“We can’t afford to go back to the policies that got us into this mess. We’ve got to continue with the policies that are getting us out of the mess. We’ve got to move forward.” - President Barack Obama
"We can't return to the failed policies of the past" - President Barack Obama
If President Obama has a number one economic talking point, it is represented by the quotes above. Obama repeats some form of this "failed policies of the past" mantra almost non-stop, and every time he says it, I wonder what the heck he is talking about. We have Obama's track record now.
What are these failed (Bush} policies of the past that Obama has moved us away from ? Are they the Bush tax cuts, deficits, bailouts, wars, spending increases, or what ?
These were the hallmarks of the Bush presidency. What has Obama done differently ? I can't figure it out, because all I see is Obama doubling down on nearly everything Bush did. He hasn't moved us away from the so-called "failed policies of the past", he has embraced them. All one has to do is look at Obama's first term actions, as opposed to his rhetoric. Because our joke of an Obama-kiss mainstream media has pretended not to notice, allow me to elaborate.
Let's start with the tax cuts. Obama complains about the Bush "tax cuts for the rich" all the time (which were actually tax cuts for all taxpayers, Democrats like to forget about that part of it, because then they'd have to acknowledge that Republicans help the middle class), but what did Obama do when he took office ? From his rhetoric, and with Democrats controlling all of Congress for Obama's first two years, you'd think Obama would have moved immediately to repeal those nasty old Bush tax cuts for the rich, but he did not. He did nothing to repeal the Bush tax cuts during his first two years, and then he extended those tax cuts as part of the debt deal. Obama also implemented his own tax cut on top of the Bush tax cuts, namely the temporary payroll tax cut that was part of his stimulus package, which has since been renewed. Obama and his Democrat Congress also left the Bush capital gains tax rates in place, though they complain constantly about that too. Obama didn't end any failed tax cut policy of the past, he doubled down on those policies, and if anyone doubts that Obama could have repealed and reworked the Bush tax cuts, remember that in 2010 Obama passed the largest new entitlement program since Medicare itself entirely along partisan lines. ObamaCare passed without a single Republican vote. That's how much power the Democrats had during Obama's first two years.
The question is, why DIDN'T Obama try to repeal the Bush tax cuts when he had the power to do so ? I see two possible reasons:
1. Obama's economists all told him that raising taxes during a recession was incredibly stupid, especially when raising those "tax cuts for the rich" included tax cuts for tons of American small businesses (Democrats like to forget about that part, because they don't want to admit that Republicans help small businesses).
2. Obama wanted to retain his "tax cuts for the rich" talking point as a political weapon.
I believe both reasons are valid. As soon as the Republicans took over the House Of Representatives in the 2010 midterms, Obama's "tax cuts for the rich" talking point returned in full bloom, where it has remained ever since. It isn't about the correct policy, it's about political maneuvering.
Let's move on to the Bush deficits and debt. The debt increased by $5 trillion under Bush in eight years. That was a Bush failure. Obama has literally doubled down on that failed policy. The debt will increase by about $6 trillion under Obama in half the time. No President in history has come near to running up the debt Obama has. Obama, our 44th President, has run up more debt than our first 42 Presidents COMBINED, and he accomplished that failure in only four years. Forward, my aunt fanny, Mr. President. Forward into the abyss, maybe.
What about bailouts ? Bush bailed out Wall Street and the auto industry. Obama bailed out Wall Street, the auto industry, the unions, and alternative energy companies galore (many of whom have failed or are in the process of failing). Obama doubles down again.
What about wars ? Bush started wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Obama ramped up the war in Afghanistan and started a new war in Libya, while basically following the Bush timeline for removing combat troops from Iraq. Where is the difference ? Obama doubles down again.
What about spending increases (link) ? Federal spending increased under Bush by about $1.1 trillion from 2001 to 2008. After 2008, federal spending increased by about $800 billion under Obama's leadership. Obama's rhetoric notwithstanding, he has doubled down on Bush's policy again.
Obama has engaged in more crony capitalism than Bush, more than any President I can remember. Obama has handed out more earmarks than Bush (because 2/3rd's of the Obama stimulus program was earmarks). Where is this Obama change from the failed policies of the past ? In transparency ? What a joke. Obama broke all his 2008 campaign promises of transparency. Remember when he said the public would be able to view a bill online for five days before he signed it ? Remember when he said healthcare negotiations would be on C-SPAN ? That stuff flew out the window the day he was elected. Obama barely answers a question from the press, unless one considers The View, David Letterman, and other Obama-worshippers to be "the press".
Maybe Obama is talking about the Dodd-Frank legislation that was supposed to reign in the banks. Maybe that is the change away from failed Bush policy that Obama is talking about. Unfortunately, Bush wasn't the one who deregulated the banks, lowered mortgage standards, let Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac run wild, and let the investment banks into the mortgage market. That was President Bill Clinton (and several others from both political parties). That all happened before Bush. Bush "inherited" the final mortgage bubble, which began in the late 1990's before Bush took office (Democrats don't like to mention that part, because they don't want to admit that Democrats had a LOT to do with the mortgage crisis and subsequent recession. They prefer the simple-minded "it's Bush's fault" narrative). In fact, when Bush tried to pass legislation reining in Fannie Mae, Democrats scoffed and blocked it's passage.
If I had to place any blame on Bush for the mortgage bubble, I'd blame the Bush-era Federal Reserve for encouraging the bubble by keeping interests rates low. That's another policy Obama has doubled down on. Interest rates are way lower under Obama than they were under Bush.
Speaking of the Dodd-Frank legislation, I have another surprise for you. Over two years after it's passage, a lot of it remains unwritten, and the size of the derivatives market still dwarfs the size of the global economy 20 times over. If you think Dodd-Frank is inuring us from financial collapse, you better think again.
I'm left with the question - what failed Bush policy of the past has Obama moved us away from ? I'm still waiting for an answer. All I'm left with is Obama's grand charade. I do see some future changes coming as the result of Obama's policies - the fiscal cliff and ObamaCare implementation, to name a couple, but if anyone thinks these are going to help our economy, well, then you must be in denial and are voting for Obama on tuesday. Good luck to you. You'll need it. So will the rest of us if Obama manages to win.
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