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February 17, 2014 06:27 AM UTC

Presidents Day Open Thread

  • by: Colorado Pols

"This administration is going to be cussed and discussed for years to come."

–Harry S. Truman


42 thoughts on “Presidents Day Open Thread

      1. Is your suggestion then that we abandon those people,or that the expenditures there do not find their way back into the greater economy, And why didn't the all-powerful invisible hand anticipate this problem and prevent it?

        1. My thought is not that we abandon these people.

          My thought is that the idiots who have been in charge of turning around the economy since the recession ended have not been doing a very good job and need to be replaced.

          1. Here's a suggestion – Cut the damn military budget to 95% and use all the extra money for domestic issues, including jobs which creates and reduces the need for unemployment benefits, food stamps, welfare, etc.

            Richie richs doesn't want that, so we're going to pull a Bastille on those richie richs when it is time.


      1. He brings up a fair point – Obama has done a crappy job growing the economy. And while some of that can be placed at the foot of an obstructionist Republican Congress, much of it can be laid at Obama's feet.

        Obama sucks a lot less than McCain or Romney would have. But he has done a lousy job.

              1. Apparently for me.  Perhaps I imagine it, but you seem to seize on a few very limited data points and draw very sweeping conclusions.  I have noticed, or imagined, it before.  

                  1. Somewhere between perhaps?  Take the claim of greatness for GHWB, that he prevented some large war by his handling of the dissoluton of the Soviet Union.  When pressed it was becaue of some un-named bacm work of he and Baker, mentioning East Germany (not the first domino to fall in that scenario…wrting all readly on the wall–no pun).  You seem to post thoughts that come into your head (which is fine) but I think they often do not stand up to scrutiny, and rather than pointing that out I was suggesting–in my snarky way–that maybe you do the work first?  Maybe its just me and my imagination.  

          1. A couple of things:

            1. Asked for more money in the initial stimulus package. Congress was so scared at that point that they would have gone for most anything.
            2. Made shovel ready more than a slogan. They showed recently with the Obamacare website that when they really want to, they can make things happen in months instead of years.
            3. Put pressure on Wall St and the banks. When he first came into office the people were ready to string up the bankers and they knew it. He could have pushed for a lot more from strong financial re-regulation to the banks lending more locally.
            4. Created a GI Bill level program to get anyone who wanted a college degree into college. It would reduce the number of unemployeed, increase jobs (at Colleges) and get people skills that would lead to quality jobs.

            And a more fundamental issue – he didn't come up with any game changers. Not even proposals. FDR came up with radically new institutions from the WPA to the SEC to the TVA. The only big initiatives from Obama were tax cuts and infrastructure spending. Useful steps but where was the imagination?

            1. Um – Democrats did ask for more money in the initial stimulus.

              And "shovel ready" was pretty damned accurate. Of course, not all projects across all departments were as immediate in launching. But the money was largely spent on schedule, with many construction projects starting as soon as the money became available.

              I'll agree, Obama didn't go whole-hog. He wasn't an FDR – and we didn't elect him to be one. Remember "not a red and a blue America, but one America"? We didn't have an FDR candidate up for election.

          1. Unbelievable!  Apparently McConnell is disappointed that we averted a Depression of Epic proportions… We coulda had a Mad Max world if we'd just taken the GOP's advice instead:

            "Five years later, the stimulus is no success to celebrate. It is a tragedy to lament," said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell in an opinion article for Reuters.

          2. I posted a couple above. Another thing that hit me at the time is we spent 17+ trillion keeping WallSt afloat. But there was a bank (can't remember its name) that was the primary lender to mid-size businesses. That one they shut down causing giant problems to a ton of businesses that were profitable, but required loans for ongoing operations.

            There was a number of cases like this where they clearly weren't going to put in much effort for anyone not in the very top.

            1. "posted a couple above"

              More spending in the stimulus?! Might as well have required unicorns to back every bank.

              The stimulus was as "shovel ready" as these things ever are.

              Recent college grads are one of the worst demos for unemployment/ underemployment.

              I will never understand it, but the Senate refused tighter restrictions on Wall St and the banks. Of course, the House did too. Though I was never convinced the President really wanted it. I saw Senator Warren interviewed by Dan Rather, and she explained nicely why banks left alone always, always, blow themselves up. 

              You are foolish (Quondam mihi contigit, ut omnibus semper ) but I like that you want hold the President to a high standard.

              1. On the stimulus, Congress basically gave Obama everything he asked for. When he came into office Congress was scared and so that one opportunity did exist. Obama set the limits on what was asked (over the objections of Christime Roemer and others).

                As to shovel ready, I think they could have started things sooner if they really wanted to. They spent 18 months just selecting a vendor for Obamacare, but once disaster hit they brought new people in within days and a new prime contractor in 3 months. So yes, I think it could have been much faster.

                As to College grads, I agree. But the GI Bill wasn't designed to get soldiers into good jobs, it was to keep them out of the labor market. The government was afraid we would return to the severe unemployment of the depression. I think long term it would be a big boost, but the short term win would have been reducing the number of unemployeed.

                And yes, my standards in what I want in a president are high. But it's the most important job in the world so let's have really high standards and look for someone who exceeds those expectations. (And thank you – I take that comment as a compliment.)

                1. David – 20/20 hindsight is wonderful. But you really don't know what you're talking about regarding the realities of the stimulus. 

                  Try reading this:

                  In fact, it’s worse than that. The underpowered stimulus ended up discrediting itself because it didn’t live up to the Obama administration’s (faulty) projections, and instead of realizing we needed more, the fact that we were still seeing tremendous joblessness gave the opposition party an opportunity to argue that we needed less. It’s as if we took too few antibiotics, and finding the disease still present, decided to give up on antibiotics altogether.
                  That still leaves the question of what an appropriately sized stimulus would have been. I posed the question to both Romer and Bernstein, and they gave me the same answer: The stimulus needed to be bigger, but even putting politics aside, it would’ve been hard to make it bigger.
                  “A rough, back-of-the-envelope calculation is that $100 billion of stimulus creates 1 million jobs for 1 year (or reduces the unemployment rate by about 1/2 percentage point for a year),” Romer told me over e-mail. “So, if we needed to reduce the unemployment rate another 2 percentage points for two years, we needed about another $800 billion. So, we probably needed about $2 trillion given what we were actually up against.”
                  The problem, she says, is that more stimulus also means more problems designing the stimulus. “We had a hard time spending $800 billion quickly,” she says, and “with that much stimulus, the issue of diminishing returns could be important. We don’t have much experience with something that large, so I am less confident that the same multipliers would hold.” Perhaps making things even harder, “that much stimulus would have been irresponsible just on its own with no plan for paying for it. It could well have spooked financial markets. If we were going to go that large, it would have had to be with an explicit agreement on what taxes would be raised or spending cut in the future to pay for it.” Passing such a deal would’ve been almost impossible amid the crisis environment of 2009.
                  Bernstein’s calculation proved very similar. “The simple Keynesian answer is you take the GDP gap— actual GDP minus potential— sum it up over the downturn, and divide by the multiplier,” he wrote to me. “Using annual CBO potential GDP and the real GDP on the books for 08-2010, you come up with a GDP gap of around $3 trillion. Divide that by 1.4, and you’d need around $2 trillion, more than twice the ARRA.”
                  But, like Romer, he thought the abstract calculation a lot easier than the practical problems associated with shoving $2 trillion into the economy in a fast, effective fashion. “That $2 trillion ignores implementation constraints,” he continued, “which are also binding. I don’t believe we could have efficiently and effectively put that large a stimulus to good use with requisite accountability.”

                  1. I think that was a very real concern. But at the same time both of them were pushing for the larger number. And I think if they had been motivated enough, they would have found a way to effectivly spend that money quickly.

                    In the depression Harold Ickes bragged about how every sent he distributed was well spent. Harry Hopkins bragged about how he got money out to people quickly. When FDR needed stimulus fast, he put Hopkins in charge of the program.

                    Success was possible, but it would have required an administration willing to step and do what was necessary to have the money get used quickly.

              2. The thing to understand about David is that he's really an old school Republican with a few liberal ideas in the social issues arena and looks at everything through his own narrow perspective and experience as an affluent tech business guy. He is pretty much entirely naive about political realities.

                All that said and though David's ideas about what Obama could have and should have done are mostly silly, I have to agree that Obama, from day one, has not been terribly effective or skilled. 

                Though he ran as a corporate friendly centrist, the extent to which he has sided with the Wall Street/Banking establishment and other big corporate interests against the interests of the voters who elected him has been disappointing. While the GOTP insisted Obama was a radical socialist, people with any sense knew what they were getting was a centrist but many of us probably were surprised (I admit I was) by the degree to which we were getting a decidedly center right centrist. 

                Unfortunately, in today's political landscape that was and still is a much better option than any R since there are nothing but far right Rs who believe in utter nonsense such as trickle down and austerity as a way to prosperity and in all manner of idiotic social "values".  

                Incidentally, it is the same option that will be represented by HRC if she gets the nomination. Anyone who thinks HRC is less corporate friendly or more "progressive'" than Obama is deluded. So is anyone who thinks there is any longer such a thing as an R who would be preferable.

                Dems have been digging themselves into this Republican-lite hole ever since Reagan. A lot of shaking up is going to have to happen on the way to digging out of it.  

                1. Having said that, I agree with what Markos posted over on his somewhat popular orange-hued blog yesterday: if Hillary runs, she is the de-facto Democratic Party nominee for 2016 – and that's not a 100% loss for us. She leads all comers, she's been fully vetted/attacked already, and she's got the fundraising already nailed.

                  We as Democrats can focus more on what's truly important going forward: electing more Progressive state level officials, looking forward to 2020 and the next redistricting. Republicans understood this in 2010: redistrict in favor of conservatives, get more conservative results both at the state and national levels. We need to move the needle back to where Democrats are represented nationally at least in proportion to their vote. Dems were the majority vote in 2012 at all levels – House included. Yet we aren't in the majority, and a good part of that is from redistricting.

    1. Continuing the trend that has the righties so scared.  For the first three months of the fiscal year:






  1. Here's a thought on President's Day: Who's your favorite historic President? Why? Who's your favorite modern President? Why?

    My historic one: Franklin Delano Roosevelt – because he brought the country out of the Great Depression by starting the WPA – He actually did have a "jobs program".

    Modern President: Barack Obama, of course.


    Even with all of the NSA spying and drone program, he has still brought us out of the Bush recession, ended or is ending two wars, has managed not to get us into more wars, so far, and many more. Not just because he's the first African-American president, but because he has consistently articulated a progressive vision for the country, and insisted on taking the high road against the many vicious paranoids who would drag us back to the 1950s "good old days".   Accomplishments in list and video formats here. This list doesn't even include the economic benefits conservatives should applaud: lowest deficit in  decades, federal spending reined in, job growth.

    And, a family man, with no skanky scandals.  Imperfect, as we all are, and not a superhero who will make everything right, but a damn good President, all the same.

    1. My vote for best modern president would go to George H.W. Bush. I think how he handled the implosion of the Soviet Union, which could have easily ended up with another large war, will leave him highly rated as time goes on.

      I'd put Clinton as the next. He did a really good job handling the economy. A lot of that was stuff ouside his control but he made really good use of what was going on. And he figured out how to get shit done even with a Republican Congress where many members were convinced he was a Communist.

      I think Obama will go down as a medicre president. Groundbreaking as out first widly acknowledged African-American president. Great role model as a family man and a corruption free administration. But in terms of running the country – I think he'll end up at the level of Hayes.

        1. I think what Bush & Baker did was like the dog that didn't bark. They worked quietly behind the scenes in a way that made it all look relatively smooth. For example the idea that Russia would let East Germany go was unbelievable even 2 years earlier. And yet it occured, with no shooting.

          Gorbachev deserves the largest credit. But Bush & Baker deserve a lot too.

    2. My favorite historical president will always be Abe Lincoln, for all the obvious reasons.  My favorite modern President is Al Gore — for not being asleep and the wheel when Al-Queda came knocking.  For not squandering the years of budget surpluses inherited from Clinton, all the while letting the economy grow in large part due to the emphatic support of science, education and new energy sources, thus fostering a whole new set of industries that created millions of good paying middle class jobs.

      Most of all, as President he presided over an amazingly peaceful era of no major wars, and even made progress toward a Palestininan/Israeli peace process.

      Ok, he's still a dork, but a successful President, nevertheless 🙂

  2. Gross,  does someone smell chickenshit?

    Now I have found in my decades of living, that people who pretned to be grown ups, spread lies and get caught out, then want to act as if it never happened, never acknowledging or apologizing are cowards.  It is a little sad, I suppose, in that they probably have very, very low self-exteem, but nonetheless are somewhat dispicable, worm-like and cowardly.  IMO.  

  3. Appropriate Shakespearean quote: (Much Ado About Nothing, Beatrice to Benedick, Act 1, Scene 1)

    "I wonder that you will still be talking…….No one marks you."

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