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  1. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by PeaceBaby View Post
    Oy vey.

    You haven't presented an ARGUMENT, it's simply an opinion piece, the subjective opinion being what constitutes the minimum help the state should provide to her citizenry.
    How is it an opinion piece?

    How much help the state should provide to the people isn't even the question.

    The piece is an argument that federal entitlement spending has expanded beyond its stated goal of assisting the poor, and then proposes reasonable limits to the qualifications for the programs that would bring their levels of spending back in line with their stated goal.

    And frankly, I agree with cafe. It is tiresome. Come up with a comprehensive strategy, a plan, rather than look at one piece of the pie here.
    I post articles I agree with, and I agree with this one wholeheartedly you can treat the positions taken in the article as my own.

    I'm not (and frankly no one is) enough of a wonk to bring the requisite facts and figures to bear on every policy area they want to discuss.

    For instance David Armor is a professor of public policy at George Mason. He's spent his entire life going over the intricacies of these policy issues.

    Without this article I wouldn't have the depth of knowledge required to make a compelling case for entitlement reform.

    But for your sake, my argument is that we should limit the beneficiaries of entitlement programs to those at or below 130% of the federally designated poverty level (for non disabled persons) and possibly 110% of that level.

    And this. Looking at one piece in isolation removes the context of overspending and under-taxing in other areas of the budget. It's like trying to trim the monthly grocery budget whilst still paying $200 a month for cable TV.
    The budget can't be balanced unless these cuts fit into a larger program of deficit reduction that includes revenue increases and defense cuts.

    This article isn't meant to show that the only cuts that need to be made are these, but that meaningful and substantial savings from entitlements can be realized without unduly burdening those benefiting from those programs now.

    Hence:

    HELPING THE POOR

    To be sure, reforms in this direction should not be implemented all at once. There are millions of individuals and families well above poverty thresholds who currently depend on benefits from one or more of the programs reviewed here; they will need time to adjust to any changes in eligibility. But Congress can easily begin the transition by applying tighter eligibility constraints to any new applicants to federal welfare programs, and by gently phasing them in for current beneficiaries over a period of five years or so.

    The key to controlling our swiftly growing welfare programs is to think in terms of the purpose and not just the size of government. The idea that anti-poverty programs should help those who are poor is so obvious as to be a tautology. And yet — as the data above illustrate clearly — this is not at all how our federal anti-poverty programs work today. By bringing these programs into line with their original, stated aim — providing a safety net for people who are actually poor or who have serious disabilities — enormous budget savings can be realized. And because our massive debts put all federal programs in danger, making the reasonable reductions outlined above will actually put our welfare programs on more sustainable long-term footing. In so doing, it will also preserve a true safety net for Americans in need.
    Quote Originally Posted by ptgatsby View Post
    As a general response to affording the programs, it's well worth noting that government/macro-economics does not work intuitively, and the concept of not being able to afford something is not really applicable. The US can certainly afford it, both in theory and in practice. Whether it's being applied effectively is up for argument, and the division of power in the states is pretty similar. The issue is mostly political rather than economic. Increasing federal power and removing the state's ability to determine thresholds, etc. or another configuration of aid (fixed aid to state based on x, state distribution system open). It's just hard to do in the American political environment.

    For the OP, discussion is wonderful, and I welcome you to start it. As it is, I'd have to start it with the author of the article.
    I place my arguments within the context of political realism.

    I wouldn't have posted the article if I didn't agree with it and share it's position.

    It's easy to propose changes that don't have a snowflakes chance in hell of passing.

  2. #52
    Senior Member ptgatsby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    I wouldn't have posted the article if I didn't agree with it and share it's position.
    I'd like to hear about the first premise: on what grounds do you think that it is beneficial to claw back? Is too much money being spent on entitlements? Are the entitlements being misdirected? Granted, I'm not particularily invested on this topic, being American and generally confused with American political ideology, but I appreciate the exchange of ideas, especially data driven ones. I just don't have a hook to discuss.

    How's this: I think the amount spent is a little low, badly allocated and distribution is in need of reform. I think the state level is the fundamental issue and that the states should be roughly removed from the equation; using federal tax to determine direct contributions to the individual based on a blended income (granularity to be determined, like state and city/district). This also allows merging of several aid systems, giving an overreaching welfare system while not interfering with individual states ability to provide emergency aid (shelters, abuse, etc.) It'd help if you had a medical aid system in place already, but... work with what you have, I suppose. I believe this is the best solution; it still feeds money into the state, but without the states ability to misdirect the funds. It allows a higher degree of tuning (people declared "in poverty" in NY is different than in rural MN), so that you can draw equivalent lifestyles and opportunities comparrisons. It also allows differentation between family units (due to overlapping deductions, IIRC), such that a single income earner with kids can get different treatment and so forth.

    Although it's not exactly the system we use in Canada, there are tiers of it; GST rebates, medical coverage and so forth, all based on income tax. Welfare is a bit of a mess here, still, mostly because the hurdles for getting it are very high. OTOH, we use (un)employment insurance to offset the difficulties. It's not just a single issue but a mix of social support services. It's always a bit messy.

    It's easy to propose changes that don't have a snowflakes chance in hell of passing.
    I would say that clawing back entitlements is pretty snowflakey. It's typically political suicide.

  3. #53
    pathwise dependent FDG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ptgatsby View Post
    As a general response to affording the programs, it's well worth noting that government/macro-economics does not work intuitively, and the concept of not being able to afford something is not really applicable.
    Well that´s clear, the govt can levy taxes and emit public debt which he can basically buy through the FED. It´s mostly a matter of cost-benefit analysis.
    ENTj 7-3-8 sx/sp

  4. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by FDG View Post
    Well that´s clear, the govt can levy taxes and emit public debt which he can basically buy through the FED. It´s mostly a matter of cost-benefit analysis.
    In which instance I'm of the opinion that the cost of extending programs aimed at helping the poor to the middle class outweighs the social benefits gained.

  5. #55
    Senior Member cafe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    In which instance I'm of the opinion that the cost of extending programs aimed at helping the poor to the middle class outweighs the social benefits gained.
    "Middle class" lacks precision. I'd agree with you, assuming 'middle class' meant 200% of the federal poverty line by family size adjusted for cost of living by location with special considerations for those with special expenses related to the upkeep of a severely handicapped dependent with the exception of healthcare (that should be universal) and paid family leave for illness and/or the birth or adoption of a child.
    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”
    ~ John Rogers

  6. #56
    pathwise dependent FDG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    In which instance I'm of the opinion that the cost of extending programs aimed at helping the poor to the middle class outweighs the social benefits gained.
    In which instance I´m of the opinion that you´re misleading the debate by purposefuly confounding terms like a twat.
    ENTj 7-3-8 sx/sp

  7. #57
    Senior Member ptgatsby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FDG View Post
    Well that´s clear, the govt can levy taxes and emit public debt which he can basically buy through the FED. It´s mostly a matter of cost-benefit analysis.
    Clear in those terms (although even that is an involved issue), but a lot more complicated when we move the argument to cost-benefit. Even the clear version has a systemic problem in these kinds of discussions. For example, which is better: the government buying a tank or giving that funding to education? Which has a higher multiplier? Which has more long term value? How do you quantify that value for consumption (end use)?

    Rhetorical questions - they do have answers - but it's not simple once you get away from the "accounting" assumption the average person has. Giving money to those who must spend it in the local economy (ie: the poor buying food!) doesn't even talk about the advantage to having people feel secure, or social stability and so forth.

    The OP/article was based on an ideological premise that presumes waste and then uses cost as a foundation (ie: not affordable). It's a false assumption that needs to be addressed. Is the efficiency curve for these subsidies tapering off above a certain income (/poverty point), etc. So I agree it's obvious, but easily overlooked.

  8. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by cafe View Post
    "Middle class" lacks precision. I'd agree with you, assuming 'middle class' meant 200% of the federal poverty line by family size adjusted for cost of living by location with special considerations for those with special expenses related to the upkeep of a severely handicapped dependent with the exception of healthcare (that should be universal) and paid family leave for illness and/or the birth or adoption of a child.
    Greece says hello.



    Quote Originally Posted by FDG View Post
    In which instance I´m of the opinion that you´re misleading the debate by purposefuly confounding terms like a twat.
    You kiss you mother with that mouth?

  9. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by ptgatsby View Post
    Clear in those terms (although even that is an involved issue), but a lot more complicated when we move the argument to cost-benefit. Even the clear version has a systemic problem in these kinds of discussions. For example, which is better: the government buying a tank or giving that funding to education? Which has a higher multiplier? Which has more long term value? How do you quantify that value for consumption (end use)?

    Rhetorical questions - they do have answers - but it's not simple once you get away from the "accounting" assumption the average person has. Giving money to those who must spend it in the local economy (ie: the poor buying food!) doesn't even talk about the advantage to having people feel secure, or social stability and so forth.

    The OP/article was based on an ideological premise that presumes waste and then uses cost as a foundation (ie: not affordable). It's a false assumption that needs to be addressed. Is the efficiency curve for these subsidies tapering off above a certain income (/poverty point), etc. So I agree it's obvious, but easily overlooked.
    Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security account for 40% of gov't spending.

    They are poised to grow to half of all spending within the decade.

    Any serious deficit reduction plan must contain entitlement reform.

  10. #60
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ptgatsby View Post
    Clear in those terms (although even that is an involved issue), but a lot more complicated when we move the argument to cost-benefit. Even the clear version has a systemic problem in these kinds of discussions. For example, which is better: the government buying a tank or giving that funding to education? Which has a higher multiplier? Which has more long term value? How do you quantify that value for consumption (end use)?

    Rhetorical questions - they do have answers - but it's not simple once you get away from the "accounting" assumption the average person has. Giving money to those who must spend it in the local economy (ie: the poor buying food!) doesn't even talk about the advantage to having people feel secure, or social stability and so forth.
    This is something that right-wingers and most libertarians never take into account (or grossly underestimate, at best) in their "calculations" (and some liberals are at the other extreme, granting things like social stability nearly infinite value). Crime rates in the US have been falling for decades and I believe social programs are at the heart of that. Those benefits are difficult, if not impossible to quantify and ignoring them leads to the "wrong answer".

    The OP/article was based on an ideological premise that presumes waste and then uses cost as a foundation (ie: not affordable). It's a false assumption that needs to be addressed. Is the efficiency curve for these subsidies tapering off above a certain income (/poverty point), etc. So I agree it's obvious, but easily overlooked.
    If only we could perform real scientific experiments on social and economic policies...
    "We grow up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they're really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because "strength of belief" is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you've made it a part of your ego."

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