News & Analysis
Death by a Thousand Budget Cuts
Budget talks continued Thursday on a compromise that would avoid a federal government shutdown, even as "tea party" protesters gathered outside the Capitol, urging Republicans not to stray from the $61 billion in cuts already approved by the House. A tentative deal would result in cuts of about half that – $33 billion in cutbacks in one of the largest onetime reductions in domestic government programs. But House Speaker John Boehner (left) insisted Thursday that Republicans had not agreed to that level of reductions. He said the GOP was holding out for the House-passed bill that included dozens of such politically divisive policy priorities as defunding Planned Parenthood and gutting the Environmental Protection Agency. That bill died in the Senate. – Los Angeles Times
Dominant Social Theme: Can't we all just get along?
Free-Market Analysis: The larger dominant social theme of the DC elites remains the same: "Governing demands compromise." John Boehner himself has become a kind of walking political metaphor for this sort of business-as-usual; and it's probably a trap he will not easily be able to get out of. He's desperately trying to portray himself as a man who is NOT especially willing to compromise. But it's probably too late for Boehner and it may be too late for the DC legislative process itself. Real change may be on the way.
In this article we want to try to cut through the woefully inadequate mainstream media spin about what is actually going on in Washington. Here's a thought: The danger to one's prosperity and portfolio increases as warranted alarmism decreases, reduced by a lulling media. So let's examine how the mainstream media is presenting a town involved with business-as-usual and then contrast that to what we know to be true. (A far less pretty picture.)
The current business-as-usual promotion begins with Boehner and the sense of faux-normalcy he exudes. The mainstream media continues to portray him with a certain grudging affection, a mixture of melancholy and admiration. The melancholy seems to derive from the idea that Boehner is a good man playing a bad hand. The admiration stems from the way he is playing it. And one can sense it in numerous articles. We found one story – an AP screed – that perfectly encapsulated this sort of sentiment, entitled, "Tea party rallies to keep GOP cutting spending." Here's an excerpt:
The intensifying talks are as much a test of credibility and clout for the tea party as they are a measure of Boehner's ability to lead. There's evidence that some of the 87 members of the freshmen class have been educated by their real bosses – their constituents – on the fact that compromise is sometimes the only path to governing. And governing is what lawmakers get paid for.
"Compromise on the subject of spending is a tough sell. It doesn't mean it's an impossible sell," said freshman Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., a member of the Appropriations Committee who won his seat with 72 percent of the vote. Though he acknowledges the voters' mandate to cut spending, "I also live in a realistic world." Another freshman suggested the no-compromise crowd save their powder. The current, slow-motion showdown is only over a budget to fund the rest of this fiscal year.
Just wait, said Rep. Adam Kinzinger, for the fireworks over next year's budget, as well as a must-pass bill to allow the government to borrow more money to meet its commitments. Republicans hope to use that measure to force further spending cuts on the president. "What I tell folks is: This is like Fort Sumter in the Civil War," the Illinois Republican said Wednesday. "This is the first fight. The big battle is still ahead of us."
This is truly a masterpiece, beginning with the statement that "compromise is sometimes the only path to governing. And governing is what lawmakers get paid for." Really? Where exactly is it written down that Congress has to produce massive amounts of prosperity-killing red tape in order to justify its existence?
Freshman Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark. is already portrayed by AP as ruefully aware of how soon his legislative childhood has ended. "I live in a realistic world," he says. He may surely regret it once his many Tea Party voters see how quickly he's turned from a budgetary hawk into a "realist and a "moderate."
Then there's Rep. Adam Kinzinger who used an especially unfortunate metaphor when explaining his own evolving views regarding budget cuts. He is already willing to compromise, he says, because "this is like Fort Sumter in the Civil War ... The big battle is still ahead of us." But wait a minute: Didn't the South LOSE the American civil war?
The mainstream media hasn't changed a bit. The same articles with the same rancid condescension were being written decades ago, maybe a century ago. Boehner himself has become part of the meme, a "business-as-usual" kind of guy trying to tame the juvenile radicalism of Tea Party types. There seems little or no institutional memory regarding the seismic shock that just took place. Likely it doesn't fit the narrative of normalcy. And yet ... angry voters just blasted away the Democratic majority in the House and reduced it mightily in the Senate.
Ironically, Boehner may really understand the anger. Trapped by the system, he may be making the best of a bad business. (Let's see what today brings). Meanwhile the "normalcy meme" continues to be propounded by the media. Democrats, in fact, have been circulating reports that Boehner had agreed to some US$31 billion in cuts rather than the $61 billion the Tea Party preferred. It all sounds so wonkishly comforting. The Times explained it this way:
The deal would cut $23 billion from the remaining 5 1/2 months of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. Coupled with $10 billion in cuts already enacted into law, the package would amount to $33 billion in cuts over current spending levels. Difficult discussions remain over the programs and services that would be reduced or eliminated and which GOP priorities would remain in the package.
Of course, this is a far cry from the US$100 billion that Republicans promised constituents on the campaign trail. And maybe for this reason Boehner denied the compromise later in the day. "We're going to continue to fight for [increased reductions]," Boehner said, according to the Los Angeles Times. He repeated the sentiment several times.
Could he hear the Tea Party chanting outside of the Capitol building? "Cut it or shut it," they cheered, according to the Times. "Jenny Beth Martin, a co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, the group that organized the rally, said the House GOP must stand firm ... ‘They can't go lower than $61 billion. They've already compromised.'"
White House spokesman Jay Carney had a different perspective: Boehner and other Republican leaders wanted to avoid a shutdown because shutdowns give the executive branch the advantage. The president can use his bully pulpit to make it appear as if he is the aggrieved party no matter the reality. Again the media seems sympathetic to the House Leader's plight: Grown-up Boehner knows that a shutdown is a loser's game no matter how much Tea Party Kids want it to happen.
The Times article (predictably) gave Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid the final word. "He acknowledged the difficulty Boehner faced," the Times commented, and then quoted him directly: "I'm sure it's not easy trying to negotiate with the tea party screaming in his right ear."
The Times article and the AP story are good examples of business-as-usual reporting. But this time around the paradigm itself may be flawed. Let's start to examine reality. Here's some basic math ...
US-government unemployment figures are way off. Unemployment may total as much as 25 percent of the US population. As a result, one out of every ten Americans has lost his or her house to foreclosure. Forty million Americans are on food stamps. 20 to 30 percent of Detroit – America's most successful industrial city – is being razed. America's total unfunded obligations are approaching US$200 trillion. The Fed and other central banks have issued some US$20 trillion-plus into world markets and despite a lot of brave talk have no idea of how to remove such massive funds or when.
The dollar reserve system itself is probably on its last legs – perhaps headed toward hyperinflation – and this will make it even harder for the US to fund its impossible deficits going forward. Finally, some 50 percent of the US Federal budget – at least US$1.5 trillion ends up one way or another in the pockets of the military-industrial complex. Unless American legislators can stop the nation's serial warring and take a pickaxe to the Pentagon there's no way that the US can realistically deal with its budget problems. Is this likely to happen? Didn't the US just start ANOTHER war (in Libya).
There's more than dysfunction involved in the disaster of the US's dysfunctional legislative process. The US has been transformed into a quasi-authoritarian state over the past decade. The Department of Homeland Security and the US Patriot Act are a one-two punch to civil-liberties and, in the case of the former, an intimidating, freedom-trampling behemoth. The warrantless wiretapping and other activities aimed at Americans by 16 separate spy agencies are also aimed at Federal legislators. The fear factor in authoritarian societies can never be discounted. People are afraid to speak out and that goes for legislators as well, even moreso.
Boehner no doubt wants to do a good job and represent the larger Republican constituency faithfully. But what's going on now is so wildly beyond his control that it's hard to put into words. The Anglo-American power elite – money power – seems determined to drive the West toward one-world government and is willing to drive the Anglo-American axis itself to the brink of functional disaster to do so.
The mainstream media won't report this and Boehner who probably understands it as well as anybody won't whisper a word of it either. No, the conversation in Washington will continue to revolve around budget cuts and the media and its young reporters will continue to report on the process as they have for decades. The trouble is that things in America – in the West generally – are not normal. The PIGS are rioting already; the US Tea Party is incandescent with anger. Shutting down the Federal government is seen by many as the beginning of a hoped-for solution, not a political problem as Boehner apparently views it.
Again, Boehner is no fool. Just watch the man. He knows much better than the young DC reporters flocking around him what the stakes are. Barack Obama does, too, which is why he plays so much golf. In fact, nothing much can likely change the inevitability of what is going to take place. The Democrats will remain out of touch. Meanwhile, the political and budgetary process is about to bleed Boehner and the Republicans to death, unless they embrace truly radical rhetoric, and equally strong action.
Conclusion: Ultimately, the US legislative process probably cannot heal what money power itself is determined to tear asunder. The budget process, of course, will continue in America as will the reporting on it, vaguely amused and faintly ironic. But the reality, in our view, it the system itself cannot handle anymore stress and may well be about to blow. If it does, Boehner and a number of others along with him on both sides of the aisle may wish they'd never gotten into politics in the first place.
Posted by B. Martin on 04/03/11 09:40 PM
The danger of a complete change would be somewhat risky. However if the process of LEADING, which is the only solution to our almost impossible situation,cannot be shown by those presently in DC. Then replace them ALL, else we are headed for irreparable destiny. Certainly no personal offence intended, we must wake up to the real world, or else.
Posted by Zenbillioanire on 04/03/11 07:05 PM
@ Bill Ross
"There is only one thing that can be done to restore an honest economy, given that the future cannot be predicted. Respond to crime after the fact "
Agreed. You've identified the root problem with *all* public policy in our time. It's the hubristic idea that we can see the future and take steps in the present to mitigate the bogymen we invent. It stems from a desire for safety and it is always sold in the name of security. It is a patently foolish pursuit since we can't know the future, we can only prepare as best we can for what we think is the most likely future while at the same time suspending belief in other futures.
What seems to have been lost on our society is that prophecy is self-fullfilling; what you dream is what will happen. Each of us has the power to dream real, and when our dreams become dark, so does our future. We are caught up in defensive dreams that have become pathological. We dream of a threat, we dream of the response, and we create Hell on Earth.
The West is dying of bad dreams.
Posted by Adam Smith on 04/02/11 12:18 PM
I refuse to let the propagandist in the media frame the terms.
It is NOT a "Government Shutdown" if it occurs. All essential services continue including dozens of things that are not essential and probably be totally eliminated altogether.
It's "The First Step Towards Government Right Sizing" Republicans should start here and open the floor to the public to find Trillions more to whack " like base-lining to a 2005 budget and eliminating a dozen or more redundant departments.
Reply from The Daily Bell
Whatever it is or isn't, we'll be surprised if it happens. If it does happen, it will be a significant event, in our view, regardless of what is or is not affected.
Posted by MnaofMani on 04/02/11 11:42 AM
@ROBERT MURRAY "our government"
A major flaw in your statement quoted above. It is not "your" government. It is your master/owner. When you learn this basic concept you will be able to begin understanding what to do about it; but not before.
Posted by ManofMani on 04/02/11 11:25 AM
@WorkingClass "Our task is to survive the crash and hope that it weakens our oppressors. There may be opportunities for a new politics in post imperial America. Plant a garden. Get to know your neighbors. If you have paper assets trade them for something useful and tangible. I wish you well."
Couldn't have said it better.
@Bionic Mosquito – Thanks, same to you.
Posted by ROBERT MURRAY on 04/02/11 08:34 AM
Unfortunately we are in an almost unsolvable mess. I vote as a Republican and what I have to say in not very Republican. We have got to chisel the Hell out of the military and pull back our horns. Let someone else police the world. To get out of this mess taxes have to go up sooner or later and the sooner the bigger chance our government has of avoiding bankruptcy.
Our nest eggs are not secure now and we all need to look very hard at what will survive the coming hyperinflation. And yes we have to cut back, but not on education. We should establish a new law that keeps anyone that is born here from automatically becoming a citizen. That law is outdated and not very beneficial because illegal immigrants are not paying into the system. No free education for kids who parents are not legal immigrants. That is just a start. What do you think out there? Think with your mind and not your heart-be realistic.
Posted by Bill Ross on 04/02/11 08:18 AM
Compromise? Reality does not compromise. The chickens ALWAYS come home to roost. The root cause of this madness is that entitlements (promised to get a "political cut") have been confused with rights and, the REAL fight is regarding who gets a haircut (the productive) or, the entitled (collapses civilization)? Denizens of the late, not so great USSR are having fits of laughter as the west ineptly and futilely attempts to deal with issues that the USSR (or no power throught ALL of history) with all of their tyranny and threats could not achieve, slavery of their people.
Time for my standard "Regulation (control) is FUTILE spiel", not that those who are determined to remain predators are capable of understanding or making choices that acknowlege "crime does not pay" and that they are "public servants", not our self-serving masters. The only power they have is to collapse civilization or, get out of the way, contribute and focus on common interrest:
Where to start refuting a near infinite artificial reality and dangerously false paradigm?
Start by realizing that any ORGANIZED opinion has a self-interest agenda, determined by what they believe is in their self-interest in their environment which determines the choice possibilities available. In other words, any organized viewpoint and most individual viewpoints are parochial, within a narrow paradigm.
What should be clear to all competent thinkers is: REAL massive organizational failure has occurred. REAL factors are driving REAL events. The laws of reality (action inevitably leads to consequence) are imposing attrition costs for FALSITY. We, the people have already paid a hefty price for this and, the cost IS increasing. Our children will be slaves to the debt we have bequeathed them. This is OK, by some perspectives.
The first thing to do is to KNOW that regulation is an attempt of central command and control. As such, accurate information and models of reality are required, else: garbage in, garbage out.
I posit that anticipation of the future even if we have correct behavioral models is IMPOSSIBLE due to information corruption as it traverses hierarchies and the fact that such information is used to the detriment of information providers, encouraging lying. Proof:
Click to view link
The best (assuming honest regulators) that regulation can do is, in response to known action (choice) sequences that result in crime, deem these sequences illegal. This, presumably will prevent problems that have happened in the past, from recurring.
But, it appears that regulators, enforcers and interpreters are coerced by the regulated (lobbyists, bribes).
Another problem is that, since we live in an action precedes consequence reality, regulation must, by definition be reactive.
The result is that we have a massively expensive war (paid for by business, taxpayers and consumers) between regulators and their lawyers and innovative criminals and their lawyers. When innovative criminals manage to create a new method of fraud, such as subprime, well, they can honestly say: we were obeying law, nya nya, cannot touch us. This is a very expensive moral hazard, an environment that appears to be designed (by the legal profession) to achieve these very results.
There is only one thing that can be done to restore an honest economy, given that the future cannot be predicted. Respond to crime after the fact (and compensate victims), using REAL, basic definitions of crime. Restore the "rule of law":
Click to view link
Else, the costs of predatory regulation (ballooning to infinity as it attempts to track and anticipate infinity) and criminals running amok will continue to collapse civilization.
Mathematics of Rule irrefutably PROVES this:
Click to view link
We, the people KNOW we are prey. We are slowly achieving consensus regarding what to do about it.
Posted by Robert Eastman on 04/02/11 02:46 AM
Never... ever heard of SENATOR Boehner.
Reply from The Daily Bell
Neither did we.
Posted by Wayne on 04/02/11 01:26 AM
One more link, as this should be read. This person is not speaking from theory, or mere conjecture. He went through it! see link
Click to view link
Posted by Wayne on 04/02/11 01:09 AM
"It's still odd to me how the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. traded places. ... Or did they merge?"
Well,someone with personal experience with both the old USSR, and the current situation in the US might have something to add to your perspective. see link
Click to view link
Posted by Clark on 04/02/11 12:27 AM
It's still odd to me how the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. traded places. ... Or did they merge?
I'm watching the James Bond film, The Living Daylights, when the Russians occupied Afghanistan and the Muhajene (sp) were friendlies to the U.S. and Britain.
Not too long ago there were so many films that portrayed this same theme. It's as if it never was.
Do you suppose there were Russians in the 1980's who said the same thing then, that the Russians had replaced the British?
In the film, Dr. Zhivago, in one scene a man is the only one chained to his bed in a train full of forced workers (a.k.a. slaves) he exclaims he is the only free man there. ... The film doesn't say what happens to that guy.
How much longer does the puppet show go on?
I hope the freedom minded People in the U.s. don't meet the same fate as the Russian White Guard.
"Think of the government as the goons, and senior management as the Mob bosses, says Gary North." ... ok, that makes sense.
Posted by Bionic Mosquito on 04/02/11 12:26 AM
You might be right...or not. I have nothing to add, other than we will wait and see...and in the meantime prepare ourselves and our families to the extent we have the ability.
Otherwise, enjoy the Fall / Spring weather (depending on which way your head is pointed). In many parts of the world, usually a lovely season.
Posted by Medusa on 04/02/11 12:18 AM
Where are the men to protect against historic corruption, the waste, the wars, the degradation, the horrifically destructive military industrial complex, the reprehensible bankers, and the Federal Reserve, its owners, and all the muck that has burgeoned over the last 40 years?
The protests have been ignored, repeatedly, 1998-2010, and prior to.
The testimonies during Irangate, the inaction thereafter, all was reprehensible. So was Inslaw. That we have to listen to anyone involved with these travesties, and those thereafter, that took place under the Bush, Clinton, and Bush regimes is nauseatingly unhealthy.
What happened to the courageous, intelligent, articulate men of this nation????????I have heard no concrete solutions from any of the minorities, nor the dwindling majority except Ron Paul.
Posted by Bob on 04/01/11 09:40 PM
Just another phony theatrics by the banksters puppets and nothing else.
Do you really expect anything else from the same no-good lying scoundrels? Let us discuss something interesting and meaningful and learn something instead of wasting our time on nonsense.
Posted by WorkingClass on 04/01/11 07:25 PM
Democrats and Republicans in Washington are in agreement. They will not increase taxes and they will not cut war spending. So we know they are not concerned about government debt.
They are, however, willing to reduce government services and assistance to the poor. Whether they wring 30 or 60 or 100 billion out of the working classes it is far to little to late to return Washington to solvency.
Our political and financial institutions are hopelessly corrupt. There is no way forward for the American people. They are continuing to play red state/blue state as if some new combination of Democrats and Republicans will save us.
Our task is to survive the crash and hope that it weakens our oppressors. There may be opportunities for a new politics in post imperial America. Plant a garden. Get to know your neighbors. If you have paper assets trade them for something useful and tangible. I wish you well.
Posted by James M on 04/01/11 06:39 PM
I think your article hits spot on, something has to give. This can not go on much longer, the market will rear its head and chew us up at some point. They can print until the cows come home but we all know where that road goes. 90% of Americans have no clue what is going on. They are nervous and know something isn't right but they can not take the next step to actually accept the hard reality, I think they call it denial. There is going to be one hell of a wake up call. Thank you for providing excellent information on a regular basis. James
Posted by Wayne on 04/01/11 05:08 PM
Well, It's offical now!
More Americans work for the government than in manufacturing, farming, fishing, forestry, mining and utilities combined. see link
Click to view link
Any questions as to why the US is finished?
Reply from The Daily Bell
Posted by Wayne on 04/01/11 04:06 PM
"Even in the harshest dictatorships, the rulers have power because of consent of the ruled. The consent will be withdrawn, because the "benefit" side of dealing with government will disappear for many. No more welfare checks, no more social security, no more government employment, no more unearned wealth to be transferred by fiat.
When the checks stop coming in, the support will disappear. People will withdraw consent, because what they viewed as a beneficial relationship with the state will disappear. The true nature, the one way street of a relationship with the state, will become obvious even to the blind.
Then people will turn to family and community. Decentralization, which has been obvious for the last decades, will continue and accelerate.
It will happen because it must. Individual survival dictates this. The laws of economics require it, and these laws cannot be violated forever by anyone.
But it might get a bit ugly in the meantime...."
Pain is in the forecast now!
Bush Jr. knew this in 2001, when the false flag of 9-11 was use to justify turning the US into Gulag ready country.
Of course, they did to us to protect us from people who are jealous of our freedoms.
That is the one I thought Bush would not get away with.
They are jealous because our freedoms, so we will get rid of our freedoms to protect us from them?
And the public bought it!
Do we really expect people that would would buy a con this obvious to actually elect anyone who is intelligent, capable, and principled? And if one did get elected by accident, what do you think would happen to him?
It's only when the money runs out, preventing the volk from ordering their favorite pizzas and buffalo wings during Superbowl, that this will get ugly.
There is nothing more frightening that an angry mob.
It's a pure destruction machine.
You are correct.
Even the craziest Dictator fears the mob!
Posted by ManofMani on 04/01/11 03:53 PM
I appreciate your detailed response. Allow me to clarify a few things.
I believe a limited war using nukes is quite feasible. Maybe a false flag event triggering one in the US to get it over the hump for the NWO.
There are far too many human parasites in the world today. Something will have to give. The PE want a return to the feudal system (already there) which will (is) increase the numbers of non-productive. Eventually the host (productive people) will die or at least get very seriously ill; a time to flush the earth body of parasites.
I think the breakup of the USSR actually benefited the PE. Instead of a real enemy we now have an invisible enemy comprised of concepts that can be applied anywhere the PE like. Having a competing monolith may have been harder to manage than having several smaller entities that are more easily controlled.
To the PE that "decentralization" was necessary to further increase the centralization which has been accomplished over most of the old USSR. The same will apply to Europe.
As for hope, good for you that have it. I do not foresee any improvement in my lifetime. I admit I take a very hardline stance, but watching this evil day after day takes its toll on the human psyche. I wish I could have the @DBs faith the PE death grip will slacken, but daily reality says otherwise.
Posted by Jdb on 04/01/11 03:52 PM
"What if these two labels are just different labels for the same product?"
Hello Wayne ...waky...waky...they have been for a heck of a long time....give the Tea Party a couple of years ...guess what....