Government Spending

I'll Take My Alleged Bad Faith Over Jonathan Chait's Actual Bad Facts

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The New Republic's Jonathan Chait accuses Nick Gillespie and I of writing in bad faith this weekend when we urged Barack Obama to govern more like post-1994 Bill Clinton than mid-malaise Jimmy Carter: "One of the most tiresome forms of opinion commentary is bad-faith advice to a political figure from a writer who is utterly opposed to his ideological goals." For instance, we allegedly "urge Obama to abandon the platform that he ran on" when we implore him to stop "throwing money all over the economy."

I don't know much about Jon Chait's faith (aside from the fact that as of 2006 he had so much faith in John McCain that he wrote the following couplet: "Go ahead, senator, flip-flop away. I know you're with us at heart")…so let's stick to verifiable claims.

First, is "throwing money all over the economy" really the "platform" that Barack Obama ran on? No, it is not.

Here is Obama on Oct. 15, 2008, more than three weeks after George W. Bush wet his pants over the financial crisis:

What I've done throughout this campaign is to propose a net spending cut….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.

Now, that's a "goal," ideological or not, that I can totally get behind. In fact, I wrote as much in a column after the election, not as "bad faith" advice to a politician, but genuine (if desperate) hope that the politician might stick to his words on an issue I care about. So much for that.

Chait, after quoting our line about how Obama is "doubling down on his predecessor's big-government policies and perpetual crisis-mongering," then uncorks this howler of a non-sequitur*:

Funny, if Obama really were following in Bush's footsteps, you'd think that the few remaining defenders of the Bush legacy might be at least somewhat favorably disposed toward him, rather than railing hysterically against him.

In fact, Gillespie wrote a piece about Bush's legacy in the Wall Street Journal earlier this year. It was entitled "Bush Was a Big-Government Disaster." Meanwhile, I despised the guy so much already in 2004 that I voted for John freakin' Kerry.

Chait also criticizes us for urging Obama "to admit that he's to blame for massive budget deficits," when we do no such thing (in fact, in the fourth paragraph can be found this: "Obama has inherited an awful economy [and] dizzying budget deficits"). Truthiness notwithstanding, this critique builds to Chait's climax:

But this is the sort of absurdity you get when people write opinion articles pretending to offer sympathetic political advice to a politician whose goals they abhor. If the Libertarian Party ever wins the White House, I promise not to write columns advising the president to raise taxes on the rich, expand health care coverage and start regulating assault weapons.

First, who the hell was being "sympathetic," and second, since when does opinion writer Jonathan Chait not write columns advising a president he doesn't agree with from making different policy decisions? I still remember the Bush administration (hell, I remember editing Jon Chait columns at the L.A. Times during the Bush administration!), and I do not recall the man sitting on his hands out of some kind of bizarre good-faith deference. Nor would I want him to.

* UPDATE: Commenter Hugh Akston points out that this could be more of a, "if their thesis was true, Karl Rove would be applauding" type of argument. Which, if true, is not a "non-sequitur," but just a weird argument (we should not be surprised that heavy political operatives oppose politicians from the opposing party, and in fact many non-apparatchik conservatives, such as David Brooks, have murmured praise in Obama's general direction).

NEXT: Matt Welch and Nick Gillespie Live Chat Online at WashingtonPost.com, 11a.m. ET Today!

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  1. Funny, if Obama really were following in Bush’s footsteps, you’d think that the few remaining defenders of the Bush legacy might be at least somewhat favorably disposed toward him, rather than railing hysterically against him.

    It’s not so clear to me that he was referring to you guys in this passage. He might have meant the other reactionary knee-jerk neocon ideologues who badmouth Obama relentlessly because he is on the Blue team rather than the Red team.

  2. Hugh — A-ha; good point. Will make a note.

  3. I love the smell of hysteria in the morning. It smells like . . . victory.

    My only fear now is that Congress will pull its favorite maneuver on health care. Pass all the spending now, and make a mushy “commitment” to cost reduction later.

  4. I dunno, Hugh/Matt. I thought it was pretty clear he was trying to characterize you as Bush bitter-enders.

  5. I thought it was pretty clear he was trying to characterize you as Bush bitter-enders.

    He links to an article about Rove and Gerson, so I’m gonna go with Hugh’s interpretation.

  6. I voted for John freakin’ Kerry.

    Hearing in my ears, Kathleen Madigan’s “..Here’s my freaky wife in charge of all things ketchup…” at reading that for some reason.

  7. My favorite bit in Chait’s post likens libertarians to LeRouchies in their inability to distinguish one super-different politician from another, and then rebuts:

    Everybody who’s involved in American politics in either party understands that there’s a massive difference between Obama’s policies of making the tax code more progressive, attempting to expand health coverage while controlling costs, and limiting carbon dioxide emissions, on the one hand, and the Bush agenda which promoted diametrical goals.

    Maybe it’s just that my tinfoil hat is in the wash today, but is he right? this is not the first time I have heard the “no really, they are distinct parties with totally different values and agendas” argument.

    Are we wrong to say that just because both parties want to limit our liberties and spend our money on their particular political enablers, they are therefore indistinguishable?

  8. It looked like a passive attempt at lumping the authors of the article he disagreed with and the people still defending Bush. Intentional or not that seemed to be the underlying idea.

    None the less I wouldn’t feel the need to defend the article. It was well written, well supported, and the comments (outside of the retarded rickshaw of the WaPo comments) and criticisms seem to be narrowly thought out replies focusing on only half of the argument presented or ad homs in disguise. Of course, that’s done for a reason. I’m sure everyone with half a brain already knows all of this.

  9. Now, it’s true that from the libertarian perspective, Obama is fairly similar to Bush.

    My favorite line. Wouldn’t the similarities be similar from any perspective if they are similar from one? The viewer may not weigh the similarities the same, but the perspective shouldn’t change the similarity if you are being honest with your assessment.

  10. Hugh, although they espouse different goals, they rarely achieve any of them, and their attempts have indistinguishable effects on me. So in impact they’re really the same.

  11. “Funny, if Obama really were following in Bush’s footsteps, you’d think that the few remaining defenders of the Bush legacy might be at least somewhat favorably disposed toward him, rather than railing hysterically against him.”

    This is one of the left’s favorite disingenuous rhetorical tricks these days: the implication that conservatives and libertarian leaners were just peachy with Bush’s big-spending ways and are only up in arms now because the dreaded Blue Team has taken command.

    I hear and read this sort of BS all the time from liberals, lines like “oh, so NOW you care about deficits”. In fact, we were out in the forefront of strongly opposing things like the prescription drug entitlement program and the TARP bill when Bush was in office.

    The attempt to conflate us all with a guy like Karl Rove is so pathetic, it’s not even worthy of dignifying with a response.

  12. Everybody who’s involved in American politics in either party understands that there’s a massive difference between Obama’s policies of making the tax code more progressive, attempting to expand health coverage while controlling costs, and limiting carbon dioxide emissions, on the one hand, and the Bush agenda which promoted diametrical goals.

    “Yes, we’re doing the same things, but OUR motives are pure…..”

  13. Everybody who’s involved in American politics in either party understands that there’s a massive difference between Obama’s policies of making the tax code more progressive, attempting to expand health coverage while controlling costs, and limiting carbon dioxide emissions, on the one hand, and the Bush agenda which promoted diametrical goals.

    Okey-dokey.

  14. I amazes me that people as either dishonest or as stupid as Chait manage to get major media gigs.

    “Funny, if Obama really were following in Bush’s footsteps, you’d think that the few remaining defenders of the Bush legacy might be at least somewhat favorably disposed toward him, rather than railing hysterically against him.”

    That is stupid or dishonest in so many ways. First, as pointed out above Reason and its writers are hardly “defenders of the Bush legacy”. Second, it assumes that any person who defends any portion of the Bush Administration is obligated to defend it all. By rational a person like me who supported Bush on Afghanistan and Iraq is somehow obligated to defend Bush on the drug benefit or the spending or face charges of hypocrisy. That is comically stupid. Moreover, lots of “defenders of the Bush legacy” have had good things to say about Obama’s anti-terror policies and decisions to contineu the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Indeed, since the Democrats have turned the anti-war movement switch to off, those issues are not even at issue anymore. What is at issue of course is Obama’s horrific domestic policies, which to the extent they are like Bush people on the Right have been objecting to for eight years.

  15. Regardless, opinion writers often write pieces trying to get the guys from the other team to do something different. Plenty did it with Bush, and plenty did it with Clinton. I do it with local politicians all the time. It’s kind of the point. I mean, how many “go team” articles do you really want to read anyways? 😉

  16. The New Republic’s Jonathan Chait accuses Nick Gillespie and I [sic] of writing in bad faith this weekend

    Maybe you weren’t writing in bad faith, but you were writing in atrocious grammar. Why is it so difficult for people to remember the difference between first person subject and first person object?

  17. Matt –
    I’ll bet they didn’t like you at Weekly Standard when GWB was stinking up the oval office either.

    Some people just don’t get it.

  18. Bush never tried to socialize medicine. Bush also never pushed cap and theft. So, yes Chait is right. Obama is different and much worse than Bush. I cannot think of one area policy where Obama hasn’t either followed the Bush lead or proposed something much worse. Where Bush gave us Part B, Obama gives us full up socialized medicine. Where Bush gave us 500 billion deficits, Obama gives us two trillion dollar deficits. Where Bush gave us TARP I, Obama gives us more TARP and the $700 billion porkulus package to boot.

    Oh, but it is all worth it because Obama was going to close GUITMO, pull out of Iraq, give us an exit strategy in Afghanistan, stop warrantless wiretapping, repeal the Patriot Act, solve the Iranian problem and end the war on terror. How is that working out?

  19. “The New Republic’s Jonathan Chait accuses Nick Gillespie and I [sic!] of writing in bad faith…”

    I’ll take Jonathan Chait’s accusations over Matt Welch’s bad grammar any day.

  20. From where i sit, Obama is basically Bush with a tan and more ambition. This makes him worse than Bush in the same sense that an F5 tornado is worse than an F4. Either way, you lose your house.

  21. After I voiced support for Obama on some issues on the boards here, it was suggested more than once by different commenters on more than 1 thread that I must have loved Bush’s policies because Obama’s were, in many ways, just a continuation.

  22. Obama is basically Bush with a tan

    Racist!

  23. Wouldn’t the similarities be similar from any perspective if they are similar from one? The viewer may not weigh the similarities the same, but the perspective shouldn’t change the similarity if you are being honest with your assessment.

    Someone hasnt spent enough time studying relativity.

    Here is a very “realistic” physical situation.

    I see two events happen, A and B. I say A happens before B. You (hmm) say that B happens before A. Someone else says “listen morons, they both happened at the same time”.

    Who is right? We all might be, becuase it depends on frame of reference. If A and B occur at a time/space difference less than the time for light to travel that distance, then there is no causality and there is no true order. Apply to politics as you see fit.

  24. ed, no worries today. It ain’t necessary to put on the happy face. Nobody has suggested a flood of posters from the dark side. We can be ourselves.

  25. MW: proppr youse off fukin gramer an fuccin spelin iz ah sigalin deveic. Teh sam appleis too fukkin dicktion, soh, pleez ax sommeon too reid you’re fukkin prohse befour yoo maik anne asse off you’reself.

  26. Funny, if Obama really were following in Bush’s footsteps, you’d think that the few remaining defenders of the Bush legacy might be at least somewhat favorably disposed toward him, rather than railing hysterically against him.

    I’m on the Akston/Welch axis on this one too. Chait’s article specifically distinguishes libertarians from Bush partisans with “Now, it’s true that from the libertarian perspective, Obama is fairly similar to Bush.”

    The problem with the statements, as I see it, is that it ignores the realities of partisan politics.

    True partisans are not nearly so troubled by other faction’s policies as they are by the fact that it is not they who are adminstering them. And that the spoils are not being distributed to their constituents.

  27. Racist!

    Wait, Obama’s black?!?

  28. @Xeones wrote:
    From where i sit, Obama is basically Bush with a tan and more ambition. This makes him worse than Bush in the same sense that an F5 tornado is worse than an F4. Either way, you lose your house.

    …and that folks, is as cogent as you can get. Frikin’ poetic. Too bad a majority of Amerika doesn’t realize this.

  29. Nobody has suggested a flood of posters from the dark side. We can be ourselves.

    But… I’m already from the dark side. This is myself. (Oh, no.)

  30. Why is it so difficult for people to remember the difference between first person subject and first person object?

    Because they lack a basic command of their own native language. And then they try to write “above themselves”; meaning, as if they had a good command.

    So they write (and speak) things like “between you and I” thinking they’re oh-so-correct, when in fact they’re parading their ignorance.

  31. I though spelling and grammar rules were suspended on the intertubes.

  32. But… I’m already from the dark side.

    HE COMES

  33. I though[t] spelling and grammar rules were suspended on the intertubes.

  34. Jon,

    People don’t remember first person object because their grade school English teachers did too good of a job teaching the first person subject. They were so effective at getting their kids to stop saying “me and him went to the store” that they scared their students for life against the word me. Thus educated people who should know better say things like “can you help John and I”.

  35. But… I’m already from the dark side.

    RACIST!

  36. @Xeones wrote:
    From where i sit, Obama is basically Bush with a tan and more ambition. This makes him worse than Bush in the same sense that an F5 tornado is worse than an F4. Either way, you lose your house.”

    When did Bush push raising taxes, socialized medicine and cap and theft? You statement really underestimates how uniquely awful those to initiatives are. I would take 100 part Bs over one Obamacare. Bush let Congress bring theft and pork to a new level, but he did not create anything as hideous as Obama care.

    As far as wars and foreign policy, other than Obama’s love of left wing dictators I don’t see a dime’s worth of difference between the two. But domesstically, Bush was a minor earthquake and Obama is the 2004 Tsunami.

  37. So they write (and speak) things like “between you and I” thinking they’re oh-so-correct, when in fact they’re parading their ignorance.

    Remember kids, if “me” is correct, then “John and me” is correct. If “I” is correct, then “John and I” is correct.

  38. When I stumble across a grammar pedant, I am reminded of the scene in the movie, “Amadeus,” where Salieri and Emporer decide a piece by Mozart has “too many notes.”

  39. I see two events happen, A and B. I say A happens before B. You (hmm) say that B happens before A. Someone else says “listen morons, they both happened at the same time”.

    Everyone says A and B occurred and that there is some similarity. Like I said the viewer may weigh them differently, but as you pointed out everyone saw a similarity or connection. Add to this that if you are honestly going to research something as an individual the need to be as analytical as possible and consider the other views as valid would make every view of the connection or event similar in some respect and possibly dissimilar in others. Never mind the fact this is politics and the comparison was of huge generalizations and not finite facts. The similarities a Libertarian sees are going to be present for a Liberal and a Conservative. The meaning of the similarity will most likely be vastly different.

  40. But… I’m already from the dark side.

    Eddie?

  41. The country is circling the bowl and folks are quibbling over a simple grammatical error? No wonder Obama is POTUS.

  42. You statement really underestimates how uniquely awful those to initiatives are.

    So your roof ends up in the neighbor’s yard instead of the next county. I’d comment at greater length on the differences between the F4 and F5 categories of tornado and draw more metaphorical parallels to recent political history, but fuck doing research on a Monday morning. You’ll have to deal.

  43. “So your roof ends up in the neighbor’s yard instead of the next county. I’d comment at greater length on the differences between the F4 and F5 categories of tornado and draw more metaphorical parallels to recent political history, but fuck doing research on a Monday morning. You’ll have to deal.”

    I know full well the difference between F4 and F5. Bush was a hail storm that created a mess but nothing that couldn’t be cleaned up. Obama is a real no shit, we better get under ground things will never be the same around here again tornado.

  44. I think it works better for the opinions on these threads that Bush was Katrina and Obama is FEMA.

  45. I’m from the dark side. What me to prove it? Try getting this notion out of your head: autobukkake.

  46. Hey, guys, leave Matt’s “libertarian” grammar alone! He totally shot Jon down! Totally!

  47. History has a sense of humor sometimes. Last November Democrats were convinced that it was 1932 all over again. Perhaps they missed it by four years and it was 1928. Hoover was an activist President who tried his best to deal with the Depression but was ultimately undone by his protectionism. Smoot Hawley it is universally agreed was insanity. But is it really any more insane that Cap and Theft or Obamacare?

  48. @brotherben

    We can’t stop Obama and his Legions of Dunces (TM) from doing what they want to do, but we can stop MW from fueling statistical inference that libertarians are too stupid to distinguish between objects and subjects.

  49. Barrack Huseinn Hoover. It kind of rolls off the tongue. So does “Obamavilles”

  50. I guess Harpers beat me to the analogy. But they use the term Barrack Hoover Obama.

  51. It would be better just to straight harp on Obama for sucking like Carter. Skip the pleasantries, get to the point.

  52. I’m guessing Chait has his knickers in a twist over something Welch did in his role as an editor. Op ed writers… what a bunch of prima donnas.

  53. No raindrop believes its to blame for the flood.

  54. I’m guessing Chait has his knickers in a twist over something Welch did in his role as an editor. Op ed writers… what a bunch of prima donnas.

    Nah. He just thinks free-market economics be crazy-talk.

  55. Bush was a hail storm that created a mess but nothing that couldn’t be cleaned up. Obama is a real no shit, we better get under ground things will never be the same around here again tornado.

    Keep believing that, John.

    Who told us, “Deficits don’t matter.”?

    Whose administration spent eight years building and fortifying their doctrine of an Imperial Presidency?

    Who laid the foundation for everything the Ascended One has done?

  56. @Jose Ortega y Gasset

    ‘When I stumble across a grammar pedant, I am reminded of the scene in the movie, “Amadeus,” where Salieri and Emporer decide a piece by Mozart has “too many notes.”‘

    Although I am with you on this one in principle, I simply can’t allow you to accuse Salieri of making that boneheaded statement. It was actually music director Count Orsini-Rosenberg who suggested to His Majesty that there were “too many notes.”

  57. When did Bush push raising taxes, socialized medicine and cap and theft? You statement really underestimates how uniquely awful those to initiatives are. I would take 100 part Bs over one Obamacare. Bush let Congress bring theft and pork to a new level, but he did not create anything as hideous as Obama care.

    Just FYI John, Bush gave us Part D. B has been around awhile.

  58. Thanks Pain. I lose track of my medicare parts.

  59. Because they lack a basic command of their own native language.

    Shouldn’t you try to find a way to accuse others of lacking a basic command of their own native language that doesn’t involve starting a sentence with the word “because”?

  60. “Who told us, “Deficits don’t matter.”?”

    Uh Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan to name to. And actually deficits really don’t matter. We have run a deficit through most of the history of this republic and done okay. Deficits only matter when you are running one higher than your growth is increasing your GNP. To put it in simple terms, borrowing money doesn’t matter as long as I am getting a raise every year to cover it. Whether they be Johnson’s or Reagans or Bush’s deficits, they really didn’t matter much. The only two deficits we have had in the last 100 years that mattered were the World War II ones and the now Obama ones.

    If we were still running a $500 billion deficit, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. Keep telling yourself that Bush was just as bad. Maybe it makes you feel better. I don’t know. But, the facts say otherwise.

  61. Keep believing that, John.

    Who told us, “Deficits don’t matter.”?

    Whose administration spent eight years building and fortifying their doctrine of an Imperial Presidency?

    Who laid the foundation for everything the Ascended One has done?

    I have to agree.

    If Al Gore had won in 2000, it would not have been politically possible for him to walk in on the first day of work in 2001 and pass a budget with a trillion dollar deficit.

    The Bush deficits were a necessary precondition for the Obama deficits. We needed Bush to move the goalposts. If the “conservative” position is 500 billion dollar deficits, then it’s logical for the liberal position to be trillion dollar deficits.

    If the “conservative” position is the Medicare prescription drug benefit, it’s natural for liberals to think they can socialize the whole shebang.

    Bush fundamentally changed the debate in this country about how big the state should be, and he changed it in Obama’s favor and made Obama possible.

  62. Fluffy,

    That is nonsense. The Bush deficits were no bigger in terms of GNP than Reagan’s were. I spent the entire late 1980s and early 1990s explaining to people that deficits only matter as a percentage of GNP not raw numbers. Reagan ran huge deficits and people loved him nonetheless because we won the cold war and the economy did well. Moreover, the economy did so well those deficits didn’t mean a damn thing in the long term.

    The idea that conservative position was ever uniformly against deficits or that Bush’s deficits were proportionally that large historically is just bullshit nonsense.

  63. “Bush fundamentally changed the debate in this country about how big the state should be, and he changed it in Obama’s favor and made Obama possible.”

    The is the dumbest most rediculous thing you have ever written on here. If I didn’t know better, I would think you didn’t know the world existed before 1994.

  64. Also, the Bush deficits peaked in 2004 and came down every year until 2008.

    But BUSH CHANGED EVERYTHING!!!@!

    Obama could be putting people in ovens you would be on here claiming Bush made it all possible

  65. John,

    Deficits matter from the context of what the government thinks it can do. They expand the possibility of what the government can do.

  66. And of course that is one reason to oppose government borrowing as a general rule; the more it can borrow, the more it will use that borrowing to expand its activities because they costs of that borrowing aren’t as apparent as would be a more direct form of taxation.

  67. John, it matters that a great many regular folks started to think it okay for the government to spend a bunch for the greater good, Whether it be the war on terror or Medicare part D. Now it’s health care and green jobs and fixing the economy.

  68. Anyway, whether Bush changed the game fundamentally or not (I don’t think he did – I think FDR did that), Bush did nothing that I know of to shrink the power of the state, and indeed added to its power.

  69. “Deficits matter from the context of what the government thinks it can do. They expand the possibility of what the government can do.”

    True. In that sense TARP was really the turning point. Most people thought that the government could realistically borrow around 500 billion a year without trouble, which is pretty much true. TARP revealed that it could borrow a trillion or more. That set the stage for the stimulus and the endless rounds of TARP.

    But TARP is a lot bigger than BUsh. The Congress, sans a vast majority of the Republicans in Congress, and the entire media and financial establishment were convinced that TARP was necessary to avoid the Next Great Depression. The entire political establishment bears the responsibility for TARP. Moreover, as much as I hate TARP, no one is yet in a position this close to the event to say that they were wrong. How do we know we wouldn’t have 25% unemployment right now if not for TARP? We don’t.

  70. “John, it matters that a great many regular folks started to think it okay for the government to spend a bunch for the greater good, Whether it be the war on terror or Medicare part D. Now it’s health care and green jobs and fixing the economy.”

    And this was new in the 2000s? If we were talking about Lyndon Johnson’s legacy, I would whole heartedly agree with you. But it is a bit much to blame that change in mentality on Bush.

  71. “Bush did nothing that I know of to shrink the power of the state, and indeed added to its power.”

    Name one President since FDR that you couldn’t say the exact same thing about?

  72. What Bush did ultimately was to demonstrate in the most blatant way possible why libertarians should have nothing to do with the Republican party.

  73. I am sorry, but Bush did make Obama possible. What Hoover was to FDR, Bush is to Obama. He is simply building on what Bush started.

  74. Moreover, as much as I hate TARP, no one is yet in a position this close to the event to say that they were wrong. How do we know we wouldn’t have 25% unemployment right now if not for TARP? We don’t.

    How do I know we wouldn’t have been overrun by purple unicorns if they hadn’t passed TARP? I don’t! So they should have passed it!

    Seriously, if that’s the best argument you can muster for TARP, you got nothing.

  75. John,

    So, what are you trying to say? That Bush is insulated from that criticism because of that?

  76. we should not be surprised that heavy political operatives oppose politicians from the opposing party, and in fact many non-apparatchik conservatives, such as David Brooks, have murmured praise in Obama’s general direction.

    If it happened to have been Martin Peretz who had picked Brooks out of a crowd while giving a speech at a college instead of William F Buckley, the only thing that would have changed about Brooks would have been the label.

  77. “Moreover, as much as I hate TARP, no one is yet in a position this close to the event to say that they were wrong. How do we know we wouldn’t have 25% unemployment right now if not for TARP? We don’t.”

    Insert global warming, universal health care, or the escalation of action in the middle east with questionable outcomes and now you have Obama. You can use many tools for pulling wool over the voter’s eyes. The results are generally the same.

  78. “John,

    So, what are you trying to say? That Bush is insulated from that criticism because of that?”

    No. He should be criticized. But, Obama contineued TARP. So whatever criticisms you throw at Bush for TARP, you should throw at Obama to. It is basically a wash.

  79. The is the dumbest most rediculous thing you have ever written on here. If I didn’t know better, I would think you didn’t know the world existed before 1994.

    You’re in denial, John.

    Bush abandoned just about every small government position the GOP had historically taken.

    It’s absurd to me that you think it’s POSSIBLE for the GOP to be as effective a roadblock to big government after Bush as it was before Bush.

    Bush took a gigantic shit on positions the GOP had held for years and in some cases decades.

    How is the GOP supposed to turn the clock back and claim to be against entitlement expansion? Or against the expansion of the regulatory state? Or against campaign finance reform? Or against total government spending? Or in favor of federalism?

    If you can’t see the ways in which Bush helped to make the average citizen consider the growth of the state inevitable, regardless of the party in power, you’re blind. Of course, libertarians have wanted the citizenry to see this for years, but now that it’s happened it’s not having the desired effect. Instead of turning to libertarianism as the only chance to hold the line, the average citizen has instead turned to despair or acquiescence. Bush taught the public that government’s getting bigger no matter what, so you may as well give up and hope that you’re one of the winners as the state gets bigger.

    And this was new in the 2000s?

    What was new was that Bush made it clear that there was no escape.

  80. Some day twenty or so years from now, someone will go back and analyze the data with the benefit of hindsight and we will have a better feel for TARP. I think it will turn out to be considered the biggest theft in US history. But, I am willing to admit that I may be wrong about that. It is at least possible it really did prevent the entire financial system from collapsing. I think you have to be honest and at least admi there are two sides to the argument on TARP, even if you don’t like one side, which I don’t either.

  81. he article, “Funny, if Obama really were following in Bush’s footsteps, you’d think that the few remaining defenders of the Bush legacy might be at least somewhat favorably disposed toward him, rather than railing hysterically against him.”

  82. Fluffy,

    YOu just made a bunch of assertions and raved without listing one fact. How do you explain Regan’s deficits? How do you explain Bush I’s raising taxes and SNL bailout? How do you explain Nixon creating the EEOC and the EPA and engaging in wage and price controls.

    The idea that Republicans had never supported or been responsible for deficits or big government before Bush is rediculously stupid. And you know it. You just hate Bush and have let that hatred overcome you ability to reason.

  83. That should be “from the article.’

  84. “Bush took a gigantic shit on positions the GOP had held for years and in some cases decades.”

    That is comedy gold fluffy. How do you write that with a straight face? Republicans have always hated big government. That is why Eisenhower built the interstate highway system. That is why Nixon expanded the power of government. That is why Reagan ran up big deficits to win the cold war and did nothing to get rid of the great society government he inherited. At best Reagan held the line. Bush I in contrast gave us 1000 points of light, bank bailouts and the ADA.

  85. John, it is interesting to me that you, a rabid Obama hater, in the face of criticism of Bush, suddenly think it prudent to consider both sides of the argument.

  86. So whatever criticisms you throw at Bush for TARP, you should throw at Obama

    Deal.

    Can I also motherfuck Bush for sitting on his hands and “declining” to veto anything for years, thereby allowing our current grotesque profusion of earmarks?

    I promise to similarly motherfuck Obama for allowing Nancy Pelosi and her cohorts to write the cap and trade legislation.

  87. “Can I also motherfuck Bush for sitting on his hands and “declining” to veto anything for years, thereby allowing our current grotesque profusion of earmarks? ”

    Of course you can. But you also better motherfuck Congress. It is not like Bush sent in the Marines to force them to steal.

    Bush at least cut taxes. Obama will do nothing of the sort. That is a big deal.

  88. Deficit spending is actually a necessity under a fiat currency system. It’s a bit complicated, but basically you can understand it as the mechanism by which money is created and injected into a growing economy, to keep it growing. The amount of money must grow in order to keep pace with a growing economy (this is why gold is a bad idea, because it is very difficult to guarantee that the amount of gold can grow to accomodate growth).

    What’s more, every dollar in deficit is a dollar transferred from the public sector to private savings. By contrast, every dollar of surplus is a dollar transferred from the private sector to the public sector. Where would you rather the money be?

  89. “John, it is interesting to me that you, a rabid Obama hater, in the face of criticism of Bush, suddenly think it prudent to consider both sides of the argument.”

    I have always been back and forth about TARP. Go back and read the threads last October. I was for it to begin with and then turned against it before the vote.

  90. “What’s more, every dollar in deficit is a dollar transferred from the public sector to private savings. By contrast, every dollar of surplus is a dollar transferred from the private sector to the public sector. Where would you rather the money be?”

    I think you have that backwards.

  91. @John

    No, surprisingly (to many people) I have it exactly right. Every dollar of deficit is a dollar transferred from the public sector to private savings. That’s why there is a deficit to the government — because it really is a deficit. The money is in private hands. If you were to tax more of it away from those private hands, the deficit would go down, and you might even wind up with a surplus, which is a very bad thing (one of Clinton’s worst mistakes).

    Read Mosler’s Soft Currency Economics if you want to learn more.

  92. Obama’s policies of making the tax code more progressive, attempting to expand health coverage while controlling costs, and limiting carbon dioxide emissions…

    It’ll be different after the annexation, that’s all…

  93. “Wait, Obama’s black?!?”

    I prefer to think of him as half white.

  94. As in America’s first half white president.

  95. I was for it to begin with and then turned against it before the vote.

    Your last name is Kerry?*

    *John, please do not take this as a personal attack. The last time I made a joke at your expense you seemed to get kind of pissed.

  96. “Who laid the foundation for everything the Ascended One has done?”

    Saul Alinsky and George Soros.

  97. “John, it matters that a great many regular folks started to think it okay for the government to spend a bunch for the greater good”

    Who are these “strawfolks”, BB?

  98. “But TARP is a lot bigger than BUsh. The Congress, sans a vast majority of the Republicans in Congress, and the entire media and financial establishment were convinced that TARP was necessary to avoid the Next Great Depression. The entire political establishment bears the responsibility for TARP.”

    Very similar to the whole Iraq WMD farce. It’s just what government does.

  99. Matt, please go back and correct the grammar in the opening sentence before my wife reads this. She’ll never hold you in the same esteem again. (And it does rather grate.)

  100. Fuck! I hate grammar pedants. Is it “Matt and I”, “Matt and myself”, “Matt and Me”? Is it comprehensible with any of those options? Was that last rhetorical question necessary?

  101. John is right. The republican party has never been the party of small government. Bush wasn’t really all that unique. Bush was just honest and transparent about it. It’s why I have disdain for libertarians who vote republican.

  102. “No, surprisingly (to many people) I have it exactly right. Every dollar of deficit is a dollar transferred from the public sector to private savings. That’s why there is a deficit to the government — because it really is a deficit. The money is in private hands. If you were to tax more of it away from those private hands, the deficit would go down, and you might even wind up with a surplus, which is a very bad thing (one of Clinton’s worst mistakes).”

    Interesting. But doesn’t the government have to either borrow or print money to cover the deficit? When it borrows it is taking money out of private hands and when it prints money it is effectively doing the same thing by devalueing the currency. I don’t understand how it could be other wise.

  103. “Who are these “strawfolks”, BB?”

    These unciteable strawfolk (therefore nonexistant to libertarians) are the folk that voted to change america into Yeswecanistan.

  104. Art,

    I was with them until I voted against them or something like that. 🙂

  105. Yeswecanistan

    That’s hurtful, dude.

  106. @John

    Yes, John, that’s right. I mentioned that deficit spending was necessary in order to create enough money to provide for a growing economy. “Printing money” as you put it. And you were exactly right in your earlier post when you said, more or less, that it’s not the deficit that’s the problem, but the size of the deficit as a percentage of GDP. When you greatly exceed the optimal size as a percentage of GDP, you cause inflation — which is the only real danger of a fiat currency economy. The Concord Coalition types just don’t get it: the Federal Government of the USA can never “go bankrupt” as they’re always caterwauling. They can create hyperinflation though.

    Another Mosler article that really makes this part of soft currency economics easier to understand is An Interview with the Chairman. I really think you (and the other Reason readers) will find it very enlightening, and probably very, very surprising (I remember how it clicked for me when I read the surprising fact that if you pay your income taxes in cash, they simply incinerate the money.)

  107. @nj

    “It’s why I have disdain for libertarians who vote republican.”

    Please. I may have had similar naive thoughts when I was 18-21 years old, but I’m now a lot older than that, a lot wiser, and much more realistic. You have to accept the fact that, short of an armed revolt, the current two parties (and the “two party system”) are here to stay. You have two choices: work within that two party system, or forever snipe from the sidelines (and optionally make a spectacle of yourself at the LP convention, to the amusement of a few CSPAN viewers). It seems to me that it’s much, much easier to take over the Republican party (or Democrat party for that matter) than to have success with a third party. In the real world, you’re going to get a Republican or Democrat for President (and Congress). So maybe take that into account before you throw your “disdain” around too quickly.

  108. Yeswecanistan, is definitley the word of the day. Thanks for the link Draco, I will check that out.

  109. John, please disengage your tongue from Bush’s brown spot.

  110. Draco,

    I agree that it’s more practical to influence one of the two parties from within rather than bitch and moan from the sidelines. Libertarians who support the GOP are the most pathetic of tools, since they base their support not on anything the GOP does in reality but on their trusty message machine, and Orwellian operation without parallel in modern American history.

    Yet it’s not completely ridiculous for them to oppose Dems given their policy positions. Plus I don’t want my party moving any further to promoting banana republic-style capitalism than it already does.

    My solution for libertarians: stick with the GOP, kindly make the case that racial and theocratic and authoritarian policies are losing ones, and open up the possibility of having two real sides to the debate in this country, rather than just having an active party and one that has gone completely insane.

  111. Tony,

    Did the DNC give you coupons for free BJs?

  112. Oh yeah, and try to rid them of their anti-intellectualism. What a drag for libertarians when the party they most identify with is the one that rejects science–in addition to promoting an authoritarian executive, intimations of theocracy, imperialistic foreign entanglements, policing personal sex and drug activity, oligarchic subsidy schemes, wiretapping, suspension of habeus corpus, torture, and fiscal insanity.

    I realize all that is forgiven because they believe in lowering taxes no matter the situation. But surely you can denounce their recent policy of the outright endorsement of stupidity?

  113. Art-P.O.G.,

    Nah, GOP pols pay cash.

  114. It seems to me that it’s much, much easier to take over the Republican party (or Democrat party for that matter) than to have success with a third party.

    How’s that whole Republican Liberty Caucus thing working out, anyway? Still marginalized and ignored by the people who run the RNC? Or did something change after I quit paying attention?

  115. Fine, John, you convinced me. I now hate not just Bush, but every Republican President ever, and most of their other officeholders as well. They were uniformly scumbags.

    This is supposed to make me think Bush is better than Obama how, exactly?

  116. the one that rejects science–in addition to promoting an authoritarian executive, intimations of theocracy, imperialistic foreign entanglements, policing personal sex and drug activity, oligarchic subsidy schemes, wiretapping, suspension of habeus corpus, torture, and fiscal insanity.

    So, you’re giving up voting for donks? Because the only one of those the DNC doesn’t share is intimations of theocracy.

  117. T,

    The DNC has a web site in case you’re interested in educating yourself on its policy positions.

    All I ask of libertarians is one questions: which party is more likely to liberalize drug laws, restore force to the bill of rights, minimize military adventurism, and stop torturing people?

    Or does none of that matter because, in the words of John:

    Bush at least cut taxes. Obama will do nothing of the sort. That is a big deal.

    ?

    That’s all that really matters to GOP-suckling libertarians, the rhetoric on taxes. That’s what’s so freaking dumb about it. It’s more important to John that some millionaire somewhere doesn’t pay more in taxes (again, regardless of the circumstances) than that what’s left of our system of individual liberties stays intact.

    My position is not that as a libertarian you should reject the GOP, you should do so as a thoughtful human being. How many decades of prostituting themselves to corporate interests, religious demagoguery, scary authoritarian power hunger, and absolute indifference to the state of this country do we have to endure before “lower taxes” stops being the most important thing in the universe?

  118. Well, this thread is winding down. As far as I can tell, pretty much any organized political party is about the aggrandizement of power… mostly for personal gain. Once you tear away the thin tissue of bullshit about causes, what you have left is a naked desire to: 1) help friends; 2) hurt enemies. The problem with being a libertarian is that one is never a friend and occasionally an enemy.

    I had this conversation with someone today. He argued that the great advantage of this American system is that the people in power can and do change. My counter-argument… I’m not sure I feel any differently about getting fucked in ass every day by 365 different people or getting fucked in the ass by the same person every day for a year.

    As for Chaitt, deep down I suspect he’s one of those guys who feels that any economic system that pays a plumber more than he does as an official Wiley E. Coyote Super Genius is wrong.

  119. The DNC has a web site in case you’re interested in educating yourself on its policy positions.

    Tony,

    I don’t really care what the DNC says it’s for, just like I don’t really care what the RNC says. The proof of the position is in the doing, now, innit?

    The Democrats have a majority in both houses and the presidency.

    Have they taken any substantive action to end the drug war? The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? We quit wiretapping domestic comms yet? Did you miss the article where the Justice Department said “We’ll try ’em, and keep ’em if they’re not guilty”? How’s that oligarchic subsidy thing going, now that we’ve handed all the fucking money to the UAW and Wall Street? Appointing Sotomayor to the court is really going to put some teeth back into the Bill of Rights based on her past rulings, isn’t it? And how’s fiscal discipline going?

    You’re a pathetic party hack. You sit here and tell me we should reject the GOP as thoughtful human beings but the DNC is just fucking peachy keen? Because someday, in the unspecified future, they just might do something good instead of fucking us all over?

    All I ask of libertarians is one questions: which party is more likely to liberalize drug laws, restore force to the bill of rights, minimize military adventurism, and stop torturing people?

    It won’t be the DNC in it’s current incarnation, that’s for goddamned sure. If they were serious about any of that, they’d be doing it. Drink the rite-aid and shut up, you putz.

  120. T,

    So your solution is to pox both houses (thus lending some measure of absolution to whichever party is worse on the issues), throw up your hands, and whine on blogs?

    Legislation is being worked on that is meant to overhaul our criminal justice system, the primary emphasis being on drug laws. It may take time for Dems to get this passed, but if you ever want to see it passed, you should wish for more liberals in Congress. Because there is no way in hell Republicans and a lot of centrist dems are gonna ever do anything about it.

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