Thursday, November 20, 2003
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Quote of the day
From Andrew Sullivan:
Sigh.posted by Dan on 11.20.03 at 10:38 AM
Joe Lieberman for President. The last living free trader not named "McCain" or hailing from Maine.posted by: Aaron on 11.20.03 at 10:38 AM [permalink]
Granted, there is a lot to find troubling about the Bush Administration's Policies. However, contrary to what the left may say GW is not the Lord Protector of the US. He has to work within the confines of the political system (a good thing).
This means that things will be done to placate W.V., Pennsylavania, Florida Seniors, etc. There is a price to the republican method, and that is you don't get the kind of radical reform that Augustus was able to achieve after killing off all his rivals and becoming Caesar. (Which is probably just as well.)
Clinton did many things that his left base couldn't stand (NAFTA, Welfare Reform, etc.), this is because being President means giving some to get some. If Bush is elected to a second term, has some significant (>54 Rs) support in the Senate, yeah he can be significantly more conservative. Otherwise, he will have to make some compromises which is what the system is designed to be about.
Don't forget, the Rs are going in to 2 very good looking Senate Cycles; '04 and '06 are going to be much easier for the Rs than Ds. Abandon Bush now, and we'll take more steps back than forward.
Free trade, cutting spending, reducing the size of government are good things, but the President can't just will them into existence. Especially if pushing too far too fast, makes the President no longer President.posted by: Joel B. on 11.20.03 at 10:38 AM [permalink]
Joel B's comment neatly summarizes the Bush administration's priorities, and probably those of its immediate predecessor as well. The trouble is that subordinating all policy priorities not immediately helpful to the next campaign is not a recipe for postponement but for permanent inaction or worse.
Trade is one example among many. Robert Zoellick may believe that the steel tariffs, the farm bill, the reported renewal of textile import quotas for the Chinese and the de facto alliance with the EU at Cancun were mere tactical retreats, politically necessary now to build support for trade liberalization later. There is no evidence -- as in none, zero, nothing, an absolute goose egg -- that this belief is well founded. If anything there is less support in Congress now for trade liberalization (save on terms so one-sided that no foreign government would accept them) than there was before Bush became President. And into the bargain the protectionist gestures Bush has made have not bought him popularity among voters intended to benefit from them. On trade, reducing government spending, reforming immigration and a somewhat lengthy list of other issues Bush has not compromised; he has surrendered.
The critical choice made by voters in 2000 was not made in November, or in Florida. It was made in the Republican primaries between a real Republican and a Republican in name only. The real Republican lost.posted by: Joe B on 11.20.03 at 10:38 AM [permalink]
The critical choice made by voters in 2000 was not made in November, or in Florida. It was made in the Republican primaries between a real Republican and a Republican in name only. The real Republican lost.
I generally agree with you, Joe, but I find this point hilarious because Bush won the primaries by running as a 'real conservative', painting McCain as the RINO.
Damn Bush for making me pine for the days of Democrat fiscal responsibility & trade liberalization, and damn the Democrats for making me vote for Bush anyway because they're all insane.posted by: George Jong on 11.20.03 at 10:38 AM [permalink]
Personally, I think we are getting the John McCain presidency, with tax cuts thrown in. Honestly folks -- what would have been different, except that we'd probably have more troups in Iraq and a draft? The only thing I can think of is less of a deficit (no tax cuts) and less of a recovery (no tax cut stimulus).posted by: appalled moderate on 11.20.03 at 10:38 AM [permalink]
One would like to think that John McCain would have shown more spine facing down his former colleagues on pork issues. OTOH, the leadership in Congress has to bear some of the blame.posted by: Ray on 11.20.03 at 10:38 AM [permalink]
Admittedly, Dean's "re-regulation" quote was yet another example of his penchant for putting his foot in his mouth (Although, isn't anyone happy to see a candidate who doesn't focus group everything before he says it?). However, if you look past the lousy phrasing, does anyone really think better oversight and a more coherent regulatory structure designed to prevent abuses like the Enron thing and this mutual fund scandal are a bad idea? If Dean had called it "reform" instead of "regulation", would we even be having this discussion?
- Jay B.posted by: Jay B. on 11.20.03 at 10:38 AM [permalink]
"[D]oes anyone really think better oversight and a more coherent regulatory structure designed to prevent abuses like the Enron thing and this mutual fund scandal are a bad idea?"
Yes, I do. But that's because I'm afraid that the people proposing these ideas are comparing idealized perfect regulation with the imperfect reality of the market.
I think that most of the proposed regulatory structures won't actually achieve their aim. They're all subject to regulatory capture, for one thing. (And regulatory capture leads to things like companies massively losing money but being propped up by governments and their scandals hushed up. See Credit Lyonnais.)
Bankruptcies are bad things, individually and in each case. For the economy as a whole, though, they're far from the worst thing. Viewing the economy through a perspective of preventing bankruptcies (and, in a related issue, firings) at all cost will eventually damage the economy by making restructuring impossible, and by discouraging creative new enterprises.
For mutual funds the solution, as it has long been, is to invest in things like index funds. There are plenty of reasonable, honest mutual funds out there if people want them.posted by: John Thacker on 11.20.03 at 10:38 AM [permalink]
As for the potential value of "reregulating" any American business, I have three letters for you: S-E-C (disappointed, right?). We HAVE regulators, but they have been defanged. Could President Dean refang them (hint: Clinton couldn't, a Democratic controlled Congress couldn't)? This suggestion is a farce wrapped in a travesty. Why would he make it? OOOOHH yeah--the unions...They bought him pretty cheap, eh? Guess Gephardt wouldn't kneecap American business for their endorsements, but the Deanster will. Yeah, refreshing.
The first Democrat who promises to make Eliot Spitzer his AG (better still, his running mate) gets my vote. In the words of Judy Tenuta, "it could happen!"posted by: Kelli on 11.20.03 at 10:38 AM [permalink]
I don't like a lot of what Andy Sullivan says, especially on social issues, but that quote above is, in large part, "Right"-on.
Thank you for posting it.posted by: Aakash on 11.20.03 at 10:38 AM [permalink]
I'm not a big fan of budget deficits, but it is not exactly a radical idea to use fiscal stimulas during a economic downturn. Are the deficits a permanent feature because they are structural or will they ultimately disappear due to higher growth rates? We shall see. Mr. Sullivan's complains that this reminds him of the 70's, huh? The 70's included marginal tax rates in 70% range, excessive and years in the making growth in the money supply. This policy brew produced something new and it's name was stagflation. It included Jerry Ford's WIN buttons (Whip inflation Now) oil price regulation, a windfall profits tax and a unemployment rate hovering around 10%. I have to ask myself how the fiscal, monetary and regulatory policies of the Bush administration mirror those of Nixon, Ford and Carter.posted by: Gary Bezowsky on 11.20.03 at 10:38 AM [permalink]
One would like to think that John McCain would have shown more spine facing down his former colleagues on pork issues. OTOH, the leadership in Congress has to bear some of the blame.
Seeing as McCain is a Congressional leader, I think we know how much spine he would show.
McCain is an instinctive authoritarian who never saw a square peg that couldn't be bashed into a round hole with a big enough government hammer. He thinks truly big government programs like Kyoto and his abominable attack on free speech, er, campaign finance reform, are a good thing. No way would a McCain Presidency result in a smaller government.posted by: R C Dean on 11.20.03 at 10:38 AM [permalink]
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