Category Archives: Bush

Who’s Sorry Now?

For the record, a list of Bush Administration apologies to foreign governments from 2001 to 2008.  Full post here.

The “WE” don’t apologize brand of Yosemite Sam foreign policy espoused recently by former Massachusetts Governor Romney stands in stark contrast to the measured responses of President George W. Bush who was willing to make amends to foreign governments when the diplomatic situation called for it.   While I’ve been, and remain, highly critical of the Bush Administration’s foreign policy in general —  giving credit where it is due —  President Bush did know when an apology was in order.

Current Republican candidate Romney seems not to have mastered the fundamentals of diplomacy necessary to understand when temper should be tamped down by temperance.

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Filed under 2012 election, Bush, Bush Administration, Foreign Policy, Politics, Romney

Chart of the Day: National Debt Increases By Presidency

Clip and share with any Faux News lovin’ Fuzzy Uncle who is convinced Democrats are the party of “Out Of Control Spending.”

H/T to Think For Yourself, and Treasury Direct.

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Filed under 2012 election, Bush, Bush Administration, Clinton, national debt, Obama

Floss to Gold? Asking Better Economic Questions

While Nevada sits with an 11.6% statewide unemployment rate, an 11.8% rate in the Las Vegas Metropolitan Area, an 11.5% rate in the Reno-Sparks area, an 11.7% rate in Carson City and environs, (Elko County micro area is at 6.1%) [DETR] the national debate over jobs and economic policy gets waged in Sound Bites and Furious Advertising.  Everyone feels “our pain,” but there are two very different ideological positions for dealing with it.

The General Policies

The Romney Campaign summarizes the candidate’s Job Creation formula as follows: “His plan seeks to reduce taxes, spending, regulation, and government programs. It seeks to increase trade, energy production, human capital, and labor flexibility. It relinquishes power to the states instead of claiming to have the solution to every problem.”  [Romney]

The categories on the Obama website promote the President’s interest in  (1) Investing in American manufacturing and innovation, including doubling the tax deduction for domestic advanced technology manufacturing from 9% to 18%, and offering a 20% tax credit against expenses incurred in relocating jobs back to the United States;  (2) cutting taxes for small businesses and streamlining the patent process; and (3) restraining the excesses of the Financial Sector and curbing practices on Wall Street that leave American taxpayers holding the bag for financial sector errors in judgment.

Both campaigns are heavy on tax cuts, but diverge from that point.  Both campaigns place the jobs category in a wider economic framework.  The frames are very different.  Romney’s summation is a classic compilation of conservative notions all predicated on the assumption that government is the problem.   Obama’s summation is a centrist amalgam of tax policy and consumer protections.

Bush 2.0

The Romney proposals are little more than Bush Redux, the Trickle Down Theory of economic growth.  As noted previously:

“We should also bear in mind that what Governor Romney is calling a “job creation” proposal would more accurately be labeled a tax reduction plan which he hopes might could would should in some idealized ideological world of Trickle Down economics produce the job growth we want IF it works — we’re still waiting for the tax reductions on corporations and wealthy individuals to work from the last round. [DB 7/9/12]

Governor Romney also hits all the correct notes in the stump speeches about small businesses, but once again it’s with a philosophy which assumes that if the yachts are rising, with the tide or not, then everyone’s boat will float a bit higher.  [DB 7/10/12]

When the components of the Gross Domestic Product were discussed in terms of what kinds of economic growth would we need to convince firms to add more employees we found there volatility in private economic investment, negatives in government spending, and the overall GDP muddling along.  [DB 7/10/12]

Simplistic prescriptions like “cutting regulations,” and “increasing labor flexibility” from the Romney camp should be looked as as closely as the proposal to fast track the Trans-Pacific Partnership — or, NAFTA on steroids. [DB 7/9/12]

He Did It Too!

One of the weaker arguments made by the Romney campaign is that the Obama Administration has been derelict in its duty to protect American jobs.   The first charge was “he did it too.” From the former Massachusetts Governor campaigning in Colorado:

“It is interesting that when it comes to outsourcing that this president has been outsourcing a good deal of American jobs himself by putting money into energy companies — solar and wind energy companies that end up making their products outside the United States,” Romney said. “If there’s an outsourcer-in-chief, it’s the president of the United States, not the guy who’s running to replace him.”  [CNN]

First, there’s an interesting split here.  The former Massachusetts Governor is speaking only of the products used to transform solar and wind energy into electric power — not the power itself.   It would be nice if the Chinese didn’t manipulate their currency, and it would be well if there were more American manufacturers of solar and wind energy components.  It would be nicer still if the U.S. were not so dependent on fossil fuels to produce electrical power.

Secondly, the slap at solar and wind technologies implies that Governor Romney is firmly in the Fossil Fuel camp, and the attempt to equate renewable energy with off shoring jobs is a rhetorical trick, not necessarily the explication of any policy not already associated with the Bush Administration.

The second charge was a bit more nuanced, but not much:

“In addition to Priebus’ event, Romney’s campaign is also pointing to a new story in The Washington Post that details criticism of Obama for allowing domestic jobs to shift overseas. “American jobs have been shifting to low-wage countries for years, and the trend has continued during Obama’s presidency,” states the article, published online Monday night.”  [CNN]

Now, why would “jobs shift to low wage countries” for years?  Any reference to tariffs is asking for an immediate torrent of “Protectionism!”  And, an obvious question to ask at this juncture is whether trade agreements promote economic growth or “high productivity poverty?”

Any globalized corporation seeking to reduce its labor costs is going to locate plants in regions with a competent labor supply and a local infrastructure capable of supplying energy needs and providing adequate transportation and distribution for products.  “If only labor costs could be reduced, and union contract  requirements be eliminated — then we would have prosperity,” cry the manufacturers.  The numbers don’t seem to validate this contention.

If unionization and hourly compensation costs are the down fall  of economic growth, then why is Germany seven places above the United States?  However, as long as Chinese workers are comfortable with monthly compensation of $636, or workers in India will accept wages averaging $295/mo. or Pakistan’s labor force averages $255/mo. [BBC] then manufacturers who seek low hourly compensation costs will “shift jobs to …..” and there won’t be much any chief executive can do about it.

Asking Better Questions

A better question is how to replace manufacturing jobs for clothing or textiles — already long gone — with new manufacturing in new technologies.  We can ante-up to create new firms, or in the worst scenario, throw up both hands and allow the Germans and the Chinese to take the field.

We can get entangled in small arguments about whether Ralph Lauren, Inc. should have clad our Olympic team in Chinese manufactured clothing, or we can ask whether we want “Buy American” provisions in government procurement processes.   Conservatives, such as Governor Romney,  have generally been opposed to Buy American legislation.  [OF]

We can spew and sputter about backing start up loans to individual niche market solar panel manufacturers — or, we can ask how we might best coordinate the efforts of our manufacturing and higher education resources toward creating energy technology for the 22nd century.

We can bash unions, create more “right not to work” states, and restrict workers’ capacity to bargain for wages, hours, and working conditions; or we can focus more attention on retraining employees for modern jobs.  We can grouse about environmental regulations to abate air and water pollution, or we can put additional effort into devising and manufacturing the best quality filtration systems on the planet.

In short, we can cut taxes and regulations until every cow in the Intermountain West comes home — but until we broaden our focus from a narrow view of what is good for the financial markets to a wider perspective including what it will require to advance our manufacturing capabilities, we’re still going to be stumbling in the sagebrush trying to transform “high productivity poverty” floss into “high employment opportunity” gold.

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Filed under 2012 election, Bush, Bush Administration, Nevada economy, Nevada politics, Obama, Romney

Things for which Mr. Romney has not yet taken credit

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney was pleased to tell the audience of Cleveland’s WEWS-TV that the assistance to the American automobile industry, initiated by President George Bush and completed by President Barack Obama was “his idea.”

One business reporter summed things up:  If Romney was indeed pushing for the idea of a managed bankruptcy in the manner he describes, he wasn’t doing it where the automotive and political press corps could see it, beyond the op-ed page.”  [Forbes]

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Filed under 2012 election, Bush, Carter, Obama, Romney

>The Sunday Deck Bass Super Bowl and the GOP Super Bawl

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If northern Nevada’s least coveted, most utterly unwanted, completely unsought award, The Sunday Deck Bass, were in play-off format for the 2008-09 season, the contenders would be former President George W. Bush (10), Senator John McCain (17), Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons (9), and former NYC major Rudy Giuliani (5). Assuming that a power ranking playoff format were applied, then Bush (10) would face Giuliani (5), and McCain (17) would square off against Gibbons (9). If the numbers determined the outcome, the Deck Bass Super Bawl would pit McCain vs. Bush. The edge has to go to Senator John McCain for a host of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that he’s still in the Senate, with ample opportunity to continue to baffle both his supporters and critics. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that ex-President Bush is completely out of the game.

Bush has performed one major flip flop since exiting the White House and Oval Office, a life style make-over. Gone are the televised press reports with that dilapidated shack-looking feature in the background, the brush whacking photo ops, and the commentary about the “ranch.” Fully energy efficient ranchette backdrop that it was, it served to create his “image” as a “commoner,” about as much as Sir Winston Churchill’s performance decades earlier – if one forgot about the part where Churchill came from Blenhiem. The Bush family has ‘retired’ to a $3.07 million mansion on 1.13 acres of exclusive Dallas real estate.

The former first family will occupy 8,501 square feet, with 896 sq. ft. for servants’ quarters, in addition to a 450 sq. ft. cabana on the property. [Newsweek] Preston Hollow is supposedly serenaded by screech owls (not those pesky Spotted ones), various other birds, and coyotes (Why does having coyotes in the Bush entourage seem appropriate?). The home was purchased with a $3,074,000 loan from the Community National Bank of Midland [CNB] to be paid in full as of October 2012. CNB is a locally owned, self described “independent financial institution, the CEO of which is Jeb B. Hughes. [AU.CNB]

The former President should feel very comfortable in Preston Hollow. The neighborhood is 80% white, and the average family income is $122,509. Residents in its ZIP code donated about $1.6 million in various federal races last year, with the top recipients being Senator John McCain and the Republican National Committee. Not surprisingly, no Republican candidate drew less than 63% of the vote in the precinct in the November 2008 election. [DMN] This puts the ex-President in a secure position near his own goal line.

For his part, Senator John McCain (admitted owner of more home goal lines than he can recall) is now involved crafting his own economic stimulus package in the Senate, pronouncing the Obama Administration plan “disappointing.” The former presidential candidate who put his campaign “on hold,” to rush back to Washington for the TARP negotiations remarked, “I have to tell you I’m disappointed so far in the administration’s lack of consultation or efforts to work with Republicans on the stimulus package.” [WaPo] Evidently a trip to meet with House Republicans on their own turf, and an invitation to the White House Super Bowl party were insufficient.

It doesn’t take a scouting report to determine that the GOP will come with its well thumbed play book – more tax cuts. Their play calling appears to assume that the stimulus package’s Democratic contents are merely “part of the Democratic agenda,” and not really stimulative. McCain’s linemen include Mel Martinez (R-FL), John Thune (R-SD), Tom Coburn (R-OK) and sidekick Lindsey Graham (R-SC). This front five will no doubt try to blitz the media with “alternatives” (read: tax cuts) favorable to corporate interests. At the risk of repetition, corporate tax cuts are the least stimulative plays in the book. However, that fact probably won’t diminish GOP enthusiasm for throwing long on their first downs, filibustering at the goal line, and reverting to “Hail Marys” in the press when their plays are unsuccessful.

The Super Bowl is scheduled to start at 6:28 PM this evening and will have four timed quarters; the Super Bawl could go much longer.

desertbeacon.blogspot.com

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>Bush-McCain by the Numbers

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Just how is that Republican “No New Taxes, De-regulation, Government off our Backs” ideology doing for us? We might try painting the picture by the numbers.

Estimated median wage in Nevada FY 2001 = $55,400 [Novoco.com pdf] Estimated median wage in Nevada FY 2008 = ($14.68 / hr) [DETR] 2007 – $53,912 [Census]

Unemployment rate in Nevada 2001 = 6.3% [Econolink] The national unemployment rate was 4.5% in April 2001. [Econolink] Unemployment rate in Nevada 2008 = 7.1% (August 2008) [DETR] The national unemployment rate now stands at 6.1%.

Home foreclosure rate in Nevada 2001 = ? Home foreclosure rate in Nevada 2008 = 1 in every 91 houses [LV Sun] During 2004 the total past due mortgages ranged from 4.38% to 4.56% nationally. For the first two quarters of 2008 the range is 6.35% to 6.41% for all loans. [OregonLive/MBA]

Manufacturing jobs – from 1984 to 1998 manufacturing employment in the United States was “approximately steady at around 17 million jobs.” The number of manufacturing jobs declined to 14.3 million by January 2004, the lowest level since July 1950. [CAP] As of September 2008 the number of manufacturing jobs has not increased for the the past 27 months. [Forbes]

Indebtedness – The Debt Service Ratio (Household Debt) during 2001 ranged from 12.97 to 13.40. The DSR for 2008 ranges from 13.85 to 14.35. [Fed] The financial obligations ratio for American households in the first quarter of 2001 was 15.87, increasing to 17.50 in the second quarter of 2008.

Gasoline Prices – the EIA (Department of Energy) forecast prices for regular grade gasoline in the $1.49 range for the summer of 2001. The report from the EIA now shows a national average of $3.72 [EIA]

No wonder the McCain Campaign wants to talk about porcine lip gloss, and who comes from Chicago, and who knew who back whenever – anything to change the subject from an economy in the tank.

desertbeacon.blogspot.com

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>Lettuce vs. Houses: Can McCain shed the Shadow of Atwater – or does he even want to?

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If the Bush-McCain party wishes to convince Nevadans, and other citizens of the U.S. that it can run a campaign that isn’t merely a rehash of Lee Atwater-ism, then it might take advantage of the gaffe by Senator McCain about the number of houses he owns by ducking for cover and renouncing the 1988 style “elitist” attacks on Senator Obama. However, the label itself didn’t magically appear in the Grand Oil Party lexicon of political slurs as Reagan sought to characterize Governor Dukakis as an effete liberal who would support gun control and sympathize with African Americans. Ridding itself of this vestige of GOP campaigning may be difficult since, as Thom Hartmann correctly points out, the charge has been a staple of modern campaigning since at least the 1952 election season during which Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson was caricatured as a “pointy-headed liberal.” [BzFlsh]

Stevenson, McGovern, Mondale, and now Obama, were and are the targets of this Nixon-Atwater-Rove line of attack simply by virtue of the fact that they are Democrats, and it has been a singular feature of the GOP to immediately label its opponents as “out of touch,” or “insufficiently common” to speak to and for the American people; much less independent minded westerners. Unfortunately for the Grand Oil Party, its candidate this round fulfills the elitist role in ways that keep seeping out into the public consciousness.

Inside-the-beltway pundits and commentators may sniff dismissively that the average American voter may not “buy” the notion that Senator McCain is a member of the privileged elite because that doesn’t fit into their corporate media narrative [TP] but the Arizona Senator keeps opening the door and allowing the message to leak out.

McCain’s top economic adviser openly stated that Americans who were complaining about their economic woes were merely “whiners,” and if “they” (likely meaning the Great Unwashed) were really astute observers of all things economic they would see that the economy was fundamentally sound. Gramm’s words betrayed the economic elitism intrinsic in Republican economics. For the elite investor class of which Gramm is a charter member the economy is fine; however, for those who have adjustable rate mortgages on starter homes in an economy that is hemorrhaging manufacturing jobs – not so much.

McCain can’t define “rich” in any way the average American can comprehend. He tried desperately to argue that his tax plan wasn’t a benefit package for the rich; he wanted to keep everyone’s taxes low. So, where is the line between rich and middle class? McCain offered a “joke” saying “How about $5 million?” [TP] Things only got worse as Senator McCain tried to walk back the effect. The candidate was asked by Politico what he meant. His response was as ingenuous as it was vague: “I define rich in other ways besides income.” [TP] This response, while perhaps Biblically correct, doesn’t go anywhere near offering proof that he understands what it means to be middle class in any meaningful way.

McCain responded to a simple question “How many homes do you own?” with the worst possible answer for a candidate trying to sound like a man of the people, “I think – I’ll have my staff get to you…it’s condominiums where – I’ll have them get to you.” [Politico]

The Obama campaign seized the moment, producing a “Houses” commercial. [NYT] The GOP response was fast, but hardly drawing from a position of strength – “Does a guy who made more than $4 million last year, just got back from vacation on a private beach in Hawaii and bought his own million-dollar mansion with the help of a convicted felon really want to get into a debate about houses? Does a guy who worries about the price of arugula and thinks regular people “cling” to guns and religion in the face of economic hardship really want to have a debate about who’s in touch with regular Americans?” “The reality is that Barack Obama’s plans to raise taxes and opposition to producing more energy here at home as gas prices skyrocket show he’s completely out of touch with the concerns of average Americans.” [NYT] This reply merits some parsing.

The first line is simply an ad hominem attack, which doesn’t address the issue of McCain’s sensitivity to the economic lives of middle class Americans. At best the sentence is a play on the old “pot calls kettle black” assertion. The insertion of the Rezco reference is pure Atwaterian slur by association. Notice the “arugula” reference? And, note that Senator Obama can’t be a Good Old Boy because he might be anti-gun, a resurrection of ’88 motif. The third sentence is pure distraction and diversion: “raise taxes, opposes drilling, responsible for high gas prices” talking points intended not to describe Senator McCain’s connection to the affairs of average Americans but to divert their attention from his lack thereof. If nothing more, this response illustrates that the McCain campaign doesn’t intend to defend McCain or his positions, but to go on the offensive each time he or his policy proposals are criticized – the classic Nixon-Atwater-Rove strategy. “Never apologize, never explain, just stay on the offensive.”

Therefore we can expect more Nixon-Atwater-Rove style campaigning from McCain. There will be more attempts to tie Senator Obama to so-called radicals, the Reverend Wright story having played itself out, the next round is said to tie Obama to Bill Ayers and the Weather Underground. The Pinkston Group, which worked for the Swift Boaters, will be running ads in conjunction with an astroturf outfit calling itself The American Issues Project on the subject. One of the founders of The American Issues Project is Ed Failor, Jr. who worked for Senator McCain’s Iowa campaign in 2007, earning some $50,000 for services rendered to the campaign before McCain “pared back operations.” [NYT] The bad news is that the Swift-boating continues; the good news is that members of the corporate media are now more likely to look into the backgrounds of the groups running these ads than during the 2004 election.

Senator McCain’s promise to conduct a new, clearer, cleaner, and more civil campaign quite simply can’t be considered a serious premise for his operations given his adoption of the Nixon-Atwater-Rove underpinnings as illustrated by the reply to the ‘houses’ issue. Perhaps there is little else that could so adequately explain why the Bush-Cheney campaign strategy and tactics merge so easily into the McCain campaign strategy and tactics. They not only share a cadre of associated advisers, but a philosophical camaraderie as well.

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Filed under Bush, McCain, Rove, Swiftboating