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Old 12-02-2010, 07:21 PM   #41
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I didn't know that Sam..thanks.
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Old 12-02-2010, 08:29 PM   #42
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I didn't know that Sam..thanks.
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Old 12-02-2010, 09:18 PM   #43
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From what I understand the reason the second option has never been used is that convention can do more than amend the constitution, I have heard they can re-write the whole thing, and congress will never allow that to happen. i.e. they will pass an amendment.
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Old 12-02-2010, 09:47 PM   #44
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From what I understand the reason the second option has never been used is that convention can do more than amend the constitution, I have heard they can re-write the whole thing, and congress will never allow that to happen. i.e. they will pass an amendment.
Yes, I've heard that too. Rather than open up the whole Constitution to revision, Congress would more likely pass a proposed amendment just strong enough to take the wind out of the sails of any attempt to convene a convention.

OT: The latest proposed constitutional amendment was introduced just 2 days ago as House Joint Resolution 102.

Proposed text of the amendment:
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‘Any provision of law or regulation of the United States may be repealed by the several States, and such repeal shall be effective when the legislatures of two-thirds of the several States approve resolutions for this purpose that particularly describe the same provision or provisions of law or regulation to be repealed.’.
Known as the "Repeal Amendment", its proponents see it as a way to return some power to the states, allowing them to refuse federal mandates etc if enough states agree.

It's (deliberately) hard to amend the Constitution, which is why it remains concise and relatively elegant (to this eye) in comparison to most state constitutions.
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Old 12-02-2010, 10:09 PM   #45
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On the surface the recommendations seem to be even handed. But it is difficult to know what it really means.

It will be debated and hopefully there will be a common sense non-partisan solution wishful thinking.

It is unfortunate... but (I believe) we will only get more of the same from both parties... "How can I game it to get my benefactor what they want" as opposed to "Let's create a balanced solution".

The problem will be that the different factions will want someone else to shoulder the burden. A few of the really bold opportunist will try to game it in some way to gain.

Ultimately, this is going to be a fight about who pays and how!

Even spending cuts equate to who pays. Large segments of Corporate America feed off of govt dollars and will fight hard to keep the money flowing.

It would not surprise me to see it end up being something like... dramatic cuts in SS and Medicare.... get rid of any notion of fixing health care (not broken anyway... status quo is just fine). Everything else should stay the same.... why ruin a good thing for the politicians and their money paying benefactors!



I think if politicians had that much power to dramatically cut SS and Medicare, they would've done it long before now. Bush tried a power play with the private accounts in 2005, and that went nowhere. What you're missing, is that many of the benefactors you speak of, are SS/Medicare advocacy groups.
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Old 12-03-2010, 12:13 AM   #46
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You just know what's going to happen, though. Somewhere out there is some schmuck whose entire retirement, or working capital for his business, is tied up in synthetic mortgage interest deduction futures backed by securitized tax return refund anticipation loan notes, and Passage of This Plan Dooms his retirement/small business hiring plans, so We Can't Possibly Allow This. Some 2012 campaign is probably already planning on introducing America to Sam the Schmuck.

That's OK, though. If we just crank up the interest rates high enough, we can get Kreblakistan to put it's entire treasury into 2 Year US Treasuries, and, why, we'll be right as rain!

Bah.

It's a perfectly good plan. We just have to wait for The Process to be completed. That's the process whereby lobbyists and their pet congresscritters pee in the legislation until they like the flavor.
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Old 12-03-2010, 07:34 AM   #47
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Wow, from this story, it looks like they're one vote shy.

Deficit Panel Proposals to Go Down to Defeat

Really, one lousy vote? That's pretty frustrating. I can't help but think this was reverse engineered so the maximum number of pols could say they voted in favor of a serious debt reduction package without actually getting a passing tally. Grrrrr.

Meanwhile, the earlier comments are spot on about people picking miscellaneous stuff as a reason to vote no. Here's Max Baucus on why he's a no vote . . .

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The recommendations “paint a big red target on rural America,” Senator Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat and chairman of the Finance Committee, said in a statement yesterday. While reducing the deficit is “imperative,” he said, plans to increase the gas tax “would hurt folks in rural states like Montana where we often have to travel long distances.”
At least Ryan's criticism is substantive, regardless of what you think of the merits. But the gas tax? It works out to be a $300 annual hit to someone who drives 40,000 miles per year (that's three times the national average). So the message is, reducing the deficit is "imperative", just so long as it doesn't cost anyone more than a couple hundred bucks per year.
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Old 12-03-2010, 07:45 AM   #48
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One thing to keep in mind as we hear about this or that package and the ratio of spending cuts to new taxes: Because of the spending orgy over the past 2-3 years (both parties did it), we are starting from a very skewed point. Most folks say the present proposal has $3 in cuts for each $1 in new taxes, but others note that the the ratio is reversed: we'd have $2 in new taxes to $1 in spending cuts if we use the situation of just a few years ago as a more normal base case. These folks want more spending cuts.

The arguments will continue. I hope we actually do something at some point.
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Old 12-03-2010, 08:54 AM   #49
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Yes, I understand that completely, but I don't understand why that makes a referendum so difficult. Even with a presidential election everyone votes on the same day with the same choices and the system knows nationally exactly how many votes were cast for which candidate. The fact that the popular vote is not the method for choosing the president is the same sort of twist that the UK has in that the members of parliament are not representative of the numbers of votes cast.

For the US to hold a referendum they would need to implement exactly the same procedure as for a Presidential election, except use the vote count instead of the state count. Does the Constitution not allow referenda?

PS - I'm only asking since you mentioned a referendum and in my 23 years here I realized I've never seen or heard of one outside of local/State propositions.
Apologies if my prior post sounded condescending – didn’t mean to.

Samclem answered the process needed for federal constitutional amendments. Just a few more comments.

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Even with a presidential election everyone votes on the same day with the same choices
Not really. The choices are not the same. Every state determines individually which presidential candidates are eligible, if ballot measures qualify, which citizens are eligible to vote, how voting should be conducted, how votes should be counted and what date the vote should be held.

Only half the states allow ballot measures or referendum.

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A national referendum would have been abhorrent to the framers of the Constitution
The founding fathers were immensely distrustful of any two word term that included the word “national”.
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Old 12-03-2010, 10:19 AM   #50
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As with most others I agree there generally are good recommendations in here. But...

Does anyone else have a major problem with calling tax deductions and exclusions 'spending' by the government? This label implies that all of your income belongs to the government and anything less than 100% taxation is 'spending.' Maybe it really is just poor semantics or I'm paranoid, but I certainly don't like reports that even remotely imply all my income is part of the collective until it is distributed to me through the grace of the omniscient federal government.
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Old 12-03-2010, 10:25 AM   #51
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While everyone can come up with a few self-serving reasons why we shouldn't accept this, there are 13.9 trillion reasons (and growing daily) why we should.

It's like any reasonable compromise in DC , doomed to failure from the start.

Kudos to Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles; both of them have my utmost respect for taking on this difficult challenge.
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Old 12-03-2010, 11:25 AM   #52
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Does anyone else have a major problem with calling tax deductions and exclusions 'spending' by the government?
Agreed, though, practically speaking, any amount spent that's not paid for is indeed "spending", and expensive spending at that, since it's borrowed...
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Old 12-03-2010, 11:31 AM   #53
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As with most others I agree there generally are good recommendations in here. But...

Does anyone else have a major problem with calling tax deductions and exclusions 'spending' by the government? This label implies that all of your income belongs to the government and anything less than 100% taxation is 'spending.' Maybe it really is just poor semantics or I'm paranoid, but I certainly don't like reports that even remotely imply all my income is part of the collective until it is distributed to me through the grace of the omniscient federal government.


In a way... it really is 'spending' when something is put in for a particular group...


Say the tax law is everybody pays in 25% of thier income.... no exceptions...

Now.... I argue that we poor slobs in Texas have to drive a LONG way to get anywhere.... and we have to use our AC all the time compared to those people who live in NY/NJ.... so we should get a deduction on our transportation expenses.... and they pass a law allowing a 1% deduction... now, everybody in the US is paying 25% and we down here are paying 24%... did the gvmt 'spend' that 1%

In a way... YES.... if they kept the tax the same for everybody... I would pay 25%... but then they would send me a check for 1%... spending the money on me...

So when it comes down to it... any special tax treatment is in reality just the same as me paying my full tax bill and them sending me a check...
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Old 12-03-2010, 11:46 AM   #54
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In a way... it really is 'spending' when something is put in for a particular group...
I don't really disagree with your point maybe just some of the presentation. I view spending as cash outflow (I would guess most accounting folks would also from the start of the double entry system), so on a very basic level: cash expenditures > revenue = deficit. Tax deductions and exclusions have no impact on the cash expenditure part of the equation. They certainly are a reduction in revenue and can lead to deficits - so I don't disagree about the impact to the government.

I'm really just troubled by what I see as potential manipulations in traditional word meanings to convey positive or negative emotions.

There is a great analogy to personal finance - it seems like most people at large think the way to get ahead is to increase your earnings, but most people here have discovered that they key to financial success is usually to limit the cash outflow.
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Old 12-03-2010, 11:54 AM   #55
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In a way... it really is 'spending' when something is put in for a particular group...

So when it comes down to it... any special tax treatment is in reality just the same as me paying my full tax bill and them sending me a check...
Right.

I wonder why the difference between how the UK and the US are responding to this. Our cultural, social and political heritage is much more similar that not, yet our reactions to economic crisis seem almost opposite. UK politicians are attempting to lead a shared sacrifice and the public is supporting the effort - at least for now. The US elected officials are still attempting to gain relative advantage and impede any action that hints of partisan advantage regardless of the overall public benefit.
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Old 12-03-2010, 12:02 PM   #56
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The seven commission members who voted against it include: Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.); Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.); Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.); Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.); Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.); Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas); and Andrew Stern, former President, Service Employees International Union.



I live in Texas, and if I lived in Jeb Hensarling's district, I would vote and campaign against him!
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Old 12-03-2010, 12:13 PM   #57
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I agree with the concept that tax credits and deductions should be classed as government spending, it seems an easy concept to understanding.

You give to charity and the government spends money to support that gift (otherwise you would give less).

You borrow money to buy a house and the government spends money to support you (otherwise you would borrow less).
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Old 12-03-2010, 12:29 PM   #58
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I think we should reserve the word "spend" for its traditional meaning: When a party transfers money to another party for a good or service. By this definition, special tax treatments, etc are not spending.

If a tradesman replaces the windows on my home and charges me $3000 instead of $4000, did he just spend $1000? Where would that kind of math stop?
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Old 12-03-2010, 12:58 PM   #59
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The seven commission members who voted against it include: Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.); Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.); Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.); Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.); Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.); Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas); and Andrew Stern, former President, Service Employees International Union.
Just watch. I bet many of these senators and reps will also be insisting on Tax Breaks for Everyone. Even better, watch what happens next March-June, when the national debt hits the ceiling, and a motion to raise the ceiling comes up.

The same folks who are against hitching up their big boy pants and taking their medicine now will be bloviating next spring.
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Old 12-03-2010, 01:09 PM   #60
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The same folks who are against hitching up their big boy pants and taking their medicine now will be bloviating next spring.
great word (I had to look it up ) and so true.
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