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Old 02-19-2011, 07:19 PM   #21
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Before the government would start whacking benefits and SS, I would like to know why the government wouldnt establish 2008 as the baseline year to evalute its entire budget. The budget, not deficit, has grown TWENTY percent since 2008. You cant blame that all on the masses turning 65! I realize the stimulus and such was going on, but its time to real that back. Just reverting back to that budget would help the situation tremendously. Not to mention the waste and need for zero based budgeting. I worked as a supervisor on a summer teen jobs training program for the government one year. At the end of the summer, I told my supervisor we completed all projects and had 25% of budget leftover. I thought I was being a steward of the tax payers dollars, instead I got criticized because now their budget will be cut the next year. Can you imagine how much that probably goes on in various departments?
That's exactly how it works at the Federal government level. "Government buying season" starts around September 1st and ends on September 30th (end of budget year). If you don't spend all your money, you risk losing what you didn't spend. Agencies have been looking for ways to "park" their money for spending in the future, but this is pretty tough (if not impossible - agencies have gotten in trouble for this). So, agencies simply buy more than they need on the off chance they need it (and to make sure they have the budget when they really need it).
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Old 02-19-2011, 07:44 PM   #22
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One military program that could be easily tightened is the one where a person is physically and mentally evaluated upon entering the military and evaluated after leaving and the difference results in disability pay. One of my friends served six years in the Air Force, got a hysterectomy during that time, and gets disability pay for loss of an organ. Another friend was diagnosed as diabetic while in the Navy. He gets disability pay.

The first friend would have had a hysterectomy regardless of employment. The second friend would have developed diabetes regardless of employment (strong family history). It just doesn't make sense there is such a difference between the private and public sectors.
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Old 02-19-2011, 07:57 PM   #23
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Veterans benefits should be the last cuts made. I believe the defending the nation is the number one priority of the government, and those who serve can't be paid too much. I would gladly give up some of my SS benefits before asking a vet to do so.
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Old 02-19-2011, 10:59 PM   #24
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Here is my take on the whole concept of the mess we are in. We have to cut gummint expenses, raise taxes or both (Federal for sure, also most state gummints). With that in mind, my "priority" would be that we somehow spread the pain "fairly". I have no idea what that would look like, but I'll give a couple of examples of what it wouldn't look like.

Proposals to get rid of people (i.e., yesterday, you had a job, tomorrow, you don't.);

Proposals to drastically increase taxes on subsets of the population (can you spell R-I-C-H?) Last year, your tax bill was $45K, this year, you're gonna "contribute" $85K;

Proposals to change benefits drastically (Last year your health care was "free", this year you gotta buy your own on the open market - with your money - or maybe it's just that this year you gotta pay the equivalent $13K premium - through our pool - that it costs Megacorp or Uncle to provide for you - with no subsidy.);

My point is that this could be painful (to everyone) or just downright ugly for a few.

I'm for spreading the pain. Anybody here think there's a way to do this painlessly, I'm all ears. Let's wish us all luck!
if you are really for "spreading the pain" as evenly as possible than an across the board tax is the only way to do it. any program that you cut will affect some smaller portion of the population more greatly than the rest. for example through loss of jobs in the government sector (very hard on the ones losing their job) and loss of services to some particular group
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Old 02-20-2011, 12:06 AM   #25
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if you are really for "spreading the pain" as evenly as possible than an across the board tax is the only way to do it. any program that you cut will affect some smaller portion of the population more greatly than the rest. for example through loss of jobs in the government sector (very hard on the ones losing their job) and loss of services to some particular group
Clearly a tax increase is the "easy" way to spread the pain. I don't think it is the only way. The "hard" way is to cut spending. I'm not against a tax increase, per se. It's just that I don't think that's the FIRST thing we should do. I know the phrase "fraud, waste and abuse" gets tossed around (especially by politcos), but anyone who has worked in any gummint (or gummint funded) organization (think University in my case) knows that "fraud, waste and abuse" are much more than buzz words. They are real. True, it's easier to just tax everyone more. That may "solve" the immediate issue, but it just sweeps the "problem" under the carpet. That's what we've done for the last 100 years. That's why we pay more and more in taxes as a percent of our personal income, GDP or just about any other measure of productivity or wealth.

Until we are willing to go on a spending "diet", the problem will not go away. Increased taxes are like letting out a suit. It covers the fat, but it doesn't make you any healthier.
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Old 02-20-2011, 01:28 AM   #26
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Sadly, this whole episode and the discussions/actions surrounding it, are starting to become reminiscent of "The Lord of the Flies".
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Old 02-20-2011, 02:42 AM   #27
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Clearly a tax increase is the "easy" way to spread the pain. I don't think it is the only way. The "hard" way is to cut spending. I'm not against a tax increase, per se. It's just that I don't think that's the FIRST thing we should do. I know the phrase "fraud, waste and abuse" gets tossed around (especially by politcos), but anyone who has worked in any gummint (or gummint funded) organization (think University in my case) knows that "fraud, waste and abuse" are much more than buzz words. They are real. True, it's easier to just tax everyone more. That may "solve" the immediate issue, but it just sweeps the "problem" under the carpet. That's what we've done for the last 100 years. That's why we pay more and more in taxes as a percent of our personal income, GDP or just about any other measure of productivity or wealth.

Until we are willing to go on a spending "diet", the problem will not go away. Increased taxes are like letting out a suit. It covers the fat, but it doesn't make you any healthier.
i totally agree that we need spending cuts, our government has gotten way too big. but you said you wanted to "spread the pain" and i took that to mean spread it to everyone and the only way i see that being done (the evenly part) is an across the board tax. thats it. any other solution will impact some people more than others. i am not in favor of this. if there is a tax increase i would rather it be increased income tax on the high income earners. i think they could bear it better than the lower income people. and like i said above we need to cut back on the size of our government.
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Old 02-20-2011, 04:30 AM   #28
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if there is a tax increase i would rather it be increased income tax on the high income earners. i think they could bear it better than the lower income people.
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Old 02-20-2011, 06:53 AM   #29
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There's a really fine line on broad statements to tax high income earners. It might be a disincentive for doctors to incur substantial debt going through medical school if they can't get it paid off within a reasonable time. We're already short of doctors in the rural areas.
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Old 02-20-2011, 07:33 AM   #30
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Regardless of your position on unions, it seems that the actions in Wisconsin are really damaging public opinion of unions in general.
I had the opposite reaction. I'm proud of union members that are willing to take to the streets to protect their right for collective bargaining. This is a power grab, more insulting because it is being selectively applied, i.e. affecting teachers for instance, but not police or firefighters.

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Old 02-20-2011, 07:45 AM   #31
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I had the opposite reaction. I'm proud of union members that are willing to take to the streets to protect their right for collective bargaining. This is a power grab, more insulting because it is being selectively applied, i.e. affecting teachers for instance, but not police or firefighters.

Whatever you are not willing to fight for will be taken from you.
+1. It's inspiring to see the pictures of the WI state house full of people
standing up for their ability to negotiate their pay and benefits. Adam Smith and Marx would both be proud of them.
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Old 02-20-2011, 07:51 AM   #32
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That's exactly how it works at the Federal government level. "Government buying season" starts around September 1st and ends on September 30th (end of budget year). If you don't spend all your money, you risk losing what you didn't spend. Agencies have been looking for ways to "park" their money for spending in the future, but this is pretty tough (if not impossible - agencies have gotten in trouble for this). So, agencies simply buy more than they need on the off chance they need it (and to make sure they have the budget when they really need it).
When I worked for a Federal Agency this was always called "use it or loose it". There was generally extra money at the end of the year for capital equipment that HAD to be spent. In my department everyone had to have a list of things that could be bought at short notice with a justification as to how it would help our work. So we'd buy spares, items that we'd planned to buy the next year or upgrade equipment. The money was never wasted. Of course it didn't encourage any frugality we showed during the year.
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Old 02-20-2011, 07:57 AM   #33
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+1. It's inspiring to see the pictures of the WI state house full of people
standing up for their ability to negotiate their pay and benefits. Adam Smith and Marx would both be proud of them.
-1.

Lying by calling in sick, shutting down classes as a result. Taxpayers should be in control of how their money is spent, not unions. Merit, performance based pay is preferable, to me at least, than pay solely for keeping a seat warm year after year. Merit pay is incentive to perform whereas seat warming pay is disincentive. I have a hard time seeing Marxism to be held as an aspiration.
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Old 02-20-2011, 08:00 AM   #34
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The money was never wasted. Of course it didn't encourage any frugality
Are those two statements contradictory? Frugality discourages waste, at least it does in my household! If I have an extra $2000 I could spend on upgrading a computer, when the current equipment does the job, its a waste!
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Old 02-20-2011, 08:15 AM   #35
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Spending is the problem. Spending is the problem. Did I mention that spending is the problem. Case closed. Cut ALL government spending by 10%. Jobs included. When they start whining, cut it again.
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Old 02-20-2011, 08:21 AM   #36
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Regardless of your position on unions, it seems that the actions in Wisconsin are really damaging public opinion of unions in general.
Not entirely. From what I can tell the unions are willing to accept the wage and benefit concessions. It's the other stuff that will all but bust the union that they are really fighting here.
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Old 02-20-2011, 08:51 AM   #37
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Not entirely. From what I can tell the unions are willing to accept the wage and benefit concessions. It's the other stuff that will all but bust the union that they are really fighting here.
Exactly. And I repeat that teachers and other female dominated professions were singled out and police and firefighters are exempted - divide and conquer strategy.
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Old 02-20-2011, 08:53 AM   #38
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FDR, that hero of the left, was a staunch opponent of public employee unions. He had good reasons. He saw the very real difference between the situation that exists between a private employer and his employees and what exists in the public sector. The situations are entirely different.

The public employees in Wisconsin are at serious risk of overplaying their hand.

Union membership has fallen over the last 30 years--for whatever the reason, private sector employees aren't joining unions as often. Now, most union members are public employees.

I think we're about to have an overdue national discussion. If the public employee unions in Wisconsin are willing to make wage and benefit concessions, they better put that out there right now if they want to prevent more damage to their reputation with the public and their legal standing.
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Old 02-20-2011, 09:05 AM   #39
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I completely agree on spreading the pain. One of the big problems is that with rare exceptions (NJ governor Christie) the politicians are making no or only vague references to share sacrifice and aren't being at all specific.
Raising the retirement age is just the start. It means no and/or reduced COLA increases on pension or SS for many years. It means higher deductible on medicare for wealthy seniors, higher taxes on social security payments. It means moving public employees to a defined contributions.

It means higher taxes for everybody and especially higher taxes for "rich" people. Higher fees for most everything.

It is also means lower services and not just things that aren't popular like foreign aid, or drug treatments for the chronic abusers, or subsidies for the huge agriculture business. It means reduced library hours, less music, art and special ed teachers, probably bigger class size. A smaller armed services, with weapons systems that are only a decade or so more advanced than rest of the world.

As a country we have lived beyond our means for too many decades, and it is time for some Dave Ramsey like tough love.

RE; Raising taxes as a solution by all members on this group.

When a new member joins the group and asks about retirement, the almost universal response is track spending and get it under control. I have yet to see a response of 'Full speed ahead, burn those bucks like there is no tomorrow and when you run out, start asking your family, friends, and neighbors for more money". i.e spread the pain of my reckless spending Why does fiscal responsiblity evaporate from an individual to government? Join a condo/homeowner Assoc for a smaller sample of the mentality of people in a group. There is always a percentage of people that like to play fast and reckless with other people's money. The answer is to make this group of people as small of a percentage as possible and track their every move fiscally. i.e. Cut government to the bone, military included.
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Old 02-20-2011, 09:27 AM   #40
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Now that the Tea Party has become involved in the Wisconsin public employee demonstrations, there is reason for worry. The "Reload don't Retreat" philosophy of some of its leaders and members could easily turn peaceful picketing into violent confrontations.
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