August 31, 2003

Speaking of Kerry

Back to Kerry and his MTP interview today. Did anyone else notice that he is now trying the "angry" thing? Indeed, he noted that he was "angry" at the Bush adminstration (feeling a little pressure from angryman Dean?). And his claim that the reason that he is running is because he is angry at the President's execution of the war comes across as disingenuous at best, as he was clearly running well before it was clear how the war and post-war period was going to play out.

And I love this sort of thing (Dean made a similar claim a while back):

When challenged by moderator Tim Russert on the incompatibility of funding new programs in the face of a still-spiraling deficit, Kerry was upbeat.

“I’m going to cut the deficit in half in the first four years,” he said. “I’m going to do exactly what Bill Clinton did. And if you liked the economy under Bill Clinton, America, you’re going to love it under John Kerry.”

Again, I ask, what exactly did Clinton do to make the economy grow? Answer: be President during a boom. If it was that easy to make the economy grow, won't all presidents make sure that the economy grew?


Kerry launches his bid for the White House amid numbers from one new poll that gives him the support of 5 percent of registered Democrats. Most voters haven’t started paying attention to the Democratic presidential race, according to the CBS News poll released over the Labor Day weekend — the campaign’s traditional starting point.

Although, granted it is still early. Although I must admit, these numbers are amazing to me:

Two-thirds of voters — including two-thirds of Democrats — were unable to name any of the Democratic candidates for president, said the poll, released Sunday.

Further, they are a great reminder of how most of the country pays radically less attention to politics than do we political junkies.

Source: Kerry takes aim at Bush, challengers

Posted by Steven Taylor at August 31, 2003 09:16 PM | TrackBack

Once again, Steven trots out the myth our last democratically-elected President did nothing--the economy just happened. It serves two purposes: one, it bashes Clinton; and two, it absolves Dubya for this lousy economy.

Using Steven's logic, we should just dissolve the Federal Reserve and do away with most of the Departments of Commerce and Treasury. Let's trim the federal payroll of all those taxpayer-supported economists. Let's relegate the study of economics to where it really belongs--with the practitioners of astrology, palmistry, and tea leaf reading. After all, the economy is magic--it's alchemy--it just happens. And nothing anyone does or doesn't do has no bearing on this ephemeral beast called "the economy."

Steven's evidence for all this boils down to yet another bumpersticker-sized analysis: if good economies could be created, wouldn't every President create them?

Weep for Troy State students.

Posted by: JadeGold at September 2, 2003 12:35 PM

Steven: "If it was that easy to make the economy grow, won't all presidents make sure that the economy grew?"

Candidate Dubya had some ideas for the economy while running in the 2000 election. He ran on the idea that while the economy was good--he could make it even better. His specific ideas included:

-Would eliminate the national debt by 2016.

-Creation of a 10-year, $4.56 trillion surplus.

-Too much government spending will end prosperity.

-Federal government should stay out of the marketplace.

-Make budget biennial; reinstate line-item veto; target pork

-Supports Balanced Budget Amendment.

Despite the fact Dubya thought he could affect the economy, Steven tells us this just isn't possible.


Posted by: JadeGold at September 2, 2003 12:54 PM

More lesson time.

The President does not control the Federal Reserve Board. Go ahead, look it up.

And while I would agree that there was some deft handling of the national debt funding by the SecTreas Ruben, I would challenge you to tell me precisely what the Commerce Department did (or indeed does today) that is of great consequence to this economy.

I still ask you: what policy did President Clinton engage in that resulted in the creation of private sector jobs?

I am not actually saying that nothing Presidents do can affect the economy, positively or negatively, but it is far more marginal that most of the public tends to think.

And again, you don't actually argue, you rant. Indeed, while you have attempted to deflect through ridicule, you make no arguments in your post.

A basic text on reason and argument might be a good investment.

The bill keeps adding up...

Posted by: Steven at September 2, 2003 12:59 PM

I would agree that it is ludicrous for any president or candidate to promise surpluses, balanced budgets, or certain numbers of jobs. They have no actual control over such things.

And promising to eliminate the National Debt is equally silly.

My position is not driven my partisanship, it is driven by policy reality.

Governments can engage in policies which affect the economy, but they cannot control it. Further, economic policies typically have substantial lag times associated with them, and also frequently have unintended conequences.

I would agree that fiscal policy (taxing and spending) can affect the economy by affecting the amount of the GDP in the hands of the government and in the hands of the populace.

However, whether such policies guarantee growth in GDP or the creation of jobs is a different issue.

Posted by: Steven at September 2, 2003 01:05 PM

Very good, Steven. You're backing away, albeit slowly, from your claim that nothing can be done to influence or control the economy. Let's see if we can get you all the way home.

To be sure, policies can only get you so far. For example, a doctor can provide a patient with a plan or regimen for good health. Does that automatically mean that patient will live to be 90 or 95? It depends. First, is the MD's advice sound? Will the patient follow the regimen? Will there be external events that cannot be forecast?

That's a simple model for the economy. Good policies--implemented and observed--should lead to a good economy barring any circumstances not planned for. OTOH, bad policies will surely lead to economic problems.

"I would challenge you to tell me precisely what the Commerce Department did (or indeed does today) that is of great consequence to this economy."

Hmmm. I wonder why Dubya is running around telling supporters that he's created an Asst. Secretary of Commerce for Manufacturing because his regime is so concerned about manufacturing sector jobs?

Posted by: JadeGold at September 2, 2003 01:55 PM

I never said that presidents have zero effect on the economy, just that their influence is far, far less than they (or the general population, for that matter) like to think. I know, for example, that they cannot create jobs by fiat, nor can they make GDP grow by wishing it such. These would seem to Kerry's and your positions, respectively, however.

And I would agree that the Bush's move on creating a special "job czar" is a minor move at best, and really nothing more than symbolism. Despite your attempts to paint me as such, I do not see everything through a crude partisan lense. I leave that to others. I would also note that by your logic, you shoudl aplaud Bush's move.

Your Doctor analogy is flawed by the way, as is much of your economic analysis. Again I refer you to the "ex post ergo proptor hoc" logical fallacy. I take it you still haven't looked that one up.

And just saying "good policies" are good and "bad policies" lead to economic problems hardly qualifies as much of an argument. Neither in this discussion nor in prior discussions on this issue, have you ever so much as articulated ONE actual economic policy, btw.

Further, this thread is a great illustration of how you never actually respond to what I write. I criticized Kerry's proposal. Where have you defended it, or actually done anything more than engage in sophomoric jabs?

Just curious.

So far you would be doing well to be getting a C- in the course--and that's assuming some charity on my part. Responses are required to actually respond to the question asked, and evidence must be provided to back up assertions.

Posted by: Steven at September 2, 2003 03:15 PM

A C minus, Steven? From Troy State? Wow. Or should I just go "Yehhhawwww!"-Confederate style?

Again, the fact is you claimed Clinton did nothing to create the robust economy of the 1990s. That it all just mysteriously happened, then it mysteriously went away when the SC installed Dubya.

Steven, of course, would have defended our last democratically-elected President if the economy had gone South under his watch, right, Steven?

Instead-ala Limbaugh--you seek to deflect the issue as to what Clinton did to create the booming economy. Here's what President Clinton did: he ran on a message and spent the political capital necessary to achieve deficit reduction. This had several effects; first, it stimulated productivity by boosting private investment which had previously been lost to financing deficits. Second, it freed up monies for public investment-particularly in the areas of new technologies and infrastructure. Third, reducing deficits also led to lower interest rates which boosted spending while having a multiplier effect on deficit reduction.

Remember the 1993 budget battle? Not one--repeat, not one--GOPer voted for it. VP Gore had to come in and break the deadlock. And who remembers what the extreme right was saying? Dole said it would lead to a recession--and possibly a depression. Newtie said it would lead to recession, huge deficits, and high unemployment. Dick Armey (what is it with TX PhDs?) claimed the US could see double digit unemployment.

Republicans like steven want it both ways; when economic times are good and a Dem is in charge--the economy is this magical entity no one can influence. Yet when Ronny Reagan was Prez....

Posted by: JadeGold at September 2, 2003 06:11 PM

Hey, you are the one who enrolled in the class. If you feel it is beyond you, feel free to drop.

And you've tried this one before-just saying that Clinton passed his budget in 1993 (and BTW, the Democrats controlled the Senate that year, so bragging about Gore breaking the tie isn't much of a partisan gold star) hardly qualifies as demonstrating one way or another a specific economic policy that resulted in the boom.

Care to try again?

Further, I take it you still haven't done your reading on ex post ergo propter hoc, have you?

You also will get points deducted for your overly formal "debate" style. You need to work on that if you want to be taken seriously.

Posted by: Steven at September 2, 2003 06:36 PM
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