Bruce Murphy
Murphy’s Law

The World According to Paul Ryan

He’s taking flak for just one tweet. Perhaps it’s a teachable moment.

By - Feb 6th, 2018 01:46 pm
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Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan goofed.

The Wisconsin congressman and House Speaker posted a tweet noting that “A secretary at a public high school in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, said she was pleasantly surprised her pay went up $1.50 a week … she said [that] will more than cover her Costco membership for the year.” The anecdote came from an Associated Press story about paycheck increases under the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul championed by Ryan and Republicans.

In short order, Ryan was getting barbecued, as “lawmakers and social media users criticized him for appearing out of touch,” the New York Time reported. A secretary’s $78-a-year tax cut pales in comparison to the estimated annual gain of $11 million going to President Donald Trump under the new plan.

Ryan’s tweet, in short, was a boneheaded error, which he quickly realized, taking down the tweet within a few hours.

Except: he hasn’t apologized, offered any explanation, or admitted there was anything wrong with the tweet. What we actually have here is a gaffe, as famously defined by commentator Michael Kinsley: “A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth.”

And how true to Ryan’s real views was this comment? The question gets to the heart of the enigma that is Paul Ryan.

This is a man who is famously feted by both Republican politicians and the media as a deep thinker, a politician who loves to talk policy and is one of the intellectual stars of his party. He is more a policy man than a politician, Ryan has often said. But where is the evidence of that?

In 19 years as a congressman, where is the legislation he has authored, the bills he has introduced, the policies he has championed? There are precious few examples of that.

Ryan’s reputation rests largely on his long-feted economic “road map” to address what he called the “looming entitlement crisis.” It was first released in 2008 and re-released in slightly revised versions several times after that. But his solution to the growing level of debt he predicted would arise from federal entitlements was to add $6 trillion more in debt over a decade or so, by slashing both the top individual tax rate and the corporate tax rate. Ryan’s allegedly wonkish paper actually specified no cuts in entitlements, but his massive debt would eventually require this.

As a story in Investors Business Daily noted at the time, Ryan’s proposal projected that all federal spending outside of Social Security and interest on the debt would shrink to 11.2 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, “a level not seen since 1948 – before Obamacare, Medicare, Medicaid, NASA (and) the interstate highway system.” His approach was to wield a meat ax to the budget and let others figure out the mess that results.

That’s the general approach the federal tax plan Trump and Ryan have passed, though it is not nearly as outlandish and unfunded as Ryan’s road map. It slashes the corporate tax rate and more modestly lowers the top individual tax rate, while providing a relatively tiny tax cut for middle income taxpayers. It will thereby create a $1.7 trillion deficit over ten years, and leave the way open for Republicans to argue that federal entitlements — the lifeline for middle and lower-class Americans, particularly those who voted for Trump — must be slashed.

This has always been Ryan’s goal. He is a huge fan of crackpot novelist Ayn Rand, whose Atlas Shrugged portrayed average Americans as blood suckers leeching off the talent and riches of the country’s upper class and intelligentsia. Ryan has credited Rand with having inspired him to get involved in public service and once gave a speech to the Atlas Society, dedicated to Rand, noting that “he grew up reading Rand, and that her books taught him about his value system and beliefs,” and that he “required staffers and interns in his congressional office to read Rand.”

Ryan has described Social Security as a “Socialist-based system” and has supported cuts to welfare, child care, Pell Grants for low-income college students, food stamps, and other federal assistance programs, and privatizing Social Security and Medicare. His push for less help for the middle class and less taxes for the wealthy also happens to benefit him personally.

Mostly due to his wife’s wealth, Ryan is a member of the 1 percent, with an estimated net worth of $6.5 million, making him the 34th wealthiest member of the House of Representatives. His current pay as House Speaker, of $223,500, plus the likely earnings from his investments, would mean he gains at least a $6,560 tax cut from the newly passed plan, but it could be as high as $21,240.

In short, Ryan will get a tax break that is 84 to 272 times higher than the secretary whose tiny gain he was touting. The tax plan exacerbates the wealth gap in America, leaving lower and middle class Americans even further behind wealthy people like Donald Trump and Paul Ryan. Yet it is something to celebrate for Ryan. After all, it is the essence of Ayn Rand, whose adulation of the rich was his inspiration for public service.

So yes, Ryan’s comment was a gaffe, a startling moment of truth from him.

Correction: an early version of this story reported — incorrectly — that the furor over Ryan’s tweet was not covered by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

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Categories: Murphy's Law, Politics

89 thoughts on “Murphy’s Law: The World According to Paul Ryan”

  1. Terry says:

    Paul Ryan has lost all credibility and moral authority due to his awful enabling and appeasing of Trump’s crypto-fascist authoritarianism. Can you say Neville Chamberlain anyone? How about Trump Toady? History, nor voters will forget this Speaker Ryan.

    Dump Ryan 2018

  2. fightingbobfan says:

    Ryan is a creature of the fawning coverage given him by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

    Being the Romney ticket as vice-president did himself no favors because the national media was no ready to cut him a break on his chronic lying.

    To quote Charlie Pierce — Biggest…fraud…ever.

  3. revtlee says:

    Reading that Paul Ryan is only 34th in terms of wealth for Reps, it’s easy to see the difficulty of his and others (Democrats and Republicans) not making such gaffes as the idea that an additional $1.50 a week wouldn’t please a worker. Empathy is the ability to “walk in another’s shoes” and when there is such a separation in wealth and privilege as between folks being represented and those representing them, how can we expect them to understand. It;’s a tragedy of our culture that discussions of wealth disparity is dismissed so easily and that “entitlements” has become a curse word. Am I “entitled” to my social security check or did I earn it? As one who receives VA disability and Social Security (the ultimate “taker”?), I often wonder which is an entitlement and which is something I earned and therefore deserve? Shouldn’t a society acknowledge and support the well earned retirement of all workers and therefore recognize that such have contributed not simply tax dollars to the “system” but the sweat of their brows to build and maintain such a place. AND that whether a server in a restaurant or a welder on the line, each contributes to our well being and deserves the support of all of us. As a grad school prof used to tell us at the beginning of those classes when presentations by some and critiques by all, remember folks we are in this together.

  4. Bruce H Vielmetti says:

    One more gaffe – the Journal Sentinel did report Ryan’s remark and the fallout it produced. It did indeed generate lots of traffic. Mr. Murphy was apparently not among the nearly 80,0000 visitors to the link that day.
    https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/2018/02/03/paul-ryan-deletes-tweet-touting-womans-1-50-raise-proof-tax-bills-success/303878002/

  5. ERIC J. says:

    -Some ” policy wonk” . He worked at McDonalds at one time. he should know better by now but no; he just tweeted a ridiculous example . $1.50 / week; not an hour !!!! ( If she had a 401 K it just lost many years of account gains ; wiping out her 1.50 ” gain “)
    -Paul you are just lost .You are also lost if you think people with household incomes of $100,000.00 are middle class.

  6. PMD says:

    This is the GOP in a nutshell. Pass tax cuts that mainly benefit the rich, but tout the small ways in which it benefits some people who are not rich. Meanwhile, keep hammering away at wedge issues like immigration, abortion, religious freedom, and patriotism to distract people as much as possible from the reality that the tax plan mainly benefits the rich. This is nothing new. It’s been their strategy since at least the ’80s.

  7. John Donohue says:

    “Ayn Rand, whose Atlas Shrugged portrayed average Americans as blood suckers leeching off the talent and riches of the country’s upper class and intelligentsia.”

    Go Bruce, Go!

    As a collector of AynRandHate screeds, I admire your radical approach. Haven’t heard one so feverish and blatantly free of shame in its fabrication in quite a while.I mean, it’s so hot, you could barbecue yourself on it.

  8. Mark Coppock says:

    You wrote “…Atlas Shrugged portrayed average Americans as blood suckers leeching off the talent and riches of the country’s upper class and intelligentsia.” If you’ve read the novel, then I suggest that you read it again. You got it wrong the first time. If you haven’t read it, then I suggest that you do so — I’ve heard Atlas Shrugged mischaracterized before, but you’ve taken the cake here.

  9. PMD says:

    Life is too short to waste on Ayn Rand.

  10. Timothy J Haering says:

    Holy ship, Bruce! I had no idea you harbored such hate for our hunter/Speaker, Paul Ryan. Did we read the same book?! Atlas Shrugged was about what happens when you base wages and prices on “need” as defined by federal government politicians. IT doesn’t portray average Americans as anything. There is scarcely an average American IN the story. All the characters are movers and shakers. Who is John Galt? The inventor of the static electricity motor and the leader of an economic rebellion, pulling all the biggest wealth makers out of society to show society what happens when you stop valuing individual effort and the economic power of self-interest.

    The answer to the goofy tweet is this: A trusted staffer did it and Ryan is too much of a mensch to throw him under the bus. I hate the way our hunter/Speaker sucks up to the Right Bauer, but I admire how he is just letting this stupidity storm expire on its own. Has anyone at all, YOU, did you or anyone called AshLee Strong to find out who twittered? I have read ten stories on the tweet and nobody quotes Ryan or Ryan’s office or even says calls to Ryan’s office were not returned.

    Before you blowhard like you just did over a book you’ve never read and a man you have no insight into, do your journalist job and call his office.

    Before his “Roadmap” was his Social Security Lockbox – keeping Congress from using the SS Trust Fund to “balance” the budget. That went nowhere because he was a backbencher. And because he is a hunter, not a warrior. You have to fight people and institutions and political inertia to pass the things he has espoused. But Ryan is not a warrior. He is a hunter, waiting for the clear shot. He would have to fight, as much against his caucus as Dems, for any of his ideas to succeed. But he is not a warrior. Warriors attack, do damage, lose their cool, display extraordinary passion. Ryan is too composed and comfortable for that. He’s waiting for that clear shot.

    He’s a fitness enthusiast, not an athlete. Competition is fighting. Competitors are warriors. He is a hunter.

    And this is also why he won’t be running for president. He has maneuvered into the best tree stand in the forest. 3rd in line to the Presidency. He tried for vice presidency, but it didn’t work out. He is hunting for the presidency, not fighting for it.

    For tomorrow’s update of this column, I’d like to see a comment from AshLee Strong or one of his campaign guys, like Roday.

    Sorry I went off.

  11. Thomas says:

    After reading post # 6 on the exemplary hunter/speaker, I look forward to possibly seeing Ryan In the winter Olympics, in that event where they ski for a while with rifles on their backs, stopping periodically to shoot rifles at targets. Like an Ayn Rand character, Ryan is larger than life- a larger than life cardboard cutout..

  12. Jeremy says:

    Huge tax cuts are only possible if you actually pay taxes. If you don’t pay taxes, you shouldn’t get a tax cut or a refund. Budgets and tax policy are about priorities. I’m ok with prioritizing those that financially contribute to our society over those that don’t.

  13. Brad says:

    The teachable moment:
    Vote the wastrel out of office.

  14. Terry says:

    Paul Ryan and all republicans should’ve put down the sophomoric drivel by Ayn Rand years ago and instead read The Grapes of Wrath.

  15. Terry says:

    Paul Ryan has “made” aka taken millions from taxpayers. That makes him just another Big Government moocher, not a “financial contributor.” Much like Career Politician Scott Walker, living high on the hog off of other people’s money. Charlatans, hypocrites and moochers!

    Meanwhile…
    The Iron Stache actually works for a living.

  16. fightingbobfan says:

    Or The Christmas Carol.

    Every time I attend the Rep’s performance I wonder how many from the WOW counties get what’s going on up on stage

    Oh BTW Timothy. Where did Bruce mention Ryan was an athlete? Only you did.

    Of course there was that 2.25 marathon he claimed he ran.

    http://www.paulryantimecalculator.com/?submitted=yes&time=4%3A01%3A25&distance=marathon&gender=m

  17. Mike says:

    While Ryan’s tweet was tone deaf let’s consider the tax plan and some things he could have pointed out.

    Let’s assume this secretary is single and is making $50,000 a yearn with no deductions. In 2017 they pay $5,638 in Federal taxes. In 2018 they’ll pay $4,369. This is a $1,269 reduction in tax or 22.5% reduction.

    Let’s assume they are making $30,000. In 2017 they pay $2,474 in taxes versus $1,969 in 2018 or 20.41% less.

    A married couple with 2 children making $80,000 would pay $4,732 in 2017 but $2,339 in 2018 a decrease of more than 50%

    Maybe these cuts aren’t enough for some and certainly some people will always be upset that someone else might be getting more, but the reality is most people will be seeing more than $1.50 a paycheck.

  18. TransitRider says:

    Mike, the $1.50/week in tax savings probably came under the OLD tax law (which included small tax cuts every year to compensate for inflation-triggered “bracket creep”). The IRS issued the 2018 rates (tax tables and personal exemption and standard deduction amounts) in October before the new tax law was even written. The tables typically come out several months in advance so that payroll departments can update their computer systems.

    Most January paychecks were issued using rates from the old law, but with the slightly lower (old law) 2018 rates.

    For the first example you gave (single earning $50k), my calculations show a 3% tax reduction, between December 2017 and January 2018 (using the “old law” numbers announced last October) due to the “bracket creep” adjustments.

  19. steven says:

    Ayn Rand aside. Gaffe aside. It still remains that the bottom 20% of households (some of which do not pay income tax, but do pay sales taxes, property taxes, gas tax, wheel taxes) got nothing in the Christmas “middle class” tax cut, while the so called entitlements some of them receive are apparently Ryan’s next target for cuts. The 50k single mom (slightly below average american) with 2 children does get a little over 1k of fed income tax relief. Good! But she’s already ahead of 40% of American households. If we can afford to blow up the deficit giving the progressively richer exponentially bigger piles of dough, couldn’t we give the poorest a minimum wage increase (which only gives money for actual work) ? They could actually not need (or qualify ) for other financial assistance, which has been so lavishly bestowed on those least in need! Also, the preliminary tax bracketss and the like are plenty sufficient for good estimates of who benefits and who doesn’t. Let s concentrate on the big real picture of real americans and who cares about them!

  20. Terry says:

    Paul Ryan and republican’s budget will expand government and increade the deficit by 400 Billion dollars for the next year! Remember when republicans and tea baggers were freaking out about the national debt back when Obama was President.? Yeah, none of that matters anymore. That’s your “fiscally conservative” republicans for ya! Charlatans, liars and hypocrites! If you don’t recall please enjoy these videos of Paul Ryan being concerned about debt and overspending.

    http://google.com/newsstand/s/CBIw_5ai1Tc

    Dump Ryan 2018

  21. John Donohue says:

    The ballooning of the deficit predicted for 2019 budget, from 600 billion to 1,000 billion, is due to the ballooning of demands on the Social Services. The boomers are booming.

    Both Rep and Dem approved the new tax plan.

    http://mil14.com

    It’s the Social Services that drive the deficit.

  22. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Paul Ryan is one of the five finest congressmen this state has ever had.

  23. fightingbobfan says:

    If being a phony was a sport, Paul Ryan would be in the major leagues and in their hall of fame.

    “Paul Ryan deleted his embarrassing tweet of a blatant admission because he and Republicans don’t want you to know the truth: the #GOPTaxScam is a gift to corporate America and the top 1% at your expense,” Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-California, tweeted. “He also doesn’t want you to know he got $500.000.00 from the Koch family.”

    https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/03/politics/paul-ryan-tweet-tax-cut-backlash/index.html

  24. Mike says:

    Steven,

    That single mom with two kids making $50,000 save just under $2,000 a year. While her taxable income would be slightly higher she gets the benefit of the new 12% tax bracket and the child credit being doubled to $2,000 per child. A married couple with 2 children can earn just over $60,000 without paying taxes saving that couple about $1,800.

    As for sales tax, property taxes etc. No one can argue that people making low incomes aren’t paying into those taxes, but the Federal Government has no control over that short of giving people some type of credit based on these taxes paid and then people would still be upset that some making more than they are getting some type of tax break. And it is interesting that it always seems like the liberals in Milwaukee are usually the ones pushing for a higher sales tax to fund things like transportation or the arts.

  25. PMD says:

    As opposed to just giving corporations billions of taxpayer dollars. Those darn liberals.

  26. TransitRider says:

    John Donahue, you said, “The ballooning of the deficit predicted for 2019 budget, from 600 billion to 1,000 billion, is due to the ballooning of demands on the Social Services. The boomers are booming.”

    I don’t see how that can be true.

    There are only two federal services that would involve “booming boomers”: Social Security and Medicare, but Social Security is 100% self-funded (and even if and when it exhausts its trust funds, it remains 100% self funded, albeit with reduced benefits). Under current law, increases in Social Security payouts can NEVER increase the deficit, even by a penny!

    So, could increased Medicare use by baby boomers (like me) increase the deficit by anywhere close to $400 billion by 2019? No!

    In 2016, Medicare spent $679 billion, of which $319 billion came from federal “general revenue”. (The balance mostly came from Medicare taxes and premiums.) That $319 billion would have to more than double within 3 years in order for your claim to be true. (FWIW, total Medicare spending is projected to grow by abut 7% annually, and most of that increase will be offset by increased Medicare taxes and premiums.)

  27. John Donohue says:

    @TransitRider from John Donohue [spelling]

    It’s an illusion that “this chunk of revenue and.or trust fund pays for this or that Social Service.”

    In round numbers, 3.5 Trillion comes into the Treasury, and 4.0 Trillion goes out. Cash in, cash out. Current collected money is paid out at once to current beneficiaries.

    http://mil14.com

    Yes, there is plenty of posturing about “discretionary vs mandatory,” and “Self-funded,” but that is only propaganda. You provided quite a lot of the structural construction in your post just now. The brutal fact is: there is no asset anywhere of actual wealth that is drawn down to pay Social Services. There is only a daunting web of crossing, kiting IOUs and balance-sheet schemes, masking the truth: the only thing backing commitments to Americans into the future is the promise to tax current and future generations in order to perpetuate the transfer of wealth from younger people to older, from prosperous to needy.

  28. PMD says:

    Hey don’t worry those fiscally conservative republicans will fix it. Oh wait….

  29. A Bus Driver says:

    He rightfully earned the name of Lying Ryan. The Eddie Haskell of politics

  30. TransitRider says:

    John Donohue (sorry for misspelling it earlier!),

    It is not an illusion that certain federal revenue goes to certain programs and trust funds. Let me try to explain why with an absurd (but real) example.

    Back in the 1960s, Russian diplomats at the UN ran up huge parking fines in NYC because, when they parked at parking meters, they refused to feed the meter. They justified this by saying that any money paid to the a government supported the Vietnam War, which they opposed. Of course, this was absurd, since NYC collected the parking money, but the federal government funded the war (and NYC in no way funded the federal government), but they, like you, said no government money could ever be earmarked for anything.

    Do you accept the fact that money paid to, say Brookfield, is separate and distinct from money paid to Milwaukee or the Federal government? Then why is it so hard to accept that money paid to Social Security can be kept separate and distinct from money paid to the general US Treasury?

    The fact is that, over the years, Social Security has taken in trillions more than it has paid out. That surplus ($2.8 trillion as of the end of 2016) is stored in interest-bearing Treasury securities (imagine them as being US Savings Bonds, if you like). That money is as real as any money you have in a bank (which, by the way, is insured by the FDIC whose ONLY assets are those same Treasury securities) and which is guaranteed by the US Constitution (14th Amendment, Section 4).

  31. John Donohue says:

    TransitRider,

    What is the backing of the IOUs (interest-bearing Treasury securities) that SS obtained when “loaning” their surplus to the general fund?

    It’s not gold. It’s not equities in wealth assets. It is only fiat, “faith” that FedGov will always keep the promise to continue taxing citizens.

    The supposed surplus is just score-keeping of the cultural promise that the government will always figure out a way to keep the Social Services commitments paid.

  32. Troll says:

    If Gwen Moore actually did something in Congress over her congressional career maybe Urban Milwaukee could do stories on her.

  33. Terry says:

    @John Donahue, you mean like all the welfare that Trump Toadies Paul Ryan and Career Politician Scott Walker have mooched off for decades? Dems have never lied and cried for decades about social services and spending like the charlatan Paul Ryan and hypocrite republicans did for years and years under Obama. Where are these “deficit hawks” now? Oh, they are expanding government and masseively increasing the debt.
    Liars, hypocrites and charlatans.

    Dump Trump
    Dump Walker
    Dump Ryan

  34. John Casper says:

    John Donohue,

    The fiscal space you wrote of is available to any nation that issues its own currency, China, Japan, Canada, UK, Mexico, Taiwan, Russia……

    Per Former Federal Bank of NY Reserve Chairman, Beardsley Ruml in 1946, “(Federal) Taxes For Revenue Are Obsolete.”

    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/warren-mosler/taxes-for-revenue-are-obs_b_542134.html

    Federal gov’t doesn’t have to tax to provision itself, but whatever supply chain meets its needs will experience inflationary pressures.

    Even liberals are figuring out that Beardsley–and others–were right about what’s now know as Modern Monetary Theory.

    https://www.thenation.com/article/the-rock-star-appeal-of-modern-monetary-theory/

    GOP has been right about cutting federal taxes.
    Dems have been right about increased federal spending on health care, education, green infrastructure, and research.

    If U.S. incurs a debt in something not denominated in dollars, all bets are off.

    We can run out of drinkable water, safe food, sustainable energy, some metals, minerals, and medicines. Can’t run out of dollars.

  35. John Donohue says:

    @Terry #33 from John Donohue [spelling]

    …. other than that correction, it seems you are proud that Democrats/Progressives have never apologized for turning the United States Federal Government from “protector of freedom, individual rights, and the borders” to “confiscator/distributor of wealth and income and enabler of legal bondage.”

    Nice.

  36. John Donohue says:

    @John Casper #34

    “Modern Monetary Theory” is the fairy tale first constructed, in modern times, by Keynes, a degenerate gambler. Well, the world is attempting to see how far the gamble will go. This new expansion of spending, with a projection of deficits growing from 600B to 1000B and onward, plus the tepid murmurs of concern over the “debt” of 20T growing to 30T soon, shows that Keynes gigantic bluff is still holding steady. I believe that your air-concept of “you know what, so what! It’s not possible to pay that debt, and you know what, the US will never pay it” is an active meme in world culture.

    Why tax at all? Why not just blockchain every person in the world, and then electronically shoot a wad of electroFunds into everyone’s account. Come to think of it, why should people work after that? Most only do it to “earn money,” which you probably think a quaint notion. Replace it by “stop working and go out and spend your wallet.” That ought to REALLY get modern economic theory going like crazy.

    Cool.

  37. fightingbobfan says:

    What is wrong with you John Donohue? Really sounds like you are off your nut.

    How about a blockchain to vacuum money from everyone in the country and direct it right into the pockets of the .1%? Would that make you happy?

    You don’t really get the concept of America do you?

  38. TransitRider says:

    John Donohue, you’re right, money isn’t gold, but so what? What good is gold, anyway? Gold is a pretty but virtually useless (very soft) metal with little true value except in dental work (where softness is needed so as not to wear down opposing teeth) and for electrical contacts.

    Other than that, gold has no real utility. As one of my economics professors often said, “Gold does not give money value. Money gives gold value.” You can’t eat gold or wear it, which makes it the same as dollars. The only thing gold has going for it is scarcity, but bitcoin is even better in that regard.

    The backing of treasury securities is the legal and moral authority to tax the US economy and (as a last resort) the ability to print money. The US Treasury can no more run out of dollars than Delta Airlines can run out of SkyMiles. (As an aside, what exactly backs the money you keep in your checking account? Much of bank assets are unsecured loans, like credit card balances.)

    Having said all that, I agree that today’s national debt is a problem. It’s out of control mainly because of the GOP. Clinton (for all his faults) balanced the budget and was actually paying back a little of the debt, but a month after taking office George W Bush stood before a joint session of Congress and renounced any repayment of the debt. (He said if we were repaying the debt, that meant we were over-taxing our citizens.)

    When Obama took office, the annual deficit stood at around $1 trillion, and he at least worked to reduce that number year after year. Now Trump (who not only promised a balanced budget but actually promised he would repay the entire debt within 8 years). Instead his party has cut taxes and increased spending.

  39. John Casper says:

    JD,

    Sorry about your fairy tale.

    U.S. debt is at least north of $223 TRILLION.

    “The notional amount of derivative contracts held by insured U.S. commercial banks and savings associations in the first quarter increased by $12.0 trillion (6.6 percent) to $192.9 trillion from the previous quarter (see table 10).”

    1. Care to estimate annual U.S. GDP?

  40. John Donohue says:

    @TransitRider #37

    You blame the GOP? That is insane. The debt is caused by the mandate to provide 3,000 Billion Dollars in “Non-Discretionary” funding of Social Services every year. This is a Leviathan that was invented by Progressives, and slid into the American political system over 120 years.

    Your comments about Trump and Obama are so ridiculous they do not merit specific slaughter.

    And I see you’ve chimed in on the glorification of the idea that USGov can ‘never run out’ because it can simply tax crazy, inflate, borrow, and print air-money. AKA fantasy magic. Well, that coincides with the notion that there need not be any intrinsic hard money backing the US dollar. You don’t believe in humans adding value. You think it grows on air-trees and all people have a right to receive their share.

    We’ve only been completely off the gold standard (hard money) for a few decades. The world ran on value for millennia prior. Stay tuned for the humiliation.

  41. John Donohue says:

    @ fightingbobfan

    Your comment has tone, but zero challenge. Try harder.

    Perhaps you could start with your convictions on “the concept of America.”

  42. John Donohue says:

    @ John Casper #39

    The Federal Government insuring the stupendously leveraged financial instruments you cited is insane. So? Under hard money, and no FDIC or other government promises, these could never exist.

    When you debauch money down to fiat-air, why are you surprised when scoundrels rush in? And Modern Monetary Theory proposes so nihilistic a concept, scoundrels shake their heads and say “bring it on, and hurry!”

  43. TransitRider says:

    John Donohue,

    The gold standard years were not good times. There were financial “panics” (crashes) every decade or two because value and supply of money fluctuated with the value and supply of gold (which is, by no means, stable). Since going off gold, we had an unprecedented 75 years (1933–2008) of economic growth.

    Under a gold standard, the countries with the real economic power are those with gold mines—mostly Russia and what Trump calls s**thole countries in Africa. Do we really want to hand over control of our own economy to dictators in those places? Do we want to re-direct more of the world’s economy into mining a pretty, but soft and nearly useless, metal?

    And as to which party is more to blame for the ballooning national debt… You can’t deny that the deficit started ballooning under Reagan or that Clinton actually stopped its increase by his 2nd term. You also cannot deny that the GOP explicitly renounced any repayment of the debt when President Bush went before a joint session of Congress on 2/27/2001 and said:

    “You see, the growing surplus exists because taxes are too high and Government is charging more than it needs. The people of America have been overcharged, and on their behalf, I am here asking for a refund.”

    I also point out one serious mistake most conservatives make when comparing the deficits of Clinton/Obama with Bush/Trump. Deficits are recorded by fiscal years, which are not the same as calendar years. For example, most conservatives (and, perhaps, you) treat FY 2001 (which had a low deficit) as a Bush budget, but it actually began in October 2000, before Bush was even elected and it is therefore attributable to Clinton. Likewise the huge 2009 deficit (for which many solely blame Obama ) actually started before Obama was elected and is Bush’s handiwork.

  44. John Casper says:

    @ JD #42

    “Your comment” was terrible. “Try harder.”

    “Perhaps you could start with your convictions on ‘the concept of America.'”

  45. John Casper says:

    @ JD #42

    You wrote, “The Federal Government insuring the stupendously leveraged financial instruments you cited is insane.”

    1. Where was the “pay-as-you-go” on that $193 trillion?

    2. What’s the size of Social Security’s Trust Fund?

    3. How much have we blown on the Middle East occupations?

    4. When an FDIC member bank files for bankruptcy, who does FDIC bail out first, the depositor or those who hold derivative contracts?

    5. Why does the FDIC’s $250,000 cap on deposit insurance not apply to derivative contracts?

    6. Are you advocating returning to the gold standard?

  46. John Donohue says:

    “Gold Standard Times” … what are these times? The last 12,000 years of human emergence into civilization? Gold has been only outlawed as a means of exchange since Nixon. It’s a Progressive gamble and bluff of monumental scale, a control device, to enable government-as-rule in opposition to the freedom and individual rights, including property.

    If you think the ‘unprecedented growth” of the last 75 years is due to Keynesianism, you are in denial. It is due to market capitalism’s promise of wealth and freedom, even though handicapped by the Progressive Project. And your word “unprecedented” is erroneous: the Golden Age of Capitalism, from the 1830s through WW1 was the window of unprecedented growth, all run on gold.

    I won’t detail your erroneous promotion of “presence of gold mines” or your rant on comparing presidents, with its silly “fiscal/calendar” trope. They are void.

    Note: “Hard money” does not mean an enforced gold standard. It means freedom in adoption of the means of wealth storage and exchange. No government establishment, nor disestablishment. Especially, no establishment of fiat “money” from air-trees, which is the autocrat’s way of asserting control and killing freedom.

  47. John Donohue says:

    John Casper, my comments of try harder and ‘perhaps..’ were directed at fightingbobfan fro #41, not you. Did you mistake that, or are you also side-responding? If so, “terrible” noted, but that has no content

  48. John Donohue says:

    @ John Casper #45

    1. Where was the “pay-as-you-go” on that $193 trillion?
    please rephrase or explain, it does not give me enough information to repsond

    2. What’s the size of Social Security’s Trust Fund?
    It is an illusion, it does not exist, or it is negative scores-of-trillions for its unfunded committments. Take your pick.

    3. How much have we blown on the Middle East occupations?
    I don’t care, in this discussion. I have been against foreign entanglements since 1799. The amount is miniscule compared to the carnage to domestic economy due to the Progressive Project.

    4. When an FDIC member bank files for bankruptcy, who does FDIC bail out first, the depositor or those who hold derivative contracts?
    I don’t care, since the illegitimacy of FDIC is the real issue. Government bailout/guarentee blocks the tough reality of bad/wild investment.

    5. Why does the FDIC’s $250,000 cap on deposit insurance not apply to derivative contracts?
    Because it is crony banking. Get rid of the FDIC, et. al.

    6. Are you advocating returning to the gold standard?
    I advocate separation of government and money.

  49. fightingbobfan says:

    You are throwing out a lot with no attribution. Would love to see the sources.

    As far as the FDIC, how about reforming it? It worked well for years until corporations with the help of the GOP saw government as their subsidiary.

    All of this leads to the influence of money in our political system.

  50. John Casper says:

    @ JD #47

    I know who you were insulting in your #41.

    “Terrible” has content.

    “Abohorent, appalling, atrocious,…

    http://www.thesaurus.com/browse/terrible?s=t

  51. John Casper says:

    @ JD #47

    7. In what “…means of wealth, storage, and exchange…” do you want to pay off the national debt?

  52. John Casper says:

    TransitRider,

    Thank you for your excellent work on this thread, especially your directly on-point at 5:42 this morning.

  53. John Donohue says:

    @John Casper #50

    Thanks for the link to a thesaurus. Never knew such a thing existed.

    Meanwhile, what word should I look up in it for in this phrase from the distinguished thinker fightingbobfan?

    “What is wrong with you John Donohue? Really sounds like you are off your nut.”

  54. John Donohue says:

    @John Casper #50

    7. In what “…means of wealth, storage, and exchange…” do you want to pay off the national debt?
    Wait … I thought it never has to be paid, according to Modern Monetary Theory. So, default, or paid with fiat “money” either borrowed, inflated, or printed out of thin air.

    When will that kick in?

  55. John Donohue says:

    @fightingbobfan #49

    >>>>You are throwing out a lot with no attribution. Would love to see the sources.<<>>>> As far as the FDIC, how about reforming it? It worked well for years until corporations with the help of the GOP saw government as their subsidiary. <<<>>All of this leads to the influence of money in our political system.<<<
    I advocate separation of money and government.

  56. John Donohue says:

    fightingbobfan, this forum decimated my post 55, in which I responded to you. I’ll write it again later.

  57. Terry says:

    All anyone with a moral compass or a conscious needs to know is that Paul Ryan is enabling and appeasing Trump’s crypto-fascism and authoritarianism. That is wrong and horrifying and voters and history will not forget, just as history and voters did not forget Neville Chamberlain.

    Dump Ryan 2018
    Dump Walker 2018
    Dump Trump asap!!

  58. John Donohue says:

    @fightingbobfan #49

    “You are throwing out a lot with no attribution. Would love to see the sources.”
    I’d be glad to show sources, if you get specific. Point to one fact I claimed, and I’ll support it with links and whatever.

    “As far as the FDIC, how about reforming it? It worked well for years …”
    It never “worked well.” FDIC and all other flavors of government guarantees are toxic. Hard money and no promise of bailout is what works, and built the American economy. Get rid of crony banking.

    “All of this leads to the influence of money in our political system.”
    I advocate separation of money and government.

  59. fightingbobfan says:

    Yeah JD.

    “Why tax at all? Why not just blockchain every person in the world, and then electronically shoot a wad of electroFunds into everyone’s account. Come to think of it, why should people work after that? Most only do it to “earn money,” which you probably think a quaint notion. Replace it by “stop working and go out and spend your wallet.”

    …is super rational.

  60. John Donohue says:

    @fightingbobfan #59

    1) you might have missed the sarcasm. i thought it was plain to see.
    2) despite my writing that with dripping sarcasm, it doesn’t seem so funny given the concepts in “Modern Monetary Theory.” In there, they take ideas like this seriously. Seriously
    3) Modern Monetary Theory = “Helicopter Money.”

  61. John Casper says:

    @JD 48

    Were you lying on February 9, 2018 at 2:34 pm when you left a link– http://mil14.com –on this thread that includes Social Security’s impact on federal spending?

    Or were you lying this morning at 10:46 a.m. when you wrote, “It (Social Security) is an illusion, it does not exist, or it is negative scores-of-trillions for its unfunded committments?”

  62. John Casper says:

    @JD 54

    At 11:55 a.m. you wrote, “Wait … I thought it never has to be paid,…”

    Were you lying February 9, 2018 at 2:34 pm when you wrote, “The ballooning of the deficit predicted for 2019 budget, from 600 billion to 1,000 billion, is due to the ballooning of demands on the Social Services. The boomers are booming.”

  63. fightingbobfan says:

    So Lyin’ Ryan is pushing the notion that we need to cut the “entitlements” because of our budget situation, brought to you in part by the recently passed tax cuts.

    If we need the money so bad, needless to say, we can’t afford the tax cuts.

    But if you want to cut spending, the best place to look is the military, which has so much fat it makes Christ Christie look svelte.

  64. TransitRider says:

    John Donohue # 46:

    You say “Gold has been outlawed as a medium of exchange only since Nixon.” The gold standard was dropped in England in 1931 and by the US in 1933, although the US still exchanged dollars into gold for foreign governments until Nixon, but by 1934 the “gold standard” (a fixed dollar/gold exchange rate) was gone. In 1933, it was $20.67/oz, in 1934 it changed to $35/oz.

    You claim a “the Golden Age of Capitalism, from the 1830s through WW1”, but that period had at least 6 separate financial crashes (or “panics”): 1837, 1857, 1873, 1893, 1907, and 1929. But from 1929 we went nearly 80 years until the next crash, in 2008.

    The years on the gold standard were much more erratic than those without.

    Here are the annual deficit numbers going back to 1990, so you can see how it is really a GOP problem. (The source I found only had data thru FY 2015.). The numbers I show include Social Security and Medicare taxes and spending.

    Remember, the FYs (Fiscal Years) run October thru September.

    All amounts in billions of dollars

    FY
    1990 $221 Bush
    1991 269 Bush
    1992 290 Bush
    …transition year:
    1993 255 Bush (4 months) Clinton (8 months)
    1994 203 Clinton
    1995 164 Clinton
    1996 107 Clinton
    1997 22 Clinton
    …then 3 years of increasing surpluses:
    1998 -69 Clinton SURPLUS
    1999 -126 Clinton SURPLUS
    2000 -236 Clinton SURPLUS
    …then 1 more surplus (somewhat smaller) as Bush took over:
    2001 -128 Clinton (4 months) Bush (8 months) SURPLUS
    …then nothing but deficits going forward:
    2002 158 Bush
    2003 378 Bush
    2004 413 Bush
    2005 318 Bush
    2006 248 Bush
    2007 161 Bush
    2008 359 Bush
    …another transition year:
    2009 1413 Bush(4 months) Obama (8 months)
    2010 1294 Obama
    2011 1300 Obama
    2012 1087 Obama
    2013 680 Obama
    2014 485 Obama
    2015 438 Obama

    Trump’s 2019 budget (announced today) includes a $984 billion deficit and the projected FY 2018 deficit was estimated (by the Trump administration) the week before last at $955 billion and that was BEFORE last weeks budget bill which added hundreds of billions more!!

    So, tell me which party reduces deficits and with increases them!!

  65. John Donohue says:

    Thanks for the lecture. I did not need it. It is trivial, compared to the underlying concepts, which you avoid discussing. You instead prefer to attempt to pin “instability” on gold, and deficit horror on the GOP.

    Have fun with that. It is lame cherrypicking and squirming away from the point. And by the way, aren’t you afraid of destroying your own trivial claim about the deficit by exposing the net explosion of the debt under President Obama? I think he was a Democrat. Oh, and by the way, the Clinton surplus years were the result of gigantic gains by capitalists in productivity, especially in tech/computing.

    Here, I’ll take away the embarrassment of that … the mountain of debt and individual year’s deficit are not the fault or responsibility of the person who happens to be in the White House. It is systemic, and is driven by Keynesian gambling.

    The list of panics during the golden age of capitalism displays minor shudders in the flow of magnificence, compared to the devastation of inflation, debt, cryonism, and debauched currency brought on by the Progressive Project.

  66. PMD says:

    Next John will stick his fingers in his ears and say “I can’t hear you.” He says other posts aren’t worth responding to, won’t provide any links, accuses others of doing things he does himself, and in general comes across like a troll.

  67. John Casper says:

    @JD #7

    Go” JD, “Go!”

    “As a collector of” Social Security “Hate screeds, I admire your radical approach. Haven’t heard one so feverish and blatantly free of shame in its fabrication in quite a while.I mean, it’s so hot, you could barbecue yourself on it.”

  68. John Casper says:

    @Jeremy #12

    You wrote, “I’m ok with prioritizing those that financially contribute to our society over those that don’t.”

    Wealth comes from increases productivity increases. What productivity increases have the elites, Wall Street, most private equity and hedge funds contributed?

  69. John Casper says:

    @JD #21

    You wrote, “Both Rep and Dem approved the new tax plan.”

    Had no idea the vote was unanimous in both houses.

    9. Do you have a link to back up your claim?

  70. John Casper says:

    @JD

    Last week Republican President Trump tweeted, “This will be a big week for Infrastructure. After so stupidly spending $7 trillion in the Middle East, it is now time to start investing in OUR Country!”

    10. For how many decades would $7 trillion fund Social Security?

  71. John Casper says:

    @JD #65

    You wrote, “Oh, and by the way, the Clinton surplus years were the result of gigantic gains by capitalists in productivity, especially in tech/computing.”

    Wrong as usual.

    In 1969 U.S. Advanced Research Projects Agency developed the concept upon which TCP/IP protocols–internet backbone–were developed.

    11. Why are the taxpayers paying not-“capitalists” for the benefits of research of that their dollars created?

  72. John Casper says:

    @JD #65

    “You wrote, Here, I’ll take away the embarrassment of that … the mountain of debt and individual year’s deficit are not the fault or responsibility of the person who happens to be in the White House. It is systemic, and is driven by Keynesian gambling.”

    12. Why do you support “Keynesian gambling,” the increase of “the mountain of debt” through 2018 GOP tax cuts for the elites?

  73. John Casper says:

    @JD #65

    You wrote, “You instead prefer to attempt to pin “instability” on gold,…”

    Yes. That’s where it belongs.

    As TransitRider in #64 explained to you above, “You claim a “the Golden Age of Capitalism, from the 1830s through WW1”, but that period had at least 6 separate financial crashes (or “panics”): 1837, 1857, 1873, 1893, 1907, and 1929. But from 1929 we went nearly 80 years until the next crash, in 2008.”

  74. John Casper says:

    @JC #48

    You wrote, “I advocate separation of government and money.”

    No. You want the gov’t to drive the private sector further into deficit, so the government can be in “surplus.”

    You advocate higher federal taxes to pay off the federal deficit.

  75. John Donohue says:

    @John Casper,

    Your pathetic deployment of “lying,” your jagged posting bomb, failure to acknowledge sarcasm, lame cherry-picking, spin-doctoring, along with failure to defend against my actual points, ends my interaction with you.

    And yes, PMD that is a good prediction of what I’ll do. However, Casper is the troll.

    Do you, PMD, have anything constructive to add?

  76. PMD says:

    After reading all of your comments here, I could ask you the same question John Donohue.

  77. John Casper says:

    @JD #76

    You ended your “interaction” when you failed to respond to my numbered questions. Then you played the victim card.

    13. Based on TransitRider’s #64, isn’t gold the soft currency?

    14. Where is any example of my “failure to acknowledge sarcasm?”

    15. Where is any example of my “lame cherry-picking, spin doctoring.”

    16. Where are your “actual points” that I failed to “defend against?”

    17. Where did I lie in this thread?

    18. Is it my fault you keep contradicting yourself?

    19. Aren’t you responsible for the “pathetic, lame, cherry-picking, spin doctoring” and “jagged posting” in this thread?

    20. Did you intend your use of, “bomb,” to escalate the hostility in this thread?

    21. Will you apologize for the gratuitous insults you laced into your comments?

  78. John Casper says:

    @JD

    22. Why isn’t Japan’s economy in worse shape than Greece’s?

    As a percentage of GDP, Japan’s debt is 234.7 percent. Greece is at 181.6 percent. The U.S. is at 92 percent.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_public_debt

    23. How does the yen retain its value against the other currencies?

  79. John Casper says:

    @JD

    As you know, President Trump tweeted last week that we’ve already blown $7 trillion on the Middle East occupations.

    22. Will you agree that Social Security’s Trust fund is under $3 trillion?

    http://www.crfb.org/blogs/general-revenue-social-security-trust-funds

    23. Are you so committed to cutting Social Security, because you want to spend more on occupying foreign countries?

  80. John Casper says:

    @JD

    24. In case you don’t respond to these questions, would you object if I and others link to them in other threads where you comment?

  81. John Casper says:

    @JD #27

    You wrote, “There is only a daunting web of crossing, kiting IOUs and balance-sheet schemes, masking the truth: the only thing backing commitments to Americans into the future is the promise to tax current and future generations in order to perpetuate the transfer of wealth from younger people to older, from prosperous to needy.”

    25. What are the elderly spending this wealth transfer on?

    26. Why are they not leaving it in their wills to their offspring?

  82. John Casper says:

    @JD

    27. Wasn’t the “transfer of wealth” from the elderly to the elites?

    “Reagan’s scare tactics worked. Congress passed the Social Security Amendments of 1983, which included a hefty increase in the payroll tax rate. The tax increase was designed to generate large Social Security surpluses for the next 30 years. The public was led to believe that the surplus money would be saved and invested in marketable U.S. Treasury Bonds, which could later be resold to raise cash with which to pay benefits to the boomers. But that didn’t happen. The money was all deposited directly into the general fund and used for non-Social Security purposes. Reagan spent every dime of the surplus Social Security revenue, which came in during his presidency, on general government operations. His successor, George H.W. Bush, used the surplus money as a giant slush fund, and both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush looted and spent all of the Social Security surplus revenue that flowed in during their presidencies. So we can’t blame the whole problem on Reagan. Reagan was the one who figured out a way to use Social Security money as general revenue, and his successors just followed his example.”

    https://www.fedsmith.com/2013/10/11/ronald-reagan-and-the-great-social-security-heist/

  83. John Casper says:

    @JD

    28. Do you favor removing what’s known as the “Reagan cap?”

    That cap means that every dollar a person earns annually above $110,100 is not subject to FICA–the payroll tax–the dedicated funding source for Social Security.

    https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2013/4/12/1201361/-Raising-payroll-tax-cap-is-the-best-fix-for-Social-Security

  84. TransitRider says:

    John Casper #83,

    The Social Security Trust Fund has been invested solely invested in Treasury securities. You can see the complete list (denominations, maturity dates, interest rates) here:

    https://www.ssa.gov/oact/progdata/investheld.html

    Yes, it’s true that the money was deposited into the Treasury’s general fund, but the same is true whenever anybody buys a savings bond or any treasury security from the Federal Reserve.

    Some people have a hang-up about the term “special” regarding these securities. (The SS trust fund owns “special” treasury securities.) The only thing special about them is that they cannot be marketed to the public, but they can be redeemed (at par) on demand. This is all that makes them special. Securities with identical maturities and interest rates are available to the general public.

  85. TransitRider says:

    JD apparently wants the FDIC to go away (so that bank accounts would become riskier than stock market investing). Before the FDIC was created in the 1930s, only the rich had bank accounts (because only the rich could take the risk of a bank collapsing) and ordinary people literally kept their life savings under their mattresses.

    While JD thinks we would be a better society if a trip to a bank resembled going to a casino, but I hope everybody else here realizes that it would be a huge step backward!

  86. John Casper says:

    TransitRider,

    With all due respect, you missed the point.

    The reason that both sides of the payroll tax were allowed to be so regressive was because it was reserved as dedicated funding for Social Security. Payroll taxes clobber low income workers and those who hire them. Since its funds now goes to the “general fund,” the holiday on it–the valuable part of the Bush tax cuts–should be brought back.

    Democrats–led by Obama’s lies about “the fiscal cliff”–ended that holiday. That reinforced Dems as the party of higher taxes in the minds the 99 percent, especially younger workers. Their “take-home” got smaller. JD has piggyback on that in this thread to spread enmity between young and old.

  87. John Casper says:

    TransitRider,

    WRT the elderly, our responsibilities as the same as every generation in history. What matters–the constraints–are whether we have enough stuff–safe food, drinkable water, shelter, health care, and other services–to meet their needs. The U.S. Treasury creates most dollars with key strokes. They are a public monopoly. JD btw wants to privatize them.

    The dollar is NOT a constraint on federal spending. That’s fiscal illiteracy.

    The material constraints during WW2 were steel, rubber, oil,….

    When the federal gov’t spends on those–or anything else–the prices along the supply chain that delivers it, head north.

    Rinse, lather, repeat for roads–green infrastructure–defense, education, health care, research, …

    From economist Pavlina Tcherneva @ptcherneva’s four-page gem, “The Antidote To Deficit Phobia.”

    ““Should the government spend willy-nilly on whatever it pleases since it doesn’t face involuntary default?” and the answer to that question is most definitely no. Not all deficits are created equal: some create more inequality and more rentier income, as it seems to be the case in the current crisis. Others can cause inflation. Yet others can directly create jobs, public investments, and productive capacity without generating inflationary pressures. In sovereign currency nations, a truly responsible government spending is one that is measured not by the debt-(or deficit)-to-GDP ratios, but by the real impact of that spending on the economy—job creation, poverty alleviation, stable prices, income distribution, social goods provisioning are all good measures for assessing how responsible government policy has been.”

    https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/f4c1a3_6b35b43a6aba48028d77f08750e05382.pdf

    Thank you again for your many fine contributions to this and many UM threads.

    It’s important not to let paid trolls like JD overrun the place.

  88. John Casper says:

    TransitRider,

    Apologies for my typos and one last thing.

    Just because the federal gov’t isn’t revenue constrained, doesn’t mean taxes are obsolete.

    They.

    Are.

    Not.

    In case of demand-pull inflation–too many dollars chasing too few goods–federal taxes reduce aggregate demand. The federal government, however, does not need the revenue.

    The link below is excellent on other vital functions taxes perform.

    Elites know gov’t is the only institution robust enough to hold them accountable. They are behind this deficit mania.

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