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Colin Powell's Algebra Lesson (On the Tea Party, he doesn't know what he's talking about)
American Thinker ^ | 11/19/2010 | Randall Hoven

Posted on 11/19/2010 7:26:24 AM PST by SeekAndFind

Colin Powell said this to Larry King.

[S]ome of the things that the Tea Party movement is asking for are not achievable. And I'm not sure it's right. It's not doable to say we want to cut spending, we want to reduce the deficit, but we don't want to increase revenue.  This algebraic equation will not work.

With all due respect to the general, that algebraic equation will work. The political equation probably won't work, but the algebraic one is completely doable. The algebra is pretty simple.

Deficit = Spending - Revenue

As you can see, if we reduce spending without touching revenue, we reduce the deficit. In fact, if you trust my algebra, we could make the deficit zero by the following formula.

Spending = Revenue

The algebra says that not only is there a solution to this equation, but that there is an infinite number of solutions. There is only one equation, but two unknowns: spending and revenue. It's something taught in algebra class. Both spending and revenue could be a dollar. Both a trillion dollars. Or both a quadrillion dollars.

Here is one possible solution to that equation: set both spending and revenue to somewhere near the average amount of revenue that the federal government collected for the last fifty years. That would be about 18% of GDP. To put it in the general's terms, the algebraic equation is as follows.

18% of GDP - 18% of GDP = 0

For revenue, that should be "doable," to use the general's term, since that is what we did for the fifty years before President Obama was inaugurated. And Obama's own Office of Management and Budget agrees with me. In fact, it expects revenues to go back above that historical level by 2012, where they were in 2006 and 2007 when Republicans wrote budgets. By 2015, OMB expects revenues to be 18.9% of GDP.

Now for the bad news: spending. This year, federal spending is about 25.4% of GDP. OMB expects it to come down a little, but only to 22.9% of GDP by 2015. In the general's terms, the algebra for 2015 works out as follows.

22.9% - 18.9% = 4.0%

Four percent is a little high -- about $750B in 2015, as a matter of fact. Four percent of GDP is higher than any of President Bush's deficits -- 2001 through 2008, for example. In fact, in no fiscal year from 1996 through 2007, when a Republican-controlled House of Representatives wrote budgets, did the deficit exceed 3.5% of GDP. During four of those years, there was a surplus. OMB predicts a 4% deficit in 2015, six years after the Great Recession was declared over and after six years of an assumed healthy economy.

But once again, by the magic of algebra, one solution for getting the 2015 deficit to zero is to cut spending to 18.9% of GDP.

To examine that, we need to go beyond algebra and into arithmetic. Here is how it breaks down without cutting spending, per the OMB, in 2015.

"Mandatory" programs, including net interest 16.0%
National defense
 All other discretionary spending
 Total 22.9%

We could eliminate national defense spending entirely, but we'd still have a deficit. Or we could eliminate all non-defense discretionary spending, but we'd still have a deficit. By the way, that non-defense discretionary spending includes

If we cut all discretionary spending, including defense, by 10% across the board, we would have a 2015 deficit of 3.3% of GDP ($620B) instead of 4% of GDP.

Here is what it would take to eliminate the deficit in 2015 without raising revenues and without touching mandatory spending:  a 60% across-the-board cut in all discretionary spending (the above list, plus national defense). As an insanity check, even the Communist Party is calling for only 50% cuts in defense spending.

I think what the general meant to say was that the algebraic equation will not work if we don't touch mandatory spending and also don't cut discretionary spending by at least 60%.

But if mandatory spending is not out of bounds, and the president's own Deficit Commission says it is not, then we need to cut all spending by about 20% to eliminate the deficit without raising revenue. Painful to some? Yes. Algebraically impossible? No.

But cuts do not have to come via meat-axe, the way ObamaCare did with Medicare cuts. We could, for example, reform Medicare. Republicans not only suggested that, but they passed it in 1995. President Clinton vetoed it. (Why, when they had the same chance with a Republican president, they created Medicare Part D instead of simply resubmitting real reform is a question for the ages.)

Also, there is nothing magic about 2015. What matters is the long-term solvency outlook. The deficit doesn't have to be zero in 2015. It could be, say, 2% of GDP if that is on a path to solvency.

Is there such a path to solvency that does not require more revenue? Yes. Not just a path, but a road map: Paul Ryan's Roadmap.

Here is what you Republicans need to do. Click here and get a copy of the Roadmap. Print it out and at least scan it if you don't read it. There's no algebra in it, but there are some graphs. Then, the next time you go on a talk show and the unbiased and fair moderator inquires, "If you won't raise taxes, then what are you going to cut, huh? What? What? What?"

You can show the moderator the Roadmap and say, "It's all right here. No net tax increase. Social Security reform and Medicare reform without changing anything for anyone already 55. And near-universal health coverage. All sustainable and solvent. By the way, no cuts -- just reductions in increases."

The polite moderator might then explain, "But that's just Republican propaganda, anybody can use a computer to produce a glossy report! It's all lies!"

Then you can show him your second piece of evidence. Click here for that. Calmly explain to your moderator, "I'm glad you asked. As a matter of fact, the CBO has analyzed the Roadmap. The CBO finds not only that is the Roadmap sustainable, but that economic growth would be 75% greater with it than under the status quo alternative."

I'd like to offer more advice on what to say, but better than my words would be those that Paul Ryan has already used. Listen to him. Listen to him on YouTube. Read his Roadmap.

Is the Roadmap Nirvana? No. But it solves the budget problem while also providing near-universal health insurance, all without raising net taxes or having the U.S. become France. It is comprehensive, and it has been scored by the CBO. Improve on it if you like, but not by throwing mud balls.

Earmark reform is fine, but it is a mite on a flea on the tail of the elephant. Ten-percent across-the-board haircuts won't do it, either. Neither will defense cuts. Sitting down "at the table" and making lovey-dovey sounds won't do it, either.

You have to tackle entitlements. Real reform. Structural reform. Not just an age-of-eligibility increase here and there. And you can do it without raising taxes. Believe me, both Paul Ryan and the CBO can do algebra and arithmetic.

If you are afraid to speak of such things, whether you are a RINO or Tea Partier, then you deserve the scorn you get from guys who can't even get their algebra straight.

Randall Hoven can be contacted at or via his website,

(Data source: OMB historical tables. See especially tables 1.1, 1.2, 8.1, 8.3 and 8.7.)

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: colinpowell; teaparty

1 posted on 11/19/2010 7:26:31 AM PST by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind
Colin Bowel is an Affirmative Action General..
What would HE know?.. his career is summed up to being Half-White.. Like Barry Half-White..
2 posted on 11/19/2010 7:32:48 AM PST by hosepipe (This propaganda has been edited to include some fully orbed hyperbole....)
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To: SeekAndFind


3 posted on 11/19/2010 7:33:25 AM PST by SunTzuWu
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To: hosepipe

I thought it is Colon Bowel.

4 posted on 11/19/2010 7:34:48 AM PST by jospehm20
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To: SeekAndFind

I’ve never heard a dunce more cocksure of himself than Colin Powell.

5 posted on 11/19/2010 7:36:04 AM PST by skeeter
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To: jospehm20
[ I thought it is Colon Bowel. ]

Sorry I had diarrhea of the keyboard..

6 posted on 11/19/2010 7:37:16 AM PST by hosepipe (This propaganda has been edited to include some fully orbed hyperbole....)
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To: SeekAndFind

Powell needs to go out and buy a copy of Algebra for Dummies.

7 posted on 11/19/2010 7:37:57 AM PST by ully2 (ully)
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To: hosepipe
[ I thought it is Colon Bowel. ]

8 posted on 11/19/2010 7:38:12 AM PST by dfwgator (Texas Rangers -Thanks for a great season.)
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To: SeekAndFind

So “revenue” comes from people collecting indefinite government it.

9 posted on 11/19/2010 7:38:22 AM PST by Soothesayer (“None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license...")
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To: SeekAndFind

I’ve been hearing the “we can’t cut the budget” nonsense for almost fifty years. The fact it, they, the politicians, don’t want to cut the budget. Too much pork to take home to the constituency. If many many pols don’t show results, i.e. money stolen from the electorate, to shower on their homies, they get voted out. No pol wants to tell his constits “we cut the budget, and you’re not getting any pork.”

10 posted on 11/19/2010 7:46:46 AM PST by driftless2 (For long-term happiness, learn how to play the accordion.)
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To: hosepipe

This subject does that to me also.

11 posted on 11/19/2010 7:50:09 AM PST by jospehm20
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To: SeekAndFind

Do the math ...

Al Gore could become world’s first carbon billionaire

Last year Mr Gore’s venture capital firm loaned a small California firm $75m to develop energy-saving technology.

The company, Silver Spring Networks, produces hardware and software to make the electricity grid more efficient.

The deal appeared to pay off in a big way last week, when the Energy Department announced $3.4 billion in smart grid grants, the New York Times reports. Of the total, more than $560 million went to utilities with which Silver Spring has contracts.

The move means that venture capital company Kleiner Perkins and its partners, including Mr Gore, could recoup their investment many times over in coming years.


Former Secretary Colin Powell Named Strategic Limited Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

MENLO PARK, Calif. — Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers KPCB — an innovator in providing venture and relationship capitalSM services to entrepreneurs — announced former Secretary of State Colin Powell has become a KPCB strategic limited partner.

12 posted on 11/19/2010 7:54:22 AM PST by maggief
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To: SeekAndFind

Humankind cannot gain anything without first giving something in return. To obtain, something of equal value must be lost. That is the Law of Equivalent Exchange.

Liberals and RINOS fail this lesson.

13 posted on 11/19/2010 7:59:37 AM PST by GraceG
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To: SeekAndFind

No matter what he says he is NOT a republican

If ever there was an example of RINO this is it

14 posted on 11/19/2010 8:03:07 AM PST by Mr. K (TSA Sexual Assaulters: "You dont get on until we get off")
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To: SeekAndFind
It's not algebra, it's arithmetic and logic.

Spend less.

This solution requires the political will of a

15 posted on 11/19/2010 8:19:35 AM PST by USS Alaska
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To: hosepipe
Powell is a Quisling Republican who actively seeks opportunities to betray his own country and support the enemy. This became obvious to George Bush and explains why he was replaced.

Juan McCain, on the other hand, is merely a Vichy Republican. He doesn't actively seek opportunities to support the enemy, but merely does tasks which they assign in hopes he will be more popular. Karl Rove, as of late, has shown himself to be a Vichy Republican as well.

Then we have the garden variety RINO's, based in America East of the Hudson River (Bush family, Romney family, Rudi, etc.), but with tentacles reaching into every state including those as far away as Alaska (Murkowski) and Arkansas (Huckabee). Many of them are genuinely nice people. Some may even hold conservative views on some issues ). But they are all more comfortable with the Inside the Beltway ruling class than they are with rank and file Americans in flyover country, notwithstanding the fact that they can sometimes give good speeches, tell good jokes and do a generally good job of putting on a fine facade of relating to the rest of us.

16 posted on 11/19/2010 8:25:18 AM PST by Vigilanteman (Obama: Fake black man. Fake Messiah. Fake American. How many fakes can you fit in one Zer0?)
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To: driftless2
All of the $2.4 trillion we collect in tax revenue from all sources is consumed by the entitlement programs and debt servicing costs. Everything else the government does, including defense, is funded by borrowed money. 43 cents of every federal dollar spent is borrowed. We can't cut spending unless we go after the entitlement programs, which are unsustainable as currently structured.

By 2030, one in five residents of this country will be 65 or older--twice what it is now. 10,000 people a day are retiring and will continue to do so for the next 20 years. By 2030 there will be 2 workers for every retiree. Cutting spending will become more difficult as the baby boom cohort retires.

17 posted on 11/19/2010 8:26:45 AM PST by kabar
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To: SeekAndFind

Keep in mind that this Republican (in name only) voted for Obuma. Using him as an expert on the Tea Party and on fiscal matters would be idiotic. Well, I guess since Larry King did it then it was done by an idiot.

18 posted on 11/19/2010 9:04:13 AM PST by dirtymac
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To: Vigilanteman
I agree.. would be worthy of expanding that concept..
The word RINO... is the tip of an iceberg...
19 posted on 11/19/2010 9:24:59 AM PST by hosepipe (This propaganda has been edited to include some fully orbed hyperbole....)
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To: driftless2
"I've been hearing the "we can't cut the budget" nonsense for almost fifty years"

Of course you can always do some cutting but the reality is that you can only grow your way out of it.

Growing your way out of is not very likely at this time because right now the best political campaign strategy for the GOP is to talk, talk, talk the economy down, down down.

20 posted on 11/19/2010 9:46:44 AM PST by Ben Ficklin
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To: SeekAndFind

General Powell, like Pres. Obama, is considered highly intelligent. General Powell obviously doesn’t understand eve the most basic principles of mathematics, yet feels the need to comment on it as a public figure. Worst of all, people will listen to him, and take his words at face value.

The sooner We The People take our government back from these politically savvy fools, the sooner The United States of America will regain our strength of character, freedom and integrity.

21 posted on 11/19/2010 9:59:05 AM PST by FourPeas (Pester not the geek, for the electrons are his friends.)
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To: SeekAndFind

While I agree that Powell is incorrect. I disagree with one item here. We should not be talking ‘cutting’. This makes people defensive and generates unnnecessary acrimony.

We should instead be discussing what we should ‘fund’. Start from zero and fund what we must first, what we want 2nd just like a business or home budget. Start with nothing and build - fight on the unnecessary up to the limit first. Debt paydown must be considered as a requirement.

My personal take fund the following: 1) Defense, 2) Debt paydown, 3) Embassies, 4) Social Security/Medicare from age 70 and those already in (given current life expectancies of mid-late 70s), 5) feel free to add yours here until you get to 3% below forecasted revenues.

We must stop discussing cuts and start discussing building the future.

22 posted on 11/19/2010 12:20:07 PM PST by reed13
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To: reed13
The mission statement - the bumper sticker description of the mission - of the federal government is to
secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity
It is a disgrace to snakes, what many voters will allow and enable politicians to do to the prospects of their own grandchildren.

23 posted on 11/19/2010 6:10:36 PM PST by conservatism_IS_compassion (DRAFT PALIN)
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To: SeekAndFind

That scumbag Powell endorsed Ubanga and is totally irrelevant.

24 posted on 11/19/2010 6:15:25 PM PST by Lancey Howard
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