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April 08, 2011 10:56 pm MST

Live Blog: Fiscal Solutions Tour, Denver

  • by: MADCO

Fiscal Solutions Tour

While it’s not at all clear to me who is hosting this event, it is taking place near the Auraria Campus, but across Speer in the UCD Lawrence St Center.   And I was invited by Senator Bennet’s office, although clearly there are lotsa politicos involved. And it’s just as clear that the email from the Bennet office was after many other invites had gone out.  I don’t care- just sayin.

No bar, no food, no water.

I’d estimate approx 250 atttendees – panel discussion of 10 to 12 in the room + a skype conference to someplace DC-ish looking.

(It’s the web – it could be a sound stage in the valley)  


28 thoughts on “Live Blog: Fiscal Solutions Tour, Denver

  1. No bitching.

    if you are here and can see this, be careful how you post. (Don’t out me and you won’t go on the list.)

    I’ll try to post the graphs – but the handout is poor : b&w photocopy of some colored pie charts.  No bitching about whether and when I find them in color and get ’em up.

    No bitching about Pete Peterson or the Concord Coalition.

    No whining about the gov’t shut down. I’m not saying it won’t be painful, I’m saying write your diary or put it int he open thread.

  2. Gov’t spending as a percentage of GDP, 1800, 2010 , 2040

    Looks like 2%, 24$ and 38% respectively.

    There is an argument to be made about sources – but CBO is supposed to be non partisan but we could all find sources that show how CBO “gamed” or spun this or that projection.

    For this diary – let’s  stipulate that the CBO numbers are as good as we’ll get. And anyone who wants to chew through CBO methodology, let’s don’t bring a knife.  (to a gun fight)

  3. I don’t recognize everyone seated int he room – except Gary Hart.

    Bennet and Udall should have worn different shirts/ties. Both are on the jumbotron in starchy white shirts and red ties.  They look like they’re in uniform

  4. fresh from the floor, he was supposed to be here to participate in a reasonable, practical discussion about the defict and the debt and what’s next.

    Oh the irony he’s stuck in DC talking about whether to shut down the gov’t or continue allowing women to get cancer screening at PP (my example) instead of being here.

    Thanks from Bennet to S. Hart and S. Simpson- classy.

  5. ….something about settling the west and thereby learning how to match revenues and expenses… I didn’t get it

    Udall says he’s committed to and optimistic about changing our national fiscal practice.

    Thanks to Hart & Simpson and Erskine Bowles. (I don’t think Bowles is in the room – at least I don’t see him.)

    Udall asks for our help to get this done and quotes some French guy (de Toqville) and then a mountain climbing analogy…. well, a weak mountain climbing metaphor.

  6. …. just rtavelled 40, 000 miles around CO, town halls and meetings in red parts and blue parts and….

    there are common themes

    1) Coloradoans wnat solutions

    2) they want those solutions to be ….missed it

    3) and they want those solutions to be bipartisan because nothing else will work

    (sounds like the youtube posted yesterday)  

  7. There was one, handmade posterboard being carried at the door but not allowed in the room.

    I can’t remember everything it said – but it concluded “tax the rich.”

    1. Maya MacGuineas

      … look, the fiscal structure of the US gov’t is flawed

      It cannot be fixed by eliminating fraud, waste, abuse.  IT exists despite our best efforts, but the structural issues are bigger and deeper

      people are seeing the problem… and when they are serious about addressing it, you can tell because they are past “deficit denial”

      submit  questions, about anything,  in writing (I’m not planning to)

      Her Q first:

      What’s ti going to take to mae the adjustments necessary ?

      1. If you spend more than you have, you lose your butt.

        If you borrow $0.40 for every dollar you spend, your an idiot.

        But that’s what the US does.

        The commission has been a great success.

        At a minimum it allowed him to achieve one surprising goal – he’s managed to piss off everyone in America. (good laugh0

        Historically low revenue as a percentage of GDP.  Currently revenue is at 15% of GDP – historically it was closer to 19 or 20%.

        Great Grover Norquist story.

        They met, Norquist says ‘you should know,  Reagan is my hero.  Simpson says ‘mine too.  Did you know President Reagan raised taxes 11 times?’  Norquist: ‘yeah, I hated that he did that and I never knew why.’  SImpson: ‘He did it to make the country run’.  

        1. Bipartisan commissions…

          Not everyone gets’ everything.


          To make the kind of changes we need to make, no one will get every change they want.

          But it needs to be done.

          Echo’s Simpson (and mathematical economists everywhere):

          – double digit GDP growth for 30 years  doesn’t get us there

          – cutting the headline grabbing stuff (gov’t employee pensions, gov’t jet for Speaker Pelosi, etc and so on) get’s about 5 or 65 of the problem

          – The sspending side can be adjusted , but it doens’t get us there. Revenue is a problem

          The good news is that we have a complicated, lousy tax system. It can be simplified, made more fair and increase revenue.

  8. I couldn’t figure it out from the link and your comments (so far). Are they looking for ideas, or is it purely education?

    Are they planning on covering solutions, or just giving a detailed summary of the problem?

    I realize that sounds snarky, but it’s not meant to be. I’m just curious…

  9. Hart: cute story about Senate expereince where voters would come to him begging for funding for X, Y or Z. ANd then tell him to balance the budget.

    In other words what he heard was , my project is worthy, but the others’ guys are crap

    As example referenced some long ago water project – SImpson and some loon in the crowd laugh.

    The “Esquire Commission”

    balanced the budget and addressed the structural issues and did it in three days.

    So – if they could do it in 3 days, why can’t Congress do it at all?

    When the commission came out of the room, there was no hoard of lobbyists and all that comes with them.

    And no one on the commission was running for reelection.

    My take: we have met our budget enemy and it is us. The voters are too easily swayed by headlines and passionate emotion that doesn’t add up.

    1. Well- you can’t debt finance a war, and we’ve done more than one, without consequence

      We cut taxes at an inopportune time.

      We’ve  got to focus on what to do- not how we got here.

  10. Deficit Commission should have been, was supposed to be a legislative initiative.  Not the President – and it had 60 votes, until it got to the Senate floor and 7 Rs abandoned and voted no.

    Simpson went to them and asked why? was your purpose to embarrass the President?  

    And the answer was yes , and we heard a rumor and the commission is going to recommend a VAT and we don’t want that conversation, and argle-bargle Don’t Ask Don’t tell or something  

  11. How do we make the necessary cahnges without squeezing higher ed?

    Alice Rivlin:  It can’t be done.  It needs to be balanced and gradual, but higher ed will get squeezed.

    my 2Вў – dude(ette): shorts with that suit? Really? Ok -the panel  appeared to answer you seriously, but you are the only one in the room wearing shorts.

    1. Look at all the gov’t investment that you love: the arts, the humanities, everything discretionary.  Do nothing and it all gets zeroed by the stuff on automatic pilot: 10,000 people a day are added to Mediacare.  So you can cut all the discretionary spending you want , including higher ed, and you don’t get it fixed. Unless you zero out defense…and you think that’s gonna happen?! C’mon..the drinks are on me.

  12. Ryan has adopted some of the themes from the Commission report- but watered down and much smaller to work.

    The opt in, defined contribution idea …(huh? I zoned out.)

  13. Ed Zink

    Spending is the problem.

    We know we should spend less than we take in, but like our personal weight management, we just don’t do it.

    How do we get Congress to get it done?

    Hart: ….any new spending identifies revenue to pay for it, or offsetting revenue deductions, including new military interventions

    Simpson: people want their spending spent, but the other guys’ spending needs cutting

  14. They’re scheduled to 4, and they will run over, and now they have dozens of questions and if they address any of them, they’ll have to run over.

    I predict most of the questions will be stupid.

  15. Gary Stewart, CEO of local energy company

    …US treasuries are interest only, and when they are due we just refinance all the principal…. the markets are financing us, and then refinancing us…

    …US Treasury and CPO (CBO) report different “deficit” numbers… because the Treasury has to fund everything it counts everything,  And it’s a better measure…

    …we need full and accurate transparency …..

    Q: How do we get Congress to support greater accuracy and transparency? (or something…I’ve been filtering his Clinton, Congress bashing out…but I tihnk I got it close).)

    Rivlin: CBO does a good job reporting, but what CBO and US Treasury measure is two different things.

    “publicly held debt” and ” gov’t to gov’t debt”  It’s no secret – they’re just different numbers.

    and so on. (In blog speak- Gary got pwned. By a girl.)  

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