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The cost of compromise

Mark Mardell | 20:51 UK time, Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Protesters by the US Capitol

Washington teeters on the brink. If there is no agreement on a budget by midnight on Friday, the federal government will shut down. While cops and soldiers, air traffic controllers and others deemed essential won't down tools this is serious, at least according to the Obama administration. A senior administration official has told us loans to small businesses and home buyers will stop, which will have an impact on an already fragile housing market. Military and civilian workers won't be paid. The lions at the zoo will be fed (and unlike last time their waste should be collected) but the gates won't open to visitors. National parks will close. This is, of course, the most serious, as I am planning a vacation to one of them next week.

I am just back from the Capitol, and talking to people at a Tea Party rally. Their view might be summed up as "bring it on!" They were chanting "Shut it down!" Several made the point that if non-essential parts of the government shut down, they'd be quite happy. If it's not essential, the view is, then the government shouldn't be doing it anyway.

I suspect there will be a deal. There is too much for both sides to lose in the blame game that would follow. But the strength of the Tea Party has already made it hard for their leadership to compromise, and will make selling any deal tough. President Barack Obama and the Democrats don't have quite the same problem but the cuts he has accepted have already upset supporters.

Compromise is a peculiar business, I reflected as I started reading a book called At the Edge of the Precipice, by Robert Remini, the former historian of the US House of Representatives. It is about the 1850 compromise over slavery. He writes that the man at the centre of this, Henry Clay, "understood the importance of compromise... each side must feel that it has gained something that is essential to its interest as the result of the compromise. To achieve that goal each side must surrender something important to the opposing side. Both sides can then claim victory."

His contention is that compromise prevented an early civil war that the North would have lost, having neither leadership nor material to win at that stage. The argument is that it prevented the splitting of the US into two nations and thus was a good move. All history is hindsight, but I am uncertain about praising an agreement on the grounds that it turned out that it came unstuck later with better results. It was hardly the argument at the time. And compromises depend who is at the table. The compromise was between white gentlemen, while the slaves themselves had no say. Perhaps they might have had some thoughts about the value of compromise.

What's this got to do with today's politics? Simply that like Mr Remini, most Americans admire politicians who can behave with dignity and find a way through a difficult problem, by giving and taking. Bipartisanship is one of the highest ideals of US politics. But many of the politicians might question the morality of this. Enough of them might see the matters of practicality and principle at stake as too important to allow the other side to claim any sort of victory.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.


    What she says - "We have to compromise."

    What she means - "You have to compromise."

  • Comment number 2.

    If you owe money to a bank and can't repay it, I don't think they are going to be very interested is a "compromise" that allows you to borrow even more.

    That really is close to what is at issue here. The US government is living far beyond its means, and a serious effort needs to be underway to close the gap. It simply cannot be done unless some serious cutting of "non-essential" activities gets underway immediately. The Republicans seem to understand this, more or less. Imperfect as their efforts may be, at least they do seem to be trying. The Democrats, on the other hand, seem to think that the US can just keep going back to the banker - the creditor nations of the world - over and over again forever. They seem to think that any cuts in any expenditure, no matter how non-essential it may truly be, is horrible, if not unthinkable. It is not the case of a compromise between two serious, but different proposals; rather, it is a case of the Democrats (with no serious proposal on the table at all) demanding that the Republicans (who have a serious, if flawed, proposal on the table) to "compromise" by scaling back their already too-small cuts to the point of utter triviality.

    It is hard to think of another example demonstrating how utterly dysfunctional the US political system has become.

  • Comment number 3.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 4.

    Bipartisanship, while an ideal, has been out of fashion for some time. Now that the nation has voted for divided government in the midterm election, this is the inevitable result. We'll just have to suffer through it and hope it isn't too bad.

  • Comment number 5.

    "While cops and soldiers, air traffic controllers and others deemed essential won't down tools..."

    Anyone want to place any bets on whether the White House domestic staff are considered "essential"?

    "Military and civilian workers won't be paid."

    While we've never had a military coup in the U.S. and the idea of one seems unthinkable even if the troops' pay is late because Congress dithers, I can't help but wonder what effect it may have on recruitment and re-enlistment rates.

    Congress can't afford a shutdown even if it takes another continuing resolution or two while they continue to negotiate. Too many people are dependent on Federal spending either directly or indirectly for a shutdown not to cause widespread hardship and resentment among voters. I think most people are smart enough to realize both parties will have a share of the blame if no compromise is found.

    President Obama is in the enviable position of being able to stand back and look "presidential" while projecting the image of reasonableness and responsibility by calling on the two sides to compromise while risking little loss of prestige himself if they don't. Enjoy it while you can Mr. President, such moments are few and fleeting in your line of work.

  • Comment number 6.

    I'm glad to see that Mr. Mardell is reading some US history. There are no senators today of the stature of "the great compromiser," I think.

  • Comment number 7.

    re. #2. At 22:14pm on 6th Apr 2011, Stefan Stackhouse wrote:
    If you owe money to a bank and can't repay it, I don't think they are going to be very interested is a "compromise" that allows you to borrow even more.

    That really is close to what is at issue here. The US government is living far beyond its means, and a serious effort needs to be underway to close the gap. It simply cannot be done unless some serious cutting of "non-essential" activities gets underway immediately. The Republicans seem to understand this, more or less. Imperfect as their efforts may be, at least they do seem to be trying. The Democrats, on the other hand, seem to think that the US can just keep going back to the banker - the creditor nations of the world - over and over again forever. They seem to think that any cuts in any expenditure, no matter how non-essential it may truly be, is horrible, if not unthinkable. It is not the case of a compromise between two serious, but different proposals; rather, it is a case of the Democrats (with no serious proposal on the table at all) demanding that the Republicans (who have a serious, if flawed, proposal on the table) to "compromise" by scaling back their already too-small cuts to the point of utter triviality.

    It is hard to think of another example demonstrating how utterly dysfunctional the US political system has become.

    ------------------

    Actually we're all as much to blame as the two political parties or the politicians in Congress. Ask people what should be done to reduce the deficit and the only thing most Americans can agree on is to cut foreign aid--which accounts for less than 1% of the budget. Until we're willing to suck it up and admit that some entitlements will have to be trimmed, some programs eliminated and additional revenue raised nothing will change. No one is going to be happy about the details of any such plan, the best that we can we hope for is that everyone will be complaining equally loudly so we'll know it's a good compromise.

  • Comment number 8.

    The problem with the theory that the Democrats are responsible for the national debt getting out of control is That it went down relative to national income from the end of WWII until 1981, the beginning of Reagan's presidency. The debt shot up throughout the Reagan and Bush (the elder) presidencies, then turned down again during the Clinton years.

    http://zfacts.com/p/318.html

    The reason is that to Reagan, cutting spending applied only to domestic spending.
    We built things like billion-dollar B2 bombers and Seawolf-class submarines (both
    programs fortunately scaled back later), launched the Strategic Defense Initiative, and even reactivated the WWII battleships!

    A case can be made that some of this was necessary, and that it helped bring down the Soviet Union, but nevertheless the debt will never be brought back under control without getting military spending under control.

  • Comment number 9.


    This is an "off-year" event, where the next major US elections will not occur until November of 2012, more than a year and a half away and easily distant enough away for voters to not sharply recall the current budget antics. This is an opportunity for political grandstanding, and political debts could now be repaid with relative impunity.

  • Comment number 10.

    6. At 23:02pm on 6th Apr 2011, GH1618 wrote:
    “I'm glad to see that Mr. Mardell is reading some US history. There are no senators today of the stature of ‘the great compromiser,’ I think.”

    On the other hand one could say that most senators and reps have been compromised.

    President Obama should offer an immediate cut of 30% in the Pentagon budget for 3 years, a freeze on Social Security, Medicare-Medicade for the same time, and a 100% cut in all corporate welfare to be permanent.

    Then watch the so-called government waste cutters scream. Also, effective immediately, a means test to be applied to recipients of Social Security, Medicare and Medicade. Those actually in need would not be harmed, the selfish drones would have to tighten their belts. More screaming from the spoiled entitled.

  • Comment number 11.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 12.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 13.

    Being close to retirement age myself, I must respectively disagree with the suggestion by JMM (10) to means-test Social Security benefits. Social Security is not welfare -- it is insurance against the possibility that one will outlive one's capacity to work. I have paid my SS insurance premium throughout my entire adult life, and to reduce benefits because I have managed to save something on my own would be a breach of faith.

    If you have insurance on your house or car, and they are damaged, do you think the insurance company should say you can afford to pay for repairs yourself?

    I recognize that adjustments need to be made to SS to keep it solvent as baby boomers retire, but fundamental changes in the way it works are off the table, in my opinion.

  • Comment number 14.

    @ #10 Jimm

    The GOP backed budget includes a massive cut to Medicade
    This isn't just a battle about money, it's about the core beliefs of GOP and Democrats

    On the GOP hit list

    Medicade and Medicare : Reason it's part of Obamas healthcare reform. Big pharmaceutical and medical insurance companies are some of the GOP's biggest donors.

    EPA: Reason= Clean environment according to the GOP means we are less competitive in a global economy. Why build a factory in the US when you have OSHA the EPA and pesky unions about.

    Amtrak and light rail : The GOP likes big oil, only poor people use mass transit. Republicans drive hummers.

    Public Broadcasting, Education : An uneducated populous is more likely to vote Republican.

    $2 billion from job-training programs (Chinese workers are cheaper anyway)

    $1 billion from the National Institutes of Health (save money on SSI payment if you die early)

    $755 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (ditto)

    Things the GOP isn't cutting
    $20 billion in government giveaways to oil companies
    Bushes tax cut for the ultra wealth that according to the CBO is the #1 cause of increased national debt accounting for %70 in the next ten years.


    Source FOX news(I use the term "news" only as a title)believe it or not!

  • Comment number 15.

    We currently borrow 41 cents of every dollar the government spends. This is not rocket science, you can't borrow & spend your way to prosperity. We have elected
    individuals (both parties & all 3 branches the of government) who just want to kick the can down the road & keep the special interest spending party going. One of these days the dollar will collapse, the government will learn we the taxpayers will
    demand answers. We must stop this SPENDING madness, JUST SAY NO TO SPENDING!!!!

  • Comment number 16.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 17.

    Dear Trollicus,
    if we taxed everyone in America including all the corporations 100% of every penny they made we couldn't to pay for this government... Go to YouTube & watch the VIdeo
    EATING THE RICH.... It's educational.

  • Comment number 18.

    5. Scott0962:

    President Obama is in the enviable position of being able to stand back and look "presidential" while projecting the image of reasonableness and responsibility by calling on the two sides to compromise while risking little loss of prestige himself if they don't.

    ************
    Or he risks appearing ineffective. Again.

    The best comment I've seen has been from Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, who called it the "first serious proposal produced by either party".

    Reminds me a lot of the health care battle, only the roles have reversed.

  • Comment number 19.

    13. At 00:57am on 7th Apr 2011, GH1618
    14. At 00:57am on 7th Apr 2011, Trollicus

    Do you expect to get back every penny you pay for auto insurance, or only what is required should you have an accident? That is insurance. I have paid into SS for years and am nearing retirement myself.

    My other investments, not very large to begin with, were all but wiped out in the recent economic crash, the culprits of which are still at liberty and giving themselves large bonuses. They should lose all of their ill-gotten gains and face trial and possible hard time.

    People who are in real need should have first call on those resources, not those who are well off. The Medicare-Medicade-Obamacare Frankenstein’s monster should be eliminated in favor of a rational single payer national health system with a streamlined administration. Real savings could be had by eliminating unnecessary duplication of bureaucrats, and minimizing corporate profits of the insurance and pharmaceutical companies.

    What is wrong with a tight but not ruinous freeze for 3 to 5 years, or cutting the Pentagon’s budget by 30% and eliminating all corporate welfare and pork for the same period? Yes, there must be a rational assessment of all programs and benefits, we need to get real and do it fast.

    We need to pay off the nation’s debts and everyone who can do so must be prepared to suffer a bit. That used to be called patriotism before it turned into just wearing a flag pin and putting flags and slogans on one’s car.

    I remember a period when the post office was closed on Saturdays, I remember a period of gas rationing [via shortage not coupons-that old I am not], I remember when people did not buy what they didn’t need, and bought economical vehicles, not the biggest gas guzzler they could afford with borrowed money. I still live by those precepts, so I might not suffer as much as the spoiled, selfish drones.

    However, as Ben Franklin said in another time of grave danger, if we don’t hang together we will certainly hang separately.

  • Comment number 20.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 21.

    Obama waits until three days before the cut off date to try and get the two parties together and then has the nerve to blame the Republican's?! Who does he think he's kidding? Why didn't he have this little White House meeting a month ago to give time for debate and actual compromise instead of a meaningless, rushed and slapped together fiasco that was dead on arrival?
    I mean, I'm not a Republican, but I do know that the Republican controlled House passed a budget at least twice, while the Democratically controlled Senate failed to pass a budget even once. What does that say about who is really to blame?

  • Comment number 22.

    Re (21): The electorate is to blame, for giving us divided government. Gridlock is inherent when the two houses of Congress are controlled by different parties, the political mood being what it is these days. As I wrote above, bipartisanship is out of fashion.

  • Comment number 23.

    JMM (19), I do not expect to get everything back that I paid into Social Security. SS is a tax, not an investment. It is a tax on people working today to help provide for people who are retired today. That is a sound model which has worked very well, despite some mismanagement in recent decades, and it must be managed for the long-term health of the system. My position is that I oppose revisionist thinking that would make of SS something other than what is was designed to be, while supporting adjustments necessary to maintain its viability.

  • Comment number 24.

    Latka (15) does not document his figure of 41%, but this chart from The Washington Post puts the deficit at about one-third of total spending:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/budget-2010/

  • Comment number 25.

    to GH1618
    The 41% comes from the Wall Street Journal. Taking the Post's # of 33% isn't a survivable number either. Remember the Social Security Taxes & Medicare Taxes (revenues) are also counted in this calculation to make the deficit look smaller. Wake
    up, there is no SS Trust Fund, the politicians have spent as regular revenue!

  • Comment number 26.

    Personally, I think we need a fourth branch of government made up of accountants and economists - not elected, but appointed for life like the Supreme Court so they'd be above politics.

    These people would craft the budget every year and have the power to put spending caps on all appropriations. They would consult with Congress and the President on increasing taxes and what the spending priorities should be, but if push came to shove they would have the final say on cuts and we WOULD have a proper budget.

    Short of this - or a complete economic collapse - I don't think we ever will.

  • Comment number 27.

    Latka (25), I'm wide awake, thank you. What you are saying is that the difference between 33% and 41% is a matter of looking in greater detail at how the SS monies are handled for accounting purposes. All right, I'm not going to quibble about it. Nevertheless, I find the WP chart helpful in getting the big picture. One can always look in finer and finer detail, if you're a budget wonk.

    Two things are clear: Entitlements dominate the budget, and defense dominates discretionary spending. Defense has been cut again and again, most recently by halting F-22 production at fewer than 200 planes, something I feel is a mistake. Entitlements need work, but this area is the most difficult politically. The whole problem is not as simple as some would make it, in my opinion.

  • Comment number 28.

    This is probably what Latka (25) is referring to: http://www.justfacts.com/news.impactSS.asp

    Note that this appears to have been written by an advocate of privatization. I am not an advocate of privatization. While I am not prepared to dispute this analysis of how Social Security funding works, I do not reach the same conclusions. I offer it here merely to give those interested something more substantial to chew on.

  • Comment number 29.

    #14


    Perfect choice of a screen name.

  • Comment number 30.

    I was a competent hard working Federal employee. I went through a previous shutdown. Earlier there was talk of not allowing me to access my own retirement that was built with my money withheld from my pay until age 70. When I sensed a shutdown was likely inevitable, I quit my job, withdrew and closed my retirement accounts. In my world the Libyan Government isn't the only one that has lost its legitimacy to lead. It's about to get a lot worse.

  • Comment number 31.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110407/ap_on_bi_ge/us_government_shutdown
    An excerpt:
    Military personnel at home and abroad would continue to earn pay, but they wouldn't get paychecks until there was a budget agreement and government operations resumed. Medicare would still pay medical claims for its 48 million recipients, who are mainly seniors but also several million younger people who are permanently disabled or have kidney failure. Payments to doctors, hospitals and other service providers could be delayed, however, should a shutdown continue for several months. Federal courts would be unable to hear cases as clerks, stenographers, bailiffs, security guards and other employees would not be at work.
    ----------
    Wow, this will definitely throw hte country off if our lawmakers can not come to agreement...there's only so long that you can delay Medicare pay to Drs, health care workers, ect before they may refuse to treat that patient if they have numerous patients- they will treat the ones who have insurance outside of medicare first- millions of health care industry jobs depend on medicare...and no more court cases, that's big...and as Scott pointed out, it certainly wouldn't help military recruitment...its basically like the govt. being in limbo...
    --------
    Troll: Medicade and Medicare : Reason it's part of Obamas healthcare reform. Big pharmaceutical and medical insurance companies are some of the GOP's biggest donors.
    --------
    These companies donate just as much money to the Dems, many insurance companies like the mandate because they can raise prices and there is no limit on such...
    --------
    troll: Bushes tax cut for the ultra wealth that according to the CBO is the #1 cause of increased national debt accounting for %70 in the next ten years.
    -------
    Troll, don't you realize that President Obama and Democrats just renewed Bush tax cuts?
    ------
    Mardell: Enough of them might see the matters of practicality and principle at stake as too important to allow the other side to claim any sort of victory.
    -------
    USA is made up of both left leaning, central leaning and right leaning Americans and this great country belongs to us all- not just one side...

    The Rolling Stones sang "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you might get what you need..."

    And I think in this difficult time, more Repubs, Independents and Dems need to be taking Mick Jagger's advice...

  • Comment number 32.

    GH: Defense has been cut again and again, most recently by halting F-22 production at fewer than 200 planes, something I feel is a mistake. Entitlements need work, but this area is the most difficult politically. The whole problem is not as simple as some would make it, in my opinion.
    -----------
    Yes entitlement is exactly what needs work...

    It is dangerous to draw our defense aka national security down too much, especially since China's military is rising up, USA has gave lots of our technology info such as the computer nanochips, cell phones, steel products, ect to China via our jobs/industry being outsourced there and we have no idea how much they are actually spending on military, not to mention the many hackers origins from Asia...

    (no, I don't believe them at face value- there is joker up their sleeve)

    So drawing down our military too much is risking our national security...

  • Comment number 33.


    There are two distinct classes of budgetary cuts, 1) to hardware, which does not vote, and 2) to humans, who do vote. And, if humans are denied vital services due to political posturing and wrangling, then those same humans could return with a vengeance on the next time elections come around. Budget cutters take note!

  • Comment number 34.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 35.

    #13. GH1618
    "Being close to retirement age myself, I must respectively disagree with the suggestion by JMM (10) to means-test Social Security benefits."

    ===============================================================

    what about a system based around a Logans Run model?

  • Comment number 36.

    what are the benefits of this type of system? from the outside it looks like an ineffectual way to govern.

    why elect people into a system where they cant do anything? there must be an up side

  • Comment number 37.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 38.

    I heartily accept the motto, "That government is best which governs least;" and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe, "That government is best which governs not at all"; and when men are prepared for it, that will be The kind of government which they will have. -- Henry David Thoreau in On the Duty of Civil Disobedience

    Some Americans take this to heart.

  • Comment number 39.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 40.

    "... the chief business of the American people is business." -- Calvin Coolidge

    http://www.thisdayinquotes.com/2010/01/business-of-america-is-business.html

  • Comment number 41.

    The problem with setting the budget in America is that every politician has their own fiefdom (or "state" if you prefer) that they need to look after. Each zealously defends any and all spending there as losing government investment looks bad on them. This may not be a big conspiracy of a political party but a number of small conspiracies involving "you defend my state's income and I'll defend yours". It is a method of governance that members of both parties are involved in.

    One day I would like to see a budget designed to provide governmental services to a good level without hugely expensive contractors or administrative staff perpetuating their own jobs by continually reinventing wheels (paperwork proceedures) or government funding going on projects because there is a well connected lobbyist involved. It won't be perfect but it would be a damn sight cheaper than our current farces both here and in America.

  • Comment number 42.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 43.

    One would think the democrats would be able to agree to another $10 billion in spending cuts. They are being dragged kicking and screaming to the cost-cutting table. It's "death panels" all over again.

  • Comment number 44.

    This is all pointless posturing by both parties playing to their supporters in a self perpetuating circus.

    And what are they bickering about? A deficit difference of 0.4% of GDP between their positions!

    It is laughable but so sad.

  • Comment number 45.

    AndreaNY (43), the Democrats say that when they agree to something, the Republicans move the middle.

    http://www.voanews.com/english/news/usa/US-Government-Shutdown-Looms-Amid-Budget-Standoff-119345314.html

  • Comment number 46.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 47.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 48.

    5. GH1618:

    AndreaNY (43), the Democrats say that when they agree to something, the Republicans move the middle.

    ************
    Of course, they do. And you believe them.

    Democrats are talking about everything BUT the large spending reductions that are needed.

  • Comment number 49.

    AndreaNY, can you give just one specific example, with a link to documentation?

  • Comment number 50.

    GH1618, (#40. At 09:41am on 7th Apr 2011)
    ” "... the chief business of the American people is business." -- Calvin Coolidge”

    Were Calvin Coolidge in office, that would be a meaningful criticism. But he is not, and it is not. That quote is from a speech he made January. 17, 1925.

  • Comment number 51.

    Criticism? Who said anything about criticism? And the link I provided makes it clear that I know when it was made.

  • Comment number 52.

    GH1618, (#51. At 11:14am on 7th Apr 2011)

    "... the link I provided makes it clear that I know when it was made."
    Had you dated the quote, as I did, that would be true for those who read the post, but you did not, thereby presenting (rather well, I thought) a misdirection of the focus from the problems of the present.

    Of course, had you done so, the readers would know that the quote, and the post, were eighty odd years out of date.

  • Comment number 53.

    Today bipartizanship seems more than ever to be a myth or a luxury. The poles of politics seem to stretch further apart during periods of international conflict and economical crisis. Both main political tendencies are more stoically convinced that their solution is the only solution. Compromise would be middle of the road, 'ni, ni' as the French label it, neither one nor the other. (France suffered from 30 years of noncommittal compromise, from Mitterand to Chirac).

    Regarding slavery, another observation of Wilde: "the worst slave owners were those who were kind to their slaves", because they were responsible for prolonging the horror for those who most suffered from it.
    Yet you are right. The first concerned should have been allowed to express their opinions too. In the same way as had those who knew the horror of WW1, the simple soldiers and officers who fought in the bloody mire of the trenches, had been allowed to express their opinions regarding the Treaty of Versailles, it might even have defused what amounted to be a 20 year time-bomb.

    Ulrich Graf von Brockdorff-Rantzau, speaking of the clause of unique responsiblity of the war, replied to Clémenceau, Wilson and Lloyd George: "We know how much hate confronts us here. You ask us to admit being the only responsible party for the war; such a confession on my part would be a lie"..

    It was titled in English 'The Treaty of Peace', but it was in fact a 'Treaty of War'.
    From Wikipedia translated from French ' The compromises found couldn't satisfy anyone. The voted treaty is often criticised. "Everything has been quicky arranged, badly arranged by men who had never experienced the atrocious reality of the war". and "From this imposed peace will grow a new hate" and finally, "The treaty doesn't inclued any economical renovation for Europe".

    The impossible debt was dragged out by necessity and incredibly the last payment was finally settled the 3rd October, 2010, almost a century after WW1 begun..

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

    All this may not seem pertinent to the subject, but in a way maybe it is, more than one might realise.

  • Comment number 54.

    Chryses (52), when I provide a link and a quote, It is so that readers who are interested may follow it. You need not be interested. And I don't look to you or anyone else for advice on how to construct my posts.

  • Comment number 55.

    You seem to go in with the preconcieved notion that the Tea Party view is not shared by many of us.

    Why not also address that most americans don't favor special privlidges for public sector unions and that the Dems are beholden to special interests like Labor Unions

  • Comment number 56.

    GH1618, (#49. At 10:54am on 7th Apr 2011)

    ”... just one specific example, with a link to documentation?”

    While you may remain unsatisfied, here is an example, and a reference. “Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) declared on Sunday that his party was unwilling to budge one cent further on the number of cuts it included in its budget proposal, even with a government shutdown looming in less than two weeks.”
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/06/durbin-democratic-spending-cuts-budget_n_831937.html

  • Comment number 57.

    GH1618, (#54. At 11:47am on 7th Apr 2011)

    "Chryses (52), when I provide a link and a quote, It is so that readers who are interested may follow it ..."
    It is obvious that you know how to argue. Whenever I see tricks of the trade, such as the attempt at a Red Herring employed above, I'll bring them to everyone else's attention.

    "... You need not be interested ..."
    True, but irrelevant.

    "... And I don't look to you or anyone else for advice on how to construct my posts."
    Nor need you do so. Just take responsibility for what you post.

  • Comment number 58.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 59.

    Ref# 58 Ktubbys
    "The roots of todays politics is from the philosophies of all the past politicians. Average Americans did not want to become the worlds police or a superpower fighting russia playing politics in south america or going to wars in the vietnam/ middle east but old politicians did."
    ______
    To paraphrase a well known webslinger: With Superpower comes Super-responsibility.

  • Comment number 60.

    'The Obama administration on Wednesday struck a deal with Colombia on a long-stalled free-trade pact, in a move that could shore up a critical U.S. ally in South America and end a stalemate on Capitol Hill over another, much larger trade deal with South Korea.

    News of the deal, which Mr. Obama will discuss with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos in Washington on Thursday, comes at a sensitive time in U.S.-Colombia relations. Mr. Obama avoided the nation on a trip last month to Latin America and, in a blow to the Justice Department, Mr. Santos recently decided to extradite a U.S.-designated drug “kingpin” to Venezuela instead of New York City, where he’s wanted on federal drug charges. (WT)


    (details in The Washington Times)

  • Comment number 61.

    49. GH1618:

    AndreaNY, can you give just one specific example, with a link to documentation?

    **************

    Re: Spending cuts. There is a question not about the "middle" but the middle of which 2 figures.

    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/fact-checker/2011/02/harry_reids_illusory_41_billio.html

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0411/52503.html

  • Comment number 62.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 63.


    I wonder if they'll take a look at the costs we incur on our immigration policies. It was interesting to look at statistics which never seem to come up.

    http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/imm_net_mig-immigration-net-migration

    Or those allowed to carry dual nationality so when the going gets rough they can jump back and forth Or when unemployment and free benefits are used up?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12810828

    We as taxpayers pay companies with perks or reimbursements to hire and support these immigrants while citizens are overlooked.
    Case in point, several Wall Marts here hire those who can hardly speak, read or understand English (our language) and all they seem to do is walk around chatting with others holding an item that needs to be returned to a shelf. Or if someone asks a question they go find a person who speaks English.
    Yes, the bleeding hearts will say they are doing jobs that US citizens will not do. But like our present Obama government, they are out of touch or more likely ignorant and living in the Liberal cube of what is really happening in this country. There is a need for jobs not lip service, promises or manipulated statistic! “Unemployment is down.” Yep… people have used up their benefits and now have nothing, but things are looking up because unemployment is down.

  • Comment number 64.

    Interesting. I didn't think that the Dems would actually choose to shut down the gov. The last time this happened the Repubs held the House and after the shutdown, held it for the next 10 years.

  • Comment number 65.

    As a non-essential US Government employee, I have a personal stake in this business. The real problem is that the "wing nuts" of both parties control the process, and no one wants to give an inch. In general, Republicans never saw a tax cut they didn't like, and Democrats never saw a subsidy for whatever "noble cause" or any other that they didn't like, and the "wing nuts" are jealously defending what they like, and viciously attacking what they don't. In fact, the budget problems in the USA are so big that BOTH spending cuts AND tax increases are needed, and until 535 prima-donna wing nuts get some sense, the impasse will continue.

    Personally, I'd vote to tar and feather all of them!

  • Comment number 66.

    Another earthquake off Japan and new tsunami alert...
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/as_japan_earthquake
    AN excerpt:
    Japan was rattled by a strong aftershock and tsunami warning Thursday night nearly a month after a devastating earthquake and tsunami flattened the northeastern coast. Announcers on Japan's public broadcaster NHK told coastal residents to run to higher ground and away from the shore. Paul Caruso, a geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey in Golden, Colo., said Thursday's quake struck at about the same location and depth as the March 11 quake.
    ----------
    Mexico also had an earthquake earlier today...

    The ring of fire is shifting (From Japan to Thailand to Mexico) and California and Alaska need to be on the lookout for any increased activity...

  • Comment number 67.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 68.

    The cost of compromise
    Mark Mardell | 20:51 UK time, Wednesday, 6 April 2011
    Comments (67)

    Washington teeters on the brink. If there is no agreement on a budget by midnight on Friday, the federal government will shut down.






    This small meerkat certainly hopes so.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    'FROM MY COLD HANDS!'

  • Comment number 69.

    Mark Mardell: "The lions at the zoo will be fed (and unlike last time their waste should be collected) but the gates won't open to visitors."






    I DO hope the gates will be opened just in front of the White House.

  • Comment number 70.

    MM "If it's not essential, the view is, then the government shouldn't be doing it anyway."






    "the rights specifically not granted to the [federal] government belong to the states and the people"


    Somebody told you that Mark, before they paid for your airfare to Washington, D.C.?


    And do you understand now what "WE, the PEOPLE" actually means?




    [no, it does not mean bending over for a member of German Coburg-Gotha family]

  • Comment number 71.

    "Harry Reid warns lawmakers are heading for a shutdown as lawmakers remain in budget impasse."
    ===========================================================
    Hmm. So, it looks like Dingy Harry wants to shut down the gov DESPITE the House being willing to fund it for the remaining part of the year.

  • Comment number 72.

    MM quoting:

    "each side must feel that it has gained something that is essential to its interest as the result of the compromise. To achieve that goal each side must surrender something important to the opposing side. Both sides can then claim victory."








    Does Mubarack Hussein Osama [spelling???!] knows it re Libya?

  • Comment number 73.

    Silent Majority: “Unemployment is down.”
    -----------
    That's what they say, but they don't count any unemployed people who do not register with them, so I think the actual number of unemployment in America is around 20% and I believe the rate of part-time/temporary jobs is around 20% of population...so around 40% do not have good jobs with benefits or no job at all...

    Native Americans are going through a deep spiraling recession, losing many of our good jobs with benefits, many do not have jobs or are only part-time/temporary, prices on food, water and resources are skyrocketing, we are going through three wars, its hard to even find a product made in America besides junk food or guns...and what do we get?

    More immigrants, legal and illegal, than ever before!!!

    It is starting to feel like our country simply does not care about native Americans anymore...
    --------
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_the_United_States
    An excerpt:
    It is further projected that 82% of the increase in population from 2005 to 2050 will be due to immigration. The total population of Hispanic and Latino Americans comprised 50.5 million or 16.3% of the national total in 2010.

  • Comment number 74.

    8. At 23:37pm 6th kwi 2011, GH1618 wrote:
    The problem with the theory that the Democrats are responsible for the national debt getting out of control is That it went down relative to national income from the end of WWII until 1981, the beginning of Reagan's presidency.








    And not with FDR's [ not "the real Roosevelt'] SS crap?

    Which was the beginning of the end of the unafordable socialist 'welfare state'?




    [According to GH1618: 'a typical' PMK crap.]



  • Comment number 75.

    Rblack: In fact, the budget problems in the USA are so big that BOTH spending cuts AND tax increases are needed, and until 535 prima-donna wing nuts get some sense, the impasse will continue.
    --------
    Agreed..but both parties in Congress just passed tax cuts for the corporations and most wealthy Americans, even though Obama told us if we elected him he would not renew it...

    In 2010, it was reported GE made billions and did not pay a cent for taxes...the oil companies made billions, maybe even trillions, do we know how much they paid for taxes?
    very little to none...

    And most of the spending cuts are aimed at Middle class Americans, so Congress is taking down the Middle class little by little until all thats left of America is poor working slaves...basically, they are turning us into Mexico...

    This is what America looks like when Congress is bought out and there is no one representing the native born Americans...

  • Comment number 76.

    As compromise suggestions, why don't they put the lions in the National Parks, which would save on their up keep with no more mucking out to do? It would add a real Safari attraction, justify entrance fees that could be used as direct insurance contributions to OBamacare, covering the odd mauling, etc.
    Or less risky, in principle, why not have payable visiting hours with mad tea-party sessions at the white House between the waste collecting periods?

  • Comment number 77.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 78.

    GH1618 wrote:
    Being close to retirement age myself, I must respectively disagree with the suggestion by JMM (10) to means-test Social Security benefits. Social Security is not welfare -- it is insurance against the possibility that one will outlive one's capacity to work. I have paid my SS insurance premium.






    That SS members should not be remunerated under any circumstances has been already established during the Nurenberg Trial.


    capisce?

  • Comment number 79.

    #67 KTubbys wrote:

    "its probably not them immigrants causing unemployment but the country's general insolvency affecting businesses across the board linked directly with the investment markets dropping like dead cat with very little recovery to bounce back and no future bouncebackability, in fact them immigrants (who are probably nice guys if you tried communicating without resenting and lookin down on them), probably find it harder to find employment than most born and bred in the US and will work harder for little pay"

    As I said: "Yes, the bleeding hearts will say they are doing jobs that US citizens will not do." and any other type of excuse!

    NOTE: The point was that Taxpayers (Government Spending) pays for them to work in this country!!! Whether they are capable or not to do what they are being paid for instead of hiring the American (US) unemployed who want to work!!!
    There are many "Immigrants" who have come here because they accepted our way of life. Others are like leaches, here to suck this country dry and then freely go back to where they came from. And this Liberal frame of mind government is unable to understand this as well as many who elected them.


  • Comment number 80.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 81.

    #77 KTubbys wrote:
    "Lucy you could say mexicans peruvians incas eskimos are all native americans living in north middle and south america and were already here long before european settlers came and decided they were south of their border and can't cross their border. You could also say they gave the natives a brutal crackdown of their lifestyle".

    You might read this, which is pretty basic, but I'll try and add to it:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indigenous_peoples_of_the_Americas

    Before pre-Columbian no one really knows who the inhabitants may have been or what their origin was. Even when remains have been found that predate pre-Columbian and throw a questionable light on established "theory's" they have been stopped from being evaluated.
    And your concept of brutal crackdown of their lifestyle is comical to me! You must live in an Liberal Bubble. The North/South American native tribes where always in conflict with one another over control of resources and areas. Some of the lifestyles, like human sacrifices, rape, pillage and killing of your neighbors where not uncommon. (Sound familiar.....European, Middle Eastern and Asian History) European settlers just expanded from their boarders to the Americas. Funny their respected scholars kept saying the earth was flat and you would sail off the edge if you traveled to far west. History... really fascinating when you look at it through open unbiased eyes.

  • Comment number 82.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 83.

    #80 KTubbys wrote:
    "Old Goat GOP's and disenfranchised T-Party poops think they own the country and the corp's they work for when the country and the corp's own them. If the poops blame the immigrants then they won't blame the perps who bled their country dry of all their wealth and assets and left them in the lurch. The poor poops will blame the poor brown Spanish peón when given their pink slips (while the Bossman outsources their work to India and buys a house in Jamaica and puts his funds in the Caymans)"

    I kind of agree, but without the launching of the Tea Party everything would be "Paid For Grey". The biased media, certainly would not have brought up things that their contributors/advertisers where against. Kind of like some religions, their view or no view at all...your an infidel.
    At least another set of eyes, ears and voice is out there offering corrected views.

  • Comment number 84.

    Considering the democrats failed to even pass a budget last year while they controlled all of congress and the White House they don't have a leg to stand on. If the shutdown happens I think the GOP will drill this point home and come out on top in the PR war this time.

  • Comment number 85.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 86.

    16. At 01:32am 7th Apr 2011, KTubbys wrote:

    If Obama's biggest faults were not closing Guantanamo and implementing a fully workable healthcare system then you can blame the blockers in Congress more

    At least the first step towards a better healthcare system has been taken which is no small feat in America
    ----------------------------------------

    You mean like they have in England? Did you miss this story on the BBC, about the massive wait people have even for the simplest treatments, waits so long that many die? Or is "better healthcare" code for "the weak die early:?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-12964360

    In the US, waiting more than 3 days for a bypass is very unusual.

  • Comment number 87.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 88.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 89.

    Power.. (74), you appear to have fabricated an attribution to me.

    Here's a link to another view of the national debt, which shows that it was approximately constant in inflation-adjusted dollars from the end of WWII to the beginning of Reagan's presidency: http://zfacts.com/p/55.html

  • Comment number 90.

    88. At 00:18am 8th Apr 2011, KTubbys wrote:

    An american lady I know had to have emergency Appendectomy while she was in a yachting competition, her crew left her on a remote island and she nearly died with serious complications. She was airlifted back to USA and had emergency treatment but the insurance company wouldn't cover her even though she had had a policy for 20+ years and she was financially bankrupted as a result
    ---------------------------------------------
    So I know a Canadian provincial premier that came to the US to get an operation because he could not wait the 4 months it would take in Canada and got treated in a matter of a couple of days. I also know an aunt of mine in Canada who was told, at 78, she was too old to get a hip replacement (she was on the list for over 18 months) and she lived the last 18 years of her life in increasing pain. I also know a coworker in Hamilton, ON who tore his ACL (knee ligament) and had to wait 4 months for an MRI. When I tore my Achilles two years earlier, I had the MRI the same day, and the operation the next day. So which would you rather do, doe waiting for a bypass, or get it in 3 days?

  • Comment number 91.

    I work for the government...so I deem all comments from here (that disagree with my political affiliation-lol)

    SUPERFLUOUS!!!!!

    All the GOP worries about is whether they get their bombs..."OMG, Where are My Bombs?"

    ****They DO NOT CARE whether the military gets paid as THEY--THE MILITARY-- WILL NOT GET PAID during a government shutdown.*****

    FOOLS ...abound....here (duhhhhh)

    :)

    (tried to be nice)

  • Comment number 92.

    89. At 00:29am 8th Apr 2011, GH1618 wrote:

    Power.. (74), you appear to have fabricated an attribution to me.

    Here's a link to another view of the national debt, which shows that it was approximately constant in inflation-adjusted dollars from the end of WWII to the beginning of Reagan's presidency: http://zfacts.com/p/55.html
    ------------------------------------------

    What you are missing is that the INCOME as a result of tax revenues doubles during the Reagan years, but SPENDING went up at a far faster rate, with Democrats controlling the Congress. It was the REPUBLICAN Congress under Clinton that brought the deficit into line. But W made the mistake of assuming that a Democrat, and Democrat, would want to hold spending to a reasonable level.

  • Comment number 93.

    Illogical (71), the House passed an extension for only one week, except military.

    http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-04-07/house-passes-one-week-u-s-budget-extension-obama-would-veto.html

    This is just politics-as-usual when we have divided government.

  • Comment number 94.

    Here's a link to the chart comparing the president's budget proposal to the budget passed by Congress, for the Reagan and Bush (the elder) presidencies:

    http://zfacts.com/p/57.html

    Some people always try to blame Congress for the budget, but the fact is that budget proposals originate in the executive branch, and the budget passed by Congress generally follow's the proposal pretty closely. There is always a lot of arguing about small details -- currently Planned Parenthood.

  • Comment number 95.

    91. At 00:45am 8th Apr 2011, Stevenson wrote:

    I work for the government...so I deem all comments from here (that disagree with my political affiliation-lol)

    SUPERFLUOUS!!!!!

    All the GOP worries about is whether they get their bombs..."OMG, Where are My Bombs?"

    ------------------------------------------

    And all Democrats care about is making sure the union dues get paid to their re-election funds and illegal aliens get to vote as often as possible.

  • Comment number 96.

    Since we are talking about debt, and government lets see.....
    Obama requested $53.8 billion dollars in foreign aid in 2010.
    A 9.5 percent increase, Obama wants to double foreign aid.
    This was Obama's request to Congress.
    Under funded State pension funds in the US currently is short by $1 trillion dollars this is for state workers, so now the states are seeking more Federal Aid this was reported in 2008.
    UN budget 13.9 billion, the United States paying 22% or $1.08 billion. The United States pays 26% of UN peacekeeping costs in addition The UN increased the budget 7.5%. Also there are other UN affiliate agencies that get money too beyond the UN budget. UNDP around $6 billion,WFP $6.3 billion,WHO $4.2 billion spent in 2008-09. The UN budget is still not carved in stone, it could increase as much as 39% or so says the UN.

    Did anyone who works for a living get anything close to that???
    In Jan 2010 a Rasmussen poll conducted show 57% of Americans want government spending cuts. 23% Favored a freeze in spending. 12 % wanted to increase spending.
    Bring the soldiers home put them on our borders. Cut all spending, come up with a plan not to screw the future generations of the US. An talk sense, not nonsense of increasing, freeze to figure out the next move if necessary. Take a good hard look at foreign aid, the UN, and all the other draining leeches on the US government. Lastley fire the politicians that support this present insanity. Limit government to a lean efficient one, rather than its bloated, corpulent, porky pig one.

  • Comment number 97.

    rblack, (#65. At 16:46pm 7th Apr 2011)

    "... the budget problems in the USA are so big that BOTH spending cuts AND tax increases are needed, and until 535 prima-donna wing nuts get some sense, the impasse will continue..."
    Correct, and correct.

    "... Personally, I'd vote to tar and feather all of them!"
    LOL! While personally satisfying, that would do little to improve the situation.

  • Comment number 98.

    csgators, (#84. At 21:56pm 7th Apr 2011)

    ”... If the shutdown happens I think the GOP will drill this point home and come out on top in the PR war this time.”
    Perhaps, but they didn’t last time, as I recall. Still, circumstances change cases. We shall see.

  • Comment number 99.

    The issue in America today is we have more government than we can afford.
    Here's another interesting fact… Stephen Moore in the Wall Street Journal this
    week writes:

    More Americans work for the government than work in construction, farming, fishing, forestry, manufacturing, mining and utilities combined. We have moved decisively from a nation of makers to a nation of takers. Nearly half of the $2.2 trillion cost of state and local governments is the $1 trillion-a-year tab for pay and benefits of state and local employees.

  • Comment number 100.

    99. latka:

    I enjoy reading Stephen Moore; however, I wouldn't call government employees "takers". They are more "receivers" (and can you blame them?), and they work for their earnings.

    My beef is with the people who keep hiring them and who fail to negotiate on behalf of taxpayers with them.


 

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