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What should we cut to reduce the deficit?
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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
Posts: 4646

PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2011 10:56 am    Post subject: What should we cut to reduce the deficit? Reply with quote

Iso's ranting about aid to illegals made me think that there might be a more positive way to frame a useful debate. What should we cut, and why?

My own choices would be, in rough order: Department of Defense new weapons programs and about 20% of our bases--guess how many we have.

Department of Energy etc.--subsidies to oil, coal, and gas guzzlers

Department of Agricultre--subsidies to bring land into production for the same crops supported by PIK payments.

I could go on, but you get the message. What, how much would it save, and why? Reasoning not ranting Mike.
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coboardhead



Joined: 26 Oct 2009
Posts: 1847

PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2011 6:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deficit reduction possibilities - partial list (just my favorites)

Eliminate Department of Homeland Security and Combine with Defense Department - $43 B total budget - savings unknown. Convert war spending into security spending.

Eliminate Department of Education - Total educational costs as a percentage of GDP have not decreased as hoped. So give it back to the states. $47 B total budget - savings unknown.

Raise Medicare Eligibility to 67 - Savings $30 B
Merge Forest Service, Park Service, BLM $ 1 B
Combine VA and Military Health Services - savings unknown VA is $52 billion alone.
Medicaid Clinic model vs ER private doctors - 10% savings $ 25 B
Medicare Clinic model vs private doctors - 5% savings $ 15 B
Medicare Fraud and Overuse - savings unknown

All other departments (incl defense) 3% cut on 2008 budget (prior to spending for stimulus package) (start next year) $ 40 B

Now, offset some subsidy to energy companies by a .20 gallon gas tax. $30 B.
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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
Posts: 4646

PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2011 8:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A few things to think about. Here’s a list of suggestions: http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2010/09/thousand_cuts.html

And then guess how many military bases we have? Give up? Try this. According to the Pentagon's own list PDF, the answer is around 865, but if you include the new bases in Iraq and Afghanistan it is over a thousand. These thousand bases constitute 95 percent of all the military bases any country in the world maintains on any other country's territory. In other words, the United States is to military bases as Heinz is to ketchup.
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=12785

Do you think we might be able to cut a few of these bases? Not according to the Heritage Foundation. Do you think it's possible some of their members make money in the war trade?
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coboardhead



Joined: 26 Oct 2009
Posts: 1847

PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2011 11:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I was a kid, the Air Force base near my home town was potentially on the chopping block.

The base was considered to be contributing some significant dollars (as I recall by some estimates 20% of the economy of the small town). Being a small rural state with two senators (same of course as a large state), we got to keep the base.

Did it make economic or military sense to close that base? I don't know. But, at the end of the day, politics was served.

Better make sure the bases on the hit list are in large "blue" states.

How about combining military bases from different branches that are in close proximity to each other?

I read your reference on spending cuts. It appears that the cuts to programs will be pretty devasting to some agencies and would be pretty painful to a lot of the middle class. I found it interesting that the proposed cuts pretty much let SS (which appears to include Medicare) off the hook. I don't think we can really reduce the deficit without coming to terms with our military and SS spending.

Closing loopholes may also be a good compromise to raising marginal tax rates. The interest deduction and capital gains exclusions on real estate alone total (Pew Center) nearly $ 200 B. Should not be cut instantly, but phased out. Capital gains exclusion should have a cap.


Last edited by coboardhead on Tue Jan 25, 2011 9:54 am; edited 1 time in total
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isobars



Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 13265

PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2011 8:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Enough with the third decimal points; let's concentrate on the Trillions column of the ledger:

• Make sure neither party runs the White House, the Senate, and the House ever again.

• Vote Republican in 2012, and if they keep spending, vote in ANY third party the next time. Boehner's our last shot at sanity.

• VOTE THE BIGGEST SPENDER IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD THE HELL OUT OF POLITICS. She's not sane; all that botox went to her head.

• Repeal Pelosicare and FIX health care.

• Stop this stupid, senseless, ineffective, poorly disguised vote-buying crap laughingly called "stimulus" and "jobs" packages. Keynes was wrong; get over it.

• Slash unearned handouts/unadulterated welfare drastically.

• Shut down unions.

• Biggest of all, replace the federal income tax with the Fair Tax.

• Start executing people convicted of blue-chip-level fraud.
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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
Posts: 4646

PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2011 11:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Coboardhead--kind of hard to have an adult conversation when Fick keeps interupting about unions being the problem. The one point that he makes sense on is that having a balance of power between the parties in government makes for a little more transparency.

I disagree with Obama's surface position going into the State of Union tonight on Social Security and Medicare. My understanding is that Social Security's trust fund is secure for the next twenty or so years, but not necessarily beyond that (and tiny assumptions about interest or discounting rates are huge over that time frame.)--but it is, at over a trillion dollars, the biggest Federal program if we exclude the two wars from the military budget. Tiny adjustments now, like raising the retirement age from 67 to 68, and eventually to 69, and a modest means test would help. My guess is that this is going to be a bargaining chit in the overall discussion. But there is a bigger problem, at least in California, on municipal (not State) pensions. IN both of these cases, the assumptions we made about actuarial trends and returns on investment for retirement portfolios were wrong, and we have to adjust to the facts. Somebody has to be a designated adult and tell the middle class beneficiaries they need to pay a little more for the benefits they get.

Medicare is a bigger problem, and is part of escalating medical costs that we also can't have an adult discussion on . You should read
Atul Gawande's article in the New Yorker which looks at Camden, New Jersey, where 30% of the health care costs are generated by just 1% of all patients. He also looks at some solutions that are counter-instinctive. getting people with chronic diseases to respond in preventive measures is the key, but it takes a particular type of staffing and building trust relationships. Same is essential in getting kids from poverty to work to potential. There are some programs to encourage this in the health care bill, and I still trust Obama's instincts in seeing that getting some handle on increasing health care costs is a first order problem for America's future. I don't see much adult conversation going on about how to do this, but Medicare, and its huge percentage of coverage and drug benefits are certainly the 800 pound gorilla in the room. Is there an adult from the loyal opposition willing to stand up and speak truth as opposed to talking points? I wouldn't be surprised if we could do better than last years bill, but not in last years climate.

On military bases--most of the 1000 are overseas. Of interest is the closure. I helped design the projects to reuse the closed military bases in Oakland and return them to productive, economic generating uses. In four years, with the help fo Clinton and Dellums. But other base closures have bogged down in military incompetence in clean-ups (Treasure Island), and over-reaching local government expectations (Alameda, Mare Island.) Total military costs including the wars are over a trillion, and most is probably necessary. We need to have some adult Republicans design a fair share of cuts that won't hurt military strength, instead of protecting Republican contractors.

Won't be easy.
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coboardhead



Joined: 26 Oct 2009
Posts: 1847

PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2011 11:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mac said

Quote:
Atul Gawande's article in the New Yorker which looks at Camden, New Jersey, where 30% of the health care costs are generated by just 1% of all patients. He also looks at some solutions that are counter-instinctive. getting people with chronic diseases to respond in preventive measures is the key, but it takes a particular type of staffing and building trust relationships


This is key to reducing health care costs at the "senior" end of the spectrum. I, personally, have seen $1 mil. spent over the past couple years on family members to treat acute conditions with barely a word about treatment of the chronic underlying causes, counseling to deal with the disability or occupational therapy. All of which have been shown to improve the quality of life. This with medical professionals in the family! The Medicare system has developed a life of it's own and really does need fundamental overhaul.

In addition, a clinic system to treat Medicaid clients can achieve significant savings. We need to be able to have the painful conversation that the delivery of medical care is not going to be the same for all economic classes. The current system relies on the private sector of medicine to provide care for Medicaid and the uninsured, although a network of clinics can save significant amounts (10% of total costs or more). These types of clinics are unpalatable to much of the middle class.

I really do think that Obama was correct to keep pushing for health care overhaul even at the risk of his political survival. Without addressing costs in a portion of the economy that exceeds 15% (or more) of the total GDP, there really is no hope for our budget woes.
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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
Posts: 4646

PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2011 12:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Agreed, all the way down the line.
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isobars



Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 13265

PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2011 1:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

coboardhead wrote:
I really do think that Obama was correct to keep pushing for health care overhaul even at the risk of his political survival. Without addressing costs in a portion of the economy that exceeds 15% (or more) of the total GDP, there really is no hope for our budget woes.


Do some research and you'll find that only ideologues FEEL Pelosicare will cost less. People who run numbers, including the CBO, say it will increase costs by 12-13 figures.
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swchandler



Joined: 08 Nov 1993
Posts: 5433

PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2011 2:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I find all this focus about changing Social Security to be extremely unnerving, particularly in light of the recent extension of the Bush Tax Cuts, to include a further extension of unemployment benefits, and unbelievably, a 1 year 2% reduction in the payroll tax. As I've already mentioned, I'm less than 6 months away from starting Social Security. It's a benefit that I paid into for my whole working career.

coboardhead, you don't want anything to do with changing or reducing your anticipated pension. Why would you expect me to eat dirt concerning Social Security?

Looking at a change in eligibility from 62 to 67, I will raise a pertinent point that sends an entirely different message than everybody is singing right now, particularly Republican jerks like Senator Mitch McConnell. Let's consider the 5 year extension in eligibility to be a tax penalty, because it can be argued that it is. I'm looking to receive a little over $18K a year. Multiplied by 5, that's close to $91K. Why in hell would I want to pay that kind of tax penalty for something I've already earned and should receive?

As things stand right now, if I waited 3 years until I was 65 to begin taking Social Security, I would make significantly more. But, I would bet that if the age requirement was extended to 67, I would get nothing more than I would get at 62. Does that sound fair to any one of you here? Hell no!

Really what needs to happen to shore up Social Security into the future is an increase in the payroll tax, to include an increase in the wage ceiling. The increase need not be that great. Also, it might be a good idea to review and reconsider COLA requirements into the future. Moreover, the Social Security Trust should not be bled and robbed as it has been in years past. If there's any decision to raise the eligibility age it should be phased in over a very extended period of time, like maybe 20 years.
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