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My opinion is that the baby boomers are going to go down in history as the generation that broke America. They took far more benefits than they paid for and ran up the national debt, bankrupting the country.

There's a long way to fall yet!

Though the Boomers have been a bit haughty, they're not the worst out there by any means. In the history of the US, the Trancendental[0] and Gilded[1] generations of the antebellum South were literal slavers. We're no where near US Civil War II.

If you look at ancient Roman history, the romans of the Marian Reform era[2] really botched the republic. When they came into their adulthoods, all hell broke loose with Sulla and the like and their kid's generation (that of Cesar) gave up the ghost and turned to Empire. There has been a LOT said about the lumbering fall of the Roman Republic, and any form of generationalism is likely not applicable to the patricians of that age or culture. But, as THoR states[3], that era of 'the storm before the storm' is dripping with relations to our current era.

[0] http://www.timepage.org/cyc/civi.html#transcendental

[1] http://www.timepage.org/cyc/civi.html#goodfeeling

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marian_reforms

[3] https://www.amazon.com/Storm-Before-Beginning-Roman-Republic...

FWIW, I'm worried that we (millenials) will do the same with Republicans who are only nominally concerned about the budget and Democrats who aren't even nominally concerned (#CancelMyDebt #GreenNewDeal etc).

Democrats generally want to raise taxes to match spending. Democrats are “tax and spend,” Republicans are just “spend.”

Democrats don’t want to raise taxes to match spending. They don’t because they can’t. Between free college and free healthcare, you’re talking about closing the gap between what our welfare state provides and what say Germany provides. What does it cost Germany to provide its welfare state compared to our’s? About 10% more of GDP in taxes. That’s $2 trillion a year for the US.

You can’t raise an additional $2 trillion a year with a 70% tax rate on millionaires or eliminating the inheritance tax or treating capital gains like income or cutting the military budget. None of that even gets you close. $2 trillion is the entire income of the top 1%, or all the profits earned by US corporations. (Because of dividends and whatnot, a lot of corporate profits are income to the top 1% so there is a huge overlap between those. And you’re already taxing those two groups almost $800 billion a year. You’d have to raise it to $2.8 trillion a year.) The total income of people making above $1 million (much less the $10 million mark AOC has cited) is $700 billion.

You couldn't even raise that money with an "all of the above" approach. Say you doubled the income tax on the top 1% (+500 billion), eliminated the preferential tax treatment for capital gains (+$130 billion), doubled corporate taxes (+$200 billion), and slashed the defense budget to the NATO target of 2% of GDP (+200 billion). You're still only at $1 trillion (barely enough to close the deficit). You've also pushed the U.S. income and corporate tax burden far above the level in our competitor countries like the U.K., Germany, France, Italy, and Spain: https://data.oecd.org/tax/tax-on-personal-income.htm#indicat... https://data.oecd.org/tax/tax-on-corporate-profits.htm#indic....

There are a few ways to get $2 trillion. You could raise income taxes from 10% of GDP, about the OECD average, to 20% of GDP. That would blow past Sweden levels of income taxes (13% of GDP) into Denmark territory. Like Denmark, you’d have to make the income tax extremely broad based. The top tax rate of 56% (combined municipal, national, and labor contribution) kicks in at under $80,000. The tax rate below that is essentially flat, at 40%, with some deductions. (Fun fact: Denmark’s corporate tax rate is just 25%, lower than the US average after accounting for state corporate taxes.)

Or, you could create a 20% VAT to get our consumption taxes up from 4.3% to the OECD average of about 10%: https://data.oecd.org/tax/tax-on-goods-and-services.htm#indi.... And you could increase FICA taxes to 25% or so (from 15%) to get our 6.3% social insurance tax rate up to the OECD average of 9%. That, plus a millionaire's tax, if you're so inclined, will get you to $2 trillion.

All of these would impose a large tax increase in the middle class. That’s politically untenable even for Democrats. That’s why you see things like the Sanders health plan, that has like a half-page bullet point list of possible revenue sources (none of which comes close to raising 10% of GDP in tax revenue). There is only a single way to increase U.S. taxes to European levels without rendering ourselves economically noncompetitive by taxing high earners and corporations more than Europe. And that is massive tax increases on the middle class. Democrats are willfully blind to that reality.

Another way to get $2T is to just spend it and not be overly concerned with debt.

Can we put aside the financing part of this and just address how crazy this suggestion is just as a matter of common sense? Our country pays significantly more than its peers do on health care. The crisis in health care isn't that it's not universally free, but that it costs too damn much. The "just put $2T on the debit card" answer to that problem says, ok, fuck it, the systems that are overcharging us for care, leave them alone, give them their money, and let's figure this out later. But that money is going somewhere. Of all the places the federal government can route a dollar, how does it make sense to send it to companies that are, deliberately or unintentionally (through inefficiency), overcharging us? How is that not just abject surrender?

I think we can sustain some deficit spending. But $2 trillion annually would triple the deficit.

Works like a charm until the money has to be repaid.

Does the charm last when it's never repaid? See for ex https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/02/why-the...

Contra: Before the dot com crash and 9/11 some non-lunatics were worrying that Treasuries would go away and there'd be no safe place to store money because all the debt looked like it was going to be paid off before too long.

Saying that the countries do not die, as the referenced article suggests is not right: states do disappear every once in a while. Yes, their lifespan is usually longer than for humans a but it's not infinite.

But even looking at mortal humans: in 2008 many of them have realized that no, it's not possible to keep borrowing indefinitely. Some day the creditors may ask for their money back.

Some people suggest we'll just print the money we need. The problem is that now I can take this money and buy half of your country before you realize what's going on.

I’ve said this a million times. I have no idea how the Republicans have managed to brand themselves as the fiscally-responsible party.

If anyone thinks ANY political party can have all the answers, they aren't using their brain. In addition, our structure today is about keeping the fights as an us vs them, while the corporations steal our lunch while we are distracted. It reminds me of a quote from the movie "The Usual Suspects", 'The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist.'

I'm not sure how anything I said can even remotely be construed as implying that any political party can have all the answers, seeing as it was little more than a criticism of one policy area of one political party.

There are a lot of the grassroots Republicans who care and are frustrated by the behavior of their leaders. As you get to state and local levels Republicans tend to be more responsible to the ideals as well. With a couple notable exceptions Republicans at the federal level are as described: lower taxes and spend spend spend.

The majority of voters don't care: they want low taxes and high spending on their pork project and they don't really care about the consequences.

Voters have been trained to listen to soundbites and not look into the real facts.

Most news media has perpetuated this. Instead of reporting facts they talking heads yell at each other for hours.

> talking heads yell at each other for hours.

Which is no different than talking heads yelling at the audience through a display and speaker, it's only through mental gymnastics that a degree of separation is established.


This article goes into a great breakdown of budget deficits by those in power, and it shows that Republicans are better at controlling spending.


It looks at average deficits, which is silly. If X blows up the deficit and then Y gradually shrinks it, Y has a higher average even though Y reduced the problem and X caused it all.

And of course this is not a hypothetical at all. Bush and Obama followed this pattern perfectly. Bush’s average deficit was $443 billion. Obama’s was $816 billion. But Bush inherited a surplus, and left office with a deficit of $1.4 trillion. Obama inherited that and left office with a deficit of $665 billion. Am I really supposed to conclude that Bush was better at controlling spending?

At this point, I'm far more concerned about the long-term state of the environment than the long-term (or even short-term) state of our economy.

You should be worried about both. A crisis in either of them will cause a lot of suffering.

Don't forget that Clinton balanced the budget during a good economy while the current administration even raised the deficit in a good economy without any plan for ever reducing it besides a miracle.

This is a common talking point, but it was balanced while Republicans had control of the House and Senate.

The Republicans also had control of the House and Senate for the last two years. That's not the thing that's different this time.

That is also a misleading talking point. Neither Bill Clinton nor the Republicans (who only held both for two years before the balance) can take full credit. As you can see by this graph:


There was a sharp rise in income around 1994, and at the same time spending flattened (due to lower unemployment/lower safety net costs). The two met in 97, then fell off sharply in 2000.

This exactly mirrors the "Dot-com bubble" period start, middle, and end:


So neither Bill Clinton or the Republicans can really claim credit. This just happened to be a strong period of economic activity that happened to also drive down costs.

I think one thing is clear: In the 90s Congress + President didn't fuck it up whereas current Congress + President decided to increase deficits in good times which will make it very hard to respond to any downturn.

What do you mean? Democrats constantly talk about raising taxes. They've explained how education costs / green new deal will be covered by large tax increases.

Japan has been running a national debt at somewhere between 200% to 300% of GDP for at least a decade now. They seem fine. The deficit is actually not a big deal in comparison to the threat to the economy posed by climate change or by endemic poverty. The obsession with opposing deficits in the face of crises that are WAY worse than any vague threats posed by a large deficit is bizarre and really just a covert way of trying to make sure rich people never have to pay their fair share in taxes.

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