February 18, 2009

The Age of Obama


Chris said...

But I thought it was George Bush that began the age of socialism in America. Wasn't he the one who issued the first government/tax payer bailout in 2001 to the airline industry? And then didn't he also nationalize our banking and lending industries in 2008 by using tax payer money to buy up large sums of really bad debt? In all George Bush issued 8 government nationalization programs. Obama hasn't done a single one. I must be totally confused here.

Jaz said...

So then is the liberal publication Newsweek who ran this cover.

So it looks like you want to slam Bush for both being a free market supporter by cutting taxes, and for being a socialist for creating more government entities.

Each charge undercuts the other.

On the one hand your team argues that Bush was way too free market by not regulating the markets enough. Now in the next breath you say he was too socialist?

Making both arguments concurrently weakens both. Sort of like when McCain picked Palin, he undercut his own argument against Obama's lack of experience.

It's funny, I can't tell where Obama supporters stand sometimes. At some point you're gonna have to defend socialism rather than than deny that Obama is a proponent of it.

Isn't a better argument to be made, from your perspective, defending socialism rather than denying that it's a part of Obama's philosophy of governance?

Chris said...

What part of my first comment isn't true? Did Bush not socialize the lending and insurance industries? Of course he did. Did he not institute 8 federal government bailouts? Yep he sure did. How many has Obama instituted? None. When will you admit that the guy you voted for did more to socialize this country than anyone since FDR?

Stating facts, such as Bush socialized the lending and insurance industries, is not slamming Bush. It's a fact. He did it. Anytime Bush is mentioned and he's not called the greatest president ever you say he's being bashed. Regretted History Law if I've ever seen it.

Cutting taxes makes George Bush a free market supporter? Barack Obama cut more taxes than George Bush ever dreamed of doing and you say socialism is part of his philosophy of governance. Your two stances undercut each other.

There's nothing funnier than reading someone trying to proclaim Obama as a socialist while defending Bush from it. At some point Jaz, you are just gonna have to admit that George Bush was a socialist or you are gonna have to admit that you don't believe there is anyway a super macho tough guy Republican can ever be a socialist simply because they are a Republican.

Jaz said...

Just to be clear I don't nessessarily regard Obama as a socialist...yet. I just thought this was an interesting cover for an Obama supporting publication to run. Your beef is really with them, not me. I'm not backing down or backtracking, just telling the truth.

Having said that, Obama is certainly heading quickly in the direction of socialism. Gibbs had to rush in front of the cameras to assure us that Obama is not going nationalize the banks. Just the fact that he had to do that should tell you that certainly Wall Street wouldn't put it past Obama do do such a thing. Anything is possible in this economy I guess.

Which begins to explain why Bush had to do the TARP program which is not exactly a free market approach. Obama and McCain both support(ed) TARP anyway so there's not much political mileage to be gained for Obama supporters to carp over Bush's supposed socialism because he had to step in and save the banking system during an extraordinary circumstance.

But I don't need to defend Bush here because we've now reached the ridiculous circumstance where you're attacking Bush for being a socialist but denying that Obama is one.

I'd be happy to concede that they both are for purposes of this discussion. Go ahead and consider Bush to be a socialist, if it allows you to see more clearly the truth about Obama. I'm not a Bush supporter the way you're an Obama supporter so I really don't feel the need to defend Bush other than saying that I would vote for him again, knowing what we know now, over John Kerry.

That's all you really need to know about my support of Bush, that I would still have rather had him than my senator John Kerry as president from 2004-2008. In fact the candidacy of John Kerry was one of the original inspirations to start this blog. Otherwise with Bush, I'm happy to let history sort out whether or not the fact that he kept us safe since 9-11 and won the war in Iraq are of any value.

So do what ever you need to in order to use the Bush presidency as a prop to explain away the various foibles and follies of the current president. I'll just know that every time you bring up Bush vis a vis Obama that you've run out of legitimate, substantive, on the merits, defenses of current events.

What about Afghanistan, for example? If things go badly there for Obama will that somehow be Bush's fault? Or will you legitimately investigate the on-the-ground difficulties there rather than copping out and sluffing off the blame onto a former administration?

I don't envy Obama's task in Afghanistan, BTW. There might have to be some low level reconciliation with the Taliban for example. I'm not sure that surging more troops in to combat peasants is a worthwhile strategy (even though the guy I voted for does). It is helpful if the loyal opposition offers constructive criticism like I'm trying to do here, rather than just complaining about whatever the current president is doing and trying to make it more difficult to make any kind of progress.

Before I go I have to debunk one of team Obama's favorite conflations.

You say, "Barack Obama cut more taxes than George Bush ever dreamed of doing..."

This supposition relies on the conflation of tax cuts with a one time tax rebate check/tax credit.

The difference between a rebate check and a true tax cut seems to be a difficult concept for Obama supporters so I'll try to explain:

A one time tax credit is not a tax cut. A tax cut, in the traditional sense, is a reduction in the actual rate of taxation, as in the percentage.

For example, I make under $75,000 a year. This should qualify me as "middle class" according to Obama. As far as I know the rate at which I'm taxed has not been reduced. Next year I'll still be taxed at the same rate which means my taxes haven't been cut. Now if the government wants to send me a check for $600 from the coffers of the IRS, great. However this isn't fairly to be defined as a tax cut since it's more like a welfare check. Which begins to explain how those who don't pay any income tax at all will be given a check. It's hard to cut the amount of money a person is responsible for paying Uncle Sam if they're already paying nothing. Therefore if those who pay nothing receive funds from the government, it's can't conceivable be considered a tax "cut".

This tax cut canard seems to be a fundamental underpinning of the Obama campaign's dogma, but I would at least hope that you are able to see the difference and not attempt to further muddy the waters around the issue with an attempt to conflate a tax credit with a tax cut.

Chris said...

I don’t have beef with anyone. I don’t really care what Newsweek says. I haven’t read the inside story but if it calls Obama a socialist, then it’s vastly inaccurate. But maybe the inside story talks about George Bush creating the largest government in American history and increasing our dependence on government more than anyone by socializing our lending and insurance agencies and thus Obama inherits what many would call a socialist government. I don’t know, I haven’t read it and don’t plan to.

What do you mean Obama is heading in the direction of socialism? What has he done? Has he socialized any industries? Has he redistributed more of our wealth to Iraq? What has he done that proves he’s on the path to socialism? If he does socialize a couple banks that’s not anything George Bush didn’t do. And we both know George Bush is no socialist so nationalizing banks doesn’t make Obama one either.

The TARP program isn’t exactly a free market approach? Come on Jaz neither of us are stupid. Just say it. It’s a socialist program, there’s nothing free market about it. If Barack Obama issued TARP you would not be calling it “not exactly a free market approach,” and that he only did it out of “extraordinary circumstances.” You would call it what it is and that’s socialism. But for some reason, and the only reason left is what I mention above and that’s because a big bad macho Republican can never be a socialist. Just admit it.

I’m not denying Obama as a socialist while calling Bush one. I’m simply saying if George Bush isn’t one than neither is Obama. If George Bush can socialize two industries, institute 8 government bailouts with tax payer money, create DHS and No Child Left Behind, and redistribute our wealth to Iraq and not be a socialist than Obama having done nothing remotely close to any of that certainly isn’t one either.

And I suppose, just so you know the extent of my support of Barack Obama, my home senator and my former boss, knowing all I do know about him, I would still prefer his presidency to John McCain and the GOP policies that created the last 8 years of failed government any day. In fact it was the candidacy of George Bush in 2000 that led me to take a job with the Illinois senate where I wrote legislation for then state senator Barack Obama.

And once more I will ask where have I ever blamed Bush for anything in Obama’s presidency? You, along with the rest of the right wing, seem to have forgotten it was Bush who did more to socialize America than anyone since FDR. You act like that is ancient history. It was last month. Bringing that up to show the ridiculousness of the current opposition to the President of the United States isn’t a blame game. Where were you when George Bush instituted 8 government bailouts? Where were you in opposition to any one of his spending bills? Where were you in calling George Bush a socialist when he nationalized the lending and insurance industries? That’s not blame, it’s asking a question.

Obama’s tax cut is indeed a cut. The tax cuts come from your paycheck. The rate at which your federal income tax is levied will be lowered. There will be no rebate check. People who do not pay income taxes also qualify; this counteracts what they pay in payroll taxes.

Jaz said...

When I say Obama is heading in the direction of socialism I mean we are.

Since he is the leader of we, it can fairly be said that Obama is heading towards socialism if you accept the premise that we as a country are.

There has been a slow advance towards European style Democratic socialism for a while in this country. Obama is merely the latest standard bearer.

If he is in favor of socialized medicine and all of the other trappings of European style socialism like cap and trade, government take over of private industry, and greater worker unionization then Obama is to be fairly described as leading us (closer) towards socialism.

Maybe I'm assuming things, but am I wrong? Is Obama not for these things? I think it's pretty safe to assume that he is whether or not he's actually instituted the policies yet.

The crazy part is, on many issues, like rescuing the banking industry, he doesn't really have a choice.

Neither did George Bush on TARP. George Bush decided to enact TARP, which Obama favored, so as not to hand Obama a dead banking industry on his way out the door. (He merely handed Obama a banking industry on life support on his way out).

Many conservatives were against the original bank bailout, but politically because of the interregnum, the timing would not have worked to simply let all these banks fail.

Now the situation has deteriorated further leaving Obama with the choice of nationalizing some of the biggest banks or letting them go bust.

Politically, Obama looks bad in the short run by letting the big banks fails so, knowing him, he won't let that happen.

I happen to be of the belief that these banks should be allowed to fail which will, in the long run, be better for our economy as new banks fill the void left by the failed big banks and the natural renewal of free market capitalism takes effect unencumbered by governmental intrusion.

If the government nationalizes the banks, it will create 'zombie banks' that are not viable as a business model but just exist as liabilities at tax payer expense.

I say let 'em fail.

It'll be painful in the short run but it won't stunt growth in the long run.

Obama's "tax cut" is the equivalent of last year's $600 stimulus check except that rather than getting it in one lump sum, employees get it a few bucks at a time. It's actually less than the $600 too, it's more like $400.

Hey, it's something, I'll give him that. I'll just have to more specific in the future. When I talk about tax cuts, as I always have defined them, I'll have to go out my way now and say 'tax rate reductions'.

Chris said...

I think I can almost entirely agree with your last comment. I think it might be dead on.

I agree the country as a whole is heading more towards socialism, or at least some form of socialism. I don't deny that at all. I think that's very different than saying "Obama is certainly heading quickly in the direction of socialism," however. But I will agree that the country as a whole certainly is and since Obama is our "leader" then he's the one leading the charge, so to speak.

But I think we've been on the socialism path for quite some time. Teddy Roosevelt was the first to put us on this path. I know the right wing believe him as some sort of conservative Republican but he was anything but. He expanded government's power by creating the FDA and the National Forest Service, he called for an income tax, capped railroad profits, and was a staunch desegregationist. He was also the first president to directly interfere into the markets. Hardly a conservative and he was a self-described "progressive."

So I believe we've been on some sort of socialism track for quite some time with bumps along the way. The presidency of George Bush did nothing to relieve our move towards socialism one single bit (I just have to throw that in there).

I also caution in jumping the gun on calling Obama a socialist or a person who has a socialist governing philosophy like you did in previous comments. I don't think his philosophy is any more reliant upon socialism than Teddy's, FDR's, Truman's, Kennedy's, Johnson's, Reagan's, Clinton's or Bush 43's is.

I also absolutely agree with you on the banking/bailout situation. Let them fail. I write about this on my blog all the time.

"If the government nationalizes the banks, it will create 'zombie banks' that are not viable as a business model but just exist as liabilities at tax payer expense."-- Couldn't agree more.

As for the tax cuts, I think you are dead on. It does, however, lower the tax rate on the paycheck, which to me is a cut. Is it permanent? Nope. But neither were George Bush's cuts.

Very nice Jaz.