"The U.S. Economy is an Ocean Liner that Turns Very Slowly"

Conservative economist Bruce Bartlett has written a recent column in which he states that GOP rage is misdirected at Obama; it properly should be directed differently. “The person they should be angry with left the White House seven months ago.”

He provides some pretty thorough evidence that the Bush admin screwed the pooch on the economy (and about everything else imo).

The following comment is interesting, “Until conservatives once again hold Republicans to the same standard they hold Democrats, they will have no credibility and deserve no respect.”

I’d argue the same is true for some conservative commentators on this board, although I hasten to add there are several I personally respect very highly, and I hope they contribute to this thread.

There’s a lot in the editorial to debate. For this thread, I’m sure people will pick and choose, but I’d like to bring up the following comments:

“… [C]onservatives have an absurdly unjustified view that Republicans have a better record on federal finances. It is well-known that Clinton left office with a budget surplus and Bush left with the largest deficit in history. Less well-known is Clinton’s cutting of spending on his watch, reducing federal outlays from 22.1 percent of GDP to 18.4 percent of GDP. Bush, by contrast, increased spending to 20.9 percent of GDP. Clinton abolished a federal entitlement program, Welfare, for the first time in American history, while Bush established a new one for prescription drugs.”


“Conservatives delude themselves that the Bush tax cuts worked and that the best medicine for America’s economic woes is more tax cuts; at a minimum, any tax increase would be economic poison. They forget that Ronald Reagan worked hard to pass one of the largest tax increases in American history… even though the nation was still in a recession that didn’t end until November of that year. Indeed, one could easily argue that the enactment of that legislation was a critical prerequisite to recovery because it led to a decline in interest rates. The same could be said of Clinton’s 1993 tax increase, which many conservatives predicted would cause a recession but led to one of the biggest economic booms in history.”

and finally

“In my opinion, conservative activists, who seem to believe that the louder they shout the more correct their beliefs must be, are less angry about Obama’s policies than they are about having lost the White House in 2008. They are primarily Republican Party hacks trying to overturn the election results, not representatives of a true grassroots revolt against liberal policies. If that were the case they would have been out demonstrating against the Medicare drug benefit, the Sarbanes-Oxley bill, and all the pork-barrel spending that Bush refused to veto.”

I think that paragraph is dead-on. I’ll add that I’m certain a component of the rage at Obama’s presidency from some is thinly-concealed racism, but he doesn’t make that point.

Anyway, it’s chock full of controversial morsels. Tuck in!

Great article; thanks for bringing it to attention here. I particularly liked this, because I’ve been saying this since last fall, when the “Obama will destroy this country” talk started.

And this:

The truth is, Bush was a lousy president, by any yardstick you want to measure with. And the pains we are feeling now aren’t because of anything Obama has done (or not done), but because of the crappy policies of the last administration.

Bartlett’s article makes it pretty clear that Bush era economic policies sucked ass compared to the previous administration. GDP growth was 34.7% during Clinton’s admin, only 15.9% during Bush’s terms. Payroll employment increased to the tune of 23 million jobs during 1993-2001, but only grew by 2.5 million jobs during 2001-2008.

I’ve been saying it since last October: if conservatives want to truly be the party of accountability and fiscal management, they should be mad at the people who got us here, not the people trying to get us out.

Best quote from the article:

I disagree: Mr Bartlett seems to be forgetting that it is an opposition’s duty to oppose, to force the government to prove its case, to pick up on any and all failures and shortcomings. All politicians should hold themselves to a high standard, but other politicians - particularly those of other parties - to a higher one.

Sure, Republicans should admit the failings under Bush, but that doesn’t mean they should keep quiet about Obama.

It isn’t the opposition’s job to force the government to prove its case, unless you are talking about a revolutionary group. See, in this country, we’re all part of the government, even the conservatives. Unless you do mean what you wrote: that there is a group that opposes everything our government stands for and tries to accomplish. Is that what you meant?

I think what you may have meant, although it’s unclear, was that the opposition should try and force the other side; i.e the Democratic members of Congress & the POTUS, to justify their actions. That’s fine, they prolly should do that, and the American public will give due consideration to the opinions of terminal hypocrites and the self-deluded, and then we’ll move on and keep getting things done.

…and he never says that conservatives should stfu. Just points out that they will be heard with all the credibility and respect they deserve: almost none. If they want to own up to who fucked up, and stop being blindly reactive (“NO!”, or if from Alaska “HELL NO!”), maybe the grownups will listen to what they are saying, instead of just acknowledging that there is a person shouting in the room.

Sounds like a sure way to race to the bottom. A member of the opposition has an affair? Now you can put your mistress on the payroll and it’s okay. The other party puts in a $5,000,000 earmark? That’s all the excuse you need for a bridge to nowhere.

What happened to demanding excellence? Be all that you can be? First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye? Any of this sound familiar?

I’ve long thought that people should hold their own groups to a higher standard than others. Is there any politician in America who doesn’t say we’re the greatest country on Earth? Well, it got that way by having citizens who worked to make it better than it was. For the last few years, if you dared to suggest that things weren’t perfect, you were accused of blaming America first.

[Hopeless Naïveté Alert] For that matter, political parties are in opposition, but don’t have to be adversaries. We’re all interested in the well-being of the nation, here; just with different ideas of how to achieve it. If each side pushes the other to be better, that’s great. If either side seeks only the advantage of dragging the other down, that doesn’t serve us well in the long term. [/HNA]

The reason that there are two points of view is that people start with very different premises. If you fervently believe that government can do nothing right, there will be no way to prove to you that UHC makes sense. What the opposition should do, given this, is to work on compromises that may make the majority’s program less bad. Doing what most Republicans are doing today, just saying no, is just going to get worse things passed from their point of view. Clearly they think it will lead to disaster. That either makes the country worse off because of their recalcitrance, or, if the programs do work, totally discredits the Republicans.

No matter what you think about that, just not lying about the programs would be a good start. We know the Big Lie does work sometimes, but any group with the slightest self-respect shouldn’t use it.