Monday Morning Politics: Budget Battles

Monday, March 18, 2013

Obama and Boehner continue to square off over long-term deficits, while Congress tries to come up with a budget. Nancy Cook, budget and tax correspondent for the National Journal, discusses Democrat Patty Murray and Republican Paul Ryan's dueling plans. Plus: After CPAC, the RNC has released a "Growth and Opportunity Plan" (read it below) that includes a call for immigration reform, a shorter primary season, and a turn to "data-driven" campaigning. Will it jumpstart a GOP turnaround?

Open Prep: What Brian's Reading

→ Read the Budgets (PDF): Paul Ryan's "Path to Prosperity" | Patty Murray's "Foundation for Growth"

→ Further Reading: Nancy Cook on Patty Murray | Bipartisan Policy Center Analysis of Murray and Ryan Plans | Wonkbook Compares | Forbes Comparison

→ Read the New GOP Plan


Nancy Cook

Comments [40]

I agree with everyone else here. Where's the discussion about the Congressional Progressive Caucus budget?

Here's a good discussion by Ezra Klein in WaPo:

Mar. 20 2013 01:10 AM


You may see this as a 'lesser of two evils' choice, but your assumption that there is only one correct ignores the possibility of principled action. It also assumes that no other options are available. I would argue that easy access to debt erodes the role of community in solving social problems. You could avoid homelessness, nakedness, and starvation with the help friends and family. Perhaps a less face-saving solution for you, but perhaps we would all be better off if our 'debts' were more personal and less anonymous.

Mar. 18 2013 12:12 PM
Noach (Independent) from Brooklyn

Also, Doug Henwood claims that content he originally wrote appears some time later in regurgitated form in Krugman's columns:

Mar. 18 2013 12:01 PM
Noach (Independent) from Brooklyn

@ Jim, 11:15:

Actually, no, the rational choice in each of the examples; between debt and basic necessities of life, would be debt. It would be the clear lesser of the evils.

BTW, the celebrated Krugman has repeatedly failed to make this point when challenged with the argument that just as a household must keep their budget balanced, so too must the nation. Krugman answers by pointing-out the key difference that in any community, one person's spending is another person's income. This, of course, is valid but what about the even more basic and fundamental rejoinder: That _even_ in a household, debt, as bad as it may be, is clearly the lesser evil over /privation/.

I have heard Krugman omit this salient point both on Democracy Now! as well as right here in WNYC with Leonard Lopate.

@scott from soho: WNYC seems to have only establishment economists.

Richard Wolff and Doug Henwood are both NY-based and I am fairly certain that neither have ever been on WNYC, or even NPR at all.

Mar. 18 2013 11:53 AM
Scott from soho

Is Paul Krugman the only economist in NYC? I'm fairly certain their may be other economists looking for a little radio work.

Mar. 18 2013 11:35 AM
Mike from Tribeca

Not to worry about the deficit, folks. Senator and self-certified superhero Rand Paul's recently introduced "fetal personhood" bill will insure that future generations will start paying taxes from the moment of conception. We'll be rolling in dough!

Mar. 18 2013 11:25 AM
Tony from Canarise

The "I've Got Mine, Jack" philosophy sounds wonderful, as long as your name doesn't happen to be Jack.

Mar. 18 2013 11:18 AM

@Noach said "If the choice boiled-down to: debt or starve, or: debt or live in the street, or: debt or go naked, which would you choose?"

Well, that brings us back to the Giant Douche vs. Turd Sandwich choice. Hobson's choice.

Mar. 18 2013 11:15 AM
Noach (Independent) from Brooklyn

@ "Bob from Brooklyn", 10:10 AM:

I actually neglected to mention that I share your view of the budgets. Nonetheless, I stand by my point about the gratuitous vulgarity.
"Dean Bell from Brooklyn", 10:21 a.m., wrote,

"Isn't it time to re-address a single payer plan?"


See what Marcia Angell, M.D., among others, has written.

An example:
"On July 22, 2009, Obama said in a press conference, "Now, the truth is that unless you have what's called a single-payer system in which everybody is automatically covered, then you're probably not going to reach every single individual." Bingo. Too bad he didn't hang on to that insight, and use his rhetorical skills to make the case strongly to the American public."

Full-text at

Note that Pres. Obama said that everyone would be invited to the table to discuss health care reform but single-payer advocates never were.
"Bob from Brooklyn", 10:22 a.m.:

" I simply go without."

"I don't want to be a slave, I don't want my kids to be slaves."

If the choice boiled-down to: debt or starve, or: debt or live in the street, or: debt or go naked, which would you choose?

What about being a slave to the master of _need_?

"These men, it is said, have no master. They have one, and the most terrible, the most imperious of masters: that is, need. It is this that reduces them to the most cruel dependence." - Simon Linguet

Mar. 18 2013 11:04 AM


You do realize that economists, like Presidents, congresspeople, judges, people with PhDs, etc are guided by personal philosophies and political agendas, right? Economics is pseudo science that can be used to support an infinite number of predictive models (which are almost always incorrect in retrospect). Krugman is just one of many economists and every economist has their own set of opinions and justifying models. Earning a PhD does not elevate a person to benevolent omniscience.

Mar. 18 2013 10:55 AM
Ed from New Jersey

The budget process is controlled by the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 and the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974.Under these Acts the President, the Senate(under Harry Reid) and the Congress(under John Boehner)have not passed a budget in four years. The President has not purposed a budget in three years which is a violation of the two budgeting Acts, likewise the Senate has not purposed on a budget in four years. Congress has purposed budgets but none have been passed by both houses and gone to the President. This is the first time that the budget process is working as written.

Mar. 18 2013 10:51 AM
Paul W from NYC

The Progressive Caucus is the largest caucus in the House of Representatives - why were it's proposals ignored?

Mar. 18 2013 10:44 AM


I am going to go with Krugman's credentials over anyon's in Congress and even Obama's I don't think anyone should have the right to comment on the economy if you do not have a PhD in economics.

Mar. 18 2013 10:36 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

I'm against all marriage, not just gay marriage. I don't think the state should have the right to "marry" people. Marriage is purely a religious function. State intervention in the marriage business was wrong from the start. The state should only register "civil unions" and grant certain rights and privileges to those who register as a civil union.

Mar. 18 2013 10:31 AM

The GOP is going to rebrand themselves by using the same people to execute the same plans, except that they'll give those plans new names. This should give the Dems a reason to cheer.

Mar. 18 2013 10:30 AM


Well, of course Paul Krugman believes that we should spend more. For an economist, he has a remarkably poor understanding free market economics. Unless, of course, he actually understands very well, but chooses to be the champion of its destruction.

Mar. 18 2013 10:30 AM
Lenore from Manhattan

On health care, everyone should read Time Magazine, cover article on March 4, Steven Brill, "Why Medical Bills are killing us."

Medicare for all!!

Mar. 18 2013 10:29 AM
Paul Wortman from NYC

Please discuss the House Progressive Caucus "Back to Work" budget proposal.

Mar. 18 2013 10:29 AM
RUCB_Alum from Central New Jersey

Let me get this straight, the Clinton budget and tax levels - if followed by Dubya and the GOP would have brought the national debt to $0 within a decade. Rather than pay off the $5T - Bush and the GOP through tax cuts, two unfunded wars and unpaid for expansions to entitlements ADDED $5T. That's a $10T swing that the GOP are ducking responsibility on.

When the bubble burst from all of this STIMULUS, the target for cuts is the poor and politically connected. Why is that viewed as anything less than theft?

My solution is simple - Create a national jobs program that puts people to work and leaves the country in a better position to compete. I favor high speed rail to connect all of the continent's cities with population greater than one million people. Think of the savings in trucking fuel, congestion and pollution; Return ENTIRELY to the Clinton tax levels; Enable SENIORS (50+) to access Veteran Affairs health services FOR FREE; Claw back the income that our economy generated the RICH from 2001-2010 who did nothing but 'enjoy the ride'.

Mar. 18 2013 10:29 AM
mejimenez from manhattan

The budget that provides a liberal alternative to the Ryan budget is not the Patty Murray budget, but the House Progressive Caucus "Back To Work" budget. There is no better proof of the intellectual capture by what Krugman calls the Austerians, is that the Progressive Caucus Budget is not even mentioned. See:

And now Brian is repeating the canard that the US Government cannot continue to have a deficit year after year. When someone as well-informed as he buys into the confused notion that the US Government budget is analogous to a family budget, we are truly lost.

Mar. 18 2013 10:27 AM

I'm surprised that Brian is a little incredulous about the idea of conservatives not commiserating with much of America on social issues. For the record, Of course Portman is being Parochial. Hello?!?!

Mar. 18 2013 10:27 AM
Bob from Brooklyn

You know Portman is on the DL too, right?

Mar. 18 2013 10:27 AM
Bob from Brooklyn

Dear Media People. Please start laughing at Pols who are against allowing gays to marry. Embarrass them on TV. Stop being p_ssies and take a stand.

Mar. 18 2013 10:26 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Wow, Brian Lehrer isn't happy that the politician changed his opinion and agrees with Brian Lehrer, he's unhappy that he did it as a result of his family situation.

Mar. 18 2013 10:25 AM
Lenore from Manhattan

I agree with Paul, please discuss the "Back to Work" budget. Whatever is proposed by progressives is automatically dismissed by the media. Brian, do something different.

If it's not viable, what about Ryan who is still proposing repealing Obamacare??

Mar. 18 2013 10:24 AM

Ms. Cook:

The Murray Budget is the one that will allow us to join the 21st Century & rebuild/improve our infrastructures - insulate all buildings, improve internet speeds & national beyond the baby steps that the telecoms allow for their "premium rates."

Solve Social Security = remove salary wage cap & add "carried interest" & make all other same year income subject to FICA/FISA. Make capital gains effective only after an asset has been held 10 years or more. Also, make all Federal retirees including Social Security COLAs based on the CPI-E standard of the BLS.

Medicare solve: Allow CMS/Medicare to negotiate directly for Part D Rx drugs and all other recipient needs. Also for purposes of setting premium costs for seniors, count all income from pensions, IRAs & other non-taxable income - muni bonds, etc..

The Ryan budget is guaranteed to kill people - literally.

Mar. 18 2013 10:24 AM
The Truth from Becky

Good question Brian, it is NOT a moral stand, it is exactly what you said, to benefit his family in this case his son.

Mar. 18 2013 10:24 AM
The Truth from Becky

What a mitch?! Why did she ask a question like that? She still has not answered Bran's question, why?

Mar. 18 2013 10:23 AM
Bob from Brooklyn

I have a philosophical disagreement with these people in power. DEBT IS SLAVERY. I paid off my debt and I refuse to take on more. I simply go without. It's past time the government and everyone else does the same. I don't want to be a slave, I don't want my kids to be slaves. Screw this WH and Congress.

Mar. 18 2013 10:22 AM
Jf from Reality

Money does not exist! Money is numbers in computers!pay pff yhe dept and save all our"money" make inflation illegal if we have to. Who do we "owe""money"to?i want to be civil but everyone seems very brainwashed and mind controlled to me.

Mar. 18 2013 10:22 AM
Dean Bell from Brooklyn

It makes me crazy to hear health care is what's sinking our budget. Isn't it time to re-address a single payer plan? No other country is dying from their health care.

Mar. 18 2013 10:21 AM

no budget cuts, cuts to proposed increases.

Mar. 18 2013 10:20 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Not sure the guest understands the difference between debt (which isn't always bad) and [deficit] spending and a balanced budget, what the caller was concerned about.

Mar. 18 2013 10:18 AM
Nathan from Hoboken, NJ

This is all I need to say :

Mar. 18 2013 10:18 AM
Bob from Brooklyn

Sorry Nancy. But excessive debt IS A BAD IDEA. HELLO!? Look at Greece, Cyprus, Spain, Italy, Detroit. Jesus.

Every person in the country has a federal debt burden close to $200K!!!! On top of state debt, local debt and personal debt. This whole system is Hollow.

Mar. 18 2013 10:17 AM
Cheng from Brooklyn

Your guest is wrong, it is not just healthcare spending, it will be interest on the debt which over the next decade begins to crowd out normal discretionary spending. Everyone assumes interest rates will stay at zero. good luck with that.

Mar. 18 2013 10:17 AM
Paul Wortman from New York, NY

Please discuss the Progressive Caucus "Back to Work" bugdet proposal - the proposals of this large caucus in Congress are not getting the coverage they deserve.

Not discussing this will be a serious omission of a viable proposal (perhaps not politically viable, but a realistic and truly good proposal that will help the economy of ordinary people who make up the majority of the population.)

Mar. 18 2013 10:14 AM
Bob from Brooklyn

Don't be such a prissy pants, Noach. I think I described both budget plans accurately.

Mar. 18 2013 10:10 AM
Noach (Independent) from Brooklyn

"Bob from Brooklyn":

Must you be so crude and vulgar? Isn't it gratuitous? Do you really think it helps your credibility?

Have some consideration for all the people eating/drinking while viewing the site.

Mar. 18 2013 09:33 AM
Bob from Brooklyn

So which budget do you want, America? The giant douche budget or the turd sandwich? You get to pick one only. Either way, look forward to for the government to seize savings accounts in ten years when all this debt is past due. Oh wait, they are already doing that through quantitative easing.

Brian, I'd love to hear a segment on countries with the lowest debt burden. I'd like to know my options on immigration so my kids and grandkids have a the best chance at economic security, and so I can get a start on the paperwork and language classes. Thank you

Mar. 18 2013 09:27 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.