Infographic of the day

Looks like it’s a visual day (and I already had a “chart of the day”).  Via the White House:

U.S. National Debt



Don’t know when this came from, but I just came across it and I know my social-science readers will love this:


Solving the long-term deficit issue

So, I was thinking about the debt in this shower this morning (yep, that’s the sort of thing I think about in the shower) and it was just annoying to realize how straightforward this all is while we’re pretending otherwise.  We don’t have a spending problem right now– we have a revenue problem.  What’s the best way to increase revenue?  Actually get Americans working again.   I’m not original in this thought, but damnit, that’s what we should be working on.  And you know what, it may cost some money to do it– look at all the government workers laid off in states around the country.  Some federal stimulus aid directly to states, like the first time around, could put those people back to work, and, of course, have spillover effects as those people would be spending money that would help keep other people working.  And, don’t even give me, “but the stimulus didn’t work” (cue whiny voice).  It did.  Just not enough because the mistake was to under-estimate the size of the economic difficulties we were facing.  Unemployment would’ve gotten a lot worse without the stimulus.

It’s crazy, we know what needs to be done, but we’re pretending otherwise, because we’ve in thrall to the economic Know-Nothingism of the Tea Party.  Here’s my analogy.  Okay, so you need a car to be able to drive to a decent paying job.  We bought a car, but it was cheap, and it overheats.  We can only drive to the Wal-Mart 5 miles away.  If we spent more money to get the engine fixed, we could drive to a much more lucrative job 12 miles away.  Alas, we’ve got a bunch of people telling us we just cannot afford to fix the engine and get a better job– we’ve got to live with the Wal-Mart wages.

And, of course, when it comes to government revenue, I didn’t even mention the Bush tax cuts.

Chart of the day

Via Drum:

What’s pretty clear is that the real growth is in health care.  You want to rein in long-term  spending, then you should want to rein in health care spending– especially Medicare.  Interestingly, only one political party has made any serious attempts to do this (I said serious, not the Paul Ryan plan).  It’s not perfect, but it’s a little something called the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare.”  Or as Drum concludes:

Generally speaking, defense, discretionary, and interest expenses aren’t an issue and don’t really need any special attention. Social Security is basically fine and needs only a few small tweaks. The only thing we should be seriously concerned about is healthcare spending. Period. That’s the whole story. Anything else is just partisan showmanship.

Those are the facts. Pass ’em along.

I believe I just did.

Thomas the Tank Engine and Imperialist indocrination

I consider myself fortunate that none of my kids were ever particularly big fans of Thomas the Tank Engine.  Just don’t find it as entertaining as most pre-school kids’ shows.  I have watched enough episodes, though, to find this deconstruction of the political lessons of the show to be spot-on and absolutely fascinating.

Photo of the day

Very cool set of photos from the Atlantic of recent synchonized swimming and diving championships.  If you appreciate cool photography, check these out:

Obama the negotiator

I used to be fairly persuaded that Obama was playing the long game while Republicans were only focused on short-term payoffs.  That may still be true, to an extent, but I think he can still be playing the long game and simultaneously be a very poor negotiator.  I’d love to see a solid argument that Obama is actually a good negotiator.  Maybe I’m missing something, but it sure seems to me that this is not a man you won’t negotiating on behalf of your priorities.  From Chait:

Obama clearly faces a perception problem. Republicans may complain that he’s walked away from deals, but they really think he’s a pushover who will cede more and more ground the harder and longer they push [emphasis mine]. That’s a dangerous position to be in on the verge of a high stakes game of chicken. It encourages the Republicans to push the envelope farther and farther — even to walk away from a deal they regard as a win in search of an even better win.

Yep.  Again, maybe I’m wrong, but it strikes me that Republicans think Obama is a pushover because he keeps being a pushover.

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