Thursday, July 12, 2007

A "Good" President

Remember when a "good" president was defined as one who got to take credit for a good economy?

NEW YORK (AP) -- Wall Street soared Thursday, propelling the Standard & Poor's 500 index and Dow Jones industrials to record highs as bright spots among generally sluggish retail sales allowed investors to toss aside concerns about the health of the economy. (emphasis mine--Darren)

But wait, there's more! And it's not Ginsu knives.

Incredible Shrinking Deficit
New York Sun Editorial
July 12, 2007

2004 - $413 billion
2005 - $318 billion
2006 - $248 billion
2007 - $205 billion...

But as the shrinking figures above show, in fact the deficit is shrinking. When you look at it as a percentage of GDP, the decline is even more striking:

2004 - 3.6%
2005 - 2.6%
2006 - 1.9%
2007 - 1.5%

This isn't to say that we shouldn't get a handle on federal spending--after all, a deficit is a deficit. I've used the phrase "spending money like a drunken sailor in a Southeast Asian port" to describe the last several years.

But we've had worse spending than this (as a percentage of GDP) before and if the stock market was up, the president was fine (and got reelected). I certainly haven't heard this excellent news trumpeted on ABC World News, like they used to announce each new stock market high or milestone ending in three zeroes.

Funny how the rules change.

Hat tip to Instapundit (see blogroll at left).


Mr. Lucchese said...

Do you actually believe that ANY President ought to be able to take credit for something as complicated as the national economy or do you just feel that this one is being held to a different standard than executives past?

Mr. Lucchese said...

"spending money like a drunken sailor in a Southeast Asian port"

As an avowed Conservative, do you not feel that this has been a fairly large "inconsistency" of the right lately?

Anonymous said...


1. We know the rules change. When a demorat is in power (according to the “objective media), the land flows with milk and honey, the flowers bloom more, the sun is always shinning, there are no more poor, starving or homeless and the muggers even say "Give me your money please."

2. How many times do I have to say it don't insult the sailors. Unlike the congress, the sailors spend their own money!

Coach Brown said...

People that don't understand Economics always use this idea that Clinton was somehow wonderful because "he" created a budget surplus. Then they get on the kick that deficit spending is the the second worse thing in the Universe next to Hell, and Toby Keith.
I always try to use the simple home ownership example when discussing the deficit. It's amazing how quickly they get it.

Ellen K said...

It also used to be a gauge of how successful a president was domestically when most people had jobs. Right now, more people own homes than at any point in history. And we have jobs virtually for anyone that wants to work. You know it's funny, but there has been this trend in politics and media to think someone with a Southern accent is naturally dumb. They did it with LBJ and they often do it on TV shows-the slow talking guy with the Alabama drawl. I do think the media hypes this quite a bit. Like it or not, President Bush did graduate from an Ivy League school. He did make his way to success in the oil business during a very lean period in that industry's history. His biggest problem and asset is that he deals with his position like a CEO. He delegates to people he trusts and he lets them do their job. None of this micromanaging over the shoulder type of administration. But I think he has been so betrayed by people he trusted that in the end, the media blames him for things truly out of his control. Nobody could have anticipated Katrina or the lack of self-motivation of the people there. Nobody could have predicted 911. I always find it amusing that the same people who think Bush is stupid think he is a criminal mastermind that designed the Fall of the Twin Towers. You can't have it both ways, but somehow the wild liberals and media don't get that. Which is why I discount so much of what comes to us labeled as "news" when it's really conjecture.

Darren said...

Tony, to answer your two questions:

I think this president is held to a higher standard regarding economic issues, and that high spending by a Republican-controlled Congress and White House represent "an inconsistency" not with the right, but with the Republicans in office.

MikeAT's right, Coach Brown is right, and EllenK is right (as usual)--especially about the dumb Bush who's sly as a fox.

Coach Brown said...

I'd like to clarify that I think that Bush is currently being looked at as one of the worst Presidents in U.S. history, but it is not the economics that makes it so. Right now his legacy is that after 9/11 he had the world all acting as American partners, and totally destroyed that political capital. Tony Blair, who could be considered one of the best PM's that the UK has ever had, lost his spot because Bush's place in the world poisoned the poor man.

I believe that it takes years to really judge presidential decisions. Take Clinton. Pre-9/11, Bill was considered a worldly statesman that took concise action in the Balkans and helped hold our relations with China. Post-9/11, and Clinton is now looked at as a man who sat the sidelines as Al Qaeda prepped for the attack. Even Blair admitted that Clinton was harder to deal with because he would promise one thing, and never deliver. At least Bush does what he says.
I don't like Bush, at all, and I'm very patient when it comes to giving Presidents a chance. He's got a Cold War mentality that does not fit in this era. He got rid of those that were reasonable (Colin Powell) and surrounded himself with policy idiots (Rumsfeld, who should be executed). Bush isn't stupid, he's stubborn.

BTW, I'm pretty much in the same boat about Congress too. Except for the stupid part, because I can't find any logical reason that Barbara Boxer acts the way she does.

Darren said...

Bush is no Lincoln or Reagan, but like those two, history will judge him far less harshly than his contemporaries do.

And I respect that he means and does what he says.

Where I fault him is in his contribution to out-of-control federal spending and a DHS that doesn't seem to have its act together.

Ellen K said...

Here's a review of a past president-Harry Truman, a Democrat, one who holds the dubious honor of being the only one with guts enough to drop the Bomb on Japan to avoid a beachfront battle that was projected to cost a million Allied troops on the beachfront.

"In domestic affairs, Truman faced challenge after challenge: a tumultuous reconversion of the economy marked by severe shortages, numerous strikes, and the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act over his veto.[1] After confounding all predictions to win re-election in 1948,[2] he was able to pass almost none of his Fair Deal program.[3] He used executive orders to begin desegregation of the U.S. armed forces[4] and to launch a system of loyalty checks to remove thousands of Communist sympathizers from government office.[5] He did, however, strongly oppose mandatory loyalty oaths for governmental employees,[6] a stance that led to charges that his administration was soft on Communism. Corruption in his administration reached the cabinet and senior White House staff; in one of many scandals, 166 of his appointees resigned or were fired in the aftermath of revelations of financial misbehavior in the Internal Revenue Service.[7] Republicans made corruption a central issue in the 1952 campaign.[8]"

allenm said...

If we want a better class of politician then we'd better look for a better class of electorate because the resemblance between our politicians and ourselves is nothing short of amazing.

Hey Tony, you want fiscally responsible politicians? Show us your credit card statement and we'll see if you're any better in your personal finances then the people we elect are with our collective finances. Always carry through on all your promises? As careful and responsible with the possessions others entrust to you as you are with your own possessions? When you borrow your neighbor's lawn mower do you bring it back when you say you will with a full tank of gas?

We really do get the government we deserve which is the one, big flaw in the Constitution. Fortunately that flaw is neatly offset by the absence of anyone else to blame for our screw-ups and the knowledge that nobody's going to fix things that need fixing but us.

I'm not sure I'd be all that comfortable with a fiscally responsible Congress. I'd always have to wonder if it was an elaborate joke or a whether a newer, better branch of the human race had evolved while no one was paying attention.

Ellen K said...

Once again, we don't get the government we want, but we get the one we deserve. When the electorate is more concerned with who wins American Idol or what Paris Hilton is doing and the media follows that lead, then what chance do we have when we explain that things cannot be done without money. And that all problems are not necessarily based on partisan politics, gender or race. And that money is not always the solution, although it is very often the problem.