Category Archives: Visual media

Fixing “Warren Buffett Fixes Congress! Part 2”

The other day I added a post that had errors in it—Part 2 of  “Warren Buffett Fixes Congress!”. Part of the problem is that I was using an unposted draft written in response to an earlier “Buffett” email, and the data was old. But a more serious error is treating the gross national debt as just so many trillions of dollars. Today it’s maybe $16 trillion, a big scary figure, as deficit hawks and debt fanatics keep reminding us. But we can best make sense of the debt as a ratio, typically a percentage of the nation’s output, or GDP, because that tells us whether it is debt we can handle.

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Health Care Costs: Down the Up Escalator

Spencer at Angry Bear yesterday posted a couple of revealing charts of long-term health care costs. They provoked a good discussion of issues about how we represent economic data in graphic form. Adjusted for inflation? As a percentage of GDP? Per-capita? All three? (Somewhat wonkish.)

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Charting Matters: Jobs Edition

Earlier this month, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand voted “no” on the budget/debt limit deal and said:

The fact is, there is nothing in this deal that will address the significant jobs crisis we are facing…. today we could have gone further in reducing America’s debt with a sensible compromise that both cut discretionary spending and raised revenues.

This was a gutsy decision, and Gillibrand has taken a lot flak from the usual right-wing bloviators. Only 6 Democrats voted against the deal (plus Vermont’s Bernie Sanders, an Independent). The rest of the 26 “no” votes were by Republicans who wanted more budget cuts which, by any credible logic, would cause more unemployment and lost jobs. Gillibrand is right about the jobs crisis outweighing debt concerns. Jobs are the immediate problem, while debt can and should be handled long-term.

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