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September 10, 2004

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How can president Bush be up in the polls?

How can president Bush be up in the polls?

Because the prime sources of news in America - network and cable news - have come to assume that policy and results don't matter in political coverage, and that only personalities and the horserace warrant any attention.

This dovetails beautifully with the modern GOP's message, which has been either to ignore the results of this president and focus on the image he's constructed, or to super-special-promise - pinky swear! - that he'll get it right the second time around, really!

The sad, ramshackle heap calling itself the Republican Party cannot honestly defend this president's administration on the merits. Instead there is a constant appeal to emotion: invocations of 9/11, pastiches of war imagery, uses of terms like "seriousness" and "shows of strength" and "leadership" (a term which has, I regret to confess, been rendered as meaningless as "freedom" within the sphere of American political rhetoric). There is no serious policy discussion from the party regarding how he's made this country safer - what should have been the top priority of his administration.

In the end, the Republican Party has erected a mascot president: an executive who doesn't lead, but stands for things. He won't win the war on terror, he may even bring it crashing down in flames, but by God, he'll sure look determined doing it! What fantastic television it'll make!

Clearly, Krugman has been reading his Brad DeLong.

got a particular link praktike?

How's this?

The Wash. Monthly (Drum's publisher) is running a series of articles on what happens if Bush wins. Unsurprisingly, Grover Norquist speculates on the death of the democratic party.

Me, I go precisely the opposite way. Four more years of a Bush admin. may be just the Pyrrhic victory necessary to shatter the republican coalition.

For example, just yesterday (according to Marketplace radio program) a coalition of labor and business groups asked the admin to put pressure on the Chinese govt to float its currency. The request flopped like a lead balloon.

How much longer will the fiscal conservatives tolerate the deficits? How much longer will the isolationists tolerate foreign wars?

Libertarians should vote for Bush. Four more years of this guy, and our country will be so broke that a generation will pass before new government programs are seriously considered.

If I have the economics of this straight, the Chinese are (a) buying our govt debt and (b) keeping its currency pegged low in order to create an export-to-the-US-based economy to drive the creation of a middle class. BUT, once their economy is large enough to generate its own internal demand, all bets are off.

If, for example, the Chinese govt decides one day not to buy US govt debt, then UP goes our interest rates, and DOWN goes our economy.

that would be a bad day for our economy, and whoever is president at the time.

Francis

Paul VOLCKER is shrill now? Wow.

To people who argue that the war on terror trumps all this:

a fiscal crisis would have a very large, very destructive effect on the war on terror. Missiles cost money, as does body armor, as does soldier's pay (especially when you don't want a draft and are asking much more of troops than ever before), as does veterans health care, as do fire houses, as do hazmat suits, as do police officers, as do hospitals, as does the border patrol, as does securing nuclear weapons and highly enriched uranium stockpiles, as does rebuilding the countries you have bombed so they don't become failed states and havens for terrorists....

Moral clarity and empty speeches about how we have brought freedom and democracy in the Muslim world are nearly free, however. I guess that's the plan.

Whether or not the War on Terror trumps all this, we have not fought it particularly effectively. Plus, it's completely possible to pay for the War on Terror without increasing the deficit. You just have to either not fight the war in Iraq, or raise taxes, or both. The real question, to my mind, is not whether the War on Terror trumps this, but whether providing huge tax cuts that go proportionately to the rich does.

Obviously, towards the end I meant disproportionately. Clearly I have not yet recovered from teaching (well, you try compressing Kant's moral theory into 40 minutes in front of 110 eager undergraduates..)

Sorry, I retract all of that--there's a much more efficient solution:

$35: Roundtrip bus fare from Washington D.C. to New York on the Chinatown shuttle after next terrorist attack.
$4: Subway fare from Chinatown to the Bronx and back.
$8: Tickets for Yankee Stadium bleachers.
$2.99: Rawlings competition level baseball.
Current high bid of $101.31: Kevlar vest on eBay.
$449.99: Sony Handycam.
$13.98 + $14.99: Tasteful musical accompaniment.

So let's see, add them up, carry the two...

TOTAL: $630.26 (plus tax and shipping; eBay prices subject to change; offer not good in all states; mail in rebate not included) for turning point towards victory in the War on Terror.

I think we can afford that even in a fiscal crisis. So please forgive my earlier negativity; I don't know what I was thinking. Carry on.

"Unsurprisingly, Grover Norquist speculates on the death of the democratic party.

Me, I go precisely the opposite way. "

I hope you're both right. The death of both major parties would be quite refreshing. Have the Greens and the Libertarians nip at the flanks of the Centrists, while Reform sweeps up the remainder of the resentful white man vote.

hilzoy, I didn't mean the War on Terror as an excuse or explanation for the deficit, I meant the War on Terror as a reason to overlook a disastrous fiscal policy and vote for Bush anyway.

Would any Bush supporters like to defend this please?

I'm curious why this doesn't seem to stop them from voting for him. One would imagine it's a total show-stopper for anyone who prefers fiscal responsibility. Has the GOP changed that much?

Serious question.

marguerite -- sorry not to have been clear; I meant to be adding to your point. I didn't think you agreed with it.

My neighbors (not just next door but the majority of the street), overwhelmingly pro-life and working middle class, don't see the economy being so bad. Sure health insurance has gone up but taxes came down. Sure the economy isn't flourishing but 9/11 was a major blow. Sure the war isn't going so great but establishing democracy in the Middle East is a valiant goal and Rumsfeld said it would be "a long hard slog."

Of course, as a whole and rounding up, I'd say they don't read the newspaper regularly (judging by the lack of papers in driveways during my morning dog walk) and Kerry's not getting their vote because he's pro-choice.

Edward, I thought it was here that the strategy of dang near bankrupting the country in order to allow the administration to start cutting funding for things was discussed. If not, the story goes that The President has offered everything to everyone in his first term while in his second he will "discover" the calamity of the deficit (nicely noted by Krugman et al) and will use it to start streamlining programs to decrease the deficit.

"and will use it to start streamlining programs to decrease the deficit"

to do this, he will need Congress. and the entire house of reps comes up for election every two years. which means that the entire house of reps will go democratic when bush starts to cut Soc Sec, medicare & medicaid.

now, in this context, "starts to cut" means "proposes a slow-down in expected growth". but please don't expect the democrats to play fair when bush tries to reform entitlements.

entitlement reform requires bi-partisanship, something which will be sorely lacking if Bush wins.

Francis

Would any Bush supporters like to defend this please?

Edward,

How many times can you ask that question, and get no sensible response, before concluding that there just is no defense, on this issue or others?

Here's a conservative response

"William Niskanen, chairman of the Cato Institute, said Bush's warnings about Kerry's spending plans were "inconsistent" with his own proposals. "There's no way to accomplish (Bush's) major new measures, including tax reform, without substantial increases in spending," Niskanen said."

oops
I forgot that quote was already up. I haven't read the original post since it first went up.

Logically defending the Bush administration would be a difficult task.
For anyone with a working memory, we were misled into a disastrous war, with inadequate planning. This alone should be enough to depose him.
His tax cuts, which are for his "base," combined with spending increases, including record setting "pork barrell" projects, have let to record deficits (again).
Despite the huge Keynesian stimulation, the economy is barely recovering.
Our standing in world opinion is in the pits.
Environmental protection has been gutted, for the benefit of his backer, as far as he can get away with it.

So why is he winning? Why does half the country still support him?

A theory: Americans love flattery. Since the beginning we have been telling ourselves that we are something really special in the world, and we are the "good guys." Anyone politician who questions this is dog meat. I.e., Carter's malaise comments. Bush plays to all of this really well. America's unique role in the world and all. To accept that the Iraq war was a mistake based on falsities is to put us in the role of "bad guys." Americans cannot accept that. Kerry can try to dance around the problem, but that is difficult.

vida, you hit the nail on the head re: Good Guys vs. Bad Guys.

I was trying to figure out why D's always seemed to be running based on negativity. I keep thinking that if the D's would just talk about how great it would be if government did such and such and here's how we could make it happen, rather than how bad it is that the government has done such and such under this (insert smearing nickname for President Bush here), they'd have a lot better chance at earning votes.

crionna
I'm glad to finally hear someone admit they vote on tone and tact and not facts.

Crionna, did you watch the conventions?

And isn't anyone even going to click on my "tasteful music accompaniment" links? (pouting)

I'm glad to finally hear someone admit they vote on tone and tact and not facts.

Did I say that they'd have a lot better chance of winning my vote? Because they wouldn't. Not this year at least.

Crionna, did you watch the conventions?

No

And isn't anyone even going to click on my "tasteful music accompaniment" links? (pouting)

I did, but I doubt I count eh?

I keep thinking that if the D's would just talk about how great it would be if government did such and such and here's how we could make it happen, rather than how bad it is that the government has done such and such under this (insert smearing nickname for President Bush here), they'd have a lot better chance at earning votes.

I doubt it. At least, not until running negative ceases being such an appallingly effective strategy.

Edward, I thought it was here that the strategy of dang near bankrupting the country in order to allow the administration to start cutting funding for things was discussed.

As a conspiracy theory, yes. I do hear more and more folks suggesting this is indeed the goal, though, meaning it's leaving the shadowy corners of conspiracy nuts' ramblings and entering a more main stream assessment of what's really going on here.

I've yet to hear anyone defend the approach.

Crionna: Edward, I thought it was here that the strategy of dang near bankrupting the country in order to allow the administration to start cutting funding for things was discussed.

Edward: I've yet to hear anyone defend the approach.

Which reassures me about the sanity of the mainstream right, because it's an approach that's essentially indefensible.

I mean, I realize I'm probably preaching to the choir here, but if you wanted to balance your family's monthly budget, would you a) find ways cut back on your discretionary spending or cut costs elsewhere, b) find ways to increase your wages or other income, or c) simultaneously run up a large credit card bill /and/ take a pay and hours cut so that you were in such bad financial shape you had no choice but to sell your car, drop your health insurance policy, skimp on food, and put off installing that burgular alarm in your house?

If anyone here answered c), they probably think bankrupting the country is a defensible approach to cutting parts of the budget they find ideologically objectionable. Me, I think it's criminally negligent.

"I've yet to hear anyone defend this approach."

Except for Phil Gramm, Newt Gingrich, George Bush, Ronald Reagan, Tom Delay, Grover Norquist, my favorite, who simultaneously seeks to destroy my government while permitting me to purchase the weapons to punish him for the crime, Bill Frist, Dennis Hastert, the Cato Institute, The Heritage Foundation, Mary Matalin, Larry Kudlow, every right-wing nut job now infesting the media, every right-wing blogger in existence, every conservative editorialist .. I would continue, but dinner is ready.

Or maybe you were looking at the supply-side card in the other hand which said that decreasing taxes would increase revenues, you know like Wal Mart tells their workers that lowering prices for prices will increase wages and let us give you health benefits.

There was nothing that pissed off conservatives more than budget surpluses during the 1990's. So keep asking for fiscal restraint from these people, cause some day they are going to say: "Well. O.K. if that's what you really want!"

You're walking the plank, Edward, and I hate to see good, moderately liberal people willfully jump right into the shark's mouth.

And, yeah, I'm a nut case.

Starve the Federal Government through Tax Cuts

Tax cuts are one of Bush's signature issues. Most taxes are unbiblical according to Beliles and McDowell in their chapter on Christian Economics. Income tax is "idolatry," property tax is "theft" and inheritance taxes are simply not allowed in the Bible. The book mentions two kind of taxes that are mentioned in the Bible: a poll tax (called a flat tax today) - which is uniform, and tithing (voluntarily paying 10% of your income to your Church.) (214-215)

More at "Theocracy Watch"

Economics from the Religious Right

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