A Chicken Solution

Chicken Run (video game)

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Economics has dominated the Joplin Globe blogs and other media lately, especially since the debt-ceiling crisis. The debt crisis is not over, of course. The Congressional SuperCommittee consists of partisan hardliners for the most part and is unlikely to come to agreement by Thanksgiving, at which time “draconian” budget cuts are called for. What does that mean? I found this information:

However, if the Committee cannot reach an agreement on how to cut an additional $1.5 trillion from the debt or if their recommended cuts fail to be adopted by Congress, an enforcement mechanism (sequestration) will trigger automatic, draconian spending reductions starting in 2013. The cuts would be split 50/50 between domestic and defense spending (defense spending cuts would be about $50 billion per year).

I hadn’t known the draconian cuts would be delayed until 2013, did you? What a chicken solution the debt ceiling agreement was! All it accomplished was to kick the can past the 2012 election. Man, that’s depressing. Sequestration? What a laugh. What Congress does, Congress can undo.

But Tuesday I read a mostly sensible USA Today editorial about what should be done. It urges the President to take the lead by making specific proposals. Many Republicans have criticized Obama, and even some in his own party, for not “leading” and being more specifically assertive. While recognizing the very real political danger in this, I think there is validity in such criticism. He is the President after all.

But conservatives are even more chicken. The appeal from the right is almost all a simplistic bleat: “No job-killing tax increases” (on the wealthy). They appear to have no ideas at all for how to keep the economy from slipping back into recession because “no tax increases” equate to zero action for the short term. Conservatives are apparently willing to sacrifice the economy for the expedient of political victory.

Neo-candidate Perry has gone so far as to call the Chairman of the Federal Reserve “treasonous” for wanting to further stimulate the economy to prevent a double dip recession and has questioned the President’s patriotism. This is demagoguery at its vilest, in my opinion.

So, what does the editorial want the President to do? It outlines a commonsense approach to the problem, in my opinion. Except for healthcare, that is. Even though the editors recognize healthcare as the “single biggest threat to America’s economic future”, they address that by simply calling for more payment from seniors and military retirees. That’s no solution at all to a healthcare system that costs double what Sweden pays for the same results.

The editorial can be found at this LINK.  Try it – it’s an easy read.

About Jim Wheeler

U. S. Naval Academy, BS, Engineering, 1959; Naval line officer and submariner, 1959 -1981, Commander, USN; The George Washington U., MSA, Management Eng.; Aerospace Engineer, 1981-1999; Resident Gadfly, 1999 - present. Political affiliation: Democratic.
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7 Responses to A Chicken Solution

  1. johncerickson says:

    As I’ve said before, I’d like to see the definition of “those more able to” pay more, and to see the figure somehow tied to local cost-of-living expenses. Otherwise, a lot of the plan put forth sounds quite reasonable – though at the risk of sounding like I’m currying favour here, I’d be more generous to vets. But that’s my own long-term hang-up – I’d be generous to a fault for vets! 🙂
    Jim, you folks (Joplin) are the lead story on NBC Nightly News. They’re talking about how schools are opening up on time. Congrats on the progress y’all have made!


    • Jim Wheeler says:

      Yes, I saw Joplin on both ABC and NBC news tonight, John. Our local officials have indeed done a good job, although I have to point out that both volunteer and financial assistance have been abundant. I am blown away by the power of the media in capturing wide attention. Who would have thought the U.A.E. would be donating laptop computers to every Joplin high school student? They have made Joplin a cause celebre.


  2. ansonburlingame says:


    You pulled the trigger a little early on the Globe. See today’s editorial critiquing to a degree at least Obama’s latest “proposals”. There are four of them thus far based on his Iowa speeches (or campaign). How much would you like to bet that he hopes Congress now takes those speeches and crafts real legislation to be debated.

    As for Rep input to debt problems, let’s see. For at least two years any real Rep bill was Blocked from going to the floor under Sweet Nancy’s “leadership”. They put into legislation (over the last nine months since achieving majority rule in the House) and voted for passage of the “Ryan Plan” a real piece of legislation. That was followed by “cap, cut and balance” another real piece of legislation. Finally they passed legislation to prevent a “default” by authorizing more borrowing. That is three pieces of real legislation, created by House Reps and voted upon, one way or the other.

    Only one of those legislative proposals was actually voted upon to pass or fail by the Dem controlled Senate.

    Oh by the way, how many budget bills required each year by Congress were developed by Dems, subjected to debate and then voted upon since 2010. I believe that number is ZERO. Now why is that I ask? The only thing the Senate wants to “take up” formally is a Presidential speech it seems of late.

    Now how do you debate a speech that can change overnight? The Globe called for and I think will now continue to call for real legislation to debate and then be voted upon by both houses. MIght the Dems agree to that proposal or suggestion by the Globe, I wonder?



    • Jim Wheeler says:

      I just read today’s Globe editorial, as you suggested. The reasoning is fuzzy to me, but it sounds like plain partisanship, frankly. There have been incessant calls by the right, and from you, Anson, for specificity from the President, along with pleas for him to “lead”. But no sooner does he propose specific things to do, four of them yet, than the editor casually dismisses them as mere “free trade” and not providing a specific number of new jobs. Now I call that a very strange complaint by the party of smaller government (if that’s who it’s coming from).



  3. ansonburlingame says:


    The Globe editorial was based in part on reporting, not opinion from the Washington Post. At best the President’s current proposals are pretty much still “speeches” with little to debate. For sure to advance a free trade agreement, that is legislation that has been languishing over Dem restraints, is something upon which I personally agree. But in fact the Post itself suggested that about 200,000 American jobs may “fly” overseas with such an agreement and there is NO suggestion from the President just how many NET jobs may result in the U. S. IF the agreements are approved by Congress. Same with Paten law, real legislation but held up by Dems. As for the “bank” and tax CUTS (which they in fact are for SS and Medicare) that to me sounds confusing from the Dem side as well. I thought RAISING taxes was their primary solution at this point, not cutting them and the “business community” gets at least half of those cuts in payroll deductions as does the “working class” which includes in this case ANYONE receiving a salary, not just the poor.

    the Globe merely points out the current proposals on the table at the moment and being pushed by the President. It then goes on to say that real debate over real bills, not speeches, is the way to go at this point in the “game” which it is, a political game of deadly seriousness.



    • Jim Wheeler says:

      OK, interesting points, Anson. But is it not appropriate to float new ideas in speeches, and is that not done by politicians of both parties? I believe it is. It engages experts, the media and pundits in the education sector to contribute to the ultimate Congressional debate over those “real bills”, does it not? I submit that it would be a mistake to skip the private sector discussion of the process.



  4. ansonburlingame says:

    “Float new ideas” in speeches. Interesting view and for sure we see it being done all over the place today. In our internet world hardly anyone even reads the whole speech and for sure no one, even Congress people, read the whole bill when it is proposed as legislation. We have been reduced to a “sound bite society” in our political debate.

    One of the reasons for that is our demand for “fixing something NOW”. We the people want instant gratification NOW and our politicians try hard to show that their proposals will accomplish that goal. That is why an immediate tax cut such as the payroll withholding is so popular. Instand money goes into many pockets, to hell with the long term consequences of such a cut.

    ANY simpleton can add up the lost revenues from the Bush tax cuts (using some reasonable assumptions of GDP without the cuts being made) and say the country has “lost” $4 Trillion or whatever that figure being used on the left might be.

    What they cannot do is evaluate the revenues based on a prediction (WAG) of GDP without the cuts taking place.

    It is pretty logical (historically) to observe GDP increases when taxes are in fact cut and for sure we can then see revenue increases that actually resulted from that GDP increase. But what NO ONE can do is show what GDP would have done without the tax cuts.

    So it becomes an argument over the real results of net revenue growth after cuts and with growth in GDP. It becomes a “what if” guess to evaluate losses and revenue from the cuts but then some crazy assumptions of GDP affects.

    Finally, with his popularity on the ropes Obama does NOT want to propose legislation and see it go down for the count in defeat in Congress. Most big bills today are negotiated “outside” of the legislative process to gain some “private” agreement that the actual legislation will pass before it is ever introduced as real legislation. Then nobody reads the damn bill and the debate becomes one over the “private” negotiations and who did what to whom during such negotiations.

    For sure that will be the result of the Super Committtee “deliberations” which in fact will be a negotiation of who will “scratch” the other’s back when the shit really hits the fan in a real bill. Then we will all cluck, cluck over the lack of tranparency.



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