I've said elsewhere that this was probably the last election where the Republicans stood a real chance of gaining the American Presidency with a program that mainly appeals to prosperous suburban whites and holds little appeal to most women and almost no appeal at all to racial minorities. 

If the GOP is to survive, what do you think it would have to look like? What could it possibly look like?

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The line item marked "defense" is 902 billion out of total spending of 3,795 billion, with a deficit of 1327 billion (a slightly better number than in years past); I will correct my earlier statement, the deficit is 35 percent, not 40 percent, of all the money the government spends.

If you break down "defense," it turns out to include veterans (their pensions and health care), civil defense, foreign aid (including non-military aid), etc. and the actual DOD budget is 688 billion, or 18 percent of federal spending.  If ALL of that were fraudulent and pork barrel, you'd solve half the problem.  But I really doubt it is all fraudulent and pork barrel.  I would be willing to grant, solely for the sake of argument, that all procurement is fraudulent, but I can't find that number they way it's broken down here.  Let's call it half, and figure the other half is simply what's needed to keep things running and pay our men and women in uniform.  So the best educated wild ass guess is that 344 billion could be squeezed out of defense.

(By the way the reason Defense is often quoted as being over half the budget is that a lot of the things on this ledger are legally not considered part of the budget (such as most of "Pensions" and most of "Health care")!  But they are government spending nonetheless, and they contribute to the total.  But it is advantageous to some to give the impression that defense gobbles up half of federal spending, so this often isn't clarified.)

Now lets break down Medicare and Medicaid.  Medicare is readily findable under "Health Care" at 484 billion dollars.  I can't find something labeled Medicaid, but only "R&D" and "Welfare" amount to more than a drop of spit in the bucket, so I will figure "Welfare" is medicaid, for 324 billion dollars.  Total, 808 billion.

How much of that do you suppose is fraud?  A lot in absolute terms, but perhaps not so high in percentage terms; my deliberately exaggerated wag is 1/4, for 202 billion.

add to the 344 billion dollars, we get 546 billion.  Take that out of our 1327 billion dollar deficit and we have 781 billion dollars of deficit remaining.  This remaining deficit is vastly bigger than every deficit we ever had before George W Bush's last year in office when the 700 billion dollar bailout in October took place.  (We used to jump up and down screaming about 400 billion dollar deficits under GW Bush; now they are a fond memory.)

Now my guesses as to the amounts of fraud are just that--guesses, but I doubt anyone can seriously claim that literally 50% of the DOD is fraud and pork, and that 25% of medicare and medicaid are fraud.  But assuming those high numbers, and assuming we can ferret all that out, It wouldn't solve the problem.

We simply cannot afford even the non-fraudulent component of all of this spending.  We had a government that is trying to do too much--more than we can afford for it to do, and not even the tea party is willing to actually address the entire problem; they took social security and medicare off the table.  This spending will catch up to us sooner or later.  We've already had one credit downgrade.  As more happen, interest rates will creep up, and interest, at 225 billion (even with today's low interest rates) could easily double or triple, as it won't take much of an percentage point increase in interest rates for them to double or triple.  So add another 200-500 billion dollars to our deficit, every year

I realize that you, Unseen, are not claiming that doing these things would eliminate the deficit--but I do want to point out that at some point we are going to have to cut into the "muscle" of government spending if we are ever to balance the budget.

"We had a government that is trying to do too much--more than we can afford for it to do"

Not more than it can afford, but rather more than you are willing to allow it to afford. The quickest way to raise substantial revenue, and decrease the current account deficit while you are at it, would be to introduce a value added (consumption) tax, which could easily raise $1t without any economic distortion. It should be noted that the "socialist" states doesn't have a substantially higher government expenditure, in the US it is 38.9% of GDP, Australia 34.3%, Japan 37.1%, Canada 39.7%, Norway 40.2%, Germany 43.7%, UK 47.3%.

Question: How do you defend keeping health insurance rates low for some by relegating millions of other people to having no health insurance at all?

Also, see what Gallup's Mirror wrote: It's already funded!

Looks like you added this while I was writing my other response. 

I'll take the last part first.  Historically the cost of a new program is always underestimated.  Medicare originally cost 3 billion (1965), and it was estimated atthe time that would climb to 12 billion by 1990.  That estimate included the assumption that there would be inflation.  What actually happened by 1990 was that Medicare cost 107 billion--and I've already quoted the current price tag which is much much larger.  Note that this was just under nine times as much as the estimate.  Now I will grant they probably did not expect the sorts of inflation we experienced in the late 1970s, but that's still an egregious underestimate.  I see no reason to assume that the estimate Gallup's Mirror is giving will not also, in the fullness of time, seem just as ridiculously optimistic in hindsight.

As for your second point, insurance should properly be priced according to the company's expectation that it will have to pay out.  This is why, for instance, drivers with better records get lower rates.  But of course medical "insurance" is anything but insurance; it's mostly pre-paid health care.  Imagine your auto policy paying for your oil changes, and the amount of paperwork that would entail at Lube Stop or the car dealership.  Now imagine that you are given no choice but to buy insurance that covers oil changes, car washes (even if you might not want to get your car washed every week), and that the providers of oil changes and car washes are required to abide by expensive regulations and spend huge amounts of time doing paperwork.  And oh yes, let's make it illegal to sell car insurance that doesn't include comprehensive.  A 20-25 dollar oil change goes up to 100 bucks but no one cares because insurance will pay for it right?  Well wait a minute, won't that ultimately drive up the cost of your auto insurance?  Who cares, your employer is paying for it!  But then, if you don't have an employer, tough luck. 

This is the way health insurance works, and that is why it's hugely overpriced and why it just flat out sucks today.

You (or your employer) can't buy a cheap minimalist policy.  Maybe that's all you can afford but you can't buy it; no, it's illegal to sell a policy actually tailored to what the customer wants!  You also don't get a tax break for buying your own policy, unlike your employer.  If you did, maybe you'd have done so when you were young, and being the actual owner of the policy, been able to keep it while switching jobs, instead of feeling tied to your present job with the asshole boss because you don't want to lose your insurance.  (The complaints about portability of insurance stem directly from our asinine tax code and the culture of "employer buys your insurance" that that tax code created over 60 years ago.)  The health "insurance" and health care of today has been rendered so dysfunctional by perverse tax incentives and regulation, that then forcing them to insure people who truly cannot be insured for any reasonable amount of money is just the icing on the cake.  Fortunately they can pass those costs off to other people who now by law must carry insurance.

This is known as "free market health insurance" but it is anything but.  And has not been for decades.  You notice all the arbitrary rules and inconsistent tax breaks that favor some forms of insurance but not others?  Not free market.  And besides... half of the health care dollars spent in the United States today, before Obamacare takes effect, already come from the government!  "Free market" my ass!

It is my contention that many of the people who don't carry insurance either choose not to (if they are young and healthy; they probably scratch their heads wondering why the rest of us obsess over this issue; I know I did back then (when the earth was still cooling)), or get priced out of the market by all the mandates, etc. that force the price of health care and insurance through the roof.  Or their employer was paying for a plan at a subsidized rate, but they lost that job... and they lost it *after* they developed a condition that makes them uninsurable today--though they might not be so uninsurable if medical care weren't so expensive due to both regulations and the fact that every medical partnership has to employ an army of clerks to do insurance paperwork.  Whereas if they had bought the policy for themselves, they would own it, it would be portable and they could keep it in force much more readily.  These problems existed before Obamacare forced health insurance companies to insure people they would not have insured before.  Forcing an insurance company to cover someone with a pre-existing condition is like forcing an auto insurance company to sell you a policy after you've had the car accident.  That's no longer insurance; it's pre-paid routine care (with lots of overhead costs built in) with one customer subsidizing another.

This is a good read, if anyone has a couple of minutes and wants to end the evening with a good laugh:

Obama Overcomes Palin's 11th Hour Romney Endorsement

...her successful visit to Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan...

That was the funniest line.  Funny in the way tragedy can be funny.

You mean like a busload of lawyers goes over a cliff --

Or an apocalyptical sect committing mass suicide.

Nah the GOP was already dead. Mitt Robme just made it more of a joke.

Question for the questioner - what is your take on why both candidates shied away from mention of Global Warming, other than Romney's one mention, in the first debate, of Obama frittering away the nation's money on "green projects"?

Because overall it's something Americans don't want to think about. More of a problem for the Republican candidate because so many Republicans are global warming doubters, but there wasn't much on the plus side for Obama, either.

I'm fairly sure Republicans will be thinking of changing their nomination process, which forced their candidates to say a lot of things they would have to back off once they got nomination at the GOP Convention. Witness Romney's post convention Etch-A-Sketching away of his claim to be a "severe conservative." I would watch for much more caucusing and much less debating.

On election day, a Mitt Romney supporter was found in Norway:


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