So how have the the big stimuluses, that the Republicans and Democrats implemented, helped the economy?
The Mercatus Center at George Mason University undertook a study of personal liberty in each of the 50 states, based explicitly on “an individual-rights framework.”
This study comprehensively ranks the American states on their public policies that affect individual freedoms in the economic, social, and personal spheres. It updates, expands, and improves upon our inaugural 2009 Freedom in the 50 States study. For this new edition, we have added more policy variables (such as bans on trans fats and the audio recording of police, Massachusetts’s individual health-insurance mandate, and mandated family leave), improved existing measures (such as those for fiscal policies, workers’ compensation regulations, and asset-forfeiture rules), and developed specific policy prescriptions for each of the 50 states based on our data and a survey of state policy experts.
Gotta love Mercatus Center.
It is important to note that I am not at all critiquing the philosophy of liberty. I am critiquing Libertarians in our current state of affairs. Reason magazine recently posted an article by George Mason University Law Professor, asking who is the better standard bearer of Libertarianism? In which he compared the two presidential candidates; Ron Paul & Gary Johnson. He concludes that Gary Johnson is the more Libertarian. Let’s analyze his points.
He mentions that Paul has “very nonlibertarian positions on free trade, school choice, and especially immigration.” To justify his position on free trade, he mentions that Paul is against all free trade agreements. Doesn’t cite anything on school choice (although he’s speaking about Paul’s opposition to school vouchers). Then lastly, he opposes Paul’s immigration beliefs.
It annoys me that he misunderstands the arguments put forth by Paul, instead basking in his own self glory. Concerning free trade agreements, he never once gives a nod to the argument put forth by Paul that it forces a country into a contract with another country. It sets up its own tribunals. Corporations can sue countries for millions of dollars. This professor is arguing something that Paul is not arguing. He is arguing that Paul is anti-free trade. That’s bogus. CATO gave Paul a 76% Free Trade grade. The reason why it’s so low is based on the opposition to free trade agreements. Get rid of the calculations that include the free trade agreements and watch the percentage soar. What exactly is Paul arguing then? Loss of sovereignty. Even Milton Friedman said the benefits of NAFTA were a trifle, that NAFTA was not free trade but managed trade. It also should be noted, in that same article, Friedman argues the same that Paul did, if we want free trade, it’d be best if we “reduce our tariffs across the board for everybody in the world.” Perhaps it is Libertarians that are out of step with their principles of free trade rather than Paul out of step with theirs. Are they willing to admit that free trade agreements are not the best way to promote free trade? In any event, if this is about Paul being against free trade, it’s obvious he’s not. He is against protectionism and managed trade.
Of course then he talks about education. How Ron Paul is not very Libertarian on that matter. He doesn’t give a reasoning for it but I am assuming it’s because Paul has not given outright support of school vouchers. First, Paul has introduced legislation for thousands of dollars worth of tax credits to families who choose home-schooling or private schools. He also introduced legislation for tax credits to individuals who want to donate money to any school of their choice; public or private. Are we now arguing that tax credits are not a Libertarian position? Secondly, Paul does not favor FEDERAL school vouchers. He has not shown support or opposition for states rights to do it. At least not through actions. He’s not outright banning vouchers. It’s true he does not support them, citing that it is welfare (giving to some but not others because the State says so). Maybe I am wrong but as a Libertarian, I support tax credits.
When it comes to immigration, it is true that Paul does not fall in line with Libertarians. However, the Libertarians are generally wrong about this issue. In an earlier article this professor talks about how Paul does not support any immigration (legal or illegal) whatsoever. If this is true, then why hasn’t Paul introduced legislation to make it harder to get into the United States? To my knowledge has hasn’t. In the other article I mentioned the professor wrote, he talks about how Paul supports the fence being built which would cost a bunch of taxpayers money. When we dissect the article, we see that, he neglects to look at Paul’s arguments. First, Paul does not support the fence. I am not sure if that’s bad journalism or just sheer ignorance. He is opposed to amnesty. Although the official stance on the Libertarian parties website does not say it, it is in fact amnesty. Here’s an excerpt from the Libertarian parties website:
"For those workers already in the United States illegally, we can avoid ‘amnesty’ and still offer a pathway out of the underground economy. Newly legalized workers can be assessed fines and back taxes and serve probation befitting the misdemeanor they’ve committed. They can be required to take their place at the back of the line should they eventually apply for permanent residency."
How? How can we give fines to people we don’t know exist? How can we force them to pay back taxes? Then of course, in order to not look soft on the issue, they may, brace yourselves, serve probation. This is ridiculous. We’d still spend tons of money trying to find them. The principles are nice but the practicality is not. Paul’s next argument relies on how they take a toll on welfare. If the Libertarians want to get real about immigration, eliminate all the welfare. Does this professor really analyze his ideas before concluding them? He is comparing the cost of the fence to how much is given in welfare? Hospitals are forced to treat them, they still receive many benefits of welfare without paying into it. And he is talking about the cost of a fence? It’s true Paul’s position is out of sync with the Libertarians. In that case, I concede the professor victory. I just think the Libertarians were serious about immigration, they’d realize the costs put on the taxpayers.
The professor continues on talking about the 14th amendment. I will get into that soon but I believe it deserves a much bigger discussion than these mild attempts to show Paul wrong. In conclusion, it may be correct in saying that Johnson is more of a Libertarian but these semantics are just hurting the Libertarian party. These fault lines, arrogant attitudes are going to kill what could be a growing party.
I don’t think everyone had in mind what’s been going on for the past 50 years when they amended the twenty-second amendment in 1947. However, it looks like there is a loophole in the amendment. What if we elect someone who runs on a different platform, for a different party, but when gets in office and does the same as the former president? Thus, a third term presidency has been born.
Now, this may be slightly unfair. I should probably put an FDR 16th term. However, it’s definitely more fun to hear people’s reaction when I compare George W. Bush (whom all the Liberals hated) to Barack Obama (whom all the Conservatives hate). I plan to set out to show that the liberals (and conservatives) are really just caught up in a giant contradiction. On one hand, they have somebody they hate for expanding government, bailing businesses out, starting wars with other countries, etc. On the other hand, they love somebody for expanding government, bailing businesses, starting wars with other countries, etc. So, what exactly do they believe? The left vs right paradigm while completely ignoring the facts. Hopefully when they look at the facts they’ll realize how red their face is from embarrassment. Starting with the most recent similarity.
Yes, foreign policy. Up until the recent situation with Libya, Obama had only been flirting with George W. Bush’s policy. Sure, he started trying to get troops to Iraq but only to have sent more into Afghanistan. Why? Well, the Obama apologists will tell you because we have to fight the Al-Qaeda there but the bad news for them is that wishful thinking doesn’t make it reality. Let’s get this straight Barack Obama has sent more troops into Afghanistan to fight about 100 Al-Qaeda fighters? Sure, we could fight the Taliban but that isn’t who we should be fighting. Now it appears as though Obama has taken the full page of George W. Bush by attacking another country. One of the main similarities in this situation was, not only the actual attack, but the process in which preceded the war. What the Bush apologists have on the Obama apologists is that George W. Bush actually went to Congress for approval (yet still wasn’t a formal declaration). Whereas, Barack Obama simply just didn’t. We see Bush & Obama neglected to declare a war on either Iraq or Libya. The funny part is that Obama actually knows that he must go through Congress in order to declare war. I don’t know if George W. Bush was even that smart. Not only were the processes in which the two presidents similar, the reasons were as well. For Bush, it was to “protect” the United States and enforce U.N. resolutions. Unfortunately, there is no legislation to prove that Obama is in Libya to enforce U.N. resolutions, we’ll just have to take his word for it. Now, the Obama apologists will be quick to say that it’s not a war. This is silly. Bombing another country, whether you go through your own government or through the U.N. or NATO, without sending ground troops is still an act of war. If the Obama apologist persists, which he no doubt will, just remind him of Pearl Harbor and ask whether that was an act of war or not.
In 2003, George W. Bush passed a bill that expanded Medicare the most it had ever been since its inception. The Medicare, Prescription Drug, Improvement, And Modernization Act was passed for a number of reasons. The main reason was a new part of Medicare. Medicare Part D subsidizes the costs of prescription drugs for Medicare recipients. It was in response mostly for the elderly who could not afford the rising cost of drugs. That’s not all, though. As of 2007 there were 39 million Americans covered for prescriptions under Part D. The cost estimate for Medicare Part D (from 2009-2018) is a lowly $727.3 billion. That doesn’t even include the rest of the bill itself! Like most government estimates, things tend to be a little bit more expensive than they estimate. The Medicare, Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act was no except. Originally it was estimated at $400 billion. Well, things have changed since that estimate and have gone up a little bit. Now it is estimated to be about $549.2 billion. Fast forward to today, Barack Obama has signed his legendary healthcare bill and now everyone must be insured (much like Mitt Romney’s plan) and the eligibility is endless. What George W. Bush did with the Medicare, Prescription Drug, Improvement & Modernization Act, Barack Obama expanded on it. An expansion originally thought to cost only $940. However, now the Congressional Budgeting Office has said that they could be wrong. Now, they seem unsure. The CBO states, “rising health costs will put tremendous pressure on the federal budget during the next few decades and beyond. In CBO’s judgment, the health legislation enacted earlier this year does not substantially diminish that pressure.” They also noted that, “there is a considerable agreement that a substantial share of current spending on health care contributes little if anything to people’s health.” There are two more things to worry about when the CBO says that this will reduce the deficit. As noted earlier, it is unsure with the rising cost of healthcare how much this bill will actually cost. Secondly, the CBO was required to ignore the “Doc Fix” legislation. The doc fix is a permanent upward adjustment to the rates at which Medicare providers are reimbursed. It has been created in order to cover the gap in which doctors get reimbursed after Congress passed a bill that had cut doctors Medicare reimbursements. The CBO was told to exclude the cost of the Doc Fix. The actual cost of the bill plus the Doc Fix has been estimated to be about $1.1 trillion. That is quite a huge cost. Here is something to also keep in mind written in a joint economic committee by Senator Brownback, Since the end of World War II, major health care reform proposals have generally always cost more-sometimes significantly more-than the highest cost estimates published while the legislation was pending.” And here is some data to go with it
The point is not so much the cost rather than the actual content and the willingness to be a big spender. George W. Bush was willing to be a big spender. Barack just wanted to be an even bigger spender. It’s safe to conclude, though, the relevant similarities are there.
The economic collapse falls under the responsibility of the president but the Federal Reserve takes much to blame for it, as well. I don’t want to talk about the events that caused the collapse or how the policies hurt us more than helped but how the presidents actually handled the situations. I’ll leave aside the criticism of the actual policies and stick to the point; Barack Obama & George W. Bush acted in the same manner towards the crisis. Starting off with the bailouts. First, George W. Bush with his $700 billion bailout (which Obama voted for). Mind you, this was a month or so before the election where Barack Obama promised change. So, what change did Barack Obama bring? None. The bailout of the auto industry was absolutely pale in comparison to the financial bailout, yes, however, it’s not so much the money spent that’s the issue. It’s the principle. It is the “too big too fail” motto. Where Bush believed that the financial sector was too big too fail, Obama, too, thought it would be such a travesty if these companies fell through. Let’s not also forget the Bush stimulus and then came the Obama stimulus. Although different in content, the principle remains the same. Both tried failed policies to stimulate the economy. Both tried to save jobs or create jobs. Both failed at it. Both wasted tax dollars (unless anyone can come up with any significant positive growth that the stimulus bills have done..anyone?). Instead of trying to grow the private sector both Bush & Obama grew the government sector. And while many Obama supporters love to show how Conservatives and the economic mess is all because the government didn’t do enough regulating. Well, the following news will upset them. Bush was a regulator (during Bush’s term government regulation spending increased by 62%, added almost 14,000 pages of new regulations, and regulations costing $100 million and up increased by 70%). A big one, too. Even just one bill increased regulations tremendously. Remember Sarbanes-Oxley? Then of course Obama took the side of Bush when it came to extending the Bush tax cuts. Finally we reach government spending. When Bush left office in 2008, he had spent about $2.98 trillion. Obama now proposes we go beyond that. In 2010, he proposed it to be $3.5 trillion. Under both presidents, our deficit grows, our government grows, our debt grows, but they have done nothing to help our economy. Probably because they’ve been continuing each others failed policies.
There are a plethora of other policies that Obama backed Bush on. Such as; no rights for detainees, the PATRIOT act, and indefinite detention of detainees. I can’t help but to wonder when Obama spoke saying, “we can’t go back to the very same policies that failed us in the last decade,” if he could take himself seriously.