NP and fusion again ( was Re: converts to the left)

Max Sawicky sawicky at
Fri Sep 25 07:42:05 PDT 1998

>On Thu, 24 Sep 1998, Max Sawicky wrote:
>> A new GAO report says states have reduced their AFDC/TANF spending by 15
to 20 percent. Note that this applies to their share of the total, which is roughly half.

DR's reply:
>Indeed. So Federal outlays on the poorest of the poor went up slightly, and
state outlays went down a lot -- while Clinton cut capital gains taxes on the monied classes from 28% to 20% or so. I call this barbarism; what do you call it? . . . >

I call it bad arithmetic. Total outlays on the poor went up.

Nor did I say that state outlays went down. I said spending on AFDC/TANF at the state end went down. States spend other money on the poor, as do the Feds. AFDC/TANF was and is a small part of the whole.

To repeat: an unbiased accounting of *all* public spending on the poor since 1980 would show a failure to increase what could clearly be seen as an inadequate base. So we've had stagnation on top of inadequacy in this sense. An exception, and the Administration's only positive, noteworthy achievement, was the expansion of the EITC.

Terms like 'annihiliation' only serve political defeatism and alienation, masquerading as 'more militant than thou.' Every time I see this I'm going to squash it like a bug. To me it's no different than telling people politics is a waste of time.

Me, previously:
>> While people noodle around with getting military down from 270 to 225B or
so, over a trillion and a half dollars of surplus are projected over the decade. That's clearly where the big bucks are. Even a little more military pork would be a small price to pay for useful domestic initiatives.>

>I hate to break the news to you, but capitalist economies have this little
thing called "the business cycle", which is about to wreak havoc with those wondrous budget projections.>

Here's some even newer news: the projections take business cycles into account, but since they don't want to try to predict when they occur, they 'spread' their effects over the trend period. So a downturn will certainly blow a single year's predicted deficit/surplus to hell, but over the decade the aggregates will be the same if the underlying assumptions of the projection are valid.

When the Reagan administration fomented deficits the fiscal conservatives had a new and valuable argument to use against existing and new domestic spending. I can't think of anything more ludicrous now than for someone on the left, facing projections that are benign, not to say glowing, to throw a wet blanket on them. Cui bono?

>And that $270 billion military budget is a *huge* chunk (around 30% or so)
of Federal discretionary spending (i.e. excluding Social Security, which is a separate line item).>

Soc Sec is not discretionary spending to begin with. Total defense spending is 17 percent of outlays, so your choice of denominator supports the term "huge" but is debatable.

>And let's not even talk about the millions of human beings slaughtered by
US military interventions, past and present.>

I didn't, but I knew someone would bring up what, *in the context of the thread*, is an irrelevancy.


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