Thursday, October 24, 2013

Good Debt, Bad Debt

A writer in a liberal discussion group (they call themselves “progressives” now) wrote of “two kinds of debt,” one of which is “…going into the hole while building a military you don't need, fighting stupid wars, pouring Treasury money into bonuses for the bankers who already pocketed billions while gambling away your inheritance, etc.”

The other type is “…borrowing in order to put people to work building high-speed transcontinental rail, providing the whole country with broadband access, building a green energy network, setting up a true national health system, and similar things that will result in improving people's lives and healing the planet.”

Note that the first is “going into the hole” while the second is “borrowing.”

He then goes on to say that, “Conservatives always favor the former kind of debt, and progressives, the latter kind,” and that conservatives use the former kind to prevent progressives from creating the latter kind.

He cannot, of course, name one progressive politician who has proposed any one of the things he claims progressives favor, because no one has proposed actually doing any of those things. Some high speed rail was included in the laughably named “stimulus bill” of 2009, but not enough to complete any one intercity project, and certainly there was no pretense of even beginning a transcontinental one.

On the other hand, the Democratic Congress of 2007-2011 not only continued military spending unabated, it funded increased spending for the “surge” in Iraq and it passed TARP to bail out the banks. I can’t support the claim of Treasury money going into the bonuses for bankers, because Congress did specify that TARP money could not be used for that purpose.

I also cannot support the writer’s rather odd claim that conservatives use the bad kind of debt to prevent progressives from creating the good kind of debt, whatever that means. They don’t have to do that because in all the years I have been following politics I have never seen a politician suggest doing any one of the things he suggests that good debt would do.

You don’t have to stop someone from doing what they aren’t trying to do.


  1. bruce9:06 AM

    Both are borrowing and both are going into the hole. It just depends on what you think your RIO is and if it's worth it,. And it's also boogieman politics.

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