Monday, February 23, 2009

After String of Quick Loans, Obama Plans to Shrink National Debt

The following was posted by Belinda Jackson at the I notice a lot of inaccuracies in it, which I will highlight below each section in red.

President says he’ll cut deficit by two-thirds
After he handed out billions of dollars in quick loans to banks, auto retailers and the nation as a whole, President Barack Obama’s next goal may surprise you. He plans to cut the annual deficit by two-thirds in the next four years.

It is going to be hard to cut the annual deficit by 2/3 in the next four years when you added tons of money to the debt and compound interest kicks in, which shrinks the available funds in the budget each year, as the interest on the National Debt is a mandatory expenditure. Unless severe spending cuts kick in, which I don't believe will happen with this administration, Obama will never be able to achieve that target.

Big plans
At the beginning of Obama’s presidency, the national debt was $1.2 trillion. That amount will rise to $1.5 trillion after initial spending from the quick loans and other programs in the economic stimulus package. However, Obama’s economic projections say that by the end of 2013, the deficit will be down to $533 billion.

At the beginning of Obama's presidency, the national debt was $10,628,881,485,510.23 according to the U.S. Treasury Department's Bureau of the Public Debt ( This is a far cry from $1.2 trillion. We haven't had a $1.2 trillion debt since the 1980s. It is unclear as to how much the debt will rise due to compound interest, recurring deficits in the ensuing years, loss of GDP due to the recession and loss of tax revenue due to high levels of unemployment and shrinkage in business output.

How to slash a deficit
The major components of Obama’s plan are Iraq troop withdrawal and higher taxes on the wealthy. Obama says he’ll release his budget outline Thursday. This outline will also make clear how he intends to deliver campaign promises on health care and energy policy, according to the New York Times.

Funding the Iraq war has accounted for a huge percentage of the nation’s spending, and Obama says his troop withdrawal plan will save about $90 billion.

Increasing taxes on the wealthy will not result in a net gain of revenue for the government. Government revenue will actually DECREASE as the "wealthy" create and use tax shelters, park their money in tax free investments (municipal bonds instead of U.S. Treasuries) or just keep it in the bank.

The Iraq War money is a lot less than the interest on the National Debt. Since the beginning of FY 2009, the taxpayers were on the hook for $138,450,208,820.69, which is much larger than the $90 billion savings in his troop withdrawal plan. In FY 2008, taxpayers paid $451,154,049,950.63 in interest on the debt, which will only go up with the Bush-Paulson bank bailout, and Obama's Automotive Bailout and Stimulus packages.

A few new taxes
Obama proposes taxing income from investments in hedge funds and private equity partners at ordinary income tax rates. Right now those types of income are taxed like capital gains, at the rate of 15 percent. His policy would consider those funds income, and thus they could be taxed up to 35 percent, which is what the most wealthy pay in income tax.

See section above regarding taxation on the wealthy.

Fewer tax cuts
During Obama’s campaign, he said he would immediately get rid of the Bush tax cuts on income, dividends and capital gains. However, because of the economy crisis, he plans to instead let them lapse, as scheduled, after 2010 for individuals who make more than $250,000 a year.

Tax cuts stimulate economic growth. Allowing the tax cuts to expire will only make the recession worse due to a further slow-down in growth. That, along with the increased borrowing and spending could help push the current recession into a depression.

Spending cuts
Obama’s proposal will also include spending cuts. One program he proposes spending less money on is Medicare Advantage, which subsidizes insurance companies that cover seniors who could acquire health coverage directly from the government.

He plans to scale back spending on on private contractors. This type of spending went up considerably during the Bush administration. Many of the cuts Obama proposes include cutting spending on private contractors used for defense purposes.

The spending cuts are a starting point but definitely don't go far enough. The pork barrel spending in the stimulus plan would have been a better starting point. Eliminating waste, fraud and abuse from ALL government agencies would go even further. I'll take the spending cuts as long as they are true cuts - not the political definition of a cut being a reduction in the increase in growth of a government program. If indeed, they are true cuts, I'll support them.

Campaign promises
During his campaign Obama said he would double the United States’ spending on foreign aid. However, given the stimulus package and the economic hardship the nation faces, Obama concedes he will have to scale back that promise.

The economy has been in a recession since shortly after he started campaigning. Why make these promises in the first place? I think foreign aid should be slashed until we get government spending under control.

Healthy promises
However, Obama will not scale back his promise to make sure the 46 million Americans who don’t have health insurance will be covered. He says he can achieve this promise without adding to the deficit thanks to cost-saving changes to health care and by raising revenues.

There are better ways that have been pointed out in the public debate, largely by the minority party. All President Obama has to do is embrace them and implement them. Government take over of health care will not solve the problem, it will make it worse. This will add billions more to the National Debt, which will not help his goal of cutting the deficit in half in four years.

Energetic promises
Obama says his energy policy will create new revenue by 2012. He plans to charge companies for permits for greenhouse gas emissions, which would be the main revenue generator. Obama assumes that companies will pass the cost of the permits on to customers, so he says the government will use most of the revenue to offset higher utility bills and related expenses. The remaining revenues would go toward developing alternative energy.

If Obama assume that companies will pass the cost of the permits on to customers, and he will use the government revenue to offset the higher utility bills, then it seems to me it is a waste of time and money. It sure doesn't solve any problems and creates more for both energy producers and consumers. He should leave well enough alone.

Closing arguments
Obama says is strategy is ”investing in what we need, cutting what we don’t, and restoring fiscal discipline.”

“We can’t generate sustained growth without getting our deficits under control,” he added.

After all the quick loans being handed out, it’s nice to see some debt management kicking in.

He's right - we cannot generate sustained growth without getting our deficits under control. That may be his rhetoric right now but his policies, starting with the $35 billion bailout package for the Big 3 automakers, $787 billion in the stimulus bill, further tax increases on the wealthy, increasing the tax on energy companies, and I'm sure he'll think of adding more to the already high 31% corporate income tax, it not getting deficits under control. Add in compound interest and we are going to have even a larger gap. Then what?

In conclusion, we only have to look at Iceland's Bankruptcy, the huge debt Spain incurred with the Spanish Armada, England's near economic collapse, the Weimar Republic in Germany after World War I and Japan's "missing decade" among others to see that these policies will not solve anything but make matters worse. It truly is time for some fiscal sanity.

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