I’m sure you’ve all heard Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill practicing her budget hawkery; like many politicians, she’s fond of comparing the federal government’s budgetary practices to that of the Smiths down the street. A favorite McCaskill line: “Missouri families make tough budget choices every day and the federal government should do the same.” we shouldn’t just pick on McCaskill, though, since the family budget gambit is the tried and true fall-back of every aw-shucks politician in America who wants to score some easy points misrepresenting a complex issue.
Brad Plummer of the Washington Post’s Wonkblog, however, is here to point out the real nature of the resemblance :
Anyway, it’s a good analogy. The U.S. federal government really does resemble your typical money-printing family that owns lots of tanks, operates a giant insurance conglomerate, can borrow money at extremely low rates, and is assumed to be immortal.
See, Claire was right all along and Plummer article is worth reading since it clarifies the points of similarity between the federal government and everyday regular families. One aspect of the hypothetical federal family that struck me as particulary significant is that that they have special ways of raising cash:
The parents could also tap into the kids’ lucrative lemonade-stand income if they wanted to whittle down the debt, although this would come up for a family vote and the kids aren’t keen on this.
In other words, brothers Romney, Trump and Icahn want to keep all their profits as pocket money to spend on themselves – no matter how much help they got from mom and pop and their other brothers and sisters when they were building their lemonade stands. They’re entitled to that help, don’t you know – they’re family after all.
ADDENDUM: And those lemonade stands? They’re thriving:
The top ten percent of earners in the United States took home more than 50 percent of all income in 2012, the highest amount ever recorded since data was first collected in 1917, according to an updated report from economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty.