Wednesday, June 22, 2005

I'll Second That

Veronique de Rugy---of that wild-eyed bastion of radical moonbeam lefties known as AEI---is out with a good, short piece on the Bush administration's spending record. I agree with her observations, and I'll add a few conclusions. First, since Republicans control the government, all this is happening on their watch; not only will they be held to account in the midterms and the next presidential election, they've managed to redefine what it means to be a Republican fiscally--and unfortunately, in the minds of most voters, what it means to be conservative as well. Second, combined with the Federal Reserve's ongoing reckless monetary policy, the past several years of fiscal policy has essentially amounted to one huge concerted effort to keep the all-important consumer spending blissfully, and in the process keep the crucial corporate constituency happy. If there's any doubt about that, read this comment by Dallas Fed head Richard Fisher. And when consumer spending trumps all else, that shows up in other places---like not having enough troops or armor during wartime. That's probably resulted in a lot of deaths and permanent injuries that would not have happened otherwise. An essential part of a president's responsibility during wartime is setting an appropriately austere fiscal and moral tone, and train-wreck spending and consumer bliss don't cut it. It's an issue of leadership, and that's been one of my problems with this president.

Unless something changes unexpectedly during the next few years, what you see is what you'll get. This will be the legacy of Bush, this Congress, and this incarnation of the Republican party.

144 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm getting the impression that Republicans stand for intolerance and lying for sure, but also big government into our private lives, big government into our fiscal lives, debt loving, fiscal irresponsibility, lacking in priorities and perspective, being bullies, hostile to judges and our legal system, polluters, no accountability or ethics, anti-science (unless it is bombs), war profiteering, pay to play, and ultra smooging with big money.

I thought Delay was bad (have you gotten his telemarketing/donation call disguised as a National Leadership Award), and now with that Abramoff guy. But this past week Rep. Cunningham has taken the lead.

John McCain said on the Sunday show that Bush should have asked the American people to do more than shop after 9/11. The honor isn't in doing an honest hard job, but in getting a fist full of the all mighty dollar at any cost. I'm beginning to come to terms that our cultural identify is basically consumerism. If you go to France you think good food, wine, cheese, fine art. If you go to Italy you think opera. In any regards, it doesn't bode well for the environment.

Number of lobbyists in Washington has doubled since Bush took office in 2000 to reach 35,000. They are all trying to take advantage of the Republicans hold on all branches of our government. We are getting screwed just by a different group of people who have the ethics of a tasmanian devil, and I mean no offense to the later.

6/22/2005 11:51 PM  
Anonymous exclab said...

That graph of Veronique de Rugy's is very similar to a set of figures that appeared in the Economist some weeks ago. Republicans are the big spenders, the democrats are bad but not as bad. Look at Reagan! He loved to go shopping. Why do americans go on believing the Republicans are the prudent ones? It is bizarre. I have not been able to understand it since Reagan. Johnson was almost half a century ago. Since then, its the Republicans that spend. Except for Gingrich - God bless him. I would find being a republican very embarrasing.

Remember George Sr? Having everyone else, the Japanese and so on, pay for that genuinely multilateral war? See - that was a president. But everyone loves GW the dullard. Makes me feel like Coriolanus.

6/23/2005 12:15 AM  
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James Fallows has a very good article in this month's Atlantic entitled "Countdown to a Meltdown". The article is written from the perspective of a presidential campaign advisor writing a memo to his 3rd party candidate who is about to win the 2016 presidential election and inherit an economy in a state of collapse.

The money quote: "When it comes to the old parties, the story boils down to this: the Democrats can't win, and the Republicans can't govern. Okay, that's an overstatement; but the more nuanced version is nearly as discouraging."

It is hard for me to imagine how the GOP can hold onto Congress at the 2006 midterms but it is almost harder to imagine how the Donkey is going to take it back.

6/23/2005 12:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just finished reading the de Rugy piece. The woman rambles on about cutting 150 programs to save $20 billion a year. And blames Congress for everything. Meanwhile no mention of the fact that the Iraq war can be looked at as a totally unnecessary $200 billion expenditure - 10 TIMES AS MUCH. (There were no WMDs. Saddam had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. There was no real threat to national security from Iraq.)

Ever since Reagan there has been no idealogical consistency to the conservatives in power. When it comes to civil rights or the public good they claimed they had no problem with the requested change itself (desegregation, clean water), it's just that "it's states' rights" or "people can decide best what to do with their own money" or some other such "principle". Until it comes time to prop up the steel business with tarriffs or save some braindead white woman. Then their "principles" fly out the window.

Tax-and-spend Democrats were bad enough but borrow-and-spend Republicans are worse.

6/23/2005 9:23 AM  
Blogger Tayefeth said...

I rather agree with anonymous. Ms. de Rugy complains about Medicare, but neglects to notice that the Iraq war is costing us a great deal, without nearly the economic and societal benefit Medicare provides.

6/23/2005 9:27 AM  
Anonymous KevinNYC said...

KevinNYC,

Does anyone else find that she tries to diminish the Clinton economic achievement at every turn, "Clinton White House certainly was not interested in exercising adult oversight." How else did we end up with a surplus? It was all Gingrich? Reich and Rubin talk about how in December 1992, they found out the deficit was going to be even worse than predicted. I seem to remember that Clinton had to curtail some of his domestic agenda and instead he pushed a Deficit Reduction Plan in 1993 before Ginrich took over the House. I seem to remember it raised taxes at the top brackets. I seem to remember the Republicans saying it would be a job killing disaster. In fact, I remember Gingrich being 100% wrong on his prediction on the effects. I seem to remember this:

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Would deficit reduction have passed if Gingrich controlled the House in 1993? What would be our financial situation if we hadn't reduced the deficit in the 1990's.
It's not only the Bush years that the Republicans have to overcome if they want to have financial credibility. Bush and Greenspan actually pushed the idea that getting rid of the deficit would have negative consequences, the surpluses would build to fast and the government would acquire too much assets. Unbelievable. Government revenues under Bush have plummeted to a point not seen since the '50s yet spending keeps going up.

I think one of the worse things that have happened to this country was that prediction that we would have a surplus for 10 years in the first part of this century. People acted like that was case regardless of the tax/spending policies of the government or the state of the economy. It was like doing a household budget and ignoring your mortgage and credit card debt.

In Jan 2001, Greenspan virtually endorsed the Bush Tax Cuts saying that tax reduction is appropriate as a long-term economic measure now because of estimates of a larger-than-expected federal surplus and that there was a danger of paying of the national debt too fast. That same month he predicted the chance of a recession was low. I believe the recession began two months later.

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