Anna Griffin's Challenge (Plus Lemonade)

Steve Novick

Before I get to what this post is really about, I have to point out that the Lemonade Crisis that Jeff Cogen faced last week was a near carbon copy of the Batboy Crisis that Robert Reich, as Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Labor, faced in 1993. An overzealous Labor Department inspector told the single-A Savannah Cardinals that having a 14-year-old batboy work past 7 at night violated child labor laws. Peter Jennings was gearing up to slam the government on World News Tonight when Reich contacted ABC, just in time (Jennings was already on the air), to say that the inspector was “off base” and that the batboy could keep his job. Sports Illustrated’s year-end roundup listed Reich’s move as one of the top ten feelgood sports moments of 1993.

So last Saturday, Oregonian columnist Anna Griffin issued a challenge to progressives, that I’d like to take up, and return. Griffin had a talk with Geoffrey Ludt, founder of the Oregon version of the Tea Party, and said that progressives ignore his genuine concern about the national debt at our peril. She says that Ludt is a true believer, who actually buys “extra cans at the grocery store, in case the United States suffers sudden mass inflation.” She says “the frustration Ludt feels is as genuine as the fiscal crisis, and distinctly bipartisan …The difference is that he'd reduce government's role, and I'd throw everything possible into public education. That means more math and science, workforce training and, yes, enhanced civics classes …On that point, he's right: We should all know more about how our government works, and why.”

Griffin’s right. We should take Ludt’s fears seriously. Right now, of course, many economists believe that deflation is a greater threat than inflation, and like Paul Krugman I’m a lot more concerned about getting people back to work than about what this year’s deficit happens to be. That’s the choice FDR made in the ‘30’s and during the war, and it worked out OK; by the ‘50’s we were paying off the debt.

But in the long term, we do have to worry about the potential for ever-rising debt. Other than in the last couple of years of Clinton, for the past three decades the Federal government has been running deficits even in allegedly good economic times. If we don’t do something, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if, ten, fifteen years from now, the Federal government did just start printing money to pay the debt, touching off Weimer Germany-style inflation.

And Griffin’s right that “enhanced civics classes” are essential. In my last post, I referenced a poll the Economist did in April. Here’s what it said:

Asked whether they would prefer cutting spending or raising taxes to reduce the deficit, people preferred cutting spending by 62 to 5.

Asked whether they would support actually cutting specific services, only 17% said they would support cutting aid to the poor; 11% said they would cut Medicaid; 22% said they would cut the military; 7% said they would cut Social Security; 7% said they would cut Medicare; 12% education. The only item that a majority said to cut was foreign aid – 71% said to cut that. The next most popular item to cut was “the environment”; 29% wanted to cut spending on the environment.

Foreign aid and all environmental programs combined (including EPA, the Department of Interior, conservation programs in the Forest Service) each represents less than 1% of the Federal budget. Meanwhile, Social Security, the military, and Medicare / Medicaid combined each represents around 20% of the Federal budget. Interest on the debt is about 4%, and nothing else is even as much 3% -- transportation, veterans’ benefits, education, farm subsidies, each is between about 1% and 3%.

By the way, it is eminently clear that many of our fellow progressives aren’t aware of these figures. When I see a bumper sticker than says “trillions for war, who needs health care,” I want to leave a budget pie-chart on the windshield; I want to end the wars, but I also want people to know that the Federal government spends about as much on health care as on the military.

So we desperately need enhanced civics education – for at least three reasons:

  1. If we are concerned about the nation’s long-term fiscal outlook, we need better information out there – because right now, voters are not prepared to support any of the measures that would be necessary to bring the debt under control.

  2. If we are concerned about the divisiveness of our political life, better information is a potential cure. Right now, a lot of Republicans think Democrats blindly support worthless “big government,” and a lot of Democrats think that Republicans are heartless. In fact, government primarily consists of items that a majority of both Republicans and Democrats support. If that fact became widely known, maybe there’d be more of a sense that we’re all in this together. (Don’t you feel better knowing to a near certainty that a majority of the people who will vote for Chris Dudley this fall – and a majority of those who voted against Measures 66 and 67 in January - oppose cutting aid to the poor? I do.)

  3. As progressives, we should recognize that right now, there is not, operationally, a big progressive majority – heck, only 22% support cutting military spending, and people prefer cutting spending to raising taxes by 62 to 5. But values-wise, there is, potentially, a huge progressive majority. We’re living in a country where 83% of the people don’t support cutting aid to the poor. We can’t know for sure that an electorate with a better sense of the trade-offs would all start voting consistently for progressive candidates … but it certainly seems worth a shot.

So we should take Griffin’s challenge, and her suggestion, seriously. But I’d like to throw one back at her.

Next time you talk to Geoffrey Ludt – and I hope you do – run some of the numbers by him. Ask him if he wants to cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the military budget. If he says yes, then use your column to challenge his fellow Tea Partiers: “If you’re serious about smaller government, this is what it means.”

Comments

  • (Show?)

    Steve I've missed your posts. There is nothing better than a thoughtful column filled with clear thinking and better yet ends with a challenge.

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    $1.4 Trillion Discretionary spending for 2011. Out of that $708 Billion is for the DoD (PDF from DoD comptroller).

    Learn more about Death and Taxes.

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    Yes, agreed, progressives do care about deficits!

    Yes, we need more informed citizens on public finance and budget issues.

    I think we, progressives, also care about inefficient government programs, waste, pork, and special interest projects. We're against them. National Democrats should eliminate earmarks.

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    "By the way, it is eminently clear that many of our fellow progressives aren’t aware of these figures. When I see a bumper sticker than says “trillions for war, who needs health care,” I want to leave a budget pie-chart on the windshield; I want to end the wars, but I also want people to know that the Federal government spends about as much on health care as on the military."

    When comparing stupid wars w/ programs like Medicare, let’s remember a couple things. We pay into Medicare. Medicare may be a large portion of our budget but it’s also a large portion of our tax revenue. Medicare provides healthcare….Iraq and Afghanistan provide patients.

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      Agreed. Though that gap can be bridged. How? With this simple rhetorical equation:

      Spending cuts = cutting jobs.

      That is the both fact based and emotional (as well as simple) framing.

      You want to force budget cuts in State or Federal government you are cutting jobs and firing people. Spending cuts = cutting jobs.

      Local, State and Federal governments spending is money which pays for jobs directly or indirectly. Money the government spends doesn't disappear into the ether, or get tossed into a furnace to heat government buildings. It is spent right back out into the economy in the forms of paychecks to workers either directly or indirectly.

      Budget cuts = more jobs being cut. Any time someone talks about cutting government spending in a down economy you interrupt them and say "you are saying you want to cut MORE jobs, create more unemployment."

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      being fairly convinced by Lakoff, but also my own inclinations towards stories carrying far more weight than "info", i'd try to "translate" Steve thru Lakoff and have us speak, not about the facts & figures, but the stories that shape what we believe. and in those stories, find common ground -- while recognizing that because we are operating on beliefs, we may not find that common ground. try as you might to find it with bible-belting fundies, a pro-glbtq, pro-choice, agnostic/athiest liberal is going to remain many miles apart on even the most basics (ie, fundies do not value the Constitution & democracy: they value the Bible & their version thereof).

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    Actually, Westen's The Political Brain is his more accessible book.

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    Joshua is correct. Both Medicare and Social Security pay for themselves. actually since 1983, the Social Security Trust fund has paid for a whole binch of other expenditures as well. OTOH, wars are not only budget drains, they tend to be inflationary as well.

    Cut the Defense budget first by cutting all of the political pork projects that the military doesn't want. then seriously consider leaving Japan, Okinawa and Germany ofter 65 years. Then we can seriously consider cuts to federal dept of education and others.

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    When we do analysis for a commercial client hocking a business plan or project development campaign we break down the information investors need to get onboard into background understandings (we call it macro-understandings i.e., industry history, market trends, the whole situation the new idea would have to work within) and information specific to the proposal (micro-understandings, or the nuts and bolts of the proposal proper). Them we design a separate communications strategy for each, because they are usually reviewed and internalized differently. If you don't have buy in on the marco-understandings the micro won't be believed, and macro-understandings are loaded with personal beliefs and long standing judgements, even identities. This situation seems analogous to me. I believe this approach would be a game changer for progressive program advocacy (the Right has already figured this out and developed a think tank infrastructure to enforce conservative macro-understandings). Imagine posters, bumper stickers and press releases everywhere that simply show the pie chart of government spending, and ask "cut out a 30% slice of the pie wherever you like." It would not advocate any approach, but "prepare the soil" for the seeds of specific proposals later by creating broadly understood macro-understandings that would define the parameters of the public debate. Some would argue all money spent without a specific advocacy message is wasted, but once you accept that "macro and micro" information is absorbed and/or accepted by different processes (advocacy messages raise internal resistance for one thing) it becomes obvious how much more effective this two-pronged approach could be.

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    Steve, I'm not surprised that your column is exactly on point, but how did you get so many commentators to exemplify your point so perfectly?

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    Great column - and great comments.

    I wonder what percentage of Americans would support cutting "war funding"? As opposed to cutting "military spending" or "defense spending." I imagine that singling out items for cuts can find significant support.

    Of course, every time someone does that political ads are run, and hence candidates fear appearing "weak" by being against spending about as much on war as the rest of the world combined.

    The agonizing Kerry "I was for it before I was against it" moment was about both waffling and daring to question additional war spending put on our children's credit cards.

    One of the smart, Orwellian rebrandings was renaming the War Department the Department of Defense in 1947/1949.

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    Mr. Novick, Here's your long-term: http://www.usdebtclock.org/

    We understand quite well what stopping this clock means.

    Geoff

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      And exactly how does linking to a site showing the debt clock ticking away display your understanding of how to stop it, consistent with the kinds of trade-offs Steve lays out above?

      If you were serious in responding to Steve, you'd need a clock showing how the spending or revenue options you actually support reduce the debt - indicating as you go how many teachers you want to lay off, what weapons systems you want to cut, how many kids would no longer eligible for CHIP, which libraries or public pools to shut down, etc.

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    The debt clock is relevant because promises have been made to the American people that can't be met. It is disingenuous to demand that Geoff come up with the cuts to unsustainable programs & promises that he didn't support to begin with and that are currently resulting in an exacerbation of our economic crisis, guaranteed future job crushing tax increases, and a lowering of the standard of living for ALL Americans. This ridiculous government expansion is being wastefully financed on the backs of our children.

    I saw not one real solution put forth by Steve, as he demands the same from Geoff.

    ......and as for the comment that "we got out of the Great Depression didn't we"......Yeah, it took a World War, 400,000 dead Americans, and world devastation to do so.

    After the 1929 crash, by 1930 we were already back to 6% unemployment and on the road to recovery. All government expansion and interference compounded the problem and created a decade of economic hardship. Throughout the world, it was a depression, only in America was it call a Great Depression.

    I would like to remind all of you on this blog, that contrary to common wisdom, the great depression did not end because of FDR's economic policies and subsequent debt load. The war ended it, and to pay for it all, while the men went off to war, the woman went into the work force for the first time, and when the men returned, the woman stayed in the work force. This was only partially and correctly sold to us as liberation, but in reality, the resulting standard of living drop due to the increased debt burden and government expansion, now had to be compensated by two incomes. Your current progressive government expansion is now the largest since WWII, and unless you plan to put the dogs and children to work to compensate, it will inevitably result in a reduction of government services & jobs, higher taxes, and a lower standard of living for all. If you call that progress. I, and millions of Americans strongly disagree. It's the reason only 22% support your progressive ideology. It's a failed model, and putting the burden on Geoff for your failed progressive policies, is not a burden he has to address, you do.

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    The fact that you ask the question, "exactly how does linking to a site showing the debt clock ticking away display your understanding of how to stop it", is exactly indicative of the problem. If you won't acknowledge the cause, and you support the very policies that exacerbate & caused it, I would ask, how do you plan to solve it?

    Protecting our lives, liberty, and property via the military is exactly the proper role of the Federal Government, and an unwanted unconstitutional debt laden government take over of our health care system, and class warfare tax the rich rhetoric while we are already mired in unsustainable debt and an economic morass is not.

    YOUR programs are unsustainable, YOUR ideology is failing and indebting us, and the answers to what to cut are sadly going to come whether you like it & want it or not.

    Geoff posting the debt clock says it all. We will have either deflation and then severe inflation, or straight out hyper-inflation. Either way, it all ends with the devaluation of our dollar, our savings, our wealth and tax base and a disastrous drop in our government services, jobs, and our standard of living.

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    Geoff is one man, and doesn't have to do or suggest a thing except point at the problem, and we should thank him for it. The draconian solutions will be forced upon us all by the simple economic unsustainable math. My guess is, when you're all finally ready to listen, you won't have another choice. Watch Europe...... Greece, Spain, Portugal, & Italy. Watch the unsustainable debt levels, the high unemployment, the retarded growth, the reduction in services, the labor unrest, etc. and look toward your future. Because we are the United States, doesn't save us, in fact it makes it worse as we are 25% of the world economy. As we go, so goes the world. You can look to China to save us, as they move toward more and more capitalism, but how sad to turn to a grotesque communist version of our former selves, as we suck the last vestiges of our freedom and our amazing Country down with prolific profligate spending.

    Communism has failed, and socialism is failing, what are you going to do? Who are you going to blame? Look in the mirror. Take some personal responsibility, and we can all start talking solutions.

    This is an ideological battle we face.

    Underlying all the issues of the day is Marxism or Capitalism.

    One has a historical track record of success, the other has failed every single time.

    We are at the end of the line, and you're on the wrong side of the ideological tracks. There is no parasitic middle ground for cover. The parasites are eating the host. The Democrats are in bed with big-business and you now have the beginnings of a fascistic crony-capitalistic Marxist country. I am not excusing the Republicans, most of them are accessories and no better.

    If we don't address our underlying ideological differences and come to an agreement, we will not solve our problems. Instead reality will force terrible solutions upon us, as we squabble and squander.

    If we can address our national ideological differences, I believe it will suddenly become much clearer & easier to untangle & solve our problems as a nation.

    So anyone want to defend Marxism, oops, I mean progressive liberal social democracy?

    I'm ready on the Constitutional, capitalistic, individual rights, freedom, & liberty side.

    I'm assuming I've come to the right place?

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    Look, John, you say you're ready on your "side" - but other than throwing around a lot of epithets you've haven't got bupkes: you refuse to say how you're going to reduce the debt you're so freaked out about - but you also oppose lots of things others have enacted or put forward to do that:

    Your side opposed health care reform, which will reduce it by tens of billions of dollars. Your side wants to renew Bush's tax cuts for the rich - and there you're talking in the neighborhood of a trillion dollars. *You don't want to cut the military - even though the US spends more than all the other major powers combined.

    So - if all you want to do is make nonsensical comments about a "crony-capitalistic Marxist country," no, you really haven't come to the right place.

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      Health Care reform will reduce deficit? I'm sorry, this doesn't pass the sniff test. When was the last time an entitlement program was enacted and we saved money? Come on, please be serious. You and I both know that the CBO is required to take written legislation at face value and can make no claim on plausibility so, fantasy in, fantasy out. In fact, a recent report I read claims that after removing the gimmicks and budgetary gains, the legislation will INCREASE the deficit by $562 billion. In your heart of hearts, what is really more plausible: New entitlement saves money or, new entitlement costs money?

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        Actually, I did mis-speak: the projected deficit reduction under the health care legislation is in the hundreds of billions, not tens of billions: $138 billion in the first decade, $1.2 trillion over the second decade. But I guess we should defer to "something you read."

        As to how it can do that, one is the way the reforms improve access to preventive health care. Doing so will in fact reduce costs, since preventive care is vastly less costly than acute care.

        Of course, you're still evading the question by refusing to say, as Steve asked, what you'd cut to reduce the deficit. All sizzle, no steak.

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          Mr. Petegorsky,

          I believe you may have missed the memo. The Herndon Alliance (the group that coordinated communication amongst progressive allies supporting state intervention in private health care) just released a powerpoint presentation that describes how you are supposed to frame your arguments (see: http://www.politico.com/static/PPM153_pp.html). While you are familiar with the points this organization coordinated to "sell" the takeover (deficit reduction chief among them), the organization has now pivoted and acknowledges that the fiscal and economic arguments that were the White House's first and most aggressive sales pitch have essentially failed. They council to 'not talk about deficit reduction' but instead, focus on the passage of the legislation ("see, we gave you national healthcare") and personal stories (sort of in line with what others have advised on this thread).

          That said, doesn't it feel a little disingenuous to you now? Do you feel a little like you carried water for someone else? Did you unwittingly tell an untruth? Do you sense the manipulation? Does it make you angry? R U mad?

          How cynical these lords of the megaphone are. They must necessarily believe that their supporters are stupid or, they must believe they are evil. In the first case, they are counting on pure emotion (personal stories) to carry the weight of the omission of fiscal and economic arguments. In the second case, they are counting on a cynical mind to understand the manipulation and carry it forward.

          Which are you? Stupid? Evil? Or, are you now awake?

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            Let me get this: you're about to burst an aneurysm because someone's released a polling memo showing what lines of argument might/might not be persuasive in the current climate, and those recommendations are different from the last one you may have read?

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              Mr. Petegorsky,

              Are you therefore standing by the assertion that the unpopular healthcare takeover legislation is still going to cut the deficit?

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                First, I'm not sure what you mean by "takeover legislation." I assume you know that the legislation actually expands the private health insurance industry, and did not include the "public option."

                Second, I'm not aware that the numbers have changed radically since the bill was scored, so, yes, I assume it will.

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    Dan,

    Are you afraid of debating?

    You don't need to incorrectly state my "side" of a position and then argue with yourself.

    I'm right here.

    I did hear more class warfare rhetoric from you.

    We can get into the minutia of every issue, the composition of the entire Federal Budget, and appropriate reductions, as I am willing, but let's start with the fundamentals, in the name of understanding.

    If we want to come to an understanding or solutions to our problems, I would assume that we all must have an ideological basis and justification for our beliefs based in history, fact, thought, and reason.

    Asking Geoff or myself, "what would we cut?" over and over again in a condescending tone, isn't constructive, or a position.

    You remind me of those hoarders on TV who pile so much unnecessary stuff in their house that it buries them. In spite of the fact that their lives are a wreck and an embarrassment, they can't part with anything and believe it's all necessary on faulty assumptions glaringly evident to all but them, and then they get mad at any family member that attempts to help them with their mental disease.

    So Dan, are and you a Marxist, and are you afraid of honest debate?

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      I don't understand the point you're trying to make, John. This post began as a discussion about how to deal with budget deficits and the national debt. Instead of addressing that issue, you're trying to shift the discussion in an effort to brand your opponents as fascists, Marxists, etc. - to what end I'm not sure.

      Is the idea that by branding various programs like Social Security or Medicare as "Marxist" or "socialist" you can more easily trash them?

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    You don't understand my point, is exactly my point.

    I'll gladly enlighten you to my point, after you answer the question.

    I wasn't branding programs, I was asking you.

    It's an easy question.

    What are you afraid of?

    Are you a Marxist?

    ....and then we'll discuss every topic you would like at length.

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    Dan,

    Let me make this easier on you. I'm not trying to trash anyone, only answer the question, as you've asked.

    When asking for a justification for cuts to government programs, it is imperative to the discussion that one discuss the ideological and moral justification for those programs to begin with.

    Otherwise, it is nonsensical to ask which group of people do you want to harm with cuts to ideologically unjustified programs. Why not increase the size of government expenditures by a factor of 10, and ask the same question. There is an unsustainable level, no matter what the presumed "noble" intentions, and any discussion of what that is, and how we address it, must start with how we got there, and how we justified it.......and that begins with a fundamental moral ideological question.

    Do you believe in Marxism, and/or are you a Marxist, or do you believe in Capitalism, it's ideological opposite?

    You see Dan, I'm a math guy, and I'll be glad to talk math and socio-economics, with you and work with you in good faith toward solutions, but we need to determine what each other's foundational principles are based on, to have a reasoned discussion, on how to address the math problem. You see, we can't have a math discussion if we can't agree 2+2 equals 4.

    You want Geoff and myself to determine what programs need to be cut. In order to determine that, we all need to discuss which programs are justified and the proper role of government, and in order to do that, we have to ask under what ideology and moral philosophy we justify and prioritize the programs.

    You are fairly posing a question, "what cuts would you make?", and you are ready to then criticize our judgment. Our judgment of what to cut is based on our values and ideology and so is yours, so understanding that ideology is again imperative to answering the question, which I am more than willing to do, but logic dictates we start with the fundamentals......so again, do you believe in Marxism, or Capitalism it's ideological opposite?

    I can ask it another way, if you find a simple yes or no too difficult.

    Do you believe in Altruism?

    This is a very adult discussion I'm trying to engage you in, one that is at the root of our perceived differences, and to address it, shows intellect and a willingness to really get at real solutions to our problems, and answers to yours and our questions.

    Do you believe in Marxism?

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    Sorry, John, the situation is actually the reverse of what you're claiming. All I and Steve were asking is to explain what programs you'd cut. Rather than respond straightforwardly, you've stated that you can't enter into that discussion without putting it in an ideological framework -- but instead of saying what your framework is and how that then justifies the cuts or increased revenues you're proposing, you're instead asking whether I am or am not a Marxist.

    For argument's sake, let's say I'm a capitalist; certainly my friends who would describe themselves as Marxist would ROTFL if I described myself as one. So - I assume that answers your question. SOr whould I ask first whether you're an Objectivist?

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      No need to apologize, Dan.

      You seem to take a adversarial position, when I'm trying to build a reasoned response to your question and advance a dialog.

      As I do not know your friends, their opinion of you, does not mean anything to me, nor does it qualify you as one or the other. Let's NOT say your a capitalist for argument's sake. Let's have your actual position, as we are not playing hypothetical.

      .....And Dan, I can discuss the Federal Budget without a fundamental ideological framework, but I've found it fruitless.

      As an example: You stated to me, "Your side opposed health care reform(my side?, you'd have to ask me what "my" side is, and define reform), which will reduce it by tens of billions of dollars(you corrected this mistake). Your side(my side?) wants to renew Bush's tax cuts for the rich(the tax cuts were for all, but your engaging in class warfare rhetoric) - and there you're talking in the neighborhood of a trillion dollars(obvious ideological differences have you seeing this as belonging to the government?, when in fact what your doing is dissembling. What your really suggesting is a historically dangerous $1 trillion tax increase on the job producers in the middle of the biggest on going economic downturn since the great depression)*You don't want to cut the military( I never said that, you inferred) - even though the US spends more than all the other major powers combined.(irrelevant fact, but i would consider all cuts, but we must prioritize)

      If you believe a trillion dollars in new taxes on a statistically everchanging segment of the American population your calling "rich", when in fact they are income producing,as wealth is not income, and who also provides the private sector jobs where real growth, wealth, prosperity,and the tax base comes from, and instead view it as giving something to Americans at the sacrifice of the government need, we have an ideological gap that I'd like to bridge.

      Ideology matters to any fruitful discussion.

      So what is yours?

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        I don't see any real basis for bridging that gap, John. In my view you're frozen into an ideology that's out of whack, at just the moment when many of it's strongest adherents have admitted its flaws, after having driven us into the most dire economic catastrophe of our lifetimes.

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          So you never really wanted answers then did you, Dan? Since you actually evade the ideological conversation, you really have no basis for saying it's out of whack. What have I said that's out of whack? You want to be a little more specific? You actually seem afraid of exactly that conversation, yet you want to leave it undefined and discredit my position with the comment my ideology is out of whack? What's out of whack? What's my ideology & What flaws? Are you talking about Capitalism, Dan? Flaws? What flaws?......and your conclusion doesn't follow you premise . You have a logic break. You correctly stated, "in my view", but you fail to define what you base "your view" on. So let me summarize: you don't want to bridge an ideological gap, you don't want to state your ideology(your view), yet you want to use your view that you can't define for us, to discredit my position that I haven't clarified, and to end it, you want to draw a conclusion based on faulty unstated facts.I've been trying to have a dialog with you in order to answer your questions about what to cut based on fundamentals, while you have been evading those same Fundamental facts in order to draw your unsupported conclusion. Capitalism has no flaw, Dan. It's a moral philosophy. It's primary tenet is the worth of the individual, his or her life, and the Right to the actions one takes to sustain it. It is the foundation for our Country, our Consitution and Bill of Rights. More than anything else It is singularly responsible for improving the lot of humanity and pulling billions from the depths of grinding poverty.

          Dan, you're going to have be a little more clear pointing out the flaw with that.

          You appear to be afraid of real debate. Are you afraid of real honest intellectual debate?

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    Dan,

    your comment,

    "I don't see any real basis for bridging that gap, John(THE REAL BASIS WOULD BE TO SOLVE THE QUESTION OF CUTS AND UNSUSTAINABLE DEBT AS PER STEVE AND YOUR ORIGINAL QUESTION, YET BY YOUR STATEMENT YOUR NOT SINCERELY LOOKING TO ACCOMPLISH THAT). In my view you're frozen into an ideology that's out of whack(SHOW ME WHAT MY IDEOLOGY IS & HOW IT'S OUT OF WHACK, & NO ONE KNOWS WHAT YOUR VIEW IS, AS YOUR AFRAID TO STATE IT, DEFINE IT, OR DEFEND IT), at just the moment when many of it's strongest adherents have admitted its flaws(BLATANT LIE,WHAT FLAWS?...THE ONLY FLAW IS YOUR UNSUPPORTED PREMISE) after having driven us into the most dire economic catastrophe of our lifetimes(LOGIC BREAK CONCLUSION, YOU HAVEN'T SUPPORTED IT WITH FACT).

    "many of it's strongest adherents have admitted its flaws"....is a dishonest statement.

    Capitalism's defenders, believers, and "adherents", by definition would vehemently disagree with your false assertion, as do I.

    From what I've heard from you so far, you are afraid to state your ideological justification for your beliefs and therefore unfounded positions, or you don't have a clearly defined foundational factual basis for anything you've said.

    Hey Dan, you can't judge others or their positions if you have no foundation to base your judgment on.

    What do you believe in, Dan?

    What is "your view" based on, Dan?

    Your Marxist friend's views?

    I don't have Marxist friends, Dan, as Marxism is antithetical to America, the Constitution, and freedom.

    Why are you afraid to back up your positions and defend them with your beliefs or lack there of?

    Why are you afraid to honestly debate ideas in defense of your positions when referencing, prioritizing, and justifying cuts?

    Are you afraid of losing the discussion?

    Are you afraid of seeking the truth?

    Are you afraid of me?

    I believe in limited Constitutional government & fiscal sanity, free-market principles & opportunity, individual rights, freedom, and liberty.

    Hello from the Tea Party, Dan.

    I'm ready to debate our future, are you?

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    Get a grip, John: you're mistaking fear for futility. It's futile because while claiming you're looking for 'facts,' your words make it patently obvious that, like Stephen Colbert, you won't let facts get in thew way of your beliefs.

    Just one small example. You: "...[M]any of it's strongest adherents have admitted its flaws"....is a dishonest statement. "

    I assume even you would admit that Alan Greenspan would rank as one of the very strongest:

    "But on Thursday, almost three years after stepping down as chairman of the Federal Reserve, a humbled Mr. Greenspan admitted that he had put too much faith in the self-correcting power of free markets and had failed to anticipate the self-destructive power of wanton mortgage lending."

    I could go on and on, but why bother?

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    Oh - and here's the "money quote" from Greenspan:

    “Do you feel that your ideology pushed you to make decisions that you wish you had not made?”

    Mr. Greenspan conceded: “Yes, I’ve found a flaw. I don’t know how significant or permanent it is. But I’ve been very distressed by that fact.”

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    Get a grip?

    Futility..... try me, you haven't.

    You won't engage on ideas, so you "want" to make it a forgone conclusion that I'm wrong, on what I'm not sure, since we haven't discussed?

    I'm actually willing to debate on ideas and believe I can prove my argument in debate, and then justify cuts to the bloated federal budget as you asked, but you don't seem to "want" to.

    A man who calls it futile to back up his beliefs or arguments, prior to ever debating, is an man who's trying to hide his inability or his competency to win the argument.

    Quoting Alan Greenspan who as FED Chairman artificially held interest rates down for an extended period of time heating up a real estate bubble and then claiming his comments, disprove free-markets self-correcting power, is an oxymoron. He was artificially affecting the markets, so by definition they were not free, therefore your comment is negated as prove of your statement. Yes, "He" had put too much faith in free-markets under those artificial, which were not free-market conditions.

    That all that's prove of.

    Wow, impressive non-prove....does the "on and on part" that you can go on and on about have anymore substance?

    And Dan, What do you mean by "even you"?

    Even me what?

    What am I, that you would say "even you" to?

    You have no reason to be rude to me, Instead of insinuating what I may or may not be, you can ask me, as in "do you admit that Alan Greenspan would..........", and I would answer.

    And why are you trying to disprove capitalism and free markets?

    Don't you believe in them?

    That again begs the question....WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE IN, DAN?

    And it's the reason I have repeatedly asked that very question?

    We must start at the beginning, instead of dissembling to come to any cooperative understanding, and a way to build and justify a budget, and/or any subsequent cuts to an unsustainable economy crushing, prosperity destroying, government debt load we our offensively burdening our children with.

    So, what do you believe in Dan if not capitalism, which is America's foundational moral philosophy of individual rights of which our Constitution and freedom are based on......What?

    WHAT do you believe in?

    You must believe in something, you seem to have strong convictions, they have to be based on something don't they?

    Do you know what you believe in, Dan?

    Can you tell us, or is it a secret even to you?

    Do you fancy yourself smart, Dan?

    Smart people can defend, state, and thoughtfully articulate their ideals, principles, and beliefs instead of poorly contrived unsubstantiated piece-mail strawman arguments or a child-like refusal to play hidden behind the word futile.

    Are you afraid to defend and state your position or don't you know how to articulate it?

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    Dan, Your belief in "Social Justice", your references to tax the rich class warfare rhetoric, and your inability and/or unwillingness to define your ideology and basis for those believes and ideas, when asking and attempting to judge others by theirs leaves me to believe that you are a Marxist and an intellectual coward.

    Definition of Marxism: The economic, social, political, pseudo-scientific philosophy, theory, belief, or system based on the works of Karl Marx of Germany. The theory seeks the elimination of the notion of private property in order to gain ...control of the economic "means of production" by taking it from the bourgeois (the wealthy or propertied class) for the benefit of the proletariat (working class.) His philosophy of history was called "historical materialism" in which his goal was to bring about the end of history, by means of an eventual perfect, classless, utopian society he called Communism.

    Marxist notions of collectivization and redistribution of the property of the bourgeois puts it on a collision course with the economic philosophy of Capitalism and free markets, and also with the social-governmental philosophies related to Democracy, in the oldest, pre-Marxism sense of that word.

    Marxism seeks to promote class warfare or, today, at least, class strife, and succeeds best where clear, major delineations exist between classes. Since the USA has an enormous natural "middle class" and little or no obvious delineation between classes, Marxism has only made inroads there among the SLIMC(secularist liberal intellectual media complex), which represents a very small but vocal minority that has a very high visibility, and a lot of influence. At the moment, the majority still rules in the USA. (Except when representative law is overruled and when new unrepresentative law is established by the unrepresentative courts.)

    In the intermediary phase between Marxism – the conquest of Capitalist-exploiter Bourgeoisie and “The State” – and Communism, which is called, alternatively, Socialism or the "dictatorship of the proletariat", the "Party" rules. Marx referred to this Socialism, or Dictatorship of the Proletariat, as an unpleasant but necessary phase until the population and the workers were “perfected” and ready for the next phase, the worker’s paradise of Communism.

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    As a point of historical fact no nation that ever entered the “temporary phase” of Socialism ever got out of it on their own. There is no next phase. Socialism is, in reality, almost definitively, dictatorship, pure and simple. It is the death of representative government. No Marxist will ever admit it, but permanent dictatorship is the true but hidden ultimate goal of the Marxist movement. A devout Marxist is necessarily a MEJTML(Marxist ends justify the means liar), who must and who will promote the great Communist Lie to others.

    The fatal flaws of Marxism are not merely obvious, clear and present in Das Kapital, and in the historical record of the movement, but even in the most brief, cursory, nutshell definition of Marxism, as in this one.

    Perfection is not of this world, but the next, and so a perfect or "pure" Socialism is quite unlikely to exist. Under the definition of Marxism, Socialism, remember, is a mere stepping stone leading to Communist Utopia.

    Communism – in which history stops and everyone is perpetually happy in a worldly worker’s paradise - is, of course, nothing but a silly pipe dream.

    And so is the false notion that Marx presented to the world a system of “Natural Social Evolution” in which Capitalism is a mere stepping-stone or link “species” along the evolutionary way into Socialism and eventually Communism. America became the recognized America she is not by gradual evolution, but by violent revolution. It started July 4 1776, and it was a very big deal at the time. It was even in all the newspapers. Most Marxists missed it completely, or pretend it didn’t happen.

    The false Utopian claim that Communism will eventually “feed all the people” and eliminate hunger from the world is the seemingly moral bait that draws in the young, the idealistic, the naive and the inexperienced. Communism does not exist, and Socialism is among the most closed, menacing, inhospitable, uncharitable and impoverishing government systems in existence.

    Marxism, like Islam, is so antagonistic to the American Constitution as to render them mutually exclusive ideas and ideals. One may serve Marxism or the American Constitution, but not both. Constitutional America and Marxism cannot be merged and cannot coexist. Only one may survive; the other must die. It is not possible for any Marxist to swear any oath to uphold the American Constitution without giving a false oath. Not an oath of office; not an oath of American military service; not an oath of naturalized citizenship; not any oath to support, protect or defend the US Constitution. A Marxist may not honestly profess the pledge of allegiance to our flag. But then, Marxists are not honest.......and neither are you, or your Marxist friends, Dan. Dan, You're a coward afraid to debate your ideas.

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      "Marxism, like Islam, is so antagonistic to the American Constitution as to render them mutually exclusive ideas and ideals."

      Maybe you never made it all the way to Article 6, Clause 3. It says that "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

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        You have no grounds to judge nor does your comment have anything to do with the discussion of your inability to state, defend, or justify your ideology.

        Are you supporting radical Islam and Sharia law?

        You're a coward afraid to debate so you deflect.

        There are three ideologies vying for world domination:

        Totalitarianism in all it's forms including Marxism, Radical Islam, and Capitalism who's principle tenet is individual rights, liberty, and freedom as proscribed in our Constitution and Bills of Rights.

        Marxists are snotty elitist cowards unable historically justify or to openly defend their positions, and radical Islam is an oppressive ideology that can not co-exist except under conflict and duress, as is Marxism.

        Do you pick and choose like a good little Marxist would?

        When you speak of social justice what are your end goals, and at who's expense, and who gets to decide?

        Those are the questions people like yourself who speak of social justice fail to address and prefer to evade.

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    "You have no grounds to judge nor does your comment have anything to do with the discussion of your inability to state, defend, or justify your ideology."

    You've got it exactly wrong, John: I value constitutional democracy and religious freedom, and I've "justified" my beliefs by quoting from the Constitution. By contrast, you claim to represent the values of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights - but your own words show in reality you neither believe nor support them, since you don't even accept the most basic tenet of our democracy: religious freedom.

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    Dan, you have your facts wrong.

    We are NOT a Democracy. The Founders knew the word well. It means mob rule, or today it would be termed socialism. It was discussed and intentionally the word democracy does not appear in our Founding documents even once.

    We are a Republic. It's why you and all Americans swear allegiance to the flag and to the Republic for which it stands.

    It appears you want to discuss foundational ideology, while misstating ours.

    Article 4 of The United States Constitution requires the United States to guarantee to each state a republican form of government, and to protect the states from invasion and violence.

    Did you want to talk about the Constitution, Dan?

    Do you want to discuss foundational ideology, as I've suggested?

    Or do you want to pick and choose and distort?

    Are you afraid of the discussion?

    You have, since the beginning, attempted to evade defending or stating your ideology.

    Do you understand the difference between a democracy and a Republic?

    You say you've justified "your" beliefs by quoting from the Constitution, but you haven't said what those believes are, except to misquote that we are a Constitutional democracy.

    That's what you'd like us to be, not what we are.

    Do you believe in a Republican form of Government as Thomas Jefferson did, or do you believe in something else?

    Listen, Dan, you have an opportunity to defend your beliefs and present a case for them, but you have to state what those are.

    You say your not afraid, I'm willing to have that discussion. Lets have it.

    We can discuss sharia law, religious freedom, the Constitution, Federal budgetary cuts, and all the rest, but we must start at the beginning to find clarity and understanding, not in the middle or the end of an issue.

    So as I've repeatedly asked, What is your fundamental ideology, Dan?

    Do you want to address the world's problems, because to sincerely attempt to do so requires both knowing what the destination looks like, and what vehicle we are going to use to get there, combined with an honest assessment of what historically has and has not worked to date.

    Your foundational ideology is that vehicle.

    So in the name of honest discussion, what is your foundational ideology?

    You've said you aren't afraid. You've said it's futile. You've said everything but what you believe in.

    Why?

    Why are you avoiding that discussion?

    Can you articulate them?

    So let's have it, and build from there.

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    Dan, it was originally asked what cuts to the federal budget should be made if any. In order to do that any intelligent person would have to prioritize and assess the composition of the budget. In order to do that we would have to determine what is essential and what is the proper role of the government, and hence it's revenues and expenditures. We have to determine BOTH what it is government should do and can do. All of that starts with foundational ideology, hence my repeated question. I haven't been trying to trap you as you seem to think, but my how you squirm.

    We can't honestly present solutions if you refuse to look at, and scientifically analyze the problem.

    This issue is exactly why government's find themselves in untenable situations, with no good answers.

    In a Country of over 300 million individuals, we are obviously going to have many differences of opinion on how to collectively spend or cut our Federal budget.

    If we honestly hash out our ideological differences, many of our disagreements go away or are put in sharp contrast and we can delve deeper in attempts to resolve those, but if we refuse to embark on this course, it is disingenuous to ask which chirping bird do you not want to feed, or which program do you NOT want to fund. There is a limit to what government can do. We can not steal from our children, in debt our future, and think that is a rational option or shows anything but a lack of regard for future generations. I am interested in honest debate of a very important question, or I wouldn't have spent so much time......are you?

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    I'm sorry, John, that's just not how I see the world; I don't define myself by an ideology. Most of the folks I know are worried about how to keep their jobs or find new ones if they've been laid off; how to keep up their payments, send their kids to college, deal with health crises, support their communities, etc. So I make my choices based on values like compassion and justice. But thanks for confirming my sense that you're in fact hostile to the idea of Democracy.

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    No need to apologize, and we agree on the concerns of our nation and friends. The question is how do we best accomplish those objectives.

    I never asked you how you defined yourself. I would think you define yourself as human. I asked you how you define and justify your beliefs?

    So you claim you do not have an ideology, but then you stated you believe in 'compassion" and "justice".

    You value "compassion"?

    Would you define that word for me as you see it?

    "Justice" as well?

    I believe this is at the heart of our conversation, and as you, I would assume, are something of an expert in these endeavors, I would believe you are quite suited to do so.

    What is YOUR definition of your stated values of "compassion" and "justice"?

    Do you think "compassion" trumps self-interest?

    And Dan, I would like you to know, I find this conversation very interesting. If we can engage at this level, I believe we can solve our nation's problems, if not, we can't, and reality will do it for us, and it will result in much more pain and suffering than is otherwise necessary.

    So the whole world is on our shoulders and hangs in the balance. ;)

    So again, What is YOUR definition of your stated values of "compassion" and "justice"?

    What system of socio-economics do we use to achieve those values?

    And do you think "compassion" trumps self-interest?

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