Cluebats Wanted

Bush Administration

George Will wonders when Democrats will admit that George Bush’s economic policies — especially those tax cuts — are responsible for our sparkling, robust economy.

No, I’m not kidding.

Regarding the robust economy: If you ever want to catch up on the latest economic hiccups and twitches, I recommend The Bonddad Blog. This past week’s posts indicate the economy at the moment is so-so. Could be better, could be worse. Over the past several weeks job growth has been tepid, the markets have been up and down, some industries show some growth and some don’t. Consumer confidence is down, but we’re probably not heading into a recession at the moment.

And why not? As Bonddad explained a few days ago, “With a cheap dollar and the rest of the world’s growth picking up, the US may be able to export enough to keep growth barely positive for the next quarter or so.”

Yes, that’s so … not robust.

But in George Will world, the Bush Economy is a wonder to behold.

Early in George W. Bush’s presidency, liberal critics said: The economy is not growing. Which was true. He inherited the debris of the 1990s’ irrational exuberances. A brief (eight months) and mild (the mildest since World War II) recession began in March 2001, before any of his policies were implemented. It ended in November 2001.

In 2002, when his tax cuts kicked in and the economy began 65 months — so far — of uninterrupted growth, critics said: But it is a “jobless recovery.” When the unemployment rate steadily declined — today it is 4.5 percent; time was, 6 percent was considered full employment — critics said: Well, all right, the economy is growing and creating jobs and wealth, but the wealth is not being distributed in accordance with the laws of God or Nature or liberalism or something.

Yeah, those wage slaves working their asses off to prop up the value of Will’s portfolio should quit whining.

Will is certain the Democrats have “a problem” with George Bush’s economy, because it’s so wonderful they can’t possibly run against it.

How do you exclaim, as Hillary Clinton does, that today’s economy is “like going back to the era of the robber barons” and insist that the nation urgently needs substantial tax increases, in the face of these facts:

In the 102 quarters since Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts went into effect more than 25 years ago, there have been 96 quarters of growth. Since the Bush tax cuts and the current expansion began, the economy’s growth has averaged 3 percent per quarter, and more than 8 million jobs have been created. The deficit as a percentage of gross domestic product is below the post-World War II average.

This miracle was brought to you by means of some “innovative” accountlng standards, which hide a big chunk of our growing national debt.

Twenty-three months after the next president is inaugurated, the Bush tax cuts expire. The winner of the 2008 election and her or his congressional allies will determine what is done about the fact that, unless action is taken, in 2011 the economy will be walloped.

Translation: The tax rates will go back to where they were in the late 1990s, a time that I don’t recall was all that awful, economy-wise. Although Will’s taxes will go up, I ‘spect.

Still, I’m touched that Will is so concerned about how the poor Democrats can run against Bush’s economy and expect to win elections in 2008. I just want to assure him that I believe they will manage, somehow.

Update: See also Ezra Klein and No More Mr. Nice Blog.

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  1. moonbat  •  Jun 10, 2007 @4:12 pm

    I’ve heard several Republicans voice Will’s argument, or variants thereof. I’ve concluded that there’s equal parts of denial and desire in this. The denial is selectively picking numbers to present a rosy picture, which of course favors the higher income brackets. And it is cheering in a sly way to see Republicans naively put their faith in this trumphed up picture whch lets them conclude that they have the economy in their pocket come election time. You go right on believing that, Geoerge Will, you who are so oblivious to the destruction of the middle class in this country.

    The desire is simply the Republican goal of turning the country, indeed the whole world into Conservative Utopia, where the top 2% own everything, another 9% are their flunkies and lackeys, and everyone else is in poverty. In the Republican mindset, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this, it is the natural order of things, and it is the Way Things Should Be. It is the natural outcome of conservative policy, it is where we are headed in George Bush’s marvellous economy. Any Questions?

    BondDad, Krugman, and others who know economics can refute Will’s numbers and arguements. Their logic will mostly try the patience of the masses, until things really get bad enough for them to feel the pain of these self-serving and myopic policies. What needs to supplement these economic argument is a debate over what kind of country or future do we want. Do we want a modern form of feudalism, or do we want a New New Deal?

    John Edwards IMO comes closest to raising these questions, but our candidates in general have got to be brave and smart enough to take on the George Wills of the world, and talk about the larger issue, and not get lost in economic minutae. This is a deeply entrenched Republican myth that is difficult for most to crack because they lack the background, but we have to come up with effective ways to refute it without losing sight of the bigger questions.

  2. biggerbox  •  Jun 10, 2007 @4:14 pm

    I believe that an item in the New York Times today explains George Will’s idea that the economy is great, as well as Ms. Clinton’s ‘robber baron’ comment:
    Two professors — Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics and Emmanuel Saez of the University of California, Berkeley — have found that the share of gross personal income of the top 1 percent of American earners rose to 17.4 percent in 2005 from 8.2 percent in 1980.

  3. maha  •  Jun 10, 2007 @4:23 pm

    Actually, I think it kind of refutes itself. Most people in this country who work for a living know deep in their guts that the “robust economy” talk is crap. They just need political leaders and “pundits” who will look them in the eye and say, yes, there’s something wrong. You aren’t just imagining this.

  4. moonbat  •  Jun 10, 2007 @4:49 pm

    Actually, I think it kind of refutes itself. Most people in this country who work for a living know deep in their guts that the “robust economy” talk is crap.

    One of the things I’ve learned in arguing with Republicans is that it’s often difficult to know whether they really believe the stuff they’re saying, or if they’re saying it just to spook the opposition (us). There have been numerous times when I wish I hadn’t been so gullible, and instead would have looked my opponent in the eye and called them on their bullshit.

  5. QrazyQat  •  Jun 10, 2007 @5:57 pm

    George Will has a multi-million dollar a year job — isn’t that the only really important thing? All you wage earning whiners should just get you one of them multi-million dollar a year jobs; you can start by taking money to write puff pieces for media moguls without disclosing the payment, then move on to coaching candidates and then posing as a disinterested bystander to do the TV analysis of their performance.

  6. erinyes  •  Jun 10, 2007 @6:19 pm

    The “robust economy” thingy is indeed crap.With the housing market in a nose dive, and many people who have taken out home equity loans, or are using credit cards to keep up the lifestyle they have grown accustomed to, the day of reckoning is not far off.
    Housing demand drives everything from new appliances to lumber, and the employment of Masons, carpenters, and electricians, who in turn spend their earnings on everything from new shoes to vacations. Let’s also not forget the people working in the finance section and the title business, nor the engineers/inspectors, and the lady at the permit office. We must also remember the guys that sell cars, boats etc.
    When the economy goes south, it will be a boon to the lawyers barkeeps, and undertakers.

  7. Jamie  •  Jun 10, 2007 @9:17 pm

    From what I understand, the employment figures are not real numbers but are a formula which can create phantom jobs much as the inflation figure is from a formula which does not measure real inflation, close to 10%, but gives us a much more comfortable 2+%. Printing money at 12 – 13 % above GNP can keep the economy going for a while but for how long is anybodies guess. Hang on, it is going to get a little bumpy!!!

  8. Swami  •  Jun 10, 2007 @11:00 pm

    George Bush is a schmuck. He’s got nothing on the ball, and he isn’t capable of formulating policies in any area that will lead to success. His so called leadership abilities are nothing more than a marketing ploy that has been foisted upon the American public. He’s a buffoon that has been marketed with a facade of credibility… but the reality is, he has no substance. He’s a floundering idiot who is too stupid to know how stupid he is.

    After 6 years of studying the clown, and looking for a spark of real intelligence, or a trace of sensibility, it becomes clear to me that to even pause for a moment to consider Bush doing anything pure folly. And to encapsulate an assessment of Bush in the vernacular of the common man….He’s a cosmic ass-wipe!

  9. Donna  •  Jun 10, 2007 @11:18 pm

    Today’s economic system of interlocking huge corporate entities is designed to flow the serious money to the top of the pyramid, and the government members of both parties, serving as prostitutes to the corporate powers, maintain that system in order to assure their personal power [re-election] while the media and folks like George Will have the job of spinning all this in a way that avoids uprisings by the masses who comprise the bulk of that pyramid.

  10. GDAEman  •  Jun 11, 2007 @12:01 am

    Glad to see you covering “the economy.” As Jim Webb pointed out in his response to Bush’s State of the Union address, there are at least two economies, Wall Street and Main Street

  11. purpleOnion  •  Jun 11, 2007 @8:41 am

    Let’s start with the obvious, George Will is full of crap. Part of the “innovative” accounting methods, that no one else in the world uses, add in projected sales as income, the Iraq war has its own budget, (sounds like a welfare queen,) and the U.S. is borrowing money like a pervert in a porno arcade.

    I thought that astute observers like Will knew that the economy is an illusion that is surviving on borrowed money, as debt is put off on future generations. I thought that someone with George Will’s information gathering ability knew that middle class wages have remained flat while the cost of everything has skyrockedted.

    I especially enjoyed his snide remark at the end of his article about wealth distribution being controlled by god, nature or metaphysical force according to democrats. It is an insulting remark, because wealth distribution is deliberately controlled by those with the wealth, and they haven’t been passing a portion of the profits downward as was done in the past when there were a few business interests that believed one method of maintaining loyalty was to be fair with the nation’s citizens or at least give the impression of doing so. It’s that social contract thingy.

    The social contract has been broken, and proof of it is that people like George Will believe that they can deceive Americans into accepting a fate established by cheap liars and arrogant punks. George Will continues to look like Howdy Doody, which is at the root of why he hates Americans so much, and allows him to attempt to pass off his crap as if it means anything, but sadly no he is just another right wing liar, coward, and thief.

  12. fshk  •  Jun 11, 2007 @3:16 pm

    The unemployment figure also only includes people who are receiving government assistance, I think, meaning a whole lot of jobless Americans who have been out of work for six months or more are not being counted. Someone told me last night that it took her a whole year to get her current job. “Jobless recovery” seems like a pretty significant thing to me; how does the improved economy affect Americans who, you know, don’t have jobs, Mr. Will? Robust economy, my foot.