Free Markets, Free People

The Republican Alternative Budget

It can be summed up in one sentence: They still don’t get it.

Tax cuts are great, but they’re not real tax cuts unless there’s a commensurate cut in spending. If there’s no cut in spending, they’re simply taxes which are being deferred. And that is precisely what the Republicans offer in their alternative. Long on tax cuts and long on spending. Their only claim to fame is they don’t spend as much as the Obama budget. Well, you’d have to be insane to spend as much as the Obama budget, but claiming that your plan is better because you spend less isn’t much of a recommendation.

For instance:

Discretionary Spending. The budget gives priority to the Federal Government’s most important obligations, national defense and veterans’ benefits. All other appropriated spending is level-funded for fiscal years 2010-14, and then increased at a moderate rate through 2019. The final allocation of these and other amounts will be determined by the Committee on Appropriations.

As long as we’re running a deficit, we can’t afford “increased spending” even at a “moderate rate”. What part of that can’t these people seem to get through their heads? Of course, that means they have to bring the bad news to the people that spending for government provided goodies isn’t going to go up, and, in fact, may go down. And the people haven’t exactly been kind to those who do so. Talking about it is one thing, but unfortunately actually doing it is detrimental to a politician’s career. So their cowardice is understandable if still unacceptable (given their rhetoric)

Mandatory Spending. Total mandatory spending increases by an average of 3.9 percent per year for the next 10 years. This is slightly slower growth than projected in the Congressional Budget Office baseline and the Obama/Democratic budget. It provides for a sustainable growth rate to assure the viability of these programs in the future.

Here is the budget killer – mandatory spending. And what to the Republicans propose? Growing it at almost 4% a year. The inflation rate is what? Well, even now, it certainly isn’t 4%. And while it may rise, you can’t assume that. So this does precisely what they claim their budget does:

To Control the Nation’s Debts. It halts the borrow-and-spend philosophy that brought about today’s economic problems, and puts a stop to heaping ever-growing debts on future generations.

It does not end the “borrow-and-spend philosophy” at all. It merely slows the rate of borrow-and-spend. The claim is nonsense on a stick.

And to cap it all off, they buy into the premise of some sort of universal or nationalized health care.

To Fulfill the Mission of Health and Retirement Security. The budget reforms the health care marketplace by making quality coverage affordable and accessible for every American regardless of pre-existing health conditions. It reinforces the decision-making of patients and their doctors, not government bureaucrats; and it reforms Medicare and Medicaid to make them sustainable. The budget also advances the cause of strengthening Social Security.

So instead of buttressing and supporting the concept of private health care and less government intrusion, the Republicans again commit to the concept of government involvement, but just not at the level of the Democrats. And they also want us to believe this isn’t going to cost much as well.

Disappointing is a mild word for what I see in their proposals. They’re again Democrat lite, buying into all the programs just claiming theirs doesn’t spend as much, and again proposing tax deferral as “tax cuts”, completely ignoring the need to cut spending to make those deferrals actual and permanent cuts.

No wonder they put it out on April 1st.


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38 Responses to The Republican Alternative Budget

  • Given that the current mess is the result of 25 years of policies in which we increased debt, shifted production to other countries, financed our consumerism through foreign sources (enabling a massive trade deficit), and bought into the ‘wealth illusion’ whereby people thought stock portfolios and property was as good as savings, how do you get out of this by just spending less?  I’m far more sympathetic to you arguments that you realize, I’m very worried about inflation and the potential collapse of the dollar, given the growing debt.  

    The real problem is cultural: we’ve lived on the cheap through debt and consumption (without commensurable production), creating tremendous imbalances.  This will not be fixed so we can go back to the way things were in 2006.  This will cause a massive change in lifestyle.  I’m very willing to question Obama’s approach if given a feasible alternative (I think Sarkozy and Merkel may be on the right track) But other than an ideological crusade against governments and for markets, which is abstract and vague, what alternative would actually work — and what would it accomplish.   If someone could provide that, it would be interesting.

    • Trollin’ trollin’ trollin’
      Through our threads he’s rollin’
      With his ego swollen
      Raw Erb!

      No way to understand him
      I think it’s time you banned him
      Then we’d be free of his BS

      I’m anticipatin’
      More BS he’ll be statin’
      Until he makes us all nauseous

      Tell the lies! Spit ’em out!
      Sling the bull! Suck ’em in!
      Troll some more! Troll ’em in…
      Raw Errrrrrb!

      Tell the lies! Spit ’em out!
      Sling the bull! Suck ’em in!
      Troll some more! Troll ’em in…
      Raw Errrrrrb!

      • Except, of course, you can’t point out any lies, and I make my positions very clear on my blog and here.  Perhaps it’s just easier to dismiss people who may have a different perspective with insults and ridicule.  That way you can protect the ideological orthodoxy and not have to answer hard questions.  (I see that on left leaning blogs too — people don’t like entertaining the possibility different-thinking people may be worth engaging).   However, can you put your creative efforts to thinking about the issue of what kind of alternative might work and deal with the problems?

        • If I may quote myself from a previous thread at (which you never responded to, not that I think you could come up with a coherent response):

          “I’ve extensively blogged about this crisis…”

          Erbie, I put on my boots to slog through those links, and what I found is just more of you running your mouth. You don’t link to external sources. You don’t raise interesting arguments. You don’t do much of anything except put forth some minor fact (”the savings rate has become blah percent”) and then indulge in verbal diarrhea about what you think it means.

          At best your observations are trite. More often, they are the very ideological groupthink you accuse others of having. Sometimes, they’re just incredibly lame and stupid.

          In other words, they are just an extended version of the “I decree it” pattern that Ott Screb has noted about you. You want for the rest of us to play by your weird rules, in which you make an assertion, someone challenges it, and you defend it by referring to more of your own assertions. Repeat, ad infinitum. Then, if someone points out that you’re being dishonest or that some or your assertions are transparently stupid, you whine about being insulted.

          People here are wise to that game. That’s why we go straight to the insult phase. Going through the dreary motions of trying to argue with you is fruitless and everybody here knows that. The only person who gains anything from that is you, as you get to be the poseur and play the part of a smart person generously educating the rest of us.

          We all realize that you’re stupid enough to believe your own bull$hit. But we’re not stupid enough to take it seriously, or to try and play your transparently one-sided game. The fact that you don’t even realize it’s one-sided and useless, while we all do, is further evidence of the incredible depths of your stupidity.

          • Let’s of assertions and insults, Grocky, but no evidence (though I get a lot of feedback very different from yours by people I know and respect greatly).   No one is forcing you to read my comments, and certainly no one is forcing you to respond.  You seem bothered by me, but you aren’t responding to anything of substance, any position of I’ve taken or any argument I’ve posted.  Therefore, I can’t really take you seriously.  Until you actually make an argument or respond to something of substance, you’re just making noise — doing what you accuse me of doing!

          • Oh, noes! Raw Erb doesn’t take me seriously! How will I survive?!?

            I guess it’s only fair, since no one here take you seriously either, Erbie.

            As for being forced to read your stuff, well, since you narcissistically insist on making so many threads about you and your drivel, I have to wade through it whether I like it or not. So now I’m just doing my part to help new readers quickly realize how useless it is to try and “engage” you.

            Of course, no one is forcing you to come here and comment, either. But since you have some weird psycho narcissist thing working, you can’t seem to help it. I’m resigned to the fact that I’m not going to get what I want, which is that you quit contaminating the threads here. Since you get your jollies coming here and pi$$ing other people off.

      • LOL.

        Absolutely beautiful.

    • Quite amusing, really. Scott Erb complaining about someone else being vague and abstract.

  • “They still don’t get it.” – Yep.  And if they haven’t gotten it by now, they never will.

  • Let’s not ignore the increased tax take resulting from lowering the tax rates.

    • That only comes if lowering the tax rates causes economic growth.  That can happen, but won’t necessarily happen.   Also, since clearly there is a limit at what level this can work (otherwise you’d get maximum revenue at 0 taxation, which is of course impossible), what level do you think that is?   I know economists differ on this — where do you think that level is (some economists even say we’re below that level already).

  • That only comes if lowering the tax rates causes economic growth. 

    No, Erb, that always happens. Every. Single. Time.


    (some economists even say we’re below that level already).

    Yes, We all know, I suppose, what Krugman thinks. The connection of Krugman to reality is at best imaginary. I will suggest to you that tipping point, however, will never be found so prevelant are the big government morons such as yourself in our government.

    • No, Erb, that always happens. Every. Single. Time.

      Actually, it will only happen if we’re to the right of the Laffer Curve, and there is no real way of knowing that until we try it… If we’re on the left side of the curve, we’ll take in less. I suspect we’re on the right-side, but like I said, it’s impossible to tell.

      • That’s not quite what the Laffer Curve means.

        Lowering tax rates will increase economic growth.  However, the tax revenue at the new rate and new GDP may or may not be greater than the tax revenue at the old rate and old GDP.

        What Laffer said was that there is a point of maximum return on taxation.

    • You unsubstantiated assertion is noted.    I think you’re dead wrong that tax cuts always cause increases in revenue, but clearly you have your talking point and you’re just going to assert it aggressively.   But, along with most economists, I’m going to remain skeptical.  You need to do more than assert.

      • Erb; I note yo avoided a direct answer.
        How alarmingly typical.

        The fact is, Erb we’ve never been at a point in our existance when all of that was not true, except for the systemic change part… which, alas is the biggest threat and artificially imposed by Obama so as to push us towarde socialism.  (See Harun’s comments)  Other than that, nothing’s different, in reality. Now, that isn’t going to stop Obama from following his agenda of change, but in the end there’s no real reason for it, and many reasons against it.   Of course, please feel free to correct me if you can. But bring facts, or be thought an even bigger fool.


  • Republicans are becomming ever more ludicrous, with their continuous parrot-like squawks of “TAX CUT!, TAX CUT!”.

    I would bet that in moments of intimate passion (probably alone, if their success with the opposite sex is like their success with the voters), instead of crying “Oh baby!” or “Oh G*d!” they scream “Tax Cut, Oh Tax Cut!!”.

  • Why couldn’t we even try keeping spending level? Id be willing to bet the required increases built into the laws would even outpace revenues.

  • There’s been much talk here of “pain avoidance” vis a vis the economy and our continuing effort to borrow and spend our way out of debt.

    I believe we’re seeing pain avoidance with this alternative budget proposal, but in this case it’s political pain avoidance.  The decisions that need to be made right now are unpopular decisions:  deep cuts in spending, the elimination of superfluous government programs (that may be a redundant statement) and letting some major US companies go into bankruptcy. 

    A true fiscally conservative alternative budget would no doubt be the news of the day.  It would undoubtedly reignite cries of “mean-spiritedness” and “think about the children.”  Putting ’em out there like that would surely result in much political pain.  But as with anything that doesn’t kill you I believe we’d see a much stronger party emerge.

    The GOP certainly has nothing to lose at this point.  Why did they go the panty-waist route?  Are there no men in the Republican ranks of congress?  It must be pain avoidance.

  • So, Erb believes that the only true response to 25 years of this tragic, wrong accumulation of debt is to trump that debt, and all the debt that preceded it, with even more debt.

    As I pointed out many threads ago, what this is, this Obama program, is a calling of the bluff, described by Milton Friedman as the protection afforded by “politically acceptable deficits,” which were used by Republicans from Reagan onward to limit the expansion of government by making it difficult to institute more entitlement programs (like nationalized health care). That kept us reasonably stable with the federal government eating about 20% of GDP. Obama’s plan is to run that up to 30 to 35% in the near term.

    The “politically acceptable deficit” paradigm, the bluff, has been called, and we have a socialist of European, if not South American, proportions in the White House.

    Erb is so excited by that (it’s “leadership” in his warped brain) that he can barely contain himself.

  • I am amazed none of you picked up on this one.

    But other than an ideological crusade against governments and for markets, which is abstract and vague, what alternative would actually work — and what would it accomplish. If someone could provide that, it would be interesting.

    The abstract and vauge one would work, Scott. This one line of yours explains in vivid detail why you simply don’t understand how free markets work. Where there’s freedom, the actions of the people under that freedom are not easily predictable, at least in exact detail. THey do tend to prosper, however, far better than when operating under the machine-like perfection of a government that just wants to ‘ehp’ us. Invariably, when government steps back and allows for that freedom… that… as you refer to it… vauge and abstract… to function on it’s own, Adam Smith is proven correct. Oh, that’s right… you aren’t much a fan of Adam Smith, are you? Too much freedom for you, I suppose.

    • Exactly. The multititude of free economic decisions create a viable economy, which forms from and around those free choices and uses resources in the most efficient way. Imposing any sort of top-down order on that is precisely the failing vicious circle of socialism, which first destroys the market mechanics and then points to the destruction as evidence that those market mechanisms don’t work.

      Erb didn’t get tenure at an American university saying things like that, however. He got tenure by saying nothing, and a whole lot of it. And, yes, of course he’ll remind you of how he believes in markets, has all along, and maybe he actually does “believe,” but his very limited brain is attracted to and eventually glued to anything that reeks of socialism (and anti-Americanism, of course). That’s just the ticket he needed to get punched for the lifetime job security at the university.

      And, let’s be frank, at the end of the day, through all the weird psychology and BS wrapped around him, Erb is not very smart. All of what you see from him cannot be laid at the feet of pathology. He’s genuinely dumb, for starters, and very very lazy.

    • Well, Eric, as I note in my blog, my politics are probably closest to European conservatives like Merkel and Sarkozy than Americans left or right, or the European left.  Nobody’s arguing against markets or against capitalism.  But like the European conservatives, I note it’s clear that markets aren’t magic, and that freedom requires rule of law, cultural stability, and a kind of collective sense of ethics.   I admit I’ve vacillated from opposing a stimulus, to supporting it, to now again becoming worried due to inflation fears.  I DON’T KNOW!  I know in the world of ideological certainty someone admitting they are uncertain where this is all going appears to be a sign of ignorance.  But if you don’t take your solutions from a pre-packaged ideology, you have to recognize we’re facing historically unique circumstances.   This could all go very bad.  I’d prefer to talk about it, rather than shout past each other a bunch of ideological talking points like it’s some kind of permanent political war.

      Oh well.  I guess this is not the place for real discussion if one doesn’t buy into the premises of the majority of posters.

      • Erb: “I note in my blog, my politics are probably closest to European conservatives like Merkel and Sarkozy than Americans left or right, or the European left.”

        That’s just your latest pose, Scott. Nothing you claim as a position is reliable. One day you’re a “left libertarian,” another you’re an advocate of “radical democracy” or some such. So today “at your blog” you are rubbing up against two moderates brought elected in existing social democracies to ease some of the excess before the excess resumes. Big deal. You have two positions, two things you are interested in: socialism and anti-Americanism.

        And you’re what we used to call a dumb bunny. You’re useful, in those terms, as an exemplar of the average Leftist with too much education for his own good.

        • More Erb, more garbage: “But if you don’t take your solutions from a pre-packaged ideology, you have to recognize we’re facing historically unique circumstances.”

          Free markets, for the billionth time, are the exact opposite of ideology. The represent a competition for individual human interests and needs and their solutions. That’s why a free economy features hundreds of products for the same purpose, while the old socialist economies featured shelves empty of everything but mustard and vinegar, the old “we pretend to work and they pretend to pay us” joke. The “third way,” of attaching socialism to a still living free market economy to suck its blood is an ideological attachment to the non-ideology of the free market, where products and ideas compete and are not imposed.

          What Obama is pursuing is so dangerous because it comes at the “historically unique” time when the American Socialist Party controls both houses of Congress and the White House and socialists are about nothing but power and its concentration. That’s why, under Obama, the Federal government’s piece of GDP is going to go up around 35% in the near term, halfway home to what it is in Europe, which is already half dead.

  • It’s so disgusting that the GOP has been reduced to democrat (spit) lite.  Why bother having two parties if one is merely a watered-down version of the other?  And what can we do about it?  Is it time for a third party?  Or just stop voting at all in the hopes that SOMEBODY in the GOP will finally get it?

    I fear that there is no hope.  The GOP establishment has been so beaten down by MiniTru that they are afraid to even try to be conservative.  Not that many Republicans politicians actually ARE conservative: most of them are cast in the mold of Graham / McCain / Snowe, which is vaguely conservative on some social and / or defense issues, but otherwise completely pro-big government.


    We are sooooo screwed.

    • They added insult to injury with this alternative budget.  They had a chance to get back to the philosophical roots.  They could have signaled a commitment to small government.  They failed — big time.  What’s worse, they’ve once again shown themselves to be, as you say, Democrat lite.

      I will not be surprised if things get much worse before they get better.

  • “you have to recognize we’re facing historically unique circumstances.”

    Mind explaining to us, Erb, when that was not true?

    You’re so damnably busy patting yourself on the back and trying to some important you never noticed that you’re feeding pure gibberish to the room.

    • Eric, if you don’t understand the importance of this moment in history, when we face economic collapse, massive budget deficits, a threat to the dollar, and real systemic change, then you’re really not paying attention.   You like do a song and dance where you say nothing and ridicule others.  Cute when it’s just political posturing.  But it’s moral cowardliness when the future of our country is at stake.

      • Erb, if you hit Florak with a stun gun, shot him up with a hypnotic drug, threw him down a long flight of concrete stairs and ran him over with a panel truck, he would still be able to put more backbone into his argument than you would if you were coming out of the gym fresh off a steroid workout.

        He’s always going to outclass you with a half-dozen principles that you simply don’t, can’t understand. And your always flaccid rhetoric won’t match it, especially as you resort to your complaints about ridicule and insults.

  • If Erb is close to Merkel, then shouldn’t he be against the Stimulus, because the Germans don’t believe these things work?

    In any case, here is a testable claim “shifted production to other countries” 

    Does he think Obama’s policies will stop this? I don’t. I think a weakening of the dollar combined with de-regulation could allow US manufacturing and exporting to thrive, but with cap n’ trade, and pro-union laws, instead we will have to change our “lifestyle” as Erb thinks we should. God forbid we produce instead of legislate.

    • Harun, you may be right about Obama’s policies.  I doubt pro-union laws will harm our ability to produce (unions tend to compromise when jobs are at stake), but ultimately we have to recognize that the something for nothing culture of the last quarter century was unsustainable.    We have to change our lifestyle because it was built on a fake economy.  The wealth illusion allowed people to think you could get rich easy by just investing in property or stock, and that saving was unnecessary.   We got addicted to both debt and cheap foreign goods (trade deficits, financed by selling our future to China).   Those addictions defined the American lifestyle of the last decade or two.   It was unsustainable and is being forced to change.

      • There’s never really a moment in any day when you’re not being devoured by the internal contradictions of your message, Scott. You’re “let’s run up trillions more in debt and sell it to the Chinese as the solution to running up trillions in debt and selling it to the Chinese” is perhaps the most humorous and immediate example I’ve seen from you in a while.

        Though I certainly always loved it back in the day when you were railing against big central government and fantasizing about the breakup of the United States while you were in the next breath rhaposodizing the emergence of the EU superstate.

        You might have been a good stand-up comic if you had any timing.

      • “unions tend to compromise when jobs are at stake”.

        Obviously writen by someone with no experience with unions.

  • Erb, if you hit Florak with a stun gun, shot him up with a hypnotic drug, threw him down a long flight of concrete stairs and ran him over with a panel truck, he would still be able to put more backbone into his argument than you would if you were coming out of the gym fresh off a steroid workout.

    Was that statment aimed at anyone else, I’d be greatly complimented, and owe you a debt of thanks for it. As it is, with Erb being no great shakes, I’ll just wince, smile, and continue on.