The Asymetrical Sequester

The sequester gives Republicans cuts in government spending while protecting the wealthiest Americans from paying higher taxes. It’s a fallacy that it provides equal satisfaction to Democrats in the form of military cuts. Although many Democrats rightfully support elimination of pork barrel military contracts for equipment that doesn’t work and that the pentagon doesn’t want, for political reasons Democrats can’t boast about cutting military spending as triumphantly as Republicans can about cutting off medical care and education for poor children. Democrats really don’t want to gut the military. Republicans really do want to gut services that help the poor and middle class. The imbalance is exacerbated by the bizarre fact that Republicans never pay a political price for voting against the military, and also by the freedom the media seems to feel to blame Obama, rather than congressional Republicans, for everything the Republicans do to the economy.

The cuts to programs like head-start and meals on wheels are part of the sequester because that’s what Republicans were demanding. The military cuts are part of the sequester because they were, in theory, so unpalatable to Republicans that they would be forced to negotiate. Apparently, closing the wealth gap is more unpalatable.

Both Republicans and Democrats have the option of caving to the other’s demands in order to protect the military. But if Republicans cave, it will mean higher taxes on the wealthy. If Democrats cave, it will mean gutting programs that Americans depend upon, and allowing Republicans to get what they want by threatening to destroy our economy. It is due to that threat that the sequester deal was suggested in the first place.

In the Washington Post, Thomas Mann notes something else that the Republicans get:

The insistence on deep discretionary-spending reductions while calling for even deeper tax cuts shows that the sequester is not about money but about taking a meat ax to government as we know it … Planning, recruiting personnel and drafting long-term contracts have become impossible in areas from cybersecurity to embassy security to medical research to homeland security, damaging not industries rife with waste, fraud and abuse but critical services.

The very rich have always faired well through tough economic times, which might explain the willingness of the Republican party to sacrifice the economy to get what they want. And they never cared about the troops the way they claim to. But their willingness to sacrifice our safety to prevent the wealth of the wealthy from being used for food, health, and education is surprising.

Depression era photo of poeple on food line in front of billboard about America's high standard of living.

A New FB User Asks Questions of Ella Ward

Last night, a Samantha, a new Facebook user appeared and immediately posted two pointed comments on the Ella Ward for Congress page. She has a large, eclectic group of likes for such a new user, and a beautiful profile picture, for which she credits a friend with a professional camera. Yet she seems to have no friends and no internet presence for such an attractive young lady with friends who have professional cameras.

The mysterious, friendless beauty had two things to say. First, she took issue with the grammar in some of the campaign’s posts.

Who runs your posts? You have horrible grammar and punctuation
on several posts. Yet you support education and want us to invest
in you? Doesn’t add up to me.

Second, she asked about Dr. Ward’s view on sequestration, and said that Randy Forbes has been clear about his views.

The comment about grammar contains at least three grammatical errors, but it can still be answered. Dr. Ward’s campaign team is a group of dedicated volunteers, and is not a staff of polished professionals. The campaign’s earliest posts were, indeed, filled with errors, but the cause of that problem has been fixed. I don’t believe there are any recent mistakes worthy of any fuss, but if there are, they reflect the roughness of Ella Ward’s grass-roots campaign team, and not any deficiency on the part of Dr. Ward herself. I ask those who vote on grammar not to hold it against her. Dr. Ward supports funding for public education and wants to improve early educational programs and job training programs. That fact is unchanged by any amount of poorly written Facebook posts.

The mysterious user hasn’t posted anything about Randy Forbes’s grammar, despite gems like:

Just arrived at the Romney 2012 rally in Chesapeake. Lamar is with Governor Romney and does a great job!

but since Randy Forbes doesn’t support public education, I suppose his writing is in keeping with his views.

Randy Forbes is one of the few Republicans who manages to stay on message about defense cuts. Unlike Americans for Tax Reform and Cross Roads GPS, who have been calling me several times a day, and other Republican politicians, Congressman Forbes remembers to mix his Keynesian hypocrisy with alarmist warnings about losses of defense capability. But the warnings can’t hide the fact that Forbes and other Republicans know that government spending does create jobs. If the sequestration results in nothing more than the closing of unnecessary commands, like JFCOM, and the reduction of the manufacture of unwanted assets, like the M1 tank, than it will result in no loss of military capabilities. We may actually be safer if the military is forced to make decisions based on defense necessities without being distracted by the requirement to distribute tax dollars to influential state politicians and defense companies. But the sequester will result in the loss of military jobs. Fortunately, those jobs can be replaced by government spending in other areas, such as transportation, scientific research, and of course, education. The problem with such spending is it gives too much advantage to the disadvantaged. With public transportation, poor in a city can compete for more jobs. With universal broadband, poor in the country have greater access to information. It’s counterproductive for Mr. Forbes and his peers to support such forms of spending. It’s better for them that we build tanks.

If Congressman Forbes is concerned about military capabilities, it isn’t his biggest concern. Congressman Forbes voted against sequestration but was just as unwilling to compromise on tax cuts for the wealthy as those Republicans who voted for it. He may have been clear about where he stood, but clearly, he has higher priorities.

I sent a friend request to the new user. I await her response.

Romney’s 25 Years Means Nothing to Me

Am I being too simple if I point out that Romney’s ability to balance the budget of a financial firm which made huge profits buy buying, destroying, and selling pieces of other companies has nothing to do with balancing the budget of a government which, in theory, is not actually supposed to sell any product or make any profit from its customers?

Bain capital had a large pot of money and was able to decide how to spend it in order to make more money. Romney did a good job with that. If you gave me a big pot of money and told me to buy companies, fire employees, and sell the remains, I wouldn’t be able to do so with such efficiency and effectiveness.

But the U.S. Government doesn’t have the option of only putting its money into profitable ventures. We can’t just say, “You know, the Coast Guard (or the FBI or FAA, etc) isn’t really returning much of a profit, so let’s just fire all the personnel and sell off the assets.” Running a government is about providing the most important services with the available resources so your customers can flourish. It’s not about making the most money from your customers so that you can flourish.

There are no actual facts to support Romney’s economic plan. Romney’s proposal doesn’t add up when analyzed by experts, he makes the rather bizarre promise that he’ll cut taxes but also cut loopholes to make his plan revenue neutral, he falsely claims that six studies support his plan, and he refuses to answer questions about which loopholes he’ll close.

We only have Romney’s assurance that he knows how to balance a budget because he’s been balancing budgets for 25 years. Millions of Americans have also been balancing budgets year after year, with more pressure and tighter margins than Romney ever had to juggle. Mitt Romney’s 25 years of balancing budgets means nothing to me. I want him to stop dodging questions about his plan and explain why the Tax Policy Center and the Joint Committee on Taxation say his plan doesn’t add up.