Today is another day that the US government is in shutdown mode. This is not Episode 8 from season 5 of the West Wing by Aaron Sorkin (brilliant man). This is reality!
There is polarisation on many levels and even though we want to blame one side as we stand on the other side, there is a deadly reality playing out in the corridors of power. The Democrats refuse to cut their spending; the Republicans will not play soft or compromising. Today we see the Guardian with “Obama meets bank chiefs as economists warn of ‘deep and dark recession’” at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/oct/02/obama-bank-chiefs-economist-deep-recession. As we look at a few facts quoted “President Obama met bank executives including Goldman Sachs chief Lloyd Blankfein“. The firm that helped many lose their house. I admit that this is unfair towards Mr Lloyd Blankfein, but the sentiment behind it stays in valid form (I will get to that later on).
“A looming battle over the nation’s $16.7tn debt ceiling. Treasury secretary Jack Lew has warned that the US could default on its debts if the limit is not raised soon.”
The second part is why the republicans are not budging. The Democrats are raising and spending and leaving it all to the next one in office. There is enough evidence to state that it is likely that the Republicans will return to the White house. In that regard, they have ZERO interest in cleaning up the Democrat mess, which will take several administrations. The fact, that the Democrats are not willing to cut their spending, whilst they spend a lot more than their budget allows. It is almost hilarious how things are spun. They claim it is all about affordable healthcare, whilst this option is increasing the debt by $100 billion a year. Now, it there was money coming in on the other side, there might be some level of case, but that is not happening. This current administration has added over 5 trillion dollars in debt during his first term. That is an overspending by 3.4 billion dollars a day. With Obama care this will be even more. Now, this administration inherited a sour deal. The economy had collapsed; there were issues with some financial crash in Wall Street and so on. Yet, the debt he has added to in one term is a lot more than Bush added in two terms. (So both sides have some of the blame). The republicans are not blameless, but they will not accept the continued addition of debt which is currently getting pushed. The US national debt is now well over 100% of its GDP. This is the part many seem to ignore. So if all taxation (which is only 26.9% of the GDP) is used to pay for the loan, then it will take 4 years to get rid of their debt. That works ONLY if the US government pays no wages, fixes nothing, builds nothing, buys nothing and heals no one. So for 4 years Americans must make due with nothing at all. This is not a realistic approach, I admit that! So you can only use to pay what you have left, however the government has been spending 120%-145% of the money they received and with Obama Care spending will increase. America is currently, in my humble opinion bankrupt!
Do you doubt this? This would be a fair enough position to take, consider any company being allowed to spend 120% of their annual revenue. How long until any bank will close the tap? In addition, there should be overall outrage that a company would work 100% of the time just to pay the bank. There is 0% job security in that regard, for if the annual +5%-+15% cannot be made, they will cut the costs that are not desired. In that scenario there will be no healthcare of any kind, because the sick do not contribute to the future of profit. That dangerous situation currently exists!
The article by the Guardian has more “But he warned that would be nothing compared to the Pandora’s box that would be opened if no deal on the debt ceiling was done before 17 October deadline. Congress must agree to raise the US’s $16.7tn debt ceiling by that date or risk being unable to meet its obligations.”
That is the crux! The total debt will increase and the republicans will not stand for that. My earlier comparison to get rid of the debt in 4 years is not realistic, I said that. Only if spending is lower than American income can the debt be lowered. It will take more than 3 generations to get that done. Some disagreed with that number. This is fair enough. Yet, let us make a small calculation.
$17T is $17,000B. The interest due would be $340B (it is actually higher at http://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/ir/ir_expense.htm, but it is about the example).
If we believe the census (as shown in my Blog ‘Biased Journalism on USA shutdown?‘) then the interest due is 13% of ALL collected taxation. How can ANYTHING get done after the interest is paid? And that is only interest, no decrease of the actual loan. So consider that all amenities, support and expenditure of the US must decrease by at least 16% to get this done. How can that ever be a realistic situation? This is why the Republicans are not budging. The more important issue is that the Democrats knew this. They knew that the train would stop and they ignored this. Not unlike in the Netherlands where everyone stated that the SNS Bank was too big to fail, the Dutch government nationalised the bank. Why the Dutch as an example? Well, they are in some similar predicament. They are not able to lower spending. They need to cut an additional 6 billion whilst their GDP was 700 billion last year. If they cannot cut 1%, how will the US ever deal with their debt? There have been words on corporate taxation left right and centre, yet what they are not mentioning is the issue that the UK has seen this year. Big business, like Google has been pushing their own booked revenue to other places. This quote from Bloomberg “Google’s chairman says he is ‘proud’ of the way his company avoids paying taxes ”It’s called capitalism,” Eric Schmidt told Bloomberg in a…” So, whatever money the US treasury has coming in, it is not from the big boys of business. They have the right accountants and tax lawyers. So here we get back to Goldman Sachs chief Lloyd Blankfein.
When we see the acts of Google and how Goldman Sachs was involved in the Greek issues, people would wonder whether they (Goldman Sachs and the US government) are not working together in the same way. If so, then there are more questions on the entire setting of the article the Guardian published (from the link at the beginning). There is no way that someone like Mr Blankfein is not aware what the big boys of industry in America are doing. When we read in places like Forbes that Google is not alone in these acts, but that companies like Apple are doing the same thing, then raising a debt ceiling whilst the captains of industry are not paying anywhere near the tax they ‘should’ then we must ask other questions. All this becomes even more hilarious when we consider the information from the Financial Standard on July 15th (at http://www.financialstandard.com.au/news/view/33335431) where it is stated that “US delays tax avoidance law by 6 months“. So the big boys in that initial Guardian Article are all about gloom and doom, whilst the US treasury seems to be missing out on taxation by not acting on Tax evasion (which is actually not a crime at present). So they want to borrow more, but will not put in place legislation that would lessen the dangers of paying the due interest. That last part is shown in Forbes article last month by Steve Denning. (At http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2013/09/12/alan-blinder-six-reasons-why-another-financial-crisis-is-still-inevitable/)
- Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 hasn’t been implemented.
- The $5 trillion banking assets in derivatives are still off-balance sheet and unregulated
- The rating agencies are “still hired and paid by the very companies whose securities they rate.”
- The Volcker Rule forbidding proprietary trading by banks has not been implementedAnd I add;
- US tax avoidance laws not implemented.
From these parts we could come to the conclusion that the Obama administration has failed the American people almost completely, whilst unable to get spending under control.
American politics is a lot more complex, so there are other factors, but it seems to me that Steve Denning is showing us several dangers that are currently not stopped. So when, not if, they happen, the people as they walk away with nothing left, can wonder how that expensive affordable healthcare is helping whilst they have no house, no job and no food.
It is a sad day for many people, because in the end, not only America seems to be unable to control their budgets, they are only, for now the most visible one.