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October 21, 2011 3:04 PM   Subscribe

How the Austerity Class Rules Washington. Tracing the origin of a political meme. (Via Paul Krugman.)
posted by Kevin Street (28 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
In February 2009, just weeks after the stimulus passed, Obama pivoted to the deficit, holding a Fiscal Responsibility Summit at the White House and assuring Blue Dog Democrats he supported a special deficit-reduction commission.

It turns out that if neither party argues against something in a two party political system that means there is nobody left to oppose it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:21 PM on October 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


If the debt continues to rise, predicted former New Mexico Senator Pete Domenici, there would be “strikes, riots, who knows what?

No, Pete. If you insist on cutting support for those who already are struggling while continuing to give more and more tax cuts to your rich friends, THAT is when there will be "strikes, riots, who knows what?" You do not know your fucking history, and... how's it go? Those who don't remember... doomed to repeat.

Fucking idiot.
posted by symbioid at 3:34 PM on October 21, 2011 [22 favorites]


Its members include ... influential pundits like Tom Friedman and David Brooks ....

I am lazy. That's enough for me.
posted by benito.strauss at 3:42 PM on October 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Who is going to riot over government debt? What a stupid fucking thing to say.
posted by empath at 3:52 PM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


He's no doubt alluding to the Very Serious risk of Zimbabwe-style hyperinflation, which is what austerity hawks believe is apparently possible, once you scratch the surface.
posted by mek at 3:53 PM on October 21, 2011


I like how the Tea Party reframes the federal debt as a household budget, scaling it down so that we have $22,000 in annual income and $142,000 in debt... but our family assets are worth $1.9 million, which is like owning 7 houses each worth $250,000, and having loans on 3 luxury cars that the kids are driving to school, not counting the one they wrapped around a tree after a night of heavy drinking back in 2008.

I know, let's sell the cars, pay off the debt and the kids can take the bus? Problem solved! Oh wait, they really, really like their cars? OK, nevermind then?
posted by AlsoMike at 4:30 PM on October 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


You could go bankrupt in 106 years! (Assuming your assets don't appreciate)
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 4:37 PM on October 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


I wholly support deficit reduction. The difference is that I support it through rational means such as reducing non-personnel military expenditures, reforming capital gains taxes, removing the payroll tax cap, and focusing any stimulus on infrastructure repair/improvement thus creating jobs, restoring spending, opening new work opportunities, and slowly transitioning from government work to private sector work.

Of course, the kind of plan that a majority of Americans would strongly approve of given the right framing and understanding is also the kind of plan that Congress fears and loathes because it doesn't get them re-elected unless the plan works.

I'm just glad I'm generally optimistic and find that the world is amazing and we live in incredible times despite the tireless efforts of many people to tear it apart for their own ego.
posted by Saydur at 4:41 PM on October 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


... but our family assets are worth $1.9 million

Where did you come up with that part?
posted by straight at 4:43 PM on October 21, 2011


I like how the Tea Party reframes the federal debt as a household budget

Austerity: if a plumber is out of work she should sell her tools.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 4:46 PM on October 21, 2011 [24 favorites]


straight: Total Assets of the U.S. Economy $188 Trillion, 13.4xGDP
posted by AlsoMike at 4:56 PM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, so you're conflating the assets of all the citizens with the assets of the government? That's not as strong a response to the Tea Party graphic as I'd hoped.
posted by straight at 5:04 PM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


You ever notice how David Brooks always looks like his tongue is sticking out slightly? Like ine if this smooched face tiny rat dogs?
posted by The Whelk at 5:15 PM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is the same old, same old GOTP line of reasoning and argument. They are coming at the problem with a "solution" and then looking for facts to justify it, instead of the other way around. It's Intelligent Design applied to economics.

The last 40 years is PROOF POSITIVE that they are dead fucking wrong about anything resembling economic equity in this country. Fuck them one and all.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:16 PM on October 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


straight, yes, why not? If it's our debt and we're supposedly being profligate, why doesn't it make sense to compare that against our total assets?
posted by AlsoMike at 5:19 PM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is just details on what most of us already know. But it's refreshing to see it posted somewhere.
posted by Pseudology at 5:22 PM on October 21, 2011


...when it’s painfully obvious that not enough jobs are being created and the public overwhelmingly wants policy-makers to focus on creating them—did the deficit emerge as the most pressing issue in the country? And why, when the global evidence clearly indicates that austerity measures will increase unemployment the deficit by hindering growth...
take that FDR you commie cripple class-traitor bastard.
posted by ennui.bz at 5:28 PM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is what I call the Televangelist Approach. The poor people in trailers need to send in as much of their money as they can scrape together to the nice man in the shiny suit, who will then take that money to buy hookers and blow and mansions and limos. Then he gets caught and everyone acts surprised.

The "family budget" approach only works if you assume that at least one of the parents has a massive drug problem, gambling addiction, and is also forcing the kids to mow all the neighbors' lawns and then taking that money too. And when the kids complain that they have no clothes or school supplies, he yells at them for that pack of bubble gum they bought that one time.
posted by emjaybee at 6:14 PM on October 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


straight: Total Assets of the U.S. Economy $188 Trillion, 13.4xGDP

Woah woah woah, let's be careful here. Don't confuse the entire economy with the federal budget The economy overall doesn't really run a 'deficit' it's just money owed by one part of the economy to the other part. There is a trade deficit but that's different.

I do wonder what the actual 'assets' of the U.S. government are, though. I mean, there is a lot of stuff: How do you calculate the 'resale value' of a nuclear bomb? What about all of our military equipment? What if the government sold off it's national parks? The government owns an immense amount of land. We could sell Guam. Puerto Rico or even, I suppose, Texas.

So the idea that the U.S. government is somehow in debt makes little sense.
If the debt continues to rise, predicted former New Mexico Senator Pete Domenici, there would be “strikes, riots, who knows what?
Why is it that this guy thinks this, I wonder? Does he think people are going to look at the national debt clock one day and just take to the streets? It's ridiculous.

The budget deficit could be wiped out tomorrow by raising taxes on the super-rich. The whole idea that there is a crisis is a farce.
posted by delmoi at 6:26 PM on October 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


So, these "big" cuts are where, after we recently increased baseline spending projections by $4.4 trillion dollars over the 2008 projections, there's a politically-implausible suggestion that we might now reduce it until it's only $400 billion dollars over the 2008 projections, which themselves called for continuing exponential increases in spending?

I'd like to know the origin of the meme that calls this "austerity".
posted by roystgnr at 6:49 PM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


I do wonder what the actual 'assets' of the U.S. government are, though.

At the end of the fiscal 2010, the US Government reported $2.9 trillion of assets, and $16.4 trillion of liabilities (page 11/14 of this .pdf).

The government owns an immense amount of land.

I'm not particularly familiar with US Government Financial Statements, but my reading of the notes to the reports is that stewardship and heritage land is not included in the list of assets.
posted by kithrater at 7:27 PM on October 21, 2011


Krugman: "I gather that right-wingers are claiming that OWS is anti-Semitic; someone forgot to tell the excellent Klezmer band."

Exploiting anti-Semitism to destroy Occupy Wall Street
posted by homunculus at 7:43 PM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


In honor of this new development, I will start sleeping in my office.
posted by Apropos of Something at 9:00 PM on October 21, 2011


straight, yes, why not? If it's our debt and we're supposedly being profligate, why doesn't it make sense to compare that against our total assets?

Because not one of the people passing around that US Finances as Household Budget infographic would agree with you in looking at it that way.

You're essentially arguing that there's no such thing as private property at all, that citizens are not obliged to simply pay a set rate of taxes, but potentially everything they have if that's what it takes to pay off the federal government's debts.

If you own shares in a company, do you think that if the company goes bankrupt, their creditors should be able to seize all of your assets to help pay the company's debts?
posted by straight at 3:59 AM on October 22, 2011


You ever notice how David Brooks always looks like his tongue is sticking out slightly?

That's from his constantly licking his finger to test which way the wind is blowing hour-to-hour, in order to formulate his "opinion".
posted by Thorzdad at 5:47 AM on October 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Austerity? Hardly.
posted by Consult The Oracle at 8:52 AM on October 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I listened to a radio show talking to THE protester spokesperson. But, he was unemployed by choice, but wanted everyone to share what they have with him. Seems odd, but do they really think they will get traction putting that kind of foll out front of the media? Just my thoughts.
posted by Tech Historian at 6:23 PM on October 23, 2011


Gonna need a cite for that, Tech Historian.
posted by mek at 8:25 PM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


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