Thursday, September 22, 2005

Lyndon Dubya Bush?

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Statistical comparisons between the 36th and 43rd President's of the United States make for interesting reading. From my post on 09/09 outlining what I think the Democrats need to do to win in 2008:

In the next 1153 days the economic theory of tax less and spend more will be perpetuated. The national debt will be paid down, if at all, by attempts to manufacture rapid economic growth, and in turn increased gov't revenue, through the short term stimulus package that comprises nothing more than dramatic, costly, and all encompassing tax cuts.

It's a risk fueled, ambitious strategy that exacerbates market instability and unpredictability (we call it boom & bust economics in the UK). Correlate this approach to your personal finances for one moment. Imagine if you were in debt that could potentially spiral out of control. Imagine that you had growing expenses and responsibilities that you were committed to like a large mortgage, and your children's education. Imagine if your outgoings, including discretionary items that while valuable, were not 100% essential, continued to exceed your outgoings. Would the remedy be to spend more money, speculate, invest, take chances, upon the purely theoretical notion that this will increase the money you make, eventually covering your expenses and allowing you to pay down your debt? Or would it be wiser to manage your expenses, spend only what you can afford, meet your essential responsibilities, and not expend money (RISKY TAX CUTS) speculatively to raise income when you knew that around the corner a disaster could strike (9/11, KATRINA) that could systematically undermine your ambitions.

What happened to the macro-economic management, "invest and grow" strategy, and fiscal discipline of the 90's, that mitigated debt, and deficits with a stable, planned, secure approach to the nation's finances. Republican's are so fast to absolve the Clinton Administration and Robert Rubin of any responsibility for the economic stewardship during this period, instead celebrating the influence of the Republican controlled Congress, but where are these values of fiscal discipline right now, when they are in complete control of all branches of government? Where is the smart, long sighted planning of the 90's that redressed the huge deficits and national debt incurred by two successive Republican Presidents who both possessed the power to keep the then Democratic Congress in check?


Now it seems that in his first term in office George W. Bush managed to exceed Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson, creator of the "great society," in the growth of inflation-adjusted discretionary spending. Here are the statistics in depth on Reason.com. The growth in inflation-adjusted discretionary spending is currently 35.1% for GWB's first term.

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Ann Coulter is right, George W. Bush is just an old fashioned "Great Society," "New Deal" Democrat. He's socially conservative, but he believes in the power of government. He believes in government activism. There is just one principal difference between LBJ and GWB....

... instead of taxing a larger proportion of GDP to pay for his big government spending, Bush taxes less across the board on the basis that it will generate enough revenue to cover the bill incurred by his expansive government activism. Many Republican's might mention 9/11, the Iraq War, rising gasoline prices, and Katrina as contributory factors to these defecits, but in actual fact, its these very same tragic occurrences that highlight exactly why the Bush economic doctrine is so flawed. It's precisely because of an emergency, attack, or war that it is incumbent upon the President, and Congress to manage the nation's finances with the greatest amount of care and discipline. Perhaps, if things had been done differently over the past five years, meeting the government's responsibility to the city of New Orleans, the state of Louisiana, and those displaced by the terrible flooding, wouldn't have such perilous implications for our economy. Maybe if weren't stretched so thin we'd be in a more flexible and secure position to meet the needs of the American people.

This might have something to do with it.

Peggy Noonan WSJ: Is Bush's big spending a bridge to nowhere?
Slate: Pity the poor fiscal Conservative
Hat Tip: Andrew Sullivan

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