- The Individual Mandate will be overturned
- The requirement that insurance companies take all comers will stand
- Defense drops a lot as we (hopefully) stop fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan (and Libya)
- Social Security and Healthcare increases. Frankly, I think OMB's estimate on this is optimistic - they're forced to work in a world where Obamacare's projected savings actually happen. Unfortunately, I don't have a good basis for changing it, so I'm leaving it as-is.
- Interest payments on the debt are now a noticeable item (4.4% of GDP). In fact, because of this, we now only really have 14.6% of GDP to spend on things that actually do things. This number may be optimistically small, but we'll leave it there for the moment.
- Perception is reality. As long as people expect you to succeed, you can run very high debts. The problem is, as soon as they begin to suspect that you'll fail, interest rates rise on the money you have to raise. Even if you're no longer running up new debts, the old bonds mature and have to be paid off. If you owe, say, $2.2T in debt, and have a balanced budget (are borrowing no more to keep your spending going), and your average interest rate is 3%, you're spending $66B in interest payments. However, as those bonds mature, you have to pay them off, probably to the tune of at least hundreds of billions per year. That money has to come from somewhere, so you have to "roll over" that debt. If investors become worried that you're in financial difficulty, you'll have to pay higher interest rates on the new bonds. If that goes to (say) 7%, you're now spending $154B in interest a year - and you're no longer in primary balance on your budget, and need to borrow even more to pay the interest on the new debt. Of course, that new borrowing will also be at a higher rate...
- This will be completely fine right up until the moment it isn't. This stuff doesn't slowly get worse over a decade; it's fine and no one can see a problem, and then all of the sudden (in historical terms) it's a five-alarm fire and it's all over.
- It's not that big a deal because the economy is growing; if we're borrowing about as fast as the economy grows, that's not really a practical issue.
- It's not that big a deal because the demographic time bomb that is Social Security isn't going to really explode (i.e., become insolvent) until ~2037. In the year 2000, that was nearly 40 years off - and we'd had previous deadlines we'd managed to move by tweaking things. In 1960, who could've begun to predict the economy in 2000? Clearly there's no sense worrying too much about something so far away. However, given that 2035 is when I would personally be eligible for Social Security, I did resolve not to base my retirement plans on its availability.
- The economy stopped growing. For the first time in fifty years, from 2007 - 2010, GDP growth has been essentially flat, and it's looking like 2011 isn't going to be much of an improvement. This graph is instructive.
- The slowed economy has caused a lot more people to enter forced retirement early. Additionally the payroll tax holiday of 2010 reduced how much was being paid in. That has significantly pulled in when Social Security begins to draw from the treasury instead of paying into it - from ~2037 ten years ago to...gulp...now.
- The Federal government is spending a lot more money now than they were ten years ago. In 2000, we spent $1.8T, from an economy making $10T (GDP). In 2010, we spent $3.5T from an economy making $14.7T. We went from spending 18% of our GDP to spending 24%.
As mobile phones with video recording capabilities have proliferated, we've had a lot of interactions in the past few years between citizens with video recorders, and officers who aren't happy about being recorded. These cases tend to involve officers arresting people for violating their state's "wiretapping" laws, which generally prevent recording another without his or her knowledge. Most of these laws also have explicit exclusions for recordings made in a public place; the few states that do not have tended to have public officials who believe they are entitled to crush people's First and Fourth Amendment rights simply so that no record of their official conduct in public may be made.
Back in 2007, Simon Glik was walking past Boston Common and witnessed three officers arresting a man. Fearing the arrest was unnecessarily violent, Mr. Glik began recording it on his mobile phone. After that arrest was complete and the suspect was detained, he was approached and told by an officer to stop taking pictures. He informed the officer that he was actually taking video, at which point he was asked whether his video recording included sound. When he answered in the affirmative, he was arrested, and subsequently charged with violating the state's wiretapping laws; disturbing the peace (!); and aiding in the escape of a prisoner (!!). All three charges were subsequently dropped. When Mr. Glik requested a investigation from the Suffolk County Police Department's Internal Affairs division, he was ignored, so he filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights violation case against the officers in question.
The officers, of course, claimed qualified immunity, under which an officer acting in good faith is generally immune from prosecution. The legal standard for this is that if a "reasonable" officer would have recognized that his conduct violated someone's Constitutional rights, immunity is lost and the case may proceed. The District court indeed concluded that a reasonable officer should've recognized that arresting Mr. Glik for recording them was a violation of his First Amendment rights, and that, therefor, they had no qualified immunity. The officers appealed, and, today, a three-judge panel affirmed that, yes, they should've known they were trampling Mr. Gilk's constitutional rights, and that they could consequently be sued.
This is a tremendous victory not just for our rights - we need more decisions like this to remind public officials who their real bosses are. It's also not just a victory for snark (Boston Common is "the oldest city park in the United States and the apotheosis of a public forum"). It hammers home three really important points.
1. You have a First Amendment right to record public officials in public while performing their duties.
The filming of government officials engaged in their duties in a public place, including police officers performing their responsibilities, fits comfortably within [First Amendment protections].
2. That right does not just extend to some sort of "professional" press corps - we all have it.
It is of no significance that the present case...involves a private individual, and not a reporter, gathering information about public officials. The First Amendment right to gather news is, as the Court has often noted, not one that inures solely to the benefit of the news media; rather, the public's right of access to information is coextensive with that of the press.
3. Officers who are arresting people today for "wiretapping" violations while exercising their First Amendment rights are on notice that they may be held personally liable for these illegal arrests.