Coffman for Balanced Budget Amendment but supports deficit spending to stimulate the economy?

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Rep. Mike Coffman is in The Denver Post today telling us again that he led the charge for the Balanced Budget Amendment, which would have, in Coffman’s words, held “Congress’ feet to the fire with a Constitutional amendment requiring that they, like every family and nearly every state in the country, balance their budget.”

Coffman’s proposal specifies an exception. Deficits would be allowed during war or serious military conflict. (Families don’t get such an exception, in case you’re wondering whether your warring family can spend willy nilly.)

But Coffman himself has advocated for another crisis situation during which, he’s said, deficit spending by the feds should be allowed.

On KHOW radio, back in April, 2009, Coffman said he “would certainly support deficit spending,” if it were “truly stimulative” during the dark years of the great recession, 2009 and 2010.

In February, 2009, Coffman was equally clear on KHOW radio that the recession, which was slamming the country, was “so severe” that Coffman supported more deficit spending to stimulate the economy:

Silverman: So what are you suggesting? That we not do it? That we not have the stimulus package? Because Barack Obama said last night, hey, I didn’t come up with this $800 billion figure on my own. This is what the Republicans and the Democrats are talking about. The size of the stimulus package that is necessary given the dire condition that we are in. I like to live within my means. I am not big on borrowing for anything other than to buy a house. Are you saying we shouldn’t borrow money? I am not big on borrowing for anything other than to buy a house. Are you saying we shouldn’t borrow money?

Coffman: I do think that the situation is so severe that it warrants it. And obviously, from my point of view, that the greatest stimulus to the economy is by allowing individuals, small businesses owners, and corporations to keep their money in their pockets. And let the individual spend it versus the government spend it. So they can spend it their way. [BigMedia emphasis]

Here’s what Coffman told Caplis and Silverman April 15, 2009:

Coffman: I think it’s all about today politically and not about tomorrow. And so it’s kind of whatever happens tomorrow happens tomorrow. Let’s see how much influence we can buy or how much political support we can buy today. It’s a sad process. And I certainly support deficit spending, if it’s wise, if it’s truly simulative in this year and next year. I think the problem is that there is no effort in the budget plan that I see to close the deficit. We are going to be running trillion dollar deficits, you know, in the next ten years.

Later, as Coffman amped up his campaign for the Balanced Budget Amendment, KHOW’s Caplis and Silverman should have had Coffman back on their show to find out why an exception for deficit spending, to stimulate the economy during bleak economic downturns, was not included in the Balanced Budget Amendment that Coffman helped craft. (It died in the House in November.)

Reporters are all about consistency, and so they should ask Coffman, who helped form the 70-member House Balanced Budget Amendment Caucus and then chaired it, to explain his view in favor deficit spending “if it’s truly stimulative.”

And while they’re questioning Coffman about fiscal matters, reporters might ask to hear more about his unusual proposal, which he made on KHOW in 2009, to put Marines on U.S. merchant ships that might be threatened by pirates. Coffman claims this will save money, but further questioning about the risks of such a military presence are warranted.

Coffman: We don’t have the naval resources to patrol this area, which is a little over a million square miles. And so we need a fly swatter instead of a sledgehammer. And it would be much more cost effective to put small military detachments on the US-flagged merchant ships in order to deal with the pirates. And it wouldn’t take very many. We did this during World War II. And we can do it now. So we just deal with the problem and we write rules of engagement to where any of these pirate crafts approaching US merchant vessel that demonstrate hostile intent would be taken out.

Coffman could be right about the cost savings from the deployment of Marines, as he’s a budget maven when it comes to military spending, having advocated sensible cuts in the past.

Equally bold, from a political and fiscal perspective, are Coffman’s positions, aired on talk radio, against the Bush prescription drug plan and against using federal money to construct new DPS schools, because the DPS doesn’t “need to build more schools” due to enrollment declines.

There’s clearly public-interest value in airing out views of Congresspeople representing safe seats. But the time and space for political reporting, from serious journalists, is at a premium these days. So the media spotlight naturally should shine most brightly on politicians in competitive districts, especially guys like Coffman, and his likely opponent Joe Miklosi, whose words mean more because more voters with different opinions are listening to them now as they decide who to vote for in November.

28 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. ProgressiveCowgirlProgressiveCowgirl says:

    Please, “Escort Servicing Corporate Persons” is the preferred nomenclature, after Citizens United…  

  2. ricardohillel says:

    Sounds like he is going to pander to everyone now that his seat isn’t so safe. Shine a spotlight on Coffman and he’ll melt.

  3. BlueCat says:

    Just listen to yourselves

    …whose words mean more because more voters with different opinions are listening to them now as they decide who to vote for in November.

    almost 11 whole months away.  To most voters that’s way, way, way, way down the line for anything but the biggie, the presidential. You really think voters in general are paying attention to the 2012 congressional election candidates? Seriously? You haven’t canvassed in the summer before an election much, have you?

    You really are bound and determined to see this as a tough election for Coffman, aren’t you?

    • bullshit!bullshit! says:

      But you’re probably right. I see where he’s going, but all of this will need to be brought out again when voters are paying attention after Labor Day.

      Labor Day does seem like an eternity, doesn’t it? But I think this stuff will hurt Coffman.

      Personally I think Coffman is in deeper shit than most people think, I guess we’ll see.

      • BlueCat says:

        Let me rephrase that:

        Jason, Jason, just listen to yourself…etc.

        As a CD6er, both before and after the changed boundaries, I think seeing Coffman as being in anything more than pretty shallow and easily managed shit is overly optimistic. Without the most major targeting , tons of money, if you find yourself going door to door a month before the election,  you will find that, as in the case with Winter, Eng and Flerlage,  the most common response will be something along the lines of Miklosi who?  

        TV news offers almost no continuing coverage of congressional races so paid ads requiring lots of money are all important.   No matter how many coffees, yard parties,  HD meetings , etc. a candidate hits,  only the tiniest minority of voters ever attend anything like that.  You don’t get elected  in major metro ‘burbs  that way.

        Most people don’t read newspapers, in print or online.  Voters either vote their usual party choice or react at gut level to things as superficial as a name and, trust me, with low info, not very partisan voters (that would be most voters, especially in a presidential year), the advantage definitely goes to ordinary sounding “Coffman” over a name like “Miklosi”.

        I would love to be wrong about all this but I highly doubt I am. Next best chance will be starting over in 2014 if Miklosi makes it significantly closer this time and the district gets serious high power targeting as a result of demonstrating legit potential for a take over and especially if Coffman decides not to run in order to run for something else, leaving the seat open. Dems are now in a position with the new district to have a legitimate shot in the future but not as soon as 2012 unless something really major and juicy happens between now and the election to shake things up.  Nothing that Coffman has said or done so far rises to that level.

  4. MADCO says:

    After all the fire and fury about the deficit, most of the fiscal hawks will acknowledge that the time to run a deficit or to even raise tax rates* is during war time.

    Which for the USA, depending on how you want to measure, is either 10+ years or 8 1/2 years.  Either way- all we did during that time was cut taxes.  But the insanity didn’t look so …obvious since the war funding during the last president was “off the books”.

    Coffman wants to have it all ways  - appear to be smart enough to know there is a time and place to deficit spend; serious enough to acknowledge that Reagan raised taxes for the right reason “It is good for America”; and hard enough for the TeaParty.

    When is it appropriate to raise tax rates? is a question that no R who has ever dropped in to CoPols has ever answered, at least not in my time.  (Wilson, Arapagoph, Hman, gopjwarrior, dumbasafuckingpost, etc)   I’m not able to conclude whether they are ideologically blinded or intellectually dishonest.  But any “no tax increase” pledge signer has to answer the question before he can be taken seriously.

    • BlueCat says:

      permanent War on Terror.  How about the War on Drugs?  The War on Christmas? I could go on.

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      as Coffman, and every other right-thinker knows, the only thing that is stimulative to the economy are additional massive tax cuts for the wealthy.  No problem running a deficit to provide more of this desperately needed tonic . . .

      We can cut all sorts of shit to balance the budget, but if we have to run some deficits to provide much needed tax relief our campaign contributors job creators, well, fine and dandy.

      Jason thought that he had caught Coffman in some kind of logical contradiction, when, in fact, all the Congressman is doing is regurgitating the time-proven Koch Doctrine of economic prosperity.  Pay attention and learn some economics, people.

    • The realistThe realist says:

      or intellectually dishonest.”

      Ideologically blinded or intellectually dishonest . . . hmmmm, now I know what the Latin Ibid stands for.  Kinda fits . . .

      • Jason Salzman says:

        Coffman favors balanced budget and deficit spending

        How’s that?

        • jmatt12 says:

          He favors balanced budgets except when he doesn’t.  Makes such perfect sense to me….

          There is all this talk about wartime exemptions.  How about this for the balanced budget crowd (of which I am one), if Congress declares war (simple authorizations of force don’t count), Congress is allowed to sell one year war bonds which must be covered by appropriate revenue increases or spending reductions the next year.  We end up with a Congress that actually carries out its duty of declaring war and by having to pay for the war expenses within a year’s time, wars will not drag on needlessly…

          • MADCO says:

            Or is there any other situation for which a temporary imbalance is acceptable?

            Also – how would you account for present tax collections for future expenditure? (Social Security – for example)

            • jmatt12 says:

              If you extend additional exceptions, all of a sudden the exceptions swallow the rule and you end up in the same untenable situation we find ourselves in now.  People love the Keynesian principals of flushing government expenditures in bad times to boost an economy, but don’t seem so keen to follow through on the second half of the equation – namely raising taxes and cutting expenditures during good times.  If we are going to play the role of stimulating the economy, it needs to be done with funds that were saved, not with borrowed money.  While I understand that Keynes suggested borrowing, he also pictured governments quickly covering that debt, which we haven’t seen.

              Balanced budgets deal with having to borrow money to cover present year expenses.  Certainly, if we have saved money, spending that during lean years is allowable.  So while your expenditures may exceed receivables in a fiscal year, a balanced budget only requires that you not borrow in order to fund present expenditures.

              • MADCO says:

                But you are also advocating for a system where a gov’t (Congress) that wants to run a deficit has weird incentive to start the war.  Sure, it would be immoral, but we’re talking about Congress.

                • jmatt12 says:

                  Deficits must be repaid in the following year either by tax increases or spending reductions.  It doesn’t promote wars, it assures that they only fought when necessary.  No more putting a war on the credit card or conducting a war that only has a price on the small number of soldier who are called to fight it.  The balanced budget amendment I suggested spreads the pain around to all.  Maybe, just maybe, we will be more hesitant to get into a war, and more focused on getting out of them, if we actually had to pay for them as we fought them….

  5. aaronrockies says:

     Let’s vote based on policy and not talking points, like the ones in Coffman’s article. A better congress would be one with real ideas, not just focus group tested language that sounds reasonable on its surface but is just camoflage for policies that demonstrably do not work. In other words, ignore everything in this article except the title.

    Denis Breckenridge  

  6. coloradohome says:

    that pushing the far right agenda of Term Limits and cutting pensions is just talk show stuff. Term limts just give more power and influence to corporate lobbyists and takes it away from our elected representatives.

    It will not change anything until people go to Congress to serve the country, not push some radical agenda from Grover Norquist or Focus on the Family.

    It is time for Congress to be Americans first and manage the government, not tear it down. Compromise is tough, it is time to stand up and do what is right. Maybe then people will start approving of Congress

  7. ArapaGOPArapaGOP says:

    When you don’t pay any attention to what the person you’re attacking is actually saying.

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