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Montana Politics

Putting the National Debt in Perspective

As the debate continues over deficit spending in Washington, I thought it might be useful for everybody involved to take a quick look at this here list. It lists public debt as a percentage of GDP. While not a perfect measure of a country’s budget health, it is probably among the most useful.

What does the list reveal? Topping the list is Japan, which given the past two decades is not surprising. But the US is in better shape than the global average, including such economic heavyweights as the UK and Germany.

Granted, a decade of deficit spending is not good- we’ve been living beyond our means since electing George Bush, and only part of that deficit is from the wars. And unlike JC at 4&20 (who is nonetheless hosting an interesting conversation on the matter), I agree with Jon Tester that we can afford to make some responsible cuts. Indeed, now that there is finally some public sentiment beyond it, perhaps we can cut some inefficiencies that til now have been sacred, like cold-war era military deployments that merely engender mistrust from the host countries.

But I don’t trust that this is the actual intention of Republicans. Republicans like Boehner and Coobs (see any of his prognostications about 2012) believe that defeating Obama in 2012 is more important than improving the economy. So I don’t think it’s a coincidence that when a Republican was in the oval office, increased federal spending and government employment was used to pad an otherwise weak job recovery, but now that it is a Democratic is president, Republicans are looking to sabotage fledgling job growth that threatens to derail their plans to take control of the White House and Senate in 2012.

The verdict – ‘responsible cuts’ are always beneficial during periods of deficit spending, and may actually be possible now. But our backs are far from up against the wall credit-wise, and the most important thing is to allow the economy to recover before tackling the revenue and spending issues that have reversed our one-time surplus.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

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The Polish Wolf

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  • Responsibility starts with leadership. Obama has been AWOL on many issues until he decides political advantage. His latest hash is Libya.

    As to the budget Reason Magazine has this: http://reason.com/archives/2011/04/06/paul-ryans-republican-budget-t/singlepage

    and this: http://www.aolnews.com/2011/02/15/opinion-obamas-2012-budget-is-no-way-to-win-the-future/

    What I have learned in life is that no budget is responsible that relies on borrowing to meet everyday expenses. What we have in Washington are pols that attempt to spend on everything by taking out home equity loans. After awhile, there is no equity left for the homeowner.

    Responsible leadership must recognize present realities against the backdrop of the best forecasts of future events.

  • Responsibility starts with leadership. Obama has been AWOL on many issues until he decides political advantage. His latest hash is Libya.

    As to the budget Reason Magazine has this: http://reason.com/archives/2011/04/06/paul-ryans-republican-budget-t/singlepage

    and this: http://www.aolnews.com/2011/02/15/opinion-obamas-2012-budget-is-no-way-to-win-the-future/

    What I have learned in life is that no budget is responsible that relies on borrowing to meet everyday expenses. What we have in Washington are pols that attempt to spend on everything by taking out home equity loans. After awhile, there is no equity left for the homeowner.

    Responsible leadership must recognize present realities against the backdrop of the best forecasts of future events.

  • Before we accept either the GOP proposal to take away food stamps from dependent people, cut housing assistance for people who wouldnt have a home otherwise, and cut medicare and medicaid (all without touching the defense budget), or the Obama proposal which, while less devastating, also fails to cut the defense budget (actually the numbers i saw actually showed Obama’s budget handing out $3 billion more dollars in defense contracts to major corporations than the GOP budget), lets consider a few things:

    “From 1951 to 2002, U.S. military spending averaged $425 billion per year (in 2010 dollars) and never fluctuated more than 25 percent above or below that figure. Now it’s 63 percent above it and rising…” (“The U.S. Military Budget”, Nicolas J.S. Davies, Z Magazine, Jan. 2011)

    Both proposed budgets for this year increase that number ($693 billion) to $700 billion (for the GOP) and $703 billion for Obama.

    I think these statistics should destroy the idea that this is just “leftover Cold War spending.” These stats make it clear where the budget debate should be focused and they remind us exactly where it is not focused. It is also clear, through repeated studies, that the American public wants the military budget to be cut in half. Powerful interests like the defense budget the way it is and they have worked hard to keep it off the agenda, despite public opinion and all the talk about “deficits”.

  • Before we accept either the GOP proposal to take away food stamps from dependent people, cut housing assistance for people who wouldnt have a home otherwise, and cut medicare and medicaid (all without touching the defense budget), or the Obama proposal which, while less devastating, also fails to cut the defense budget (actually the numbers i saw actually showed Obama’s budget handing out $3 billion more dollars in defense contracts to major corporations than the GOP budget), lets consider a few things:

    “From 1951 to 2002, U.S. military spending averaged $425 billion per year (in 2010 dollars) and never fluctuated more than 25 percent above or below that figure. Now it’s 63 percent above it and rising…” (“The U.S. Military Budget”, Nicolas J.S. Davies, Z Magazine, Jan. 2011)

    Both proposed budgets for this year increase that number ($693 billion) to $700 billion (for the GOP) and $703 billion for Obama.

    I think these statistics should destroy the idea that this is just “leftover Cold War spending.” These stats make it clear where the budget debate should be focused and they remind us exactly where it is not focused. It is also clear, through repeated studies, that the American public wants the military budget to be cut in half. Powerful interests like the defense budget the way it is and they have worked hard to keep it off the agenda, despite public opinion and all the talk about “deficits”.

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