Tag: Bill Clinton

I Knew Bill Clinton. He Shagged My Maid. You, Sir, Are No Bill Clinton

Peter Suderman makes an excellent point about the Obama Administration’s mantra that “we just want to return to the Clinton-era tax rates; things were pretty good back then!”

Most of us can agree that the Clinton years, which saw growing median incomes as well as tiny deficits and steady economic growth, were economic good times, and we’d all like to see that sort of economic performance repeated. If that’s the case, then why should we limit ourselves to just replicating one tiny fragment of Clinton-era governance—higher tax rates on a fairly small number of earners? Why not replicate other aspects of Clinton’s policy mix as well?

Probably because that would entail mentioning something that Obama’s frequent invocations of the Clinton years always ignore: that Clinton’s spending levels were far, far lower than they have been for the last four years—or than President Obama has called for them to be in the years to come.

Government spending as a percentage of the economy fell during the Clinton presidency, starting at 21.4 percent and finishing up at about 18.2 percent of GDP in both 2000 and 2001. In 1993, Clinton’s first budget spent $1.4 trillion. The last budget he helped create spent $1.8 trillion. So far, President Obama has spent about $3.5 trillion every year, averaging more than 24 percent of GDP.

I think it’s important to note what Bill Clinton and the Republicans did not do in the 90’s to balance the budget. They did not slash spending left, right and center. They did not gut critical programs. In fact, spending grew in nominal terms. They also did not set vague goals and promise spending cuts in future years in exchange for tax cuts and stimulus spending today.

What they did was exercise restraint. What they did was keep government programs in check and in budget. Even Bill Clinton’s 1993 stimulus bill went down in flames thanks to Republican filibustering (the economy somehow recovered anyway). They did cut some spending significantly — welfare and military spending most notably. But, for the most part, they succeeded by simply not making things worse and letting the economy take care of the rest.

As several Reasonoids have pointed out, this kind of restraint could get our budget balanced within a decade, even without tax increases. Had that kind of restraint been exercised in the last decade, our budget would be hundreds of billions less than it is now. As it is in most of life, 90% of success is simply not fucking up.

That having been said, I think we face a very different challenge right now. The principle budget danger is not discretionary spending but entitlements. Every day we put off the reckoning makes it more difficult, with the ranks of the retired swelling with more and more Boomers. That requires statutory changes to the law and, thankfully, the Republicans appear to be holding out for that. Getting our entitlements under control would do more to get the budget under control than all the discretionary cuts and tax hikes in the world.

Clinton also inherited a much better situation. The economy was rebounding, the Cold War was over and Reagan-Bush I had a far better spending legacy than Bush II-Obama do. Like it or not, some spending is going to have be deep-sixed, preferably starting with corporate welfare. And I’m afraid that Stimulus V: The Search for More Weather-Stripping, is simply not on.

The general point stands: if Obama wants Clinton-era taxes, he needs to start showing Clinton-era spending restraint.

Ceiling Obama’s Fate

I don’t like Speaker Boehner or trust him.  Which just means I have a lot in common with your average conservative Republican congressman (that and skinny-dipping).  It bothers me that this is effectively the most powerful Republican in the federal government.  He’s going to compromise our best strengths away and we’re going to get screwed.   But I really have no idea what else the GOP in the House should do.

We’re talking about Obama’s legacy here.  A working and lasting deal on the debt and taxes would be the starting point for anything good or bad that happens after it.  Obama missed this chance last time through incompetence and opportunism.  He insisted on holding off on any long-term solution until after re-election and allowed the uncertainty  of the fiscal cliff and Taxmageddon  (as well as Obamacare, now not going away) to drag down the economy for another year and a half. 

This is why his first term must be considered to be a failure.  Obama roughly held unemployment in place–unless you want to get into the more complex argument about labor force participation–and that was the issue foremost on voter’s minds.  But Bill Clinton promised that nobody could have fixed the economy in four years and he wouldn’t lie to us, right?  So Obama gets his re-election and another shot at a grand bargain on the debt ceiling and taxes.

Frankly, I’d be more impressed if the federal government woud just pass a real budget in compliance with the law, but they are so fucked that this isn’t even on the table right now.   Whatever Big Fuckin’ Deal these damn fools come up with, it’s going to equally celebrated and meaningless.  They’re not doing what needs to happen, they’re postponing it.  They’re not really doing what they’re supposed to, but making it look like they are.  It’s theatre, but we had best know what the audience is expecting to see on stage: The Rich as the antagonist, who must lose at third act.

The GOP is going to lose plainly on taxes.  Incomes on those who make over $250,000 need to go up because we can’t keep defending these people for no clear reason.  Yeah, yeah, raising taxes now would throw us back into recession or worsen the one we’re already in, depending on your outlook.  The proposed tax increases won’t close the deficit either, I know.   But Obama must have that to show off.  It’s inescapable.  Don’t get me wrong, if we HAD to give Obama a trophy, I’d tell him to take Boehner’s testicles; but he doesn’t want them.  He wants to confiscate more wealth from the wealthy.

I say that the taxes on top earners have to go up because the American people don’t know dick about economics.  Let’s face it.  If they did, they would have shown a lot more curiosity about the lack of a federal budget for nearly four years now and possibly asked some questions about why the recovery was oh so weak.  Oh, yeah: They probably wouldn’t have re-elected Obama either.

My prediction is that the Democrats will get the tax increase on “the rich” while barely giving anything in return.  Don’t get mad about this though.  It’s a loser and the GOP will be better off with it resolved.  It will suck all the wind out of the “party of the rich” arguments if any other part of the deal falls through.

The GOP has the big gun in this argument.  They can always let all of the Bush tax cuts expire.   The demented extremist side of me who would like to collectively kick the electorate in the junk for last Tuesday LOVES the thought of doing this just for spite.  Shitty thing is that this would hurt my household too.  I’m a working schlub, married to a teacher, and we have two kids.   We are that middle class that everyone purports to care about so much and really doesn’t.  Hence, we hate everyone else.

Obama most assuredly does not want to be blamed for raising taxes on the middle class (except for Obamacare, because “kids with cancer” or something).   If the Democrats don’t agree to some spending cuts beyond reducing the military to menacing our enemies with rubberband-fired paper clips, then the GOP must announce that no agreement that realistically reduces the deficit could be reached and they have no choice but to allow the tax cuts to sunset.

The Democrats do not want this and will work hard to prevent it.  The problem is that even though we have the advantage in the form of the great tax increase gambit, we have the biggest disadvantage on the game board: Boehner himself.  This isn’t about him, it’s about Obama.  Both of them want to secure their own legacies and I think Boehner is the less committed of the two.   Worse, he still thinks that something can be worked out man-to-man with this president.  His greatest weapon is that which Obama most fears: tax increases on everybody.  Not beating Obama at golf.

If Boehner does not use the big gun, then he establishes Obama as a good-enough president for resolving the debt stalemate, passes an idiotic compromise that accomplishes nothing for the good of his country, and proves once again how ultimately meaningless it is to give the GOP control of any part of the federal government. 

Obama’s legacy is on the line but all eyes should be on Boehner now.

Administration Expectations

I’m more interested in what happens after Inauguration Day than what happens on Election Day. As much as I want Obama out of office, I wonder how much it would really matter if he loses. My own sense is that his election is all about who is going to be holding the bag of shit when it finally breaks.

As I’ve said in another thread, I think Romney is going to win on Tuesday (assuming that the ballots are all counted and there aren’t any court challenges to deal with). I like Romney and even favored him in 2008. Not that I had any special love for anti-gun, big capitalist, Mormon governors from liberal states. I simply thought he was the best qualified because of his executive experience. His positions are a bit (to put it mildly) flexible and I can easily see him being a Bush-style disappointment on the domestic policy front. But I’m not here to give reasons to vote for or against him. Hal has done an utterly thorough job of it already. Obama could win too, sure. Sometimes my foresight is blinded when I confuse what is happening with what I hope will happen. It’s why I try to stay emotionally unattached. Maybe enough people believed Bill Clinton when he said at the DNC that nobody could have reversed the damage in four years and Obama will pull it together if we just give him another term.

One of these two assholes is going to win, that’s all we know. If Romney wins, he comes into office with a Democratic Senate Majority (or Minority, not sure what to expect here) Leader who has already vowed not to work with him. He will also have a hostile press that will suddenly start noticing again how jacked up our economy and foreign policy are. The potential for a quagmire is limitless. What can he do?

Obama will suffer with an uncooperative House and maybe a Senate. Reid has been, at best, unhelpful to Obama so I have to wonder how much good it would do for Democrats to hold the Senate with an Obama win. Worse, if he wins, it will because of the angry, fearmongering campaign he ran. The divisiveness is not going to fade away just because he squeaks by in a narrow win. Bush made this mistake in 2004 and paid for it dearly the minute he tried to accomplish anything. He was right that something needed to be done, but the other side found that it was better and safer to reject compromise. They turned out to be right–for their own political gain.

Traditionally, presidents in their second terms face scandals and don’t seem to accomplish much. Reagan had Iran/Contra, Clinton had his privates made public, and Bush was simply ground down by Iraq and Katrina. Obama already has Benghazi percolating, even though most of the news media is helpfully keeping the story quiet and not asking a lot of pesky questions until the election is safely over. Obama will do what what he has been doing for the past two years: throwing up executive orders with zero permanence beyond 2016. I suspect that if he wins, he’ll leave a hollow legacy and ultimately destroy the Democratic brand for at least 12 years (to the extent he hasn’t already; we’ll know soon enough).

That’s not a reason to want him to win, but it just highlights the impossibility for either one to accomplish anything with his bag of shit. That bag contains the long-awaited double-dip recession, more credit downgrades, the possibility of inflation, rising threats overseas, and on and on and on. Gridlock is great when we want to avoid the kind of populist overspending that drives us further into debt, but when the government is so dysfunctional that it refuses to pass a budget for four years even as credit agencies continue to warn it about its recklessness, we should worry.

The questions I have are:

1. Are Americans just too divided and partisan to work with those on the other side of the aisle to solve major policy problems? If so, we are well and truly fucked.

2. What sacrifices does each side need to make to effect a Great Compromise to seriously address the economic and debt crisis? I say that the GOP needs to allow some of the Bush tax cuts to expire since they’re clearly not having any stimulative effect at this point while the Democrats need to give up some of their sacred cows.

3. What the hell is it going to take to get away from this 47% vs 47% nonsense where both parties favor their base and win elections by lying to independents? Are we really that divided or is there common ground somewhere?

Recently, Matthew Dowd wrote a fantastic article about the need for a “peace accord” after the election between divided Americans and I like his thinking. We are way too obsessed with seeing points scored against the other side while ignoring the fact that nobody is driving the bus. This isn’t going to change just because Romney or Obama wins and will only get worse if the outcome is seen as questionable. Somebody needs to win BIG and it just isn’t in the cards.

But how do we do this peace accord thing? Are there any people in government/media/anywhere who have the credibility and know-how to even negotiate this? We can’t seem to quit looking past getting our team into office to realize that the people we elect aren’t governing.

I’ll do my part and turn out to vote, but I’m keeping my expectations safely low until I see evidence that the electorate even wants leadership. Right now, I’m not seeing it and that’s why we’re going to be stuck with nothing but the fool who wins.

Rahm Emanuel was right about not letting crises “go to waste” and it’s obvious that nothing is going to happen until disaster is staring us in the face. In the end, I guess I’m only voting for Romney because I’m less afraid of what he’ll do with it. Anyway, sorry to fill your weekend with darkness!

Inequality gap got bigger under… Obama?

Yup, you heard that right. In fact, it is even more damning because, well read for yourself:

In his weekend radio address, President Obama decried that “over the past three decades, the middle class has lost ground while the wealthiest few have become even wealthier.” Although he was trying to leverage the Occupy Wall Street movement, the income gap has been a longstanding concern of his.

During the 2008 campaign, Obama said, “The project of the next president is figuring out how do you create bottom-up economic growth, as opposed to the trickle-down economic growth that George Bush has been so enamored with.”

But it turns out that the rich actually got poorer under President Bush, and the income gap has been climbing under Obama. What’s more, the biggest increase in income inequality over the past three decades took place when Democrat Bill Clinton was in the White House.

Frankly, when you understand what the leftist politicians definition of “social justice” really translates into – they pick who wins and who loses – it comes as no surprise that their friends & donors, the ones pushing whatever idiotic things the left tells us are the must have of the future, end up getting enormous amount of wealth transferred from the US tax payers to them.

Solyndra was just an obvious example of what the left’s “social justice” politics does: it throws other people’s money at bad things, enriching those that cozy up to the leftists. There is a reason that companies like GE and money bundlers like that Kaiser fella behind Solyndra love leftist big government types.

The wealthiest 5% of U.S. households saw incomes fall 7% after inflation in Bush’s eight years in office, according to an IBD analysis of Census Bureau data. A widely used household income inequality measure, the Gini index, was essentially flat over that span. Another inequality gauge, the Theil index, showed a decline.

In contrast, the Gini index rose — slightly — in Obama’s first two years. Another Census measure of inequality shows it’s climbed 5.7% since he took office.

Meanwhile, during Clinton’s eight years, the wealthiest 5% of American households saw their incomes jump 45% vs. 26% under Reagan. The Gini index shot up 6.7% under Clinton, more than any other president since 1980.

Want to know what else has grown disproportionally during the Obama years? The misery index. The dollar is worth shit, US debt is up $5 trillion in a short 3 years, people sucking at the government’s teat are at a record high, and those looking for something paid by other people now don’t even feel shame when they demand more and are called on it. But the LSM isn’t going to report that. Not when the guy in the WH has a (D) next to his name, and certainly not when they rigged the candidate coverage during that election to get him there.

To the extent that income inequality is a problem, it’s not clear what can be done to resolve it. Among the contributing factors:

Here is a hint: income inequality isn’t a problem. Admit that we are not all equal and work from that. We are never ever, all going to cross the finish line at the same time because human nature makes that impossible. Some people think that shit like this is what should determine income, while others, the ones with the income, actually feel work – and yes, work that doesn’t involve manual labor is work and not ignoble as you Marxists fuckwads want to pretend it is – makes the difference. The later are right. The former are envious and greedy. How much wealth is enough? None of you fucking business. Espeically when it is crooks in government trying in an obscene way to dictate that. Class warfare sucks ass.

Liar in chief…

Yes, that’s about Obama, whom like a host of other democrats with aspirations to the high office or held the office, seem to be reality challenged. Remember Obama talking about his poor uninsured “Momma”? That was damned lie.

“Thus he wrote in ‘Dreams from My Father’ that he lamented seeing his mother ‘suffering because of a broken [American] health care system.’ But he ignores the fact that in her hour of need, Stanley Ann, an intelligent, highly educated woman then living in Indonesia, chose America’s health care system above all others. And it wasn’t the system that failed her. In fact, she was quite fortunate to receive the best of care at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York (and later the Straub Clinic in Hawaii).”

Are we to believe that Stanley Ann’s medical co-payments were beyond the means of her loving son, who by this time was a Harvard Law School graduate flush with a six-digit signing bonus for his first book? Moreover, are we as Americans to tear down the finest health care system in the world based on – let’s be honest enough to call them what they are – lies?

Like all leftists he just lied to impart the importance of the whole thing, you know. It’s about emotions, not real facts, and why tell just small lies when an avalanche of lies can do the trick. Not like the complicit LSM will call him out on his bullshit either. One is safer assuming these scumbags – and especially Obama – are just lying from the start, than to pretend that’s not the case.

Yeah, I know. I am such a racist for pointing stuff like this out. BTW, Bill Clinton and John Kerry are lying fucks too, so what does that make me?