Moran Invites Constituents to Examine Budget Choices

by ARLnow.com July 5, 2011 at 11:42 am 3,660 85 Comments

As lawmakers in Greece could attest, tackling a large national budget deficit is a thankless job.

Either you make steep cuts that will inevitably draw the ire of many constituents, even your supporters, or you don’t cut enough and allow your country to gradually slip into the fiscal abyss.

Cognizant of the political challenges, nonprofit deficit hawks have stepped in to try to rally public support for tough budget choices by giving voters the chance to play congressman for a day — and thus experience the challenges themselves. One such exercise is coming to Arlington next week.

Rep. Jim Moran is teaming up with the nonpartisan Concord Coalition to host “Priniciples & Priorities,” described as an “interactive exercise in which participants team up to tackle the federal budget deficit by making many of the policy decisions facing lawmakers today.”

The event, which is open to members of the public who register online, will take place at the National Rural Electric Cooperative building in Ballston (4301 Wilson Boulevard), from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Monday, July 11.

Moran is not exactly known as a fiscal conservative, thanks in part to public remarks about “earmark[ing] a lot of money through the appropriations process.” Still, the long-time congressman acknowledges that “difficult choices must be made” regarding the budget.

“There are few questions as important to this country than deciding how we invest in our future without burying the next generation under a mountain of debt,” Moran said. “The Concord Coalition offers an informative program… which allows the public to take a hands on approach in determining how they would bring the budget to balance.”

“Should we increase taxes, cut programs that care for the needy, trim defense spending, limit funding for NIH research, raise the retirement age on Medicare?” Moran asked hypothetically. “These are just some of the tough choices being considered as the debate over the deficit and debt limit continues. The Principles & Priorities event gives everyone a chance to make a statement as to which direction the country should take.”

  • doodly

    (Or you raise taxes….)

    • brendan

      yeah… “Either you make steep cuts that will inevitably draw the ire of many constituents, even your supporters, or you don’t cut enough and allow your country to gradually slip into the fiscal abyss.”

      honestly, if you take a look at federal budgeting over the last fifty years, the current deficit and then throw in some comparisons to other developed countries — it becomes very clear are problems are based more on significant drops in revenue (as a % of gdp) than any changes in spending.

      • or…

        (Honestly), while revenues have decreased in FY09 & FY10 which is a problem and also which one would expect in the recession/depression/whatever you want to call it economy that we are in, if you look at outlays as a percentage of GDP we have spent far more in the last few years than any other year since the WWII years and White House budget projections keep this elevated % of GDP spending running out for many years to come. FY09 had outlays of 25% of GDP and FY10 23.8%. Only two other years since the WWII years have we spent 23% of GDP and again those were still less as a % than the last two years. Otherwise we have been consistently below those marks. So if you want to be “honest” then Iyou need to look at both revenue and spending.

        And also why should we compare ourselves to other developed countries and what their revenue or outlay % of GDP is? We are our own country and need to make sound financial decisions for this Nation. Is it because the current and historical state of economies in other developed countries really is a model that we should strive for?? How many of them are in worse shape than we are?

        • brendan

          see. you kind of are making a backwards argument – revenue as a percentage of gdp is tied so closely to economic growth that it’s fluctuations are significantly less (as a percentage) during economic downturn…

          On the other hand, spending policy is (for better or worse) not tied into the economy so as a percentage of GDP it is significantly impacted but fluctuations. Considering that even if you cut a hundred billion dollars (as the tea party suggested in this spring’s budget battle) that would be merely a fraction of a percent, in strictly policy terms, while causing incredible hardship for millions of Americans.

          Additionally, economists across the spectrum have warned against spending cuts during economic downturns. Zandi w/ Moody’s (who also advised McCain) estimated that 100billion in cuts would lead to the loss of 700,000 jobs… The typicaly conservative Goldman Sachs warned it’s clients the cuts could cost as much as 2 pts of GDP. So while spending both in real terms and as a percentage of GDP has trended upwards, we have seen a long term and significant trend downwards in revenue.

          Why does looking at other countries matter? Well even if you consider us the most advanced economy in the world, we have flaws…. I know the conservative movement largely left respect for intellectualism and science back in the 90s, but there is some importance to studying macro policies of other countries – just like states study policies and practices of other states. We bring in the lowest federal revenues of any developed nation in the world – and despite what laffer and other supply-siders say, other countries with higher taxes have not found them to be an impediment conservatives have theorized. We bring in more than 10% less than the UK as a percentage of GDP. What if we raised revenues by even 5%, we would still have one of the lowest tax rates in the world and our deficit would disappear.

          Just a thought.

          • Zoning Victim

            There isn’t a single economist out there that isn’t advocating reforming entitlements, defense spending and the tax code, which means they’re advocating spending cuts. Without all three of those on the table, we will not be able to fix this problem. We cannot just tax our way out of this problem by increasing the rate the people in the top tax bracket pay. Raising revenue (increasing taxes) is also warned against in an economic downturn because is takes investment dollars out of the economy. The recession caused the lack of revenue, not the other way around, and the recession was caused by decades of heavy government intervention in the markets from both sides of the isle and it will definitely be painful to fix.

            I find it funny that liberals always say that higher taxes don’t stifle businesses (and that closing loopholes that businesses use isn’t raising taxes), but when it’s an industry they want to prop up, like Obama’s green business initiative, the first thing they do is offer tax breaks (loopholes) to that industry and the people purchasing that industry’s products. If it’s good for the industries liberals like, then why isn’t it good for all businesses?

            If people over 65 who are financially secure enough to pay for their own retirement and healthcare were forced to stop raiding our social programs and pay their own way, how would that be “causing incredible hardship for millions of Americans.” I know many people who do not need these programs. Would they have to take fewer vacations and stop buying new cars every three years (or get part time jobs to pay for those extravagances)? Yes, but that’s not “incredible hardship.”

            You should also look at the direction that other nations are trending and what impact that’s had on their economy, not just where they are now in comparison to the US on certain factors, and most of the nations out there are lowering their tax rates (to the point where the US’ corporate tax rate is among the highest of the OECD countries), and they have moving toward more laissze-faire free markets.

            We have one big government party masquerading as two different parties and have for quite some time. They’ve combined to spend us into oblivion and hand us such a convoluted mixed economy with no overarching economic theory to it that people would rather invest their money outside of the US. This is a global economy and people can put their money in any country they want with a few clicks of a mouse. Until this mess of regulation, unfair taxation and bureaucratic red tape gets straightened out, investors are going to see the US economy as a risk.

  • Republicrat

    Earmarking doesn’t usually increase deficits. It doesn’t increase the amount of money spent.

    • brendan

      unfortunately simple truths get lost in all the hoopla.

      only thing removing earmarks does is transfer spending decisions from members of congress to unelected bureaucrats who face far less scrutiny. there is no evidence, and members of both parties have refuted the notion, that cutting earmarks reduces overall spending.

      • Josh S

        “Far less scrutiny?” Are you kidding? Is THIS what the Tea Party is all about? You think that the bureaucrats are spending money willy nilly without any checks? That THEY are responsible for deficits, etc? Oh.My.God. I guess the nation’s high school government teachers are failing us.

        “Unelected bureaucrats.” As if they sit there in their cubicles, rubbing their little hands together in glee, waiting for the big pots of money to roll in so that they can spend them on bridges to nowhere, etc.

        There are plenty of rules, including some even imposed by the Constitution itself (due process), that restrain the bureaucrats’ ability to spend money irresponsibly.

        And, Brendan, really – do you think that Congress allocates every penny of the multi-trillion dollar federal budget? Newsflash – they don’t. Not even close. Bureaucrats already make the vast majority of spending decisions. THAT is the normal – not the earmarks. The earmarks are instead Congress’ way of steering money.

        Your bigger point is right – earmarks, in and of themselves, have no practical impact on any particular year’s deficit or on the overall debt.

        • brendan

          listen you’re taking this as a personal insult, it’s not. so calm down. to you use your terms, “Newsflash” i didn’t say 90% of the s— you’re trying to claim i said.

          simple point is that the disclosure process for earmarking on the House side was far more transparent than almost every spending decision made within the executive branch.


          • doodly


            The bureaucratic process is less transparent because it is less flexible. It is controlled by strict rules imposed by Congress. It’s less arbitrary or political.

          • Josh S

            Ok. I agree, I did perhaps get a bit carried away.

            However, I didn’t cuss at you. So don’t cuss at me.

            As to the transparency of earmarks versus “almost every spending decision made within the executive branch.” I guess it depends on your definition of “transparency” and “spending decision.” And who the audience is.

            Yes, the earmarks are part of the spending bill itself and so are part of the public record and one can see who voted them up and who voted them down, etc. I guess if one was truly a Capitol Hill junkie, one would even know who inserted which particular earmark. But, seriously, outside the Beltway who keeps track of these things? Especially these days with the inevitable omnibus spending bills that run hundreds of pages long? So, yes – the information is freely available, but not exactly common knowledge.

            On the other hand, the bureaucrats operate within bureaucracies. There are numerous laws and rules which govern how the money is spent. Generally, those rules and laws discourage spending money outside the scrutiny of either the public, Congress, OMB, the GAO, various IGs, law enforcement agencies, etc. Furthermore, there are almost always interested parties, whether it is a contracting situation, businesses affected by spending decisions, citizens, interest groups, the media, etc.

            I just don’t see that there is a case to be made that earmark spending is “far more transparent” than spending “within the executive branch.”

          • brendan

            every earmark request was prominently listed and explained on a member’s website, accompanied by financial disclosure statements, the name non-profit or local govt receiving the grant, etc… this info is featured on dozens of watchdog sites and often published and scrutinized on local news outlets. That’s all to simply to ‘request’ a project…

            Of the requested projects, the ones that ended up being funded are then published in the congressional record, printed in the bill with the project name, state, dollar amt and name of requester. This is accompanied by an appendix of sworn statements declaring that no financial gain is received. Everything is published in print and online, and several watchdogs offer searchable databases – which get a surprising amount of traffic outside the beltway.

            There are lots of rules everywhere in government, but a lot a less “sunlight” on executive branch spending decision or budget proposals. For better or worse, we also have a say in electing the person making the decisions, as opposed to someone who has played hopscotch through the embarrassingly incompetent federal hiring process.

            As usual, people tend to focus on 1% of the federal budget that does awful things like building new barracks for soldiers, community health clinics, expanding wilderness areas, or providing rural communities with quality drinking water. Earmarks are terrible, terrible things that deserve far more attention than $800,000,000,000+ in tax cuts, $500,000,000,000+ in annual defense spending, or the hundreds of billions being outsourced to contractors, a significant portion of which are awarded through no-bid contracts.

          • Josh S

            You lost me.

          • Burger

            He is saying you are concerned with approximately 25 billion Congresses uses in earmarks when the fat of the budget is in entitlements and defense.

            As an aside, you could wipe out all non-defense, non-discretionary spending (i.e. not social security and medicare) and still run a deficit.

          • Zoning Victim

            Yea! I read something about the economy/Federal spending that made sense on the internet today. It’s been a while, thanks.

          • Zoning Victim

            I’ve personally seen bureaucrats spend money wastefully just so they wouldn’t lose their budgets the next year and so has everyone I know of who has worked for Federal agencies, so your argument that they’re constrained to spend money wisely is simply wrong. That said, I don’t dislike earmarks because I think they’re what is destroying our economy, they actually fund some really good programs a lot of the time; I hate the way that they’re used to coerce people to vote yea on bills they would normally vote nay on. However, if they can just get a few extra hundred billion tacked on to spend in their own state for pet projects, then they can accept voting for a policy decision they don’t believe in just to help their state to a nice big chunk of taxes that were collected from every state in the US. I’d rather the projects funded through earmarks stood on their own merits as good projects without being wielded as bargaining chips. I’d also rather the state collect their own taxes from their own residents to pay for projects that don’t have a national interest.

            You are also wrong that Congress doesn’t allocate every penny of the Federal budget. Only Congress has the right to authorize the spending of money as stipulated in the Constitution. Therefore, every dime spent on every program we have (and therefore every dime borrowed) is a function of Congress and the full responsibility of those expenditures, good or bad, rests with them. Bureaucrats are simply the vehicle through which Congress spends that money, not the authorizers of the expenditures themselves.

            As for this comment: “I guess the nation’s high school government teachers are failing us.” Yeah, that would be why the only measurable item US students rank first in is self-confidence.

          • Josh S

            Hmph. I’ve seen attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.

        • Burger


          You need to go look up the appropriations and earmarking process as do most of the Tea Party because they don’t understand the process, either.

          Congress sets a budget for an agency/dept/etc. But, Congress usually leaves a cushion in most agencies budget outside of specific areas because like all organizations, businesses, family, etc. unexpected crap comes up all the time.

          So for example, Agency X gets 10 million dollars specifically outlined for certain issues but Agency X also has 5 million just sitting around to handle things that come up – either requested by Congress or the Agency, itself. If Congress uses that it is through the use earmarks for some particular pet project of a Congress and instead of going through the entire appropriations ordeal again Congress just moves Agency X’s 5 million cushion to deal with whatever the earmark is for. (It is infinitely cheaper).

          You can also look at it in a family budget. If you make $2000/month and spend $1500 on rent, food, etc, you have 500 left over that goes in the bank. Now, if your car breaks down do you wait until your next paycheck comes to fix your car because you didn’t account for it in your monthly budget, no, you use your excess money and fix the car. (Not that this is the same with Congress but the process).

          So, yes, earmarking generally has no impact an the annual budget because it has already been accounted for during the budgetary process.

          Further, Congress will use appropriated money but not spent to be used in other areas i.e. why conservatives were all upset about the real total of spending that went down in the budget earlier this year. But once that unappropriated money disappears it can’t shifted around in negotiations for other budget issues – it needs to be re-appropriated.

          Further, I seriously doubt Congress will still provide a cushion to federal agencies et al. But with the ban on earmarking, guess who will then appropriate the money as needed – the agency themselves which means – less transparency and less accounability because it will non-voted executive members making the decision not congressman.

          • Josh S


          • Andrew

            Agencies do not have a “cushion” set up by Congress for earmarks. What ends up happening is that if an agency gets $10 million but Congressman Joe says he wants $100 spent on project y, the agency has to figure out what they can’t do to fund project y. So yes, earmarks don’t have an impact on the overall budget because they force agencies to cut other things.

            Also, agencies don’t appropirate funds, only Congress can.

          • Burger

            Please, you don’t think agencies pad their requests so that when an earmark comes down they can make the necessary adjustments.

            There is a reason Census had 2 billion laying around that could be used to plug the budget gap back in March.

          • Andrew

            I never said agencies don’t “pad” their requests. I merely stated that Congress does not establish this cushion, they react to the agency’s request, which is presented in the President’s Budget. Both OMB and Congress are more than welcome to question the funding requested by each program/agency.

  • ArlingtonCountyTaxpayer

    Tax “loopholes” need to be closed and write-offs STOPPED. if we can accomplish that (farm credits, clean car credits, etc) we will make huge inroads.

    • Bluemontsince1961

      That would be nice, but I doubt our politicians would go for it. They know who butters their bread and it isn’t folks like us.

      • doodly

        Are you kidding? Us regular folks are the biggest recipients of “loopholes” like the mortgage and child deductions.

        • nauckneighbor

          The mortgage interest and child deduction are not “tax loopholes” in any sense.

          • Ugh

            True. But the original poster (ArlingtonCountyTaxpayer) seems to be jumbling write-offs with loopholes. Or maybe he/she just doesn’t like write-offs at all, in which case he/she is suggesting that mortgage interest and child deduction write-offs should also be elimintated.

          • doodly

            Exactly how I read it.

            If he really meant just getting rid of “loopholes” it would hardly save enough money to make a dent in the deficit.

          • doodly

            Oh, yeah, I forgot – loopholes are something somebody else is getting.

          • Bluemontsince1961

            Thanks, nauckneighbor, I was thinking of the special loopholes, favors, etc. that lobbyists, etc. get that are different than deductions for mortgages or children. Businesses and lobbyists that make great big donations to politicians of ANY kind in return for favors are what I believe ArlingtonCountyTaxpayer was referring to, at least that is the sense I got.

          • doodly

            Well, of course you were thinking of those. But what’s the difference? Why are other deductions bad, while the government helping you buy your house good? You realize that lobbyists got that deduction too, right?

          • PhilL

            Loopholes are traditionally associated with corporations. Write-offs generally are assumed to be for individuals. When the politicians are talking about closing tax loopholes, that’s code for going after corporations, not individuals. On one level that’s a distinction without a difference, but in the discussion of eliminating loopholes (corporate tax manipulation), it’s a relevant topic.

          • doodly

            That’s my point – when some big corporation gets something and we think it’s not fair, we call it a “loophole.” When we get a loophole, we just call it a “write-off” as if we’re entitled to it.

          • doodly

            And let’s not forget that it’s more complicated than just little guys vs. big old corporations. You can bet that the National Association of Realtors and the housing industry would come out strongly against reducing the mortgage deduction, because it benefits them too.

          • PhilL

            That’s the difference.

          • Burger

            Your argument essentially boils down to this

            Don’t tax you.
            Don’t tax me.
            Tax the man behind the tree.

          • Burger

            It most certainly is a loophole. It is Congress using the tax code for social engineering and subsidizing an area of society then it is providing a loophole to get around paying taxes on something.

            And just because you are the recipient of the loophole or in everyday language – write-off – to make sound less seemly doesn’t mean it isn’t a loophole.

            Loopholes are areas of the tax code that let some people take advantage of actions they take that others can not.

            We can disagree on whether Congress should provide the mortgage tax dedcution or child deduction but they are most definitely loopholes that a people can legitmately use to lower their tax burden.

          • Andrew

            Mortgage tax deduction/child care deduction are not “tax loopholes” they are deductions. A tax loophole would be somehow taking advantage of those deductions in a way that was not intended.


          • doodly

            Good definitions.

    • ArlingtonCountyTaxpayer

      yes, I did use the term loosely.

      but what is the difference between a loophole and a tax write-off?

      I think doodly is correct — a loophole is something else some one is using to take advantage of the system while a write-off is an honest apple-pie-American thing to do.

      While the mortgage wriite-off is huge; so is the kid write-off. But these are non-starters for obvious political reasons, imho.

      So let’s start with some of the other stuff out there — farm subsidies — why do we pay people to not farm? or the Chevy Volt $7,000 subsidy is essentially a check to GM to charge too much for that car; This stuff isn’t critical, really.

      Or all the organizations that do politics when they shouldn’t (like churches) who enjoy tax exempt status.

      loophole, write-off… call it what you will. we need a fundamental re-write and simplification of our tax laws. But to ask Congress or IRS to do something about it is hysterical — as both those parties are complicit in this and reap the benefits. Seriously, if we had a good tax code, what would we complain about?

      argue on, but DOODLY was right — loophole and write-off is only different when it is yours.

      • Burger

        If you are in favor of a flat tax then you are in favor of removing
        loopholes, write-offs, what have you. Inheritantly, that means getting ride of deductions – be it a corporations use of “loopholes” or your write-offs. You are not going to get a lower rate without eliminating certain aspects of the tax code that people like.

        Which is why I find that most people seem to support a flat tax in theory but when told about in practice seem to no be willing to give up that mortgage interest deduction, the child deduction or taxing of healthcare benefits.

      • Ugh

        The difference is that you wrote “loopholes need to be closed and write-offs STOPPED.” That appears to apply to all write-offs, including mortgage interest and kid write-offs… which also seem to fall among those you’d consider an “honest apple-pie-American thing to do.” Those opinions are somewhat at odds with each other.

        I agree with some of your evaluations of the subsidies that are pure political posturing. But something like taking away the mortgage writeoff is a non-starter because it completely changes the game for someone who got into a long-term investment expecting that deduction. Take it away, and the defaults we’ve seen so far will look like small potatoes. Also, good luck to any homeowner (60% of the population maybe?) out there who tries to sell into a tax code that doesn’t provide that deduction to the buyer. Liquidity in the market would completely dry up, and a huge number of people would take a bath on that deal. There might be a way to phase out the deduction over a few decades, but not likely for political reasons.

        I really don’t like the idea of subsidizing people’s procreation (child tax credit), but I suppose an argument could be made for why that’s valuable (e.g., more people paying into our broken social security system?).

        • ArlingtonCountyTaxpayer

          I generally agree that ending the home-interest write-off could be financially catastrophic which is why I don’t think it is possible. As with others.
          BUT I do disagree with your assertion about people making a long-term investment expecting to make the deduction. First, there are no guarantees in tax policy. Second, the purpose of the 30 year mortgage is so that people will have paid off their house when done. Not to have doubled the value; not to have flipped it fifteen times; but, to have paid for and earned a house that they can comfortably enjoy during retirement. The interest deduction only makes that easier, but people should not assume that the interest deduction is going to stay. Remember you used to be able to take a deduction for interest on credit card debt?

          • Ugh

            The assertion that people expect the mortgage deduction for the lifetime of their investment is correct. Right or wrong, people DO expect it and make long-term financial decisions based upon that expectation. But you are correct that nothing should be taken for granted, which I agree with. Good luck telling that to the rest of America though. (BTW, I’ve never carried credit card debt and don’t remember such interest being deductible.)

            That said, my assertion remains a reality, and further financial calamity would ensue if the government yanked the mortgage deduction out from under folks. The personal welfare and industry bailout costs of cleaning up the resulting financial mess (which our gov’t would of course attempt to do) would likely dwarf anything they’d gain by ending the deduction.

          • Burger

            I want to know what people when buying a house figured out the subsidy from the mortgage deduction when buying a house.

            Sure, people know about it and it will reduce their monthly mortgage but people don’t use it in gauging when to buy a house. Most people look a two things

            1) how much they need to put down
            2) what is the monthly mortgage payment.

            If you are a high level home buyer you might figure it out but I’d say 99 out of 100 don’t.

          • Ugh

            I don’t have a statistic for you, but I suspect most informed/savvy people think about it when figuring out the “what is the monthly mortgage payment” part of your post. Why? Because, among other things, when comparing whether it makes sense to rent vs. buy, that’s a huge consideration. I.e. “How much am I *actually* paying per month?”

            For the first several years of a 30-year mortgage, most middle-income folks see roughly one-third of their monthly payment come back to them at tax time, so that $3,000/month mortgage payment is suddenly comparable to paying $2,000/month in rent (ignoring plenty of other factors like the responsibility of home ownership, property taxes, condo fees, etc, which of course should not be ignored).

            Like I said, I don’t have a statistic, but I’m not sure your “99 out of 100” statistic is well-sourced either. I just assume a substantial portion of people dabbling in real estate are crunching those basic numbers, and certainly anyone who’s owned for a few years is also likely budgeting that in (whether or not they should take it for granted).

          • doodly

            You can bet that a realtor will eagerly remind a buyer that that big fat mortgage payment isn’t really so big after taxes.

  • Arlwhenever

    Jim Moran is a 66 year-old who has had six-figure incomes for decades. Yet, based on his latest financial disclosure statement, he doesn’t have a penny to his name.

    With irresponsible fiscal leadership like that, it’s no wonder our country is $14.4 billion in debt and headed down the tubes.

    • doodly

      Yeah, kind of lame, even by the Moran-bashing standards of this forum.

      • Burger

        It is because he is generally an idiot that is only saved because he lives in a left wing district.

        • doodly

          Even lamer!

    • Burger

      being married 3-4 times tends to hit you in the pocketbook.

      • AllenB

        Doesn’t seem to be hurting Newt, with his $1.0M credit line at Tiffany’s.

        • Burger

          True. But Moran wasn’t the speaker of the House and Gingrich is out of office so he is not as restricted in the “perks” one gets when they are i office.

          • doodly

            But, like so many of your comments, that’s irrelevant to the point. And simply being wealthy isn’t a “perk.”

    • Chad

      I wish it was only $14.4 billion =/

  • 4Arl

    It would be interesting to run this for Arlington’s budget, though it’s probably hard to get broad participation beyond interest groups.

  • Bluemontsince1961

    Seems most voters in the 8th District like him, he keeps being returned to office time after time. I’d like to seem him voted out, but that doesn’t seem likely any time soon.

    • TuesdaysChild

      The “choice” that I would like would be a choice in the democratic party primary for the Moran’s seat. So I can vote against Moran.

      • doodly

        So go run against him.

      • brendan

        Yeah, I’m sick of having powerful, senior member of the appropriations committee effectively represent the progressive and economic interests of the district. Especially one who sits on defense, where he can protect thousands of jobs, that every other member would love the opportunity to siphon out of the VA-8th.

        Let’s find some newbie who talks a big game but will likely go his/her entire career without having 1/4 the legislative skill, power and ability. Brilliant!

        • NOVApologist

          The problem is that “legislative skill” appears to be a suitable reason for otherwise intelligent people to willingly overlook the fact that Moran is totally corrupt.

        • Burger

          There is a strong economic case to be made that the more government spending that goes on in a particular district the less opportunity for private enterprise to thrive because the public money tends to soak up the available credit and workers that might be used in private enterprise.

          And being the closest Congressional district doesn’t exactly drive the its hard to get federal dollars to the district. Sure, might another Congressman raid the district without Moran (as minority chair aka has no real power) but that loss will be minute overall given the efficiency in keeping most of the workers in tight locations.

          • doodly

            That’s even lamer. Federal money going to a particular district harms its economy? Really?

            No, the feds don’t borrow money from local banks either.

            Yes, it’s easier to get money for our district, which you just said is a bad thing, because it’s close to DC. So?

            Even lamer. You guys will try anything to bash Moran.

          • Burger


            This is going to be very high level for you but here it is

            Government puts out some RFP – government contractor responds. Government contractor needs money to ramp up what ever is needed to do the project i.e. labor, hardware, etc. since most times they don’t have money just sitting around the house to be used.

            Who does contractor approach to get the money? Um, usually that would be your local banker. Bank now has less funds to lend to private enterprise that doesn’t have government contract. See, how credit gets soaked up, especially in districts with high earmarked government projects that soak up shall pools of capital. the govt cont. can also soak up high end employees that otherwise might go work for a private company but for the govt. cont.

            As to money in our district – you are about as dense as Moran is on basic economics – only there would be little difference between Moran and what some other politician that replaced him would have on government projects in the district. Arlington gets its share of government project because of proximity to DC not because of Moran.

            And, yet, I feel like I need to go ready Mark Twain.

          • Joe

            “Who does contractor approach to get the money? Um, usually that would be your local banker. Bank now has less funds to lend to private enterprise that doesn’t have government contract.”

            That assumes a static amount of money for banks to lend. But with more demand for loans or credit, more banks come to the area to service this demand, thus increasing the supply in proportion to the demand? Thus more money to be loaned, no change in interest rate, equilibrium? right?

          • brendan

            eh. that’s not how things work.

          • Josh S

            In what way does your scenario change if we change “government” with “other private sector company that needs to contract for some function they can’t do?” It doesn’t. So if we follow your “logic,” we quickly find ourselves in some fantasy world where banks and the credit market in general don’t work as they do in reality. You see, it doesn’t appear that your version allows for inputs into the system. Only outflows. But economies have been growing for centuries, nay, millennia, and I don’t think it’s all because of governments printing money.

            Also, leaving that part aside, in terms of “soaking up” capital, what difference does it make where the money comes from? If the feds want to build an office building in Apple Pie City, USA this is a fiscal and economic nightmare but if, I don’t know, State Farm Insurance wants to do the same thing, this is a good thing? You’re gonna have to go even higher level, I think, Ham, to explain that one. Cause I don’t get it.

          • This comment has been edited. Please refrain from personal attacks.

          • Burger


            How long does it take a bank to get chartered. A bank just doesn’t open up.

            And all money is fungible i.e there is no difference between the money in your pocket and your money in the bank. For example, if VA has 4 dollars and MD has 4 dollars – they have a total of 8. If one dollar moves to VA to accomodate to take up the slack due to all the government lending then you still only have 8 dollars (5 in VA, 3 in MD).

          • Joe

            The Washington region is supported almost entirely by Federal Government spending and the business that follows. Washington is and has largely been recession proof.

            As to “available credit and workers”, How much credit does Big Finance, Big Defense, Big Auto, and Big Construction need? These industries and companies have tons of cash, but are unwilling to invest it in the local economy because the rate of return isn’t enough. Which means that because they can’t make a higher profit margin, people at the bottom rung of society have to work harder for less.

            Check the link:


            The economy is in the crapper, and there is no end in sight. You can scramble for “Honest, hard-earned” private business (because these people aren’t doing just fine getting regardless of Gov’t policy?) or you can vote for people to exert power over the capitalist for the good everyone ( or at least said person’s constituents).

          • R.Griffon

            > Washington is and has largely been recession proof.

            Agreed, but just wait until austerity measures start to hit here in the US. A reduction of 10 or 20% in the federal budget would have quite an “interesting” effect on the DC metro area. Personally, I don’t think anyone on either side of the aisle has the balls to make such drastic cuts, but there may come a time when we have no choice.

          • Zoning Victim

            ” or you can vote for people to exert power over the capitalist for the good everyone ”

            Funny, that’s what destroyed the economy in the first place and it’s exactly why those businesses are holding on to their cash or investing it in foreign markets where governments don’t put their thumbs on the economic scale “for the good of everyone.”

          • doodly

            “foreign markets where governments don’t put their thumbs on the economic scale “for the good of everyone.” ”

            Like communist China?

          • Zoning Victim

            Yes, actually. China has flourished and pulled hundreds of millions of people out of poverty mostly because they have been moving from an economy that was completely controlled by the government to one that is more free market. Obviously, they have a long way to go, but the lack of regulatory compliance concerns along with a lower corporate tax rate is what’s making them more competitive than the US in the manufacturing arena.

          • Joe

            “Funny, that’s what destroyed the economy in the first place”

            Please. 30 years of giving America away to the super rich is what destroyed the economy for the working class.

            The ultra-rich don’t really have much too complain about. Union membership is at an all time low. Unemployment is high. Wages are stagnant. Personal savings are at an all time low. On the labor supply side of the equation, all is well. On the demand side, people still need food, need energy, need housing, need clothes.

            How much more “free” can our economy be that you’ll still blame government for the failures of capitalist markets? Maybe we should really make a free market, wherein the government doesn’t subsidize businesses’ operating costs by building roads, training laborers by operating schools, protect your real and intellectual property rights by having police. We could have the government tear down every impediment to a free market, including labor import and export controls so now you’ll really have to compete with “illegals”, safety regulations so when your hand gets cut off because of a poorly designed paper cutter you starve, et cetera.

            Yeah, because since the history of governments being formed there has been a “free” market.

            Free Markets don’t exist. To clamor for a free market is to clamor for anarchy.

          • doodly

            You can’t exactly say they’re more free market than we are though.

          • Josh S

            You think regulation destroyed the economy? You really haven’t been paying attention, then, have you? Regulation exists to moderate risk and it seems quite apparent that there was a severe lack of risk moderation going on.

            Capitalists have no concern for the well being of society. Only for themselves and their investors. To place your health, safety, livelihood, etc in their hands is foolhardy.

          • Zoning Victim

            That really is one of the dumbest responses ever. How on earth does a free market economy equate to having no police/immigration constraints and total anarchy in your head? Intelligent arguments aren’t full of anecdotal cause and effect scenarios and comparisons to anarchy, and the police don’t protect people’s intellectual property rights. Keynesianism and the New Deal welfare state failed in a massive stagflation crisis, too.

            How much more free can it be…. really? How can you even ask that when the Federal Government just performed what will end up being a hostile takeover of our health insurance industry, printed billions of dollars to prop up bubble markets that they created with their stupid policies in the first place and then took over 2/3rds of the auto manufacturers in the US?

            By the way, have you ever actually seen the printed version of the CFR? It’s 223 books. How about the Federal Register? In 2010 there were 3,573 final rules and 2,439 proposed rules in it. The cost of regulatory compliance in this country is estimated at about $1.75 trillion in 2010, which is a massive increase over the 2007 estimates of $1.1 trillion. For comparison sake, individual income tax revenue in 2010 was $936 billion. We spend nearly double in regulatory compliance over what we pay in personal income tax, and you can bet your bottom dollar that we, the consumers, and the ones who are footing that bill. Worst of all it’s a widely accepted fact that that regulatory compliance burdens fall more heavily on smaller businesses. Every dollar spent on regulatory compliance is a dollar that will not spent on production, R&D or salaries.

            There are approximately 4,225 rules in the regulatory pipeline right now and 224 of those are “economically significant,” meaning they have at least a $100 million economic impact.

            “Maybe we should really make a free market, wherein the government doesn’t subsidize businesses’ operating costs…”
            That would be a good start. We can start by burning most of the CFR, killing off every special tax break for every kind of business/person/special interest out there at both the state and federal level and let people pay what it’s actually costs for them to fly, take the train, buy gasoline/food/cloths/etc. Come to think of it, what the hell major industry doesn’t the government try to control in this “free” market of which you speak? We can continue by passing a balanced budget amendment so everyone has to pay for their welfare state now instead of putting it off on their kids, getting rid of the minimum wage, not paying unemployed people to stay in dead towns for years when we all know their jobs aren’t coming back, enforcing our immigration laws, privatizing everything we can and dissolving the Fed (or at least letting the market set the interest rate instead of some man behind the curtain who is appointed for life no matter how bad he screws up the economy).

            “On the labor supply side of the equation, all is well….”
            No, it’s not. Companies looking to hire skilled employees actually have a very hard time filling those positions. One of the problems this country is having is that all of the unskilled jobs are being taken away and sent overseas thanks to the high costs of regulatory compliance and corporate taxes.

            None of this is just my opinion. The Chicago School of Economics is widely regarded as one of the world’s best economics departments, and most of their professors of economics are part of the school of thought that rejects Keynesianism and regulation in laissez-faire markets as inefficient. Look it up; you might surprise yourself.

          • Zoning Victim


            Yes I can (I can even do it with a straight face). I can’t say they have more personal freedom than we do, of course, but that has nothing to do with the amount of market regulations their businesses have to deal with. Their business certainly have a lot more lattitude than ours do and are not being crushed under the massive weight of the mountains of regulation our corporations are. That’s exactly why our corporations would rather build plants over there, ship the raw materials over there (in some cases) and then pay to ship the finished product back.

            According to a report I watched a year or so ago, a $1 billion semiconductor plant built over there costs $2 billion dollars to build over here and 75-80% of that is taxes and the costs of regulatory compliance not the difference in labor costs.

          • doodly

            Ah, I see, Burger – you’re claiming that a contractor doing business hurts the economy.

            Whatever you say.

            If you think Moran gets nothing for the district anyway – what are you complaining about?

          • Burger

            Sigh, go look what I said.

            There is no difference, or only an minute difference between what Moran can get directed to his district and if someone replaced him.

            The government is going to spend an large percent of its dollars close to where it is located for lots of reason including efficiency.

            But, again, this isn’t a hard argument and I feel like Mark Twain.

          • doodly

            I read what you said. You said government spending hurts the economy.

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  • GrandArch

    Moran not being known as a fiscal conservative because of comments about earmarks, as asserted in this article, is one of the stupidest things I’ve heard. Earmarks are not a large portion of federal outlays, not even one percent of discretionary spending. Moran’s own earmarks would be outweighed by far by changes in spending or in revenues he might advocate.


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