AEIdeas

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Discussion: (45 comments)

  1. In the words of Matt Welch in the March issue of Reason, Ezra is a “spending denialist.”

    He can truth-twist the numbers to his heart’s content, but it won’t change the fact that Obama is a HUGE spender.
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/chrisconover/2013/01/31/are-republican-bigger-spenders-than-democrats/

    1. Sadly, the GOP is also in denial. When it controls Congress and the presidency government grows by as much or more than when the Democrats do. Reagan was also a big government guy and betrayed the fiscal conservatives and libertarians he claimed to support.

      1. You of course vangel have something credible to back up your statement, right?

        Reagan like any politico had his appealing qualities and some not much…

        Matt Lewis at the Daily Caller has something you might find interesting regarding Reagan: Ronald Reagan raised taxes 11 times? The real story

        1. Great. Let’s use weaselly logic like, “What is important to remember — what is vital to understand — is that not all taxes are created equal,” to avoid dealing with the fact that Reagan had a chance to cut spending but didn’t. He had a chance to deal with the SS issue but kicked the can down the road by hiking taxes.

          Although he claimed to be for a drastic cut in government spending Reagan increased spending significantly. In the last year of Carter’s administration the federal government spent $591 billion, or 21% of GNP. Six years later the Reagan administration was spending $990 billion, . That is an increase of 68%, 24.3% of GNP. During that period Reagan never proposed a single budget that was lower than the previous year’s spending.

          As Murray Rothbard wrote, “At the very beginning of the Reagan administration, the conservative Republicans in the House of Representatives, convinced that deficits would disappear immediately, received a terrific shock when they were asked by the Reagan administration to vote for the usual annual increase in the statutory debt limit. These Republicans, some literally with tears in their eyes, protested that never in their lives had they voted for an increase in the national debt limit, but they were doing it just this one time because they “trusted Ronald Reagan” to balance the budget from then on. The rest, alas, is history, and the conservative Republicans never saw fit to cry again. Instead, they found themselves adjusting rather easily to the new era of huge permanent deficits.” It got so bad for ‘conservatives’ that by the time Bush II was on the throne, his handler’s were telling Americans that deficits did not matter.

          As for the tax cut discussion, Rothbard has more. He writes, “In the first place, the famous “tax cut” of 1981 did not cut taxes at all. It’s true that tax rates for higher-income brackets were cut; but for the average person, taxes rose, rather than declined. The reason is that, on the whole, the cut in income tax rates was more than offset by two forms of tax increase. One was “bracket creep,” a term for inflation quietly but effectively raising one into higher tax brackets, so that you pay more and proportionately higher taxes even though the tax rate schedule has officially remained the same. The second source of higher taxes was Social Security taxation, which kept increasing, and which helped taxes go up overall. Not only that, but soon thereafter; when the Social Security System was generally perceived as on the brink of bankruptcy, President Reagan brought in Alan Greenspan, a leading Reaganomist and now Chairman of the Federal Reserve, to save Social Security as head of a bipartisan commission. The “saving,” of course, meant still higher Social Security taxes then and forevermore.”

          By the way, higher SS taxes did not save SS. Congress stole the surpluses because Reagan did not see fit to ensure that excess contributions were put into a real trust fund and the US is now where it was 30 years ago with fewer options and far more trouble. And the ‘reforms’ made tax compliance far more expensive and far more difficult. Instead of simplifying the tax system Reagan made it much more difficult. He cut deductions and by doing so increased the effective tax rates for most people even as marginal tax rates went down.

          The way I see it the GOP is a party of frauds. Its members talk a good game about small government and spending cuts but never seem able to support any cuts. And when their man expands the size of government they create narratives that dismiss those actions or make excuses for them. Which is why the country will be doomed until a serious alternative appears.

          1. Great. Let’s use weaselly logic like, “What is important to remember — what is vital to understand — is that not all taxes are created equal,” to avoid dealing with the fact that Reagan had a chance to cut spending but didn’t“…

            Its ‘weasellyvangel, I merely found it questionable…

            He had a chance to deal with the SS issue but kicked the can down the road by hiking taxes“…

            I would’ve been happy if Reagan had made an honest attempt at taking down some of the Great Society crapola…

            That is an increase of 68%, 24.3% of GNP. During that period Reagan never proposed a single budget that was lower than the previous year’s spending“…

            Has any president in the last fifty or sixty years done such a thing?

            As Murray Rothbard wrote…“…

            I’m not so sure about Rothbard’s take on events back then but none less his points were and still are valid…

            In the first place, the famous “tax cut” of 1981 did not cut taxes at all. It’s true that tax rates for higher-income brackets were cut; but for the average person, taxes rose“…

            One of the problems I had regarding Rothbard is that at times he seemed to be loath to suggest that the middle wanting government services weren’t paying what was needed to supply those shoddy services…

            By the way, higher SS taxes did not save SS. Congress stole the surpluses because Reagan did not see fit to ensure that excess contributions were put into a real trust fund and the US is now where it was 30 years ago with fewer options and far more trouble“…

            You’re not even close, it was a lot more complicated than your Reagan conspiracy theory…

            The Myth of the Social Security Trust Fund

          2. I would’ve been happy if Reagan had made an honest attempt at taking down some of the Great Society crapola…

            That was my point. He didn’t do that. Instead he increased the size of government as he begged fiscal conservatives that the debt ceiling be increased just one time so that he could deal with the issues. He never did. He never asked for a cut in spending over the previous year in any of his budgets. Yes, he did cut some programs but those cuts were made up by massive increases in other areas.

            Has any president in the last fifty or sixty years done such a thing?

            That is my point. No matter if a president came from the GOP or the Democratic Party the approach was the same; spend more money and concentrate more power in Washington. My argument is that when it comes to spending and size of government there is very little difference between the two parties. That pisses off the GOP cheerleaders who have elevated Reagan to a position of a small government saint. The evidence shows that his actions were not of a man who believed in small government.

            I’m not so sure about Rothbard’s take on events back then but none less his points were and still are valid…

            Of course they are. His comments were about what Reagan did and on that front he was right to point out that Reagan increased SS taxes, eliminated tax loopholes, and made the tax code far more complicated. While he did cut marginal tax rates he did not cut effective tax rates for most Americans. (Note that Romney and a GOP made a similar Proposal. They would keep rates low or move them lower but cut loopholes that would increase effective rates. This is the type of intellectual dishonesty that got Rothbard so angry.)

            One of the problems I had regarding Rothbard is that at times he seemed to be loath to suggest that the middle wanting government services weren’t paying what was needed to supply those shoddy services…

            Given the fact that Rothbard equated taxation with theft why would you expect him to suggest that? He was an anarchocapitalist, not a statist like Friedman.

            You’re not even close, it was a lot more complicated than your Reagan conspiracy theory…

            The Myth of the Social Security Trust Fund

            My point is on the money. Reagan wanted SS taxes increased. It was within his power to demand that the law set up a real trust fund that would hold excess contributions in marketable securities that could not be stolen by Congress. He did not do that and made it easy for Congress to take as much as it wanted whenever it wanted.

          3. My point is on the money. Reagan wanted SS taxes increased. It was within his power to demand that the law set up a real trust fund that would hold excess contributions in marketable securities that could not be stolen by Congress. He did not do that and made it easy for Congress to take as much as it wanted whenever it wanted“…

            Serious question here vangel, do you have something credible source for that statement?

            I vaguely remember something along those lines but I couldn’t be sure…

          4. Serious question here vangel, do you have something credible source for that statement?

            I vaguely remember something along those lines but I couldn’t be sure…

            Look up the Greenspan Commission. SS was going to go bust by some time in the mid 1980s so Reagan appointed a committee to study the problem. What you got is a huge increase in taxes but did not get anything that protected excess contribution from confiscation by Congress. SS is running a bit short at this time and needs more funds to be injected to keep making the promised payments. Had it had the contributions in the form of treasuries and other assets there would not be a problem keeping commitments without having to borrow.

            If you want a critique of Reagan by someone who used to be a supporter and worked in the Reagan Administration you might want to look at this analysis by Rothbard. But I also think that if you really want to understand how Saint Ronnie really worked you might also take a look at this piece by Riggenbach. The Riggenbach book is available as a free ePub, or a PDF file.

          5. OK vangel, thanks for the links…

            I’ll need some time to look at them…

          6. OK vangel, thanks for the links…

            I’ll need some time to look at them…

            If you have an mp3 player you might want to download some of the Riggenbach material. He has a great voice and has many podcasts that deal with all kinds of issues. Even my kids like his stuff and when I have friends driving in the car sometime I have trouble getting them out until the individual programs are over. His Libertarian Tradition podcasts are free on iTunes and many of his audiobook material is free on the mises.org site.

          7. If you have an mp3 player you might want to download some of the Riggenbach material“…

            OK vangel, thanks for the tip…

          8. Vange,

            “My argument is that when it comes to spending and size of government there is very little difference between the two parties.”

            You’re really focusing on the wrong targets. The real villains are the clueless and corrupt American people who say they want to cut spending, just not on their particular free lunch.

            And there are certainly individual politicians in the GOP who are true small government types(like, *cough* Ron Paul.) There just aren’t enough of them, again, due to the voters. I’ve pointed out to you a million times the Congressional ratings from groups like the NTU, CAGW, ACU, and even liberal groups like ADA. The voting records show a distinct pattern. Then there are various GOP Governors like Kasich, Jindal,
            McDonnell, and even Christie. You cannot honestly say they are the same as the alternatives on the Democrat side. In short, as I’ve said here many times, there are lots of bad Republicans. There are no good Democrats.

          9. You’re really focusing on the wrong targets. The real villains are the clueless and corrupt American people who say they want to cut spending, just not on their particular free lunch.

            The votes to increase the size of government come from those elected to Congress not the idiots who put them there. On that front the GOP is just as intellectually and morally bankrupt as the Democrats.

            And there are certainly individual politicians in the GOP who are true small government types(like, *cough* Ron Paul.) There just aren’t enough of them, again, due to the voters.

            Dr. Paul was not elected because he told voters what they wanted to hear but because he told the truth and explained his positions on moral grounds. The reason why more people like him are not elected has to do with the way that the parties select candidates, not the way that the voters act at the ballot box. People who favour small government are not welcome in either party and have little chance of making it through the primary process.

            The voting records show a distinct pattern. Then there are various GOP Governors like Kasich, Jindal,
            McDonnell, and even Christie. You cannot honestly say they are the same as the alternatives on the Democrat side. In short, as I’ve said here many times, there are lots of bad Republicans. There are no good Democrats.

            But when it came to presidents Clinton was better than either of the Bush men and even better than Saint Reagan. Yes, he was an immoral man who was as corrupt as any but he still controlled the growth of government far more than the others that we have talked about. Other than Harding and Coolidge who were the last Republican presidents in the last 150 years that were any good?

          10. Yes, he was an immoral man who was as corrupt as any but he still controlled the growth of government far more than the others that we have talked about“…

            No slick willie did no such thing…

            That was the Republican Congress who did that with what the whining libtards called the Contract on America…

            Clinton forced a government shut down due to his intransigence on pandering to the parasites…

            From the University of Maryland School of Public Policy, the Welfare Reform Academy: Four years ago this August, a Republican Congress pushed a reluctant President Clinton to sign a bill that ended welfare as we had known it. But since the 1996 welfare-reform act expires on September 30, 2002, its eventual fate is not yet clear. Much will depend on how the law’s impact is viewed. So far, it certainly seems to be a success. By June 1999, welfare rolls had fallen an amazing 49 percent from their historic high of five million families in March 1994. That’s nearly seven and a half million fewer parents and children on welfare

          11. “The votes to increase the size of government come from those elected to Congress not the idiots who put them there. On that front the GOP is just as intellectually and morally bankrupt as the Democrats.”

            And those idiots largely reflect what the Congressmen end up voting for. You want change, we have to get the voters to think beyond their own selfish interests. Reagan spent alot of time in the ’60’s trying to keep Medicare from being enacted. The public wanted it, and would have run Reagan out of town in a rail if he had tried to dismantle it. So he was able to go around the margins, especially at the beginning, while focusing on the cold war and taxes.

            “Dr. Paul was not elected because he told voters what they wanted to hear but because he told the truth and explained his positions on moral grounds.”

            Oh, bullshit. He could get away with his positions because of the conservative district he resides over. Let him try to win a primary in Sheila Jackson Lee’s district in downtown Houston. He’d go down in flames.

            “The reason why more people like him are not elected has to do with the way that the parties select candidates, not the way that the voters act at the ballot box. ”

            Again, utter nonsense. I worked part-time for Vernon Parker’s campaign for Congress in Az district 9 this past election. He won the primary, and the right to run in the general. He competed against multiple other candidates, but the voters liked him best. It had squat to do with the Council of Elders, as you imagine them.

            “People who favour small government are not welcome in either party and have little chance of making it through the primary process.”

            Oh, yawn. You obviously have no idea what you are talking about. It all depends on the politician in question, and the voters within his domain.

            “But when it came to presidents Clinton was better than either of the Bush men and even better than Saint Reagan.”

            How did he start off when he had a Democrat Congress? He tried to pass national health care. He then had a GOP Congress from ’94 on that fought him on spending every step of the way. There was even a government shutdown in ’95 that he blamed on “extremist” Republicans who wanted to dismantle all those programs grannie depends on. The GOP Congress even tried to pass a balanced budget amendment that Clinton vowed to defeat. The only thing that can really be said about Clinton is that he was better than Obama.

          12. And those idiots largely reflect what the Congressmen end up voting for. You want change, we have to get the voters to think beyond their own selfish interests. Reagan spent alot of time in the ’60′s trying to keep Medicare from being enacted. The public wanted it, and would have run Reagan out of town in a rail if he had tried to dismantle it. So he was able to go around the margins, especially at the beginning, while focusing on the cold war and taxes.

            It is not the voters because they do not really matter. What matters is the party apparatus that preselects the type of candidates that they want running. The GOP kept running candidates against Dr. Paul for years before it gave up and accepted the fact that his message would maintain his support in his district. But they made sure that no other candidates with similar messages would run under the GOP banner because such ideas threatened the big government programs that they benefited from and were sold to voters as patriotic.

            Again, utter nonsense. I worked part-time for Vernon Parker’s campaign for Congress in Az district 9 this past election. He won the primary, and the right to run in the general. He competed against multiple other candidates, but the voters liked him best. It had squat to do with the Council of Elders, as you imagine them.

            Look at the way the GOP and its mouthpieces meddled with the primaries to deny Ron Paul victories. Remember Iowa when nobody dared say his name and they fixed the results so that his victory was not finally disclosed until after most of the primaries were over. A disclosure of victory would certainly have helped get him more attention and would have made it impossible to ignore him during the debates. And look at what the GOP is doing to the people elected to positions during the primaries. They are purging the people that won fair and square and should have positions at the state level because they do not want the message that Dr. Paul was pushing to be heard as an option for Republican voters. Most Republican voters want the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to be over and to have the troops return home. The party is not listening and not allowing the message to be heard. Which is why it is irrelevant and why it could not beat one of the worst presidents in your history.

          13. How did he start off when he had a Democrat Congress? He tried to pass national health care. He then had a GOP Congress from ’94 on that fought him on spending every step of the way. There was even a government shutdown in ’95 that he blamed on “extremist” Republicans who wanted to dismantle all those programs grannie depends on. The GOP Congress even tried to pass a balanced budget amendment that Clinton vowed to defeat. The only thing that can really be said about Clinton is that he was better than Obama.

            Why was it that Bush could not do as well with a Republican Congress as Clinton did? Like I said, there hasn’t been a good Republican president for nearly a century.

          14. “But when it came to presidents… ”

            This is the slip-slidey way you constantly discuss this issue. I point out individual GOP politicians who prove your “they’re all the same” rule invalid, then you steer it back to, say, generalities about Presidents. And then, on a dime, you revert back to….”The GOP is just as corrupt and economically illiterate as the Democratic Party.”

            It’s totally dishonest.

          15. This is the slip-slidey way you constantly discuss this issue. I point out individual GOP politicians who prove your “they’re all the same” rule invalid, then you steer it back to, say, generalities about Presidents. And then, on a dime, you revert back to….”The GOP is just as corrupt and economically illiterate as the Democratic Party.”

            I do not deny that there are a handful of people in Congress who do not stand for individual liberty. But they do not matter because the shots are called by the party leadership and there is no material difference between the GOP positions and the Democrats when it comes to spending and freedom.

          16. Juandos,

            “From the University of Maryland School of Public Policy, the Welfare Reform Academy: Four years ago this August, a Republican Congress pushed a reluctant President Clinton to sign a bill that ended welfare as we had known it. But since the 1996 welfare-reform act expires on September 30, 2002, its eventual fate is not yet clear. Much will depend on how the law’s impact is viewed. So far, it certainly seems to be a success. By June 1999, welfare rolls had fallen an amazing 49 percent from their historic high of five million families in March 1994. That’s nearly seven and a half million fewer parents and children on welfare…”

            I’m sure you’re aware Clinton vetoed that reform twice and then Dick Morris advised him he could almost guarantee his reelection if he signed off on it. And now Obama is busy rolling it back. He will continue the effort. I find all this strange considering how Vange repeatedly informs us Democrats and Republicans are all the same.

          17. I’m sure you’re aware Clinton vetoed that reform twice and then Dick Morris advised him he could almost guarantee his reelection if he signed off on it. And now Obama is busy rolling it back. He will continue the effort. I find all this strange considering how Vange repeatedly informs us Democrats and Republicans are all the same.

            I am aware that Clinton had issues with it. But he did sign it and did not grow the size of government by as much as Bush and his GOP controlled Congress did. There is little doubt that Clinton, who was a bad president as far as I am concerned, was better than the two Bush bookends and even Saint Reagan. And let us note that Clinton did not pretend to be a fiscal conservative like the others. He was clear where his sentiments were but was still better on fiscal issues than the make believe conservatives that you guys tend to worship.

            Since you guys still worship Reagan a few points are probably appropriate. As Riggenbach pointed out in his article, Reagan the conservative claimed to have stopped the growth of government in California but during his eight years as governor grew spending by 122 percent, not very different than the 130 percent figure that came under Pat Brown. The number of state workers went up by more than 20% even though Reagan claimed to have stopped the expansion of the bureaucracy. He was not better on taxes because, “by the end of Reagan’s eight years, state income taxes had nearly tripled, from a bite of $7.68 per $1000 of personal income to $19.48. During his administration, California rose in a ranking of the states from twentieth to thirteenth in personal income tax collection per capita, and it rose from fourth to first in per capita revenue from corporate income taxes.”

            Like I said, there is very little difference between the two parties and anyone who actually wants to cut spending would likely be undermined by the party apparatus because it favours more control through higher spending.

          18. “It is not the voters because they do not really matter. What matters is the party apparatus that preselects the type of candidates that they want running.”

            Preselects? There are GOP establishment candidates for sure, but it ultimately boils down to who the voters cast their ballots for. For you to say “they do not matter” is utterly ridiculous.

            ” The GOP kept running candidates against Dr. Paul for years before it gave up and accepted the fact that his message would maintain his support in his district.”

            And his pork. Plenty of support for his pork $$ in his district. Strange that a man of such vision and ethics would need to firehose earmarks at anything that moved within his district.

            “But they made sure that no other candidates with similar messages would run under the GOP banner because such ideas threatened the big government programs that they benefited from and were sold to voters as patriotic.”

            They. Just who is “they” anyway? Are they member of the CFR? The Bilderbergers? Show me where any Ron Paul robots were fiendishly barred from running in any GOP primaries anywhere else. You do realize his own son is a member of the Senate, don’t you?

            “Most Republican voters want the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to be over and to have the troops return home.”

            Uh, that’s already happening now. Obama is, more or less, implementing Bush’s plan to wind down the war in Iraq. But that’s not the only issue on the table. Voters also want their entitlements and other handouts. It’s difficult for a principled conservative to win elections especially in swing and liberal districts.

            Again, Ron Paul or one of his clones would be crushed in Sheila Jackson Lee’s Houston district. Same goes for Raul Grijalva’s district in Tucson. There are very few districts where a Congressman’s votes don’t have to align with the wishes of the voters. Even Ron Paul felt he needed to dump loads of pork into his own district to maintain his viability.

            “The party is not listening and not allowing the message to be heard. Which is why it is irrelevant and why it could not beat one of the worst presidents in your history.”

            Ron Paul would have also been crushed by Obama. The takers have flipped the balance in the US.

          19. Preselects? There are GOP establishment candidates for sure, but it ultimately boils down to who the voters cast their ballots for. For you to say “they do not matter” is utterly ridiculous.

            It is not ridiculous at all. The party leadership gets exactly the candidates that it wants most of the time.

            And his pork. Plenty of support for his pork $$ in his district. Strange that a man of such vision and ethics would need to firehose earmarks at anything that moved within his district.

            Actually, it is strange that earmarks are not allocating 100% of the budget instead of allowing the bureaucrats in Washington to decide. Dr. Paul got elected because of his ideas, not pork. He never voted for any budget because all of the budgets presented had deficits. If everyone else in Congress did the same there would be no unfunded liabilities and no deficit overhang that your grandchildren will be asked to deal with.

            They. Just who is “they” anyway? Are they member of the CFR? The Bilderbergers? Show me where any Ron Paul robots were fiendishly barred from running in any GOP primaries anywhere else.

            The ‘they’ are the people who run the party at the national and state levels. They control the message and ensure that the mouthpieces in the press attack candidates that they do not like.

            You do realize his own son is a member of the Senate, don’t you?

            Yes I do. The GOP leadership wanted its own candidate but the voters liked the message that he provided much better. And note that Rand Paul actually proposed a budget that cut spending materially, not made cuts from a baseline that still increased spending as Paul Ryan did. As I said before, there are not many fiscal conservatives in the GOP and none among the leadership.

            Uh, that’s already happening now. Obama is, more or less, implementing Bush’s plan to wind down the war in Iraq. But that’s not the only issue on the table. Voters also want their entitlements and other handouts. It’s difficult for a principled conservative to win elections especially in swing and liberal districts.

            It has not happened yet. It should have happened a few months after Osama was chased over the border.

            Again, Ron Paul or one of his clones would be crushed in Sheila Jackson Lee’s Houston district. Same goes for Raul Grijalva’s district in Tucson. There are very few districts where a Congressman’s votes don’t have to align with the wishes of the voters. Even Ron Paul felt he needed to dump loads of pork into his own district to maintain his viability.

            The fact that power corrupts most men is not a secret. What matters is principles and the GOP abandoned those a long time ago. You can’t go over to the dark side just to stay in power because that harms both the voters and the candidate.

            Ron Paul would have also been crushed by Obama. The takers have flipped the balance in the US.

            Perhaps he would have lost. We certainly do not know that.

            But Dr. Paul’s ideas about fiscal responsibility, civil liberties, and peace would have resonated far more among independents and Democrats than Romney’s unprincipled positions that changed with the wind. Voters wanted to beat Obama but the GOP’s corruption chased them away.

          20. “I am aware that Clinton had issues with it. But he did sign it…”

            And how did he have that opportunity? A GOP Congress sent it to him. He vetoed it 2x and only signed it the 3rd time because of reelection considerations. A balanced budget amendment fell one vote short in the Senate(on a mostly party line vote) from landing on his desk. Perhaps if he hadn’t promised to veto the legislation, it might have passed and then been ratified by the states. How’s that for a might-have-been?

            “..and did not grow the size of government by as much as Bush and his GOP controlled Congress did.”

            Only because the GOP Congress kept him in check. I already pointed out how he tried to nationalize our health care system when he had a Democrat Congress. He then fought the Gingrich Congress kicking and screaming right up to the point where he took credit for the results. At the end of his term, when phony surpluses appeared to be on the horizon, he started agitating for a new prescription drug entitlement. His VP Al Gore made it one of his own presidential campaign promises. Bush foolishly ultimately went along with the Medicare Part D expansion that was whooped up by the Democrats and then demanded by the greedy geezer lobby.

            “There is little doubt that Clinton, who was a bad president as far as I am concerned, was better than the two Bush bookends and even Saint Reagan. And let us note that Clinton did not pretend to be a fiscal conservative like the others.”

            I’d rate him about even with the Bush I and II on spending when you look at the entire context. Much of his budgeting came out of the hide of the defense dept thanks in large part to the cold war that Reagan ended.
            But Clinton also vetoed drilling in ANWR(a GOP priority) and used the power of the Executive branch to enforce the CRA and bully banks into giving out loans to people who couldn’t pay them back. I seem to recall that not working out so well.

          21. And how did he have that opportunity? A GOP Congress sent it to him. He vetoed it 2x and only signed it the 3rd time because of reelection considerations. A balanced budget amendment fell one vote short in the Senate(on a mostly party line vote) from landing on his desk. Perhaps if he hadn’t promised to veto the legislation, it might have passed and then been ratified by the states. How’s that for a might-have-been?

            I prefer to look at actions rather that narrative. Clinton did not grow the size of government as much as Reagan, Bush I, or Bush II. He had some great ideas but he did not believe in those ideas because the did the opposite of what he promised.

            Only because the GOP Congress kept him in check. I already pointed out how he tried to nationalize our health care system when he had a Democrat Congress. He then fought the Gingrich Congress kicking and screaming right up to the point where he took credit for the results. At the end of his term, when phony surpluses appeared to be on the horizon, he started agitating for a new prescription drug entitlement. His VP Al Gore made it one of his own presidential campaign promises. Bush foolishly ultimately went along with the Medicare Part D expansion that was whooped up by the Democrats and then demanded by the greedy geezer lobby.

            Give me a break. As you rightfully pointed out Bush had a GOP Congress with him but increased the size of government while claiming to be a fiscal conservative. When are you going to figure out that politics is all about power and control? Look at the data and it tells you that Republicans increase regulations and increase the size of government as much or more than Democrats. At least the Democrats run on more government so when voters get what they wanted it is hard to accuse them of having secret agendas. But the GOP pretends that it stands for small government and fiscal responsibility as it increases government, increases regulations, and increases liabilities. What you guys need is to discover mirrors and get the courage to examine what you see in them.

            I’d rate him about even with the Bush I and II on spending when you look at the entire context. Much of his budgeting came out of the hide of the defense dept thanks in large part to the cold war that Reagan ended.
            But Clinton also vetoed drilling in ANWR(a GOP priority) and used the power of the Executive branch to enforce the CRA and bully banks into giving out loans to people who couldn’t pay them back. I seem to recall that not working out so well.

            You are supposed to cut defense spending because your country spends far more than the next 40 countries combined. And Reagan did not end the Cold War. The USSR fell because central planning does not work. The Soviet economy was collapsing long before Reagan came to office. As Mises showed in his great book Socialism, the Soviet economy could not work even in theory even if we gave the Marxists all of the benefit of doubt and accepted their notion of New Socialist Man. Anyone who understood the argument knew that the USSR was doomed no matter what any American president did. Of course, the Republicans, who have a lot more respect and admiration for central planning, could not see that the assessments coming from the CIA and other agencies were bogus and that the USSR was imploding and kept spending far more than they should. As a result you are now paying billions of interest each year for the debts taken on to pay for all of that spending. Reagan was a fraud. End of story.

          22. “I do not deny that there are a handful of people in Congress who do not stand for individual liberty. ”

            Except when you do. In this same thread you informed me the sinister GOP elders stopped anyone else like your master Ron Paul from obtaining office.

            “But they do not matter because the shots are called by the party leadership and there is no material difference between the GOP positions and the Democrats when it comes to spending and freedom.”

            Except on all the numerous issues where there are huge differences. How many GOP votes did Obamacare get? Dodd-Frank? The stimulus?

          23. Except when you do. In this same thread you informed me the sinister GOP elders stopped anyone else like your master Ron Paul from obtaining office.

            The fact that the GOP leadership was for anyone but Paul was quite evident. Even you could see that.

            Except on all the numerous issues where there are huge differences. How many GOP votes did Obamacare get? Dodd-Frank? The stimulus?

            I did not say that they were the same on all issues. I said that they were the same when it came to making government bigger and concentrating more power in Washington. It is obvious that the Democrats favour individual welfare while the GOP loves corporate welfare but there are cases in which both will vote together as they did with the bailouts. But it is clear that the GOP loves defense spending and thinks nothing is wrong with the taxpayers being asked to fund expenditures that are higher than the next 40 countries combined even though some of those countries are your allies. And they see nothing wrong with defense related budget items consuming more than 80% of the income tax revenue. How is that fiscal prudence again?

          24. “It is not ridiculous at all. The party leadership gets exactly the candidates that it wants most of the time.”

            The “leadership” is made up of some RINO’s, some stalwarts. Usually, the leadership is looking for someone who can actually win in a particular district. You keep dodging my point that Ron Paul couldn’t win in many, probably most, of the districts around the US. His “message” only carries because the voters in his district like the small government but pork-a-palooza Ron Paul specialty.

            “Actually, it is strange that earmarks are not allocating 100% of the budget instead of allowing the bureaucrats in Washington to decide.”

            Yeah, Ron Paul loads up budgets with pork out of principle! I don’t even think you believe your own bullshit, Vange.

            ” Dr. Paul got elected because of his ideas, not pork.”

            The pork certainly helped keep him there. Such a man of principle wouldn’t need all those massively hyporcritical earmarks otherwise.

            ” He never voted for any budget because all of the budgets presented had deficits.”

            Right. He just loaded them up with pork and then voted against them out of “principle.” What a hero.

            “The ‘they’ are the people who run the party at the national and state levels. They control the message and ensure that the mouthpieces in the press attack candidates that they do not like.”

            And yet somehow we managed to elect a significant amount of Tea Party candidates in 2010.

            “Yes I do. The GOP leadership wanted its own candidate but the voters liked the message that he provided much better.”

            So “they” are not all powerful after all. In this same thread you ominously declared, “But they made sure that no other candidates with similar messages would run under the GOP banner..”

            So suddenly there are not absolutes (until the next time you offer up the same absurd conspiracy.)

            “And note that Rand Paul actually proposed a budget that cut spending materially, not made cuts from a baseline that still increased spending as Paul Ryan did.”

            Great. How many votes did it get? The Ryan Budget, weak as it is, actually passed the House. The voters are not remotely serious about supporting anything with a sharper axe. Again, blame them.

            “As I said before, there are not many fiscal conservatives in the GOP and none among the leadership.”

            Well, I guess that’s an improvement over “they’re all the same except Ron Paul.”

            “It has not happened yet. It should have happened a few months after Osama was chased over the border.”

            That’s your opinion. Ever think others might disagree with you on foreign policy without being sellouts?

            “The fact that power corrupts most men is not a secret. What matters is principles and the GOP abandoned those a long time ago. You can’t go over to the dark side just to stay in power because that harms both the voters and the candidate.”

            Ron Paul WOULD NEVER be elected in the first place in many many districts across the US. You cannot dispute that. You also cannot honestly dispute that he loaded up his district with pork for purely political reasons, though you try to make it sound like some sort of badge of honor.

            “Perhaps he would have lost. We certainly do not know that.”

            Yeah, we do.

            “But Dr. Paul’s ideas about fiscal responsibility, civil liberties, and peace would have resonated far more among independents and Democrats than Romney’s unprincipled positions that changed with the wind.”

            And his crackpot foreign policy views would have alienated a huge % of the people like me who actually go out and contribute $ and work for candidates. I would have left the presidential ballot blank if he had won the nomination. Your man of principle is a nutbar and a jerk. His disgraceful remark about the death of Chris Kyle just validated the reasons why I’ve loathed Ron Paul for so many years.

            “Voters wanted to beat Obama but the GOP’s corruption chased them away.”

            What garbage. Voters’ own corruption and stupidity, along with an incompetent Romney campaign, led them to reelect Obama. Only a fool would say Romney was no different from Obama. Only a fool would not admit Romney was a vastly better choice, even though he was not perfect by any stretch.

          25. The “leadership” is made up of some RINO’s, some stalwarts. Usually, the leadership is looking for someone who can actually win in a particular district. You keep dodging my point that Ron Paul couldn’t win in many, probably most, of the districts around the US. His “message” only carries because the voters in his district like the small government but pork-a-palooza Ron Paul specialty.

            I think that voters want men and women who stand on principle. By blowing with the wind the GOP leadership shows that it does not care about principle; it is only interested in power. Which is why the party is dying even though the Democrats have a horrible president in office and have candidates that are as bad as one can imagine.

            The pork certainly helped keep him there. Such a man of principle wouldn’t need all those massively hyporcritical earmarks otherwise.

            Nonsense. He was right about the wars. He was right about the housing bubble. He was right about the Fed. That is why he got so much support and why he attracts thousands of students on campuses where Romney and the other stooges couldn’t draw flies.

            Right. He just loaded them up with pork and then voted against them out of “principle.” What a hero.

            Not at all. If every Congressman did the same as Dr. Paul the budget would have been balanced and the spending would be a fraction of what it is. It seems that you are clueless about what the Constitution says. It does not let the President decide where the money is spent but Congress. That means that every penny should be earmarked.

            And yet somehow we managed to elect a significant amount of Tea Party candidates in 2010.

            We? The Tea Party is made up of two factions. The first is the libertarian types who like Santelli, Dr. Paul, and others who want small government. The second faction is the social conservatives who squeezed in there and are arguing that there should be laws that regulate private beheaviour. It was that faction that scared voters towards Obama during this election and cannot get any support among principled voters.

            So “they” are not all powerful after all. In this same thread you ominously declared, “But they made sure that no other candidates with similar messages would run under the GOP banner..”

            So suddenly there are not absolutes (until the next time you offer up the same absurd conspiracy.)

            Or course they don’t have all the power that they want. But they deal the cards and make it very difficult for most principled candidates to be selected. Which is why you get unprincipled losers like Romney and idiots like John McCain winning the primaries.

            Great. How many votes did it get? The Ryan Budget, weak as it is, actually passed the House. The voters are not remotely serious about supporting anything with a sharper axe. Again, blame them.

            It did not get votes because it was never put up for a vote to begin with. And what is the point of a Ryan Budget that still increases spending when you claim to be a fiscal conservative? If that is the best that you can do, increase spending but spend less than the planned increases, you might as well join the Democrats who at least are honest about their belief in bigger government.

            That’s your opinion. Ever think others might disagree with you on foreign policy without being sellouts?

            Sellouts? You went to war based on lies. You engaged in nation building because of lies. Selling out is staying, not getting the hell out as you should.

            Ron Paul WOULD NEVER be elected in the first place in many many districts across the US. You cannot dispute that. You also cannot honestly dispute that he loaded up his district with pork for purely political reasons, though you try to make it sound like some sort of badge of honor.

            The point is to actually debate the ideas. The GOP leadership never wants to do that because it does not really represent most of the voters in the party to begin with. Dr. Paul has ideas that need to be be looked at but the GOP leadership never gave any time to them during the primaries. Even the left noticed how scared you were of talking about peace and smaller government.

            As for earmarks, all spending should be earmarked so let us not go there. I pointed out something that is very valid. If all members of Congress did as Dr. Paul did there would be a lot less spending and no deficits. You can’t deny that.

            Yeah, we do.

            No, we do not. We do know that Romney and the GOP leadership drove independents and Democrats away. Dr. Paul does very well with both groups. While it is possible that he could have lost that defeat would have come from having the pro-war part of the GOP stay at home. But win or loss at least the ideas would have to be debated in the open. They still have not been and the GOP is still avoiding standing on principle.

            And his crackpot foreign policy views would have alienated a huge % of the people like me who actually go out and contribute $ and work for candidates.

            Yet he got a lot more money from the men and women who fight in the military than the rest of the GOP field combined. It is the GOP policies that are crackpot, not Dr. Paul’s

            I would have left the presidential ballot blank if he had won the nomination.<b?

            Correct. The right wing nutcases who want war more than peace and love big government could never vote for a man of peace. But there aren't as many of you as you might think.

            Your man of principle is a nutbar and a jerk. His disgraceful remark about the death of Chris Kyle just validated the reasons why I’ve loathed Ron Paul for so many years.

            Yeah. Republicans are always pissed off when someone quotes Jesus to remind them of their hypocrisy. Kyle liked to kill people from afar and volunteered to do what moral men would refuse to do. The person who killed him was ill because he had to fight in a needless war that was started because the GOP leadership lied to Congress and the people. So much damage has been done that the military is losing more men and women to suicide than to the enemy. Not exactly a vote of confidence for the chickenhawks.

            What garbage. Voters’ own corruption and stupidity, along with an incompetent Romney campaign, led them to reelect Obama. Only a fool would say Romney was no different from Obama. Only a fool would not admit Romney was a vastly better choice, even though he was not perfect by any stretch.

            Romney was never a man of principle. He flip-flopped as much as any candidate and could never convince the people that he believed in very much. And when he showed that he would be even more aggressive on foreign policy and civil liberties than Bush/Obama voters ran the other way as they should have. That is why your party is dying.

          26. “And Reagan did not end the Cold War. The USSR fell because central planning does not work. The Soviet economy was collapsing long before Reagan came to office. As Mises showed in his great book Socialism, the Soviet economy could not work even in theory….”

            Oh, communism doesn’t work you say? Gee, thanks for that information. Now, could you get the word out to Cuba and North Korea? Somehow, as totalitarians, they are able to stumble along arming terrorists, destabilizing parts of the globe, and keeping their people in misery despite what Von Mises wrote several decades ago. The Soviet Union could wel have dragged along for many more years without Reagan’s plan to push them over the precipice. But you believe, with absolutely zero evidence, that the walls would have come down maybe even faster(!) without the defense buildup.

          27. Oh, communism doesn’t work you say? Gee, thanks for that information. Now, could you get the word out to Cuba and North Korea?

            Do you consider that working? The economies are in collapse and the regimes are mainly a threat to their own people.

            Somehow, as totalitarians, they are able to stumble along arming terrorists, destabilizing parts of the globe, and keeping their people in misery despite what Von Mises wrote several decades ago. The Soviet Union could wel have dragged along for many more years without Reagan’s plan to push them over the precipice. But you believe, with absolutely zero evidence, that the walls would have come down maybe even faster(!) without the defense buildup.

            Nonsense. The USSR was toast. It was not killed by Reagan but by Western television which showed just how poor the Russians were. I remember watching a newscast where the announcer was telling us just how terrible the western factory owners were as they showed striking workers. While they may have seen injustice the viewers saw workers like them who had nice clothes, their own cars, and their own apartments and managed to live better than most party bureaucrats. In the end nobody believed the BS any longer because they could see for themselves that their government had failed. It was the movie clips of shopping malls, not aircraft carriers that wound up winning the day.

            Sadly, all of you big government Republicans could never understand the failure of central planning and still fed the mythology. No wonder nobody really thinks much of the party any longer. Not only are its leaders immoral and power hungry but they are stupid too.

  2. Steven Hales

    Government spending by definition is spending by government on goods and services from the private sector. It is not and never has been transfer payments. The real growth in government spending in the past 4 years has been anemic. The ARRA did little to lift government spending and add to that the wind down in Iraq and Afghanistan and real government spending will continue to be anemic or fall.

    Looking ahead for the next five years government spending will be flat to negative while transfer payments and net interest on the national debt will continue to grow at rates faster than economic growth. If deficits remain at above 2% of GDP we will have a crowding out effect that will push interest rates up higher and faster. And if the FED begins to unwind in the midst of higher private demand for loanable funds then we will risk another recession.

    The days of government spending multipliers boosting growth are over. This is, in my opinion, largely a result of the current primacy of the appropriations committees over the planning and administrative committees in the US House of Representatives. Infrastructure spending has been horribly mismanaged and we have lost a generation of smart investment that could have now been paying dividends in higher efficiencies in use.

  3. ” The real growth in government spending in the past 4 years has been anemic. ”

    Only by using the supposedly one-time emergency spending, blow-out-the-budget FY2009 as the baseline.

    1. Steven Hales

      No, Government spending is defined in economics as being the government purchases of goods and services from the private sector. This government spending is divided further into two broad categories consumption and investment. All other so-called spending is comprised of transfer payments to individuals, revenue sharing to the states from the federal government and various interest expenses for all levels of government. It is primarily “government spending” to which Keynesians refer when calculating the government spending multiplier. The formula Y=C+I+G + (X – I) is where G = government spending as defined above. If you go to to the BEA.gov and look at just government spending you will see that in real terms state and local government spending is at a low not seen since the 1990s and federal spending is back to where it was in 2007. It is that net drag that explains overall weak growth because government is not investing in infrastructure. I attribute that to gross incompetence. They are not even regulating utilities appropriately to encourage infrastructure spending. For all hullaballoo about ARRA it net increased infrastructure spending by about $78 billion if you are being generous. Most of it was wasted. Even the gas tax, a user fee by any other name, is insufficient to maintain roads, highways and bridges.

      1. Steven Hales

        that should be (X-M) not (X-I)

  4. Sorry Jimmy but Reagan was a big government guy. He had his chance but went along with the House and expanded government. Not only that but he increased SS taxes to ‘save’ the system, which is now bankrupt. The fact is that Reagan is not the man that many of you said he was.

    1. Manny Gonzalez

      Bottom line; double digit inflation, interest rates over 20% (imagine that one if you can) unemployment above 10%, not to mention the Soviet Union……. Fast forward 1989….. Rest my case.

    2. Todd Mason

      The SSA holds $2.7 trillion of the national debt and can meet its obligations through 2030. Not as exactly bankrupt, eh? Yes, the Bush tax cuts just about killed any chance to save SS as a national pension as opposed to welfare, but it’s kinda hard to hang that on Ron.

      1. Steven Hales

        Todd, Those securities in the SSA TF are non-marketable and are just an accounting entry. The excess contributions that those “securities” represent has already been spent. This system is the legacy of the Nixon administration where the unified budget was born. SS was supposed to be a pay as you go system but rather than have to revisit this issue every year the Greenspan Commission devised a way to tax everyone and give the illusion of solvency and in the interim give Congress a huge pot of money to spend without accountability.

      2. The SSA holds $2.7 trillion of the national debt and can meet its obligations through 2030.

        No, it can’t. The ‘SS trust fund’ has no marketable assets. That means for SS to remain solvent it has to be able to depend on a future tax increase or more borrowing. This is not solvent in the normal sense of the word.

        1. Todd Mason

          Loans are not marketable securities and vastly exceed reserves at banks so I guess your bank is insolvent, too, by Vangel’s definition. Yes, the OASI holds “special issue” Treasury securities but that mean that the government doesn’t have a legal and moral obligation to make good on them. You think the Rs have image problems now, wait ’til AARP starts telling Meemaw and Peepaw that Dubya gave their money to David Koch.

          1. Yes, the OASI holds “special issue” Treasury securities but that mean that the government doesn’t have a legal and moral obligation to make good on them.

            First, there is no legal obligation because the law says that Congress can lower benefits if it wishes. Second, given the fact that the government kills innocent people in other countries, denies American citizens their habeas corpus rights, and fights unnecessary undeclared wars I would not count on moral obligations. The point is sound. The ‘trust fund’ does not have any marketable assets. That makes it insolvent the first day that contributions are lower than obligations.

            You think the Rs have image problems now, wait ’til AARP starts telling Meemaw and Peepaw that Dubya gave their money to David Koch.

            The GOP is just as corrupt and economically illiterate as the Democratic Party. It will not stop SS by refusing to borrow now money to pay back beneficiaries. No, what will end the Ponzi Scheme that you call SS is the market when it refuses to lend money at low rates or the Fed, when it finally manages to destroy the currency.

          2. Todd Mason

            OASI went cash flow negative in 2010.

          3. The shortfalls were made up by Fed purchases of newly issued treasuries. That is right out of the Zimbabwe playbook.

          4. Todd Mason

            You prefer the Russian playbook, as in confiscation?

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