Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Lame Duck President for 3.5 Years?

I am kind of betting that little will be done over the next 3+ years...  Though it does seems like we will be enjoying a lot of theatrics from both sides...  I sure hope the economy keeps improving despite or because of our "disfunctional" government.

Anyone out there have high hopes that things will change?

CNN Obama for Working Class Americans
Fox News Discontent Continues
Fox News Obama Rationalizing
USA Today Obama Vows

Originally I wrote 2.5 years...  Has it really only been 6 months...  It feels like at least 18 months...

53 comments:

jerrye92002 said...

delusional narcissist becomes clown prince.

To quote Rush Limbaugh, I [fervently] hope he fails. It's our only hope. Meanwhile, let him continue to campaign as if nothing is his responsibility; it's his sole ability.

Anonymous said...

The president can do a lot through executive orders. I expect that will be the focus of government action during the remainder of the president's term. I don't expect Congress to do anything until at least the year 2023, which will be the first Congress after the reapportionment required after the 2020 census.

--Hiram

Laurie said...

I am a little confused about how the budget process works. If the GOP, dems, and Obama don't agree on a budget does spending just continue at the same level, aside from the sequestration cuts? I know they have to raise the debt ceiling again this fall. Does any one think the GOP will shut down the govt?

Also, maybe Hilary will get a democratic congress when she is elected in 2016, though she probably won't get a filibuster proof senate.

Laurie said...

since many republicans have an anti-govt ideology, dysfunction probably suits many just fine. What I wonder is what do conservative readers here think of the GOP tactic of taking dysfunction to a new level:

The Unprecedented—and Contemptible—Attempts to Sabotage Obamacare

(the author is affiliated with a GOP leaning think take, AEI, for those taking bias into consideration)

Anonymous said...

If the GOP, dems, and Obama don't agree on a budget does spending just continue at the same level, aside from the sequestration cuts?

As with a household, budgets aren't a precondition of spending, and spending is what matters.

I think it's unlikely that Hillary will get a Democratic Congress, but not impossible. What is extremely unlike is that she will get a 60 vote governing majority in the senate.

--Hiram

jerrye92002 said...

Wow, Laurie, that is one heck of a cite! I don't know about bias either way-- you are correct he is affiliated with AEI (so is Newt Gingrich)-- but he is just absolutely dead wrong on this one. It's just like your Mom always said, "if all the rest of the Congress jumped off a cliff, would you jump, too?" Democrats did something absolutely, insanely stupid in forcing through Obamacare without a single Republican vote (and without knowing what was really in the bill), so the ONLY proper course for Republicans, representing the majority of Americans who hate Obamacare (and rightly so) is to gum up the works, whatever it takes. Personally, with the new information we now have about what a budget-buster it is, the budget may be the proper place to have the battle.

There is a move to give Congressional approval to Obama's delay of the employer mandate, without which such delay is clearly illegal and unconstitutional, and to tie it to a delay in the individual mandate as well. That puts Democrats on the horns of a dilemma. They can say that Obama's illegal bypass of Congress is OK and let everybody get hit with the individual mandate, reduced hours and layoffs, higher premiums and IRS fines, or they can admit it is unworkable and unfair and delay both mandates. I believe it's passed the House. I expect the Senate to ignore it until the outcry hits. Let them own it.

jerrye92002 said...

Laurie, Democrats and Obama have been skating by on a series of "continuing resolutions" that allow government spending to continue at previous levels. I'm not sure how we get that $1 Trillion+ deficit covered; maybe it's just completely illegal. So there are three fights coming.

The first is over the debt ceiling (probably Sept. 1 or so, it will be required). Every dummy knows that the first thing you do when you get too far in debt is to cut up the credit cards, to stop making the debt worse, and that's what needs to happen here. If I were in command of the Republicans I would just say "NO, we're going to live within our means until this debt comes down."

So, the second thing that needs to happen is, just like your family budget, you need a budget to figure out just what you can actually spend, to live within your means. SURELY there are things in the federal budget that are wasteful, extravagant, unnecessary, redundant, etc., etc. and Obamacare is just one of them. The budget is supposed to be passed before Oct. 1, the start of the fiscal year. The last 4 Obama budgets have been DOA in Congress, and AFAIK, Congress has never passed a budget under Obama, just continuing resolutions.

So, after the budget is done, then the spending bills have to be written and passed, and that's where these "continuing resolutions" keep cropping up. Rather than say we're going to spend 98% of the budget for defense on defense and put the 2% (no more!) elsewhere, they just throw out a CR and say-- just keep spending. It's like creating a budget (or not) and then saying "well, we always eat out at Bruschetti's on Saturday, we can't quit doing /that/" Congress-- not enough collective sense to come in out of the rain.

R-Five said...

Best summary of Obama's latest speech: the economy would be better if only I was President.

Anonymous said...

The first is over the debt ceiling (probably Sept. 1 or so, it will be required). Every dummy knows that the first thing you do when you get too far in debt is to cut up the credit cards

What Republicans want to do isn't cut up credit cards, they want to inform their credit card companies that while they will continue to use the cards, they won't pay the bills. This is a fundamental assault on America's finance, an attempt to turn the US into a third world nation, for short term political advantage. It is profoundly unpatriotic.

--Hiram

Anonymous said...

the second thing that needs to happen is, just like your family budget, you need a budget to figure out just what you can actually spend, to live within your means.

But you can't go to your banker and say, I can dishonor my debt because it violated my budget. Where did Republicans get the idea that they could dishonor America's debt?

--Hiram

Anonymous said...

In what household are budget decisions confused with spending decisions. Just because you decided in your budget meeting not to pay the light bill, how did Republicans ever persuade themselves that they were somehow exempted from pay for the lights? Have these Republicans ever managed a household budget? Or is that something they leave to the servants?

--Hiram

jerrye92002 said...

Hiram,
Not to perpetuate gender stereotypes here, but it seems to me that you are blaming the Republican husband for debts incurred by the Democrat wife. It isn't that the couple WON'T pay their bills; it's the terrible combination of the husband being unable to do so (try asking your boss for a 60% raise and see what happens to your paycheck) and the wife unwilling to admit there is a problem at all.

At some point, those credit card bills have to be paid. It can be done painfully now, after cutting them up, or we can ignore it until the credit card companies force us into bankruptcy. Republicans don't want to "dishonor the debt" but Democrats don't want to use the common sense that would avoid it, and most certainly will blame the Republicans for the rapidly approaching bankruptcy of the US. And that is a VERY Bad Thing (TM).

Anonymous said...

Not to perpetuate gender stereotypes here, but it seems to me that you are blaming the Republican husband for debts incurred by the Democrat wife

Husbands aren't responsible for their wives' debts. Republicans are responsible for the public debt. It's as simple as that. The metaphor is not applicable.

--Hiram

Laurie said...

So, Jerry, what is your opinion of the idea floated by some GOP members of congress to try to force defunding of Obamacare by threatening to shut down the govt?

Republican Fight Brewing Over Threatened Government Shutdown

(the blog I have linked to is center right in its postings but I'd say the majority of those who comment are at least slightly liberal)

jerrye92002 said...

Husbands ARE responsible for the debts of their wives, and vice versa. Too many spouses have discovered that over the years. In some cases, there used to be a common classified ad saying "so and so X will no longer be responsible for the debts incurred by so and so Y." I don't know if it was legally binding are not. Similarly, you are wrong about Republicans being responsible for the public debt. CONGRESS is responsible for paying off the public debt, but Democrats are largely responsible for running up that debt in the first place.

jerrye92002 said...

John, the link you provided did not work for me, but I can have an opinion without any additional information. :-) As I said earlier, I consider it the duty of every Republican to put a stop to this profligate spending and to the absurdity known as Obamacare. The only reason for NOT doing this sane and sensible thing, even if it leads to a government shutdown, is for fear of being blamed for it politically. That should not be an excuse for abdicating responsibility to do the right thing, but it is. Now why the Republicans should pay a price for trying to solve the problem and Democrats get off Scott free for CAUSING the problem is another discussion entirely.

Laurie said...

I will try to provide the link again:

Republican Fight Brewing Over Threatened Government Shutdown

I like the following link better, including its prediction of how this will all play out.

"One possible outcome of this debate is that the Republican House passes a government-funding bill that doesn’t include money for Obamacare, but then gives in to the Democratic Senate on the issue. At that point the conservative groups that are pushing for defunding will say Republican leaders have again betrayed them, and get back to the vital work of raising donations off that idea."

Drop the Disastrous Plan to Defund Obamacare

Anonymous said...

Husbands ARE responsible for the debts of their wives, and vice versa.

Not without additional facts. Things like expenses charged to jointly held credit cards.

Congress isn't responsible for the public debt. The American people are. We owe it, not your local legislator.

--Hiram

jerrye92002 said...

Hiram, I hope you weren't one of THOSE husbands. In most marriages property and debt are legally, morally and traditionally the property of the couple. That is why you occasionally hear of a husband or wife taking off and leaving the spouse with a mountain of unpaid debts. Seems to me that is a perfect analogy for where Congress has taken us. They have run up the tab on our credit cards to where we cannot possibly pay them off, and then run off to a party in DC.

Anonymous said...

That is why you occasionally hear of a husband or wife taking off and leaving the spouse with a mountain of unpaid debts

That's typically because they entered into joint assets. They jointly took out a marriage on their jointly held home. Both names were on the credit cards. But it doesn't have to be. Just as I hear of spouses who take off leaving their debts behind, I also hear of spouses who lead separate financial lives.

--

jerrye92002 said...

Like I said, legally, traditionally and morally. Unfortunately, Congress is more into the "wham-bam, thank you taxpayer" sort of marriage. Many marriages of the traditional sort founder on the rocks of financial issues, usually when one's income doesn't match the other's outgo. I wish we could divorce the spendaholics in Congress.

Anonymous said...

Like I said, legally, traditionally and morally.

There is no particular reason why one spouse should be morally responsible for the debts of another. I think it would be immoral for creditors to do that kind of overreaching absent more facts.

We are certainly responsible for the public debt incurred by our elected representatives. When they try to dishonor that debt, they are dishonoring the American people.

--Hiram

jerrye92002 said...

Isn't it more dishonorable for them to run up that debt in the first place?

jerrye92002 said...

"I think it would be immoral for creditors to do that kind of overreaching absent more facts."

Morality doesn't have much to do With contracts, and that's what's involved here. Two people have contracted to marry and one of them has contracted to incur and repay a debt. Morally, the party placing another person in severe debt is in the wrong, which in my opinion applies to Congress. Legally, the only way the second person could avoid paying the debt would be to prove that they did not know it was being undertaken, and even then it would be difficult to escape.

Actually, Congress has an easy out. The courts have ruled that there is no such thing as an "entitlement." That is, Social Security, Medicare, and everything else currently busting the budget can simply be eliminated by a simple act of Congress. Hopefully those programs can be reformed and brought into line with the balanced budget, but if not they will happen abruptly and with horrible consequences. I am not saying that Congress is responsible for the debt; I am saying they are IRRESPONSIBLE for it.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it more dishonorable for them to run up that debt in the first place?

It's not a question we usually ask about debtors. I suppose it depends on what we did with the money we borrowed, or the revenue that we didn't generate. We spent it on things like wars, and Social Security and health care for our elderly and our children. Were any of those things dishonorable, or would it make a difference if they were?

--Hiram

Anonymous said...

Two people have contracted to marry and one of them has contracted to incur and repay a debt. ...Legally, the only way the second person could avoid paying the debt would be to prove that they did not know it was being undertaken, and even then it would be difficult to escape.

A marriage contract is not a contract to pay each other's debt. A spouse just isn't responsible, absent more, for another spouse's borrowing. This is not to say that one spouse's indebtedness can't have an impact on the marriage. But the other spouse just isn't liable.

"Entitlement" isn't a legal term or concept. It's a loaded political term. The federal government has lots of legally enforceable obligations that don't fall within the scope of what political propagandists call entitlements. But Congress doesn't want to stop spending, they just don't want to pay the bills when they come due.

--Hiram

Anonymous said...

If the GOP, dems, and Obama don't agree on a budget does spending just continue at the same level, aside from the sequestration cuts?

The commitments to spending continue. The budget isn't exactly the issue. Money is appropriated by appropriation bills not by budgeting resolutions. The government borrows to fund spending under those appropriation bills, not to maintain any sort of budget.

It's just like a household budget. They are a useful planning device, but they don't determine spending unless you allow them to. And they certainly aren't binding on anyone else. You can't go to your credit card company and say I don't owe money I charged because that charge violated my personal household budget. Or for that matter, my personally imposed spending limits.

--Hiram

jerrye92002 said...

Hiram, you keep talking as if the annual budget was used to pay bills that had already been incurred, but that's just not the case. Certainly there are some things bought with federal money that have not been paid for, most notably major capital projects or defense contracts, but even there there is only the expectation that future funding of these projects will be forthcoming, until project completion. In other words, Congress has the moral and fiduciary responsibility to STOP the crazy OVERspending and debt accumulation. It's just simple common sense, but of course that is not a requirement for high office. Just look at our highest office. A lame duck has more sense.

What are the hopes that Obama will, in his remaining term accomplish anything? My guess is that there will be little accomplished, and what he DOES manage to pull off will continue to be in the wrong direction. Just maintaining the status quo is taking us further in the wrong direction. He would have to actually reverse course to make real progress, and he's not smart enough for that.

jerrye92002 said...

Here's a "what-if" for you. Obama is by definition a lame duck President, or will be, regardless of the 2014 election outcome. What he may be able to accomplish will depend somewhat on the outcome, of course. If Democrats have control of the House or Senate, or both, he may be able to do more damage to the country before his term expires.

But what if Republicans take over the Senate and hold or increase control of the House, or both? That would be a repudiation of all his self-aggrandizing schemes, and for him, a personal slap in the face. Here's the question: Could his ego really stand that big a dose of reality? So far he has been immune from not only criticism but the obvious and painful reality of what he has done. He won't even acknowledge that he had anything to do with it! So, he WILL be a lame duck. Will he lose his precariously-perched mental equilibrium when the world refuses to worship him?

John said...

He may need some good psycho therapy if that happens...

Anonymous said...

you keep talking as if the annual budget was used to pay bills that had already been incurred, but that's just not the case.

Not the budget, the appropriation bills. We have accrued the obligations we just haven't paid them. If this weren't the case, the president could simply reduce discretionary spending.

--Hiram

jerrye92002 said...

OK, the annual appropriations; I stand corrected. They don't need a budget to spend money, and the budget never seems to constrain what they spend anyway. But the point is that to say that raising the debt ceiling is necessary because we "have to pay our bills" is just a flat-out lie. The federal government has enough income to continue to pay Social Security, the military, and a goodly portion of what's left, WITHOUT borrowing one dime. It's just that they want to continue mortgaging our children's future rather than make some sensible reductions in what they WANT to spend-- in other words, to live by a balanced budget.

jerrye92002 said...

I didn't say that in the best way. What I mean is, the federal government does not have "bills" for past purchases, nor does it have very many contractual obligations going forward. Almost every thing in the annual appropriations bills is for things in the COMING year, so it's all "discretionary" to one degree or another. It may be painful to cut out some of that spending, but to continue to saddle future generations with an UNPAYABLE debt is not acceptable.

Anonymous said...

It's just that they want to continue mortgaging our children's future rather than make some sensible reductions in what they WANT to spend-- in other words, to live by a balanced budget.

Then propose a law which makes sensible reductions in what we want to spend. But do you see the problem? We want to spend that money.

--Hiram

jerrye92002 said...

Propose a law? How about the balanced budget amendment, for starters? Simple, quick and direct.

More roundabout ways would include Social Security reform, turning Medicare and Medicaid into premium support programs and getting government completely OUT of health care, saving trillions of dollars, and tax reform via the FAIR tax, to grow the economy.

Anonymous said...

How about the balanced budget amendment, for starters? Simple, quick and direct.

A balanced budget amendment is a proposal to turn over to an unelected branch of government, the judiciary, the most basic responsibilities of the legislative branch, taxation and allocation of revenues. It's an acknowledgment of the failure of our republican form of government.

--Hiram

jerrye92002 said...

No, it is a tool to make the Congress carry out its fiduciary responsibility. The courts have nothing to do with it. The question is whether Congress will simply ignore the law in order to continue their profligate spending, as they have been doing up until now. I don't know what "teeth" would be in the proposal, or how the judiciary would enforce their will on Congress if Congress failed to balance the budget. As it is, some of those folks should be going to jail as it is, for running up a debt that cannot possibly be repaid.

Anonymous said...

What's a "balanced budget"? When dealing with something as complex as the federal government, that's an impossible question to answer, but one on partisans will bitterly dispute. And what happens when a court declares a budget unbalanced? Does the court then go on to making specific cuts in order to bring the budget back into balance? Isn't allocating spending at the heart of what legislatures do?

Do you think our debts cannot be repaid? Ever since Alexander Hamilton, signer of the Constitution and our first Secretary of the Treasury, put America's creditworthiness at the heart of our economic policy, has America ever defaulted on a debt?

==Hiram

John said...

Hiram,
The State of MN runs with a balanced budget, I am pretty sure the computers are advanced enough to do the same thing at the national level...

Just say that you are okay with spending the money of our children instead of acting responsibly... It is okay to be selfish, others have been before us...

Anonymous said...

The State of MN runs with a balanced budget,

But it does so because the parties have agreed to accept the state economic forecast. If they don't, the Minnesota budget process breaks down. I see no possibility at all of that working on the national level where the issue are vastly more complex, and the stakes vastly higher, and where the political system is utterly dysfunctional.

--Hiram

Anonymous said...


Just say that you are okay with spending the money of our children instead of acting responsibly..

Our kids get a lot in return.

--Hiram

jerrye92002 said...

Yes, the federal budget is complicated, and in an ideal nation where the Congress stuck tightly to its limited Constitutional role it would be a lot less so. The problem is that they are not even ATTEMPTING to balance the budget. They KNOW they are spending something like 40% more than they are taking in EVERY YEAR, and for as far as the eye can see! That's criminal malfeasance in my book because, yes, this debt CAN NOT be repaid, especially if you consider all of the "unfunded liabilities" of Social Security and Medicare entitlements. The last number I heard for that was $250 Trillion; the number I have been using in calculations was $105 Trillion. So if Congress had to do as private pension plans are required to do by law, and have assets equal to the unfunded liability, Congress would have to impose a 100% federal tax on everybody-- no exemptions, exceptions or loopholes-- for something like 7-1/2 years!! Now, do you think that is a possibility?

The national debt is worrisome enough, especially since it is still climbing. The only nice thing about it is that government lasts forever so in essence the mortgage must never be paid off, but the interest payments are a huge expense that we don't need. It's like when you "buy too much house."

Anonymous said...

The problem is that they are not even ATTEMPTING to balance the budget.

If the individuals charged with determining policy under the constitution don't even make an attempt to balance the budget, why should a requirement of a balanced budget be inserted in the Constitution?

--Hiram

John said...

Often people don't watch how fast they are driving or how much they are drinking, so we create and enforce legislation for the greater good.

I am sure many politicians would be very happy if there weren't laws against bribery and lots of controls on campaign funding, yet we legislate those for the greater good.

It seems we have a lot of precedent regarding "the people" demanding accountability and proper behavior from our politicians. Seems like forcing them to run with a balanced budget would fit right in.

jerrye92002 said...

Find the text of the BBA here:

http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c112:H.J.RES.56:

There is no provision for enforcement, such as all of Congress forfeiting their pay or losing their jobs if they fail to balance the budget. There should be. This profligacy must stop and soon.

John said...

BBA Link

I wonder what would happen to a company's management and board if they told their investor's that the plan was to continue indefinitely with expenditures that significantly exceeded revenues. Interesting thought...

Hiram,
I forgot to ask, what again is the next generation getting from us spending more than we are paying? What again are they getting from us racking up a large debt that they will need to pay the interest on and maybe even pay down?

Please remember most of the funds are not going to infrastructure, R&D, etc... They are going to pay expenses, not to make capital improvements...

Anonymous said...

I wonder what would happen to a company's management and board if they told their investor's that the plan was to continue indefinitely with expenditures that significantly exceeded revenues. Interesting thought...

Aren't there a lot of companies like that? Doesn't this typically happen when a young family takes out a mortgage?

--Hiram

Anonymous said...

I forgot to ask, what again is the next generation getting from us spending more than we are paying?

Things like a school system, and freedom from the tyranny America's wars have saved us from, and lots else besides. Being born in America is a pretty good deal on the whole.

--Hiram

John said...

I don't think Jerry or I would disagree that the USA's military and infrastructure investment are great things that pay back for future generations. It is the other half of the budget that is of questionable to no value for the kids...

And yes getting a 2nd mortgage to improve the value of your home is good. Pulling equity out so you can spend it isn't so great in the long run.

jerrye92002 said...

HIram is right in one sense-- that companies "go on forever" and can carry debt forward indefinitely. And they do, in the form of common stock. What they can NOT do is to continue to issue dividends if they are not making money, and when they stop paying dividends the stock price drops and the management team all gets fired.

When a young couple seeks a mortgage, the first thing they undergo is a review of their finances, to see if it can be repaid. They are making an investment in a place to live, rather than expensing out rental money. The government, on the other hand, expenses essentially everything, except for defense and infrastructure capital acquisitions, which is about 1/10 of the total budget. Everything else are things that future generations have only been promised and are going to be impossible for government to deliver on. Congress has written way more checks than their paycheck can ever cover, even after robbing the bank. They've mortgaged every newborn to the tune of about $400,000.

Anonymous said...

HIram is right in one sense-- that companies "go on forever" and can carry debt forward indefinitely. And they do, in the form of common stock.

Debt and stock are fundamentally different things. I could discuss the differences at length, but that would be off topic here.

The government expenses a lot of stuff because it doesn't have shareholders it has to account to. But let's think of America as an enterprise. What are our assets? What are our liabilities? How does that model affect our thinking going forward?

--Hiram

John said...

I'll give that some thought on my long flight tomorrow, and it is likely it will become a future post. Very good questions.

Thankfully South Korea is a long ways from the Middle East and North Africa... Wish me luck...

Anonymous said...

The Federal government now employs fewer people that it did in 1980 despite a roughly 50 percent growth in population.

http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/data-analysis-documentation/federal-employment-reports/historical-tables/total-government-employment-since-1962/

If government is growing, why is federal spending a problem?

==Hiram