Obama's Numbers

The president-elect has promised to make his math add up. Therein lies a glimmer of possibility.

I never quite understood libertarian enthusiasm for Barack Obama. Yes, his early and forceful opposition to the Iraq war made anti-interventionists swoon, but candidate Obama was, if anything, more belligerent than John McCain toward Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Sudan. The drug war? The former pot smoker has said he’d call off the Drug Enforcement Administration’s raids on legal medical marijuana facilities, but that’s about it. (Recall, too, that he’ll have as vice president the very senator who created the odious position of “drug czar.”) Executive power? He’s been strangely silent about rolling back the excesses of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, and he voted in 2008 to expand federal snooping into the affairs of innocent Americans. Property rights? Free speech? Capitalism? Guns? Surely you jest. (For a look at what Washington libertarians expect out of the new administration, see David Weigel’s “Beat the New Boss,” page 18.)

Only one pro-Obama—as opposed to anti-Republican—argument ever really resonated with me, and that was the notion that, unlike McCain and most Republican presidential nominees of recent vintage, Obama did a relatively credible job of making sure his budget figures “added up.” There was, I repeatedly read and heard from economic number crunchers such as The Atlantic’s Megan McArdle, a genuinely impressive attempt to translate the hot air of campaign promises into the cold reality of a plausible balance sheet. “What I’ve done throughout this campaign is to propose a net spending cut,” Obama said in his final pre-election debate with McCain. “I have been a strong proponent of pay as you go. Every dollar [in spending] that I’ve proposed, I’ve proposed an additional cut so that it matches.”

You should never take a politician at his word. But you should listen to what he campaigns on day after day, especially if he goes on to win big. Amid Obama’s host of illiberal campaign ideas—“fair” trade, centralized energy policy, New Deal–style infrastructure projects, more federal dollars into the sinkhole of public schools—the Democratic candidate also spiced his daily stump speech with a firm-sounding nod to fiscal responsibility. Coupled with a sorry budget situation that’s certain to get worse as a result of massive income tax losses from Wall Street, this commitment to fiscal sobriety may strangle many of Obama’s more expensive fantasies in the crib and crack open the door for ending or privatizing any number of inefficient federal programs.

This may sound like wishful thinking, but is it any more unrealistic than the expectation that a Republican administration will push for markets and limited government? As economics columnist Veronique de Rugy details on page 24, the outgoing Bush administration has increased the size of the federal government by just about every meaningful metric, to an extent not seen in several decades. Despite all the Democratic rhetoric to the contrary, this expansion includes a sharp growth in regulation. (For more on Wall Street regulation in particular, see Katherine Mangu-Ward’s “Is Deregulation to Blame?,” page 36.) It may be hard for Republicans older than me to accept, but voters who have known only the Clinton and Bush presidencies have little reason to believe that Republicans are preferable to Democrats on limiting government and keeping budgets halfway sane.

Somewhere along the way, making sure the numbers added up ceased to be a Republican virtue. The 2000 presidential election was fought largely over what to do with all those marvelous budget surpluses, which were estimated then at more than $4 trillion and assumed by all major candidates to stretch out past the horizon. Bush swore that “the best way to…make sure that the federal budgets don’t become bloated and don’t grow” was to cut taxes by more than $1 trillion. When his unified Republican government proceeded to bloat the federal budget in ways not seen since Lyndon Johnson, turning record surpluses into record deficits almost overnight, Bush just shrugged, holstered his veto pen (until late in his second term), and made halfhearted promises in every State of the Union address to “reduce” the deficit and really crack down on spending this time around. It was only slightly more believable than his fabled mission to Mars.

Today’s deficit (currently estimated at $1 trillion for fiscal 2009 alone) is tomorrow’s tax liability, in the form of ever-increasing debt service payments. It’s also a broken windows–like symbol that government has all but given up trying to live within any kind of budgetary discipline. Many Republicans during the Bush era stopped even pretending to care about any small-government notions aside from tax cuts. “The one mistake that could cripple a second Bush term,” Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform told me just after the 2004 elections, “is to accept the campaign promise to ‘cut the deficit in half in four years’ as a central goal of the administration.” That way “tax cuts are a problem,” Norquist said, “and Democrats have an equally valid solution: raise taxes.”

Turns out there was more than one mistake capable of crippling Bush, without his lifting a finger on the deficit. And Republicans’ singleminded pursuit of tax cuts as the only meaningful manifestation of limited government has ended up undermining public support for both.

Obama is perfectly capable of telling economic policy whoppers of his own. In addition to seconding every last bit of financial fear mongering that the Bush administration shamefully deployed to sell a deeply unpopular and ill-advised bailout (see Mike Flynn’s “Anatomy of a Breakdown,” page 26, and Tim Cavanaugh’s “Houses of Pain,” page 40), Obama in his victory speech on election night nonsensically described the current economic situation as “the worst financial crisis in a century,” while continuing to perpetuate the myth that America’s “middle class” is embattled, dwindling, and poor. He has missed few opportunities to bash trade with China, is fond of such absolutist non sequiturs as “we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers,” and he’s threatening to usher in the most left-bent economic program since at least the final year of George W. Bush.

But to paraphrase Bruce Springsteen, the president-elect has bills no honest man can pay, balanced against a campaign pledge to deal with budgeting honestly. “We’re not going to be able to go back to our profligate ways,” Obama said in the final debate. “We need to eliminate a whole host of programs that don’t work. I want to go through the federal budget line by line, page by page.”

Actually, that level of detail isn’t required. Obama could save more than $20 billion a year just by eliminating farm subsidies (subsidies that help keep the truly poor mired in poverty by blocking their ability to sell farm products to the world’s largest economy). There’s at least another $60 billion worth of federal corporate welfare out there begging to get snipped. Earmarks squander $20 billion a year.

There are bigger fish to fry in the military budget. Withdrawing from Iraq, Obama has estimated, will bring in $150 billion, and there are many billions more of potential savings being thrown every year to places such as the Korean peninsula. Real budgetary discipline would mean that we stop funding the Iraq war, the Afghan war, and any number of unvetted weapons systems through the deceitful and unprecedented “emergency supplemental spending” process.

All over the country, state and local governments are facing blown budgets and untenable pension obligations tied to plummeting stocks. New York Gov. David Paterson came to Washington just before the election rattling the cup for a federal bailout of his own. He won’t be alone. The good news, if there is any, is that Obama won’t be able to deliver medicine for everyone who ails. And if he’s serious about his campaign pledge to be fiscally responsible, Washington may even be the source of a little long-overdue pain.

Matt Welch is editor in chief of reason.

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  • Naga Sadow||

    This is no time for fiscal responsibility! We have to protect our phoney baloney jobs! Harumph!

  • ||

    They'll add up the usual way, with large expenditures "off budget" and/or designated as "emergencies". I predict that the Democrats will find a new love for deficit spending, because any move to increase our taxes during a recession will be met with GOP votes. And they know that.

  • ||

    And if he's serious about his campaign pledge to be fiscally responsible, Washington may even be the source of a little long-overdue pain.

    He is every bit as serious as GWB's humble foreign policy. I expect bot deficits and debt as a percenage of GDP to continue to rise. I hope I'm wrong, but I'm betting I'm not.

  • Naga Sadow||

    J sub D,

    Shorting the nation are we? LOL.

  • ||

    Maybe Obama needs to sit down and have a chat with Jimmy Carter about what happens when you try to get a Democrat-controlled Congress "to eliminate a whole host of programs that don't work."

    Hint: Every program works for someone, and that someone will fight tooth and nail to keep it. And with the help of the likes of Robert Bird and Ted Kennedy will succeed.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Pro Lib,

    Ah yes. The supplements have been out of control over the last decade. I'm hoping that with the Dems in control in a bad economy it will be to much of an "everyone for themselves" attitude preventing much damaging legislation from getting passed within the first six months. In other words a "blame everything on Bush and the Republicans for why we can't organize ourselves to pass much need legislation" go around. I fear I'm being to optimistic on that.

  • ||

    Ah, yes. The buck stops over there.

  • Jerry||

    No article yet on the coup d'etat in Canada?

  • ||

    He's already blown it. By voting for the bailout, he's seen to it that there's no way in hell he can make ends meet. Even giving up the empire and ending the drug war won't make the difference.

    -jcr

  • ||

    Shorting the nation are we? LOL.

    Does selling stock and bonds and buying precious metals mean shorting the nation?

  • Naga Sadow||

    Selling stocks and bonds? What are you? Stop with the panic selling! The markets will work correctly if you will buy, buy, BUY!!! Also, does "buying precious metals" refer to guns?

  • ||

    I see there's a sudden surplus in Benefit of the Doubt. Use it wisely.

  • ||

    Jerry,

    When there's a post about Canada, the rabid snow-trolls show up with their superfluous "u"s and inverted "er" to "re" and the board becomes intolerable. In fact, Dagny's probably already on her way...

  • EJM||

    No article yet on the coup d'etat in Canada?

    Personally, I think that the recent arrest of UK MP Damian Green is more important.

  • ||

    Does selling stock and bonds and buying precious metals mean shorting the nation?

    That was my move. Unfortunately metals have been getting hit like anything else. I expect that to reverse when the double digit inflation kicks in next year.

  • ||

    He can't raise taxes going into a recession. The bailouts have ruled out borrowing anymore. That leaves cutting spending. Good luck in getting Congress to do that. He can kill off the military but even that will meet resistence from the pork barons in Congress. At the same time Obama has a bunch of brain dead liberal supporters who are expecting universal health care and every other goodie they have been pinning for over the last 40 years. He is so screwed.

  • ||

    He can kill off the military but even that will meet resistence from the pork barons in Congress.



    Remember how Diane Feinstein sqealed when, after years of bellyaching about too much military spending, the DoD wanted to close some bases in CA in the 90s.

  • BDB||

    "John | December 1, 2008, 3:59pm | #
    He can't raise taxes going into a recession. "

    He is going to simply let the Bush tax cuts expire in 2010 and then claim that really isn't a tax hike, just letting them get "rolled back".

    That and borrow more. Yes, it is still an option. We'll simply go up to European levels of debt as a % of GDP.

  • BDB||

    Ex. Italy has its level of dept approaching 100% of GDP, and they won't stop borrowing. Not saying its good (its not) but it will happen here.

  • ||

    What makes anyone think he's more serious about fiscal responsibility than ending the Iraq war within 16 months?

    If he's not serious about the latter ... wtf is he serious about?

  • Paul||

    I never quite understood libertarian enthusiasm for Barack Obama.



    You're confusing a lack of enthusiasm for McCain/Republicans with enthusiasm for Obama.

    What makes anyone think he's more serious about fiscal responsibility than ending the Iraq war within 16 months?

    On the first, he's not. Democrats promise tax and spend and get held back because of reality. Republicans promise fiscal responsibility, but get held back because of reality.

    On the second, he said we'd pull our troops out within 16 months. According to NPR's analysis this morning, that means late 2010. However, he also said he'd listen to commanders on the ground. This was the 'wiggle room' he gave himself.

  • ||

    When there's a post about Canada, the rabid snow-trolls show up with their superfluous "u"s and inverted "er" to "re" and the board becomes intolerable. In fact, Dagny's probably already on her way...

    Wow, that worked well! I was summoned just like Bloody Mary or Biggie Smalls.

    To prevent Canadian political squabbles from sullying your American blogs again, please send a certified cheque to the Centre for Canadian Behaviour Studies. Alternately, CAD$ will be accepted. No loonies or twoonies, please.

    You've been Canadian'd!!

  • ||

    "He is going to simply let the Bush tax cuts expire in 2010 and then claim that really isn't a tax hike, just letting them get "rolled back"."


    They can't raise taxes because it would be suicidal to the economy. Calling it a rollback doesn't change that. They are already talking about pushing back the "rollback". The borrowing can't go on forever. We are hitting our credit limit. All that is left is to just print the money.

  • ||

    What makes anyone think he's more serious about fiscal responsibility than ending the Iraq war within 16 months?

    If he's not serious about the latter ... wtf is he serious about?


    He was extremely serious about getting elected. Now he's about to find out he's just got the easy part done.

  • ||

    Iraq is only about $150 billion a year, which is small change when you are talking about trillions.

  • ||

    "He was extremely serious about getting elected. Now he's about to find out he's just got the easy part done."

    What do you mean the world isn't going to love us and the seas aren't going to roll back like he promised? Well that is a bitch.

  • Mike M.||

    Hmmmm, stock markets down almost eight percent today. Not a good looking start to the holiday season.

    There isn't a system of math out there fuzzy enough to add up in these conditions.

  • ||

    Speaking of Canada, couldn't we sell it to get out of this economic crisis? We do own it, right?

  • ||

    Dagny! J'accuse, you Limey/Frog miscegenated mutants!

  • ||

    "Speaking of Canada, couldn't we sell it to get out of this economic crisis? We do own it, right?"

    But with Russia putting Siberia on the market at the same time, the price for frozen wasteland just isn't what it used to be.

  • ||

    Pro Libertate,

    We've already looted it of hot chicks and doctors. We could probably get a pretty penny for the poutine purveyors... perhaps.

  • ||

    Hmmmm, stock markets down almost eight percent today. Not a good looking start to the holiday season.

    OTOH,

    Preliminary reports from Shopper Track RCT estimate that Black Friday sales totaled $10.6 billion, a 3 percent rise over last year. The Chicago-based retail analyst found traffic at stores was heavy nationwide, with a 3 percent increase in the number of shoppers over last year in the Midwest.

  • Paul||

    We do own it, right?

    Just their hockey teams.

  • ||

    Remember during the whole "Alaska has a border with Russia" deal during the campaign? No one on either side bothered to mention that whole thousand mile land border it shares with Canada. I honestly think most people think we really do own Canada.

  • Paul||

    I honestly think most people think we really do own Canada.

    I know one thing for sure, something like 98% of the Canadian population is amassed on the border with the U.S.... probably for some kind of invasion.

  • economist||

    "I never quite understood libertarian enthusiasm for Barack Obama.

    You're confusing a lack of enthusiasm for McCain/Republicans with enthusiasm for Obama."
    You've obviously not been keeping up with Andrew Sullivan.

  • ||

    J'accuse, you Limey/Frog miscegenated mutants!

    It's got to be some kind of hideous mutation that allows Canadians to submit to the tyranny of the Governor-General's whims.

    the price for frozen wasteland just isn't what it used to be.

    Just wait until the dudes from Atlasphere want to recreate Galt's Gulch. The market for frozen wastelands could skyrocket!

  • economist||

    "probably for some kind of invasion."
    Sounds like a perfect reason for a pre-emptive strike.

  • Paul||

    You've obviously not been keeping up with Andrew Sullivan.

    I'm not. And I suspect I'm a better man for it.

  • economist||

    "Just wait until the dudes from Atlasphere want to recreate Galt's Gulch. The market for frozen wastelands could skyrocket!"
    Sorry, but my moderate libertarian colony will take up Antarctica, and will probably include public roads.

  • ||

    J sub D,

    Don't you know that all these people looking for bargains only indicates that the economy is much worse than we all thought?

    You need to work on your media-think.

  • economist||

    Paul,
    You're probably right that you're a better man for not keeping up with Andrew Sullivan. It's probably wrong to read his blog just to laugh at the AIDS-demented loon.

  • economist||

    "But with Russia putting Siberia on the market at the same time, the price for frozen wasteland just isn't what it used to be."
    Holiday in Siberia, anyone?

  • ||

    Iraq is only about $150 billion a year, which is small change when you are talking about trillions.

    Where have you gone Everett Dirksen?

  • Paul||

    I'm with Pain on this one, J sub D.

    For instance, haven't you heard the media hand-wringing over low gas prices?

  • ||

    Obama could save more than $20 billion a year just by eliminating farm subsidies (subsidies that help keep the truly poor mired in poverty by blocking their ability to sell farm products to the world's largest economy). There's at least another $60 billion worth of federal corporate welfare out there begging to get snipped. Earmarks squander $20 billion a year.

    Of course, it would've been nice if he'd actually campaigned against some of those things. Not that it would've mattered, since even libertarians didn't really care about decreasing farm subsidies. (Or least, there's no way it made enough of a marginal difference compared to the reasons to dislike McCain for most libertarians.)

  • concerned observer||

    There's no way the budget can "add up" right now. What the economy needs is an increase in public spending to correct the decrease in corporate and consumer spending. This will require a temporary bout of deficit spending. This wouldn't be so hard if the Republicans hadn't already racked up unnecessary debt in their war for oil in Iraq and with massive tax cuts for the rich at home.

  • ||

    CO,

    We've had a "bout" a few decades long of deficit spending.

  • SIV||

    does "buying precious metals" refer to guns?

    Even the guns are debased now with polymer frames.

    "Fiscal responsibility" will consist of selling enough bonds to finance our debt w/o defaulting and maybe raise enough cash for stimulating bread and circuses.
    The ray of light is that it isn't easy to default when the money you owe is your own currency.

  • concerned observer||

    @smartass-And which party has been in power for most of those times in those decades?

  • concerned observer||

    Eeeeek !!! there's a gerbil in my pants! I must have used too much lube and he slipped back out.

  • concerned observer||

    Look at a chart showing the growth of the national debt as a proportion of the economy and you will find that it has ALWAYS gone up under Republicans especially in the last twenty-years. That's where your supply-side, free-market fundamentalism get you.

  • ||

    "Obama could save more than $20 billion a year just by eliminating farm subsidies (subsidies that help keep the truly poor mired in poverty by blocking their ability to sell farm products to the world's largest economy). There's at least another $60 billion worth of federal corporate welfare out there begging to get snipped. Earmarks squander $20 billion a year."

    He is just going to waive his Obama wand and sunshine will flow from his ass and he will kill off farm subsidies and all earmarks. Yeah, that is how it is going to work.

  • concerned observer||

    That's real fucking mature to post under my handle when you can't answer my arguments.

  • concerned observer||

    @John-You haven't addressed my point from my 4:54 post.

  • concerned observer||

    lol just trollin' guys...

  • concerned observer||

    Then again that's probably because you can't think of a counterargument and are instead going to say that I'm not a "real American".

  • concerned observer||

    Grow UP!

  • ||

    That's where your supply-side, free-market fundamentalism get you

    Ok, douchebag: the assertion that Republicans are in some way free-marketers is laughable.

    Now get that gerbil back up there. Way up there.

  • concerned observer||

    One of these days you libertards will understand that the only way anything will get better is for the government to take the money it needs from the greedy and the lucky and use it for the benefit of everyone. Thanks to Bush's reckless tax cuts, Obama is going to have to borrow for a few years to get the economy back on its feet. But once it is we can get tax rates to a sane level of 50% or 60% of every dollar earned above $100,000 and things will really to start to improve.

  • concerned observer||

    @The person or people fake posting as me-I don't know whats wrong with you people, but you have a shitty sense of humor. If you continue to do this, I WILL get a court order to subpoena your IP addresses. This is going to stop.

  • ||

    I suggest that the government tax all of us--no exceptions--at 100% for the duration of this emergency. To revive the economy, the government can spend all of this money on major initiatives, thus stimulating growth and protecting the little guy from the evil corporations and his own puny needs and desires.

    Edward is right about the GOP. It plays hide the salami with deficit spending. So have and will the Democrats, but they don't do it while telling us that we're not being taxed as much (this decade). However, the deficit in and of itself isn't the problem. Out of control spending is.

  • Paul||

    This will require a temporary bout of deficit spending.

    Umm... like the deficit spending we've been doing for the last decade? So, what you're saying is, more of the same will fix this.

  • concerned observer||

    @Episiarch-You aren't changing the fact that it was a laxity of regulations that caused the current financial crisis.

  • Paul||

    lol just trollin' guys...

    Good one, c.o. good one.

  • concerned observer||

    @Pro Libertarte-I am not Edward.

  • ||

    CO,

    You mean the House? Senate? Congress in general? The President? State houses and/or senates? Governors? Which states?

    Who gives a shit what party did it?

  • concerned observer||

    @co

    No, I am Edward. Stop spoofing me, childish adolescents!

  • concerned observer||

    Believe it or not, most people (including most Americans) do not subscribe to your insane anti-government ideology. Most people are fairly moderate and support government intervention in the economy when it is necessary to promote stability and fairness.

  • Paul||

    Most people are fairly moderate and support government intervention in the economy when it is necessary to promote stability and fairness.

    Oh, you're right. If a guy can get a government cheque out of it, he's all fer it.

  • ||

    And I am not Pro Libertarte, which is some sort of cake, I believe ☺

  • concerned observer||

    @Smartass-Ignoring the record of the party that has been the vehicle for most of your libertarian ideas isn't going to make it go away. You can say the economy tanked because the government helps old people buy drugs and poor people own homes, but it won't change the facts that everyone else has been recognizing for years now: That unfettered free-market capitalism just doesn't work. It's not even more efficient. Far better would be a well-regulated, Keynesian economy with a wide safety net that took efforts to insure equal opportunity to all its citizens.

  • concerned observer||

    And most people understand that the government and trained professionals know better than they do how to spend money for the greater good. Only free market fanatics think that greed and selfishness is the way to a better economy.

  • ||

    Je suis Napoleon!

  • concerned observer||

    I'm now convinced that I am, by far, the most smart, accomplished, and mature person on this board.

  • concerned observer||

    And only immature, stupid free market fundmentalists would disagree with me.

  • concerned observer||

    @Paul-Your cynicism is disgusting. Some people actually believe in making policy for the common good rather than out of a desire to screw the poor and middle class for the benefit of a few rich people at the top.

  • concerned observer||

    @everyone

    I'm fucking brilliant!

  • concerned observer||

    @the people still posting under my name-Fine. You people are so stuck in your libertarian mind-loop, that it's impossible to convince you otherwise. The world is flat, Barack Obama is out to "get you", and one day we'll all be in the gulags. It's okay to think that. Just don't struggle too much when the men in white coats give you your sedative.

  • Paul||

    That unfettered free-market capitalism just doesn't work. It's not even more efficient.

    It works great. For instance, there was this thing that the banks had going, where they had all this bad credit and questionable investments, and Capitalism rooted that out and sent prices tumbling to their real value.

    But then government got involved and started buying debt instruments that were worth pennies on the dollar, for tens of dollars on the dollar. Thanks Keynes! Thanks for saving us from teh capitalism! And the markets have been responding favourably ever since!!!

    desire to screw the poor and middle class

    So... I'm trying to screw myself? Well, I guess if that's the only way I can get it...

  • ||

    @Paul - Don't you understand that the poor and the middle class have no chance in this world? They have no ability to take care of themselves and will suffer greatly if left to the wolves of the rich? Only smart enlightened guidance from the government and a strong social safety net can save them from their fate. The worst thing to do is let them make their own decisions or keep too much of their earnings.

  • SIV||

    @co

    Don't forget the butterfly nets!

  • concerned observer||

    The vast majority of the population is just too dim to actually take care of themselves. Only a well-regulated economy under the control of Big Brother can provide the necessities at reasonable prices to keep the proles in check.

  • concerned observer||

    "It works great. For instance, there was this thing that the banks had going, where they had all this bad credit and questionable investments, and Capitalism rooted that out and sent prices tumbling to their real value."

    Right and the massive shock to the economy didn't create any collateral damage beyond normal corrections. And the huge amount of bad credit had nothing to do with bubbles that inevitably occur in unfettered markets.

  • Paul||

    It's good to see the Democrats getting the money to the poor folks where it's needed most!

  • ||

    CO,

    I'm not ignoring anything; I'm not a partisan hack.

    As for Keynesian economics, what's you're point? That's how we got in this mess.

    Belive it or not, I'm not a purist. I just think most "entitlements" are earmarked for an ever increasing lazy middle class, not the poor--if anyone gets booted off any program, you can bet your sweet ass it won't be someone making over 50K a year.

    As for the "rich", I doubt any congressperson, whatever party, is interested in raising their own taxes. Plenty of loopholes for themselves and plenty of lawyers to exploit them. They're not going to pay shit.

    Not the rest of us.

  • ||

    I am optimistic.

  • concerned observer||

    @the person who posted as me at 5:11-Did you know that Orwell was actually (gasp) a socialist? That he would almost certainly disagree with you in this conversation? Think about that before referencing 1984, idiot.

  • ||

    Like Lefiti, it is impossible to tell the real CO posts from the fake ones.

  • concerned observer||

    We need to return to the glory days before Ronald Reagan when the top tax bracket was well over 50%. The rich don't deserve to keep all that money.

  • ||

    I object to the idea that (1) the Republicans are remotely libertarian or even pro-free market and (2) what we have today is anything other than a heavily regulated and interfered with economy. If things suck today, then the government deserves the lion's share of the blame.

  • concerned observer||

    There's really no reason to argue with you people. If you hadn't noticed, your little cult was overwhelmingly rejected at the ballot box a few weeks back (remember?). Have fun in obscurity.

  • Paul||

    Right and the massive shock to the economy didn't create any collateral damage beyond normal corrections.

    My 401k has bled horribly. Luckily, as a "working class", lower middle class income type of person, it wasn't none too big to begin with. But I'll gladly take the damage and watch the wealthy banks, investment houses and automobile companies implode because from those ashes will emerge a stronger economy. But instead, we seem to want to keep the brain-dead patient on life support. Because hey, he's contributing to the economy 'n stuff.

  • concerned observer||

    @John-It's impossible for you to tell because you've already decided, absent any evidence, that I am a troll who shouldn't be listened to. And I am in fact serious about the spoofers. They are playing with fire, and some time they are going to get burnt.

  • ||

    Yeah Pro, I would love to know when the free market glory days actually were. Certainly not in my lifetime. You really have to go back to the 19th Century. Of course the 19th Century produced the greatest increase in real standard of living and freedom in all human history only to give way to the nighmare of killing and world war that was the 20th Century. But the rise of central control and its evil twins socialism and fascism had nothing whatsoever to do with that. Nothing at all.

  • concerned observer||

    You libertards need to join the church of Barack, only he can leads us to salvation.

  • concerned observer||

    @Paul-You didn't even address anything I said. Explain how a massive freezup of the credit markets is beneficial to the economy. How does it not delay a recovery?

  • ||

    Co,

    For you sake I am hoping you are a troll. I can't believe anyone actually seriously beleives the crap you are putting out. If you do, I am really sorry. I would suggest reading Friedman's books on the Great Depression and Paul Johnson's Modern Times as a start.

  • ||

    Cult? I daresay you're more on the cult side than we are. If Paul had somehow won, we'd be trashing him for his various perceived betrayals by now.

  • concerned observer||

    Believe it or not, John, fascism has more in common in its economic philosophy with your precious free market philosophy than with socialism. It promoted big corporations, the interests of landowners, and the military. You would have gotten along great.

  • Paul||

    Of course the 19th Century produced the greatest increase in real standard of living and freedom in all human history only to give way to the nighmare of killing and world war that was the 20th Century.

    Except what about the robber barons! Oh, they had government help. Never mind.

  • concerned observer||

    @John-I would recommend that YOU read Keynes's work on the role of fiscal policy. Friedman's work is a load of crap.

  • concerned observer||

    @Paul-I'm glad to see that you're continuing with your one-drop fallacy. Good work.

  • Dexter||

    I live by the code, but I could make and execption for concerned observer.

  • concerned observer||

    @John also, read some Naomi Klein.

  • concerned observer||

    @Dexter-Think real hard before you threaten. I can trace your IP address and make you face charges for an online threat.

  • Paul||

    Believe it or not, John, fascism has more in common in its economic philosophy with your precious free market philosophy than with socialism.

    Not even close, dude. It has nothing in common with "our" economic philosophy. Fascism was created by a former socialist. He merely modified a few things that he found weak about it, and out of that core, came fascism.

    Fascism hates individualism. It centrally plans the economy by organizing industries into 'blocs'. Yes, it is a 'corporate' state, but it has nothing to do with the free market.

  • concerned observer||

    I didn't make the 5:23 post, but that doesn't sound like a bad idea.

  • concerned observer||

    "was created by a former socialist. He merely modified a few things that he found weak about it, and out of that core, came fascism."
    Mussolini was not supported by the workers. By and large he was supported by conservative business owners, landowners, and military veterans.

  • concerned observer||

    I think it's sad that you people really nothing better to do than stand in your echo chamber for hours on end.

  • Animal Control||

    Okay, who fed the troll?

  • ||

    CO,

    Fascism is based on the denial of the individual and the need for central planning by the state. It got its start with the War socialism of Imperial Germany. There is nothing free market or capitalistic about it. It is just the twin janus head of communism. The difference being, fascism is based on ideas of nationalism and racial purity and communism is based on ideas of class hatred. You really don't know anything. In fact you know so little, you don't even know how little you know. Sad really.

  • Paul||

    Mussolini was not supported by the workers. By and large he was supported by conservative business owners, landowners, and military veterans.

    That is mostly correct. Because the corporations (just like our modern corporations) don't want a free market, they want government protection. I'm seeing a glimmer here, C.O., don't disappoint us.

    An important factor in fascism gaining support in its earliest stages was the fact that it opposed discrimination based on social class and was strongly opposed to all forms of class war.[12] Fascism instead supported nationalist sentiments such as a strong unity, regardless of class, in the hopes of raising Italy up to the levels of its great Roman past. This side of fascism endeared itself to the aristocracy and the bourgeois, as it promised to protect their existence; after the Russian Revolution, they had greatly feared the prospect of a bloody class war coming to Italy by the hand of the communists and the socialists. Mussolini did not ignore the plight of the working class, however, and he gained their support with stances such as those in The Manifesto of the Fascist Struggle, published in June 1919

  • concerned observer||

    "Fascism hates individualism. It centrally plans the economy by organizing industries into 'blocs'. Yes, it is a 'corporate' state, but it has nothing to do with the free market."
    Right and a market that allows vast wealth to be concentrated in the hands of some executives with arbitrary power over their employees isn't anti-individualistic?

  • ||

    Also, the economic policies of Mussilini were greatly admired by Roosevelt and were adopted in many areas of the New Deal. I guess that Roosevelt was a fascist to.

  • concerned observer||

    Believe it or not, I can get most reputable scholars of history to back up my point of view, while you can only dredge ideologically-driven fringe nuts.

  • concerned observer||

    @John-I knew you would be the one to claim Roosevelt, who led the country in a war against fascists, a fascist.

  • concerned observer||

    I once blogged for eight days straight. I had to eat my underwear to survive.

  • concerned observer||

    Of course, what can anyone expect from John, the ultimate conservative hack on this site?

  • ||

    "@John-I knew you would be the one to claim Roosevelt, who led the country in a war against fascists, a fascist."

    It is called sarcasm dumb ass. Of course Roosevelt was not a fascist, althoug a few interned Japanese might disagree. The point is that the economic policies of socialism and fascism are identical. That is why Roosevelt, a socialist, had no problem admiring the economic policies of both facist Germany and Italy.

  • concerned observer||

    The person who fake-posted as me at 5:32 isn't funny at all.

  • concerned observer||

    "althoug a few interned Japanese might disagree"
    What John, racism isn't okay unless it's directed at the right groups by the right people, like by your libertarian hero Ron Paul?

  • ||

    CO,

    You really need to read. I read Keynes to and it has been out of date for 30 years. If you don't believe me, read Paul Krugman's Peddling Prosperity. Before Krugman was a nut on the New York Times he was a real economist. In that book, he explains how Krugman was wrong and how his policies, or at lest the bastardized version of them that nitwits like you come up with, gave us stagflation.

  • concerned observer||

    @John-You should just shut up. People like you caused the current mess and are trying to prevent any viable solution. You should just be quiet and hope no one notices you.

  • ||

    He explains how Keynes was wrong.

  • concerned observer||

    @John-Link, please.

  • ||

    "@John-You should just shut up. People like you caused the current mess and are trying to prevent any viable solution. You should just be quiet and hope no one notices you."

    Is it real or the sock puppet? I can't tell.

  • concerned observer||

    My hero Paul Krugman can't have criticized Keynes! The scriptures cannot contradict each other!

  • BDB||

    My favorite part of this whole thread is when the real concerned observer said that he agreed with one post by the fake concerned observer.

  • ||

    CO,

    For somebody who doesn't know shit about libertarian theories or philosophy, you sure do spout off a lot.

    I think I'll go over to a physics blogs and call them retards about unified field theories. I'll post as concerned observer ignorant dumbass.

    That's because I support truth in internet pseudonyms. To display my concern for truth in pseudonyms, CO has my permission to adopt ignorant dumbass at this site.

  • concerned observer||

    @John-It was real. You really should shut up.

  • ||

    Go read the book dumb ass. It is not available online. Pick up a book, it will do you good. That one is even by an approved author. You won't get kicked out of the Obama cult for owning it, especially since no one else in the cult will have read it or know what it says.

  • Paul||

    Right and a market that allows vast wealth to be concentrated in the hands of some executives with arbitrary power over their employees isn't anti-individualistic?

    Of course it's anti-individualistic. But libertarians are fiercely against government aid to said corporations. We're also fiercely against tailoring markets to favor those corporations through regulations... regulations nearly always supported by those same corporations.

    Believe it or not, I can get most reputable scholars of history to back up my point of view,

    That fascism was a free-wheeling, free-market, liberty loving political philosophy that ushered in a new era of individualism?

    Name one. Name one.

    I respectfully suggest you're getting "pwned". You can argue the superiority of Keynes vs. Friedman all you want. But please, stay away from suggesting libertarianism even remotely resembles fascism.

  • ||

    Ah, the old is fascism Capitalism+ or socialism by other means debate. If some arch-capitalist had been directly associated with the advent of fascism, maybe you'd have a point. But that's not the case. Many people who don't bother reading history too deeply misinterpret Mussolini's "corporatism" for meaning something capitalistic. Wrong! Just because the governments only controlled the businesses rather than nationalizing them doesn't make them some sort of super-capitalists.

    Incidentally, the socialist or not debate is misplaced. While I generally view fascism as a bastardization of socialism as it arose in Italy and Germany, in theory, it could come from any system that turned totalitarian. Even ours.

  • concerned observer||

    @JsubD-I'm not going to take crap from some self-hating militarist libertarian.

  • ||

    when the real concerned observer said that he agreed with one post by the fake concerned observer

    Ahh, but was that the real CO or a fake one?

  • ||

    Yeah, CO people like me caused this. Not people like Barney Franks and Chris Dodd making millions off of Fannie and Freddie while lying about their financial health.

  • BDB||

    "Episiarch | December 1, 2008, 5:39pm | #


    Ahh, but was that the real CO or a fake one?"

    A fake CO saying he was the real CO agreeing with a fake CO...I'd need to be high to fully comprehend that.

  • concerned observer||

    "You won't get kicked out of the Obama cult for owning it,"
    Oh that's rich saying that I'm in a cult, coming from a group of self-affirming libertarian nutjobs.

  • concerned observer||

    I guess the free market fundamentalist nutjob John thinks there should be no child labor laws or food inspection.

  • concerned observer||

    I respectfully suggest you're getting "pwned".

    You people always rag on me for spelling errors and then use that idiot leetspeak.

  • Paul||

    Many people who don't bother reading history too deeply misinterpret Mussolini's "corporatism" for meaning something capitalistic. Wrong!

    Give him a chance, Pro L. I could see a glimmer of that understanding... after that his posts got a little discombobulated. I think we have a chance of getting some real understanding of the difference between 'corporatism' and 'free market'. I'm always up to help someone during a 'teachable' moment.

  • ||

    "Incidentally, the socialist or not debate is misplaced. While I generally view fascism as a bastardization of socialism as it arose in Italy and Germany, in theory, it could come from any system that turned totalitarian. Even ours."

    Absolutly it could. Hitler, like many today, hated capitalism and thought it was a decadent system. At heart, Fascism was a romantic ideology that rejected the individual and embraced the greater cause of race and nationality. It rejected the individual and embraced the idea of an elite being able to control society for a common good.

  • ||

    Please don't argue that my philosophy which favors big corporations and the concentration of wealth has anything in common with another philosophy that favors big corporations and the concentration of wealth.

  • Paul||

    You people always rag on me for spelling errors

    "You people"? You're lucky I'm not black. I'd have you accused of a hate crime.

    First of all, I don't rag on people for spelling errors because 1st, they often don't change the message, albeit they make it harder to understand. Secondly, sometimes it's easy to conflate a typo with a spelling error-- or even a real spelling error that's just a proofreading issue. So while some people might rag on you for spelling, that doesn't mean "we people" do it.

  • concerned observer||

    "embraced the idea of an elite being able to control society for a common good"
    Gee, that sounds almost like Atlas Shrugged. Except that the elitists don't pretend to have the people's interest at heart.

  • ||

    Yes, because national ownership and control of all capital doesn't centralize power one bit. Nope. Only capitalism does that. Furthermore, once a company is successful it will always be successful. The market never changes. That is why we still shop at Wollworth's and GM is the largest and most successful car maker in the world.

    CO your views aren't even coherent enough to be wrong.

  • concerned observer||

    "You're lucky I'm not black. I'd have you accused of a hate crime."
    Right because all black people are just waiting for an opportunity to claim they were victims of a hate crime.

  • concerned observer||

    @John-Would you at least admit, for once, that the corporate environment is soul-crushing, discriminatory, and exploitative?

  • concerned observer||

    "CO your views aren't even coherent enough to be wrong."

    John-Your views aren't at all coherent. You spout off the Republican party line like a robot.

  • concerned observer||

    @John would you also admit the corporations are raping the developing world and cooking us off the planet?

  • concerned observer||

    Of course, no one is answering. They'd rather not have their precious ideology questioned. Doubtless if they could find me they would stone me for heresy.

  • concerned observer||

    Again, 5:51 post was not mine. However, I would ask the poster what is exactly wrong with that statement? Does paying slave wages and spewing greenhouse gases not count as raping the developing world and cooking us off the planet?

  • concerned observer||

    We should mandate that the corporations pay all their employees a $200/hour minimum wage. Then we will eliminate poverty once and for all.

  • concerned observer||

    Apparently the libertarians don't want to argue anymore, so they're going to their room to sulk and jerk off to descriptions of sex scenes in Ayn Rand novels.

  • economist||

    Except for the spoof trolls. They're content to act like snot-nosed 15-year-olds.

  • Paul||

    Right because all black people are just waiting for an opportunity to claim they were victims of a hate crime.

    Sense of humour isn't your strong point. Check.

  • economist||

    I meant 35-year-olds. And I have a cold. And by the way, CO, if you're going to crap on the thread, could you at least wipe it off afterwards?

  • economist||

    Paul,
    Sense of humor has never been CO's strong point. Nor is logic. Or spelling. Or grammar. Or courtesy.

  • Paul||

    Apparently the libertarians don't want to argue anymore,

    We've made our arguments with coherent, logical prose, provided links, rebutted your ridiculous assertions, requested you do same, and an answer came there none.

  • economist||

    Paul,
    Don't feed the troll anymore. It will come right out the other end.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    guys, why are you engaging the troll again?

  • ||

    This thread needs to devolve to the point where every single post is CO, whether real or fake. We almost had it there for a little while with 8 in a row.

  • economist||

    Episiarch,
    No, we need to consider my proposal for a libertarian colony in Antarctica.

  • concerned observer||

    "We've made our arguments with coherent, logical prose, provided links, rebutted your ridiculous assertions, requested you do same, and an answer came there none."
    I answered you by pointing out that even by basic common sense your arguments were idiotic.

  • Paul||

    I answered you by pointing out that even by basic common sense your arguments were idiotic.

    Well, don't know about you guys, but I'm satisfied. CO said I didn't make sense. I'll just end with:

    Neener neener! There. Now we're both arguing at the same level.

    I miss joe.

  • Paul||

    in theory, it could come from any system that turned totalitarian. Even ours.

    What do you mean "even ours"? I would argue that at this time in history, "especially ours" would be a more apropos assertion.

  • concerned observer||

    It hurts! Stop pwning me! AAARRRGGGGHHH!

  • ||

    Paul,

    I'm an optimist.

  • concerned observer||

    look, guys, all I'm saying is that you should try felching just one time. It changed my life!

  • concerned observer||

    Stop spoofing me! I'm to sue you spoofers for copyright infringement. The name "concerned observer" is my private property.

  • Nick||

    CO,

    I think the corporate entity and the protections it provides should not exist because it is an artificial legal status created by government. I also support corporate value taxes as a replacement for a bulk of the tax system. And yet I am somehow still a libertarian. Weird, right?

  • Mr. Burns ||

    Yes. I love raping the planet. Come Smithers, let's have a gang bang.

  • concerned observer||

    Stop spoofing me, you fucking wingnuts! I'll pwn you like I did those Urkobold ass-monkeys! Fools!

  • concerned observer||

    OK, I'm sreious, you fuck with the bll you get the horns!

  • concerned observer||

    How many times do I have to tell you fuckwits, I'm not Edward. There's no reasoning with you pathetic fools. I'm done here. This is my last post.

  • Jim Bob||

    Except for the spoof trolls. They're content to act like snot-nosed 15-year-olds.

    I can't tell the difference between the spoof trolls, the real trolls, and Edward/Neil/Lefiti/Cesar anymore.

  • Naga Sadow||

    SWEET JESUS!!! I leave and apparently CO is spoofed out of existence . . . I think . . . or . . . well, if you can't tell the . . . difference, then they are extinct . . . right? I mean . . . well . . . I don't even know what my post was for anymore. I'm going to go read some articles on metaphysics or . . . trolls . . . or whatever. You know what? I'm done for today. Peace out, homies, cuz my head is hurtin' like a mofo.

  • ||

    I WILL get a court order to subpoena your IP addresses. This is going to stop.

    I'll bet you won't. "Your honor, someone is defaming my fictitious, pseudonymous caricature!"

    Even after Kelo v. New London, our courts aren't quite that stupid.

    -jcr

  • ||

    "Even after Kelo v. New London, our courts aren't quite that stupid."

    But he probably is.

  • ||

    I once blogged for eight days straight. I had to eat my underwear to survive.

    I think it's sad that you people really nothing better to do than stand in your echo chamber for hours on end.

  • VM||

    Naga - if Crane weren't recovering from his bicycling-while-baiting accident in the snow the other day, I'd strongly suspect him...

  • ||

    I'm sure the budget balancing will be as accurate as the statement " especially if he goes on to a big win".
    In other words, it's complete and utter hogwash.
    Somehow down here in the real world, the world where barely skating by is a multiplied daily occurence, any split with 50's and 40's exchanging the top spot is considered "just barely survived".
    In the world of insane bloviating blowhards, it's "a big win".
    Funny, the prez vote split didn't even meet the cloture vote requirement in the sante of 60 for vs 40 against, nor did it come down to even a real "consensus" with a 2/3rds against 1/3rd opposition required in the 66.6%+ vote win in the Senate, nor the 3/4ths or 75% required for ratification of treaties - no it was still in the lowest DECadence category it can reside in - when one side gets over 50%, the other side automatically is in the 40's range -
    But this we've heard over and over from the out of touch, emotionally challenged, ranting, raving lunatic crews of the news, papers, internet, and other medias - this is a BIG WIN - a big win...
    Please, if you have any decent, important points to make, don't ruin it all by blabbing out some other stupidity just because your little estrogenic groined brain "feels like it" .
    I am really SICK of hearing what are supposed to be logical, honest commentators making complete fools of themselves.
    Next, as the virus of stupidty grows and spreads as it has been, 51% to 49% will become an overwhelming majority, a stomping, cleaning the clock, an absolute victory, a complete and total mandate.
    Take a math class, would ya ? Oh, that's right, that's boring, it's better to be a liar.

  • ||

    Let me put it another way, that may help all of you who cower under the required "general consensus" of stupidity in the area of "a big win".
    Recall when the fearless leader, the idiot, made sure all of you sheeple cowering along in the shadows would adopt the good sport mentality ?
    Let me refresh your memory.
    " It was a thumpin' " - GWB
    No, it wasn't a thumpin' - a thumpin is when the thumper is standing with a few scraped knuckles and the thumpee is out cold in the dirt waiting for the ambulance.
    But ever since, all the lunatic followers of any part of the right have happily admitted they got thumped into the dirt when the opposition barely beat them by skating by, again - a few percentage points here and there - with plenty of lies and cheating and help from the media.
    Oh well, continue to beat yourselves over the head, you deserve it, you certainly seem to think.
    All it does is is make ME angry - every time I hear it, and you certainly repeat it, point it out, and say it a whole heckuva lot more than your barely skating by opponents.
    Good job sheeple, GWB gave you your marching orders, and as the lib press repeated the "thumping" quote with ever increasing glee - you've all decided to make those commies as happy as possible, by never failing to repeat the idiot leaders good loser overkill, no matter what.
    Talk about STUPID - you might as well kick yourselves in the groin and let everyone laugh.

  • Voton||

    I'm done here. This is my last post.
    Sigh. I miss him already.

  • nfl jerseys||

    jthdr

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