Yet another Economic WTF! PostPosted: July 22, 2011
For more than the past two years, I’ve been arguing that Obama has been continuing the Bush/Cheney policies in nearly every possible policy area. However, in the economics realm, he’s following the Republican Myth of Reagan. Ronald Reagan raised taxes 5 times. Ronald Reagan exploded the federal deficit and upped the debt ceiling 17 times in his two terms in office. Ronald Reagan was probably the last of the presidents that openly used policies that were lopsided, wrongly transcribed Keynesian economics. Keynesian theory shows the necessity of running surpluses in boom times, balanced budgets in times of full-employment equilibrium, and deficits in recessions and out of necessity in times of war.
Obama fits the mythic image of Republican’s version of Reagan more than the real Ronald Reagan himself. It is only by the rule of soft bigotry–one that says all black people are some kind of monolith fitting a Sharpton/Jackson stereotype–that drives polls that say that Obama is too liberal, a communist, or a typical Democrat. Obama continues to refit himself into the stereotype of Ronald Reagan. Period. My favorite place to reference this argument is the Black Agenda Report . It one of the very few authentic left wing site representing a left wing agenda for America’s poor and black population. The authors of BAR have had his number for a very long time. A huge portion of the population just does not want to cast Obama and his policies in the light of a conservative black no matter what the evidence. This is our quintessential problem right now.
I’ve been watching the evolution of Paul Krugman who writes today about “The Lesser Depression” at the NYT. Despite his mounting, published, and well discussed evidence, he still can’t just come out and say that Obama would be better placed in the Republican party. Obama is taking the same steps that the Herbert Hoover Administration took right before the Great Depression. We are backtracking the way the Roosevelt administration did around 1936. None of these policies led to economic confidence or growth. They led to job, financial, and economic loss. They made our country significantly worse off then and this senseless repeat is doing the same thing now.
So we have depressed economies. What are policy makers proposing to do about it? Less than nothing.
The disappearance of unemployment from elite policy discourse and its replacement by deficit panic has been truly remarkable. It’s not a response to public opinion. In a recent CBS News/New York Times poll, 53 percent of the public named the economy and jobs as the most important problem we face, while only 7 percent named the deficit. Nor is it a response to market pressure. Interest rates on U.S. debt remain near historic lows.
Bruce Bartlett–an economic adviser to Ronald Reagan–says that Obama is Richard Nixon. I think this is generous. Nixon had a more liberal approach to the nation’s health care challenges, the environment, and to spending. Nixon accepted the Great Society Policies. Reagan supported the Great Society Policies and reinvigorated two of them. Obama obviously doesn’t even support the basics. He is negotiating behind the back of Senate and Congressional Democrats so that the clock will run out before they can object. They will most likely kowtow to the right’s agenda YET again. Bartlett argues that Obama belongs in the ranks of Republicans. I agree with this. I just don’t think he’s as liberal as Nixon or that he is even “moderately conservative”. Like Reagan, Obama has said one thing and done completely another. Obama wants to be the Ronald Reagan that never was.
Liberals hoped that Obama would overturn conservative policies and launch a new era of government activism. Although Republicans routinely accuse him of being a socialist, an honest examination of his presidency must conclude that he has in fact been moderately conservative to exactly the same degree that Nixon was moderately liberal.
Here are a few examples of Obama’s effective conservatism:
- His stimulus bill was half the size that his advisers thought necessary;
- He continued Bush’s war and national security policies without change and even retained Bush’s defense secretary;
- He put forward a health plan almost identical to those that had been supported by Republicans such as Mitt Romney in the recent past, pointedly rejecting the single-payer option favored by liberals;
- He caved to conservative demands that the Bush tax cuts be extended without getting any quid pro quo whatsoever;
- And in the past few weeks he has supported deficit reductions that go far beyond those offered by Republicans.
Perhaps this is why these CNN Poll results show that the country is fed up with the Republican Congress as well as Obama’s approach to the economy. People are reluctant to overcome their stereotypes of black politicians, but know something is essentially wrong. Recent hopes to change the direction that Bush/Cheney took our country have brought us more than just more of the same. Liberals approval of Obama is dropping while independent approval of newly elected Republicans is dropping all over the country. (See BostonBoomer’s Thursday Morning Post.) I suggest this shows support for my hypothesis.
President Obama’s approval rating falls to 45%, driven in part by dissatisfaction from the left with Obama’s track record, a new CNN/ORC International poll released today suggests.
The new poll shows that 38% disapprove of Obama because he has been too liberal, but 13% percent say he has not been liberal enough, nearly double those who felt that way in May. His approval rating among liberals is at 71%, an all-time low for his presidency. Overall, those who disapprove of Obama is at 54%, tying an all-time low hit just before November’s midterm elections.
Poll respondents’ negative opinions weren’t reserved just for the president, though — 55% of all Americans have an unfavorable view of the Republican Party, a 7-point increase since March. And only 37% feel the GOP’s policies would move the country in the right direction, a 9-point drop since the start of the year.
We’ve seen the Democratic Congress pulled along by an at best center-right policy on Health Care Reform. They were also party to the abomination of reinstating the Dubya Tax Cuts for Billionaire’s plan. Now, they are screaming about their irrelevancy in this Debt Ceiling Debate. The right question now is only this. How far to the right will this deficit plan be? The necessary answer can be found in these questions. How thoroughly will Obama and congressional Republicans decimate the country’s social safety nets and its successful social insurance programs? How detached will this plan be from using revenues from the beneficiaries of 30 years of bad policy to halt subsidizing the globalization of US Treasure? How much longer will we continue to subsidize economic colonization with our wealth to places that only drag our wages down, decimate the global ecosystem, tolerate wars that make the world safer for US corporations, and import our jobs and investments? If Bartlett wants a realistic vision of a Republican President that fits Obama, I suggest Warren G. Harding.