J. Davis: Regression, not progress

In response to Nancy Willard's letter (Feb. 2) that I should have read the Sun Journal's Jan. 29 editorial before writing my letter that also appeared Jan. 29, it is a shame, before writing hers, she wasn't able to read Robert Acheson's letter (Feb. 1) that, like mine, wasn't about bullying.

I refuse to ascribe to the anti-American and anti-democracy curriculum, and if anyone is taking bullying tactics from the playbook she alludes to, it is her hero who threatens to shut down the government if his proposals aren't funded.

Of course, the media don't report his impeachable acts; most of them are controlled by the management companies of the group that put him in office.

Now, suddenly, the media report 243,000 jobs added and unemployment down from 9 percent to 8.3 percent. Considering that there were 130 million jobs lost in December, 128 million in January, and that no president having an unemployment rate over 8 percent has ever been re-elected, someone is pretty good at sugar coating numbers.

The president has thrown billions of dollars to bailouts without it trickling down to anyone; sent aircraft industry jobs overseas; blocked a pipeline project; halted combat pay to military members in combat zones unless actually being shot at; reduced U.S. defense posture by closing bases and mustering out personnel (which lengthens unemployment lines); and Willard says the party's goal is to help bring people out of poverty.

With what? Raising the national debt every few months?

That's regression, not progress.

John R. Davis, South Paris

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 's picture

Obviously wrong.

130 million jobs were not lost in December nor 128 million lost in January. I don't know what John meant but what he wrote was wrong.
"... the media don't report his impeachable acts;.." Like what? Maybe they don't report them because they don't exist.
"The president has thrown billions of dollars to bailouts without it trickling down to anyone.." 1.5 million jobs created by bailing out the auto industry. 3.4 million jobs created/saved by pushing the stimulus package. An increase of 2% in the GDP by these acts alone. I'd say that's a whole lot of "anyones".

 's picture

Feel free

Morning Joe that morning used the numbers as well has the Ed Show and Rev Al Sharpton's show a few days before. Their numbers came from government reports and I think they are on recovery.gov.

Betty Davies's picture

Republicans are the real debt-raisers

At the beginning of the GW Bush presidency, the US debt limit was $5.95 trillion. Despite promises that he would pay off the debt in 10 years, Bush increased the debt to $9.815 trillion by the end of his term, with plenty of help from the four Republicans currently holding Congressional leadership positions: Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl.

June 2002: Congress approves a $450 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $6.4 trillion. McConnell, Boehner, and Cantor vote “yea”, Kyl votes “nay.”

May 2003: Congress approves a $900 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $7.384 trillion. All four approve.

November 2004: Congress approves an $800 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $8.1 trillion. All four approve.

March 2006: Congress approves a $781 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $8.965 trillion. All four approve.

September 2007: Congress approves an $850 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $9.815 trillion. All four approve.

These Republican legislators made NO demand that debt increases come accompanied by drastic spending cuts. In fact, the May 2003 debt limit increase passed the Senate the same day as the $350 billion Bush tax cuts for the wealthy!

When Bush was in office, the current crop of Republican leaders said increasing the debt limit was vital to keeping America’s economy running. It was only when President Obama was elected that they decided debt (including the debt THEY created) is suddenly reprehensible.

[data are from http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2011/04/14/158424/republican-leaders-debt-limit-hypocrisy/]

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Betty, Nice try. You should

Nice try. You should keep listing debt increases that include up to February 14, 2012. It is time to stop blaming the past administration since the debt increases under Obama has matched or surpassed that under Bush.

While Bush did contribute to the current state of affairs (our national debt), so has Obama. That being said, if burring your head under your pillow at night and blaming Bush helps you sleep, then by all means keep doing.

 's picture

Its a big economy

You don't turn the US economy around on a dime.
Its not time to stop blaming the Bush Republican administration for national debt increases. The Bush administration by its failure to enforce Federal regulations, by its failure to regulate new, untried, and knowingly dangerous financial instruments beginning in 2001 when they decided not to regulate new securitized mortgage instruments created by Countrywide which were the primary cause of the 2008 Great Recession, and by its decisions to begin new programs (Bush tax cuts, two wars, Medicare Part D, and the largest expansion of the Federal Government in modern history the creation of the Homeland Security Department) without paying for them created 96% of the increases in national debt out to 2050 were no actions taken to reduce it.
Obama changes have added $200 billion to the national debt in 3 years. Nothing compared to the Bush years when Dick Cheney said that the National debt just did not matter.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Assuming what you say is

Assuming what you say is correct in that Bushes polices will increase the national debug by 96% out to 2050. Two thousand and fifty is a long time out. Why did Obama not choose to roll back Bushes policies, especially when the Democrats controlled both houses? Why is not Obama introducing legislation to roll back those obligations instead of introducing legislation spending more?

You need to backup where you got $200 Billion national debt increase in three years since the national debt increase over the last three years is over $3T according to the following source:
What is your fuzzy math?

You are correct that the economy cannot turn on the dime, but tell me how does Obama’s policies differ than his predecessor's for I just don’t see it.

 's picture

Its easy

The $200 is the expected (CBO forecasted deficit for FY 2009-11) bush deficit subtracted from the real deficits in those years.
You misunderstood my comment or I mis-wrote it. Bush policies will account for 96% of all Federal deficits out to 2050 (comes from Rep. Paul's charts on his budget proposal of last year among others; not a 96% increase.
Obama has never had congressional control. Republicans during his administration have either controlled the Senate (had 40+ votes) or the House. Therefore he has always proposed programs that are either Republican proposals (Health Care) or negiotiated a democratic proposal (extension of payroll tax cuts) in exchange of support for a republican idea (extension of the Bush tax cuts). His new budget (compromise with the republicans having failed) does roll back much of the Bush tax cuts and reduces the deficit over 10 years by $4 trillion.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Perhaps we would have fewer

Perhaps we would have fewer economic problems if you and people of similar ilk directed all that energy you use to blame Bush into recommending solutions – you think?

 's picture

Love to and have

But Republicans live in a magical worldview. Every fact down to earth people present Republicans ignore. Every solution is outside their worldview so it's unseen.
Start with the obvious solution which people have mentioned here many time before:
1. Repeal the Bush Tax cuts
2. Solve the Federal revenue problem by eliminating all tax loopholes.
3. Change the tax system. Federal taxes owed = Disposable income times a tax rate that starts at zero at the poverty limit and grows to a marginal rate of 50% at $1 million dollars. Rates for incomes below the poverty line would be negative and count as a tax credit.
4. Allow the Federal Government to negotiate drug prices for Medicare.
5. Move much more aggressively away from gasoline for transportation.
The list is much longer.

Betty Davies's picture

Makes sense.

Thank you for an insightful comment.

 's picture

Thanks Betty

Always good to have someone on the side of reason

Betty Davies's picture

You missed the point

Republicans, including those now so vividly angry with President Obama, had no problem at all with debt increases when a Repubican was doing them, and cheerfully signed off on them.

Their rage at Obama is just for show, for political points.

 's picture

Can't agree

Wish I could agree, but from the Republican Party's founding to today it has been at its core a racist party. They were founded by the fusion of whigs(evangelical protestants and businessmen), anti-slavery democrats, free-soilers, and the American Republican Party (Know-Nothings who were anti-immigrantion, anti-catholic) the result was a Party dominated by anti-black (being anti-slavery did not mean you believed in the social equality of African slaves; only the radical abolitionist wing of the party believed in equality), anti-catholic, anti-slavery, and pro-Theocracy. The CPAC conference last weekend included in a panel discussion a well known anti-semite, anti-immigrantion, hate monger. Ron Paul has promoted anti-black, anti-immigrant ideas for 30 years. Richard Nixon conducted the "Southern Strategy" bringing southern racist democrats into the Republican Party in 1968. The Christian Right wing has been and is anti-catholic and anti-mormon and recently anti-muslim. So I think their irrational rage at Obama comes from their longstanding irrational racism.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Perhaps you should dawn your

Perhaps you should dawn your foil hat to protect your cranium. It is statistically impossible to find such singularities in the human population. That is all I need to point out to provide you are at the extreme.

JOANNE MOORE's picture

Glib talk.

Poor spelling. Don, not dawn.

 's picture

All very well documented.

Did you intend to say something?

Betty Davies's picture

So original!

Aren't you cute! Where do you get your gift with words?

MARK GRAVEL's picture

The intended meaning is that

The intended meaning is that given two sets of individuals grouped by political affiliation, say R’s and D’s. It is unlikely that all the bad people (i.e. racist, greedy, …, etc) fall in to one group or the other. That would be called a statistical singularity. That being said, anyone who claims the current state of government is all due to individuals that fall into the R group or the D group is espousing extreme thoughts.

People with extreme thoughts often wear foil hats to keep aliens from reading their thoughts.

BTW – typo in the previous message – provide <\b> should have been prove.

 's picture

cute, but

Its not a matter of statistics. Jefferson wrote that party affiliation was a matter of personality. He's right. I didn't say that all the bad people fall into one of these groups. Its not a matter of random selection. Its a sociological process well documented historically. At the roots all these groups shared one common set of beliefs - that it was their duty to rule those inferior to themselves in God's name. And they have not changed which is the common assumption tday.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Betty, Perhaps we should be


Perhaps we should be asking the following questions:
1. Is the current national debt trajectory sustainable – Yes or No?
2. If no, how do we fix it?

Everything else is really meaningless. Just keep your eye on the crux of the issue.

Betty Davies's picture

Debt is not the biggest problem--austerity is.

Paul Krugman states it well--"In 2011, as in 2010, America was in a technical recovery but continued to suffer from disastrously high unemployment. And through most of 2011, as in 2010, almost all the conversation in Washington was about something else: the allegedly urgent issue of reducing the budget deficit...

"Deficit-worriers portray a future in which we’re impoverished by the need to pay back money we’ve been borrowing. They see America as being like a family that took out too large a mortgage, and will have a hard time making the monthly payments. This is, however, a really bad analogy in at least two ways.

"First, families have to pay back their debt. Governments don’t — all they need to do is ensure that debt grows more slowly than their tax base. The debt from World War II was never repaid; it just became increasingly irrelevant as the U.S. economy grew, and with it the income subject to taxation.

"Second — and this is the point almost nobody seems to get — an over-borrowed family owes money to someone else; U.S. debt is, to a large extent, money we owe to ourselves..

"... So yes, debt matters. But right now, other things matter more. We need more, not less, government spending to get us out of our unemployment trap. And the wrongheaded, ill-informed obsession with debt is standing in the way." [http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/02/opinion/krugman-nobody-understands-debt.html?_r=1]



The problem with austerity measures in a recession/depression is that people end up out of work. They have not money so they don't buy. Then businesses shut down and neither businesses not citizens pay taxes. Then the government has even less money to pay its debts and has to invoke more austerity measures and the entire economy spirals downward. Europe is a perfect example of this. After the economic collapse of 2008 they put in severe austerity measures and they are deeper into recession than they were back then. Here in the USA, the president resisted republican attempts to do the same and instead stimulated the economy. True the debt went up but the economy is recovering and the debt will be paid off in a few years. It would have recovered faster had the president succeeded in having a larger stimulus package. For the most part the debt is money that we owe ourselves. As if you decide to put a certain amount of money in the bank each week. Then the car breaks down and you take out that money to fix the car. Then you get a second job and put in extra money and soon the money is replaced. It only becomes a problem if you lose your job.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

If you are referring to Greek

If you are referring to Greek austerity policies,then they did not have a choice. The EU would refuse to extend their credit limit if they had not taken that path. Greece should stand as an example to you that at some point a nation’s debt does catch up to you, and then there are little choices. Perhaps you should rename I95 South to Washington D.C. the road to Athens.

By what yard stick did you measure “the debt will be paid off in a few years [?]” Moreover, what happed to the $500 plus billion of the TRAP money that went unspent? Where is it? I certainly don’t hear any more talk about it.

What do you mean by “most part of the debt is money we owe ourselves [?]” Perhaps what it means is that the Government simply printed money into circulation, and by doing so imposed a hidden tax on all of us called devaluation. Devaluation of the dollar has a measurable cause and effect for the people of Maine as it is reflected in the cost of heating fuel.

Lastly, you should reconsider your car analogy in the context of asking a bank for a loan to repair your car when you are carrying a debt to income ratio of 100%. Good luck. But then again, your analogy is fitting of the liberal doctrine – money just comes out of thin air. I really hope economics is not what you teach our kids.

 's picture


An economy must be viewed as a whole not looking at some factor in isolation. The Greek and American situations are totally different. Greece does stand as an example of the point a nation's debt does catch up with it, but its not an example that applies or will ever apply to us. Greece is not the largest economy in the world. Greece does not have the largest army by many orders of magnitude. Greece did not have a Great Recession in 2008. Economies for one thing run on confidence. Debt is a problem only when it affects negatively on the confidence others have in our economy. Because of many factors confidence is very strong in the US economy. Debt will not catch up with us. That said we do need to reign in our debt because if nothing else it restricts our budget options. The goal of the current and future administrations should be to reduce debt to no more than 25% of the national economy without adversely affecting economic growth. As of today, austerity plans are adversely affecting growth by .5 to 1%. We need a budget where Federal drag on the economy is negative (the government is growing the economy) while slowly reducing the debt until economic growth is in the 3.5%+ range for a year or more then we can cut the debt more rapidly.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Let’s look at this

Let’s look at this piecewise:
1. “Greece does not have the largest army by many orders of magnitude.” That could mean it takes more money to fund larger army; thereby, exacerbating deficit spending.
2. “Greece did not have a Great Recession in 2008.” This economic downturn was and still is global. Thereby effecting all, including Greece more than other EU states. The downturn is what triggered Greece's colapse when liquidity dried up.
3. “Debt will not catch up with us.” Never say never….I’m sure the Roman Politicians made similar claims. The U.S. is not immune.
4. “the government is growing the economy” – Government spending can never grow the economy. Just think of the mathematical limit – If Government spending grows the economy, then more government spending will grow the economy more to a point of 100% employment – False. The government does not and cannot produce wealth. It simply moves it from one part of the economy to another through taxation and redistribution.

Jason Theriault's picture

The numbers in December were artificially inflated.

The numbers in December were artificially inflated compared to January 2012. The reason is the numbers in December were still using the 2000 Census data, whereas the January 2012 uses the 2010 Census data. This happens every 10 years, there has to be a cut over, and the Bureau off Labor Statistics put out a notice like always.

But it easier for Democrats to just pretend the numbers line up and its easier for Republicans to point out the numbers don't make sense when compared to earlier numbers and claims the democrats are messing with the numbers.

Jason Theriault's picture

Disagree? GTFO

There is nothing to disagree with.
Here is the the notice:

| |
| Upcoming Changes to the Household Survey |
| |
| Effective with the release of The Employment Situation for |
| January 2012 scheduled for February 3, 2012, population controls |
| that reflect the results of Census 2010 will be used in the |
| monthly household survey estimation process. Historical data |
| will not be revised to incorporate the new controls; consequently, |
| household survey data for January 2012 will not be directly |
| comparable with that for December 2011 or earlier periods. A |
| table showing the effects of the new controls on the major labor |
| force series will be included in the January 2012 release. |
| |
| Also effective with the release of The Employment Situation for |
| January 2012, the questions on race and Hispanic or Latino |
| ethnicity in the household survey will be modified. The minor |
| wording changes in the questions are not expected to affect the |
| estimates. |
| |
| In January 2012, the Census Bureau, which conducts the household |
| survey, began a year-long process of reorganizing its regional |
| office structure. For more information on these Census Bureau |
| changes, see www.census.gov/newsroom/pdf/General_QAs_FINAL2.pdf. |
| Both the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) |
| will monitor survey operations during the transition period. No |
| impact on the employment and unemployment estimates from the |
| survey is anticipated from this organizational change. |
| |

MARK GRAVEL's picture

John, Spending billions of

Spending billions of dollars this country does not have is a systemic problem not unique to the Democratic Party. These strawman budget cut proposals from both major parties do nothing to curb debt growth; they only scratch the surface in growth of yearly budget increases (i.e. base-line budgeting).

Much deeper cuts are needed now, or Greece will be coming to our shores. Not controlling our spending now will affect each and every one of us in profound and unimaginable ways.


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