April 2, 2010

The Obama-Era Binge

Justin Katz

One gets the sense, watching state and national politicians in action, that paying for things is by far a secondary or tertiary consideration. As Ed Achorn puts it:

The government will borrow 40 cents of every dollar it spends this year. Under the most optimistic scenarios, borrowing will continue at historically high levels, putting a severe strain on the dollar and either dampening or devastating the economy. The federal debt will rise to a chilling 90 percent of the nation's economic output by 2020, the Congressional Budget Office reported Thursday.

Most politicians and most of the media do not pause to consider such things. They prefer happy talk about growing government through clever (often corrupt) maneuvers and passing out public dollars as if they were candy. If pols dwell at all on how to pay for it, they cite budget figures that are based on transparent gimmicks or they advocate taxing that man behind the tree. But nobody seems to be very seriously engaged in the unnerving development that we are aboard a runaway train and we’re rapidly running out of track.

Big-government spending is self-feeding, inasmuch as the recipients of the dough are sure to vote for the people handing it over to them. Our only hope, it seems, is for folks with less direct incentive to get involved and push governance back toward status as an adult activity.

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Soon we'll all (in effect) be just like RI's public sector employees.

Just as they will eventually find out that they've been had by Democrat politicians and their union boss benefactors, i.e., when the inevitable major reductions (if not default) on "promised" pension and retiree healthcare benefits comes ... so to will it be with Social Security recipients (SS already being cash-flow negative) and Medicare / Medicaid / Obamacare recipients.

If there is not (and cannot) be enough tax revenue to fund the "promises," then that hard reality will force the reduction / repudiation of those promises.

Many of us recognize the Democrats for the cynical frauds that they are, and the great harm that they are causing. Eventually most of the public will come to the same realization.

Posted by: Ragin' Rhode Islander at April 2, 2010 2:19 PM

Ok, so by inference, you are stating that the Bush regime was a good thing and that republicans know how to govern the country?

Silly boys?

The two santa claus theory is nothing new. What is new is the idea that one of the Santas would KILL the very children they give gifts too.

In more common language, what I am saying is that dems don't bite then hand that feeds them, while the GOP pretty much kills everyone other than the extremely wealthy.

Posted by: Stuart at April 2, 2010 3:02 PM

Stuart-WHY do you always assume that if one doesn't like Obama,they must admire Bush?I didn't vote for Bush either time.
Kinda like your assumption that I was a fan of William Buckley's.He was a stuck up jerk with that abominable Hahvad accent.
You know who I really wnated to see as President?Bob(NOT JOHN)Kerrey.They actually spell their surnames differently.
He got demonized for something that happened in a firefight in the middle of the night.The turds who destroyed his candidacy obviously have never been shot at.Just don't think you can figure conservatives out.You'd be in for a surprise.

Posted by: joe bernstein at April 2, 2010 4:21 PM

I'm sorta with Stuart on this one in the context of that this 'spending binge' somehow started in Obama-era. That is inaccurate. First, Presidents do not spend money, Congress does (with President approval).

The same Dems who were screaming about all the money spent on the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan are suddenly quiet. Repubs are now screaming about all the money spent although when GWB passed the financial bailout, they were quiet.

This is all about political affiliation and victory/defeat in the political sense. Simply put, it's about who (whihc party) not what or substance.

Posted by: msteven at April 2, 2010 4:31 PM

What utter bovine excrement.

Millions of middle-class Americans were very happy with the across-the-board tax cuts by both the Reagan and Bush (43) administrations. Millions of retirees are being killed by the near-zero interest rates on their investments, which are manipulated by Leftist government policy.

Only a tiny but very loud minority of Marxists tell falsehoods about GOP only caring about the wealthy.

If the GOP is the party of the rich, then why do all the Wall St. fat cats, the $multi-million salaried "journalists" on liberal television, and Hollywood brats support the Democrats? Shouldn't they all be Republicans?

Posted by: BobN at April 2, 2010 4:38 PM

I missed something -

" ... what I am saying is that dems don't bite then hand that feeds them, while the GOP pretty much kills everyone other than the extremely wealthy."

---- How silly - the old tired and blantanly false perception that the GOP is the party of the rich and Dems are out for the middle class and lower class. There are so many examples of things to rip that apart - if you want, I'll provide them but beware, you're gonna look bad.

In the vein of "consensus" will you acknowledge that Dems support legislation 'that help the rich? Also, do you have a response to BobN's last question?

Posted by: msteven at April 2, 2010 5:02 PM

What utter bovine excrement.

"Millions of middle-class Americans were very happy with the across-the-board tax cuts by both the Reagan and Bush (43) administrations"

BobN: Reagan and Bush 43, did NOT cut taxes, they just passed the bill for their crazy spending to our children and grandkids.

Posted by: Earl at April 2, 2010 5:46 PM

>>>Millions of retirees are being killed by the near-zero interest rates

Bob, you cannot be that stupid? or can you?

I am a large investor and saver and BUSH/GREENSPAN lowered the interest rates and gave away free money - which hurt be big time! I cannot receive any interest on my money for the last decade! Again, that was Bush/Greenspan, who did it to make people happy with free money.

You see, since real wages have been going down for decades, they figured they could stimulate economic activity by giving out free gifts of easy credit and low rates. It worked well. People like me who saved were thrown under the bus, while everyone else ( most people) went running for the money. But when the game stopped.....well, the protections in the market were repealed by those same forces (Phil Graham R-Tx), and people were left with the debt, while Wall Street is still giving untold billions in bonuses.

It is so blatantly partisan for you to think for a minute that this Great Recession was not caused largely by the party in power for most of the last 15 years. Maybe you don't know how the government works......??? The party with power in Congress makes the laws!

You destroy any sense of cred when you spout that crap.

So, you make the point that millions were happy with DEFICIT Financed tax cuts and easy credit, but you don't care about the damage done? Crazy stuff.

I am among the top 2 or 3%. I would rather Bush have not borrowed money from future generations to give tax cuts to those wealthier than I or even me.Bob, selfishness is not the best creed to live by, despite Atlas Shrugged and other BS that Greenspan believed in.

FYI, Bob, Fed Funds rate was about 6% when Clinton left and Bush/Greenspan lowered to below 2% in 2002-2003-2004 so we could all get lots of debt and he could get re-elected by giving out free candy.

I know those facts will get in the way of your reality, but don't take it too hard. There is quite a historical record of the GOP ruining the economy and then handing the pieces over to the Dems (Great Depression, Bush I and the S&L, Now, etc.)

Try as you might, you can't change facts.

Posted by: Stuart at April 2, 2010 5:56 PM

>In the vein of "consensus" will you acknowledge that Dems support legislation 'that help the rich?

Of course, this is also historical record. But the entire idea and legislation was put into place by Phil Graham and his banking buddies at the BIG investment houses, along with the Heritage Foundation (his wife work there) and all their friends.

Legislation is created in the Congress - this was enacted by the 106th congress in which both houses were GOP. The bill passed the senate with 54 votes - NO republican voted against it.

As to the GOP being the party of the rich - let me put that more clear.

There are many extremely wealthy Dems, from the Pritkins (Hyatt hotels) to Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, to the google folks, steve jobs, etc.

So it is not a question of the wealth gap.

The difference is that the Dems care more about the health, happiness and general welfare of the population as a whole - you know, ask what you can do for your country!

The GOP pursues the Atlas Shugged and Gordon Gecko agenda of "Greed is good" and if they can steal the money and shunt it to their friends within the general law, they will do it every time.

More to the point - they have absolutely no legs to stand on when it comes to improving ANYTHING in this country - not the plight of the working man, not the budget (they like endless wars and non-funded tax cuts), not education, not even family values (look at red states divorce rate, STD's or any other statistic). In short, they are 100% hypocrites, while the Dems might only be 60%. I'll take SOME decency over NO decency any day of the week.

Again, let's watch. We'll see how the GOP gets behind bank reform and customer protections. My eye are wide open.

Posted by: Stuart at April 2, 2010 6:10 PM

I agree with msteven's remarks concerning the rank partisanship that paints one thing bad and not another. Federal spending exploded during the Bush years but his partisans will never admit that and instead, falsely, lay it all at the feet of Obama. Obama, though, begins creating his own record. At this point it is no longer Bush- although the effects of an incompetent Bush presidency will be with us for years to come. No more can Obama use this past when his new agenda will dictate what we deal with from here on. There are some differences that worth noting. Bush grew government spending and debt with a looting of the treasury for old money and old industry- a last hurrah for coal and other relics that will do nothing what so ever for our future. Want to talk about pensions? Obama is spending money but at least it looks to the future.

Posted by: David S at April 2, 2010 7:25 PM

You have it right, david, they have short memories - or, as I suspect, they are simply partisan or power hungry and don't care about the truth.

God forbid - Obama is spending money HERE. Terrible thing to the GOP, who prefer either dumping it over cliffs (Iraq) or steering it to the top 1%.

I just watched that Enron documentary and it reminded me what we are fighting for....those people destroyed everything in their path, and then destroyed themselves. The show makes it clear that GW and Cheney were very complicit in the whole deal .

Posted by: Stuart at April 2, 2010 8:51 PM

"Kinda like your assumption that I was a fan of William Buckley's.He was a stuck up jerk with that abominable Hahvad accent."

Sorry Joe, Yale.

More to the point, has anyone else noticed sales of T-bills are slipping and their rating may be falling. That is worrysome, even a slight uptick in the interest rate will cost us taxpayers a fortune.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at April 2, 2010 9:14 PM

Faust, the best thing that can happen is for interest rates to go up to a decent level. Sure, interest on the debt will increase, but at the same time it could herald the return of reasonable consumer behavior.

You sound like a drug addict who is about to lose his fix!

Somehow this country survived without 0% interest rates and with 10% mortgage rates - I know, since those were the rates (and higher) for most of my working life.

If you had some hard earned money in the bank to lend, what would you want in interest to give someone a mortgage on their house? Not 5% - but much higher (unless you are crazy).

Interest rates should be at a level that assumes the proper risk. They are not for two reasons - first, they were lowered to feed the habits and for re-election, etc. - now they are lowered for an emergency to try to save the patient.

But acting like higher rates than 0% are bad is pretty silly!

Posted by: Stuart at April 2, 2010 9:40 PM

Stuart writes:
"Interest rates should be at a level that assumes the proper risk."

I think you are skipping over the point, rising rates and a lowering of the U.S. bond rating indicate that loans to the U.S. are getting riskier in terms of repayment. Our ability to re-pay has not often been questioned.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at April 2, 2010 9:56 PM

Stuart, you have truly jumped the shark.

“The difference is that the Dems care more about the health, happiness and general welfare of the population as a whole - you know, ask what you can do for your country!”
--- Really? Kennedy’s comment was much more ‘conservative’ than ‘liberal’ – you forgot about the “ask no what your country can do for you” (guessing you don’t agree with that part of it).

Your other comments are just plain demonizing and demagoguery. Not to mention absurdly false. One political party cares about humanity and the other doesn’t. I might as well just call democrats “the party of death”. I don’t believe that but it’s just as coherent, accurate and persuasive as your view of an entire political party. It is your opinion that has absolutely no legs to stand on when it comes to serious and reasoned discourse.

Posted by: msteven at April 2, 2010 10:11 PM

I watched very carefully for all those Bush years and heard a lot of talking points, while trillions went to the very rich and war. I looked hard for good things for the environment, but only saw deregulation and therefore more destruction. I looked for alternative energy to be moved forward to deny our enemies our oil money - and saw little or nothing. I looked for improvements in wages, in health care, in the rights of individuals, in civil rights, etc. and I saw nothing.

Instead I saw a country headed quickly away from freedom and economic success. We were told that only by giving the government all our info, from library book checkouts to access to our email and phone calls, could we be safe.

I am not just looking from the outside. My business and life connect me to people who KNOW 100% what Bush did to environmental regulations. He stripped them dry. He admitted 100% that we did not have to conserve - but that we needed to just get the oil for our American way of life (I'll provide you the quotes and links if you like).

I cannot imagine a worse Prez and VP, but the scarier thing is that many people and the GOP led congress went right along with it all.

Now you tell me that they mean well, Sorry, after the elections of 2000 and 2004, the wars, the debt, Enron, Haliburton and thousands of other actions - I don't buy it. I say they are corporate and ideological hacks who are dangerous to our way of life.

Strong? Yes, but heart felt and researched.

I'm not saying the left is good or perfect, but if you fail to see the difference between a Nixon/Bush and a n Obama/JFK, then I submit you aren't doing your homework.

Hey, we each have our opinions and are entitled to them. I would invite you to list the vast long term accomplishments of the Bush/Cheney years....for the common man.

Relativism is sometimes a dangerous thing. I like to think Bush did a few things right, but even a monkey scores 25 percent on a 4 selection multiple choice test. A President has to do a lot better.

Basically, Bush was a corporation disguised as a person, controlled by Cheney and Oil interests - period.

Posted by: Stuart at April 2, 2010 11:07 PM

Warrington-okay,Yale-same sh*t,different color
Stuart-hey,brain trust,it's Phil GRAMM.

Posted by: joe bernstein at April 3, 2010 1:50 AM

Spare me.

Explain how an across the board tax cut (including giving money to people who didn’t pay any taxes) is a tax cut for the rich. Only way that happens is if the tax cut was only for people who earned over a certain amount of money. That was not the case. Also the tax credit given was based on family size but I’m sure you’ll find a way to turn that into “for the rich’— maybe say that rich people can afford to have more children. But I know the drill --- person A makes $250,000 and got a tax break of $10,000 and person B made $40,000 and got tax break of $4,000 so since A got more than B, it was unjust. The truth is this - if the same tax cut would have been under a Dem President, people like yourself would have hailed it as helping the middle class/common man while Repubs would have called it financially irresponsible.

Your interpretation of ‘what Bush did’ has no basis in reality. First, the deregulation of the financial industry occurred under the Clinton Presidency. Also, it was further government intrusion that put pressure on lending institutions to lend to more people who would have been denied (to improve home ownership rates. That was part of the reason for the housing bubble burst. And I won’t even go into the hypocrisy of complaining about helping the rich (financial, auto industries) and then screaming about how the policies resulted in the failures of those institutions. Which is it? Let me guess you are OK with business failure when it hurts the ‘rich’ people but not when it affects other employees who may not be wealthy. Sound about right? Business profit - bad. Employees profit - good. You may believe that makes sense. But it does not.

Your view of Bush/Cheney is equivalent to those crazies who view Obama as a Communist Marxist ideological hack who wants to control all of our economy and is dangerous to our freedom and the American way.

You may do your homework but, using sports metaphors, you pitch way out of the strike zone and also hit below the belt.

Posted by: msteven at April 3, 2010 2:55 PM

msteven, what evidence do you have that Obama isn't a Marxist ideological hack who wants to control our economy and is dangerous to our freedom and the American way. The only thing he has done in over 14 months that would be outside of that characterization is maintain the war in Afghanistan. And I suspect that once the generals told him the facts he realized there is no acceptable alternative.

Posted by: BobN at April 3, 2010 6:06 PM

BobN, Obama does not have any more control over the economy as any other President does. The President does not own the financial industry, the auto industry nor will this new health care bill result in the President having authority over health care. He has increased the size and role of government and I don’t agree with much he has proposed or done. But I believe there is a big distinction between liberal and Marxist. Obama is clearly a liberal. But to believe he is a Marxist is the same as calling Bush a theocrat or Nazi. The way our political is setup, it would take almost a revolution to get from where we are to Marxism. Liberal? Yes. Wrong direction? I’ll agree. Marxist and danger to freedom as we know it? Not close.

Posted by: msteven at April 3, 2010 9:23 PM

msteven, it seems from your confusion about the terms that you are not aware of the history of "liberalism". It's not your fault, the public education system is careful to hide anything that doesn't fit the narrative from us.

I recommend that you spend a few hours with "Liberal Fascism" by Jonah Goldberg which is a fully researched and footnoted history of the American Left; and "American Progressivism" edited by Pestritto & Platto, an anthology of the seminal writings by the early leaders of the Progressive movement including W. Wilson, T. Roosevelt, W. Rauschenbusch and H. Croly. When you read the actual words of these men, you will see that Progressivism (or its renamed version, "liberalism") is exactly based on the same ideological foundations as Marxism.

In the words of perennial Presidential candidate Norman Thomas of the Socialist Party, "The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of 'liberalism' they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation, without knowing how it happened."

Once you know the historical facts, it is easy to see through the lies.

Posted by: BobN at April 4, 2010 8:09 AM

[I probably let the rules slip a bit in the Bob v. Stuart exchanges, because they both seemed to be contributing to the escalation. This comment crossed the line into personal viciousness. Reel it in. --- JK]

Posted by: Stuart at April 4, 2010 11:42 AM


Based on that, then ANY Democrat, even Joe Lieberman, could reasonably be referred to as a Marxist.

I won't argue with your content. But I still don't think calling Obama a Marxist is accurate, persuasive or in any way helpful to win independent votes, which is what needs to be done.

Posted by: msteven at April 4, 2010 8:23 PM

Obama was mentored early in life nby Frank Marshall Davis,an avowed Marxist.The man obviously influenced.He also followed Alinsky's philosophy during his community organizer career.
Alinsky never joined the Communist Party because he was too clever for that.He did,however,influence a generation or two of activists,some of whom are on RIF,and his strategems embodied many Marxist attributes.
Obama's inner circle is composed of Alinskyites and Clintonistas.Not a match made in Heaven,but there is considerable crossover.

Posted by: joe bernstein at April 5, 2010 12:33 AM
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