News National Debt: Bush vs. Obama

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That's true. It's lost money. Fiscal conservatism is the first victim when the hawks control the DoD and have free rein to establish spending policies. If you oppose wasteful spending on projects that don't address our country's needs, the flag-waving and chest-thumping starts, cowing the ignorant and silencing the fearful. Few in DC have the guts to try to rein in waste in the military or bring our troops home, for fear of being accused of not "supporting our troops". Eisenhower knew that we were heading into this problem decades ago, and our country has not managed to address it effectively. Starting and perpetuating unjust, unnecessary wars is not a conservative activity by a long shot and the wasted revenue is a threat to our country's economic health.
Since you brought up Ike, I'll tie this all together in another semi-rant.

The highway system enabled an expansion of commerce into markets large and small nationwide. While the roads didn't return a direct payback, the increase in trade yielded jobs and ultimately tax revenue. Repairing those roads does not provide the same yields - mostly prevents the revenue base from shrinking.

Also expanded under Ike, we've invested untold $ billions in nuclear research, weapons, and delivery systems. We lead the world into the nuclear age - nuclear power is OURS! Great you say - now what?

In order to realize a return on this investment, (to greatly over-simplify) the US should be using this research for peaceful purposes - like supplying electric power to the world. Had the strategy had been to build and manage nuclear plants on SELECT military bases around the world and sell the host countries power - some of those countries might have experienced economic growth and we would (again) realize a return on investment from those bases.

But NOoooo, just like domestic oil, we are now expected to turn our backs on nuclear power - because of environmental concerns. Instead, we encourage other countries to run with those technologies while we plan to build wind mills and erect solar panels. This might be a good time to mention we can't seem to move quickly with wind and solar either now because of bats, prairie dogs (or something), and again environmentalists (and coastal property owners like the Kennedy clan).

The world laughs at us. We shoot ourselves in the foot every time we allow the tail to wag the dog.

Which of course brings us back to charging the non-nuclear free world for protection again - had this started under Ike, we might be debt free.
 

turbo

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Luckily, Maine is rural and fiscally conservative, even though we tend to be more libertarian on social issues. Just about all the wind-farms in New England are here, with more on the books. We are a net exporter of electricity due to all the hydro dams that were built here years ago. It's a juggling act, trying to restore free-run anadromous fisheries with fish-ladders, etc, but that's the way it goes. Since the Edwards dam in the state capital (Augusta) was breached years back, salmon, sturgeon, striped bass, and other gamefish and bait-fish have made a huge rebound. Tourism is big here, and decent fisheries are vital, so we are open to making dam-owners pay for their blocking the rivers for decades.

You know what is really galling? We pay as much or more for electricity than the other NE states even though we consume far less electricity than we generate. The power generators are getting a free ride on dams that were build many decades ago. Most are unmanned and remotely-controlled, so except for maintenance they are very low-cost investments with predictable long-term paybacks.

Years ago, Maine Yankee (nuclear power plant) faced a re-licensing challenge and shut down, as did its sister plant in Seabrook NH. Great! Lets push the lost capacity onto oil-fired and coal-fired plants, poison the air with acidic aerosols and rain heavy metals into our ponds, lakes, and rivers. Thanks to ignorance and short-sightedness, we have mercury and cadmium bio-accumulating in fish and game-animals. There ought to be some adults crafting energy policy, but they seem to be in short supply.
 

turbo

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The highway system enabled an expansion of commerce into markets large and small nationwide. While the roads didn't return a direct payback, the increase in trade yielded jobs and ultimately tax revenue. Repairing those roads does not provide the same yields - mostly prevents the revenue base from shrinking.
Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) has pushed for relief from the federal load-limits on the interstate highway system. Currently, the Feds would deny our state highway funds if we let trucks over 80,000 lb GVW use the interstates. That's pretty crazy in a state that relies so heavily on pulp, paper, and logging, because it forces all the heavy trucks onto secondary roads winding through small towns, compromising public safety, and damaging lightly-built roads. I expect that the measure will pass and we'll get an exemption to allow 100,000 lb GVW trucks on I-95 and its feeders. That would save a lot of fuel, and probably more than a few lives, as well as reduce maintenance costs on rural roads. Once in a while, politicians get it right.
 
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I am certain of one thing. There are limits to, and consequences of, decades of bad decision making in the name of winning votes.

We are fast becoming a nation of "smart-arses". It's an attitude that (I believe) derives from our litigious nature, exasperated by our welfare mentality, and popularized by our deteriorating social expectations.

I can assure you of this, if we ever need help - we'll be on our own.
 

turbo

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I am certain of one thing. There are limits to, and consequences of, decades of bad decision making in the name of winning votes.

We are fast becoming a nation of "smart-arses". It's an attitude that (I believe) derives from our litigious nature, exasperated by our welfare mentality, and popularized by our deteriorating social expectations.

I can assure you of this, if we ever need help - we'll be on our own.
You're probably right. The last administration (more than any other in my lifetime) diminished the US in the eyes of our allies. Even if our former allies (or former enemies) could bail us out of future difficulties, it would be a hard sell at home. Britain, France, Germany, Japan? Nope!

We'd probably have to pin our hopes on China, who might prop us up just so they'd still have a market to sell into. Economic weakness is the biggest threat to our national security, IMO (dependence on foreign energy, foreign credit, etc), but the neo-cons want to perpetuate this fraud as long as their patrons are getting wealthier. We are on a self-destructive path, and it is not pretty. Now that "free trade" has gutted our industries and "outsourcing" is limiting the vitality of our service industries, we may not have the economic power to recover from any additional down-turns. We are not in a normal, cyclical economic system as many "conservatives" claim, but in a gamed system that profits few at the expense of many.
 

Al68

Economic weakness is the biggest threat to our national security, IMO (dependence on foreign energy, foreign credit, etc), but the neo-cons want to perpetuate this fraud as long as their patrons are getting wealthier. We are on a self-destructive path, and it is not pretty. Now that "free trade" has gutted our industries and "outsourcing" is limiting the vitality of our service industries, we may not have the economic power to recover from any additional down-turns. We are not in a normal, cyclical economic system as many "conservatives" claim, but in a gamed system that profits few at the expense of many.
What fraud? What patrons? What system? Free enterprise? What are you talking about here?

And what is a neocon? Obviously you aren't referring to the dictionary definition of a neoconservative.
 
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What fraud? What patrons? What system? Free enterprise? What are you talking about here?

And what is a neocon? Obviously you aren't referring to the dictionary definition of a neoconservative.
A mix of 2 old stories. In order to control your own destiny - you can't eat the golden goose.

In business, the first concept taught is that of a "going concern". It's also an assumption that the US will remain solvent - debts are guaranteed. When Congress doesn't even read trillion dollar legislation - confidence in the system deteriorates. When GM bondholders are kicked to the curb and the company taken over by the Government and the UAW - confidence in the system deteriorates.

I heard it summed up rather well yesterday - Nancy Pelosi was crying last week because she knows everyone hates her - classic. Obama was right - it's time for real change in Washington - he just brought the wrong kind of change. The 2010 elections will be fun.
 

Astronuc

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Years ago, Maine Yankee (nuclear power plant) faced a re-licensing challenge and shut down, as did its sister plant in Seabrook NH. Great! Lets push the lost capacity onto oil-fired and coal-fired plants, poison the air with acidic aerosols and rain heavy metals into our ponds, lakes, and rivers. Thanks to ignorance and short-sightedness, we have mercury and cadmium bio-accumulating in fish and game-animals. There ought to be some adults crafting energy policy, but they seem to be in short supply.
Seabrook is still running and in fact it has been uprated. Maine Yankee was on old plant, one of the original 1st gen PWRs, and it needed significant capital improvement. MYAPCo had some serious issues. Had they held out, they might have been able to sell the plant. It would be worthwhile to build a different type of plant, e.g., modern nuclear plant or a combined cycle plant there.


As for the interstate highway system, planning for that began after WWII, when Americans observed the capabilities of Germany's Autobahn. A benefit of such a highway system was the rapid movement of troops and armour, and commercial transportation was another benefit.

http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/interstate/interstatemyths.htm

But -
Myth: Defense was the primary reason for the Interstate System.

The primary justifications for the Interstate System were civilian in nature. In the midst of the Cold War, the Department of Defense supported the Interstate System and Congress added the words “and Defense” to its official name in 1956 (“National System of Interstate and Defense Highways”). However, the program was so popular for its civilian benefits that the legislation would have passed even if defense had not been a factor.
 

turbo

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Sorry, and thanks for the correction. My friend Steve was working there and ended up moving to Skowhegan to work in the SD Warren mill when the Seabrook expansion was cancelled. I conflated that to an eventual decommissioning of reactor 1.

Much of Vermont's electrical power is still supplied by a nuclear plant - Vermont Yankee.

As for re-tasking Maine Yankee, the most recent proposal I have heard of is building a coal-fired plant there. That proposal was not popular with local fishermen, though, and it hasn't been raised since, to my knowledge.

Recent development on the energy front: Cianbro bought the former Easter Fine Paper plant on the Penobscot River, and has been fabricating modules for off-shore oil platforms, and shipping them by barge to the gulf.

There is a large pool of talented fabricators/welders/millwrights in this state, and a lot of deep-water ports, so coastal Maine would be a great place to fabricate and ship wind turbing-generators.
 

Astronuc

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Seabrook 2 was cancelled though.

A lot of the later (late 70's) sites where one unit exists were designed for 2 units, e.g. Seabrook, Wolf Creek, Callaway, etc. I believe the containment at Seabook 2 was mostly done. I was at the site several years ago, and I seem to remember looking at the rebar.
 

turbo

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Seabrook 2 was cancelled though.

A lot of the later (late 70's) sites where one unit exists were designed for 2 units, e.g. Seabrook, Wolf Creek, Callaway, etc. I believe the containment at Seabook 2 was mostly done. I was at the site several years ago, and I seem to remember looking at the rebar.
Many people complained about the lack of a viable evacuation procedure for that area, which is pretty silly. It wasn't a secret that evacuation would be a problem. Anybody who has tried to get in or out of the NH beach area on a hot day knows that you could easily be stuck in traffic on 101 or 1a for the better part of an hour, moving at slower than a walk.
 

russ_watters

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I didn't say that I would eliminate the military. We just don't need all the weapons systems (especially offensive capabilities) that we have currently. That's very different.

[separate post]Russ claimed that I wanted to scrap the military (a blatant misrepresentation)
It is very different and it doesn't at all match what you said:
What would happen if the money the US spends on its military was spent on infrastructure....
Perhaps you didn't mean it and meant to connect that better to your earlier statement about certain weapons systems, but that quote is general: it contains no qualifiers to make it more specific. "the money the US spends on its military" is all of it. I didn't misinterpret it, (on purpose or otherwise) - it was completely clear. If you misspoke, you should acknowledge it.

Anyway since you're clarifying, please clarify more: Tell us exactly how much money you think we should spend on the military. Someone posted earlier that we current spend 18% of our GDP on it. What do you think the number should be?
My point....was that not all debt is created the same.
This is true.
If we spend a billion dollars to get 5 5-22s at $200M each, that makes a lot of money for some defense contractors with little benefit to our economy.
It makes a lot of money for defense contractors and the employees of defense contractors and the investors for defense contractors. That is a direct contribution to the economy. And that's in addition to the primary benefit of spending that money - that national defense thing.
Spend an equivalent amount building wind-farms, and we would be financing some labor-intensive work, employing skilled trades-people who would then have more money to spend. They are both debts, but one has large short-term pay-back in both economic stimulation...
In that sense, it is exactly identical to spending money on F-22s. Building F-22s is labor (and technology) intensive and it employes skilled trades-people who then would have money to spend.
...and reduction of our over-dependence on foreign energy, which I consider to be a threat to our national security.
Agreed. So really, defense spending and spending on wind farms have exactly the same ultimate purpose and short term benefit.
 

russ_watters

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Bush turns out to be a very unique President on that list: the spending he did at the end of his term to push up the debt was spending that may all come back with interest. I would be interested to see if people update their graphs in a few years to reflect that or if they attach the profit from that to the numbers for future presidents (most of the benefit would go to Obama).
 

turbo

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Russ, since I am from a poor rural state, you should expect that I have quite a few lifer-military friends and relatives. I do. You do not know me, and your claim that I want to scrap the military is ridiculous.

I was pointing out that when we re-task military spending to civilian projects, we get greater efficiencies, quicker pay-back, and a broader stimulation of our economy. If you think that buying 5 F-22s at $200M each (with a projected maintenance cost of $50K/per hour of operation) is somehow equivalent in economic impact to spending a billion dollars on renewable energy and the infrastructure needed to support it, then I suggest you shut off talk radio and study real economics.

To build a $1B wind farm, you need site studies, surveying, engineering, civil engineering, road-building, construction of on-site facilities, upgrade of electrical distribution systems, etc. You also need a resurgence in heavy industry, the ongoing loss of which is a serious deterioration of our national security. Somehow, you claim that spending that money on 5 fighter jets that we do not need to fight a threat that we do not face, is equivalent. I disagree and I think most real conservatives would, as well.
 

russ_watters

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Russ, since I am from a poor rural state, you should expect that I have quite a few lifer-military friends and relatives. I do. You do not know me, and your claim that I want to scrap the military is ridiculous.
All you need to do to rectify that is correct your earlier statement where you said precisely that. You misspoke: why can't you just acknowlege it?
I was pointing out that when we re-task military spending to civilian projects, we get greater efficiencies, quicker pay-back, and a broader stimulation of our economy. If you think that buying 5 F-22s at $200M each (with a projected maintenance cost of $50K/per hour of operation) is somehow equivalent in economic impact to spending a billion dollars on renewable energy and the infrastructure needed to support it, then I suggest you shut off talk radio and study real economics.
The only talk radio I listen to is sports talk. In any case, I used the logic of your argument and showed that it applied to both cases equally. All you are doing here is stating a claim without providing a logical argument to support it. And it is a claim that is quite clearly devoid of logic - or, rather, directly contradicts its own logic.

Regarding the maintenance costs: how are those different from the procurement cost except that they provide economic stimulus on a continuous basis?
To build a $1B wind farm, you need site studies, surveying, engineering, civil engineering, road-building, construction of on-site facilities, upgrade of electrical distribution systems, etc. You also need a resurgence in heavy industry, the ongoing loss of which is a serious deterioration of our national security.
Once again, you haven't explained how any of that is any different from defense spending. All of those components are contained in the engineering, design, and manufacturing of a fighter jet. Heck, turbo: as I'm sure you know, most wind turbines in the US are manufactured by a company that makes a decent fraction of its income via defense!
Somehow, you claim that spending that money on 5 fighter jets that we do not need to fight a threat that we do not face, is equivalent.
At face value, it obviously is. I've shown the parallels - you haven't shown any differences!
I disagree and I think most real conservatives would, as well.
I do not place a high value on your interpretation of what "conservative" means.
 
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Bush turns out to be a very unique President on that list: the spending he did at the end of his term to push up the debt was spending that may all come back with interest. I would be interested to see if people update their graphs in a few years to reflect that or if they attach the profit from that to the numbers for future presidents (most of the benefit would go to Obama).
It would be difficult to determine who is exactly responsible for what.
 

russ_watters

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It would be difficult to determine who is exactly responsible for what.
Not really, no. TARP funds are very specifically tracked.
 

russ_watters

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This doesn't go far enough:
Heck, turbo: as I'm sure you know, most wind turbines in the US are manufactured by a company that makes a decent fraction of its income via defense!
Many of the actual products that GE makes are sold to both commercial users and defense users. Ie, GE makes jet/gas turbine engines. One specific example: the DC-10 is propelled by GE turbofan engines and the DC-10 is used both for military and civilian purposes. So when Boeing buys jet engines from GE, the difference between military and civilian spending is a matter of paperwork only. Beyond that, derivatives of that engine (the LM2500) are used to power civilian and military ships and power plants. They powered the frigate I was on, for example. http://www.gepower.com/prod_serv/products/aero_turbines/en/index.htm

The LM2500 is made by GE's energy division: the same division that makes the wind turbines. Realistically, funding for a new KC-10 tanker or a wind turbine puts money into the pocket of some of the same people!

Note: The F-22 is powered by Pratt & Whitney engines, which are also dual use, but I don't know of any specific examples off the top of my head like I did for GE.
 
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turbo

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All of those components are contained in the engineering, design, and manufacturing of a fighter jet. Heck, turbo: as I'm sure you know, most wind turbines in the US are manufactured by a company that makes a decent fraction of its income via defense!
Guess what? The wind-turbines being installed in Maine are coming in through deep-water ports in Canada, traveling Route 201 south to Skowhegan, Route 2 to Newport, and then north on I-95 to their installations. We have regular traffic advisories about them, including their planned impacts on local roads. Hadn't heard?
 

jtc8470

Obama was handed a failing economy and was forced to take drastic action in order to prevent either a complete meltdown, or a decade or more of stagflation - no growth - according to most economists and experts. Japan is often cited as an example of what can happen if the government responds too slowly or with too little stimulus, when responding to a crisis. Their economy went flat for more than a decade.

Up until the very end, much of Bush's spending, as in Iraq, was elective. He was handed a relatively thriving economy that nearly collapsed by the time he left.

IMO, one of the few things that Bush did right was to sign the bailout bill. Obama had no objections; in fact he worked to gain support for the bill. Consider the graph and compare that to the actual debt at any time, and the importance of sustained growth becomes clear. Growth is how we keep our debt from burying us. Note that the graph is essentially our national debt to income ratio, over time.
You make some good points Ivan. I think though one of the most frustrating factors in regrad to the Obama bailout though is the padding that came along with it. I am not sure that everyone is aware how many people were paid off in the process. It was a prime opportunity for the gov to do that and quite frankly it pisses me off. I am at the point where I feel the gov, which ever side, does not work for us but for those that paid to put them there.
 

Marc1955

This YouTube clip analogously talks about the rate at which US Presidents increase the national debt in terms of miles per hour when driving a car.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=<object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/P5yxFtTwDcc&hl=en&fs=1"></param><param [Broken] name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/P5yxFtTwDcc&hl=en&fs=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>

Basically everyone was moving along slowly… then Bush speeds up to 64 miles per hour then Obama speeds up to 174 miles per hour.

How accurate is this? Is it a fair analogy?

Thanks,
You just proved the fact: that the only thing right winger are good at is lying!!!!!
 
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