Duck and cover


Times sure have changed.  Back in the good old days of Cold Wars and Mutually Assured Destruction, Americans were coached on measures they should take in the event of an unexpected Soviet nuclear strike.  Among the most nonsensical was the concept of duck-and-cover – the idea people might survive a nuclear blast by crouching under a desk.  Naturally, our betters in Washington saw fit to spend billions building intricate, secure underground bunkers for themselves and their families in the event of such an emergency.

The rest of us?  Left to cower under the dining table like dogs fleeing the vacuum cleaner.  Then again, who would want to live in a world where the survivors envy the dead?

Maybe we’ll get to find out.  Seems the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has reviewed the latest Obama budget which, lo-and-behold, would add another $3.5 trillion to the debt vs. the $3.2 trillion in saving Obama claimed.

CBO: Exploding debt under Obama
By: David Rogers
March 16, 2012 11:29 AM EDT

The Congressional Budget Office said Friday that President Barack Obama’s tax and spending policies will yield $6.4 trillion in deficits over the next decade, more than double the shortfall in CBO’s own fiscal baseline — even after taking credit for reduced war costs.

House Republicans, slated to unveil their own plan next week, are sure to seize on the numbers, yet the mountain of data gives reason for both parties to pause going into what’s expected to be a major fiscal crisis after the November elections.

The GOP has been quick to fault Obama for excess spending. But more than three-quarters of the $3.5 trillion in added red ink can be explained by what is still a rich diet of tax breaks continued by the president — but not under the CBO’s baseline.

Indeed, in the case of discretionary appropriations, CBO scores the president as coming in about $4 billion under the $1.047 trillion target set by the Budget Control Act last summer.

For the current fiscal year ending Sept. 30, CBO is now projecting a shortfall of $1.3 trillion. In fiscal 2013, the deficit will still hover near the $1 trillion mark — about $977 billion.

You see, Obama isn’t a free spender.  It’s just that taxes aren’t high enough to cover his miserly ways.  If you look at the last two sentences above, you see it’s actually kind of true.  Discretionary appropriations are $1.043 trillion under Obama’s budget, the CBO is projecting a $1.3 trillion deficit this fiscal year.  Even if discretionary spending was zeroed out $250 billion would be added to the deficit.  The deficit is baked into the cake.

How about some terrifying chart-fu:

Much of Washington’s annual spending is entitlement spending – to which Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment will only exacerbate.  Obamacare is already forecast to cost twice what we were told.  That figure is certain to be far, far higher than we’re being told today.  And assumes the scheduled cuts in Medicare reimbursements won’t be forestalled as they have every time the Doc Fix comes up for a vote in the past.

Oh, and there are a whole lot of Baby Boomers about to enter the Medicare and Social Security rolls.

So we can safely surmise it’s all Bush’s fault, right?  If it hadn’t been for the Bush Tax Cuts for the Rich© Washington would be flush with funds and everything would be alright.  That makes a compelling argument except for the fact tax receipts are more a function of economic growth than tax rates.

Beyond that, while individual income taxes are the largest source of government revenue they’re not a significantly larger source than payroll taxes.  Obama has pushed for and received reductions in payroll taxes.  Worse still, with real unemployment in the neighborhood of 15% payroll tax receipts are doomed to remain low until the economy fully recovers.

Add to that a trillion dollar stimulus package which permanently raised baseline spending and a Democrat-controlled Senate that hasn’t passed a budget in over three years and it’s pretty obvious there is no conceivable way for tax receipts to cover spending.  The largest percentage of tax receipts vs. GDP since 1960 was 20.3 percent in 2000.  Spending will be higher as a percentage of GDP than that historical high every single year of Obama’s presidency and is now forecast to reach over 26% by 2021.

At those rates the annual deficit will be 200% of tax receipts by 2030.  In a best case scenario.  God forbid Obama is re-elected we will see the National Debt accumulated over our previous 230 years of history doubled in just eight years.

On the plus side, there is no conceivable way the political class in Washington will be able to safely sequester themselves  from the resulting debt explosion.  They will come to find that buried alive, deep in a hole in the ground is precisely where the voters wish them to remain.

Obama is not alone in bringing on this calamity but he’s certainly done more than his fair share to bring the economy to critical mass.  Our only hope is to grow our way to solvency.  Sadly, we’ll never be able to achieve the necessary rate of growth thanks to the the increased baseline spending, enormous new entitlements, and onerous regulatory environment foisted upon the US economy by Obama.  Given another term he would surely add confiscatory tax rates and a host of new entitlements to the mix.

Oh yeah, there’s that whole $100 trillion in unfunded Medicare and Social Security liability thing too.  You know, the one Obama uses to demagogue Republicans as forcing seniors to eat puppies and sell orphans to pay for health care at every campaign stop.

Duck and cover indeed.

In other "Non-News" today, things continue to go BOOM in Iran
A priest, a rabbi, and Sandra Fluke walk into a bar...
  • GarandFan

    No matter what Barry and Company say, or what propaganda the MSM puts out for the DNC, we’re going NOWHERE until that U6 number comes down.

  • jim_m

    Hey just wait another year when the government will have to provide health insurance for 20% of the public as 0bamacare will have forced 1 out of every 5 employers to drop the benefit. Then we can add another trillion or so to the annual deficit.

    Remember, obamacare is not socialized medicine.  What a load of crap.

  • UOG

    Saving 3.2 trillion while spending 3.5 trillion beyond receipts? That’s just the zero-base budget way of saying, “We planned to spend 6.7 trillion beyond receipts. But after careful consideration of the likelihood of our being tarred and feathered after being fired we have decided to cancel some planned spending – saving you 3.2 trillion dollars. That’s a huge savings we’re making for you. You may advance and kiss our ring.”

    Oops, you’ll have to excuse me. Gotta’ run to the bathroom. I need to puke.

    •  No, “zero base budgeting” is the theory that every single program and expenditure should be authorized for a specific and limited period, and thoroughly reviewed before ANY further authorizations – so they must justify their entire existence and expenses.  “Baseline budgeting” assumes the previous two-year plan’s budgeted authorization as a baseline and so the discussion is about how much to increase all programs.

      Obama proposes throwing away even more than the baseline, of course.  He thinks dollars are like Doritos:  “Spend all ya want – we’ll print more!”

      • UOG

        Exactly so. I won’t go into where “my head” was yesterday as I might not know myself, but it certainly wasn’t in that comment… baseline budgeting is exactly right.

  • ackwired

    The only candidate for President to address this problem is Gary Johnson.  The Baron has done a pretty good job of exposing the Democratic plan, and the Republicans are too busy beating each other up to even notice the problem.

    •  Well, Gary Johnson will do well to come close to the high-water mark of 0.5% of the popular vote no LP candidate has crossed since Ed Clark’s 1.0% in 1980, but he will surely tie the record for most Electoral College votes at zero.

      Only the Republican nominee or Obama have any chance of winning the election, so if you don’t support the Republican, you are by default helping reelect Obama, PERIOD.

      Now, your vote is your right and you can do this if you please, but you CANNOT claim no responsibility for reelecting Obama if it happens. 

      • herddog505

        I’m sorry to say that you’re right.  We can wish for all the other candidates that we want, but it’s going to boil down to Barry and some Republican yet to be determined (likely Mittens).

        Further, it’s very easy for a politician to CLAIM that he’ll solve the budget problem; Barry does it all the time, as did Bush, Slick, Bush Classic, Ronnie, etc.  The problem is that (A) not all of these people are honest, and (B) their promises rely on a number of rosy scenarios, not least is that future Congresses won’t spend any savings or additional revenue, even if completely notional.

        • ackwired

          The party line is that a Libertarian takes votes from Republicans, and it may be true.  But, considering that Johnson is as liberal on foreign affairs as he is conservative on domestic policy, many think that  he will draw equally from R’s and D’s.  It is hard to imagine some R’s voting to end the war on drugs and to bring our troops homw and spend our military dollars on defense instead of protecting our “interests” overseas.

          It is also worthy of note that polls are saying that 70% of the electorate says they are willing to consider a third party candidate this year.  That is the highest in recent memory. 

          He is not glamorous or sexy.  But he is the only candidate who wants to do what the Tea Party people say that they want to do.

  • They can double the taxes on the top 50% of taxpayers and it still would not be enough to cover the deficit for this year.

    It is clear we dont have an undertaxation problem but an over spending problem.

    •  If they confiscated the entire assets of every billionaire – not just their incomes, their stocks, their yachts, their planes, their homes, their trust funds – it would run the government for under two months.

  • Commander_Chico

    I suspect the bipartisan plan is to default on the Social Security retirement debt to American workers and loot the SS Trust Fund. 

    And again, for the 100th time:  U.S. Treasury obligations in the SS Trust Fund paid for by the regressive FICA tax on American workers should be treated no differently than any other obligation owed to the Chinese, Saudis, banks, or than the Savings Bonds owed to your nephew.

    • Gmacr1

      “and loot the SS Trust Fund.”
      That train left the station a long time go under a Democrat engineer Cmdr.
      There is no “Trust Fund” or any other kind of SS ‘fund’ as it was spent to buy votes long ago.

      Fiscal free fall is a terrible thing to watch, because at the end there’s a crater and we’re going to be the first ones to the scene of the crash. This country is screwed, blued and tattoed.

    • I wouldn’t buy savings bonds at this point.  Their fixed rate of return is 0.00.

      Bank of America has a whopping 0.05% interest rate.

      ING Direct is at 0.80 currently.

      I’m starting to understand why there’s folks pushing gold.  There’s no incentive at all to save money in banks or with savings bonds.

      And as far as SS goes? I’m in late on the Ponzi scheme. My folks got what they needed, though they were notch generation and didn’t get the full payout. Military retirements? The folks inside the beltway are looking at changing THAT – and though I’m supposed to get something when I hit 60 (retiring from the Reserve and all that) I’ll be surprised if it’s what was promised.

      Running out of money makes your choices a lot simpler. Not that you’ll have better choices – but instead of worrying whether to pick the steak or the lobster, you’ll need to worry about paying your rent or paying your insurance.

      But the folks in Washington will always get THEIR lobster, even if we’re reduced to bulk oatmeal.

      • Commander_Chico

        My hope is that they won’t renege on military retirement for fear of a coup d’etat.  I am also waiting for that blue ID card, the direct deposit and Tricare for life.  But the generals would sell the retired military out in a heartbeat, if their recent conduct is any indication.

        To TPTB – “the powers that be” – this is just another “entitlement,”  a term they use to lump the military pensions promised and earned and the SS paid for by FICA in with the most lazy welfare dependent.

        • I’d like to think they’ll just float the idea every so often, to see if there’s enough support from the left to outweigh the objections from the right.   That way they can go “See, we’re TRYING to save money” while not really upsetting the status quo.

          And we don’t coup.  We vote.  I think you’ve been overseas too long…

          I don’t think I’d use tricare unless there was no other choice, ditto the VA hospital system.  Leave it for them that really needs it.  (It helps to have a lovely bride who works for a hospital… got good benefits, at least until Obamacare kicks in…)

          • Commander_Chico

            If you think it’s a left/right thing, you’re mistaken.

            It’s a top/down thing.  The proposed “reform” of military retirement came from the Defense Business Board, made up of military contractors and their paid servants.


            They want more money for procurement (their pockets), and less for the troops’ retirement.


            I was making a joke about the coup, but remember that the movie “The Rock” was based on a theme of rebellion because of cuts in benefits.

          • It’s from inside the beltway.  Which side controls the environment there?

            Regardless, it’s a non-starter.  And fiction doesn’t equate to reality…  “Twilight’s Last Gleaming” is certainly another one in the same genre of disgruntled (fill in the military blanks) taking control of deadly asset and demanding (insert conditions here). 

          • Commander_Chico

            Which side controls inside the beltway? 

            The rich side.

  • Commander_Chico

    One thing that’s interesting from the charts –

    SS, Medicare and Medicaid are 40% of budget.

    FICA Payroll taxes are 40% of revenue.

    So how is the problem because of SS and Medicare??????  WTF??

    • Jwb10001

      if you do math you find that 40% of the revenue is less (much less) than 40% of the budget that’s how.

      • jim_m

        Oh sure.  Confuse the man with math.  Just because the revenue is more than a $ Trillion less than the spending is no reason for the 40% spent to be more than the 40% collected.

      • Commander_Chico

        Whoops I made a mistake, you’re right.

    • If you’re spending $3.5 tril, and 40% of that is… $1.4 trillion…

      And you’re taking in $2 trillion, and 40% of THAT is  $800 million –

      It’s really difficult to get the books to balance.

      • Commander_Chico

        OK, you got it.

  • Can we just go back to the Cold War? It was much easier to understand, and I have a nicer desk now.

  • Okay, Baron, this has been itching at me…  Sorry for the sidetrack.

    “Among the most nonsensical was the concept of duck-and-cover – the idea people might survive a nuclear blast by crouching under a desk.” 

    No, you weren’t supposed to survive a nuclear blast – any more than Indiana Jones was able to survive a nuke by getting into a refrigerator.  What you were supposed to survive was a MISS – if you were outside the zone of complete destruction (which varied in size depending on tonnage and detonation altitude) it improved your chances of surviving what followed.

    If you were in the severe damage radius, getting under a desk would protect you some from flying debris and glass. If the building pancaked you were still squashed, but if it were still standing you improved your chances of coming out with minimal harm considerably.  The further out you got, the lower the blast overpressure, the less damage to the building.

    If you were inside the fireball, however, you were dead.  On the good side, it would happen so fast you wouldn’t even know it.

    (The US Government Printing Office used to sell a nice little book called “The Effects Of Nuclear Weapons” in their bookstores.  Very inexpensive, very well done, about what they learned from the above-ground tests in the ’50s.  I wonder how many of ’em made it over to the USSR?)

    Getting down on the ground or in a ditch would protect you from the blast wave also, as would huddling against a solid wall.  It was to protect you from debris, not radiation.  THAT came afterwards, and was an entirely different problem that ‘Duck and Cover’ wasn’t designed to deal with.

    Think about schoolkids in tornado territory.  The alarm goes off, they move into the hallway.  Why?  To get ’em away from windows and flying debris.

    With the duck and cover stuff, if ALL you’ve got is a flash to alert you, you’ve got seconds before the blast wave would hit.  If you were outside the zone of destruction, under a desk or against a wall would be your best bet.

    I agree it looks nonsensical from our enlightened viewpoint – but back then?  Like I said, you weren’t supposed to survive a hit – and Duck & Cover gave your best chance of surving a miss.

    (You know, I think I’ve studied this stuff way too much…)

    • (You know, I think I’ve studied this stuff way too much…)

      You know, I think you’re right.

      By the way, Indiana Jones survived in the refrigerator because it was lined with lead.

      • Just took a look at that clip via youtube.

        It do stretch the ol’ credibility, doesn’t it?  Even WITH a lead-lined fridge – the thing wouldn’t have been heaved much distance at all.  And we won’t talk about the acceleration or deceleration forces turning Indy into jam… 

        Man, I gotta stop expecting movie physics to act like real-world physics…