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October 19, 2015


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"In political shorthand, I put it in the New Confederacy, which consists of the Old CSA plus much of the Midwest, all of the Great Plains states, and the Intermountain West with the sometime exception of Colorado"

Huh? Quick question: have you ever been to any of the places you think southern Arizona "fits" in with? How exactly can the Intermountain West, Great Plains, and the Deep South all fit into *any* single category? If you've lumped all those vast regions together, just give up on categorizing anything, because the results are useless in describing much of anything.

I've read Woodard's book, and I've sometimes wondered where Arizona fits in his scheme- and in national politics. I've also read Jeff Guin's book "The Last Gunfight." Maybe Guinn's book isn't as relevant to Arizona today as I thought it was after reading it, but "all manner of sefishness and kookery" might apply to the behavior of the Clantons and the other "Cowboys." Back in the day, they were stealing cattle from the Mexican denizens of El Norte. I found it interesting that Wyatt Earp, et al, as former Confederates, were sworn to uphold Fedral Law and were doing so in going after the "Cowboys." Interesting politics, and an interesting clash of cultures. Woodard's nations don't have very well defined borders it seems, especially in the western half of the nation.

You write "...Arizona has been deeply destabilized by massive migration from the Midwest..." In truth, Arizona has been destabilized by massive migration from California. For many years, California has been the state of origin of the highest number of migrants to Arizona. The older, "neater" parts of Phoenix--with the shady streets and bungalows--look like Iowa. The newer "plastic" parts (North Scottsdale) look like Southern California. If Hispanics are "in the shadows" doing housekeeping and mowing lawns, the ability to function as second-class citizens without ever learning English (sanctioned by the liberals) is as much to blame as "voter suppression" (As if asking for voter I.D. is somehow "racist") I'm not Mormon, but it seems to me that the Mormon conservative leadership of Mesa--which proactively supported the development of arts in their city and the extension of light rail--is acting a lot like the "Utah Mormons." Years ago, Howard Pyle--a Republican--first tried to shut down Colorado City, and was decried for his attempt by Democrats including Ernest McFarland, a darling of the liberals. In short--one of your sillier columns. Arizona is a flawed place, with plenty of fodder for your "Continuing Crisis," but we get some things right, as research guided by the facts--as opposed to opinions pre-determined by the ever-present chip on your shoulder--would show.

I like the term New Confederacy since it makes clear how racialist nostalgia informs Arizona's politics. The various incoherencies about geography and culture matter less than the intention to tribalize around white skin and its national subsets (English, Aryan Jesus, Fox News/talk radio, and the suburban/exurban cancer). Gilbert doesn't have much in common with Knoxville but it votes as if they were twins.

A nation fragmenting in a cold civil war (what are the odds now Republicans will succeed in driving the nation to default?) might want to think about regional or state solutions instead of futilely wishing for federal ones. California might join forces with Oregon, Nevada, and Washington when it comes to high-speed rail. Arizona might join hands with Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho in a new Sagebrush Rebellion. States will not only be laboratories of democracy, they might actually be the only democracy left in a country hamstrung by a corporate oligarchy and an outmoded Constitutional framework.

Tomorrow Canada votes and it's fascinating to see how even civil Canadians are beginning to show stress fractures similar to America's. The conservatives are strongest in the west and the suburbs around Toronto. Apparently the hot-button issue is the naqib some Muslim women wear. Stephen Harper, the widely loathed prime minister, might be able to eke out a victory if his last-minute demagoguery can shake down enough Silent Majority types. Maybe the Maple Leaf flag can't paper over their own cultural schisms. Like America, Canada is as much a manufactured conceit as it is a unified nation.

Mesa under Scott Smith progressed very good. But his liberalism scared the extreme right wing LDS legislators to the point they supported a Cradle Catholic. Cant have a Mormon that acts like them Udall boys. And former Mesa police Chief Frank Milstead, probably the he best lawman in Arizona since his dad Ralph was DPS Director, got pulled to DPS by Ducey where he can't be as dangerous to the POLS as DPS is controlled tightly by the Governor and the legislators by budget and you can be gone in a flash. When's the last time you saw a politician arrested in Arizona. Not much since Phoenix Police Chief Ruben Ortega told the city manager it was his (Rubens) police department. And sure enough the Pols made sure that the following chiefs understood who was running Phoenix PD. Thats why today the PD has no Organized Crime Bureau and no White Collar Crime Squad.
Maybe Bob can write us a column on all the good things he thinks the Pols have got right in the last 10 years?

"Republicans will succeed in driving the nation to default"

Boy, that's a hoot.

Year after year of failed budget negotiations, with band aid after band aid. The sequester, the previous shut down, the failure of Simpson Bowles, the S and P downgrade, just failure after failure with big ears in the White House.

From the Atlantic article that Rogue posted in a previous posting:

"Once Obama walks out of a policy discussion, he does not coordinate and does not collaborate. This fact is attested by so many in Congress that it will take a separate history to chronicle the disconnections. He intensely dislikes the rituals of keeping company with lesser lawmakers, even in his own party. Starting with the Affordable Care Act, he has stayed aloof from negotiations, as if recusing himself afforded a certain protection against being blamed for failure. He does not cultivate political friends, or fraternize with comrades. Add to this record his episodic evacuations of causes (global warming between 2010 and 2012; nuclear proliferation between 2011 and 2015) and the activists who got him the nomination in 2008 may be pardoned for wondering what cause Obama ever espoused in earnest."

As far as the original post, I tend to avoid sweeping, broad generalizations of people by geography (or anything else)absent compelling data.

I think that kind of thinking can result in a lot of, well, profiling.

I have to admit I like Soleri's suggestion about regional alliances, if it would shrink the power and influence of the federal government.

I think we all agree that there's too much of that.


Was soleri suggesting regional alliances or secession? At this stage, maybe the latter is worthy of serious discussion given the oligarch ownership of all branches of the national government.

Mr. Francisco, I'm pretty sure the Earps were Yankee Republicans from Iowa.

Without addressing this blog's resident troll directly, I would like to note that the lengthy quotation he ascribes to The Atlantic conveniently omits the name of its author. I tried to Googling various word combinations, both on the web and the site itself but nothing comes up. The Atlantic does offer a range of opinion, although it tends to avoid the Fox News variety of heavy breathing the quotation evinces.

Why does this matter? Because it illustrates a kind of aversion to honesty and clarity that hyper-partisans are noted for. Driving a nation to the brink of default over Planned Parenthood funding is not sane. It's not wise. It's not judicious, and it's not popular. The Republican Party's polling numbers are much lower than Obama's and Planned Parenthood's, needless to say. If the lunatics in the "Freedom Caucus" succeed in wrecking the economy over their latest stunt, which they confuse with governance, the American people will know who to blame.

This is simply one more aspect of our cold civil war. We no longer make sense to each other. The right has its own media universe that tells them Obama is the Devil, day in, day out. Up is down, black is white, war is peace. This Orwellian "conversation" cannot be adjudicated with citations because political discourse no longer occurs on a simple playing field. If you're a right-winger, you have your own and it might as well be on Mars.

I have a friend from childhood who still lives in Arizona. He sends me tendentious e-mails on a regular basis with this theme: Obama Is Wrong About Absolutely Everything. His latest contains a video purporting to show Obama and Pope Francis are in cahoots to midwife a Biblical prophecy that means we're all going to die. Oh, and Obama is Hitler! Because Socialism!!!.

Arizona is full of these wackadoodles. Four of its five GOP congressmen belong to the "Freedom Caucus". You don't discuss anything with them unless you're mentally prepared to wipe the drool off your face. Arizona is a wingnut state on welfare. Reality inversions are the rule, not the exception.

Arizona is full of wackadoodles. It is a wingnut state on welfare along with Kansas, Missouri and other heartland political hellholes. Sadly for Arizona, it is highly urbanized with a political ruling class fitted for an agrarian state. The injury inflicted upon large portions of Arizona's populace from this mismatch of governance to reality will only hasten the continued decline of Phoenix and the state.

The view is still pretty for the lifestyle residents of North Scottsdale, but the savvy offspring of Arcadia are fleeing in droves. Run, run, run.

Is the map supposed to be a generalization about where Arizonans are now as a population, or where we are going?

Our connections and allegiances to Mexico are pretty obvious. But, as far as Phoenix is concerned, it's too late now. We should have blockaded I-17 when we had a chance. Now Phoenix is over-run by semi-citizens from f*@king Chicago, or somewhere in bf Michigan.

One other observation: Phoenix will always be tied to the Rocky Mtn West because of the Colorado River water allocation that we need. If Phx/Tucson ever got too cozy with Sonora, then Colorado, Nevada and Cali would snap up that water in a heartbeat.

I messed up the reference; it wasn't the Atlantic, it was Harper's:


Solid article (if you can even imagine that Obama messed some things up); there's a lot about Obama's replication of the Bush/ Cheney approach to enemy combatants.

And yes, it's not exactly Fox News.

I though the shutdown threat reference was to the oncoming debt ceiling limit; that's what the previous shut down and failed negotiations I referenced referred to.

Anyone that would threaten to shut down the federal government over Planned Parenthood is beyond stupid.

Here's the issue I was referring to:


from that article:

The White House has refused to negotiate on raising the debt ceiling, and talks on funding the government appear to be on a separate track — giving Boehner little leverage.

"refused to negotiate"

Let that sink in a little......

"refuse to negotiate" Obama is borrowing from the kooks play book. Shame on him.

I read the David Bromwich essay in Harper's, which was unrelentingly negative about Obama. Absolutely nothing good to say about him. Saving the American economy with an admittedly too-small stimulus package? Nada. Signing into law the last major piece of the safety net in the ACA? Crickets. Extricating the U.S. from the Iraqi briar patch? Shrugs. Reining in the banksters with Dodd-Frank? It should have been better!

Counterfactual critics of Obama need to imagine a perfect world in which there is no corporate coup, no structural impediments like a Congress in hock to K Street, no lost vital center in American politics rewarding seriousness and respecting compromise. And no Republican Party devolved into an End Times cult with grotesques like Louis Gohmert, Steve King, Trent Franks, Ted Cruz, Steve Scalise, and Raul Labrador manning the barricades as if Washington was really the Waco compound.

Bromwich is a jerk, perfectly at home in the holy sepulcher of liberal virtue that is Harper's Magazine. I read the magazine for decades before deciding that its editor Lewis Lapham was really just a left-wing Church Lady, too abominably smug to speak plain words with clear intentions.

All that said, if you're using Bromwich, a left-wing critic of Obama, to blame him for not compromising with right-wing mouthbreathers, you're fucking insane. Bromwich's entire argument about Obama is that he compromises too much with the right. He wants FDR/LBJ manhandling the GOP birdbrains like teamsters on scabs. To insist that Obama's fatal lack of schmoozability made Republicans averse to compromise is like saying Republicans can be bought off with a martini if the black bartender simply smiled more.

Remember: the troll pushing this piece wants you to think a party of right-wing extremists isn't the problem. The too-conservative Democratic president is.

Well, an ad hominum attack on a writer is not especially useful in a discussion about issues, but, well, there is Soleri.

I know it's tough. Analysis that challenges pre-conceived ideas is often tough to digest, especially by those so entrenched in their cult like views.

The archangel Obama replicates the liberal hated Bush Cheney doctrine on enemy combatants and anyone who writes about it is a "jerk". And, Obama's more than a little arrogant when it comes to compromise.

And then, those who acknowledge that writing (who might include Rogue, who originally linked the article) are "f***ing insane".

Well, there you go. A clear, concise, intellectually relevant refutation of the Bromwich article.

Thanks so much.

BTW, another article I linked stated that Obama was refusing to negotiate on the debt ceiling.

I guess the blame for that falls on -- Boehner? Cruz? McConnell?

No matter. Just pick one.

Any right wing extremist will do.

And speaking of liberal silliness, the good news is that Dodd Frank is a real winner. Cause its not like there have been less banks formed since it was enacted or that banks have gotten even bigger, or that it's likely that the regulatory burden of Dodd Frank may be a cause of both:

Oh, wait:



Congratulations. Regulation works great.

I'm for strict regulation of the 5000 Robber Barons that inhabit this planet. But silly me as I'm the dude that thinks one million inhabitants is more than enough.
Regarding Obama he has done reasonably well given the attempts to politically murder anything he suggests. Hopefully he will create many more millions of acres of Roadless Wilderness and legalize all drugs.
And while I'm here.
And while I think Phoenix- Mesa lite rail is ugly and they should just go ahead and make Central Avenue Carless, I have to admit as i watch hundreds of folks get on and off I feel inclined to help pay for the rail.

Phoenix was once described to me as a marketer's dream, with so many people from someplace else. It was so desired by marketers that it's a common testing ground for new products, from soda to toothpaste.

I think it's more true of neolibertarian politics. Rooted deeply in JBS and Cleon Skousen-inspired conspiracy theories, paranoia has dominated post-WWII Phoenix. It's how we got Goldwater. It's how we got Ev Meacham. It's how we fostered the Angry White Man movement and Sheriff Joe's career. Even if you don't grow up with it, the conspiracy theories permeate talk radio and grow generations of right wingers, to the point now that Tea Partiers dominate the Arizona GOP and the state house.

Maricopa, Pinal and Mohave counties are in a league all by their selves, because those counties, as a group of voters, have the will to do what most other Americans find deeply offensive and totally worthy of ridicule. It's the Cauldron of Kookocracy.

Well, the Sonoran style Mexican food definately is better than anything I've eaten.

Anyone that would threaten to shut down the federal government over Planned Parenthood is beyond stupid.

Bingo! Now, can we possibly connect that dot to an actual fact: the Republican "Freedom Caucus" is threatening to do just that. And that John Boehner tendered his resignation as a sop in order to move a continuing budget resolution past these saboteurs of the national interest? You know, Republicans? And all your ideological brethren in the conservative media were overjoyed? Except for David Brooks, who finally acknowledged that Republicans don't do governance at all anymore since they've become a movement of implacable zealots? http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/13/opinion/the-republicans-incompetence-caucus.html?_r=0

David Brooks has spent much of his career daubing lipstick on the pig called the Republican Party. But the Boehner resignation finally pushed him over the line:

All of this has been overturned in dangerous parts of the Republican Party. Over the past 30 years, or at least since Rush Limbaugh came on the scene, the Republican rhetorical tone has grown ever more bombastic, hyperbolic and imbalanced. Public figures are prisoners of their own prose styles, and Republicans from Newt Gingrich through Ben Carson have become addicted to a crisis mentality. Civilization was always on the brink of collapse. Every setback, like the passage of Obamacare, became the ruination of the republic. Comparisons to Nazi Germany became a staple.

It's a fascinating admission particularly since our resident troll imagines it's Obama's refusal to negotiate with these "beyond stupid" Republicans that caused all this. Simply agree to our extortion demands and we won't ruin your credit rating. Nice country you've got here. It would be a shame if something happened to it!

Yes, Obama's refusal to schmooze with Tea Party zealots led to this impasse. How much longer do we have to suffer under this regime of non-schmoozing? First Hitler, now Obummer.

Sidebar: I was reading more in David Bromwich's oeuvre in the London Review of Books and discovered this tasty nugget: he blamed Obama for being too nasty to Iran!

On Iran, for now, Obama has not joined the sabre-rattling, but his policy appears to be regime change, and he has done little to calm the voices in the Israel lobby and Congress who clamour for stiffer sanctions and will soon cry for blockade and war. He has not found the time or the wit to offer an explanation that would indicate the good sense of peace – in case the prospects grow brighter in the current negotiations. He has pledged to do whatever it takes to stop Iran from having a nuclear weapon, and has subscribed to the Netanyahu equation: too far on the road to a weapon is the same as having a weapon.

There you go. Obama was mean to Iran! And then he negotiated The Worst Thing Ever: a treaty sharply curtailing their nuclear program. Will the perfidy never end? It's like the time he was mean to Wall Street and hurt their feelings. Fortunately, no one went to jail, but you never know about next time.

Hispanics are largely in the shadows, the kitchens and hotel housekeeping hallways and shamefully underfunded schools. That won't change until they vote in large numbers.

Last year I canvassed in LD28 (North Central Phoenix) to get out the vote for our lege candidates. At the door of an "independent" voter I heard the following (paraphrasing from memory): "I care about education, I guess, but why should I pay taxes to educate a bunch of illegal kids?"

And here's Corey Robin, author of the excellent "The Reactionary Mind" taking apart David Brooks. http://crookedtimber.org/2015/10/14/youve-changed-youre-not-the-angel-i-once-knew-david-brooks-on-the-gop/


Your occasionally getting things right would be a big plus to the blog.

The Freedom Caucus is not making threats on the debt ceiling related solely to Planned Parenthood. Rather, they are fighting for more general spending cuts in exchange for raising the limit.

Here; genius:


From the article:

"He (Mulvaney) even said he would be OK with busting the spending caps imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act—as Obama has insisted must occur—as long as Republicans were assured reforms to entitlements and “other structural fixes that drive the nation’s debt.”

Now that your misconception has been pointed out, does that change your view?

Would anything?

Nice try, INPHX, but most unpersuasive. The extreme right that comprises the GOP Congress -- under whatever name -- is unlike anything we have seen since the years before the Civil War.

The repeated hostage taking, including making default threats, is unprecedented. Raising the debt ceiling was a routine procedure until Obama became president. The GOP certainly didn't worry about deficits or debt under Republican presidents.

As for "entitlements," cutting or letting Wall Street make rackets of these earned benefits is a longtime fetish of the right. In other words, further weaken the social safety net.

If they're so worried about fiscal sustainability, raise taxes, bring home the troops and invest in infrastructure rather than corporate welfare.



See the chart at the bottom: "National debt for selected years"

The debt, both in terms of total dollars and % of GDP, has EXPLODED since 2008. With no end whatsoever in sight.

So to try to compare the debt and approaches to it today to previous administrations really isn't helpful.

You guys try to make it about Obama, the tea party, the hatred of the GOP, extremism, this ism, that ism, and then play the race card. It's not about Obama.


Don't you think that as the debt levels rise, the problem becomes more pronounced and that perhaps the older approach to routinely raising the debt ceiling becomes more and more dangerous?

Kind of like global warming? As the problem gets worse and worse, it will be harder to fix?

In terms of solutions, I thought Simpson Bowles was in the ballpark. Some tax increases and some spending reductions.

What the Freedom Caucus is trying to do is find an acceptable solution during the one time that the House actually has leverage. Because no one else does anything at any other time.

One other thing-

The IMF, the GAO, and just about every single economic predictor continue to do nothing but revise worldwide and US growth projections downward.

Run those deficit numbers with 0% GNP growth over the next 5 years with no reforms.

It'll make you snicker about global warming...

So shame on Canada for electing Obamas buddy?
And all the debt talk is meaningless given the coming floods and Arks won't help.

The nihilists:


I find it slightly amusing that INPHX is too dense to understand his "beyond stupid" Republicans are the same "Freedom Caucus" who are threatening America with default if they don't get their way. Let's chalk his confusion up to mixed feelings.

Honesty is neither prized nor esteemed on the extreme right if Kevin McCarthy's fate is any indication. Rather, they make up bullshit on the fly, which in INPHX's mouthbreathing style is like having a discussion about economics with a 14 year-old boy in need of sedation. Are there any serious economists this side of Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck warning us about this? No. It's the usual suspects looking at projections far into the future and then insisting we shred the safety net now because the end is nigh. Contrary to INPHX's frothy drool here, Obama actually engaged these airheads in the so-called Grand Bargain negotiations, pretty much conceding 90% of what they wanted - significant cuts in SS and Medicare in return for some modest tax increases. But zealots don't compromise, which was a relief given the dubious propositions that Obama was buying into. My support for him had nearly cratered when Boehner finally pulled the plug. I was relieved. There's a principle here I think is worth respecting: you don't deal with terrorists. You don't respect terrorists. And you don't let their threats undermine our security. The idea that Republican extremists actually care for this country is risible to the point of absurdity.

The New Confederacy hates America. What they love is their tribe of white victims mixed with hysterical rhetoric about the "evil" they see in government, liberals, Democrats, and "others" (blacks, gays, Latinos, Muslims, atheists, et al). The hypocrisy here is stunning. INPHX doesn't care if the Republicans hike Medicare reimbursements for doctors since the AMA is a generous contributor to his party. He doesn't care if 57% of discretionary spending goes to a bloated military whose primary rationale is to enrich defense contractors. Nor does he care about increasing Big Ag's subsidies while cutting food stamps for the needy. This is not about fiscal virtue. This is about the right's chronic and brazen hypocrisy in service of themselves and their donors. Mock their temper tantrums. Like INPHX, they're all drool and no substance.

Wow! Just found this site today and am floored at the phenomenal discussion -- intelligently offered on ALL sides. The hackneyed cliche of being compelled to pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming now applies in full force: Am I REALLY reading this blog in PHOENIX -- an item with relevance of, by and for Phoenicians (ancient Mediterranean civilizations excluded)??? It must be a MIRAGEE or else I must've taken a wrong turn at ALBUQUOIKEE (Bugs Bunny inflections apply). Although I'm a Jenny-come-lately here (and kicking myself for missing the past 7 yrs), I'm already eternally thankful to escape the cerebral vacuum created by the high-temperature, carbon-dioxide exhalations that suffocate most Maricopa County mindsets. As a native of 'Yankeedom' who leaped over to the 'Left Coast' before arriving in 'El Norte' CA and now AZ (which BTW is eerily similar to SoCal's Inland Empire if garnished with a large dollop of adjacent Orange County politics), I've endured nine years in greater Phoenix and learned to silence my inner love of arguing sheerly for the sake of argument, because -- as an ex-Jerseyite pal o' mine astutely observed: 'the West suffers from a severe irony deficiency'. Continuing in complete gush mode, I hereby declare myself saved from a life that heretofore was best described by a series of overwrought metaphors. Hence, while teetering on the 'brink of despair' I had nearly resigned myself to a doomed life as a 'fish out of water', floundering around and gasping for air/water in a vast desert (OK, that one's literal). And although it's not yet a dark and stormy night, the afternoon thunderheads are rumbling loudly, and this blog is most assuredly that 'breath of fresh air'.


Again, some level of accuracy in your posts would be a welcome relief. It would reflect, well, some pride.

I rail against defense spending constantly. It is an out of control bureaucracy, interested mostly in expanding it's power and it's budget.

Just like the VA, and the SEC, and the DOL, and the FBI, and the CIA, the SSA, and the Dept of Agriculture, the EPA, and all the others.

All pigs at the trough. But the trough is getting empty.

I do not support holding the budget hostage to the Planned Parenthood mess. I'm pretty sure I agree with holding it hostage until someone commits to some reforms in the budget.

The terrorist analogy is childish hyperbole. But it's hardly unexpected.

The accumulated budget deficit is at record highs in terms of both total dollars and the % of GDP with no end in sight and only a handful of our elected representatives giving a hoot.

That doesn't bother you because, I guess, well, blacks, gays, and Latinos.

Avoid the messengers. Stick with the numbers. They NEVER lie, even if you're incapable of understanding them.

BTW, they exclude all of the unfunded SS and Medicare liabilities and the stunning state deficits.

So, we got that going for us.

Spend away.

INPHX, you're playing a double game. You defend yourself as the embodiment of virtue inside a brothel where pretty much anything goes. Republicans, the party you shill for and support in their efforts to bring the U.S. to its knees, wants more, not less, military spending. They want more spending for Big Ag, along with more tax cuts for the rich. You as Virtue personified don't get to alter their toxic ideology. Yes, you clutch your pearls and sputter, "but we must do what they say lest the takers run us into the ground. And that could happen any decade now! Rugged Individualism for everyone, as St Ayn Rand verily ordained."

Okay, which Republican Party are you following? The actual one or the one inside your masturbatory fantasy?

I understand we are supposed to surrender and do exactly what you extortionists demand. Because....er.....something Reagan said! Or Hayek on the road to Big Surf! And Grover Norquist is, well, fabulous!

The curious thing is that the Marie Antoinette economy you crave is not that popular with base Republicans themselves. Oddly enough, when polled, they support more taxes on the rich, and keeping SS at current levels. Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee as of today, speaks to these people. They don't care about all that Rand garbage. They just want the darkies to die and Latinos to get back to Mexico.

Finally, your snark about climate change is deeply indicative of the very ignorant person you aspire to be. Science is real. Right-wing bullshit, on the other hand, involves stupid white trash like you pretending to know more than actual experts. Of course, it's not just science you're superior to. You're also superior to mainstream economics, ordinary social conscience, and all of humanity except for the top .01%. Why should any real human being listen to you? Sociopaths are all the rage inside your horrifying political party. Outside? Not so much.


The US government continues to issue debt at record low interest rates. In 2015, China has been a significant seller of its US treasury holdings. According to the predictions of your alarmist budget deficit camp, such action was suppose to have precipitated a massive interest rate spike in Treasuries. Your alarmist camp has been terribly wrong time and again, year after year, since 2008 regarding inflation, the current deficit and interest rate futures on US Treasury debt. Any coincident 2008 was the beginning of Obama's presidency?

Believe in the markets INPHX, they don't lie. BTW, wasn't it the Cheney administration that said deficits don't matter? No budget deficit alarmists were weighing in from 2000 to 2008.

Welcome, Yoppppp. Hope you'll comment again.


First, understand that if the US Govt issued a 10 year T-bill 5 years ago, that interest cost is fixed for another 5 years. And same idea along the entire yield curve.

Second, I think it safe to see that the Fed control over the short term rates and the crappy worldwide economy over the longer rates are keeping yields low. Low yield aren't always a good thing.

Third, it isn't the interest. It's the principal.

What does an interest rate mean if you don't borrow money?

Maybe deficits mattered "x" in 2008. They matter a hell of a lot more that "x" now because of what has happened in the interim.

BTW, Bush and Cheney totally blew it when they didn't pass a tax increase to fund the war.

There has been a pretty widespread soverign sell off of US T- Bills in 2015, including China.

What happens when they stop buying?

Soleri writes:

"Republicans, the party you shill for and support in their efforts to bring the U.S. to its knees, wants more, not less, military spending. They want more spending for Big Ag, along with more tax cuts for the rich."

And then:

"The curious thing is that the Marie Antoinette economy you crave is not that popular with base Republicans themselves. Oddly enough, when polled, they support more taxes on the rich,"

Um, err, well, which Republican Party are YOU following? The actual one or the one inside your masturbatory fantasy?

INPHX, that was weak even for you. I'm talking about the Republican Party that necessarily bamboozles its low-information base with xenophobia, which then converts that populism to enrich the already rich and to empower the already powerful. Yes, your party is a racket, depending on Dumb White Trash to vote their fears of black people, gays, Muslims, and Mexicans, in order to help you sharpies pay lower taxes and divert more of this nation's wealth to themselves.

You really pretend not to know this? As if all the culture war was not a necessary precursor to the real show of K Street dictating to Congress tax policy and the various subsidies most helpful to its clientele? That's why all the Chamber of Commerce types pretend to be outraged about videos! showing dismembered fetuses. Carly even saw them although her assertions were quickly exposed as flat-out lies. The sharpies, of course, really, really love Jesus and abstinence and pork rinds and Thomas Kinkade except it's a complete fraud. You know that. You laugh at the rubes yourself. Do you think Karl Rove is naive and earnest like a base Republican? Of course not, and neither are you.

Well Soleri, you're as right as usual.

You seem to think that the budget issues I point out are some kind of "right wing bullshit".

Boy, if we only had some experts who held my view. You know, people who really know that kind of stuff. The type of experts that your side just love to cite. I mean, if someone like that might point out some issues with the budget, then, well, maybe it wouldn't be right wing bullshit and you'd be completely, utterly, 100% off on this issue like you are on so many others.

If only....



I though you guys hated stuff that was unsustainable.


Here's the entire report that you won't dare take a look at because, well, we all know how you and data are like identical poles of a magnet:


What kind of racist scumbags are these guys?

Soleri, you might as well give up now, the little bookkeeper has brought out the big guns: The Washington Times! Can't argue with the Moonies!

Pat, thanks for the reminder. I have been wanting to make a point about the key role The Washington Times plays in the right-wing movement, particularly its neo-Confederate orientation under the editorship of Wes Pruden, and cited by The Southern Poverty Law Center for explicit racism. It created a farm system for right-wing propagandists (David Brooks trained there in the 1980s) and even The Arizona Republic found an editorial page editor, William Cheshire, from their stable. As an actual "newspaper", it probably more resembles Fox News than anything else. Thomas Frank wrote these telling words about it in Harper's Magazine (so INPHX knows it has to be true): there is even a daily newspaper—the Washington Times—published strictly for the movement's benefit, a propaganda sheet whose distortions are so obvious and so alien that it puts one in mind of those official party organs one encounters when traveling in authoritarian countries.

Citing The Washington Times is always a red flag. A "newspaper" that depends on an insane religious cult for its funding might raise eyebrows from better-read citizens. On the right, it's a necessary sin.

INPHX is being more than a little disingenuous when he denies the glaringly obvious racism that permeates the American right particularly since its modern intellectual roots are naked to any casual reader's eye. I'm used to right-wingers being enthusiastic liars and zealots, so nothing here surprises me. Scratch the surface and all cults begins to look alike.

After some time, I feel compelled to speak up as a neutral party here and ask if anyone else thinks that Soleri's language and personal attacks are over the top and over the line? Everyone else in the comments seems to be pretty well-mannered, so I feel that this tenor is unwarranted.

One of the reasons I read this blog and these comments is because, generally speaking, the level of discourse is more polite and thoughtful than found on many all politics-related websites and message boards. I feel that such invective is a real detriment to the discourse. It is unpleasant, it is untoward, it is unwarranted, and it shuts down the conversation.

I know I may be going after the golden calf here, so to speak, but I personally think everyone deserves more respect than that. I don't see why Soleri or any other individual can't make their many cogent arguments with more respect and civility.


I feel compelled to comment myself and early on. And please don't be offended if I question whether you are "a neutral party" when you then go on to traduce only one side in the INPHX v. Soleri debate. Surely you're not basing your judgment on Soleri's many excellent comments outside of this duel.

Soleri writes with passion, verve, intelligence and bite. He informs and can be bracingly truculent when needed. He is an antidote to the boring newspaper columnry that is forced everywhere and the toxic conventional "wisdom." I wish I were as good a writer as he is.

Importantly for a commenter: He brings fresh insights.

We went through a period on this site when Soleri was elsewhere. The result: the comments were fewer and boring. They were dominated by one person.

INPHX's seemingly more measured tone is not matched by the outrageous and offensive party and positions he mostly shills for. Mostly. He's shown some independence and I'm OK with his regular appearances. But who else is pushing back against his RNC/"conservative"/libertarian talking points?

Soleri doesn't need me to defend him. But I am concerned about the quality of Rogue Columnist. We need more good writers commenting from the reality-based community, not fewer. And leave the civility police to me.

RC, I appreciate your response and welcome one from Soleri as well should he choose to respond.

I am certainly not questioning Soleri's intelligence, strong authorial voice (I can usually tell one of his posts within a few lines, even), and the time put into his posts.

And I already knew that you value Soleri's contributions highly based on what I've read on this site previously. I have no issue with any of that and I truly am not trying to take sides on this thread.

Personally I felt compelled to share with everyone that I felt some of his language and tone was, in my opinion, over the top. That's certainly a subjective measure. Perhaps others agree, or perhaps a more common feeling is more that I'm being too sensitive and just need to get over it. I appreciate feedback and can adjust accordingly.

Mark, the other point I would make is that commenters are encouraged to focus on the column of the moment. Bring some game and add value.

Then, as it runs out of steam, take the thread where you wish.

Soleri vs. INPHX gets at some of the most important arguments facing us, even if one party's pen is, as it were, warmed up in hell.

Soleri: Sociapaths.
Inphx: Masturbatory.
Cal Lash: Sajuaro.

Mark in Scottsdale, I'm opposed to word banning.
I agree with Jon the blog is much more interesting with the language war that some bring to this site. And too seldom do other word merchants like Petro and Koreyel post. I would find it difficult to ban anyone from posting. I miss Terri Dudas and Ruben. So it's Jons deal and I respect his intelligence to deal with the issue.

Mark, I aim to wound, so your observation about me is hardly incorrect or unwelcome. Politics is a blood sport in this country, which the right understands much better than the left. Indeed, that isn't even a metaphor when you consider how the NRA pumps pure cortisol into the bloodstream of its zany membership, heightening the sense of emergency that increasingly colors our political discourse.

I assume you're concern trolling here for a reason. Don't be afraid to express an opinion, particularly if you write better than INPHX (which is true of most people here). He does bring a sharper focus to these debates because of his very right-wing viewpoints. That's a blessing. Is there a high-toned conversation possible with him? I don't think so. This isn't David Brooks and Mark Shields agreeing to disagree. We express diametrically opposing viewpoints in a country that is being torn apart at the seams. This kind of exchange is what you would expect given all that.

If you want to relax and go to sleep, just go to the archives and read Emil's term papers. I write what I feel, not what I think is definitive proof. We live in a vast universe where just about everything is available online. Most internet commenting tends to be rough and stupid. I hope I'm rough and smart. If I'm not, I'll hang up my spurs. Nobody is indispensable and nobody has the final word.

Soleri and Pat:

I can't even come up with words to describe the shallow nature of your replies.

The Post article quoted a report by the CBO. I also cited the actual report by the CBO.

By the way, that's "Congressional Budget Office"- you know, experts.

And, as predicted, Soleri most almost certainly didn't read the CBO report, because it contains data and analysis that just might collide with his ill conceived, illogical, nutty, tin foil wearing hat, entrenched in concrete "ideas" of what the world really likes.

If either of you screwballs would like to dig into the CBO report and comment. I'm listening. But you won't, well, because of blacks, gays, and Latinos.

Or something.

Soleri, thank you for your response. It sounds like you know you're being provocative at times and based on the other comments that no one else has a problem with some of the rough-and-tumble. So I will try to thicken my hide and get in the fray when I have something to say. I agree that being challenged or being made uncomfortable at times can be a purifying, or at least a clarifying, fire. Thanks to all that responded.

Okay, I admit I'm rough with our resident troll. But really! Read the comment above if you think it's just me bullying this hapless ideologue. He doesn't construct arguments so much as spews graffiti. I'm not going to read the CBO report or whatever it is that he himself has not read because he's not that smart. Confession: I'm not that smart either. This is why we have buffers, analysts, and pundits explaining the arcane stuff to us. That's the best we can do. We're not going to out-dazzle each other with links that we claim support our viewpoint. The very idea that a right-wing zealot would cloak himself in a CBO report is nothing less than desperation parading itself as insight.


Soleri is completely and utterly predictable and repetitive in his "approach". He's like a Chatty Cathy doll; just pull the string and we'll all be enlightened by one of his foolishly entrenched responses.

This exchange provides a perfect example; I post a Washington Post Article that provides a quote from a CBO report. I also link the CBO report.

He attacks the Post and then gives us a completely irrelevant lecture on guys that worked there, I guess, to show off a knowledge of things that are beyond trivia. And then, of course, we get racism.

Do we get analysis? No. Does he drill down into the CBO report? Of course not- it conflicts with his silly allegation that budget issues are bullshit. And it doesn't accuse anyone of racism.

A little bit of sizzle. Absolutely no steak. Lots of repetitive, vapid accusations.

He writes:

"I write what I feel, not what I think is definitive proof."

Even ignoring the inherent high school melodrama in that statement, there you go.

Mark, as you can see, INPHX gives as good as he gets. He is no victim.

To join in the discussion of budget deficits, I read this piece a day or two ago. Kind of middle-school-level economics but it's a simple, quick read: http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2015/10/20/canada_s_new_prime_minister_is_promising_bigger_budget_deficits.html

The idea that money is cheap is not a new one, but one I hadn't really thought about on a federal level. On a personal level, I do carry some low-interest debt that I could afford to pay off because the interest rates are so low.

But, as regards the federal government borrowing as much as it can now, because money is cheap...I kind of wonder if this isn't a Dave Ramsey type situation. By which I mean, telling them to abstain from debt when debt is cheaper than ever to service, does NOT make the most economic sense...but given who you're dealing with (a generally profligate Congress), might it still not be sound advice to tell them to just pay down the debt they have and say no to future debt.

I will say that watching the government print money like no tomorrow to help get out of the recession ... with zero impact on inflation and debatable impacts on the dollar's value internationally ... certainly opened my eyes a bit and I am probably more open minded about monetary policy than I used to be. Clearly, when you are the currency on which the world turns, you can get away with a lot of things that, in theory, should cause you much greater problems than they do.

China also provides an example of how bizarre, fraudulent or just opaque monetary policy clearly doesn't have to be the death knell it should be in theory. The markets march onward.


There's another part of the deficits that I abhor; it's easy to pay for some program when you're borrowing money to do it. It clouds the issue and makes it easy to avoid a real debate on the validity of the program,

To ask the population to pay for with increased taxes- now that's going to cause a REAL debate.

A great example is the Iraq war. If the Bush administration had gone to the American people and we need to go to war in Iraq, and now we need a 15% across the board income tax increase to pay for it, I think we would have had a much more legitimate debate on that issue.

I am also very doubtful of the numbers China releases but I had an interesting conversation with a banker the other day. He said that generally, using data collected by satellites and other sources, analysts can tell how much economic activity there is in China. Shipping, railroads, other types of economic activity can generally be independently corroborated.

He said the consensus was that of course China cheats on the numbers, but not by much.

INPHX, if that was The Washington Post, a legitimate newspaper of record, you cited and not The Washington Times, I might have read the link. But as I noted, the latter is not real journalism. I merely expanded on Pat's pertinent observation. I'm not required to read your links, particularly when they come from crude ideologues on the extreme right of the political spectrum. Sorry if that renders me unworthy or devoid of credibility, although, on the other hand, I think it makes you look like a complete ass.

Soleri's 10/22 10:18 AM post gives you all you need to know.

He won't read the CBO report (which I guess, is "graffiti").

He'll just sit back and let the pundits that he loves and agrees with tell him what to think and believe and then attack the ones that challenge him.

He often reminds me of Cheswick from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

He sure the heck isn't McMurphy....

Thanks for that information. I'm sure the espionage both governmental and corporate goes both ways, so I'm sure the "insiders" know a lot more about China than anyone in the public would ever see publicly disseminated.

In terms of deficits, I think the total unwillingness to raise taxes or admit the true costs of desired programs/benefits is something that the GOP needs to own up to. E.g. Ducey won't raise taxes but he'll take money from the state land trust. Or Bobby Jindal's recent fake tax credit in Louisiana.

I also dislike the idea that instead of dealing with the crux of these issues, we can finagle our way out of it through closing "loopholes" or raising taxes on a very narrow slice of society or industry without addressing the true structural issues.

I'm really interested in seeing how the situation in Illinois shakes out because the state was headed for pension default anyway, so I understand what Rauner's thinking must have been in playing a hard line. (Not expressing an opinion at this time, I haven't done enough reading on it.) It should be interesting to see how it all plays out but it seems like standoffs usually end in underwhelming compromises or just kicking the can down the road again.

This is getting old:

Soleri writes:

"I'm not required to read your links, particularly when they come from crude ideologues on the extreme right of the political spectrum."

Keep the blinders on, jackass. Don't bother with the actual CBO report or any media that might discuss it.

No racism, no sociopath, no Southern Strategy, no nihilism, no GOP terrorist accusations, and you're just not interested, are you?

Was that you complementing the emperor on his new clothes?

INPHX, yes, I'm honest. You're a fraud.

You didn't read the CBO report. You read The Washington Times story whose opinion you agreed with that linked to the CBO report. Since I don't trust the secondary source (the Times), why would I bother to read the primary one? But even that isn't really the point. You're either too stupid to know what The Washington Times really is, or you can't acknowledge a rather glaring mistake you made in confusing it with a real newspaperThe Washington Post.

I have no idea with you. You are so far to the right you may as well inhabit a completely different solar system. This blog is for the reality-based community. That' why we think climate change is a real danger and you don't. I will not validate your fastastic claim to internet-sleuthing because it's based on a lie. You read an opinion piece on a far-right internet site and insisted that you read the report it was supposedly based on. Please. You're a child. You love to argue but you're not going to waste your day pouring over arcane data you can't make head or tails of without someone telling you in advance that liberals are bad white-wing zealots are good.


You're SO proud to remain willfully ignorant of the CBO report (which I did read- I love that stuff) and then lecture me about a reality based blog.

So, there's that for starters.

As far as the source, if you can come up with anything in the newspaper report that contradicts the actual CBO report, I'm listening. But you won't, because you can't, and there isn't anything. And then you lecture me about a reality based blog.

Rogue linked an article in Harper's (as I recall) that pointed out some shortcomings in Obama's "waste of 7 plus years" reign that I linked and what did you do? Did you analyze the article? Did you challenge the issues raised? No. You just attacked the source. And then you lecture me about a reality based blog.

Just like now with the CBO report.

You ask me why would you read the CBO report.

Boy, that's a toughie.

How about to learn something about the budget? How about to expand your horizons? How about to better understand how all the pieces fit? How about to dig into the assumptions they've made about interest rates and why? How about NOT to let all the filters give you their "take" on it? How about to help you to think independently, outside of your current cult like associations?

You know, maybe if you did read it, you'd realize that it clearly isn't "right wing bullshit" and you'd better understand the threat of inaction.

But you won't. And then you lecture me about a reality based blog.

Rather, after your morning session with Nurse Ratchet, you'll put the blinders back on and go tell all the guys over at Daily Kos what a swell job they're doing.

And then lecture me about a reality based blog.


I follow the Illinois situation fairly well; it absolutely defines the way unions will ruin a budget and that politicians will let them get away with it in exchange for their support.

If you recall, the previous Governor (Pat Quinn) actually requested for a federal backstop of the state obligations:


At both the federal and state levels, someones got to do something. One of the problems I see is that no one REALLY knows how high the unfunded liabilities could be.

Some think the federal amount alone is $127 trillion:


INPHX, one example of a reality-based opinion is that we don't confuse Tea Party economics - your school - with any valid economic theory. It's garbage. You believe it because you're a semi-educated goober who thinks money is God's way of telling you you're special.

Another example might be our respect for science, which you find glaringly deficient in comparison to Big Oil's propaganda apparatus.

Yet another example: the reality-based community doesn't believe people with absolutely no experience in public life are qualified to be president. You do. Why? Well, you're someone who hates government and what better way to precipitate its collapse than by installing someone as president who is virtually catatonic. Say, Ben Carson.

I'm not going to read that CBO report. If some Nobel-prize winning ecnonomist links to it, I'll read and, most likely respect, his opinion. Why would I respect your opinion? Despite your self-vouching assertions of superiority, you're little more than a second-rate zealot trolling a liberal blog for shits and giggles.

At any rate, I find your assertion that you read that report fairly risible. But maybe you skimmed it, or maybe you scanned it while listening to Jim Cramer tell you where to put your Amway spare change. I have idea what goes on in your little world. You argue and write like a 14-year old boy, so it's not as if your adventures in arcane policy analyses have leavened your presentation skills.

I could revert from my day job — if I were not doing it — and spend a good deal of time arguing that the deficit is going down and debt is not our biggest problem. Rather, failing to make the investments to grow the economy out of debt is a far bigger one. And I could cite gold-standard studies and Nobel laureate economists.

And I would change no minds. Some people, some in good faith and others for cynical gain, are terrified of the debt and deficit. Interestingly, the one time we did pay off the national debt, under proto-tea partier Andy Jackson, financial crisis followed. Also, the federal government was in surplus at the end of Clinton's terms, which were marked by higher taxes and growth.

Anyway, economics is not a hard science. Even filtering out the charlatans, there's terrific disagreement about many issues. And many on the right wouldn't be persuaded where there is broad agreement. This is why it used to be called "political economy." It is necessarily based on some values and normative reasoning. So it is an imperfect and incomplete place to rest one's world-view hat.

I've followed Rogue and the comments for about 5 years. I enjoy the opinions, the wit, the clash of ideas, and Cal's descriptions of our desert.

I am also a bit put off by personal attacks and name-calling.

I'll take the good with the annoying.


Thanks for reinforcing everything I've written.

Broad, vapid stereotypes, willfull ignorance, inane name calling, childish (and selected) appeals to authority, and suggesting that I haven't read a report that you admit you ignore.

Oh, and Big Oil.

Don't know about the shits, but you certainly generate lots of giggles.


Interesting comment about the Clinton surplus.

I'd go back to the Clinton taxation, revenue and spending policies tomorrow.


With an across the board income tax increase to pay for the war (s)

INPHX, yes. But not his "deregulation" of the banking sector.

INFECTS, I stopped reading your posts a long time ago, I just noticed your idiotic link while I was scrolling down. Why the hell would I waste time reading the abrasive, smug, narrowly conceived opinions of someone who's perpetually trapped in the Reagan revolution? I won't waste much time engaging you, it's about as productive as barking at a vending machine. I'm sure Mr. Talton would welcome the voice of a sane, civil, clearly reasoning, thoughtful conservative to the blog, he says so himself; so, do you happen to know any?

I read with interest the exchange between HMLS and INPHX about US government debt. HMLS points out that "US government continues to issue debt at record low interest rates" to which INPHX responds with a number of counter-points that I think are worth responding to.

On the first point that "interest cost is fixed" on previously issued debt, I'd say that it's much less significant than what may be implied here. The cost of issuing new debt to fund fiscal deficits and to refinance maturing debt is a function of the current - not past - rates. Meanwhile, the real, inflation-adjusted value of fixed payments from older treasury notes/bonds (BTW: T-bills have <1 year maturities) has declined over time and will continue to decline so long as we have positive inflation.

On the second point, that the Fed is keeping short term rates low while the crappy worldwide economy is doing the same for longer rates, let's not forget that lower rates also reflect the continuing safe-haven status of US treasuries that wouldn't be possible if the apocalyptic rhetoric from some Republicans around the public debt were remotely true. The biggest risk to that status is not the size of the public debt but House Republicans' apparent willingness to allow the Govt. to default.

I'm most sympathetic to INPHX's third point. It is the principal, specifically total debt as a % of GDP that is of concern. It's ballooned since the start of the Global Financial Crisis, from c. 64% in 2008 Q2 to c. 102% in 2013 Q1. Something like this is to be expected in a steep downturn in economic activity absent commensurate cuts in spending -- which would have led to further rounds of downturn. The silver lining is that the ratio seems to have stabilized with the recovery and is c. 101% as at 2015 Q2. See link below for source data/graph:


Regards the outlook going forward, I saw INPHX's link to the The Washington Times (Sun Myung Moon's paper?) and agree with Soleri that we can do better. Below links are CBO's summary of the 2015 Long-Term Budget Outlook released in June (referenced in the Wash. Times article) and Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook released in August.


The Update states "this year’s deficit will be noticeably smaller than what the agency projected in March" and on page 2 that the 2015 deficit will be "the smallest since 2007, and at 2.4 percent of gross domestic product, it would be below the average deficit (relative to the size of the economy) over the past 50 years." The Update also projects a slightly flatter growth in Federal debt held by the public through 2025. The problem lies in the long-run forecast, which shows debt held by the public reaching WWII levels in 2040. However, extended forecasts are more sensitive to assumptions, and it's been noted that the forecast level for 2040 has been significantly downward revised over the last few years (e.g. http://www.cbpp.org/blog/cbo-contradicts-itself-long-term-budget-picture-improving-not-worsening). In the long term debt will rise and a policy response will be required, but the required changes are likely much less dramatic than was thought previously.

This is consistent with the lack of crisis reflected in the Treasury bond market, which has been going strong even in the face of "sovereign sell-off of US treasuries." Further to HMLS's point, here's what happens when China stops buying:

China's Selling Tons of U.S. Debt. Americans Couldn't Care Less. Bloomberg

This is not to suggest that we should be cavalier about our deficit. But let's not take it out of the context of the Global Financial Crisis we went through, and let's not allow it to be used as an instrument to scare people into supporting policies they would otherwise reject.


Couple of things:

1. The total debt is already past WWII levels. It doesn't matter that it's owed to the public or to other government agencies. It's owed. What are we going to do--stiff social security?

2. The deficit is less. But it's STILL a deficit and the accumulated debt is still getting better- just at a slower rate.

3. Record tax receipts, record spending. Crappy world economy. Low interest rates are a symptom. Is that something to be excited about?

4. What about the states?

5. Good response


1. Looks like gross public debt to GDP peaked in 1946 at 118.9% so at the current 102% cited in my previous post we're not there yet.

On the point that "what's owed is owed," I think the reason CBO focuses on debt held by the public is that intragovenmental debt "nets" itself out, since federal agencies collectively hold both the assets and liabilities associated with that debt. The CBO says "those securities represent internal transactions of the government and thus have no direct effect on credit markets." (see: http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/ftpdocs/119xx/doc11999/12-14-federaldebt.pdf)

Practically, I'm not sure it makes a big difference in evaluating trends, since the two measures track each other fairly closely.

2. Agree - with the caveat that what matters is debt relative to GDP, which also (hopefully) is growing.

What the lower deficit figures, CBO revisions etc. suggest is that we have more room to allow for the recovery to take hold, rather than having to curb spending or raise taxes right now.

This doesn't matter to the House "Freedom Caucus" who are ready to burn the house down to get spending cuts now. The irony is that their willingness to allow the Govt. to default on its debt represents the more serious risk to our financial system. They could end up manufacturing the crisis that we're not getting from the bond market.

3. Agree on this, too. Policy needs to focus on growth.

4. Haven't looked into individual states lately. BTW do you remember the 2010 prediction by Meredith Whitney that the muni bond market would see hundreds of billion of dollars in defaults? If not you might want to google it.

5. Thanks!


From the report- on the inter governmental debt:

Gross debt, which comprises federal debt held by the public plus Treasury securities held by federal trust funds and other government accounts, is sometimes used to evaluate the government's overall fiscal situation. At the end of 2010, gross federal debt totaled $13.5 trillion--the $9.0 trillion in debt held by the public plus $4.5 trillion in debt held by government accounts. More than half of the latter amount is held by the Social Security trust funds. Because those trust funds and other government accounts are part of the federal government, transactions between them and the Treasury are intragovernmental; that is, the government securities in those funds are an asset to the individual programs but a liability to the rest of the government. The resources needed to redeem the government securities in the trust funds and other accounts in some future year must be generated from taxes, income from other government sources, or borrowing by the government in that year.

The last sentence indicates the only way that those obligations can be satisfied- the same as any other government debt.

In the social security example, as I understand it, the social security trust fund has an asset that equates to the liability for X dollars of government obligations.

That's why I think the total debt O/S is the more relevant number, notwithstanding the perhaps too carefully worded quote from the report that you cited about that debt not effecting the credit markets.

BTW, do you have any source as to what the maturities of the existing Treasury debt is? In other words, how much is 30 year, 10 year, shorter term maturities?


On maturities of existing Treasury debt, I don't know off-hand. My first port of call to check would be treasury.gov which has a data and chart page.

Thanks for pointing out the passage from the CBO report and explaining your view on preferred debt measure -- which are well taken.

Using either measure of debt, we see debt-to-GDP having stabilized over the last few years. So terms such as "exploding" and "out of control" don't correctly characterize what's going on now. The bond market, where investors put real money on the line, is saying the same thing.

Rather, as the CBO report shows, the problem we're facing is over the long-term, mostly driven by the aging of society. We should be playing a long-game to lower costs and raise productivity. That includes health care reform that "bends" the cost curve, investments in education and infrastructure, tax and regulatory reform, etc.

Thanks for exchanging views on this topic. I look forward to exchanging views on some of the other topics covered in this excellent blog as well.

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