This is not only for those in our community who consider themselves Republican but for those who are Democrat, Libertarian and everything in between; What do you dislike about Obama.

Here's what I see:

- Came into a shit-storm of a situation, economy wrecked and in two wars.

- He made decisions that can be criticized and should be however, the economy is on the mend.

- He has ended one war and is ending another one.

- He has restored the reputation of this country in the eyes of much of the rest of the world.

- He killed Osama.

- He created health care reform that will benefit millions (not perfect by any means, but a step in the right direction for sure)

- He ended DADT

He has disappointed us in many ways as well but all in all I think he has done well considering not only the circumstances he came into, but also the hostile and overtly racist government he has to deal with.

What are your thoughts on this? What do you dislike about Obama?

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@Steve: The reason it's divided like that is that one part is out of the control of whatever government is in power - it is mandated by law for the government to provide these services to eligible members of the public. Since they cannot influence the costs of legally mandated rights, an apples-to-apples comparison of the thriftiness or profligacy of administrations are therefore conducted on the spending within their control. It's not particularly sneaky, at least in my opinion.

Additionally, publicly held debt is the money borrowed by the government. Privately held debt is the money borrowed by the private sector.

The main point is Clinton did not run a surplus, and furthermore, he did not run it on the part the government does have under its control (which is often called "discretionary spending").  The part that was out of control (hmmm.... double meaning...), i.e., the entitlement, was running the surplus--and as I traced out, that debt is changing from publicly held debt (one part of government owing it to another) to privately held debt (government owing it to someone else).  (More on that in a moment).

I recognize that the intent of dividing the government in this was was not to be deceptive, but politicians and pundits these days will use the fact of the division in order to deceive.  They will for instance try to convince you that the government spends most of its money on defense (implying that people in the US are starving because defense gets the lion's share) when in fact it spends less than a quarter of it on defense, and much more is being spent on preventing people from starving (e.g., pensions + welfare = 1270 billion) than is spent on defense (902 billion).

And you are wrong.  Privately held debt is debt owed to the private sector, not owed by it.  .  It's not the same as "private debt," a phrase which is probably similar enough to cause confusion.  "Public Debt" is of course government owed debt.

Hmm.. your argument doesn't seem to pan out:

Q: During the Clinton administration was the federal budget balanced? Was the federal deficit erased?

A: Yes to both questions, whether you count Social Security or not.

RE: Social security the same page says

Clinton’s large budget surpluses also owe much to the Social Security tax on payrolls. Social Security taxes now bring in more than the cost of current benefits, and the "Social Security surplus" makes the total deficit or surplus figures look better than they would if Social Security wasn’t counted. But even if we remove Social Security from the equation, there was a surplus of $1.9 billion in fiscal 1999 and $86.4 billion in fiscal 2000.

Not quite sure what the "fancy accounting" was, but it seems to relate to activating SS as a running cost instead of a liability. This is often termed the inter-generational contract, you pay your parents pensions today and your children will pay yours in the future as opposed to you saving into some type of retirement fund. It's a sensible thing for governments to do since they cannot per definition go bankrupt.

I agree that pundits and politicians often use highly abbreviated and confusing lingo to explain government actions. They are so used to it that they tend to forget or otherwise willfully obfuscate that military spending is the largest portion of the discretionary spending, but welfare programs is the largest share of total spending. 

I can see the confusion about the debt - the terminology is usually private and public debt, and you are specifically referring to privately held public debt. However, it doesn't make a difference who holds the debt. When the Treasure issue bonds noone cares who buys them - whether the govt, the fed, private or public pension funds, local of foreign governments, banking sector, or Billy Bob holds the bond doesn't make a lick of difference (why would it?). The only potential argument is the interest payments, however these are now (near) zero nominally and generally negative in real terms.

If this is so how come the federal debt (the sum of both privately and publicly held) increased every single year under Clinton?  We have your fact check site conflicting with a US treasury site, apparently.

I agree that the distinction between publicly held and privately held debt doesn't matter much.  (If the government were to reform the way it's organized, however, and turn social security et. al. into "pay as you go out of the general fund" then the publcly held debt that these programs old could then be simply removed from the accounting.. but that has not happened.)  I did want to go through that explanation though to forestall the "but we owe it to ourselves" argument that some might make.

The federal debt is unrelated to the federal budget deficit. Public debt is both a way of financing for the government and a means for institutions to place money in a (theoretically) risk free asset. A budget surplus doesn't mean the money is used to pay down debt, or to use a false equivalence example, even if you in your private economy have a mortgage and spend less than you earn, you might still choose to finance a new car using debt.

Those are also the reasons why I think the US would do well in raising a couple trillion more in negative-interest debt from risk averse rentiers and invest in socio-economically profitable endeavors such as upgrading infrastructure. Borrowing at -1% to invest in a 10% return on investment project seems smart to me... then again, what do I know. 

Even countries running budget surpluses have government debt, i.e. my home country has around 50% of GDP in public debt (approx $600b), yet has the same amount in public savings.

I forgot to add one thing: Periodization.

If the bulk of the government revenue comes in i.e. December, and the outlays are more evenly distributed throughout the year, it doesn't help to have a surplus after the spending is incurred.

Let's take a look at our alternative, a subject far more appropriate for a board like TA --

In Mittens Romney, we have a man who professes to believe that an American ne'er-do-well (is that term still in use?) in the "Show Me" State of Missouri , Joseph Smith, had a vision from gawd that there was a book, hidden in a hollow of an ancient oak tree in a forest near where he lived, as well as a pair of magical spectacles. The book's pages were made of finely-hammered gold leaves, and inscribed with words in a strange language that was not understandable, but by donning the magic spectacles, the words miraculously became English.

No one ever saw this book, except for Joseph Smith - he read from it, to a select committee of his associates, who copied it word for word into English, but they did so from outside a shrouded area. Smith read from a chair entirely surrounded by a curtain, and as soon as he had finished, and the book was completely transcribed into English, the book magically disappeared. Again - no one ever saw it but Joseph Smith. From the "Show Me" State, Smith didn't show anyone anything, and likely gave rise to the now-famous, "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain."

The book explained - and I'm severely summarizing here - that the "Ten Lost Tribes" of Israel (which anyone who studies the history of the Bible knows, were carried off in bondage by the Assyrian armies, never to return) built a boat, or possibly a fleet of boats, and sailed the length of the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, and from there, to America, where, over centuries and much drama, they became the American Indian (certainly couldn't call them "Native" Americans - possibly American Hebrews?). Oh, and Jesus dropped in on them for a visit, as well.

THIS is the man who would succeed Obama, should he not be re-elected.

We have to use that brain of ours and consider a whole complex set of issues and not just one's religion.

@ Sassan - it's about his gullibility, if he sincerely believes that crap, and his dishonesty, if he doesn't, but professes to.

Well, I consider any individual who believes in any religion as gullible.

Agreed, but a spin-off (Mormonism) of a spinoff (Christianity) of a religion (Judaism) strikes me as triple-gullible. He's prepared to bring that mind, that clearly lives in a fantasy world, into the White House.

Should this guy even be considered a candidate to run as commander in chief of our great nation?


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