House Shutdown/Debt Ceiling Plan Already Falling Apart?

Well, so much for that plan.

Boehner Cantor

Just hours after presenting it to the House GOP Caucus, Speaker Boehner and the House GOP Leadership are finding their own shutdown/debt ceiling plan falling apart around them:

WASHINGTON — House Republican leaders struggled late Tuesday morning to forge a new proposal to reopen the government and change the president’s health care law, after a plan presented behind closed doors to the Republican rank and file failed to immediately attract enough support to pass.

About two hours after the plan was presented Tuesday morning, Republican leaders backed off it. Speaker John A. Boehner told reporters that there were “no decisions about what exactly we will do.”

“We’re trying to find a way forward in a bipartisan way that would continue to provide fairness to the American people under Obamacare,” Mr. Boehner said, but he also acknowledged that “there are a lot of opinions” among his fractious members.

House Republican leaders could still try to revise the proposal and take it to the membership for a possible vote. “We’re going to continue to work with our members on both sides of the aisle to try to make sure that there is no issue of default, and to get our government reopened,” Mr. Boehner said.

The apparent disarray left Mr. Boehner with a crucial decision to make as time ticked down toward a possible default on government obligations on Thursday: to accept whatever bipartisan plan emerges from the Senate, most likely on Tuesday, or to continue to try to get House Republicans in line behind a counterproposal.

Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House majority whip, said Republican leaders were “very cognizant of the calendar.”

Representative Adam Kinzinger, Republican of Illinois, said that if House Republicans could not rally behind the proposal that their leadership rolled out Tuesday morning, they would most likely be forced to accept the plan taking shape in the Senate — something many Republican House members have already said is unacceptable.

“If our party can’t pass this, then there’s no doubt we’re going to end up with what the Senate sends us,” Mr. Kinzinger said. “Look, if my colleagues can’t muster together and sometimes accept good because they’re waiting for perfect, then that’s on them.”

But House Republicans appear intent to extract at least one concession: depriving members of Congress, the president, the vice president and White House political appointees of government contributions when they purchase health insurance under the law’s new exchanges. Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the majority leader, said any proposal must reflect what he called “our position on fairness” — “no special treatment under the law.”

Those words have become code for legislative language that denies employer contributions to politicians forced into the exchanges by a clause in the original health care law.

It became clear earlier today that there was trouble when Boehner declined to respond to a question about whether or not they’d be putting this matter up for a vote today. Since then, the White House has rejected the House proposal as it is being reported, as has Senator Reid, and rumors continue to float that Boehner and Cantor may not have the 217 votes to pass their own package at this point.  There are even reports that the House may pass its bill, assuming that the votes exist to do so, and then leave town. While that last move may be an example of what Hot Air’s Allahpundit calls “toughness,” it strikes me as something that the public in general would view quite negatively which doesn’t seem to be something the GOP can afford to do at this point.

So, where does this leave us? Well, it seems clear that only one of two things can happen at this point.

The first possible outcome is that the House passes something resembling the proposal that was floated this morning, sends it to the Senate, and then ends up having the Reid/McConnell plan placed back in their laps. At that point, the leadership will have the choice of either playing another round of ping-pong with the Senate, and thus risking the wrath of world financial markets or sending the bill to the floor, where it would likely pass over strong Republican dissent. The second possible outcome is that the House does nothing and the Senate passes Reid/McConnell and sends it to the House, thus leaving Boehner and company with the same choice. In either case, they will have the same decision to make, and there really only seems to be one appropriate answer because the alternative sends us in territory that any sane person should want to stay away from.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Deficit and Debt, Health Care, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. grumpy realist says:

    But Doug, you’re assuming sanity. We have seen that quite a few of the House do not seem to have any relation with such a mind-set.

    The House and Cruz still seem to think they can drive the US to the edge of default and win. Or over the edge and win.

  2. Ron Beasley says:

    I just heard someone on CNBC say that kicking the can down the road now seems like the good old days.

  3. Rob in CT says:

    One of the many unfortunate consequences of modern Conservatism becoming “being against everything liberals are for, updated daily” is that if liberals are simply arguing in favor of not doing something insane, the default Conservative position tends toward insanity.

    The GOP should have gone into conference with the Dems over the budget months ago. They could have had their big debate over spending levels and such, without this weird apocalyptic fantasy roleplay. But again, that assumes sanity.

  4. grumpy realist says:

    P.S. Also reading the commentators over at HotAir–whoo boy! Obama as a terrorist, Obamacare is an absolute disaster, etc.

    At least I didn’t see anyone pushing the line that a default would be a “good thing.”

  5. john personna says:

    Maybe I should have kept quieter on the whole “Republican defeat” thing …

    I hope the end-game is just a bypass of the Hastert Rule and a full house vote on any of these similar and fairly benign plans.

  6. john personna says:

    On the good news front:

    The New American Center: Why our nation isn’t as divided as we think

    Or “why the Tea Party is in more of a box than they think.”

  7. michael reynolds says:

    It’s hard to get people to compromise or agree on a plan when what they really want, all they really want, is that ni**er out of the White House.

    I’ve been telling you guys this is not about policy, it’s not about the budget, it’s not about Obamacare. It’s about furious, rage-o-holic old racists, primarily from the old confederacy who cannot accept reality. That’s why they can’t do a deal. It’s not about deals. It’s about fear and rage and hate.

  8. C. Clavin says:

    The latest GOP tactic appears to be; dick around until there is zero time left on the clock and, presumably, the Democratic Senate and White House have no choice but to cave.
    Call this tactic what it is….a game of chicken.
    This is so much fun. The Republican Party is self-destructing before our eyes. And the dozen or so fools responsible don’t even know it.

  9. becca says:

    @michael reynolds: the bloodlust of the tea peasants must be satisfied. Once that guillotine starts rolling, it’s awful hard to stop.

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    There are even reports that the House may pass its bill, assuming that the votes exist to do so, and then leave town. While that last move may be an example of what Hot Air’s Allahpundit calls “toughness,”

    So now, what in any sane world would be called outright cowardice (“leaving town”), is seen by the far right as “toughness”? Really?

    Whoooaa…. I’m feeling dizzy.

  11. C. Clavin says:

    A miner was killed on Friday…the fourth since the Shut Down halted Government inspections.

    BUT THE PARKS!!!!!!!!

  12. rudderpedals says:

    Mineparkvetblahsgazi!

  13. legion says:

    @grumpy realist:

    At least I didn’t see anyone pushing the line that a default would be a “good thing.”

    I’m sure you’re just not looking close enough. Those gutless weasels would happily set this country – and themselves – on fire if they though it would make Obama look bad for even a moment.

  14. Bob @ Youngstown says:

    “We’re trying to find a way forward in a bipartisan way that would continue to provide fairness to the American people under Obamacare,” Mr. Boehner said

    And you do this by meeting with the Republican caucus?

  15. PJ says:

    Can’t wait for the media and the sane people who are still voting for Republicans to finally understand that sanity won’t prevail in the House.

    That will be a rather rude awakening…

  16. Todd says:

    @C. Clavin:
    I gave your comment a down vote, not because I necessarily disagree with your main point, but because of this …

    This is so much fun. The Republican Party is self-destructing before our eyes.

    I’m sorry, but there is nothing “fun” about this. i know the comment was probably just meant in jest, but it’s an example of the whole politics as a sport mentality that’s contributed to getting us into the mess that we’re in.

    Too many real lives are affected by this BS.

  17. john personna says:
  18. john personna says:

    @michael reynolds:

    That down vote is interesting. I guess it means that they aren’t ALL racists. How would they know though? The Tea Party are the irrational fringe (or one of the irrational axes) of the Republican Party. Can one irrational know what another irrational is thinking?

    … ah, in an irrational sense, yes?

  19. C. Clavin says:

    Todd…you’re right…of course.
    But schadenfreude is sometimes just irresistible….

  20. john personna says:

    @michael reynolds:

    See also a small flurry of impeachment calls.

  21. john personna says:

    Interesting in the context of the 2-sides narrative:

    13 Things That Define the New American Center

    I am apparently a “whateverman.”

  22. Scott says:

    @michael reynolds: I’m old enough (and I suspect you are also) to remember George Wallace’s run for the President. If you go back in time, the same bitter resentment spewed out. He got traction not just in the Old South but among older white, blue collar folks. I always see the Tea Party as heirs to his American independent Party.

  23. john personna says:

    @this:

    I am certainly not surprised when someone “dislikes” a comment which is a straight reporting of fact … but I am certainly aware of the irony.

    Irrationally down vote facts and comments about irrationality that you’d rather not deal with.

    Gotcha.

  24. Rob in CT says:

    @john personna:

    The Center has some really bad beliefs about budgeting. There are other areas in which I don’t fall into the Center (though on many issues I do), but that’s the one that *really* jumped out at me. A balanced budget amendment would be really stupid. Granted, about 10 years ago I’d have been in favor of it too. It sounds right, if you don’t actually talk about all of the potential consequences.

  25. Lenoxus says:

    @Rob in CT: I initially read “fantasy roleplay” as “fantasy foreplay”. Which weirdly works.

  26. gVOR08 says:

    @C. Clavin: The schadenfreude really is irresistible. If they don’t want to be laughed at they should probably do fewer crazy things. And the funniest thing is the 200 mil the Koch bros apparently put down this rathole.

    I like to think we are indeed watching the collapse of the Republican Party, or at least a devolution to a Confederate and Cowboy state rump. But I think a lot of what we’re seeing is a lack of leadership. In the past, without a president or presumptive nominee, the Speaker or the Minority Leader might have taken the lead. Whether it’s the nature of the modern Republican Party or the weakness of Boehner and McConnell, that isn’t happening.

    But they’re conservatives, they want to be led. Sooner or later they will find a leader, and they may then become more effective. Just as crazy, but more effective.

  27. Rafer Janders says:

    @Rob in CT:

    The Center has some really bad beliefs about budgeting. There are other areas in which I don’t fall into the Center (though on many issues I do), but that’s the one that *really* jumped out at me. A balanced budget amendment would be really stupid. Granted, about 10 years ago I’d have been in favor of it too. It sounds right, if you don’t actually talk about all of the potential consequences.

    The sad thing is, most of the people who favor a federal balanced budget amendment themselves often hold a mortgage and/or school loans, so they don’t themselves practice what they preach.

  28. john personna says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    That was actually a bit of an economic fail. Individuals have life-cycles, and can do life-cycle planning.

    Government is more like an endowment or trust which must maintain solvency (ideally) in perpetuity.

    I believe the best economics on this are Keynesian, and support anti-cyclical deficit/surplus in response to economic conditions. This cyclical pattern would approximate, over the long term, a balanced budget.

    Of course, with inflation, and the very long lives of Republics (ideally) you do get quite a bit of a fudge factor from inflation.

    We did not completely pay the post WWII debt, we paid, and inflated, and grew, out of it.

  29. john personna says:

    (I guess a true Liberal forgets that Keynesian economics is not all deficit, all the time.)

  30. john personna says:

    “Keynes advocated what has been called countercyclical fiscal policies, that is, policies that acted against the tide of the business cycle: deficit spending when a nation’s economy suffers from recession or when recovery is long-delayed and unemployment is persistently high – and the suppression of inflation in boom times by either increasing taxes or cutting back on government outlays. “

  31. C. Clavin says:

    @ JP…
    Of course…but Republicans have turned this formulation on it’s head…deficit spending during the good times…and austerity during the down-cycle.
    Yet here they are holding a gun to our heads saying “we are the only ones that know what the right thing is”.
    Infuriating.

  32. john personna says:

    @C. Clavin:

    I faulted the GWB administration for stimulating a weak recovery, and thought that helped create the unhealthy conditions of 2006, 2007. You know that Greenspan’s low interest rates pumped the last lunge of the housing bubble, leading to a harder landing in 2008, 2009.

    But … we might be in a similar situation in 2013, 2014.

    If this is a weak recovery, it isn’t actually a contraction, and may not justify the stimulation many still desire.

    (Of course, I distinguish between “good programs” and just generic “buy whatever” stimulation.)

  33. anjin-san says:

    Last night I had a chat with an angry conservative:

    Angry – “The deficit is skyrocketing out of control.”

    Me – “No, it’s not. It’s falling. Rapidly. Here’s proof.”

    Angry – “If the deficit is falling then we don’t have to raise the debt limit.”

  34. C. Clavin says:

    @ JP…
    I strongly believe we should be investing in infrastructure…because money is still almost free. You may never be able to build this cheaply again.
    And I believe in helping States…who are seeing their Federal Aid slashed…hire cops and teachers and fire-fighters.
    Do that…and our growth is a point higher…and the UE at least a point-and-a-half lower.

    Or we couold keep on with this austerity kick…and listen to Doug whine about the weak-assed recovery.

  35. john personna says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Why “infrastructure” and not new science or technology?

    I think roads and bridges are actually in pretty good shape, and not likely to improve American revenues in the next century.

    Now … if you want a better educational broadband grid, I might be on board.

  36. john personna says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Also, to be honest, “hire cops and teachers and fire-fighters” is a bit of a liberal de rigueur.

    I side with the education hackers.

  37. @john personna:

    What struck me is how the description of the “new center” is yet further evidence of how most members of our society never progress beyond a purely pre-conventional view of morality.

  38. john personna says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    “The Center strongly favors government intervention that ensures everyone has their basic needs met (such as food and health care) and has a fair shot at earning a decent living.”

  39. Rob in CT says:

    I guess a true Liberal forgets that Keynesian economics is not all deficit, all the time

    What led you to say this, John? I can’t see anyone in this thread saying something that would support that.

    As for your point about how individual finances != governmental finances, that’s fine. But if I might hazard a guess, I think Rafer’s point was that your typical supporter of a balanced budget amendment LOVES the household finances analogy. That’s certainly been my experience.

    I’m happy to agree with you in condemning vulgar Keynesianism (always spend more). I just don’t see any here.

  40. john personna says:

    @Rob in CT:

    I’ve had past conversations here at OTB with people on the left who basically believe that you can stimulate whenever you want, and get healthy growth out of it.

    That was not Keynes prescription.

  41. Woody says:

    @Scott:

    I’m with you on this (and I’m old enough to remember Wallace running for President as well). Plenty of Northerners voted for the AIP (13% of the total, according to the WP).

    And this was before they had their own network.

  42. @john personna:

    Yes, but they also want to cut government spending, oppose raising the minimum wage, etc.

    The answer to every question seems to be “which answer to I personally benefit from the most, and the screw how badly it may impact other people”.

    I read that more as wanting all the benefits without having to actually pay for providing them.

  43. john personna says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    I think you might just be worrying about the imperfection of the questions.

    I mean, you too can name government spending you would cut, right?

    Update: “The Center wants a tax system and an economy that ensures the wealthy pay their fair share and polluters pay for their mess, and they want the revenue that generates to be spent fairly and wisely—not just handed out to people who aren’t accountable or funneled to wasteful projects.”

  44. Rob in CT says:

    @john personna:

    Is it your position that now is a bad time for stimulus?

    We have:

    1) High unemployment
    2) High household debt
    3) A Liquidity Trap, decreasing the effectiveness of monetary policy
    4) Ultra low interest rates

    The 2008-2009 crash was awful.

    A less severe event might indeed have not required stimulus. The automatic stabilizers, plus a little fed policy, might have been enough.

    Now I take your point about the 2001 recession. In fact, the last two recessions look very similar – stock market bubbles followed by very weak jobless recoveries. For what it’s worth, I think loose monetary policy was only 1 of several key factors in creating the housing bubble. You worry about a repeat. Ok, sure, so do I. It’s natural to do so. A large chunk of economic growth over the past 15 years has been essentially fictional – bubblicious fantasy. So it’s natural to start thinking that it will continue to be that way.

    I figure it might continue to be that way, at least unless/until we seriously rein in the financial sector. If I could propose stimulus combined with clamping down on financial wizardry, I would. Given that Dodd-Frank was a heavy lift and the ongoing effort to gut it, plus the absolute fixation on cutting spending on the Right, neither is going to happen.

  45. @john personna:

    Which to me reads as “I want more taxes (as long as I’m not paying them) to finance free stuff (for me) and I resent the fact that so much of the free stuff I could be getting is being spent on poor people instead. “

  46. john personna says:

    @Rob in CT:

    One of my themes, mentioned above, is a distinction between good programs, good investments, and “stimulus.”

    Stimulus is not careful, it is a rush to throw money at a falling (contracting) economy.

    We are not contracting, we need not rush, we may be careful.

  47. C. Clavin says:

    Also, to be honest, “hire cops and teachers and fire-fighters” is a bit of a liberal de rigueur.

    Whatever.
    Take a look at public sector job loss.
    De rigueur that.

  48. john personna says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Perhaps we need more readers, because I can look at those same 13 things and see the glass half-full.

  49. john personna says:

    @Rob in CT:

    Or to press it a bit further, if your answer to “how many teachers, police, and firemen do we need?” is always “more,” you might be a liberal.

    A careful moderate might pause to ask “how many do we have now?”

  50. C. Clavin says:

    I think roads and bridges are actually in pretty good shape, and not likely to improve American revenues in the next century.

    Our roads and bridges are in awful shape.
    Science and technology…sure…have at it.

  51. john personna says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Science: “Since 1970, the number of teachers per student rose while teacher quality apparently eroded. A model of school and voter decisions shows that an increase in the skill price for women may induce schools to hire additional teachers rather than better quality teachers. Estimation results indicate that the price of skill and alternative wage had offsetting effects on the teacher–pupil ratio. Increased demand for education therefore resulted in larger teacher–student ratios. In contrast, both the skill price and the alternative wage reduced teacher quality. Increased demand for education did not outweigh the combined price effect, and teacher quality fell.”

  52. john personna says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Our roads and bridges are in awful shape.

    I hate to break it to you, but you need to show increasing highway deaths to make that stick.

    One bridge collapse, and 5 deaths, is intensely emotional, but not a rationally a national emergency.

  53. Rob in CT says:

    I think he’s probably basing that on the Civil Engineers report that comes out each year, John. Now I tend to take that report with a few grains of salt, since there’s gotta be some self-interest in play. Anyway, I do think the grades they hand out are rather poor.

  54. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @john personna:

    Why “infrastructure” and not new science or technology?

    (speaking only to what I personally know of) Bridges in MO are among the worst in the country, being closed or having stricter wt constrictions upon them. The sewers in the city of St Louis are a mess with some of them being well over 100 yrs old. Our electrical grid is old, tired, and definitely inefficient by 21st century standards. The state road I live on has patches on the patches. etc etc.

    All that being said, no reason why we can not invest in infrastructure, science and technology.

  55. john personna says:

    @Rob in CT:

    The fact of the matter is that we have crazy high standards for our infrastructure, and currently meet those high standards.

    “Infrastructure” is a little like “drill, baby, drill” on the other side.

    It is a handshake, with some connection to reality, but a handshake nonetheless.

  56. Rob in CT says:

    @john personna:

    Hmm.

    I consider myself a liberal, but I do not maintain the answer is always more. I guess I’m performing (John Persona’s idea of) liberalism badly.

    I see education as a one of those things I don’t think we can really have too much of. I understand, however, that “more teachers!” isn’t always the answer, because surely you get into diminishing returns.

    We are not contracting, we need not rush, we may be careful.

    Agree in part, disagree in part. My disagreement is driven by persistent high unemployment (especially if you pay attention to the prime-age workforce participation rate. The standard unemployment rate misses people who just give up after they couldn’t find work for years). I view that as a *massive* waste.

    You worry about wasting money on poor investments. I understand that and agree: I worry too. However, I worry more about persistent ~7% headline unemployment (more like 9 or 10% if you consider those who just gave up).

    Priorities, man!

  57. john personna says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    It’s a hard question to value a state road, especially a rural residential one.

    Should it be maintained per the economic activity it supports? That is the revenue generated along it?

    Or, if it is homes and such, should they pay fully for its maintenance?

    If it needs a supplement, from city slickers and apartment dwellers … how many such roads should they support?

    Again, it can’t _always_ be “more.”

  58. john personna says:

    (The are spending a billion out here to widen the 405*. Presumably that is justified by the associated tax base.)

    * – if you are curious about “the 405” see the SNL skit, “the Californians.”

  59. wr says:

    @john personna: “A careful moderate might pause to ask “how many do we have now?””

    Then that careful moderate would be kind of a moron.

    We don’t judge the need for teachers, cops and firefighters by the absolute number currently employed. We look to see if students are learning and classes are the right size, if crime is under control, and if there is a suitably quick response time to emergency calls.

  60. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @john personna:

    One bridge collapse, and 5 deaths, is intensely emotional, but not a rationally a national emergency.

    Uhhh John? You do know that there are more roads than just interstates? Don’t you??? You have any idea how many bridges they have closed in the last 5 years in my tri-county area? They rebuilt a bridge just down the road from me last summer (after it had been closed almost a year) and that was an hour detour at least once a week. Hell’s bells, there is a major artery from Warren County to St Charles Co closed right now because neither Co wants to be responsible for it.

    Just because you can get to and from your job and the grocery store does not mean everything is alright.

  61. wr says:

    I can’t imagine why my response to John P was caught by the spam filter, since it was nothing but a passionate argument for improvement to our infrastructure, while all my nasty notes to Jenos fly right past.

    Maybe the spam filter doesn’t like Jenos, either…

  62. Rob in CT says:

    John,

    Regarding infrastructure, I think another thing we might want to consider is this:

    What % of GDP did we spend on infrastructure in the 70s? 80s? 90s? Today? Obviously you have to do eliminate pre-Eisenhower Interstate System time periods, or the comparison would be ridiculous.

    Anyway, if we’re spending about what we typically do and things aren’t falling apart around us, that’s fine. If spending is actually down, we might consider a boost (though again, one has to actually show that it’s a good idea, not just slavishly say “oh it was 3% in 1965 and it’s 2.5% now so we should increase”). Also, I’m not even sure % of GDP is the best measure. We would want to account for pop growth and the economic benefits of the infrastructure, really. % of GDP sorta kinda does that, but not really.

  63. wr says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: “Just because you can get to and from your job and the grocery store does not mean everything is alright. ”

    It does if you’re a libertarian!

  64. Pinky says:

    Keynesianism is like the cocaine-snorting junior executive in the 1980’s. Just a bump to get me through the rough patch, then I’ll stop. But it turns out that the rush you get during the good times feels good, too. The next thing you know, you’re using 24 hours a day, and you lose the ability to stop.

    A lot of political or economic theories are good on paper, but unmanageable in the real world.

  65. Rob in CT says:

    This might be of interest:

    http://www.cbo.gov/publication/21902

    Check out Figure one (you need to click on read the full report).

    Funny. 1959: federal + state infrastructure spending = 3% of GDP. Today: 2.5%, roughly. I swear, when I posted those in my prior post, I made those numbers up. Hah.

    That in and of itself doesn’t automatically mean we must spend more (especially since it looks like 1959-early 1960s was the peak). I don’t have time right now to read the whole report. I’m sure it’s not a clear message crying to the heavens that we must spend more.

  66. Moosebreath says:

    @Pinky:

    Who says projection is just for big screen TV’s? The party which claims to hate Keynesian economics is the one who believes in stimulus (in the form of tax cuts) as the proper course at any stage of the economic cycle.

  67. rudderpedals says:

    Back to Keynes. Broad stimulus – cash money to every household – would do wonders. If you want to fix unemployment then you have to do something about demand which remains hosed. No amount of pushing on the supply side string is going to help.

  68. Rob in CT says:

    @Pinky:

    Then explain the 1950s and 60s (hell, even the 70s)?

    Our debt-to-GDP fell consistently from the end of WWII until 1980 (hmm, what happened then?), rose until the early 90s, fell again until 2000 and has since risen (hmm, what happened in 2000?).

    Also, I think people need to remember that the real growth in government spending has been at the local and state levels. Federal stimulus spending is a blip.

  69. al-Ameda says:

    @Pinky:

    Keynesianism is like the cocaine-snorting junior executive in the 1980′s. Just a bump to get me through the rough patch, then I’ll stop. But it turns out that the rush you get during the good times feels good, too. The next thing you know, you’re using 24 hours a day, and you lose the ability to stop.

    A lot of political or economic theories are good on paper, but unmanageable in the real world.

    Keynesianism is not the problem.

    Keynes advocated strong stimulus spending when we were in recession or depression, and savings and balanced budgets when the economic growth is good.

    The problem is, we have been engaged in unnecessary deficit spending when there was no recession, rather than balancing our budgets. The financial crash of 2008 called for strong stimulus spending – at that’s exactly what we did. Now that we have modest economic growth we need to carefully slow the rate of growth of expenditures. A precipitous cut in expenditures would cause another deep recession.

    The problem is not with Keynes at all, it is with politicians who, as recently as 2004, cut taxes and waged 2 unfunded (that is, completely deficit-funded) wars while the economy was experiencing strong growth.

  70. Katharsis says:

    @john personna:

    The Center: these are the people who don’t show up for Midterm Elections and also don’t understand why there is so much gridlock in Washington.

  71. Dave says:

    @Pinky: WWII can be considered one huge Keynesian “bump” and we stopped after that! Seriously, the whole Republican “once you start stimulating the economy you’ll never be able to stop” story does not have a lot of basis.

  72. grumpy realist says:

    @Rob in CT: The whole mess about teachers has been complicated by our tendency now to use school for babysitting rather than teaching (parents not caring if little Johnny learns to read or not, constantly taking the kid’s side in any battle with the teacher, etc.) Plus, we’re not going to go back to the 1950s and early 1960s, where the schools ended up with a much higher caliber teacher than the salaries deserved—because being a schoolteacher was one of the few professions open to women. Once women’s lib cracked open other opportunities, schools would have had to increase their salaries considerably to attract the same quality of people into the profession. Which it didn’t do, and so they went elsewhere. And now that teachers are ill-paid, harangued by all sides for not taking the little hellions they’ve been entrusted with and turning them into model citizens–well, is it a surprise that education has gone the way it has? Populated by the idealistic and the burn-out?

  73. rudderpedals says:

    If you believe that a cut in spending under current conditions — it doesn’t matter whether it’s public or private spending — leads to more rather than less investment, what is the mechanism? How does my spending cut give businesses a reason to spend more rather than less (other than via the confidence fairy)? Remember, interest rates can’t fall — the zero lower bound isn’t a theory, it’s a fact, and it’s a fact that we’ve been facing for five years now.

    kthug getting it right again. http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/10/15/five-on-the-floor/
    (emphasis mine)

  74. Rafer Janders says:

    @john personna:

    That was actually a bit of an economic fail. Individuals have life-cycles, and can do life-cycle planning. Government is more like an endowment or trust which must maintain solvency (ideally) in perpetuity.

    Right, but you wouldn’t believe (or actually you would) the number of people who believe that the American government has a limited life-span and has to act as if it’s retiring in 20 years….

  75. Rafer Janders says:

    @Rob in CT:

    But if I might hazard a guess, I think Rafer’s point was that your typical supporter of a balanced budget amendment LOVES the household finances analogy. That’s certainly been my experience.

    Correcto. They love the analogy but never see how it doesn’t actually apply.

  76. john personna says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Guess what?

    There is an upper limit to the number of uneconomic roads we can support.

    And building a pork barrel road without sufficient economic returns is a bottomless pit of loss. It will cost every generation of increasingly urban citizen from here on out.

    Now in the scheme of things it may be a small loss, and we may be below “the number of uneconomic roads we can support,” but that does not make uneconomic roads good againn.

    It just makes them an acceptable burden.

  77. john personna says:

    @Rob in CT:

    I can think of some small things that would improve the employment picture, but I’m not sure there are any grand plans that would not have negative consequences.

    Once we make a good climate for startups, and provide workers with marketable skills, what do we do?

    If we ask government to hire too many, we create an opportunity cost. The workers don’t find those industries which are set to grow with them.

  78. john personna says:

    @Rob in CT:

    I don’t know why infrastructure should track GDP.

    A lot of that GDP is in Apple sales and the ITunes store, right?

  79. wr says:

    @john personna: “There is an upper limit to the number of uneconomic roads we can support.”

    Sure. But “I don’t use this road, so it’s uneconomic” is not actually a wise way of determining our spending priorities, no matter how loudly it’s screamed by TeaTards and Libertarians.

  80. john personna says:

    @wr:

    No, but like the teacher question, math is available.

    Update, Illustration: HIGHWAY 39: CALTRANS VS. MOTHER NATURE

  81. Jim Henley says:

    @Rob in CT:

    They could have had their big debate over spending levels and such, without this weird apocalyptic fantasy roleplay.

    On behalf of my fellow weird-apocalyptic-fantasy roleplayers may I just say: You ain’t pinning this mishegas on us.

  82. Ron Beasley says:

    The good news is that we now know who runs the country. It”s about 50 wacho Congressman and a couple of wacho bird Senators taking orders from the Heritage Foundation. I liked it better when Wall Street was calling the shots and I didn’t like that very much.

  83. wr says:

    @john personna: So what’s your point? We should close all roads through mountains? All roads that don’t benefit you?

  84. john personna says:

    @wr:

    Consider this thread a little alternate reality. It’s what it would be like if you faced rational conservatives in these forums.

    And I must say you failed, with this “close all roads through mountains” stuff. California 39 is an example of a road which no one really wants on the map. CalTrans wants to abandon it, and they should be allowed to. The parks service doesn’t want to accept it as is, and wants it pulled out and returned to nature. Maybe that would be more jobs, but pretty stupid. Call it history, call it a ruin, and move on.

  85. Grewgills says:

    @john personna:
    Took the little quiz there and it has me as a right leaning centrist who doesn’t care much about politics. I can unequivocally state that result is not accurate.

  86. ralphb says:

    @michael reynolds: I really hate to agree about the rancid racism, but I finally accept it. You are correct.,

  87. Tyrell says:

    I think that things could be done a lot better in Washington. Here are my three ideas for solving the budget problems in Washington.
    Congress needs to get out and hear what the common people have to say. Set up the town meeting process and listen to the questions, concerns, and ideas of the people instead of just listening to themselves talk. Take these ideas and concerns back to Washington and address them in the budget and other decisions.
    Use the committee process to get a budget through. It has to start in the House, in the Ways and Means Committee. Once that is done, send it to on to the House for approval, then to the Senate, where they can make a few modifications, then to the president. That is the way it used to be done.
    Have a conference of top business leaders. They know how to get things done instead of just talking and grandstanding. Get their input and help on making a deal.
    These are my ideas on how to get things solved in Washington. I hope you enjoyed them.
    “Control your own destiny or someone else will” Jack Welch
    “Sometimes by losing the battle you win the war” Trump

  88. michael reynolds says:

    @ralphb:

    I hate for it to be true.

    OTB is written by lawyers and academics. The comment writers are heavily weighted toward STEM folk. They will naturally tend to look at systems, data, policy. I’m a fiction writer, so I naturally tend to look at character and motivation, so crazy people are right in my wheelhouse. I understand crazy. (Which probably says something about my own mental state.)

  89. Grewgills says:

    @john personna:

    Since 1970, the number of teachers per student rose while teacher quality apparently eroded.

    I can’t get behind the paywall. What evidence do they have that teacher quality eroded. Is that controlled for student population and new requirements?

  90. john personna says:

    @Grewgills:

    My main point was that the process should rational, numeric, structured. Rather than just say “more teachers.”

    The top level message of that article is that the ratio of teachers to students has increased, which says that we have been adding teachers, all along. How much is enough?

    There are more teacher per student than when we were kids.

  91. john personna says:
  92. wr says:

    @john personna: I still don’t understand your point. Okay, we shouldn’t have silly roads that cost a fortune to maintain and serve no real purpose. We’re all on board with that. But if you want to extrapolate from this to some broader point, you’re really going to have to do it instead of linking to an article with a QED. I suspect if you looked hard enough you could find some clown with a diamond studded lifeboat on his yacht — that doesn’t mean that all lifeboats are silly and unnecessary.

  93. PJ says:

    @Tyrell:

    Set up the town meeting process and listen to the questions, concerns, and ideas of the people instead of just listening to themselves talk.

    There was an election last year, maybe you should listen to the result.

    Have a conference of top business leaders. They know how to get things done instead of just talking and grandstanding. Get their input and help on making a deal.

    Again. There was an election last year, voters had a chance to pick a businessman. They did not.

  94. Jim Henley says:

    @PJ: You have to admit it’s kind of cool to have Ross Perot commenting here under a pseudonym.

  95. Mikey says:

    Now it appears the Marine Corps Marathon is at risk of cancellation. I started training for it in March. I’ve logged over 500 miles so far, nearly 100 hours on the roads, much of it in the Virginia summer heat. Now the nearly 30,000 runners, including me, who are registered to run it may have it pulled a week out.

    The NYC Marathon was cancelled last year because of a huge natural disaster over which nobody had any possible control. Painful for the runners, yes, but entirely understandable and correct. But this shutdown? This could be the most pointless, stupid, ludicrous reason on record for canceling a marathon.

    Yes, I understand in the grand scheme of people not getting paid on time (or, in the case of furloughed contractors, at all) and the ramifications of hitting the debt ceiling, my problem is minor (although the pain and sweat I’ve experienced the last seven months certainly felt significant). But to think this event, which has run 37 years in a row in spite of similar issues, could be kiboshed because the GOP doesn’t want to concede an obvious defeat…it’s just galling.

  96. john personna says:

    @wr:

    When I said “uneconomic” I expected you to understand that as an investigative process, and a rational assessment.

    I did not expect you to come back and claim that I didn’t like any road I personally did not use, or any roads through high mountains.

  97. anjin-san says:

    @ Tyrell

    Once upon a time, America put a brilliant, visionary businessman in the White House. It did not end well.

    Herbert Hoover

  98. anjin-san says:

    hire cops and teachers and fire-fighters

    Well, there is the GOP version of this formula:

    Hire cops and teachers and fire-fighters – but only where I live.

  99. Katharsis says:

    @Katharsis:

    …And I was right

    (Scroll to the bottom to get some links to real poll data on the Center by Pew).

  100. wr says:

    @john personna: Then again, what is your point?

  101. wr says:

    @Mikey: Having trained for and run seven marathons — none very quickly — I understand your pain. I hope they don’t cancel this, but if they do there are many, many marathons going on all over the country. Find one in some place you really want to visit — or if money is tight, find one close! — and don’t let that trraining go to waste.

  102. Mikey says:

    @wr: This would be my third marathon, if it goes. The closest after this one is Richmond, which runs the 16th of November. It’s only about a 90-minute drive, but I’d have to get a hotel, etc. The huge advantage to me of the MCM is I can wake up at home and take the Metro.

    We’ll see what happens…I’m still hopeful that even if the Republicans continue trying to screw the country, the Marines will come up with a way to keep them from screwing a small part of it.

  103. Rob in CT says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Yeah, that sounds about right. I’ll add that since the 60s, we as a society (or, well, most of us) have taken seriously the idea that we ought to really try to educate everybody, regardless of skin color. Plus SPED. Plus ESL. So the load is heavier, the pickings are leaner (women like my wife are now highly-paid professionals instead of school marms), and everybody blames the teachers (which I react strongly against, as I see them as having been put in a next-to-impossible situation).

    But I can’t really figure the solution. We could say “pay them more” but there we run smack into resource constraints. Lots of folks think teachers are already over-compensated (I disagree – if anything I’d point a finger at adminstrators – but then I’m a liberal). So as you say, there’s no re-creating the pre-women’s lib teacher’s job market.

    Given all that, I can see the allure of the “hack education” idea that JP always pushes. I just don’t believe the way he does. I hope, a little, but I’m wary.

    John,

    I specifically said I don’t think that % of GDP is a good benchmark for infrastructure spending*. It’s sort of a brute force figure. It was just a quick & dirty way of looking at whether we’re flushing tons of $$ down the drain on infrastructure. I’d submit that given the fact that the figure is in line with what we’ve spent for decades (actually down a touch), we’re probably not. I’m fine with particular roads being abandoned if there really isn’t a justifiable need for them. Nobody wants to pay for a road to nowhere.

    * per capita, adjusted for inflation might be better. Even that might be problematic.

  104. wr says:

    @Mikey: Happy running!

  105. Pharoah Narim says:

    @Tyrell: You think Congress doesn’t know how to fix some of this mess?!?!?! These people aren’t dumb as you think….its just that they have to engage in a kabuki dance to appease fools for votes and sociopaths for campaign money. After that….they have to follow thru on the garbage they spouted to keep their jobs. No—real solutions to real problems aren’t to be found in the town halls where people are dumb enough to think they can learn anything about everything from news pudits on TV (who themselves are mostly clueless).

  106. Pharoah Narim says:

    Too bad I missed out on this thread— There were many good comments but we glossed over the fact that Free Trade and its policies were the catalyst to an ever shrinking economy. A service economy can’t support 100 million “middle-class” jobs.

    We have a financial and hospitality service economy that is modestly planned around Fed interest rates and stimulus gambits. Capitalism is supposed to be in-efficient—in other words, there should be 3 modest sized department stores in a small town…instead of 1 wal-mart. Manufacturing is what provided that in-efficiency. Politicians say those days are never coming back…but thats only because their donnors don’t want it too. Its easier to make money off money that it is in investing in homegrown American self-sufficiency. Clothes, tools, etc plants…..

    As long as the voters tolerate this attitude “the jobs are never coming back”– and they will because they having been told to know better. The only real change and economic golden days will depend on a population significantly less than what we have now.