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Let's Talk Stimulus
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Matsu
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Join Date: May 2004
 
2009-02-10, 10:32

The goal of stimulus is to shape trends – by retarding negative ones and advancing more positive activity.

The economy built on cheap energy and cheap labour is a real conundrum for America. Everyone wants cheap energy, especially laborers. Few laborers, however, want to work cheaply.

The only way for labour in America to continue to demand top dollar is to move a very large portion of its base into advanced manufacturing. I can get cheap cogs from Malaysia or Brazil, I won’t pay for them to come from Wisconsin. Trying to get Wisconsin’s workers to accept a low enough pay for me to buy their cogs, creates all manner of political and economic problems because over time the expectations of Wisonsin’s workers have evolved to a vastly different standard than other parts of the world with which we do business.

We can either go back to a some greater degree of protectionism, which may be warranted as a way of smoothing out the differences between national economies, or we can think of the ways to go forward.

Make the things that other economies can not yet make, let alone make cheaply. Get there first and establish leadership. Other economies will catch up faster than they did in the past, but when they do, they will become both buyers and competitors, and new adjustments will have to be made.

A tax on gas is not about the value of green, that is just one expression. It’s about the value of innovation to the economy. Oil hasn’t been a great innovator, and that’s deadly to the interests of American labor.

If I have to pay a little more each year on gas, so be it. It is within the power of government to relieve the pressure on my pocketbook through cuts to other taxes. The mechanics of a tax shift are complex and careful work, but you can hire people to help work out the numbers.

.........................................
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Banana
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Join Date: Feb 2005
 
2009-02-10, 10:35

Quote:
Originally Posted by ezkcdude View Post
You can't have it both ways. You can't criticize Obama for doing something that needs to be done, while at the same time blaming him for the debt that has accrued to this point and for increasing that debt, which he must now do. It's not fair to him, and it's not really a logical argument.
Uh, what?

Where was Obama criticized or blamed? Not to mention there's the fallacy that "something that needs to be done" and "must now do" when it needs not be the case.

Quote:
The question: Should we pass a stimulus now or do nothing? It's either yes or no. If you were Obama, what would you do?
Just to point out that it's not a President but also the Congress that has to do the job. That said, the answer, for me, is easy: Do nothing for once, perhaps going further by stripping away regulations, bureaucracies and various means of interventions in order to return to a bona fide laissez faire market, which was never had for decades, if not ever. It's pretty much the solution that nobody has tried.

And to emphasize, any past 'deregulations' or 'failure of free market' exists in print only. There wasn't a truly free market but rather a mixed economy which had its bizarre set of ramifications and compromising the premises of free market.
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ezkcdude
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2009-02-10, 10:51

Quote:
Originally Posted by Banana View Post

And to emphasize, any past 'deregulations' or 'failure of free market' exists in print only. There wasn't a truly free market but rather a mixed economy which had its bizarre set of ramifications and compromising the premises of free market.
Bla bla bla. It's always the same tired arguments about the man keeping you down. Whatever.
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alcimedes
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2009-02-10, 11:01

Quote:
Originally Posted by ezkcdude View Post
Bla bla bla. It's always the same tired arguments about the man keeping you down. Whatever.
LOL. You were just recycling the Pro Bush argument not a page ago.

Pot, meet kettle.

God I hate politics.

Ball switched hands, time to start the offense chants while they all start rooting for the defense again. *sigh*

Google is your frenemy.
Caveat Emptor - Latin for tough titty
I tend to interpret things in the way that's most hilarious to me
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ezkcdude
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2009-02-10, 11:02

Quote:
Originally Posted by alcimedes View Post
LOL. You were just recycling the Pro Bush argument not a page ago.

Pot, meet kettle.

God I hate politics.
What did I say that was pro-Bush?
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alcimedes
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2009-02-10, 11:07

Quote:
Originally Posted by ezkcdude View Post
Frankly, I don't give a damn about how the deals get done - as long as the bills produced help the American people.
Welcome to the exact argument that gave us the Patriot Act, Guantanamo Bay, warrentless wiretapping etc.

Now that Dems are in power you're all about getting shit done. When it was the Republicans in charge I'm sure you found the same argument much less compelling.

Google is your frenemy.
Caveat Emptor - Latin for tough titty
I tend to interpret things in the way that's most hilarious to me
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ezkcdude
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2009-02-10, 11:31

Quote:
Originally Posted by alcimedes View Post
Welcome to the exact argument that gave us the Patriot Act, Guantanamo Bay, warrentless wiretapping etc.

Now that Dems are in power you're all about getting shit done. When it was the Republicans in charge I'm sure you found the same argument much less compelling.

I believe in majority rule. Dems rule now, so I want them to "get shit done". I was never one to expect Bush to give us anything he didn't want to. That's the way our democracy works. You vote one way or the other depending on how things go. If things go bad, you vote the bums out. If things go well, you vote the status quo. Bipartisan-ship is nice in theory, but it's a fairy tale.
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Banana
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Join Date: Feb 2005
 
2009-02-10, 11:45

Surely you know that FFA were generally opposed to majority rule, do you? That the foundation of government was determined by *individual* rights, as opposed to a group, whether it's a majority, a minority or the most favored and preferred group, right?

From that lens, it's easy to conclude that Patriot Act, warrantless wiretapping, bailing out institutions at expenses of everyone and forcing us to pay for special interests goes against the ideal.

Unfortunately, the 'rule of majority', 'rule of greater good', and/or 'rule of anybody who knows what's what' is so prevalent, it's essentially the correct mode of thinking.
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ezkcdude
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2009-02-10, 11:51

Quote:
Originally Posted by Banana View Post
Surely you know that FFA were generally opposed to majority rule, do you? That the foundation of government was determined by *individual* rights, as opposed to a group, whether it's a majority, a minority or the most favored and preferred group, right?
By *indvidual*, you mean white, male landowners, of course.
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Banana
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2009-02-10, 11:55

Quote:
Originally Posted by ezkcdude View Post
By *indvidual*, you mean white, male landowners, of course.
So I suppose if a racist bigot claims "2 + 2 = 4", that claim simply has to be false because he's a racist bigot. Too bad ad hominem doesn't validate or invalidate the proposition.
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alcimedes
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2009-02-10, 12:00

Ok, the level of retarded needs to drop severly in this thread if I'm going to leave it open.
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Matsu
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2009-02-10, 12:28

My brain needs a stimulus package
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bassplayinMacFiend
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2009-02-10, 12:57

Quote:
Originally Posted by ezkcdude View Post
By *indvidual*, you mean white, male landowners, of course.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Banana View Post
So I suppose if a racist bigot claims "2 + 2 = 4", that claim simply has to be false because he's a racist bigot. Too bad ad hominem doesn't validate or invalidate the proposition.
From my business law class (I know I know but IANAL), my lawyer teacher said the original meaning of "All Men Are Created Equal" legally meant "All white men owning land" because these were the only people originally allowed to vote.

Obviously, various constitutional amendments have changed the meaning of the words "All men are created equal", like the Civil Rights Amendment, for example. But, if you're going to talk about what the "founding fathers of America" meant, then you have to discuss the legal interpretation of what they were saying at the time they were saying it.
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Banana
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Join Date: Feb 2005
 
2009-02-10, 13:08

At risk of annoying Alci a bit more, I would state that yes, I do agree with your premise that if we were to look at the legal viewpoint, we would have to consider only "white male landowners", even though this is woefully short of the ideal that "all men human being are created equal", which is certainly still valid when discussing whether the rule should be by a majority, a minority or recognize individual's rights.

But that is seriously off-topic from the original aim of this thread; it's about stimulating the economy, and I think the point that stimulus package is enroaching on individuals' right has been already made.
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ezkcdude
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2009-02-10, 13:11

Quote:
Originally Posted by Banana View Post

But that is seriously off-topic from the original aim of this thread; it's about stimulating the economy, and I think the point that stimulus package is enroaching on individuals' right has been already made.
That's a pretty loose interpretation of "enroachment". But I'm sure you would say the same for taxes, etc.
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FFL
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2009-02-10, 13:15

"enroaching"?
"enroachment"?

<insert random Michael Phelps "roach" joke here>
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Ryan
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2009-02-10, 13:16

Quote:
Originally Posted by ezkcdude View Post
I believe in majority rule. Dems rule now, so I want them to "get shit done". I was never one to expect Bush to give us anything he didn't want to. That's the way our democracy works. You vote one way or the other depending on how things go. If things go bad, you vote the bums out. If things go well, you vote the status quo. Bipartisan-ship is nice in theory, but it's a fairy tale.
But process matters. Majority rule, in this country, is not a blank check to push through your party's agenda. Of course it makes the matter easier, but the *process* is there for a reason. The minority gets to be heard.

The President's agenda still has to get (de facto) Congressional approval. There's very little he can do on his own. This is why we have branches of government.
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Enki
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Join Date: Nov 2004
 
2009-02-10, 16:42

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matsu View Post
My brain needs a stimulus package
SI.com swimsuit stimulus, probably NSFW.
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ezkcdude
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Join Date: Jan 2005
 
2009-02-11, 14:52

It seems the stimulus is pushing through even a bit faster than expected. You know, I have to admit that this is partly due to the "outrage" expressed by Republicans. I think the House Dems may have realized they just need to shutup and "get it done" - as I pointed out earlier. My heartfelt thanks to the GOP for lighting a fire under our collective asses.
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Moogs
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Join Date: May 2004
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2009-02-11, 15:01

Starting soon much useful information on these issues will be had here.

http://financialstability.gov/

I saw Geitner's press conference. He was a little vague at points but I don't see what all the negativity was about. What did they expect that he was going to come out with All The Answers ™? The fact that yesterday's markets started tanking 30 seconds after he started talking shows what a ludicrous system it is. Rules ought to be put in place about that as well. No trading during or after major announcements until the next business day. At least that way people can think it over / sleep on it / discuss it before making their knee-jerk trades.

...into the light of a dark black night.
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ronmexico
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
 
2009-02-13, 19:05

So I figured it has been awhile since I posted a political comment, so I thought I would spark a little debate...

This new stimulus package is being debated in Congress, and today the House (no surprise) as passed it. I was curious what you guys thought about this. I have enjoyed watching Obama this last week explain the logic of this package. It is refreshing to hear a president not only be articulate, but very concisely explain his position. I am not sure if the Republican voices are being swept under the covers by the media, or if they just don't have a great solution. I have been disappointed by the lack of a vocal alternative.

But the sheer amount of money is this package is astounding! Let me try and put it into perspective. I was talking with a coworker today about a science program that we watched. The topic was Earth, its history, and the evolution of life. They had an interesting analogy: Earth has been in existence for about 4.5 billion years. They said to pretend the Empire State's Building would represent the age of Earth where each floor represents about 40 million years. Life would have begun on the 25th floor, eukaryotic life on the 80th floor, and the length of time the human race has been on the planet would equal the thickness of paint on the ceiling on the top floor. But that's 4.5 billion...Let's try 1 trillion...

Let's imagine that you have a fantastic job that pays you one dollar for every second you work. There are 60 seconds in a minute and 60 minutes in an hour. If you were only getting paid for as 40-hour work week for all 52 weeks of the year, you would still be getting paid $7,488,000 in a year. And if you were getting your $1/sec rate for every second of the year, you would take in $31,536,000 for the entire year. At that rate, to earn a trillion dollars, you would have to work more than 31,709 years! That's about the length of time the human race has walked the planet. And even if they magnanimously paid you $1,000/sec, it would still take you more than 31 years to earn that first $1 Trillion.

We are in unprecedented territory, and we are very very quickly about to pass a bill with unfathomable costs. I hear most, if not all congressmen/women haven't even had time to read to bill in its entirety. Who is going to manage this money to make sure it goes to the projects outlined in this bill? There has not been a soul that I know of that has come up with a plan for how this will be distributed with transparency and PREDICTABILITY. 10 years ago, congress would fight over a 100 million dollar bill...today 100 million dollars is being thrown around like it's nothing. But the sad thing is...this country is broke...we will borrow this money from China! Is this smart?

Here is an interesting alternative that does not involve borrowing, makes America more attractive to business, and encourages growth through incentive rather than debt.

Let me know your thoughts...by the way...gentlemen, my stimulus package is much larger than your "stimulus package."
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ezkcdude
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2009-02-13, 20:04

The bill is about 6% of GDP. Not unfathomable.
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Taskiss
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2009-02-13, 20:57

Quote:
Originally Posted by ronmexico View Post
This new stimulus package is being debated in Congress, and today the House (no surprise) as passed it. I was curious what you guys thought about this.
The amount I'm hearing being bandied about is $10,520 per family. So, in my opinion, the Government could do lots worse that just hand the money directly back to the people. Just write a tax rebate check for $10,000.00 to every head of household.

Artificially propping up banks or the Auto manufacturers seems short sighted - let the people decide. If US autos are worth keeping around, then so be it, vote with your money and use the cash to buy a car. If, instead, folks put their money in the bank, why, then the banks get bailed out. If folks pay off their bills then I guess the will of the people is that financial responsibility is the order of the day.

Doing anything other than handing it back to the folks they took it from is disingenuous, but take what I've written with a grain of salt - I'm one that feels the best thing to do is to do nothing. Don't bail out a thing, let equilibrium reign.

real hackers don't use sigs
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cosus
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2009-02-13, 21:02

Quote:
Originally Posted by Taskiss View Post
The amount I'm hearing being bandied about is $10,520 per family. So, in my opinion, the Government could do lots worse that just hand the money directly back to the people. Just write a tax rebate check for $10,000.00 to every head of household.

Artificially propping up banks or the Auto manufacturers seems short sighted - let the people decide.

Doing anything other than handing it back to who they took it from is disingenuous.
Handing money back to people like that is little better than a taxcut. If you want to hand money back, do it in a form of a gift card. Public works man!

Retired 8 years ahead of schedule.
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ezkcdude
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2009-02-13, 22:11

The problem with this stimulus is that the rebates are not stimulative.
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ronmexico
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2009-02-13, 22:50

My problem with this bill is that it is too much money for our government to handle and manage effectively...And given the strain our current deficit has placed on the economy, how the hell is borrowing from China a good idea? There are big promises of how the money will be distributed, but who is determining what is fund worthy? Once it leaves the treasury, where does it go? How can multiple agencies come up with an adequate estimation of what amount needs to be allocated, where it needs to go, and how long they need funding?

I would feel MUCH more comfortable if I heard a plan of action beyond theory, and even more comfortable if we had an incentive base plan that did not require nearly as much borrowing. I feel we are being too hasty!
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ezkcdude
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2009-02-13, 23:20

Quote:
Originally Posted by ronmexico View Post
My problem with this bill is that it is too much money for our government to handle and manage effectively...
Really? The yearly budget is 3 trillion dollars give or take.

Quote:
And given the strain our current deficit has placed on the economy, how the hell is borrowing from China a good idea?
At 30-yr interest rates, it's a pretty good idea, actually. I discussed this above.

Quote:
There are big promises of how the money will be distributed, but who is determining what is fund worthy? Once it leaves the treasury, where does it go? How can multiple agencies come up with an adequate estimation of what amount needs to be allocated, where it needs to go, and how long they need funding?
Very easy. They're called competitive grants. In fact, I shall be applying for several NIH grants this year.

Quote:
I would feel MUCH more comfortable if I heard a plan of action beyond theory, and even more comfortable if we had an incentive base plan that did not require nearly as much borrowing. I feel we are being too hasty!
What would an "incentive base plan" look like?
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ronmexico
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2009-02-13, 23:28

My friend replied to this question I posed. His answer was impressive:

OK - lets take these points one at a time - and ronmexico I included references because I know you find my facts questionable on occasion

The Republicans have three separate problems - none of which are in any way related to having their 'voices swept under the covers by the media'. Having worked for the two largest newspaper companies in the world, I can assure you the 'media' is incapable of such organized effort. Even if there were a move by some media to curtail Republican voices - surely Rush, Shawn, O'Reilly, and the WSJ would take up the counter-chorus - or have they all been co-opted too?

First, Obama's approval ratings are sky high and Congress' in general and Republicans specifically, are in the toilet.
Second, the Republicans have no new ideas to offer - seriously, ronmexico's link is Newt Gingrich talking about ideas he first trotted out in 1992. Whether you think they;re good ideas or bad ideas - they're hardly news.
Third, the Republicans have no-one to speak for them (who's the leader of the Republican Party) - again making it hard for them to articulate anything.

To the heart of the matter- A trillion dollars is a lot of money in absolute terms - I think we can all agree on that. But in terms of the US economy, $1 trillion isn't an astronomical figure.

In 2008 the US Gross Domestic Product was $14.8 trillion dollars (http://www.bea.gov/national/index.htm). So lets do some simple math - 14.8 trillion/789 billion = 5% of the US GDP - but that's only if you assume all the spend happens in one year. The current plan spreads the stimulus over three years (which may or may not be a good idea) - making the cost 1.8% of GDP per year.

So, assuming we're looking to jump start the economy the question is - is 1.8% of the GDP enough to get things going? Would a 1.8% increase in your business, or your budget, or your sales or your pay make a material difference in your world?

In terms of perspective, the war in Iraq has been far more expensive, with an annualized tab of $1.2 trillion dollars- that's 65% more than Obama's stimulus plan (and I'm being generous in my cost estimate here, many have placed the figure closer to $3 trillion) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...702846_pf.html. I don't recall hearing Republicans talking about stealing from our children to fund a war halfway around the world although they have been bandying that phrase around this week talking about saving jobs at home.

Next - ten years ago Congress didn't fight over spending $100 million - the federal budget in 1998 was $1.7 trillion. Congress has no trouble spending money - and they may or may not fight over any given bill - but lets not create some romantic notion of a time of smaller government. Federal spending as a percentage of GDP has been relatively stable in the post war period - hovering between a low of 17.3% in 1950 (Truman) and a high of 22.8% in 1985 (Reagan). http://www.truthandpolitics.org/outlays-per-gdp.php

The Republican myth of smaller government simply doesn't match up against the historical record - Bush's last budget was for $3.10 trillion - a 60% increase over the $1.9 trillion in Clinton's last budget http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/browse.html. Having held the Oval Office for 20 and Congress for 12 of the last 28 years, Republicans have not reduced the size of the Federal Government - in fact they have expanded federal spending.

Finally - because this has gone on far longer than I ever intended - lets not make too much out of the difficulty of accounting for government spending. The Obama plan is designed to fund existing infrastructure projects - highways, bridges, and schools - and to funnel dollars directly to state and local government. We know how to do that - the Federal government spends about $3 trillion annually through these same mechanisms. The failure of the last emergency spending act (the TARP) was that it handed government bureaucrats a half trillion dollars to fix the banking system - without a clear idea on how to, who should or what to do. The stimulus package, like the tax rebate program last summer, takes advantage of existing bureaucratic channels to ensure money gets where it should, is spent how it was intended, and citizens can track the progress. Ask an accountant how strenuously the Federal government enforces grant provisions - they can tell you as an auditor and as a local official trying to jump through the fed's hoops.

I know I've gotten pegged as the groups token Democrat - and I'm happy to fill that rhetorical role. But I'm hardly a Democrat - I've voted and worked for candidates of both parties (and independents). I just find the national Republican rhetoric tiresome, disingenuous and divisive. I find the Democrats to be equally unattractive - although for entirely different reasons - the pandering, the inability to tackle entrenched constituencies and refusal to face the growing problems of federal entitlements programs. It's time for a change of tone, and I still hope Obama can inspire a new spirit of pragmatism in Washington.

I don't know if this is the right thing to do or not. I can tell you that this downturn is bad, it cuts across virtually every sector of society and as far as I can see there are no winners and no end in sight. Seems to me that inaction isn't an option
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ezkcdude
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2009-02-13, 23:36

Well, great minds think alike. He hit on pretty much everything I've been saying.
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2009-02-13, 23:38

Quote:
Originally Posted by ezkcdude View Post
Well, great minds think alike. He hit on pretty much everything I've been saying.
Actually he articulated his thoughts and provided valid logic and reason. You on the other hand were channeling a liberal Dick Cheney.
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