George W. Bush
Earlier this week, CBS News erroneously reported that the national debt had increased by $4 trillion since President Barack Obama had been in office. Several conservative blogs picked it up, but didn’t bother to note that Obama’s first budget was submitted in February but didn’t take effect until October 2009, well after he assumed the presidency.
From October 1, 2009 to August 24, 2011, debt held by the public has increased by more than $2.4 trillion (this figure excludes intragovernmental holdings), in just over two years in office. During the four years of Democratic control of Congress (specific to budget years), the national debt increased by more than $3.9 trillion.
Needless to say, reigning in spending hasn’t been much of a priority. Of course, that doesn’t absolve the spending spree of George W. Bush and his Republican enablers; but it makes Obama’s past comments on spending laughable considering that he has done half the damage of his predecessor in just over two years. Take for instance, his comments from a campaign stop back in 2008, which I leave you without remark:
The problem is, is that the way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt from $5 trillion for the first 42 presidents - #43 added $4 trillion by his lonesome, so that we now have over $9 trillion of debt that we are going to have to pay back — $30,000 for every man, woman and child. That’s irresponsible. It’s unpatriotic.
Here is the video:
It’s official, the budget deficit for the 2011 fiscal year, and for the third year in a row, has topped $1 trillion:
The United States’ budget deficit has topped $1 trillion for a third straight year, adding pressure on Congress and the White House to make more progress on a long-term plan to shrink the growing imbalance.
The Treasury Department said Wednesday that the deficit through July totaled $1.1 trillion. Three years ago, that would have been a record high for the full year.
This year’s deficit is on pace to exceed last year’s imbalance of $1.29 trillion. But it is likely to fall short of the record $1.41 trillion set in 2009.
I doubt anyone is surprised that the net spending cut that Obama promised during his campaign hasn’t happened since all he did in his first two years, when Democrats controlled Congress, was jack up spending higher than his predecessor, who wasn’t exactly a fiscal conserative.
This chart from the New York Times has been making its way around the internet, most recently over at Cafe Hayek, where Russ Roberts makes a few really great points. Notice that the largest contributor listed is the Bush tax cuts, coming in at $1.8 trillion:
Time and time again I’ve tried to dispel the notion that tax cuts are expenditures. It is simple – you cannot spend what you do not have. Claiming as such is akin to stating that someone is running a $50k deficit because their employer only pays them $35k per year.
Adhering to such a philosophy – that tax cuts are the key contributor to our debt – is to believe that our entire debt is due merely to a failure to raise taxes. It’s not an income problem, it’s a spending problem.
The year was 2008. It was a fact that President Bush wasn’t going to be the president for much longer and a young, charismatic senator from Illinois was set to take the reigns of power. Even some of us who stood against Obama during the campaign were optimistic that perhaps we had been wrong about the new president. Two and a half years into his presidency, there’s not much “hope” left for a lot of us. Especially as President Obama seems to be intent on continuing the most police state-like tactics of his predecessor.
Without getting into the evidence which I mentioned recently, there’s more evidence to be considered courtesy of Forbes:
2010, it seems, was a landmark year for federal snooping. According to the U.S. courts systems’ annual report on law enforcement wiretaps, federal law enforcement requested 1,207 intercepts placed on phones and electronic communications last year, nearly double the 663 requested in 2009.Overall, wiretaps jumped 34%, including a smaller increase in the number of state-requested law enforcement eavesdropping. The total comes to 3,194 requests, up from 2,376 in 2009 and just 1,190 in the year 2000.
Of course, wiretaps that are subject to judicial oversight don’t sound nearly as bad. However, I find it somewhat telling that we are spying on more Americans (with or without judicial oversight). The fact that many of these wire taps end up leading to raids by SWAT teams just adds to the anxiety many Americans are feeling when it comes to the government.
Given the job creation numbers in Texas and his frequent criticisms of Barack Obama, Texas Gov. Rick Perry seems to be the tea party movement’s favorite presidential candidate; at least at the moment:
The Texas conservative, who’s weighing a late entry into the field of GOP candidates, beats other candidates among members of the Tea Party, the conservative grassroots wing of the Republican Party that’s battling to shape the race for the nomination.
Twenty percent of Tea Party supporters would like to see Perry as the nominee, according to a McClatchy-Marist poll released Wednesday. Perry displaces former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) as the top Tea Party candidate in Marist’s April poll; Huckabee’s since withdrawn from the race.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) is the second choice of the Tea Party, at 17 percent, followed by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) at 16 percent and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) at 12 percent.
The poll suggests that Perry might be well-positioned to seize the mantle of the Tea Party should he choose to enter the race. Bachmann made a play for those voters during her announcement this week, and could enjoy increased support after heavy media coverage this week.
Playing the part of world policeman can be pretty expensive. How expensive? A new study says that the price of our foreign intervention could reach over $4 trillion and cost 225,000 lives; including civilians:
The final bill for U.S. military involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan could be as much as $4.4 trillion, according to a comprehensive report Tuesday.
In the 10 years since American troops were sent into Afghanistan, the federal government has already spent $2.3 trillion to $2.7 trillion, say the authors of the study by Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies.
The report calculates not only direct spending on the conflicts but also the long-term costs of caring for wounded veterans and projected war spending from 2012-20.
At a minimum, according to the authors of the study, the final cost for these military engagements will be $3.7 trillion. But the report also points out that their estimates do not include at least $1 trillion more in interest payments and other costs that cannot yet be quantified. Indeed, the report criticized the U.S. Congress and the Pentagon for poor accounting.
You can read more about the study here.
While Republicans are debating foreign policy, they’re largely missing the point. The Bush Doctrine, which has now become the Obama Doctrine, is unsustainable from an economic perspective (not to mention the human toll). This seems to be a point lost on neoconservatives, that taxpayers eventually have to foot the bill for war. That’s not to say there isn’t justification, but most of what we’ve done in the last 10 years has been unnecessary; and sadly, it doesn’t look like it’s going to end anytime soon.
Given the debate over our intervention in Libya, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is questioning the loyalities of members of Congress that believe her boss, President Barack Obama, hasn’t followed the law in regards to the War Powers Resolution (WPR):
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is questioning the priorities of lawmakers criticizing the U.S. intervention in Libya.
She’s asking bluntly, “Whose side are you on?”
Clinton says Congress is free to raise objections but questions the priorities of the critics. She says the Obama administration and its partners are rightly siding with the Libyan people.
Glenn Greenwald has already made the parallels between the rhetoric from Bush Administration and Republicans in the run up (and after) the war in Iraq. Granted, Clinton’s says we’re “free to raise of objections,” but she is going to make it known that you hate America while you’re doing it (I’m being somewhat sarcastic, but that’s the implication of what she’s saying):
I’m sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and disagree with this administration, somehow you’re not patriotic. We need to stand up and say we’re Americans, and we have the right to debate and disagree with any administration.
Even John Yoo, certainly not an advocate of an executive branch with limited power, is even criticizing the expansive view of executive power that Obama has taken:
President Obama is coming dangerously close to the deadline for withdrawal of all US troops from the Libyan theater of operations in accordance with the War Powers Act. However, the White House denies that the War Powers Act applies since American troops aren’t exposed to significant risk because Libyan forces aren’t able to return fire in a “meaningful way”. However, does risk to American troops matter in regard to whether the president can engage in warfare?
The Constitution gives authority for waging war in all ways except on how to fight a war to Congress. The president is Commander in Chief and is ultimately responsible for how a war is fought because leadership by committee is fine for crafting laws, but suicide in combat. Under President Nixon, the War Powers Act was created as a mechanism for dealing with that president’s use of the military.
Even as recently as the Gulf War, warfare automatically meant troops would be in harms way. Today, that’s a very different case. In the case of Libya, the White House argues that the US role is primarily support and that American lives aren’t at risk. Maybe that makes a difference to some folks, but not so much to me. I’m not alone either. Jack Goldsmith, who worked for President Bush in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, told the New York Times:
“The administration’s theory implies that the president can wage war with drones and all manner of offshore missiles without having to bother with the War Powers Resolution’s time limits,” Mr. Goldsmith said.
As I noted yesterday, Obama Administration claimed this week that we are not at war in Libya. It’s an absurd suggestion that has even Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) giving credit to former President George W. Bush for at least obtaining approval from Congress before waging a misguided war in Iraq.
Yesterday, in response to Speaker John Boehner’s (R-IN) request, the president issued a new explanation for why he isn’t in violation of the [War Powers Resolution], which requires the president to terminate US engagement in “hostilities” after 60 days in the absence of congressional authorization. And it turns out that, per Obama, not only is the Libyan War not a “war,” what we’re doing in Libya—supporting, coordinating, and carrying out attacks—doesn’t even rise to the level of “hostilities.”
The president’s report states that he hasn’t violated the WPR, because “U.S. military operations are distinct from the kind of ‘hostilities’ contemplated by the Resolution’s 60 day termination provision”: they don’t “involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve the presence of U.S. ground troops, U.S. casualties or a serious threat thereof.”
Now, I have heard it all. Of course, I say that every time a politician of some strip says something so idiotic that it boggles the mind, and yet it keeps happening all over again. Today’s winner is none other than President Obama. The president, apparently trying to find someone to blame for the crappy economy that isn’t George Bush, today took aim at something else.
President Obama explained to NBC News that the reason companies aren’t hiring is not because of his policies, it’s because the economy is so automated. … “There are some structural issues with our economy where a lot of businesses have learned to become much more efficient with a lot fewer workers. You see it when you go to a bank and you use an ATM, you don’t go to a bank teller, or you go to the airport and you’re using a kiosk instead of checking in at the gate.”
Convenience is the enemy, huh?
First, this is a man who believes that forking out $260,000 to create one job is a good deal, so I should exactly be surprised by his claim. However, in this case, he’s wrong.
You see, jobs were lost because the economy took a nose dive. Between his and his predecessor’s policies, there’s a great deal of uncertainty and fear in many businesses. They’re not going to hire until they are confident they actually can. What President Obama is arguing is that these jobs weren’t lost due to a bad economy, but some leap in technology that pushed people out of their jobs. That would be the only reason why automation would keep unemployment up. Unfortunately for him, that’s not the case.