Operation Occupy Wall Street


#2421

The problem is that the right, at least on a national level, has no interest in fixing that -- they complain about "frivolous" expenditures like federal funding for Planned Parenthood and the NEA but most of them consider funding for defense, Social Security, and Medicare sacrosanct, so it cannot be touched. So they are more than willing to say we need to "save money" by not giving a few million dollars to causes they despise when they could save more money by buying ten fewer warplanes built to fight an enemy that no longer exists. I wish there was a real party that was conservative and not crazy, but the Republicans are simply broken these days.


#2422

Taxes always seem to be too high for Republicans. Considering the tax burden now is the lowest its been in ages, which makes more sense at this point?


#2423

Sadly I agree, they really have no "new" ideas or the real guts required to do the cuts that need to be done. However, social programs would have to be cut, as would the military.


#2424

Prop 17's the least of it, entertainingly.

But if you want to wank around with numbers, if California wants to fix its deficit, what it needs to do is fix its broken health care system. Going single-payer would be cheaper for better services, but sadly the Republicans were too busy screaming "socialism!" to actually care about getting better outcomes for less money, and the Democrats didn't have the balls to stand up to them.

Also, sales taxes are almost always regressive. I do not support or approve of them. Just sayin'.


#2425

Maybe the federal tax burden, but not the state tax burden.


#2426

Perhaps, but the state tax burden hardly makes up for the decline in federal taxes, at least at the high end.


#2427

The voters. Union support certainly helps, but California's political breakdown is (in the short term) so clearly lopsided that it's absurd to claim that the unions are the source of Democrat power. I'm not saying that this is a good thing; one-party rule seems to bring more problems than competitive elections. But this isn't Tammany Hall. People vote for Democrats, and will probably continue to do so until the Republican party offers a viable alternative.

"Without the the legistlative gridlock" California would probably more closely resemble the other American states with large Democrat majorities. Those states may not be ideal, but they seem to be better managed than California.

The more I follow California politics, the more I become convinced that the gridlock is the problem. Compared to that, everything else is small potatoes.


#2428

"California is structurally unwilling to pay for the government it wants" seems to be a more concise description of the problem than any partisan variant on unions, taxes, or spending.

CA people, have their been any noticeable changes now that they've gotten rid of the 2/3rds budget majority requirement?


#2429

No, because you still need a 2/3rds majority to do the things that making a budget requires, not to mention all the stupid amendments that the legislature can't even touch.


#2430

Too soon I think. However the budget hits the fan again soon and at that time the change should make it easier to pass. But the whole system is screwed up, Gov. Brown's plan to fix the budget will be in the form of a proposition to be voted on in November. How is that for passing the buck?


#2431

Cutting our government expenditures as a % of GDP (38.9%) so that they are more in line with the most successful and dynamic developed economies in the world, Hong Kong (18.6%), Singapore (17.0%), South Korea (30.0%) and Taiwan (18.5%). Source.


#2432

Hard to say. One one hand, the legislature still need a 2/3rds majority to raise taxes, and the economic meltdown has put immense pressure on the state. (Which is exacerbated by the fact that past state initiatives have made large sections of the budget "untouchable" without a super-majority.) However, we don't know the counter-factual: It's possible that things might be worse if the state Republicans had been able to hold veto power over the budget.

Personally, I think that things are no better, but have the potential to get better when and if the economy improves. (Fortunately, the fate of the global economy is not something that the California Legislature has much control over!)


#2433

Personally, I think that things are no better, but have the potential to get better when and if the economy improves. (Fortunately, the fate of the global economy is not something that the California Legislature has much control over!)

True, California is the victim of the overall economy. It is also the victim of a legislature and governers (regardless of party affiliation) who have always spent every dime they could find.

I think currently Vallejo has filed bankruptcy. Expect Stockton and maybe Fresno to file in the next year. Cities are being hit harder than the state and they have less means to solve the problems.


#2434

So we're in agreement about slashing the defense budget from our current position to the percentage of GDP that South Korea spends? That seems reasonable.


#2435

California is today looking at closing National Guard bases that the Feds have kept open. Strange isn't it, a state wanting to close bases to save money.


#2436

That would cut only 2% off our government spending as a % of GDP. Source. Nevertheless, I support it, as every little bit helps.


#2437

I'm not sure how you can compare the US to relatively densely-populated countries like that which also have a fraction of the defense budget we have. I'm not saying that the US can't spend less -- I certainly think the budget can be tightened -- but the US is also orders of magnitude larger than those countries. Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan are extremely small and densely populated -- their infrastructure spending gets them far more bang for the buck. None of those four spends nearly as much as we do in defense (Hong Kong is protected by China, Singapore is a tiny island, and Taiwan and South Korea are both shielded by the US defense umbrella).

It would be easy for the US to get down to a much smaller level of spending if we eliminated 75% of our defense budget (which would probably still give us more spending than almost every other world power) and enacted serious health care reforms that kept costs from exploding. In fact, that's probably the ONLY way the US could bring its spending to that level. How likely is it that either party is going to get in front of that? The Republicans certainly have no interest in doing that, and the Democrats can't seem to do it because then the Republicans call them weak on defense and say that death panels are coming to kill your grandmother.

Ironically, if the Republicans actually had a conservative leader who would stand up and say "we can't afford to run a global empire and we have to overhaul the entire system for paying for health care in this country because it's bankrupting the government and every other American" it might actually happen -- but the days of Dwight Eisenhower's Republican party are long over.


#2438

That appears to be only the direct DOD spending. The GAO estimate of total military related spending is some 300-400 billion dollars higher, though they couldn't be exact.


#2439

Oh, and we could also drop another 3% of our GDP in direct costs by reforming our health care system to be only as bad as the second worst developed nation in the world, and we'd have better health care to boot, which will have indirect benefits.

But the Republican Party blocked any attempt at reforming health care, so there goes that idea.


#2440

Just 2% of US GDP goes to infrastructure spending. Source. If you totally eliminated all US defense and infrastructure spending it still wouldn't get us down to S. Korea's level of government spending, much less anywhere near the levels of the other three. Singapore's defense spending is very nearly at US levels btw.