04 July 2009

Putting the "Obama recession" in its proper perspective

As the "Bush recession, of course." This image from the New York Times a few weeks ago (via Balkinization, via Maha), is amazing. Do you know what scale is? That's when a picture illustrates something with correct dimensions, &c. Okay, good, we're clear on that. Lookit. Start at the top to see where the budget surplus was after the Clinton years. Then look what Bush's policies did. And then look at the teeny tiny part at the bottom that encompasses Obama's stimulus and other programs. Who created the obscenely large budget deficit? It should be pretty obvious:






Yeah. There's your Obama recession. More explanation from Balkinization:

The war in Iraq and accompanying defense spending, plus the badly designed Medicare Drug benefit, plus the Bush tax cuts, plus lax regulation of financial institutions (which necessitated a bailout supported by both President Bush and President Obama) turned a projected surplus under Bill Clinton into an enormous deficit and a relatively well-run nation into country burdened with enormous problems.

It would be one thing if these expenditures were a matter of national necessity that ultimately made the country better off. But they were not. The Bush tax cuts were primarily targeted to benefit the wealthiest Americans, and exacerbated a growing inequality of wealth in the United States. The Iraq War was a war of choice, justified by false claims of weapons of mass destruction and insinuations of links between Iraq and Al Qaeda. It proved to be a foreign policy disaster and an enormous waste of money which we must still shoulder. Deregulatory financial policies were unwise and unsound and helped push us toward the current Great Recession.
All in all, it is one of the most remarkable displays of ineptitude, greed, and corruption in American history. And now that they have run the country into the ground, President Bush's party, now thankfully out of power, is blaming the party that succeeded them, the Democrats, for the baleful effects of deficit spending. Colossal ineptitude is being followed by equally colossal chutzpah.


Credit where credit is due, you see.

I don't agree with everything Obama has done -- for instance, the simple laws of macroeconomics say that the stimulus package should have been larger, since, in times as dire as these, the ONLY institution capable of infusing cash into the economy on the scale necessary for recovery is the federal government. But let's get clear on where the hell this shit came from, if we somehow aren't already.

Thanks, George. Hope you're enjoying Crawford. Please stay there.

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