Saturday, December 29, 2018

Ocasio-Cortez’s Brain is Empty When It Comes to Economics, But...

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
In the clip below, Kennedy of FOX News lets it rip concerning the absurd statements of congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, especially her tweet claiming that accounting deficiencies at the Pentagon means that $21 trillion could have been made available for Medicare funding.

Her reference for the below tweet was actually an essay discussing lack of accounting transparency and not claiming there was a pile of $21 trillion sitting around at the Pentagon
The Washington Post takes it deep:
 Ocasio-Cortez claimed on Twitter that $21 trillion in “Pentagon accounting errors” could have paid for 66 percent of the Medicare-for-all proposal. Her tweet references an article in the Nation, a left-leaning magazine. The specific line about the missing $21 trillion comes from research by Mark Skidmore, an economics professor at Michigan State University.

Skidmore has been tracking opaque federal budget moves for years. He tallied $21 trillion in unsupported accounting adjustments at the Pentagon from 1998 to 2015. The department’s comptroller says these are budgetary moves that “lack supporting documentation ... or are not tied to specific accounting transactions.”

In 2001, for example, then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld testified to Congress that “we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions.” For 2015, the Pentagon reported $6.5 trillion in “unsupported journal voucher adjustments.”

Skidmore contends that the Pentagon has competent personnel and is no more complex than a large multinational corporation, which makes the trillion-dollar accounting gaps all the more puzzling.

“The ongoing and repeated nature of the unsupported journal voucher adjustments coupled with the seemingly enormous size of the adjustments warrants the attention of both citizens and elected officials,” Skidmore wrote in a 2017 paper, adding later, “It should be feasible to track revenues flowing in and expenditures flowing out, and share this information in a format that can be understood by literate people.”

Regardless, in the situation Skidmore is describing, the $21 trillion is not one big pot of dormant money collecting dust somewhere. It’s the sum of all transactions — both inflows and outflows — for which the Defense Department did not have adequate documentation. “The same dollar could be accounted for many times,” as Philip Klein wrote in the Washington Examiner...

[I]n her tweet, [she] clearly implied that the $21 trillion could have been used to pay for 66 percent of the $32 trillion in estimated Medicare-for-All costs...
It’s also worth pointing out that Skidmore’s total covers 17 years (1998 to 2015), whereas the Urban Institute’s $32 trillion estimate for Sanders’s Medicare plan covers 10 years. So the two numbers are not apples-to-apples to begin with.

After this fact check was published, Pentagon spokesman Christopher Sherwood said “DoD hasn’t received $21 trillion in (nominal) appropriated funding across the entirety of American history.”...
Let’s put $21 trillion in context. The entire national debt is $21.8 trillion. According to the Congressional Budget Office, total defense spending from 1998 to 2015 was nearly $9 trillion. The CBO estimates $7 trillion in defense spending from 2019 to 2028.

In other words, completely defunding the military for the next decade would yield only one-fifth of $32 trillion. That’s a much better way of illustrating the cost of Medicare-for-All.

But remember this, very much like Trump supporters, outrageous, contrary to reality, statements do not scare away her hardcore base. Further, although she does not appear well informed on economics, it appears she is very familiar in Leninist political strategy---which is a very major concern---since she also appears talented at executing that type of strategy.



  1. We need to put this chick in charge of as much as we can as soon as possible. Make her a general or something.

  2. Every time she says something wrong, we discuss. For her, that's called WINNING^^. She has serious game.

  3. I think it's great that Occasion-Cortex used her notoriety to bring some attention to this government accounting issue. If it hadn't been for her tweet, it's doubtful that the WP would have put a hack on the story to rebut.

    Very few Americans appreciate the significance what's been going on in D.C. That's the real issue here.

    Skidmore audited only what financial artefacts were made available by two government departments, DoD and HUD; (he admits his analysis is based on incomplete documentation).

    As the Post article correctly notes, the $21T figure does not mean that this amount of money was misappropriated and funnelled to shadowy persons somewhere; what it represents, however, is how seriously non-compliant the departments are in respect of basic accounting standards, and how flagrantly they violate these basic standards every day.

    The only reaction to date by government to Skidmore's work is that it has imposed a new "rule" such that the information previously made public will now be redacted for reasons of state security.

    Contemptible! Where is the moral outrage?

    If the state is free to expropriate private property through taxation, free to steal even more wealth from citizens through monetary inflation, free to enslave future generations of taxpayers to the fetters of astronomic indebtedness, and, for all this, apparently untroubled from having to account to anyone outside of government for how the plunder is spent, how can anyone be justified in calling this system a constitutional republic? What a preposterous situation.

    Republic --> Principate --> Dominate