OT: r - I thought you should see this

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Jeff wrote:

When did we recently (last 40 years) have a balanced federal budget? If we did, the national debt would not have increased that year(s). If there were a surplus, the debt would have decreased.
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Fact Check addresses your concerns:
http://www.factcheck.org/askfactcheck/during_the_clinton_administration_was_the_federal.html
Also, this ought to help establish which is the party of fiscal responsibility:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_debt_by_U.S._presidential_terms
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Jeff wrote:

http://www.factcheck.org/askfactcheck/during_the_clinton_administration_was_the_federal.html
http://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/pd/histdebt/histdebt.htm
Looks like the last time the debt was reduced, meaning there was an actual surplus was 1957.
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Doug Winterburn wrote:

The four years of Clintons last term we had a balanced budget and actually a surplus. What you don't understand is that the national debt is borrowed money. Borrowed from china, saudi arabia, etc. There is interest on that debt which today amounts to 1.59 BILLION dollars per DAY. So if we add nothing to the debt by having a deficit, it will still rise by 580 Billion dollars a year. Or half a trillion more or less.
http://www.brillig.com/debt_clock /
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Robert Allison
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Robert Allison wrote:

budget or surplus occurred in 1957:
http://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/pd/histdebt/histdebt.htm
You might be confused by the fact that the government counts all trust fund surpluses as revenue in the current budget year, but doesn't count the IOUs placed in the trust funds in exchange as an expense. This Enronian bit of accounting magic currently masks close to $400 billion of deficit a year, but the debt tells the real story. This practice is called intra governmental debt and currently accounts for over $4 trillion of our over $9 trillion debt. This $4 trillion wasn't borrowed from Saudi Arabia, China or any other foreign country, but from future generations of US tax payers. The way the government pays interest to these trust funds is by plopping another IOU into the funds for future taxpayers to pay. They're gonna love us as all this trust fund borrowing will make the total current debt look like peanuts when the final bill comes due :-(
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Doug Winterburn wrote:

There are lies, damn lies, and statistics.--Mark Twain
Those funds are currently running a surplus, so the surplus is indeed revenue. The fact that the government spends it, instead of applying it to the program for which it is intended in the future, does not detract from the fact that it is revenue. When the revenue is less than the expenditures, it is a surplus. That future debt will only become part of the national debt when it becomes due in the future.
But you are right about the effects that that is going to cause. Maybe we should have listened to Al Gore when he talked about his "lock box".
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Robert Allison wrote:

Well, that's really good to know - our national debt is currently only $5 trillion rather than $9 trillion. You've just whacked the debt problem almost in half. One question - why does the federal government pay out interest in more debt on debt that doesn't exist?

...and how exactly is a lock box different from what is the current practice? Are you suggesting not having the funds purchase non-negotiable government bonds with the surplus revenues? If so, what should the funds do with their surpluses? Bury them in a coffee can in the SS fund back yard, stuff them in a mattress, buy non government securities (Oh no, the privatization thing)?
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Doug Winterburn wrote:

Perhaps I did not explain correctly. The amount that will become due in the future and that is not listed as debt now, (that 400 billion a year that you mentioned) is not listed as debt, but it really is. Those are the IOUs that you talked about. So the debt should be higher, not lower.

Well, if the funds from SS and "other" taxes were not put in the general fund for use, but instead put in its own account to gather interest (the lock box), then the annual deficit would be higher, but the failure of SS and Medicare would move much farther into the future (if it would then occur at all). But since we don't do that, someday SS will start running a deficit which will have to be paid out of the general fund (since it is owed by the GF to SS anyway). That is when the real problems begin. You see, I am agreeing with you.
What I disagree with, is that Clinton did not have a balanced budget. I believe the last budget under him was balanced even with this "hidden debt" included.
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Robert Allison wrote:

It is absolutely listed as debt, but not counted in the current year against the deficit.

Perhaps you have an idea of what that account would invest the surpluses in to gather interest?
but the failure of

The date when SS and medicare are unable to make ends meet have zero to do with any trust funds as all the trust fund monies have been spent. The date for SS is about 10 years away or less when expenses exceed SS taxes.
Here's a question for you to consider . Suppose the government will cover any future shortfalls in SS and medicare. Also, assume two possible scenarios - the current system where more is currently collected than required to meet current expenses and the surplus is transferred to the general fund in exchange for non-negotiable IOUs, and an alternative where only what is required to meet current obligations is collected.
Will there be any difference in these two scenarios in what options will be available to cover those shortfalls? A yes or no answer will do, but some more of your nouveau creative accounting explanations would be very enlightening.

So you think GW Bush sneaked into the treasury IT department and hacked in new numbers?
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Doug Winterburn wrote:

Isn't that what I just said? Or do you just like to parse words?

The nightly business report on Friday named a type of bond that yielded much higher than government bonds, but I cannot recall the name. But something that earns interest. But just keeping them in government bonds would be better than an account full of IOUs.

No. Do you envision a different scenario coming into being?

I don't think he would have the intelligence to do that. He would more than likely send someone like you around to rewrite history with statistics.
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Robert Allison wrote:

You said "The amount that will become due in the future and that is not listed as debt now, (that 400 billion a year that you mentioned) is not listed as debt, but it really is."
Maybe you were confusing debt with deficit.

Any type of government bond is an IOU. In fact, any bond is an IOU. The difference is where the bond issuer gets the money to pay off the bond holder upon redemption. For a non government bond, the earnings of the bond issuer provide the money. For a government bond, the tax payers provide the money.

No I don't, so the question becomes why collect excess funds to begin with. As I said before, the only thing the trust funds accomplish is to hide current deficits.

So you think the government debt figures have been altered by some Bush minion for the purpose of rewriting history?

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Doug Winterburn wrote:

Not being an economist, I just barely have a grasp on the total confusion that surrounds the debt, deficit and government spending, much less the jargon.

That is why the surpluses should be applied to something besides a promise to repay. Something that is secure, yet not reliant on government. At least not the US government. But then you have the problem of the leverage that that gives to whomever holds those monies.

Thus the lock box concept where those surpluses are secured for the future when they WILL be needed. The concept I have, the execution will have to be left to those more fluent in economic terms and practices.

Not at all. I think that the figures remain constant while the interpretation is parsed by those with an agenda. That is what happens with statistics.
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Robert Allison wrote:

Surplus: Revenue exceeds expense in current fiscal year. Deficit: Expense exceeds revenue in current fiscal year. Debt: Amount of all accumulated deficits minus all accumulated surpluses.
Thus, if the debt increases in any given year, that year ran a deficit. If the debt is reduced in any given year, that year ran a surplus.

Any investment of surplus trust fund monies other government bonds is not allowed. It has been this way since FDR started SS. Any investment in other than government bonds is "privatizing" SS, which as you know is considered as "too risky" by the opponents of privatization.

Any surplus is already "invested" in non-negotiable government bonds, which means essentially those monies are already in a "lock box".

So you disagree on the basic definitions of surplus, deficit and debt, although you stated: "I just barely have a grasp on the total confusion that surrounds the debt, deficit and government spending, much less the jargon".
As much as I've tried to ease you into critical thinking, I have failed. You'll have to babble nonsense to someone else.
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Doug Winterburn wrote:

That is a good way to look at it. If you look at the government alone, then when the revenue exceeds the budget expenditures, the government is operating at a surplus. But if the revenue is less than the expenditures, it is operating at a deficit. That is just looking at the government itself, independent of the debt. Which is how you describe government spending. Add to the government spending the debt, and the US has not had a surplus year and you would be correct.

True enough. That could be changed by legislation, though.

So you are saying that SS and Medicare are worth trillions of dollars right now due to all the past surpluses plus interest. Then we have nothing to worry about. Great!

And you will continue to fail with lessons like yours. There are government surpluses and deficits, overall surpluses and deficits, SS surpluses and deficits. You are saying that overall, the US has not had a surplus when all things are taken together. I am saying that the government expenditures were less than their revenue during the Clinton last term. We are both right. Service on the debt is not a part of government expenditures, nor is it automatic that any surplus from government will be spent to pay down the debt.
I said that I was no expert, I didn't say I was a fool. At least I know my limitations.
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On Fri, 29 Feb 2008 16:01:36 -0600, Tim Daneliuk

If it doesn't die on it's own first. On the other hand, SS could also end up means tested to the poor.
I'm 42, and my personal retirement plan is based on zero SS.
If I see any SS $, it's my vacation fund. <G>
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wrote:

Single-payer, AKA taxpayer funded national health care five year lock on interest rates
I don't understand this argument. We are already paying through the nose for health insurance. If the government RAISED my taxes $5,000/year and then provided socialist, single-payer coverage it would SAVE me $8500/year. When I left the railroad, the company was having me pony up more than $200/month of my own money. That was 1994 and people that are still railroading are shelling out hundreds more [per month] than that now. - Dave in Houston
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Dave in Houston wrote:

Nope you really don't get it. What you are paying for is through a private enterprise, that in most cases for which you are perfectly free to seek other competitive sources. Government run health care will be owned and run by the government, the same place with the speed of the Post Office and Department of Motor Vehicles and the compassion of the IRS. You won't have any other alternatives. Health care costs may be high now, but having the government take over the industry is not going to solve any problems (ask the people in Great Britain). Next comes rationing and other government intrusions into your life in order to reduce the costs.
Health care is just the current incremental socialist meme. Do you think that after health care is nationalized, the left will go away happy in their victory while the health care system goes down the drain? They've already telegraphed the next move -- some form of guaranteed housing. After all, if health care is a right, then how much more so should be the right to adequate shelter? The lock on interest rates is a start, next will come some form of government subsidized interest or other form of assistance (paid for of course, by the evil rich) followed by some form of government housing program.
These people are statists who believe that the state is the ultimate form of equalizer and dispenser of good. They ignore all the places where this hasn't worked, can't find a single place where it does work for any period of time, yet continue to push their agenda under the mantra that "they will do it right this time." All the while, the capitalist society that they are attempting to destroy has delivered a standard of living that is unparallelled -- even our so called poor live better than many people considered middle-class in developing countries.
Someone once penned the comment that socialism is misery shared equally. Doesn't seem like a great system to me and I sure don't want people in power who believe it is their destiny to wrest the fruits of someone's work in order to give it away to someone else.
--
If you're going to be dumb, you better be tough

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Mark & Juanita wrote:

Here's where we're headed:
<http://instruct.westvalley.edu/lafave/hb.html
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DMV is state run. Around here, it's pretty efficient. Over the years, I've been a fairly heavy user of the postal services, and have found them on the whole to be quite efficient.
IRS: no comment, as in my opinion it is an organization that should not exist, and with which I've had my troubles in the past.

We're on our way to that now, but for the upper middle class, with mortgage relief.
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On Sat, 01 Mar 2008 03:02:40 -0800, Charlie Self wrote:

And it's been shown many times that the amount of overhead involved in the Social Security agency is lower than most private industry.
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