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Cooler Heads Must Prevail

All eyes are on the debt ceiling debate. I’m in the camp that believes that regardless of whatever other issues we face relative to the size of the debt, without an increase in the debt ceiling the effects would be immediate and catastrophic. Interest on the debt would be paid, but everything else would have to be cut by close to 50%. Millions of people, businesses, and institutions would not receive payments that they are expecting and in most cases absolutely depend on to survive or continue operating. The first order economic effects would be huge, and the world economy would reverberate accordingly.

I cannot believe that the majority in Congress would allow this to happen. There is a group on the Republican right who are pursuing a Reichstag fire strategy to force a showdown over the Constitutional nuclear option whereby Obama would be forced to invoke the 14th Amendment to go ahead and pay the bills. This faction is then betting that the Supreme Court would strike down that action and force draconian budget cuts on the US economy. The result of this strategy would be governmental paralysis, economic chaos, and a possible power vacuum. It cannot be allowed. Cooler heads must prevail, otherwise we could face an immediate future that is too awful to even contemplate.

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Lee Adler

I’ve been publishing The Wall Street Examiner and its predecessor since October 2000. I also publish, and was lead analyst for Sure Money Investor, of blessed memory. I developed David Stockman's Contra Corner for Mr. Stockman. I’ve had a wide variety of finance related jobs since 1972, including a stint on Wall Street in both sales, analytical, and trading capacities. Prior to starting the Wall Street Examiner I was a commercial real estate appraiser in Florida for 15 years. I was considered an expert in the analysis of failed properties that ended up in the hands of bank REO divisions, the FDIC, and the RTC. Remember those guys? I also worked in the residential mortgage and real estate businesses in parts of the 1970s and 80s. I have been charting stocks and markets and doing analytical work since I was a teenager. I'm not some Ivory Tower academic, Wall Street guy. My perspective comes from having my boots on the ground and in the trenches, as a real estate broker, mortgage broker, trader, account rep, and analyst. I've watched most of the games these Wall Street wiseguys play from right up close. I know the drill from my 55 years of paying attention. And I'm happy to share that experience with you, right here. 

  25 comments for “Cooler Heads Must Prevail

  1. John Haynes
    July 28, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    Cooler Heads Must Prevail???

    If the events you describe come to pass, it will be because the crappy senate and President would not approve the house bill(s) which are a reasonable offer.
    Your buddies don’t like it because it brings the subject back up during election season thus highlighting the crappy job they have been doing.
    Keep the liberal ideas in your pants please.

  2. July 28, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    End the private medical sales industry ripoff of the American people, cut the military budget by 2/3 and raise taxes to levels commensurate with the rest of the world and the problem is solved.

    Or you can choose low taxes and no social safety net. Then you’ll have to pay for the walls and security gates around your home, and for the all the new prisons and the paramilitary guard that you’ll need for your security if the minimal social safety net in the US is dismantled. Then of course there will be the loss of freedom that will go with that.

    Welcome to Paraguay.

    Here’s what your boys have done.

  3. anoscope
    July 28, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    it seems that at least one rating agency will soon reduce US debt rating by at least one grade. From some reports 4 trillion over 10 years will not be enough to stop that downgrade. The real question comes to the Social security entltlements, the Dept of ED funding of much of what should be funded by state/local gov’ts, and the massive size/functions of extra-constitutional functions allowed (all others reserved to the states, or to the people) in the US constitution as amended (19 powers if I recall correctly). Example: can we downsize ‘delivery’ of mail to the home to one or two times a week, po box 3 days a week, no door to door delivery of the mail, etc. Can we stop paying for apartments for people at market that we charge nothing and even ‘refund’ the utility bills. Can we stop crazy checks (SSI) for misbehaving kids in school? Can we stop subsidizing most of the farm and stop the use of our food (corn) as a very weak BTU additive to gasoline? the opportunities for saving are innumerable. The senior’s prescription drug Social Security part D could allow for national competition for pricing (not allowed now), food stamps (now called SNAP) could be de-waivered and back to the national standard of benefits given for max 3 months of 24 months. And for consideration: removal of the minimum wage laws (federal, state can do what they will or their citizens will allow). Minimum wages ensure as does much of union membership a high unemploymnet rate of minorities of many kinds. An easy cut would be to delay for 10 years any more implementation of the so-called Obama-care plan. Could be broaden the tax base to 75% of all working citizens (new 5% bracket) and phase out all Earned income tax credits (average $6,000.00 per family yearly – refunds of income tax never paid in at all). Do we really need to pay 80-90% of daycare? the too-much spending (never has been this high) has to flatten and decline. Point is, all we are doing by continual increasing the debt limit is to not recognize and begin to fix the problems. It is fun to spend other people’s money but when you have to borrow $41 of every $100 that you spend, not much chance to pay off the balance. Can anyone agree? Is there really no end to lunacy of doing the same overspending forever? Would you invest in a company that is borrowing money to pay current expenses for a decade? I hope the answer is ‘no’.

  4. John Haynes
    July 28, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    anoscope –

    Well put sir / madam…. Thank You.

    I’d have said the same thing if i wern’t such a Tea Bagging Redneck that can’t pour piss out of a boot.
    I need a social network to help pay for my beer addiction. And i got hemoroids… ohhh man, i’d pay anything for some drugs to help that problem. I need some socialized medical care except the waiting room must have soft seats… to sit on a bench is like farting razor blades.

  5. July 28, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    If this is what qualifies for discourse in this country, no wonder we’re in such trouble. We have the weakest social safety net in the developed world, and the lowest taxes, yet the haves still complain about the have nots getting too much of the pie. Truly disgusting. Whatever happened to loving thy neighbor and caring for the poor. Nope not in the US. There it’s I got mine and my guns and I’ll use ’em to keep what I got just so long as I don’t have to pay taxes to support the basic needs of human existence.

    Do we want the greatest war machine in the history of the world that wastes trillions on military misadventures and makes weapons makers fabulously wealthy, or do we want a humane society, the choice that every other democracy in the world has made except ours. When the establishment has convinced 35% of the people that the only issues that matter are gay marriage, abortion, guns, and keeping poor people and the elderly from receiving benefits, and middle class people from getting access to health care, then we get a failed state.

    I say let the right win this. Give them their cuts without tax increases. Then we can have an election a year or so down the road where the electorate has finally awakened to the real issues of what kind of society we really want.

    But if you want to take away benefits, lets take them away. The first one they should take is the mortgage interest deduction. Why the hell should tax payers have to subsidize someone else’s house payment? A lot of people don’t have mortgages, yet they are still subsidizing millions of people to help pay their mortgages. Why should I pay for your choice of borrowing money to pay for a home?

    Besides which, ending the mortgage deduction would stop subsidizing the homebuilding industry, and the house prices that are inflated by 25-30% because of the government subsidy. That drop in prices would end the need to subsidize mortgages at all. Everyone would be better off.

    People who argue against social welfare are making no less an argument. It’s an argument against the transfer of wealth from the haves to the have nots, yet they are perfectly willing to be in favor of the transfer of wealth from the bulk of the people to those at the top through government programs that favor and provide benefits to the corporate executive class and to the owners of capital. They want to do a reverse Robin Hood where they take from the poor the meager scraps that they have been given, and give it to the rich.

    Well, yeah, I’m against that. If that makes me a liberal, it is a label that I am proud to wear.

  6. July 28, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    I say we end industrial welfare altogether. Stop the farm subsidies to the ADMs and Cargills of the world. Stop the foreign tax credit dodge for all multinationals. Stop the profligate weapons spending, and for god’s sake stop the subsidies to the drug makers for ripping off the American people. Oh yeah, stop bailing out bankers. Stop taxing hedge fund managers at half the rate of everyone else. Stop giving capital favored treatment altogether and give equal value to labor. Raise the estate tax.

    And stop the biggest tax ripoff of all, the zero interest rate policy that has ripped off the life savings of millions of America’s senior citizens, my mother included. This is a crime against humanity. Instead of worrying about interest rates going up, we should celebrate the idea, so that people can earn a decent return on their savings, instead of having them confiscated to benefit the bankers and the government.

  7. July 28, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    When they start to investigate more of the rabid right, I wonder how many of these charlatans will be exposed as frauds.

  8. Frog
    July 28, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    Word, Lee! Wery cogent writing tonight!

  9. Frog
    July 28, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    I meant to type Very.

  10. Jesse
    July 28, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    Thank you Lee

  11. Rob
    July 28, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    Have to agree with Lee here. Everyone has anecdotal examples of someone cheating the social safety net for benefits they don’t deserve, and we as a society should fight that abuse, but you can’t make policy decisions for the entire nation based on anecdotal examples.

    I don’t think people really understand how much corporate welfare there is. They whine about the 35% tax rate, but don’t seem to understand that very few companies actually pay that. Don’t want to punish the small businesses that do have to pay the full rate? Fine, end the welfare for big business and adjust the rate down some.

    At the end of the day, the debt is a problem in the medium to long term. It is not a short term problem, especially when you factor in the low rates that US debt returns. We’re not Greece and it doesn’t make sense to compare us to Greece.

    So, the situation we are in has the Democratic president buying into the frame that removing trillions of dollars from the economy in a low demand period will help jobs. It won’t. Demand growth, such that it is, is going to be muted and thus jobs and recovery (and the revenues that those things bring in) will be longer in coming. We do need to address the debt as a longer term issue, but not on the backs of senior citizens.

  12. yirgach
    July 28, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    This situation is very much like a bunch of kids in an unsupervised playground (ie they forgot the rules – the Constitution).

    But they’re having a LOT of fun!.

    Supervision (or following the rules) is NOT fun.

    Requires a major change on the playground and many will feel hurt.

    Either that or recess is canceled!

  13. Frog
    July 28, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    Lee, I am posting the link to this page elsewhere. Getting comments about your writing like this:

    “Beautifully said!”

    Please write your emails here up as an article and submit it to an online magazine site with much wider distribution. People love your cogent writing about these points you made. People all over the Net are trying to make these points and are not as eloquent as you and we need your help here. I just posted this link on another board a few minutes ago and already you got 4 compliments on it, and I am sure there will be many more as the night goes on.

  14. Frog
    July 28, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    6 compliments now

  15. yirgach
    July 28, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    Everything Lee has said is so true.

    But what will make any change to the status quo happen?

    I wonder and shudder.

  16. July 28, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    Well for goodness sakes, let’s share the links. If you have posted my comments elsewhere I only ask that you provide a link back here. Thanks.

    And thanks for the encouragement. I’ve taken a lot of verbal fire lately, but I’ve given back plenty and I will continue to do so.

  17. July 28, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    A breakdown in the process will bring about change. Whether it will be positive change or something dark and evil remains to be seen.

  18. Frog
    July 28, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    Here’s the link. It’s one of those blogger’s message boards that changes every few hours. So it will be gone some time tonight or tomorrow morning. I posted your comments with a link to this page here. You got 10 thumbs ups (which means 10 folks liked what you wrote and took the time to register that on the board.

  19. jerk
    July 28, 2011 at 11:46 pm

    Oh please. The “choice that every other democracy in the world has made except ours” is the choice of “let the US sort out the guns and bad guys and we can get back to giving welfare checks to muslim immigrants who have no intention of adopting the culture of their hosts”.

    Daddy US was there to spend the money, guns and lives to defend them from communist encroachment, and now islam is on the march and they have no idea how to deal with it.

    You want your humane society? Move to one of the banlieues and see how far your ‘humane society’ gets you.

    You can keep the hope and change, I’ll keep the guns and money. (at least we agree on repealing obama’s socialized medicine)

  20. Frog
    July 29, 2011 at 12:16 am

    Now you have 15 thumbs up on that board, Lee. And your comment is highlighted in yellow as the one most responded to by people, out of all the ones on that board, using the thumb system of rating.

    A lot of people were trying to say some of the same things you were saying, on that board, but were not as eloquent as you are, so they are grateful for your clear writing and thinking on the subject.

    A lot of times liberals are driven away by insults, from some of these boards, but on this particular one, that didn’t happen, maybe because the moderator is very quick at times to ban people from his board for insults and rudeness.

  21. April
    July 29, 2011 at 12:26 am

    You go Lee. You are very good at getting at the truth about the plague of the baggers affecting the USA.

    I’m real tired of the guns, god and keepin’ the girlies preggers crowd. I think they’ll be sent packing come the next election.

  22. Jorma
    July 29, 2011 at 7:46 am

    The GOP message has been distilled to two words, ]cut taxes]. Or three words, ‘no new taxes’ or ‘won’t raise taxes’, or just one word, ‘taxes’. Occasionally they throw in ‘to create jobs’ and ‘growth’ and manage to keep a straight face after the record of 01 to now. But these last few weeks is’s just ‘taxes.

    The reason is self evident to them. Taxes destroy growth. Never mind that in the 50s the top marginal tax rate was 91% and corporations paid 6% of GDP not today’s 1% in taxes and the growth rates were fine to spectacular. Against all such evidence they know down to their bones that low taxes do all good things. When if fact what they do is get them elected, which is a powerful reinforcement.

    Atwater: As to the whole Southern strategy that Harry S. Dent, Sr. and others put together in 1968, opposition to the Voting Rights Act would have been a central part of keeping the South. Now [the new Southern Strategy of Ronald Reagan] doesn’t have to do that. All you have to do to keep the South is for Reagan to run in place on the issues he’s campaigned on since 1964 and that’s fiscal conservatism, balancing the budget, cut taxes, you know, the whole cluster.

    Questioner: But the fact is, isn’t it, that Reagan does get to the Wallace voter and to the racist side of the Wallace voter by doing away with legal services, by cutting down on food stamps?

    Atwater: You start out in 1954 by saying, “N—–r, n—–r, n—–r.” By 1968 you can’t say “n—–r” — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “N—–r, n—–r.”[6][7]
    [edit]1988 election

  23. John Haynes
    July 29, 2011 at 8:09 am

    OK, you win.
    I’m canceling my 3 subscriptions and leaving this Liberal bastion to those who want the USA to be more like the PIIGS.

  24. July 29, 2011 at 8:30 am

    Your conclusion that liberals want the US to become like the PIIGS is wrong, but I am sorry to see you go.

    Liberals want responsible government that collects enough in taxes to pay for its commitments, both social and military. The Reagan Administration set the country on the course of raising military spending and not paying for it. The Bush 2 administration did the same. It also threw in a massive subsidy program for its friends in the pharmaceutical business instead of following the liberal plan to make the pharmas negotiate prescription prices with the government like they are forced to do everywhere else in the world. Instead, the Republicans funded yet another massive taxpayer ripoff. It is the “conservatives” who should be ashamed of their appelation, not liberals. Liberals can and should stand proud for standing up for what’s right. Only the right wing propaganda machine somehow turned the word liberal into a dirty word. Only in the US. Nowhere else.

    But again, I am sorry that you are canceling your subscription. I am happy to be of service to people of all political persuasions in my work. If you disagree with my political views, fine, but I would prefer that your disagreement be based on fact and not prejudice, propaganda, and right wing mythology. If you look at the facts honestly, the mythology will be revealed for what it is–fiction.

  25. Frog
    July 29, 2011 at 10:09 am

    Hey, Lee

    That web page for that issue of the blog that I posted your stuff on just closed a little while ago this morning. You had gotten a total of 29 Thumbs Up. Plus 5 Thumbs Down from people who disagreed with you, but there will always be those. Thanks for giving me a piece of writing, which I linked back to here and attributed to you, that was the most complimented comment on that message board last night– out of a total of 165 comments on that page. People found it very enlightening. Thanks for your good work. I sure hope you publish some of what you wrote on this page in other places where it will get wider distribution. It fills a strong need in our society right now to give an eloquent clear thinking voice to many people’s concerns. Go, Lee!

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