Tag Archives: Debt

Episode 107 – A Compromise with No Compromises


In this episode, Jeff and Glenn discuss the recent compromise in the tax rate extensions and the results of the debt and deficit commission report with Jeff Thiebert. Jeff is the National Grassroots Director for the Concord Coalition. The Concord Coalition is a nationwide, non-partisan, grassroots organization advocating generationally responsible fiscal policy. Together, the PoliTalk Boys and Jeff Thiebolt discuss the potential results of unbridled spending on the economy and the country. They also explore the ramifications of a tax compromise that had no compromises. If you pay taxes, don’t miss this fun and informative episode.

Best Friends. Vast Experience. Engaging political discussion without the fighting…and with a few laughs. It’s PoliTalk, your weekly political podcast.

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Who Won the War Started on 9/11?


9/11 is one of those events that is imprinted on most Americans that were around to see it unfold on TV. President G.W. Bush on September 14, 2001, went to the rubble at the site of NY’s World Trade Center and said ,

I can hear you, the rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.

This became a rallying cry for us Americans to support an effort to defeat not just al Qaeda, but also the “War on Terror”. On September 20, 2001, President G.W. Bush said to a joint session of Congress,

Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.

Here we are almost 10 years later. Like many Americans, I have been asking myself, did we win? Was “mission accomplished”? Here are some numbers that I look at to inform this analysis.

On the morning of September 11, 2001:

  • US – nearly 3,000 victims died
  • Them – 19 hijackers died in the attacks

On the morning of October 5, 2010:

  • US – Over 1 trillion dollars spent since 9/11 to fight the war
  • US – Debt at an all time high of 13.5 trillion
  • US – 6,000+ US military deaths related to the two wars
  • Them – al Qaeda deaths in the hundreds?
  • Them – al Qaeda assets frozen (as of 2007 report) $265 million

I’m left with more questions than answers.

  1. How and when should we decide who won?
  2. What other data points should we use?
  3. Will the “War on Terror” ever end to decide who won?

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Episode 89 – Debt, Deficit and the Concord Coalition


“The Accountants are Coming, The Accountants are Coming!” – It took an accountant to take down Al Capone, what will it take to bring down out of control government spending? Our Guest Jeff Thiebert, National Grassroots Director for the Concord Coalition helps break it down for us as Glenn and Guest Blogger Jeff start building their bunkers for the coming financial apocalypse. Mr. Thiebert tells us about Concord’s, “Fiscal Wake Up” tours, and how you can get involved as part of the solution. If you are yourself, or have ever dated an actuary, or wanted to date an actuary, then don’t listen to this show. But, if you want to cold hard facts on what it will take to tackle the critical spending issues that face our nation, then tune in. Don’t spend another dime with your credit card until you listen to this show.

PoliTalk – Refreshing political discussion…without the fighting…and with a few laughs. Hosted by Glenn Gaudet and Jeff Kimball.

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The Sound of an Empire Falling


If $64 Trillion dollars fell from a tree in the woods, and there was nobody there to spend it, would it be a debit or a credit?

There is a lot of talk these days about the national debt.  Typically the number is said to be anywhere between $10-12 Trillion.  Unfortunately, according to the Peter G. Petersen foundation, an organization chaired by the former Comptroller General of the US, David Walker, the number is closer to $64 Trillion of total, un-funded obligations that the US is required by law to pay.

Americans need to understand that this is our fault.  Not some imaginary “them”, or greedy wall-street bankers, or the Chinese, or fat cat union members with bloated pensions.  It is our fault.  A collective condition we have brought on ourselves through our everyday greed, complacency, and lack of responsibility when it comes to being citizens in a democratic society.

It starts in small ways.  At Starbucks.  Do the math.  Coffee as an experience?  Are we really paying so little attention, that we go to Starbucks everyday but complain about the cost of our healthcare co-pay?

It manifests itself in big ways as well.  Every single dollar spent by the federal government today, and everyday for the foreseeable future (and by foreseeable future I mean like the next 100 years) is borrowed.  The tax dollars you paid in April are paying for promises and programs from decades ago.  The dollars we are actually spending today, are being borrowed, and will have to be paid back decades from now by our grandchildren, with lots of interest.

Today, when our parents or grandparents leave this earth, they often pass on the family home and sentimental possessions.  The watch your Dad wore his entire life or the broach your Mom got when she was married.  If we are very fortunate, maybe insurance money or a nest egg earmarked for the grandchildren.  But never do they pass on their debt.  Imagine your parents passing away, and getting a bill equal to at least all the money you make in an entire year.  And imagine having no choice but to pay that bill today, and going into debt to pay those creditors. Think about that money leaving your checking account – today! Then go borrow money to cover your bills.

This is exactly what we are doing to our next generation.  I am of Generation X.  It is said that we have had no defining moment in our experience.  No WWII, no Vietnam, no civil rights movement.  I can now respectfully disagree.  To the other Gen X’ers out there; this is ours.  This is our generational challenge.  Our country is going bankrupt, and we are going to have to deal with it.

These are things we don’t want to hear.  For saying them, I probably disqualify myself for any public office.  We are going to have to cut spending in massive ways.  We are going to have to raise taxes in massive ways.  These are the only two things we can do.  There are no options left, and we have to do both.  The truth is dangerous and it’s bad for elections.  But it’s still the truth.

As if that were not bad enough, here’s the real problem.  Our current political system is broken, and is not capable of taking action.  The same human nature that leads bankers to take excessive risks, and leads teachers unions to bankrupt states in the name of public service, leads our Senators and Congressmen to tell us what we want to hear, in order to stay in power.

It’s time to use a mechanism that exists, but is rarely used.  That is the peoples right to amend the Constitution.  We must amend the Constitution to do two things.  First, term limit Congress so their role is as temporary stewards of government, not career politicians.  Second, we must make it constitutionally mandatory to balance the budget.

I propose the following four part constitutional amendment.

  1. The term of an elected member of the House of Representatives shall be extended from 2 years to 3, and an individual can be elected to the House of Representatives for no more than 3 terms.
  2. An individual may be elected to the Senate for no more than (2) 6-year terms.
  3. An individual may not serve in the Congress, either as a Senator, or Member of the House, for more than 12 years total, whether by election, or by serving out the term of someone else.
  4. The Congress is required to submit a balanced budget each year.  Only by executive order during time of war or national emergency, may the President excuse the Congress of this obligation.

These simple amendments to the US Constitution will enable politicians to act in the nations best interest regardless of the electoral consequences, free them from constant campaigning and fundraising, and delegate the President the sole responsibility and accountability for managing the deficit.

I’m not a lawyer or a political pro.  There are probably better ways to word these amendments, but keeping it simple is the key.  Don’t let politicians get so attached to their job that they are scared to tell us the truth.  And don’t let government spend more than it takes in.

Now back to the title of this post.  “The Sound of an Empire Falling”.  Do we not hear the tree falling or do we not care?  Do we not believe the roots are weakening, or do we not understand? Unlike Greece, there will be nobody big enough to bail us out when this great oak falls.

We got ourselves into this mess, and we need to get ourselves out. It’s really kind of simple.

What do you think?

Guest Blogger – Jeff Hine

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The Progressive Path to Financial Catastrophe


America and its citizens have been given a great gift. A Time Machine! The best thing about this time machine is that it is free. It took no bloated pork barrel project to build. It does not require a DeLorean, or a Flux Capacitor, or a billion dollar supercollider to create nuclear fusion. This time machine allows us to travel 10 years into the future to see the results of the Progressive Agenda

All that is required to access this time machine is to open the pages of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, or turn on CNN, Fox, or CNBC, and pay attention to the coverage of the European debt crisis.

If you have not been paying attention, European countries are starting to declare bankruptcy. Not really, but it’s the sovereign country equivalent of bankruptcy. Basically saying – we have so much debt, that we can’t even make the interest payments anymore and still provide basic services to our citizens. This would be like if one of us were in so much debt, that the interest we had to pay on our credit cards each month left us nothing to buy food for our children or pay rent.

Greece fell first. They are still negotiating their bailout package with a looming debt payment in the next 60 days that it cannot make. The bailout package is going to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $160B over 2 years. But it does not come without strings.

The aid package being negotiated to bail out Greece is worth 120 billion euros (about $160 billion) through 2012, according to Vassilis Papadimitriou, a spokesman for Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou.

But the International Monetary Fund and European Union are demanding further austerity measures as a price for the bailout, according to a top Greek labor union official.

Greece will be required to cut civil servants’ salaries, freeze their pay increases, reduce their pension payments, change tax rates and increase the value-added tax consumers pay on purchases, according to Ilias Iliopoulos, the general secretary of the public sector union ADEDY.

Source CNN.com 4/29/10

This week, Portugal and Spain have had their debt downgraded. It’s the tip of the iceberg. As a point of reference, here is the situation by the numbers, and what the numbers mean.

Country National Debt National Debt as a Percent of GDP

Greece ~$581B 170%

Spain ~$2.5T 186%

Portugal ~$584B 235%

United States ~$13.7T 96%

UK ~$9.5T 425%

National Debt = the total money the country has borrowed from other people, and will eventually have to pay back.

National Debt as a Percent of GDP = National debt in relation to the total economic output of a country annually. So for example 100% means that a country owes the same amount that the entire country generates in economic value in one year.

So the countries in Europe who are declaring bankruptcy, what do they all have in common?

  1. Universal healthcare in some form
  2. Broad government pension programs for state and private sector workers
  3. The institutionalization into government policy of union style labor protection and welfare programs.
  4. VAT taxes in addition to high income taxes (and they still are running out of money)

European nations represent the pinnacle of the progressive model, societies of entitlement and social democracy. This is the progressive agenda. These are the countries that are the role models to the progressive movement of what they want our country to become. They are bankrupt, and they need bailouts.

Hmmmm? Are we thinking these are really the right role models?

No – I’m not Glenn Beck – I don’t believe that the progressive movement is intent on bankrupting the US as a stated purpose. But I do believe that many progressives know so little about economics, or just ignore the arguments, and care so much about everyone liking them that they are unable to face the harsh reality that the society they want to create is not financially plausible or sustainable. A fact which is proven beyond a shadow of a doubt with the current European debt crisis!

This is a template, this is a crystal ball, this is a time machine published in the paper and broadcast on the news every single day. This is America’s future under the current administration. We are likely less than 3 years from a downgrade to US debt which will start the death spiral. We are within 2 years of most countries in Europe, including possibly the UK needing a bailout. These bailouts are a direct result of the progressive programs that Europe has had in place for decades. These are the same policies and programs that progressives are putting in place here, right now.

Let’s use the gift of this time machine to radically cut government spending across the board, reform social programs and roll back the society of entitlement. We have a little time left, but not much.

What do you think?

Guest Blogger – Jeff Hine

Where’s my 5.7% raise? – 2011 Budget Released by White House


Cat people are becoming Dog People. Liberals are sounding like conservatives. Liberals are even budgeting like conservatives. What’s going on with this crazy world? I am probably the only geek in the world that gets excited by the release of the President’s Budget. I downloaded it, and I’m reading through it now. I encourage you to watch the video above, and listen to our show to get more info.

I’ll save my analysis and judgments for the next episode of our show, which we will be doing later this week, but I am struck by one thing: this budget offers me the opportunity to have my ice cream along with my spinach…meaning, it appears that there are a lot of cuts in programs (spinach) — but there are no cuts in military spending, and the overall budget increases spending by 5.7% (ice cream). The communications promise belt tightening down the road, with across the board freezes coming in the “out years” of the budget, but this year we’re looking at a $3.8 trillion budget, which represents a 5.7% increase in federal spending, along with an increase in the size of the deficit and debt. Increases in military spending, cuts in federal programs…

Is this Progressive budgeting? Or do we find ourselves back in the Reagan/Bush era?  Does this mean that working people are going to see their wages rise by 5.7%? I understand the concept of deficit spending, but that doesn’t mean the federal budget has to increase at such a high rate. There are other ways we can spend our way out of this recession, grow the economy, create jobs, continue to fight Al Queda and still live within our means. These concepts don’t need to be mutually exclusive. And if we’re going to ask Americans to live within their means during this difficult time, then the federal government should hold itself to the same standard. This from a Progressive Democrat.

— Jeff Kimball

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Episode 58 – Debating Debt, Deficits and Job Creation


In this episode, Jeff and Glenn continue to the spirit of their National Debate Series and have a constructive argument over the national debt, annual deficits and how more jobs can be created. Is the Stimulus working as promised? Can it be expected to create jobs, or does that burden fall to the private sector? Are the banks, flush with cash from the bailouts and a record year on Wall Street, lending to small businesses or are they hoarding the money and making risky bets on financial instruments? In the end, they find common ground…and then wade into the politically explosive abortion issue.  Always entertaining and informative, it’s PoliTalk, your weekly political podcast.

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