FT147: “The politician that plays with the meaning of words most is the politician that is lying the most.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 7th, 2012

Fundamental Truth

When you start Playing with the Meaning of Words it’s usually because you’re Trying to Lie

When President Clinton committed perjury when denying having sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky he tried to play with the meaning of words.  Saying it depended on what the meaning of ‘is’ is.  Clinton was a lawyer.  Like most politicians.  Who like to parse their words.  To twist their meanings.  So they can say one thing.  While they mean the complete opposite.  Clinton said he did not have sex with Lewinsky even though he had.  But the words he used could be parsed to both say he did and did not have sex with that woman.  Monica Lewinsky.  Lewinsky’s blue dress with Clinton’s semen on it, though, proved he was lying despite his nimble linguistic gymnastics.  And the House of Representatives impeached Clinton.  But the Senate didn’t have the votes to remove him from office for his perjury.  Nor did he resign as Richard Nixon did after he was caught in his perjury.

In George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four the oppressive socialist state did the same thing.  Play with the meaning of words.  To make lying easier.  The Ministry of Love was like the Gestapo in Nazi Germany or the Stasi in East Germany.  Institutions that tortured and instilled fear into the people.  Which was for the people’s own good.  For the state loved the people.  At least that’s what the state said while they were torturing and abusing the people.  The Ministry of Plenty was responsible for the empty store shelves and the constant hunger gnawing in the people’s bellies.  The Ministry of Peace waged perpetual war.  And the Ministry of Truth was the state’s propaganda arm in charge of state censorship.  Advancing the state’s lies.  Like Joseph Goebbels did in Nazi Germany.

Words mean things.  And when you start playing with the meaning of words it’s usually because you’re trying to lie.  Trying to advance an unpopular agenda by disguising that agenda in a cloak of disarming words.  You can trust anything coming from the Ministry of Truth as the word ‘truth’ is in its name.  And you have nothing to fear from the secret police as the branch of government they work under is all about love.  And when the state tells you over and over again that it is a moneyed upper-class that is the cause of everything that is wrong in your life you start believing it.  Whether that moneyed upper-class are rich capitalists and bankers.  Or Jews in 1930s Germany.

The Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush Tax Rate Cuts brought in Record Tax Revenues into the Treasury

Liberal democrats like to tax and spend.  They believe in big government.  They like it big like it is in Europe.  Where they have socialism-light.  Social democracy, they call it.  A big, expansive welfare state funded by high tax rates.  When taxes can’t pay for all their spending they borrow money.  When they can’t borrow any more they start printing money.  As a result of this excessive state spending most of Europe is mired in a sovereign debt crisis.  Many nations are so broke that they have no choice but to cut back their spending.  Which is sending people into the streets rioting.

This is where the U.S. is heading.  Most people who understand economic fundamentals know this.  And vote against going further down this European road.  But there are a lot of people who don’t understand economic fundamentals.  They listen to their Ministry of Truth.  The Democrats, the public schools, college professors, mainstream media and the entertainment establishment.  Who all lean left.  And who all say the only problem we have is a moneyed upper-class who aren’t paying their fair share.  Though the top 10% of income earners pay about 70% of all federal income taxes.  Something the state doesn’t mention when they say they aren’t paying their fair share.  So the people don’t know that they pay 70% of all federal income taxes.  And they are more willing to believe their Ministry of Truth.

The public schools, college professors, mainstream media and the entertainment establishment do their part, too.  By revising history.  They note the deficits of Ronald Reagan in the Eighties.  And blame those deficits on the Reagan tax rate cuts.  But what they don’t tell the people is that after those cuts in tax rates the amount of tax revenue (money coming to Washington from taxpayers) nearly doubled.  President Obama and his Ministry of Truth blame all of our economic woes on George W. Bush’s tax rate cuts.  But what they don’t tell the people is that the treasury collected a record high in tax revenue under George W. Bush.  Proving that cuts in the tax rates did not cause any fiscal harm.  It was the greater increases in spending that caused all of the harm.

Democrats want to Raise Taxes on Everyone because they are Tax and Spend Liberal Democrats

Under baseline budgeting increases in spending amounts are automatic.  Every year they go up.  And they never go down.  So when the politicians decry proposed draconian spending cuts there are no real cuts in spending per se.  What they are proposing to cut is the rate at which to increase spending.  Say, instead of an automatic 7% spending increase they will only increase spending 5%.  Spending will increase 5%.  But those in government call it a 2% spending cut.  Which is why despite all of the spending cuts ever enacted (and there hasn’t been a lot of them) the federal debt has never gotten any smaller.

So an increase in spending can be a spending cut.  But the Orwellian doublespeak doesn’t stop there.  Those on the Left call tax cuts increases in government spending.  (Interestingly, the only kind of spending the government can never afford.)  Here’s why.  Excessive spending causes deficits.  And if they cut tax rates they believe less money will flow into the treasury.  Thus increasing the size of the deficit.  Ergo, spending and tax cuts are the same because both increase the deficit.  Of course that’s a fallacy.  As proven by Reagan and Bush.  Who actually increased tax revenues by cutting tax rates.  How?  Lower tax rates encourages more economic activity.  More people are working and paying taxes.  Resulting in a higher tax revenue overall.

Currently President Obama and his Ministry of Truth are saying that the Republicans are fighting against a middle class tax cut to give the richest 2% a tax cut.  Which isn’t exactly true.  There are no tax cuts on the table.  The George W. Bush tax cuts are expiring.  If they expire everyone’s taxes will go up.  The president wants to extend these tax cuts.  But only for the middle class.  Unfortunately, there are many small business owners whose business earnings flow to their personal tax returns.  Which puts them into the richest 2%.  But most of that money never comes out of their business.  They may be taxed as rich people.  But they live middle class lives.  Because they reinvest their earnings into their business.  To buy new equipment.  To expand their business.  And to hire new people.  This is why Republicans don’t want to raise taxes on these small business owners.  For it’s these small business owners who provide the majority of jobs in the economy.  And increasing their taxes will only hurt the economic recovery.

The Republicans offered to increase tax revenues by revising the tax code to eliminate certain deductions.  Providing the amount of revenue the president was asking for.  But the president refused.  For he wants those increases in the tax rates.  To complete the revision of history by ‘righting the wrongs’ of the Reagan and the Bush administrations.  To further the lie about the Reagan and Bush tax cuts.  But there’s another reason.  The amount of revenue he’s asking for now (whether it’s from eliminating deductions or increasing tax rates) won’t make a dent in the deficit.  Or the debt.  The only way they will be able to do that is by increasing taxes on the middle class.  Which will be a lot easier to do after they raised taxes on the rich.  Which is what they want to do.  Raise taxes on everyone.  Because they are tax and spend liberal Democrats.  But as most people don’t vote for people that want to raise their taxes, they lie.  And play with the meaning of words.  As liars do.  And the politician that plays with the meaning of words most is the politician that is lying the most.

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LESSONS LEARNED #76: “You know they’re governing against the will of the people when they play with the meaning of words to fool the people.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 28th, 2011

When is a Spending Cut an Increase in Spending? 

I have a riddle for you.  When is a spending cut an increase in spending?  “Well, that’s when…, hey, wait minute,” you say.  “That’s not a riddle.  That’s a paradox.  It’s like saying draw a square circle.  Or a name an objective journalist.  You just can’t do these things.  Just as a ‘cut’ can’t be an ‘increase’.  They are the very opposite of each other.”

Yeah, you would think.  Not that much of a riddle, then, is it?  For a true riddle is solvable.  Or should be.  Like, say, I have two coins that add up to thirty cents.  One of them isn’t a nickel.  What are they?  You’re a bit stymied, aren’t you.  Because a quarter and a nickel are the only two coins that add up to thirty cents.  So what’s the answer?  A quarter and a nickel.  “But you said one of them wasn’t a nickel,” you say.  “Right,” I say.  “One of them isn’t a nickel.  But the other one is.”

Now that’s a riddle.  Clever.  But solvable.  So now back to my first riddle.  When is a spending cut an increase in spending?  The answer is when you use baseline budgeting.

The Power of Baseline Budgeting

Politicians lie.  And they love to spend our money.  Put the two together and what do you get?  Baseline budgeting.   Which in a nutshell is government spending on autopilot.  Next year’s spending is this year’s spending plus a little extra.  That ‘little extra’ is the amount in all budget negotiations. 

For example, let’s say there is an item in the budget with a billion dollar budget amount this year.  That’s the baseline.  That’s where we start budgeting for next year.  Next year’s budget will be one billion dollars plus or minus that ‘extra amount’.

Typically they set this ‘extra amount’ to be equal to or greater than the rate of inflation.  And/or changes in legislation for that budgetary item.  Let’s say there is no change in the program legislation.  And they set the program’s budget so that next year’s budget equals this year’s budget plus 10%.  So this budget item will be $1 billion this year.  And $1.1 billion next year.  Projecting this out for 10 years, this will automatically add $1.36 billion to this budgetary item.

In Baseline Budgeting a Spending Cut is an Increase in Spending

A couple of things should jump out at you.  For one you see why government programs never die.  Once they add them to the budget they stay in the budget.  And grow.  Always.  Forever.  And the bigger the starting budget amount the bigger the program will grow over time.  Again, automatically.  So you can see why baseline budgeting has been a godsend to Big Government.  It guarantees the growth of government.  Now.  And forever.

Now let’s look at a spending cut.  Let’s say spending is getting out of control.  Deficits are growing.  (As hard as that is to imagine.)  So there’s a budget deal to ‘cut’ the budget by 2%.  But this is a 2% cut in baseline budgeting.  So we’re not reducing the budget amount.  We’re only reducing the amount above the baseline.  Spending was going to increase 10% the following year.  But with this 2% cut, that 10% increase becomes only an 8% increase. 

This is where the language play comes in.  The budget is increased by 8%.  But in baseline budgeting it is a 2% decrease.  Instead of increasing the budget by $100 million, they only increase it by $80 million.  The budget is increased by $80 million but they count it as a $20 million cut.  Because future spending was cut $20 million.  So it’s a cut even though no spending was actually cut.  Spending still increases.  Just not as much as previously budgeted.  And that’s the wonderful world of baseline budgeting.  Where a spending cut increases spending.

The Government Shutdown of 1995 and 1996 

When CBO takes these projections out to 10 years it makes these spending ‘cuts’ look draconian.  As originally budgeted, this item would have been increased by $1.36 billion over 10 years.  Because of the reduction in the size of future spending, it will only increase $1 billion over 10 years.  But instead of calling this a $1 billion increase (which it is), they will call it a draconian cut of $359 million (which it isn’t).  Instead of saying this budget item will increase by 99.9% (which it will), they say it will be cut by 26.4% (which it obviously won’t).  Now politicians understand this baseline doublespeak.  But the average American doesn’t.  They hear ‘26.4%’ cut in some program for single mothers or hungry children and think what vicious, heartless bastards Republicans are.

And this was the stage for the government shutdown of 1995 and 1996Bill Clinton campaigned as a moderate in the 1992 presidential election.  After winning, though, he governed as a tax and spend liberal.  The people expressed their disapproval and gave both houses of Congress to the Republicans in the 1994 midterm electionsNewt Gingrich became Speaker of the House.  Gingrich and the Republicans saw their election as a mandate to stop the out of control government spending.  And that’s what they were trying to do in the budget battles beginning in 1995.

The Republicans were trying to reduce the rate of growth of government spending per the will of the people.  Spending would still increase.  But at a slower rate.  Clinton, though, fought against the will of the people.  Using baseline budgeting newspeak to mislead the people.  Clinton called these reductions in growth rates draconian spending cuts.  Even though there were no real cuts in spending.  But being a tax and spend liberal, he wasn’t about to cut the rate of growth.  So they squared off in budget battle.  It all came to a head when the government hit its borrowing limit.  The Republicans tried to get some spending cuts in exchange for increasing the debt ceiling.  Clinton refused.  Unable to pay its bills, the government shutdown.  And the United States collapsed.

Baseline Budgeting helps you Govern against the Will of the People

Not really.  Few people even noticed the shutdown.  Everyone still went to work.  Collected their pay (unless you worked in a national park).  And life went on.  Social Security checks went out.  Interest on the national debt was paid.  The credit rating on U.S. sovereign debt remained AAA.  So there was little damage.  Clinton came out okay from the crisis.  Newt Gingrich not so well.  Many believe that this helped Clinton’s reelection in 1996.  Of course a lot of that had to do with Dick Morris.  Who pulled Clinton to the center.  And became the moderate the people thought they elected.

Clinton may have won reelection, but he paid a price.   Republicans still held both houses of Congress.  Who ultimately won in the long-run.  Their Balanced Budget Act of 1997 did cut the growth rate of government spending.  And then the dot-com boom of the late Nineties produced a windfall of tax revenue that, with the ‘spending cuts’ of the Balanced Budget Act, actually balanced the budget.  For a few years.  But it turned out that the dot-com boom was actually a dot-com bubble.  Thanks to a lot of irrational exuberance.  And the bubble popped.  With the resulting recession tax revenue fell.  And those balanced budgets were no more.

Unwilling to concede to the will of the people, Clinton played with the meaning of words.  Called a spending increase a spending cut.  Because he knew the average American didn’t understand baseline budgeting.  And politicians continue to this day scaring people about draconian spending cuts where there are no spending cuts.  Not in the world of baseline budgeting.  Which makes it easy for them to continue to govern against the will of the people.  As they continue to do.  As they always have done.  Because nothing is more important than growing government.  And spending as much of our money as possible before we get a chance to spend it ourselves.

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