Dan Freeman’s attempt to frame America’s debt crisis in a political “us versus them” scenario is a disservice to voters (“US economy lacks a resilience once part of its DNA,” The Daily News, May 28).

He speaks of the famed “Obama recovery.” The data demonstrates that it was the weakest economic recovery on record despite being the most expensive at the time. In President Barack Obama’s first budget the food stamp program cost American taxpayers over $53 billion. By the end of the “Obama recovery,” the food stamp program had grown to over $68 billion and participation had increased 21 percent.

If one uses the efficient application of taxpayer dollars as a guide, Obama’s administration increased government receipts by 53 percent while only growing the economy by 16 percent. This easily qualifies as the worst economic performance among his four predecessors.

Increasing taxes to improve poor economic health can work but only if you also reduce government spending. Removing economic power from taxpayers while increasing government’s economic power simply gives the government more economic freedom than the people it serves — be they billionaires or minimum-wage workers.

The Democrats’ favored method of managing an economy stems from John Maynard Keynes — the most influential economist of the 20th century. Put simply, his theory was that governments should “spend against the wind.” In bad times they should lower taxes and run deficits. In good times they should raise taxes and reduce government spending.

Therein lies the problem. In bad times, both sides agree — taxes are lowered, and government spending is increased. But in good times, the Democrats want to increase government spending while the Republicans want to lower taxes. To compromise and avoid making hard decisions, Congress does both. Last year’s debt interest payments neared $600 billion.

The simplistic notion that taxing the rich will cure our fiscal ills was tried in the 1970s in Great Britain while under socialist government rule. That ended poorly and the country came within hours of having to declare bankruptcy.

Then Margaret Thatcher arrived and set out on a plan to give economic power back into the hands of the most efficient allocators of capital — the people. She sold hundreds of billions of dollars of government assets into the private market. She turned an economic disaster into an economic mecca.

Since then, people have complained that the benefit wasn’t evenly distributed. To them, I say that it has never been a democratic government’s job to make everyone equal in terms of economic benefit. The government’s job is to make sure that everyone has equal access to economic benefit.

Freeman’s proscribed treatment for a 21st-century economic illness is straight out of the 1970s and has been proven a failure. How about we try what works with a 21st-century twist? Slash government spending by eliminating all subsidies to citizens and corporations.

Replace any lost value to the needy by implementing a means-tested universal basic income thereby granting more, not less, economic power to those who need it most. Power to the people.

Norman Pappous lives in League City.


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(37) comments

Jack Cross

I too thought Mr. Freeman made a weak argument, While it is true that Trump is piling up the debt, Obama added more to the national debt that all the other presidents combined. Obama spent a pile of the $700 billion stimulus on a lot of green energy that failed. We lost thousands of manufacturing jobs to overseas and Obama said these jobs are not coming, Trump proved him wrong.

Bailey Jones

Obama's deficits amounted to $7.3T over 8 years. In Trump's first 3 years, his deficits are estimated to be $6.1T, with another $2T likely for his 4th year. Over $8T in half the time. And surely you're not going to compare the worst of Obama's employment numbers to the, not even the worst yet, Trump numbers.

Obama inherited a mess (not of his own making) and gave us a recovery. Trump is in the middle of a mess (also not of his own making), and we've yet to see what he'll make of it.


Carlos Ponce

Even Obama's economist Jason Furman says there will be a strong economic rebound. Don't be so pessimistic.

Bailey Jones

Just the facts, ma'am.

Carlos Ponce

So if Trump's and Obama's economists both say the economy will improve and Bailey says ?????

Jim Forsythe

Furman might have worked for Obama, but he was on the right of Obama, not the left. This is why his appointment to top economic advisor of the campaign in 2008 disappointed the labor wing of the party. Obama, unlike leaders on the right, wanted to listen to an array of advisors.

"The former top economist to President Obama is warning the coronavirus pandemic could throw the economy into a tailspin that's significantly worse than the financial disaster in 2008 - and believes its almost certainly in recession already."

Jason Furman in an interview said.

"If a worker gets fired, it takes time for them to get rehired. If a business goes bankrupt, it takes time for a business to reconstitute relationships that enable them to grow and thrive. For those reasons, large shocks to the economy tend to persist and last. I wouldn't count on a V-shaped recovery.

The best argument for a V-shaped recovery is the massive amount of support the economy is in the process of getting. That gives us a better shot at a rapid recovery. But it wouldn't be safe to assume one will happen."

"The economy went incredibly far down," he explained. "In April, it was at a very low point. Over the next six months, it will move itself from very, very bad -- which is where it was in April – to very bad or, if we are lucky, just bad towards the end of the year."

"Yeah, I mean, there will be two ways to look at it," he remarked. "President Trump will be saying that we created one or two million jobs last month – that’s the most jobs in a month. And, others will point out very correctly -- I think arguably more correctly -- that we’re still ...15 million jobs short of where we were before the coronavirus struck."

Bailey Jones

Bailey says read my comment and try harder to understand what the words say.

Carlos Ponce

Still sound pessimistic.

Jack Cross

Bailey, you make a fair argument but my numbers are correct and yours is not.

When Obama left office Friday, outstanding public debt totaled $19.944 trillion, an increase of roughly $9.318 trillion, according to numbers from the Treasury Department at USDebtClock.Org, which tracks how much the US debt grows in real time.

The increased debt incurred under Obama equals approximately $75,129 for every person in the United States who had a full-time job in December, CNS News reported.

"The Obama administration put out 3,069 regulations, adding nearly $900 billion in costs to the economy. Obama’s main focuses were fighting global warming and immigration. Obama’s rules added nearly 572,000 pages to the Federal Register, including a whopping 97,110 pages in 2016 alone — an all-time record," the Daily Caller explained.

The largest budget item is Medicare/Medicaid which has seen over $1.1 trillion added to U.S. debt. Social Security accounted for $900 billion, while $585 billion was spent on defense and war, RT.com reported.

Joe Mancuso

Jack and Bailey, I think both of your sets of numbers are pretty accurate but I think you guys are arguing different numbers.

Jack, I think you're talking national debt but I think Bailey is talking national deficit.

For deficit numbers I used data from https://www.thebalance.com/us-deficit-by-year-3306306:

Obama did have a $7.3 trillion deficit at the end of his 8 years. Trump currently has a $3.5 trillion deficit and it's predicted that he will have a $7.2 trillion deficit at the end of 4 years. So, Bailey, your Obama numbers seem spot on but your Trump numbers seem to be about $.8 trillion high. But, it does put Trump almost exceeding Obama in half the time.

For debt numbers, I used data from https://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/pd/histdebt/histdebt.htm:

Because of the way the numbers are reported (since budget year runs from 9/30 to 10/1 of the next year), there are 2 ways of looking at the numbers:

Scenario 1 - 10/1/2008 - 09/30/2016 Obama started with a national debt of $10.0 trillion and increased it to $19.6 trillion (increase of $9.6 trillion). $.4 trillion shy of all preceding presidents.

Scenario 2 - 10/1/2009 - 09/30/2017 Obama started with a national debt of $11.9 trillion and increased it to $20.2 trillion (increase of $8.3 trillion). $3.6 trillion shy of all preceding presidents.

Jack, these numbers are based on the dates of the budgets. So, if you found numbers for actual dates of office, it's possible that your numbers would present a slightly different picture.

Just for info:

Scenario 1 - 10/1/2016 - 05/23/2020 Trump started with a national debt of $19.6 trillion and increased it to $25.7 trillion (increase of $6.1 trillion).

Scenario 2 - 10/1/2017 - 05/23/2020 Trump started with a national debt of $20.2 trillion and increased it to $25.7 trillion (increase of $5.5 trillion).

It'a also interesting to note that depending on the scenario chosen, Obama increased the national debt somewhere from $8.3 to $9.6 trillion in 8 years. Using those same scenarios (but using 5/23/2020 as the ending date in both), Trump has increased the national debt somewhere between $5.5 to $6.1 trillion in about 3.5 years.

So, basically, I'm saying that I think you were both pretty accurate in what you were presenting, you were just presenting different arguments. I checked my math several times but please check it again.

Anyway, it was pretty interesting reading these numbers and trying to grasp what a trillion dollars really means!

Ted Gillis

And Joe Biden will have to appoint a cabinet to dig us out of another mess. Rest assured he won’t be looking for TV show celebrities or major campaign donors to appoint to these positions. Donald Trump never had a team that had the U.S. economy in mind, but only their own self fulfillment.

Norman, you bring up that one Green Energy failure (Salendra) as a some kind of testament to his whole administration, instead of measuring the whole 8 years, like Bailey pointed out.

That’s almost like a Goldilocks approach.

This administration can’t end soon enough for me.

Carlos Ponce

"This administration can’t end soon enough for me." Ted has to wait until January 2025.

Dalton Logan

They going to have to let him dig out of his basement first[beam]

Jack Cross

Thanks, Joe, but Obama got $700 billion for the 2008 bailout and it looks like Trump will have somewhere around $6 trillion. The National Debt if the one I'm looking at because its the big one and the one our grand kids will be paying interest on. Trump had a great economy, people were fully employed and the stock market was about to hit 3o,ooo.

Trump did not create the economic crisis, that was man made and there is no doubt there are a lot of people on the left who want it continued and I expect we will have all this chaos all the way to the November Election because that is what all this destabilizing of the country is all about. Jobs are lost. business are destroyed, some forever, but some feel, that's the price we have to pay to accomplish the goal of defeating Trump.

Dan Freeman

Mr Ponce wrote: “Obama's economist Jason Furman says there will be a strong economic rebound.” Mr Furman said in March that “If this lasts six months or longer — and I think that’s the more likely scenario — all of that just compounds. Even if you discover a cure in December, you still have people out of jobs, broken balance sheets, bankrupt companies that won’t be particularly eager to hire.” https://www.vox.com/2020/3/13/21177850/coronavirus-covid-19-recession-stock-market-economy-jobs-stimulus Sadly, the downturn has continued much longer than the hoped for two months. He then proceeded to discuss possible solutions, all of which ignored the crisis induced by the Saudi-Russia price war. He went further to point out that the Obama administration spent far too little on the recovery. It did lead to the longest expansion in recent history and some of the lowest levels of unemployment. It was a delicate choice of stimulus without overheating the economy or exacerbating the handouts to the wealthy and large corporations.

The error of failing to act in a crisis is being repeated on a larger scale by the current administration. Mr. Furman suggests three steps: 1. Massive spending on healthcare especially testing, hospital beds, ventilators and vaccine research; 2. Expanding paid leave, unemployment insurance, SNAP, and Medicaid; 3. Direct cash payments for up to at least a year.

In summary, Mr. Furman is strongly advocating the 1930’s Keynesian solution of massive cash stimuli. It worked then, but required a war. It worked in 2008, but on too small a scale. It can work now but may require as much as $5 trillion.

Carlos Ponce

We will see.[beam]

Jim Forsythe

Carlos, you touted Jason Furman. Implying he was saying there will be a strong economic rebound but you ignored the rest of what he said.

No matter who is President in 2022 and beyond, recovery will be slow.

You said, "We will see". What do you think we will see or is this something you will not respond to because you do not know the answer to or afraid that you may be proven wrong!

Please explain what you mean by "We will see"

Carlos Ponce

We will see.[beam]

Jim Forsythe

"We will see". What do you think we will see or is this something you will not respond to because you do not know the answer to or afraid that you may be proven wrong!

Please explain what you mean by "We will see"

Carlos Ponce

We will see.[beam]

Charles Douglas

I think Mr. O'Biden is going to select a race-baited of the highest order to be his Supreme Court Justice! One Al Sharpton! [beam]

Charles Douglas

I meant to say race-baiter! AL was in the White House like it was his own when Obama was there! He just might persuade Joe to hire him on. Lololo

Ted Gillis

And Kamala Harris as Attorney General,

Susan Rice as Sect. of State, Michelle Obama as Ambassador to the U.N., Elizabeth Warren as Fed Chairman, Eric Holder as Federal Election Chairman, Adam Schiff as National Security Advisor, and Beto O’Rourke as Sect. of the Interior, Commerce or Energy, just to start off.

And no Al Sharpton will not be selected for anything, especially for

the Supreme Court. Anyone with “Rev.” in their title is not suitable for that position. The Supreme Court pick will go to Merrick Garland. He has already been chosen once, vetted and is ready to serve. Ruth will gladly be ready to retire on Jan 21st anyway.

She can only keep her yoga exercises going for so long.

Carlos Ponce

And Ted Gillis as????? Keep dreaming. It will not happen.

Ted Gillis

“We will see” is just a shortened version of our dear leader’s famous “We’ll see what happens” answer for everything.

So definitive.

Carlos Ponce

We will see.[beam]

Charles Douglas

Kamala Harris going to be Attorney General. It is about right though. I just heard Kamala Harris is leading a bunch of marchers and protesters in DC ...in all that they are doing up there. Very Democratic!

Looking forward to her brand of Justice.[innocent]

Ted Gillis

It would be even more awesome if William Barr would go out himself and march with the protesters. Now wouldn’t that change things up? CNN, MSNBC and Fox heads would spin around like Linda Blairs’s.

Carlos Ponce

Ted, please share the pictures where you marched with the protestors. What did your sign say?

Charles Douglas

If they can't be in charge, their motto is to "Burn it Down." Kamala Harris was out there with them in DC ...supporting what was going on up there. When violent, out of control men start beating a small, defenseless female protecting her business with nothing but words, you just lost me as being sympathetic to your cause. Hitting a woman with closed fists was not good enough, one guy used a long piece of plank, that he swung and hit her in the mid-section hard! Now I will repeat, when the situation regress to this unspeakable level, ...you just lost me supporting your cause! I don't burn down, I build up! I don't swing on women, and I wont watch another male swing on one either! I must admit though, i have in the old days, been known to swing on a man,... but that was BC. ( before Christ ). I cannot wait until November get here! One thing I have never been known for and that is a GRACIOUS WINNER!!! I am memoralizing certain Liberal Statements on this forum about the elections in November, so I will have ammunition to say "I told you so" later. Lololo.

Jim Forsythe

Some of the best protest signs I have seen.

Melania blink twice if you need help!

Your hair is rigged.

‘We Shall Overcomb’

Trump likes store-bought flour tortillas.

Trump likes 3 Doors Down.

Trump skies in jeans.

Mr. Trump, please think before you do stuff.

"Stronger than fear"

Carlos Ponce

Whatever rocks your crib, Jim.

Charles Douglas

Trump Diesel has saved the day again, ...because the SCAR-D-CATS, who want to run the country are not capable! Maybe XI JINPING told them to not act.... I don't know! Now we will see some law and order juxtapose to VOTE HARVESTING by Democratic Governors, a Democratic Presidential candidate, and Congresspeople!

Ted Gillis

Wow, they just reported Bill Barr was out walking amongst the protestors in DC this afternoon. I guess I’ll eat some crow, and watch the cables news programs tonight to see if I spot any neck braces.

And no Carlos, I’m too old for marching, but I’ll cheer from the sidelines.

Just Wow.

Carlos Ponce

Bill Barr was with President Trump went they walked to the church whose outer building was torched.

Too old for marching? I've participated in protests at the Old County Courthouse and marched down Highway 6 for a Pro-Life rally. And I've marched with the Hitchcock Band in Mardi Gras. I'm 65.

Bailey Jones

I'm with you, Ted. My days of marching across campus and the streets of Dallas are long past. It's not the walking that gets you, it's the running from the tear gas. I have a great admiration for the elders I've been seeing in these marches.

Carlos Ponce

But Ted Gillis wants a 70 year old Barr to march.

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