefit for non-grandfathered federal employees. I don't blame the employees, though--the benefit is one of the employment benefits they took as part of the job package (like health care). The problem was the government making promises they couldn't keep and underfunding such benefits. Either promise less or put aside more to cover it.

As for SS, I see it as a form of old age retirement insurance--you can get back more than you put in by living longer, or less than you put in by dying sooner, but we all paid in for a while and deserve to have it there for us. SSI (or whichever one was poverty based?) is more complicated, I'm not familiar with the rules for it, and disability sounds good but of course it's the one requiring the most compliance investigation (amazing how many people became disabled when the economy crashed). Either Congress should abolish it, or fund enough compliance investigators to cut back the false claims.

And cutting overall entitlements doesn't have to mean screwing over old people who paid into the system. Some graduated means testing (reducing the amount if you have a certain net worth) or a slight haircut or raising the retirement age--any of these would add years to the solvency of the system, maybe enough to cover the boomer generation (which is the main part of the problem--too many retirees and not enough payors at once). But right now both candidates seem convinced that nothing needs to be done with the biggest part of our federal budget. Which I suppose is at least honest, but depressing.

Birkel said...

EsoxLucius said...

... $13T... op-ed above and http://www.bloomberg.com/... -13-billion-
9/7/16, 7:53 PM
(truncated for comedic effect)

13 billion in the URL suddenly became 13 trillion in the Liberal Fever Mind.
Only off by 100000% is pretty close for a Liberal.

Birkel said...

Take buwaya puti's 1-3% and figure it is at the midpoint of 2%.

If the U.S. economy has lost 2% per year these last 35 years then the U.S. economy is half the size it would have been without government regulating away that 2% growth per year.

Would anybody be worried about Medicare, Medicaid, illegal immigration, Social Security or anything else if the U.S. economy were 34 trillion per year instead of 17 trillion? Hell no.

Bruce Hayden said...

The problem with the argument that the problem is either over promised sing or underfunding, when it comes to govt pensions, is that these benefits were not negotiated in arms length negotiations. The unionized govt employees were instrumental in getting Dem politicians elected, esp in the big cities that thay have controlled for somewhere between a Hal and a full century. One party rule. The politicians can promise the world, to get the electoral support of the govt workers, to get and stay in office, knowing that the bill will likely no arrive until later. Maybe much later, when the city or state has to quit providing essential services because of the pension costs that these long gone politicians obligated the city or state for, or just declared bankruptcy, like Detroit did. Of course, the pension plans are grossly underfunded. Fully funding them would have required cutting spending in other places. So, instead, with govt employee pensions being exempt from the laws that require private employee pensions to be fully funded, it was far easier to just promise the govt employees what they wanted, let them reelect the politicians promising the extravagant pensions, and assume grossly unrealistic rates of return.

Brando said...

"The problem with the argument that the problem is either over promised sing or underfunding, when it comes to govt pensions, is that these benefits were not negotiated in arms length negotiations."

But it still amounts to the same--promises to do something later always sound good in the now, when the problem of funding it will be "future person's" problem (just like government deficits--they're based on the idea that some future government is going to be a lot more fiscally responsible than every government that came before it). Private companies with similar plans can make the same mistake. It's why defined contribution is more the norm these days--you can just put into it (and even match contributions) and you don't have to worry about how it performs in the end--your obligation is just to pay out what is there (or the third party does).

And the unions of course care more about their current voting members than the future employees who will get shafted if the defined benefit doesn't have enough funds to pay out by then. Because those union leaders will be long dead by then!