Monday, May 14, 2012

Forward or Backward?

Why reelect our President?  Of course, because a vote for Mitt Romney would bring back the failed policies of the Bush years, you know, what got us in this mess in the first place.

You've been hearing the above same argument for awhile now, even in the 2008 campaign against John McCain.   Mostly, I think it plays on the complexity of the reasons for the steep economic downturn, assuming that a vast majority will not understand its cause.   They provide the following explanation. Bush is responsible because he was the President when it began, and so it must have been his economic policies that caused it.  What are those economic policies?  Mainly lower taxes.  Rich people benefited most from the lower taxes.  He lowered taxes to pay for his wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, based on a lie that Saddam Hussein had WMD.  It was mainly a war to help his cronies at Big Oil.  Bush also deregulated the big banks in order to help his rich friends.  President Obama makes his campaign slogan:  Forward.  Mitt Romney represents the Bush years.  Do you want to move backwards to what got us into this mess in the first place or forward in order to let us finish the job we started?


Democrats make the argument without ceasing.  I don't hear Republicans even try to counter it.  Instead, the Republicans say that Obama promised hope and change and things have only gotten worse.  He didn't make it better.  He had the majority in both houses of Congress and all he did was to double the federal deficit and sign legislation and regulation that hurt job-producing small businesses.  Republicans concede that Bush got us into it in the first place, but that he created a lesser mess than what Obama did. Republicans yield the Democrat argument that Bush got us into the mess.  They instead skip the whole Bush presidency and talk like Reagan after Carter is what Romney after Obama would be.  The policies of the Republicans pulled us out of the last great recession.  And Obama was worse than Bush.

So there we go.  Not too promising.

Republicans skip Bush because they're ashamed of him.  He was the compassionate conservative, i.e., the conservative who would lower taxes but wouldn't cut spending.  Do you really think that the Democrats were opposed to Bush's spending more money?  Of course not.  They would have spent even more if they could.

Austerity has become a political buzzword.  The idea is that the cause of financial ruin in Europe was the austerity of conservative governments.  They say, like Paul Krugman, that the social unrest has come from cutting spending and shrinking government.  Joblessness has risen because of a lack of employment in the public sector.  That would all be laughable to anyone in his right mind, if it weren't so scary.

But are we really better off not defending the Bush presidency?  It seems that Republican silence acquiesces to the Obama main proposition of "Forward."  How would Romney differ from Bush?  Does a  Romney presidency mean only a slower rate of failure?

Defending Bush doesn't require defending the indefensible.  At the end of the Clinton presidency, the bubble popped, a fact that is very seldom mentioned in the discussion.   Revenues decreased because of the devastation of tourism after 9/11.  People wouldn't travel on planes for quite awhile.  Gas prices escalated.  9/11 necessitated an elevation of spending on the war on terror.   And then Bush wouldn't cut spending after the Clinton years.   Bush even implemented some of his own government programs that didn't bother the Democrats.

The collapse of 2008 wasn't because of Bush policies.  They weren't caused by Bush deregulation or tax breaks.  They were caused by overly regulating the mortgage industry in the Clinton years.  Then both Clinton and Bush rode the economic wave until it crashed on the beach of 2008.  You'll hear it was deregulation that allowed people to get away with murder.  No, it was regulation that forced banks and lending agencies to give dangerous loans to those who could not afford to pay them back.  The increase in home purchases from the easy loans created an overvaluation of properties.   The mortgage bubble popped, people foreclosed on their homes, and people's housing values plummeted.   Jobs decreased and then more foreclosures ensued.  Americans lost over 16 trillion dollars in home value from 2007. Belts tightened on consumers, factories stopped producing, and more jobs were lost.

The Democrats describe "backward" as deregulation of the big banks and tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans.  To paint a fuller picture, they also say that "backward" is women without "reproductive rights and health" (freedom to abort your child), homosexuals who cannot get married, African Americans who are racially profiled and disenfranchised, and the  movement toward intelligent design in the public schools.

Forward is actually a freight train moving out of control:  the destruction of the male role and then the family, the undoing of the American free enterprise system, the loss of 2nd amendment rights, the rise of crime, a leftward lean of the United States Supreme Court, and a slouching toward Gomorrah.

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