Monday/Tuesday Highlights

Well, I’m back in Jersey for a day or three to finish up here. How about an high capacity clip of links? How about your head tube?

  1. I’d be happier if we all decided to be a little more honest … on both sides. How about the right decide to to forgo exaggeration to attack Obamacare and those on the left stop pretending it won’t be a big budget hit.
  2. Somebody just forgot November, short memories on the left, eh?
  3. Consequences and the pro-choice, err, pro-abortion community.
  4. And the “I am a sociopath” defense.
  5. Cold is, apparently, all relative.
  6. Housing bubble and jobs.
  7. Stupid left wing arithmetic, apparently making “millions” off of $43 million people is unwarranted. What? Not taking a loss is immoral. Let’s see, if they made just over 20 cents off of each person that would be one million. 
  8. Race, gender and “gaps.”
  9. A workout of sorts.
  10. Abortion.
  11. Tiger Mom.
  12. Some thoughts on fasting.
  13. Speaking of the left and death rhetoric
  14. And a hymn from the East for a taste of Orthodox liturgical music.

 

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76 comments

  1. I’d be happier if we all decided to be a little more honest … on both sides. How about the right decide to to forgo exaggeration to attack Obamacare and those on the left stop pretending it won’t be a big budget hit.

    Geez, false equivalency much? The left aren’t “pretending” that it won’t be a big budget hit. They designed it carefully to not only be budget neutral but to actually reduce the deficit, and a good-faith estimate from the non-partisan CBO agrees that this is true, not just for the first ten years, but for the ten-year periods following as well. The article you linked to points out how much the Republicans have been LYING (not spinning, not raising questions, not “exaggerating”, just outright LYING) about it while the Democrats have done nothing of the sort.

    And the “I am a sociopath” defense.

    Why do you continue to link to anti-atheist bigotry?

  2. Mark says:

    JA,

    They designed it carefully to not only be budget neutral but to actually reduce the deficit, and a good-faith estimate from the non-partisan CBO agrees that this is true, not just for the first ten years, but for the ten-year periods following as well

    With the help of lots of unlikely and unfeasible assumptions which the CBO is required to take as given. This is the essential left lie and you keep denying it.

    Why do you continue to link to anti-atheist bigotry?

    Are you defending Mr Meyers on this? The claim that dead bodies are just meat, just ’cause he’s done animal autopsies?

  3. With the help of lots of unlikely and unfeasible assumptions which the CBO is required to take as given. This is the essential left lie and you keep denying it.

    Really? What are they? And don’t give me some nitpicky stuff, give me stuff big enough to invalidate the estimate.

  4. Are you defending Mr Meyers on this? The claim that dead bodies are just meat, just ’cause he’s done animal autopsies?

    My comments had nothing to do with Mr. Meyers. I was referring to the anti-atheist bigotry:

    It’s probably a good thing he is an atheist without any moral standards

    Implying that atheists have no moral standards.

    This is the naked face of atheism, ladies and gentlemen. Look on it well and remember it, because it usually doesn’t dare to show its disgusting and anti-human nature so openly.

    Yeah. Holding one guy up to argue that atheism has a usually hidden “disgusting and anti-human nature.” How dare you link to this hateful, slanderous bigotry?

  5. To connect an observation about “atheist[s] without any moral standards” to an implied statement that “atheists have no moral standards” is dolphin logic; I can use exactly the same way of thinking to prove a dolphin is a fish.

    No, the statement in question asserts that, had anyone thought all atheists had moral standards, here is an exception to challenge that. See, two different statements. This is really Logic 101 stuff.

    The whole “CBO says it’s okay” thing has outlived its usefulness

  6. To connect an observation about “atheist[s] without any moral standards” to an implied statement that “atheists have no moral standards” is dolphin logic; I can use exactly the same way of thinking to prove a dolphin is a fish.

    I really considered spelling it out because I thought someone might make this objection, but I decided it went without saying. Shows me, I guess. If you look at the sentence “It’s probably a good thing he is an atheist without any moral standards” out of context then yes, it could just be referring to one particular atheist who happens to not have any moral standards. However, in context, we see that this is the first mention of Myers’s atheism, so Vox is clearly implying that he has no moral standards because he’s an atheist. Also note that the post has a single tag, atheism, which implies that Vox thinks the post is about atheism. Finally, in case you were still unsure of Vox’s intentions, he clearly spells it out in his conclusion:

    This is the naked face of atheism, ladies and gentlemen. Look on it well and remember it, because it usually doesn’t dare to show its disgusting and anti-human nature so openly.

    Are you really telling me he’s not trying to smear all atheists??

  7. If you look at the sentence “It’s probably a good thing he is an atheist without any moral standards” out of context then yes, it could just be referring to one particular atheist who happens to not have any moral standards. However, in context, we see that this is the first mention of Myers’s atheism, so Vox is clearly implying that he has no moral standards because he’s an atheist.

    Okay, well that’s fair enough. But if we’re going to look at context we see an elaborate treatise about “meat doesn’t scare me”; it is the product of the mind of a person most of us, atheists or not, wouldn’t want operating on our kids’ testicles or on our own brains…for reasons I think should be obvious.

    The guy is saying our guts are meat, and that since we’re meatbags, there’s nothing glorious or sacred about our temples. Or paraphrase it some other way if it suits you. However you’re paraphrasing it, though, his whole point is that he doesn’t recoil at the sight of dead babies and here’s his gut-scooping background to give you the reason he doesn’t recoil…

    “Atheist without any moral standards” is a fair description. I’m having trouble envisioning how anyone could come to a different conclusion, even if they’re a moralistic atheist.

  8. Boonton says:

    How about the right decide to to forgo exaggeration to attack Obamacare and those on the left stop pretending it won’t be a big budget hit.

    Note the problem with this ‘peace offer’? The plea is for the left to yield on a position where there is honest disagreement in exchange for the right simply agreeing to being honest! How about this, you stop telling lies period. (You meaning the right in general). Barring that why would one give up honestly held positions in a debate just for the other side to forgo some dishonest positions? I guess a religious analogy might be a Roman Catholic telling Mark “I’ll stop saying you’re a child molestor if you just agree that the Bishop of Rome should be considered a ‘first among equals’…what’s so unreasonable about that?”

    Morgan
    The whole “CBO says it’s okay” thing has outlived its usefulness…

    Welcome to the back ally of Mark’s little site here. But I think its time for a little rule to be instituted. No links shall be accepted as contributions to intelligent discourse unless the person providing the link indicates that they can intelligently articulate the argument without the aid of the link. If anyone needs a mindless right wing meme linking machine they can use the Drudge Report.

    As for the budget standpoint of the health bill. The fact is if it was clearly not budget neutral Republicans would have no need to employ dishonest accounting like adding the ‘doc fix’ to its cost to make their case. The fact is that not only is it not honestly agreed that the health bill is a net cost, there are plenty of serious people who honestly believe the actual spending saving in the bill actually will be greater than the CBO count. You are free to disagree but just as they bring specifics to the table so should you.

  9. I was just making a point about Vox’s bigoted smear of all atheists, not about his criticism of Myers.

  10. Boonton, if you want to set up some special rules that are to be applied to the facts before you will become aware of them, you are free to do so. I’ll just factor that in next time you have something to tell me about, that it’s harder for information to make its way to you than it is for the information to get to most others.

    Now in this immediate example, the point to be made is self-explanatory. The CBO, many months ago, revised these remarks that the democrats started running away with in their irrational exuberance with all the “The CBO is on our side!” agitprop…therefore, that little talking point, as I said, has outlived its usefulness. As in, it’s obsolete.

    Now, I have an idea I think might be a little bit better than “follow whatever rules Boonton makes up in the moment”; how about reviewing the history of massive new government programs that brought costs down, reigned in the deficit, or made commodities more affordable (without just buying them for people and giving them away). Can you name any?

  11. Boonton says:

    Stupid left wing arithmetic, apparently making “millions” off of $43 million people is unwarranted. What? Not taking a loss is immoral. Let’s see, if they made just over 20 cents off of each person that would be one million.

    Actually I take the link to be a pretty moderate position. Gov’t should use whoever has the lowest transaction fees. When it comes to Social Security that’s the gov’t where the administrative fees (the cost of cutting the checks, tracking people’s addresses, fielding their customer service calls etc.) are almost nothing. Medicare is likewise about 1% compared with 25-30% for private insurance (Medicare accomplishes this by economies of scale, private insurance works by a combination of data mining applicants to weed out the sick and trying to docs to exchange lower rates for guaranteed business via ‘preferred provider networks’….this is a never ending war…docs who get bamboozled into accepting too low a rate in one year will raise their rates the next which means the insurance company has to alter their pitch in a hope of outsmarting them yet again, all this burns a lot of administrative and transactional spending whereas Medicare can simply concentrate on processing payments and screening for actual fraud).

    In terms of processing food stamps I think the situation may be different. You have more transactions at many retail establishments. The potential for fraud is probably less in dollar terms but cover a greater population of transactions. It’s quite possible then that JP Morgan might be making a nice profit on processing food stamp transactions but at the same time they are doing it at the lowest possible cost for the taxpayer. I think the moderate position should be let JP Morgan do it if they are the lowest cost processor but have the gov’t do it if they aren’t. There’s school of thought that says the private sector is always the lowest cost provider and therefore gives the business to JP Morgan without any real attempt at analysis.

  12. Boonton says:

    Actually I’m not making up any rules. If you can’t speak intelligently don’t expect to be taken as worth listening too. Links to sites that make heavy use of capital letters, bold print, and hysterical headlines simply are not a substitute to actually knowing what you are talking about when you’re talking to people who do not agree with you (I’m sorry, being that Mark leans right you might have thought this was your usual right wing internet ghetto where everyone agrees with you…in the back allys of the comments JA and I have created a slightly different tone…if you want pats on the back I’m sure there’s plenty of other sites where you’ll get it. I believe Sean Hannity’s site has a comment section. Likewise I understand Sarah Palin’s Facebook page is policed by excellent thought police who quickly remove critical comments. If you need to practice on ‘easy mode’ you may want to play there for a bit. Here we play on hard mode with no cheat codes).

    Now in this immediate example, the point to be made is self-explanatory. The CBO, many months ago, revised these remarks that the democrats started running away with in their irrational exuberance with all the “The CBO is on our side!” agitprop…therefore, that little talking point, as I said, has outlived its usefulness. As in, it’s obsolete.

    Errr except that the CBO still scores the health bill as budget neutral to positive which is why the bill to repeal the health bill scored as increasing the deficit and House Republicans had to write an exemption for it in their rule that all bills that increase the deficit had to have a spending cut offset.

  13. Actually I’m not making up any rules. If you can’t speak intelligently don’t expect to be taken as worth listening too. Links to sites that make heavy use of capital letters, bold print, and hysterical headlines simply are not…[legitimate or something]…

    1. So yes, you are making up rules.
    2. By confusing your to & too, you make yourself an example of what you’re complaining about. I’d let it go — I’ve done much worse — it’s the point you’re in the middle of making that is completely undone by your relatively minor transgression here.
    3. Expressing a dislike of bold print is not intellectual rigor. If we are to labor under a delusion that, say, Julius Caesar is alive and well…someone finds a notice that Caesar is deceased, but the writing is in bold print and capital letters…guess what, the dude’s dead. And the CBO has been forced to revise its findings. Pay attention to that last one, or not, the choice is yours.

  14. Boonton says:

    The reverse also holds. Putting in bold letters that Caesar is alive doesn’t make him so….and more importantly if you don’t have the facts on your side, a rhetorical strategy might be to amp up the ‘bold letters’ to make up for the fact that Caesar is really dead and that’s going to be a problem if your agenda is to convince people he’s alive.

    But the objection or ‘rule’ is not to bold letters, it’s quite simply trying to substitute other people’s ‘bold letters’ for your lack of facts. Let’s parse what you and your link present as facts:

    1. Confuse net with gross. We are discussing whether the health bill will increase, decrease or not impact the deficit. Your link begins by arguing whether its cost (meaning gross) is or isn’t under $1T.

    2. Likewise you confuse the issue with ‘CBO revised its findings’…..yea forecasts are constantly revised both forward and backward in time (GDP figures, for example are released at the start of the month and then revised two times before being ‘final’ after a quarter has passed).

    3. Then about 60% of the remaining text of your link is devoted to a poll about what Americans think the bill will do the deficit. In other words, you provided us not with information for thinking Americans to figure out what to think about the question, you provided us nothing but a bunch of cheerleading crap for people who already made up their minds and are mostly concerned with NOT encountering anything that might puncture what they have decided the truth is.

    All this might be tolerable if you yourself would speak intelligently and explain exactly why the bill will not be deficit lowering nor neutral but in fact will be an increase to the deficit. But this you won’t do and instead pretend that you are under no obligation to support or defend your assertions….in fact you’ll claim that being expected to do so is victimizing you to ‘special rules’. In fact the only thing special about them is that I shouldn’t have to waste time pointing this out to you.

  15. Nobody said anything about being victimized.

    And until the legislation is put into effect, by which I mean all of it, and then some time rolls on by…none of this is fact. It’s all conjecture. You just happen to like some of the conjecture and not like some other of the conjecture. So perhaps it would be more honest on your part to say, you don’t like bold print unless it supports the opinions you happen to like, and if it doesn’t, then you’ll find something else to object to even if there’s no bold print there at all.

    In fact, here, let’s put that to the test. Here’s a more scholarly analysis, although by no means an exhaustive one, of all the accounting gimmicks & tricks involved in saying ObamaCare will bring down the deficit (and repealing it would “explode” the deficit). So, now that you’ve made up all your rules, and I’ve explained what you’re supposed to get out of this other piece, I believe they’re all being met.

    Got some more rules to apply now?

  16. Boonton says:

    Ohhh by the way, your “post partisan” site claims the CBO revised its estimate in “a report released today” yet provides no link that report. Interestingly the article is dated May 11th, 2010.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patient_Protection_and_Affordable_Care_Act#Deficit_impact indicates no ‘revision’ by the CBO that swung the bill from deficit reducing to deficit increasing….which is odd given that we’ve had nearly 7 months since the ‘report’ you are attempting to cite was allegedly released.

    More interesting is that it appears that most of the ‘deficit increasing’ opinion is based not on the actual bill itself but by political predictions such as Congress undoing spending cuts. Yet if that’s the case the problem isn’t the bill but some hypothetical future bill that is supposedly going to increase spending by reversing cuts in this bill. If that’s the argument then wouldn’t an honest Republican house concerned about the deficit simply, duh, decline to pass any bill reversing the bills spending cuts?

  17. Heh heh, here’s yet another link. And, irritatingly, I’m going to avoid any comment on how it connects to this discussion. It really should be obvious…

    It doesn’t have any bold in it.

  18. Boonton says:

    Let’s look thru your ‘scholarly analysis’.

    1. I agree we aren’t talking about a ‘deficit explosion’. $200B or so is a lot of money but over the course of ten years it’s a rounding error and even so you’re talking about a $20B a year average reduction to the deficit. That’s relatively deficit neutral. What’s interesting is that even then Republicans opted to exempt the repeal from their rule about not increasing the deficit. What they are really saying is that they can’t even come up with $20B a year n spending cuts even if that’s not really needed to repeal the health bill and keep the deficit from growing.

    2. The ‘analysis’ is again about 60% rant that the bill was passed by a partisan majority….that’s an odd claim since many Republicans demands were meet (single payer off the table, public option off the table, trigger for public option off the table, abortion not covered even in private health plans unless the patient is willing to write a separate check each month out of their personal funds to have abortion covered) only to see Republicans move the bar yet again. But carping that the bill was passed has nothing to do with its analysis.

    3. The only substance to the ‘gimmick’ charge is ’10 years of taxes to fund six years of subsidies’. But the problem with this charge is that if this was hiding a ‘deficit increasing bill’ you wouldn’t have the CBO predicting even larger deficit reductions beyond the ten year mark. The cut in doctor payments this year did not happen because Republicans and Democrats voted to do the ‘doc fix’ yet again, but the writer neglects to mention that this year’s doc fix was offset by raising some of the fees in the bill’s purchasing pools. That’s actually adds to your side’s deficit problem/dishonesty. Since the 25% doc cut was stopped with a different piece of law, repealing the health bill will not cause payments to doctors to drop this year by 25% but it will get rid of the offset to pay for 2011’s ‘doc fix’ thereby increasing the deficit. Likewise the ‘double counting charge’ in relation to SSI/Medicare revenue is also false. Again the argument here seems to not be with the health bill but some hypothetical future bill(s) that will undo spending cuts. By that reasoning all spending bills today don’t have to be paid for since any spending cuts that pay for them will just be ‘gimmicks’ since some future hypothetical congress may pass something else in the future. While savings were sometimes double counted in some rhetoric they were not in CBO’s estimates (the CBO is, after all, in the accounting business).

    Heh heh, here’s yet another link. And, irritatingly, I’m going to avoid any comment on how it connects to this discussion. It really should be obvious…

    Ohhh you’re going to avoid commenting? You haven’t made a comment yet. You’ve provided a bunch of spurious links, refused to analyze them, and when confronted just spit out more links. Why are you wasting your time and limited mental power doing this? Do you not realize that every day DrugeReport tosses up dozens of these links? No one needs your three or four links. If you want to comment try actually adding something of value to the discussion, or go back and play on Palin’s facebook page.

  19. You seem to be finding excuses not to digest the information. If you have to complicate it anywhere beyond this…

    The government can’t subsidize coverage for tens of millions of new people and simultaneously reduce the deficit, as most Americans seem to intuitively understand.

    …then, what you are doing, is coming up with enough rules to reverse the arithmetic. Which you’ve done a marvelous job of doing up until now. The trouble is, if you’re going to impose these new rules on anything that might sway from the conclusion you’ve decided ahead of time you want to reach, then all your comments can reasonably be viewed as under-informed. You’ve stated for the record you’re going to discount anything with caps, or bold, or anything you can find some other excuse about…and then you say things like

    The only substance to the ‘gimmick’ charge is ’10 years of taxes to fund six years of subsidies’.

    Now if you read all the way through the article, which it seems you didn’t do, you see there is all kinds of substance to the gimmick charge. The notion that the repeal of ObamaCare would cost the government by the same theoretical amount that leaving it in place would “save,” is a gimmick. You left off the double-counting of Social Security and Medicare revenues. You left off the front-loading of the taxes and the back-loading of the spending. And your rant about the “60% rant” is, to say the very least, difficult to quantify…

    All this information seems to be measured according to the same yardstick as the last round: Do you personally like what is being pointed out? Now, if that is the criteria you apply to every scrap of information that passes your way, tell me again why it is I should consider you particularly well-informed?

  20. Boonton says:

    Re: Athiesm……

    If Vox’s post swapped out athiesm and put in “Jew” instead would it have likewise been unobjectionable? (Let’s just say PZ Meyers is Jewish, I don’t know that he is or not)

  21. The idea that the bill has ten years of taxes to fund six years of subsidies is just flat wrong.

    I prefer to deal with one argument at a time as it prevents people from ignoring the strongest arguments.

  22. Boonton says:

    See this is why I propose my ‘rule’ (actually its just good manners). If you want a link to support your argument that’s fine, but it should be *your* argument. You should be able to explain what the link says and why its right. I wouldn’t be surprised if Morgan hasn’t even read the links he is giving us beyond maybe the headline and skimming the rest. The exception is Mark’s daily links where he is explicitly just playing the Drudge role of providing a bunch of links for perusal….but he gets to do that because he owns the blog.

  23. Boonton says:

    You seem to be finding excuses not to digest the information. If you have to complicate it anywhere beyond this…

    therein follows this:

    The government can’t subsidize coverage for tens of millions of new people and simultaneously reduce the deficit, as most Americans seem to intuitively understand.

    Ahhh yes, he brings ‘intuition’ to a numbers fight. This, no doubt, is meant to justify him producing an article that’s 60% coverage of a poll as justification for his assertion that the bill’s budget neutrality isn’t just debatable but has been settled already.

    Even on its face this statement is bullshit. Of course you can. The question is how much do those tens of millions cost to insure, how much are getting subsidized and what offsets are there to their subsidies….(as well as other issues like what impact will tens of millions being insured have on other costs such as uncompensated care in ERs, care that’s prevented etc.).

    Consider even with dishonest accounting, Republican accounts seem to just flip the sign of the bills impace (making a $200B deficit reduction into a $200B deficit increase). That’s still $20B a year because these numbers are being quoted in periods of ten years at a time.

  24. Boonton says:

    BTW, here is the CBO on ‘double counting’. They did not do it and Rep. Ryan admitted as much (a sign of the truth here is how the Republicans change their numbers and statements when their audience consists of people who know what they are talking about and are willing to challenge them).

    http://mediamattersaction.org/mobile/factcheck/201101190005

    Watch out, I predict his next reaction will either be snickering at URL’s (oooo media matters, that’s a left wing outlet…..but unlike the mythical CBO revision report, they actually provide links to the source data)….or just maybe he’ll actually read some of his links and try to defend them as his own….which might yield some intelligent discourse.

  25. It’s Ezra Klein’s argument that is weak. If you look at what Krauthammer wrote, his six years are based on the fact that the benefits kick in 2014; 2014-2019 is six years. Why does Klein say Krauthammer is trying to flim-flam us? Because of the magnitude of the numbers, it looks like. The sheer size of the numbers after 2014 makes the six-versus-ten argument not “flat out wrong,” as JA says; his argument is that the discrepancy raised by Krauthammer doesn’t amount to much.

    The reason this is a fallacious argument, is the same as the reason why Boonton loses track of the whole discussion every time he seeks to transmogrify it into a simple subtraction problem. “Taxes” do not translate into “revenues”; when you change the ramifications of doing something, you necessarily change human behavior and so the “revenues” end up falling short of what was anticipated. This is actually what has happened to Social Security, Medicare, etc. over the years.

    The CBO, as has been pointed out repeatedly, works with the numbers it is given. Garbage in, garbage out. Congressman Ryan explained it recently:

    http://www.floppingaces.net/2011/01/19/rep-paul-ryan-absolutely-rips-obamacare-accounting/

    It all comes back to the original point: It is nonsensical to think a new benefit can be provided to 32 million people, and this will reduce the deficit. Any new rules cooked up by Boonton or by anybody else that lead to this making sense, aren’t going to be in keeping with sound accounting principles because the new rules are going to be concocted to make a negative look like a positive.

  26. Boonton, that last link of yours has lots of bold.

    You’re not even following your own rules now.

  27. It’s Ezra Klein’s argument that is weak. If you look at what Krauthammer wrote, his six years are based on the fact that the benefits kick in 2014; 2014-2019 is six years.

    So where are the ten years of taxes that pay for those six years of spending? And how is it that if the Democrats need this trick to make the numbers add up, the next ten years cut even more from the deficit??

  28. The ten years are found in the CBO’s paper, linked at Klein’s column; they are 2010-2019.

    Krauthammer’s six-in-ten argument is based on the verifiable fact that many of the benefits do not kick in until 2014. Klein does nothing to contradict this. If you read his argument (it whizzes by under your nose in the space of a single paragraph) you see he isn’t “debunking” anything. His point is that the numbers pose problems for Krauthammer’s argument.

    Which they would, maybe, if the tax revenues were something you could really count on. The CBO is required to treat them as rock hard numbers. But in history, it has yet to work out that way. That’s why the greatest weight of Krauthammer’s argument is in his very first two paragraphs.

    Suppose someone – say, the president of United States – proposed the following: We are drowning in debt. More than $14 trillion right now. I’ve got a great idea for deficit reduction. It will yield a savings of $230 billion over the next 10 years: We increase spending by $540 billion while we increase taxes by $770 billion.

    He’d be laughed out of town. And yet, this is precisely what the Democrats are claiming as a virtue of Obamacare. During the debate over Republican attempts to repeal it, one of the Democrats’ major talking points has been that Obamacare reduces the deficit – and therefore repeal raises it – by $230 billion. Why, the Congressional Budget Office says exactly that.

  29. Look at Klein’s chart! The taxes don’t start until the same year the spending does. It’s 6 years of taxes vs. 6 years of spending, not 10 vs. 6.

  30. Boonton says:

    The CBO, as has been pointed out repeatedly, works with the numbers it is given. Garbage in, garbage out. Congressman Ryan explained it recently:

    The CBO does not work ‘with the numbers it is given’, it works with the language of the laws it is given. If a proposed law says $5,000 will be given to every person over age 65 the CBO will estimate how many people are over 65 and times that by $5,000. If a proposed law says everyone over 65 will be provided health coverage it will again estimate how many are over 65 (complicated but a relatively easy application of demographics) and then estimate what health care will cost them (much more complicated).

    But the CBO is not simply ‘given’ numbers like $1T in taxes, $800B in spending cuts and is asked to calculate that would mean $200B lower deficits unless the language of the proposed bill is literally “Tax $1T, spend $800B”.

    Taxes” do not translate into “revenues”; when you change the ramifications of doing something, you necessarily change human behavior and so the “revenues” end up falling short of what was anticipated

    It sounds like you’re trying to reach for something here but I’m not exactly sure what. The arguments about Medicare and Social Security taxes revolve around whether employers will drop health care benefits and just give employers larger pay (which would boost SSI and Medicare tax revenue). If employers don’t do that then true SSI/Medicare tax revenue doesn’t go up but at the same time you’re subsidizing as many people buying insurance on their own since they will get it from their jobs.

    There’s a slightly related ‘double counting’ question in that if income goes up, Social Security taxes go up but then so do promised Social Security benefits. But SSI is a progressive scheme so while your benefits go up with income they don’t go up as fast. Promised benefits increase but by less than the taxes so that remains a net benefit to the deficit. The double counting issue only comes in if the CBO didn’t incorporate benefit increases into its estimates. Medicare on the other hand probably would have no double counting issue since if your income went up and likewise your Medicare taxes it’s hard to see how that would make you more likely to have costly illnesses when you turn 65.

    It’s Ezra Klein’s argument that is weak. If you look at what Krauthammer wrote, his six years are based on the fact that the benefits kick in 2014; 2014-2019 is six years

    The problem is that the CBO also does analysis beyond the ten year window and the deficit reduction benefit remains, in fact its even larger. Here is where your argument falls apart once you look at actual numbers rather than words or ‘intuitions’. If you say some taxes come in before benefits kick in its easy to see how that *could* make a bill look deficit neutral over a ten year window. But when you look at Klein’s graph you see that is not the case. Only in 2013 do revenues exceed new spending but the amount is not stunning compared with the real meat in the 2014-19 range. The deficit neutrality is not an artifact of the ‘six years of benefits versus ten years of taxes’ window.

    Boonton, that last link of yours has lots of bold.

    You’re not even following your own rules now.

    However that’s not my ‘rule’. My rule is that you can understand, articulate and defend the sources you bring into the debate….not simply toss out links which you yourself haven’t even appeared to have read. If you want to out Drudge the Drudgereport then do it on a site, not in a comment thread. I picked apart your ‘bold site’ as much as I could being that 60% of it was about a survey which is irrelevant to the question and the remainder is about a supposed CBO revision from 7 months ago that the site didn’t bother to link.

    Krauthammer’s six-in-ten argument is based on the verifiable fact that many of the benefits do not kick in until 2014. Klein does nothing to contradict this. If you read his argument (it whizzes by under your nose in the space of a single paragraph) you see he isn’t “debunking” anything.

    This was not the question, the question was whether the bill was on balance deficit reducing, deficit neutral or deficit increasing. The six-in-ten argument is only of interest if benefits far outstripped taxes and spending cuts and it was only made to appear deficit reducing by ignoring what happens in the 10+ area.

    Which they would, maybe, if the tax revenues were something you could really count on. The CBO is required to treat them as rock hard numbers.

    Actually they aren’t unless the law said point blank X persons have to pay Y$ adding up to, say, $500B. No such provisions exist, according to our friend wikipedia the taxes are:

    * Medicare taxes applying to income over $200K/$250K for individuals and joint filers.
    * The ‘Cadillac Insurance Policy’ tax which basically makes the highest end health policies taxed like income.
    * Assorted other taxes on pharmaceuticals, diagnostic equipment.
    * An indoor tanning tax (granted I don’t think that’s a major source of much of the revenue)

    On all of these the CBO scores a bill not by taking the numbers the legislature wants (if that was the case every bill would be scored as ‘paid in full’ by raising some trivial tax by some trivial amount and Congress ‘ordering’ CBO to assume trillions would come in from it) but by estimating what the impact of those things will be and how much would be raised. This includes the fact that behavior would adjust so, for example, some medical labs may opt to rent certain diagnostic equipment rather than buy it.

    Suppose someone – say, the president of United States – proposed the following: We are drowning in debt. More than $14 trillion right now. I’ve got a great idea for deficit reduction. It will yield a savings of $230 billion over the next 10 years: We increase spending by $540 billion while we increase taxes by $770 billion.

    What’s all very telling is that the Republicans opted to break their own rule rather than simply cut spending over ten years by an average of $23B, a rather trivial sum if we take any of their assertions with even half a grain of salt.

  31. It sounds like you’re trying to reach for something here but I’m not exactly sure what.

    What I’m reaching for, and it’s not a reach by any means, is that revenues from taxes cannot be forecast like this with any degree of accuracy. The predictions are scuttled the second people start to act…um…to act…

    …like any randomly selected member of Barack Obama’s cabinet. See, you start taxing things and people change their behavior. This is why I’ve been scolding you, and by extension E. Klein, for treating this like a simple subtraction problem. It isn’t one. It depends on human behavior.

    Krauthammer’s point is that the administration planned, from the very beginning, to use this six-versus-ten accounting gimmick. Now if you actually open Ezra Klein’s “debunking,” he doesn’t refute any part of it he just relies on the magnitude of the numbers to overwhelm it…then accuses Krauthammer of the trickery.

    But then if you go back to Krauthammer’s piece, he isn’t relying on the six versus ten thing overly much. His argument is that the President is saying — hey here’s my plan to deal with the defect, collect $700B after you spend $500B. Krauthammer is saying that is not a serious plan to fight a deficit.

    And he’s right.

  32. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    First off, I’ve been writing the post on Obamacare … uhm, I have been unusually busy lately. I got a few replies in this morning and then the afternoon exploded. I had dinner tonight with my parents … and as a result probably won’t finish it. Tomorrow? Hopefully.

    JA,
    If you noticed my all-too-brief remark leading to the link it should be clear that my linking was primarily on the point that Mr Meyer being a (verbal at least) sociopath was what I took from it. That does not mean (and I even think Mr Day would not imply) that “all atheists” are just one step away from bringing the undesirable elements of society to the meat-grinder. However, you rarely (if ever) have offered arguments in defense of the dignity of man.

    I have, as you know, quoted a prominent academic secular (non-believer I think) philosopher offering a strong defense of the importance of the ontological nature of the dignity and uniqueness of man as man (Chantal Delsol). You, if I recall, did not agree with her but prefer an empathy based argument (how that empathy thing works with the sociopath set, I won’t venture).

    Boonton & JA,
    Look if this bill was a new fangled version of Star Wars, say industrial orbital platforms with military capabilities … and Mr Bush for example, offered that “well, the CBO scored it as budget neutral” on the basis (of course) that they had to take without question the input assumptions going into the cost basis analysis … you’d be screaming bloody murder citing how often aerospace R&D cost over-runs are rampant in the industry. And you’d be right. Guess what. So are we and for the same reasons.

    As has been pointed out, the bigger parts of this bill unfold (oddly enough) after the next election cycle. But we’ve got an inkling of what’s coming. Look at the McDonald’s insurance exemption and what transpired afterwards. McDonald’s had a minimal insurance plan offered to hourly employees on a voluntary basis. It didn’t meet Obamacare standards so they had a choice, drop it or take a big hit beefing it up to make muster. Clearly they were going to drop it as the alternative wasn’t affordable, esp. in a competitive market. So … the Admin stepped in and make an exemption in their case (and unnnoticed behind the scene has since made similar exemptions for parties which (oddly enough) trend leftwards and are heavy contributors to the Democratic party). There are a lot of “hard” pills to swallow, reductions in coverages and payments and opportunities which are in the pipeline. That’s how “costs” are controlled after all. But, as we see, this pain is handled in two ways, by either waffling or by giving in (and when you give in … this is in turn an Rahmian opportunity to garner power and votes).

  33. Boonton says:

    What I’m reaching for, and it’s not a reach by any means, is that revenues from taxes cannot be forecast like this with any degree of accuracy. The predictions are scuttled the second people start to act…um…to act…

    That’s a good point but irrelevant, and I’ll show you why for a few reasons.

    OK let’s say the bill is estimated to raise $2B from the ‘tan tax’. But let’s say that there’s a sudden uprising among tan fans. Snooki from the Jersey Shore quites her show to lead the ‘Shore Party’ against the tanning tax getting herself elected to the Senate along with a bevy of Snookites. Culiminating all this is ‘Snooki’s Bill’ which repeals the tan tax. Can that happen? Sure, wouldn’t bet on it but maybe. Say it does happen, and say the CBO even knows it will happen. Should they then ‘score’ the bill as not producing $2B from the tan tax? No they should score it as $2B. Why?

    Because the bill as written will produce $2B in tan tax (assuming $2B is a good estimate, let’s avoid the econometrics discussions for now). Even if ‘Snooki’s bill’ is predictable the fact is Snooki’s bill gets scored on its own as costing $2B. Repealing the health bill now then still scores $2B in deficits due to the tan tax, Snooki, if she ever proposes such a bill, will either have to come up with $2B elsewhere to be deficit neutral or will have to campaign on increasing the deficit $2B to pass her bill.

    If you think about it a moment, though, trying to predict what will happen makes it almost impossible to talk sensibly about any bill. A bill that cuts taxes $500B today may end up causing Congress to pass a $700B tax hike in 2025. Does that mean you treat the $500B tax cut bill as a $200B tax increase bill? No the ‘score’ stands on the useful but fictional assumption that Congress passes the bill and then takes a ten plus year vacation. Of course Congress won’t but you score each new bill by that assumption to get the best estimates possible.

    we see this with the 2011 doc fix. Medicare doc rates were due to fall 25% in 2011 per the health bill and per the pre-health bill existing law. After the the health bill passed, Congress passed another bill reversing the 25% cut. But that bill was scored on its own. If that bill just reversed the cut without offsetting anything else, then the CBO would score that bill as costing the deficit whatever the 25% is (about $19B I believe).

    like any randomly selected member of Barack Obama’s cabinet. See, you start taxing things and people change their behavior. This is why I’ve been scolding you, and by extension E. Klein, for treating this like a simple subtraction problem. It isn’t one. It depends on human behavior.

    True but:

    1. That is at least partially taken into account in CBO scoring.

    2. It cuts both ways. Let’s say as a result of the Cadillac tax, unions and high level executives opt to demand higher take home pay rather than super lavish health plans at a rate higher than estimated. Yes tax revenue from the tax then comes in less than estimated. But then other variables change as well. Higher take home pay means higher SSI/Medicare and Federal income tax revenue. Likewise fewer people with super lavish plans and instead plans where they have to actually pay with their own money means more price pressure on the health industry. If health prices moderate more than expected then the subsidy costs become less than expected. In a sense you’re right that estimated tax revenue isn’t ‘locked in stone’ but then neither is the estimated spending. In the debate, though, you can’t really ‘detach’ from stone only those variables you want to be detached.

    A real life example of this was Medicare D. Since no revenue nor spending cuts were ever enacted with it, it was pure deficit increase. However the projected spending was less than expected because the drug market did not introduce new premium drugs to replace those that went generic as fast as expected and because increased drug use by seniors for things like blood pressure and diabetes caused lower than expected spending for things like hospitalizations for heart attacks that the rest of Medicare covered.

    So in a way I agree with you that CBO scores are not exactly predictions in either the sense that the laws won’t change or even if they don’t the economic variables will end up being different than expected. They are not really supposed to be that, though. They are supposed to be scores. A bill that’s net $200B deficit reducing versus say the tax deal that passed costing the deficit about $850B is less about the absolute number than it is about the level. If the latter is your priority then you are increasing the deficit by roughly 4 times the amount the former is decreasing it.

    Now if you want to say you have a better way of modeling these things that’s fine, but then make your case and present your model (you may not want to do it here, consultants sell serious econometric models to industry and gov’t for five to six figures….but then if you’re smart enough to create such models you shouldn’t need me to give you financial advice). But at the end of the day you need a way to seriously estimate the cost and benefits of various proposals and the CBO has a reputation for fair, non-partisan estimates. At the end of the day you just want to wave your hands and say you’ll assume away the parts that offset costs and assume the costs are perfect in order to generate the story you want. That’s fine but that’s not a serious argument and it’s not enough that merits either your initial assertion that the bills deficit neutrality has somehow been proven false or Mark’s initial ‘offer’ that he will stop telling lies in exchange for pretending the bill honestly doesn’t score as deficit reducing or neutral.

    His argument is that the President is saying — hey here’s my plan to deal with the defect, collect $700B after you spend $500B

    Taken alone increasing taxes $700B and increasing spending $500B reduces the deficit by $200B. While that’s not a ‘serious plan to fight the deficit’ in the sense that $200B over ten years makes much of a dent in the deficit the fact is repealing such a bill leaves you with $200B more deficit. If the President should be laughed at for reducing the deficit by only $200B then what should be made of those who are trying to increase it $200B?

  34. Boonton says:

    Mark,

    I grant you tonight to address my question on your knowledge of the health bill. I will hold you to your honor that you will not cheat by ‘boning up’ on the bill before you make your post.

    Look if this bill was a new fangled version of Star Wars, say industrial orbital platforms with military capabilities … and Mr Bush for example, offered that “well, the CBO scored it as budget neutral” on the basis (of course) that they had to take without question the input assumptions going into the cost basis analysis … you’d be screaming bloody murder citing how often aerospace R&D cost over-runs are rampant in the industry. And you’d be right. Guess what. So are we and for the same reasons.

    Well the problem here is that your hypothetical seems to be a simple spending bill with no other parts. How would that score ‘budget neutral’? Your hypothetical is a bit like Medicare D or the Iraq War which was passed as pure spending with no offsetting cuts or tax increases. The scoring issue there is just estimating what the spending would be (as I said in the case of Medicare D it was less than expected, the Iraq War it was more).

    To be a bit more realistic, imagine a bill that say ordered the construction of industrial orbital platforms with lasers, put a $0.10 /gal tax on gas, a $0.001 per share stock transfer tax and eliminated the Air Force’s ICBM and Intercontinental bomber fleets, had the navy cease all new production of nuclear missle subs letting the current fleet phase down through attrition and eliminated the current Star Wars program. Now such a bill would have a lot more moving parts and it would hardly be obvious that a budget neutral score could be dismissed out of hand.

    McDonald’s had a minimal insurance plan offered to hourly employees on a voluntary basis. It didn’t meet Obamacare standards so they had a choice, drop it or take a big hit beefing it up to make muster. Clearly they were going to drop it as the alternative wasn’t affordable, esp. in a competitive market.

    And how does this impact the bill’s deficit stance? I don’t like the exemption but it seems like its just as likely to mean fewer people buying insurance in the markets which means lower than estimated spending on subsidies since I’d imagine most McDonald’s workers with the ‘microinsurance’ would have required subsidies.

    There are a lot of “hard” pills to swallow, reductions in coverages and payments and opportunities which are in the pipeline.

    Here I would ask for specifics but you are under orders to be ‘chaste’ and no do any research so perhaps you can cover the specifics in your post tomorrow on what you think the bill actually does.

  35. I’ll just repeat this until I get a response to it:

    Look at Klein’s chart! The taxes don’t start until the same year the spending does. It’s 6 years of taxes vs. 6 years of spending, not 10 vs. 6.

  36. Boonton says:

    I’ll respond JA you’re right and more importantly the ten year ‘window trick’ is countered by the fact that the CBO also scores beyond ten years. A simple trick like running a $200B decrease in the deficit over years 1-10 but causing a $500B increase in the deficit in year 11 forwards gets picked up.

    Why score on ten years, though, rather than say 20 years or infinity? I suspect two reasons….one is that such forecasts become less and less reliable as you push out. Also the present value of money discounts far out spending and taxing to nothing. For example, a bill that spends $1 a year for 100 years versus $1 a year forever. Without taking present value into account it seems like the first bill costs $100 while the second costs an infinity of money. In reality the second bill costs only a bit more.

  37. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    It occurred to me one of the essential deceits in the bill is the following. It inherently forces higher insurance rates, a newly required purchase. This is not a tax in name only, in that it is a higher expenditure, required by law but paid not to the government directly but to a corporation private in name only, in that its income and payouts will be regulated in great detail by the government. If you fold this into the picture then the tax requirements explode. More explicitly, insurance companies are required to effect the redistribution of wealth the government desires … funded in a large part by higher rates. Yet these higher rates will not appear as “tax” or on the budget.

    And finally, the notion of “tax neutrality” in the proposed space platform was to come from expected industrial expansion in the sector and direct profits and taxes deriving from that.

  38. It’s just hilarious how you won’t respond to points rather than admit I’m right about something.

    I’ll just repeat this until I get a response to it (and I don’t mean from Boonton!):

    Look at Klein’s chart! The taxes don’t start until the same year the spending does. It’s 6 years of taxes vs. 6 years of spending, not 10 vs. 6.

  39. Mark says:

    JA,
    Is that a request to me? I’m thinking that’s directed at Mr Freeburg.

    And as I just noted the bigger part is the required new spending not on the budget at all.

  40. It was directed at Mr Freeburg, yes, but it would be amazing to see you admit that I’m right too. 🙂 First time for everything, right. All these years of commenting will have been worth it…

  41. Boonton says:

    It occurred to me one of the essential deceits in the bill is the following. It inherently forces higher insurance rates, a newly required purchase. …If you fold this into the picture then the tax requirements explode.

    Bahahah, did it occur to you by asserting the insurance mandate is a tax you are throwing away the claim that its unconstitutional? A little thinking can be a dangerous thing. Anyway your idea here gets complicated. Let’s say an insurance policy costs $6000 a year but the penalty in the individual mandate is $1000. What is the amount of the tax? If someone buys a $6000 policy do you consider that a $6000 tax because its ‘mandated’? If so then how do you account for the fact that the very same person could have just opted to pay $1000? So maybe the $1000 should count as the tax instead. I think your ‘redistribution to insurance companies’ argument might work if you weren’t getting something in exchange. Consider the deduction for making charitable contributions. We both make the same amount but you donate a lot to your church and other charities and I don’t. You pay less taxes than I do. I’m being taxed for not giving my money away to other people. In the same sense this is ‘redistribution’ where instead of taxing everyone directly and spending it, the gov’t uses the tax code to get people to give money to various charities directly. Of course the counter argument is that private giving is more efficient than dirct gov’t taxes and grants to charities….be that as it may it is still redistribution.

    And finally, the notion of “tax neutrality” in the proposed space platform was to come from expected industrial expansion in the sector and direct profits and taxes deriving from that.

    Did you mean to say ‘deficit neutrality’? The problem with a pure spending bill being scored as deficit neutral is that you need to make a case for a huge multiplier. The Federal gov’t takes in a bit less than 20% of GDP in tax revenue. If spending $20B on a ‘space platform’ is to be deficit neutral, it needs to expand GDP by $100B. If that happened then 20% of $100B would be $20B of added tax revenue coming in making the platform deficit neutral. But even in a deep recession multipliers are in the range of maybe 2 at best, 5 would be a stretch. On the other hand some investments with very long useful lives might work like this. Consider the Hoover Dam, the Brooklyn Bridge, or the various tunnels under the Hudson river. These things have lasted from decades to over a century and will probably still be there 50 years from now providing returns. These probably have generated so many returns that they would score as ‘deficit neutral’ if you had to provide an analysis to email to the past.

    I suppose some sci-fi space projects might fit that bill. I would guess that a ‘space elevator’ probably could yield enough returns to be deficit neutral if we had a few breakthrus in engineering and materials. A lot of R&D and education spending is probably ‘deficit neutral’ or positive but I don’t think we have the ability to really score it as such.

    And as I just noted the bigger part is the required new spending not on the budget at all.

    I thought the big thing here was your offer of a deal to stop lying about the health bill….are we now pretending we aren’t talking about that but some alternative accounting scheme you want to create ad hoc to only discuss the health bill?

  42. Ed Darrell says:

    Eugene Robinson’s point was not that the Republicans have forgotten November (no, of course that wasn’t what you meant, was it), but instead that their mudpie-in-the-sky plans for health care can’t work.

    Voting to repeal “Obamacare” sounds fun to Tea Party Know-Littles. They wouldn’t dare send a newsletter to their retired constituents saying they just voted to cut prescription benefits for the retirees, though.

    Hypocrits. A half-truth is a whole ____________.

  43. Ed Darrell says:

    Are you really telling me he’s not trying to smear all atheists??

    In Vox Day’s mind, is there such a thing as “intent?” You’re assuming Vox is compos mentis. Not sure there’s evidence for that.

  44. Boonton says:

    Somebody just forgot November, short memories on the left, eh?

    At this point it appears the GOP has hit their high water mark. Talk about short memories, a modest win in the House, a failure to win in the Senate is being sold as a 1964 style sweep? It’s not even a 1994 or even 2008 level sweep.

    Second, remember that winning an election is not an endorsement of what the candidate ran on. In 2004 the elections swept in plenty of Democrats running against the Iraq war but despite the fact that they ran against Bush’s bungling of Iraq, the support wasn’t there to force an early end to the war either by imposing a deadline for withdrawl or Congress forcing Bush’s hand by defunding the war or orderng the troops home.

    Voters are intelligent enough to have their own agendas in elections. Many probably voted for Republicans in the house becaue they perceive that as providing balance to Obama….not because they actually want to see their wish list necessarily enacted.

    Finally, at this point let’s stop with the meme that you can add people who oppose the bill and people who wanted the bill to be more left wing into a united ‘majority against the bill’….unless you want to tell us the Tea Party ran on enacting a single payer system.

  45. Mark says:

    Ed,
    Hmmm, my point was that you seem to have forgotten November.

    And … regarding compos mentis … ooooh, resorting to the old trusty left wing rhetorical method, the ad hominem. Clever.

  46. Mark says:

    Boonton,

    At this point it appears the GOP has hit their high water mark.

    You hope. No evidence alas.

    Talk about short memories, a modest win in the House, a failure to win in the Senate is being sold as a 1964 style sweep?

    Hmm a historically very large swing … and a percentage of seats won in the Senate which was greater than the House is a “failure.” Whatever.

    Second, remember that winning an election is not an endorsement of what the candidate ran on

    Hmm, you’ll have to dig up where you were thinking that regarding the ’08 election results.

  47. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    A thing which is not a legally a tax but is effectively the same thing isn’t necessarily Constitutional. Presumably you would consider that a law that required everyone to purchase every day a Big Mac from McDonald’s is a Constitutional overstep … but this can be (as a required payment) essentially as a tax to subsidize McD’s.

  48. Mark,

    Can’t bring yourself to admit I’m right? 🙂

    “Look at Klein’s chart! The taxes don’t start until the same year the spending does. It’s 6 years of taxes vs. 6 years of spending, not 10 vs. 6.”

  49. Boonton says:

    In terms of the tax question, you have form versus substance. The law often follows form while economists usually care more about substance. But they both overlap sometimes.

    Anyway, Mark’s under orders not to read anything about health care till he posts his summary of what he thinks the law actually says. Once he does that I’m sure he’ll admit JA was right about the 6 years.

  50. This one paragraph seems to cut right to the heart of the matter:

    Look if this bill was a new fangled version of Star Wars, say industrial orbital platforms with military capabilities … and Mr Bush for example, offered that “well, the CBO scored it as budget neutral” on the basis (of course) that they had to take without question the input assumptions going into the cost basis analysis … you’d be screaming bloody murder citing how often aerospace R&D cost over-runs are rampant in the industry. And you’d be right. Guess what. So are we and for the same reasons.

    Now, I’ve articulated exactly what is wrong with treating this like a simple subtraction equation: As soon as there is a new cost involved in doing something, people will do less of it. And when something is given away for free, people consume it at higher levels than they did before. That is why the history of this “CBO scoring” is so wretched and littered with incorrect predictions, unexpected costs, disappointing revenues. It’s also why nobody has bothered to debunk Ezra Klein’s supposed debunking; as I pointed out, he debunked nothing. His point relies on the size of a metric to be measured in the future, and we don’t really know what that is yet. Krauthammer’s point was that the methodology is inherently insincere, and Klein did nothing to contest this; his counterpoint is, aw gee, the numbers up to 2013 are little and after that they’re bigger.

    Now if you really want to start proving people wrong so you can strut around and give them orders about what to read, you can start citing some examples of these revenue-expenditure forecasts, when they’ve been accurate, how many leviathan programs we have that have paid for themselves, versus how many were put in that were supposed to pay for themselves…

    And, you can give us an exhaustive rundown of all the commodities the federal government started to manage more closely, and in so doing made those commodities easier to obtain by those who needed them. Other than, those who were simply given those commodities for free under the new program. What’s the government’s track record for making the commerce of any one particular product or service easier?