Balkinization  

Monday, August 01, 2011

More on a constitutional convention

Sandy Levinson

My friend Earl Maltz was kind enough to send me the following comment on my previous post, and he has given permission for me to make it public:




I agree that our Constitution (genuflecting toward Philadelphia) is fatally flawed. Leaving issues of democracy aside (I really don't care about them), the current structure is simply dysfunctional. Unfortunately, it is going to be impossible to make really significant change through the convention route. The problem is not Fox News, but rather that the country is now too large and too diverse to get the kind of consensus that you need to make major constitutional changes. So what you are going to get is a counterproductive circus that will do nothing but divert us from practical measures that might at least make small but significant advances in dealing with the problem.

In particular, I think that a real, concerted effort should be made to organize an assault on the filibuster rule. Getting rid of the supermajority requirement in the Senate would at least be a start and might be doable in the forseeable future (the beginning of the Obama administration would have been the ideal time, but that would have required actual leadership instead of grandstanding on a train and pretending to be Lincoln).


I think this is an eminently reasonable position. We should confront the possibility that Madison was simply wrong in the 14th Federalist if he was arguing that a "republican form of government" could be indefinitely extended. Of course, he literally had no conception of how large and heavily populated the US would ultimately become. He was simply suggesting that a country of 4 million people (where most of them were excluded from political participation) could govern itself in a "republican" mode, which for Madison meant rule by benevolent elites committed to the "public interset" and relatively insulated from political "factions." That's not the country we live in (and hasn't been at least since the time of Andrew Jackson).

I predict, incidentally, that if the Republicans do take control of the Senate and Obama wins re-election, that their first order of business will be to eliminate the filibuster. They are serious about imposing their own agenda--whether or not one calls it "governing" or not--in a way that Senate Democrats are not (perhaps because they don't have a firm idea of what they actually want to do and how they would finance it, given that taxing the rich, though necessary, is scarcely sufficient to finance the welfare needs of an American population that is getting over older).

Comments:

If the country has become too large and diverse to be manageable, perhaps we should just break it up into several smaller, less diverse countries? Hopefully peacefully this time.

Alternatively, we could try inventing a governmental structure where the central government only handles issues of genuinely national scope, where some kind of nation-wide consensus exists, leaving diverse sub-units of government to handle most issues. We could call it, oh, I don't know, maybe "federalism"....
 

I think Brett's abacus and his wrist sun dial need new batteries.
 

Of course, he literally had no conception of how large and heavily populated the US would ultimately become.

In the spirit of Brett and Jonathan Swift, perhaps we can rescue our republic if we depopulate the country. If I may make a modest proposal, perhaps America can simply exile or kill off its citizens who consider the Republic to be antiquated like the abacus and sun dial.

In reality, a government cannot run the economy or lives of any number of people so well as the people can run their own lives and economy. Thus, the size of the country us irrelevant.
 

Our yodeler's idea of "reality" seems to be pure libertarianism which can function efficiently regardless of population, and presumably without a constitution. I trust that our yodeler can substantiate this with an economic model using his abacus. But I suggest he get a Timex as a sundial may not function not only at night time but also with Colorado smog during day time.

My modest counter proposal would be to use the skulls of Brett and our yodeler to serve as bookends for George W. Bush's presidential library, for which there may be no books.
 

Shag:

The general principle that a government should limit itself to negative prescriptions forbidding one person from harming another can succeed regardless of the population of the country. The people can run their own lives in all other circumstances.

Only progressives and socialists share the odd assumption that a large group of people are incapable of running their own lives due to proximity and that an administrative state can somehow do the job better.

This from the folks who brought us a government that cannot balance its own checkbook or keep track of all of its own rules.
 

Our yodeler in being so positive with this:

"Only progressives and socialists share the odd assumption that a large group of people are incapable of running their own lives due to proximity and that an administrative state can somehow do the job better."

surely can provide proof by identifying a large group of people who are so capable. Perhaps he had in mind the Garden of Eden. OOOPS!

Also, perhaps our yodeler can come up with a list of:

" ... negative prescriptions forbidding one person from harming another ... "

that government should be limited to. Reading between the lines of his simpletonian approach to civilization, our yodeler's list probably wouldn't need an abacus as his fingers and toes may prove sufficient. But I caution our yodeler that there may be a few positive prescriptions that personally benefit him that he might be reluctant to give up.
 

"The problem is not Fox News, but rather that the country is now too large and too diverse to get the kind of consensus that you need to make major constitutional changes."

Aside from the fact that Maltz' "Rethinking Constitutional Law" is blurbed by a fan of the Murray and Herrnstein's "Bell Curve" the author repeats the same mistakes here.

Just to add: A GOP Rep called Obama a "tar baby" today.

The country is more ethnically diverse, but politically the divisions are basic: between white ethnic working class (many of whom refuse to identify as working class), the rentier class (including their servants) and the majority. The first group are voting against their interests as they tend to do. But the democratic party is not representing the constituents who elected them, they're representing the constituents who give them gifts. The American people wanted Single Payer. The American people are more worried about jobs than debt. The American people want the wars done with.

I'm hesitant to link to Crooked Timber, out of a general sense of disgust, but it's been interesting watching them begin to break away from their self-celebratory technocratic neoliberalism. Here is a discussion of The Submerged State: How Invisible Government Policies Undermine American Democracy .

We have a fascist minority, a Petainist leadership of the liberal party, and a majority of citizens who are frustrated but still too passive. The problems are political. At some point oblique politics, or high politics, or ivory tower politics, becomes no more than anti-politics. We need sophisticated leadership, not elected followers advised by those who refuse to play the game and play to win.

You'll notice I'm not talking about revolution or any other leftist claptrap. Revolution is as extra legal as kidnapping. The Republicans haven't kidnapped anybody. Roosevelt could wipe the floor with these idiots.
 

As someone pointed out on another post, big capital and the tea party are at odds. The wedge between them needs to get bigger; and again that requires the practice of politics, not the theory of it.

In the end, big capital wants this, and shouldn't be allowed to get it.
 

D. Ghirlandaio said...

As someone pointed out on another post, big capital and the tea party are at odds. The wedge between them needs to get bigger; and again that requires the practice of politics, not the theory of it.

"Big capital" loves and profits very handsomely from the crony capitalism of the left. The idea of "public/private partnerships" was invented by the left and "big capital."

The biggest scam to date is the Obama Administration giving away tens of billions of dollars in direct subsides or tax breaks to big green corporations without asking for a business plan or even making a passing inquiry as to whether the corporate welfare beneficiaries can or plan to pay back the taxpayers. The billionaire head of Americans Elect is one of the pigs at the trough and not so coincidentally an Obama campaign contributor.

I am well aware of the sewer that is the GOP establishment. That is why we in the Tea Party are attempting to retake the GOP.

What are you Dems doing to clean out your cesspool?
 

Our yodeler confesses:

"I am well aware of the sewer that is the GOP establishment."

Exactly when did our yodeler have this epiphany? After all, he was aswim up to his brown eyes in that sewer during 1/20/01 - 1/20/09, with Bush/Cheney. Our yodeler continues to display the scum from that sewer that has yet to wash off from him.

Then he continues:

"That is why we in the Tea Party are attempting to retake the GOP."

How many of the House Tea Party members voted for the debt ceiling bill yesterday?

By the Bybee [expletives deleted], our yodeler has positively not as yet responded to my requested list of his negatives that he accentuates as a pure libertarian on how government should be limited.
 

As a follow up to my last comment, perhaps our yodeler can refresh his recollection on House Tea Party voting by taking a peek at Jon Stewart's "Angry Tea Party" segment on the Daily Show last night.

And off topic, perhaps Brett may be thrilled by the Colbert Report feature last night "From Ashes to Bullets" concerning the firm "Holy Smoke" making bullets (240?) from cremation remains, perhaps as a form of Second Amendment recycling of "dead hands" of Charlton Heston yahoos.
 

Shag:

As a follow up to my last comment, perhaps our yodeler can refresh his recollection on House Tea Party voting by taking a peek at Jon Stewart's "Angry Tea Party" segment on the Daily Show last night.

Ah, the intellectual and enlightened left. From the Vice President calling 41% of last year's voters "terrorists" to your kindergarten name calling.

If you feel angry and bitter now, realize that we get to debate the rampant overspending of the Dem government again next month in the battle over the FY 2012 budget.
 

It's time once again to identify our yodeler as a:

"NOAGN"*

in his feeble attempt of elevating himself with "we" and his threats of the power of hot water flavored with tea as he avoids being responsive (although responsible is not expected) to earlier comments.

By the Bybee [expletives deleted], our yodeler could best use that hot water to purge his bile loaded system. What was the term the Tea Party member used to describe President Obama? Code word?

*NIT ON A GNAT'S NUT
 

"Just to add: A GOP Rep called Obama a "tar baby" today."

Kinda, sorta. But setting that aside; From Merriam Webster:

" something from which it is nearly impossible to extricate oneself "

This is rather like the fake contraversy over calling somebody "nigardly"; Tar baby only has racial implications in the minds of people who are constantly searching for an excuse to yell, "Racist!". The rest of us use the term as Merriam Webster defines it.
 

Brett:

Well said. Doug Lamborn is my congressman and he used the word "tar baby" in its dictionary and Disney movie context during a local radio interview. His constituents are rolling their eyes at the manufactured controversy from the folks calling them lunatics and terrorists.
 

Here's the quote attributed to Rep. Doug Lamborn (R) of CO (there must be something in the CO air):

“Even if some people say, ‘Well the Republicans should have done this or they should have done that,’ they will hold the President responsible,” Lamborn said. “Now, I don’t even want to have to be associated with him. It’s like touching a tar baby and you get it, you’re stuck, and you’re a part of the problem now and you can’t get away. I don’t want that to happen to us, but if it does or not, he’ll still get, properly so, the blame because his policies for four years will have failed the American people.”

What was his context as opposed to Merriam Webster? In any event, he apologized for using the term. Parse Lamborn's thought process in these words. Whatever Obama does or does not do, it's his fault. Lamborn's memory is as weak as that of his fellow CO-er and Brett who ignore the Bush/Cheney 8 years that left behind the 2008 Great Recession. Blame it all on the tar baby.

And Brett extends constitutional originalism concepts to children's stories of yesteryear, ignoring the development over the years of code words to address what shall not be spoken directly. And Brett caps this off with:

"The rest of us use the term as Merriam Webster defines it."

as if he is a spokesman "for the rest of us" unless that group is limited to Brett and a handful of his cracker-ilk.
 

Is our yodeler a mind reader to assert this as a fact?

"Doug Lamborn is my congressman and he used the word 'tar baby' in its dictionary and Disney movie context during a local radio interview."

Perhaps our yodeler can read my mind as to why Lamebrain - excuse me, Lamborn - apologized.

Also note that our yodeler continues to ignore providing us with info, such as how Tea Party House members voted on the bill. Perhaps some of them think they have teflon qualities. But our yodeler still cannot scrape off the scum from the GOP sewer he swam in during the Bush/Cheney 8 years. Our yodeler is not teflonized and the proof is available at this Blog.
 

Bret and Bart dim and dimmer, try again

http://tpmlivewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/08/republican-working-with-obama-like-touching-a-tar-baby.php

Jesus fucking christ.
 

BD: "Doug Lamborn is my congressman and he used the word 'tar baby' in its dictionary and Disney movie context during a local radio interview."

Shag: Perhaps our yodeler can read my mind as to why Lamebrain - excuse me, Lamborn - apologized.


Why Rep. Lamborn has to explain anything to someone whose first and best response is to call him a "lamebrain" is indeed a good question.

In any case, the Representative apologized to shorten the Dem media's usual PC inquisition that is reserved only for conservatives and Republicans. SOP in modern progressive America.

Shag: Also note that our yodeler continues to ignore providing us with info, such as how Tea Party House members voted on the bill.

Because it is the best the Tea Party could hope for until we retake the White House and Senate. In 83, 89 and 93, the Dems snookered the GOP including RR into accepting tax increases now for imaginary spending cuts in the future. Largely due to Tea Party pressure, the GOP held firm for the first time and won. Horrified progressives in the Dem Party and Dem Media call us terrorists and every other vile name they can think of because they see their power slipping away to the people. Welcome to the revolution.

We cannot be satisfied with this second round knock down, however. Time to continue the beating in round three with the FY2012 budget.
 

I could care less why Lamebrain -excuse me, Lamborn - apologized but I wondered since our yodeler aka the Great Karnak can read Lamborn's mind as to what Lamborn meant whether he (our yodeler) could read my mind regarding why he (Lamborn) apologized.

I can imagine the shuddering at our yodeler's goal for the White House and the Senate as he assumes the Tea Party will continue as the tail wagging the GOP House after the elections, providing a trifecta of control. But non-Tea Party GOP-ers may not roll over to accommodate the Tea Party. I imagine our yodeler fantasizes being appointed AG, quite an accomplishment for a NOAGN.*

And once again he refers to '83, '89 and '93, when the GOP controlled the White House and apparently couldn't deliver. Where was the Tea Party then? As for the Dems snookering the GOP, consider that the Republicans had control of the White House from 1981 to 1993. Yes, Clinton won in '92 and despite Gingrich's Contract, provided a great economy that left a surplus for George W. We need not recite details of that debacle that our yodeler supported lock, stock and barrel for 8 years. Our yodeler obviously had an epiphany after 1/20/09 regarding the GOP sewer that he swam in for 8 years; what a coincidence.

*Nit On A Gnat's Nut
 

Shag:

I can imagine the shuddering at our yodeler's goal for the White House and the Senate as he assumes the Tea Party will continue as the tail wagging the GOP House after the elections...

Tea Party supporters outnumbered both Dems and GOP voters in the last election. Gallup suggests that the the electorate has become more conservative since then and Indis are shifting away from Obama and joining us.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/148745/Political-Ideology-Stable-Conservatives-Leading.aspx

http://www.gallup.com/poll/148760/Obama-Weekly-Approval-Liberal-Support-Remains-High.aspx

The Tea Party is the dog waging its establishment tail.
 

Because it is the best the Tea Party could hope for until we retake the White House and Senate.

Blankshot, you teabaggers can't "retake" something that you never previously controlled,
 

Frum (with links/data):
"Only about one-third of Republicans agree that cutting government spending should be the country's top priority. Only about one-quarter of Republicans insist the budget be balanced without any tax increases.
Yet that one-third and that one-quarter have come to dominate my party. That one-third and that one-quarter forced a debt standoff that could have ended in default and a second Great Recession. That one-third and that one-quarter have effectively written the "no new taxes pledge" into national law."

Polls going against GOP on policy.
 

Our yodeler's Tea Party calls seem at odds with the NYTimes News Analysis report by Kate Zernike "That Monolithic Tea Party Just Wasn't There" today at page A14.

Our yodeler swaggers as if at least in CO he is a big mucky-muck Tea Partier, especially with bake sales. Alas, outside of his DUI locale, he remains a NOAGN.* It must be frustrating as he was at the ready to dive into what he now describes as the GOP sewer during those Bush/Cheney 8 years. And what did he get for his loyalty? He seems to have rewarded himself on 1/20/09 with a book deal attacking Pres. Obama from the git-go. Apparently the GOP did not come to his rescue as DUI was drying up in CO. So he looked for some place else to go where he might get some recognition for his effors. I rather doubt that he was a founding member of the CO Tea Party. Rather, he was riding the coattails of TOM-TOM Tancredo for quite some time. Frankly, I think it's obvious that his shift to the Tea Party is less principle and more anticipated principal, as he was going nowhere in the GOP sewer he seems to have abandoned - at least for now. There may be the hope of his to be self published work of "Friction" in just over a month from now providing his pot of gold, most likely of the fool's variety.

But I could be wrong. Perhaps our yodeler will provide CO media links demonstrating how he is at the top of the CO Tea Party. I'm sure he keeps a scrapbook.

*Nit On A Gnat's Nut
 

Frum is probably wrong about one thing: his assertion that default "could have" resulted in a second Great Recession. Chances are the deal itself will have enough contractionary impact to lower growth to zero for the next year or so. See, e.g., here.
 

DG:

Frum is a RINO and polling folks who do not vote concerning hypotheticals is completely useless. You look at actual voter approval or disapproval of actual policies over the past generation.

Compare the voter approval for the Reagan and Bush 43 tax reductions compared with the 92 and 94 rejections of the Bush41 and Clinton tax increases.

Voters kept reelecting GOP Congresses while they were reducing spending as a percentage of GDP and fired them after raising spending again. When the Dems raised spending even further, the voters fired them en masse in 2010.

In current polling of likely and registered voters (which does not overweight Dems), Obama's approval number have tanked as he proposed the same old "balanced" tax and spend Dem plan offered over the past generation. Meanwhile, the "terrorist" GOP is back to 2010 levels in the congressional generic.

Wake up and smell the tea, DG. If the Dem policies were so popular with voters and the GOP policies so hated, why do Obama and the Dem Senate refuse to offer their own budget plans and caved nearly completely to the "unpopular" GOP plan?

Even Mother Jones is beginning to catch onto the obvious:

http://motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2011/08/its-public-opinion-stupid

When will you?
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

Bernstein is a putz, still loyal to Obama and to their shared passivity. But you didn't read the post, and I read this one:
http://motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2011/08/ever-shrinking-tea-party

I wish I could argue with Mark Field.
 

Yale Law School Prof. Daniel Markovitz's LATimes op-ed "How the GOP lost on the debt deal" is an interesting take on the GOP giving up leverage, which might give Tea Partiers cause for concern as the nation realizes that they actually wanted to push everything over the cliff., lemming-like as they are.
 

I just verified that my Social Security check was direct-deposited to my account today. Thank you Pres. Obama; don't worry about reading tea leaves. They are, for practical purposes, spent.
 

Shag from Brookline said...

I just verified that my Social Security check was direct-deposited to my account today. Thank you Pres. Obama...

Umm shag, Obama was the only one threatening to unlawfully stop your SS check.
 

So Social Security payments, according to our yodeler constitute public debt within the meaning of Section 4 of the 14th Amendment? That's not consistent with his past statements, which is only "double-bogie" for his course.
 

Shag from Brookline said...

So Social Security payments, according to our yodeler constitute public debt within the meaning of Section 4 of the 14th Amendment?

About 95% of SS is paid with dedicated SS taxes, with the rest being borrowed when Treasury issues bonds to cover the internal IOUs to SS.

Obama would be violating the law if he diverted SS taxes from SS payments to some other spending in order to make a political point.
 

Money being fungible, when there is not enough of it to pay all obligations (including public debt), some method of prioritization of payments is called for. Section 4 of the 14th Amendment addresses, without defining, public debt or prioritizing. Our yodeler is quick to use the word "unlawful" regarding any prioritization of Social Security payments, suggesting that such constitute public debt within the meaning of Section 4. But he much earlier on other threads at this Blog has defined public debt in a manner that would not include such Social Security payments. Our yodeler has consistently displayed inconsistency at this Blog. So what else is new?
 

Shag:

Stop making excuses for Obama's thuggish threats. SS tax revenues are not fungible and are dedicated for making SS payments. The government was only able to "borrow" SS tax revenues when they were in excess of what was required to make payments.
 

Where is that "Lock Box" located? Who's got the key? Will House Tea Party members revive the "Lock Box" bill? While money may be fungible, surely Tea Partiers are not.

Now our yodeler refers to "thuggish" threats of Obama in addition to the earlier "unlawful" threats. Our yodeler must get a grip on himself - perhaps he has in the cropped photo that illuminates his comments. Our yodeler continues to prove himself a protege of his mentor TOM-TOM Tancredo.
 

Shag:

I dunno, what do you call threats to take the SS checks of senile old fogies like yourself if not thuggish? Heck, its one step away from mugging grandpa of his check at the mail box. And all you can say is thank you President Obama, may I have another.

Weird.
 

Come Sept. 2nd when my next Social Security payment is to be received, this old fogie will have entered his 82nd year. But this old fogie is not so senile as to have forgetten about the Social Security "Lock Box" that I tossed out to bait our wise carp in CO waters who ignored it. I wonder why?

We old fogies need youngsters such as our yodeler to work harder to fund Social Security for our continuing benefits. No, there is no "Lock Box" with what is a pay-as-you-go system - basically taxes. So our yodeler is obviously not doing his part as DUI dries up in CO. With our yodeler's extensive background, education and experience, he could be making larger contributions to fund the system for us old fogies. Perhaps he is being thuggish in not worker harder.

By the Bybee [expletives deleted], Move On has a report on the infiltration of the Tea Party by white supremacists, referring to certain characters and groups in CA. But I seem to recall that in CO this was the case from the git-go of the CO branch of the Tea Party, led by the drumming of TOM-TOM Tancredo and his minions.
 

Stop making excuses for Obama's thuggish threats.

When our friend Bart considers a Democratic politician, he sees the law as the most delicate crystal chalice. When he views a right-wing Republican suddenly the law resembles the elastic waistband of a circus elephants disposable diaper.

If Obama, who governs perhaps a little to the right of Dwight Eisenhower, breaks wind it's clearly an act of thuggery. But if the Tea Party threatens to destroy the AAA-rating of US Debt and tank our ailing economy in the process then Bart would regard such behavior as,

"the epitome of republican virtue and responsibility"
 

Mattski:

President Obama's threat to default on the debt in violation of the Constitution when there is far more than adequate tax revenues to service the debt with the purpose of panicking the markets and voters raises the bar of thuggishness far higher than his threat to cut off SS checks.

No GOP member of Congress called for defaulting on the debt.
 

No GOP member of Congress called for defaulting on the debt.

Of course not. They just threatened to DO IT.

You stand with the Highway Men, Bart.

Under all these circumstances, do you really feel yourselves justified to break up this Government unless such a court decision as yours is, shall be at once submitted to as a conclusive and final rule of political action? But you will not abide the election of a Republican president! In that supposed event, you say, you will destroy the Union; and then, you say, the great crime of having destroyed it will be upon us! That is cool. A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, “Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!”
 

Mattski:

What part of Obama had more than enough tax revenues to service the debt did you miss?

If Congress declined to approve more borrowing, tax revenues could have covered about 60% of current expenditures.

ONLY Obama and his Treasury Department threatened a default.
 

Assuming that our yodeler did not pluck this:

"If Congress declined to approve more borrowing, tax revenues could have covered about 60% of current expenditures."

out of an orifice of his, what about the balance of 40%? If the Executive were not given the funds for the shortfall, the Executive would be acting unlawfully in not paying the shortfall? And what about payment beyond current expenditures? If Congress had not acted, any default would have been attributable to Congress, not the Executive. So in reality the GOP in Congress made the threat.

Because of the intransigence of the House GOP and in particular its Tea Party segment, the stock market has dropped precipitously. That is the fault of the Tea Party.

And our yodeler still ignores what constitutes public debt and what constitutes other obligations that Congress has authorized. Perhaps our yodeler has no skin in the game but surely some Tea Party members do. Soon they must realize how the ilk of our yodeler have led them over the cliff.
 

"out of an orifice of his, what about the balance of 40%?"

Simple: The money we don't have doesn't get spent.

You know, Tribe did do a pretty good job of analyzing this, but it's not a difficult call: By not spending money he doesn't have, the President violates an appropriations bill. By usurping Congress' power to tax, borrow, sell off government assets, the President violates the Constitution.

Given the choice, the President is obligated to violate the bill. His oath of office requires upholding and defending the Constitution, not violating it.

I think the problem here is that actual spending cuts are so cosmically inconceivable to liberals, that confronted with a situation which requires them, their brain hiccups. They just can't see any course of action involving lowering spending, they can't wrap their minds around the concept, so they cut straight to stiffing our creditors, if not doing so would require "spending cuts".

The only constitutional consequence of not raising the debt ceiling is a balanced budget. Not default.
 

Bart, the Tea Party threatens to choke the spigot and you blame the president because he wouldn't have the money to meet all our obligations.

Somehow, this makes perfect sense to you. Whereas many observers think you're completely off your rocker.
 

Brett claims:

"By not spending money he doesn't have, the President violates an appropriations bill."

What is the basis for this statement? Where is the President to get the money? Is the Executive the guarantor of payments of government obligations where Congress has failed to make provision for getting the money to pay? How is this a violation?

Regarding the President's oath of office, keep in mind Article VI, Clause 2:

"This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding."

It is not limited to the Constitution as it includes laws made in pursuance of the Constitution.

And of course there is Section 4 of the 14th Amendment on public debt, which is not defined in Section 4. If as a result of Congressional action or otherwise (5th Amendment takings?) legal obligations of the government arise, and Congress fails to provide the money to pay, clearly default results to the extent such obligations constitute public debt and cannot be paid for Congress' failure to act.

Brett should focus on any expertise he may have in economies of mail order brides rather than on complexities beyond his ken.
 

No, the debt ceiling being raised would not be a balanced budget anymore than letting your utility bills go unpaid when you could have charged them is a balanced budget. The appropriations would still be there, they'd just have to be delayed in their execution until funds became available. The president does not have an ex post facto line item veto.
 

I meant the debt ceiling NOT being raised, of course.
 

Shag:

As most of the professors here recognize, public debt has nothing whatsoever to paying for the welfare state and not paying for the welfare state is not a default.

Mattski:

A majority of the American people do not want to borrow more to fill the pig trough. We in the Tea Party are simply the most vocal in stating this demand.

And no we in the Tea Party would not blame Obama for not being able to borrow more money to fill the pig trough. We would however call for Obama's impeachment if he carried out his threats to violate the Constitution by defaulting on our actual public debt or to violate the law by failing to use SS taxes to make SS payments.

Thankfully, Obama's thuggish threats backfired by destroying his polling which caused him to cave in the end.
 

I think the problem here is that actual spending cuts are so cosmically inconceivable to liberals, that confronted with a situation which requires them, their brain hiccups. They just can't see any course of action involving lowering spending, .

This is hilarious given the spending patterns of so-called conservatives and the fact that the most recent balanced budgets occurred during a time when so-called liberals held both the White House and Senate. Liberals aren't afraid to cut spending; they just like to cut things you don't like (and vice versa).
 

Our yodeler with this:

"As most of the professors here recognize, public debt has nothing whatsoever to paying for the welfare state and not paying for the welfare state is not a default."

continues to evade what public debt means under Section 4 of the 14th Amendment. Our yodeler has tried to define public debt and when challenged has expanded his definition to suit his desired outcome. Public debt clearly constitutes obligations of the federal government but not all such obligations may constitute public debt. It remains unanswered what obligations constitute public debt. I've raised the matter of 5th Amendment takings as perhaps constituting an obligation that may be public debt within the meaning of Section 4. And perhaps our yodeler should enumerate the "welfare state" payments that do not constitute obligations that might - or might not - be public debt. Social Security can be changed. But until it is, are Social Security payments obligations that may constitute public debt? And what about contractors who have performed authorized government contracts - might the obligations of the government to pay such contractors constitute public debt? As to our yodeler's claimed support of "most of the professors here," they have not recognized what he claims, as they have not attempted to define public debt within the meaning of Section 4.

As to polling, our yodeler ignores the polling on Congress, which may portend an iced Tea Party.
 

PMS_CC said...

Liberals aren't afraid to cut spending; they just like to cut things you don't like (and vice versa).

Quite the opposite. Both party establishment hate to cut spending, but are somewhat open to reducing the increase in spending on items they do not support and calling it a cut.

We have not seen actual substantive reductions in federal spending in our lifetimes. Gingrich/Clinton balanced the budget by slowing the growth of spending below the growth of the economy.
 

Our yodeler with this:

"We have not seen actual substantive reductions in federal spending in our lifetimes. Gingrich/Clinton balanced the budget by slowing the growth of spending below the growth of the economy."

omits the accompanying tax increases that led to such balancing, in addition to omitting Gingrich's efforts to stop government before "cooperating.".

Our yodeler seems, at least for the time being, to distance himself from the GOP establishment for which he was a fervent cheerleader during the Bush/Cheney days of 1/20/01 - 1/20/09. I wonder if he can pinpoint the date of his epiphany. I would guess it was 1/20/09.
 

Our yodeler seems, at least for the time being, to distance himself from the GOP establishment for which he was a fervent cheerleader during the Bush/Cheney days of 1/20/01 - 1/20/09. I wonder if he can pinpoint the date of his epiphany. I would guess it was 1/20/09.
# posted by Shag from Brookline : 9:16 AM


Shag, he didn't even wait until 1/20/09 to start blaming Obama for the Bush economic mess .
 

Shag:

Economic growth slowed after the Clinton tax rate increases and the resulting tax revenues were half of CBO's static model projections (which also overestimated the revenues from the Bush 41 increases and completely missed the revenue growth after the Reagan and Bush 43 tax rate reductions).

The budget did not balance until later in the decade when Clinton signed off on the Gingrich plan to slow the increase in spending.
 

Our yodeler with this:

" ... and completely missed the revenue growth after the Reagan and Bush 43 tax rate reductions)."

means he has multiple orifices from which his crap extrudes. And to top it off, our yodeler seeks to credit Gingrich for the Clinton/Gore latter 1990s surplus that Bush/Cheney squandered. Quelle fromage!

Further, despite our yodeler's confession that he has disdained the GOP sewer he swam in during the Bush/Cheney 8 years, he still seeks to laud Bush 43. Apparently our yodeler has ignored Bruce Bartlett on the Bush 43 tax cuts. So perhaps he is a GOP mole in the Tea Party.
 

I forgot to add that Gingrich was not around the last two (2) years of Clinton/Gore as a result of the 1998 mid-term elections and some other reason having to do with the eye of Newt wandering.
 

Shag:

Bruce Bartlett uses the same static model assumptions as does CBO which assume that tax rate increases and decreases have zero effect on economic growth. If fact, even Keynesians and Dems in their honest moments admit that tax rate increases and decreases slow and accelerate the economy respectively. History including that of the Clinton tax increase and Bush 43 tax decrease bears this out.
 

Bart,

History bears out that you have no idea what you're talking about. Period.

The greatest period of growth in US history occurred under a high tax regime. There was no Reagan miracle, just a lot of right wing fantasy.

Sure, even Krugman will admit that taxes put a drag on individual incentives to work. But you see, my dear lad, there are more factors to consider when looking at aggregate growth, and aggregate growth is what matters.

But wait. You were here for "rational debate", right?
 

Mattski:

Here is modern US economics in a nutshell:

The Great Depression did not end for the private economy (as opposed to the borrowed money financed WWII war production economy) until we went back to free trade, limited the unions and removed most of the New Deal and WWII government controls over the economy in 1946

We spent the last couple years of the 1940s and the 1950s recovering from a decade and a half of economic stagnation - very much like that we are currently suffering. Even so, the 40s and 50s were pockmarked with four substantial recessions due to high tax rates.

JFK recognized this and called for a substantial decrease in tax rates. After JFK's death, Johnson enacted the tax reforms and the economy boomed.

In the 1970s, we suffered from an easy money policy and a massive increase in regulation leading to stagflation.

Reagan again lowered taxes and slowed down the rate of regulation while the Fed mopped up all the extra money it printed during the 70s. The economy again boomed and, between 1983 and 2007, we enjoyed the longest period of growth without a serious recession in our nation's history. Clinton deserves significant credit for continuing this Great Prosperity by signing off on the Gingrich spending controls and championing free trade.

Apart from the 2003 tax reforms, fundamentals started heading south again during the Bush and Obama Administrations - government borrowing and spending soared, we went into an easy money period again, regulations increased during Bush (yes, increased) and then soared under Obama, and the government created subprime mortgage market crashed.

Unless we substantively reverse the easy money, borrowing, spending and regulatory tidal wave, our Great Recession will easily last as long as the Great Depression for many of the same reasons.
 

Currently we are in the Tea Party Great Recession of 2011.

Note our yodeler's praise for Reagan's tax cuts. But these led to his tax increases fairly soon thereafter. And keep in mind the 1986 tax reform act to address S & L failures during Reagan's years. (I won't mention the foreign policy brouhahas during Reagan's years that he could not recall.) But our yodeler takes a giant leap with this:

"The economy again boomed and, between 1983 and 2007, we enjoyed the longest period of growth without a serious recession in our nation's history."

He does so in a futile attempt to demonstrate that Reagan, Bush 41 and Bush 43 made significant contributions to the economy. But it was during Clinton/Gore, especially in the latter half of the 1990s that had the significant growth (and Gingrich was absent in 1999 and 2000). Everything was not wonderful in the economy from 1/20/01 - 1/20/09. In his efforts to present a positive package, our yodeler hopes we'll forget what actually happened. Our yodeler fails altogether to mention the stagnation in wages beginning with Reagan.

By the Bybee [expletives deleted], perhaps our yodeler can provide cites for this:

" ... regulations increased during Bush (yes, increased) and then soared under Obama, and the government created subprime mortgage market crashed."

Just what regulations were increased during Bush? There had been deregulation and existing regulation was not enforced. That's why it was necessary to enact regulation after 1/20/09 under Obama to prevent the Bush/Cheney Great Recession from happening again. And our yodeler seems to be suggesting with the awkwardness of that quote that Obama, who came into office AFTER the 2008 Bush/Cheney Great Recession, as having responsibility for the subprime mortgage market crash: that was under Bush/Cheney. Hopefully our yodeler's soon to be published work of "Friction" will be fact-checked by third parties for he has a propensity for inaccuracy on daily demonstration at this Blog. Must be the DUI fumes getting to him.
 

Shag:

It feels like I am teaching an Econ 101 class here.

1) The Reagan 97 tax reforms were further flattening rates to 28% and 14% while eliminating most deductions. This is the model for the Obama deficit commission reforms and even Obama goes lip service to this plan. You notice how Reagan has been the model for most governance for the past generation as FDR was for the generation after his Administration.

2) Bush 41 did nothing for the economy. Bush 43's only contribution was the 03 tax reform. Otherwise he was a tax and spend progressive. Conversely, After 94, Clinton was the second most conservative president after Reagan during my lifetime (apart from the subprime mess his bureaucracy was hatching).
 

Here's what our yodeler said to Mattski:

"Reagan again lowered taxes and slowed down the rate of regulation while the Fed mopped up all the extra money it printed during the 70s. The economy again boomed and, between 1983 and 2007, we enjoyed the longest period of growth without a serious recession in our nation's history."

After fact checking our yodeler, he now with his recent comment wants to teach me Econ 101 but be contradicts what he said earlier to Mattski and to me. Now Reagan is his main man as he denigrates the Bushes, father and son. I'm not aware of the "Reagan 97 tax reforms" he bases his idolatry on; perhaps he means the 1986 Tax Reform Act that was aimed at reducing certain real estate tax deductions in response to the S & L scandal. While the 1986 act provided some tax reform, it led to less real estate development. Then we had Bush 41 with his lippy "no new taxes" that just didn't work.

But our yodeler now states forthrightly:

"Bush 43's only contribution was the 03 tax reform. Otherwise he was a tax and spend progressive."

But Bush 43 gave us two tax cuts that our yodeler accepted lock, stock and barrel (although he probably personally did not benefit therefrom to any significant extent based upon his financial disclosures over the years at this Blog) during his 8 year love affair with Bush/Cheney swimming in what he now calls a sewer.

No, it is not Econ 101 that is the problem, it is History 101 which our yodeler makes up as he goes along. To paraphrase Ralph Waldo Emerson:

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of a NOAGN*"

*Nit On A Gnat's Nut
 

Shag:

Actually, there are a couple typos in my last post.

1) The 1986 (not 97) Tax Reform Act was enacted to simplify the tax code (and not deal with the S&L crisis, which occurred later).

2) Bush 43 was a borrow and spend (not a tax and spend) progressive.

Typos are the risk you run slipping in post between legal e-filings.
 

Here's what Wikipedia says:
***
"Tax Reform Act of 1986
By enacting 26 U.S.C. § 469 (relating to limitations on deductions for passive activity losses and limitations on passive activity credits) to remove many tax shelters, especially for real estate investments, the Tax Reform Act of 1986 significantly decreased the value of many such investments which had been held more for their tax-advantaged status than for their inherent profitability. This contributed to the end of the real estate boom of the early to mid-1980s and facilitated the Savings and Loan crisis.[4] Prior to 1986, much real estate investment was done by passive investors. It was common for syndicates of investors to pool their resources in order to invest in property, commercial or residential. They would then hire management companies to run the operation. TRA 86 reduced the value of these investments by limiting the extent to which losses associated with them could be deducted from the investor's gross income. This, in turn, encouraged the holders of loss-generating properties to try to unload them, which contributed further to the problem of sinking real estate values."

*****

The S & L crisis was not caused by the 1986 act but the act hastened the demise of schemes that deregulation - under Reagan - had hatched into rotten eggs. So did the 1986 act serve as real reform as our yodeler described it?

By the Bybee [expletives deleted], Bush 43's borrow and spend was NOT progressive in the parlance of this Blog. I do not recall our yodeler referring to Bush/Cheney during their 8 years as progressives; rather, they were the opposite with deregulation.
 

Apart from the 2003 tax reforms, fundamentals started heading south again during the Bush and Obama Administrations

I like your whiff of dissonance, Bart. Bush cut taxes and growth slumped. Try saying it like that.

***Noteworthy: Bush, in cutting government revenues well below expenditures, was implementing Norquist's 'starve-the-beast' regime. Now that economic disaster has installed a Democrat in the White House right-wingers like Bart have developed a sudden passion for balanced budgets.

We had high taxes by today's standards in the 50's & 60's and yet growth was unprecedented. Try saying it like that.

It feels like I am teaching an Econ 101 class here.

That's a scarier thought than you'll ever know.
 

Wishing Bart a pleasant weekend: Tea Party On The Move.

Downward.
 

Mattski's comment on the "iced" Tea Party confirms my earlier observation:

"Currently we are in the Tea Party Great Recession of 2011."

which our yodeler did not challenge, suggesting, since he is ever so sensitive to slights, that he may be having doubts. Since he has forsaken the GOP sewer that he swam in "olympian" styling during the Bush/Cheney 8 years, he may not be able to backstroke home to it. But he always has his mentor, TOM TOM Tancredo, to take him back.

So let's start a bumper sticker movement. How about:

"ICED" TEA PARTY!
 

BD: Apart from the 2003 tax reforms, fundamentals started heading south again during the Bush and Obama Administrations

Mattski: I like your whiff of dissonance, Bart. Bush cut taxes and growth slumped. Try saying it like that.


Sorry, I don't make statements contrary to reality. After the summer 03 tax reforms, GDP grew at a gallup, unemployment went down and tax revenues increased by double digits - the fastest rates since after the Reagan tax reforms.

We had high taxes by today's standards in the 50's & 60's and yet growth was unprecedented. Try saying it like that.

The United States was recovering from a decade long recession followed by WWII austerity and rationing. There was 15 years of population growth and pent up demand which exploded when government controls were removed, free trade reestablished and the labor movement checks by statute, As I noted before, even this pent up demand was hobbled repeatedly with high tax rates,

Shag:

Wikipedia commentary? The purpose of the 86 tax reform was to exchange eliminating deductions and credits in exchange for lowering income tax rates even further and broadening the tax base. This is text book supply side tax theory.
 

Well, the Obama regime has managed to do what no other administration in the history of the republic has accomplished - trashed the good faith and credit of the United States. Standard & Poors just downgraded the US credit rating from AAA:

It said the bi-partisan agreement reached this week to find at least $2.1 trillion in budget savings “fell short” of what was necessary to tame the nation’s debt over time and predicted that leaders would not be likely to achieve more savings later on.

2012 cannot come soon enough.
 

Apart from the 2003 tax reforms, fundamentals started heading south again during the Bush and Obama Administrations - government borrowing and spending soared, we went into an easy money period again, regulations increased during Bush (yes, increased) and then soared under Obama, and the government created subprime mortgage market crashed.

The credit freeze that marked the beginning of the mortgage crash happened in late 2007, long before Obama was sworn in and when you were predicting Romney would sweep the 2008 elections. I note you haven't mentioned MBSs or the Gramm-Leach-Billey Act...maybe that will be in your next lecture, Professor?
 

S&P
"Compared with previous projections, our revised base case scenario now assumes that the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, due to expire by the end of 2012, remain in place. We have changed our assumption on this because the majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues, a position we believe Congress reinforced by passing the act."
 

"2012 cannot come soon enough."

Do you REALLY think that President Romney or Perry will cut the deficit? I'd be truly shocked if that were the case. They'll probably put through some debt-funded tax cut, making the deficit even bigger than it is now. All those dreams of privatizing Medicare? They'll not be revived. And the BBA will disappear for another 4-8 years. Business as usual.

If you want deficit reduction, keep a divided government. Post 1980, Republicans only give a damn about debt when they aren't in the White House.
 

Our yodeler really, really said this:

"Sorry, I don't make statements contrary to reality."

Our yodeler is his own "Realty Show" in the nature of TV reality shows. (Take a look at the interview of Buck Henry in today's LATimes where he states that TV reality shows are contrived but he watches them - in particular "Big Brother" - anyway.)

As for Standard & Poor's downgrade, it was from AAA to AA+. (Of course S & P could not downgrade our yodeler any lower as he is still trying to scrape off the scum accumulated while swimming and high diving in the GOP sewer during the Bush/Cheney 8 years.) Paul Krugman at his NYTimes blog has a realistic rejoinder of S & P's action, which was based upon now admitted misinformation. Of course we can put our trust and confidence in S & P after its "yeoman" job on grading subprime investments that had a tad to do with the Bush/Cheney 2008 Great Recession.
 

For a more detailed view of the 1986 Act, take at look at the Tax Foundation's Tax Policy Blog 10/23/06 "Twenty Years Later: The Tax Reform Act of 1986" by Andrew Chamberlain, available at:

http://www.taxfoundation.org/blog/show/1951.html

The Act came about because of bipartisan effort. (Remember Reagan working with Tip O'Neill?) Alas, over the years special interests with their campaign contributions to GOPers resulted in reinstating loopholes that turned into bubbles that eventually popped.
 

PMS:

The cause of the subprime home mortgage meltdown was the government's (93 Congress, HUD, Justice and the Fed) creation of a subprime mortgage market and secondary market (Fannie & Freddie) in the mid-1990s.

I would recommend you read:

Peter Wallison's financial commission dissent for a detailed description of the government's role in creating the subprime home mortgage market. http://www.aei.org/paper/100190

The Gretchen Morgenson's scathing indictment of the Dem and some GOP establishment's role in and profit from this scam entitled Reckless Endangerment. http://www.amazon.com/Reckless-Endangerment-Outsized-Corruption-Armageddon/dp/0805091203
 

BD: "2012 cannot come soon enough."

Isaac said... Do you REALLY think that President Romney or Perry will cut the deficit?


Romney is a RINO for whom I will only vote for after vomiting as an alternative to our current President.

Perry might have some possibilities after balancing Texas budgets.

Bachmann is probably the only credible candidate I trust with the job of cutting over a trillion dollars in spending per year and not over ten.
 

Shag:

Your indictment of S&P and being a dollar late in downgrading insane fiscal practices is well taken. The Obama Administration credit rating should have been downgraded last year after it became apparent he had no intention of lowering his rampant borrowing and spending after the Porkulus was extinguished.
 

Since you ignored my quote from the S&P report I'll just have fun and give you something else to ignore

"The loan performance on Fannie's book of business is substantially better than the overall mortgage market. And starting in 2002, Fannie Freddie (pink line) lost market share to ABS (light blue line). The data underlying the graph is from the Federal Reserve."

Also here

And Wallison amazingly enough is a liar.
"Any objective investigation of the causes of the financial crisis would have looked carefully at [Pinto's] research, exposed it to the members of the Commission, taken Pinto’s testimony, and tested the accuracy of Pinto’s research. But the Commission took none of these steps."

Pinto's submissions.
Pinto Interview-FCIC

FCIC Analysis of Pinto's research
 

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