Budget

Want Bill Clinton's Tax Rates? OK. Give Us His Spending As Well.

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The top item on President Obama's agenda in the fiscal cliff negotiations is a higher tax rate on top earners. If the election was about anything, Obama says, it was about his promise to raise taxes on the wealthy back to Clinton-era rates.

A big part of the president's campaign-trail case for raising taxes on top earners is that Bill Clinton did it, and it worked pretty well for him—and for the rest of the country too. On the campaign trail, President Obama often invoked his Democratic predecessor when arguing for higher rates: "If you make $3 million, then we're going to go take the rest of it and tax that a little bit more at the rate we taxed it under Bill Clinton," he said at an August campaign event in Colorado. Clinton's economic plan, he told a rally in Wisconsin, "asked the wealthiest Americans to pay a little bit more so we could reduce our deficit and still invest in the skills and ideas of our people." And that economic plan, the president would note, coincided with an economic boom: "I also want to ask the wealthiest households, including my own, to pay a little bit more on incomes over $250,000, the same rate we had when Bill Clinton was President, the same rate we had when we created 23 million new jobs, went from deficit to surplus, created a whole lot of millionaires to boot," he said at a September event in Nevada.

The implication is that higher tax rates can pave the way to economic growth. The evidence on that question, however, is mixed. It's true that many studies show that changes in taxes don't have a big short term effect on the labor supply. But as Michael Keane University of New South Wales economist pointed out in a recent survey of studies on the issue, a sizable minority of studies show a large effect. Keane's survey also reports that labor force participation by women is heavily affected by tax changes, which suggests that in the long term tax changes can matter quite a bit. Still, it's hard to be too confident about any of this because we really don't have a great idea of which policies tend to lead to economic growth, especially over time. One way to read a recent Congressional Research Service report on how taxes affect the economy is that nothing affects economic growth

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

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

That's true no matter how you measure it.

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

Republicans would, of course, find their own reasons to oppose budgets that looked more like Clinton's. Not only would they object to higher tax rates, they would also be appalled by Clinton's defense budgets, which were quite small compared to today's bloated military appropriations. Clinton spent an average of about $377 billion on defense each year, compared with annual spending that's risen past the $700 billion mark under President Obama. Clinton actually let spending on defense fall each year he was in office. Today, on the other hand, Republicans are working desperately to prevent defense "cuts" in the sequester that would let military spending continue to grow over the next decade.

A truer Clintonian agenda, meanwhile, wouldn't only complicate President Obama's spending plans. It would also require Obama to openly pursue higher tax rates on middle class earners as well as their wealthier counterparts—something he and many in his part have explicitly rejected. Indeed, such an agenda would be difficult in part because it would reveal the true cost of the federal government. We may not know exactly what policy mix is the absolute best for economic growth. But we do know that Clinton's economy was strong, and that he came as close as any modern president to balancing the federal budget—and he did it both by taxing most everyone at higher rates and by spending a lot less on the federal government than we do now. 

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  1. If the election was about anything, Obama says, it was about his promise to raise taxes on the wealthy

    I thought it was about Mitt Romney’s tax cheating and Sandra Flukes unsafe sex practices.

    1. No, it was about Obama’s “caring” and Romney’s lying. And hating women. And lying about not hating women. And hating women because they dislike lying.

      1. And cruelty to animals. And he killed that woman with teh cancer, don’t forget.

        1. Sorry, he lied about not killing her, so I’d forgotten about that one. Good catch.

  2. Epic alt text

    1. Pretty much the all-time winner. Yo.

      1. The Wayne Gretzky of alt-text.

          1. He played this sport that has since closed down.

            1. He was in the XFL?

              1. Imagine if they played the XFL on ice and everyone had sticks. Also they only let Canadians play. That’s what he played.

    2. Excellent. Most excellent.

        1. I remember how proud I was when I hassled some temp guy (was posting articles for 1 week for some reason) about not having any alt-text so he edited the article to include it. Pro Lib must be on such a high right now.

          1. No, not really. Say, why aren’t you kneeling before me?

            1. I started running a lot more recently. One of my knees is sore.

              1. General Pro is merciful. You may merely choke yourself half to death.

    3. Donation-worthy alt text.

  3. Watching Obama hearken back to the Clinton years is sad and pathetic. At least when the GOP remembers Reagan, they have a period of growth marked by the decline of the Soviet Union. Clinton? NAFTA, unsustainable government growth, the rise of the financial monstrosity that would grow into the subprime mortgage crisis, impeachment.

    1. Expanded world trade, welfare reform, showed restrain in not regulating a new industry, no major new federal initiatives.

      All thing considered, not a bad republican small government record. And proglodytes love him.

      1. “no major new federal initiatives”

        I guess everybody forgot the health care bill he tried to foist on us through Hillary. I can’t stand Newt, but let’s face it. The GOP congress had brass balls compared to now.

      2. no major new federal initiatives.

        Well, not counting HIPAA, anyway. Or the Brady gun control bill. Or the hated DADT policy and DOMA. Or the expansion of Medicaid via SCHIP.

        1. Clipper chip, the CDA, attempts to adopt much of what later became the USA PATRIOT Act, Waco, Elian Gonzalez, attempt to socialize medicine, continuation of the WoD. . .really, the list is quite long.

          Three things happened to make the U.S. economy strong in the 90s–the end of the Cold War, the rise of e-commerce and the widespread use of computing in business (much of Walmart’s success came from automated inventory systems, for instance), and a government that was, thanks to 1994, either gridlocked or passing less intrusive laws, mostly because Clinton felt compelled to lurch to the right for most of his administration.

  4. Love the alt text, though there’s not question mark at the end of it.

    If that’s the case, then why should we limit ourselves to just replicating one tiny fragment of Clinton-era governance

    I propose that the economic boom was due to the lack of civil unions, which began in Vermont in 2000. Clearly Obama should work to repeal all civil unions, and the economy will rocket back to the late 90’s level of success.

  5. Want Bill Clinton’s Tax Rates? OK. Give Us His Spending As Well.

    HAHAHAHAHA! Sure, and give me the winning Powerball lottery ticket and a date with Kate Upton too, while you’re at it.

    I guess you missed it, but even Clinton himself decided to basically disown his entire legacy. But by all means, let’s keep on repeating this kind of nonsense over and over and over again.

    1. Kate Upton is a dunce. Skip the date and go straight to the good part.

    2. Clinton himself decided to basically disown his entire legacy

      Are you snorting meth again? Why do you make crazy shit up?

      1. Failure to state an argument.

        1. Mike M is in the GOP anti-reality bubble.

          Clinton is campaigning like a MFer, beloved all over the country yet “disowned his entire legacy” sometime.

          Meanwhile Dumbya is ostracized from the GOP and his name is avoided by GOP candidates.

          So Mike M thinks Clinton’s legacy is tarnished? What a fucking idiot bubble-dweller.

          1. God shreek you whine like your Clintons girlfriend………! I thought you were an “investor”, above all the petty political nonsense.

            1. Flipping 100 shares of AAPL back and forth on your etrade account in your mommies basement makes the douche an investor?

              1. Well I guess technically a day trader. I wouldn’t identify shreek as an investor but he likes to call himself one. In the interest of proper decorum on the board this is how I will occasionally address him. 😉

          2. So Mike M thinks Clinton’s legacy is tarnished?

            He didn’t say Clinton’s legacy was tarnished. He said Clinton disowned his legacy. Learn to read.

      2. Why do you make crazy shit up?

        I learned it from you dad! I learned it from you!

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

    3.5 billion? At a near 1/4th of the economy the nation is much poorer that I thought.

    1. By a whole magnitude!

      1. billion, trillion, 10^9 vs 10^12, to most Americans its just weird words and numbers that are meaningless.

  7. It seems clear that whatever else needs to be done on taxes, we need to cut spending. I know fiscal conservatives in the Republican party have an empty chair for a Speaker right now, but what a (fictional) fiscally conservative leader in the House should do, given what leverage the Republicans have, is just go over the damn cliff.

    Fiscal conservatives certainly shouldn’t give up what they already have–in terms of spending cuts in the cliff–just to keep tax cuts for the middle class that the Democrats wouldn’t oppose reintroducing after we’ve already gone over the fiscal cliff anyway.

    If Obama’s Democrats won’t accept spending cuts willingly, then let’s go over the cliff and get the spending cuts that way! Once the automatic spending cuts take effect, that’s when the Republicans should reintroduce taking tax rates back down to where they were before we went over the cliff.

    In other words, if the Democrats won’t accept spending cuts now, but they will accept keeping taxes the same on the middle class, then we shouldn’t give up the spending cuts we already have built into the cliff just to keep tax cuts that the Democrats will give us with all enthusiasm once we go over the cliff anyway.

    1. And if Obama and the Democrats campaign till 2014 on cutting middle class taxes well Republicans tried stonewalling over taxes on “rich”, what then?

      1. I’m not following.

        If the Democrats want to obstruct cutting taxes on the middle class after we go over the cliff, then that’s a losing battle for them.

        They’re already on the record saying they want to keep tax rates the same for everybody who makes less than $250,000 a year.

        First rule of commercial real estate: don’t accept an offer unless they offer you something better than what you already have.

        We already have spending cuts built into the fiscal cliff. We already have the Democrats on the record saying they want to keep tax rates the same on the middle class. So, why would we give up the spending cuts in the fiscal cliff–just to get tax cuts that the Democrats already want, anyway?

        If the Democrats want us to give up what we already have, then they need to offer us something better than what we already have. Fiscal conservatives shouldn’t give up the spending cuts and get nothing in return but the tax level they were already going to get anyway.

      2. The Repubs have a dead easy solution to the middle class tax “cut” issue, from a purely tactical perspective.

        Have the House pass a bill that extend the Bush/Obama tax cuts (all of them) and send it to the Senate. Now its the Dems who are voting against the middle class tax cuts because they have such a hardon for raising rates.

        Jeebus, you’re up against Reid and Obama. If you can’t outmaneuver them, you are truly useless.

        1. “Jeebus, you’re up against Reid and Obama. If you can’t outmaneuver them, you are truly useless.”

          Yeah, it isn’t Reid and Obama that are the formidable opponents here. It’s the MSM.

          This is now their big story, and they’re covering it like a hurricane. There’s a hurricane coming, and it’s going to destroy the lives of women and children first! …and if the Republicans refuse to do anything to stop it? Oh, the humanity!

          The market would react to going over the fiscal cliff, but once those valuations settled in at multiples factoring in a more semi-reasonable level of government overspending, I suspect we’ll see something less than the collapse of Western civilization.

          …and then the press would move on to the next travesty of the month.

          1. It’s the MSM.

            I know, but I don’t think even the Dem Op media can spin the Democratic Senate killing a Republican middle class tax cut as the Republican’s fault.

            1. Oh, I think you’re right!

            2. Sure they can:

              Democrats Block Republican Tax Breaks for Millionaires

              Obama Says GOP Holding Up Middle Class Tax Cuts; GOP Wants Millionaire Tax Cuts Instead

              1. That’s gonna be hard after everything they’ve said so far.

                B.S. is B.S.

                People with less money left over in their paychecks is real.

                1. It’ll be hard for to pull off when it comes to people who actually pay attention, and see through the bullshit. If this most recent election taught us anything, however, it’s that somewhere between 51% and 99% of the population are ptyalismic idiots and/or willfully ignorant. They will easily believe utter bullshit.

              2. They can try, and who knows? They may succeed.

                Repubs blocking tax cuts for everyone is a sure loser, though.

                Repubs passing tax cuts for everyone will be a lot harder for the Dem Op media to spin as Repubs blocking tax cuts for the middle class.

  8. The fiscal cliff is the most responsible thing Congress has done in decades. Bring it on.

    1. Yes to the fiscal cliff.

      Yes to Clinton tax rates if that means ALL the Clinton tax rates come back. People want massive government? Then they ALL need to have their tax rates jacked up.

      In other words, here’s hoping the Boehener/Obama negotiations continue to go nowhere.

  9. We should also repeal all laws passed since Clinton left office. Yes, let’s go back to the Clinton years.

  10. the same rate we had when Bill Clinton was President, the same rate we had when we created 23 million new jobs

    In 1993 when Bill Clinton took office the top 10% of taxpayers paid 59% of all income taxes. By 2001 when he left the number was 65%. There is not a single year since then that it has been lower and for 2009 it was 70.5%. I stand lockstep with Barack Obama in agreeing that we change the tax code to make sure that the truly productive in our society are paying less of the total tax receipts than they have been the last 4 years. That is what he means, isn’t it?

    1. Damn straight!

      Honestly, I don’t think Obama understands or cares about what really happens. I think he lives in a world of grand gestures that are really important to him personally. He doesn’t understand the ultimate consequences of what he does, and he wouldn’t really care about them even if he did.

      He cares about making a grand gesture that makes the wealthy pay their “fair share”. The fact that the top 1% have been paying 30 times or more their proportion of the population for decades and decades doesn’t matter to him. The facts just don’t matter to him. It’s the grand gesture that’s important–the grand gesture means more to him than a lot of reasonable people CAN really understand.

      1. Didn’t he pretty much admit that in a much publicized interview . . . that it wouldn’t do anything regarding deficits or debt but it would make things seem fairer?

        1. When he says things, people assume it’s all for effect–especially the people on his side. They really don’t think he means what he says.

          It’s a religious kind of thing. It’s like listening to a military chaplain talk to the troops about when Jesus said we should “turn the other cheek”.

          He didn’t really mean that, did he? Of course not! What he really meant by that was…

          It’s like that with Obama, too. He doesn’t really mean what he says! How could the hillbillies on the right be so stupid to think Obama really means what he says?

          1. We have to learn to engage with Obama’s followers in ways that don’t make an appeal to their logic the centerpiece of our pitch.

            It’s a hard pitch for reasonable people to make. I can’t claim to being any good at that myself, but I think we have to try to snap them out of their trance somehow.

            It’s like talking to fundamentalist 6-day creationists about evolution. Obama’s followers are already invulnerable to the facts. We have to find ways to make them susceptible to reason somehow, first.

          2. Currently arguing w/ a libtard who says its pure speculation for me to claim O does not want spending cuts, despite his history of not offering any and of doing the opposite of what his side wants.

            1. He offered $1.5 trillion in spending cuts in the Budget Control Act last year.

              1. ^^ ^^

                Was this the leftard you were arguing with?

                1. “Leftard”? How old are you? Did losing the election make you stupid as well as angry? You haven’t said anything of any substance recently. You just rant about Obama cultists. I presented a fact. The larger point is that Obama is not the profligate spender you guys want him to be. I realize that’s all you have to hang onto, but there really is a whole world of facts out there, and they aren’t as terrifying as you think.

              2. Don’t you actually need a budget before you can control it?

        2. It was during his debate with Hill-da-beast. Down the memory hole it goes.

          1. Cuts in the rate of growth, that still leave spending increases are not spending cuts. Most Americans aren’t astute enough to understand baseline budgeting. Even with the sequester in place, Fed spending increases.

    2. Funny how they point at the high Clinton tax rates as a driver of economic health, rather than the low Clinton deficits, no?

      1. Not to mention they point to only a small slice of the Clinton tax rates. He raised taxes on everyone, yet the Dems now claim that the bulk of those tax hikes are a bad idea and should not be repeated.

        1. SHHH! Ix-nay on the acts-fay!

    3. The top 10% have a much bigger share of total income, and that can be the only explanation since income tax rates have gone down. That form of these statistics is only trotted out to mislead. You are not describing an increase in the tax burden of the top 10%, you are describing an increase in their share of total income.

      But of course that’s just because they worked so much harder than they were in the 90s, while everyone else slacked off. Because being rich is the same as being productive.

  11. Here’s another crazy idea. Repeal Sarbanes Oxley (for starters).

    Get rid of every page added to the Federal register since 2001.

    1. But there could be another Enron! What then Mr. Libertarian??

      1. But there could be another Enron! What then Mr. Libertarian??

        I doubt that Biden will be half as effective a shill for any company as Gore was for Enron.

        1. Maybe they can hire Enron’s former advisor – Paul Krugman.

    2. But, but, but how can the economy flourish without all those barriers for entry into markets?

  12. the same rate we had when we created 23 million new jobs, went from deficit to surplus, created a whole lot of millionaires to boot,” he said at a September event in Nevada.

    That’s not how it works, you fucking moron.

  13. No, fuck you, cut spend….oh, yeah, carry on.

    1. and, now I see it, the alt text beat me to it.

      1. Honestly, Suderman is like the king of both images and alt-text.

        He’s way better at picking images than the rest, and his alt-text kung fu is awesome.

        1. Don’t forget where he came from.

          1. Was his mother an alt-text kung fu master?

            1. A couple of years ago he wouldn’t do alt-text at all. He’s grown right before our eyes. He didn’t use to call it Obamacare either.

              1. We finally beat him into submission on the “ObamaCare” issue. Behold the power of the commentariat!

                1. We beat him into the alt-text too. He is our greatest achievement.

                2. Are we also the reason Democrats started calling it “ObamaCare”?

                  1. No, they started doing it cause they’re stupid and thought people were going to love it.

              2. He must have known all along that alt-text was his true calling. He instinctively knew he had a problem, that once he started, he’d never be able to stop.

                  1. Genius.

  14. What does Our Glorious Leader mean when he “asks” us to do something?
    Can we say “No thanks?” Not likely; a LEO will come and take us away after shooting our dog. Wish some “journalist” would question him on this “ask” shit.

    1. Had this conversation in my pub the other day, when some prog was saying “Obama’s just asking the rich to pay a little more.” So I said “Okay, he’s asked me. And my reply is ‘No. Fuck you, cut spending.’ What next?”

      Sputtering, then silence…

      1. Ask how you will know that the rich have paid their fair share (answer: when they aren’t rich).
        Ask if a poor person has ever given them a job (answer: uhhhh no?).
        Ask how we can have an economy with jobs if no one is allowed to be rich (answer: we can’t, but that’s not the point. The point is fairness and class envy, regardless of the consequences).

  15. But there could be another Enron! What then Mr. Libertarian??

    Ask John Corzine.

    1. Corzine didn’t falsify financial statements like Fastow and Skilling did.

      Really, stay out of finance – you’re embarrassing yourself.

      1. Well I guess we’ll never know now won’t we Soros jr! Eric “Place” Holder couldn’t be bothered to investigate the 600 bil that “vaporized”! It’s good good to be a supporter and friend of the god emperor!

      2. What Corzine did is worse.

        He shipped investor money to England where it could be pledged as security against MF Global’s debts. Those accounts are supposed to be completely off-limits, and he used them to cover his own losses.

        A life sentence sounds about right to me. But, as a valuable Obama bundler, he is naturally immune from prosecution.

        1. (shreek furiously pages through HuffPo for rebuttal)

        2. That is not what happened. MFG had an old-fashioned liquidity squeeze. The missing money was all found.

          1. Goddam but you are entertaining when you defend your TEAM…almost as zealous as the Bushpigs!

          2. That is not what happened. MFG had an old-fashioned liquidity squeeze.

            If by “liquidity squeeze”, you mean that Corzine shipped their liquid assets “to England where it could be pledged as security against MF Global’s debts. Those accounts are supposed to be completely off-limits, and he used them to cover his own losses”, then yes.

            If I break into your house and steal your money, you too might describe that as a “liquidity squeeze”. But I suspect you’d characterize it as just old-fashioned theft, because then you’d be the victim, and TEAM BLUE rationalizing would not set in.

            The missing money was all found.

            Yes, it was found, after the stolen money was shifted back to the accounts where it was stolen from.

          3. MFG had an old-fashioned liquidity squeeze.

            Which they covered with their segregated investor accounts.

            The missing money was all found.

            It was all found, sure, but it hasn’t been returned. Current state of play:

            The amount taken was $900 million, with another $700 million stuck in the UK; most was transferred to creditors like JPMorgan to cover margin on overleveraged trades; 80% of 4d money has been returned with a likelihood those accounts will be made whole; secured funds will depend on the U.K. litigation in 2013.

            http://www.futuresmag.com/2012…..ons&page=5

            1. Probably time for shreek to climb back into his warm burrow for the rest of the day.

              Thanks for playing!

            2. That $700mm tied up in the UK bankruptcy courts? The Brits will have to decide whether their banks get to keep it, or whether it gets shipped out to the US.

              Gee, I wonder what they’ll do . . . .

  16. Do you not know why spending is higher right now? Really? It’s not because Obama’s some profligate nut, but because the recession has led to more people needing assistance. Remember this: The last fiscal Bush’s spending priorities were responsible for was 2009, because of the way the annual budgeting process works. Each year for which Obama’s been responsible has had less spending than 2009. None of this huge increase has anything to do with the policies of Bush or Obama and anyone with an ounce of sense knows that.

    1. Do you not know why spending is higher right now?

      Who are you….Tim McCarver?

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xdTYVxzEwI

    2. ^^not sure if serious, or troll.

      1. Serious troll.

      2. All my proggie acquintances on Facebook were trading this meme about a week and a half ago. The Democrats tend to test their memes on a very partisan audience before rolling them out a couple of weeks later – so I get to see this stuff before it shows up in the newspapers and television shows.

        Most of the memes are quickly retired after 24 hours or so as was this one.

    3. Do you not know why spending is higher right now? Really? It’s not because Obama’s some profligate nut, but because the recession has led to more people needing assistance.

      Completely false. There is absolutely zero evidence to support this.

      1. Oh, I’m sure some shill at one of the Dem party think tanks storefronts has made some up.

      2. What recession? I thought we were in year three of the recovery? Why are we still running trillion dollar deficits if the recession ended three years ago?

    4. “the recession has led to more people needing assistance”

      And this costs how much? There’s a whole lot more money wasting going on than that.

  17. Where’s our little chin-wiping midget to defend this?

  18. Speaking of the photo. It’s funny how people make photos from the 90s look all grainy like they were from the 60s. And did you really need to photocopy and scan it? The internet existed in 1992. All this stuff should be in an online archive somewhere.

    I recently saw some film where they were showing footage from events in the 80s in grainy black and white, like it was WWII stock footage, only it was the prestroika period in Russia. Jesus fuck people, they had color TV in the 1980s, I was there.

    Is this something that periodically happens when oyu get older? All the younger people immediately assume that everything that happened the decade before they were born was some sort of dark age, and regress the technology level a few decades backwards?

    1. Yeah, I had the same reaction.

    2. “The internet existed in 1992.”

      Yeah, but most people didn’t know about it or do anything with it until 1994 or later. AOL wasn’t available for Windows 3.x until 1993.

      It wasn’t until after Windows 95 that average people started coming online, and even as late as 1999 or so, lots of people still thought the internet consisted entirely of AOL’s website.

      AOL didn’t start charging a flat monthly rate until 1996. There just wasn’t a lot of content before that. It’s hard to find a lot of current events stuff before that. Even when I’ve looked for stuff I remembered happening during the LA riots, there’s just very little out there.

  19. Didn’t we try starve the beast with W’s tax cuts? How did that turn out?

  20. Every time he’s quoted as saying “i want to ask”; I feel the need to vomit. Since when has the government ever “asked” for anything.

  21. Keane’s survey also reports that labor force participation by women is heavily affected by tax changes, which suggests that in the long term tax changes can matter quite a bit.

    More precisely: labor force participation by SPOUSES, male or female, of high-earning people is hit really hard by tax increases because their earnings are taxed at the highest marginal tax rates of their spouses. I’m married to a doctor, and so any taxable income is subjected to brutal tax rates, up to 2/3 stolen by federal, state, and other taxes. Given this confiscatory rate, it’s rational to avoid earning taxable income, and instead do untaxable work around the house that would otherwise be farmed out to contractors. This results in lower tax receipts for government, since I’m not paying any taxes, and neither are the workers who would have been doing work for us that I’m doing instead.

    Still, it’s hard to be too confident about any of this because we really don’t have a great idea of which policies tend to lead to economic growth, especially over time.

    Maybe you aren’t confident about whether increased theft of earnings by government depresses government-measured economic activity. I, OTOH, know real well how this plays out.

    1. “Still, it’s hard to be too confident about any of this because we really don’t have a great idea of which policies tend to lead to economic growth, especially over time.”

      Yeah, that was kinda broad, even within the context of tax policy and employment.

      Incidentally, somebody should pipe in, too, that economic growth isn’t just about creating jobs. The Soviet Union had close to 100% employment, and the solution to their economic growth problems had a lot to do with getting a big chunk of those people unemployed.

      Taxing the frick out of the wealthy to finance government spending may goose unemployment down, and that might have some short term growth benefits. But anybody that thinks creating jobs dependent on government spending leads to long term, sustainable economic growth has it all ass-backwards.

      There are about a million people I’d like to lay off from government tomorrow. I have no doubt that would hurt our growth prospects short term, but our long term growth prospects would improve.

    2. we really don’t have a great idea of which policies tend to lead to economic growth, especially over time.

      Bullshit. The recipe for economic growth over time is very well known:

      (1) Low taxes.

      (2) Low regulation.

      (3) Secure property rights.

      (4) A decent judicial and legal system for enforcement of contracts and protection of property rights.

      (5) Stable money supply.

      Currently, every single part of this recipe is under unremitting assault.

      1. You left out Krugmans Space Aliens.

      2. “We really don’t have a great idea of which policies tend to lead to economic growth, especially over time.”

        I would add in free trade agreements.

        And, regulation, hell yeah. Obama heaped regulation on the banking industry at a time when the economy was starving for lack of credit.

        Creative destruction depends on that stuff. Proprietary trading is at a standstill. 160,000 bankers were laid off in 2012, and thousands more layoffs were announced yesterday.

        All that regulation is killing us. I don’t know how the nuts and bolts of economic growth are supposed to work if the banks are so heavily regulated that they can’t take any significant risks. Risk taking in regards to the future is what economic growth is all about.

        Any growth that comes without banks taking any significant risks because of regulation is growth that’s happening despite public policy–not becasue of it.

  22. Clinton’s legacy is largely a function of when the Tech Bubble popped. If it had popped in the Spring of 1999 instead of the Summer of 2000, Clinton’s years wouldn’t be remembered too fondly.

  23. Christ it’s like there never was an 8 years between Clinton and Obama.

    Anyway, and you can look it up, spending growth has been slower under Obama than any president since Eisenhower. I guess you can demand that he accomplish something none of the others have and not have any growth in spending or go into the negative–but perhaps the aftermath of a great depression-level financial crisis isn’t the best time? (That’s the thing that happened at the end of those 8 years between Clinton and Obama that we seem to never want to talk about anymore.)

    1. F.O.A.D.

      1. I find it hard to believe that you loved Mitt Romney that much Ken. Question: do tears make the whiskey you’re slouched over taste better?

        1. I doubt there are many here weeping over the Romney debacle. Question: Is your tongue in the undergraduates rectum any more satisfying with the Obama victory?

    2. spending growth has been slower under Obama than any president since Eisenhower.

      And that’s according to Obama, right?

      Break it down for us, Tony. Are you charging the post-inauguration spending bills in 2009 to Bush’s FY 2009 account?

      How is it that under Obama spending went to the highest percentage of GDP since WWII, but he didn’t increase spending much? In 2008, it was 20.8% of GDP. In 2012, it was 24.3% of GDP. Has any other President had spending increase by 3.5% of GDP in their first term

      1. He arrives at this by attributing spending increases to programs rather than presidents: shit like Medicare Part D was a Bush program, so Bush takes all of the fiscal blame for it, as if Obama had absolutely no choice but to continue that insane spending once in office.

        The Center for American Progress has been flogging this horse for a while, now. It does not cease to be retarded.

    3. Anyway, and you can look it up, spending growth has been slower under Obama than any president since Eisenhower

      So fucking what?

      The guy campaigned hard, in 2008, against the fiscal recklessness of his predecessor. He was absolutely right to do so. And he promised to dial that shit back.

      And he hasn’t. All he’s done has been to pour more gasoline on the fire, albeit in a trickle rather than a deluge.

      Sorry. Take Obama’s cock out of your mouth and come to grips with the fact that adding comparatively small amounts of new spending is not an accomplishment to be proud of given the cruel arithmetic of the situation, i.e., that we urgently need to reduce the fedgov’s footprint by about 25%.

    4. Look at the expensive policies. They are all “progressive” (regressive) acts (aside from the wars). You seem to think you are writing to a bunch of red teamers. Can’t speak for most here but I am not and I won’t be defending GWB. I get behind ideas, not men. You seem to adhere to the cult of personality. The ideas suck, no matter if an R or D is by the name.

  24. spending growth has been slower under Obama than any president since Eisenhower

    Based on all those temporary emergency spending programs? That’s okay, then. Because we could never, ever actually stop shovelling money into the furnace.

  25. Corzine didn’t falsify financial statements like Fastow and Skilling did.

    So that’s the lesson? Never write anything down?

    Poor Shreeek.

  26. “Did you know that disco record sales were up 400% for the year ending 1976? If these trends continues… AAY!”

    Rock on Disco Tony!

  27. Been saying this for years!

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