Entries Tagged as 'David Frum'

Clear it with Rush

David Frum July 25th, 2011 at 3:29 pm 37 Comments

I heard Rush Limbaugh talk in his first hour today about the details of the Boehner plan. I was in the car returning from the gym, and I just assumed I’d missed the release of the plan earlier.

But no. Limbaugh indeed got the scoop.

It’s worth noting that for all the conservative obsession with the dreaded Mainstream Media, it is really the Republican party that is far more in thrall to its pet media organizations. A Democratic plan proposal can survive the disapproval of the New York Times. But Rush Limbaugh has veto power over the GOP as now constituted.

It’s incredible, it’s self-defeating, it’s absurd … but it’s the way it is.

Greece’s Tough Deal

David Frum July 25th, 2011 at 9:04 am 4 Comments

A friend’s weekend quip:

“Anne Mansouret described her sexual affair with ex IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn as ‘consensual but brutal.’ That’s also a good description of Greece’s deal with its bondholders and other EU countries.”

Resume the Debt Debate in 2012?

David Frum July 25th, 2011 at 7:45 am 61 Comments

So here’s the new Republican debt-ceiling idea:

Pass a $1 trillion increase in the debt ceiling joined to $1 trillion in spending cuts over the next 10 years, no revenues.

That sounds dramatic. But $1 trillion in spending cuts over a decade is not as big a deal as it sounds, especially if you are allowed to be vague about them. And a $1 trillion debt ceiling increase carries the United States government only into the early part of next year, meaning that this debate will recur in 2012.

House Republicans apparently regard the early renewal of the debt-ceiling debate as a feature, not a bug. It means that they can resume the debate over debt and deficits in the election season.

Except – I thought the 2012 election was supposed to be about the economy? Jobs and the Obama administration’s disappointing record of creating them?

Isn’t that the winning issue?

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The Relaunch That Didn’t Ignite

David Frum July 25th, 2011 at 7:42 am 33 Comments

From Taegan Goddard today:

“With its Sarah Palin documentary The Undefeated increasing its playdates by 40% this weekend, pills only to watch box office revenue decline by more than 63 percent, discount distributor Arc Entertainment announced Sunday that the film will soon be available on pay per view,” Reuters reports.

“The movie played in 14 Tea Party-friendly locations this weekend — up from the 10 in which it opened last week — but grossed just $24,000.”

A Bomb in Norway

David Frum July 22nd, 2011 at 10:09 am 9 Comments

Thoughts go out to my many Norwegian friends from the annual delegation to Washington of politicians, civil servants, business leades and academics. Let’s hope this terrible apparent crime touches Oslo as lightly as mercy allows …

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Long Term Unemployment by State

David Frum July 21st, 2011 at 2:10 pm 2 Comments

The WSJ has a powerful, diagnosis depressing interactive chart of long-term unemployment.
Nation-wide, more than 25% of the unemployed have been out of work for more than a year.

But in hard-hit states like California, Georgia, South Carolina, and Michigan, the proportion jumps to over 33%.

See how your state is doing.

Why Americans Think All Politicians Fail Them

David Frum July 18th, 2011 at 7:58 am 43 Comments

I have a new column in the Times of London that discusses why Americans currently dislike all politicians.

Click here to read more

The Economy Can’t Survive Abrupt Spending Cuts

David Frum July 12th, 2011 at 1:24 pm 76 Comments

I’m trying to think of an economic precedent even remotely comparable to an abrupt hit-the-wall 44% cut in federal government spending.

The closest I can imagine – and it is not very close – is the defense build-down at the end of World War II.

That build-down was foreseen and planned even before the end of the war. It occurred over three years, not three weeks. Still, it was big:

In an economy of about $200 billion (in the money of the time), annual government spending was reduced by $56 billion.

And what was the real-world effect of the build-down? In the 12 months from 1945 to 1946, GDP dropped by almost 11%.

Happily, the US economy of 1946 was well-positioned to absorb the government cutback.

1) Consumers had accumulated large savings through the years of bond drives, military pay, and rationed goods.

2) Nobody was surprised. Everybody knew that the war would end, and that the military would thereafter shrink rapidly.

3) The cutback was associated with the triumph of American institutions and a more hopeful future: victory, peace, and reconstruction.

Result: by 1947, the US economy was growing strongly again. (Although GDP did not catch up to the 1945 level until 1950.)

Contrast that to now!

1) The consumer is tapped out, still deeply in debt from the housing bubble, and facing the continuing depreciation of the most important consumer asset, housing.

2) Everybody expects a deal to happen at the last minute, so a non-deal would jolt and shock markets.

3) A congressional forced non-payment of US bills would represent a signal and shaming failure of US institutions, sowing doubts about US credibility and reliability among investors and vendors worldwide.

All in all: it would be pretty bad.

So why are we doing this again? To force budget cuts that could be achieved just the same through the ordinary budget process? That’s it?

Frum & Greenwald: Will Europe Prosecute Bush?

David Frum February 23rd, 2011 at 12:06 am 37 Comments

I recorded a new Bloggingheads with Salon.com’s Glenn Greenwald.  We discussed whether a European court should put George W. Bush on trial and what Egypt’s revolution may mean for Israel.


Will’s Exit from Afghanistan

David Frum September 1st, 2009 at 11:42 am 72 Comments

Anybody who does not share George Will’s frustrations with the Afghan mission has not been paying attention.

That does not mean George Will is right in his call for American evacuation and a

comprehensively revised policy: America should do only what can be done from offshore, pills using intelligence, unhealthy drones, cruise missiles, airstrikes and small, potent Special Forces units…

I think that policy answer is wrong. But if we are to reach a better answer, we need to deal with what is right in Will’s analysis of today’s grim and deteriorating Afghan situation.

Will is right about the weakness of the Afghan state. He is right about the endemic corruption of the Afghan government. He is right about the country’s deep backwardness. He is right above all about the Zen unreality of the current mission: to prevent the re-establishment of al Qaeda bases.

The Bush administration’s undeclared strategy in Afghanistan was to invest the minimum necessary to achieve stability – and then refocus on what it regarded as a more important and more winnable theater in Iraq.

Unfortunately, sustaining Afghan stability has proven much more difficult and expensive than imagined back in 2001 and 2002. Then candidate Obama compounded that Bush-era miscalculation with a poorly considered pledge to increase the US commitment in Afghanistan – a pledge that originated much more in the candidate’s political needs than in any strategic calculation. Obama has hugely reinforced the US Army in Afghanistan, with a big “TK” where his counter-insurgency strategy ought to be.

That’s a formula for frustration. What is being said by George Will in public is already being muttered in private by congressional Democrats.

Barack Obama has given Afghanistan men and money. But one vital resource is being withheld: presidential time and commitment. Turning around an unsuccessful war demands intense presidential focus. Everyone around the president must be made to understand that the war is priority 1, and that everything else on the agenda must be subordinated to this supreme imperative. George W. Bush accepted that responsibility in 2006-2008. Barack Obama has not. The results are as we see, in Afghanistan and now in the darkening assessment of as strong-spined an observer as George Will.