balance the budget Archive

An Irresistible Force

By John Lumbard. In the upper left corner of this page you'll see a pretty little girl wearing a sign saying that she's $38,375 in debt.  That number is now $57,764, if you're willing to use the Enron accounting standards of the federal government, which don't acknowledge that she's carrying liability...
Read More

Debt Is Rising All ‘Round The World

By John Lumbard. Populism sounds like such a friendly and democratic word.  Only the grumpiest blogger would complain about politicians doing things that make them popular ....  Unhappily, the word "populist" has come to mean a politician who promises cash, services, or benefits to voters.  He doesn't offer to pay for these things...
Read More

It’s Time for a Diet

By James Schaefer. In "Blotting the Balance Sheet", (Wall Street Journal, April 26-27, 2014), James Grant reviews the book, The Reckoning, by Jacob Soll. In it, Soll highlights the fall of successful societies, and points some of the finger of blame at accounting, and the behaviors that follow. And he lays  blame equally...
Read More

Health Insurance Is Not Health Care

By John Lumbard, CFA. In late December movie mogul Michael Moore, writing in the NY Times, described Obamacare as “awful” and said that he’d known this all along---but didn’t want to say so because it would give comfort to the President’s “enemies”.  Maybe it’s time we stopped the hyper-partisan hyperventilating, and...
Read More

Young In America

By John Lumbard. According to The Daily Kos, 27% of recent college graduates (ages 21 to 24) are either unemployed or underemployed.  The Democratic Underground says that recent college graduates earn $3,200 less than they did 13 years ago.  Of course, it’s not just college graduates;  low starting salaries and meager...
Read More

The Obama Tax Cuts

By Drew Kellner, CFA. In the final days of 2012, as the Bush Tax Cuts were about to expire forever, the sitting President pressed to make them permanent for nearly every American.  There was a brief debate about whether “nearly every” meant 98% or 99% of all taxpayers (in the end...
Read More

Balanced Budget Amendment Pros and Cons

In recent weeks there has been a debate in the editorial pages of The Wall Street Journal regarding the merits of a balanced-budget amendment, or BBA.  First came an opinion piece by Senators DeMint (SC) and Snowe (Maine) in favor of an amendment (so far this year 48 senators have co-sponsored...
Read More

Don’t Throw Rocks at the Firemen

When people are in trouble they're not always willing to accept help.  Whether you're talking about an alcoholic resisting intervention, a drug addict, a wife who protects her wife-beating husband, or a homeowner who refuses to leave the flanks of an erupting Mount Saint Helens, there's never been a shortage of...
Read More

20 by ’20: A Limit on Federal Spending

By Dennis Canfield.     “…  It's time to try something new.” - President Barack Obama, introducing his $3.8 trillion budget for 2011---which proposes that our federal government spend 25 cents of every dollar earned by every American, rich and poor alike.  This is new.  Before World War II, our government typically spent 10% less...
Read More

Tax Brackets and Balanced Budgets

By John Lumbard.   Washington has abruptly backed away from a proposal to extend the Bush tax cuts for middle and low-income taxpayers, while bumping the rates for higher-income taxpayers back to the levels of the 1990s.  Both parties were using the debate to score political points---they were trying to box their opponents into positions...
Read More