Category Archives: economic news

Deficits no longer matter?


About the only conclusion I am able to draw about the current federal government fiscal debate is that the numbers have gotten so big that mere human minds no longer can grasp their meaning in ways that make any sense.

I refer to the federal budget deficit.

The government is now spending more than $1 trillion more than it has on hand on various and sundry programs. There used to be a time when Republicans railed heavily against Democrats’ tendency to spend more than they had in till. Then along came President George W. Bush, who cajoled Congress to enact tax cuts while fighting an international war against terror.

Bush took over the presidency when the budget actually ran a surplus! That all changed during the Bush years. The deficits mounted. Indeed, Vice President Dick Cheney once said famously that deficits “no longer mattered.”

The economy cratered near the end of Bush’s time. President Barack Obama sought to rescue the nation. He poured even more money into the deficit sinkhole. The deficit kept growing. Then the economy bounced back. Tax revenue helped cut the annual deficit by more than half by the time Obama left office.

Then along came Donald Trump, the self-proclaimed populist. He and his GOP allies rammed through a big tax cut. However, he kept spending money. The deficit piled up once again. It surpassed the trillion-dollar annual mark by the time he left office.

Now it’s President Joe Biden’s turn. The pandemic has all but wrecked the economy. Biden has pushed through a big COVID relief package. Now he wants to spend another $2.25 trillion over 10 years on infrastructure. He wants to raise taxes to help pay for it. Republicans aren’t buying it.

But … the deficit! What about the deficit?

I am a deficit hawk. I seriously dislike spending money we don’t have. I cannot do so in my home. Then again, I cannot print money at will, either.

My best guess at this moment is that deficit spending is so out of control that the bean counters have thrown up their hands in surrender.

POTUS keeps name off checks


It is worth asking, I suppose, whether any American who receives a COVID-19 relief check from the U.S. Treasury is going to wonder why it lacks the name of the president of the United States, Joseph R. Biden.

I know the answer. No one is going to care whether President Biden’s name is on the check. Any more than Americans cared that Donald J. Trump’s name was affixed to the earlier round of relief checks that circulated.

Yet, the former president made a big deal out of ensuring that his name appeared on them. He wanted Americans to see that he was responsible for the help that arrived in their bank accounts or in their mail boxes.

Except that Donald Trump played virtually no role in negotiating the deal that helped millions of Americans.

His successor, Joe Biden, did play a role in crafting this current round of relief. However, his name will be nowhere on the payments.

That’s how collaborative government is supposed to work.

It’s cold, but …

Winter can be a bitch.

My wife and I sat in a cold house for most of two days, victimized by a remarkable freeze that paralyzed much of Texas. It certainly grabbed North Texas by the throat. Our electrical grid was overtaxed and it couldn’t handle the demands placed on it by the plummeting temperature.

I am struck by a thought that keeps nagging at me. Weather such as what we experienced – 10-degree high temperatures and lows near zero in a suburb of Dallas, Texas, for crying out loud! – is going to energize the climate change deniers out there.

They are going to say something like this: Hey, the bitter cold weather of the winter of 2021 just proves that Earth’s climate isn’t changing, that it isn’t warming up, that our planet isn’t in dire jeopardy at all!

To which I would say: Nonsense. Earth’s climate is changing and our planet and those of us who live on it are facing dire peril every year we fail to come to grips with humanity’s contribution to the change.

I am reminded of the time an infamous climate-change denier, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, brought a snowball onto the Senate floor to illustrate the very point that climate change is a hoax. Why, how can Earth’s climate be warming when Washington, D.C., at that very moment was gripped in such a bitter cold snap?

Such idiocy doesn’t take the long view, doesn’t look at it through the longest lens possible.

National environmental observers note that the median temperature of Earth, examined over a period of an entire year, suggest a distinct warming trend. I daresay that when they take our planet’s temperature at the end of this year it will continue to show the same trend.

So please. Spare me the notion that a current deep freeze – a symptom of winter weather – is somehow proof that the larger crisis doesn’t exist. It most certainly does exist.

Now … I am just wishing for a quick warmup.

It’s not ‘Trump’s money’


Those COVID-19 relief checks are starting to arrive and it is producing heated exchanges between at least two people, one of whom is a friend of mine, the other is a total stranger.

These individuals differ on their views about Donald J. Trump. My friend is an anti-Trump guy; the other fellow is a Trumpkin/Trumpster/Trumpenator.

The Trump guy is angry at my friend, apparently, because he is accepting his stimulus payment, even though he opposes Trump’s policies.

Hmm. The stranger in this fight says my friend shouldn’t be taking “Trump’s money.”

Whoa! I reminded my friend, who didn’t need reminding, that he isn’t taking “Trump’s money.” It didn’t come out of his pocket. It came out of his pocket, and mine, and his Trump-loving friend’s pocket. It’s our money.

My friend laughed out loud. He did remind his Trumpkin pal that the relief package was approved by a healthy majority in both congressional chambers, it was a “bipartisan” effort. He also took note of ow Trump took no active part in the negotiations with Democrats.

I fear we have cheapened our deep and intense political and philosophical differences to this kind of childish level. I also would be willing to wager that other “friends” — in addition to the fellows I have just described — have ensued across the nation.

What a shame.

Mnuchin joins Trump casualty list


Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin might have thought he was indestructible, that Donald Trump wouldn’t — couldn’t possibly — throw him under the proverbial bus.

Then came Trump’s bizarre video tweet and his rejection of a COVID-19 relief package that Mnuchin negotiated with congressional Democrats and Republicans on Trump’s behalf.

He now has joined the list of Cabinet officers who have fallen out of favor with a president who first picked them, then turned on them. Rex Tillerson, James Mattis, Jeff Sessions all have been booted or quit because they no longer could work for Trump. I haven’t even counted the multiple White House chiefs of staff and national security advisers.

Mnuchin’s betrayal might be the most bizarre of all.

As the Washington Post reported: The president’s denunciation of the agreement represented a stunning public broadside against his own treasury secretary, who for four years loyally shielded the president’s tax returns, endured repeated presidential tirades in private, and defended even Trump’s most incendiary and contradictory remarks. Through it all, Mnuchin had emerged with the unique ability to walk a tightrope between Trump and congressional leaders, serving as an emissary in difficult negotiations. That all ended on Tuesday, when Trump posted a video on Twitter ridiculing the agreement.

Mnuchin’s loyalty to Trump could end with painful setback as president shreds stimulus deal (

The deal called for $600 payments to Americans; it extended unemployment insurance for millions of Americans; it keeps the government running past next Tuesday. Mnuchin packed Trump’s load for this deal while working with members of Congress. Now he’s been stabbed deeply in the back.

Wow! That’s all I have at this moment.

Trump’s chaotic end as president could possibly inflict an enormous number of casualties. I do not include Secretary Mnuchin among them. They would include millions of Americans who are waiting on some form of relief from their government. Now comes this astonishing rejection by the man elected president of the United States — the guy who took an oath to protect Americans — of a deal his team negotiated on his behalf.

Can there be anything more disgusting than this? Sure, but holy smokes, man! This really stinks!

Steve Mnuchin now stands as the latest example of how Donald Trump measures loyalty. It goes only in one direction. This individual does not return it … to anyone!

GOP angry at OMB pick


I feel the need to explain in some detail my concern about President-elect Biden’s decision to nominate Neera Tanden as the next director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Tanden’s selection has drawn fire from Republican U.S. senators. Why? Because she has said mean things about them on Twitter and other media outlets.

Their concern upsets my tummy. It’s not because Tanden shouldn’t have said those things about the Republican congressional caucus. I happen to agree with her. She runs a liberal think tank. Tanden is called upon often by media outlets to comment on this and/or that. She did so frequently during Donald Trump’s impeachment inquiry.

What does trouble me is that President-elect Biden pledged an effort to unify the nation after four years of Trump and after a nasty and epithet- and threat-filled presidential campaign.

Neera Tanden is precisely the kind of nominee I would hope the president-elect would avoid. He didn’t do that. He has tapped a fierce partisan to take on what should be a job left to impartial, critical fiscal analysis.

To be clear, Donald Trump also selected a fierce partisan to run OMB when he selected former South Carolina U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, who then became “acting” White House chief of staff for most of the second half of Trump’s term as president.

President-elect Biden, though, pledged a different tone were he elected to the office. I am afraid Neera Tanden doesn’t meet that standard.

Do I care that she has spoken critically of the GOP? Not in the least. I do care that Joe Biden’s effort to calm the rough seas might be placed in jeopardy.

OMB pick draws fire


Neera Tanden wants to become the next head of the Office of Management and Budget in the Joe Biden administration.

But wait a minute. She’s running into some serious headwinds from Senate Republicans. Why? Well, it seems that she has been highly critical of GOP policymakers and policies, and of course of Donald Trump, the guy Biden defeated to become the nation’s next president.

I’ll be candid. Biden’s decision to select Tanden does puzzle me. She has been a sharp-tongued pundit. I really don’t know about her budgetary experience. Not only that, the president-elect’s pledge to “unify” the country seems at odds with the selection of a sharp partisan, such as Neera Tanden.

She runs a progressive think tank, the Center for American Progress. Tanden could be seen and heard throughout the Biden-Trump campaign blasting Donald Trump to smithereens. To be blunt, I have no problem with what she said about Trump.

I do have a problem with an appointment such as hers and whether it is faithful to President-elect Biden’s pledge to heal the wounds that have divided us.

Socialism = scare tactic


I never have thought of Harry Truman as being a squishy socialist, a guy who wanted to wrest control of our lives from private interests and hand it all over to the government.

What he says in these remarks attributed to him near the end of his presidency do resonate today as conservatives seeks to paint so many efforts to help Americans as a ploy to enact socialistic policy.

I hear it from friends of mine. One of them, an Amarillo business owner, believes that President-elect Biden is a tool of socialist interests who are intent on enacting a full government takeover of virtually every aspect of our lives. That’s how the dictionary defines socialism, by the way.

Well, I will stand by my own belief that it is not going to unfold as the president-elect’s critics suggest. They are intent on injecting fear among us.

President Truman’s wisdom is in short supply among many contemporary politicians.

Socialism = red herring | High Plains Blogger

Trump gives us all the shaft


It’s no surprise to anyone on Earth to know that I am not a wealthy man.

I made a nice living for many years and was able to provide for my family, but I certainly never acquired great heaps of material wealth, a la … Donald J. Trump.

However, I damn sure paid a whole lot more in federal income taxes than the Trumpkin in Chief paid over the course of the past 15 years, as revealed by The New York Times.

What am I supposed to think of this? Well, first of all, it’s no surprise to learn any of this, given Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns. Am I angry? Sure I am! However, I fall into the “never Trump” category of voters, so my anger is tempered a bit by what I have long suspected about the president of the United States, that is a fraud.

Here’s the question of the day: How should the Trumpkins out there, those who have paid their fair share of taxes, feel about their guy’s tax dodge?

I will shake my head violently if we hear from them that they’re OK with this. The guy who purports to speak for the masses of Americans disgruntled and angry with government now has been revealed to be someone who cheated the government out of revenue while understanding that his fervent, ardent and occasionally rabid followers are paying through their noses.

How many more lies is he going to concoct to persuade those among us that what he has done is OK, that it simply makes him “smart”?

This is what the cult of personality has produced, ladies and gentlemen. Go figure.

Yes, Sen.Cruz … we’re interested in this Trump tax story


U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz — the former Donald Trump critic turned Donald Trump suck-up — tried this morning to speak for millions of Americans regarding the New York Times story on the taxes that Trump did not pay.

The Cruz Missile tried to say that Americans don’t care about the tax story, about reports that Trump didn’t pay federal income taxes for 10 out of 15 years, that the so-called billionaire paid $750 the year he was elected president of the United States.

Americans “don’t care”? Oh, yes we do … senator!

The lengthy NYT story reveals several things about the charlatan/con man/fraudulent president. One of them is that he isn’t nearly as savvy a businessman as he led us to believe he is. Another is that didn’t pay as much in federal tax as your rank-and-file waiter or waitress.

Many of us have been clamoring for years to see Trump’s financial records. We have insisted that the public be able to see how the nation’s chief governmental executive’s finances hold up under public scrutiny. The president’s portfolio happens to be our business. He helps set tax policy and he makes demands on Americans to pay our fair share of taxes. Doesn’t that require a president to pay his fair share as well?

We now know that Donald Trump does nothing of the sort.

He has cheated the government. He has been revealed as many of us have suspected to be a fraud.

Back to Ted Cruz. Senator, this story matters a lot to many millions of Americans. I am just one of them, but I believe there are many others just like me who want to know the whole truth about our president’s financial standing.