Two Candidates That Will Not Get My Vote (nor that of Dave Ramsey). And it has nothing to do with politics. 7/16/15

I have long considered myself to be socially liberal and fiscally conservative (personally and politically). Personally, that means you live within your means and save up for the big stuff (cars, kids’ education, retirement). Politically, that means you pay for whatever government you want. You’re a small government conservative? Fine! Set taxes accordingly. You’re a big government liberal? Ditto! Make sure that current taxes cover current expenditures and capital expenditures are covered appropriately. If you sell off your toll highways to pay off a short term deficit, congratulations. You just took out a payday loan on the back of your taxpayers. With that as preamble, let us consider two case studies in fiscal liberals. Or, as Dave Ramsey would put it, freakin’ morons.
 
Ladies and Germs, I give you two candidates who could never get my vote.
 
On my right, let’s give a big hello to Marco Rubio. Republicans will regularly warn you that Social Security is a giant Ponzi scheme. Hence, you should prepare for funding your own retirement. I heartily agree with the latter portion of this and have socked away for retirement ever since I started making decent money in 2001. As Dave Ramsey says, live like nobody else now so that you can live like nobody else later. So, what did Senator Rubio do when he faced some cash flow problems. He cashed out his retirement funds! That’s roughly like borrowing money at 35% interest (10% penalty plus your tax rate). And what emergency did he face? Tell us, Marco:
 
“We wanted to have access to cash in the coming year both because I’m running for president but also my refrigerator broke down. That was $3,000. And I had to replace the air conditioning unit in our home,” the Florida Republican said on “Fox News Sunday.”
 
I hope you liked that fridge, Marco, because it just cost you $5000 ($5000 – 10% = $4500 * 2/3 = $3000). Senator Rubio evidently has no idea how to fill out a budget. I do sympathize, having just needed to replace our refrigerator (that we bought new when remodeling). As a fiscal conservative, I checked out the Fourth of July sales and picked up a very nice Samsung for a hair under $1,000 (with French doors no less). That $68,000 IRA that he cashed out probably would have grown to about $750,000 when he retired. But, hey, he’ll have a little mad money on the campaign trail.
 
To my left, a big round of applause for Martin O’Malley. What was his financial sin, you ask? He borrowed over $300,000 so his daughter could go to Georgetown. He utterly failed to save anything for his kids’ college education. When little snookums wanted to go to Georgetown like Grandpa, did he say, “Sorry baby girl, but we have an excellent university in College Park”? No! He went down to the bank and signed on the dotted line. And then he makes a campaign issue of student debt. Here’s a thought, Martin. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. I’d love to be tooling down the road in a Tesla right now. I don’t have the scratch, so I’ve got a 10 year old RAV4 (after our 15 year old Solara finally gave up the ghost).
 
Both Rubio and O’Malley are high earners and I’m sure will be able to make up the difference. However, for making two of the worst financial errors you possibly can, they’re dead to me. If you can’t be trusted with your own money, I’m sure as hell not going to trust you to be a responsible steward of my taxes.
 
BB

35 Responses

  1. Sorry for the lack of editing. I used the built-in editor and it’s removed all the double spaces after paragraphs. Seems like you need to know HTML to post here nowadays.

    BTW – I have been following discussions, just decided to take time off (as I did for PL). Shout out to Scott for a recent post. I stand by my comments in 2011.

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    • FB:

      I stand by my comments in 2011.

      The end of the tax exemption for churches which don’t toe the line on SSM is coming. Just wait. (The biggest hurdle will be Islam. The left will be hesitant to attack American Muslims and their beliefs the way it attacks American Christians and theirs.)

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      • FB:

        I have long considered myself to be socially liberal and fiscally conservative (personally and politically). Personally, that means you live within your means and save up for the big stuff (cars, kids’ education, retirement). Politically, that means you pay for whatever government you want.

        I hear quite a lot of people describe their politics this way, ie socially liberal and fiscally conservative. I think the notion of a socially liberal fiscal conservative is a bit of an oxymoron.

        The analogy between personal spending and government spending is somewhat flawed because, unlike individuals, the government neither earns money nor does it save money. Since the personal definition of a fiscal conservative depends on the ratio of the former to the latter, the analogy kind of breaks down. But to the extent that it makes sense, consider the analogy to personal spending that you present above, “you live within your means and save up for the big stuff”. Would you describe a young college grad who has a $35k/yr job, lives in a Manhattan high rise 3000 square foot apartment, drives around in a Porsche and eats at La Bernardin two times a week as a “fiscal conservative”, just because he doesn’t borrow money to do so, but rather gets his parents to pay for it all? I certainly wouldn’t, and I doubt you would, either. It’s not just the absence of borrowing that defines a fiscal conservative. Fiscal conservatism is defined also by a reluctance to live off of OPM as well a reluctance to spend extravagantly relative to one’s own income.

        But in the political sphere, social liberalism is pretty much by definition the extravagant spending of OPM. Just because a person wants to hike taxes (on other people, of course) rather than borrow to pay for their desired social spending doesn’t turn them into a fiscal conservative. I think a fiscal conservative must also be, as in the above example, reluctant to spend extravagantly, especially OPM. On that basis, the political idea of a social liberal who is fiscally conservative is pretty much an oxymoron. I sort of know what it means, but it certainly doesn’t mean what it says.

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  2. These are for me useful knowledge bits. Thanks.

    A friend of mine in Baltimore says O’Malley left a fiscal mess in Baltimore and then in MD.

    You’re a big government liberal? Ditto! Make sure that current taxes cover current expenditures and capital expenditures are covered appropriately.

    The socialist candidate, Bernie, ought to be asked about his financing plans at every opportunity.

    If you sell off your toll highways to pay off a short term deficit, congratulations. You just took out a payday loan on the back of your taxpayers.

    That fits Rick Perry. Is it true for any of the others?

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  3. And it has nothing to do with politics.

    I suspect it does, at least indirectly. How much do you know about Hillary’s or Obama’s pre-millionaire retirement savings practices? And why do you think you know so much about Rubio’s?

    The media doesn’t do hit jobs on D’s the way they do them on R’s.

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  4. “Sorry for the lack of editing. I used the built-in editor and it’s removed all the double spaces after paragraphs. Seems like you need to know HTML to post here nowadays.”

    I fixed it.

    I thought it was just <br> <br>

    But it turned out to be inserting a non-breaking space between two div tags. Not sure what’s up with that.

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  5. @FB: “Ladies and Germs, I give you two candidates who could never get my vote.”

    If that’s your criteria then I’m betting there’d be reasons for none of the candidates to get your vote. Name-brand politicians are rarely known for their budgeting prowess, personal or otherwise.

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  6. @ScottC: “The analogy between personal spending and government spending is somewhat flawed because, unlike individuals, the government neither earns money nor does it save money.”

    Although it can do both. It can earn money through tolls (or, potentially, charging for entrance into national parks and other things that are the purview of government), and there is no reason a government cannot save money, as any budget surplus could be “saved”, it just never is.

    The problem is more with the abstraction. Your money is yours, but the government money isn’t. So when you are in the government making budgeting decisions its more like play money. It’s just a different thing when you are “budgeting” with Other People’s Money than when you are budgeting with your own. Although, if you make horrible decisions with your own money, it is probably not a good sign as to what you will do when you are in charge of the taxpayer’s money and it’s more psychologically like playing monopoly.

    “Would you describe a young college grad who has a $35k/yr job, lives in a Manhattan high rise 3000 square foot apartment, drives around in a Porsche and eats at La Bernardin two times a week as a “fiscal conservative”, just because he doesn’t borrow money to do so, but rather gets his parents to pay for it all?”

    A more accurate comparison might be to describe someone who makes $35k a year and gets his parents to pay for all his friend’s basic expenses because things have been hard for them and he’d hate to see them miss a meal or get kicked out on the street or have to find a way to cover their own healthcare. But he won’t put his own limited cash to that goal, because while it’s important to him it’s not important enough to him to do it himself. So he gets his parents to do it. Because that’s like free money, anyway, right?

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    • KW:

      Although it can do both.

      Yes, in very narrow circumstances it might be able to "earn" money, but that is not how it funds itself, nor could it.

      And the idea of the government "saving" money is an interesting one. Certainly it is physically possible for the govt to "save" money, but what would it do with surplus revenue? Just take it out of circulation, like putting it under a mattress? Invest it in private businesses? Taxpayers weren't too fond of doing that in 2008. Lots of thorny issues to be resolved once the government starts to keep surplus revenues.

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      • Annual surpluses could first be used to redeem any portions of the National Debt deemed a threat to national security.

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        • Mark:

          Annual surpluses could first be used to redeem any portions of the National Debt deemed a threat to national security.

          I think the assumption is that we don’t have any debt. You aren’t a net saver if you have more debt outstanding than you have money to pay off the debt.

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  7. @ScottC: “On that basis, the political idea of a social liberal who is fiscally conservative is pretty much an oxymoron. I sort of know what it means, but it certainly doesn’t mean what it says.”

    Depends on how you define “social liberal”. I think it’s an “economic liberal” who wants higher taxes and more entitlements for the poor and more social spending. and the “social liberal” (as I’ve always thought of them) as the one who wants same sex marriage and an Equal Rights Amendment and easy access to abortion and decriminalized drugs and and end to the death penalty. The sort of stuff that doesn’t involve the redistribution of wealth so much as deconstructing traditional Christian mores and values when it comes to family structure and sexual relationships and socially unacceptable behaviors that don’t, in theory, do any damage to others. Legalized euthanasia would be another social liberal thing. But presumably the government wouldn’t pay for it, if you’re an economic conservative.

    Otherwise, what would an economic liberal be?

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    • Kevin:

      I think it’s an “economic liberal” who wants higher taxes and more entitlements for the poor and more social spending. and the “social liberal” (as I’ve always thought of them) as the one who wants same sex marriage and an Equal Rights Amendment and easy access to abortion and decriminalized drugs and and end to the death penalty. The sort of stuff that doesn’t involve the redistribution of wealth

      Yes, that makes some sense. But given that FB was using “fiscal conservative” narrowly to mean simply “pay for what you want” (ie don’t borrow) which as he indicates could encompass both small govt c’s and big govt l’s as long as they “pay for what they want”, under your understanding that would leave the description “socially liberal and fiscally conservative” only partially descriptive, indicating nothing at all about the vast majority of political disagreement, ie what government should be spending money on doing. So I took FB’s “socially liberal” to be indicative of liberal political priorities more generally. Which, I think, is a pretty reasonable assumption since we have a totally separate description of people who tend to be “socially liberal” in the sense you are suggesting while at the same time tend to object to liberal spending/economic priorities, that label being “libertarian”.

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  8. @ScottC: ” that label being “libertarian”

    Though I would assume in many cases the libertarian would just want the state out of things like marriage, where as a social liberal would want state sanctification of SSM and specific laws protecting abortion and heavy regulations on businesses (that may make them more expensive to run, but don’t involve direct confiscation of wealth to redistribute). Thus, a social liberal might support a powerful FDA and EPA and OSHA, whereas a libertarian would not.

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    • KW:

      Though I would assume in many cases the libertarian would just want the state out of things like marriage

      As a matter of pure ideology, perhaps, but as matter of practical policy preference, libertarians were very much behind the legal recognition of SSM.

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      • Mark:

        Krauthammer sees in the Iran deal exactly what I mentioned yesterday.

        http://www.nationalreview.com/article/421289/iran-nuclear-deal-obama-risky

        Who would have imagined we would be giving up the conventional-arms and ballistic-missile embargoes on Iran? In nuclear negotiations? When asked at his Wednesday news conference why there is nothing in the deal about the four American hostages being held by Iran, President Obama explained that this is a separate issue, not part of nuclear talks. Are conventional weapons not a separate issue? After all, conventional, by definition, means non-nuclear. Why are we giving up the embargoes?

        And then there is this:

        Because Iran, joined by Russia — our “reset” partner — sprung the demand at the last minute, calculating that Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry were so desperate for a deal that they would cave. They did.

        If this is correct, that this was a last minute demand by Iran, then Obama’s failure to return with his own last minute demand for the release of the hostages is even more condemnable.

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        • I am open to Kraut’s view. I have been speculating in an attempt to find facts, that is, to understand how the negotiations proceeded.

          I am still of the opinion that putting more on the table burdens any negotiating process. If we allowed the Iranians to do that as Kraut says, it does not change my view of the process. It does, however, color my view of our own side of the negotiation unfavorably.

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  9. Or, typically, a person who is a social liberal but an economic conservative supports pretty much a complete liberal/progressive agenda in general, but doesn’t want us to increase taxes. I would assume they mostly want to pay for whatever additional costs it takes to run the government by slashing the defense budget. 😉

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    • Given that I work for DoD Kevin, perhaps you should reconsider your generalizations. Sadly, you appear to have no idea as to what a fiscal conservative is (not economic conservative, whatever the hell that means). Simply put, if you want it, pay for it. In the case of government, income means taxes.

      BB

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      • “Given that I work for DoD Kevin, perhaps you should reconsider your generalizations.”

        Me? Generalize? Perish the thought.

        Well, you know what happens when you assume.

        I define an “economic conservative” as someone who doesn’t want taxes raised. At least, not upon themselves or their livelihood. 😉

        I would argue that in practice most fiscal conservatives don’t want it, and don’t want t pay for it. 🙂

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        • KW:

          I would argue that in practice most fiscal conservatives don’t want it, and don’t want t pay for it.

          Agreed. Narrowly defining a “fiscal conservative” simply as someone who doesn’t like borrowing but is indifferent to how much government spends strikes me as missing at least half of what fiscal conservatism is all about.

          From wikipedia: “Fiscal conservatives advocate the avoidance of deficit spending, the reduction of overall government spending and national debt, and ensuring balanced budgets.”

          From yourdictionary: “One who favors a balanced budget, prefering spending cuts or tax increases to borrowing, and wants to decrease government size, and promote a free market.

          Outside of FB’s comments, I think you would be hard pressed to find a discussion of fiscal conservatism that revolves solely around how government spending gets paid for and not around the size/amount of government spending itself.

          Liked by 1 person

  10. Mark, is there evidence that you accept that has, up to this point, convinced you that Obama is a good negotiator.

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    • George, I have no knowledge of BHO as a negotiator, and no reason to think he is a good one on the international stage. My guess is he is not anywhere near a top level skilled international negotiator like:

      Kennan Nitze Warnke Kissinger Powell Schulz Holbrooke Chris Hill

      These guys were all able to overcome the American trait of impatience in negotiation. Early in the Cold War the Russians learned we could we waited out. Kennan and Nitze overcame their natural impatience to deal from a long term stance in Cold War negotiations. The others I named who followed all had learned this lesson.

      I was dubious about Kerry’s skills, especially his patience, and indeed, since Holbrooke died and Chris Hill left State, I don’t know that we have had a professional negotiator of high esteem at the table.

      Here is the thing about professional diplomatic negotiation: one has to adopt the view that “no” is always an appropriate answer, and be willing to walk away, while also being willing to reopen negotiations over a very long time frame. Whomever thinks stuff must be done in a hurry cannot negotiate worth a damn with an adversary who thinks it has time on its side.

      I think this deal is so much better than I feared it would be because I had low expectations for Kerry. Kraut’s column, which I read last night, left me thinking that Kerry was finally too impatient to put the four hostages on the table when Russia said it was going to blow up the conventional arms deal, anyway.

      My guess: Russia says at the last minute, they are going to trade conventional arms to Iran, regardless, so west might as well put that on the table. We know we have no way to stop that, but still want a nuke deal. Then we lose the moment to put the four hostages on the table at the same time, because we could have said “we will stay at the table if you do that only if Iran releases the four hostages” – only Kerry could not say “no” and walk away, that close to the end game, and therefore could not negotiate.

      Just a guess.

      Presidents have little to do with the nuts and bolts of these things.

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      • Mark:

        Presidents have little to do with the nuts and bolts of these things.

        I’m not at all sure why we should downplay Obama’s role. If Kerry couldn’t say no and walk away, it was only because Obama couldn’t. besides, any president who proclaims at the beginning of his term that “I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director,” deserves all the blame he gets for whatever happens under his administration.

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    • Gore v. Bush: rerun.

      Gore v. Christie or Huckabee: return of William Howard Taft.

      Gore and Tipper: open marriage for seniors.

      He probably could win, anyway.

      Thanks, George.

      Like

  11. Uh oh.

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/07/19/1403571/-Not-Knowing-Who-Your-Friends-Are

    To quote John Gabriel (Exjohn on Twitter): My favorite part of the Obama years is all the racial healing.

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  12. NoVa dream scenarios. Clinton loses to a clown, who immediately fills a vacant supreme court seat with a clone of Thomas.

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  13. Lord, I’d love a court full of Thomases. One of those areas where liberals on Plum Line and the like who consider me a “moderate” or “one of the good ones” (I let these comments go without remark, but how similar such remarks are to white crackers talking about “good insert-your-epithet-for-African-Americans-here” is not lost on me) suddenly realize I’m actually a Nazi and Hate America because Thomas is (ironically) the “laziest” jurist on the court, incapable of independent thought, and thinks we should bring back slavery. And not simply the most constructionist and originalist jurist we’ve had on the court in my lifetime.

    I’m thinking we may well get a Clinton presidency. Probably a single term. But it will be a very, very interesting 4 years.

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  14. Thanks for the edits, Kevin. I’ll look at the HTML for future posts. Expect to see a bit more of me in the future.

    Information about the finances of candidates is widely available. I called out Rubio and O’Malley for committing two of the worst sins as well as their rationalizations. Rubio cashed out his retirement fund, because he can’t manage his household finances. O’Malley has a high household income, but no savings and has the gall to campaign on it. He thinks he can earn his way out if it. I know from experience that if one in a couple goes down, you can be screwed. As an example, friends of ours bought a new house. Then the wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. (Treatment was successful) The O’Malleys couldn’t handle such an event.

    It is ironic to me that bias was claimed even though I called out one candidate from each party. The information is available in disclosures. The Obamas had large student debts, until Obama struck it rich with a book deal. The Clintons had negative net worth in 2001 due to massive legal bills. bushes came from money.

    I stand by my view. I don’t have many so called red lines, but making the worst financial decisions and then blowing them off disqualifies a candidate.

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    • FB:

      Information about the finances of candidates is widely available.

      Any idea where can I find out about Obama’s retirement savings practices before he made his book deal?

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      • For O’Malley I think think this is more disqualifying than his personal finances.

        There is just no end to climate change alarmism.

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  15. @ScottC: “For O’Malley I think think this is more disqualifying than his personal finances.”

    Oh, Climate Change! Is there anything that you can’t do?

    Like

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