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  1. #31
    Aquaria mrcockburn's Avatar
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    Before any taxes are raised, there needs to be a serious look at how the money's being used. What debts are being paid off (if any)? How easy is it for various segments within the government to simply fritter away the money due to inefficiencies/BS.

    It's as if $50M goes in, but only 27M is used for intended purposes.
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  2. #32
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    ^ Absolutely.

    The worry is that taxes will be raised and then spent on the pet projects of the most powerful constituencies and special interests, or worse, just wasted in the bureaucratic monster.

  3. #33
    Senior Member jimrckhnd's Avatar
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    Ah the old "waste, fraud, and abuse" fix. As soon as somebody can ID that budget line we can mark it out. ntil then... its just an old shibolith politicians use to avoid being specific about choices. In an organization as large as the Feds there is simply going to be a baseline of all of the above (happens in the private sector as well BTW).

    If you want to see the biggest examples of "waste, fraud and abuse" the Pentagon is the place to go: I know, I've been in the military and worked in DoD (seldom have I had longer days). It's a big, clumsy organization that is focused on "rubber on the ramp" and figures there is always more money where that came from (and they are usually right - the "Iron Triangle" of the Pentagon, the contractors and members of Congress sees to that).
    Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups

  4. #34
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    It is a big one, but we can't just cut spending there.

    It's always going to come back to entitlements.

  5. #35
    Senior Member jimrckhnd's Avatar
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    There are other areas to be sure. However, SS has relatively low overhead costs - not alot of room for improving efficiency there. Medical costs are a societal problem - until the US gets a handle on those OVERALL it will difficult to reign in Medicare/Medicaid. As for the rest - food stamps, housing aid, etc. don't amount to a fart in a whirl wind in the federal budget (neither does foreign aid BTW - esp. when you remove foreign military assistance from the equation).

    You start with the Pentagon because that is where the most "low hanging fruit" is to be found. It’s got the biggest programs, is the single biggest item in the budget, has the most people and employees the largest number of contractors. It’s procurement system is widely understood – even within DoD - to be broken and the tacit agreement amongst the four (3+1) services about how the “pie” is divided makes for inefficiencies in that spending is not perfectly aligned with doctrine or defense priorities. On the plus side it avoids the interservice blood letting of the 50s and early 60s.

    It will be, of course, the most difficult of the agencies to reform: everybody loves defense money and the beltway bandits have a far more powerful lobby than even the AARP (which is saying something). I suspect the only way to really wring much savings out of them is to simply swing a meat ax and stand back and let the fur and feathers fly: I have little faith in an incremental approach.
    Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups

  6. #36
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    It’s procurement system is widely understood – even within DoD - to be broken and the tacit agreement amongst the four (3+1) services about how the “pie” is divided makes for inefficiencies in that spending is not perfectly aligned with doctrine or defense priorities.
    Yea yea, the bidding system for DoD contracts is really fucked up, i.e. it ends up being a single bidder system because of a lack of competition for bids and the consolidation of many companies within the military industrial complex since the end of the cold war leading to a handful of behemoths deciding who gets what ahead of time.

    And yes there are tons of inefficiencies within the pentagon that need to be addressed.

    Although the most important thing that needs to be dealt with is the mission outlook for our military. We will bankrupt the country if we continue to pursue the expeditionary warfare of the past 2 decades. We need to try to become part of a team that responds to global threats, not the sole actor.

    Lastly, I will agree with you that it will be the easiest to cut, because voters don't love tanks as much as healthcare or whatever it may be.

    But, and this is a pretty big but, the proportion of our debt that comes from entitlement spending is going to grow relative to military spending which will be diminishing as a percentage of our GDP in years to come.

    And even if we got all of our military spending ducks in a row today that alone would still not be able to get us out of this mess.

    The intrinsic difficulty in tackling entitlement is why we must deal with it now. If we keep putting it off, it's only going to get harder to deal with as a greater proportion of our voting populace comes to depend on it as they age. We also need to simplify our tax system, but I'll leave that for another discussion.

    Our entitlement spending will force us out of international competitiveness if we let it. And I sincerely hope that that doesn't happen.

  7. #37
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    It is more dangerous to pretend the U.S. deserves a AAA credit rating than it is to accept that it doesn't. We just came out of a financial crisis that was a result, in large part, of pretending that mortgage-backed securities were AAA when they weren't, and we can all see how well that worked out. In the long run, it does not help any economy to deny the facts.

    S&P were quite clear before the whole debt ceiling debacle that unless the government got its fiscal house in order that its debt would probably be downgraded. Despite the revised budget (which, by the way, does not cut government spending), the reforms S&P suggested were not satisfied. Even without all the political shenanigans of the last few weeks, S&P would probably have still downgraded U.S. government debt, especially if Obama had got his preferred budget.

    The downgrade is not the fault of the tea party, however emotionally satisfying and politically advantageous it might be to lay the blame at their feet. It is the fault of both Democratic and Republican politicians over the last decade or so.
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  8. #38
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    Nobody knows how this downgrading U.S. government debt will effect the world economy.

    One doesn't have to be to able to outrun a bear, but just the other guy. While the U.S. Government is undergoing financial stress, so are governments, firms, and households everywhere. The relative safety of U.S. Government debt may not change all that much.

    The danger is that by reducing the supply of safe and liquid assets near the zero nominal bound, the frustrated demand will spill over into money. However, many expect the downgrading to weaken the dollar, which would discourage people from holding money and spend more. It is conceivable that the downgrade of U.S. Government debt could stimulate spending and help restore the economy. We'll see over the next few months, but, for now, the sky is not falling.
    A criticism that can be brought against everything ought not to be brought against anything.

  9. #39
    Senior Member jimrckhnd's Avatar
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    Yea yea, the bidding system for DoD contracts is really fucked up, i.e. it ends up being a single bidder system because of a lack of competition for bids and the consolidation of many companies within the military industrial complex since the end of the cold war leading to a handful of behemoths deciding who gets what ahead of time.

    You ain't bullshitting there brother. Take one look at the launch business and you see a great example of the problem. Add in a serious problem with NIH (Not Invented Here) syndrom and the big three contractors have the taxpayer by the balls. I actually believe the Europeans are a bit more honest about their defense companies - they are viewed and treated as quasi branches of the state in many cases. In the case of the US we insist on the fiction that we have a free market system for major defense projects. We don't.

    The intrinsic difficulty in tackling entitlement is why we must deal with it now. If we keep putting it off, it's only going to get harder to deal with as a greater proportion of our voting populace comes to depend on it as they age. We also need to simplify our tax system, but I'll leave that for another discussion.

    I concur. The medical issue is a thorny one as, with the exception of the VA, the current government system can not be insulated from trends in US healthcare as a whole. As a society we pay more and get less than other industrialized nations: there is something very much wrong with the current way we do business in the private and public sectore RE: health care. As a society we need to sit down and do some serious thinking about health care delivery and outcomes - it would help both the private and public sectors.

    RE: SS - I think phasing in a gradual increase in SS eligibility is both necessary and fair. Simply put people live longer (though with health and wellness demographic trends in the US its always possible this might not hold up) and its reasonable to ask they pay in longer and take out for a shorter period of time.
    Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups

  10. #40
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    A productive political discussion by well informed members of Typo-c.... who would of thought it could happen.


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