The Facts: Congress and the Budget

This week, the Debate will be on Congress's handling of the budget. Last month, the House approved $50 billion in spending cuts, largely from programs aimed at the poor, and just last week, members of Congress cancelled out their own efforts at deficit reduction by passing nearly $95 billion in tax cuts. The tax cuts include some necessary items like another temporary fix for the increasingly misdirected Alternative Minimum Tax, plus tax breaks for certain businesses in the Gulf Coast region. The latest tax bill to pass, costing $56 billion, boasted as its centerpiece extensions of reduced tax rates for capital gains and dividends.

CNN summarizes some of the provisions in the latest tax bills. The Congressional Budget Office provided this estimate of how the $50 billion in spending cuts would break down. The CBO's August 2005 (pre-Katrina) Budget and Economic Outlook is worth a peek, even if only to read the summary. It should be noted that the CBO does these estimates based on current law, so it projects a dramatic decrease in the deficit in later parts of the decade, after the tax cuts were set to expire. Some of those cuts have already been extended through 2010 (and the president and many Republicans in Congress want to make the tax cuts permanent); understand that the extensions significantly change those CBO projections.

For a centrist perspective on general budgetary concerns, see Centrists.org's issue summary. Also in the middle of the spectrum is the Tax Policy Center, a joint venture of the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, offering a useful database of tax facts.

The National Priorities Project has a series of helpful briefs on various aspects of the federal budget. There you'll find a brief on deficits, surpluses and the national debt, a look at how our federal tax dollars are spent and a glossary of terms.

OMB Watch, a non-profit that keeps tabs on the Office of Management and Budget, definitely has a political agenda that leans left, but regardless, it's a good source of budget information. To keep up with fiscal policy developments, a good starting point is the OMB Watch budget blog, which has a few entries right at the top about the tax cuts passed by the House last week.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities provides this handy intro to the federal budget process, plus articles examining the tax cut bills (see also OMB Watch's version), the budget reconciliation process between the House and the Senate, and the question of whether appropriations are out of control.

Speaking of excessive appropriations, a terrific resource on pork is this searchable database of nearly 14,000 projects as compiled by Citizens Against Government Waste. (For a laugh -- of the forehead-slapping variety -- check out CAGW's 2005 Oinker Awards.) Taxpayers for Common Sense provide a comprehensive view of the bloated transportation bill passed earlier this year, packed with an unprecedented amount of pork.

Have more pork- or deficit-related links to add? Are there specific aspects of the budget issue you'd like to discuss? Leave a note in the comments.

By Emily Messner |  December 12, 2005; 5:29 AM ET  | Category:  Facts
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George W. Bush's hagiographers in the media and his cult like supporters throughout the country have been at great pains to make him out as a decent, honest, straight shooter who has been maligned by a vicious liberal media and a horde of leftist malcontents who just hate to see any conservative succeed.

The truth is that George W. Bush throughout his forst term was the beneficiary of low expectations and of the natural tendency of the American people to rally around the President following an attack against us. Bush's agenda--including his quirky, deceitful way of presenting his budget--has never been all that popular.

Let me give you an example of the rampant dishonest of the Bush administration. One of the ongoing problems in our tax system has been the creeping up nature of the windfall elimination tax which was designed primarily to ensure that the wealthy could not use a variety of loopholes to avoid paying any taxes. Because that tax is tied to the inflation index it is now threatening middle class wage earners with an unfair jump in their taxes.

The Bush administration however has cynically used the huge revenues potential revenues that would obtain as a consequence of this tax--a tax that Bush and the republicans have promised to adjust to avoid that very predicament--to reduce its projections of the deficit. That is pretty darned cynical and cold.

If that isn't cynical enough for you, consider also that they want to keep the costs of the Iraq war and the cost of social security off budget to present a fake budget to the American people that appears to reduce the deficit when in actuality it is exploding it.

When government officials put out a budget that doesn't include the vast majority of the government spending that will take place in the future, and when they include in the budget a source of revenue that they have promised to eliminate, there is a word for that: a lie!

Posted by: Jaxas | December 12, 2005 11:07 AM

Fiscal conservatives seem plenty po'd about the new Republican cut tax and spend mantra, but are also puzzlingly unwilling to "go Democrat". It seems that as long a vote Republican means gays can't get married, babies can't get aborted and retarded criminals can be executed; a dangerously bloated federal budget is tolerable.

Posted by: Bob P. | December 12, 2005 12:14 PM

Bob,

I'm with you on the first part of your comment. In fact, I've always voted republican based on fiscal philosophy, and now I'm not so sure. I still think dems are probably worse, and I'm not ready to make a switch, but I certainly don't agree with the religious right part of the party, so if the spending doesn't get under control, maybe it's time to start throwing my vote away to the libertarians.

Posted by: Sonny | December 12, 2005 02:19 PM

A pox on both houses!

I agreed in principle with Reagan's military spending to correct for the weakness of Carter before he finally checked Gov't with tax increases. Bush I also had to increase taxes, then Clinton - and I think Clinton and Rubin managed the fiscally best Gov't stewardship in generations.

Then "tax cut and the hell with consequences" Dubya got in and turned Republicans into the same entitlement granting, pork-crazy whores their Democrat pals had long been.

The Congressional spending cuts Messner talks about are symbolic window dressing. An absolute joke given the explosive, unchecked growth in the cost of entitlements particulary health care and education - and paying for the Warfare we are engaged in against radical Islamists (which compared to the medical unfunded liabilities is also a drop in the bucket).

But the liberal side of the Dems - who are deep in bed with "more Gummint!!" special interests and want more, more, more taxpayer funded teachers, "caregivers", more welfare for mootches cannot just pretend that 350 billion in debt can be cancelled by simply pushing "windfall profits" taxes on the 40 billion the oil companies made.

Perhaps Hillary can run as a centrist and get the old Clinton economic team back together to help repair 8 years of Bush's fiscal recklessness. I hope so, because whoever the Republicans nominate will likely go the "more tax cuts for the wealthy!" and "more pork for corporate interests!" route. Perhaps they might get a responsible candidate committed to fighting the fatcats and religious Fundies corrupting the historical mission and ideals of the Republican Party - but even if a candidate like McCain (age 72 then) or Romney was so inclined - they are no more likely to buck the moneymen of their base than the Dems are to diss their liberal Jewish, Hollywood, and public employee union funding base...

And Sonny, sorry, but the libertarians are still the idiots talking about keeping Gov't hands off oversight of the Heroes of Wall Street and Enron and all they have done for the small investor. Still the same libertarians that call for Open Borders and letting the 150 million Latins, 200 million Chinese, 300 million Muslims, and 500 million other 3rd Worlders who want in to come in and "Create a More Dynamic America". Still the same party that gets more money and grassroots support from promising to legalize pot than from any other domestic or foreign policy plank. Indeed, a throwaway vote.

Posted by: Chris Ford | December 12, 2005 03:34 PM

Chris,

I said throwaway because it is certainly clear that no libertarian candidate is ever going to win anything, but I don't agree that all the ideas are dumb. In fact, I agree that having borders as open as is feasible is good (meaning as long as we are still able to adequately police and school a growing population, no additional wellfare available, etc--but any immigrant willing to work and pay taxes and take a citizenship exam when his time comes up is welcome as far as I'm concerned). I'm not for legalizing drugs and I believe in strong investor protections, but I don't think of those as essential libertarian issues. The big thing to me is lower federal taxing and spending. That always meant voting republican even though I'm pro-choice and pro-gay marriage. So now that the Rs seem just as irresponsible as the Ds, I was just pointing out that they are in danger of losing the type of voter like me who is not "morally" conservative but voted based on fiscal issues.

Posted by: Sonny | December 12, 2005 04:10 PM

Sonny,
Vote Republican for Congress, Democrat for President, if they can find one with principles. Even lacking presidential principles it worked from 1994 thru 2000.

Posted by: Cayambe | December 12, 2005 06:27 PM

Sonny,
PS That strategy has the side benefit of protecting choice and leaving gay marriage to the states.

Posted by: Cayambe | December 12, 2005 06:32 PM

Sonny -

The Religious Right bothers me, bit Christian-bashing liberals and litigators going after them bother me too. I think gay marriage is a step too far - civil unions are about tolerance and getting the civil benefits offered to hetero couples, but gay marriage is a demand for acceptance of lifestyle and most do not approve of that, or polygamy, or incest marriages..That said, I am glad the Religious zealots got the Terri Schiavo Fiasco shoved up their asses for pushing their morality on us - now I would like to see the Hollywood sleaze merchants, thug apologists, Islamoid apologists, NAMBLA, and the ACLU have their efforts to impose their morality on all of us shoved up their liberal asses.

There are few jobs that foreigners can't come in and do for 50% or 10% or less of the wage of Americans. Airline pilots? Ex-Chinese, Soviet, Saudi, Egyptian ones would Glaadly fly us around for 1/4 the cost of Americans...and no American need join the Marines if surplus Indonesians and Indians and Pakistanis will do it for 20% of the native cost. Doctors? Tens of millions willing to relocate and work for peanuts, 15 cents on the native dollar. Every construction job can be given to a foreigner 25-45 cents on the dollar. Teachers and prison guards? Dirt-cheap replacements are available globally.

The usual bullshit the Libertarians give for pushing this investor class wet dream is that it will free up 10s of millions of unemployed Americans to "innovate" and "create" jobs of higher value. So a cardiac surgeon, senior software engineer, plumber, or english teacher outbid by Indian counterparts willing to work of far less, now has plenty of time to "reshape their career path and take newer, more exciting jobs". No doubt jobs that will serve the elite economic oligarchy the libertarians envision holding the reins all the better. Meanwhile, libertarians would cut all health benefits and have private insurance accounts, which, if the pickup truck full of 8 uninsured poor Mexicans crashes on the way to take Massachusetts prison guard jobs from Americans, would mean the cops would leave them to bleed out on the side of the road.

No one buys that libertarian crap anymore.

Posted by: Chris Ford | December 12, 2005 07:06 PM

What do all of you think about the stall in Congress for more funds to help the Gulf Coast. Congress appropriated $62 billion for Mississippi, and $38 billion has been spent. The rest, however, is on the verge of being redirected. Meanwhile, the Governor has asked for an additional $18 billion to cover everything including education, medical coverage, etc. That's tiny compared to Louisiana's $200 billion request, which had no formula for distribution of those funds that I can recall.

Some of the stall is being blamed on the White House and Defense spending, and then some is blamed on the political situation in both the Senate and the House. Meanwhile, people are still living in tents, waiting on FEMA trailers, debris removal, and other relief with no real hope in sight.

Bush just up and sends all kinds of money to the tsunami victims, but we can't agree to help our own people. I know, I know....that notion has been echoed since the first instance we began seeing homeless people in America. But now, we have an enormous amount of homless and jobless folks out there who actually can get back on their feet if the government would just cut the bull$#!+ for once and do some good.

Posted by: BT | December 13, 2005 10:20 AM

We have a congress and congressmen that can't burp out loud for under a billion dollars.

I know one thing if the people in the congress run their own homes and personal affairs they run the country..THEY ARE DEAD BROKE!

We must pull the chain on the Washington D C John Crapper and flush it down the drain and get some people in there that have some fiscal rationale to them.

I'm fed up with my hard earned tax dollars going to pay for prototype costs for production line services and products.

Government: politicians, bureaucracy, and government contractors have become nothing more than entities with licenses to steal and get away with it.

P.J. O'Rourk said it all in his 1992 book.

We are "A Parliment of Whores" that work earn, and hand it all over to our government insider pimps that ride our backs while living the wasteful lives of luxury.

Posted by: Tom | December 13, 2005 10:43 AM

Look. The American people cannot escape their own accountability for the sorry state of our budget process. They habitually respond favorbaly to politicians in both parties who promise them things that they themselves are not willing to pay for.

The public has demonstrated time and again that given a choice between politicians who offer them a brutally honest assessment of what they must sacrifice in order to get our house in order and those that offer them comforting, simplistic bumper sticker slogans that give off the message that they can have it all with little or no sacrifice on their part, they will always choose the latter.

The problems we are now encountering in both our foreign and domestic agendas are not entirely the fault of dishonest, cynical, ideology driven politicians who will say and do anything to grasp and maintain power, but also equally the faoult of a cynical, dumbed down electorate that fails in its civic responsibility to inform itself on the real issues confronting us.

It is this pedestrian, unsophisticated, infotainment-soaked electorate that allows characterless, power lusting polticians and greedy corporate lobbyists to contol with impunity, the machinery of our government. And it is a primary reason for America's decline in evry human endeavor as measured against the other industrialized nations.

Posted by: Jaxas | December 13, 2005 11:06 AM

It's pretty clear that providing $$ to people is a handout, and sending 1,000s times those $$ to corporations is a subsidy. Funny how one is bad and the other seems to be a requirement these days, even in the face of record profits. Where's that so-called free market??

We can't really b** too much about our elected reps, guys.. we put 'em in there. If we don't hold them accountable, why should they hold themselves accountable?

You want cynical? How about we destroy the planet while denying there's anything going on? And while we're at it, let's downgrade science too - thank you America!

Posted by: gonzo | December 13, 2005 11:11 AM

Until Americans learn to wean themselves away from all of these partisan outlets on talk radio and television that twist and deceive and spin for their own quirky agendas, they will wander in darkness.

For every issue and question of the day--whether it be Iraq, or the Middle East, or the economy, or jobs, or immigration, or health care, or Social Security--there are legitimate, scholarly, nonpartisan sources of information. But these sources languish in obsurity while the public tunes in in droves for the pulpy, cartoonish, oafish nonsense they get from talk radio and television, and the burpy blatherings they get from blogs.

There comes a point where sufficient numbers of the citizenry have become so dumbed down that they can no longer function as informed citizens. Sadly, I fear we have reached that point in America.

My son now resides in the Netherlands. He says he misses us and a good many things about his homeland. But one thing he does not miss is the casual, dumbed down certitudes with which Americans discuss politics and government. He says he finds yung people there refreshingly up to date on the issues of the day and far more capable of discussing even the most controversial issues with a degree of civility and respect that is missing in our own country.

Posted by: Jaxas | December 13, 2005 11:21 AM

Until Americans learn to wean themselves away from all of these partisan outlets on talk radio and television that twist and deceive and spin for their own quirky agendas, they will wander in darkness.

For every issue and question of the day--whether it be Iraq, or the Middle East, or the economy, or jobs, or immigration, or health care, or Social Security--there are legitimate, scholarly, nonpartisan sources of information. But these sources languish in obsurity while the public tunes in in droves for the pulpy, cartoonish, oafish nonsense they get from talk radio and television, and the burpy blatherings they get from blogs.

There comes a point where sufficient numbers of the citizenry have become so dumbed down that they can no longer function as informed citizens. Sadly, I fear we have reached that point in America.

My son now resides in the Netherlands. He says he misses us and a good many things about his homeland. But one thing he does not miss is the casual, dumbed down certitudes with which Americans discuss politics and government. He says he finds yung people there refreshingly up to date on the issues of the day and far more capable of discussing even the most controversial issues with a degree of civility and respect that is missing in our own country.

Posted by: Jaxas | December 13, 2005 11:38 AM

If Americans allowed themselves to be informed on issues and managed to debate without name calling, your govenment would be shaking in their boots. But they know that Americans have been properly trained to see no wrong in their government, no matter how glaring the proof.The average American is part of the corruption because they choose their mindless state.It is a sad thing to watch, to see the level of corruption and cronyism that Americans allow and seem to consider "ok." But boy give them a chance to name call and they are right there. Take the name calling to your government and demand the truth. The truth is their greatest fear.

Posted by: SpeakoutforDemocracy | December 13, 2005 01:02 PM

Heterosexuals have as much relationship to polygamy and incest, as homosexuals do. Don't be ridiculous, that isn't even an intelligent argument. In both lifestyle choices there are no children involved, that is called pedophilia.
Statistically the group that has the largest number of pedophiles are heterosexual men. Following your logic, should heterosexual men not be allowed to marry because they are a danger to children? Maybe they should have civil marriages until it is proven they will not commit incest or try a polygamous marriage with many children.

Posted by: SpeakoutforDemocracy | December 13, 2005 01:16 PM

Jaxas:

I think the word you are talking about is
"apathy".

Face it, political blogs like this are more an aberration than the norm. I just dont think that the average american is really that interested in politics, foreign affairs etc.

I think I read somewhere that at congressional midterm and presidential
elections, the average of registration eligible voters that actually participate in the process is less than 50%. That a incredible figure.

What its saying is that over half the people in this country dont really give a damn about what is going on with the government. What I am trying to find out is the reason for this.

Posted by: Left Angle | December 13, 2005 01:23 PM

I could agree with some of the substance in what has been said here about the public, but not the tone in most of the adjectives embedded in the writing. The subject of this thread is supposed to be Congress and the Budget, but the actual discussion has degenerated into what is contemptuous about the electorate. Hardly a very good example of what one fellow has praised the Dutch for is it?

Posted by: Cayambe | December 13, 2005 03:54 PM

If you don't like the way your elected officials spend money, you're more than welcome to go live in Netherlands with Jaxas' son.

Posted by: Alex Ham - America's Hero | December 13, 2005 04:22 PM

Emily,
I certainly wish you wouldn't use the term "cost" to characterize a reduction in revenue, which is what a tax cut typically is. There is no expense to the government associated with doing that. No company characterizes the loss of revenue which accompanies the lowering of their price as a "cost". It is simply a distortion of the English language and leads to confusion. Similarly, Clinton's charactization of AID's as "a threat to National Security" distorts the traditional meaning of "National Security", as does characterizing all government spending as "investment" distort the meaning of that word. It is as bad as the War on Poverty and the War on Terror, which leaves one wondering just what is it that the word War means? I used to think it was something only Congress could declare against another state or states, but now I'm not so sure.

Is this trivial? Perhaps, but of what value is our written constitution if we can redefine the meaning of its words to suit our passing whims?

Posted by: Cayambe | December 13, 2005 04:28 PM

Its pretty easy for the Europeans (or Euro-wannabes in the States) to constantly slam the American public as apathetic, ignorant, etc. Its pretty much sport, but it really doesn't matter. Its all born out of a jealously that they've been pretty much eclipsed by the Americans in just about every way. The European relationship to the US is akin to the tempermental teenager who pouts and locks himself in his room, railing about how his parents are "oppressing" him, while knowing full well he'd never survive out in the wild without their help.

Yeah, off topic but I get a little sick and tired about hearing how "ignorant" we are.

Posted by: RD | December 13, 2005 04:47 PM

Jaxas - "My son now resides in the Netherlands. He says he misses us and a good many things about his homeland. But one thing he does not miss is the casual, dumbed down certitudes with which Americans discuss politics and government. He says he finds yung people there refreshingly up to date on the issues of the day and far more capable of discussing even the most controversial issues with a degree of civility and respect that is missing in our own country."

Ah, yes the ability of the far-wiser and more intelligent Euroweenie to discuss the most controversial issues with a degree of civility and respect missing in backwards American cretins...

That would be evidenced in the Netherlands by pages of the Koran fixed to the chest of an offending Dutchman by a knife, legislators in hiding from aggrieved Islamoids, and Islam one of many PC discussions the Dutch - out of civility and respect, of course - walk on eggshells around..

As for civil dissent, I've seen Parisian riots. I watch the Euro protests against the Zionist entity, the WTO riots in Rome, the current "French minority dissent" in the blazing banieuls, and the "respectful" anti-BushHiterBurton; anti-America, anti-Blair assemblies that best resemble the Euroweenie ancestors, back when Christian European men had spines and scrotums, out to torch Herr Frankenstein's castle.

Speakoutfordemocracy:

"Statistically the group that has the largest number of pedophiles are heterosexual men. Following your logic, should heterosexual men not be allowed to marry."

You sound sorta like a salami-smoker, speakout, not that there is anything wrong with that.

And as 95% of men are heteros, the sheer number of pedophiles is higher, but your statistics also inform you that homos have a higher RATE of pedophilia. The gay prediliction, or preference - for smooth-skinned, hairless young boys goes past the Muslim poets that extolled their pleasurous virtues, past the North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), and past the original chickenhawks. It is reflected in the multi-billions the Catholic Church has paid out, and in crime stats.

But pedophilia is not related to the reason why most people oppose sanctioning homosexuality under marriage. It is because they want as little polyamory, bestiality, polygamy, incest, and homosexuality as possible - prevalent in their society. Many believe that gays are gay from birth. I'm one of them. And there is a lot of controversy about brain structure studies showing abnormalities in gays and suggesting that gayness may be medically considered a birth defect like autism.

No one wishes to discriminate against the autistic, or deny them rights, but it is a stretch to say that people approve of autism and hope all their children turn out autistic.

And the same for homosexuals. While no one puts gay relationships out as far on the "unacceptable" end of the personal relationship spectrum as beastiality, a significant portion of the population has indicated they will not bow to the activist minority pushing the gay agenda down their throats.

Posted by: Chris Ford | December 13, 2005 05:13 PM

The worst part of America's ignorance is that we are too stupid to understand it.

A recent science survey found that some large percentage- I think like 50% - of people think the sun revolves around the earth. I didn't believe my sister when she told me that most of the people she works with don't know who Tom Delay is until I saw a poll showing some large percentage - like 30 or 40% - didn't know. People have no idea what a scientific theory is nor understand the nature of the scientific method.

Sadly, though, those who do not understand history are bound to repeat it. Alex Ham's "love it or leave it" sentiment is truly the most worrisome post here today. The entire idea of America is that people love it enough to change it into a better kind of place. Making it "unpatriotic" to criticize your country or government is nothing more than a form of control that does not belong in a democratic society.

Controlling governments get their power using a fairly well defined formula - making dissent "unpatriotic", hiding behind the flag, keeping people fearful, identifying a scapegoat, scorning academia and those who encourage critical thinking, scorning all things 'foreign", protection of corporate power with suppression of labor, rampant cronyism, controlling elections, and using religion to garner support (fascism) or eliminating the power of religion (communism) (see Britt).

If that list doesn't make your hair stand up then you're either still being taken in by it or you're on the side making the power grab. But this is precisely why the "elites' must be silenced, before the people catch on - you didn't think the right thought up this idea that academia and Hollywood must be discredited all by themselves, did you? They just had to read the same recipe that Pinochet and Franco and Hitler and Mussolini et al used. Its not rocket science. What I find so depressing is how easily it works.

I have very much enjoyed taking family members overseas with me when I go to international meetings, and watching the wonder in each of their eyes as they suddenly 'discover" that the US is actually not the center of the world.

Posted by: patriot1957 | December 13, 2005 05:52 PM

Don't forget that Congress will soon be seeking an emergency request for more money on our credit card to help support the ongoing operations in the Middle East, to a tune of $100 Billion. So, in summary, a $95B tax cut + $100B war allocation - $50B in entitlements, yielding $145B in deficit spending this month alone.

I am not surprised that the Majority Party on The Hill used to they were Fiscally Conservative in their principles. I am definitely making sure that my kids understand that their grandchildren will still be paying the bills when they retire. I don't need to worry about paying off the bills; they do.

Posted by: Dave | December 14, 2005 01:55 AM

"I don't need to worry about paying off the bills; they do."

Yes you do Dave. After paying those bills, they may not have enough left over to cover our Social Security payments.

Posted by: Cayambe | December 14, 2005 03:36 AM

It would help Chris Ford, if you would confine your comments to the points I made in my post instead of launching into some rabid, incohenrent rant that highlights all of your worst prejudices and bigotries.

My point was that in America, the national dialogue has been hijacked by an assortment of partisan windbags on both fringes of our political system. None of the most popular practitioners of that black art today--Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity on the right; Al Franken and Michael Moore on the left--have any more insight into the grand questions of the day than do the dumbed down partisans in their respective audiences.

Your rant--which was a simple reprise of the sort of addled hokum that passes for political dialogue in our media these days--provides us with a splendid and instructive example of just what I am talking about.

Posted by: Jaxas | December 14, 2005 11:28 AM

Anyone can do a rant. And everybody has an opinion. It is that in America, far too much respect is accorded to the ranters whilst thoughtful analysis based on well established fact and data, is largely ignored.

When Colin Powell warned Bush of the old "Pottery Barn" rule, he was speaking based on his wealth of experience in strategies involving military incursions into impoverished countries. Bush wasn't the slightest bit interested in that. He instead listened to people who love to rant.

That is what happens when you have a President who uses his gut and faith to make decisions instead of thoughtful analysis based on reality.

Posted by: Jaxas | December 14, 2005 11:42 AM

Studies have proven Chris Ford that those who hate homosexuality the most, are those who cannot deal with their own homosexuality. They put an attachment on the penis' of men who were homophobic and showed them pornography of females and males, and found that homophobic men generally have a stronger reaction and excitement in looking at male pornography than female. All that ranting and raving about gays is about themselves and their own fears of being gay. They just drag everyone else into it. Deal with yourself Chris Ford and take a look at where all that fear is coming from.
I can't be bothered to deal with your ridiculous rant against homosexuals, it is based on fear and there is a definate lack of information. Emotional and fear based rants belong in therapy, not on a blog.
I believe you were gay from birth and that is why you can't deal with it. I question why you would have an emotional reaction to something that doesn't affect others, and is a personal choice. I obviously found your hot button issue.
Check Breakback Mountain and see what your reaction is. If you feel like killing people, then yes you are gay. We will like you the same gay or not.

Posted by: SpeakoutforDemocracy | December 14, 2005 12:03 PM

To keep my issues seperate and responding again to Chris Ford's rant about "Euroweenies" or I would say to you "you're-a-weenie" and the jealousy of Europeans for America is pure fantasy.You live in a wealthy (not so wealthy anymore) nation that does not give back to their people what they earn. Europeans have much better benefits from their nations, up to 6 weeks holidays a year is standard to your pathetic two. They have a much better education system with better qualified and informed citizens.
In Canada a parent has a paid year off to care for an infant. We don't have to pay our medical expenses and America is the only country in the industrialized world that does. You are looking backwards not forwards. Why would anyone want to give up what we all have that Americans don't. It is beyond me why Americans accept so little from their government, they are supposed to be working for the people not corporations.
The lack of intelligence modelled by Americans is very concerning to others, the repeating of propoganda and presenting it as opinion. Coming to conclusions based on emotion instead of intelligence.
The Netherlands generally is a very peaceful country, unlike America which seems like a violent simmering civil war waiting to happen. Why would any intelligent European want that? My interest is to try to understand what makes Americans tick and to try to understand their violence, ajnd lack of progression on issues of Human rights. The US looks more like the old Soviet Union than any democracy I've seen. As one Russian living in the US said," the US and Russia both have propaganda, the only difference is that the Americans believe theirs."
That encapsulates what we all see with you, and it is a reminder that Nazi Germany could happen again but it would have an American face. The ego is so huge they don't even see what their government is doing to them.

Posted by: SpeakoutforDemocracy | December 14, 2005 12:29 PM

Yeah, 6 week vacations and cradle-to-grave medical care. Good on paper but who foots the bill? And with an economy that shows no indication of growing, a bureaucratic culture that stifles innovation and competitiveness (yes, capitalism), a citizenry that has become so accustomed to having that safety net that they won't forgo any short-term benefits for long-term good, a negative birth rate, Europe is headed for disaster. The worse the US could do is (and I fear its happening more and more) is emulate the failed Euro-socialist experiment.

Posted by: D. | December 14, 2005 03:21 PM

Jaxas - "It would help Chris Ford, if you would confine your comments to the points I made in my post instead of launching into some rabid, incohenrent rant that highlights all of your worst prejudices and bigotries."

Jaxas, you're the one who gave the usual smug, condescending tripe about how European countries are far superior to America in being informed and how debate there is Ohhhhh, so civil and respectful. As an example, you used the Netherlands.

I called you full of shit.

And said the Netherlands is agonizing over "difficulties" like knives in chests - over full open debate on Islam, Islamic immigration. And how PC is truly oppressive in certain Euro locales. You can be arrested over there for saying the wrong thing or bringing up a forbidden topic.

And implying that Euro debate is civil and respectful. What a joke!! Look at history on the typical Euro protest - rocks, water cannons, molotov cocktails, cops in full armor an shields.

But you are locked in a smug Eurocentric/philic meme that holds Euros to be far wiser, far better informed than the yokel Americans. And your smugness spills over into your other posts.

In writing about your Euro-residing son:

"But one thing he does not miss is the casual, dumbed down certitudes with which Americans discuss politics and government."

Well, since you too are not the typical casual, dumbed down, ignorant American - perhaps you can do yourself and the rest of us a favor by moving over there with him so you can enjoy a far superior, more sophisticated, and nuanced extistence, Jaxas. As you are a long-time Federal government employee, Jaxas, I'm sure it does look like paradise on the other side of the Atlantic...

Posted by: Chris Ford | December 14, 2005 04:21 PM

Cradle to grave medical care, great on paper but who foots the bill?
Many American corporations have moved their plants to Canada citing the reason as that Canada has government medical care and the cost for benefits to the corporation is much lower. Many companies are moving to Canada much of their production (GM as an example) citing the lower cost of benefits and a more educated worker.
Starbucks announced that to ensure that their workers have medical benefits, they are paying more in premium cost for their medical coverage than the wages of the workers. This is in the US. The lack of medical coverage is stifling business.
If the American people weren't so well propagandized they would see this. Why wouldn't your government want to provide medical care-of course they wouldn't. You have to fight them for it, and a thinking nation would put in the fight necessary to m ake demands of their government. I hear the same old tired arguments, the same one from the American government as from the people. Does anyone think for themselves?
Corporations have figured it assists them to have a worker who has medical coverage, it is good for business. It certainly has been good for Canadian business. We are benefiting from America's tunnel vision and lack of creative thinking.
You are paying a price for your poor education system and lack of government supported benefits. Canada's economy is one of the healthiest in the world, and is growing at a faster rate than the US that is stifled by it's enormous debt.
We didn't get suckered in to a war for oil deal that the US tried to sucker us into. It helps having a well educated public who are critical thinkers.The American people pay a high price for not having a clue what goes on outside their borders, they are primed for any snake oil salesman that comes along.
Realistically, why would the rest of the industrialized world be happy with free medical care if it didn't work? It is about using democracy to demand what we need and deserve. That is what democracy is about-getting your leaders to work for us, not the other way around as you can see in the US.The US governement is the puppet master and you are the puppets, I wouldn't believe that if I didn't see time and time again, Americans parroting exactly what the governments say. When did you lose independant thinking? When did you turn over control of your thoughts and life, entrusting it all to such a corrupt Corporate run government?

Americans are so lock step with their fascist government, they can't tell their opinion from the leaders'.

Posted by: SpeakoutforDemocracy | December 15, 2005 08:31 AM

"You can be arrested over there for saying the wrong thing or bringing up a forbidden topic" Chris Ford, always with a tiny minutae of fact with huge assumptions and a dollup of propaganda. There is a hate crime law, yes, you cannot threaten someone or say things which incite violence. There are no forbidden topics, just a law to prevent the inciting of violence through threats or racist rantings.
Democracy works very well thank you. In a working democracy people should speak out and demand, if the government doesn't listen then you demonstrate. Not sit at your desk with your hands crossed, being perfect gentlemen and repeating government propaganda.
Why when Americans express a dislike of the way things are in America, do Americans (like You're a weenie Ford) tell them to leave the country. Are you saying America should never change? That it will never evolve, because the people accept life as it is and will never grow?
How could innovation ever happen in a nation that does not allow change or democracy. The lack of patience with a working democracy, and such a high comfort level with growing fascism will not help your economy. Allow people to think without threatening them for thinking, or showing an unhappiness with the status quo.
I have spent time in Europe and I have spent time in the US, and I see Europe as a more humane environment where people are much more participatory in their democracy. They would never put up with the crap Americans put up with.
I saw a great series of video interviews done by an australian media outlet asking Americans on the street how they felt about the Iraq war and war in general. The average American had no clue about where Iraq was, no knowledge of specifics, but one after the other kept saying drop the bomb. Kill them. Annihilate them. No knowlege of the situation, no knowledge at all but the immediate reaction is violence.
Propaganda dummies that could be wind up robot soldiers for the Government-Corporation called America. Scary stuff that in this day and age a whole nation can be so violence centered and anti intelligence.
How is this dummy nation who can't think for themselves going to stay a viable healthy economy? It won't as trends show.

Posted by: SpeakoutforDemocracy | December 15, 2005 09:05 AM

Right, right...we Americans are just dumb wanna-be fascists, hear that one all the time. Funny coming from a Canadian whose country has managed to emasculate itself in a span of 30 years. Anyhow, about that famed health care system you all have up there...

A February 2004 Canadian Medical Association poll revealed that only 14 percent of Canadians believe their country has a sufficient number of doctors. 49 percent of Canadians said either they or a member of their household had to wait "longer than you thought was reasonable" to see a medical specialist within the last year. 38 percent gave the same answer when asked about access to their family physician, and 31 percent said so about access to advanced diagnostic procedures.2

A whopping 74 percent of Canadians were concerned about long waits for access to emergency room services, while seven percent said they or a member of their household had suffered deteriorating medical conditions as a result of delays in access for care over the past year. Two percent of Canadians actually reported that a member of their household had died waiting for health care.3

Why the waiting times? In Canada, says Dr. Robert J. Cihak, M.D., former president of the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons, "If the Canadian government says it provides a particular medical service, it is illegal for a Canadian citizen to pay for and obtain that service privately. At the same time, the Canadian government bureaucracy rations medical services."

So shortages are inevitable. Says Dr. Cihak:

In a May/June 2004 article in the journal Health Affairs, researcher Robert Blendon and colleagues described the results of a survey of hospital administrators in Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, the United States, and Canada. Fifty percent of the Canadian hospital administrators said the average waiting time for a 65-year-old man requiring a routine hip replacement was more than six months. Not one American hospital administrator reported waiting periods that long. Eighty-six percent of American hospital administrators said the average waiting time was shorter than three weeks; only 3 percent of Canadian hospital administrators said their patients had this brief a wait."4

Says Sally Pipes, a Canadian who runs the U.S.-based Pacific Research Institute and who is the author of a book on the Canadian system:

Between 1993 and 2003, [in Canada] the median waiting time from referral by a general practitioner to treatment increased by 90 percent, from 9.3 weeks to 17.7 weeks, according to an annual survey of physicians by the Vancouver-based Fraser Institute. For cancer patients, the waiting time for medical oncology more than doubled from 2.5 weeks to 6.1 weeks, and the waiting time for radiation oncology increased from 5.3 weeks to 8.1 weeks. That's the experience of 58-year-old Don Cernivz, who noticed blood in his urine in fall of 2003. He waited three weeks for his first diagnostic test and then another month for an MRI. Actual treatment for his cancer of the pelvis didn't commence until May of the following year. "The waiting time is ridiculous at the hospital," his daughter complained to the Calgary Herald. "He is in pain."5

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (an international organization of 30 member nations), in 2001, 63 percent of Americans reported a waiting time of one month or less for elective surgery, compared to 37 percent of Canadians. 32 percent of Americans waited 1-3 months for elective surgery compared to 36 percent of Canadians. Only five percent of Americans reported waits of four months or more for such procedures, compared to 27 percent of Canadians.6

In September 2004, an article by Canadian researchers appearing in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association reported that Canadian heart attack patients run a 17 percent greater risk of dying than their U.S. counterparts. The researchers concluded that the reason for higher Canadian mortality following heart attacks lay in the difference between the way the Canadian and U.S. health systems are organized.7

Advocates of a Canadian system do tout this benefit: Patients pay nothing for services. But this this accurate? Only for those patients who aren't Canadian taxpayers. Twenty-two percent of all of Canada's tax revenues go to pay for Canada's health care system.8

That's a lot of money for Canadian citizens to spend for a service they can't be sure they'll get.

source: http://www.nationalcenter.org/WCT092404CanadianHealth.html

Just sayin....

Posted by: D. | December 15, 2005 09:51 AM

Tell me Chris Ford: Does it not occur to that enfeebled apparatus lodged between your ears that the nature of your reaction to my post strengthens my hypothesis that most Americans are flat out incapable of carrying on an intelligent and civil conversation. The contents of my bowels notwithstanding, it is the content of my mind--as opposed rather starkly by the rancid content of yours--that is at issue.

In point of fact, the content of your mind is stunningly similar to that which is contained in my bowels.

Posted by: Jaxas | December 15, 2005 11:06 AM

D. said-

"Advocates of a Canadian system do tout this benefit: Patients pay nothing for services. But this this accurate? Only for those patients who aren't Canadian taxpayers. Twenty-two percent of all of Canada's tax revenues go to pay for Canada's health care system."

25% of American tax revenues already pay towards Medicare and Medicaid.

Posted by: Will | December 15, 2005 03:40 PM

American pays more of it's tax revenues than Canada, for service to only a fraction of the population. In Canada we get far more for our dollar because the profit margin is out of the picture. We cover everyone. If it was so bad Canadians would be clambouring to get rid of it's system, but it is the other way around. We love our Medicare system and we are pressuring to make it even better. It is an ongoing project, but we are pushing our politicians and demanding quality care.
Our wait time have been reduced, which is what we asked for. Our follow up care and long term care is better than the U.S.
Canadians love Medicare. The people who don't like it are Americans who know very little about it and for profit companies trying to get their foot in the door. Well everything is not for sale and certainly not Canada's Health Care system. It is a fight, Tommy Douglas one of the most beloved politicians in Canadian history fought and won this for Canadians. We will always fight to keep it.

Posted by: SpeakoutforDemocracy | December 19, 2005 08:12 AM

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