If Conservatives Were Right About the Economy

August 4th, 2011 at 9:13 am David Frum | 127 Comments |

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Further to yesterday’s post about the respective economic acumen of the Wall Street Journal editorial page vs. Prof. Paul Krugman:

My conservative friends argue that the policies of Barack Obama are responsible for the horrifying length and depth of the economic crisis.

Question: Which policies?

Obama’s only tax increases – those contained in the Affordable Care Act – do not go into effect until 2014. Personal income tax rates and corporate tax rates are no higher today than they have been for the past decade. The payroll tax has actually been cut by 2 points. Total federal tax collections have dropped by 4 points of GDP since 2007, from 18+% to 14+%, the lowest rate since the Truman administration.

If so minded, you could describe Barack Obama as the biggest tax cutter in American history.

We have not seen a major surge in federal regulation, at least by the usual rough metrics: the page count of the Federal Register has risen by less than 5% since George W. Bush’s last year in office. Trade remains as free as it was a decade ago.

While the Affordable Care Act itself will eventually have major economic consequences, most of its provisions remain only impending.

Energy prices have surged, but that’s hardly a response to administration policies. Conservatives complain about restrictions on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, but on a planet that produces 63 million barrels of oil per day, a few thousand more or less from the Gulf will not much budge the price of oil. Rising oil prices are a story about Chinese and Indian consumption and Middle Eastern political instability, not about US drilling or lack thereof.

The Dodd-Frank bill does somewhat curtail the activities of some banks and investment firms. But is it seriously argued that this could be the cause?

Conservatives complain about excess government spending. Fine. But isn’t the evil of excess government spending supposed to be inflation rather than recession? And where’s the inflation?

There’s a strong case for condemning Barack Obama for the things he might have done, but did not do. He might have cut payroll taxes more and faster. He might have pushed for more expansionary Federal Reserve governors. He might have designed a better stimulus. All true. But the things he did do? Texas Gov. Rick Perry today urges us to believe that the economy is gripped by the worst slump since the Great Depression because Obama spoke disrespectfully of the owners of private jets. To which I can only say: Really? That’s the indictment? Really?

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127 Comments so far ↓

  • Smargalicious

    The people are giving up on Obama.

    This is a great article about why:


  • balconesfault

    Obama has harmed the economy by … well … existing.

    It’s because of Obama’s existence that the Congressional GOP has waged a 2.5 year war against economic recovery.

    Had Obama been, say, a nice white Republican, the GOP caucus would have had a completely different agenda over the last 2.5 years, and the economy would be doing much better as a result.

    • forgetn

      Good point, it would appear that the Republican’s idea of governing is do what they want when they are in charge “Deficits don’t matter” and sabotage the administration of any Democrat rule.

    • advocatusdiaboli

      I am pretty sure it has nothing to do with his race as far as most Republicans are concerned: the Clintons are caucasian they hated them—even tried to impeach him and so is Pelosi who they despise. There is far more racial bias in the imagination of liberals than there is in the minds of and actions of Republicans. Calls of racism are increasingly being used when the arguer has no solid facts to present and instead resorts to ad hominem argument.

      • Alivegarden

        True and not true. I have plenty of older family members who will readily admit that their support for Republicans is not based on a belief in trickle-down economics, which they have long-accepted as a sham. Rather, they openly admit that Obama is a the N-Word and that Democrats simply “give everything to the blacks,” who of course, in their eyes are all ghetto-ized criminals. The subtle influence of irrational racial resentment drives plenty of people to support the Republican party would otherwise disagree with many of its policies and ideology.

        • LauraNo

          Whenever people try to claim that racism is all in liberal’s minds I get to thinking, “don’t they realize we are bound to know some republicans in real life?”.

      • jamesj

        I honestly think you are wrong to dismiss accusations of racism so easily, just as I think its wrong to accuse all right wingers of racism. I’ll grant that the majority of the current anger is based on a prejudice other than race, but at least a small percentage of it is certainly due to race and I’ve seen the clear, irrefutable evidence often and consistently over the last couple years. I still get emails on a regular basis from fellow business owners showing cartoons with a bone through Obama’s nose, calling him a “Kenyan”, calling him “darkie”, calling him “African” (in bold letters), etc. I am privy to these email lists because some people just assume that I’ll accept this type of trash since I am not a Liberal and since I run my own business. Similar comments are often also made in person in my company. I usually raise my eyebrows and make a weird look to let them know I am uncomfortable with their overt racism. In pretty much every single case the person will defensively swear to me that they are not racist. I don’t make much of a big deal of it, but as I walk away from those encounters my faith in the right wing movement in this country decays further.

        • Cforchange

          jamesj speaks truth & reality.
          Many of these email authors camoflauge this by excessively strong support for Cain or West. Clearly this era has clarified who is completly dumb, dumber and ignorant.

      • lilmanny

        You’re both right. Perhaps Mr. Frum can comment, but it strikes me that republicans, particularly of the more activist fringe, regard any democratic president as illegitimate by definition. This has been true since the mid to early 90s, roughly when the activists took over as the drivers of the GOP. The goal at that point becomes much different. You’re now fighting ‘treason’ and so there is only one option: stop the president at any and all turns from destroying the country. The fact that the president is black just makes it that much easier. That is, many of the activists are not opposing the president because they are racist. They may be racist, and many of them are by evidence of the e-mails that leak out here and there, but their actions stem from the fact that they believe in their hearts that no democrat should be president. Ever. They are told that this is the case at every turn, and make those that are willing to tell them this fabulously rich.

        • ggore

          You are exactly right. I noticed this tactic while I was listening to Rush Limbaugh’s and Glenn Beck’s early years on the radio. Instead of disagreeing with the politics or policies of then Bill Clinton or now President Obama, they try to delegitimize the PERSON, either by painting them as “anti-American, Nazi, socialist, whatever” by mainly innuendo and association. These charges are virtually impossible to deflect and recover from.

          By starting every statement with “I don’t know, but there are those who say…..” you take the onus off of you yourself having to legitimize the charges you are making, since you are saying that it is not you who came up with this cockamamie idea, that it was some other unnamed and unknown person or persons who you will never reveal, and off you go, able to say the wildest things that come into your mind. This tactic has worked very well for Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, and many others.

      • zephae

        I’d like to think you’re right and there isn’t a racist element at work, but when I the talk radio crowd barely even tries to hideits racist undercurrents (Glenn Beck anyone?) and I hear people from the middle of PA say “that’s what happens when you put a nigger in the White House” I have to disagree.

      • cdorsen

        Sure, it is all racist whites that hate the black prez… That is why 98% of blacks voted for Obama. That is why he still has over 90% approval in that demographic when he has lost major ground in every other one. White people’s racism…

        • Primrose

          If you are willing to use racism and racist stereotypes to get elected, even if your actual call for opposition isn’t predicated on racism, you are a racist. You see people of certain ethnicities not as citizens but as tools to be used, then you don’t see them as people.

          While on some level I agree that Republicans don’t accept democrats at all as legitimate, they still let them talk to schools. Still understood them to be Americans.
          Republicans refused to let Mr. Obama to tell school children to study hard, using his own life as useful inspiration.

          This simple message was considered a violation. And that can’t simply be politics, that’s feeling that a Black Man, a person from a lower caste, someone who doesn’t count in society, would be speaking as if he held the highest office in the land. That couldn’t be to their racist minds. It must not be. So they refused to allow it.

          Which is why they tried to undo the election with this birther nonsense. And the things they have said about Mrs. Obama, makes their racism clear.

          Furthermore, I do think their willingness to hold the credit of the US hostage had to do with the fact they were dealing with a person they thought didn’t count, because of his race. How can you terrorize someone who violates their sense of right and wrong simply by existing?

          As for African-Americans voting for Mr. Obama because he was black, that is nonsense. Nobody seems to be running to vote for Mr Cain who is also Black. The African-American community generally votes democratic. Mr. Obama’s presidency may have excited a few more voters to come out but it few changed parties or philosophy.

        • paul_gs

          ==”Which is why they tried to undo the election with this birther nonsense. And the things they have said about Mrs. Obama, makes their racism clear.”==

          Who is “they”? Don’t slander all for the birther nutters.

          ==”Furthermore, I do think their willingness to hold the credit of the US hostage had to do with the fact they were dealing with a person they thought didn’t count, because of his race.”==

          Because you disagree with the politics of elected reps they are now “hostage takers”? And you appear to be a mind reader too since you know everything is about race.

  • Smargalicious

    “Had Obama been, say, a nice white Republican…”

    See how Obama has divided the country?? His 4-year tenure will be historically noted as a blight and scourge, responsible for many horrible events:

    Racial divide

    Massive debt

    High unemployment

    Obamanomic misery

    Obamacare disaster

    Massive decline in American world prestige and power

    Massive increase in government dependency entitlements

    God help us all.

    • sweatyb

      do not feed the troll

      • Smargalicious

        sweaty, you’re the worst party clown we ever hired. Payment on the check will be stopped, and your agency notified of your performance here.

        • jenk

          Obama caused racial divide? I didn’t realize he had been President since the 1860′s.

        • gocart mozart

          If only Obama would stop being so black, Smegmaliscious wouldn’t be forced to be such a racist douche. The balls in your court Barry Hussein X.

    • DeathByIrony

      Substandard effort. Needs more portmanteaus. Perhaps 50% more.

    • zephae

      Lol, Smarg. Sometimes I really enjoy your ridiculous hyperbole.

    • SFTor1

      It’s a little sad to see that one can drift that far from reality.

      I am done with argument for argument’s sake. I am done with rhetoric. From now on I will respond to people who seem to have a reasonable grip on reality, which is what Frum demonstrates with this post, and who are trying to further the interest of all Americans.

      People like Smargalicious, whoever she may be, must be tossed aside as irrelevant. He or she has nothing to contribute to a productive discussion. It’s juvenile. It’s annoying. It’s garbage.

  • TerryF98

    Your friends David like Smarg are delusional and angry that a black man is in the white house.

    As you point out there is no other explanation.

    • Smargalicious

      Herman Cain is a black man. He is an American. He is Presidential material.

      Barack Obama (I wince even saying the name) is an anti-White reparationist who was never Presidential material with absolutely no credentials for the office.

      There is a difference, Terry. A big one.

    • advocatusdiaboli

      Did you actually read the article? If so, then you’d realize your comment makes no sense in context at all.

      • jenk

        Actually, the comment makes some sense in that there has to be a reason all of the economic calamity is being laid at President Obama’s feet other than his policies. Personally, I think it is because there is a “D” after his name, but other people hold that it is his skin color.

        It is definitely not because of the policies he has put in place. The politicians and pundits that claim that are flat out lying.

    • tlnixon

      This is slightly humorous, but really stupid. It is true all Tea Partiers are not racist; but it is also true that 95% of racists are Tea Partiers.

  • Alivegarden

    So, Obama has not raised taxes (though taxes need to be raised to an extent, eventually) and while flawed, the health reform bill is essentially a formerly Heritage Foundation-approved, market-driven bill. being a regulatory law that expands people’s access to health insurance. This will help many people’s quality of life, yet in the eyes of some individuals I’ve talked to, he’s some kind of (insert something ludicrous ending in “-ist”). There are some people who are so utterly brainwashed, who have such a weak understanding of information literacy, that they need only to hear Limbaugh or his ilk say something and it becomes divine truth, because people like Limbaugh derive their authority from….

  • cranky_engineer

    I have wondered in the past what would happen if the Delorean had had some sort of weird malfunction and let’s say Sen. Edward Brooke (If you have to ask you are too young) had been elected the first black president. Nice American sounding name. Roughly the same background as President Obama. Nice conservative Republican of the day. Would there be the huge backlash from the Democratic party? I think not. Would the Republicans accept him? Publicly sure. In private – h’mm gotta wonder.

    I remember at the time when he was elected I thought – cool! – this is from a nominal Democrat and progressive.

    • advocatusdiaboli

      While achieving the top office given his race was an achievement, I always questioned his lack of experience and we are seeing the impact of that lack of experience. He’s basically a community organizer with a the experience of a junior congressional rep. He’s not much of a leader or unifier. I admit I voted for him but only because the alternative was McCain-Palin which I could never support. I’d really rather we stop voting for president and have Congress elect them periodically and have us vote for Congress more often. I am tired of being forced to pick among only 2 poorly chosen candidates for president.

      • balconesfault

        You tell me how Obama could have unified the GOP caucus to work with him.

        Besides, say, becoming a Republican.

        And one only needs to hear from way too many conservatives how Obama is supporting unions because working blacks have a much higher proportion of union membership than working whites … or hear how he’s defended social spending because blacks “so dependent on the government teat” … or hear about his foreign policy as “anti-colonial”, or his domestic economic agenda as “reparations” …

        The dog whistle sounds loud. If you want to fight it, then you should be ripping those who use such language a new one each time a Hannity or Savage or Rush or generic Fox commentator throws racial innuendo on the table, rather than suddenly rushing to the ramparts when the innuendo is exposed.

        • Grace

          I’ve seen the ‘community organizer’ slam popping up all around on the blogs the last few days. I can’t stomach the right wing hate media so don’t know for sure, but I suspect Rush or Hannity is using the batshit signal to push that hard again? $arah twatting it to her cult? If that’s what’s driving it, what makes them think it’s going to be any more helpful to them now than it was in 2008? Do they have reason to believe that dogwhistle is being heard by more people now?

  • Graychin

    Mr. Frum, why do you remain a Republican?


    • advocatusdiaboli

      He’s clearly a conservative, in the traditional Goldwater sense. The problem you are having is that David has stayed true to his convictions while the Republican party has itself become increasingly polarized with few at the middle any more. There simply is no party for rational conservatives any more. But, in my view, that doesn’t make them wrong—it makes them the “right” right.

    • Banty

      Somebody has to anchor to the cliff, and wear the harness, and extend the ropes and caribeeners, to keep the rest from falling to their demise.

      • balconesfault

        Good luck with that, when those over the edge are arguing that freefall is preferable to remaining on the edge.

        You just have to look at how many in the GOP fully embraced defaulting on our debt to realize that Frum is more in danger of being pulled over the cliff (with the rest of America) than the party is of being “rescued”.

    • Another Matt

      We need many many more Republicans like Frum, not fewer. I’m liberaler than Ezra Klein, but I think it’s a national emergency that our party lines are as much along the “crazy-sane” boundary as they are the “left-right.” The problem is that it’s easy to believe your team’s bullshit. The more Rs like Frum, the less kooky the bullshit and the saner the politics overall.

      • jenk

        Hello pipedream. The “R’s” seem vastly content to expel those of a more moderate stripe not to cultivate them.

      • balconesfault

        I don’t know – is there any evidence whatsoever that Frum will, in a general election, vote for a centrist Democrat over a far right Republican who embodies all the worst impulses of the GOP that he’s been currently crusading against?

        I certainly haven’t seen that evidence in the form of endorsements from him.

        If at the end of the day Frum will still support whichever hyperpartisan anti-government reactionary who emerges from a heavily gerrymanderred GOP safe district over a Dem who would align with Frum on 90% of issues … I’m not sure what more value there is in having more Republicans like him.

        • zephae

          I think Frum deserves more credit than you give him. I remember him a couple years ago on a cable show (GPS maybe?) he said “if we’re going to be the party of Sarah Palin, if we are going to be a rural white rump..” then the GOP has no future. I think if Bachmann, being the embodiment of that criticism, were chosen he’d either vote for Obama or stay home (i’d bet on the former).

        • Graychin

          I’d bet on the latter. Maybe even on a vote for Bachmann.

          Old habits are hard to break.

  • advocatusdiaboli

    I think Obama’s main problems were summed up well in your ’5 Mistakes’ article, David. Add to that David Brook’s accurate assessment of the fractured Right a few weeks ago and it’s easy to see why we are still mired in recession’s grip. No one is minding the store and instead bickering and trash talking in the aisles. This article points out the utter failure of the GOP to actually identify the problems with the Obama Administration (and there are many as your article pointed out) and resort instead to polemics with dubious foundations . And that has done nothing but breakdown our system and risk catastrophe.

  • ggore

    Very good article. This Republican talking point has just been hot air with nothing to back them up. Chief among them besides this one is the “Blank Check” argument, which is the rallying cry of the Republicans that Obama has had a blank check and spent the country into oblivion. Oh really? Doesn’t the Congress do all appropriations and authorize all spending? I think it does, so the blame for any “blank check” (if it existed in the first place, which it doesn’t) should come back and fall squarely into the Congress’s lap.

  • dgkerns

    DF has not abandoned traditional conservatism or what was mainstream Republicanism. He is behaving like a journalist, objectively fact-checking the propapaganda-soaked terrain of reactionary politics and media in our country. This is an essential service in an era where big lies flourish and the left and the middle have been remarkably ineffective as public educators. Keep it up David.

  • CKW


    Thank you for this posting. Too many get caught up in the theater of the times, the supposed roles that the politicians are playing (i.e., Democrats raise taxes, hate the military; Republicans lower taxes, love the military, etc.), rather than look at the actions of the players. I guess it is easier to label and shoehorn those we dislike into preconceived, prescribed narratives.

  • Chris Balsz

    “Total federal tax collections have dropped by 4 points of GDP since 2007, from 18+% to 14+%, the lowest rate since the Truman administration.

    If so minded, you could describe Barack Obama as the biggest tax cutter in American history.”

    We don’t pay federal taxes on our total wealth; we pay taxes on gains and profits. At a time of much lower gains and profits it is not odd that tax revenues are down.

    The Democrats spent two years going after the “wrong” recovery. They didn’t want an economy that earned the wrong profits or made the wrong cars, produced the wrong energy, made the wrong loans, opened plants in the wrong states for the wrong reasons, paid the wrong wages or offered the wrong benefits. And they won out; we don’t have that nasty mean unfair regressive recovery.

    I don’t think you can cheer a guy who ordered a GM CEO out of his job, ordered the shutdown of profitable Chrysler dealerships, ordered banks to make secret loans to each other, sues Boeing for opening a plant in a right-to-work state, shut down all oil drilling on on third of national coastline, brags about heading a mob with pitchforks, and now turn around and say “well, but what has HE got to do with it?”

    • Raskolnik

      You are missing the big picture. All of those individual facts are true, but that doesn’t change the fact that you would have screamed at the President for being a Kenyan Marxist Keynesian if he had a proactive solution to the ongoing employment crisis. The government does have a role to play in keeping people employed, yes it is good for the private sector to lead the way, but that doesn’t mean there is no role for government.

      How do you feel about an “Infrastructure Bank” to help fund private development of infrastructure projects?

      • balconesfault

        All of those individual facts are true


        Not hardly.

        For example – the Government didn’t buy interest into Chrysler and GM so they could tell them which cars to build … they bought interest because the companies would have gone into bankruptcy at the same time the economy was already shedding hundreds of thousands of jobs a month, and the job loss up and down their supply chains would have been massive. The whole car dealership issue is a baldfaced lie (http://www.snopes.com/politics/business/chrysler.asp) that’s been propogated for political purposes. And anyone who whines about a temporary shutdown of coastal drilling at a time when the BP well was spewing millions of barrels into the Gulf of Mexico and every response vessel in the nation was tied down dealing with it is just too short-sighted and idiotic to be taken seriously as a “conservative”.

        • Chris Balsz

          I’m not saying he went after Republican dealers and not Democrats — I’m saying the tailored bankruptcy Plan destroyed profitable dealerships. The creditors might have demanded it and got that remedy after hearing, but it didn’t come to that–the closure was offered to the creditors to save time.

          Maybe you think taking equity in manufacturers and breaking up their franchise networks, running their CEO’s out, planning for bold changes in their product line, and telling industrial producers that they can be shut down if one of their competitors is a slob, was absolutely necessary. It wasn’t done regretfully but with a celebration of new leadership and priorities in Washington.

          That’s a different argument than wondering aloud whatever makes business suspicious of this Administration.

      • Chris Balsz

        Well the BIG picture might be to deliver 6% unemployment and 3% GDP growth, and laughing at the Vast Rightwing Conspiracy. It’s been done.

  • Oldskool

    Well, it never has been about facts, it’s about repeating talking points so that the base is angry enough to motorchair themselves to the polls.

    • CKW

      This is exactly the point. The current name-calling approach to what passes as political discourse more closely resembles monkeys throwing their feces at one another and looking to see what sticks, accompanied by a lot of nonsensical screaming.

  • Raskolnik

    Chris Balsz asked,

    I did read Krugman, and if he was “right”, you needed stimulus to match that -8.9% decline dollar-for-dollar. Any ideas where that money would come from?

    Krugman publicly and repeatedly argued for a stimulus of $2 trillion or more.

    However, since interest rates on 10 year T-bills remain low, and as our real debt as a percentage of GDP (i.e. excluding money we owe ourselves) is still only in the neighborhood of 75%, Chris is asking the wrong question. We could have easily taken on an additional $1.2 trillion+ in debt, if the money were used to repair roads and bridges and/or invest in additional infrastructure to return the economy to a healthy level of growth.

    Money remains cheap. The debt ceiling fiasco will have the effect of making it more expensive. Right now, though, it is still cheap. Debt is a long-term problem, but there are more immediate and pressing issues. Like, I don’t know, UNEMPLOYMENT.

    I distinctly recall Speaker Boehner having said something about “jobs,” way back after the GOP took the House in 2010, but for the life of me I can’t remember what it was.

    • balconesfault

      I distinctly recall Speaker Boehner having said something about “jobs,” way back after the GOP took the House in 2010, but for the life of me I can’t remember what it was.

      I think that’s something like “we’ll work with the President on getting America back to work when you give us a Republican President to work with … and not a second sooner!”

  • JimBob

    Steve Wynn Calls Obama A Weird Socialist Wet Blanket


  • rbottoms

    A lot of words just to say ignorant racists.

  • ErikSanDiego

    Of course the reality is that the President (and indeed the federal government) has limited influence over the American Economy.

    Once you cut through ALL the dribble it isn’t that hard.

    Consumer spending as a proportion of GDP rose from its post-war average of approximately 60% to 70%. It did so in a time of stagnant incomes. Guess what, that means people were increasing spending by taking on additional debt and NOT using that debt to increase productive capacity.

    . Now we are in the deveraging state.

    Now what you COULD point to is that ideological blinders at the WSJ and elsewhere ignored the great leveraing of the 2000s. Too much time and news ink were spent on writing about the housing bubble in places like NYC, SF, LA where we had the confounding variable of limited land and regulatory restraint, and not enough time discussing housing price increases in places like Vegas, Atlanta, and Miami where essentially unlimited land should have kept prices from spiking. An article detailing the insanity of 20% year over increases in Vegas should have been a sign that there was a deflating crash coming. Phoey on all of us for not thinking this through and being more aware of how it would lead to a financial crisis. And no, the naysayers are also to blame because if all you can do is rail against conventional thinking in blogs you are not helping.

    On another note, Frum misses a distressing problem with Krugman of late – he doesn’t accept contradictory facts. Take the latest hand wringing and doom and gloom over the budget deal. EVEN if you are a hard core Keynesian, how can you be upset about cuts that are not coming for 18 or more months? Krugman also refuses to grapple with the reality of HOW the stimulus was deployed – something that Will has consistently been harping on. Even if you believe in a monetary injection to increase liquidity it is clear that they spent in strange ways. To take one example, if 90% of household appliances are imported, how is it from the Keynsian playbook to provide subsidies for consumers to swap those out?

  • Nanotek

    which conservatives were right?

    The same conservatives that walked into the White House under Bush and a thriving Clinton-era economy with a surplus and, as they left the White House several eight years later, handed Obama and the nation a collapsing economy suffering 750,000 jobs a month losses, after having doubled the national debt, launched two unfunded wars, cut taxes for the super rich, perpetrated the Medicare Part D scam and TARP?

    or different conservatives?

    • cdorsen

      Clinton era surplus was nothing more than a bubble due to the dot com boom. Bush took office as it busted. He left office as the housing bubble burst that was caused, with some conservative support, by liberal affordable housing policies. That is not to defend Bush or bash Clinton, but Clinton had the easiest time in America to be President. He faced the end of the cold war, a booming economy due to dot coms not government policies, and no major conflicts. Bush faced 911 and two bubbles that he did not help create bust on his watch. Had those bubbles not busted and 911 not happened, who knows what his presidency would have been like. Just to preface before I get accused of the mortal sin of Bush supporting, I did not agree with Iraq and his spending policies, nor did I vote for him in his second term (phew).

      • Nanotek

        fair points … however, the Bush era tax cuts and the needless and “off-budget” war in Iraq … then there is the Bush era deregulation of Wall-Street (after which the American taxpayer was told we had to bail them out to the tune of $1 trillion) ..seem to account for the lion’s share of the mess Congress (and us for electing them) has made of things. which is, ultimately, where the accountability ends.

        so my question still seems to stand … if any of the conservatives lecturing Obama were involved in Bush era governance they have no credibility, simply as a matter of fact

        • cdorsen

          I won’t necessarily disagree with you that some of the ones that were there during the Bush years helped exacerbate the problem. But, the freshman who seem to wielding a good bit of power and a different ideology including more isolationist policies should and do have something to say. These were not Bush conservatives. These were the conservatives that were thrown to the sideline as irrelevant during those years for screaming for some fiscal sanity.

      • valkayec

        Yes, the dot com boom helped Clinton but so did his economic policies (with a couple of major exceptions that we all confirm and concede). However, if you look at Bush’s policies 2003, when the economy had recovered from the bust and 9/11, and 2007, before the financial collapse, what do you see in the economy? Aside from the real estate/credit bubble, the economy was pretty flat, manufacturing losses accelerated, and middle class incomes flatlined. I’m of the firm opinion that we need to try something new, rather than return to the same policies of yesteryear. And government can do something about that if Congress had the will and desire to work together – and were not given political cover in the media.

      • doubter4444

        Good Lord. Talk about spouting complete nonsense.
        How can anyone take you guys seriously? Talk about having it both ways.
        So, if Clinton’s surplus was simply a reflection of the bot com boom and it burst on Bush’s watch, so you should not give Clinton credit nor Bush blame.

        But Obama is responsible for not creating the market crash and the most sever recession since the 20′s?
        He’s blamed both for not improving it fast enough, and making it worse.
        So just to review: Clinton was lucky for creating a surplus and Bush not culpable of sending the economy into the worst tailspin in 80 years..
        Obama is evil and incompetent and dragging the country into socialism and a third world dictatorship, plus responsible for not turning the economy around and everything else.
        People, this is crazyness at work, right in front of you eyes.
        On this very thread you have the illustration of this:

        Cdorsen says:
        Clinton era surplus was nothing more than a bubble due to the dot com boom. Bush took office as it busted. He left office as the housing bubble burst that was caused, with some conservative support, by liberal affordable housing policies. That is not to defend Bush or bash Clinton, but Clinton had the easiest time in America to be President. He faced the end of the cold war, a booming economy due to dot coms not government policies, and no major conflicts. Bush faced 911 and two bubbles that he did not help create bust on his watch. Had those bubbles not busted and 911 not happened, who knows what his presidency would have been like. Just to preface before I get accused of the mortal sin of Bush supporting, I did not agree with Iraq and his spending policies, nor did I vote for him in his second term (phew).

        But Smarg says:
        See how Obama has divided the country?? His 4-year tenure will be historically noted as a blight and scourge, responsible for many horrible events:

        Racial divide

        Massive debt

        High unemployment

        Obamanomic misery

        Obamacare disaster

        Massive decline in American world prestige and power

        Massive increase in government dependency entitlements

        God help us all.

        The one true thing this joker has ever said: God help us all.

  • TSE

    God love this man for sheer honesty and putting an even-handed view of reality over all else. Seems like such a simple thing but so rare unfortunately.

    And THIS is how you break through partisanship: Facts, analysis, myth debunking, getting your hands dirty with the truth.

    Obama’s nice smile won’t do it, breaking bread with the enemy won’t get you very far, and cheerleading only makes matters worse.

    Frum has the audacity to take a cold, hard look at what’s really going on. Sadly but not surprisingly this upsets the partisan whoof-whoofers who mistakenly believe that our nation’s future is a spectator sport: Democrats v. Republicans, it’s always the bottom of the 9th in a 1-run game with the bases loaded and two men out.

    How childish. I’m ready for some real discourse and breakthroughs on solutions. Politics is not sports. For those who need to vent their male aggression, go to a football game without your shirt on.

    Let the rest of the mature adults and intelligent men and women — led by independent thinkers like Frum — try to figure out ways for America to progress.

  • cdorsen

    Much, if not most, of business is speculation. And, all the things that Frum mentioned are things that would make a businessman/woman cringe. When one speculates, (as contradictory as this may sound) one likes as much certainty as possible and a positive outlook. Under Obama, business gets neither. There may be no tax hikes, but there is a man in the White House who has explicitly said he is itching to do so. The regulations may not have been put in place yet, but they are looming from Dodd-Frank and Obamacare. Crony capitalism has been rampant. And, Frum, were you suggesting there has been no inflation? Really? Have you filled up your tank, paid an energy bill, or bought food lately? Maybe an iphone is no more expensive, but as one student suggested, I cannot eat my iphone and it won’t drive me to work. The debt and deficits are huge problem scaring the bejesus out of businesses because America’s very future may be on the line. Let’s recap:

    Big threat of new taxes (uncertainty, bad business outlook)
    Already passed looming legislation riddled with excess regulations (uncertainty, bad business outlook)
    Looming Obamacare taxes and regulations (Uncertainty, bad business outlook)
    Inflation on energy, transportation, and food (Uncertainty, bad business outlook)
    Interest rates probably going up (Uncertainty, bad business outlook)
    Sovereign debt crisis looming (Uncertainty, bad business outlook)

    If you were speculating on the future, how would you bet if you were a business person? And, Obama has not been bad for our economy? Removing these issues would not encourage businesses to speculate on the future?

    Please Frum, O’ Thy defender of liberalism’s Dear Ruler, give me a progressive break. Conservative moderate….ha! Liberal ideologue is a more accurate description

    • jollyroger

      Arrant nonsense.

      re:tax hikes, fear of: Taxes on income, at whatever level, have no impact on hiring, or business expansion, all of which represent deductible expenses impacting in no way whatever adjustable gross income subject to federal income tax. Thus there is no reason to discount into the present the prospect that if you are fortunate enough to expand your business and thus prosper, your prosperity will be nicked a trifle at the marginal level for the general good.

      Re: Uncertainty, the mantra: Here’s some certainty for you–where there is no employment, there is no consumer demand, and no reason to expand business.

      • cdorsen

        Oh Jolly, I love the liberal premise that taxes do not effect business decisions. Ever done a corporate evaluation? Guess what one of the big factors always in when deciding to expand, buy-out, etc. What is the tax effect? And, do taxes and real inflation combine to minimize our profits or possible erase them all together. We may invest now not expecting profit for a few years, but when we do profit, what will the tax effect be and will we still have enough profit left over to cover the money borrowed?

        If you think businesses don’t ask themselves these questions, take a basic business course at a local community college. Or, better yet, go and work for a business that is making these decisions. There is a reason they pay big money for tax attorneys and accountants.

        • Frumplestiltskin

          oh for heaven’s sake, did you read jollyrogers rebuttal? I worked in business and handled our company’s books, hiring was based on demand and need, not on how much profits we had. I doubt you yourself have taken any basic business courses. Right now after I left business I went into academia and I work with editing fellow Professors English for publication, what you wrote would not even pass an Economics 101 class.
          All you do is repeat (Uncertainty, bad business outlook) as though it repetition will make it real.
          Again, the number one driver for business is demand not “uncertainty” Do you have any idea how much money has been pouring into China from foreign investors? Do you think that they have “certainty” about the business environment in China?
          Why am I bothering, jollyroger basically destroyed your arrant nonsense, no need to go on about it.

    • TerryF98

      And the Dept ceiling hostage fiasco created a get deal of certainty as the markets are showing us.

      And the “jobs,jobs,jobs’ Bullshit that turned into continually looking into a womans vagina, that created a bucket load of certainty.

      And the teabaggers threatening yet more hostage taking is a guarantee of stability and calm.

      Get real.

    • indyreader

      @ cdorsen

      Just some fun before I actually make my point…

      [Crony capitalism has been rampant.] And this leads you to the Republican party?

      [And, Frum, were you suggesting there has been no inflation? Really? Have you filled up your tank, paid an energy bill, or bought food lately?] What policies of Obama have created this effect? Can you identify a policy advocated by Republicans that would deal with these issues?

      [Big threat of new taxes (uncertainty, bad business outlook)] Assuming your talking about the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, I’d note, the tax issue is moot as it was passed as a “temporary” measure with a defined expiration. Temporary means not permanent. So, arguably by extending them the parties actually created more uncertainty than should have existed previously. That said, it seems wise to extend them in the midst of a recession or do you disagree? Even as extended, they are now set for a date certain to expire – a date that is certain unless the parties act as they did in the debt ceiling debate.

      [Already passed looming legislation riddled with excess regulations (uncertainty, bad business outlook)] You stated its already passed, so its law – its a known quantity, what is your uncertainty? If you think that there is more certainty by not passing laws, than you haven’t really bothered to examine this issue. Similarly, it appears you’d agree that some of the legislation was necessary – wouldn’t that create uncertainty too? Or is it just the “excess regulations” (that you can’t actually identify)?

      [Looming Obamacare taxes and regulations (Uncertainty, bad business outlook)] You’ve now used the same point twice.

      [Inflation on energy, transportation, and food (Uncertainty, bad business outlook)] You’ve stated this earlier, but in no way have you actually proposed a cause and effect relationship and you’ve not cited evidence that would sustain a conclusion that either Obama’s policies have produced this result or Republican options would change the current outcome. You must think that the US can self supply its own energy, how else could you disagree with Frum’s point that third world demand is driving these issues? I don’t think anyone (other than Palin) thinks the US can be self sufficient. If you’ve got a credible source for your belief, I’d be interested in reviewing it and any commentary about its veracity you can find. (Basically, I’d like to see both sides and see whether you’ve bothered to do so too.)

      [Interest rates probably going up (Uncertainty, bad business outlook)] I think this can be answered in two ways. First, assuming that growth returns, this is a good thing and a positive indicator. Second, given that Republicans view payment of the US’ debts as a negotiable item, that is an issue solely created by that party; again, nothing you can lay at the feet of the current President.

      [Sovereign debt crisis looming (Uncertainty, bad business outlook)] Assuming your referring to the crises in Europe, why would you believes anyone in the US can fix this (or should) (not to mention that I’d also ask you to articulate the Republican plan for fixing this)? If your referring to the US debt, I’d agree that the deficit is problematic, but see my final comment, because there isn’t a solution that’s going to be successful that doesn’t include ideas from both parties. Similarly, the “crisis” isn’t a product of Obama’s policies – if you disagree, than you need to review one of the charts produced in the last 2 months that clearly explains the basis for the debt and where the “looming” crisis will come from. If you still come away with the conclusion that Obama’s still at fault – I’ll attribute that to your reading comprehension (the issue just isn’t a debatable point).

      [If you were speculating on the future, how would you bet if you were a business person? And, Obama has not been bad for our economy? Removing these issues would not encourage businesses to speculate on the future?] Ask rhetorical questions much? I’d agree that “more certainty” (whatever that actually means) would be great! However, its just as likely that if you take these items away, something else will replace it (after all, when you look forward the future is uncertain, regardless of which party is at the helm).

      My point (after long last): Only if you divorce yourself from reality could you conclude that this President owns responsibility for the items you attribute to him. That is not to say he should not take responsibility to attempt to address or fix them; however, if you cannot divorce yourself from this type of hyper-partisan position(s) than you will not find any acceptable solutions (other than, of course, those you propose). That type of thinking will not solve any problems, let alone the many difficult issues the US faces going forward.

  • Cforchange

    “If Conservatives Were Right About the Economy” there would be no such thing as a rising tide of Independents.

  • valkayec

    World markets dropped dramatically this morning on news out of the Eurozone and the unemployment picture in the US. Investors continue to seek safe havens. This volatility is something I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. Businesses need confidence and they’re not getting it out of DC. The debt ceiling debacle and the FAA partial shutdown just reinforce how badly Congress is broken: it’s busy playing politics rather than solving problems.

    I think the most telling thing about politics today was when McConnell said that now the taboo on using the debt ceiling to fight fiscal battles has ended and will be used again and again. How can anyone, let alone any business, have confidence in a government that threatens economic havoc at any time? How can businesses plan for the future when they don’t know what the next crazy move Congress will make? For two plus years, aside from lack of demand, businesses held onto their cash because the fall of Lehman’s and the market crash spooked them. They needed confidence and what they got, along with the rest of us, is even greater uncertainty.

    The rhetoric from all the right leaning media pushes the meme that Mr. Frum discusses in this article, causing even more dissension, provides cover for Congress to remain dysfunctional rather than taking responsibility for solving the many needed and necessary solutions to restore our economy to health. It’s a sick child on the verge of another collapse, and instead of both parties in Congress working together to find a cure, they’re playing politics and figuring out the best king of the hill strategy…and going on a month’s long vacation. The nation is being pulled apart by all the negativity. If it’s not ended, I fear recovery will be a long ways off.

    Mr. Frum, I hope you’re able to convince your colleagues in the GOP to tone down their political offense (irrational bashing?), to tell the truth rather than spin, and help create confidence. Now is not the time for political brinksmanship. We have an economy to worry about.

  • Stewardship

    Balconesfault first statement wins, hands down. The ‘end game’ for both parties is to kick the other one out of power, to hell with the national good or good public policy. In this game, anything the opposition is for, you are automatically against.

    American utility companies are sitting on nearly a trillion dollars of cash. That money is just waiting to be spent on energy production and distribution infrastructure–if and when the federal government establishes some sane energy policy and levels the playing field for all energy types. Both parties know this…but nothing is going to happen until one party controls the House, Senate, and White House. That way, the party in power can claim credit for the sudden, huge resurgence of our economy.

    Too bad they can’t play nicely now.

  • SteveT

    Regarding the conservative economic agenda:

    1. We’ve been moving in the direction of lower taxes and less regulation for 30 years. Why isn’t our economy doing better?

    2. If we complete the cycle and it fails. What’s your backup plan? What do you say to unemployed citizens when you have no social safety net?

    3. If this is such a great idea, why doesn’t any other developed country do this?

    • chephren

      “1. We’ve been moving in the direction of lower taxes and less regulation for 30 years. Why isn’t our economy doing better?”

      An excellent question that should be asked much more often and more persistently.

      Other points that should be made at the same time:

      - The object of Reagan’s tax cuts was not simply to stimulate investment and consumption. It’s sad to think of it now, but the big goal was to generate surpluses and pay down the national debt. This is completely, and conveniently, forgotten by Reagan’s acolytes. Laffer, Wanniski and others made this claim forthrightly. So did Reagan. Instead, they kick-started a catastrophic debt spiral.

      - For some reason, conservative economists and the Neocon editorial writers at the WSJ never apply the well-known principle of diminishing marginal returns to tax cuts – an odd omission, given that tax cuts resemble many other economic flows where this rule holds. Cuts enacted by Kennedy and Reagan undoubtedly had a beneficial effect on investment, growth and incomes (though Reagan’s deficits should have been a warning of the excessive cost of his cuts), in large part because rates were so high beforehand. George W. Bush’s tax cuts had nowhere near the same effect, and dangerously accelerated the deficit spiral. The benefit of tax cuts is now too little, and the cost far too high.

  • Nanotek

    “If Conservatives Were Right About the Economy”

    they would have known that the stock market would start tanking right after they forced the deficit deal onto the American public

  • Gus

    cdorsen give you the “conservative” talking points you obviously missed, Mr. Frum. See, now that you’re not in lockstep with GOP talking points you’re a liberal. I’m sure that’s news to you, as it no doubt is to Bruce Bartlett.

    • RightKlik

      Frum fancies himself a sane, independent conservative, but from here, he just looks stupid…

      “While the Affordable Care Act itself will eventually have major economic consequences, most of its provisions remain only impending.”

      Businesses prepare for the future. “Impending” legislative doom is no exception.

  • planetirving

    Thank you David for you honest and sober statement. I just wrote a long reply about the the terrible situation with political discourse in our country working against our best interests. The site crashed and I lost all I wrote (must always cut and paste, cut and paste!!!!!). Suffice to say, never ending campaigning and political bloodsports are becoming an end in themselves. We need statesmen and those who are willing to legislate and govern for all, not political purists and cowards afraid of their own shadow or the hint of a primary challenge.

  • Raskolnik

    @Chris (and Carney, and Churl, and those skeptical of “Keynesian” solutions in general):

    How do you feel about an “Infrastructure Bank” with very small Federal funding, used to leverage private capital, e.g. the nearly trillion dollars in cash that utilities companies are sitting on?

  • armstp


    They got nothing. All they fall back on is the catch-all of “uncertainty”, which anyone with any balls to talk the truth knows is BS. How do you explain the record corporate profits?

    And how can the economy have been made worse when we went from -10% GDP growth to +2%?

    Rising oil prices are as much a result of oil speculation by investors, as they are about fundamental demand.

  • David Frum: "Were Our Enemies Right?"

    [...] of posts by David Frum have been making the rounds and generating quite a bit of discussion: If Conservatives Were Right About the Economy | FrumForum Were Our Enemies Right? | FrumForum Krugman crows: Wrong And Right – NYTimes.com Reply [...]

  • Rob_654

    John Boehner said that Republicans got 98% of what they wanted in the debt ceiling deal.

    Looks like Wall Street doesn’t think much of what Republicans wanted!

    • Smargalicious

      Indeed–it’s all Bush’s fault. :D

      • armstp

        Yeahhh. It is all fuckin Bush’s fault. That asshole destroyed this country. It will take years to dig out of the Bush disaster. All Obama has done is try and solve all the problems that Bush handed him and this country. Bush’s impact on this country will be felt for years. Even Romney admits it is all Bush’s fault. By saying the Obama has made things worse (which is not true), he is admitting that they were pretty bad in the first place.

        • jakester

          It wasn’t all Bush’s fault either, The economy in general and government policies were going in a bad direction for a long time. While blaming everything on Congress who “forced banks to make bad loans for 600K mortgages to minority janitors” is a bit of a stretch, this kind of stuff had been coming to a head for a long time. Also, lowering taxes just before a war is the kind of blase fake patriotism and bad economics the right is noted for too.

        • Smargalicious

          army, you are delusional. 45+ years of massive Democratic entitlement programs and a non-existent immigration policy enforcement destroyed us. Only 49% of us pay taxes and don’t suck the life out of communities.

        • Lonewolf

          That’s because the millionaires to whom SCOTUS and you conservatives have handed the nation are firing millions of American workers and giving the jobs to shoeless Indonesians and Indians, who spend their new wages buying knockoff goods and ripped-off American software from the Chinese.

  • LFC

    cdorsen said… He left office as the housing bubble burst that was caused, with some conservative support, by liberal affordable housing policies

    So “liberal affordable housing policies” somehow took high-end real estate like Florida condos and California McMansions and drove their prices up more than 100% in a handful of years?

    And how are you able to completely ignore the Republican policy of allowing the five largest investment banks to increase leverage to 30:1. How about the Phil Gramm created policy of not regulating derivatives, which ended up being “valued” at roughly 8:1 over the debt that actually secured them? What liberal policy precipitated a massive increase in sub-prime loans, only 28% of which were backed by Fannie and Freddie? What liberal policy caused 100% of the liar loans to be written by private mortgage companies? What liberal policy caused that crap debt to be bundled and packaged into derivatives and get shiny, strong bond ratings?

    You, sir, are full of it.

  • LFC

    If conservatives had been right about the economy in the past, Reagan’s tax hikes, HW’s tax hike, and Clinton’s tax hike would have all collapsed the economy, and Bush’s tax cuts would have boosted it. Yet more notches on the right-wing “Economic Wall of Wrong”. That tote board has gotten pretty heavy in the past several decades.

  • NRA Liberal

    It’s nothing Obama has actually done, dont’cha’know…it’s just that his well known anti business bias has created an atmosphere of uncertainty! How can capitalism function when CEOs never know if they might be swinging from the parking lot lamp posts the following day?

    It’s rather noble of Frum to insist on going down with this ship, like an old sea captain at the helm of a torpedoed frigate.

    • jakester

      ” How can capitalism function when CEOs never know if they might be swinging from the parking lot lamp posts the following day?”
      Got any more right wing paranoia and hype?

      • overshoot

        [quote]Got any more right wing paranoia and hype?[/quote]

        We’re not in any danger of running out.

        Ability to recognise sarcasm is something else again.

    • balconesfault

      How can capitalism function when CEOs never know if they might be swinging from the parking lot lamp posts the following day?

      You mean there’s a business out there that the Federal Government didn’t have to buy out to avoid bankruptcy that had its CEO cashiered?

      I have an idea – how about a CEO never get into the position where he has to ask the Federal Government for a bailout!

    • ram6968

      Why don’t Republican­s like Obama?

      1. Corporatio­ns having their second best year EVER
      2. Stock market up 50% since inaugurati­on day
      3. Wars still rolling along
      4. G-Bay still open
      5. Free trade agreements still going strong
      6. Tax cuts extended
      7. Offshore drilling resumed
      8. Wall Street mostly untouched

      If Romney pulled this off in his first term in office, he’d be the second coming of RReagan.
      Heroic velvet paintings would be springing up everywhere­!

      So why don’t more Rebublican­s like Obama?

  • BooksMoore

    Mr. Frum, I am so sick of the modern GOP. It is on the whole a faithless opposition–no it is much worse. It is a lying, deceitful, unethical den of vipers. I can’t see how anyone in good conscience can reward them at the polls, even if it would mean holding one’s nose at a Democratic option.

  • LHB

    Another potential evil of expansionary fiscal policy is “crowding out,” which is when increased government spending and/or tax cuts that increase the budget deficit cause private spending to decrease. The causal mechanism by which this occurs is either through increases in the price level, or – more in keeping with the technical details of economic theory – rising interest rates (which could also cause an appreciation of domestic money relative to foreign money, which could reduce foreign spending on US exports).

    Given that the economy is at far less than full employemt, and that interest rates on government debt of any maturity are at lows not seen since the 1950s (largely, back then, as as result of the Fed-Treasury Accord) it is difficult to understand the causal mechanism that is thought to underlie the Republican talking point that “A dollar of government spending is a dollar of private spending that never takes place.”

    The idea is based on an accounting identity: S=Y-C-G=I+NX. But this presumes that increased government spending or tax cuts cannot cause Y (GDP) to increase (because the economy is assumed to be at full employment), and can therefore not increase S (National Saving). When the economy is at less than full employment, you have to specify a causal link that would keep National Saving from increasing when spending increases to maintain the premise that crowding out is complete.

    Under current circumstances, there is no plausible mechanism that could cause even moderate crowding out.

  • think4yourself

    Sorry for the long post.

    It’s for these reasons, that I can’t deal with the Conservatives. Paul Gigot used to have a spot on McNeil/Leher for Friday night political wrap (Shields and Gigot). In that, he was the voice of reason and moderation with the hyperbolic Shields. Now as WSJ Editorial and his own WSJ show, he parrots GOP talking points.

    As a small business owner who believes in spending less than you take in, and would prefer that individuals take more responsibility for the issues that effect their lives, I want to be a Conservative. But I can’t be what these folks are. Not just the Becks, Hannity’s, Limbaugh’s, etc. The supposed mainstream ones also appear to be blind to the facts.

    Is Obama responsible for the recession? Not a chance. Did the GOP offer anything of substance that would have been better for the economy? Not that I saw. Lowering taxes below what they are currently wouldn’t appear to make things much better and frankly we did that in the form of payroll tax deductions, stimulus money was 3/4 tax rebates, homebuying credits, car buying credits, etc. These were all versions of tax relief. Companies are sitting on the largest cash hoards in history (Apple more than the US Gov’t) and banks are not lending – and customers and businesses are not ready to borrow as they are still working through the bing borrowing of the 2,000′s.

    In a previous post I asked to hear Conservative solutions to creating economic growth and I didn’t get any responses. I’d love to hear some creative solutions now.

    Are there things Obama could have done differently? Sure. But aside those ideas that come from our own particular political bent, once you remove that, most honest people would probably say he has done the best he could under the circumstances.

    As far as the politics of it. I wasn’t politically aware much before Clinton in ’92. Seems to me that the GOP found the issue of personal attacks and investigations a winner politically. Whitewater, the Vince Foster suicide, Monica Lewinsky; none of these had anything to do with Clinton’s execution of his duties. In general he governed as a moderate, some because of his own bent and some because the GOP Congress forced that. Welfare to work, balancing the budget (he gets a little credit for that, but not all), Paygo rules, etc.

    The Democrats took a page from the GOP and did the same thing to Bush (but in my opinion they were (a) not as bad on the personal stuff as the GOP on Clinton and (b) had lots of targets to go after regarding Bush’s personal duties including Cheney setting energy policy with only the consultation of the energy companies including Enron, changing foriegn policy from we respond to threats to one of we initiate action on those who might threaten us, deliberately crafting a definition of tortue and “enemy combatant” to flout the Geneva Conventions, and outing a covert CIA agent for political reprisal.).

    When Obama was elected the GOP took a page from their Clinton book; birther movement, overt and non-overt racism, going after Michelle Obama for working on healthy families (Nancy Reagan got some ridicule for “Just Say No”, but nothing like this). Add to that the lies and half truths on policy and it makes me want to disengage. Maybe that’s what they want.

    I’m happy to listen to Conservative and Libertarian ideas, so long as they are willing to consider the effects on America as a whole, not hide behind the ideology and also be willing to honestly consider other ideas. Will crafting gun laws so you can take your guns into a bar create fewer gun deaths? Will lowering tax rates on individuals and companies that already have lots of money cause them to invest that money in ways that create more jobs and spur the US economy?

    I’d like to see more people like Frum, engage more moderate Liberals to craft better policy.

    • Argy F


      Thanks for the thoughtful post.
      While I probably have a different ideological bent than you – I agree with much of what you say.

      I would prefer the last sentence to read “pragmatic Liberals” rather than “moderate”. I think the term moderate implies that moderation is more likely to be correct.

      To my mind objective truth (about what works or doesn’t work) isn’t necessarily a blended cocktail of the full spectrum of opinion – but rather something deduced from evaluating evidence. The degree to which one evaluates evidence correctly is the degree to which one is correct – therefore an extremist could very well be correct. The “proof is in the pudding” as is said.

      Currently, the Republican pudding falls flat – imo.

    • jakester

      Well put!

      • ChallengingFrum


        is it really thinking if you create strawmen and then knock them down? cash for clunkers and the home buyer tax credit were the worst tax ideas…all they did was push demand forward and create more debt. it is not the same thing as getting long term spending under control and permanently lowering marginal rates.

        Spending is the REAL tax burden. Eventually we have to pay for this stuff. If spending increases to 25-26% of GDP this portends FUTURE tax increases. There is too much debt. Too much regulation. And too much spending which will eventually lead to more taxes. This is what is prolonging the recession and this is the democrats solution…..live with it.

        Plus I didn’t even mention the hidden healthcare tax.

        • TerryF98

          You are just one giant talking point.

        • planetirving

          Once again, GOP talking points devoid of the real world. Yes, we all know about tax incentives for big industry and hedge fund managers but heaven forfend against Cash for Clunkers or the Home Buyers Credit aimed at the middle class. What does it matter if people wait till things are better to make purchases? Now is what matters. Ever try to start a stalled engine? Ya gotta give it some gas while trying not to flood it out, get it reaving, put it in drive and come hell or high water, get it moving agin. So you waste gas in the git go, but you get the car back on the road. Enough quoting Norquist and Rand like the Communists quoted Marx and Lenin.

        • WardMD

          You’ve got a point!

          BUT have you considered that INSTEAD of spending BILLIONS of dollars to build subways (say, in Los Angeles, through earthquake fault lines and natural gas pockets), like the so-called “Subway to the Sea” extension (not ALL subways already built, but just this EXTENSION) – which, by the way DOESN’T actually go TO the sea (which we didn’t find out until AFTER the voters approved the measure to build the damn thing), we could take that $4.2 BILLION dollars and purchase BRAND NEW CARS for each and every person expected to RIDE the Subway, and have MONEY LEFT OVER?

          Look, we can buy a decent car for $10K. $4.2 BILLION gets 420,000 cars. The “Experts” predict 80,000 to 120,000 riders (daily) – so EVEN if you give them the benefit of the doubt (and use the HIGHER figure), we could SAVE $3 BILLION by NOT building this extension (AND think of how all those car purchases would stimulate the Auto Industry)!

          BUT NO!

          We’ve got to WASTE that $3 Billion to tear up the streets, disrupt traffic for YEARS, piss-off the residents of the areas impacted by the subway (who, oddly, seem UNIVERSALLY OPPOSED to the construction of the subways), put up with the CRIME, noise, and trash from these “stellar” citizens who will be riding the subways.

          FOR WHAT? So the Mayor can have something to point to as an “accomplishment”?

    • WardMD

      You and your bumper-sticker mantra!

      Can you cite an example of CONSERVATIVES’ “Talking Points” (something akin to how Liberal Talking Heads “magically” seem to have the SAME epiphany on what to say? Like when the term “gravitas” just HAPPENED to be flowing out of the lips of just about EVERY Liberal “NEWS” spokes-hole on the air a few years back)?

      Where is the audio clips of Conservatives doing that?

      Limbaugh has montage after montage of Liberals spouting the SAME “talking points” (almost verbatim), yet YOU want to accuse Mr. Gigot of regurgitating “GOP Talking Points”?

      Has it ever occurred to you (no, of course it hasn’t) that Mr. Gigot happens to hold GOP viewpoints, and, as such, is ofter heard espousing them?

  • rigos4

    Has anyone considered that when you hollow out the real economy by outsourcing a good portion of it and expand the financial services sector to 45% of GDP, you get jobless expansions like the Bush 2003-2007 era and anemic recoveries as we have now.

    Add to the above a lopsided globalization and free trade policy that favors the cheap labor nations and you have the mix that keeps the economy stalled. Governments are caught unable to impact the economy except through slow restructuring of the job market (education and retraining needed). But when a political hysteria curtails that effort, you are stuck in slow or non existent growth. Moreover there’s a vicious cycle effect in that as the economy remains anemic, the political reaction reinforces the hysteria which takes the form of more cuts even in education, research and training.
    Business elites have no incentive to intervene, wages keep getting lower and the profits can be reinvested in China or in what someone (see the Guardian) calls the “feral” economy; the economy of financial instruments that moves from country to country creating fiscal emergencies and lucrative bond rates.
    Only an impending disaster like the recent and on going debt ceiling fight gets them to intervene, but not in a sustained comprehensive effort. CEO’s from Google, PIMCO and Pepsi are often seen making suggestions as to how to fix the economy but they don’t dare venture to give their ideas a political presence …It’s considered taboo and besides the Limbaugh FOX machine would tear into them. So new ideas remain on the shelf.

  • ChallengingFrum

    SPENDING is the tax burden. If you are smart enough to start a business, you are smart enough to look to the future. Plus regulations.

  •   What the Hell is Frum’s Problem? by Macsmind

    [...] I know all his conservative “bonifides”, but you’re only as good as your last Here he is again trying to get hits from Rush Limbaugh by writing the most incredibly ignorant post …. “My conservative friends argue that the policies of Barack Obama are responsible for the [...]

  • WardMD

    Last time GOP held the White House and both houses of Congress, Deficit was $269 Billion, Obama/Pelosi/Reid gave us $1.65 TRILLION (a 513% INCREASE).

    But to YOU that has NO BEARING on the Economic cliff we’re heading for?

    Sure this “deal” down-shifted, but Obama’s still behind the wheel, and he’s still got his foot on the pedal, and with Reid as his navigator, and people like YOU telling the “Tea Party” folks to shut up and don’t bother the driver! WOW, now THAT’S a recipe for economic growth!

    As Einstein said, “Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

    YOU seem to be promoting doing the same thing over and over again… Einstein was RIGHT!

    • planetirving

      Funny thing, the recent downturn and uncertainty in our fragile economy seems to have coincided with the ascendancy of the new Republican House majority. How’s that for irony? Coincidence? I think not. Shrinking the Federal workforce (and State and Local) means more unemployed, less spending, less tax revenue (both local and Federal), bigger deficits, and more demand for services already under pressure. Yes, a Federal Worker is a person too. They buy groceries, go to movies, attend PTA meetings, buy homes, and put their pants on one leg at a time. Some even vote Republican. And speaking of expecting different results from the doing the same thing over and over again: “Trickle Down” ring a bell? Tax increases and deficits under Reagan, Bush, and Clinton did not seem to hurt but the Bush Tax Cuts and the Surplus of 2001? Better try hitting that wall again, I think I see the brick blemishing. And forgive me, but since when is Harry Reid the Navigator? The President and the Senate have been pushed increasingly rightward for months now, kicking and screaming. As for the poor little ignored, but soft spoken Tea Party (essentially all the late Baby Boomers of the “Me Generation” now becoming the “All Mine Generation), it is find for them to tell us how we should live and how we need to do more for ourselves and not demand so much from the State, not to mention demeaning the political process and showing complete contempt for engagement and compromise (my way or the high way; No trust me, I read Atlas Shrugged; bla, bla, bla, Anti Western European Socialistic Kenyan Dictator Herbert Hoover Jimmy Carter Anti Christ Anti Pasta Anti Up qwertyu). Etc, Etc.
      David Frum is right. And while Rome is burning and we are all fiddling, blood sport politics and rigid ideology will be our downfall.

  • Bunker555

    Paul Gigot is not an honest journalist. He’s a pimp for Fixed News and the Tea Cons.

    Kalb to Gigot: WSJ “dead wrong” for publishing editorial attacking NY Times on bank-tracking story

    July 10, 2006 3:38 pm ET
    SUMMARY: On Fox News’ Journal Editorial Report, Marvin Kalb described a Wall Street Journal editorial as “dead wrong” for criticizing The New York Times and defending the Journal over their reports on a U.S. program designed to monitor international financial transactions. Kalb, who is a senior fellow at the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, told Wall Street Journal editorial page editor Paul Gigot: “I think you declared war on another American newspaper without due cause. It is mean. It is mean-spirited.”

  • Thingumbob

    This article (like so many others) misses the simple fact that we are at the tail end of the chimerical post industrial/consumer society hoax. The build up over some fifty years of ruinous speculative forms of illegitimate debt, a.k.a. derivatives securities, is like a terminal cancer on our system. The Federal Reserve and Treasury’s bailout mania has only worsened this monstrosity by feeding that cancer… The only solution is to cut loose this muti-trillion anti-productive succubus in a similar fashion to what FDR did. First we must re-enact Glass Steagall and let the so called financial houses on Wall Street choke on their useless gambling derivatives. Secondly, the government must issue credits to be used in physically productive, high technology, long term investments. That is the only basis upon which our nation will ever return to prosperity and a decent future.

  • Biped

    It’s not that Krugman is infallible. He would be the first to admit that he can be wrong. The perversion in our arena of public discourse is that people who have valid credentials, who DO know what they’re doing, i.e., Krugman and others of whatever political bent who are trained professionals, are pitted in the media on equal terms against the veriest ignoramuses with idée fixes. There is no guidance given the citizenry as to the relative worth of the opinions and prognostications emanating from sources with wildly varying claims to intellectual honesty, objectivity and reliability.

    On the same ABC Sunday morning panel last week we had Paul Krugman, and in ludicrous proximity, the bottom-of-the-barrel scraping brought in by the the network for political balance, Grover Norquist.

  • Obama ’12: Man Without a Plan « The Greenroom

    [...] lefty that he is, recommends the “fiscal equivalent of war.” Similarly, David Frum, seemingly having taken Paul Krugman as his economic guru, declares that conservatives do not have [...]

  • » Blog Archive » Obama ’12: Man Without a Plan

    [...] lefty that he is, recommends the “fiscal equivalent of war.” Similarly, David Frum, seemingly having taken Paul Krugman as his economic guru, declares that conservatives do not have [...]