Thanksgiving Budget Retorts

Weekly WastebasketThanksgiving Budget RetortsHow to survive a fact-free Thanksgiving and still be grateful for friends and family.

Every year, we gather in our homes around the table and give thanks with family and friends, eating, laughing, watching football, and then someone ruins everything by spouting some crazy nonsense they saw on social media. It’s an American tradition. Why should this year be any different?

We’re here to help. And while we can’t offer you a Thanksgiving Miracle, here are some zingers you can whip out if you have to restore some sanity to your dinner table:

Crazy Cousin: The trade war is smart because the tariffs are making the Chinese pay their fair share now.
You: Um, yeah. The tariffs are a tax paid by Americans on products from China. The Chinese government isn’t mailing us a check. Tariffs cost us about $29 billion more in 2019 than last year plus another $28 billion the government has promised farmers harmed by the trade war. And the trade deficit increased $24.8 billion from this time last year to reach $481.3 billion.

Annoying Neighbor: Big government is destroying the American farmer with all its regulations.
You: You do realize big government spends $8 billion a year so farmers can have “insurance” guaranteeing they make up to 85 percent of their expected revenue? And we cover much of that remaining 15 percent through “shallow loss” programs and “emergency” subsidies? Not to mention the fact most farm activities are exempt from the Clean Water Act and other regulations.

Raging Uncle: We must build a wall along the southern border, no matter how much it costs.
You: Actually, there are already 654 miles of fences or walls along the 696 land miles of the southern border. The Rio Grande River forms 1,254 miles of the border, where no physical barrier can be built that will disrupt the flow. Any effort to build more fences or walls will not just cost huge amounts of money, it will require the US government to condemn private property (which is a forced sale) and trap US territory on the Mexico side.

The know-it-all college freshman: Corn ethanol is a clean, cheap, homegrown fuel. If we really want to save the planet we should use more of it.
You: Corn ethanol and other biofuels are and have been heavily subsidized by taxpayers like you and me since the ‘70s – to the tune of billions of dollars and have been found to have no less environmental impact than traditional fossil fuels. On top of that, corn ethanol production is linked to increased food prices, boat and motorcycle engine damage, rising costs at the pump and more.

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Batty Aunt: Oil and gas companies can’t drill for oil because the government won’t let them, that’s why gas is so expensive.
You: Oh, Auntie. The Bureau of Land Management holds lease sales all the time on thousands of acres of federal land and no one even bids on them. And even when a company does buy the lease, they pay $2 per acre. State and private landowners charge companies more than the federal government.

Grumpy Grandpa: All this nonsense about climate change. It doesn’t affect me.
You: Sir, you’re paying for it every day. Wildfires, catastrophic floods, hurricanes, and droughts are more destructive because of climate change. Presidential disaster declarations have tripled since the 1960s. Congress appropriated $120 billion in 2017 to respond to natural disasters. And the federal share of disaster costs has grown from less than 30 percent after Hurricane Hugo in 1989 to 80 percent after Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

Nutty Nephew: We need to spend more on national defense. Obama gutted the military.
You: Dude, what are you smoking? Defense spending just keeps going up and up. Congress just proposed spending $738 billion in fiscal year 2020 and $740 billion in fiscal year 2021, which is – adjusted for inflation – more than defense spending during the Vietnam and Korean Wars.

Big biz brother: The 2017 tax law was the reform we needed.
You: What reform? Instead of cleaning up the code and getting rid of scores of tax expenditures to drive down rates, we got a deficit-financed tax cut that’s going add trillions of dollars to the debt. The cuts on the individual side of the ledger all expire in a few years. The permanent ones for companies have led to stock buybacks and increased dividends which have goosed the stock market but are not sustainable and don’t represent increased economic activity.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Any resemblance to actual persons you know – living or dead – is purely intentional.

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