An investment in knowledge pays the best interest

If Republicans were genuinely serious about small government and fair taxation I would at least entertain the thought of being a Republican. Fact is that government in every way has expanded under Republicans and sadly for most Americans that increase in growth in both spending and power has not made for a government that is more effective. It must be all those government programs like Social Security and food stamps, Right? As US tax rates drop, government’s reach grows

Slightly over half of all Americans – 52.6 percent – now receive significant income from government programs, according to an analysis by Gary Shilling, an economist in Springfield, N.J. That’s up from 49.4 percent in 2000 and far above the 28.3 percent of Americans in 1950. If the trend continues, the percentage could rise within ten years to pass 55 percent, where it stood in 1980 on the eve of President’s Reagan’s move to scale back the size of government.

One wonders if Mark Trumbull at The Christian Science Monitor just has a fondness for fake cowboys and framing issues in a way that would make Newt Gingrich drool with envy. Reagan did not shrink government. He did what Bush II did, he expanded federal spending and government intrusion into American’s personal lives. One of Bush’s worse miscalculations, if you’re a medium income taxpayer anyway was to make Medicare a welfare program for pharmaceutical and health care companies. God Punishes Us When We (Collectively) Vote Republican, Part 5

I noted that for whatever reason, we observe higher growth rates in real real (GDP less increase in national debt) per capita under Democratic Presidents than under Republican Presidents. In fact, looking at complete administrations (i.e., assuming JFK & LBJ form one administration, and Nixon & Ford form another), all three Democratic administrations outperform all five Republican administrations. I noted this discrepancy was true for Congress; real per capita growth less increases in the debt was higher under Democratic Congresses than under Republican Congresses.

I advanced a few guesses as to why this discrepancy might be observable which I hope to test as time permits, but I think perhaps the biggest one is simply that Democrats tend to pursue policies that are less likely to run up the debt.

and some similar data here, DEMOCRATS v. REPUBLICANS on the issue of the U.S. ECONOMY

Then there is the bright red herring of those statistics that Trumball flashes,

Similarly, Shilling predicts that the number of “government beneficiaries,” as he defines them, will grow to 60 percent of the US population by 2040 Against this backdrop, many Americans are understandably uneasy about the fiscal path of their politicians.

Could it be that these increases in government benefits are perfectly in-line with an aging population and the retirement of the baby boomers. That segment of the population is simply collecting, adjusted for inflation the monies that they paid in. Social Security is not facing a crisis, but it is facing some shortfalls because of demographic trends. Republicans had ten years to fix that problem, but instead tried to sell the public on gambling their retirement benefits away by investing in nice safe stock like Enron and Worldcom. While Trumbull notes the baby boomer phenomenon, he doesn’t tie government outlays to it, he leaves it dangling as he blames increased spending on discretionary spending. Retiring and having a roof over your head, food, clothing and shelter is not discretionary. Discretionary has become some damning all encompassing catch phrase used to paint a false picture of how our money is spent. I’ve gotten to the point where red lights go off whenever I see the word in print because most of the time I know that it is being misused. Not mentioned at all in the article is the Democratic proposal to pay as you go, Democrats drafting pay-as-you-go budget

Instead of promising more unaffordable tax cuts that go mainly to the richest Americans, as their Republican counterparts have done for the past six years, key Democrats are imposing some real spending discipline on themselves.

That is the underreported story in the budget resolutions passed by the House and Senate just before the Easter recess and now headed for tweaking in a conference between the chambers and final approval in the next few weeks.

The resolutions differ in detail but have an important common feature: a pay-as-you-go rule, shorthanded as pay-go, which requires Congress to offset every increase in an entitlement program or new tax cut with an equivalent saving somewhere else in order to prevent any further additions to the budget deficit.

The return to pay-go, which was jettisoned by Republicans in 2001 in order to make it easier to pass their tax cuts, is a triumph for two stubborn men in particular – the Democratic chairmen of the Senate and House budget committees, Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota and Rep. John Spratt of South Carolina.

President Bush’s Failed Economic Record

Based on that one story it would be unfair to call Trumbull a bad reporter ( he isn’t a liberal reporter or he wouldn’t have included two erroneous implications that Reagan made government smaller), though he was obviously a bit lazy. On the other hand there are a few good reporters out there, like Charles Savage, BOSTON GLOBE’S CHARLIE SAVAGE WINS PULITZER FOR NATIONAL REPORTING

Boston Globe Washington correspondent Charles Savage was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting today for series of articles uncovering the Bush Administration’s widespread practice of using “presidential signing statements” to circumvent hundreds of existing laws passed by Congress and signed into law by the president himself.

The articles by Savage brought national attention to a little-known prerogative of presidential power and resulted in Senate oversight hearings and a declaration from the American Bar Association said that such actions were “contrary to the rule of law and our constitutional separation of powers.”

Among the laws Bush has said he can ignore include those banning torture, new safeguards in the Patriot Act, various military rules and regulations, affirmative-action provisions, “whistle-blower” protections for nuclear regulatory officials, and safeguards against political interference in federally funded research.

In his articles, Savage also revealed other behind-the-scenes tactics aimed at expanding presidential power, including the administration’s use of political appointees to hire lawyers for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

Observations like this are a little jarring, but need to be made. At least for those on the Right that are calling the Virginia Tech shootings a massacre, Now Do You Understand?

Let’s total the score: at least 65 Iraqis dead in four attacks vs. 22 Americans shot at Virginia Tech.

Why are the same people that keep telling us that Iraq is Bush’s Desert Paradise now screaming about what a horrible tragedy that the Virginia Tech shootings are. Its not that difficult, Iraq and Va. Tech are both horrible tragedies. The tragedy in Iraq just never ends.
I waited as late as I could thinking that authorities might get around to releasing the perpetrator’s name, but they haven’t, Worst U.S. shooting ever kills 33 on Va. campus

Federal investigators told NBC News’ Pete Williams that they believed the man was a Virginia Tech student in his early 20s. Their identification was delayed for several hours, they said, because the man’s face was disfigured when he shot himself, he carried no ID and an initial check on his fingerprints came up empty.

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest” – Benjamin Franklin

“Change is inevitable. Change for the better is a full-time job” – Adlai E. Stevenson