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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15 comments:

Kevin said...

Do you think that the fact that Democrats were divided on the vote for Roberts' approval will have a significant effect on the party?

I just wonder because it definitely sends a message when all Republicans are for them and when some Democrats aren't and some are. We need to show that we can unite and work together as a party. I think we'll have to start demonstrating this if we want to win in '08.

What do you think?

Graham said...

Hey Kevin,

It's difficult to say at this stage. The five No votes on the judiciary committee imply that there will be a very significant No vote in the Senate as a whole. I find this sad purely because the justification for this hasn't been established in the hearings or elsewhere... Reid's statement was silly. Kennedy and Feinstein looked anatagonistice compared to the dignity of Leahy and Feingold today IMO.

+ the decision isn't being made within the context of past precedents by most Democrats. Scalia got 98 votes in the Senate, and he was as explicitly Conservative as they come. Ginsberg got a decent ride from Republican's... although they were heavily consulted before her nomination, unlike Roberts.

Ultimately, i don't think it will really matter... I just feel as though Democrats have missed an opportunity to be non-partisan, putting politics to one side while the Administration continues to suffer because of its relentless politicization of everything. A big no vote hands the initiative right back to the Hannity's et all to castigate Democrats as nothing more than self interested obstructionists.

Thanks for posting Kevin :).

Brad said...

So does this mean that George W. Bush also was responsible for the assassination of JFK?

Oh, wait. I'm not Oliver Stone.

It is quite disturbing how every single Republican jumps on board the wagon (drinks the Kool-Aid?) with this guy despite the fact that he really has nothing to do with what the Republican Party has traditionally been about. Fiscal conservative? Ha!

Graham said...

lol, Brad, on the JFK thing.

I know, it's kinda scary how few Republican's really hold this Administration to account for their domestic agenda. It seems they just want tax cuts and that's it, without any thought or concern paid to the wider economic implications of so much gov't spending. If Bush has redefined Conservatism he's also redefined Fiscal Conservatism.

Chris said...

Graham, I think your Scalia argument is more appropriate for Roberts than anything. But we also have to remember that we have not had a president with such utter disregard for the opposition party in 75 years. Politics are way different today than they were during the 90s.

The hostility between the parties is as high as it has ever been. Given the fact that the president's chief political advisor and deputy chief of staff, Karl Rove, has called the opposition party terrorist symapthizers and many times stated that they were aiding the enemy with their actions being treasonous, in comparison to such I don't think 15 or so votes against Roberts is that big of a deal.

The climate today is in large part due to the fact that the Republicans view themselves as not only guided by God, but that any dissent is treasonous and should be stopped. Those who vote against Roberts have every right to do so. I would much rather be part of a party that allows dissent and disagreement and free thinking, than to be part of a right-wing unified war mongering party that allows no room for dissent, much less ideas of a different sort.

He's going to get approved. The next one will be the fun one.

Graham said...

Hey MJ,

I know. I'm kinda looking forward to the next one.

I agree with u about Bush divisive approach. Check out this post I wrote a little while ago:

A Shattered Consensus

But, in the pursuit of regaining the whitehouse, we should seek to not let such things define us IMO. I'm maybe a little naive, but I think doing the right thing, for the right reasons more often than not is the best way to contrast ourselves in the right way with the behavior of the Administration.

: JustaDog said...

LBJ was one of the worse presidents of our country - only outdone by Carter. Both of them were only 1 term presidents - everyone (except you) knew they sucked.

Doesn't really matter what you lefties say about Bush - the majority of the population overwhelmingly voted him for a 2nd term. So much for the liberal polls that predicted his doom and all the Bush-bashing. Didn't accomplish a thing did it?

Liberals are a dying group of malcontent brain-dead society-sucking wimps. Ah, now I feel GREAT! LOL

: JustaDog said...

HOWEVER - I do think Bush gives away TOO MUCH MONEY to other countries for worthless goals. $15 BILLION for AIDS? What a waste! We also shouldn't be protecting a bunch of Islamic jerks that hate us anywhay. Far too much social spending.

He also sucks on protecting our borders. So obviously I'm not a total Bush fanatic!

Graham said...

Hey Justadog.

Thanks for your POV and comment. A couple of things:

I wouldn't consider myself a "lefty." The majority of the population did not "overwhelmingly" vote for Bush. 51% did. I don't get how you can disagree with his spending policy and then knock me for being part of a 'macoltent braindead society" for identifying his spending. I wouldn't call 48% of the population who voted for Kerry a dying breed of anything, as I wouldn't deride those who voted for Bush.

And lastly, when so much is wrong in the world, the nation is running up trillion dollar defecits, healthcare costs are going through the roof, gas prices likewise (which has huge implications for a nation as big and spaced out as the US compared to Europe)... with all of the endless problems we're confronted with I'm glad tht 15 billion for Aids treatment and prevention around the world is something that really pisses you off. Just think that the US pays a lower proportion of GDP for aid than most other western nations.

I really try to be respectful of other people's opinions. All I can say is that I'm glad you're not part of a constituency that my party has to appeal to.

Thanks for your comment.

Alice: In Wonderland or Not said...

"Liberals are a dying group of malcontent brain-dead society-sucking wimps. Ah, now I feel GREAT! LOL"

Wow, that is so typical of people who bash dems and then go around throwing little barbs, kind of like OReilly's sound bites.

From the economic standpoint or should I say viewpoint I can't even begin to offer any commentary. I'm an anthropology /photography major. I think something needs to be done economically.

Graham said...

Hey Alice,

I thought it was a great line too. I think the best way to sum it up economically is to check out the link above where I say "this might have something to do with it." Bush's refusal to employ a veto over spending, regardless of the merits involved is utterly inconsistent with the candidate he presented him as, and the national platform of the Republican party. While come 2006 Republican's all over the country will be attacking Democrats in debates for always resorting to Gov't as the solution for society's ills, the truth is that a Republican in the WH, and a Republican controlled congress have done more to support and expanionist vision of government that any previous President since Lyndon Johnson.

It makes me so angry listening to Brown lecture Congress about individual responsibility and the role faith based initiatives should play in welfare as opposed to the federal gov't... because all those ideological arguments mean jack when it comes down it, if ultimately you are spending so frivolously American's hard earned money.

Thanks for the comment Alice.

cryptojoe said...

Why am I a republican? I'm a "fiscal discipline" republican, it seems that the party has abandoned that philosophy, Clinton and a democratic congress spent less than Bush and the republican congress during their first two years. And subsequent congresses have spent even more. I would go for tax less, and spend less.

Graham said...

So would I cryptojoe :).

Thanks for the comment.

Graham said...

Some additional information:

Unemployment up to 5.1%. That's a 1.1% rise of the population unemployed since Bush took office.

Growth is slowing. Consumer spending is down. Real disposable income is down. A simpleton stimulus plan of tax cuts, and more tax cuts, and bloated gov't spending misdirected does not grow a secure, exponentially expanding economy. Running up even larger defecits doesn't help either.

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