18 Responses to “Republicans Consistently More Knowledgable Than Democrats”

  1. The Center Square Says:

    I think there is a valid point in here, but when did Republicans become conservativee? That is a dubious conflation.

  2. Michael Eden Says:

    Not for the KNOWLEDGEABLE conservatives, it isn’t.

    Ronald Reagan said:

    I have to say I cannot agree with some of my friends—perhaps including some of you here tonight—who have answered that question by saying this nation needs a new political party.

    I respect that view and I know that those who have reached it have done so after long hours of study. But I believe that political success of the principles we believe in can best be achieved in the Republican Party. I believe the Republican Party can hold and should provide the political mechanism through which the goals of the majority of Americans can be achieved. For one thing, the biggest single grouping of conservatives is to be found in that party. It makes more sense to build on that grouping than to break it up and start over.

    Rather than a third party, we can have a new first party made up of people who share our principles. I have said before that if a formal change in name proves desirable, then so be it. But tonight, for purpose of discussion, I’m going to refer to it simply as the New Republican Party.

    Reagan correctly points out a truth that is STILL true: that conservatives are overwhelmingly more likely to be Republicans than anything else.

    It was also Ronald Reagan who popularized the 11th commandment: “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.”

    Sorry if I go with Reagan’s linking of conservatism with Republicans rather than with your attempt to de-link the two.

  3. The Center Square Says:

    The problem that I have with Reagan’s brand of conservatism is that he raised federal spending at a rapid rate (an average of 7.6% per year) and nearly tripled the federal debt. I wonder how many self-proclaimed 2009 conservatives even know that. And I surely don’t see what’s particular conservative about that.

    In my view, there are three pillars of conservatism, from a fiscal perspective. Reducing the scope of federal government (spending), reducing debt, and reducing taxes. Reagan failed on two out of the three. In fact, he succeeded in only the one aspect that is politically expedient. Anyone can sell voters on tax cuts. So, no, I do not see why he is venerated by conservatives. Or Republicans in general, for that matter.

  4. Michael Eden Says:

    Well, I’m a “self-proclaimed 2009 conservative,” and I know what Reagan did. He was my commander-in-chief.

    I wonder if YOU know that Reagan was a president, not an emperor, and that Reagan had to deal with a heavily Democrat-controlled Congress. I wonder if you know that Reagan would have abolished such wasteful government entities as the Department of Energy and the Department of Education (among others) had he been able to do so. I wonder if you know that to the extent that Reagan DID spend heavily (military), he was compensating for the worst spending cuts in the military that this country had seen since before WWII under the Carter misrule. And I wonder if you know the incredible success Reagan’s military spending had over our bitter Cold War enemies.

    You also fail to understand just how dramatic the Reagan tax cuts were, because prior to Reagan, the tax rate had routinely been stratospheric since the days of Teddy Roosevelt. So when you say, “Anyone could see that,” why hadn’t anyone been able to sell it before?

    If YOU were president, and you had to overcome a Democrat-controlled Congress that was determined to thwart every single thing you wanted to do, I think you would begin to see how incredible Reagan truly was. Maybe you’d understand that Reagan didn’t have a magic wand he could wave that would suddenly make the Democrats decide to cut spending for the first time in their lives.

    Stop and think. Obama can’t get a lot of his agenda done right now, AND HE’S GOT A MASSIVE DEMOCRAT MAJORITY. How on earth do you then demand that Reagan do with the other party in control of Congress that Obama can’t do with his own party running everything?

  5. The Center Square Says:

    My point is very simple. Under Reagan, debt skyrocketed and spending soared. That is a fact which cannot be refuted. Remember Lloyd Bentsen’s quote during the 1988 campaign: “You know, if you let me write $200 billion worth of hot checks every year, I could give you an illusion of prosperity, too.”

    You present a good reason why Reagan is not to be blamed for his failure to rein in spending and the debt that arose on his watch. I agree with you. But a failure is a failure. I think conservatives righly admire Reagan because of his ideology and his success in dealing with the Soviet Union. But his fiscal failures are manifest.

    In fact, I’ll go one further. Reagan is the one who succeeded in redefining “fiscal conservative” as “tax cutter.” That is a conservative approach ONLY IF SPENDING GOES DOWN TOO. Without that, it is a recipe for debt. And lo and behold, ever since Reagan, it is politically impossible to either cut spending OR raise taxes. The result? $12 trillion in federal debt. The worst of all worlds. Reagan’s willingness to pursue tax cuts, without the prudence of commensurate spending cuts, set the stage for a generation of massive federal borrowing.

  6. Michael Eden Says:

    I would point out that your last paragraph contains a flaw that actually assumes LIBERAL assumptions: namely, that tax cutting somehow reduces revenue.

    The Laffer Curve actually works. Slashing tax rates has empirically been proven to raise tax revenues significantly, time and time again. Which means that while cutting spending is clearly a GOOD thing from a conservative perspective, cutting taxes without cutting spending is NOT necessarily “a recipe for debt.”

    It does not appear that you understand a very simple truth: tax cuts raise revenues (see also here).

    We keep hearing the media claiming that that any bad news for Obama is “unexpected.” Well, they played that game with Bush, too, only it was always GOOD news that was “unexpected.”

    From the New York Times on July 13, 2005:

    WASHINGTON, July 12 – For the first time since President Bush took office, an unexpected leap in tax revenue is about to shrink the federal budget deficit this year, by nearly $100 billion.

    A Jump in Corporate Payments On Wednesday, White House officials plan to announce that the deficit for the 2005 fiscal year, which ends in September, will be far smaller than the $427 billion they estimated in February.

    Mr. Bush plans to hail the improvement at a cabinet meeting and to cite it as validation of his argument that tax cuts would stimulate the economy and ultimately help pay for themselves.

    Tax cuts DO pay for themselves. Only liberals think otherwise. Only liberals fail to understand that people change their behavior when their taxes go up, and that when people are allowed to keep more of their own money, they invest more and produce more wealth.

    While I applaud you for demanding that spending and debt be cut, if you want to be a conservative purist, one thing you need to realize is that a tenet of conservatism is a reliance upon the principles of free market economics and the importance and benefit of allowing people to keep more of their own money.

    Again, I’ll point out that Reagan did everything he could to cut spending, but he faced an enemy in a Democrat-controlled Congress that no president – regardless of his ideology or talent – could overcome. Your claim that he is a “failure” is rather like my calling you a failure because you can’t bench press 4,000 lbs. You can’t bench press 4,000 lbs because no human can.

    Reagan is viewed as iconic by conservatives who understand conservatism because he was the man who set into motion conservative principles that hadn’t even been seriously considered (much less tried) for a hundred years. And his success at turning around an economy that was sliding into the toilet (I don’t know how old you are, but do you understand how difficult it was to turn around an economy that was reeling under 21% interest rates and 13% inflation?).

    Reagan articulated principles that gave birth to the conservative revolution. We just celebrated the anniversary of one of his greatest speeches. You should read/listen to it – and understand that at the time it was given, the entire culture was enmeshed in New Deal/Great Society thinking.

    The only way we’re going to get a tax reducing, spending reducing, debt reducing government is if we have conservatives in charge of every level of our government. And, for what it’s worth, it’s even more important that we have those Conservatives in Congress than it is in the White House toward that end. For example, the post-1994 “Republican Revolution” Congress was able to force Bill Clinton to dramatically cut government spending. And, of course, Clinton was able to benefit from the end of the Cold War and the victory that Reagan won for him.

    My greatest fear is that unrealistic thinking is going to cause enough conservatives to abandon the admittedly FAR from perfect Republican Party and in so doing snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. In the case of Scozzafava vs. Hoffman in the NY-23 district, there is an obvious example of a TERRIBLE GOP candidate who SHOULD be opposed. And I hope Hoffman pulls it out. But then you take the Christie vs. Corzine fight, and you’ve got this Independent (Daggett) who might well cause Christie to lose the race.

    I simply cannot understand the growing number of “conservatives” who literally seem to prefer total Democrat control to having Republicans in power.

  7. The Center Square Says:

    The DuPont article is based on a often-repeated logical fallacy: just because government revenues sometimes have risen following a tax cut, it does not mean the tax cuts CAUSED the increase. Rising receipts are always caused by the same thing: economic growth, and particularly fast-rising capital markets, which generates large sums of capital gains taxes. So the question is whether the tax cuts caused economic growth, and that, as I’m sure we both realize, is a hotly contested point among serious economists.

    Consider DuPont’s primary example, the Bush 43 tax cut in 2003. Whether the economic growth of 2003-06 was CAUSED by the tax cuts is fiercely debated among economists. Surely tax revenues were going to rise as the country came out of the 9/11-triggered recession, with or without tax cuts. Then, there is also the question of how much credit to give when those policies proved economically unsustainable at the end of the Bush term.

    Consider also the Clinton years, which provided us with sustained and accelerating prosperity, and increasing tax revenues as a result, with no tax cut. Would it be fair to conclude from that era, that tax rate stability leads to rising government receipts?

    To refute an incorrect example of yours: Did you realize that federal spending grew at a slower rate during Clinton’s first two years in office, working with a Democratic-majority, and then rose faster once the Republicans gained control of Congress in 1995? People tend to remember these things through an ideological filter, and perhaps because Clinton + Gingrich were able to reduce social welfare entitlements, perhaps conservatives assume that meant spending fell overall. Not so. It rose faster than ever.

    Although, I should note that spending growth through Clinton’s entire presidency was minimal — 3.3% per year, compared with 7.6% under Reagan, 6.7% under Bush 41, and 6.2% under Bush 43, with the worst of it happening when Republicans controlled Congress. Again, Republicans as fiscal conservatives is a sham.

    Summary: Growth of tax receipts is empirically linked to economic growth (or contraction); whether that, in turn, is linked recent tax cuts is much more debatable.

    The long-term empirical result: Our federal government now has debt of $12 trillion, much of it to China, Saudi Arabia and other unwelcome investors. That debt is growing by more than $1 trillion per year. That is the legacy of a quarter century of tax cutting.

    The most fundamental core belief of a conservative is in social and political stability. Social and political stability cannot be sustained indefinitely under this debt load. Politicians who would profess true conservative values need to devote themselves to reducing deficits and debt, not pandering to voters about tax cuts.

    At any rate, I appreciate this conversation with you. God bless us all.

  8. Michael Eden Says:

    Well, first of all, we can now safely say that you are NOT, as you claim, a true conservative. Because conservatives are rather clear on the fact that tax cuts stimulate economic growth. In addition to being faithful to the vision of the founding fathers, as well as to the principles of free market capitalism and basic morality (how is it not stealing when the government takes your wealth and gives it to someone else?). Which makes it rather strange of you to have come here and portrayed yourself as being so conservative that Reagan didn’t measure up. The notion that “there’s a debate” likewise itself amounts to a logical fallacy. If we debated on whether the earth were round or flat, would the fact that someone was coming down firmly on the side of the round earth be somehow wrong?

    You fail to see the argument from the “cutting taxes stimulates growth” crowd. It’s not merely a sheer happenstance that tax cuts have virtually ALWAYS increased revenue; there is the prediction that such will happen, based on very sound theory. Let me ask you: if I tax a heavy chunk of your capital gains, will you invest more? No. You will invest less, because you’re still taking risks with your investments, but you are getting to keep less of your reward. On the other hand, if I cut those capital gains, will you invest more? You betcha; because if your risk in the market pays off, YOU get to keep what you earn. In other words, we have sound reason to believe that cutting taxes stimulates investment, and raising taxes stimulates sheltering and avoidance behavior, and THEN we see the historic success of cutting taxes.

    Go back to basics. Look at the Laffer Curve. What it presents is simply obviously true. If you tax at a rate of 100%, nobody will bother to produce anything. Would YOU go to work everyday and invest if you weren’t allowed to keep any of your profits? I kind of doubt it. On the other hand, if you tax at a rate of 0%, then people will go out and produce, but the government will end up with no revenue. Reagan found the sweet spot. Democrats fail to understand that. They believe that you can jack up tax rates, and revenue will increase correspondingly. They fail to understand that changing tax rates changes behavior.

    Your “high taxes raise revenue” crowd met their Waterloo in 1993, when Clinton raised the luxury tax on items such as yachts. Almost immediately, affected industries were devastated when the wealthy stopped buying taxed items. And since the devastation occurred in primarily Democrat-controlled areas, they started falling all over themselves to have that stupid tax repealed. And then lo and behold, the rich started buying yachts again.

    Are you going to tell me that THAT historical fact is based on some kind of a logical fallacy, too?

    So what you call a “logical fallacy” is actually a rather obvious statement of fact. A fact which proto-Marxist liberals, who constantly play class warfare games, and who ultimately want the government to have control over the behavior and production of everyone, simply will not realize.

    You say:

    To refute an incorrect example of yours: Did you realize that federal spending grew at a slower rate during Clinton’s first two years in office, working with a Democratic-majority, and then rose faster once the Republicans gained control of Congress in 1995?

    Well, let me refute your refutation. You might not be familiar with it, but there’s this thing called the military. Conservatives like it. They want it strong. When Bill Clinton got elected, he gutted the military budget. Reagan couldn’t do that, because he was winning the Cold War. Bush I couldn’t do it, because he was dealing with the unstable aftermath of the Cold War, and in addition he had to deal with Saddam Hussein and the invasion of Kuwait. But Clinton did to the military what he did to Monica Lewinsky.

    There are other things as well. A big one is the federal funds rate. If you look at a historical graph, you will see that the rate began to come down dramatically beginning in 1989 (again, thank you Reagan). But Bill Clinton was the one who was able to take advantage of a historic opportunity to refinance our debt, and thus dramatically lower the interest on the deficit.

    On top of that, Clinton benefited dramatically from an economy that was roaring out of a severe recession just before Clinton took office. That sure helped a lot with growth.

    Nevertheless, in spite of all those advantages, Clinton’s first two years in office were such an unmitigated disaster that he suffered the greatest Congressional defeat in the history of the country. And you make it sound like he was doing just dandy.

    Clinton also played a lot of games with numbers. For instance, he baited and switched between the public debt and the intergovernmental debt to make it appear he had cut the deficit, when in reality he largely hadn’t. And he changed the way unemployment was calculated to make his numbers appear better, abandoning the U-6 calculation in 1994 for a calculation that made the numbers look better.

    And you didn’t “refute” my example. It is a FACT OF HISTORY that the Republican Revolution forced Clinton to govern as a fiscal moderate. As one huge example, the very welfare reform you cite: Clinton vetoed it TWICE before the Republicans came up with sufficient numbers to FORCE him to sign it.

    Btw, Reagan had already dramatically cut taxes, and Clinton’s increases were extremely moderate in terms of Regan’s cuts.

    I agree with a couple of your basic contentions, that: 1) high productivity and low debts are crucial to a thriving economy and society. And 2) that Republicans have often failed to live up to their conservatism – UNLESS you compare them to Democrats. It is rather comical to go back to the Democrats decrying Bush’s “unsustainable spending,” only to create more deficits in just one YEAR than the Bush administration did over its entire 8 years.

    I agree that if it wasn’t for Democrats, we wouldn’t want Republicans. The problem is, we DO have Democrats. If you want government health care, cap-and-trade, a deficit/debt that is the worst since WWII, and other fiascoes, don’t vote for Republicans.

  9. The Center Square Says:

    Quick hits…

    1. Where did you get that I claimed to be a true conservative? I am a very center-of-the-road person.

    2. I don’t know if tax cuts have ALWAYS been followed d by economic growth, but I’ll take your word for it. Then again, government spending is ALWAYS stimulative in the short run too.

    3. Clinton’s tax increases were certainly hard on the taxed industries. But the economy as a whole boomed. Isn’t that the test? It is hard to accept a paradigm that lauds economic growth when it is triggered by a tax cut, but decries it when it is triggered by a tax increase. That’s the very definition of ideology, I would say.

    4. I’m not saying that Clinton was doing just dandy. I’m saying spending rose a little when he was paired with Democratic Congress, and more when he was paired with a Republican Congress. Is the idea that conservative fiscal values are dispensible if the spending is “conservative”? Deficit spending is deficit spending.

    5. The problem with the Laffer curve argument is that it looks only at one aspect of the economics. It cannot and does not address the politics. Since we started cutting taxes, we starting piling up debt. Even if you and I disagree on the economics of that, surely we agree on that fact. At this point, our massive debt and chronic severe deficits are far more relevant to our economic security than our marginal tax rates.

    I have voted for Republicans. What I got for my trouble was runaway spending and deficits. I have voted for Democrats. There, I got runaway spending and taxes. Not until we understand that the battle of our times is not between Republicans and Democrats, but rather between politicians and we the people, can we go forward.

  10. Michael Eden Says:

    1. I may well have misread you (I tend to read through comments more quickly than I should). But you introduced yourself by telling me, “In my view, there are three pillars of conservatism.” Now, I can only tell you that, as a conservative, I would never presume to say, “On my view, there are three pillars of liberalism,” and then lecture liberals on how to be liberals.

    2. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that tax cuts ALWAYS stimulate economic growth, either, because the government can still do other things that undermine it. For example, let’s say that I cut taxes, but enact massive regulations. Or let’s say I cut taxes, and then we get into a war. But tax cuts are a fundamental prereq for prolonged economic growth. They are a giant step in the right direction. And there’s a clear historic association of the one creating the other. For what it’s worth, John F. Kennedy understood that.

    3. Again, Clinton’s tax increases were relatively minimal in light of both Reagan style cuts and Carter-style increases, and he actually CUT capital gains taxes. And he did so in ’96 as a direct result of the Republican Revolution. You also don’t seem to realize that the economy was just coming out of a recession only a few months prior to Clinton taking office – and growth tends to surge following recession just as dammed-up water tends to surge when the gates are opened.

    Let me show you what a rightwing ideologue I truly am by citing another rightwing ideologue – John Kennedy:

    It is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high and tax revenues are too low and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now … Cutting taxes now is not to incur a budget deficit, but to achieve the more prosperous, expanding economy which can bring a budget surplus.” – John F. Kennedy, Nov. 20, 1962, president’s news conference

    Lower rates of taxation will stimulate economic activity and so raise the levels of personal and corporate income as to yield within a few years an increased – not a reduced – flow of revenues to the federal government.” – John F. Kennedy, Jan. 17, 1963, annual budget message to the Congress, fiscal year 1964

    In today’s economy, fiscal prudence and responsibility call for tax reduction even if it temporarily enlarges the federal deficit – why reducing taxes is the best way open to us to increase revenues.” – John F. Kennedy, Jan. 21, 1963, annual message to the Congress: “The Economic Report Of The President”

    It is no contradiction – the most important single thing we can do to stimulate investment in today’s economy is to raise consumption by major reduction of individual income tax rates.” – John F. Kennedy, Jan. 21, 1963, annual message to the Congress: “The Economic Report Of The President”

    Now I’m willing to agree with you that one of us is an ideologue. But I think that it’s YOU, the guy who agrees with Ted Kennedy, rather than me, the guy who agrees with John Kennedy.

    4. I’m not sure where you’re getting the data that the deficits were low when Democrats ran the Congress in 1993-94, and soared when Republicans took over. Because the actual data says the exact opposite:

    Clinton deficits

    What I see is exactly the opposite of what you are claiming: the deficits were at their highest during the first couple of years of Clinton while Democrats ran things, and then began to drop dramatically when Uncle Newtie took over.

    I also came across an article that basically counts all the ways that Clinton either did or tried to do things that were massively counterproductive in terms of deficits.

    5. Look, all I can tell you is what John Kennedy said. All I can say is that when Reagan cut taxes, we got more revenue. And when Bush cut taxes, we got more revenue. It may just be a tragic fact of human nature that when either we or our government has more money, we tend to spend more money. The fact that we then proceeded to spend more does not in any way take away from the simple fact that cutting taxes stimulated economic activity and actually resulted in more revenue being collected. Obama, on the other hand, is of course spending dramatically more even as revenues plunge.

    I agree that the Republicans spent way too much. And gave us huge deficits (although the worst deficits for Bush DID occur while Democrats were in charge of Congress in 2007/2008 — to further offset your earlier claim about Republicans in Congress and Clinton).

    That said, the Republicans at their worst are still better than the Democrats at their best. And here we are in the present, when Barack Obama in just ONE YEAR has already created more deficits than Bush – whom you want to complain about – created in his entire 8 years in office.

    As a grown-up, and as a former soldier, I have long since come to realize that very often in life, you have to choose between a bad option, and a really bad option.

    Republicans are the former, Democrats the latter.

  11. The Center Square Says:

    Let me be more clear: I’m not saying that deficits were low in 1993-94. I am saying that spending rose at the slowest rate of Clinton’s eight years in that period. It took until later in his presidency that the economic boom turned deficits into surpluses.

    And please don’t get me started on the Obama’s gigantic deficits. You seem well informed and intelligent. Surely you realize that if we had elected McCain, then your quote would be, “John McCain in just ONE YEAR has already created more deficits than Bush created in his entire 8 years in office.”

    That being said, your premise is wildly inaccurate, or at least misleading. The federal debt rose about $4 trillion during Bush’s two terms — far less than it has increased since January. Granted, Bush reported less than that in cumulative deficits, but that was only because he kept a lot expenditures off book. Let’s not pretend that Obama has added $4 trillion to the debt in his first less-than-year, or that the shortfall during that period would have been much different under McCain. In fact McCain may have blunted the stimulus package, and we could have failed to see the 3.5% GDP rebound in the latest quarter — and the attendant lesser tax receipts; YOUR point — and the deficit be running worse right now.

  12. Michael Eden Says:

    A couple of points:

    1) I notice you have nothing to say with the fact that Democrat John F. Kennedy was a major proponent of tax decreases to stimulate economic growth (or principle argument), or that you seem to think agreeing with John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan makes ME an ideologue, but agreeing with Ted Kennedy and Karl Marx doesn’t make YOU an ideologue. I want to hear you deal with that.

    2) I get tired of arguments when people assert things, and I provide facts, and then they provide more assertions. Don’t say it, show it. If Clinton’s spending was so low in ’93-94, relative to the years of Republican control that followed, show it.

    But you also have to show me how that would even matter.

    Realize that you still haven’t bothered to try to account for the FACT that deficits went down dramatically after the Republicans swept into power. The bottom line is that if I’m a billionaire, it very much seems to be that I can AFFORD to spend a whole bunch more than I can if I’m a pauper. And if that isn’t true, you DEMONSTRATE that it isn’t true. “Excessive spending” is strictly relative to how much one has in the bank. What clearly matters most is whether we are spending within our means.

    Under the Republican Revolution, I have demonstrated that the federal government spent within its means.

    My response to your second paragraph, as “an informed and intelligent person,” is first to wonder where you got your certitude in counterfactuals. How was it that learned what WOULD have happened had McCain won? That said, you might possibly be right about McCain. But McCain is a Republican kind of the way Dede Scozzafava is a Republican. In name only.

    A very interesting article demonstrates that those countries that avoided the huge government stimulus programs have actually recovered far more quickly than those countries (particularly OURS) that engaged in that load of hooey.

    So I’ve got good reason to argue that had we not spent a boatload of our children’s children’s children’s children’s inheritance on government spending, we actually would have recovered from this recession far more quickly.

    That goes – again – hand in hand with history. A major UCLA study demonstrated that FDR and all of his government interventionism actually prolonged the Great Depression by 7 years.

    The economists said:

    Lee E. Ohanian, vice chair of UCLA’s Department of Economics:

    ”Why the Great Depression lasted so long has always been a great mystery, and because we never really knew the reason, we have always worried whether we would have another 10- to 15-year economic slump. We found that a relapse isn’t likely unless lawmakers gum up a recovery with ill-conceived stimulus policies.”

    Fellow UCLA professor of economics Harold L. Cole:

    “The fact that the Depression dragged on for years convinced generations of economists and policy-makers that capitalism could not be trusted to recover from depressions and that significant government intervention was required to achieve good outcomes. Ironically, our work shows that the recovery would have been very rapid had the government not intervened.”

    So, had an actual Republican who abided by conservative policies been running things, I submit that a) we WOULDN’T have spent more in just one year than Bush did in 8; and b) we’d be way along on the road to recovery.

    As to your last paragraph, I have to laugh. Because you said regarding the Laffer Curve: “The problem with the Laffer curve argument is that it looks only at one aspect of the economics.” And here you are, ignoring the fact that Bill Clinton left George Bush with an economy that was plunging into a recession, the massive attack on 9/11 that gutted industries such as air travel, hotels, and entertainment, the two wars that resulted from 9/11, and the worst natural catastrophe in American history in the form of Hurricane Katrina.

    You bring up the GDP news as though it were a good thing. The day after the news was released, the stock market took a 250 point dump as investors realized the government spending (literally trillions) does not make for anything but BAD growth. The last two months, private sector/consumer spending went DOWN, and consumer confidence plunged.

    And again, its rather bizarre that you would start off by saying that Reagan wasn’t a great president because of his spending, and then turn around and say, “The greatest government spending binge in the history of the human race was good.”

  13. The Center Square Says:

    Actually, Kennedy’s enthusiasm for tax cuts is very much in keeping with my point. Politicians love them. It is economists who are more troubled, or, I should say, who are troubled by sky-high debt levels.

    I think your characterization of McCain as a ‘rino’ is very telling. There is a better way to define a Republican than who Republicans vote for? No. By definition, whoever Republicans nominate is a ‘true’ Republican. Perhaps the root of your meaning is he is not a conservative Republican. That is exactly my point, though: Republicans in practice are not conservative, and most conspicuously so in national elections.

    As for Clinton’s spending history, here you go:

    1992 federal spending (baseline) — $1381.7 billion
    1994 spending (last year of Democratic control of Congress) — $1461.9 billion, a two year compounded growth rate of 2.9%
    2000 spending (last of Clinton’s six years with Republican control of Congress — $1789.2 billion, a six year compounded growth rate of 3.4%.

    You can find great federal, state and local spending data here: http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/

    Deficits went down dramatically when Republicans swept to power in 1994. The deficits went up dramatically when Republicans retained power, and accelerated alarmingly during the period of Republican control of both the White House and Congress. Because no politicians can control spending, deficits are function of two things: economic growth (or the lack thereof), and tax policy. And over the past 25 years, we have seen the accumulation of $11 trillion of new debt. Doesn’t that speak for itself?

    And let’s keep all the facts straight about the financial markets this past week: The markets went up on the good GDP news, and then down on the bad consumer spending news.

    Finally, a personal note. I am thick-skinned, but I do take humbrage at the notion that your arguments are fact-based and mine aren’t. I am not here to write a footnoted doctoral dissertation, but everything I have said is supportable factually. By contrast, you are the one who conjured out of thin air that I describe myself as a conservative, who took my comments about spending during the Clinton administration and attempted to refute them with arguments about deficits of that period, who claimed that Obama has piled up more debt than the entire Bush administration, and who, when I presented arguments about the economics of tax policy, has attempted to refute them with the opinions of politicians (Dupont, Kennedy). I am happy to continue this conversation, but only if you can accept that there are well-informed, thoughtful, rational individuals who do not share your conservative paradigm. I have not uttered one word of personal disparagement in this long chain of communication, nor ever once implied that your views are based on ignorance, lack of information, or other shortcoming. I do sincerely hope that you are not among those who sincerely believe the only possible explanation for disagreement with you is ignorance. But if you are, then I have better places to spend my time.

  14. Michael Eden Says:

    You’re right. There never is or has been a conservative economist. Guys like Milton Friedman, Gary Becker, Peter Morici, Thomas Sowell, Arthur Laffer, Walter Williams, Evan Coyne, Jagdish Bhagwati aren’t real. They are just made up characters who don’t really exist, just as their agreement that lowering taxes stimulates economic activity and creates more government revenue is also fake. All economists universally believe in high taxes.

    There are plenty of economists who are in absolute agreement with John F. Kennedy and Ronald W. Reagan. You suggested that I was an “ideologue” for agreeing with these men. I’m now still calling you out for agreeing with Ted Kennedy and Karl Marx instead of John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.

    You gave me a link that doesn’t directly link to the figures you cite. I want the actual link.

    But that’s not all I want. Given that you try to argue that spending is bad, irregardless of deficits, I also want you to explain how it is that my rich uncle buying a Porsche is somehow as bad as my buying one (he’s a multi-millionaire; I’m not). I want you to argue that a wealthy country somehow shouldn’t be able to spend as much as a non-wealthy country. And I also want you to explain how cutting deficits like the Republican Congress did don’t matter, but that an absolute spending figure somehow does.

    I’m going to pretend you didn’t try to point out that deficits “accelerated alarmingly during the period of Republican control of both the White House and Congress.” Because that would mean that you were ignorant of the facts that 1) Bush took office in the midst of a recession (as I previously documented); and 2) that only months after Bush took over, the United States suffered the worst attack on its soil since the War of 1812; or 3) that the act of war committed on 9/11 against the United States both dramatically exacerbated the recession and created the necessity for a huge military buildup. Bill Clinton, by contrast, massively benefited from the fact that his predecessors won the Cold War and forced Saddam Hussein to behave. Reagan and Bush had to spend to build the military up to accomplish these goals; Bill Clinton got to undertake massive military spending cuts.

    And again, if you want to talk about deficits, let’s talk about Obama spending more in just one year than Bush did in 8 years.

    Let’s talk about this:

    Mr. Obama’s $3.6 trillion budget blueprint, by his own admission, redefines the role of government in our economy and society. The budget more than doubles the national debt held by the public, adding more to the debt than all previous presidents — from George Washington to George W. Bush — combined. It reduces defense spending to a level not sustained since the dangerous days before World War II, while increasing nondefense spending (relative to GDP) to the highest level in U.S. history. And it would raise taxes to historically high levels (again, relative to GDP). And all of this before addressing the impending explosion in Social Security and Medicare costs.

    And if you want to talk about spending instead of debt or deficits, by all means, let’s talk about the fact that Barack Obama and the Democrats are spending more than any civilization in human history has ever spent.

    Since you don’t give Bush or Republicans any credit, and hold them completely responsible for the absolute numbers (omitting the years that Republicans dramatically brought down the deficits under Clinton because it spoils the point you’re trying to make), Democrats and Obama bear 100% of the responsibility for the economy now. And in fact, since Democrats took over the Congress in 2006, they are completely responsible for everything from that point, too. And, boy, did the Democrats in Congress spend a ton in the years 2007 and 2008 before Obama also grabbed the White House this year.

    I’m quite happy to have a discussion under those terms.

    I’m more than happy to look at the numbers under Republicans under Clinton or Bush + Republicans, and then compare that to the numbers of Obama + Democrats now. Believe me I am. Whether you want to talk about deficits, spending, economic growth, or whatever, I welcome that argument. Please.

    I don’t know how think your skin is, I don’t know what dermatological issues you have or don’t have, and I don’t particularly care. You don’t get to just come here and spout a bunch of stuff as though your opinions amount to scientific fact. In my articles, and in my comments, I provide support and documentation for what I’m saying. Do the same, or I’ll call you out. If you don’t like it, go somewhere else where everything you say is taken as the gospel truth.

    As far as your entire last paragraph, that I translated as “Wah,” if you can make an articulate, fact-based case, that’s fine. If, on the other hand, you make statements such as “It is economists who are more troubled” (about tax cuts), then we’re going to have problems. Because it’s nothing but stupid to try to assert that economists are in some kind of universal agreement that tax cuts are bad because they cause high debt levels. Not only will I not allow you to do that, but I will flat out ridicule you for doing it.

    One of my pet peeves is somebody who uses rhetorical judo to cast themselves as the victim. I’m here to talk about the case that you are arguing that lower taxes creates high spending (since you don’t appear to care about deficits). I’m not here to gently stroke your hair.

    Lastly, since we are now all informed and aware that you are NOT a conservative, please refrain in the future from lecturing me what conservatism is, what conservatives should do in order to be conservative, or how conservatives ought to behave. And most definitely, don’t try to lecture me about “the three pillars” of conservatism, as you did when you first commented. I made the mistake of thinking that someone who was so presumptuous as to declare what conservatism was must be conservative. But just like I don’t get to tell liberals about the pillars of liberalism, or Muslims about the pillars of Islam, you don’t get to tell me how to be a good conservative. Nor do you get to tell me that Ronald Reagan wasn’t a good conservative, any more than I get to tell a liberal that Barack Obama isn’t a good liberal.

    Finally, as regards to your discussion about what I said about John McCain, allow me to discuss your own statement about him:

    “Surely you realize that if we had elected McCain, then your quote would be, “John McCain in just ONE YEAR has already created more deficits than Bush created in his entire 8 years in office.””

    You see, I can’t help but laugh my hind end off that you would essentially claim supernatural counterfactual knowledge about what WOULD have happened had history been completely different and an entirely different set of circumstances had prevailed, and then exclaim that:

    “I do take humbrage at the notion that your arguments are fact-based and mine aren’t.”

    But that’s just me, I guess.

    I know, I know, silly me for questioning the absolute certitude and reliability of all of your “fact-based” claims.

  15. The Center Square Says:

    I will take one last crack at this, focusing on one example so that we can communicate better. I will refute your statement that “Obama [spent] more in just one year than Bush did in 8 years.” (Actually, I will refute what I think you meant to say, that Obama’s deficits were more in one year than Bush had in eight years. I assume the difference was a slip of the tongue, so to speak).

    Here are Bush’s eight years’ deficits:
    2001 $128.2 billion surplus [http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/year2001_0.html]

    2002 $157.8 billion deficit [http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/year2002_0.html, and so on]

    2003 $377.6 billion deficit
    2004 $412.7 billion deficit
    2005 $318.3 billion deficit
    2006 $248.2 billion deficit
    2007 $160.7 billion deficit
    2008 $458.6 billion deficit

    Total eight year net deficits: $2005.7 billion, and that’s giving him 100% credit for his only year of surpluses, four months of which occurred during the Clinton presidency and all of which occurred due to the economic momentum inherited by him.

    The estimated deficit for FY2009 is $1841.2 billion [http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/year2009_0.html#usgs302, relying on data from the OMB here: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/index.html%5D.

    I hope our grade school math training is comparable, and we can agree that Obama’s 2009 $1841.2 billion is less than Bush’s cumulative $2005.7.


    The first four months of FY2009 occurred almost entirely before Obama was even sworn in — October 2008 through January 2009. I will presume agreement that Obama is blameless for that period. According to the CBO, the deficit for those four months alone was $563 billion [http://cboblog.cbo.gov/?p=206]. Thus, when Obama was sworn in, the deficit was running at a $1689b annual rate. That certainly puts the full year deficit estimate of $1841b in a fresh light. One might say that 92% of the deficit in Obama’s first year was inherited from the previous administration, or put another way, that total impact of ALL of Obama’s policies enacted so far is to increase the 2009 deficit by 9%.

    UPDATED TOTALS: Bush cumulative deficits = $2005b + $563b = $2568b; Obama 2009 deficits = $1841b – $563b = $1278b. Bush is now out to a 2-to-1 lead.


    How much of the $1278b budget deficit projected for the remainder of 2009 is attributable to Obama’s policies? Let’s start with tax revenue, one of your favorite topics I know. Obama inherited tax receipts that were running 10% lower than a year earlier, due to the rececession [http://cboblog.cbo.gov/?p=206]. With annual tax receipts totaling about $2000b [http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/fy09/hist.html], that means Obama’s eight months were deprived of about $130b in tax receipts due to the inherited recession.

    UPDATED TOTALS: Bush cumulative deficits = $2568b; Obama 2009 deficits = $1278b – $130b = $1148b.


    I couldn’t find a concise analysis or link, but obviously federal outlays in 2009 are amplified by recession-related expenditures — more for everything from public assistance, to state assistance, to Medicaid, to unemployment benefits, to healthcare expenses, etc.


    Remember I started here by reporting the $2005b in cumulative net deficits of the Bush Administration? Well guess what? At the end of FY2000, federal debt stood at $5.674 trillion [http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/year2000_0.html#usgs302]. At the end of FY 2008, federal debt stood at $9.986 trillion [http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/year2008_0.html#usgs302].

    Somehow, President Bush managed to increase federal debt by $4.312 trillion, while posting deficits less than half that amount. Only in Washington! Nice little tricks like not counting the cost of two wars in the annual deficits.

    So, in the end, the Bush Administration presided over about $2.5 trillion in cumulative net deficits AND borrowed another $2.3 trillion not counted in those deficits. Obama’s first year is on track for about $1.1 trillion in deficit spending related to his policies. Take away $787b for the stimulus package and $350b for TARP #2 — neither of which would have happened but for the severe economic contraction and seizing up of the financial system — and it would be a pretty good year, fiscally speaking.

    I hope you find this sufficiently reasoned and supported by facts.

  16. Michael Eden Says:

    Interesting. But I very quickly found something that uses the same numbers you provide, and then puts it into “Obama perspective.”

    (WASHINGTON, DC) – President Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats today surpassed the eight-year federal deficit total of the Bush Administration in just a little more than one month after taking control of all three branches of the federal government.

    “Anybody who voted against Republicans over being mad at the deficit will want a redo when they see this,” says House Republican Conference Secretary John Carter (R-TX31). “Voting Democrat to straighten out the federal deficit is the same as hiring Foster Brooks to inventory the liquor store.”

    In contrast, the Bush Administration ran up a $2.7519 trillion deficit over an 8-year period that included 7 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan; the economic downturn after 9-11; the addition of a prescription drug benefit to Medicare; a massive increase in federal education spending under No Child Left Behind; and the current recession and 2008 Wall Street bailout.

    Bush Surplus/Deficit Fiscal Years 2001-2008 (billions of dollars)
    Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Statistics
    2001 128.2
    2002 -157.8
    2003 -377.6
    2004 -412.7
    2005 -318.3
    2006 -248.2
    2007 -160.7
    2008 -454.8
    TARP -750.0
    Total -2751.9

    Obama Budget Deficit FY 2009/10*
    Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Statistics
    2010 -1750
    2011 -1117
    Total -2867

    *The Obama deficit total does NOT include the impact of the $787 billion Stimulus package approved by House Democrats in February. It also excludes any effect of an Obama contingency request for an additional $750 billion to use for bank rescue. If the contingency amount is included the total deficit for FY 2009/10 is $3.617 trillion

    So to paraphrase your smarminess, “I hope our grade school math training is comparable, and we can agree that Bush’s cumulative $2751.9 billion is less than Obama’s FY 2009/2010 $2867 billion.”

    Back to the drawing board for you. Too bad. You probably thought you really had me on the ropes.

    The article is actually not completely correct. Bush left HALF of the TARP money for Obama, and that IS on his tab in the sense that HE is the one who is spending it. And any fool knows that, fiscal year or no fiscal year, all that porkulus is on Obama. Just to make it even worse for Obama. And for you.

    It’s sad how Republicans get the blame for everything no matter how psycho the blame: 214 out of 217 Republicans voted against the Stimulus (and that’s counting Arlin Specter as a Republican!), and yet the Stimulus is still the Republicans’ fault. What can a sane person even say???

    And there are other things to factor in. For instance, the $787 billion stimulus that you incredibly want to foist on Bush rather than the guy and the party who pushed it and passed it is actually a super-massive black hole of $3.27 TRILLION according to the Congressional Budget Office scoring.

    Nor have we figured in the massive black hole of Obamacare that Democrats are trying to foist on us now. Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid chalked that up as yet another $2 trillion.

    Now, you cite a figure of $4.312 trillion for Bush. That would be a lot, except that the inspector general for the TARP – you know, the thing that Bush intended to be only $700 billion – has morphed into an even more giant super-massive black hole than above under Obama. To the tune of $23.7 trillion. Go ahead and talk about Bush’s $4.312 trillion you want to assign to Bush; I’ll talk about the $23.7 trillion that IG Barofsky is assigning to Obama.

    Hope you’re true to your word and that really was your last crack. I’d really hate for you to make yourself a liar. Because, you know, when you smarmily said in your conclusion, “I hope you find this sufficiently reasoned and supported by facts,” I can only assume that your opening of “I will take one last crack at this” was one of your sufficiently reasoned and supported facts.

  17. The Center Square Says:

    You’re hopeless. Your words: “In contrast, the Bush Administration ran up a $2.7519 trillion deficit over an 8-year period.” Your words: “Obama Budget Deficit FY 2009/10* Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Statistics 2010 -1750.” That is how you defend the statement that Obama spent more (sic) in one year than Bush in eight years? Typical of the weak-minded, now you have changed your proposition from Obama’s spending in one year, to his deficits in two years (“Obama’s FY 2009/2010 $2867 billion”). Never mind that you just documented average deficits of less than $1.5 trillion per year, when I had previously documented deficits running at $1.7 trillion per year when he took office.

    No rebuttal whatsoever to the documented fact that $563b of Obama’s deficit happened before he took office. No rebuttal whatsover to the fact that the deficit was running at an annual rate of $1.7 trillion annual rate before Obama took office. No rebuttal whatsoever to the fact that tax revenues are down 10% due to a recession not of Obama’s making.

    Why are these points missing from your rebuttal?

    You need to stop reading the pre-chewed faux-analysis of untrustworthy people (e/k/a politicians), and get back the facts and do your own thinking. Are you capable of that?

  18. Michael Eden Says:

    I’m fine with you calling me “hopeless,” given that you are now a self-admitted lying weasel simply by virtue of coming back for another “one last crack” after your LAST “last crack.” I knew you wouldn’t be able to keep your word on that.

    Do you hear yourself, you intellectual joke? You – the (fill in the blank) who thinks Democrats are doing so much better than Republicans re: spending and debt – are actually claiming some kind of victory because Obama outspends Bush’s entire eight years in TWO years, rather than merely one??? You complete and total ideologue! What on earth is wrong with you??? You’re like some moron claiming victory for your university, because my university defeated yours by 70 points, but the spread was 75 points. I mean, can’t you realize your team has lost?

    When I was a kid, we had two dogs, a Dachshund and a Poodle. When we got the poodle, it attacked the Dachshund over and over again. And each time, the Dachshund had the Poodle on its back, with her teeth around its throat, in about two seconds. You are like that Poodle.

    So, Mr. Weasel, let me set the record straight for folks scoring at home. I provided an article that again pointed out the massive spending of Obama relative to Bush, which used the figures that you provided. It used the figures you provided, but it also did some OTHER things, which I distinctly remember pointing out; namely, it assigned the ENTIRE 2008 TARP bailout onto Bush – when in fact Bush (as I documented) left fully $350 billion for OBAMA’S 2009 budget. And it actually placed the ENTIRE $787 Obama stimulus onto Bush’s budget. Neither one of those accountings are necessary or fair, as I have seen major articles (such as the AP rightly credit those deficits to Obama. And Obama STILL goes way the hell over Bush’s deficits!!! When you add those TARP and stimulus deficits to Obama’s numbers – which is entirely legitimate – you get exactly what I said regarding the eight years, PLUS a whole bunch. Then there’s that whole $23.7 trillion I linked to to contemplate on top of that.

    When I said Obama’s deficit for one year was higher than Bush’s, I was citing a headline – “Obama’s 09 deficit exceeds all eight years of Bush red ink” – that itself refers to a very-thoroughly documented Heritage article. That article is worth reading.

    Here’s more from the American Thinker:

    * Obama’s first-year deficit, the largest in history, is over four times bigger than George Bush’s last deficit, which had been the largest in history up to then.
    * Obama’s first-year deficit is more than Bush’s first seven deficits combined.
    * The smallest deficit predicted under Obama’s budget from 2009 through 2019 is $658 B, or 43% bigger than Bush’s largest deficit, the largest in history up to then.
    * Under Obama’s budget, deficits exceeding one trillion dollars will occur in four years: 2009, 2010, 2018 and 2019.
    * The 10-year cumulative deficit (2010-2019) under Obama’s budget will be $9.3 trillion, or an average of almost one trillion per year, more than doubling what it would have been under the laws left by Bush.
    * The debt held by the public in 2008, or that left by Bush for Obama, was 40.8% of GDP. In just one year under Obama, after 2009, it will be 56.8%, or the largest since 1955. By 2019 it will be 82.5%, the largest in our history except for the three years of 1945-47, the end of World War II.
    * From 2000 to 2008, or the Bush years, the debt held by the public went from 35.1% of GDP to 40.8% — a 5.7% of GDP increase. By 2016, or a similar period under Obama’s budgets, it is expected to reach 77.5% — a 36.7% of GDP increase.
    * Under Obama’s budget, the debt held by the public will reach 82.4% of GDP in 2019. That is more than double the average level since 1960 and more than double what Bush left in 2008. (Recall that “since 1960” includes Nixon, Ford, Reagan and both Bushes.)

    Or, in one scary picture:
    Bush-Obama Deficits

    It is an obvious FACT that Obama’s 2009 budget deficit is larger than all budget deficits from 2002 through 2007 combined. The only question becomes how much of the TARP (which Obama both voted for and received half the funds of) and the Stimulus (which was entirely Obama’s baby, and which 99% of Republicans voted AGAINST), and the 2009 $410 billion Omnibus (which 90% of Republicans opposed), gets blamed on Bush. If one gives Obama the credit he is due just for his damn bullcrap stimulus, his one year surpasses all eight Bush years, you ignorant clown.

    Here’s another way to explain this to people who actually have the capacity for even the slightest degree of fairness:

    Ever since his inauguration, President Obama has said that he “inherited” the federal budget deficit from his predecessor. But immediately upon taking office, Obama signed two new bills, the $787B stimulus and the $410B omnibus, that together about equal the $1.2T deficit he “inherited.”

    Now that the fiscal year has ended, we see that the feds ran a $1.58T deficit for FY 2009, the all-time record and the first deficit over a trillion bucks. This deficit is 3.4 times the $459B deficit of 2008, and 10 times the $160B deficit of 2007, which began when Republicans were still in control of Congress.

    Or we can look at another picture assembled using US Statistical Abstract data through 2007 (Table 452) and CBO data from 2008 to 2019 plotted over time:

    The write-up right beneath that picture says:

    If you are intellectually honest, and bother to look at government data easily available online, this is like shooting fish in a barrel. Bush kept the debt level virtually flat, but Obama is making it virtually explode. Bush kept the debt near levels it had hovered about for the previous several decades. Obama is sending it to levels not seen for over 60 years, since paying off World War II costs.

    There is simply no comparison between Obama and Bush. Heck, there is no comparison between Obama and any other president in US history. You have to be intellectually dishonest to blame Bush for “rampant uncontrolled spending” while praising Obama for responsible spending.

    But you’re not intellectually honest, are you? Rather, you are the poster boy of the “intellectually dishonest” ideologue that Randall Hoven describes.

    Now, for the sake of argument, suppose we agree that George Bush – who is blamed for everything else anyway – gets saddled with the Obama stimulus that Bush had NOTHING to do with, and which Obama passed with only Democrat support. The Omnibus bill was about the same: 90% of Republicans voted against it. But in spite of how ridiculous it actually is to blame these massive debt disasters on Bush and Republicans, let’s go ahead and do it anyway, because that’s just the kind of fools we are. And let’s say that therefore instead of Obama’s deficits being as bad as all eight years of Bush, they are only as bad as SEVEN years of combined Bush deficits. Are you seriously going to look at those numbers and claim a victory for your cause? Your cause is toast. The American Thinker article has a table based on the CBO figures that shows debt taking off straight up like a rocket ship straight for the moon. And you’re still blaming Bush for HIS spending like a total fool.

    You then proceed to stray into complete nutjob territory. You YOURSELF cite Bush’s 2008 deficit as $458.6 billion. And the year before that it was $160.7 billion. And the year before that it was $248.2 billion. Remember??? By your own numbers. Now you’re telling me that “the deficit was running at an annual rate of $1.7 trillion annual rate before [Obama] took office“? On your planet, maybe. But not on earth. I went to the trouble of copying/pasting your “1.7 trillion” figure into your last post and doing a search — and you didn’t even POST such a figure. Which means you’re claiming what you didn’t even actually claim, which goes back to your being a lying weasel.

    You want to cite any other numbers beyond the annual budget deficit figures you cited, I’ll just cite ONE: the $23.7 TRILLION that the TARP inspector general says Obama has privately given out.

    I’m not going to let you keep posting because I don’t want to keep dealing with your lame brain. You are a waste of time. Just like we got rid of that stupid poodle because it didn’t have enough sense to live in our house, I think it’s about time to get rid of you.

    So please go away and bother someone who wants to hear you (alternately) rant and whine. Are you capable of that?

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