Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Financial Revisionism

Limbaugh has been off the rails the past two days over Obama's town hall comment that he inherited two unpaid for wars and two unpaid for tax cuts (town hall snippets available in parts here).

El Rushbo's rants bring up a few important questions about how the president is shaping history on the financial downturn, a few highlighted below...

1. Obama says it took 10 years to get into the mess therefore it'll take awhile to get out.

This is clever phrasing. It leaves the impression that George W. Bush caused the greatest financial downturn since the depression but the reason he stipulates 10 years has more to do with the reforms signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1999 and 2000, which opened the door to the derivatives and other financial flim-flam instruments that were created to spread the financial risk around in an effort to support affordable housing initiatives. Of course we know Obama was wildly in favor of these programs and took more political money from Fannie Mae than any other candidate. Even Obama's new OMB candidate won't agree that financial deregulation was the entire cause of the bust.

2. He whines that he was given a 1.3 trillion debt wrapped up in a bow when he got to the White House.

Of course what he doesn't say is that 700 billion of it was from the TARP bailout that HE voted for, which was needed to bail out the financial industry for propping up the affordable housing boondoggle that was being exploited by just about everyone, including Democrats and Main Street.

It was the Bush administration who timidly tried to reform the GSEs but was thwarted by Congress, mainly by the Congressional Black Caucus, who saw such reforms as racist. Senator Obama was an honorary member of the CBC.

3. Obama says there were two wars and two tax cuts that weren't paid for that contributed to the debt he is now managing.

This is what really peeved Limbaugh and should peeve others as well, because he's in effect saying that wars are simple government programs and not national security responses to attacks. FDR didn't pay for his "two wars" either--and taxes were already maxed out by by early 40s. Using national defense to blame a predecessor for debt is an outrageous thing for a president to assert.

As to tax cuts, even Chris Tingles Matthews understands how silly Obama's logic is on saying they 'weren't paid for'. Tax cuts are simply the government not taking as much personal income from the governed. The money does not belong to the government, it belongs to the people. Right now we are operating under a law that sets a tax rate; it expires at the end of the year due to the way it was passed but letting it expire (similar to letting a transportation bill expire) would mean a tax increase, period. Obama is getting away with another rhetorical flim-flam by insinuating the expiration would not be an increase.

Meanwhile he's all over the place on tax cuts, boasting that he's given 8 so far and will extend the 'middle class' Bush tax cuts (remember when the Bush tax cuts were only for the rich?), yet at the same time saying they contributed to the financial collapse, presumably because of decreased government revenues, which is highly questionable as shown here.

Clearly, Obama likes using town halls because he can control the audience and perhaps the moderator, and will not get tough follow-up questions after his syrupy filibustering answers, which he knows will make TV. He's entirely in his element, perhaps the best ever.

But imagine if the crowd were filled with fair-minded journalists. When asked if he might debate Boehner using the same town hall format, as Clinton did with Gingrinch in the 90s, he dodged by saying that since he doesn't think Boehner will become Speaker, there's no point.

CRAP 9/22/10

I could have saved myself a lot of time in typing by just pointing the reader(s) to this.

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