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Comment by David Anam on April 20, 2011 at 7:21am
That's why defense cuts need to be significant yet gradual. I don't want to lose my job (I work in Air Force contracts), but the amount on the military is ridiculous.
Comment by Sean Asbury on April 19, 2011 at 5:11pm
David - the ridiculous debt at the beginning of the chart is a direct result of WWII and the crazy high tax rate was part of the shared suffering expected for a nation at war. Men, and they were men in those days, that stayed home and ran industries instead of fighting made profits, but not the stupid profits of today. Paying high taxes on income was patriotic at the time.

In post war years, as the debt was brought under control, tax rates were softened to a sweet 70% margin - of course, no one paid 70% because of deductions and write offs and such, but it was still very high.

Part of the Reagan/conservative revolution in the 80s and 90s was the trickle down economic theory - cut taxes on the wealthy, they will have more disposable income to invest in the economy, which creates more jobs, which expands the tax base, which generates more revenues for the government. Unfortunately, we've seen that this doesnt always pan out the way it's supposed to happen, but there are external factors at play too.

Pumping more government dollars into defense - specifically for the strategic defense initiative, or as we've come to know and love it - Star Wars - put the military-industrial complex that Eisenhower warned about in 1960 on steroids - something we are still dealing with today.

Everyone loves to talk about cutting defense spending - but the reality of this is that cutting defense dollars actually puts millions of Americans out of work. Weapons are one of the few remaining manufacturing industries still working in America and moreover, these jobs are strategically scattered throughout congressional districts so all can claim a share of the defense pork. Cutting these jobs has a ripple effect in local economies - businesses that support the community can't thrive in localized downturns and end up folding, etc.

Once federal dollars start flowing into the local levels to "prime the economic pump" it's like trying to get off crack...

Bush made three strategic errors as President. 1. He pissed away the budget surplus Clinton handed him instead of applying it to pay down the debt. 2. He cut taxes from a rate that provided adequate revenue for current government spending and 3. He went to war on the cheap - letting the burden fall on roughly 1/300 of the population and letting the other 299/300 off scott free without sharing in the burden.
Comment by David Anam on April 19, 2011 at 2:59pm

So would this be an accurate summary?

 

"Once upon a time, the democratic congress was crazy in debt and tax rates were ridiculous, then they gradually improved the situation, only to have republicans take power and screw it all up in the 80's?"

Comment by Sean Asbury on April 19, 2011 at 10:09am
David - With few exceptions, from WWII until the 80's Democrats had a near stranglehold on both houses of congress.  Since the mid-80's it's been pretty much back and forth with thin advantages.
Comment by David Anam on April 19, 2011 at 7:20am
That's a really nice chart. Though I would like to see it mention not just presidents, but the makeup of congress as well.

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