Werewolves of cable upset about cuts!


Arrive rather late at the fire:
In his new column, Paul Krugman tells a familiar story about Paul Ryan. Also about tax cuts.

If we liberals were humans, not zombies, an obvious question would arise:

After all these decades, why have we had so much trouble prevailing on such basic points? Some thoughts about that in the future.

Below, we'll recall an intriguing fact about Candidate Trump's original tax cut proposal. But first, a point of puzzlement regarding Krugman's column. We refer to the highlighted claim in this possibly puzzling passage:
KRUGMAN (11/3/17): Will this bill pass the House? Unclear: Some important interest groups, like homebuilders and the small-business lobby, have already declared opposition. In any case, it almost surely can’t become law in anything like its current form: A tax bill can’t pass the Senate with less than 60 votes if it raises the long-term budget deficit, which this bill surely does. In fact, this bill might not even get a simple Senate majority.

So right now tax cuts are looking like health care redux: With many years to prepare, Republicans turn out to be completely unready for prime time.
Say what? The tax bill "almost surely can’t become law in anything like its current form" because it raises the long-term budget deficit, and thereby will need 60 votes to pass the Senate?

At the Times and everywhere else, an array of reporters have explained that this bill will only require 50 votes in the Senate if it produces $1.5 trillion or less in deficit increases. Here's Jim Tankersley, making that point on October 21:
TANKERSLEY (10/21/17): The bill will be moved under a mechanism known as budget reconciliation, which is important because it allows Republicans to bypass a Democratic filibuster and pass the bill with 50 votes. However, it also forces Republicans to comply with a set of procedural rules that could shape the bill and complicate its passage.

The bill will be analyzed by the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation, which will project its effect on federal revenues. To proceed under reconciliation, the bill must not increase deficits by more than the amount allowed in the budget resolution—$1.5 trillion over 10 years in the current Senate version—and it must not add to the budget deficit in the next decade.
So how many votes will the tax bill need? Will it need 50 or 60?

Can you see what Krugman apparently meant? He seems to have meant that the bill will need 60 votes if it adds to the deficit starting ten years from its point of passage, in the second decade after passage.

That's what Krugman seems to have meant. Before we start holding victory rallies, we need to get clear on these points.

Meanwhile, that revisited point:

Pundits are screaming about the fact that this bill will add $1.5 trillion to the deficit in its first ten years. They seem to be very upset by all that new deficit spending.

We're so old that we can remember Candidate Trump's original tax proposal, which was released in September 2015. By all accounts, it would have added roughly $10 trillion to the deficit, maybe more, over its first ten years.

Repeat: It would have added ten trillion dollars. That's more than 1.5!

As we repeatedly noted, it was perhaps the craziest budget proposal in political history. But so what? It was almost wholly ignored by the mainstream press, which had transitioned away from policy matters in favor of pointless daily nervous breakdowns about who had made the craziest pointless remark in the previous half hour or less.

Plus, they just kept airing the wonderfully watchable Trump, uncut, at his ridiculous rallies.

That first proposal was stark raving mad. Whether in print or on TV, the press corps didn't bother explaining.

Now the pundits say they're upset. Werewolves of cable! Ah-oooooooo!


  1. They are upset now and were not upset before because Trump is our President now and he was a candidate before. There are upset now because there is an actual House bill being considered. They were not upset before because there was no actual, specific proposal with sufficient detail to seriously consider.

    It seems odd that Somerby considers Tankersley a more credible source than Krugman, assuming Tankersley is correct while Krugman messed up. In any case, it doesn't matter because the Congress will apply its own rule to require 50 or 60 votes, presumably understanding its own rules. This is a minor point that will become clear in good time.

    How does any of this justify calling anyone a werewolf? It was a fun song, but Halloween is over. Move on.

  2. "As we repeatedly noted, it was perhaps the craziest budget proposal in political history. "

    Of course the Obama administration actually increased the debt by $9 trillion in only 8 years, but that was the actual doing, not a proposal, so who cares, right?

    Nice going, Bob.

    1. You were no doubt busy in Russia so you perhaps missed the whole economic meltdown at the tail end of Bush’s term that Obama fixed with TARP, a bipartisan bailout.

    2. Mao trying to distract from Trump's big, fat, wet kiss to the Establishment. If only Russian bots could feel the shame of being had.

  3. Somerby is missing the point. Krugman and other so-called "liberal" pundits are not upset about the increase in the deficit. They are pointing out the hypocrisy of the Republicans, who hate-hate-hate deficits when a Democrat is in the White House, but have no problem with it when their guy is up there.
    Somerby knows this, I feel sure, but his MO these days is to align himself with Republican talking points, with the exception of the ancient Clinton/Gore business that he inserts into his posts from time to time.

    1. I just came here from a FB post by Senator Franken's office where they claimed to be upset about the $1.5 trillion added to the debt. Did not say a word about Republican hypocrisy.

      I noted that Franken did not seem to care about deficits when Obama was President and he voted for ATRA, which added $3.7 trillion to the debt.

      Of course, Democrats pretended that a) it was a tax increase on the rich instead of permanent tax cuts for the rich and b) that they were doing it to help the middle class.

      The last part being the same BS that Republicans always claimed.

      And Krugman, in that case, did not use his platform to oppose tax cuts for the rich, using it instead to praise Obama - by adopting the Republican talking point.

    2. First of all, I was not referring to the senator. Secondly, you seem to have missed the subtlety of his post. Franken is noting the oft-stated importance that Republicans pretend to place on the deficit, and predicting how they will use their self-created deficit in the future to justify further cuts in programs and services.
      I take it you are OK with this current Repub proposal which increases the deficit?
      I will just remind you what Dick Cheney said: "deficits don’t matter."

    3. " ...ATRA, which added $3.7 trillion to the debt." WRONG!

      An excerpt contradicting your false statement about ACRA's impact on the budget from the 2013 DOT Financial Report:

      "The Government took significant steps towards fiscal sustainability by enacting the ACA in 2010, the BCA in 2011, and the ATRA in 2013. The ACA holds the prospect of lowering the long-term per beneficiary spending growth for Medicare and Medicaid, the BCA significantly curtails discretionary spending, and ATRA increased revenues. Together, these three laws substantially reduce the estimated long-term fiscal gap."

      I included the link to the Report in the faint hope that you might educate yourself instead of whatever it is you seek to promote here, including the FACT that the $3.7 trillion figure that you claim ATRA added to the deficit was actually the entire fiscal-year cost to operate the government for 2013.


  4. Epistemology: What if Mueller proves his case and it doesn't matter?


    1. It matters in an absolute sense and in a historical sense, if not to voters, and it matters even if Trump evades punishment. Truth and reality always matter.

  5. http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/11/whats-really-going-on-with-the-republican-tax-bill/

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