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Posted at 3:17 PM ET, 02/14/2011

What the press isn't telling you about Obama's budget

By Matt Miller

The amazing thing about the budget debate is how easily mainstream press coverage is steered toward the conversation our two major political parties prefer to have, as opposed to the debate the country needs. This week, the stenographic coverage our "leaders" count on features the administration's proposed $1.1 trillion in ten years deficit reduction versus the House Republicans' battles to shave up to $100 billion from this year's spending. Any independent look at what the parties are proposing would instead result in screaming headlines like these:

-ADMINISTRATION PROPOSES 1 PERCENT CUT IN PLANNED SPENDING OVER NEXT TEN YEARS: Plan to Trim $400 billion of $45 Trillion Weirdly Touted By President As "Walking The Walk On Fiscal Discipline"

-OBAMA CALLS FOR $7.2 TRILLION IN NEW BORROWING OVER NEXT DECADE: By 2021, Would Double National Debt Accumulated Between Nation's Founding and 2010

-PUNY DEFENSE TRIMS HYPED AS BIG DEAL: Gates Plan to Shave 2 Percent Off Next $3.5 Trillion in Pentagon Spending Somehow Mutes Critics; U.S. To Still Spend Vastly More On Arms Than Rest Of World Combined

-WHITE HOUSE TOUTS EDUCATION "INVESTMENTS" THAT ACCOMPLISH LITTLE COMPARED TO NEED: "Expanded" Pell Grants Cover Much Smaller Portion of Tuition Than They Did in 1970s; Tiny 'Race To The Top' Sequel Assures 'Small Ball' On Schools for Rest of President's Term

-FEDERAL INTEREST EXPENSE TO QUADRUPLE FROM $207 BILLION TO $844 BILLION A DECADE FROM NOW; Amount Diverted to Unproductive Use Could Have Funded Serious American Renewal Agenda

-ROSY SCENARIO LETS WHITE HOUSE CLAIM DEFICIT WILL STABILIZE AT 3 PERCENT OF GDP; Administration's Growth Assumptions Exceed Private Forecasters', But Make Numbers Work Politically

Of course, the charades are bipartisan:

-GOP DEBT KING STILL CALLING KETTLE BLACK: Paul Ryan, Whose 'Roadmap' Doesn't Balance Budget for Decades and Adds $62 Trillion In Debt, Still Dubbed "Fiscal Conservative" As He Slams Obama For Spending, Debt

-DEFICIT REVEALED AS MOSTLY REVENUE, NOT SPENDING PROBLEM; Obama Plan to Run Government at 22.7 Percent Of GDP vs. Reagan's 22 Percent, But With Older Population Confirms That Taxes Must Rise To Balance Budget As Boomers Age

More on how we should think about all this in my column Wednesday. For now, the question is what kind of new third political force would be needed to make these kinds of headlines the ones the press actually gives us, instead of abetting the bipartisan sideshows that just aren't serious about the challenges we face.

By Matt Miller  | February 14, 2011; 3:17 PM ET
Categories:  Miller  | Tags:  Matt Miller  
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Next: What's the point of reducing the deficit now, anyway?

Comments

It's a scam. Unfortunately, only the Republicans are likely to be held accountable for fiscal discipline, so the Democrats have entirely forfeited the field. Obama's budget is an embarrassment. He's counting on an economic recovery (no fault of his own, of course) and short memories by the electorate.

We need serious people tackling our federal spending addiction. That means both entitlements and defense are not only on the table, they're the first things to face major slashing cuts.

But those cowards won't do it. Obama, we deserve better than you.

Posted by: diesel_skins_ | February 14, 2011 3:36 PM | Report abuse

What a wonderful article. Keep them coming. We're all tired of the liars and deceivers in Washington !!!!

Posted by: richard36 | February 14, 2011 3:37 PM | Report abuse

I agree with you.

Both sides need to get away from the political combat and into 'how can we address our issues' mode.

Posted by: RichRable | February 14, 2011 3:41 PM | Report abuse

If government spending has become vital to our economy, shouldn't that be considered a problem?

Posted by: thelaw1 | February 14, 2011 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Somehow;

Higher Taxes = Savings
Lower Taxes = Spending
Spending = Investment
and, deficits as far as the eye can see is somehow good. Will we just go broker slower?

Posted by: kitchendragon50 | February 14, 2011 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Excellent column. So good, in fact that WaPo, as Iran, will not allow people to vote on these contributions by the people.

Posted by: llrllr | February 14, 2011 3:49 PM | Report abuse

yes you're right all of this budget battle is over a very small part of a very small part of the overall budget. We do need to get a handle on entitlements and defense. I say cut defense maybe 10%, lift the Social Security limit from 106K to infinity and make billionaires pay SS tax on their entire incomes - GREAT we just fixed SS? Whoopie!! Then raise the highest income rate to 50% for people making over a few million per annum, keep it at Clinton's 39% levels for 0.25 million to 2 million. Yea we just saved about 100 billion a year! Wow and the repubs don't have to cut anything that we need like new roads, investment in science, health care! etc.

I I just love how the repubs want us non-millionaires to take cuts while the richest 1% gets a tax cut and is paying less than we are as a percentage of their income. They just had a revolution in Egypt because of the same thing - incredible wealth inequality, no wonder the CPAC goons mentioned nothing about Egypt. AS soon as all the bubba red-neck voters wake up and realize that its the repubs that screw them over (yea I know good luck with that they liove their foxnews drip) - giving it all to the rich, LOOK OUT

Posted by: atomictreefrog | February 14, 2011 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Excellent column. So good, in fact that WaPo, as Iran, will not allow people to vote on these contributions by the people.

====
I thought you had an elected government?

Posted by: sr31 | February 14, 2011 3:52 PM | Report abuse

I am just here shaking my head, squinting my eyes, still trying to understand this. The country is in trouble for spending to much, so the answer is to spend more?

Posted by: shelter101 | February 14, 2011 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Nice article, Miller. You'll probably be fired from the Center for American Progress for writing it, but I appreciate your objectivity. How about writing an article explaining to your readers what would happen to both parties' long term debt estimates if the U.S. dollar ever loses its reserve currency status? How much would we be paying in interest payments if that were to happen? What is the likelihood of that happening?

Posted by: Andy112 | February 14, 2011 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Why cant we just return spending to 2008 and hold it there for a while. No adjusting for anything. A firm #. Life was not so bad in 2008, but I guess obama's union goons wouldnt be able to get theirs.

Posted by: j751 | February 14, 2011 4:01 PM | Report abuse

All worthwhile headlines that cut through the crap, although the last one strikes me as a bit perverse. The idea that a mostly stable working population can fund an expanding retired population obviously doesn't work without tax increases, but the idea that the next couple of generations should pay for the baby boomers is what seems twisted.

If these tax increases were necessary, then why didn't they happen 15-20 years ago when boomers were in their working primes? We knew even then that the country lacked the money to pay for boomers' retirements. Ross Perot held up dozens of charts and graphs showing us exactly what the problem was. Did boomers listen and elect someone who would make the necessary changes to fix the budget for their retirement? Nope. Instead, boomers put a couple of presidents in place (Clinton and Bush) who dropped interest rates to historic lows, spurring the dotcom and housing bubbles and their subsequent collapses within the span of a decade, so that they could keep refinancing their homes to take out extra loans to pay for that vacation down to Cabo San Lucas or for the down payment on a second home.

Instead of saving and instead of electing politicians who would do the same on their behalf, boomers and their elected twits borrowed and spent, and now their children and grandchildren are supposed to pay off this debt?

I guess this goes along with the image that boomers have been labeled with for decades: selfish.

Posted by: blert | February 14, 2011 4:01 PM | Report abuse


WHO is Matt Miller?

The Washington Post gets thinner and goofier every day, going for broke as it sinks, apparently.

But the new guys, like Miller and THiessen and Rubin...do they work for 12/ price or free for the 'cause' or what?

Posted by: whistling | February 14, 2011 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Ah yes, another Obama hater, masquerading as a reporter with supposedly something to say.

Well Mr. Miller, for starters how about telling people it is not "Obama's budget"? Start with your supposedly strict reading of the US Constitution, the part that says all revenue measures must originate in the House. In short the President's budget is a proposal to the Congress, a request if you will. Start with Mr. Boehner, because it is really going to be his proposal that gets enacted.

Second Mr. Miller, supposedly 60% of the US GNP is financial products.Passive income generation to you that is. Great for rich folks (super rich that is) does squat for the rest of the country. Are we really going to balance a budget by throwing money at the defense organizations while taking most of the revenue to pay for it? Do we really need two global wars so defense industry stockholders continue to reap wealth? Or maybe you think that cutting a few minorities off public aid and stiffing a few school districts will do it.

Please, tell us what you would propose.

Posted by: RFM5 | February 14, 2011 4:05 PM | Report abuse

It is hard to believe anyone in Washington.
They get theirs and we get anything left over including the debt. Congress is suppose to keep the President honest. It no longer works that way.

Posted by: gone2dabeachgmailcom | February 14, 2011 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Freezing at 2008 is the answer? The deficit in 2008 was $459 billion. The tax cuts in place in 2008 have been extended (and amplified for stimulus purposes). Things were not bad in 2008? Is amnesia pandemic?

Posted by: cywood | February 14, 2011 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Great article, thank you very much for expanding this point of view. I personally am sick and tired of bipartisan politicking. I expect my government, once the election process (including partisan politics)is over, to sit down and work together solving the peoples business. not wasting time on hidden agendas. Shame on we the people for going along with such a miserable status quo!

Posted by: mayagrafix | February 14, 2011 4:10 PM | Report abuse

C'mon, Matt.

The Washington Post is one of the nation's most important papers, certainly a part of the mainstream media. And here you are telling your readers what the mainstream media is not telling us. But you ARE the mainstream media.

I think you're a bit confused.

Posted by: marik7 | February 14, 2011 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Yes, well, the real scam is that half (5% gdp) of the current deficit (10% gdp) is attributable to the Great Recession, so the real imperative is to right THAT ship before doing anything else, and ANYTHING that prolongs THAT misery, by cutting demand, raising unemployment, etc, will only make matters WORSE. All these "deficit hawks" in Congress who complain that "the stimulus didn't do anything!" because unemployment is still at 9% (official numbers) are failing to take into account that those numbers would almost certainly be FAR WORSE without it. The Republicans and "Tea Partiers" are delusional on the deficit: the real proximate danger is not a replay of Greece here in the US, but a replay of the early 1930s.

The biggest scam of all is that NOTHING has been done to address the root causes of the crisis itself, and there is every reason to believe that, failing serious FIRE sector reforms (as well as forcing the banks to take appropriate haircuts on their toxic assets), there will in fact be a catastrophic double dip that puts off any recovery indefinitely. Then no amount of budget cutting will save us from drowning in a sea of red ink, as wages and tax revenues further plummet.

Posted by: henrygeorge | February 14, 2011 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Liberals depend on an electorate that buys into their tax and spend ideology. Only when voters do over and over what they did last November- vote the rascals out- will the US resolve its debt and deficit problems. As long as the average voter holds out his hand palm up to liberal politicians, the US will skate at the edge of financial disaster. Liberal politicians regard themselves as Santa Claus- with gifts paid for by others.

Posted by: mhr614 | February 14, 2011 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Liberals depend on an electorate that buys into their tax and spend ideology. Only when voters do over and over what they did last November- vote the rascals out- will the US resolve its debt and deficit problems. As long as the average voter holds out his hand palm up to liberal politicians, the US will skate at the edge of financial disaster. Liberal politicians regard themselves as Santa Claus- with gifts paid for by others.

Posted by: mhr614 | February 14, 2011 4:21 PM | Report abuse

It's easy for armchair quarterbacks like Matt Miller to sit on his big fat duff and criticize everybody!

If talk show blabbermouths and other members of the chattering class are so convinced they're so full of wisdom and know everything better, why don't they get off their big, fat, overpaid a'sses and run for office and propose legislation to fix the fiscal mess we're in.

Blah, blah, blah!!! Give it a break, man! Talk is cheap, words are plentiful, but deeds are precious!

I'm sick and tired of hear all the criticism from the chattering class!

Instead of hot air and words let's see some action!

Posted by: montana123 | February 14, 2011 4:26 PM | Report abuse

The real problem with budget cuts is that we the people are all serious until it effects us. We all want cuts, cuts and more cuts until the ax is taken to something we need or want or proclaim we are entitled to it, (We, I) earned it. Yeah some serious conversation is coming from the republicans, Rep. Paul Ryan, budget conservative, add $65 trillion to the debt and call me conservative. What a joke, add $65 trillion to the debt, thats really being a fiscal conservative. My fellow americans, president Obama is driving up our debt and I have the solution to fix our problems. I, Rep.Paul want to add $65 trillion to the debt to reduce the debt, kind of, well, not really, alright, maybe not all, ok my people? Wake up people, both parties are full of_______..How can adding $65 trillion to ther debt be called fiscal conservative? I know how, join the republican party and get dumbed down and watch fox and that would make sense to you after awhile...$65 trillion, pocket change..What a joke...

Posted by: Realistic5 | February 14, 2011 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Or...

SAME OLD SAME OLD:
Poor get slammed as rich reap benefits

or..

FEAR THE DEMS DEBTS BUT NOT OURS

or

LESS IS MORE: Cutting taxes lowers debt.

or

THINK YOU'RE HUNGRY NOW: just wait until we take away your meager support, whiners.

or

KIDS: THEY"RE BETTER OFF STUPID AND HUNGRY AS LONG AS THERE"S CASH IN MY PERSONAL POCKET TODAY!

Posted by: josh13 | February 14, 2011 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Beautiful, but it needs a line about how without entitlement reform we will be buried.

It's time to get serious and put everything on the table folks. Cuts to discretionary spending, *and* entitlements, *and* defense alongside closing ending corporate subsidies and tax loopholes and (gasp!) some modest tax increases.

We do this or our country goes belly-up. Please, please, let's not turn this into a partisan food fight. Every American needs to dig into this and really understand the scope of the problem.

Posted by: Nissl | February 14, 2011 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Why do people still comment on "entitlements" (Social Security and Medicare) as if they're part of the budget or contributing to the debt? Neither SS nor Medicare are part of the budget.

These are two self-financed programs, paid for by those who participate. Some younger people believe they will never see any benefits from SS, but they have been led to believe that by those who wish to cut even more from those programs to finance more government spending, as Obama did for his health care fiasco, stealing billions from those programs to make his health care appear more acceptable.

The Republicans want to eliminate SS entirely because business has to pay 7 percent for each worker and they want that 7 percent to be profit instead. So more profit for them if SS is eliminated.

Why doesn't our idiot media explain this? Don't they know? Who are they protecting?

Posted by: William18 | February 14, 2011 4:47 PM | Report abuse

This is the core flaw of democracy. The masses (both rich and poor) discover that they can vote themselves money from the public fund until the fund collapses. The gravy train is driving off the cliff and nobody wants to get off and walk, so they vote/campaign to keep the party going with debt. Where are the adults!

Democracy can only work where almost everybody is motivated to contribute something that people want/need. So the key to success is maintaining individual motivation to contribute. Humans need motivation...some are motivated to succeed, some are motivated to avoid hardship. So the government's job is to support fair(lawful) flow of both forms of motivation. Let us succeed and let us fail. Both are motivating and good for society and humans. Don't motivate us to vote ourselves a free ride off the cliff.

Posted by: AverageJoe61 | February 14, 2011 5:02 PM | Report abuse

great article. our country is flat broke but somehow we manage to keep 50 military installations open in GERMANY. dont fret, the federal reserve will print us into the stoneage. the great american empire has no clothes.

http://nakedempire.wordpress.com/

Posted by: nakedempire | February 14, 2011 5:12 PM | Report abuse

A name for a 3rd party? ... How about the Misty Eyed Egyptians? ..... Costs of US health care, many many tears.... bankrupting many, many generations.

Posted by: deepthroat21 | February 14, 2011 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Typical liberal claptrap. Look at all the money we will save in 10 years, NUTS to that, Lets have big cuts each of the ten years. His idea of saving is like the wife that buys an $80.00 dress she really doesn't need, on sale for 50 bucks a 30 dollar savings. Hubby sees it and the wife says, I saved 30 dollars. Husband says if you didn't buy it, you would have saved 50 dollars. Obama and the scummy leftists, just can't give up the idea that their controlling the spending gives them power. Power they abuse on a daily basis

Posted by: nomobarry | February 14, 2011 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Of the two parties as far as deficit reduction and cutting down the size of the government is concerned can only observe that the Republicans are far more serious about dealing with the deficit than the Democrats and the Obama administration which has submitted the budget from cloud cuckoo land...

Posted by: werehawk | February 14, 2011 5:35 PM | Report abuse

My advice is don't even bother reading this crap. Go to the NYTimes and read sensible economics from Krugman. It's really not that complicated. Hard, yes. Complicated, no.

Posted by: DrJ2 | February 14, 2011 5:46 PM | Report abuse

In the go-go 80s at the height of the Cold War, Ronald Reagan that great saint of "fiscal conservatism" (haha) was running deficits of 4.1% gdp. We are now at 10% gdp, but fully HALF of that is attributable to the Great Recession! Not to mention senseless wars in Afghanistan, thousands of US military bases all over the world, provocative military exercises in the China Sea, etc etc.

And so, according to our deficit hawks, the solution is...? Why of course, cut off at the knees any and all government spending that is creating any actual demand in the economy and thereby helping prevent wages and tax revenues from sinking even faster (and thereby also ballooning the deficit even bigger). All while doling out big fat tax cuts to the very wealthy, so they can maybe speculate on foreign currency (the ongoing threat of which is already creating a major brewing confrontation with all our trade partners in emerging economies).

Brilliant! That'll teach 'em!

The hallucinatory paranoiac ultra rightwing that seems to have a virtual monopoly on US daytime radio and tv is in the habit of insisting that "Obama hates America and is trying to engineer our downfall" by not becoming enough of a "deficit hawk" as they pride themselves on being. But meanwhile, more rational people wonder whether those rightwing economists (eg Feldstein) who actually promote this kind of insanity are not themselves plotting the kind of deflationary "creative destruction" that produced fascism in 1930s Europe and breadlines in America.

Posted by: henrygeorge | February 14, 2011 5:46 PM | Report abuse

"Why do people still comment on "entitlements" (Social Security and Medicare) as if they're part of the budget or contributing to the debt? Neither SS nor Medicare are part of the budget.

These are two self-financed programs, paid for by those who participate."

NOT TRUE. Both programs are now running cash deficits and need borrowing to fund current obligations. This only gets worse as the years continue. They are certainly part of a unified budget, which is the only thing that REALLY counts. Going fund by fund is good for management purposes, but the debt is a function of all borrowing.

Posted by: RBCrook | February 14, 2011 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Where are the cuts in Foreign Wars of Republican Adventure we can't afford?

You know, like Iraq and Afghanistan.

Two places that our actual enemy, al-Qaeda, left HALF A DECADE AGO.

"Countries" that we spend American blood, taxes, and tears on ... only to have Red China and Russia get cheap resources from them.

Let the Chinese and Russians send their own army and navy there, instead of ours.

...

Mr. Speaker - TEAR DOWN THESE WARS WE CAN'T AFFORD. REAL DEFICIT CUTTING - not fake cosmetic tanning booth ones!

Posted by: WillSeattle | February 14, 2011 6:31 PM | Report abuse

It is very clear now Obama doesn't care for the poor or the middle class or to be reelected ( he won't). The only think that matter to him is to please corporations because very soon he will be working for them.

Posted by: rappahanock | February 14, 2011 6:39 PM | Report abuse

By the way ...

Where are those 500,000 American jobs for American citizens for each month since the Republics have been elected?

That's almost 2,000,000 US jobs you owe us.

...

No, H1-B visa jobs for foreigners don't count.

No, Illegal workers hired by Republic CEOs don't count.

American jobs.

In America.

Not in your comrades countries of Red China and India, Republics - in AMERICA.

Posted by: WillSeattle | February 14, 2011 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Love your article! Keep the truth coming! Publishing obvious facts may lead to accountability and realistic, consequential solutions from one or both parties. Instead of appeal-to-base pandering, while actually not doing much.

Posted by: bobbi151 | February 14, 2011 6:47 PM | Report abuse

"Ah yes, another Obama hater,..."

==========================================
Cut the "hater" crap!. It's the new "racist" for the left-wing political bloggers. "Disagreeing" with Obama's policies doesn't even come close to "hating".

Posted by: bethg1841 | February 14, 2011 6:54 PM | Report abuse

1) Time to cut/drastically renegotiate entitlements (which SUCKS, 'cause I'm about to retire . . . . greeeaaattt!).
2) Time to cut defense significantly.
3) Time to raise taxes. No spending cut plan other than those so draconian that they will lead to revolution (!--gee, think that'll be fun???) will work to significantly reduce, let alone eliminate, the federal deficit WITHOUT tax increases.

This is a grim prescription, I know. And of course the details would be the subject of a lot of negotiation. But anything less in scope and rigor is not just inadequate, but cowardly.

Posted by: post_reader_in_wv | February 14, 2011 7:12 PM | Report abuse

You should win a Pulizter for this piece of writing.

Posted by: SwellLevel5 | February 14, 2011 7:16 PM | Report abuse

"Ah yes, another Obama hater,..."

==========================================
Cut the "hater" crap!. It's the new "racist" for the left-wing political bloggers. "Disagreeing" with Obama's policies doesn't even come close to "hating".

Posted by: bethg1841 | February 14, 2011 7:18 PM | Report abuse

It doesn't matter. When the States start going belly up, what are they going to do then?

Posted by: gfhoward258 | February 14, 2011 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Democrat Budget Deficit 2012 $1.6 trillion
Republican Budget deficit 2012 $1.5 Trillion

OMG! The sky is falling and the terrorist are walking down my street. Increase defense spending now to protect me from the terrrooorists. My God, where's the military?

Posted by: Maddogg | February 14, 2011 7:43 PM | Report abuse

A new "Defense Tax" is in order. If the pols what to play war they need to implement a specific tax to pay for their games.

Posted by: Maddogg | February 14, 2011 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Breaking News Now

Alert: US Government broken and unable to be repaired. Collapse imminent.

Posted by: Maddogg | February 14, 2011 7:53 PM | Report abuse

what product could we possibly sell to bring down the debt. ? thinking ....OIL

Posted by: jmounday | February 14, 2011 8:21 PM | Report abuse

"Why do people still comment on "entitlements" (Social Security and Medicare) as if they're part of the budget or contributing to the debt? Neither SS nor Medicare are part of the budget.

These are two self-financed programs, paid for by those who participate."

NOT TRUE. Both programs are now running cash deficits and need borrowing to fund current obligations. This only gets worse as the years continue. They are certainly part of a unified budget, which is the only thing that REALLY counts. Going fund by fund is good for management purposes, but the debt is a function of all borrowing.

Posted by: RBCrook | February 14, 2011 8:35 PM | Report abuse

The republicans need to stop focusing on individual programs and demand across the board cuts. 10% for entitlements, 17% for the military, 12.5% for everything else.

Get our troupes out of the middle east now. Our mission there is a joke.

Anything less than the above is a sellout.

Posted by: phrogger | February 14, 2011 9:50 PM | Report abuse

A refreshing article that likely will be torn apart by partisan politics. It really seems that we are past the point where we need a third party and are at the point where we need a man on a white horse.

Posted by: zatts | February 14, 2011 10:26 PM | Report abuse

A refreshingly lucid article. Undoubtly it will be torn apart by partisan politics. It seems to me that there is little chance for a sensible third party and we are rapidly approaching the point where we need the arrival of a man on a white horse.

Posted by: zatts | February 14, 2011 10:32 PM | Report abuse

"Why do people still comment on "entitlements" (Social Security and Medicare) as if they're part of the budget or contributing to the debt? Neither SS nor Medicare are part of the budget.

These are two self-financed programs, paid for by those who participate."

NOT TRUE. Both programs are now running cash deficits and need borrowing to fund current obligations. This only gets worse as the years continue. They are certainly part of a unified budget, which is the only thing that REALLY counts. Going fund by fund is good for management purposes, but the debt is a function of all borrowing.

Posted by: RBCrook |

================
The projections of when Social Security/Medicare will be in trouble are as varied as everyone who speaks about it. Most estimates are that even with the current contributions, the systems will be able to function for decades and they are not running deficits now. And, if we could get our people back to work so they could pay into the system, it would last much longer. Simply increasing the ceiling for contributions to $250K of income would solve the problem. But...that would mean business would have to pay even more "payroll taxes" and that's what's driving this discussion...who else? The big crybabies. Why do people keep confusing the national debt with budget deficit. We can't do a lot about the national debt but we can start doing something about the budget deficit....the government needs to spend no more than it takes in...period.

Posted by: William18 | February 14, 2011 10:50 PM | Report abuse

A one dollar in tax increases for every dollar cut from the budget would significantly reduce the deficit in a matter of a few years.

Posted by: ginabw | February 15, 2011 3:07 AM | Report abuse

Why cant we just return spending to 2008 and hold it there for a while. No adjusting for anything. A firm #. Life was not so bad in 2008, but I guess obama's union goons wouldnt be able to get theirs.

Posted by: j751

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

This is the problem with Americans in general; my dog has stronger long term memory than the average American. The 80's were an awful decade and yet they are revered now; and just a short 3 years later people are now pining for the days of our economic collapse as if it wasn't all that bad.......

WOW

Posted by: theobserver4 | February 15, 2011 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Good point. Unfortunately, today's media is more about spin that substance. Remember the health care debate. How can Obama communicate... what can the DEMS do.... why can't the GOP compromise... etc etc. We had to pass it to see what was in it.

I fear in this over hyped communication world of the cable and the internet there is little reality. Remember real concerns over wages and prices (Nixon years); inflation and unemployment (Carter and Reagan years); deficit spending (Clinton years). And real actions. Today its how can we convince people that 10% unemployment and deficit spending is OK and that any actions are useless or partisan.

Posted by: flyover22 | February 15, 2011 9:21 AM | Report abuse

RE: What the press isn't telling you- Part II

"Justice Department Resists Releasing
Records That Could Shed Light on
Whether Justice Kagan Needs to Recuse
Herself from Health Care Case."

http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/justice-department-resists-releasing-rec

Hey, where is a watergate-style investigative reporter keeping those in power in check when the American People need one?

Posted by: skillssss | February 15, 2011 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Our current situation derives from the refusal of the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes and their ability to buy political influence through our corrupt electoral system. If the rich paid a portion of every dollar they earn into FICA, as the working poor must, and top tax rates were, say, 45%, we would be on much better footing as a nation and, trust me, the rich would remain rich.

Posted by: dnahatch1 | February 15, 2011 10:17 AM | Report abuse

First off he could care less about any of his proposals because he knows most of them are gonna be shot down which is good because a vast majority of them will hurt the people instead of helping them and he knows he is on the way out and will not get back in again.HeaTING ASSISTANCE FOR THE POOR Ad disabled who cannot afoordt the outragoues prices of heating fuels,wood,coal propane electric etc so what are they suppose to do,freeze?Pell grants is another much needed proghram that we cannot affordt to cut at all.It allows people who otherwise could never afford it to go to school and learn a specialized trade and fater they complete the courses they are also given names of companys that will hire them.Cuts in medicare and caide is another one we cannot afford to let happen and there really is not one viable reason for it o as well.If they were really serious about getting rid of the national deficit,keeping s.s. going strong and not making cuts to medicaide-care etc all they have to do is to legalize marijuana which is for the most part virtually harmless to use especially when used with the vaporisor method and in cooking.It does not harm the body or mind nor does it cause deseases which alcacghol and tobabco products do.Tax revenues would erase the deficit within 2 years tops and would also keep s.s. and other vital programs going with no worry's at all.They have the answer,it's safe,it's easily regulated and controlled,all they have to do is to make it a federal mandate legalizing it and all these problems plus a host of others are taken care of easily.Time for this country to step out of the dark ages and into the 21st century

Posted by: charles0390 | February 15, 2011 6:16 PM | Report abuse

First off he could care less about any of his proposals because he knows most of them are gonna be shot down which is good because a vast majority of them will hurt the people instead of helping them and he knows he is on the way out and will not get back in again.HeaTING ASSISTANCE FOR THE POOR Ad disabled who cannot afoordt the outragoues prices of heating fuels,wood,coal propane electric etc so what are they suppose to do,freeze?Pell grants is another much needed proghram that we cannot affordt to cut at all.It allows people who otherwise could never afford it to go to school and learn a specialized trade and fater they complete the courses they are also given names of companys that will hire them.Cuts in medicare and caide is another one we cannot afford to let happen and there really is not one viable reason for it o as well.If they were really serious about getting rid of the national deficit,keeping s.s. going strong and not making cuts to medicaide-care etc all they have to do is to legalize marijuana which is for the most part virtually harmless to use especially when used with the vaporisor method and in cooking.It does not harm the body or mind nor does it cause deseases which alcacghol and tobabco products do.Tax revenues would erase the deficit within 2 years tops and would also keep s.s. and other vital programs going with no worry's at all.They have the answer,it's safe,it's easily regulated and controlled,all they have to do is to make it a federal mandate legalizing it and all these problems plus a host of others are taken care of easily.Time for this country to step out of the dark ages and into the 21st century

Posted by: charles0390 | February 15, 2011 6:17 PM | Report abuse

THIS is why we need to have honest debate instead of these right or left wing "talking points". AND this is why we should all STOP believing everything we hear. If you hear contradictory accounts on the same issue, go to the source...SS/Medicare trustee report in this case. Both programs are in the red and the difference between what comes in as tax receipts from those now working and benefits paid out DOES come from the rest of the budget because the so-called trust fund is just debt. Don't believe me...go to the trustee report...it's on ss's website.

That's beside the point. WE have a responsibility to educate ourselves and not believe what comes over the airwaves as truth. If you're right-leaning in your political views, try to listen...really listen to the other side. If you're left-leaning, do the same. Get outside your comfort zone. If you're a high earner, get out there and find someone trying to get there from "the other side of the tracks". If you're working your way up, get out there and find someone who has already made it and talk...honestly. If we all took time to REALLY understand the other side of the debate, we may all be more willing to find some common ground and come to a compromise.

"Why do people still comment on "entitlements" (Social Security and Medicare) as if they're part of the budget or contributing to the debt? Neither SS nor Medicare are part of the budget.

These are two self-financed programs, paid for by those who participate."

NOT TRUE. Both programs are now running cash deficits and need borrowing to fund current obligations. This only gets worse as the years continue. They are certainly part of a unified budget, which is the only thing that REALLY counts. Going fund by fund is good for management purposes, but the debt is a function of all borrowing.

Posted by: RBCrook |

================
The projections of when Social Security/Medicare will be in trouble are as varied as everyone who speaks about it. Most estimates are that even with the current contributions, the systems will be able to function for decades and they are not running deficits now. And, if we could get our people back to work so they could pay into the system, it would last much longer. Simply increasing the ceiling for contributions to $250K of income would solve the problem. But...that would mean business would have to pay even more "payroll taxes" and that's what's driving this discussion...who else? The big crybabies. Why do people keep confusing the national debt with budget deficit. We can't do a lot about the national debt but we can start doing something about the budget deficit....the government needs to spend no more than it takes in...period.

Posted by: William18

Posted by: MS19721 | February 15, 2011 11:52 PM | Report abuse

There should be a general revenue budget...separate from the payroll tax funded social security budget. They should never have been rolled together to mask deficit spending...thanks Reagan/Greedspan. Look at social security separately...there are very easy fixes for it. It's off the general revenue table. Medicare also has its own tax system...take it off the table...treat it separately. There are fixes for it, as well. Now, look at the general revenue budget...the amount the current military and past obligations for the military and other defense related nonsense is obscene...that includes Homeland Security, the intelligence agencies...VA, retirement pensions, civilian contractors..ad nausem. Now, let's submit a general revenue budget which deals with these budget busting items. Wars and Daddy Warbucks. What Eisenhower warned us about. The Military/Industrial complex..and the banking industry.

Wanna get real about the budget? We need to collect monies from the uber wealthy...400 people in the USA have more income than the bottom 50% of workers combined. Employee pensions are busted and the shortfalls on public employee pensions need to be made up by the states. Why? They were invested in criminal mortgage backed securities which has caused this national and global calamity. Are these criminals in jail? No...some of them are amongst the 400 richest people in the country. Their tax rates? Long term capital gains..15% marginal rate.

American workers need to come together in solidarity and demand an end to this criminality. We've been divided and conquered too long. Wake up!

Don't let the folks who are becoming wealthy 'representing' us, frame the debate and dictate to us. Koch Brothers and Corporate personhood...and The US Chamber of Commerce (who believe outsourcing jobs is good for America...yeah...the American wealthy). Can we put a corporation in prison? Can we execute a corporation? No...but we can go after the people who run the corporations.

Time to bust these large trusts. Teddy Roosevelt, where are you?

Thanks for listening. Pass it on!!

Posted by: homesteading_inthewoods | February 19, 2011 11:21 PM | Report abuse

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