Big Ed Schultz explains the debt limit!


More competent leadership, please: Without any question, liberals are facing a possible world of hurt as the debt limit approaches again.

Somehow, liberals need to convince the public—and major elites—that the GOP's plan to hold the debt limit hostage must be rejected.

Big Ed Schultz was worried about that topic last night. And he wanted our help:
SCHULTZ (1/3/13): Get your cell phones out. I want to know what you think. Tonight’s question: Will the American people fall for the Republican lies about the debt ceiling?

Text A for yes, text B for no, to 622639. We’ll bring you the results later. You can always go to our blog at
Everything about that was sad. But Big Ed’s earlier attempt to explain the debt limit was perhaps even sadder.

You can watch the whole segment; just click here. You’ll be dealing in incomprehension and in high incoherence.

Loud claims about “lies” simply aren’t enough. This next showdown may turn out very badly. Liberals need to devise clear presentations very fast. Liberals should be angry to see the product we were sold on last night’s loud, ardent program.

At several junctures, Schultz played tape of three Republican pols from last December—videotape of outdated remarks he still doesn’t understand. Some of his presentation made sense. Much of it was incoherent.

Unless our channel exists to make us feel good, ardor can no longer be enough. It’s time for liberals to be upset when seven-figure TV stars fumble ahead in this manner.

The good news, then the bad: Late in the show, Schultz gave us the good news:
SCHULTZ: Tonight in our survey I asked you, Will the American people fall for the Republican lies about the debt ceiling? Seventeen percent of you say yes, 83 percent of you say no.
Now for the bad news: The American people will certainly fall for this crap unless liberals learn how to talk to them.


  1. I like former Clinton solicitor general Walter Dellinger's take on the debt ceiling situation. He calls it Washington’s ‘Blazing Saddles’ moment (via Greg Sargent).

  2. The debt ceiling isn't the main problem. It's a symptom. The real problem the debt itself. Currently the debt is $16.4 trillion and it's increasing at over $1 trillion/year. The debt has grown 60% under President Obama.

    Also, to a greater and greater extent, we're printing money to cover the debt. The Fed is currently printing money at the rate of $1 trillion/year.

    Instead of criticizing Republicans, the President and other liberals ought to tell us what they propose to do about this situation. If we keep printing money forever, catastrophic consequences will follow.

    1. Instead of criticizing Democrats, the GOP and other conservatives ought to tell us what programs they propose to cut, by how much, and how much effect those cuts will actually have on the national debt compared to just getting the unemployment rate down to 5% and letting GDP growth take care of the problem.

    2. D in C, assuming you and conservatives in general are correct that the debt is a very serious problem , what is flabbergasting is that the Republicans, as far as I can tell, never make any specific proposals to reduce it. In all these fiscal cliff talks, they never made a specifci proposal; their stance was that Obama and the Democrats had to propose these cuts. I'd like to see you or any Republican, specify how they woud cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and to acknowledge what the consequences of doing so would be (e.g impoverishing which specific people) .

      AC / MA

  3. David in Cal, you're at it again. See, e.g.,

    "What about Obama? Notice how the debt accelerated during Bush's last two budget years. Obama's debt is a continuation of that trend and neither Bush nor Obama are directly responsible for that acceleration. It happened because of the recession. Bush set the all-time record by increasing the debt by $1.1 trillion in 100 days between July 30 and Nov 9, 2008—but that had little to do with his choices.
    Recessions cut tax revenues—in this case, dramatically. That accounts for nearly half of the deficit. So blaming Obama for the full deficit is like blaming him for not raising the tax rate to keep tax revenues up. Most of the increased spending is automatic increases in unemployment benefits, food stamps, and social security payments for early retirement. Very little of it is from stimulus spending, and that's over."

    I cite this source because it is more generous to Bush and Republican policies (e.g., Bush bore no responsibility for that recession?) than most, so please don't complain.

    What liberals propose to do about this situation is to improve the economy (specifically, improve it for the 98%). National debt rises at times of recession (as it does during war time), just as the sun rises in the morning and sets at night. Recession is not the time to obsess about debt (unless your real goal is to dismantle the New Deal, Great Society, and Obamacare).

    Btw, I have no idea what it means to say that the Fed is currently printing money at the rate of $1 trillion/year (assuming that's accurate). So? Free-floating figures mean even less than ungrounded statistics.

  4. The primary way the Fed creates money is via open market operations:

    Open-market operations simply refers to the process of the Federal Reserve buying and selling U.S. government bonds. When the Federal Reserve wants to increase the money supply, it simply purchases government bonds from the public. This works to increase the money supply because, as the buyer of the bonds, the Federal Reserve is giving out dollars to the public. The Federal Reserve also keeps government bonds in its portfolio and sells them when it wants to decrease the money supply. Selling decreases the money supply because the buyers of the bonds give currency to the Federal Reserve, which takes that cash out of the hands of the public.


    I agree that, all other things being equal, recession is not the time to obsess about debt. However, two points to consider

    1. We're not in a recession. We're in a recovery. The economy has been expanding for quite a while, albeit, very slowly.

    2. Even in bad economic times, one should worry about debt when that debt becomes so large as to threaten the economy. The US debt isn't at that point yet, but we could be there soon. Many countries have suffered from runaway inflation, as Argentina, e.g., is right now.

    1. The point of my comment about your $1 trillion figure wasn't the relationship between the Fed and Treasury and all that -- I am aware already of those basics. My point was that to cite $1 trillion with no further context is meaningless -- it signifies nothing in particular but sounds rather like a scare tactic.

    2. We're amassing a debt that will burden our children and grandchildren. We should find a way to stop doing that.

    3. I realize that it is pointless to engage in conversation about these questions with people who view "debt" as a material, concrete thing rather than one aspect of a set of abstract relationships and constructs which are capable of many maneuverings. Just to stay within the standard discourse, though, okay, let's not amass debt that will burden our children and grandchildren -- who wants that? I certainly don't. I have grown children and look forward to grandchildren and, more than that, I care deeply about future generations even should my own children never have children of their own. It is because I care about the future that I find this current over-focus on deficits and debt not just problematic but a red herring. For instance, if you care about our (in the largest sense) children and grandchildren, depriving them now of nutrition and education and healthcare, unnecessarily to boot, in the name of not burdening them with debt they won't even face if the economy is permitted to improve (by conventional economic measures) is hardly a way of showing the future how much we care.

    4. I'm not an economist and no doubt my understanding of the debt is simplistic, although I'm not sure how much of a position you're in to make that point when your example is a choice between lowering the debt and giving children food. I'm not saying we shouldn't be doing those things, only that we should be paying for government services we're getting. And little of the money we're spending goes to children's health or nutrition.

  5. Anybody debating Ed Schultz's relevance to anything is somewhere southwest of Catalina Island.

    Just sayin'.

    Really, howler dude, it's easy to debate complete morons.

    Why not try to engage someone outside the leftist extremist vapid media side of things that you do?

    Schultz? Matthews? MoDo? Every hack in the book can tear them apart.

    Good Lord. You're known by your adversaries, and yours are cheap, cheap, cheap.

  6. Because Ed Schultz and Chris Matthews will never provide info like this:

    1. mch, thanks for the interesting link. However, I think there's a logical flaw in its reasoning. It assumes that causation = correlation. Just because improved economies geenerally occurred when deficits were low doesn't prove that an improved economy alone will fix our current deficit.

      That's a particularly dubious assumption, because the government has more obligations today than in the past, due especially to the impact of improved mortality on SS, Medicare, and Medicaid. Not to mention the unknown cost of Obama's Health Care Reform.

      BTW here's another pessimistic thought: maybe the current economy is as good as it's going to get. We may not see the kind of booming economy that we did under Carter, Reagan, etc.

  7. Slightly off topic: Some commenters have disputed the weaknesses in Social Security that I've pointed out. Well, today's New York Times has a lengthy article making the same points, Social Security: It’s Worse Than You Think.

    ...the Social Security Administration underestimates how long Americans will live and how much the trust funds will need to pay out — to the tune of $800 billion by 2031, more than the current annual defense budget — and that the trust funds will run out, if nothing is done, two years earlier than the government has predicted.

  8. You're getting desperate, David in Cal. The hapless NYT?

    But even that article points out one solution to the shortfall: raise the level at which income can be taxed for SS (and Medicare). Not rocket science.

    Like the AMT: acknowledge inflation! (As Reagan and Tipp O'Neill famously did.)

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