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Baby steps to balancing the budget

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Baby steps to balancing the budget

AnsuGisalas
First cut things that are harmful, and can be removed without ill effect: Like pennies.
The justification: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5UT04p5f7U&feature=relmfu
Practical example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nU4E6SSy5Yg&feature=relmfu

And more shoutingly : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77C47XYm_3c&feature=fvwrel
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    john.a.wills

    If so, I suggest the defunding of Planned Parenthood (and the UNPFA as long as it is dominated by PP) and the Israeli/Zionist state. Well, in the case of the latter, funding should be made conditional on the restitution of all the private property stolen in the last 60+ years, and perhaps the Israeli leadership would go along with that, in which case nothing would be saved quickly, but there would soon be full recognition of the Zionist state by the Arab states so there would be less excuse for all that U.S.-funded armament.

    Oh yes, the farm subsidies should go; they're just a distortion of prices.

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    AnsuGisalas

    Those accidental teen pregnancies are a big drain both in lost productivity and in opportunity cost.

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    john.a.wills

    PP, obviously deliberately, prescribes less effective means of family planning (they don't teach Billing, do they?), presumably with the intention of making money on later abortions. Which cost us human lives immediately and, later, post-******** syndrome, with its costs. Without the American Eugenics Society, as PP used to be known, we would have an in many ways healthier society, so funding it is counter-productive.

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    john.a.wills

    but difficult for many people to achieve.

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    CharlieSpencer

    as opposed to other, easier methods? If the discussion is strictly about government spending, isn't it cheaper to fund easier methods than to pay for the food, health care, and education of unwanted children? You're not going to stop people from having ***, although you can shift the expense of the consequences to the rest of us..

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    john.a.wills

    PP does not tech Billings, which is easy enough and more reliable than the methods PP teaches.

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    AnsuGisalas

    Isn't that prostitution?

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    AnsuGisalas

    abstinence is patently unreliable. Known fact.
    The worst was when Dubya demanded Abstinence replace condoms in African aid efforts, leaving the wives of whoring husbands with no protection from AIDS.
    Hypocrisy is seldom more pungent than when dripping from the virtuous.

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    NickNielsen Moderator

    Congratulations. You've just cut less than .01% of the budget. That's a bold step.

    Foreign aid? 1%. Another bold step.

    Keep it up. You'll reach balance in...oh...about 40 years. Pretty much the same time Ryan's plan would do it.

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    john.a.wills

    but somewhat more as the results multiply. Still, you are right that my suggestions are for small potatoes in proportion to the whole budget. It's just that these are morally urgent matters, so I put them first.

    For larger sums, see Palmetto's suggestions below, with most of which I agree.

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    NickNielsen Moderator

    But on the subject of Planned Parenthood, you and I disagree. It's morally urgent for me that people have access to appropriate medical care. To defund Planned Parenthood would deny millions of women who can't otherwise afford it access to such care. It may be "morally urgent" for you to defund PP, but I don't see anything "moral" in failing (or refusing) to educate our children on how to prevent pregnancy, reducing access to the means to prevent pregnancy, banning ********, denying access to affordable care, then complaining when women have babies they can't afford to support.

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    john.a.wills

    does not include most of the "services" of the American Eugenics Society, which does not educate in erotic self-respect or in the most reliable methods of family planning. Defunding it would not, alas, end ********, but it would much reduce the kind of rubbish you are spouting: PP, like AIPAC, propagandizes for funding for its purposes, including renewed propaganda; you are picking up bits of PP's propaganda and respouting them free.

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    AnsuGisalas

    then tell me abortions are a bad thing...

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    NickNielsen Moderator

    Abstinence? Rhythm?

    *** is fun. It's designed to be fun. You can tell the kids not to do it all you want, but they're still going to do it. If you want to reduce the number of abortions, you need to make it easier for women to avoid the consequences of ***. Reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies. Educate our children about ***. Teach them how to prevent pregnancies. Allow the use of the morning after pill. Then you won't have as many women getting pregnant, which will reduce the need for abortions. And also reduce the need for public assistance for poor women.

    You keep going on about the "American Eugenics Society" as the progenitor of Planned Parenthood. Given the current beliefs and behavior of Republicans, should I now refer to them as the John Birch Society? The KKK? So far, only the methods differ...

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    boxfiddler Moderator

    BINGO, I'd have a shitload of kids *shudders* were it not for Planned Parenthood. However, that's also true were it not for the people who informed of PPs existence.

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    DelbertPGH

    It makes birth control and birth control education available to people with low budgets, the poor and working class, and the young who are just getting started in the economy. Without those services, we'd have a lot more pregnancies in families and single women who couldn't afford a child (or more children,) and a lot more abortions, incidentally. We have an economic system that depends on a working class, and we will always have the poor; it's not productive or decent to leave a large slice of our people priced out of this kind of medical care. It's been the American way to keep this kind of thing out of government and in the hands of non-profits, like PP. If government didn't fund PP to do pap smears and pass out contraceptives to the poor, how would it get done?

    Planned Parenthood also counsels people on healthy pregnancies, as well as preventing them, or aborting them. It's a full set of GYN services. Most of the people who see PP are not there for abortions.

    There's a big distaste for *** in this country, and a feeling that we'd all be better off with less of it, and being secretive about what's left. Bull. Lying to ourselves about what we want and do is not a rational policy. I lived through the 50s. It wasn't a better time to be a woman, or to be a man, for that matter.

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    CharlieSpencer

    Doing so would reduce the manpower requirements. It would also keep more money stateside, as both military spending and servicemen paychecks would remain here. Raise military retirement to 25 or even 30 years of service. Close the commissary and Exchange systems; Wal-marts are usually close to the same prices and have better selections. Eliminate overhead and redundancy by merging the five services into one. Ignore the brass when they scream about traditions we can no longer afford.

    Stop buying unneeded major military equipment just because it keeps factories open back in the district / state. Retrain those left unemployed for infrastructure (roads, bridges, public transportation, water, sewer, etc.) and use the money formerly wasted on unwanted weapons to rebuild those systems.

    Phase out farm subsidies. Alter the ethanol requirement so that it must be made from non-food crops. Brazil gets ten times as much ethanol from an acre of switch grass as we do from corn. Ignore the Big Ag outfits and oil refineries.

    Raise taxes. Cap the deduction on dependents at three. Make all income taxable, even if it's only at half a percent. It doesn't have to be done in one big jump; make the increases gradual. Ignore and override the 'No tax' pledge-makers.

    Decrease the amount of mortgage interest that can be deducted on homes over $250,000. Phase it out on second homes or second mortgages. Ignore the realtors and mortgage lenders.

    Gradually raise the gas tax by 25 or 50 cents. Mandate this increase to be used for road and bridge repairs, NOT new construction. The price of gas fluctuates that much in a couple of months anyway.

    Pass a line-item veto bill.

    Eliminate overhead by combining Medicare, Medicaid, and similar medical programs into one department. Roll the functions of Veterans Affairs back into DoD. Ignore the government employees unions.

    Increase usage fees for national parks; dedicate the money to repairs and maintenance.

    Phase out Amtrak funding; if it can't make it on it's own, let it die. Take the regulations off the post office, cut it loose to run as a business and set its own rates, so it can either make or break on its own.

    Hire some more IRS auditors. Here in SC we hired more and each repaid his salary within a few months.

    Legalize marijuana and quit wasting money enforcing laws against a product that is far less dangerous to society than alcohol or tobacco. Make money by taxing it; save money on enforcement and incarceration; unclog the court systems.

    Tie the Social Security retirement age to the estimated lifespan, say 85% or so. Take estimates from seven non-government sources (medical research firms, public health universities, etc.) every ten years, toss out the lowest and highest ones.

    Tie the salaries of elected officials and cabinet secretaries to the deficit. It may not save much, but it might just motivate them.

    Man up and do something, ANYTHING, and stop worrying about what party is going to get the credit. If both parties and houses agree on 80% of a bill, drop the rest, pass that much, and move on. Make passing a budget the FIRST thing you do at the start of the congressional session, not something you put off until three months into the fiscal year.

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    TheChas

    The penny lick the nearly as costly dollar bill has much too large of a vocal constituency to ever be eliminated by Congress.

    Research the number of times either Congress or the US Treasury have attempted to eliminate the penny or replace the dollar bill with a dollar coin. Always a very strong vocal outcry comes straight to each member of Congress and the measure is dropped.

    Then again, I'm one of the few who will stop and pick up a single penny I see on the ground. I would not willingly give up either the penny or the dollar bill.

    The citizen support for the penny is but a microcosm of how difficult it is to cut any US government spending. Every program has a constituency, most of which are highly connected and get very active when their program is threatened. Only when people start asking for cuts to the government spending that they support or benefit from will we see any real budget cuts.

    Myself, I would like to see increased spending on the programs that I support. Therefore, I have to be in favor of higher taxes to pay for spending and deposit reduction.

    Chas

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    NickNielsen Moderator

    Everybody wants to keep their pet program, but they aren't willing to have their taxes raised to pay for it.

    Having spent some serious time in Europe, I always find myself stifling laughter every time I hear somebody complain about how "over-taxed" Americans are. I laugh out loud when South Carolinians complain about their "record" tax load, particularly after the Legislature cut already low (compared to other states) property tax rates by over a quarter and eliminated the sales tax on groceries.

    The same people don't hesitate to complain, though, that they aren't getting everything from government that they deserve...

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    HAL 9000 Moderator

    The Government is there to do what the People want.

    The trouble in the US is that everyone wants something different and they are all willing to scream the House Down if they do not get it. Doesn't matter that millions of others are screaming the house down because what 1 person wants interferes with what they want everyone has to get what they want.

    now remember

    Hello I'm from the Government and I'm here to help you.

    Col

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    NickNielsen Moderator

    Bend over, here it comes again!

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    CharlieSpencer

    the penny isn't as much of a waste as dollar coins. At least people will use the penny.

    I have only one problem with dollar coins: vending machines won't accept them. That's a simple technology issue, and I'd gladly use the coins if the vending companies had reason to upgrade the mechanisms. Apparently the rest of the public has other issues. The Eisenhower dollar coin was too big to be practical. The Susan B. Anthony coin was too easily confused with the Washington quarter, a costly mistake when using a vending machine. I don't know why the Sacajawea coin failed.

    At least those coins were distributed to the public. The biggest waste was Congress' mandate that the Treasury mint a series of dollar coins with each president, similar to the quarters with each state on the back. No one wants these coins, and they're sitting undistributed in bank vaults. Even the detested $2 bill has more pieces in circulation. As of this spring Congress was discussing dropping the requirement, but I haven't heard if they finally took action.

    Speaking of state quarters, 'special series' coins are a waste of taxpayer money. The uniqueness encourages people to collect them, taking them out of circulation prematurely. We charge people for stamps, and if they don't use them then the post office profits by not having to provide the purchased service.

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    AnsuGisalas

    and it costs more than a penny to make a penny. It's a total waste to keep making them.
    Nickels are even more expensive (proportional to value too).

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    boxfiddler Moderator

    $26.73. Danged things keep from breaking bills.

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    AnsuGisalas

    Finland refused to accept 1 cent coins because their value was smaller than the cost of making them. Makes no difference... and now the 5 cent coin is that shi††y little thing we only need to use in order to avoid getting one. If something has a cost with a fraction of .05, I look in my wallet for a 5 cent piece, because otherwise I'll have to accept a 5 cent piece! Other than that, they're useless. And the 5 cents of a euro is worth around 7 cents of a dollar.

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    CharlieSpencer

    I use them regularly.

    I'd support eliminating them but then there's the question of how we handle sales taxes. Here in SC the state sales tax is 6%, with some counties adding another penny on some items, and some cities adding yet another. Eliminating the penny raises the sales tax by at least 2%, and potentially as much as 4%. I'm not biting on that much without a legislatively mandated, locked-in guarantee of how the windfall will be spent.

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    NickNielsen Moderator

    If the total ends in 8, 9, 1, or 2, round to 0.
    If the total ends in 3, 4, 6, or 7, round to 5.

    The military exchange service overseas has been doing it for decades. Surprising, the overall result is pretty much a wash, plus AAFES determined that over time, they were actually saving several thousand dollars a year in administrative costs by not dealing with pennies.

    Before the Euro, the Italians didn't deal with amounts of less than 10 Lira; if the total required something smaller than that, you got a piece of candy or two.

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    AnsuGisalas

    Rounding is a zero sum game.

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    CharlieSpencer

    You're assuming the politicians won't just everything round UP.

    1, 2, 3, 4 = 5
    6, 7, 8, 9 = 10

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    AnsuGisalas

    then you put them in a sock... and you know the rest.

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    boxfiddler Moderator

    in a gallon jar. Every couple years I cash the contents of that jar in and buy me a bottle of Turkey.

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    CharlieSpencer

    We'd toss all change in a large beer stein. Once a year or so we'd dump it out and roll the coins, just before we'd go on vacation. For a couple of decades we'd average close to $100 annually. Then we started to use debit cards more often, and stopped using cash as often. We quit saving coins when we dumped the stein after two years and had less than $20. Now we just spend them as quickly as we get them.

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    DelbertPGH

    The tax regime of Clinton produced balanced budgets, at least for a couple of years. Partly that was due to the stock bubble producing huge, taxable capital gains, but it also seemed well tuned to the economy of its time. It didn't stop people from getting very rich, lots of them. George Bush confronted the issue of surplusses by proclaiming big tax cuts, which were followed promptly by war and recession, raising expenses while lowering collections. It seemed like a lot of bad strategy to me.

    We could do worse than going back to the Clinton rates.

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    NickNielsen Moderator

    "The economy" being, of course, the denizens of the stock and financial markets. Lord knows the country would fall apart if the alleged job creators could no longer earn hundreds of thousands (or more) a year.

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    DelbertPGH

    Wall Street was not lined with investment bankers selling apples and panhandling quarters from the passers by, in those years. Them suckers got filthy rich. In the Bush years, they got double-filthy rich, and now everybody forgets how much wealth inequality boomed during the previous administration.

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    AnsuGisalas

    the revenues went up, though the taxes went down.

    And how is it a bubble works, again? Oh, right, overstimulation - then crash.

    Those talking points are another reason not to trust those messengers.

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    DelbertPGH

    Economic expansion during the Bush years was dead slow. The only point where the growth rate started to accelerate was during the housing/mortgage/refinance boom of 2006-2007, just prior to the crash.

    I've never heard any analyst, not even the craziest anti-tax fanatic, say that Bush's tax cuts made revenues go up. I have heard fanatics say that the slow recovery would have been much worse without the tax cuts, but they have never offered any proof, other than to say "taxes hold back the economy and it always grows after a tax cut."

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    AnsuGisalas

    Probably not by actual professional analysts, but the lay folk do a lot of talking these days. And their word has weight when they talk to their like-minded peers. It all gets very mutual confirmation of desired outcome.

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    CharlieSpencer

    'The economy' that would be harmed is that of all those elected idiots who recite the Norquist Creed at their 'No tax' revival meetings.

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    CharlieSpencer

    As I understand the argument, cutting income taxes on the wealthy helps them generate jobs. Exactly how does this work?

    I thought job growth was one reason why capital gains taxes are already substantially lower than income taxes. I thought that was done to encourage individuals to invest in companies; investment provides the funding to expand or improve; expansion increases jobs.

    How does cutting income tax on individuals encourage job growth? How do we know the tax savings will be spent on something that encourages job growth? Wouldn't it make more sense to cut the income taxes on businesses, not individuals?

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    DelbertPGH

    Maybe. That was the Kennedy tax cut. Nobody's sure if it actually worked. Or the Reagan tax cuts, which took it from 70% to 28%. Nobody knows if these actually worked, either. The initial analysis was that it did stimulate growth, and that gets repeated endlessly by anti-tax drum beaters. There's doubt today that the Kennedy surge amounted to anything more than a normal economic recovery, and no tax cut since then has been unambiguously tied by the data to a surge. Not even Reagan's.

    The capital gains tax was around 40% when income taxes were at 90%. Reagan did away with the income/capital gains distinction; rates for both were dropped to 28%. It makes economic sense: why should the tax system favor one type of gain over another? Why should you tax somebody 35% for profits on a stock held for 9 months (income), but only 15% after a year (capital gain?) Should the government be trying to steer investment money into brackets? State planning of the private sector is generally frowned upon by capitalist theorists. Of course, any guy who can benefit from a tax cut becomes a tax cut supporter.

    What I think happens is that a businessman will bet his money on expanding his business if he has confidence his bet will pay off. He will take a risk if he thinks it will make him more money, and that is regardless of whether his net profit will be taxed at 15% or 35% or 40%. At any of those rates, he still puts money in his pocket to enjoy at the end of the day. If he lacks confidence that his investment will pay, he won't make it, regardless of the tax rate. A low rate won't make a bad bet good, and a high rate won't make him want to not make money. The best thing we can do for tax rates is to keep them consistent over the long haul, so that the investor is kept betting on the economy and not on the government.

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    chdchan

    Those less conspicuous admin costs should not be overlooked. So with a cut, there comes substantial saving at the same time, needless to say also the trimming and streamling of the total govermental processes.

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    CharlieSpencer

    Most people file electronically, either on line themselves or by paying H&R tax preparers for the privilege of those 'Rapid Refund' rip-offs. Welfare programs are usually administered by the states, not the feds.

    I'm certainly not saying there isn't overhead to cut, just that those aren't two of the better examples.

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    chdchan

    I'm commenting from the angle of staff and IT costs. Plus lengthy and complex processes involved in the taxation department.

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    NickNielsen Moderator

    in all the whining and complaining from all those who see another three or four percent of Americans added to the ranks of those "not paying any taxes".

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    chdchan

    There are points to ponder when trying to curb China involvement in US business and its commodities/products. First and foremost, it is the all-time low prices being enjoyed by US citizens over China goods. Second comes the damages to the mutual beneficial relations having been established and operating well so far. Thirdly, China businesses are important taxpayers and big employers, in a word economic benefactors to US citizens too; protectionistic impacts will be bilateral. Then is the possible retaliation by China. Last but not least, any disputes should be resolved by litigation but not sudden unilateral sanction or displinary actions that are politically advised in such high profile.

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    AnsuGisalas

    playing politics and hurt pride with trade (delaying goods over such things as receiving the Dalai Lama) is a good way to **** off a lot of people, and a poor platform for martyrdom.

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    john.a.wills

    If so, I suggest the defunding of Planned Parenthood (and the UNPFA as long as it is dominated by PP) and the Israeli/Zionist state. Well, in the case of the latter, funding should be made conditional on the restitution of all the private property stolen in the last 60+ years, and perhaps the Israeli leadership would go along with that, in which case nothing would be saved quickly, but there would soon be full recognition of the Zionist state by the Arab states so there would be less excuse for all that U.S.-funded armament.

    Oh yes, the farm subsidies should go; they're just a distortion of prices.

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    AnsuGisalas

    Those accidental teen pregnancies are a big drain both in lost productivity and in opportunity cost.

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    john.a.wills

    PP, obviously deliberately, prescribes less effective means of family planning (they don't teach Billing, do they?), presumably with the intention of making money on later abortions. Which cost us human lives immediately and, later, post-******** syndrome, with its costs. Without the American Eugenics Society, as PP used to be known, we would have an in many ways healthier society, so funding it is counter-productive.

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    john.a.wills

    but difficult for many people to achieve.

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    CharlieSpencer

    as opposed to other, easier methods? If the discussion is strictly about government spending, isn't it cheaper to fund easier methods than to pay for the food, health care, and education of unwanted children? You're not going to stop people from having ***, although you can shift the expense of the consequences to the rest of us..

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    john.a.wills

    PP does not tech Billings, which is easy enough and more reliable than the methods PP teaches.

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    AnsuGisalas

    Isn't that prostitution?

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    AnsuGisalas

    abstinence is patently unreliable. Known fact.
    The worst was when Dubya demanded Abstinence replace condoms in African aid efforts, leaving the wives of whoring husbands with no protection from AIDS.
    Hypocrisy is seldom more pungent than when dripping from the virtuous.

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    NickNielsen Moderator

    Congratulations. You've just cut less than .01% of the budget. That's a bold step.

    Foreign aid? 1%. Another bold step.

    Keep it up. You'll reach balance in...oh...about 40 years. Pretty much the same time Ryan's plan would do it.

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    john.a.wills

    but somewhat more as the results multiply. Still, you are right that my suggestions are for small potatoes in proportion to the whole budget. It's just that these are morally urgent matters, so I put them first.

    For larger sums, see Palmetto's suggestions below, with most of which I agree.

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    NickNielsen Moderator

    But on the subject of Planned Parenthood, you and I disagree. It's morally urgent for me that people have access to appropriate medical care. To defund Planned Parenthood would deny millions of women who can't otherwise afford it access to such care. It may be "morally urgent" for you to defund PP, but I don't see anything "moral" in failing (or refusing) to educate our children on how to prevent pregnancy, reducing access to the means to prevent pregnancy, banning ********, denying access to affordable care, then complaining when women have babies they can't afford to support.

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    john.a.wills

    does not include most of the "services" of the American Eugenics Society, which does not educate in erotic self-respect or in the most reliable methods of family planning. Defunding it would not, alas, end ********, but it would much reduce the kind of rubbish you are spouting: PP, like AIPAC, propagandizes for funding for its purposes, including renewed propaganda; you are picking up bits of PP's propaganda and respouting them free.

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    AnsuGisalas

    then tell me abortions are a bad thing...

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    NickNielsen Moderator

    Abstinence? Rhythm?

    *** is fun. It's designed to be fun. You can tell the kids not to do it all you want, but they're still going to do it. If you want to reduce the number of abortions, you need to make it easier for women to avoid the consequences of ***. Reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies. Educate our children about ***. Teach them how to prevent pregnancies. Allow the use of the morning after pill. Then you won't have as many women getting pregnant, which will reduce the need for abortions. And also reduce the need for public assistance for poor women.

    You keep going on about the "American Eugenics Society" as the progenitor of Planned Parenthood. Given the current beliefs and behavior of Republicans, should I now refer to them as the John Birch Society? The KKK? So far, only the methods differ...

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    boxfiddler Moderator

    BINGO, I'd have a shitload of kids *shudders* were it not for Planned Parenthood. However, that's also true were it not for the people who informed of PPs existence.

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    DelbertPGH

    It makes birth control and birth control education available to people with low budgets, the poor and working class, and the young who are just getting started in the economy. Without those services, we'd have a lot more pregnancies in families and single women who couldn't afford a child (or more children,) and a lot more abortions, incidentally. We have an economic system that depends on a working class, and we will always have the poor; it's not productive or decent to leave a large slice of our people priced out of this kind of medical care. It's been the American way to keep this kind of thing out of government and in the hands of non-profits, like PP. If government didn't fund PP to do pap smears and pass out contraceptives to the poor, how would it get done?

    Planned Parenthood also counsels people on healthy pregnancies, as well as preventing them, or aborting them. It's a full set of GYN services. Most of the people who see PP are not there for abortions.

    There's a big distaste for *** in this country, and a feeling that we'd all be better off with less of it, and being secretive about what's left. Bull. Lying to ourselves about what we want and do is not a rational policy. I lived through the 50s. It wasn't a better time to be a woman, or to be a man, for that matter.

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    CharlieSpencer

    Doing so would reduce the manpower requirements. It would also keep more money stateside, as both military spending and servicemen paychecks would remain here. Raise military retirement to 25 or even 30 years of service. Close the commissary and Exchange systems; Wal-marts are usually close to the same prices and have better selections. Eliminate overhead and redundancy by merging the five services into one. Ignore the brass when they scream about traditions we can no longer afford.

    Stop buying unneeded major military equipment just because it keeps factories open back in the district / state. Retrain those left unemployed for infrastructure (roads, bridges, public transportation, water, sewer, etc.) and use the money formerly wasted on unwanted weapons to rebuild those systems.

    Phase out farm subsidies. Alter the ethanol requirement so that it must be made from non-food crops. Brazil gets ten times as much ethanol from an acre of switch grass as we do from corn. Ignore the Big Ag outfits and oil refineries.

    Raise taxes. Cap the deduction on dependents at three. Make all income taxable, even if it's only at half a percent. It doesn't have to be done in one big jump; make the increases gradual. Ignore and override the 'No tax' pledge-makers.

    Decrease the amount of mortgage interest that can be deducted on homes over $250,000. Phase it out on second homes or second mortgages. Ignore the realtors and mortgage lenders.

    Gradually raise the gas tax by 25 or 50 cents. Mandate this increase to be used for road and bridge repairs, NOT new construction. The price of gas fluctuates that much in a couple of months anyway.

    Pass a line-item veto bill.

    Eliminate overhead by combining Medicare, Medicaid, and similar medical programs into one department. Roll the functions of Veterans Affairs back into DoD. Ignore the government employees unions.

    Increase usage fees for national parks; dedicate the money to repairs and maintenance.

    Phase out Amtrak funding; if it can't make it on it's own, let it die. Take the regulations off the post office, cut it loose to run as a business and set its own rates, so it can either make or break on its own.

    Hire some more IRS auditors. Here in SC we hired more and each repaid his salary within a few months.

    Legalize marijuana and quit wasting money enforcing laws against a product that is far less dangerous to society than alcohol or tobacco. Make money by taxing it; save money on enforcement and incarceration; unclog the court systems.

    Tie the Social Security retirement age to the estimated lifespan, say 85% or so. Take estimates from seven non-government sources (medical research firms, public health universities, etc.) every ten years, toss out the lowest and highest ones.

    Tie the salaries of elected officials and cabinet secretaries to the deficit. It may not save much, but it might just motivate them.

    Man up and do something, ANYTHING, and stop worrying about what party is going to get the credit. If both parties and houses agree on 80% of a bill, drop the rest, pass that much, and move on. Make passing a budget the FIRST thing you do at the start of the congressional session, not something you put off until three months into the fiscal year.

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    TheChas

    The penny lick the nearly as costly dollar bill has much too large of a vocal constituency to ever be eliminated by Congress.

    Research the number of times either Congress or the US Treasury have attempted to eliminate the penny or replace the dollar bill with a dollar coin. Always a very strong vocal outcry comes straight to each member of Congress and the measure is dropped.

    Then again, I'm one of the few who will stop and pick up a single penny I see on the ground. I would not willingly give up either the penny or the dollar bill.

    The citizen support for the penny is but a microcosm of how difficult it is to cut any US government spending. Every program has a constituency, most of which are highly connected and get very active when their program is threatened. Only when people start asking for cuts to the government spending that they support or benefit from will we see any real budget cuts.

    Myself, I would like to see increased spending on the programs that I support. Therefore, I have to be in favor of higher taxes to pay for spending and deposit reduction.

    Chas

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    NickNielsen Moderator

    Everybody wants to keep their pet program, but they aren't willing to have their taxes raised to pay for it.

    Having spent some serious time in Europe, I always find myself stifling laughter every time I hear somebody complain about how "over-taxed" Americans are. I laugh out loud when South Carolinians complain about their "record" tax load, particularly after the Legislature cut already low (compared to other states) property tax rates by over a quarter and eliminated the sales tax on groceries.

    The same people don't hesitate to complain, though, that they aren't getting everything from government that they deserve...

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    HAL 9000 Moderator

    The Government is there to do what the People want.

    The trouble in the US is that everyone wants something different and they are all willing to scream the House Down if they do not get it. Doesn't matter that millions of others are screaming the house down because what 1 person wants interferes with what they want everyone has to get what they want.

    now remember

    Hello I'm from the Government and I'm here to help you.

    Col

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    NickNielsen Moderator

    Bend over, here it comes again!

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    CharlieSpencer

    the penny isn't as much of a waste as dollar coins. At least people will use the penny.

    I have only one problem with dollar coins: vending machines won't accept them. That's a simple technology issue, and I'd gladly use the coins if the vending companies had reason to upgrade the mechanisms. Apparently the rest of the public has other issues. The Eisenhower dollar coin was too big to be practical. The Susan B. Anthony coin was too easily confused with the Washington quarter, a costly mistake when using a vending machine. I don't know why the Sacajawea coin failed.

    At least those coins were distributed to the public. The biggest waste was Congress' mandate that the Treasury mint a series of dollar coins with each president, similar to the quarters with each state on the back. No one wants these coins, and they're sitting undistributed in bank vaults. Even the detested $2 bill has more pieces in circulation. As of this spring Congress was discussing dropping the requirement, but I haven't heard if they finally took action.

    Speaking of state quarters, 'special series' coins are a waste of taxpayer money. The uniqueness encourages people to collect them, taking them out of circulation prematurely. We charge people for stamps, and if they don't use them then the post office profits by not having to provide the purchased service.

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    AnsuGisalas

    and it costs more than a penny to make a penny. It's a total waste to keep making them.
    Nickels are even more expensive (proportional to value too).

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    boxfiddler Moderator

    $26.73. Danged things keep from breaking bills.

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    AnsuGisalas

    Finland refused to accept 1 cent coins because their value was smaller than the cost of making them. Makes no difference... and now the 5 cent coin is that shi††y little thing we only need to use in order to avoid getting one. If something has a cost with a fraction of .05, I look in my wallet for a 5 cent piece, because otherwise I'll have to accept a 5 cent piece! Other than that, they're useless. And the 5 cents of a euro is worth around 7 cents of a dollar.

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    CharlieSpencer

    I use them regularly.

    I'd support eliminating them but then there's the question of how we handle sales taxes. Here in SC the state sales tax is 6%, with some counties adding another penny on some items, and some cities adding yet another. Eliminating the penny raises the sales tax by at least 2%, and potentially as much as 4%. I'm not biting on that much without a legislatively mandated, locked-in guarantee of how the windfall will be spent.

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    NickNielsen Moderator

    If the total ends in 8, 9, 1, or 2, round to 0.
    If the total ends in 3, 4, 6, or 7, round to 5.

    The military exchange service overseas has been doing it for decades. Surprising, the overall result is pretty much a wash, plus AAFES determined that over time, they were actually saving several thousand dollars a year in administrative costs by not dealing with pennies.

    Before the Euro, the Italians didn't deal with amounts of less than 10 Lira; if the total required something smaller than that, you got a piece of candy or two.

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    AnsuGisalas

    Rounding is a zero sum game.

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    CharlieSpencer

    You're assuming the politicians won't just everything round UP.

    1, 2, 3, 4 = 5
    6, 7, 8, 9 = 10

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    AnsuGisalas

    then you put them in a sock... and you know the rest.

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    boxfiddler Moderator

    in a gallon jar. Every couple years I cash the contents of that jar in and buy me a bottle of Turkey.

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    CharlieSpencer

    We'd toss all change in a large beer stein. Once a year or so we'd dump it out and roll the coins, just before we'd go on vacation. For a couple of decades we'd average close to $100 annually. Then we started to use debit cards more often, and stopped using cash as often. We quit saving coins when we dumped the stein after two years and had less than $20. Now we just spend them as quickly as we get them.

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    DelbertPGH

    The tax regime of Clinton produced balanced budgets, at least for a couple of years. Partly that was due to the stock bubble producing huge, taxable capital gains, but it also seemed well tuned to the economy of its time. It didn't stop people from getting very rich, lots of them. George Bush confronted the issue of surplusses by proclaiming big tax cuts, which were followed promptly by war and recession, raising expenses while lowering collections. It seemed like a lot of bad strategy to me.

    We could do worse than going back to the Clinton rates.

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    NickNielsen Moderator

    "The economy" being, of course, the denizens of the stock and financial markets. Lord knows the country would fall apart if the alleged job creators could no longer earn hundreds of thousands (or more) a year.

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    DelbertPGH

    Wall Street was not lined with investment bankers selling apples and panhandling quarters from the passers by, in those years. Them suckers got filthy rich. In the Bush years, they got double-filthy rich, and now everybody forgets how much wealth inequality boomed during the previous administration.

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    AnsuGisalas

    the revenues went up, though the taxes went down.

    And how is it a bubble works, again? Oh, right, overstimulation - then crash.

    Those talking points are another reason not to trust those messengers.

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    DelbertPGH

    Economic expansion during the Bush years was dead slow. The only point where the growth rate started to accelerate was during the housing/mortgage/refinance boom of 2006-2007, just prior to the crash.

    I've never heard any analyst, not even the craziest anti-tax fanatic, say that Bush's tax cuts made revenues go up. I have heard fanatics say that the slow recovery would have been much worse without the tax cuts, but they have never offered any proof, other than to say "taxes hold back the economy and it always grows after a tax cut."

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    AnsuGisalas

    Probably not by actual professional analysts, but the lay folk do a lot of talking these days. And their word has weight when they talk to their like-minded peers. It all gets very mutual confirmation of desired outcome.

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    CharlieSpencer

    'The economy' that would be harmed is that of all those elected idiots who recite the Norquist Creed at their 'No tax' revival meetings.

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    CharlieSpencer

    As I understand the argument, cutting income taxes on the wealthy helps them generate jobs. Exactly how does this work?

    I thought job growth was one reason why capital gains taxes are already substantially lower than income taxes. I thought that was done to encourage individuals to invest in companies; investment provides the funding to expand or improve; expansion increases jobs.

    How does cutting income tax on individuals encourage job growth? How do we know the tax savings will be spent on something that encourages job growth? Wouldn't it make more sense to cut the income taxes on businesses, not individuals?

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    DelbertPGH

    Maybe. That was the Kennedy tax cut. Nobody's sure if it actually worked. Or the Reagan tax cuts, which took it from 70% to 28%. Nobody knows if these actually worked, either. The initial analysis was that it did stimulate growth, and that gets repeated endlessly by anti-tax drum beaters. There's doubt today that the Kennedy surge amounted to anything more than a normal economic recovery, and no tax cut since then has been unambiguously tied by the data to a surge. Not even Reagan's.

    The capital gains tax was around 40% when income taxes were at 90%. Reagan did away with the income/capital gains distinction; rates for both were dropped to 28%. It makes economic sense: why should the tax system favor one type of gain over another? Why should you tax somebody 35% for profits on a stock held for 9 months (income), but only 15% after a year (capital gain?) Should the government be trying to steer investment money into brackets? State planning of the private sector is generally frowned upon by capitalist theorists. Of course, any guy who can benefit from a tax cut becomes a tax cut supporter.

    What I think happens is that a businessman will bet his money on expanding his business if he has confidence his bet will pay off. He will take a risk if he thinks it will make him more money, and that is regardless of whether his net profit will be taxed at 15% or 35% or 40%. At any of those rates, he still puts money in his pocket to enjoy at the end of the day. If he lacks confidence that his investment will pay, he won't make it, regardless of the tax rate. A low rate won't make a bad bet good, and a high rate won't make him want to not make money. The best thing we can do for tax rates is to keep them consistent over the long haul, so that the investor is kept betting on the economy and not on the government.

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    chdchan

    Those less conspicuous admin costs should not be overlooked. So with a cut, there comes substantial saving at the same time, needless to say also the trimming and streamling of the total govermental processes.

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    CharlieSpencer

    Most people file electronically, either on line themselves or by paying H&R tax preparers for the privilege of those 'Rapid Refund' rip-offs. Welfare programs are usually administered by the states, not the feds.

    I'm certainly not saying there isn't overhead to cut, just that those aren't two of the better examples.

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    chdchan

    I'm commenting from the angle of staff and IT costs. Plus lengthy and complex processes involved in the taxation department.

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    NickNielsen Moderator

    in all the whining and complaining from all those who see another three or four percent of Americans added to the ranks of those "not paying any taxes".

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    chdchan

    There are points to ponder when trying to curb China involvement in US business and its commodities/products. First and foremost, it is the all-time low prices being enjoyed by US citizens over China goods. Second comes the damages to the mutual beneficial relations having been established and operating well so far. Thirdly, China businesses are important taxpayers and big employers, in a word economic benefactors to US citizens too; protectionistic impacts will be bilateral. Then is the possible retaliation by China. Last but not least, any disputes should be resolved by litigation but not sudden unilateral sanction or displinary actions that are politically advised in such high profile.

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    AnsuGisalas

    playing politics and hurt pride with trade (delaying goods over such things as receiving the Dalai Lama) is a good way to **** off a lot of people, and a poor platform for martyrdom.