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  1. #1
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    Default Why America’s Public, Not Its Parties, Are the Key to Fixing the Deficit

    This is from The New Republic:

    Why America’s Public, Not Its Parties, Are the Key to Fixing the Deficit

    The publication of the latest tick-tock story on the collapse of last summer’s Obama-Boehner budget talks has triggered a new round of dueling interpretations. Who really killed the grand bargain? Was it a speaker out of touch with his caucus, or a president who couldn’t make up his mind? There’s no doubt that both leaders have made mistakes, but all these breathless sagas suffer from the same flaw: They divert us from the structural facts that shape political outcomes. Barack Obama and John Boehner weren’t free agents; they were acting as representatives of their respective political parties, neither of which was prepared to do what it took to make a deal. The problem isn’t just political intransigence—it’s that neither political party has made an effort to convince the electorate of the need for change. Without that sort of public discussion, closed-door negotiations are bound to go nowhere.

    It’s customary at this point to cite the polarization between the parties, which has indeed grown significantly in recent decades. This phenomenon is more than a blood feud between rival gangs; the parties now espouse incompatible explanations for our long-term fiscal problems and propose incompatible remedies. For Republicans, it boils down to one thing—cutting spending. This premise inevitably leads to proposals like Paul Ryan’s latest budget, with huge cuts to Medicare and to safety net programs for the poor. In response, Democrats emphasize the need for increased revenue—after all, the aging population will increase federal spending as a share of GDP, and we’ll have to pay for it somehow. Of course, we could temper if not prevent this increase by shifting costs and risks to Medicare beneficiaries. But to do this, most Democrats insist, would be to trample on our promises, rip up the social contract, and end Medicare as we know it.

    But while party polarization plays a large part in legislative stalemates, the problem goes deeper. Neither political party has been willing to conduct a sustained conversation with the American people about the real choices we face over the next generation. If large political decisions are to be sustainable, they need to obtain the consent of the people—and it’s hard to see how the current discussion can generate that consent, or even contribute to public education.

    As Gerald Seib points out, the contenders for the Republican presidential nomination rarely utter the word “deficit” during debates and have failed to propose serious fiscal plans. To their credit, Ryan and Obama have both been clearer. But the public discussion of Ryan’s plan soft-pedals the extent of the changes it would impose on Medicare and Medicaid, while the president’s plan does little to address our longer-term structural challenges.

    Over the past few years, the argument that we needed to get the economy back on track before tackling fiscal issues has prevailed—rightly, in my view. But if we’ve finally reached the point at which the recovery is self-sustaining, it’s time to shift the focus of the discussion. A presidential campaign offers the best chance we’ll get to clarify the choices we face and to bring the people into the conversation. And if neither candidate wants to enter into that conversation, it’s the duty of the press to force the issue. At every juncture, Mitt Romney should be asked a simple question: Do you endorse the cuts in Medicare and Medicaid contained in the House Republicans’ budget? And if he spends the fall evading the question, he should be asked again, during the presidential debates, in full view of the American people.

    For his part, President Obama should be asked how the pieces of his agenda fit together into a coherent whole. “Mr. President, you’ve identified a host of unmet national needs—in education, infrastructure, research, and innovation, among others—all of which will require more spending. You’ve rejected the Republicans’ proposal to reduce spending by changing the structure of Medicare and Medicaid. And you can’t use the defense budget as a piggy-bank; your own defense secretary has characterized further cuts in defense as a threat to our national security. Your latest budget will make things a bit better in the short term but will do little to address the long-term gap between our revenues and our commitments. In light of this, Mr. President, how high will taxes have to go to pay for your programs? And do you really believe that the wealthy can bear the entire increase while everyone else is held harmless?”

    The stakes are high. We need to invest much more to rebuild the foundations of our economy, but right now we don’t have the fiscal flexibility to do so. What we manifestly lack, and desperately need, is a reformed tax code that promotes growth and eliminates special interest preferences. To set ourselves on a sustainable fiscal course, we need to reconcile the aversion to tax increases with the needs of an aging population—but we haven’t even begun that discussion.

    Great nations don’t remain great by avoiding their problems. Contrary to popular accounts, what we face today is not bad chemistry between leaders, or even the clash of political parties: It is a crisis of self-government. It will be a dereliction of duty if the presidential candidates don’t bring the American people into the conversation and level with them about the choices we face. Is it hopelessly naive to expect our leaders to do that?

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    Administrator highlander's Avatar
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    I am so sick of politics.

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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by highlander View Post
    I am so sick of politics.
    You oughta come here mate. For on Saturday we annihilated the Labor Party in Queensland.

    From governing the whole of Queensland, we reduced them to six members in the eighty-nine member Parliament.

    They couldn't even form a hockey team.

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    Administrator highlander's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Victor View Post
    You oughta come here mate. For on Saturday we annihilated the Labor Party in Queensland.

    From governing the whole of Queensland, we reduced them to six members in the eighty-nine member Parliament.

    They couldn't even form a hockey team.
    That sounds like a move in the right direction.

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  5. #5
    Freaking Ratchet Rail Tracer's Avatar
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    Definitely, fix the tax code and reform for the 21st century. Now, who is willing to let who fix it? That is the prime issue. There is no way in hell it is going to happen until someone knock some senses into the HoR and Senate to govern "correctly." However, we voted for these numb-skulls and it's what we get. Our own public is much the same way: TP, OWS, public-private, state-country, and an apathetic public. What is even worse is the fact that the press isn't doing what it should be doing. We ask questions, but not enough to get them to explain to the public what and how they are going to do it. What works on paper obviously doesn't translate to "real" life. If were going to harp on these fools, we might as well ask for the nitty-gritty details without the wishy-washy "we can lower the deficit with mostly tax-cuts/taxes." Anyone who thinks we can settle the deficit with little to no cuts or taxes is a fool.

    All hopes were lost in creating a comprehensive reform without both sides completely saying no to any part of comprehensive reform that did not tailor to their taste. Some politicians are so ingrained into Grover Norquist that they won't do anything that will increase tax.

    It is much the same in California politics.

    Quote Originally Posted by highlander View Post
    I am so sick of politics.
    That attitude fixes nothing.

  6. #6

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  7. #7
    Senior Member Munchies's Avatar
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    LEft-right paradigm is a crock of shit. Tehre is no such thing as conservatives or liberals. Everybody should just shut the fuck up with all the labellling and profanities. This liberal/conservative mindset is a moreintelligent form of rascism, gerneralizations at it's best. "Those liberals." "Conservatives always..." Just stfu you dependant thinker with no genuin thoughts



    This is all i see when i watch the news/politics. A bunch of idiots
    1+1=3 OMFG

  8. #8
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Yeah, I think the title of this thread is bollocks.

    Clinton, a loathed democrat who would supposedly be a spendthrift by conservative standards, reduced the deficit in the US, infact he was the only and the best at doing so but the next time they seized power the republicans ran the deficit back up again, even coming out with ludicrous ideas about why it was necessary such as a large deficit prevented expansion in the scope of the government or increases in public/state spending or increases in dependency on public/state spending.

    That break in what was a supposed move towards centre-right consensus in the US provoked large deficit spending in the UK as the labour party didnt want to be put in the same position as the democrats and decided that by doing so they could compell the conservatives to break taboos on raising taxes . It didnt work.

    Although in both instances, Clinton and Blair, they DID reduce their respective conservative party created deficits, so parties can reduce deficits. However, in the examples I mentioned the parties really realised that it wasnt expedient to do so, that there could be no cross party brinkmanship in favour of a tax and spend consensus.

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