Thursday, October 18, 2012

New plan: let's make this election about Bush!

Since Obama's Campaign began in earnest at the beginning of the year, the President has made it a point to repeat one proposition over and over again. Namely, he likes to ask a rhetorical question of the following form:
Why should we go back to the failed policies--i.e. the policies of the Bush Administration--that got us into this mess?
And maybe early on it was an effective line. Not so much anymore, though. Why? Because as the year began, Obama and his Administration still had hope that the economy would really begin growing, that the real unemployment rate would begin to drop significantly. Obama, speaking in February of this year:
But over the past two years, businesses have added about 3.7 million jobs. Our manufacturers are creating the most jobs since the 1990s. Our economy is getting stronger.

The recovery is accelerating. America is coming back -- which means the last thing we can do is go back to the same failed policies, the very same policies that got us into this mess in the first place. And that's what's at stake in this election. That's exactly what the other candidates want to do.
Ten months later and that "acceleration" is more like a series of sputtering starts and stalls. New data shows a loss of real income for middle class Americans throughout Obama's first term, over $4000 per family, per annum. Limiting the analysis to exclude the first half of Obama's first term doesn't make things much better:
Even if you start from when the recession ended in June, 2009, the decline since then has been greater than it was during the recession. Three years into the Obama recovery, median family income had declined nearly 5% by June, 2012 as compared to June, 2009. That is nearly twice the decline of 2.6% that occurred during the recession from December, 2007 until June, 2009. As the Wall Street Journal summarized in its August 25-26 weekend edition, “For household income, in other words, the Obama recovery has been worse than the Bush recession.
Got that? Middle class America has suffered a bigger loss of income in the post-Bush policies America., the Obama policies America. And yet, as Michael Medved noted almost eight months ago, there is little difference between Bush and Obama when it comes to general domestic policies (something the Tea Party crowd is keenly aware of):
The common indictment of the Bush administration isn't complicated: the 43rd president inherited a substantial surplus from Bill Clinton and turned it into a big deficit by raising spending and cutting revenue. 
But if this approach led ultimately to the economic disasters of 2008, then why should anyone have expected a better outcome from the basic contours of Obamanomics, which hiked spending even more than Bush and collected even less tax money to pay the bills? The result—four consecutive years of trillion-dollar budget deficits—represents an unprecedented but utterly predictable catastrophe for the nation’s economic health.
There are specific differences, of course. For one thing, the Obama Administration has added more layers of regulations. And it has thrown money away on pipe dreams like Solyndra and Abound Solar. But by and large, the pattern is the same: spend money we don't have, though at an even greater rate under Obama, as compared to Bush. Going back to the "failed policies" of Bush would actually mean spending a little less and maybe easing some of the regulations that stifle businesses. While this probably wouldn't be sufficient to solve all of our problems, it would certainly slow our rate of descent into fiscal hell.

Given all of this, it's no surprise that Obama's attempts to use Bush against his opponents have largely failed. Yet amazingly, his sycophants in the media have suddenly decided to join in on this ineffective narrative.

Ezra Klein, writing at Bloomberg:
Mitt Romney has a George W. Bush problem. 
In fact, that’s Romney’s biggest problem. It’s George W. Bush, not Barack Obama, who has made voters skeptical of many of Romney’s core policies. It’s George W. Bush, not Obama campaign strategist David Plouffe, who persuaded voters that our economic troubles aren’t mainly Obama’s fault. And so it is, in a sense, the electorate’s lingering fear of George W. Bush, as much as its residual affection for Barack Obama, that Romney needs to beat if he’s to become president.
Jonathan Bernstein at the WaPo Plum Line:
It really is amazing just how much Romney’s plan is an exact echo of Bush’s, despite twelve intervening years and a vastly different economic landscape. 
If anything, the comparison is unfair to Bush. After all, Bush in 2000 ran with not only Romney’s five point plan, but also a “compassionate conservative” agenda — No Child Left Behind, a faith-based initiative, immigration reform, and more. Not only does Romney have no similar agenda, there’s also a real overall policy deficit if you compare the two. Sure, on taxes there’s some similarity in that both deny the deficit-busting implications of their plans. But overall Bush just ran on far more well-developed domestic policy ideas than Romney.
Mark Adomanis from The Atlantic:
Obama has an extremely tall order if he wants to convince the public that "Romney = Bush." As even a perfunctory examination of Bush's campaign rhetoric suggests, Romney's "new" proposals really are substantively similar to Bush's. And if you look at Bush's record in office, cutting taxes, eliminating regulations, "supporting small business," and "getting tough with China" weren't extremely beneficial to most Americans. One does not need to be a partisan Democrat to see that the GOP really hasn't changed much since Bush's time in office.
That's just the tip of the iceberg. As I write this, no doubt other "objective" journalists are busy writing or filing similar stories. It's almost as if they all received an e-mail blast from a puppet-master (Obama? Axelrod?) instructing them on what to write about in the coming week. Nah, that couldn't happen. Or could it? Regardless, note how--in the final quote above--the writer pretends such a comparison will be difficult for Obama to make, how it would be an "extremely tall order." That might be true if Obama didn't have sycophants in the media like that writer, the ones above, and plenty of others to do the job for him.

And why go down this road at this point in time? Two simple reasons: 1) to get the Benghazi issue off of the front page before the next debate and 2) because the Obama Campaign is simply out of ammo.

Cheers, all.

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