May 17, 2003

The Big Mystery

Nonfarm employment, which peaked in March of 2001 at 132.46 million, is now down at 130.35 million.

I try to imagine what has been going on inside the National Economic Council for the past nine months, and I simply cannot visualize it. One would think that boosting employment would be the administration's first economic policy priority--that's what their talking points say, anyway. In addition to the fact that boosting employment is good for the country, there is the crass political fact that boosting employment is essential for the administration's political survival. You would think that the pressure put on the NEC by Media Affairs and Political Affairs would be immense: "We lose our jobs in November 2004 if the labor market is still in the toilet. We need policies to boost the number of jobs."

Yet that's not what's going on. It's as if the White House thinks that its job is done once they have said that their policies will produce more jobs, and that the question of whether policies are actually stimulative is simply not worth asking.

It is a great mystery. Someday I'll find out the answer...

Posted by DeLong at May 17, 2003 08:56 AM | TrackBack

Comments

>It's as if the White House thinks that
>its job is done once they have said
>that their policies will produce more jobs.

It _is_ done.

Saying it _is_ good enough.

They _said_ Saddam had his fingerprints on 9/11
They _said_ Saddam had WMD's
They _said_ Gore lies
They _said_ Clinton was worse than Hitler
They _said_ they had a secret plan to win the war in Vietnam
They _said_ they had a list of 57 Communists who worked in the State Department.

We bought all that. Why wouldn't we buy this too?


Posted by: Davis X. Machina on May 17, 2003 09:07 AM

To avoid Godwin's Law violations, you always have to say "WROSE THAN HILTER!!1!!11"

The misspellings, the punctuation, and the capital letters are all important...

:-)

Posted by: Brad DeLong on May 17, 2003 09:28 AM

I think you're being rhetorical here, Brad. You already know that this administration's economic ideology is a two-dimensional caricature of already suspect theories. In their view, there is exactly one and only one thing the government can do to positively affect the economy, and that's lower taxes. Well, some of them. Others are only concerned with their own (and their cronies') personal economic interests. But there's no doubt that a hold on power is the primary motivation so why not sacrifice their economic ideal to some extent in order to placate a public suffering a staggering economy? Because they believe they don't have to. They have fear of terrorism and war. They believe they'll win the political battle on national security issues alone, regardless of what the economy is doing.

Finally, they're so blindered with regard to economics, I think they have all along and still expect a strong recovery "any day now" to get them out of hot water. If for no other reason than their naive belief that the Clinton boom was anamolous because economic America has no confidence in Democrats and, of course, now that Republicans are holding the reins of power, whatever little speed-bump we felt will be forgotten as a new, strong wave of economic optimism sweeps the US as it now has the Republicans in charge.

They're probably wrong, and I'm looking forward to seeing their shock when they realize this. It's deliciously ironic that though they've been determined not to make the same mistakes as Bush 41, they're making the worse mistake nevertheless: they're overconfident.

People will vote their pocketbooks next year. Still, a (fortuitously?) timed terrorist attack or war might make the difference. We'll see.

Posted by: Keith M Ellis on May 17, 2003 09:31 AM

"Our economic policy would have worked if the Democrats hadn't ..."

An administration which is not constrained by the facts or by media noticing what they do should have no trouble finding an excuse.

Posted by: richard on May 17, 2003 11:13 AM

I don't think it's that shocking. Conventional economic theory is pushed by academics. Supply-side economics is pushed by right-wing think tanks. If you think of this situation as symmetric, then it's not that surprising that Bush thinks tax cuts will stimulate the economy.

Posted by: Walt Pohl on May 17, 2003 11:37 AM

Has a single Bush economic proposal been enacted in full?

Regardless of whether or not you think they have merit, to damn his administration's actions as useless AFTER they've been watered down or killed on Capitol Hill is just cheap rhetorical nonsense.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on May 17, 2003 12:09 PM

Remember the Summer of 2001, when Bush's "commission" on Social Security argued the bankruptcy date for SS was 15 years out- when SS would begin to draw upon the assets, er, worthless government bonds, it had been accumulating (rather than when it had spent all its assets, er, government bonds)? Remember how most reasonable people laughed them off- how silly to suggest that the government won't pay its debts. Maybe those folks on the commssion knew a bit more about the administration's plans than we thought.

Posted by: Brendan on May 17, 2003 12:11 PM

Dear Dear Brad

Please try to understand. As Molly Ivins has been saying, the Republican Party is the party of the "Christian Right." This is not our parents' Republican Party, and even responsible conservative economics have no role and will have no role in policy formation.

Read Molly Ivins and Bob Herbert along with Paul Krugman. They understand what this Administration is about.

Posted by: anne on May 17, 2003 01:15 PM

Here is the Republican Party, not just in Texas but in Washington, DC:

http://www.creators.com/opinion_show.cfm?columnsName=miv

Moyy Ivins -

The choices on how to spend money couldn't possibly make Republican "values" any clearer. We can spend money on corporate welfare, but not on people's welfare. We can't cover health insurance for our teachers, but we must have brush control.

The creepy thing about the far-right Republicans, who are definitely in the majority in the House, is not that they are dismantling government because they won't raise taxes, they're dismantling government because they think it shouldn't help people. They really think health and human services should not be provided. It's an old line among liberals that anti-choice people care more about the unborn than they do about the born, but I'm telling you that it's not just some clever line -- these people are writing it into the state budget....

Posted by: jd on May 17, 2003 01:39 PM

"Has a single Bush economic proposal been enacted in full?"

Of course, that is why we are in such an economic mess and why the mess will only deepen. This Adminstration is bent on fiscal policy that leaves the Federal government spending what is needed for defense, while every possible social program is starved. This Administration's fiscal policy is aimed at enriching the rich and to hell with the middle class, and the policy is being enacted and is working.

Posted by: lise on May 17, 2003 01:53 PM

Thanks Lise

The whole point about this Administration has been just how single minded are the policy objectives and how successful the Republicans have been at policy implementation. There is a radical right agenda in this Administration, and it is succeeding in ways that will harm middle class Americans for years and years.

Posted by: jd on May 17, 2003 02:26 PM

>how successful the Republicans have been...

The tax cuts have been drastically scaled back from their original outline.

It is comical for folks to complain about the
ineffectiveness of a policy they themselves have succeeded in crippling.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on May 17, 2003 02:50 PM

Bush has more of both congress and senate on his side than Clinton. Still Clinton did a better job.

DSW

Posted by: Antoni Jaume on May 17, 2003 03:08 PM

Given the nice juxtaposition with the item below this one-- National Review vilifies only competent economists-- the question essentially answers itself.

But I agree with most posters that the jobs picture really doesn't matter to the administration. They've got it all figured out already. When we're closer to the election they'll play the commander-in-chief card again, just as they did before the 2002 mid-term elections and just as they did now in order to get this tax cut through Congress. It's pretty clear that c-in-c is the master political play and they'll run with it.

The scenario might be Cuba, it might be Colombia, it might be a place we have no inkling about now, but it will unfold so close to the date of the election that normal people will be inhibited by their own sense of decency from reacting to it as the political gambit it will be. This plan worked in 2002 and just over the last few months. Why wouldn't it work again?

If I've learned anything in my half-century, it is that no degree of cynicism about public affairs is deep enough to match reality. And the appositeness of that observation has exponentiated, particularly, I fear, where southern Republicans are concerned. Just watch.

Posted by: Altoid on May 17, 2003 04:05 PM

I was struck by Dr. DeLong's citing that employment peaked in March 2001 which is also when NBER says the economy peaked. What is this obcession with spinning that the economy went into a recesion before 1/20/2001? Why does this matter to anyone without a job right now? Maybe the White House should spend less time on their blame game and more on addressing the real issues.

Posted by: Hal McClure on May 17, 2003 04:20 PM

In a previous comment I referred to the present administration as a semi-competent mafia. That characterization still applies here. The prime goal is to shovel money at crony mafia family members, and political power is the way to continue doing this.

My read is that they are confident enough of their ability to keep power (either through starting another war just before the election, declaring martial law, or flat out stealing it, a la Fla) that actually improving the economy is simply not relevant.

It's not a policy goal, and it doesn't figure into the calculations.

-steve

Posted by: steve on May 17, 2003 04:47 PM

Maybe Rove has a secret plan up his sleeve, much like the late Repub convention. Get all the corporate goodies distribted early in the election cycle, and then, say in October, propose a personal refund check to everyone of age.
Whoo Hoo. Party hats for everyone. Let's get drunk and vote Republican.

Posted by: andrew b. on May 17, 2003 06:30 PM


>The tax cuts have been drastically scaled back >from their original outline.

ineffectiveness of a policy they themselves have >succeeded in crippling.

This is too sad for response. Bucky, I've rarely agreed with you, but for the most part you appeared intelligent. Are you serious with this crap or just putting us on?

Posted by: Dennis Slough on May 17, 2003 06:50 PM

Bush got pretty much what he wanted with the first two rounds of tax cuts. He also pretty much got what he wanted with the latest round. The reason the dollar amount is less than he asked for is because of the supposed expiration of the dividend tax cuts in three years, not because the tax cut is substantially different.

Moreover, the Bush administration said they were happy with all three major tax cuts and said that they were precisely what the country needed.

You're really reaching here, Bucky. The administration has had a free hand in the economy and it has royally screwed up. We're going to be paying for that screwup for years to come.

Posted by: PaulB on May 17, 2003 07:10 PM

Steve, couldn't agree more. Policy, as in striving to achieve the common good in the real (or modeled) world, just isn't in the picture with these guys. What is, is getting public resources to a narrow circle of favored interests-- a post-Reconstruction southern pattern. In this case, the money people get federal resources and tax dollars; single-issue groups get the policy directions they want. The rest of the commonweal settles for an enunciation of intention. That's the closest we get to a "president of all the people."

Posted by: Altoid on May 17, 2003 07:11 PM

Personally, I lean toward the opinion that the administration is convinced that it really doesn't have much of a role to play in the economy -- that this downturn is cyclical and that the economy will recover on its own.

Given that they don't see a role for themselves, they're simply using the downturn as an excuse to pass the legislation they've always wanted to pass. Those tax cuts have absolutely nothing to do with the economy and everything to do with putting money back into the hands of the wealthy.

If you hold a charitable view of the administration, you'd probably say that the administration really believes that money in the hands of the wealthy is a good thing -- that the wealthy will invest and that economic growth will result.

If you hold a less charitable view, you'd probably say that the administration is rewarding its core constituency and rewarding those who will provide the money to keep it in power.

We report; you decide.

Posted by: PaulB on May 17, 2003 07:18 PM

Bucky!
You disappoint me. Surely you've got a more nuanced view than that. You have in the past. Since you've got lots of experience with the sorts of things Wall Street does, why don't you clue us in on why you think the new version of the tax cut was sabotage? I.e., why does the new version not do what you think was important that the old one did?

I read this site as much for the comments as for Brad's fulminations. It's really cool that Brad attracts thoughtful righties, and I *really* want to believe there is a sense of rationality and good will underlying these rightie policy ideas, rather than just rape pillage and burn. Which it sure looks like, from a distance.

And why haven't we heard much from Jim Glass lately? Some of these posts by Brad could be construed to look like bait.

Posted by: Russell L. Carter on May 17, 2003 08:01 PM

Bucky Dent wrote:
>Has a single Bush economic proposal been enacted in full?
>
>Regardless of whether or not you think they have merit, to
>damn his administration's actions as useless AFTER they've
>been watered down or killed on Capitol Hill is just cheap
>rhetorical nonsense.

Others have commented on whether or not the actions have really been changed much by the congressional process, so I won't. The problem I have with a statement like that above is that it is essentially equivalent to the statement that nobody should ever be held responsible for anything that follows their actions unless they were able to wield absolute power. It's interesting that the argument is so similar to the kinds used to argue for all kinds of moral relativism.

I think a more realistic assessment is that politicians are keenly aware that very little happens exactly as originally intended. If this is true, then we know that a skillful politician must find ways to accomplish as much as possible given the situation and know where and when to stand up, and how to change stands without anybody really being able to realize what actually changed.

And this, I think is the essence of why the Left so hated Reagan and the Right so hated Clinton. Both men, who were miles apart on so many things, were phenomenally successful politicians. Their opponents in Congress could be so emotional because they found themselves frustrated time and again not because they were wrong on the merits of the case, but because Reagan and Clinton were just miles and miles better than they were when it came to the essence of politics. I first became convinced of this fact when I saw a (PBS, of course) special on the history of Presidential Debates. From that show, the only truly obvious conclusions were that Reagan and Clinton were just stunningly better than anybody else you ever saw on stage. This was the public side of the political gift, and there are other sides as well, but when push came to shove, I think it's fair to note that there have been only two presidents since FDR who could really play the game well, and they played it so well that everybody around them ended up looking very bad.

Posted by: Jonathan King on May 17, 2003 10:04 PM

>why you think the new version of the tax cut was sabotage?

Sabotage in the sense of deliberately scuppering its effectiveness.

>I.e., why does the new version not do what you think was important that the old one did?

The shrunken size, deferred timing, elimination of provisions to end the absurd marriage penalty,
evisceration of provision to end double taxation of dividends, etc. etc.

Vs. a $10 Trillion/year economy, the current tax package spanning several years is downright insignificant -- a fact BOTH sides ignore.

It is simply another example of the seemingly inescapable bias toward making the already crazily complex tax code even worse.

BTW, both parties are guilty in this. I don't think this is a purely partisan legislative abortion.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on May 18, 2003 05:26 AM

>essentially equivalent to the statement that nobody should ever be held responsible for anything that follows their actions unless they were able to wield absolute power.

...or that no party is ever responsible for anything in this country, when one party can act as a spoiler [judges, Texas redistricting] while complaining the other party can't get anything done.

The ineffectiveness of a proposal cut by more than half can't be ascribed to its original author. It simply defies logic. This statement of fact is not a call for dictatorship. That'd be a far worse evil than what we face. And accusing someone who states the obvious as being pro-dictatorship is simply a smear.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on May 18, 2003 05:35 AM

Republican [religious right] fiscal policy is aimed against government save for defense, and against the working or middle class. The first tax cut has been a drain on the economy and not even worked as absurd trickle trickle economics.
The second tax cut will have minimal effect on employment, and create deficit problems that are aimed at undermining Social Security and Medicare.

No matter, the richest will continue to be the richest and the rest can be contented knowing they live in the crumb strewn wake of the richest.

Of course, Republican conservative-compassionate-radicals want more and more and more. Poor dears, they have to contend with all those awful Democrats and even the few few traditional Republicans who understand what is happening.

Posted by: lise on May 18, 2003 06:10 AM

Poor dear Bucky

Afraid the widdle Republican righties are not getting all their awful polices and nominees through the Congress. Democracy is so inconvenient, but indeed the Republicans are having their way over and again and we will be the sadder for it.

Posted by: arthur on May 18, 2003 06:20 AM

Thanks Arthur

What we surely need is more "successful" Republican legislation. Sorry Billy Bennett, never did learn my virtues.

Posted by: jd on May 18, 2003 06:52 AM

>The first tax cut has been a drain on the economy...

The more money the government has, the stronger the economy? Sounds great. Has it been tried anywhere?

Posted by: Bucky Dent on May 18, 2003 07:06 AM

The song of the rightie rights: Government bad, government bad, government bad. Oops, not defense. Government bad, not defense but all else that has the least social service tinge. Who needs public schools, who needs public parks and shores. Government bad.

Posted by: lise on May 18, 2003 07:24 AM

Oops, I forgot. The real threat of government is Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid. The New Deal must be finally undone and that is just what Republican fiscal policy is aiming at.

Posted by: lise on May 18, 2003 07:40 AM

If the tax cut, in its current form, is less effective for Bush's goals than no tax cut at all, why doesn't Bush veto it? He could say, "There is no point, NO POINT, in sunsetting the dividend tax repeal. It's all or nothing." Or he could just have sent that signal to his congressional allies--better a permanent 30% cut than a three-year complete repeal.

Posted by: Matt Weiner on May 18, 2003 08:39 AM

Please. The temporary tax cuts will be permanent tax cuts. These "compassionate" radicals intend to cut taxes last year, this year, next year. Temporary tax cuts will be forever. Get it folks, the religious right hates government and the religious right is in control of the Republican Party. The religious right would stop funding public schools, if they could. That'll learn 'em.

Posted by: anne on May 18, 2003 09:10 AM

>why doesn't Bush veto it?

It's a double Hobson's choice. Economic half loaf better than none? Political win (ANY tax cut) or political liability (a knowingly ineffective policy).

Posted by: Bucky Dent on May 18, 2003 09:48 AM

President Bush got the whole loaf. The radical right complaints are just a preparation to get more of what they want through the rest of the Congressional session. Radical-rightists, especially the "compassionates" are happy as clams, and the rest of us are being treated by the radicaL right as dumb as clams.

Not to worry, we won't need Medicaid. Not poor children, are us.

Posted by: anne on May 18, 2003 10:12 AM

"Read Molly Ivins and Bob Herbert along with Paul Krugman."

High praise, indeed, for the Princeton economist.

BTW, "132.46 million, is now down at 130.35 million", means that employment is at 98.4% of what it was at the point the bubble burst and the accounting scandals (created during the Clinton years) broke. And after the 9-11 attacks which brought on two major battles in the war on terrorism.

Here's a story from 1999 about "the new standard" for employment:

http://www.s-t.com/daily/07-99/07-05-99/b03bu057.htm

" Pedro Gonzalez has an unenviable resume: 10th-grade dropout, ex-gang member, convicted felon. Just two months after leaving jail, however, he's making $12 an hour on a tree-trimming crew.

" Desperate for workers, The Energy Group recently hired Gonzalez -- a man his bosses say wouldn't have gotten an interview a few years back."

Do any of the usual suspects really think this could have continued?

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on May 18, 2003 10:17 AM

Bucky I thought politics was supposed to be the art of the possible. Alternatively its the reverse. Absurdly overbid your actual policy, let some clowns rein you in and then blame the clowns when it doesn't work.

Are you suggesting that the Bush reforms would actually work? Is a bigger deficit better?

If the system is so badly flawed that a President and reasonably competent legislature are unable to implement vital policies shouldn't you be out on the streets?

Posted by: Jack on May 18, 2003 10:32 AM

- Read Molly Ivins and Bob Herbert along with Paul Krugman. -

"High praise, indeed, for the Princeton economist."

Only PS and hacky kin would not take such company for the finest. The radical right figure they can dismiss Molly Ivins or Bob Herbert or Mureen Dowd or Frank Rich [gender, race, region - who knows], but Paul Krugman really really worries them. Imagine a Princeton economist who has the courage and clarity to show us just what the Administration is about.

Posted by: bill on May 18, 2003 10:48 AM

>If the system is so badly flawed that a President and reasonably competent legislature are unable to implement vital policies shouldn't you be out on the streets?

How do you know I'm not?

The legislative system is horrifically broken in many different ways, unrelated to partisan differences.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on May 18, 2003 10:49 AM

The legislative system is only broken when there are ideologues in the legislature who are bent on avoiding compromise. That has been the conservative-radical Republican stance since Newt Gingrich became Speaker of the House of Representatives. Fortunately, Bill Clinton was able to force legislative compromise while President. Now, there is a continuous push for a right-radical agenda that would turn the date to an imagined time before FDR.

There are all sorts of fine policy proposals from reasonable Republicans as John McCain and Lincoln Chafee as well as from Democrats. These are not majority positions, nor the President's positions.

Posted by: lise on May 18, 2003 02:28 PM

Bucky seems to have said:

"BTW, both parties are guilty in this. I don't think this is a purely partisan legislative abortion."

Is that a reference to the Thomas authored House version? Doesn't it change the structure of the Bush proposed tax cuts in significant ways too? Which would Wall Street prefer, do you think?

Max Sawicky has got a pretty good run down of the various plans, and oh la la do they stink.

Posted by: Russell L. Carter on May 18, 2003 04:32 PM

Suddenly when the GOP can't pass their plans as originally conceived, it's all broken! Using that logic, the compromise on welfare reform should have accomplished nothing.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on May 18, 2003 08:02 PM

On the other hand, expect to see Bucky's spin points echoed ad nauseum next year when the election comes around and the US economy is (even further) up shit creek.

"We woulda fixed the economy except for those pesky democrats!"

Perhaps one of our spin-enabled commentators can explain how a tax cut that's hugely back-loaded is supposed to provide stimulus to the US economy today?

Posted by: anthony on May 19, 2003 12:34 AM

>Perhaps one of our spin-enabled commentators can explain how a tax cut that's hugely back-loaded is supposed to provide stimulus to the US economy today?

In theory, investments made today that bear fruit in a lower tax future would be more desirable.

In reality, backloading is a political gimmick. See my above comment on the broken legislative system.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on May 19, 2003 04:49 AM

>Which would Wall Street prefer...?

I confess to not following the debate in excruciating minute detail.

Investors obviously want predictability, simplicity, and a lower tax burden.

They appear to be getting less predictability, more complexity and spotty reductions in taxes.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on May 19, 2003 07:43 AM

Bucky does have a point about Mr. Bush not getting the deal he wanted. Of course Bucky would agree with the rhetoric of Mr. Bush that his package is the best for the country. However, there are too many people that disagree including almost all the Democrats and too many GOP.

Posted by: bakho on May 19, 2003 07:47 AM

>Which would Wall Street prefer...?

I confess to not following the debate in excruciating minute detail.

Investors obviously want predictability, simplicity, and a lower tax burden.

They appear to be getting less predictability, more complexity and spotty reductions in taxes.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on May 19, 2003 07:48 AM

>Bucky would agree with the rhetoric ...

Please don't put words in my mouth. It is rude.

Speaking of rude, I don't know why my above post got entered twice. I KNOW I only hit the button once.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on May 19, 2003 08:11 AM

" Only PS and hacky kin would not take such company for the finest. The radical right figure they can dismiss Molly Ivins or Bob Herbert or Mureen Dowd or Frank Rich [gender, race, region - who knows], but Paul Krugman really really worries them. Imagine a Princeton economist who has the courage and clarity to show us just what the Administration is about."

Is David Warsh "hacky kin"? From his column fileting "Pinch" Sulzberger's NY Times:

http://www.economicprincipals.com/issues/03.05.18.html

" But the Times' various campaigns have been startling nevertheless -
including the one waged since the last election against George W. Bush.

" And while the Times op-ed page possesses two of the most talented commentators in the business in Maureen Dowd and Paul Krugman, the failure
of its editors to hold them to elementary standards of courtesy and fair play has created the impression that the paper no longer cares about the place it traditionally has occupied among newspapers."


Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on May 19, 2003 09:17 AM

If only Mureen Dowd and Paul Krugman could learn to be polite. Polite means and only means falling in love with radical-conservative Republicanism. Falling in love is wonderful, tra la. Duh....

Posted by: lise on May 19, 2003 09:58 AM

Oops. The President DID get just the tax bill he wished from the Senate. The sunset provisions are a farce, and the bill will be more far reaching than even the original White House proposal. Lucky us.

Posted by: lise on May 19, 2003 10:07 AM

>The President DID get just the tax bill he wished...

Reuters:"Bush welcomed the Senate plan as a step in the right direction even though it fell short of Bush's original proposal..."

Also no mention of the marriage penalty being eliminated.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on May 19, 2003 10:38 AM

This administration has never admitted responsibility for anything bad that happens. The recession was Clinton's fault. The budget deficit is Clinton's fault. 9/11 was Clinton's fault. The budget deficit is the fault of 9/11. The budget deficit is caused by the war on terror. The battle of Iraq is Saddam's fault and on and on.

When 2004 rolls around and the employment has not recovered, it will be Greenspan's fault or the Democrat's fault for not supporting the tax cut. The budget deficit will be the Democrat's fault for spending too much. (It doesn't matter that the GOP controls congress). Everything good, Bush will claim as personal credit. Anything bad will be blamed on someone else. It reminds me of kindergarten.

Posted by: bakho on May 19, 2003 10:51 AM

>It reminds me of kindergarten.

Persuasive argument for a parliamentary system.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on May 19, 2003 11:09 AM

Bucky,

Welcome back. I haven't seen you in bar for some time. I see you've settled confortably into your seat.

Now, if you go back to your original post and take a look, you'll know how all this got so out of hand. A smart boy like you knows the perils, and utter lack of objectivity, of any debate over who's to blame in politics. The whole president-didn't-get-everything-he-wanted thing has been rehearsed over and over, famously by supply-side extremists when Reagan's tax cuts didn't prove to be self-financing - but that is far from the only instance. The answers are always about the same - congress this, system that, voters the other. Truth is, Bush has the job. He proposes, Congress disposes. If folks don't like the result, either he or his party in Congress, maybe both, will suffer. If they do like the result (a result which may include balancing feeling safer against feeling less well off), then he and his party will thrive. That is all there is.

You knew that.

Posted by: K Harris on May 19, 2003 11:11 AM

"It reminds me of kindergarten"

No. This thread reminds me of kindergarden. Bakho- you add to a thread blaming the Bush administration for everything but SARS and then complain that they will deflect blame.

Posted by: JT on May 19, 2003 11:14 AM

"It reminds me of kindergarten"

No. This thread reminds me of kindergarden. Bakho- you add to a thread blaming the Bush administration for everything but SARS and then complain that they will deflect blame.

Posted by: JT on May 19, 2003 11:19 AM

>If folks don't like the result, either he or his party in Congress, maybe both, will suffer....

Depends. If he can plausibly claim he was obstructed, he might be able to have his cake and eat it too. I'm not defending this per se, just observing that's how our system works.

[As an aside, I am furious about the steel tariffs, the farm bill pork, and overall expansion of govt, so I am far from a reflexive Bushie.]

The tax gambit is more of a minefield for the Democrats than the GOP, given Bush's wartime popularity spike.

FWIW, the broad Wilshire stock index is up more than 15% in the last 7 months, perhaps signalling that the economy's low point is behind us.

Also, when those juicy J-curve currency effects kick in next year, things will likely look better too.

I think the smart money on the Democratic side will take a pass on 2004, and hope for the fatigue and misfires that typify modern second Presidential terms.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on May 19, 2003 11:44 AM

Bucky, your argument that we can't blame the continued job loss [1.7MM since his 2001 tax cut stimulus fraud] on Bush's program because not every single dotted i was approved reminds me of the farmer who bet his neighbor his horse could live on sawdust.

A few months later the neighbor came back to settle the bet.

The farmer said the bet was off: "Just as I got the hang of it, the durn horse died."

Posted by: Andrew Lazarus on May 20, 2003 01:34 PM

AL: Most of the cuts are in the future, are they not? And employment is famously the last indicator to rise in a recovery, is it not?

Posted by: Bucky Dent on May 21, 2003 06:56 AM
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