Tag Archives: george w bush

Now What?

Artist: Miles Davis

Tune: So What?

My depression is lifting. I have read and heard a lot of stuff. There is some degree of finger pointing, which is normal and to be expected. Now someone needs to do the autopsy. What happened and why? No, Hillary Clinton wasn’t a perfect candidate. Do we need to run a perfect candidate, Barack Obama, all the time in order to win a national election? Obama was so good that the GOP had to make up stuff – Born in Kenya, was a Muslim, hates America, etc. 

I have been watching Dallas Cowboys games all this week. With modern technology, you don’t have to listen to the news if you don’t want to. Ever. No MSNBC. No FOX News. No CNN. It was necessary in order for me to decompress. I needed to reassess.  

So, we have been through this before. Progressives have lost elections which they (we) were supposed to win (see John Kerry verses George W. Bush). Where do we go from here? What do we need to do, not just to win an election, but to truly help the American people?  

Ben Carson – How to crash and burn in the National Spotlight

ben carson

Just because you are a great neurosurgeon, it doesn’t mean that you are a great politician. Today Ben Carson was on MarketPlace. He was interviewed by Kai Ryssdal. This isn’t anything tricky. Ryssdal pitched softballs. Ben Carson spat out conservative nonsense which sort of makes sense until you put the questions and answers all together.

Ryssdal: There has to be something inside you, though, sir, that makes you believe that you can do this job better than the other — I don’t even know, now — what, 14, 15 people who are up there in various stages on the debate stage.

Carson: Well, yeah. I’ve had a lot of experiences in life where people said things couldn’t be done, to the point now where I almost don’t even want to try it unless people tell me it can’t be done.

Ryssdal: You have said more than once you want to run the government as a business. You want the president to be the CEO of that business. And I wonder, other than running a medical office, or sitting on corporate boards of Kellog’s and Costco, how do you know the government ought to be run like a business? How do you know the president ought to be the CEO?

Carson: Well I know what efficiency looks like, and I know what inefficiency looks like. I’ve had an opportunity to work in universities, sit on university boards, as opposed to working with corporate boards, and noticing the rapidity and the efficiency with which things are done in one area versus the other area. And, sometimes the same kinds of problems. So also, starting a national nonprofit. As you know, nine out of 10 of those fail, and the Carson’s scholar fund is active in all 50 states, has won two major national awards, which are only given to one organization out of tens of thousands each year. Obviously those are not things that can be done without understanding how things work.

Continue reading Ben Carson – How to crash and burn in the National Spotlight

Why does anyone still listen to Arthur Laffer?

When I first started studying politics seriously, I read about Arthur Laffer. He is the economic guru behind supply-side economics. He was in fact the intellectual power behind Reagan’s plan to cut taxes for the wealthy so everybody will profit.  To be honest, I don’t know that he has been wrong about everything. Nobody can be wrong about everything, but he has been wrong about most things. Look, as far as I’m concerned, Arthur Laffer may be a great guy. He has, however, led us on a 30-year misguided adventure which has drained our public coffers and has simply killed the middle class. Trickle down economics has now been proven not to work. It never worked. It never made sense.

Paul Krugman has more:

Jim Tankersley has a good article on Arthur Laffer’s never-stronger influence on the Republican party, with just one seriously misleading statement:

Laffer’s ideas have also grown out of fashion with much of the mainstream economic community. There is an entire branch of economic literature that uses detailed equations to show cutting top tax rates does not spark additional growth.

No, Laffer hasn’t “grown out of fashion” with mainstream economics — he was never in fashion. There was never any evidence to support strong supply-side claims about the marvels of tax cuts and the horrors of tax increases; even freshwater macroeconomists, despite their willingness to believe foolish things, never went down that road.

And nothing in the experience of the past 35 years has made Lafferism any more credible. Since the 1970s there have been four big changes in the effective tax rate on the top 1 percent: the Reagan cut, the Clinton hike, the Bush cut, and the Obama hike. Republicans are fixated on the boom that followed the 1981 tax cut (which had much more to do with monetary policy, but never mind). But they predicted dire effects from the Clinton hike; instead we had a boom that eclipsed Reagan’s. They predicted wonderful things from the Bush tax cuts; instead we got an unimpressive expansion followed by a devastating crash. And they predicted terrible things from the tax rise after Obama’s reelection; instead we got the best job growth since 1999.

And when I say “they predicted”, I especially mean Laffer himself, who has a truly extraordinary record of being wrong at crucial turning points. As Bruce Bartlett pointed out a few years ago, Laffer was even wrong during the Reagan years: he predicted that the Reagan tax hikes of 1982, which partially reversed earlier cuts, would cripple the economy; “morning in America” promptly followed. Oh, and let’s not forget his 2009 warnings about soaring interest rates and inflation.

The question you should ask, then, is why this always-wrong economic doctrine now has a stronger grip on the GOP than ever before.

It wasn’t always thus. George W. Bush’s inner circle clearly had little use for the likes of Laffer; they engaged in a lot of deceptive advertising about the economy (and a few other things), but they never made extravagant supply-side claims — and remember that Greg “charlatans and cranks” Mankiw served as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. But since 2009 the GOP has swerved hard right into fantasy land — and it has done so despite a remarkable string of dead-wrong predictions by the people peddling that fantasy. (more…)