Boomergeddon Watch: Debt Visible and Invisible

debt_ratios2by James A. Bacon

Now that the United States has driven down its annual budget deficit to less than $500 billion a year, there is a widespread temptation to think that we’re out of the fiscal woods. By some fiscal measures, actually, we are performing better than a lot of other countries. I found this McKinsey & Company report to provide a fascinating perspective. Since the Global Financial Crisis of 2007,  the U.S. has added less to its total debt (household, business and government combined) as a ratio of its economy than any developed country but Germany and Norway.

Our relative prudence reflects two main countervailing trends: public profligacy and private thrift. American households have shed much of their debt, either through restrained spending or through bankruptcies, foreclosures and write-offs. But public spending has surged. In effect, we have shifted the risk of over- indebtedness from private balance sheets to public balance sheets. We are at less risk of a consumer-driven recession than we would have been otherwise, but at greater risk of a more systemic, Boomergeddon-style meltdown.

And it’s not as if we’re immune to excess indebtedness in other countries. We’re part of a global economy. If other countries go bust and spending collapses, our exports suffer and our growth slows (as happened this past quarter). If other governments start defaulting on debts, the shock is transmitted through banks and bond markets in unpredictable ways. If economic instability leads to political instability in a key global player like China, we could experience disruptions to supply chains.

Debt is a wonderful thing when the economy is growing and everyone can make their interest and principle payments. It’s a wretched, nausea-inducing thing when the economy tanks. One way to protect ourselves is to make sure we know how much debt is out there, and where it is. Government-issued bonds are a matter of public record and highly visible. But there’s a lot of debt stashed away in economic development authorities, colleges and universities, and other quasi-governmental institutions that we pay less attention to.

Meanwhile, according to Governing magazine, municipalities are increasingly turning to bank debt, which is less transparent. According Governing‘s Liz Farmer, localities are required to report bank loans in their annual financial reports, but such information often doesn’t surface until a year after the fact. And bank borrowing is soaring.

Over the past five years, banks have nearly doubled their municipal holdings to $425 billion in securities and loans, up from $225 billion at the end of 2009, according to a Moody’s report. The practice is becoming so prevalent that muni analysts indicate it’s contributed to the slower pace of new bond issuance over the same period.

The [Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board], which is charged with protecting investors, municipalities and the public interest by promoting a fair and efficient municipal market, can’t do its job it if doesn’t have all the data. …. The terms of these loans can directly affect bondholders. … For example, some loan deals require that a bank loan be paid back first in the event that a government can’t pay all its bills on time. That means that future bondholders’ investments could be less protected than they realized.

Is anyone keeping track of this data for localities in Virginia? Do we have the faintest clue how much debt is backed directly or indirectly by local governments? Are our finances as conservative as we think they are?

Am I the only one who’s worried?

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39 responses to “Boomergeddon Watch: Debt Visible and Invisible

  1. I think the deficit is headed back up because of the demographics of Medicare.

    It’s a fixable problem not much more difficult that Social Security but it will be financially painful to seniors who will probably have to pay 3 times as much for Medicare than they are now – a whole 300.00 worth per month!

    at the local level – we have been told that in our budgets – we have to account for pensions into the future – they can no longer be unfunded liabilities…

    that’s going to require the schools to ask for more money …

    but I think you got it right… as bad as we hear the Conservatives blather on and on in this country about deficits and debts – when it comes right down to it – they don’t really want to cut spending – overall. They want to cut entitlement spending so we will have more money for the military!

    Paul Ryan sticks it to the Medicare folks and then presumes to add more money to the military by claiming the country is going to grow at 5-6% for the next 20 years!

    Then we have the folks that think it’s cheaper to provide medical care to the indigent through ERs than Primary care …

    and then we have the folks who are all in favor of spending more taxes on K-12 for things way beyond core-academic.. and higher ED for college loans and big time sports.

    Our problem is not liberals wanting to spend more – it’s worse than that.

    It’s “thinking” that says we could have a lot more money to spend on all sorts of neat things if we just cut entitlements.

    so – where are the true fiscal conservatives cuz they’re not the GOP either – folks who never saw a military weapon they did not like and love putting people in prison for being black and poor.

  2. We could raise taxes and reform the tax code so that massive multi-billion dollar companies don’t game the system to rob the country of trillions collectively a year. You know… those companies that have been on a tear on wall street with record profits, but who haven’t trickled down any of that money in the form of wage growth or high employment… you know the ones who keep complaining that taxes are too high except they are still lower than the very prosperous corporate era of the 90s under Clinton.

    *taps mic* hello? People with brains, can anyone hear me?

    Sensible reform. Fix it so we get more revenue (wait for collective republican gasp) and combine it with a 3 to 1 cost savings per estimated revenue by switching to chain CPI on SS, means testing on several entitlement programs, and a 1 year freeze on all spending levels for discretionary and military. Add on top of that an end to the spend it or lose it system, to change it so that any savings that are found in operation costs for a sub-department, a portion of that savings will be distributed as a one time bonus to employees in that department at end of a fiscal year…

    And we might actually be ready to stop living from crisis to crisis. But then again, for politicians, that’s exactly what they want. They want it to seem like there are big problems because its what fires up the base. Concessions and compromise, as much of a talking point as it might be, has no place in the house of representatives who live in protected districts.

    Roll back the house budgetary powers gained after Nixon so we can return back to an era when the executive branch actually had say on the budget… I still find it odd that Congress says this is Obamas budget… and the idiots eat it up.

    The house of representatives is not a good place for determining budgets, as has been seen over the past 40 years of awful congressional spending.

    • The whole deal is dumb.

      Take mortgage interest deduction.

      we can do a deduction for everyone to own ONE median-priced home but what sense does it make to provide a tax break to homes far more valuable – as well as multiple homes?

      what sense does it make to have stock earning captial gains for 40 years then turn it over to someone with no taxes on it at all?

      what sense does it make to provide someone who makes 85K in income a year with guaranteed, non-deniable, no cap health insurance for 105.00 a month?

      what sense does it make to provide health insurance totally tax free – no fed, no state and no FICA – no matter how much?

      why not do it for median-priced health insurance for everyone – and anything over that – gets taxed like other income?

      do we provide uncapped, below-market loans for higher ed – no matter
      the financial ability of the parents or whether or not the student pays them back?

      our current tax system is one of winners and losers and the winners want keep the status quo and no changes… even if – it takes the country to financial ruin. They’d rather see the poor live in cardboard boxes and die on the steps of hospitals that agree to reform the tax system.

      Boomergeddon is not some inevitable structural failure… it’s a story about people who want their tax breaks … and don’t want others to enjoy similar breaks even if the country goes broke and the poor end up living like 3rd world poor.

    • Facts are stubborn things …

      “The most recent estimate comes from the World Bank and International Finance Commision, which put the United States’ effective rate for 2014 at 27.9 percent. That’s second-highest behind New Zealand among OECD countries and 15th-highest among the 189 countries measured.”

      That’s the effective rate, not the statutory rate.

      Repeat after me … corporations in the United States pay among the highest corporate taxes in the world.

      I am growing increasingly frustrated with liberal double talk and willful misrepresentation of the facts.

  3. I just went to the local mall to get some exercise. Hadn’t been there in a while. Holy Crap! The place looks like a glorified flea market. Most of the franchise places have moved out, leaving the homemade sign crowd. All are offering 60% off closeout sales, but no one is buying. I’d say there is around 20% vacant space not counting zombies Sears and Penny. This mall looks worse now than it did back in the repression years. Yet according to some, the economy is just peachy. Maybe people have decided to trade stuff for steak cuz Outback and the buffets seem to be doing ok on weekends.

    • We have one mall in Fredericksburg and one end of it has Sears and the other has Costco and in the middle are Belk, Penny’s and Macy’s and Dicks – and the rest of it is a Heinz 57 of zombie type businesses that Darrell speaks of.

      I don’t think the economy as we see it is going to go back to what it was.

      I think it broke during the recession and forced businesses to get along with less help and some businesses that were marginal just went away – like we are seeing the end of Radio Shack -a mall stalwart…

      I think folks who work in retail and service work in general these days are – for want of a better word – commodity labor.. the equivalent of lawn care or roofing jobs – without the accent…

      The typical government clerk job is going the way of doo doo birds also as the advent of internet and smartphones are changing the way the world works.

      If you know how to program a drone – or can play in the big data world – you’re probably ok but if you are a plain old high school grad – or even a college grad with a generic degree – it’s going to be rough sledding.

    • The idea that the economy is going swimmingly is yet another liberal lie. Gallup is a pretty serious organization and their CEO is, as you would expect, pretty damn good with numbers. Here’s how he sees the real unemployment rate (vs the fairy tale being told by the liberal media featuring paragons of honesty like Brian Williams)…

      • well not as simple as claimed:

        ” “The biggest deduction that varies across countries is how generous the depreciation schedule is,” said Alan Viard, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. “When a business does an investment, equipment, a building, they don’t normally get to deduct the whole cost that year. They have to do it over time.”

        Faster is better, said Viard, but depreciation rates vary depending on what types of equipment a company is buying.

        Many studies also don’t account for what the United States classifies as S-corporations, meaning businesses that pay tax through the individual income-tax system rather than the corporate income-tax system, Viard said. This represents about 30 percent of American companies, he said.”

      • Don, I’m sure you remember the tenor of media economic coverage during the Bush administration. Unemployment was lower than it is now, and we heard a steady drumbeat about how weak the economic recovery was, how inadequate the rate of job creation was, blah, blah, blah. With Obama as president, even weaker numbers miraculously become proof of Obama’s superior stewardship of the economy.

        • not true Jim Bacon. People were complaining about Cheney and other idiots saying that deficits don’t matter when it comes to nation-building.

          and this is funny – Boomergeddon – came from Bush’s policies on spending.. that drove the country back into deficit – and then having the economy crash in the middle – then folks arguing that because we’d already spent a ton on these dumb wars – we could not use stimulus to create infrastructure jobs.

          we spend out the wazoo for young folks to go overseas and get sliced and diced and return home needing lifetime care – all done with deficit spending – but we can’t spend on infrastructure…

          it was NOT about the economy under Bush – it was about DUMB!!!

          you go off to nation-build, asleep at the switch on the mortgage meltdown then get up in front of people and advocate TARP…

          this is what the complaint was right here:

  4. It’s not just retail either. Many tech jobs are getting to be a waste of time. Working with computers has gotten to the level where only the top tier worker can actually do anything. Everyone else is pretty much relegated to following a directive sentence from a tasking paper that some top tier guy wrote. And in many cases the only reason that guy is writing papers is because he brain dumped a bunch of certification tests and rolls over jobs as fast as he can.

    • I’d be remiss if I did not mention – that our area of about 300,000 folks is heavily commuter-centric to NoVA – AND – the most popular housing option down our way is the 300,000 – 400,000 single family home.

      from that – I deduce that we have a lot of folks making 90K and up for their commute jobs in NoVa.

      Now.. I don’t know what a lot of them are doing -but it’s more than following a script for writing software.. (I think).

      I also don’t know what their education level is – but I strongly suspect it’s a college degree and then some.

      Maybe life in Hampton is not this way..

  5. I see no facts to support this wringing of hands over debt and especially the focus on public profligacy. One can’t ignore the fact that only Norway and Germany have a better debt posture, so all is not lost. But this blog ignores our horribly skewed public and private priorities: crumbling infrastructure, an inadequate, lagging education system with misplaced priorities, horrendous student debt, corporations swimming in profits spent since the 1970s on stock buybacks, CEO salaries over research/products/workers, (COSCO et al. being exceptions). We’re unwilling to tax the super rich at rates that never squelched prosperity when they were much higher.

    Sure we need to deal with long-term entitlement costs — in the long term. But Norwegian and German taxes are higher for good reason — to pay successfully for public costs we forgo. And we shall so continue unless we fix a political system perverted in large part by the abuse of money, which apparently votes.

    At 75, I become more radical and think it useful to consider the saner days of the Eisenhower of my youth and the tragedy of a party that went astray.

    • I can’t disagree with what Malcolm is saying especially when he frames it in terms of priorities.

      we make choices.

      For instance – if we have a choice between military jobs or health care jobs – we choose military jobs.

      it’s just a plain fact.

      Not one , hand-wringing debt-fearing GOP, have I heard decry the amount of debt we have because we spend about 1/2 our available revenues on the military – more than the next 10 countries combined – to include our major allies and our major opposition.

      Not one Virginia GOP decries the deficit and debt when it comes to govt/military jobs in NoVa or Hampton or anywhere else – nor do they worry that some day the deficit/debt will get so bad that we will no longer be able to pay for military jobs – so we better not take the money….

      But they do seem to have that worry about health care jobs with the MedicAid Expansion. They say they’re worried so much about deficit and debt that we can’t “trust” the MedicAid money – but apparently we can the military money – or for that matter the highway trust fund money .

      so – the GOP in Va chooses military jobs in Hampton over health care jobs in Norton.

      Actually they could have both… but because we can’t “trust” the Feds – we better only take the military money and not the health care money.

      and you know – the irony here is rich – because rural Va is RED Va!

    • Malcolm, Norway is a special case — a small country that built a huge trust fund from its North Sea oil bounty. Can’t compare it to the United States. Germany does make a fair comparison, and the fact is, Germany has pursued a more responsible fiscal policy than the United States. But its economic growth rate is lower, and such growth as it has enjoyed has been achieved by selling goods to the European Community, which bought those good by racking up massive debt, much of it from German banks. Greece is a case in point. Let’s see how Germany looks after Greece defaults, financial mayhem ensues, and German banks take a haircut.

      As for our misplaced priorities….

      Crumbling infrastructure — (a) the extent to which our infrastructure is crumbling is way overstated, (b) where infrastructure is crumbling, it’s the result of government policy diverting money from maintenance to new projects, and (c) much of that new-project spending has been driven by pork barrel politics and waste.

      Education — the problem with the U.S. educational system is not a lack of spending. We spend more per capita than almost anywhere in the world. The problem is rampant bureaucracy, multiple layers of government, out-of-control pensions, inability or unwillingness to fire bad teachers, fear of lawsuits, parental feelings of entitlement and disruptive students.

      Student debt — student debt has become a social problem only in the past decade or two, a direct result of out-of-control increases in college tuitions. I suppose you could argue that cutbacks in state support account for a third or so of the tuition increases, but the fact remains that higher ed has been a low productivity-growth zone in the U.S. economy.

      The U.S. suffers from institutional sclerosis. We don’t need to raise tax rates. (We should reform our tax system, with all its exemptions, deductions, credits and carve-outs, but that’s a side issue.) We need to do the hard work of getting key systems (and that includes health care, by the way) working properly. Unfortunately, figuring out what ails our institutions and figuring out how to fix them is a lot harder work than raising tax rates, which any moron can do.

      • Germany is better off because they have health care, individual mandate, institutionalized community colleges and trade schools for those not bound for 4-year institutions and a tax rate that is sufficient to pay for their infrastructure needs -including transit and rail.

        the “malfeasance”, bureaucracy, etc, et all argument is lame .. as most countries have similar issues… including Germany.

        Our K12 schools are a disaster not because of bad teachers or bureaucracy but because we do not take education seriously like German and Norway do – and insist on tough standards – for all kids – not just those in the better neighborhoods and not just those headed to 4year college.

        There are no “charter” or “voucher” schools in Germany – they beat our public schools with their public schools.

        what we have – here is denial of the realities, blame for blame’s sake and a refusal to take responsibility for the bad choices we do make with respect to policies for health care, education, and infrastructure.

        we do it wrong and it shows. We don’t look to German and Europe for role models for doing it right. Nope. We have to come up with our own unique cockamamie theories of which there are no existing examples in the rest of the world except at 3rd world countries.

        99% of the people in Germany and Norway would be classified as “Libtards” in this country by you know-who – who writes this blog and others.


        • More liberal nonsense …

          “Our K12 schools are a disaster not because of bad teachers or bureaucracy but because we do not take education seriously like German and Norway do – and insist on tough standards – for all kids – …”

          Really? Who doesn’t take education seriously? The dear unionized teachers and the massive, useless bureaucracy that infests out pubic schools?

          How did the US once have the best public schools but now is mediocre at best? When did this disdain for education occur?

          Our schools suck because BigEd sucks.

          When banks failed liberals ran at top speed to blame bankers. Ok, fair enough. But when schools fail those same liberals just can’t force themselves to blame the teachers and administrators who run the schools.

          • re: ” How did the US once have the best public schools but now is mediocre at best? When did this disdain for education occur?”

            when k-12 schools started providing inch-deep mile-wide soup-to-nuts courses for the college-bound instead of serious core academic-only schooling – for everyone – whether they’re headed to college or not.

            that’s exactly what Europe and Japan is doing that is cleaning our clocks.

            “Our schools suck because BigEd sucks.”

            our schools suck because parents want guitar and photo journalism instead of core academic.

            “When banks failed liberals ran at top speed to blame bankers. Ok, fair enough. But when schools fail those same liberals just can’t force themselves to blame the teachers and administrators who run the schools.”

            The administrators do what the parents want – when parents want soccer and swimming – the schools say “more taxes please” and parents say “okay” and they move on.

            When someone says we need tougher academic standards they all start yelling that – that’s “top down govt” impositions …

            you throw the word “liberal” around but you don’t pay attention to what many liberals say about our failed systems.

            it has nothing to do with unions. The worst schools in the nation are in right-to-work states and the best schools in the nation – are in union states.

            them’s the facts.

          • re: ” Really? Who doesn’t take education seriously? The dear unionized teachers and the massive, useless bureaucracy that infests out pubic schools?”

            that’s the truth.

            It’s the same whether you’re in a right-to-work state or a union state.

            Teachers teach the subjects they are told to teach.

            If they are told to teach guitar or swimming or photo journalism instead of Calculus of Physics or Chemistry – that’s what they do.

            Our schools – in response to what parents want – teach curricula that are a mile-wide and an inch deep – full of subjects that no European or Japanese school teaches – because those schools focus on core academic curricula and in this country – our parents scream bloody murder if their kid gets challenged with more robust math and science.

            Our parents and kids do not want any course that is going to risk their child getting a bad grade that will affect their ability to get into one of those brand name big-time-sport schools so Parents want their kids to bulk up their college resumes but with “gimme” type courses that their kids can just enjoy.

            and we do even worse for the kids not bound for 4-year colleges – we just let them twist and turn until they squeak by with a basic diploma.

            You might think that we know the consequences of doing this but we seem oblivious to it.

            Our kids graduate with college degrees and end up working in Starbucks or being a gopher intern or work as an independent contractor for Uber/Lfyt while European and Japanese kids are in the hunt for those global jobs that pay a living wage …

            we choose to flush our lower-end kids into a lifetime of entitlements because we think that is easier than actually trying to educate them.

            we are totally screwed up in this country – about not only education – but a few other things.

            This is not the America it used to be – and the thing is – it’s our fault – even though we want to play the “liberal” blame game.

            that only gets you so far and then you’re back to the problem and what to do about it.

  6. Jim, Norway is indeed a special case for demographic and size reasons. But consider how well it has managed its key resources – oil and gas — so much more effectively for long term returns. Effective management here would include Obama’s protection of the North Slope (which I’ve visited and found indeed fragile) and seeking whatever offshore oil/gas might exist off the mid Atlantic coast, so long as we regulate on and off shore adequately. That requires good federal-state coordination. And surely wee need federal standards for fracking so we don’t screw up our water resources, which we’re doing, with long-term costs.
    Interstate roads and bridges do crumble, and we fail to pay for maintenance by having our gasoline taxes keep up with inflation. Pitiful. Road maintenance in Virginia suffers from too little money, especially for rural road maintenance (300 miles of unpaved roads in Loudoun). And how about blaming government and industry for the stinking airline services we get today. What a contrast to what we experienced in the regulated 1970s I so enjoyed! Meanwhile, train commutor service in urban areas is pathetic compared to Europe’s.
    As for education some of what you say is true, but we don’t pay teachers nearly enough, so we get the mediocre students into teaching, not the top ones. We might reduce expenditures for building school “palaces” and sports complexes. Nor should local governments be suckered into approving new residential projects because developers proffer school capital costs and never pay operational costs.
    As for layers of bureaucracy, well, we’re stuck with a federal system that Madison and Washington once hoped to diminish (in 1786-7) by essentially making states into federal provinces, not more “sovereign” entities. (Interesting that Madison shifted course while Patrick Henry became a federalist.) So we have inadequate state support for public education, hence student borrowing increases, and yet Republicans also seek less support from the feds. We (with GOP urging) go in the wrong direction while slipping behind our global competitors.
    Agreed that we need simpler and reformed tax policy, and go after those exemptions and so forth. But let’s not be deluded that raising taxes on the very rich by 3-5% would cripple growth! Here the Economist and Krugman have it right.

    • our schools per se are not bad, do not lack the potential to excel – to successfully compete against European schools.

      but we’re so screwed up these days that we cannot even agree on K-12 standards for core academic.. whereas Europe and Japan are laser-focused on what rigorous core academic is – and is not – and in Europe/Japan if you want to learn to play the guitar or play sports – you do it on your own dime and on your own time outside of school.

      In this country -we want to offer everything from soup-to-nuts for those bound for 4yr college whereas those not – are left to wander with no expectation that they will actually be qualified for work once they graduate.

      And our attitudes towards the economically disadvantaged is truly myopic.
      We blame their parents (who often barely have a HS education themselves), we blame the kids, their genes.. you name it .. it’s too expensive to try to get them up on grade level – so we’re going to let them grow up to receive entitlements for the rest of their lives unless they get drawn up in our criminal justice system and alternative between prison and entitlements when free.

      We could have hundreds of thousands of kids – trained in Va – to become certified health care professionals – technicians.. operators of technology, RNs , Physician Assistants.. clinic staff.. good jobs… enough to raise a family and pay taxes – and what have we done about it?

      we wail and gnash our teeth about “economic development” and losing our military “govt” jobs… and how the unemployed act up in govt hearings and sing gangsta rap… songs..

      I guarantee you – if you offer a 6th grader – guaranteed Community College if he gets good grades -he’s going to take the offer.

      that’s your economic development…

  7. “I guarantee you – if you offer a 6th grader – guaranteed Community College if he gets good grades -he’s going to take the offer.”

    that’s your economic development…

    Somewhere not long ago you proposed that a Head Start type program -pre-k thru 5 would move educational inequities along.

    So you are now a 6th grader-and a Community College is a possibility?? In medical fields???

    The main difference between European and Asian educational systems is a concept of-discipline of learning.
    Hardly applicable in our politically correct,– adjust to the least capable student in the class ” learning.”

    • well.. no.. I did not “propose” Head Start and Title 1 – I said that they work but you must continue them through K-6 and that if the kid is on grade level in Grade 6 and you offer him/her college if they maintain their grades – they’ll take that offer.

      and that offer and it’s acceptance benefits us all because that kid grows up to be a taxpayer and not an entitlement taker or a unemployable felon.

      I call that as much economic development – as trying to attract a company with “jobs” to an area where the workforce is uneducated and not fit as employees for that company.

      I tend to agree with you about Europe and “learning” but don’t blame the lack of that discipline on kids or even their uneducated parents – put the blame where it belongs… if you operate schools with the expectation that kids WILL learn and WILL grow up to get a job – that’s how that value gets implemented.

      If you abandon that child in K-6 and let him twist in the wind in K7-K12 you get what you get – and it won’t be a tax paying worker.

      the answer to the entitlement issue is education and jobs.

  8. “…if you operate schools with the expectation that kids WILL learn and WILL grow up to get a job – that’s how that value gets implemented.”
    So glad we totally agree. So let’s put aside the pc crap- teach the basics (alphabet, 1+1, colors) at the basic level (k-3) rather than safe sex.
    Get serious about job creation, be it brick-laying or IT.

    • Good LORD! I’m not stridently opposed to some of the things that parents want for their kids – but I think – just like with big time sports in College, we have perverted the purpose of K-12 education to be glorified Prep Schools for the college-bound and the poor neighborhood schools just awful warehousing schools staffed by the least capable and least desirable of the teacher workforce – and with results that should not be surprising to anyone – although many still want to find someone or something to blame for it – beyond our own failure to provide a decent education to the poor.

      and that perpetuates, more than anything else, in my view, a culture of poverty and hopelessness and expectation of entitlements.

      If this did not really harm us economically – we might just have a debate about morals… but this damages our economy and our competitiveness in getting our share of the global jobs..

      Over and Over, I wonder why we are not serious about this and over and over I notice that people care deeply about their own children but mostly don’t give a rats back-end for other kids.. a moral and an economic paradox.

  9. re: “liberal lies” ..


    even the POTUS acknowledges that we still are not fully recovered.

    no one – that I have heard, left, right, black or purple – says the economy is back to normal – not even the POTUS!

    furthermore – the “antidote” coming from the right is what?

    what would they do to “fix” the economy?

    what have they actually produced in the way of legislation to help the economy?

    name the top 3 things the right has advocated and actually produced legislation to do that…

    1. – keystone – 45 permanent jobs
    2. – get rid of regulation – no specifics mind you other than Obamacare
    3. – what else?

    In the past – the GOP has approved spending on infrastructure – yes borrowing against the future – but to use it to build permanent things.

    what have they done this time?

    40+ repeals of ObamaCare and what else?

    shutting down govt … again… arguing about immigration… without
    supporting real or specific solutions…

    the climate skeptics adding “vaccines” to their repertoire of govt conspiracies…

    the problem with the folks who oppose Obama – is they are all blame and no game.. they don’t have their own agenda of what to do …. whether it’s health care, immigration, or the economy.

    You can thank your lucky stars Don – that Virginia did not get one of those ideologues as Governor… right?

  10. I love the way Obama’s acolytes dismiss the Keystone Pipeline as “only” 45 permanent jobs. Back during the era of Porkulus, I mean Stimulus, they thought of temporary construction jobs for infrastructure projects as something near miraculous. By the way, how many “permanent” jobs did those projects create?

    Aside from the hypocrisy, let’s consider the inaccuracy of the statement. Perhaps the pipeline itself will create only 45 permanent jobs, but it will bring Canadian heavy oil to the U.S. Gulf oil processing industry, creating the potential for hundreds or thousands of new jobs in that industry.

    Larry World must be a wonderful place to live in — you can believe whatever you want with no fear of contradiction!

    • only in Jim Bacon’s world would he advocate giving a foreign corporation the right to use Eminent Domain on US citizens.

      congrats Jim.

      for that – we get 45 jobs.

      you’d screw thousands of American citizens to get 45 jobs …

      How about we let Trans-Canada function in that free market you’re always blathering about – instead – then I’ll be fine with the 45 jobs.

      some Conservative you are! what part of your ideology supports screwing American citizens for a foreign corporation?

      shame. shame!

    • re: 45 pipeline jobs.

      So in the 6 years since the great recession – this is the GOP’s first “jobs” bill?


      oh.. and right behind it – they will throw thousands of folks out of their jobs at DHS?

      Only in the nut-job world would they claim this proves their commitment to jobs.

  11. This country spends MORE on health care than the entire GDP of countries like Germany or France – 3.8 trillion dollars – and what exactly did Bush and the GOP do about that?

    Well – here is what they did. They created two new entitlements – Medicare Part D for prescription drugs – and Medicare Advantage that upped how much taxpayers pay for Medicare to about $1000 a month for the 1/3 of Medicare beneficiaries.

    This is the same entitlement program that you fret about with Boomergeddon!

    and it started under Bush – and now – tell me one guy – one GOP, that says it was a mistake and we need to ALSO – REPEAL those two entitlements.

    and when you blather on about entitlements – why don’t YOU – specify yourself what you would cut or do – ???

    Just like the rest of the GOP – you guys blame but you dare not put forth your own proposals…

    those who blame and lack the intestinal fortitude to actually be honest enough to say what they would cut or change – have no real legitimacy in the dialogue – in my view.

    you have to do more than blame and what you specify has to be more than generic “kill regulation, empower the free market” blather.

  12. Re: Big Bad teachers unions.

    I think Don’s views on this are a HOOT – since the man flies all over the world and the airlines are unionized – and seem to have no problem competing in the modern world …

    We have, according to Don (and others here) – “bad” teachers because of the union – so how come we don’t have “bad” – incompetent pilots that the unions “protect”?

    and … as far as Europe is concerned – Germany – the whole dang country has trade unions INCLUDING the teachers.. and yet they seem to not have the “bad” teacher problem.

    and in this Country – the best state in the country for education is Massachusetts – where “bad” union teachers do their thing.

    Can I ask Don and Jim Bacon to once and for all put aside this lame canard and after you do – come back and explain once again why our schools suck without using that flimsy excuse.

  13. Lest larryg end up “blathering” to the computer or the wall- as he posts without a breath- let me try a modest explanation why our public education system sucks:
    1. Political Correctness- which invades every aspect of every grade, focusing on the least capable, the potentially the next victim of fill in the ____.
    2. Low to zero expectations, BECAUSE OF -fill in the ___.
    3. Unions.
    larryg’s example is goofy- if a plane crashed because of some dereliction on the part of the unionized mechanic-he/she is fired and a lawsuit follows. The unionized teacher CANNOT BE FIRED. Ever heard of “rubber rooms” in NY where inept, criminal
    dangerous teachers are kept from teaching to protect the students, while collecting salary and benefits?

    • re:

      ” 1. Political Correctness- which invades every aspect of every grade, focusing on the least capable, the potentially the next victim of fill in the ____.”

      I let this pass before. Now I ask you to explain and give examples and ask if this is truly the number 1 problem with the schools.

      2. Low to zero expectations, BECAUSE OF -fill in the ___.

      ditto – please explain and give examples.

      3. Unions.
      larryg’s example is goofy- if a plane crashed because of some dereliction on the part of the unionized mechanic-he/she is fired and a lawsuit follows. The unionized teacher CANNOT BE FIRED. Ever heard of “rubber rooms” in NY where inept, criminal
      dangerous teachers are kept from teaching to protect the students, while collecting salary and benefits?

      this is yet another wing-nut myth that won’t die and truly it is ignorant.

      all the schools in Europe are “unionized” as well as the best schools in the US. In general the worst schools in the US are in right-to-work states.

      you guys don’t deal with reality. You make up your own little world of what you want to believe and then proceed to find “examples” but you don’t look at the predominate facts – and the facts are that unions are in place in Europe and they beat the pants off of US schools -unionized or not.

  14. “this is yet another wing-nut myth that won’t die and truly it is ignorant”.

    I read Bacons Rebellion because of the intelligent, thoughtful articles posted by Jim Bacon and Peter Galuzka.

    I am , every now and then, compelled to respond to your off- the- cuff, totally thoughtless, challenging everything that is not in your camp of thinking with the asinine , useless- for- continued -communication “comments”.
    Google nyc+teachers+rubber rooms.

    Your clear PASSION for the victims, the down-trodden, etc., is off-set by your rage against the “other” ( Republicans, right wing- wackos, bigots, homophobes, etc.,etc., etc…).

    larryg- it is a big world out there, and it is not FAIR!

    • Your problem is you’re looking at things in isolation – cherry-picking anecdotal to represent your world view – that is out of touch with the simple realities.

      that’s a problem with you folks on the right that gets you the name nut-job.

      the reality is that some of the best schools in the US are union – and they don’t have rubber rooms.

      the best schools in Europe are union and they don’t have rubber rooms either.

      so what exactly are you really looking at in forming your opinion?

      People who work with union representation – get fired. You said it yourself.

      we’re talking about the United States – as a whole – not some isolated situation …

      and as a whole – we rank 25th in core academic subject performance.

      you say that”s “not fair”.. thats a dumb statement when you consider that all of the United States ranks 25th compared to Europe and Asia.

      how does “fairness” enter into that calculation?

      how do you come up with unions and rubber rooms and “fairness” to describe the reality that 24 other countries – the whole country – does better than our schools – union or not ?

      this is the problem with you folks… you build these narrow-minded concepts to suit your own bias – and you basically ignore the rest of the real world realities.

      I understand different political views – philosophies – and welcome a reasoned debate – but you simply are not entitled to corrupt the facts and realities to suit your own biases without it being pointed out.

      if you want to debate on philosophy – fine – but do it with some sanity and rationality and observance of facts and realities – please.

  15. larryg,
    Why are you so angry??
    Please be specific.

    • oh – no anger – at all.

      just don’t buy what you’re selling.

      it’s totally bogus but typical from the right these days.

      can you tell me about the rubber rooms in Lynchburg or Fredericksburg?

      can you show me that bad union teachers are responsible for the bad SOL scores in Richmond?

      you’re living in LA LA Land but again – this is typical of the right these days.

      why must the right LIE about the realities to make their point?

      this is a problem. It’s okay to make your political and philosophical points – on the merits but what you are doing here is anything but.

      and more and more – some of us are going to hold you accountable for your disreputable way of dealing with issues.

      the problems that we DO have – need substantiative responses – not the sound bite idiocy coming from the right.

  16. “and more and more – some of us are going to hold you accountable for your disreputable way of dealing with issues.”

    What does that mean–larryg ?–please be specific.

    • pretty self apparent I would say…

      you shovel offal – I call you on it!


      so far you shovel offal like there is no tomorrow and it’s tough keeping up with the drivel.!

      let me know when you get the list of rubber rooms in Virginia.

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