Sunday, May 22, 2005

The Alternate Universe of Conservatives

"You know, James [Carville, co-host], of all the lousy issues you have, the lousiest is the debt. As Ronald Reagan once said, I don't worry about the national debt; it's big enough to take care of itself. As a matter of fact, it is smaller as a percentage of GDP than any of our other -- than it has ever been. This is a phony issue. That's not hurting us."

-- Robert Novak, on the May 18 edition of CNN's Crossfire

The national debt as a percentage of GDP has grown every year since President George W. Bush has been in office. In 2004, the $7.4 trillion national debt constituted 62.9 percent of GDP; in 2001 when Bush took office, the debt was 57.3 percent of GDP.

Also worth noting is that during Bush's first term, the national debt rose $1.57 trillion ($7.38 trillion in 2004, $5.81 trillion in 2001). During that same period, GDP rose just $1.61 trillion ($11.74 trillion ni 2004, $10.13 trillion in 2001).

In other words, the debt essentially grew dollar for dollar with the overall GDP during Bush's first term.

Bush's economic policy may be a lot of things. Fiscally conservative is not one of them.

By comparison, the debt grew by just $261 billion during President Clinton's second term ($5.41 trillion in 1997, $5.67 trillion in 2000), while GDP grew by $1.51 trillion ($8.30 trillion in 1997, $9.82 trillion in 2000). In that four-year period, GDP grew by nearly $6 for every $1 of additional debt.

-- Based on statistics tallied by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, Novak is a moron and consistently exagerates the truth, much like Hannity, Rhodes, Garafolo etc.

The deficit in a long term situation is definitely not a good thing. However, the comparison to Clinton's peace time era with an unusual tech boom versus a downturn in the economy and a terrorist attack combined with a war (which i gues syou can blame on mush if you want).....just seems a bit absurd.

What i believe is questionable is the focus on tax cuts (in the way it is being done) while in a war which adds to the deficit and the increased spending on non military items.....this is a difficult area.

10:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Instead of business as usual, the emphasis should be placed on what we can do to get out of this costly miserable war that is not only sucking the economy dry, but fueling the insurgency, and diminishing the U.S.'s reputation as a military powerhouse abroad.
Why should North Korea be scared of us when we cannot even secure the road to the Baghdad airport?

4:29 PM  
Anonymous joe said...

Why is it "a bit absurd" to point out, statistically, apples to apples, how Bush has handled the economy vs. Clinton?

Yes, Clinton had the tech boom. But imagine the conservatives reaction if Clinton had created huge deficits, with the debt barely keeping up with GDP growth?

Bush's handling of the economy, given that the country is fighting his war, is absurd.

4:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

call it what you want. but if you think a coutnry can run a successful war in a surplus position, you are smokin crack. that is why the comparison is unfair. truth be told, the president does not have all that much to do with the economy. but that is another issue entirely.

i have issues with what Bush has done about the economy but your so called apples to apples comparison is ridiculous. the external events of the time are part of that equation and you are content to ignore it.

and if clinton was in a war and we were attacked, there would always be a segment of the population who would scream about deficits but most americans would expect deficits in that type of situation. i am a huge clinton fan (in fact i believe the dems downfall is not staying with the centrist views he espoused)....but this comparison is just unfair.

on its own, i can fairly state that Bush has mishandled certain aspects of the war and the economy. But the comparison to peacetime in a tech boom is patently absurd. and used for partisan politics only.

10:09 AM  
Anonymous joe said...

Stats are stats.

I would argue that Bush:

a) went to war with Iraq unnecessarily. Had he fought the war on terror, hunting down Osama in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the cost would have far less than the Iraq war, which could go on for another decade and sap maybe $2 trillion out of our economy when all is said and done.

b) fought for humongous, lopsided and ultimately bad-for-the-economy permanent tax cuts. The cuts overwhelming benefit the super-rich, and combined with a lacksadaical approach to collecting corporate taxes -- so-called corporate welfare -- the Bush tax plan is bleeding another $2 trillion or so out of the budget over the next decade.

9/11 hurt our economy. No doubt. Creating the Dept. of Homeland Security was a needed post 9/11 cost. And the good times of the 90s -- the tech boom, the run-up in stocks -- was bound to end. All three of those are economic variables not tied to Bush economic policy.

But Bush's tax plans created a double whammy, and his war costs created a triple whammy for GDP growth and for the size of the debt.

So while one might not be able to expect the same economic performance post-9/11 as pre-9/11, I think it's fair to state that under Bush, the debt and GDP are essentially growing at the same rate.

You may call that partisan, but really, it's just the statistical results of, in large part, decisions that Bush made with regard to taxes and government spending.

11:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is seemingly absurd for the above blogger to think that Bush Administration policies, i.e. cutting taxes for the Rich and causing the Iraq War, are not largely responsible for the deficit problem.
9-11 crippled the economy, yes, but a successful administration would have been able to curb the damage, not make it several times worse.
"It's a different world after 9-11," was no excuse to launch an unprovoked attack against a country without any foresight into costs and into expected chances for victory and when. As a taxpayer, I don't appreciate the president's gambling with the country's financial security the way he has and continues to do.
Never mind that privatization would have added another trillion into the debt coffers. Bush doesn't care.
What kind of irresponsible, unaccountable, reckless moron do we have at the helm of the country anyway? I don't recall ever being so angered by an administration -- Democrat or Republican -- since Nixon and Johnson years when I was a kid.

12:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What are we getting in return for the administration steering our country into bankruptcy? Nothing. Nada. Nil. Zero.
Education, domestic military spending, healthcare, everything is being cut below the bone. The economy is stagnant or growing slowly at best.
And For what!? So we have money to rebuild the cities in Iraq that we destroyed? Two-thirds of the city of Falluah was leveled after our attack there. What a waste.
The mainstream media ignores the truth that planned infrastructure projects are way behind schedule and in limbo due to the insurgency.
So we have money to continue prolonging the war we started there? Haven't we learned anything after Vietnam? Is anyone listening to the experts who affirm the only way to stop the insurgency in Iraq is for the U.S. to get the hell out?
So we can continue to pursue a nebulous idea that inserting democracy in the Middle East just might, maybe, possibly, hopefully can one day better protect the U.S. against terrorist organizations?
I've recently read reports where experts insist that the U.S. is no safer today than prior to 9-11 against a nuclear attack from countries such as N. Korea and Iran. This is from a standpoint of homeland security and stopping our enemies abroad.
On top of that, Al Quada is alive, well and stronger than ever. Who should have been our biggest enemy, Bin Laden, roams free.
I'm so happy my tax dollars are beings spent so goddamned wisely.

1:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well, at least i succeeded in bringing about arguing against Bush on his policy rather than a stupid comparison to CLinton years. I had no doubt that with little thought at all, everyone here could list out everything wrong with this country currently and tag Bush for it.

But not everything is so clear. I tend to agree that you dont typically push for tax cuts during wartime. For the rich or poor. Yet noone wants to discuss the AMT, which is a crazy unfair tax on the middle class. I think it is a stretch to suggest that the war effectively would be over or far cheaper if not for iraq. who knows what would have been? I disagree that al quaeda is stronger than before. I think Bushs social security plan is DOA anyway and not realistic. I also think the dems lack of a plan is pathetic. i think we made a mistake going into iraq but i also think that many many people and most of congress made the same mistake as the president. yet i wonder if it would be best to just leave as is suggested above. nothing here is black and white. omigod i think i am a centrist. guess i dont belong here.

My overall response to all of this is that the dems need to get candidates to run for both local and national offices that can offer a rational centrist view that can appeal to the non fringe elements of americans. despite some claims here to the contrary, we actually do live in a republic/democracy and the public reserves the right to vote people in and out of office. So, dems, get to it.

5:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is a complete Right-wing myth and propaganda that the Democrates do not have a plan. As just one example, John Kerry offered during the election a very comprehensive post 9-11 plan for reversing the deficit and improving the economy.
People who say the Democrats don't have a plan lazilly repeat GOP spin and don't do any research.

6:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have there really been "cuts" in education spending? It was my understanding that spending has increased nearly across the board. Now, maybe it has not increased in the areas that you would wish, or to the extent that you wish, but spending has increased dramatically under this Republican administration, much to the dismay of many fiscal conservatives.

9:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you take a look at, you can see where essentially every state and federal education program benefitting students from pre-school to graduate school is woefully underfunded.
It is our children who suffer under this administration.
It is unclear whether Bush has actually increased spending or simply shifted money out of valuable program to help other ones. I do know that he has proposed steep cuts for the 2006 fiscal year.

9:39 AM  

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