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  1. #81
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    Quote Originally Posted by Il Morto Che Parla View Post
    I believe that the dominant thinking of US strategists, is that this is in the long-term interests of the nation.

    To give one example, if the Libyan situation had ended up with an anti-US movement overthrowing Gadaffi and identifying him as pro-US, it could have been very damaging to western eocnomic interests int he region.

    This leads me onto the fact that there is some truth in what you are syaing: the US has traditionally taken a disproportionate burden for defending western interests - which includes but is not exclusively limited to, its own interests.

    Now, suddenly, American and European interests are diverging...see approaches to Russia for example.

    You could say that the answer is to ask the Europeans to share more of the burden for the defence of common interests with the US. However, try convincing the average Pentagon strategist that it would be convenient to surrender military hegemony to the expense of more independent action on behalf of the Europeans...quite a "risky" gamble you must admit!
    We could stop shouldering the security burden of every single one of our allies and would still be the military hegemon for the foreseeable future.

  2. #82
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    We could stop shouldering the security burden of every single one of our allies and would still be the military hegemon for the foreseeable future.
    Yes but you would still be surrendering a certain amount of control.

    See what happened in South Ossetia. Now imagine if the Germans had more military independence.

  3. #83
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    Quote Originally Posted by Il Morto Che Parla View Post
    Yes but you would still be surrendering a certain amount of control.
    I'm fine with that.

    And I suspect, behind closed doors, our most rational leaders would be OK with it as well.

  4. #84
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    I'm fine with that.

    And I suspect, behind closed doors, our most rational leaders would be OK with it as well.
    I agree.

    My point is, there is a self-interest behind the "interventionist" (for want of a better term) position.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Il Morto Che Parla View Post
    I agree.

    My point is, there is a self-interest behind the "interventionist" (for want of a better term) position.
    The only interest is self interest.

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    So why the whole thing about "contracutal obligation" and "our allies expect"...?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Il Morto Che Parla View Post
    So why the whole thing about "contracutal obligation" and "our allies expect"...?
    Because beyond that interest, or more importantly above it, we have taken an oath to work in the common interest of our ally nations.

    Frequently, in the long run, this cooperation serves us better than pursuing narrow short term interests.

    Luckily those in our foreign service and state department know this.

  8. #88
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    Most fiscal experts assert that avoiding the accumulation of large, unsustainable debts will require cuts in entitlement benefits,

    Most fiscal experts1 assert2 that avoiding the accumulation of large, unsustainable debts3 will require cuts in entitlement benefits4

    ^1: Please specify experts and literature identifying the source

    ^2: Assertion is weak; please identify an argument and support for the argument

    ^3: Please define unsustainable in the context of government spending and macro-economic tradeoffs

    ^4: Please define scope and scale of required cutbacks relative to overall spending cutbacks; the likely outcome is that cutbacks are required in equal amount, making specific targetting irrelevent: further, it is likely that cutbacks to social services would be less than others due to the efficiency of social contributions.


    We can talk about the need, degree and net benefit of cuts and increases after that.

  9. #89
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    Quote Originally Posted by ptgatsby View Post
    Most fiscal experts1 assert2 that avoiding the accumulation of large, unsustainable debts3 will require cuts in entitlement benefits4

    ^1: Please specify experts and literature identifying the source

    ^2: Assertion is weak; please identify an argument and support for the argument

    ^3: Please define unsustainable in the context of government spending and macro-economic tradeoffs

    ^4: Please define scope and scale of required cutbacks relative to overall spending cutbacks; the likely outcome is that cutbacks are required in equal amount, making specific targetting irrelevent: further, it is likely that cutbacks to social services would be less than others due to the efficiency of social contributions.


    We can talk about the need, degree and net benefit of cuts and increases after that.
    That report is from the Congressional Research Service.

    Congressional Research Service

    The Congressional Research Service (CRS), known as Congress's think tank,[2] is a public policy research arm of the United States Congress. As a legislative branch agency within the Library of Congress, CRS works primarily and directly for Members of Congress, their Committees and staff on a confidential, nonpartisan basis.

    Its staff of approximately 600 employees includes lawyers, economists, reference librarians, and social, natural, and physical scientists.[3] In fiscal year 2012, CRS was appropriated a budget of roughly $106.8 million by Congress.[4]

    CRS is joined by two major congressional support agencies. The Congressional Budget Office provides Congress with budget-related information, reports on fiscal, budgetary, and programmatic issues, and analyses of budget policy options, costs, and effects. The Government Accountability Office assists Congress in reviewing and monitoring the activities of government by conducting independent audits, investigations, and evaluations of federal programs. Collectively, the three agencies employ more than 4,000 people.[3]

    CRS reports are widely regarded as in depth, accurate, objective, and timely, but as a matter of policy they are not made available to members of the public by CRS, except in certain circumstances.[5] There have been numerous attempts to pass legislation requiring all reports to be made available online, most recently in 2012,[6] but none have been enacted. Instead, the public must request individual reports from their Senators and Representatives in Congress, purchase them from private vendors, or search for them in various web archives of previously released documents.
    This is the most respected source there is.

    These are the experts.

    The scope and scale of the required cutbacks is contained in the Op article. I would propose eliminating most foreign bases, and where possible ending subsidization of foreign armed forces, I would also propose ending many of our deductions, and incorporating a value added tax.

    Here's a report from the Congressional Budget Office to further explain.

    An Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2012 to 2022

    Budget Projections UnderAlternative Scenarios

    To illustrate how different decisions by policymakers about federal spending programs and the federal tax system would affect future deficits, CBO estimated the budgetary impact of several alternative policies (see Table 1-5 on page 18). The discussion focuses on the policies’ direct impacts on revenues and outlays, but the changes also would affect the costs of paying interest on the federal debt (shown as “debt service” in Table 1-5).

    War-Related Discretionary Spending

    CBO’s projections of discretionary spending for the next 10 years include outlays for operations in Afghanistan and for other possible overseas contingency operations. The outlays in the baseline come from budget authority provided for those purposes in 2011 and earlier years, the $126.5 billion in budget authority provided in 2012, and the $1.4 trillion in appropriations projected for the 2013–2022 period (under the assumption, specified in law, that annual funding is set at the 2012 amount plus adjustments for anticipated inflation; such war-related funding is not constrained by the statutory caps established by the Budget Control Act).

    In coming years, the funding required for war-related activities—in Afghanistan or other countries—may be smaller than the amounts in the baseline if the number of deployed troops is smaller and the pace of operations is diminished. Thus, CBO formulated a budget scenario that anticipates a reduction in the deployment of U.S. forces abroad for military actions. Many other scenarios—some costing more and some less—also are possible. The number of U.S. active-duty, Reserve, and National Guard personnel deployed for war-related activities averaged about 195,000 in 2011, CBO estimates. Under the scenario shown in Table 1-5, the average number of military personnel deployed for war-related purposes would decline over four years: from 115,000 in 2012 to 85,000 in 2013, 60,000 in 2014, and 45,000 in 2015 and thereafter. (Those numbers could represent various allocations of forces among Afghanistan and other places.) Under that scenario and under the assumption that the related funding for diplomatic operations and foreign aid declines at a similar rate, total discretionary outlays over the 2013–2022 period would be $852 billion less than the amount in the baseline.

    Other Discretionary Spending

    Policymakers could vary discretionary funding in many ways from what is assumed in the baseline. For example, if appropriations grew each year through 2022 at the same rate as inflation after 2012, discretionary spending would be about $1.4 trillion higher for that period than it is in the baseline. If, in contrast, lawmakers kept appropriations for 2014 through 2022 at the nominal 2013 amount (after accounting for the nearly $100 billion reduction that will result from the automatic enforcement procedures set in the Budget Control Act), total discretionary outlays would be $904 billion lower than in the baseline for the period from 2014 through 2022. Under that scenario (sometimes called a freeze in appropriations), total discretionary spending would fall from 8.3 percent of GDP in fiscal year 2012 to 4.8 percent in 2022; by comparison, the lowest share for discretionary spending in any year since 1962 (the earliest year for which such data have been reported) was 6.2 percent in 1999.

    Medicare’s Payments to Physicians

    Under current law, starting in January 2013, spending for Medicare will be constrained by a rate-setting system that has existed for several years—called the sustainable growth rate—that controls the fees physicians receive for their
    services. If the system is allowed to operate as currently structured, physicians’ fees will be reduced by 27 percent

    in January 2013 and by additional amounts in subsequent years, CBO projects. If, instead, lawmakers override those scheduled reductions—as they have every year since 2003—spending on Medicare might be significantly greater than the amounts projected in CBO’s baseline. For example, if payment rates through 2022 stay as they are now, outlays for Medicare (net of premiums) would be $10 billion higher in 2013 and about $245 billion (or about 3 percent) higher between 2013 and 2022 than they are in the current-law baseline.

    Automatic Enforcement Procedures

    The Budget Control Act provides for automatic procedures to reduce discretionary and mandatory spending that take effect in fiscal year 2013 and continue through 2021. If fully implemented, those procedures will require equal reductions (in dollar terms) in defense and nondefense spending. For 2013, the reductions are to be achieved by automatically canceling a portion of the budgetary resources (an action known as sequestration) for most discretionary programs as well as for some programs and activities that are classified as mandatory spending.20 For the period from 2014 through 2021, the law requires the automatic procedures to be enforced by lowering the caps on discretionary budget authority specified in the Budget Control Act and through sequestration for
    mandatory spending. If, instead, lawmakers chose to prevent those automatic cuts each year, spending would be nearly $1 trillion (or about 2 percent) higher over the 2013–2022 period than the amount now projected in CBO’s baseline. Total discretionary outlays would be $839 billion (or 6.6 percent) higher, and mandatory outlays would be $133 billion (or 0.5 percent) higher.21

    Revenues

    Under the rules that govern CBO’s baseline, all provisions of the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 (the 2010 tax act, P.L. 111-312) expire by January 2013. Those expirations will increase revenues by raising individual income tax rates, reducing the child tax credit, eliminating the American Opportunity Tax Credit, raising estate tax rates, lowering the effective exemption amount for the AMT (which took effect at the end of December 2011), and making other changes. If those expiring provisions (and others that are set to expire under current law or that have recently expired) were extended through 2022, total revenues would be significantly lower than they are in the baseline. For example, if the major income tax and estate and gift tax provisions of the 2010 tax act (excluding those related to the exemption amount for the AMT) were extended beyond their expiration dates, the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimates that revenues would be lower—and, as a much smaller effect, outlays for refundable tax credits would be higher—by a totalof $2.7 trillion over the 2013–2022 period. 22

    Under that scenario, the effect of reducing the amount of regular income tax that people owed would be partly offset by an increase in the number of taxpayers who would be subject to the AMT. Another policy that could alter revenues involves modifying the AMT. Because the exemption amount and brackets for the AMT are not indexed for inflation (as the parameters of the regular individual income tax are), many more people become subject to the AMT as time goes on. Under current law, that phenomenon will cause the impact of the AMT to increase sharply in coming years. If, instead, the parameters of the AMT were indexed for inflation after 2011 (with no other changes made to the tax code), federal revenues over the next 10 years would be $864 billion lower than the amount in the baseline. The number of taxpayers subject to the AMT will depend on whether the expiring tax provisions in the 2010 tax act remain in effect. If those provisions were extended and the AMT was indexed for inflation, the combination of the two changes would reduce revenues by $931 billion more than the sum of the effects of the two policy alternativesconsidered separately. Thus, the total impact ofextending certain income tax and estate and gift tax
    provisions that are set to expire by January 2013 and indexing the AMT for inflation would be to reduce revenues and increase outlays for refundable tax credits over the 2013–2022 period by a total of $4.5 trillion. The budgetary cost of that alternative would be lower if certain provisions were allowed to expire that wouldotherwise have applied to married couples with annual income of $250,000 or more and single taxpayers with annual income of $200,000 or more.23
    Under the policy of indexing the AMT for inflation and extending the expiring tax provisions except for the specific provisions affecting high-income taxpayers, revenues would be lowerand outlays for refundable credits would be higher by a total of about $3.7 trillion over the 2013–2022 period. That amount is about $0.8 trillion (or 18 percent) less than the $4.5 trillion total reduction in revenues and increase in outlays that would result from indexing the AMT and extending the expiring provisions for all taxpayers. If only the income tax provisions are taken into account—thus excluding the $0.4 trillion in revenue loss in both cases from extending the estate and gift tax provisions—the budgetary costs from indexing the AMT and extending the expiring provisions would be about 20 percent less as a result of allowing those provisions affecting high-income taxpayers to expire. Other tax provisions, beyond the income tax and estate and gift tax provisions, have already expired (at the end of December 2011) or are scheduled to expire in the next 10 years. If all of them (other than the payroll tax reduction of 2011 and 2012) were extended, revenues would be lower and outlays for refundable tax credits would be higher than the amounts in the baseline by $890 billion over the 2013–2022 period, JCT and CBO estimate. Therefore, the total impact of extending all expiring tax provisions (again, other than the payroll tax reduction) for all taxpayers would be to reduce revenues and increase outlays for refundable tax credits over the next decade by $5.4 trillion. Excluding the income tax provisions affecting high-income taxpayers would reduce that amount by about $0.8 trillion.

    An Alternative Fiscal Scenario

    If a combination of those changes to current law was made so as to maintain major policies that have been in place for a number of years, far larger deficits and much greater debt would result than are shown in CBO’s current baseline. Relative to the baseline projections for
    the 2013–2022 period, deficits would rise by a totalof $7.7 trillion (including debt-service costs) to yield cumulative deficits of nearly $10 trillion over the 10-year period if the following policy decisions were made:

    All expiring tax provisions (other than the payroll tax
    reduction), including those that expired at the end of
    December 2011, are extended;

    The AMT is indexed for inflation after 2011 (starting
    from the 2011 exemption amount);

    Medicare’s payment rates for physicians remain
    unchanged from the current amounts; and

    The automatic spending reductions required by the
    Budget Control Act do not take effect (although
    the original caps on discretionary appropriations in
    that law remain in place).

    Under that scenario, revenues from 2013 to 2022 would average about 18 percent of GDP, which is equal to their 40-year average, and outlays would average about23 percent of GDP, above their 40-year average of 21 percent. Deficits would average about 5 percent of GDP
    over the coming decade; by 2022, the deficit would be equal to 5.5 percent of GDP (see Table 1-6). Debt held by the public would reach about 90 percent of GDP by the end of 2022, the largest share since 1947.

  10. #90
    Senior Member ptgatsby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    That report is from the Congressional Research Service.
    Ah, that explains the numbers and approach. It's still inexcusable wiggle-language, all the worse for the source. The paragraph before that is also laughable: using long run growth numbers to excessively inflate medical costs is poor form.

    The conclusion is fair though, even if dramatized.

    The scope and scale of the required cutbacks is contained in the Op article. I would propose eliminating most foreign bases, and where possible ending subsidization of foreign armed forces, I would also propose ending many of our deductions, and incorporating a value added tax.
    Cut everything and increase taxes?

    Can I assume that the basic conversation will go like this?


    You: We are massively overspending and will go bankrupt. We must cut spending.
    Me: Your solutions are economically suicidal; clawing injections back and raising taxes is bad.
    You: Our growing deficit and upcoming balloon payments will cause a collapse (or otherwise undesirable outcomes)
    Me: Clawback solutions will only exacerbate the exact same issues you want to avoid.
    You: But something needs to be done regardless, and quickly.
    Me: Moderate small changes and efficiency/growth covers most of the gap.
    You: No, lots needs to be done.
    Me: Not really.
    You: Yes.
    Me: No.

    I figure I saved both of us pain.

    I don't disagree with fiscal responsibility, however I do not agree clawbacks and such are viable or desirable, especially in social services and safety nets. I believe that the central problem is political, not financial, where the US inherently embraces bad systems for ideological reasons.

    Funny enough, I just read a report on the Canadian Provincial reports. Apparently every province is on the verge of collapse... I could swear I read the same report from the 60s and 70s, through the 80's collapse. I wish these kinds of reports were meaningful; predictive, I mean. Hell, even the rating agencies don't do their job at the Muni level. *shrug*

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