Third Party & Independents Archives

The Otiosity of Fear

John McCain Beside HimselfA few weeks ago John McCain remarked that he felt the biggest threat to our economy was another terrorist attack. I was not surprised that someone representing one of the major parties in the United States would use fear to sway the hearts and minds of the voters, it is a powerful device to use. But it left me wondering, coming upon seven years after the 9/11 terrorists attacks, have we let the terrorists win?

I'm afraid we temporarily have. And that is my hope that it remain temporary, though that hope is fading as we continue down the path of scaring people into compliance and willingness to give up their individual liberties to a governing body that we give dominion over us.

John McCain, when asked what he thought the gravest threat to our economy was, answered:

"Well, I would think that the absolute gravest threat is the struggle that we’re in against radical Islamic extremism, which can affect, if they prevail, our very existence,” McCain said. “Another successful attack on the United States of America could have devastating consequences.”

Doesn't this give a LOT of power to an enemy that, if not for the fear that they are allowed to instill, has been largely ineffectual, save one lucky shot nearly seven years ago. As a result, we are now spied upon, herded through checkpoints like cattle, searched, documented and treated as criminals first. We have veered far way from what this country was founded upon and displayed in FDR's famous quote "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself". Now, apparently, we have a lot to fear.

But isn't this precisely WHY we were attacked, to cause us to alter the way we live and become less free, have less liberty and live in a state of perpetual fear? If that was their goal, they have most certainly won. A group of hate-filled radicals have successfully done what the likes of Nazi Germany and Communist Russia was unable to.

But it is not just terrorist fears that are leading us to alter our lives and convince people to give up their individual liberties. Politicians use fear to shape our voting behavior and have done so for a long time. And while it succeeds to gain them political power, where does it leave us as a nation?

It is time to put away the politics of fear. It is long past time to stop doing what we think is right because someone else might not like us for it. It is time to stop rewarding countries who, with one hand shake their fists at us and, with the other, present it to us with palms up looking for a handout.

But most of all, it is time for all of us to stop rewarding the politicians who are trying to scare your vote out of you. It is time to stop allowing government to take away more of your freedom in order to provide you some sense of security, because it is all talk. They can't stop a determined individual or group of individuals from causing you bodily harm, either through negotiations or war. It's the best lesson we should be learning from 9/11, but one that is most likely falling upon deaf ears.

If we are that close to the edge that a single attack by a group of lunatics who struggle against peace and hope can cause us more harm than borrowing ourselves into oblivion or turning into more of a police state than we already are, then I am afraid we are truly the ones who have lost this war.

Fortunately, I think that the American spirit is still alive and well in this country and maybe one day we will see it again. Until then, fight the good fight against the loss of individual liberty that we know from history takes a very large fight to win back once it is given up. At a much more expensive cost than we dare ever spend again.

Posted by Rhinehold at August 13, 2008 12:00 AM
Comments
Comment #258400

Rhinehold,

You’re just now figuring this out? People on the left have been saying what you’re saying here for years. Of course we are letting terrorism win whenever we allow our Constitutional Rights and Liberties slip away for reasons based on fear.

Btw, like you, I’m not at all surprised that McCain is campaigning on fear. It’s really all he and the GOP have got, since they cannot run and win by talking about the issues that are truly important to the American people.

PS. I normally wouldn’t bother to point something insignificant like this out, but since it’s in the title, I think I’d better give you a heads up. You misspelled a word: otiosity.

Posted by: Veritas Vincit at August 13, 2008 1:15 AM
Comment #258402

VV,

As a libertarian, I’m sure you can imagine how much I’ve commented on this topic in the past (a quick look at the archives will help) but it never hurts to bring these issues out to light in a fresh viewing when something so thick hits the atmosphere.

And thanks for the catch, it seems my spellchecker actually changed it from otiosity to otiocity, not sure why it thinks that is the right spelling.

they cannot run and win by talking about the issues that are truly important to the American people.

Well, they are making some pretty good inroads with their drilling protest, they got Obama and Pelosi to change their stated views on the topic. That’s no small feat…

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 13, 2008 1:26 AM
Comment #258410

Rhinehold-
My feeling on those changes is that it’s them leaving the option open, not actively pursuing it. I mean, you’ll say to somebody, I’m open to compromise, even if you’re not, so you can drain some of the kick out of their argument.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 13, 2008 8:51 AM
Comment #258413

Rhinehold, fine article, and your point cannot be driven home hard enough.

From lifting the ban on ultra low frequency sonar blasts in the Pacific Ocean in the name of national security (potentially damaging the receptors of whales and dolphins and porpoise), to the abominable growth in our national debt due in no small part to defense spending, to the insistence by the likes of Bush/McCain that bankrupting our nation for the Iraqis is essential to national security, all demonstrate the wisdom of your viewpoint and article’s point.

If I never leave my home out of fear of muggers and thieves, do I not render up my country to the muggers and thieves, in essence giving the streets over to them? If we expand police powers to the Executive Branch and restrict and tax freedoms and liberties formerly enjoyed, we are in deed, yielding our way of life to the threats of terrorists.

McCain is also faulty in his reasoning regarding implied mass devastation capacity of the terrorists. Natural storms kill more Americans and destroy more American property each year than the terrorists ever could without having to sacrifice American liberty or near doubling our national debt in 8 years to $10 Trillion depriving our children’s generation of choices and options in facing the struggles and challenges which will face them in their lives.

Even if the terrorists were to unleash a small nuclear device in downtown of L.A. or N.Y., the loss would not equal what we do to each other in America through crime and what storms cause in a single year in the way of loss of live and financial losses.

This is not to say, that we should not take prophylactic measures, but, only that there is no credible terrorist scenario that warrants abrogation of our Constitutional provisions and protections, nor warrants any diminishing of our going about our lives feeling free and empowered to pursue opportunities and happiness, provided an extra measure of awareness accompanies such activities. But, that extra measure of awareness was always warranted by our species from the dawn of our existence.

Electing McCain, whose mindset is myopically focused on the fears of what the boogeymen could potentially do, will translate into a policy priority set that will harm and damage our people and nation in all the myriad other priorities which have defined our way of life as the freest and most opportune in human history. In other words, McCain would have us hiding under our school desks, rather than living in defiance of the threats of terrorists, with rational, intelligent, and constitutional measures taken to defy those who would harm us.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 13, 2008 9:46 AM
Comment #258414

“They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security”
-Benjamin Franklin

“No man’s life, liberty or fortune is safe
while our legislature is in session.”
— Benjamin Franklin

seemed appropriate


Posted by: napajohn at August 13, 2008 10:07 AM
Comment #258415

Rhinehold
What is considered “the politics of fear” for one side, is considered “common sense” to the other side, that is why fear works so well.
It is good that you believe the American spirit is still alive, but when talking about individual rights, things will only get better when that spirit is finally united. And that isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

VV
People on the left have been saying this for the years they are not in control and only for the individual liberties they care about.

Posted by: kctim at August 13, 2008 10:11 AM
Comment #258416

It’s ironic that the party of “tough talk” is the party that wants you to be afraid of your own shadow. One of the great tragedies of this whole “War on Terror” is that America has not once been asked to show courage in the face of attacks or in the face of threats. We have been told to be afraid, go shopping, and vote for the GOP because if you don’t you will die. It’s a lame message and lamer still that so many have fallen for it.

I haven’t yet heard the call for courage from Obama either. The courage to stand up to terrorists by being even more free and open as a society. Maybe even a little more wisdom to not have a foreign policy that incites the anger of people around the world. That would have been the way to deal with the attacks of 9-11. McCain has stood by a president did the exact wrong thing in response to terrorism. Now he is trying to pull the vote for Obama and you’re going to die B.S.

Nothing positive comes from a doctrine of fear.

Posted by: tcsned at August 13, 2008 10:23 AM
Comment #258419

Rhinehold

Just a few days ago I was discussing the presidential campaign with a friend I had not seen in awhile. His exact response to the question of McCain or Obama was “but who will protect us from the terrorists if Obama is elected?” It always elicits in me a smirk and a shake of the head which I am sure drives some people mad. But I can not help but feel astounded at the idea that so many people have been so easily manipulated into believing in the simplistic notion that we must live in a world of constant fear and suspicion. Of course we need to be vigilant and prepared for what may come our way. Geographically we are in a very good situation. That combined with the most sophisticated military in the world puts us at a great advantage over would be attackers of any kind. I would suggest that as nations go we have every reason in the world to feel comfortably protected and largely immune to any large reaching threat here at home.

What astounds and disgusts me even more is the idea that a group of people show no shame in perpetuating ideologies based around fear for their personal gain. The use of just a bit of common sense by those who are so easily swayed by despicable fear mongers would save them a lot of anxiety and make life much more pleasant.

You are absolutely correct in keeping the notion of fear mongering alive. It is a shameful and despicable ploy used by those with little moral aptitude.

Posted by: RickIL at August 13, 2008 11:07 AM
Comment #258422

We lost to the terrorists years ago. When the Patriot Act was signed without being read by many of our representatives we as a people lost. OBL outsmarted W and his administration from the get go. Not only did our elected officials attack the constitution, they spent billions of dollars fighting terrorism in the wrong country against the wrong people and those self proclaimed defenders of freedom, the conservatives, ate it up and still want more of the same from McCain. The Patriot Act and other constitutional violations only cause a continuing errosion of our liberties. It worked then why wouldnt McCain continue to use it?

When Bush showed his true colors with this outburst:
“I don’t give a goddamn. I’m the President
and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way. …
Stop throwing the Constitution in my face.
It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!”

http://quotes.liberty-tree.ca/quote/george_bush_quote_aa91

Our representatives in Congress, including McCain, marched lockstep with him and not one of them deserves to be voted back into office any office.

Seems this “ends justifies the means” mentality of the repubs/conservatives is spreading through out the land.

http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2008/aug/12/curfew-targets-town-violence/

BTW Now that the Libertarians have Bob Barr, who vigoursly fought the Patriot Act, running for President they have earned a little respect in my mind. Of course their extremism wont allow me to actual vote for their candidate but I do respect Bob Barr for his effort.

Posted by: j2t2 at August 13, 2008 11:34 AM
Comment #258435

His friggin slogan on his webpage for national security is “A Strong Military in a Dangerous World”


Where the F* was that STRONG military durring the last years of increasingly devistating natural disasters??

He is a fear monger. The party is a fear monger.

Fear is literally now a commodity, and the nation is buying it up and filling the monger’s pockets faster than they can manufacture fear.


Why doesn’t McCain just come out and say “The GRAVEST threat to our nation is to not be afraid!!!

Posted by: ANGRYMOB at August 13, 2008 3:06 PM
Comment #258438


Surveillance is a joint venture between government and corporations. The programs will be expanded over the years, eventually including all Americans with few exceptions.

Americans now fear fear itself. That is what happens to a society when a large percentage of the individuals of that society have much materialistic wealth. They become unwilling to rock the boat and they demand to be defended.

In this marvelous corporate government capitalistic paridigm, America needs surveillance, a volunteer army and mercenaries to defend itself. The land of the free and the home of the brave has become a hollow moto.

Many of us argue that surveillance will cause a loss of individual freedom. IMO, it is our obsession with individual freedom, especially in the ability to persue materialistic wealth, to the detrimate of our duty to our Constitutional, We The People government and our responsibility to our society, that has brought us to this point.

The fear of losing the individual freedom to persue wealth has caused us to accept what the government is doing and will cause us to accept more in the future.

There are at least two candidates for president who greatly oppose the measures taken by our government in conjunction with the corporations. Needless to say, the majority of the voters will vote to elect one of the two candidates who do not oppose these measures and provide them the mandidate to persue more harsh measures in the future.

You can rest, assured that the one right that will not be curtailed is the individuals right to choose to purchases the corporate goods that the individual desires. However, the right to save and be frugal could come under closer scrutiny.

Posted by: jlw at August 13, 2008 3:24 PM
Comment #258439

“However, the right to save and be frugal could come under closer scrutiny.”

Could? It already is: SS, FICA etc… and good ole Obama will more than likely add a healthcare tax to that list, despite the fact we are already overtaxed.

Posted by: kctim at August 13, 2008 3:34 PM
Comment #258440

Rhinehold:

they are making some pretty good inroads with their drilling protest, they got Obama and Pelosi to change their stated views on the topic. That’s no small feat…

Stephen:

My feeling on those changes is that it’s them leaving the option open, not actively pursuing it. I mean, you’ll say to somebody, I’m open to compromise, even if you’re not, so you can drain some of the kick out of their argument.

I think the reason that the Dems now appear to be leaving the drilling option somewhat open is due to what several recent polls have been telling them: That Americans have been convinced by the GOP’s recent rhetoric on the issue that new drilling is the perfect answer to our pressing energy problems.
But, the fact is, it isn’t the answer at all.
And personally, I think it’s extremely stupid for any Democrat to believe that it is necessary to cave into this pressure coming from the uninformed people who have been taking these polls.

Instead, what Democrats should be doing is educating the public on why more drilling isn’t the answer to our energy problem, as well as reminding everyone that the GOP didn’t consider this issue at all important to deal with during seven and a half years of the Bush Administration’s tenure. Republicans had a majority that could have acted for a large percentage of that time, but they obviously didn’t think it was important enough to do anything about. So why is more drilling now suddenly so all-fired important and vital to the American people’s interests?
That’s very simple: Because once again it is time for another election, and they are merely using the issue to garner votes.

Posted by: Veritas Vincit at August 13, 2008 3:37 PM
Comment #258441

VV
The reason the Dems now appear to be moving more to the center on most things is because they realize they need the moderate vote. They already have the liberals fearing another Republican administration, so they don’t have to pander to them.

Posted by: kctim at August 13, 2008 3:46 PM
Comment #258448

When Bush showed his true colors with this outburst:
“I don’t give a goddamn. I’m the President
and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way. …
Stop throwing the Constitution in my face.
It’s just a goddamn piece of paper!
\
And that statement in my eyes [and I voted for bush in 2000] should have been sufficient cause for his own party to impeach him. Savage

Posted by: A Savage at August 13, 2008 4:35 PM
Comment #258451

JMcC may be worried that another attack will happen in his first year, if he is elected, as happened with the attacks on the WTC on 2/26/1993 and 9/11/2001, eight years apart. The 1993 attack was intended to knock down at least one building, but it took eight more years to do it, and added the Pentagon and another target, speculated to be either the White House or the Capitol. For those who claim that only the military protects us, there is always an ism and some ists to worry about. We would actually be better off with a military that would defend us at home, and not be sent crusading and occupying other places.

Posted by: ohrealy at August 13, 2008 5:05 PM
Comment #258469

That Bush quote is unconfirmed and most likely manufactured.
I think what McCain is referring to is the conversion of the leaders of Islam in the thirties from a growing cooperative religion to hate mongering radical jihadist doctrine.
We have both the wars and security measures. Allowing it to sit alone and fester hasn’t made for good results. 9/11 was and end result of ignoring the threat. We don’t want to kill all Muslims, just separate the extremists to free speech that can be ridiculed rather than forced by arms.

Posted by: Kruser at August 13, 2008 7:53 PM
Comment #258476

Good Post, Rhinehold.

Thanks.

Posted by: googlumpugus at August 13, 2008 9:48 PM
Comment #258478

Kruser -

Actually, the Islamic extremists have had a huge drop in their financing in the past several years - not because of anything the U.S. was doing, but because they were increasingly uncomfortable with the fundamentalist strictures that were being imposed on them - strictures that are NOT supported by the Koran, but only by sunna and hadiths (words and actions of the Prophet) that are of questionable reliability at best.

If you’ll check, the above is the EXACT SAME reason given for the ‘Sunni Awakening’ wherein the Sunni chieftains cut off logistical and manpower support to the insurgency…and is FAR more to be credited for the subsiding of violence in Iraq.

Why? There’s a old Persian saying that goes something like “every Persian has two brothers to avenge him”…and you know how much they value vengeance. If you simply kill them, it’s just like cutting off the heads of a hydra (and one wonders if the Persian saying and the Greek legend share a common root). Instead, the ones who were supporting them in the first place cut off the support. No money, no weapons…let’s all go home.

And then the conservatives claim credit with the ‘surge’ (which HAD been tried before, more than once) which followed several months later.

If you want to defeat people like the extremists, saturate their supporters with the truth. Otherwise, just like in Vietnam, they will outlast you.

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at August 13, 2008 9:54 PM
Comment #258485

Good reply, Glenn.

A friend of mine e-mailed me this video today, and I thought perhaps I’d share it:
The Terror That Would Be President McCain

I think it speaks directly to the fear that McCain is constantly selling, rather than advocating sound foreign policy for our country. Unlike Bush who simply lied while campaigning by saying he was “against nation building,” this unstable old fart* has already promised us “more wars”, so no one reading this blog should act surprised if (after electing him) our economy goes broke while McCain provokes and wages these wars.

*McCain has surrounded himself with lobbyists for the military industrial complex, and has taken loads of campaign money from other corporate defense-related profiteers, and whose campaign has advisers whose dealings, and deal cutting, is raising all sorts of other serious ethical questions.

Posted by: Veritas Vincit at August 14, 2008 1:13 AM
Comment #258488

VV, McCain’s position against Russia constitutes a real difference from Bush. Bush, after 7 years, has learned the value of diplomacy and not making threats the country is not willing to or in a position to back up. McCain’s, or else, position against Russia’s invasion of Georgia could become a self-fulling prophecy for a second cold to hot war with Russia, if he is elected.

The man is absolutely dangerous when it comes to foreign policy. He thinks having a big stick means it is the only option when folks don’t yield to his drothers. Exactly the same as GW Bush in his first 4 years. Very dangerous for America and Americans, indeed.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 14, 2008 3:58 AM
Comment #258493

David,

I couldn’t help but laugh at the big stick corollary. There’s a joke there, but I wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole.:)

Posted by: googlumpugus at August 14, 2008 8:35 AM
Comment #258501
no one reading this blog should act surprised if (after electing him) our economy goes broke while McCain provokes and wages these wars.

No one reading this blog should act surprised to find out that we are already broke and neither Obama or McCain has any intention or plan to change that…

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 14, 2008 12:33 PM
Comment #258503
Actually, the Islamic extremists have had a huge drop in their financing in the past several years - not because of anything the U.S. was doing, but because they were increasingly uncomfortable with the fundamentalist strictures that were being imposed on them

Usually, when you hear someone say that X resulted despite anything Y did, it is a sign of partisan viewing of the situation. Couldn’t be the Surge, change in leadership (Gates for Rumsfeld) or the fact that one of the largest terrorist supporters was no longer in power (Saddam), because that would mean that they weren’t 100% correct…

The fact is that even the wrong things produce positive results from time to time. Whether that makes them the right thing to do or not is the debatable part, but trying to twist reality to fit an ideology is dangerous IMO.

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 14, 2008 12:39 PM
Comment #258515

Rhinehold,
If it weren’t for some of your follow-up comments, I was going to write that this entire post was pablum, but your later comments indicate that you recognize the pablum coming from the left as well.

Newsflash, fellow bloggers, EVERYTHING that happens in Washington, happens as a result of fear. There are millions and millions of people in this country who are terrified that in a week or a month or a year, that magic line of SUV exhaust will be crossed, and “The Day After Tommorow” will actually happen. Why do they feel this way? Because hollywood idiots and the even bigger pablum spewing moron Al Gore have convinced them it is so. Hell, even Stephen Daugherty who usually writes well-thought-out posts, once gave me a dissertation of why it was not only true, but happening before our very eyes and was a man-made calamity. I cite him as an example because you all are familiar with him and while I usually disagree with his points, he has cound critical thinking skills.

Is McCain using fear? Of course he is. Is Obama using fear OF COURSE HE IS. The left has spent 8 years demonizing the Bush administration (of which I am no fan) and is now using that demonization to say (for all intents and purposes) “Be afraid! Elect McCain and you’ll get a Bush doppleganger in the white house. If you’re scared of another 8 years of Bush, then vote for Obama.” It’s ALL fear. Discourse motivates individuals, fear motivates a society.

I’m so tired of all the worthwhile time before this election being spent on pablum. The next time I hear the phrase “special interest” from the O’Bama camp, I’m gonna get drunk and go roll around in my yard like a crazy person. The thing that kills me is that O’Bama supporters, still drunk on this ethereal and vapid idea of change, actually think special interests are “Big-Business right wing good-ole-boy groups that shell out huge checks in exchange for votes.” As though the teachers union is not a special interest, as though Labor Unions are not special interets. What is wrong with a special interest? What is wrong with carrying the torch for a cause you believe in? The problem is not with special interest, it is with our corruption in government.

A better question for a post would be “Has all this transparency in politics brought us better politicians?” Actually it wouldn’t because we all know the answer is no. I’m afraid the public will spin it’s wheels dicussing the nothings of the semantics of fear and point the finger when what they ought to be talking about are the strategies that the candidates have laid out and whether they have merit.

Posted by: Yukon Jake at August 14, 2008 1:31 PM
Comment #258543

Rhinehold -

You’re falling into the conservative rut of claiming the liberals-are-just-as-bad-as-us-so-why-gripe.

But look at the numbers first:

From 1961-2001, the Federal Budget was overseen by 20 Republican administrations and 20 Democratic administrations. In that period there were 5 budget surpluses, and ALL FIVE came under Democratic administrations. Not only that, but the average of budget deficits under Democratic administrations was ONE-FIFTH of the average of budget deficits under Republican administrations.

And all this DOES NOT include what has happened under Bush II.

So while you may claim the Democrats are just as bad when it comes to the budget, that’s NOT what the numbers show.

“Reagan proved deficits don’t matter.”
Dick Cheney

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at August 14, 2008 4:33 PM
Comment #258558

Sorry Glenn, but we’ve been over this before and you are still wrong.

Clinton never had a surplus, the debt increased. Setting up rules that let you say you have a surplus while doing so by stealing from old people is not a sound economic policy.

AND, what you like to ignore for some reason, is that it is the congress that makes the budget, not the president. The president suggests, but the law is written and is the responsiblity of the congress, not the president.

I know, those nagging facts play hell with partisan politics, doesn’t it?

What has the Democratic congress done the past two years to bring down the deficit? What did they do for decades to bring down the deficit?

Nothing? Exactly right.

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 14, 2008 8:47 PM
Comment #258581

Rhinehold!

ONE: Whatever Congress does, unless they override a presidential veto, is NOT where ‘the buck stops’. How many of the federal budgets since 1961 have been passed over a presidential veto? There was a time that Congress shut down the government by not sending up a budget…but that’s about all they can do short of overriding the president.

The final responsibility resides with the president - always has, always will. He IS the captain of the ship of state. Whatever happens on his watch is his responsibility. He gets the credit for the things that went right…and he gets the blame for the things that went wrong.

‘Nuff said on that one!

TWO: I suspect your “Clinton never had a surplus” is after adding up the budgets for all the years he was in office, instead of the FACT that he left the economy in FAR better shape than when he took over…which is sorta like military tradition: when relieved from your watch, make sure things are in better shape (or at least not in worse shape) than when you first took the watch.

TWO POINT ONE: Did it occur to you that Clinton was handed a huge deficit when he took office? Just as you can’t steer an aircraft carrier like a sports car, the federal budget is NOT something that one can turn on a dime! It takes time - YEARS - to bring a crushing deficit to a surplus - and that is what Clinton did.

TWO POINT TWO: You did not address the fact that, from 1961 through 2001, the AVERAGE deficit under Republican administrations was FIVE TIMES the AVERAGE deficit under Democratic administrations…and that’s not counting the record deficits run up under Bush II.

TWO POINT THREE: Alan Greenspan praised Bill Clinton for his economic acumen. Three former heads of the Securities and Exchange Commission AND Paul Volcker have endorsed Obama.

Who knows better about economic policy, Rhinehold? You? Or Alan Greenspan AND Paul Volcker AND three former heads of the SEC?

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at August 15, 2008 1:13 PM
Comment #258590

Good luck with the answer to your last response and question, Glenn……….. ;)

Posted by: janedoe at August 15, 2008 3:00 PM
Comment #258601
Rhinehold!

What!

ONE: Whatever Congress does, unless they override a presidential veto, is NOT where ‘the buck stops’. How many of the federal budgets since 1961 have been passed over a presidential veto? There was a time that Congress shut down the government by not sending up a budget…but that’s about all they can do short of overriding the president.

And the President can only veto it and have his veto overriden. Sorry but you are WRONG, the final responsiblity is with congress since they have the power to override a veto. I’m not sure how logic would ever suggest otherwise. Just because they DON’T doesn’t mean that they don’t have the responsibility or power.

And the constitution, imagine that, backs me up.

The final responsibility resides with the president - always has, always will. He IS the captain of the ship of state. Whatever happens on his watch is his responsibility. He gets the credit for the things that went right…and he gets the blame for the things that went wrong.

Only when simplisticly viewing history as you attempt to do.

The main reason for the increased tax revenue under Clinton was Y2K spending and the .com boom. As he was leaving office those had ended and we were in a recession. Along with the fact that he took money that was supposed to be going to SS and used it to make people think he had a surplus.

‘Nuff said on that one!

Now there is.

TWO: I suspect your “Clinton never had a surplus” is after adding up the budgets for all the years he was in office,

No, it is by looking at the money we owed before the year started and after the year ended. Each and every year ended with the US owing more money. That he took money that was supposed to go to SS and instead use it now doesn’t make him a hero to anyone who can add…

instead of the FACT that he left the economy in FAR better shape than when he took over…

I’m sorry, a recession is a good way to leave an economy? Interesing…

TWO POINT ONE: Did it occur to you that Clinton was handed a huge deficit when he took office?

Yes. Now ask me if it matters?

Just as you can’t steer an aircraft carrier like a sports car, the federal budget is NOT something that one can turn on a dime! It takes time - YEARS - to bring a crushing deficit to a surplus - and that is what Clinton did.

Except he didn’t. As I’ve pointed out.

TWO POINT TWO: You did not address the fact that, from 1961 through 2001, the AVERAGE deficit under Republican administrations was FIVE TIMES the AVERAGE deficit under Democratic administrations…and that’s not counting the record deficits run up under Bush II.

Of course not because it doesn’t matter. 1) I don’t care if republicans are worse at spending money than dems or dems are worse than reps… They both suck because they care about partisanship and poltical power, not paying off the debt. 2) It is congress that is responsible for the nation’s spending and pursestrings. That that fact doesn’t fit in with your partisan politics is irrelevant.

TWO POINT THREE: Alan Greenspan praised Bill Clinton for his economic acumen.

Good for him

Three former heads of the Securities and Exchange Commission AND Paul Volcker have endorsed Obama.

Good for him

Who knows better about economic policy, Rhinehold? You? Or Alan Greenspan AND Paul Volcker AND three former heads of the SEC?

Lots of people say and do lots of things, not all of them right. Am I supposed to suspend my understanding of math because you say Alan Greenspan says something that you take to mean as something else?

Would you do the same?

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 15, 2008 5:18 PM
Comment #258611

Okay, Rhinehold -

“they care about partisanship and poltical power, not paying off the debt.”

Actually, Clinton applied 80 billion dollars towards paying off the national debt. That’s 80 billion dollars more than Nixon, Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II combined.

You say Clinton did not run a surplus - sir, he did. A SURPLUS is when the government spends less money than it takes in taxes. Your ‘non-surplus’ is from the INTEREST on the debt previously accumulated added to the cumulative national debt. IF ANYTHING, Rhinehold, that should tell you the danger of deficit spending, since the interest on the national debt is now the third-largest item in the budget after social programs and the military.

And NO, you can’t lay the blame on Congress - why? Because it takes a TWO-THIRDS majority to override the president…and it’s very difficult, when either party has less than that majority, to override the president on anything. Your blame on Congress is an excuse, a dodge, a way to deflect the blame and the credit away from where it belongs.

IN FACT, you seem to get NO CLUE WHATSOEVER from the fact that for nearly a half century, the Republican administrations’ average deficits are over five times’ worse than those of the Democrats. What, do you think that happens by chance, that it’s just a coincidence?

“Reagan proved deficits don’t matter.”
Dick Cheney

BUT PERHAPS you’d like to just get rid of Congress whatsoever, huh? Then we could have a dictatorship…and you wouldn’t be the first to think that would be a good idea:

“Of course things would be easier in a dictatorship - as long as I’m the dictator.”
George W. Bush

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at August 15, 2008 6:52 PM
Comment #258623
Actually, Clinton applied 80 billion dollars towards paying off the national debt. That’s 80 billion dollars more than Nixon, Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II combined.

Out of his own pocket?

First, I don’t care if the others did or not, I never voted for any of them either. But you harm your point by trying to claim Clinton was something that he wasn’t or did something he didn’t.

The president does NOT write the budget, he can only approve or deny it and then it can be passed anyway. He is not the single individual responsible, that goes to congress, as it was detailed in the constitution and as it should be as the House is the representative of the people. The Senate the representative of the states and President the person who EXECUTES the laws that they create. I’m not sure why I’m giving the free civics lesson, or why you would need it, but there it is.

As for the 80 billion, which year was that?

Fiscal
Year National Debt Deficit
FY1993 $4.411488 trillion
FY1994 $4.692749 trillion $281.26 billion
FY1995 $4.973982 trillion $281.23 billion
FY1996 $5.224810 trillion $250.83 billion
FY1997 $5.413146 trillion $188.34 billion
FY1998 $5.526193 trillion $113.05 billion
FY1999 $5.656270 trillion $130.08 billion
FY2000 $5.674178 trillion $17.91 billion
FY2001 $5.807463 trillion $133.29 billion

So in what year did the debt the US owes go down again? I’m sure I’m just not seeing it…

A SURPLUS is when the government spends less money than it takes in taxes

Yup, and I have shown the debt the country ran in the years of Clinton. When did the amount the government spend amount to less than the taxes brought in?

Your ‘non-surplus’ is from the INTEREST on the debt previously accumulated added to the cumulative national debt.

So, I can call my bank and tell them that the overdrafts they claim I have aren’t there because some of it went to pay for the interest on my house?

And no, it wasn’t from that. It was a simple fact that we spend more money than we take in, have every year since BEFORE Clinton took office.

IF ANYTHING, Rhinehold, that should tell you the danger of deficit spending, since the interest on the national debt is now the third-largest item in the budget after social programs and the military.

Yes, and something I have been saying for some time, thank you. We are technically bankrupt. Thanks to the congresses and presidents over the past 30+ years. And unless we do something about it, which neither major party candidate is going to do, we are going to make it worse.

And NO, you can’t lay the blame on Congress - why? Because it takes a TWO-THIRDS majority to override the president…and it’s very difficult, when either party has less than that majority, to override the president on anything. Your blame on Congress is an excuse, a dodge, a way to deflect the blame and the credit away from where it belongs.

Oh nO! Not 2/3rds! Why, that makes sense, if I am unwilling to do what it takes to take care my family, of course it is someone else’s responsibility…

Glenn, just because they abdicate their responsiblity doesn’t make it theirs still. The congress has to write a budget, pass it, and send it to the president who can only say yes or no. If they write a good one and the president vetos it and they can’t override it, then they don’t have to do anything else.

THEY are the ones who give up their responsibility because of political power grabs. But the president does NOT write the budget law, that is the job of congress and they are the only ones who can take credit or blame for it.

Tell me, what did Clinton do, specifically, that brought in more funds? What exact thing did he do, Glenn?

IN FACT, you seem to get NO CLUE WHATSOEVER from the fact that for nearly a half century, the Republican administrations’ average deficits are over five times’ worse than those of the Democrats. What, do you think that happens by chance, that it’s just a coincidence?

Why do you have such a fascination with Republicans Glenn? It seems like you can’t talk about them at all when defending Clinton for doing something he didn’t do. Have I mentioned them at all in this whole conversation other than to say I don’t support them and don’t vote for them?

But, if you want to get to the real nitty gritty, go look at the statistics when there is a Democratic President and a Republican Congress, then when there is a Republican President and a Democratic Congress. Then compare when a single party controls both…

I think you will find much more information then.

Because it is YOU who have the simplistic view of how the government works AND how outside forces influence and change those things.

BUT PERHAPS you’d like to just get rid of Congress whatsoever, huh? Then we could have a dictatorship…and you wouldn’t be the first to think that would be a good idea:

Right, because that’s even close to something I said, sitting here saying that Congress is to blame and we should have a congress who writes good budget laws, doesn’t give themselves kickbacks and earmarks to stay in power.

Get your mind out of the political gutter, Glann, and look at the facts, not the simplistic partisanship you want to preach to someone who doesn’t care about it.

Oh, and I noticed you completely ignored the question about how Clinton left us in recession was great economic policy… I’m sure you just missed that in your tirade against Bush, or something…

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 15, 2008 8:09 PM
Comment #258634

Rhinehold, your above arguments are so weak.
You just can’t bring yourself to admit that Glen has made good points, or that he’s been right about anything, can you? Because that would interfere with your desire to discredit and dump on Democrats as much as you possibly can, and as often as you can.

Glenn, nicely done. I have to admit that I didn’t like Bill Clinton (way too DLC Republican Lite for this girl), but even I have to admit he did a damn good job with digging us out of the deep economic hole that Reagan and Bush Sr. had sunk us in.

Posted by: Veritas Vincit at August 15, 2008 9:23 PM
Comment #258639

VV,

It’s not about dumping on anyone, but being accurate and not making overreaching and wrong statements.

During no year of the Clinton administration did the US bring in in taxes more than it spent. The debt of the US rose each and every year Clinton was in office. There is no disputing this fact.

Secondly, for good or bad, the congress is responsible for passing the budget. They alone are responsible for what goes in and what doesn’t go in. The president can only pass or veto it. To assign credit, or blame, where it is not deserved is illogical.

Continue, if you want, to lionize someone for whatever reason, I can’t stop you. But don’t expect it to hold up under scrutiny. And again, feel free to ignore all the facts in order for you to make statements as silly as ‘the US being better off economically when he left’ when we were in the middle of a recession when he left office, if it makes you sleep better at night.

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 15, 2008 9:55 PM
Comment #258649

Oh, and BTW, I find it hilarious that my goal is to ‘dump on Democrats whenever I can’ when we are in the comments section of an article I wrote ripping the Republicans, and McCain specifically, a new one…

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 15, 2008 11:08 PM
Comment #258650
It’s not about dumping on anyone, but being accurate and not making overreaching and wrong statements.

Rhinehold, I agree with what Glenn wrote here, because I know he has the accurate facts in hand. (I’ve looked up the same info he’s providing here in the past myself). Nor do I think he was overreaching in his point, or making wrong statements.
What you seem to be doing is trying to tar Dems with a wide brush of your personal choosing: That Democrats are irresponsible with the economy, and haven’t tried to reverse bad economic trends that put us in a hole due to spending. But Democratic administrations have indeed worked very hard to set the economy back on more stable footing — only to have the GOP win and start spending like drunken sailors once more. Unfortunately for you, the hard facts are there to prove that during the last four and a half decades, Democrats have done far better managing the economy than Republicans have. They may not have done things as perfectly as you would have personally liked, but far better nonetheless.
But to keep on arguing with Glenn and keep trying to reinforce your favored meme, you have to completely ignore the points that he has repeatedly made.

Posted by: Veritas Vincit at August 15, 2008 11:12 PM
Comment #258652
Rhinehold, I agree with what Glenn wrote here, because I know he has the accurate facts in hand. (I’ve looked up the same info he’s providing here in the past myself). Nor do I think he was overreaching in his point, or making wrong statements.

And the numbers I’me providing, which prove him wrong, are somehow manufactured?

Tell me, do you understand the different between debt held by the public (the numbers Glenn uses) and the Total Public Outstanding Debt (the numbers I use)? Or what the Intragovernmental Holdings (the numbers he leaves out of his) are?

What you seem to be doing is trying to tar Dems with a wide brush of your personal choosing: That Democrats are irresponsible with the economy, and haven’t tried to reverse bad economic trends that put us in a hole due to spending.

I have no trouble giving credit where credit is due to either the Reps or Dems. But in this case, it isn’t there. No one wants to tell me exactly what Clinton did to create this ‘surplus’ and won’t (can’t) refute that an economic boon in the tech sector caused an increase in tax revenues while spending was still high. Had that not occurred, the deficit would have been similar to Bush before him. In fact, when he left office we were in a recession.

The reality is, the least spending usually happens when one party controls one branch while another party controls another. But even then, we spend too much because that is how politicans buy votes.

But to keep on arguing with Glenn and keep trying to reinforce your favored meme, you have to completely ignore the points that he has repeatedly made.

I’m not ignoring them, they are just wrong, and I’ve answered every one of them. Unlike Glenn who refuses to answer or even acknowledge mine. He even ‘suspects’ he knows why I ‘think’ there was no surplus when I’ve explained it several times. He’s gotten it wrong twice now.

The REAL fact is that we spend more each year than we should be. Dems and Reps. And we can’t keep relying upon rampant consumerism to bail us out as it did in the late 90s, because as the 1999-2000 timeframe shows us, when we hit recession we stop spending, start saving, and the amout going to government dries up.

But the dangerous tactic is to try to say one party is better than the other at spending OUR money than we are, because all you do is empower them to be given the power to do so. And as history shows, neither party can be trusted to spend less in any given year than the year before or attempt to pay down the debt that we keep increasing.

I remember the outrage by everyone when our debt hit 1 trillion while Reagan was in office. Nevermind it was the Dems who kept spending, and Reagan who kept signing, the budgets, this was going to be the beginning of the end. But when Clinton is in office, and our debt cross 5 trillion to nearly 6 and we dive into a recession, that is SOUND economic policy?

Now our debt is over 9.5 trillion. The Bush supporters will also use the intragovernmental holdings to say that Bush is running a surplus or nearly 0 deficit, but that is ALSO bogus because it ignores the hidden away debt that our government doesn’t want to talk about, but if you go to the Debt to the Penny page hosted by the US Treasury Department (where I get *MY* numbers) you can see the truth.

http://www.treasurydirect.gov/NP/BPDLogin?application=np

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 15, 2008 11:31 PM
Comment #258654

BTW, Glenn, why was the Line Item Veto Act found unconstitutional?

Just a thought…

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 15, 2008 11:41 PM
Comment #258655

Do you agree with Sen. Byrd when he said of the line item veto that it was “an offensive slap at Congress,” asserting that the legislation would enable the president to intimidate individual members of Congress by targeting the projects of his political opponents. He also complained that the line-item veto as proposed would take away Congress’ constitutional “power of the purse” and give it to the Executive branch.”

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 15, 2008 11:46 PM
Comment #258663

Rhinehold -

You’re just blowing smoke. Here’s exactly how:

Fiscal Year National Debt Deficit FY1993 $4.411488 trillion FY1994 $4.692749 trillion $281.26 billion FY1995 $4.973982 trillion $281.23 billion FY1996 $5.224810 trillion $250.83 billion FY1997 $5.413146 trillion $188.34 billion FY1998 $5.526193 trillion $113.05 billion FY1999 $5.656270 trillion $130.08 billion FY2000 $5.674178 trillion $17.91 billion FY2001 $5.807463 trillion $133.29 billion

Do you see where you wrote “National Debt Deficit”? THERE is your confusion, sir. Why? Because there is NO SUCH THING as a “National Debt Deficit”.

“National Debt” is completely separate from the “Deficit”…and you are NOT the first conservative I’ve seen with this misconception, I’m sad to say.

The National Debt is analogous to the mortgage on your house. Every year, the INTEREST on that mortgage is added to the total.

The DEFICIT, on the other hand, is analogous to a second or third mortgage added on your house. It is a DIRECT EFFORT to ADD to the total debt. A SURPLUS, on the other hand, is money that is paid towards paying down that debt.

BUT WAIT, you say, the TOTAL is HIGHER each year, so how can a surplus have been paid?

Ever hear of ‘negative amortization’? The debtor pays payments, but not enough to match the amount of interest added.

When Clinton had a SURPLUS, that is exactly what happens - we pay payments, but not enough to match the amount of interest added.

When the various presidents had DEFICITS, however, instead of even making an attempt to make a real payment on the mortgage, they added second, third, twentieth mortgages.

BUT YOU KNOW WHAT, Rhinehold? You’re going to blow all this off. You’re going to ignore it, because the FACTS I presented you do not fit in with what you WANT to believe. Sure, you’ll try to claim it’s the other way around. Go ahead.

We’ll agree to disagree.

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at August 16, 2008 12:57 AM
Comment #258664

Yes, we’ll disagree about that, but what about the other points you continue to dodge?

1) It is the congress who controls the countries pursestrings, not the president. I have the Supreme Court and the Constitution on my side yet you want to give it to the President

2) Clinton left the country in recession when he left office.

And yes, I’m sorry Glenn, but if I have a credit card and pay 30 down on it but the interest on the balance goes up 40, I have not encountered a surplus of money… I have a net negative.

If you want to define deficit to mean something different so it makes your party look good, feel free. But the COUNTRY is still suffering. Did the economy suck less in 96-99 than before and since? Yup. Was it because of Clinton? I don’t see how, other than he was president, unless you can point to ANYTHING that Clinton actively did to make that change? Please, feel free, I’ve only asked twice before…

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 16, 2008 1:11 AM
Comment #258666

Rhinehold -

I think I see part of your disconnect.

According to YOU, Clinton ran deficits and ONLY deficits.

According to the U.S. Government Printing Office, Clinton ran surpluses for all four of the budgets passed during his second term in office, for 1998-2001.
http://www.gpoaccess.gov/eop/2008/B78.xls

My reference is the Bush administration. What’s YOUR reference? How are YOU going to ‘prove’ that Clinton never ran a surplus? References, please.

Ah, but I’m wasting my time here. We liberals can show you history. The Bush administration’s own information backs us up. The chairmen of the Fed for Reagan, Bush I, and most of Bush II’s administration back us up.

But you’re sure you know better. Yeah, what do the professionals who DID the job, whose merest turn of phrase could shake the markets all over the planet…what do they know? YOU know better.

Y’know, I remember seeing on religious forums how some apologists would completely ignore fact and proven history just so they could protect their faith and their belief. They predicated the facts on their belief, instead of predicating their faith on the facts at hand.

I see the same pattern developing here with you…and anyone who disagrees with whatever you believe is just wasting their time.

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at August 16, 2008 2:01 AM
Comment #258673
I think I see part of your disconnect.

According to YOU, Clinton ran deficits and ONLY deficits.

It depends on how you define it, doesn’t it? I mean, if you use the adjusted terms that were put in in the early 90s, ignoring intragovernmental holdings, then Clinton ran a surplus for a couple of years. However, if you use the ‘total debt’ of the US, he didn’t.

It depends upon what you want to believe. I look at total debt because that is the debt that we, as taxpayers, are going to have to make up. It is not a ‘made up term’ that the politicans and accounts use now to make things look better.

For example, using the SAME DEFINITIONS that you want to let Clinton use for running a surplus, the debt right now is only 5.4 Trillion. That doesn’t sound so bad, does it? And it means that Bush is hardly running a deficit at all.

But that’s not the whole story, as I have been trying to point out to you. Right now the TOTAL debt under Bush is actually 9.6 Trillion. That’s a lot of difference there, isn’t it? Now, do we just not owe that >4 trillion dollars? Of course we DO. But Bush is able to lay off a lot of spending into that category and call it unimportant, just as Clinton did in the 90s.

The problem is, the debt still goes up.

My reference is the Bush administration. What’s YOUR reference? How are YOU going to ‘prove’ that Clinton never ran a surplus? References, please.

Well, I’ve already provided them twice but I’ll do it again. The US Treasury Department’s “Debt to the Penny” website at http://www.treasurydirect.gov/NP/BPDLogin?application=np.

Ah, but I’m wasting my time here. We liberals can show you history. The Bush administration’s own information backs us up. The chairmen of the Fed for Reagan, Bush I, and most of Bush II’s administration back us up.

Yes, because they want to use the same definitions because it looks better for them. They get to hide over 4 trillion that WE owe.

And I’m SURE you would never say that we owe that money or talk about the ‘off the books debt’ that Bush has run up for the war, would you? I mean, that would be a bit disengenuous on your part I think, to claim it didn’t exist in the 90s when Clinton was in office and now when Bush is abusing it, right? That’s good to know.

I see the same pattern developing here with you…and anyone who disagrees with whatever you believe is just wasting their time.

A little projection there, GLenn? Tell me, who am I ‘apologizing’ for?

And, Glenn, while you’re at it, are you going to answer any of the other questions I’ve been asking and YOU have been ignoring because it disproves your point?

1) Who contols the countries pursestrings and why was the line-item veto found unconstitutional?
2) Why is leaving the US in a recession considered ‘good economic policy’ by you?
3) What, specifically, did Clinton do to create a ‘deficit’? Can you name a single thing or is it just because he was President at the time?

If you want to ignore those things and keep trying to say that Clinton ran a surplus, then fine. But don’t then tell me that *I* am the one ignoring facts to be an apologist and DEFINATELY don’t come to me and tell me that Bush as a 9 trillion dollar debt if you aren’t going to use the same calculations for Clinton.

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 16, 2008 10:20 AM
Comment #258693

Well said Rhinehold. What is your opinion of our deficit as a perecent of US GDP? As I remember from the Economist Magazine, we are middle of the pack relative to western nations. Our debt to income ratio is not bad when compared. Personally I try and pay cash for everything. However, it is not unusual for a government to leverage their future so to speak. The first link on Google I got was this graphy … look at Truman!

http://zfacts.com/p/318.html

Posted by: Honest at August 16, 2008 9:00 PM
Comment #258700

I don’t think there is any benefit to running a long term deficit. I can understand short term deficits as the need arises but borrowing contiuously and making it the next generation (or after) that has to pay it and the interest on it is weak and unconscionable.

But that’s just my opinion, of course.

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 17, 2008 12:25 AM
Comment #258703

‘Honest’ - what, you think WWII was CHEAP? Not to mention the Great Depression and WWI? AND let’s not forget a little something that was going on in Korea at the time. Yeah, really financially irresponsible, that Truman, huh?

Rhinehold -

The link you posted? Here’s what I got: “The web page you’re looking for can’t be found. You may want to check the spelling of the URL to make sure it’s correct.”

But that’s okay - I worked with it…and again, the increase in the total national debt (NOT deficit) was (as far as I can tell on the tables) due to the additional interest.

But something tells me that the hairs we’re splitting can be resolved another way. Tell you what - how’s about you and I look at the total public debt at the beginning and at the end of each president going back to Truman? I used only the month of January in each one in order to TRY to keep the samples applicable with each other.

Truman: (had to use July of ‘53 - earliest available on that website)
- beginning 7/53: 272.7B
- end 1/56: 280.1B
difference: 7.4B, or less than 3% added over the four years of his presidency (less than 1%/yr)

Eisenhower:
- beginning 1/57: 276.3B
- end 1/60: 291.2B
difference: 14.9B, or just over 5% added over the four years of his presidency (@1.25%/yr)

Kennedy/Johnson:
- beginning 1/61: 290.2B
- end 1/68: 346.8B
difference: 56.6B, or slightly over 16% added over the eight years of their combined presidencies (or slightly over 2%/yr)

Nixon/Ford:
- beginning 1/69: 360.0B
- end 1/76: 584.4B
difference: 224.4B, or just over 38% added over the eight years of their combined presidencies (or just under 5%/yr)

Carter:
- beginning 1/77: 653.9B
- end 1/80: 847.7B
difference: 193.8B, or just under 23% added over the four years of his presidency (or about 5.6%/yr)

Reagan:
- beginning 1/81: 934.1B
- end 1/88: 2448.3B
difference: 1514.2B, or just under 62% added over the eight years of his presidency (or just under 8%/yr)

Bush I:
- beginning 1/89: 2697.9B
- end 1/92: 3809.3B
difference: 1111.4B, or just under 30% added over the four years of his presidency (just under 7.5%/yr)

Clinton:
- beginning 1/93: 4167.2B
- end 1/2000: 5711.2B
difference: 1544B, or just over 27% added over the EIGHT years of his presidency (just under 3.5%/yr)

Bush II:
- beginning 1/2001: 5716.1B
- end 1/08: 9238.0B
difference: 3521.9B, or slightly over 38% added over the eight years of his presidency (just under 5%/yr)

AND I JUST SAW MY MISTAKE in the above figures - in each case, I should have taken the NEXT year…which, if you’ll look at the difference between 2000 and 2001, would make Clinton’s average drop even further and Bush II’s average jump higher…but other than that, I sincerely doubt the averages would change much.

These numbers, Rhinehold, are the TOTAL PUBLIC DEBT taken from each of the years in question from the website you gave. The percentages show that until Nixon, the presidents of both parties did try to keep things on somewhat of an even keel. But Nixon, Ford, and Carter all kept things in the 5%+/yr range. Then Reagan and Bush I opened the floodgates, Clinton tried with moderate success to get spending under control, and Bush II went whole hog.

While you and I will have to agree to disagree on what a deficit is or is not, I think you will have less cause to argue with the numbers above (except for my mistake of not adding a year to each). The number show that, until Reagan came along, the Dems and Republicans were not too much different and you would have been right that both parties are just as much to blame.

But Reagan came along, changed the Conservative mindset and threw fiscal responsibility out the window (and blamed the Democrats for it). Clinton tried with some success to undo the damage…but you know what Bush II did.

Okay, your turn.

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at August 17, 2008 3:56 AM
Comment #258721
These numbers, Rhinehold, are the TOTAL PUBLIC DEBT taken from each of the years in question from the website you gave. The percentages show that until Nixon, the presidents of both parties did try to keep things on somewhat of an even keel.

If you say so… Increasing the debt is inreasing the debt, no matter how little…

But Nixon, Ford, and Carter all kept things in the 5%+/yr range. Then Reagan and Bush I opened the floodgates, Clinton tried with moderate success to get spending under control, and Bush II went whole hog.

What an assessment. Did you ever hear of something called the ‘peace dividend’? Or that Reagan was fighting a ‘cold war’ and fixing a lot of the problems that Carter left?

But, let’s try this. I’m going to ask you for a fourth time to answer these questions. Are you game?

1) Who contols the countries pursestrings and why was the line-item veto found unconstitutional?
2) Why is leaving the US in a recession considered ‘good economic policy’ by you?
3) What, specifically, did Clinton do to create a ‘deficit’? Can you name a single thing or is it just because he was President at the time?

While you and I will have to agree to disagree on what a deficit is or is not

I accept your acknowledgement that you are wrong.

I think you will have less cause to argue with the numbers above (except for my mistake of not adding a year to each).

Nope, they match what I posted earlier, why would I argue with them.

The number show that, until Reagan came along, the Dems and Republicans were not too much different and you would have been right that both parties are just as much to blame.

Uh huh…

But Reagan came along, changed the Conservative mindset and threw fiscal responsibility out the window (and blamed the Democrats for it). Clinton tried with some success to undo the damage…but you know what Bush II did.

Again, why place blame or praise at the hands of the president when the president does NOT MAKE THE BUDGET LAW. That responsibility belongs with congress, as the Supreme Court states. Are you now telling me that you are more intelligent about the constitution than the Supreme Court?

As for your ‘point’, it is again irrelevant as I stated before. Both parties spend more than we bring in in taxes and both parties increase our debt. Both parties have had larger budgets every single year. According to you, only the fact that we had an economic boon in the late 90s, due primarily to the .com and y2k spending. By the time Clinton ended his presidency we were in the middle of a recession because nothing was done to take advantage of the ‘peace dividend’ and to shore up our debt or SS. Leaving problems to the next administration is not ‘good leadership’, and neither is ignoring a growing threat from terrorism an example either.

Now, answer my 3 questions and we can continue, otherwise you can go on continuing to believe that the President controls the economy and Clinton was a good president. (not compared to anyone, just in his own right).

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 17, 2008 1:15 PM
Comment #258739

Rhinehold -

Your three questions:

1) Who contols the countries pursestrings and why was the line-item veto found unconstitutional?

- Sorta looks like two questions there. But in any case, you’re still living in la-la land if you think the president is not RESPONSIBLE for the budget. Whatever the Congress may do or say, he must approve it, AND YOU KNOW AS WELL AS I that whatever YOU may wish about Congress being able to override the president, YOU KNOW that it happens but RARELY in real life.

Remember when Congress under Newt Gingrich decided to shut down the government? There were two - the first was partially resolved by a temporary spending bill. Here’s a bit more of the story: “The shutdown, however, was generally considered to have resulted in a victory for President Clinton. During the shutdown, Gingrich’s complaint that he had been ignored by Clinton on a flight back from the funeral of Yitzhak Rabin was widely reported, resulting in the perception that Gingrich was acting in a petty, egotistical manner. Later polling suggested that the event badly damaged Gingrich politically.[2]

The shutdown also influenced the 1996 presidential election. Bob Dole, the Senate Majority Leader, was running for president in 1996. Because of his need to campaign, Dole was anxious to solve the budget crisis in January 1996 despite the willingness of other Republicans to continue the shutdown unless their demands were met.”

Why was it generally considered a victory for Clinton? BECAUSE the Republicans did not have the votes to override him!

So WHO controlled the purse strings? The Republican-controlled Congress came up with a budget that Clinton would not approve. So did it pass? No. It HAD TO GO THROUGH CLINTON. Whatever YOU think oughta happen, this is what happened in real life.

Come to think of it, that’s sorta like the classic man-is-the-head-of-the-house marriage (which is NOT indicative of most marriages IMO): She says this is what she wants to spend money on, and the husband either says yes or no. In this case, the wife is Congress and the husband is the president.

Oh, and when it comes to the line-item veto, I personally don’t know WHY it was declared unconstitutional, but I’m doggone GLAD it was, for it gave the executive branch WAY too much power.

2) Why is leaving the US in a recession considered ‘good economic policy’ by you?

- Did Clinton leave the U.S. in a state of recession? Hm. Let’s take a look at what the Wikipedia says (the Wiki’s not perfect, but they’re pretty good): “The Early 2000s recession was felt in mostly Western countries, affecting the European Union mostly during 2000 and 2001 and the United States mostly in 2002 and 2003.”

Hey! - Looks like Clinton DID NOT ‘leave the country in a state of recession’, because the recession affected the U.S. “mostly in 2002-2003”.

But wait! Where did we get the idea it was a ‘Clinton recession’? “…controversy over the precise dates of the recession led to the characterization of the recession as the “Clinton Recession” by Republicans, if it could be traced to the final term of President Bill Clinton.”

Ah, POLITICS. It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you place the blame, huh?

But wait - there’s one more way you could blame all the world’s ills on Clinton - “Using the stock market as an unofficial benchmark, a recession would have begun in March 2000 when the NASDAQ crashed following the collapse of the Dot-com bubble. [BUT EVEN THEN]The Dow Jones Industrial Average was relatively unscathed by the NASDAQ’s crash until the September 11, 2001 attacks,”

So even with the dot-com bubble bursting, we didn’t go into an honest-to-goodness recession until 9/11.

3) What, specifically, did Clinton do to create a ‘deficit’? Can you name a single thing or is it just because he was President at the time?

- Huh? Last I recall, I was the one providing reliable references showing Clinton having a SURPLUS, and now you’re trying to get ME to prove YOUR claim? As I said before, the only way you can say he had a ‘deficit’ is by adding in the interest.

Maybe I’m blind, Rhinehold, and maybe I’m just not taking the time to read the small print. Maybe you’ve gotta spoon-feed me the referenced DETAILS so I can see just what the heck you’re talking about. Please note this is NOT sarcasm, because I’ve been stupidly wrong before.

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at August 17, 2008 8:01 PM
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