consultants are sandburs

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Naming names. A map showing hash-marked parts of the US where spending cuts would be appropriate.

Busted for passing bad checks all around DC
using the pseudonym, "Cliff Fiscal."

Hand wringing, here, here and here. The turncoats. Quislings. Flog them. Parade them naked in chains around Lambeau Field during half-time. Throw them out of tall building top floors.

Actually, wallow in catharsis then Move On. In two weeks there will be the then current hobby horse debate/posturing. Bless them all. They all do it.

Naming names, here. Col. Kline votes in support of Boehner.

Map, here. Those who opposed revenue should expect the consequent spending cuts, and let the fiscal faithful then go back to district and explain it after the cuts. "Michele, what did you do to my pork," Federal Cartridge folks may keen, at least so, in a just world.


I’ve had communications from a number of people asking an interesting question relating to the debt ceiling and other issues: why does the Federal government have to borrow at all? Why can’t it just print money to pay its bills? After all, haven’t people like me been saying that this isn’t actually inflationary?

Now, it turns out that there really is a problem, or actually two problems — but they’re a bit subtle.

First, as a legal matter the Federal government can’t just print money to pay its bills, with one peculiar exception. Instead, money has to be created by the Federal Reserve, which then puts it into circulation by buying Federal debt. You may say that this is an artificial distinction, because the Fed is effectively part of the government; but legally, the distinction matters, and the debt bought by the Fed counts against the debt ceiling.

The peculiar exception is that clause allowing the Treasury to mint platinum coins in any denomination it chooses. Of course this was intended as a way to issue commemorative coins and stuff, not as a fiscal measure; but at least as I understand it, the letter of the law would allow Treasury to stamp out a platinum coin, say it’s worth a trillion dollars, and deposit it at the Fed — thereby avoiding the need to issue debt.

In reality, to pursue the thought further, the coin really would be as much a Federal debt as the T-bills the Fed owns, since eventually Treasury would want to buy it back. So this is all a gimmick — but since the debt ceiling itself is crazy, allowing Congress to tell the president to spend money then tell him that he can’t raise the money he’s supposed to spend, there’s a pretty good case for using whatever gimmicks come to hand.

That link gives a number of earlier Krugman posts, the quote being from today's latest.

A super coin for the Fed? Call it the Emancipation Krugmanrand, (symbolic of freedom from slavery to the Fed), and pass a law that the Fed has to take it at declared value?

Design possibility for Krugmanrand coin, here.

A minted fiat coin, exchanged for fiat paper. (I used to drive a Fiat when in law school. Some say it is an acronym for, "Fix it again, Tony." Then fiat money means, fix it one more time, Ben B. Ben B. He has that power and grace, in ways bankers can enjoy.)

And what would Ron Paul say?

Platinum isn't gold? His standard line?

Kabuki theater, next show starts tomorrow.

UPDATE: This item. Read it.

My guess is Obama used Biden to short circuit Harry Reid because Reid was pushing for a more level set of policy aims than Obama cared to give folks, independent of his campaigning rhetoric when he promised more than he is delivering.

During the campaign we knew we'd do better with Obama than Paul Ryan, where RYAN was on record as a known foe of the 99% while slogging hard for pork for bueiness enterprises in his district, but until now we had no real idea of how much Obama might sell out.

Now we see.

Campaigning on a firm promise to insist that up to the first $250,000 of anybody's and everybody's income would be protected from tax increase (if he could force such an aim into policy), then to cave in to largesse for high incomes being almost doubled to the $450,000 threshold, is a disappointing promise-vs-delivery pattern. Even for those not expecting much being different from the first four years where "CHANGE" ended up being small change, pocket change.

If Joe Biden thinks himself a candidate in 2016, the Democrats can do far better. He was the Obama errand boy in torpedoing Harry Reid as Senate Majority Leader in the course of negotiating things.

Biden pushed through a crappy deal, no two ways to it. Reid has positioned himself, true or not, as more favorable to Democrat rank and file than Biden. For what that's worth. Little, at a guess, but we shall see. Congress has earned single digit citizen approval levels in all this fiscal cliff posturing.

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