Skip to comments.The Question Nobody Wants to Answer
Posted on 09/05/2012 5:23:51 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
You have to feel a little sorry for Team Obama as they squirm to explain why the question "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?" is so unfair.
After all, there is only one way to answer it and retain any credibility. Which is why Maryland's Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley, when asked, responded, No, we're not. Within 24 hours, he reversed himself, by all accounts because the Obama campaign forced him to. I haven't checked the video to see if he was blinking T-O-R-T-U-R-E in Morse code as he did so.
The idea that presidents "run" the economy is both ludicrous and fairly novel. Before the New Deal (which in my opinion prolonged the Great Depression), the notion that presidents should or could grow the economy was outlandish. But, as the historian H.W. Brands has argued, it was JFK who really cemented the idea that the president is the project manager for a team of technicians who create economic prosperity. "Most of the problems ... that we now face, are technical problems, are administrative problems," he explained, and should be kept as far away from partisan politics as possible.
President Obama, a hybrid reincarnation of both Kennedy and Roosevelt according to his fans, came into office with similar misconceptions. Controlling the White House, the House and the Senate, his team of propeller heads insisted that if we passed exactly the stimulus they wanted, the unemployment rate would top out at 8 percent and would be well below that by now.
They waved around charts and graphs "proving" they were right, like self-declared messiahs insisting they are to be followed because the prophecies they wrote themselves say so.
They got their stimulus. They were wrong.
They say in their defense that's because the downturn was so much worse than anyone realized. OK, but that just demonstrates the folly of their confidence in the first place. If I jump off a building because I am sure I can fly ("I wrote a study that proves it!"), it's of little solace, and even less of an excuse, if I sputter out my last words from the bloodied pavement, "The pull of gravity was so much worse than I realized."
Obama similarly self-defenestrated his own credibility, but he's still insisting he knows exactly what to do. Now he argues that if we just do what Bill Clinton did -- raise taxes on the top earners plus pass the so-called Buffett rule, which would raise taxes on investment income -- we can have the economy Clinton had. The Buffett rule would pay for 11 hours of government spending in 2013, as Mitt Romney correctly observed -- or 18 hours, according to Democratic reckoning. Anyone believe that would make the economy roar to life?
Obviously, Bill Clinton -- and the Republican congress that forced him to balance the budget -- deserves some credit for the 1990s boom. But last I checked he didn't invent the personal computer, the Internet or biotechnology. Nor did he end the Cold War. The notion that there would have been no "roaring nineties" if George H.W. Bush had been re-elected is simply preposterous.
As much as it pains me to say it, Ronald Reagan deserves some of the blame for this notion that our individual successes and failures are wholly contingent upon the whim of the guy in the Oval Office. He was the one who popularized "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?" to such devastating effect against Jimmy Carter. Since then, Democrats have made their own use of this crude reductionism. It has always struck me as a secular form of medieval thinking. My crops will not prosper unless the high priest wills it so.
At least Reagan argued that the economy would prosper if he were allowed to liberate it from the scheming of self-styled experts. Clinton ran out in front of a parade of free market successes and, like Ferris Bueller, acted as if he was leading the parade.
In his manifest hubris, Obama believed it was just that easy. He, too, could simply will vibrant economy into being through sheer intellectual force. But, unlike Bill Clinton, he wouldn't sully himself by playing "small ball." Obama would be "transformative."
For the ancient Greeks, hubris described the sort of arrogance that offends the gods, and precedes the fall. In the current context, it certainly tests the limits of my sympathy.
NOT in the least ....
Let’s raise the bar and ask if we’re better off than we were 50 years ago.
Iffen we put just a SLIGHTLY DIFFERNT SHADE of lipstick on Socialism’s pig......................
.........mebbie it works THIS TIME.
The fact that he cannot answer the question is why he will lose. Just like when Ted Kennedy couldn’t answer why he wanted to be president in 1980.
Presidents simply do not win in down economies. Be it perception or reality.
What a joke...They've had 3 1/2 years to turn the tide....and they made one big fat mess.....and it will take twice as long (at least) to get out of this mess....
Actually, yes--not because of the Obama administration, but in spite of it.
Rather, due to starting my own company (yes, I did build that!), having extensive experience in just the right field, and living in an area blessed with tremendous resources the government hasn't been able to prevent us from utilizing.
Fifty years ago:
I didn't have any bills, lived in an idyllic America in a state yet to dive into the Socialist Abyss, and was entering my physical prime.
Sigh.... Long ago and far away...
Heck, the Democrats were more conservative than most of what calls itself Republican. Quarters, dimes, and halves were silver...A candy bar was a nickel, and a coke was a dime...
We’re setting an awfully low bar considering the fact that when we want to go back to 4 years ago, our party will give us an America of 2 years ago.
Things sucked pretty bad 4 years ago too.
I agree. Let's go back 50 but keep the tech...
Well, we had a demonrat House and Senate for several years before that happened.
One thing we didn't have was a POTUS that bowed to to dictators and everyone else but the Burger King.
Unfortunately most people just want to punish the other guy and lack the courage to actually try to make things better.
“socialism? are you serious? that’s absurd!” - your typical sheeperal mal-educated 0bama supporter.
We need to ask Obama to explain the mechanism by which the middle class benefits from making their employers (”rich”) the declared enemy of tax and regulatory policy.
We can waste our energies on placing blame and retribution, or we can shovel out the place and clean it up.
We don't have time for both, we may not have the resources for either, but given a choice I'd take the latter option.
We can always hunt those jerks down later...
And even fewer willing to wade through enough s**t to get the job done.
Preoccupation with the media, with reelection is the damning factor.
We should start the 'one term' party, take it to DC and get 'er done. The media can stuff it, no one would be looking to get reelected, and everyone would be a lame duck from the day they took the oath. The problem is achieving critical mass--enough in office at the same time to do some good.
Eliminate entire agencies, decimate the rest (reduce by 10% --or more), with no sacred cows.