Come the Recession, Don’t Count on That Safety Net

Feb 20, 2018 · 201 comments
Dan B (Oh)
Next Recession (we all know its coming, and soon) is gonna be Zero Hour for the GOP and Big Corporations. If the GOP stick to the "oh your poor now? Its your fault/pull yourself up by your bootstraps!" I can see them either facing a massive exodus of support or a massive backlash of violence not seen since 1790s France. Judgement day is gonna be coming these next couple decades or sooner for the Rich and the GOP, mark my words. We need to start bringing back "The Safty net", some form of Unions for workers rights, and start experimenting with basic income. Otherwise i can see a near total collapse.
Ed (Michigan)
I am counting the days until Mr. Ryan announces a new and improved debtors' prison system as the compassionate conservatives' approach.
alex (Montreal)
The idea of tying universal basic income to work of some kind makes a lot of sense.
gary (NYC)
Many Americans who are receiving increases in take home pay in 2018 will be shocked to find a large tax bill in April 15 2019. The IRS has been ' order to adjust tax table' to understate individual liability. The surprise will be coming but after the elections. The republicans are simply much smarter than the democrats and the dems go off issue at every opportunity. I got more money and it must be good. Health insurance, job and saftey protectons and unemplyment insurance will b e savaged. Back to the 19th century 'fella's'.
Glenn Ribotsky (Queens)
The current crop of Republican politicos are just Calvinist/Social Darwinists who believe poverty is located in the individual person, in their bad choices and lack of a work ethic, and never has anything to do with the circumstances of the larger world. Calvinism, you may recall, was that offshoot of the Protestant Reformation that believes that one shows one's favor in the eyes of God--one's membership in the Elect--through the accumulation of material goods and wealth on Earth. If one does this, one is obviously favored by God and worthy of Heaven. And if one does not do this, one is NOT favored by God and worthy of Heaven. And, of course, those who are poor should not be helped or given anything because they are obviously not good and worthy, or so the circular reasoning goes. Our oligarchs don't often use the religious justification for their greed anymore, but you can see it in their words and deeds, in their "if you're so smart, why aren't you rich" mantra, and in their contention that any sort of welfare or safety net is just going to those who don't deserve it anyway, because if they deserved it they wouldn't need it. Excellent blaming the victim strategy. Of course, the real motivation behind this is that any sort of social safety net is like higher wages for workers--a drain on finite resources that should rightly go to them, the deserving job creators. It's a flimsy philosophical cover for I -me-mine greed, pure and simple.
plsemail (New York)
Yes, after multiple years of an economic expansion, there inevitably has to be a downturn. As many people as possible should be using these sunny days to prepare for the rainy ones. You mention the budget deficit. But tax cuts put more money in the people's pocket, and unemployment is going to be structurally better because US companies are going to create More jobs in the US than they did before as capital fleet to low cost countries. Over 1/3 of our budget deficit is for entitlement programs, and it keeps growing. The costs of these programs have to constantly be managed - especially by reducing the incredible waste in the government system. I do not think this is a business or even economic article, it is a one-sided opinion piece that should be on the editorial page
T (Evans)
During the next inevitable down-turn, I hope to hear our Trumpian overlords offer their thoughts and prayers.
Little Pink Houses (America, Home of the Free)
"Recession is when a neighbor loses his job. Depression is when you lose yours." Ronald Reagan, Patron Saint of Republican Trickle Down Economics.
Larry (Left Chicago's High Taxes)
Ronald Reagan is also the author of the greatest economic expansion in history. Obama wishes he had 1/1000000 of President Reagan’s economic success
Chac (Grand Junction, Colorado)
Just as Kremlin bots pushed voters toward trump, and as their bots got right on it to inflame American divisions after the latest mass shooting, Putin's agents will do all they can to amplify the social unrest of the coming recessioin. Ironic that the Koch brothers, whose father helped build the Soviet oil industry, are even today, by supporting trump, working with Putin to harm Americans' welfare.
Larry (Left Chicago's High Taxes)
Read the opinion piece and the comments and you’ll see it’s the Democrats who are doing Putin’s work of inflaming divisions
Sandra Garratt (Palm Springs, California)
And just where are those jobs? even if you are highly educated w/ experience there are not a lot of good jobs out there...and if you are over 50 forget it. These GOP Congresspeople are soooo out of touch w/ reality it's shocking....talk about living in a bubble. They re clueless....makes me think of GH Bush at the grocery store, never saw a price scanner before and he had no idea how much a loaf of bread cost...that was then, they are even more out of touch now, plus they all lack GHB's old school personal dignity. This Trump admin is out to take every cent and all of OUR national assets for themselves and most importantly for their beloved BIG DONORS who are the ones really dictating policy. I wonder why the Koch brothers and their ilk are not being tried for treason? They are clearly the enemies of the the American people.
Rita Harris (NYC)
Well folks, enjoy that brand, spanking new budget when the economic downturn occurs. You will be responsible for surviving your own unemployment, health care, better education, affordable housing and rescue after the weather becomes vicious, i.e., hurricanes. The Republican way is for everyone to take care of himself and herself. Let the sex & religious battles commence! That is truly scary. As my Mom used to say 'you'll be sorry' [about that tax cut]!
Nancy (Santa Monica)
Homeless people are pouring into Los Angeles at an alarming rate. We have Calcutta-like encampments in Skid Row downtown LA. The beaches are swarming with homeless (setting up tents, smoking crack, defecating, having sex in public, littering, breaking into our homes and stealing our bikes to resell). Our mayor is now asking for yet another tax hike to house these people. What will happen if Trump gets his way and desperately poor people cannot find work in their own states but hear through the grapevine that it’s much easier to be homeless in the nice weather of Los Angeles? Someone needs to address the fact that we are quickly becoming a Third World nation of super rich and intractably poor.
c smith (PA)
A large portion of the Obama "stimulus" went for maintaining the above-market wages of tens of thousands of teachers and other public employees in municipal and state governments around the U.S., and not for basic, subsistence-level subsidies for the most economically desperate. In this way, the bureaucracy protected itself and its own financial interests ahead of the most needy. How convenient for the purveyors of "other people's money (i.e.; taxpayers) that they could go to the front of the line.
CT (NC)
I don't think that's true for every state. In many, the state employees got little to no raises (although the legislature managed to get some!). My state's teacher pay dropped to almost the very bottom of the states' rankings, there were not even cost-of-living raises, and all increases for step longevity were frozen for several years. Longevity bonuses have been discarded as well. Our health insurance premiums and especially deductibles and copays increased drastically while coverage dropped. I can guarantee that NC teachers did NOT "go to the front of the line" during that time. But then, they so rarely do.
Larry (Left Chicago's High Taxes)
Don’t forget the billions that went to Obama’s rich donors at Solyndra, Evergreen Solar, etc
Lone Moon Raven (Susanville)
What are your sources c Smith? When our school district proposed to cut our teachers' pay 3% during the Great Recession, we teachers negotiated a cut of five school days (less pay) for three years.
boris vian (California)
The safety net is flawed and complicated. Yes, you have to work to access most benefits, unless you are a child in California. Here parents can sign their kids up for benefits and get them until they are 18. For the adults, you can not work too much or make too much money or you risk getting cut off. And very often the benefits that you can cobble together (at least in blue states) exceed what you would get working 40 hours/week at minimum wage. The vast majority of people on public subsidies are not people who were thrown out of the economy during the last recession. They are the old, disabled, children, indigent and those that have figured out it is easier to be subsidized than to work. The real problems come with children who are born into the system. There should be more focused reporting on that, because the increase in public subsidies over time has not resulted in higher test scores or increased economic mobility for these kids.
CAL GAL (Sonoma, CA)
There is a common belief and a constant mantra chanted in this country. You hear it from everyone who employs immigrant labor, and it's at the heart of the immigration argument. "We need immigrants because they do the work that Americans won't do." It seems the day is coming when we will learn whether Americans will be willing to take those jobs.
Laura Colleen (Minneapolis)
Work based safety nets? Tell that to just about every US based employer actively discriminating against workers over the age of 50.
bruce (Mankato)
Everyone one talks about growth as if it is limitless. But really, is that even possible? There is an upper limit that will eventually be reached. As long as wages are stagnant and the middle class is being crushed, growth will eventually stop. I have read that consumers are responsible for 70% of our economy. But, it is not possible to sell something to people who have little income. Yet, rent and other costs are going through the roof.
Ted (Portland)
This administration, like the last, is going to prop up Wall Street rather than Main Street in the next recession. There was an opportunity to address our much needed infrastructure issues at the beginning of the Great Recession and it should have addressed just as it was during The Great Depression, with a Government sponsored W.P.A. type program using taxpayer dollars with the work done by taxpayer funded entities, for instance the Army Corps of Engineers, hiring only U.S. citizens. What will happen instead if and when our infrastructure issues can no longer be ignored will be a private party feast around the taxpayer backed table allowing private contractors hiring the cheapest labor available(illegal immigrants)to insure the biggest profits, using a mixture of Soverign Wealth Funds(The Saudis have already signed up) and Hedge Fund Vehicles with tons of money made by the financiers structuring the deals and the taxpayer on the hook for overruns, not to mention the plethora of toll roads and electric providers owned by Blackstone or The Saudis. Bottom line don’t expect anything different this time around they will still pass out food stamps for the poor to fend off anarchy, as they pass out billions to the bankers and Trump Cronies, but nothing will change for the poor and what little is left of the middle class will pick up the tab again.
Tom Chapman (Haverhill MA)
Most of the commentators seem to assume that victims of a rapidly fraying safety net will be...polite. I don't think so. They will be angry and scared. They will be looking to lash out at anyone they perceive to be responsible for their kids not getting enough to eat. Remember that we have the Second Amendment and desperate and hungry folks may decide that arming themselves and hitting the streets is, perhaps, their only alternative. Civil unrest could easily become widespread. We have seen how what seems to be a fairly minor incident can trigger furious and deadly pushback, (see: Ferguson, Missouri). White supremacists may well march into black neigborhoods, (see: Tulsa, OK, circa 1921), looking to break some heads. Angry urban black and hispanic folk might march on city halls everywhere, seeking help, but instead being urged to get a job. Tensions will build. Rocks and Molotov Cocktails will be thrown actors, and cops will respond as cops sometimes do. What could possibly go wrong? There will be tocsins in the night. Will they be followed by the sound of tanks? Get out and vote, people.
Tony (NJ)
Then crime will then crime will just skyrocket, people will be out knocking others over the head for what they have. GREAT planning...
FactionOfOne (Maryland)
Re:"the longstanding Republican project to gut the safety net" Sure, Grassley spoke for these advocates of corporate welfare: all you working and elderly poor, you seniors who are victims of the 2008 corporate and individual greed, and others now qualifying for Medicaid, for example, you are spending your precious government benefits on booze and sex. The Reagan "welfare queen" mythology lives! These people live in a universe in which the well off know nothing of the daily life of people working two or three low-wage jobs just to go on living. Hang on until November, folks.
Wind Surfer (Florida)
When or if unprecedented economic crisis comes in next 10 years, people suffer will be more those supporting Republicans and Trump as past economic difficulties have shown. This group of people chose Republican majority in the congress and Trump Presidency. Seeing the ongoing idiocies after another by the Trump and Republicans, I have to admit that Socrates is right about democracy. He said that democracy isn’t good because citizens are idiots and that these people change democracy to “IDIOCRACY”. But he believed in the spirit of democracy and drank poison when idiotic citizens ruled his death by poisoning. I don’t want to be a Socrates to die.
fast/furious (the new world)
Donald Trump inherited millions and has never done an honest day's work in his life. He's made millions by cheating people, like Trump University. Marco Rubio has never had a real job. He collects a salary from a Florida University. His primary source of income after his Senate salary is from Norman Braman, a Miami car dealer who has provided the Rubio project with $10 million so far. These guys are bums.
Mark (Rocky River, Ohio)
Don't boo. Vote!
Bunk McNulty (Northampton MA)
I’m thorughly sick of the “safety net” trope. Why should life be like a tightrope walk? Who benefits from that, besides the carnival barkers?
Larry (Left Chicago's High Taxes)
This article doesn’t change the fact that almost 70% of the federal budget is payments to individuals
DAM (Tokyo)
Interesting way to look at it, but I had trouble verifying that number. It must be true, since mandatory spending for Medicare and Social Security alone make up 61% of the total budget, according to the National Priorities Project. Veterans' Benefits take up an additional 7% of mandatory spending. Of discretionary spending (the part Congress gets to budget for), the military takes up 53.1%. CBO says ¼ of that is salary, and the rest goes to buy fuel, maintain bases, and pay contractors for military hardware and services. Of course military contractors pay people too, and some of the dividends even pay me. A single smart anti-tank round, which has a shelf life and one hopes will never be fired, can cost the government $36K. The F35 program, well into overruns, is deploying airplanes that will require expensive refitting by contractor personnel. It goes up from there. I don't want to knock over anyone's rice bowls, but I'd rather spend much of that money making the USA a nation where everyone has an equal shot. I don't mind paying more tax to transfer wealth to people who need it or earned it, but I don't like buying military hardware, personally. The whole tax protest thing depends on having a tar baby, and I guess that's mine.
Ralph Averill (New Preston, Ct)
"The current economic expansion is already the third longest since the middle of the 19th century..." Thank you, President Obama.
Larry (Left Chicago's High Taxes)
Funny how your quote didn’t include the fact the the Obama “recovery” is the slowest in history. Obama’s high taxes and orgy of mindless regulations slowed economic growth. Obama is the only president in history to have zero years of GDP growth above 3%. Now that President Trump has cut taxes and is repealing the Obama regulatory state the economy is booming!! Thank you President Trump!!
ALF (Philadelphia)
The republicans will not care what happens to the poor as long as the rich can get theirs and live behind guarded gated communities. People will get angry and upset but will they vote , or do something far worse.
Larry (Left Chicago's High Taxes)
Sorry, but this article isn’t going to distract from the booming Trump economy and the beloved tax cuts!
Earl W. (New Bern, NC)
Everyone should be entitled to a maximum of five years of unemployment insurance and those who don't use all of it during their working lifetimes should get a bump to their Social Security retirement benefits.
Earl W. (New Bern, NC)
Using myself as an example, since I used none of my five-year entitlement to unemployment insurance and retired at age 62, my Social Security retirement benefit would be bumped up to the monthly rate I would have received at age 67.
Jesse Silver (Los Angeles)
I've worked since I was 15. I worked through college to help pay for it. I have no issue with asking people who are able to work in to do so in exchange for benefits, provided that the Federal Government in turn provides needed jobs to those willing and able to work where the private sector is unwilling to do so, and to pay for this through reductions in wasteful spending in such areas, as outmoded defense technologies, sitting in Congress, lobbying for well heeled vested interests, or tax cuts to Billionaires, that suck up a lot more resources than provide a widely distributed benefit to Americans.
June (Charleston)
Work is for the poor, the wealthy live off investments. THAT is what capitalism is all about.
Godfrey (Nairobi, Kenya)
Don't count on the safety net but they are most likely counting on the Democrats to step up and do the right thing -- as they always have. That's just the Republican modus operandi.
richard.sypher (Oldsmar FL)
This is another in a long line of examples of the Times putting editorial comment on page one. This is not a news story but a partisan opinion piece. What has happened to journalistic standards?
Richard Mclaughlin (Altoona PA)
One principle that abides from the Great Recession? Banks now know haw badly they lie to each other. Hence, once again, 'Mark to Market' will vaporize.
AS (New York)
Sadly all this is avoidable with fairly straightforward changes....but the ignorance of our financial elites prevents it.
rjs7777 (NK)
The safety net, other than social security and medicare, is really a misnomer. Use of TANF, Section 8 and food stamps is synonymous with disaster, danger, and crime. These are not harmless programs. The effects of an entitlement culture are not benign.
Ellwood Nonnemacher (Pennsylvania)
The only thing this administration and the GOP care about is protecting the wealthy. Everyone else does not matter on bit!
CD (Providence, Ri)
What many people, especially in the government, seem to ignore is that many of the women on welfare (single and divorced) have children. But where are the fathers? Many disappear and do not help support the children; yet the women are the ones who suffer and are blamed. Women need to be recognized and helped with the very important job of raising children. Daycare or baby sitters are expensive and even if the mothers work, their earnings, after paying for such childcare, leave very little left for food and housing. Instead of welfare maybe we need to think about free daycare and a guaranteed minimum income, like the advanced Scandinavian countries, so that women can work, if there are jobs, go to school to help them advance, and spend time raising their fatherless children.
Robert (Seattle)
Thank you for the reasonable analysis and the careless President Hoover quote, which reads like the present Trump Republican motto. "Liquidate the working class and the middle class." The rich and powerful may do as they please, while the rest of us will struggle to get by. Public service means we serve them. The public good is an oxymoron. God save the good and hard-working American man or woman who for reasons beyond their control is temporarily without work. The Trump Republicans know just what they're doing. They well understand the consequences of their actions. Their bad faith is both bottomless and stupidly transparent. It doesn't even matter to them any more if we can see right through them. The tax cut will transfer more than $1 trillion in programs and cash from the working and middle classes to the richest Americans. As Mr. Hatch, who voted for the tax cut, said aghast, "There's no money left for the children's insurance program." As Mr. Ryan said, "Now we go after Social Security and Medicare." As Mr. Trump's budget spelled out, "Every program for the poor and the working class will be cut." There is presently no money left for the coming recession. Should there ever be, during this administration, sufficient money to address the coming recession, there would be neither competence nor humanity in the White House. It is, as intended, a lose-lose proposition for all but the filthy rich.
Larry (Left Chicago's High Taxes)
The Democrats are devoid of legitimate criticism of President Trump. They have to make up imaginary scenarios and fake responses and then they criticize their make-believe situations!
Pontifikate (san francisco)
With a cruel and unusual president and Republican policy, we are quickly becoming a cruel and exceptional country.
ecco (connecticut)
roosevelt's "safety net" was balanced by his "work net" the WPA and the CCC...if both were in play today, the choice to work would, it says here, prevail. with oversight and regulation (against frauds and cheats) work nets (thrown over infrastructure and environmental conservation programs, for example, and let's add a national service option, too) might not only alleviate present stresses, but also lift/revive an ailing national spirit. perhaps the example of the parkland kids can serve as a model for a "can-do" resurgence, a corrective to the angry "gimme" factionalism that is overwheming the "unum."
Michael Lazar (Bethesda)
The CCC and WPA employed a tiny fraction of those who wanted to work. WW 2 employed everyone who wanted to work and ended the depression.
ecco (connecticut)
understood...but, as a political initiative it was a start (washington has never done better) and stands as an effective model, a foundation for a persistent national effort to address need and opportunity...beats war.
Pete (West Hartford)
The GOP will then double down-> eliminate all corporate tax; cut social security, medicare, unemployment, and all social programs. And just as the administration now ignores congressional enactments of Russia sanctions, they will ignore future congressional laws (or court decisions) on taxation - or indeed anything else - that they don't like. In a few more years, GOP-willing, we US will have become a Putin-style 'democracy' (i.e. in name only).
Tom (Pennsylvania)
Meanwhile, some economists predict a substantial increase in structural unemployment due to the spread of automation -- an increase large enough, according to some, to cause social unrest. So let's all congratulate Ryan and the GOP on their exquisite timing.
Larry (Left Chicago's High Taxes)
And other economists predict a substantial decrease in unemployment due to automation, just like technological advancements in the past have grown the economy and increased employment
Yeltneb (SW wisconsin)
Yes, we don’t make as many buggy whips anymore, that’s true. But in this analogy we’re the horse
ChristineMcM (Massachusetts)
I shudder to think what will happen in a recession. I'm not impressed with the level of economic thinking from the cabinet appointees Donald Trump has brought in to his administration. Can you imagine what Steve Mnuchin or Wilbur Ross would suggest in a severe downturn? Can you imagine them saying, "Gee, we never expected our tax cuts to have created such a large deficit?" I also wonder if economic paralysis would finally break the support of Trumps base. Trump promise the Holy Grail of maintaining social security and Medicare while delivering one of the most massive tax cuts US history. That feat alone is going to create a crisis I predict in a year or two when the math behind the tax cut will be proven as ephemeral as a rainbow. Donald Trump may be a great marketer, but when promises and premises turn south, I wouldn't want to be anywhere near Trump voters. it's one thing to support the president's policies on immigration or his fixation with cultural issues like NFL kneeling during the national anthem, but quite another to realize once bank account is empty and your kids are hungry.
chas (Colo)
You give the average Trump voter way too much credit. The 1% will tell them their problems are caused by black, brown, and yellow skinned people, and that Democrats want to take their guns and Bibles, and they will believe it.
Quandry (LI,NY)
Trump, Ryan McConnell et al., could care less about anyone else. All three and the ilk that continue to back them are financially wealthy, and will continue to do so through any recession or depression. With their tax reform, their budgets, and now their proposed infrastructure, they have brought the US to the brink of financial ruin. The rest of us will pay the penalty for their personal greed. This is why their is no longer any bipartisanship in our country. They have kidnapped any good faith, and have thrown it out the window.
Mike B. (East Coast)
Republicans have been threatening to rip apart the Safety Net that countless millions of Americans have become very dependent upon over the years. What the Republicans don't seem to realize is that every time they threaten the population with cutting programs specifically designed to assist the poor and middle class, they lose their seats in Congress shortly thereafter. Republicans have had issues with compassion and a sense of "we're all in this together" for as long as the Republican party has been in existence. And that is why, more times than not, they have been the "minority party" far more often than they would like. In this next election cycle, I'm expecting that the Republicans will lose their majority status in a big way this coming November, assuming that we don't allow Trump and the Russians to manipulate the results....In that context, I hope that we go with paper ballots and hand counting...We have to trust the results. It will take a bit longer to tabulate the final results, but it will be well worth the time.
Jefflz (San Francisco)
The lies Trump tells about getting people jobs may have convinced many to vote for him. But those lies have already been exposed. Donald Trump serves the super-wealthy corporate elite while conning low education voters with the full support of hypocritical religious fundamentalists who care nothing about the poor and the weak. We face the reversal by the Republicans of every painful step of of social progress made since the founding of our nation. This is the classic Republican con game. Trickle-down tax slashing for the super-rich followed by putting the poor and sick in their place by cutting every possible social program imaginable. It is supported by uneducated white workers who buy the hogwash about making America great (Translation: hating people of color and immigrants). When all is said and done the Republican Party has become a polite way of saying White Supremacism. That is what Trump is about and that is the real message of the Republican Party. Sadly, those that buy this propaganda are the same working people who will pay heavily for backing Republican fraud. Trump is the pathetic TV comic cover for the deconstruction America on behalf of the wealthy corporate oligarchy that owns the GOP. Republicans must all be thrown out of office for the good of the nation.
Mike B. (East Coast)
Jeffiz, well said. I couldn't agree with you more...But let's not also forget the role that Fox Fake News plays in this Republican charade, too. They reinforce Trump's lies that flow from his mouth like the raging waters of Niagara Falls to his low education base...How they can't see through his lies is frustrating and points to the need to deliver a better and more interesting education system.
Brucer (Brighton, MI)
Trump and the Republican Congress have created a Catch-22 economy, where the average working person will be "damned if they do, and damned if they don't." Lest we forget, most revolutions are about putting food in children's mouths and hope in their parent's hearts.
Kayleigh73 (Raleigh)
Apparently, the Earned Income Credit is "the main source of government support for low-income Americans." If your Income is so low that you owe little or no tax, the EIC doesn’t help much in repaying you for income taxes that you’ve been paying all year long.
Rita Prangle (Mishawaka, IN)
The Earned Income Credit is a refundable tax credit. That means it can be paid out even when the amount paid in is less than the credit. So, the EIC often results in families getting back more than what they've paid in. It is also worth notig that the EIC was instigated by Republicans who now whine about "freeloaders" who don't pay any taxes. The EIC is also a big bonus for employers who underpay their employees, knowing they will qualify for the credit. That means we the taxpayers are subsidizing businesses.
Jane Smith (California)
This idea is way worse than most the country realizes. People who live in or at near poverty will be subjected to slavery like positions. They will be beholden to the employer who keeps them be eligible for more benefits than they can make at minimum wage. There will be no incentive for the employer to give out substantial increases in wage unless an employee performs at the highest level. And while there will be cries of "That's great--these people will be pushed to perform..." keep in mind that most people are in the middle groupings and there is a whole bundle at the lower levels of perfomance. This isn't out of choice this is just the way we come into the world. People get into needing benefits for a whole lot of reasons and most have to do with a lack of opportunity for work that pays a living wage and offers some chance at dignity. And yet at every turn we cut these avenues, vote against the increases in wages, and slowly pick the pockets of the most needy as we turn a blind eye to corporate and banking abuses. We are never going to have a system that makes everyone work--unless we start realizing that most people who are really dirt poor have to work harder every day to simply survive the system we've created than it would be to go to a daily minimum wage office job or sweep up other people's muck as a Janitor. And yet the elitist GOP is still willing to build slave ships so they can save their own sinking vessel? Don't let it happen. The Graft STOPS here.
James Cooper (Scottsdale, AZ)
The Republican plan is the stuff of which revolutions are made.
Chris (NY)
What I find so amusing is the commenters from both sides of the political aisle. What fools we all are, even the “educated” NY Times readers. We argue and hold our political lines - Democrat or Republican. When will you all get it, the government representatives on either side could truly care less about you individually. They spend their energy on getting elected then spend their energy on staying elected. They win as we bicker, all day, every day. Show me a senator who has gone to The Senate and got poorer. This is what I hear all the time Pensions are bad, welfare is good, guns are bad, guns are good, tax cuts are bad, tax increases are good, do you really think they care about any of it if it doesn’t directly affect them. When will all of you realize that the middle class will always lose no matter who is in power? America really needs to wake up and realize that the system fails the very class that keeps it afloat - it’s all about appeasing the margins because American middle class will vote their party like good children. Cater to the poor and get votes, cater to the rich and get votes, catering to the middle class is a waste of time!
chas (Colo)
My Congressman, Jared Polis, was a high tech entrepreneur who became filthy rich before seeking public office. He has dedicated his time in the House supporting progressive causes and looking out for the 99%. Here's a guy with so much money he could do and have about anything he wants, but he has choosen spend his time as a Congressman. Not my idea of a good time. Your cynicism suggests you don't actually know many politicians. I've known lots of them, and most, in my experience, regardless of party, are hard working, honest, and dedicated.
prj (Ruston, LA)
Before making changes in the "safety net" I believe everyone should read Studs Terkel's account of the Great Depression, "Hard Times." The varied narratives and points of view will help illuminate our current situation, and Terkel's introductions, from the late sixties when it was first released and the late eighties, when it was reissued, are particularly relevant.
Gene S. (Hollis, N.H.)
As long as politicians continue to think of the "safety net" as a financial benefit for individuals our country faces real economic trouble. The "safety net" is a benefit to the national economy. Seniors and medical providers continue to get financial benefits which they almost immediately spend, buoying the whole economy. That is the only reason why the "Great Recession" did not become a second "Great Depression". That was the basic reasoning motivating FDR's brain trust to recommend it in the first place. And it worked! And. oh yes, the Department of Defense didn't go out of business either, so DOD and Armed Services payrolls helped too. Someone should clue in our nation's economic planners.
Kelly R (Commonwealth of Massachusetts)
"The Obama administration hurried to cobble together an economic stimulus package of more than $1 trillion." This is false. The Obama stimulus, thanks to Larry Summers, was under $800 billion, and nearly $300 billion of that was standard, annual appropriations for the doc fix and the AMT fix. In addition, much of the stimulus was tax cuts for the affluent, which are not very stimulative, if they even have a multiplier of more than 1. The Great Recession could have been solved much faster. It wasn't because of conservatives and neoliberals who had forgotten the lessons of Keynes.
Larry (St. Paul, MN)
Poverty is the price we pay for the freedom of a few to make exorbitant amounts of money. And that freedom trumps all others.
Hjb (New York City)
The Democrats plan: (1) tax (punish) the rich (2) keep the poor in penury in return for their votes (3) invest in reelection
Suppan (San Diego)
Really? Have you been paying attention to who has been winning and investing in reelection lately?
zb (Miami )
Perhaps among the most despicable aspects of trump Republican right-wing policies is the simple fact that most of them in one form or another receive subsidies of one kind or another. They like to call their form of subsidies job creation and everybody else's welfare but the reality is it's all the same. Government contracts, tax deductions and special exemptions of every kind, bailouts, indirect and direct subsidies of one kind or another. The welfare for the wealthy comes in many forms, but the only real difference between them and the rest of us is they get millions and call it earned success while we get a few dollars and it's called a handout. Show me a person who claims to have made it all on their own and I'll show you a liar just as sure as they stand there. The republican hypocrisy of it all disgusts me as it should every American.
WH (Yonkers)
Starving people will act.
Jonathan Lipschutz (Nacogdoches,Texas)
The only welfare that Repubs like is the redistribution of tax dollars from those with need to those with greed
Chris (Auburn)
Thank goodness for incompetence in the Trump Administration. Elaine Chao, when Secretary of Labor, tried to privatize the Employment Service and the Unemployment Insurance system. I'm not sure what havoc she's wreaking on DOT. But, the bread and soup lines will be long.
RespectBoundaries (CA)
So the GOP is going to provide jobs for those in the work-based safety net? And provide training so they will qualify for those jobs? And provide transportation for those who can't afford it? And provide for their dependents while they're at work? Cool!
Steve Bolger (New York City)
In the modern economy, with reasonably good health, a person can expect to be gainfully employed for perhaps one third of a 90 year lifespan. One had better score big in that interval to fund the other two thirds of life in the USA.
B Windrip (MO)
There are some policy options that Democrats could propose in the event of a recession which, under that circumstance, would likely become more appealing to a majority of voters. 1) Reverse the Republican tax cuts and raise taxes on the wealthy. 2) Substantially reduce our bloated defense budget with the exception of cyber weapons and defenses. 3) Use the revenue raised to reconstruct and improve the social safety net and establish a real infrastructure renewal program to make needed upgrades and help get people back to work. 4) Repair the damage done to the ACA by Republicans and make necessary improvements. Of course I'm assuming that, given Trump's grandiose promises of economic growth, a recession would put Democrats back in control.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
It takes three elections over a minimum of six years to transform the Senate under the US buggy era system of representation.
Satch (Virginia)
Get used to beggars and homeless people populating our street. Travel to any of the poorer 3rd world countries to get a glimpse of our future.
Charles (San Francisco)
I live in San Francisco and can tell you, it's already happened.
shirls (Manhattan)
@ Satch- No need to travel! The people's 'future' is here, now! on our streets, in the soup kitchens, senior centers, city shelters, hospital emergency rooms, public parks, bus stations, tunnels, overpasses, wherever one looks with eyes wide open.
JDStebley (Portola CA/Nyiregyhaza)
The Republican game plan since before Reagan: !. Cut costs to all public works and programs no matter how well they work - to pay for tax cuts. 2. Increase defense spending no matter how little it matters - and make more tax cuts. 3. Blame the middle class and poor for the slow erosion of American "values" and make more tax cuts. 4. When things that have been broken by slow chokehold on spending, raid the "entitlements" I've been paying into since I was 16 - to pay for more tax cuts. Next up: Debtors Prisons The most brilliant political party since the NSDAP.
ellen1910 (Reaville, NJ)
"The federal debt burden is now the heaviest it has been in 70 years." It seems to me that we can pretty well disregard the opinion of anyone who can write such foolishness. In point of fact "Interest payments/Gross Domestic Product," the actual debt burden, hasn't been this low since the 1960s -- about half of what it was in 1990. And whether President Obama sought to do anything more than the minimum necessary to get reelected is questionable. Saving Wall Street and injecting a pittance into a demand constrained economy would suggest no. If he'd cared he would have fought to resume GWB's cash payments. $2-4 trillion to the American people would have ended the Great Recession. The Democratic party's image of a "safety net" implies that people must prove their worth by falling from a higher status before they deserve support. It's time to take a page out of the Republican playbook and agree that support should be unrelated to past work -- especially the case in a recession when such support is costless and even, beneficial.
TwoSocks (SC)
Mark Twain said "There's three kinds of lies - lies, damned lies, and statistics". You are correct that the Interest payments/GDP Ratio is low by historical standards. In this era of low interest rates. That ratio will only get higher as interest rates go up. What is not low is the total Federal Debt, which the author correctly stated. The Ratio of Federal Debt to GDP started to climb around 2000 after George Bush got elected. And the Republicans just put the pedal to the metal. The federal debt can be compared to an Adjustable-Rate Mortgage, which has enjoyed a very favorable interest rate for a number of years. Which is great until it actually...you know....Adjusts.
Dave (Lafayette, CO)
I firmly believe that the GOP's fixation on punishing "lazy Americans" whom they allege prefer the "hammock of helplessness" rather than the dignity of work is just another one of their mean-spirited shibboleths which they use to demonize the poor (and the grossly-false stereotype that the poor are mostly "The Other"). But if the GOP insists on instituting a "work requirement" on all "able-bodied" Americans in exchange for their TANF and SNAP benefits, I have a suggestion for them: Bring back FDR's WPA and CCC ("Work Progress Administration" and "Civilian Conservation Corps"). During the Great Depression of the 1930s, tens of millions were out of work and no jobs were to be had. So FDR and Congress killed two birds with one stone. They handed unemployed but able-bodied men picks, shovels, wheelbarrows and other simple construction tools and paid them a modest wage to rebuild American infrastructure. And yes, it was almost all men back then - as women working outside the home was very stigmatized 80 years ago. In short, if Paul Ryan and his merry band of faux-moralists insist that all those receiving federal "safety net" benefits must work for said benefits - then GUARANTEE them government-sponsored jobs "doing what needs to be done". Today this could be much more than just "pick and shovel" jobs (how 'bout school security guards just for starters?). "Oh, but that would be "socialism!" the GOP will cry. Well, then they're not really serious about a "work requirement".
Juliana Sadock Savino (cleveland)
I believe the GOP{'s fixation on laziness is projection, pure and simple. The truth they want to ignore, even as the richest profit from it, is that low wage jobs are increasingly shifted to day labor, so that low-wage work cannot even be counted on as steady work. I believe the reason people cling to meager benefits is that they'd rather have an inadequate but secure safety net benefit than the uncertainty of what is increasingly part-time and temporary employment. Of course lost in all this is that far and away, the poor are already working unless they are too young, too old, disabled, or caregivers. Most politicians wouldn't last half a day at the work our most vulnerable perform at inadequate pay.
Chris (Cave Junction)
The jobs created in the past 10 years since the Great Recession have been low-paying service sector jobs. Jobs that still are cheaper than a robotic replacement would be and that can't be offshored. It's also helpful to keep in mind that offshoring jobs to other nations has the same effect as if the jobs went to robots, we the consumers still have to buy stuff to survive but lack the jobs to pay for it all. The evil twins of productivity and offshoring have reduced the number of required jobs to support our nation of 325 million people, and the only direction for the workforce participation rate to go is down. We've seen a pretty big slide since the high in 2002, with most of the drop occurring in the ...ready for it... last 10 years. We didn't so much make back the jobs we lost 10 years ago, we just created more service sector jobs that pay low wages. So my question is, what if we MAGA like the 1950's when the workforce participation rate was much lower with women doing unpaid housework and men holding down the jobs? Will the stay at home spouse not get covered by medicaid if the family is poor? Will the Republicans, the so-called "family-values" party, kick stay at home parents off subsidized medicaid because they're deemed deadbeats? I ask this question because I am a homemaker. In fact, I am a homesteader, and work my tail off every day doing things like splitting wood, growing and preserving our food, and other farm chores like butchering our goats. Am I not worthy?
Janet Michael (Silver Spring Maryland)
This is a sober warning to all those Trump believers who think that the tax cut for the rich is going to boost their job prospects.Better save those extra pennies because the government will not be there for you when there is a downturn in the economy and there will eventually be a downturn.
Steve (Los Angeles)
During the 2008 meltdown (2008 - 2010) I had a friend on food stamps and part time work for the Census taking. Thank God that was available.
Sumguy (New York)
The safety nets are excellent when needed, and should go to those in need. However, requiring recipients to work or train or volunteer seems reasonable for many. A solution may be passing new laws so that depending on the unemployment rate and other indicators of a recession, benefits can be temporarily expanded widely during downturns to waive the work requirements, addressing the feared scenario cited in the article. A reasonable possible compromise, no?
Amy (Brooklyn)
The Democrats try to promise total security regardless of one's contribution of to society. But, somebody has to be out there making the jobs and finding new business opportunities. It make goods sense to encourage personal effort and initiative.
William Rodham (Hope)
Democrat plan Tax the middle class more
Philip S. Wenz (Corvallis, Oregon)
Wrong! BZZZZT !! Democratic plan — tax the 1%. P.S. There is no such thing as the Democrat party or the Democrat plan, even though the right has trouble pronouncing words more than three syllables long.
Pesteele (Portland OR )
The Republic party never seems to get this.
Philip (Fairfax, VA)
The GOP establishment doesn't believe in middle class tax cuts. The latest GOP tax plan is just the latest example of this. Massive tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, and at best a microscopic token temporary cut for the rest (coupled with the loss of deductions for the rest). If you truly want to cut taxes for the middle class, simply cut taxes for the middle class--sustained, significant cuts--and worry about the rich (who are doing just fine) some other time. Is that really so hard?
R.Terrance (Detroit)
Let's hope the Dems are in power during the next recession so they can tax the hell out of the Rushpublicans...bottom line....like the kids in Florida are saying now, 'if you're not with us, then you're agaisnt us."
James (St. Paul, MN.)
Mr. Porter fails to mention that the entire point of current GOP policy is to ensure that the safety net is destroyed. Paraphrasing Grover Norquist, the goal is to make government so small and weak that it can be drowned in a bathtub. Today's GOP hopes to privatize every aspect of government while destroying all services that benefit the oldest, weakest, and poorest among us.
Diane (California)
They lock up the tents at some retailers now, just like cigarettes and hard liquor. Your safety net: A tent, a sharpie and a piece of cardboard.
Jason Galbraith (Little Elm, Texas)
Actually it was Mellon who said that to Hoover. Hoover wasn't a bad guy, just unimaginative.
Juliet LaFleur (Chico, CA)
That's exactly what the article says. "..attributed BY Hoover TO...Mellon." Hoover said that Mellon said that.
Suppan (San Diego)
Actually the author was also saying that it was Mellon who said it to Hoover. He just worded it in such a complicated way - "the infamous words ATTRIBUTED BY President Herbert Hoover TO his Treasury Secretary, Andrew Mellon, ..." The folks reviewing the comments should not have let yours pass through since it (innocently) misleads everyone else.
Jerry (New York)
Reckoning in 2018.
TB (New York)
The Fed's response to the crisis in 2008 was fatally flawed, and dug us into a deeper hole than we were already in. The economy has been consistently failing to "snap back" ever since 2009, while the stock market exploded. The Fed failed us miserably. The Republicans then proceeded to pour gasoline on an already raging fire of inequality. Considering this was all done at the very dawn of the Age of Automation, which is going to challenge us mightily in the coming decade, this is literally a recipe for violent social unrest.
Lance Brofman (New York)
Except for periods in the 1950s and 1960s and possibly the 1990’s when tax rates on the rich just happened to be high enough to prevent overinvestment, the economy has generally suffered from periodic overinvestment cycles. It is not just a coincidence that tax cuts for the rich have preceded both the 1929 and 2007 depressions. The Revenue acts of 1926 and 1928 worked exactly as the Republican Congresses that pushed them through promised. The dramatic reductions in taxes on the upper income brackets and estates of the wealthy did indeed result in increases in savings and investment. However, overinvestment (by 1929 there were over 600 automobile manufacturing companies in the USA) caused the depression that made the rich, and most everyone else, ultimately much poorer. Since 1969 there has been a tremendous shift in the tax burdens away from the rich on onto the middle class. Corporate income tax receipts, whose incidence falls entirely on the owners of corporations, were 4% of GDP then and are now less than 1%. During that same period, payroll tax rates as percent of GDP have increased dramatically. The overinvestment problem caused by the reduction in taxes on the wealthy is exacerbated by the increased tax burden on the middle class. While overinvestment creates more factories, housing and shopping centers; higher payroll taxes reduces the purchasing power of middle-class consumers. ..." http://seekingalpha.com/article/1543642
Ed Watters (San Francisco)
"[Obama] more than doubled the budget for food stamps — the poor’s last line of defense." I searched and could find no indication of Obama expanding food stamp funding. More people needed food stamps due to the meltdown, and Obama DID cut food stamp funding. http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/obama-signs-food-stamp-cut Obama froze federal employee pay during the depths of the recession. Homeowners who were underwater received little help from Obama's HAMP - a program created to fail when Obama put bankers in charge of principal reductions. Bill Clinton signed legislation that made major cuts to the already paltry welfare program in the 90s. Democrats are less stingy than Repubs, but both parties cater to wealth more than workers.
DENOTE MORDANT (CA)
Sensibly, a voter with a conscience would never gut our safety net programs by voting Republican. Ironically, the wealthiest States are blue, the poorest, red.
HapinOregon (Southwest Corner of Oregon)
"What, me worry?" Who knew A.E. Newman was a conservative?
RealTRUTH (AR)
Today's Republicans have timed this very well. By my calculations, the you-know-what will hit the fan AFTER the 2018 elections, and perhaps after the 2020 ones. Trump and his cabal may be able to coast by on the hopes of ignorant Americans after stacking the economic deck to collapse upon the next administration. A recession is long overdue - the Markets cannot continue at this pace and inflation will rear its ugly head soon enough. Our national debt will quash all middle-class expectations and Trump will be grossing everyone out at one of his "resorts", oblivious to the lives of normal people.
Thomaspaine17 (new york)
It’s all about making America great again , right. What would this country have been without FDR’s new deal. One shudders to think. What is America without those safety nets... just a place where you work yourself to death chasing a fairy tale, The expectant life expectancies of Americans continues to climb thanks to FDR” s social security and Johnson’s Medicare and Medicaid . The republicans must want everybody to de, why , look at all the old men in the Senate, none want to retire, so why should you. Work till you drop is one of their mottos, don’t get sick is the other .Without the safety nets of democratic presidents America would be a backward nation given to Darwin’s survival of the fittest. My Swedish cousin has never undestood why his health care and college are free, while in the United Stares we spend all our mone on bombs ...and guns.
NYC Dweller (New York)
The USA is a lot bigger than Sweden, so someone has to pay for their education. Plus, we have so many people on welfare, probably than the whole population of Sweden.
Joe yohka (NYC)
our safety net is our hard work and savings; not big government
Norton (Whoville)
All fine and good until the work dries up and you're put out to pasture after 50. Then the fun starts when you're savings are decimated by stingy/greedy Big Banks and low interest rates. Or the stock market crashes.
TwoSocks (SC)
Your comment reminds me of the sign that one Tea Partier held aloft at one of their rallies, "Big Government: Hands Off My Medicare and Social Security!" "Big government" does a very good job with these two programs, most people would say. Republicans should not mess with these programs that Americans have contributed to all of their lives. Let's go after the biggest cause of our unbalanced budget, our military. More specifically, our defense contractors. They've been on a form of welfare since WWII. General Eisenhower warned us of the Miltary-Industrial Complex back in the 50's. Why is our military budget the size of the next 10 highest military budgets combined? Cut military spending, and we don't have to have our own version of the Hunger Games.
michelle rand (nyc)
I guess you are not aware that the military, ie all defense spending, makes up just about 16% of the total US budget. Payments to individuals makes up 65% of the budget already. You could eliminate defense spending entirely and we would still have a budget deficit. That is what is so hilarious about all of this teeth gnashing about political proposals about this program or that: unless you are talking about the big three, SS, Medicare, and Medicaid, none of it matters much. And these are all three one of the most substantial safety nets in the world. You want to see threadbare safety nets, go to China.
Lance Brofman (New York)
Consider the horrendous, though not uncommon situation of a household in 1932 comprised of elderly grandparents being supported by their working-age children with young children of their own, when the breadwinners became unemployed. The 1932 family would be destitute. Today the grandparents would have social security and Medicare benefits. Their working-age children could now collect unemployment benefits for up to 99 weeks. Additionally, the entire family could also be eligible for food stamps, Medicaid, rent subsidies, heating fuel subsidies, free school lunches and other benefits. The 1932 family might also have had a bank account in one of the many banks that failed and lost their savings. Today, Federal Deposit Insurance protects such bank accounts. Depressions occur after investment bubbles burst. In free-market capitalism, capital generates income for the owners of the capital which in turn is used to create additional capital. This is very good. Sometimes, it can be actually too good. As capital continues to accumulate, its owners find it more and more difficult to deploy it efficiently. The business sector generally must interact with the household sector by selling goods and services or lending to them. When capital accumulates too rapidly, the productive capacity of the business sector can outpace the ability of the household sector to absorb the increasing production. ..." http://seekingalpha.com/article/1543642
From Where I Sit (Gotham)
Markets need downturns, recessions and even a depression to weed out inefficient, poorly run and outdated businesses. As with lightning strike forest fires, the new growth that follows is sturdier and more adaptive. The idea that government can, much less, should control this was born of the communist wave of the early 20th century.
Suppan (San Diego)
Ahhh! "The idea that government can, much less, should control this was born of the communist wave of the early 20th century." My head hurts! Long before the early 20th century, "wise kings" have been trying to manage downturns - usually these were droughts affecting farmers and food supply - there was very little "industry" to speak of until the 17th century, and even then it was localized to a handful of cities in a handful of countries in Europe. The first "welfare state" of modern times was created in Germany by Otto von Bismarck to neutralize the appeal the workinig people had for the Socialists of the time. He was a conservative man in almost every respect. From where you sit, the world seems very wrong.
ThePB (Los Angeles)
The next logical step is to tie voting to working. No work, no vote. Then, of course, comes fractional voting based on income.
S A Johnson (Los Angeles, CA)
@ SteerableDad "No, if you don't pay taxes then you can't vote." Would that include the wealthy who evade paying taxes with tax shelters in the Caman Islands? What you propose is fundamentally against democracy.
Suppan (San Diego)
Not sure what you mean by "logical step", but it is useful to look at history. When the US was founded in 1776, and the Constitution was ratified in 1788 and in force since 1789, only landowning white males had the right to vote. Then it was expanded slowly but steadily to include poorer, working white men, then African American men, Native American men, then women, and so on, until our current status of nearly universal suffrage. Do you think we have been doing it wrong as we went from 13 rebellious colonies to the most powerful economy and nation in the world and we should now reverse this to switch back to 1789 as "the next logical step"?
cuyahogacat (northfield, ohio)
So who says we have democracy?
Candlewick (Ubiquitous Drive)
This will be interesting: Millions in rural areas without personal transportation and without mass transportation systems will find it impossible to meet work requirements. (Infrastructure?) Everyone cannot write Code.
Sandra Garratt (Palm Springs, California)
Nor should everyone write code...there are many other forms of really gratifying skilled work that people actually do need as opposed to want. Code writing skills will not design or repair bridges, roads....plus health care, hospice, child care, pet care, food & beverages, art & design, engineering, construction, farming, etc etc. How limited to think we all need to write code. Employment is not a one size fits all issue. These Trump admin people are truly clueless....and very destructive and dangerous.
Human (Maryland)
Republicans in Congress have no clue. People need jobs but we need jobs that can be performed by people. Many jobs are now performed by computers. It reduces expenses for businesses because they can hire fewer people. I wish we could take the skill set of Congressmen minus getting elected and see where they would be hired in the market were they not elected officials. For some it might be eye opening.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
It takes a special sort of person to spend a mandatory four hours per day begging people for money to implement whatever they want.
Joe yohka (NYC)
so, let's all watch less youtube and facebook, and spend time training ourselves to write code or other value added jobs. Rather than waiting with our hands out, let's take charge of our own lives. This is the old fashioned American way of personal responsibility.
F Varricchio (Rhode Island)
What about corporate welfare, farm subsidies etc
Candlewick (Ubiquitous Drive)
@Joe yohka: I guess you do not realize- all those "value-added-jobs" aren't spread around the nation- equally; But I have a feeling you already know this; you also realize everyone isn't watching YouTube: simplistic comments do not add anything to the discourse Joe.
Kate W. (NY)
Oh, if it were only that simple padawan.
Fla Joe (South Florida)
During the Great Recession many Red states cut their unemployment payments so companies could pay less into the insurance fund. The unemployed took the hit.
HT (New York City)
Why don't these job creators just create more jobs that pay a salary on which one can live decently and have health insurance?
Joe yohka (NYC)
yes, HT, please do so!
Juliana Sadock Savino (cleveland)
Short answer: because shareholders!
Jonathan Margolis (Brookline, MA)
An old song comes to mind. "They used to tell me I was building a dream And so I followed the mob When there was earth to plow or guns to bear I was always there right on the job They used to tell me I was building a dream With peace and glory ahead Why should I be standing in line Just waiting for bread? Brother, Can You Spare A Dime. E.Y. Harburg, Jay Gorney, 1930. Almost 100 years later, we're getting there again.
The Wanderer (Los Gatos, CA)
The problem with this analysis is that it does not take into account the fact that just as taxes can be lowered on the wealthy and on corporations, they can also be raised. The question is will those who are damaged by the next recession and lack of a social safety net bother to vote for candidates that are willing to raise revenues, slash the bloated military budget, and put the social safety net back together. Some how I doubt it.
Lance Brofman (New York)
Trump would have no hesitancy in stating something to the effect that: "The middle class got a giant tax cut and the rich did not, don't believe anyone who is telling you otherwise, especially the fake mainstream media, your accountant or H&R Block." The unpleasant truth is that today's white non-college educated working class person is not your grandfather's white non-college educated working class person. The political debate may now shift from how many middleclass taxpayers actually will pay more or less under the Republican tax bill to the undeniable fact that there will be a massive shift in the tax burden from the rich and onto the middle class. Eighty years ago, there were many very intelligent people who did not attend college because of financial circumstances or because of discrimination against their race, religion or gender. Henry George, arguably the most brilliant American economist of the 19th century, left school at age 14. President Harry Truman was not a college graduate. Today, with many exceptions, someone under the age of forty who was never interested in college probably is not very smart. That could reduce their wages. That also makes them vulnerable to the lies that got Trump elected. Even some with college educations are not able to understand that NAFTA and trade agreements in general increase employment and standards of living and that immigrants are not responsible for slow economic growth. ..." https://seekingalpha.com/article/4133734
Cal Bear (San Francisco)
not quickly, or for all practicality, at all. Especially not in a recession.
From Where I Sit (Gotham)
Nothing like generalizations and stereotypes, he? Name one other demographic that you could apply that to.
Tournachonadar (Illiana)
What to do when the next recession strikes? Why, wear a big "COVFEFE" button on one's upper body, of course, to show solidarity with our beloved Führer, as we await his instructions to attack those in the Ausland who caused this sudden downturn. We once wore those stupid WIN buttons when Ford was our leader in 1975 or so...
Phyliss Dalmatian (Wichita, Kansas)
Culling the herd, intentionally. What a shock. But just remember, NO millionaire left behind. Thanks, GOP.
john (washington,dc)
The author seems to have forgotten the millions Obama added to the food stamp program. And by way, growth is at three percent. And I notice you have no prediction as to when this fantasy recession will happen.
Mike (Tucson)
I don't know, you tracking the treasury auctions lately? Dumping this much money into the economy in the midst of near full employment, is crazy.
Lori (Hoosierland)
CONGRESS added it to the program. CONGRESS spends the money. The President suggests a budget. CONGRESS SPENDS THE MONEY.
Steve Reynolds (Denver, CO)
Recessions are a part of our economy. No fantasy.
Susan (Susan In Tucson)
Alfred P. Doolittle, Eliza's father in "My Fair Lady," said "There no such thing as the deserving poor." Republicans don't think so today either. If one is poor it is obviously his/her own fault(s). Malice, ignorance and greed made manifest.
West Texas Mama (Texas)
There is nothing wrong with work requirements assuming: they take into account the individual's physical and/or mental health status; include job-training programs so people are actually given an opportunity to upgrade their skills; include community service/volunteer work as an option; and provide daycare for those who need it in order to work. Of course that might require putting funding into job training and daycare programs, both of which have already seen program cuts under this administration.
Syliva (Pacific Northwest)
What about mothers who stay home with kids? Is that considered work? I sure hope so, in this climate where many are trying to deny others access to birth control.
Chris (Portland)
Got it. No social skills, just lower nature greed, gluttony, wrath, pride, sloth, lust and envy. Oh, and doing one thing wholesaling another, so no integrity, of course, makes perfect sense-great strategy for hooking people into the fraud due to their lower nature, especially pride - I mean who wants to admit making a mistake? Good to know.
Mr Ed (LINY)
I’ve been in since Dow 1100. This won’t last, been there,don’t want another bath.
weary traveller (USA)
I am just wondering , where were all the budget hawks when Pres George Bush ordered teh US army into IRAQ for fake WMDS with credit card from congress. ( I did not see what was the need ! also PRes bush did hand over good amount of sops to his rich friends too) Then came Obama trying to fight back the recession gave in to the Liberal wasteful nature of handling out cash to "alternative" energy outfits that nor propelled t Mr Donald Trump to presidency. He is a millionaire and he does never care as he loved "bankruptcy" as his "Deal making" policy. So here we are on the verge of another catastrophe quietly unfolding while CBFC is being dismantled by another Trump's stooge. I somehow feel the Tea party was right to quite some extent although I did not liked them when I lost my job during that economic downturn too! We just have to wait for the next Dem president for the resurgence of the budget hawks. Hope my retirement money stays afloat till then.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
They were going to take Iraq's oil to pay for Bush's invasion.
Steve Bolger (New York City)
The more error-prone people are, the less likely they are to leave margins for miscalculations and hold reserves to endure reverses. The present Congress manages public affairs like an economically unsophisticated individual living from paycheck to paycheck.
Sammy (Florida)
This is what Republican voters in depressed states want. They want grandma thrown out on the street from her nursing home, they want food benefits tied to work, who care is there is no work. They want health insurance and health benefits toed to work, who cares if you are too sick to work or if there is no work. I feel bad for the innocents caught up in this miserly system, but why should I feel bad for coal miners who can't access health care if that's the system they want?
Jazz Paw (California)
Yeah, Sammy, I didn’t think I’d arrive at this same conclusion given my politics, but I’m tired of forcing benefits on the unwilling only to be vilified. I’m not against allowing this kind of experiment at the federal level as long as my blue state federal tax bill is reduced by the difference in cost. I believe we can fund our own social programs within our states, and let the Trump states fend for themselves. There will certainly be some innocent bystanders, but they need to mobilize and contribute to a solution within their states instead of relying on blue state voters to save their asses. We’re out of power and out of solutions to help the unwilling.
Winston Smith (USA)
Trump will of course deny that the economy is in recession, in between times when he blames it on Democrats, Obama or Nancy Pelosi. Trump and the Republicans will have no concern or empathy for the poor or jobless, who they will set up to be sheared like sheep by their Wall Street financial backers.
eduardo (Forks, WA)
I'm a white American and I say we white men should hang our heads in shame. Then look up and get something done about this total inequality. The new subjugation system is pretty amazing given the history of this country. I thought that war was already fought. Read about the "Reconstruction" and its outcome and you will be amazed!
Eugene (NYC)
Mr. Porter clearly has a bad attitude. He believes that there is a certain validity to conventional (Keynesian) economics. And he appears to believe in the so-called Judeo-Christian morality that we have a duty to take care of the least amongst us (you shall not cut the corners of your fields, etc. - Deuteronomy 24:19, Leviticus 19:8, 23:22) is how we should live our lives. He clearly does NOT comprehend the American religion / Republican religion that if a person is poor, that has been ordained by God and let no person intervene in God's ordinance. If Mr. Porter took a trip to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in the District of Columbia he could, no doubt, find someone who could properly instruct him. He might even find someone on Capitol Hill.
Bruce Small (Tucson)
I'm sorry, but I don't see the horror in requiring people to actually work if they want benefits the rest of us toil to pay for. I am 77-years-old and still making a very good living, you know, actually working. In the past 57 years I have been unemployed exactly five (5) days (three days to drive across the country to my new job, and two days when I retired from that one to set up my own company).
Chris N (D.C. Metro)
If you've been fortunate to be healthy that long, let alone working, be thankful you're not one of "the rest." I'm OK with requiring a certain amount of work. looking, or training, but to be fair you have to account for health status and especially age. After all, our governments' corporate masters only want young bodies under 40 to plug in on-demand.
Jacquie (Iowa)
Everyone is not as fortunate as you, when cancer strikes at 32. Life changes beyond your control sometimes.
Anne Hajduk (Falls Church Va)
Most folks getting food stamps work, at jobs with low wages. Most Medicaid recipients are either old or disabled. But I bow before you, clearly God has ordained you as a better human than others.
Len Charlap (Princeton, NJ)
"The federal debt burden is now the heaviest it has been in 70 years. And it is expected to get progressively heavier, as the budget deficit swells." Well how did enormous war debt the greatest generation left to the following generation work out? As a percentage of the economy that debt (public) was almost 50% LARGER than the debt today. What about that terrible burden? From 1946 to 1973, the GDP averaged a 3.8% growth and real median household income surged 74%. How did we do that? Did we pay down the debt? NO! During that 27 year period the debt grew 75%. We invested in America. We grew the economy so that debt became insignificant. Here are the debt figures: 06/28/1946 $269,422,099,173.26 06/30/1973 $458,141,605,312.09 As you can see, the debt increased 50%, but we got the interstate highway system, Medicare, etc. On the other hand, we also had a big war debt after WWI. Then we balanced the budget for 10 years and reduced the debt by almost 40%, In October of 1929, it was only 16% of the GDP. AND THEN WHAT HAPPENED? In fact, this is what has happened EVERY time we paid down the debt 10% or more. It is quite clear that we are better off increasing the debt than decreasing it. And it is not hard to see why. When the government pays Joe $1,000 to help fix a bridge, Joe can spend that money to buy shoes for his kids and that not only helps Joe and his kids, it helps the economy. AND we get the bridge fixed.
Ryan Dar (Baltimore)
Cool, cool. Except we're not paying Joe $1,000 to support his family, we're slashing taxes on the Kochs $1,000,000,000 to... do what exactly? Private citizens and corporations cannot be trusted with the public good. Half the point of government is to give sway to the people who don't already have gobs upon gobs of wealth.
Robert (Atlanta)
Right, because money has no cost and comes from the sky (no bond market here to worry about).
Len Charlap (Princeton, NJ)
Robert, Money can be created by the FED out of thin air. It will run out of dollars when the NFL runs out of points. There is no theoretical limit; the only practical limit is excessive inflation. Banks also create money when they make loans, BUT they can only create some finite amount. When they have too much in outstanding loans, like in 2008, the system crashes or would have if the FED hadn't poured TRILLIONS into the banking system. Where do you think money comes from?
Bob Garcia (Miami)
Why don't we require work for rich people? How many of them are lazy like Donald Trump, not doing an honest day's work?
Joe yohka (NYC)
so you believe rich folks didn't work to get that money? are you not familiar with statistics nor American history?
Joe yohka (NYC)
why don't we require a limit on hate speech in these comments? Bias against poor people, or against wealthy people, any pre-judging is evidence of intolerance.
Kosher Dill (In a pickle)
Exactly. Why is my earned income taxed at twice the rate of Mitt Romney's unearned income?
Frank Richards (SF Bay area)
It's hard to understand why we are not using the current conditions: good economy, high employment, etc. to pay donw the deby and better prepare for future lean times... but wait a minute, we have reduced taxes, mainly for the wealthy at exactly the wrong time... It will be hard tio raise taxes when the economy is not as strong
Len Charlap (Princeton, NJ)
Well, Frank let's what has happened EVERY time we did pay down the debt: The federal government has balanced the budget, eliminated deficits for more than three years, and paid down the debt more than 10% in just six periods since 1776, bringing in enough revenue to cover all of its spending during 1817-21, 1823-36, 1852-57, 1867-73, 1880-93, and 1920-30. The debt was paid down 29%. 100%, 59%, 27%, 57%, and 38% respectively. A depression began in 1819, 1837, 1857, 1873, 1893 and 1929. It is vitally important the people begin to understand that the finances of a huge long lived country that create as much money as it needs, and which MUST supply money to us so we can buy and sell stuff is nothing, I repeat NOTHING like your personal finances.
Sailorgirl (Florida)
You seem to be forgetting the surplus the President Clinton handed Supreme Court Elected President Bush. Did not take long for him to throw the economy under the bus with unfunded wars and prescription drug coverage.
john (washington,dc)
You do realize that taxes were reduced for everyone who actually pays taxes, right?
The ex-pat (Hobart, Tasmania, Australia)
Trump voters were happy to define themselves and their values in relation to an under-employed or unemployed Them that they supposed to be picking their pockets with their lazy reliance on government handouts. In truth, this shiftless Them was largely a figment of the imaginations of older, whiter people. In truth, the people really picking their pockets were the one-percenters and the hedge-fund thugs. I wonder how they'll respond when their 30-something sons and daughters truly join that unemployed Them. I wonder if the penny will ever drop about how really has a hand in their pockets.
Mr Ed (LINY)
I agree! you got the right idea ex...
Loren (Vienna)
How they'll respond? They'll blame it, and every thing else, on Obama of course.
liz (NY)
Trump GOP voters will get what they paid for nothing zero zip
john (washington,dc)
Still haven’t recovered from your loss?
TwoSocks (SC)
Everyone in America "lost" that day, john, including you.
tim torkildson (utah)
When hard times return with a bang And hoboes can prowl like a gang, It’s thankful I’ll be For austerity To stop the unceasing harangue.
eve (san francisco)
But that's the scam. You can't get any kind of benefits unless you get a job but you need the benefits because you can't get the job in the first place so they get to cut your benefits. "Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?"
Chicago Guy (Chicago, Il)
How about chain-gangs for the poor and gruel to keep them going? Either that or go to debtors prison. I think the next time Trump is eating $27 "Barron" mac and cheese at Mar-A-Lago he should consider it.
Marvant Duhon (Bloomington Indiana)
I had not thought about this, but once Porter lays it out it's pretty obvious. And of course as a recession reduces what government takes in, Trump and McConnell and Ryan will love to reduce benefits just when more benefits are sorely needed. Let us hope that Trump, McConnell and Ryan preside over years of continuous and generous expansion. Somehow I would not count on it.
East of Cicero (Chicago, IL)
I thought tax cuts for the 1% were supposed to fix everything.
Bing Ding Ow (27514)
Gee, East, I thought ObamaCare was supposed to be great .. then after Dear Leader leaves, this NYTimes story about how working people resent paying for music students' Medicaid -- https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/19/health/obamacare-premiums-medicaid.ht... Editors, please show this to the writer .. he really needs to read his own newspaper, more carefully. Thanks.
john (washington,dc)
It’s amazing how liberals deliberately misunderstand the tax cuts. Is it possible they don’t pay taxes at all ?
Lenny (Pittsfield, MA)
And, the obscenely and unnecessarily moneyed and otherwise wealthy have just given bones with 2 pieces of grizzle on them to the employees; thus, fooling the employees into believing the owners are giving them a meaningful salary increase, rather than the cruelly small amount of the unnecessary profits the owners and rich investors pocket: This while the obscenely and unnecessarily moneyed can truly afford to pay employees much much more. Albeit, they have deprived the people for so long, that the people are at risk of believing that, if they do not vote Republican, the bones with 2 pieces of grizzle will be taken back from them. The truth of the matter is that the people are being cruelly and unnecessarily deprived by the Republicans. If employees were paid a fair amount the economy would be truly stimulated.
Antoine (Taos, NM)
Not to mention that most of these "Republicans" don't actually work either. Let's count the calories they use in a day, not including golf. In India, one measure of poverty is weather workers can replace the calories that they burn at work with what they earn. Lots of very skinny folks in India.
Frank Baudino (Aptos, CA)
Work requirements are less onerous if they include the options of performing volunteer work and caring for the sick as suggested in the original proposal.
Norton (Whoville)
You want meth addicts taking care of grandma or sex offenders volunteering with kids? Forget that, though, because most work ready people receiving Medicaid are already working low-paying jobs with no health benefits.
Wondering (NY, NY)
Once again NYT puts a pure opinion piece under a banner named "Economics" which suggests an article about economics. Instead we get this op-ed masquerading as news -- not even the NYT fig leaf of "news analysis". THIS BELONGS IN THE OPINION SECTION!
Chicago Guy (Chicago, Il)
As long as Fox News goes in the "100% propaganda" section...
Wine Country Dude (Napa Valley)
Correct. It's like the famous last line of the movie "Chinatown", when Jake Gittes becomes aware of forces beyond his control and comprehension and the impracticability of opposing them: "Hey Jake, it's Chinatown."
Eugene (NYC)
Facts that we don't like always belong in the opinion section.
Piri Halasz (New York NY)
Instead of merely complaining about this, I hope that some journalists will start looking into and reporting upon the positive benefits to the larger economy created by the "safety net." Is it not true that retaining buying power for the poor and unemployed helps to cushion the effect of downturns in the GDP as a whole?
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