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Monday, October 30, 2006


Open letter to the DNC…

I have to be honest. I don’t have any respect for the Democratic Party. After all, you continually stand in the way of the electoral reforms like proportional representation thus depriving Progressive such as myself of any representation in Washington. And it's so easy to blame Katharine Harris and the USSC for giving us Bush in 2000 when the REAL problem was the Electoral College. Yet, Democrats refuse to even talk about abolishing this anti-democratic abomination.

Nonetheless, Bush and the GOP have been an unmitigated disaster for the US and the world. Right about now, as in ‘04, I’ll settle for the lesser of the evils.

So DNC, I know you’d like to THINK you’re headed for some victories next Tuesday. If you’re lucky you’ll take back the House and Senate. I'm not so sure.

THE PROBLEM: I’m sure you don’t underestimate Carl Rove’s ability to pull this election out of the fire. We can see his fingerprints with the constant on-message harping about national security and possible tax hikes. Then there’s his massive database of personal information he’ll use to micro-target voters. But, perhaps your biggest problem is that True Believers of the GOP can easily rationalize away all of Bush’s disasters and fiscal irresponsibility. I’ve debated such right-wingers for years and I understand the extent to which they have sabotaged their own intelligence to believe the Party line. These voters need to be shocked out of their complacency. You need an effective wedge issue… and soon.

Though the Right’s strategy to sabotage government with massive deficits and growing debt is now 25 years old the Democrats STILL seem incapable of launching an effective counterstrategy. Worst, Bush is even today telling cheering crowds that it’s the Democrats that would piss away their money. These lies are beyond Orwellian. Yet it’s not rocket science to deflate these lies. The Right’s propaganda machine has been predictable in its approach. They tell the faithful “it’s your money” and tax cuts are a free lunch essential for economic growth. They then downplay the deficit numbers THEY created.

Those who believe the Right’s big lies do so because they have never been educated in the following:

1: If We The People are in debt… then ALL tax cuts are paid for with borrowing.
2: The Right is stealing money from our children to buy votes today, allowing us to party today at our children’s expense. How god damn noble!
3: That tax cuts are essential for economic growth argument is laughable and without empirical data. The Right has misrepresented the so-called JFK tax cut, the economic boom of the 80’s was classic demand-side not supply side, and Clinton proved that there can be a boom after a tax hike.

That things have come to this point is because Democrats never did their job to educate the public. But it’s not too late to strike a blow in the next week.

What makes the Right’s Big Lies appealing is the average person really has no idea what budget numbers we’re taking about. Sadly, most can’t tell the difference between a million, a billion, and a trillion. It’s just too abstract.

THE SOLUTION? You need a quick wedge issue that will peel away or discourage some GOP voters, and serve some future education process. A new approach is needed, preferably one that kills two or three birds with one stone:
1: It’s essential to counteract the Right’s long-term strategy of “starving the beast” since the entire Democratic agenda depends on it.
2: It’s essential to educate GOP and wavering Democratic voters and shock them to the senses.
3: It’s essential to brand all GOP members of Congress/Senate as dangerously irresponsible to counteract the tendency to believe one’s own incumbent is not part of the problem in Washington.

Here’s what I propose…

The public MUST be educated on the amount of the debt Bush has run up. Make the abstract painfully concrete. What’s needed is some sense of scale. And that’s what this site does: Unfortunately, they stopped at the $315 Billion spent on Bush’s wars.

According to the Bureau of Public Debt Bush's debt from January 22, 2001 to October 27, 2006 is now $2837.816643835 BILLION. What does that represent?

If stacked atop over a football field (100’x300’) it would make a tower of cash 4,136’ Feet tall.

If stacked over a baseball diamond (90’x90’) it would make a tower of cash 15,321 Feet Tall

You get the "picture". Right?

For cost reasons I’d suggest one generic ad. To hit a key demographic I’d take these ads out during football games this weekend so not to give the Right much time to respond t that same group. The use of a football field for scale is one sports fans can easily relate to. You can begin showing a single dollar bill on the field, then show the income of the average worker or family. Pull back to show Bush’s FY01 through FY06 deficits piling up giving a running total of the height of the stack of cash. It’s essential to use ON-BUDGET deficit numbers since unified budget numbers are dishonest and will never equal the final Bush debt. In the end, the total Bush debt numbers will result in that tower growing to some 4136’ tall atop that football field… less if you use the sidelines and end zones. Depending on what you're willing to spend you can toss in some extras; the Goodyear blimp banking hard to get out of the way of the rising tower; glimpses of the crowd standing up to stare in disbelief. Keep pulling back to show the tower of cash’s full size in relation to whatever stadium you use.

For possible tag lines…

“Bush says only the Republicans can wisely watch over taxpayer money. The Debt the Republicans have run up tell a different story.”


“Tax cuts for the rich were never a free lunch. This is the bill the Bush Republicans are handing to our children.”


“The Bush Republicans are building a monument. But it’s a monument to fiscal irresponsibility we and our children just can’t afford.”


“The Bush Republicans have been so fiscally irresponsible we can no longer even fund our Defense Department without loans from Red (sic) China.”

See the possibilities? Of course it would help Democratic credibility immensely if you stopped playing your own on- / off-budget games concealing hundreds of billions in loans from the federal trust funds as Kerry did in '04 in his so-called “balanced budget plan”. If you are ever to become the Party of TRUE fiscal responsibility you have to tell it straight... not just to educate the public but to forever inoculate them against the Right’s propaganda.

THE MATH: As for the math I used which I urge you to double check:

I’ve recalculated Crunchweb’s numbers and according to my measurements a US dollar bill is 6.125" x 2.625" x .0047"

That means...

$1.00 bill = .0755671875 cubic inches.

Since a cubic foot is 1,728 cubic inches

$22,867 in $1.00 bills can theoretically fit into a cubic foot.

$1 Billion... 1,000,000,000 / 22,867 = 43,731 cubic feet of $1.00 tightly packed bills

According to the Bureau of Public Debt Bush's debt from January 22, 2001 to October 27, 2006 is now $2837.816643835 BILLION.

That amounts to 124,100,559 CUBIC FEET of tightly packed $1.00 bills. This can be divided in any way… for a football field… divide 124,100,559 by 100 then 300. The result will be the height of the cash.

(revised 11-01-06)


Bush's Debt Now Bigger Than The Two World Trade Center Towers

The following coincidence is almost scary. What a sad milestone.

According to my measurements a US dollar bill is 6.125" x 2.625" x .0047"

That means...

$1.00 bill = .0755671 cubic inches.

$22867.09 can fit in a cubic foot... at least mathematically.

$1 Billion....... 1000000000 / 22867.09 = 43,730.968 cubic feet of $1.00 tightly packed bills

According to the Bureau of Public Debt
Bush's debt to date is $2,822.154844491 BILLION

That amounts to 123,415,563 cubic feet of tightly packed $1.00 bills.

According to this source each World Trade Tower was 208' x 208' x 1361' or 58,882,304 cubic feet.

That is if my math is correct that pile of cash would equal in size the two World Trade Center towers. (2.095970344502824 WTC towers to exact.)

MATH: 123,415,563 cubic feet of cash divided by 58,882,304 cubic feet for each WTC tower.

While I’d love to see the Democrats run a generic ad showing the amount of cash Bush has pissed away using a visible approach as used here I don’t think using the WTC Towers as a comparison would be in good taste.

However, the Bush debt would equal a skyscraper of $1 bills 4114 feet high if stacked above a football field (100x300'). Better yet if it had a tagline that the US can not even fund its own Defense Department without loans from Red (sic) China.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Democrats: Party of the Walking Brain Dead.

Democrats just don't get it. They have been facing their Goldwater moment for the past 25 years and have consistently refused to reinvent themselves. The advance of the radical Right has less to do with any compelling message on their part but more to do with the intellectual bankruptcy and lack of strategic vision on the part of Democrats. Going into the 2006 mid-term election it seems their best hope is not to win on ideas but to hope the GOP self-destructs.

There are undoubtedly some very intelligent and perceptive people in the Democratic Party. Yet that talent never seems to rub off on the entire Party. How the Democrats deal with budget numbers... an issue that could work in their favor, provides a perfect example.

For the past 25 years the most radical elements of the Right have had a clear strategy to sabotage the finances of the federal government. They call it “starving the beast”. Rather than debate social safety net programs on their merit, they have preferred to push through irresponsible tax cuts to create massive deficits. Such policies serve a political purpose: they bring home the bacon to their wealthy and business constituents while depriving the Dems of ways to serve their own constituencies. The radical Right has never cared if We The People piss away trillions on interest... some $352 BILLION in FY05 alone... as long as that money was not available to do some good for the American People. To get a sense of immense scale of waste here... taxpayer money spent on interest in FY05 is about 20X the entire NASA budget of about $17 billion. The utter contempt the radical Right has for the average citizen is beyond measure. But you'll never hear Democrats making this argument nor will you hear them educate the public that interest is the biggest waste of taxpayer money in the budget.

While Clinton understood the fiscal trap the Right had set, he never went out of his way to educate the public about what the Right was up to. Clinton just made it a top priority to get to a budget surplus and in doing so intended to protect the future viability of the Democratic Party. Sadly Clinton never sufficiently inoculated the Public against the Right's Big Lies. He failed to build up a large constituency dedicated to preserving that surplus and to paying down the national debt. It was a strategic blunder that may have backfired in the 2000 election. In 2000 Bush was obviously determined to follow in Reagan’s path to again sabotage revenues before any debt was actually paid down. Did the Democrats try to expose the Right's ploy? Hardly. They just proposed their own irresponsible tax cuts! As George Lakoff might say... this proposal just reinforced the Right's conceptual frame that the pubic needed "tax relief". The Democrats never put forth a competing conceptual frame that it was in the national interest to pay down the debt, nor that it was criminally irresponsible for the Right to bribe voters today with money stolen from future taxpayers. How can Democrats EVER expect to expose the Right's Big Lie that tax cuts are a free lunch if they refuse to expose the true extent of the damage created by the Right's scorched earth fiscal policies?

By 2000 nearly 2 decades had gone by where Democrats COULD have been educating the public about the Right’s plans to sabotage government... and refused. This failure is reminiscent of the Democrats ineptitude in devising an effective strategy to protect the federal judiciary against radical Right-wing justices. More on that here: here.

Sadly, the federal budget is like a shell game. On the on-budget side of the ledger we have most of what we consider as government functions... the military, NIH, FBI, NASA etc. Trust funds like Social Security are considered off-budget. But if there is a surplus in these off-budget trust funds as there is today... about $180 billion for FY06, by law this surplus is loaned to the government. If there's an on-budget surplus... a very rare event, the money is used to pay down the overall public debt even as it's adding to the intragovernmental debt.

This point bears repeating: only a true ON-budget surplus can be used to lower overall debt. If there's an on-budget deficit... as is usually the case, the trust fund money is borrowed, then spent. To date according to Bureau of Public Debt the intragovernmental debt is over $3.7 TRILLION.

So why do both parties use the unified budget numbers? The answer is simple: these numbers offer BOTH parties political cover since they make deficits look smaller by concealing hundreds of billions in borrowing from the trust funds and also can make any surplus look larger. Using unified budget numbers Clinton could claim a surplus in FY98 even as money was still being borrowed from the trust funds adding to the intragovernmental debt while being used to pay down the public debt. The unified budget surplus for FY98-00 was $431 Billion yet in reality the true Clinton on-budget surplus totaled only a paltry $90 billion in FY99 and FY00. When compared to the national debt then at 5.8 Trillion, it was a drop in the bucket… and by FY01 the on-budget surplus was gone.

What the Democrats never seem to understand is they can't claim to be the TRUE party of fiscal responsibility if they play such games with the budget numbers. Even when the numbers work in their favor they refuse to tell the American People just how fiscally irresponsible Bush has been. The Democrats can't educate the public about the budget if they continue to propose sugar-coated deficit reduction plans of their own that conceal hundreds of billions in trust fund borrowing. Yet this is exactly what Kerry did in 2004. By using the unified budget figures in his 2004 deficit reduction plan, Kerry concealed about a trillion in borrowing over 5 years. Not only was it a strategic blunder not to expose the Right's game plan... it was a scandalous display of how the Democrats also have contempt for the public.

So here comes election 2006. Again the deficit numbers are outrageous... hitting record highs. These numbers again work to the benefit of the Democrats. But have the Democrats changed their ways? Hardy. They again refuse to even use the true Bush deficit numbers. Here's an example.


2001: Bush Deliberately Underestimated Future Deficits. In 2001, Bush predicted massive budget surpluses over the following four years, in order to make the case that we could afford his tax cut plan. Instead, each of those years will suffer an actual or likely deficit. In 2001, Bush predicted a $231 billion surplus in 2002 (reality: $158 billion deficit), $246 billion surplus in 2003 (reality: $375 billion deficit), $268 billion surplus in 2004 (reality: $422 billion projected deficit), and $273 billion surplus in 2005 (reality: $348 billion projected deficit.

Who's underestimating deficits?

The TRUE Bush deficit is the ON BUDGET deficit. Here are those numbers from page 22 of this OMB report.

1999: +1.920 BILLION
2000: +86.422 BILLION
2001: -32.445 BILLION
2002: -317.417 BILLION not 158 billion
2003: -538.418 BILLION not 375 billion
2004: -567.961 BILLION not 422 billion
2005: -493.611 BILLION not 348 billion
2006: -602.141 BILLION estimated

It's just another in a long series of strategic failures on the part of the Democrats to blunt the Right's offensive. Since they don't seem to have the sense to go head to head and expose the Right's lies... their best hope of winning elections is for the Right to implode. If the Democrats win in this manner... that Goldwater moment to reinvent themselves will surely be put off again.

(Originally published in April 06 and updated 10-19-06)