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Kyle Smith (Twitter: @rkylesmith) is critic-at-large for National Review, theater critic for The New Criterion and the author of the novels Love Monkey and A Christmas Caroline. Type a title in the box above to locate a review.

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    The New New Republic

    By kyle | February 4, 2013

    The reworked New Republic has much to commend it, in my view, having brought back Michael Kinsley and Michael Lewis. There’s a good piece by David Thomson as well. Kinsley’s reflections on TNR (which I used to read with great attention when I was a centrist Democrat in the late 80s and early 90s) are delightful, and political writing in general would do well to aspire to Kinsley’s lightness of touch. Here he is on the difficulty of getting words from New York to Washington in ancient times:

    If a piece was too long to be dictated by phone, we would order the author to LaGuardia looking, like Diogenes, for an honest man or woman in the Eastern Shuttle boarding area. The author would beg this person to take our precious cargo of words to National Airport (not yet Reagan National) where someone from The New Republic would try to spot him or her and retrieve the manuscript.

    FedEx, which would pick up a manuscript at a New York intellectual’s apartment and reliably deliver it to our offices in Washington the next day, was a tremendous innovation. Fax machines, which arrived a couple years later, were heaven, although at first they were so expensive that we used to cadge faxes from a law firm in the building, a privilege we had to be careful about abusing. Even a successful fax would come out printed on long rolls of oily paper that will be immediately remembered by anyone who had to work with it and is impossible to describe to anyone who never did.

    Topics: Magazines, Politics | 62 Comments »

    62 Responses to “The New New Republic”

    1. kishke Says:
      February 4th, 2013 at 3:13 pm

      Excellent piece by Kinsley.

    2. Zach Says:
      February 6th, 2013 at 6:58 pm

      Centrist Democrat? AKA an Obama Democrat?

    3. Kyle Says:
      February 7th, 2013 at 9:19 am

      Obama is a centrist? I was never that far left except maybe in college (when I was a big Dukakis fan).

    4. Kyle Says:
      February 7th, 2013 at 9:20 am

      (I voted for Perot in 92).

    5. yankeefan Says:
      February 7th, 2013 at 1:25 pm

      Kyle, you are the first person I’ve ever encountered, and likely the only I ever will encounter, to describe himself as having been a “big Dukakis fan.” I never know such a person existed. I doubt even Kitty was a big Dukakis fan.

    6. Kyle Says:
      February 7th, 2013 at 1:31 pm

      You kidding me? Everyone I knew in college was rah-rah for Dukakis. Your college too, probably. Of course my love for Manilow is less embarrassing.

    7. yankeefan Says:
      February 7th, 2013 at 1:39 pm

      I was 2 years out of Oberlin when Dukaka, the least inspiring of Democrats (and the field was quite competitive back then), got the nod (and, in true Boston fashion, blew a 17-point lead in August). ’88 was the closest I’d ever come to voting for a Repub for Prez, and still hold GHWB in high regard.

      As for Oberlin that year, I’m sure they were 99% for Jesse, and I bet 3/4 of that 99% wrote him in. I can’t imagine the squeaky-tank-driving Masschusetts technocrat inspired the Obie socialists.

    8. Zach Says:
      February 7th, 2013 at 4:33 pm

      His health care plan was the old Bob Dole plan, the old Newt Gingrich plan, and the old Heritage Foundation plan.

      On foreign policy, Obama’s been a hawk.

      He’s proposed extensive entitlement cuts, much to the chagrin of liberals.

      Obama is a centrist. Name me one explicitly liberal policy he’s legislated, either socially, fiscally, or on foreign affairs.

    9. Kyle Says:
      February 7th, 2013 at 4:51 pm

      One liberal policy….hmm. You got me there!

      Oh, wait, the Pelosi-written trillion-dollar stimulus boondoggle, intervening in the auto bankruptcies to reward the UAW, tax hikes, NLRB interfering with Boeing, intervening to reward mortgage deadbeats, Cash for Clunkers, Fast & Furious, Dodd-Frank, huge increase in EPA regs, massive increase in welfare rolls, massive increase in people on disability rolls, super-liberal judicial appointments, gays in the military, gay marriage, full support of amnesty for illegals, massive new CFPB bureaucracy, backing out of Iraq before the job was done, increasing federalization of education, opposing school charters in D.C., ridiculous new fuel-economy requirements and other climate-change regs, and, oh yeah, ObamaCare. Just because some conservatives backed a version of it (when it looked like it was that or full-on socialized meds) doesn’t mean it was a conservative policy. As for “extensive entitlement cuts,” well, he of course ignored his own Simpson-Bowles commission’s recommendations on this. We’re never going to see them.

    10. Zach Says:
      February 7th, 2013 at 9:16 pm

      That’s certainly a lot to cover. But I love a good debate, Kyle:

      Gay marriage and gays in the military are things that most Republican voters don’t seem to care about anymore. Especially the younger Republicans.

      Fast & Furious being liberal: google Operation Wide Receiver, the Bush-era predecessor to the Fast & Furious program.

      As for tax hikes and amnesty for undocumented workers, I have two words: Ronald Reagan. Actually, a few more words: I don’t see what’s so liberal about raising revenue to help pay down the debt. Isn’t that the fiscally responsible thing to do? To get as much debt reduction as humanly possible? If you’re in debt and you have two jobs, could it hurt to get a third?

      Re: Stimulus: Didn’t Bush enact a direct cash stimulus (according to most economists, a much less effective type of stimulus than what Obama did) just before he left office?

      Re: Welfare increases: I remember Bush increasing welfare spending exponentially as well, and that was during a “good” economy.

      As for this idea that Obama has overseen a “huge increase” in regulations: between 2009 and 2011, Obama approved 297 new regulations, in line with the yearly average of the Bush administration.

      As for Obama rewarding the UAW, refer to this Politifact article in which they ruled a similar comment to yours made by Mitt Romney “False”:

      And this anger about the GM bailout – what about the umpteen dollars sent to Wall Street banks with no strings attached? Or the fact that Obama continued the past tradition (of both Democrats and Republicans) of taking a Wall Street big wig from his penthouse apartment and putting him into his Cabinet? Liberals sure didn’t want the bank bailouts – conservatives did, and were happy when it passed.

      Iraq: What more were we honestly going to get accomplished there? Those people are living in the Bronze Age. What, throw another trillion dollars to Lockheed and have a couple hundred more dead soldiers?

      On the same note, the defense budget has only increased under Obama, despite the Pentagon saying it can be cut. That’s exactly what conservatives wanted.

      And on climate change, Obama has actually done very little. He did propose the old Republican solution, “cap and trade”, which for decades was endorsed by Republicans as the “market-based solution”. Plus under Obama, drilling licenses for oil rigs have only gone up. That’s what conservatives wanted, not what environmentalists wanted.

      On the charter schools, Obama increased funding by 22.5% from what it was under Bush:

      Cash for Clunkers represented a mere .09% of the federal budget and actually led to a 55% increase in fuel efficiency of cars on the road.

      Obama did not ignore Simpson-Bowles. Paul Ryan and the other Republicans on the House Commission spearheaded it, as did two of the three Democrats. Why wouldn’t Obama ignore something that nobody of either party was willing to get serious about?

      And with the fiscal cliff deal, even deeper cuts will be made in Medicare and Medicaid. That’s not what liberals wanted, that’s what conservatives wanted.

      Federal spending has been at its lowest levels from 2010 (Obama’s first budget) to 2013 than at any time in the last 31 years.

      When Obama took office, the DOW was under 8,000. It just crossed 14,000. Corporate profits are at an all-time high. That’s certainly not what liberals wanted – income inequality to rise even more. And if conservatives were right in saying that trickle-down economics works, where are the jobs?

      Kyle, before I wrap up after this lengthy riposte: if you’re so angry with Obama, how am I (a raging liberal, clearly) so unhappy with Obama? I wanted a public option, gun control, legalized pot, a carbon tax, and more respect shown to the Fourth Amendment.

      In retrospect, I was perhaps being hyperbolic in asking you to name one explicitly liberal Obama policy. Dodd-Frank, while we may disagree on it, is certainly liberal. So are his SCOTUS appointments. So was giving more federal funds to colleges. I should probably have worded things differently. But my point remains: a majority of major Obama policies have not been liberal in nature. They’ve either been continuations of past Republican presidencies, or they’ve simply been Republican/Third Way-inspired.

    11. Kyle Says:
      February 8th, 2013 at 9:23 am

      Absolute rubbish, of course. “But (some) Republicans support” x doesn’t mean it’s conservative.

    12. Zach Says:
      February 8th, 2013 at 11:17 am

      Conservative? No. Centrist/Third Way? Absolutely. And it’s absolutely relevant that Ronald Reagan, a much revered conservative figure, was actually a centrist. And George Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” basically turned into “liberalism Lite”.

      And we’re saying “conservative” compared to what? Conservative ideas compared to liberal ideas in America. In America, liberal ideas are a carbon emissions bill, gun control, federal gay marriage bill, legal pot, single-payer health care, reducing corporate tax havens and loopholes, no bank bailout, no Geithner in Cabinet, a less aggressive foreign policy, and fewer entitlement cuts than what were passed in the fiscal cliff deal.

      In theory, Obamacare is a liberal bill. While it does reduce the deficit, it is an increase in government intervention. But in American terms of liberal and conservative, it is far more centrist, bordering on corporatist. Forcing Americans to pay private businesses thousands of dollars a month or face a fine? Which was why the insurance companies lobbied for the law? That doesn’t sound very liberal to me.

    13. kishke Says:
      February 8th, 2013 at 11:22 am

      I don’t see what’s so liberal about raising revenue to help pay down the debt. Isn’t that the fiscally responsible thing to do? To get as much debt reduction as humanly possible? If you’re in debt and you have two jobs, could it hurt to get a third?

      a) It’s not being raised to pay down debt, it’s being raised to increase spending. b) The fiscally responsible thing to do is not spend money you don’t have. That’s a conservative idea, even if too many Republicans have not honored it. c) The government doesn’t “get a job.” They take people’s money. The “third job” just means taking even more money. Your analogy is ridiculous.

    14. Kyle Says:
      February 8th, 2013 at 11:31 am

      Zach, just curious, when you typed Obamacare “does reduce the deficit,” were you giggling madly? I just want to know if you’re crazy or stupid.

      You can’t give tens of millions of people healthcare for free. The CBO estimate is a classic example of what comes out when you put garbage in.

    15. yankeefan Says:
      February 8th, 2013 at 11:35 am

      @Zach. Charter schools have never been a conservative concept, and no one who knows anything about education policy describes them as such. They were conceived by a liberal professor in Massachusetts, embraced by Albert Shanker, championed by Diane Ravitch, and mostly implemented by liberal statehouses and pols. Among their biggest supporters and funders today are Obama, as you note above, Andy Cuomo, and Mayor Mike (who’s more liberal than not, whatever he calls himself).

      Vouchers are a conservative program.

      The debate over charters is, as a practical matter, mostly an intra-liberal debate, between supporters of charters among policymakers, thinkers, parents, etc, and teachers unions and other more recalcitrant lefties. Inasmuch as conservatives are involved in the debate at all, it’s to join pro-charter liberals in a fight libs have been waging for years.

      As someone who’s been involved in a school advocacy group for over a decade, I know that inner-city Democrats are among the most vociferous supporters of charters. They, and I, welcome the support of conservatives, as we’d rather the debate be framed around charters than vouchers.

    16. yankeefan Says:
      February 8th, 2013 at 11:41 am

      @Kyle. “Absolute rubbish, of course” is not a retort. If Zach’s going to make substantive arguments, you’re going to have to do better than that, lest it appears you’re waving the white flag.

      @Zach. I understand the argument you’re making. But why not bask in glory a bit? Obama is indeed the most liberal Democrat since LBJ. As a liberal, I don’t know how much energy I want to devote to arguing against the “liberal-ness” of the president’s considerable policy achievements. I don’t recall Kyle devoting many keystrokes to how un-conservative W was…though as a practical matter, W, on many policies, was indeed un-conservative.

    17. Kyle Says:
      February 8th, 2013 at 12:48 pm

      nonsense. Zach’s “point” — but Repubs do it too! — is not worth my time.

    18. yankeefan Says:
      February 8th, 2013 at 12:50 pm

      “Rubbish.” “Nonsense.” “Not worth my time.”

      Zach for the win.

    19. Zach Says:
      February 8th, 2013 at 2:07 pm

      @Kyle: The CBO remains the most non-partisan, accurate center for analyzing the cost of bills.

      Nobody is giving away health care for free. There are many taxes in the bill, most of which kick in on January 1, 2014. Whether you agree with the taxes or not, they’re there, they will be raising revenue, and the plan reduces the deficit 109 billion dollars over the next decade. No longer will someone get denied cancer treatment because 31 years ago they had an ovarian cyst. No longer will 44,789 people die every year because they were denied health care.

      It should be worth a conservative’s time that Ronald Reagan raised taxes 11 times, signed an amnesty bill, signed an abortion bill as Governor, co-signed a bill advocating for gun control, believed in progressive taxation, was anti-nukes, and said that deficits didn’t matter, yet he’s a conservative icon. Obama merely suggests to do one of those and he’s called a socialist.

      @yankeefan It’s nice to see a fellow liberal on here. LBJ certainly has many credentials on the domestic front, including his landmark bill which Obama should have simply removed the words “over 65” from and there would have been no need for Obamacare.

      And you do make an excellent point on conservative hypocrisy regarding Obama and Bush. He’s basically continued nearly every idea of spending policy, foreign policy, and tax policy (minus one bracket, who now have to pay an extra 3% of taxes on their six, seven, and eight-figure salaries) from Bush.

      Obama does have a good number of liberal accomplishments. But as they say, it’s not what he DID, it’s what he DIDN’T do.

    20. Kyle Says:
      February 8th, 2013 at 2:25 pm

      Yankeefan, since you and Zach are equally prone to the tu quoque fallacy, I’m sure you are sympatico.

    21. Zach Says:
      February 8th, 2013 at 2:49 pm

      Then ignore my comments about Bush and Reagan and only focus on the ones specifically about Obama and legislation he’s passed. Rather, compare Obama’s solutions to conservative solutions and liberal solutions. At the risk of sounding redundant, I still contend that Obama tends to fall right in the middle.

    22. JohnFN Says:
      February 9th, 2013 at 12:33 pm

      Really enjoyed the new magazine, though it seemed thin in comparison to The Atlantic. I wish Lewis was in charge of the bailout.

    23. kishke Says:
      February 9th, 2013 at 9:11 pm

      I know that inner-city Democrats are among the most vociferous supporters of charters.

      Well, the Democrats in the teachers union, which is about as liberal as you get, are among its most vociferous opponents.

      Obamacare is a completely liberal idea in that it will eventually bring all medical care under government control, except for the very rich, who will be able to afford private care. In the name of some liberal idea of fairness, it will lower standards and make insurance more expensive for everyone.

    24. Kyle Says:
      February 9th, 2013 at 9:37 pm

      Indeed. In Britain, the NHS can never be conceptually flawed, no matter how many people are left alone to die in a pool of their own urine. It just needs more funding, more enlightened management, a few more regulations, etc.

    25. kishke Says:
      February 10th, 2013 at 5:44 pm

      And let’s not forget, more money. Meaning, more taxes. Hey, the government just needs to get a third job, right? And a fourth job, and now a fifth one. What a hardworking government we have!

    26. Zach Says:
      February 10th, 2013 at 11:36 pm

      @kishke Absolutely.

    27. kishke Says:
      February 11th, 2013 at 10:32 am

      The problem, dear Zach, is that you mean that sincerely. Oy.

    28. Zach Says:
      February 11th, 2013 at 1:23 pm

      One conservative’s problem is another liberal’s solution, and vice-versa. Agree to disagree.

    29. kishke Says:
      February 11th, 2013 at 4:30 pm

      As if there’s a choice. The thing is, there are continents just chock-full of overbearing statist governments: Europe, for example. But the liberals just won’t be satisfied until they have every last country marching to the same dismal drumbeat.

    30. Zach Says:
      February 11th, 2013 at 4:51 pm

      There is certainly a choice. European countries are on the whole more religiously-conservative (think Ireland, Greece, Finland, Denmark, Austria, Czech Republic), and therefore we have a freer society on things like separation of church and state, abortion, and gay rights. (I’m assuming you’re at least somewhat of a libertarian, not a neocon.)

      Plus here’s some European countries that Heritage ranks as having more economic freedom than the U.S: Switzerland, Denmark, Ireland, Austria, Germany, Slovakia, Poland. We have a higher effective corporate tax rate than them. Just because not all of Europe is in austerity doesn’t mean none of it is.

    31. kishke Says:
      February 11th, 2013 at 7:24 pm

      I’ve been thinking about this. It’s astounding that even a liberal can think of government as “hardworking.” Have you never visited the DMV? I’d guess that about 75% of federal workers are doing nothing or make-work. It’s a jobs program for people too dim to succeed in the real world. Welfare in another form. That must be why the libs love it so much. I think I just answered my own question.

    32. Zach Says:
      February 11th, 2013 at 8:35 pm

      I’m not saying all government is good government. And I’m actually against welfare, as in a system where we send a check to poor people and say buy your necessities. I think Milton Friedman’s negative income tax is a great idea.

    33. kishke Says:
      February 11th, 2013 at 9:20 pm

      I’m not familiar with Milton Friedman’s negative income tax. But your comment regarding “hardworking government” (practically a contradiction in terms) implies that you do indeed think that more and more government, and more and more taxation, is a wonderful thing.

    34. Zach Says:
      February 11th, 2013 at 9:55 pm

      I was simply making an analogy between an indebted head of household and an indebted government.

      Milton Friedman’s negative income tax basically says to people under the poverty line that when they file their tax return, they will get a certain amount of money from the government. It is technically a “handout”, while still rewarding work because you must have a private income to get the handout.

      I’m not for more government, but rather for smarter government. Which can mean both more AND less, depending on what we’re debating.

      More taxation? On what? By calling for more revenue, I meant through a FairTax, which eliminates all income, business, capital gains, dividends, interest, estate, death, property, and excise taxes. (Friedman’s negative income tax can be replaced by a greater rebate (a major component of the FairTax) to those in poverty.)

      And it brings an additional trillion or so into the Treasury.

      Plus, there’s 2.3 trillion or so the government can cut in one fiscal year without touching a penny of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, or pensions. Those items should be discussed in a separate conversation where we’re not just looking at a balance sheet but also at the human cost of slashing services to poor people.

    35. kishke Says:
      February 12th, 2013 at 10:47 am

      Zach, that’s all fine and dandy, but it’s not what we’re seeing with Obama’s decidedly liberal and confiscatory policies, which you endorse. Just today we learn, as if we didn’t know, about the Obamaphone boondogle. Over 2 billion dollars spent, at least half the people unable to prove eligibility. This is what they are taking our money for: not for people in poverty, but for illegitimate gamers of the system. Why? So they can buy their votes. It’s incredibly cynical, but hey, it’s liberal, so lets all cheer and say hurray. Any head of family that acted this way would soon bankrupt the family. But not government. They can just get a sixth, seventh and eighth job, just by raising taxes. How wonderful.

      Here’s the link:

    36. kishke Says:
      February 12th, 2013 at 12:20 pm

      I’m not for more government, but rather for smarter government.

      This is an impossibility, utopian thinking. More government is almost always dumber government. There are some things for which government is essential, dumb as it can be. Building roads, fighting wars, enforcing the law. But the lure of money and power is so great that it never stops there, but grows like a cancer. The best we can do is try to hold the line a bit. But then there are always the bleeding hearts who won’t even agree to that, but do their best to increase government’s reach into areas where it has no business. Obamacare is a case in point. Obamaphones are another. Less ruinously expensive, but no less of a chutzpah.

    37. Zach Says:
      February 12th, 2013 at 1:36 pm

      Wow. You’ve just negated any points you’ve made by going back to the Obamaphone thing. I bet you also think he’s a Kenyan Muslim?

      The “Obamaphone” program was actually started as the Link-Up program in 1996 by FCC to partially subsidize landlines for those under poverty. The subsidization continued under Bush, and in 2008, with cell phones taking over the landline market, it would be anachronistic to continue only subsidizing landlines. In 2008, before Obama was elected, the subsidization of both cell phone AND landline bills for those in poverty was approved by Bush. We can debate the Link-Up program without manipulating facts and accusing the program of being for “buying votes”. Then I guess Clinton, Bush and Obama have all bought votes.

      Regarding your second post, smarter government is done in almost every other country in the world. The FairTax is smart government, but it’s also bigger government because it means more revenue. Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid, despite what I imagine you believe, are examples of good government. Since Social Security’s inception, it has paid out every cent it has promised to seniors. It currently keeps millions of seniors out of poverty.

      Personally, my father has dementia and thanks to Social Security and Medicare, he lives in assisted living, has a part-time nurse, and we can use his SS money to get him toiletries, medicine, food, bedding, and clothes.

      Social Security by law cannot add a dime to the deficit. Even if the ratio of workers to beneficiaries is decreasing, that is temporary and even with the low ratio the program is still solvent.

      Thanks to Medicare, my dad sees a doctor once a week in the assisted living building. I always wonder where he would be without Medicare and Social Security. I always wonder how much more stressful and painful my life and his life would be without Medicare and Social Security. And people want to cut these services to my father so rich people can get another tax cut and Lockheed Martin can get more subsidies?

      Medicare and Medicaid spending are actually going down currently, as you’ll see if you go to Medicare and Medicaid have low overhead and administrative costs, you choose your own doctor, and is of relatively low cost to the government. And if we allowed everybody to pay into and participate in Medicare, the program would have more clout.

      Also, Medicare Advantage (the private Medicare) costs 120% more than Medicare Parts A and B. And Medicare Part D, which allows for no negotiation with drug companies, is astronomically expensive. And as Medicare shifts to a “bundled payment” model from a “fee-for-service” model, we’ll save even more money.

    38. Kyle Says:
      February 12th, 2013 at 5:24 pm

      So, so, so weak and so very trite to respond to critiques of statism by saying, “you’re a racist” or “You probably think he’s a Kenyan Muslim.” Give it a rest.

    39. kishke Says:
      February 12th, 2013 at 6:34 pm

      Re. Obamaphones, I didn’t see any youtube videos featuring people saying how they’ll be voting for Bush b/c he gives them free phones. Saw plenty of that with Obama, with phones and gas and whatever else. If Bush was a vote-buyer, he did an pretty poor job at it. Not so Obama, from phones to union jobs to all the crap he threw away the “stimulus” funds on. The guy’s a world-class Chicago patronage pol, Kenyan Muslim or no.

      I’ve been paying into SS for years. I don’t expect to see a dime of it. The government have been robbing that till for years and putting in IOUs. The payments they’ve never missed are now borrowed from the Chinese. This cannot continue, but you close your eyes.

      The question is not whether Medicare or Medicaid are good programs, the question is what’s affordable. Free phones are nice too, but why are we borrowing money to pay for them. You want great Medicare & Medicaid? Stop wasting money on crap. Stop giving food stamps to people who don’t deserve them. Stop making it more attractive to take welfare than work. But no. For a liberal, all this is just peachy keen, b/c it means more votes, and the hogs can just keep on feeding at the trough.

      Smart government in the rest of the world? Don’t make me laugh. Do you mean Britain maybe? Drowning in debt, the tax base growing ever smaller, entitlements ever larger? Greece? Spain? France? Your entitlement paradises. Where you’d like us to go.

      W/regard to Obama’s origins, which seem to be much on your mind, what I actually think he is is a Martian. Having spent his working life at the public trough, he has no clue what it feels like to work and earn and have your taxes wasted by corrupt politicians.

    40. kishke Says:
      February 12th, 2013 at 6:57 pm

      Another thing: Regarding your analogy to an indebted head of household. Actually, the first thing he does is not run out and get another job. The first thing he does is cut expenses. The worst thing to do is to borrow yet more and more money that cannot ever be repaid. But that’s exactly Obama’s prescription: spend more and borrow more.

    41. kishke Says:
      February 12th, 2013 at 6:57 pm

      I’ve got a longer reply above, but it’s waiting to be moderated.

    42. Zach Says:
      February 12th, 2013 at 9:27 pm

      Federal spending under Obama has actually been the slowest rate of growth since Eisenhower. In FY 2009, Bush’s last budget (a budget many attribute to Obama), spending increased 17.9%. In FY 2010, spending fell 1.8%. This coming fiscal year, spending will fall 1.3%. Over Obama’s years in office, including his stimulus bill, and after inflation, spending has risen 1.4%. This spending binge you accuse Obama of, it never happened. Federal spending is at its lowest levels since the early 1970s. Economists estimate the deficit will be hovering around 500 billion by the time Obama leaves office. So Obama’s promise to halve the deficit will have been fulfilled by 2016 and Ann Coulter can finally be quiet.

      And this idea that the debt has gone up 100% under Obama: it went from 13.5 trillion to 16.4 trillion so far. That’s a 21% increase.

      And Kyle, I’m not accusing kishke of being a racist. I’m just saying these Obama conspiracy theories about the “Obamaphone” are just as farcical and typically come from the same people who believe 9/11 was an inside job, Obama’s an illegal immigrant, Obama staged Newtown to get support for gun control, and/or Obama will burn the Constitution and seize a third term.

      And kishke, you do what Bill Clinton did to get surpluses: cut spending AND raiser revenues. How you figure each one out is a separate issue, but if the main issue is to cut the deficit as much as possible, why not…cut the deficit as much as possible?

      And again, I’m not saying to raise revenue through tax increases. The FairTax is a tax cut for basically everybody who isn’t a millionaire, but it expands the base so much (by one-third) that it raises around 3.6 trillion in revenue, and that isn’t counting the economic growth caused by the FairTax. (And through negative interest rates at the Fed. The economy will soar, and so will tax revenues even further.)

    43. kishke Says:
      February 12th, 2013 at 9:58 pm

      I’m all for anything that will spread the base and cut my rates, but I don’t see anything of the sort ever coming out of any Congress and certainly not a Democratic one.

      and typically come from the same people who believe 9/11 was an inside job, Obama’s an illegal immigrant, Obama staged Newtown to get support for gun control, and/or Obama will burn the Constitution and seize a third term.

      You’ve researched this, have you? I doubt it. Well, I do believe that Obama buys votes with his giveaways, and that is their purpose, but I don’t believe any of the rest, although I don’t think Obama has any great reverence for the Constitution.

      As for spending, why is growth the relevant measure? So far as I’m concerned, what’s relevant is the overspending. What do I care when it started or who did more of it? What I want is for it to stop. Obama has made it clear that he wants it to continue. If your only response is that Bush did it too, you’ve lost the argument.

    44. Zach Says:
      February 12th, 2013 at 10:32 pm

      Again, the “Obamaphone” program can just as easily be called “Clintonphone” and “Bushphone”. So don’t say it was implemented by Obama to win votes. Plus, Presidential nominees are always buying votes in some fashion, whether indirectly (through TV ads) or directly (through a transfer of money from the government to an individual/business). And Romney certainly tried to directly buy votes. The oil industry and Wall Street knew he wouldn’t end corporate welfare. They knew he would give them a 20% tax cut, and would decimate labor laws, and give them more free reign and impunity.

      And that’s the truth of it all: conservatives only consider it a handout if it goes to the bottom 1% as opposed to the top 1%. Who do you think needs it more?

      And can you blame people who “get handouts” for voting for the person who is making their life immeasurably better? I don’t know if you read my whole post before, but my dad has dementia and thanks to Medicare and Social Security, he can live with dignity in a decent assisted living home with a part-time nurse, his medicine is inexpensive, he chooses his own doctor whom he sees once a week, and we can get him toiletries, clothes, food, and other necessities. If “Obama” or anybody makes my life easier and less stressful, and makes my father’s standard-of-living higher than it otherwise would be, why wouldn’t I like them? Why wouldn’t a poor family, for example, who requires food stamps to stay out of hunger vote for Obama over the guy who says he wants them to go from two meals a day to one?

      You continue to complain about the overspending, but are ignoring the fact that federal spending has grown at the lowest rate under Obama than it had under all Presidents since Reagan. Of course growth is the relevant measure. Federal spending in Obama’s first fiscal year decreased by 1.8%. If you were to pick the best bad President on spending (bad for you, I mean), Obama would have to be that President, at least according to the numbers. Even under Clinton federal spending grew at 3.4%. Again, since 1980, federal spending has never been slower in growth. And for the first time since 2007, the deficit is falling. As a conservative, either you have to tepidly applaud Obama, or you’re just ignoring the facts.

    45. kishke Says:
      February 13th, 2013 at 12:23 pm

      Do I blame the recipients of government largesse. Not entirely. They are doing what’s rational, which is to take what’s on offer. I blame the corrupt politicians who think it’s okay to rob Peter to pay Paul to keep their power. And then to borrow from China to keep paying them in order to keep hanging on to their power. And who don’t give a damn about what it’ll do to the country.

      But I do blame the takers to a certain extent. For one thing, huge numbers of them are gaming the system. Sure I blame them. Why don’t you? Others are in need, but are also content to remain takers, and will make no effort to help themselves. Yeah, I blame them too. And I blame the people who make it more worthwhile to remain eligible for benefits than to get a job. If this doesn’t bother you, there’s something wrong with you.

      Re. the blather about who the “best bad president” is, again, I don’t care. What I care about is the runaway spending and borrowing. Will Obama stop it? Ha. He’ll increase it, at whatever rate.

      Let me say too, about the Fair Tax you applaud b/c it’ll bring in more revenue: You realize, of course, that bringing in more revenue will solve nothing. It will serve only as an excuse for even more spending and then more borrowing, b/c “Congress has to pay for what they already spent” (remember that inane statement by the Kenyan Muslim?).

    46. Kyle Says:
      February 13th, 2013 at 1:32 pm

      To say “Obamaphone is just like a Bush phone” is like saying WW II & the Falkland Islands war are alike because people got killed in both. And to posit a choice between “old people left to die in the streets” and “the government will take care of you” is at best fatuous. We all know the real choice is between government growing at a more or less sustainable rate, which is what we’ve had before, and government growing at a ridiculous and unsustainable rate, which is what we have now.

    47. Zach Says:
      February 13th, 2013 at 2:00 pm

      Government spending won’t cripple the economy until 2018 or so. We have 4 or so years ahead of us with an increasingly better economy, and I absolutely agree that government austerity is necessary. But if done in a weak economy, in any way more than mild, the economy will undoubtedly suffer. And Obamaphone and Bushpone are a little more similar than WWII and Falkland Islands. And one must bring up the hypocrisy when someone says “Obama gives poor people cell phones to get their votes”, because why weren’t they saying anything when Clinton or Bush signed and continued the program and when Bush even approved the cell phone component? I’m not using the tu quoque fallacy, because I’m not criticizing Clinton, Bush or Obama for the program. I’m criticizing those who only care about it once Obama takes office and suddenly he’s buying votes.

      Again, spending under Obama has been virtually at 1% annual growth, which, for the third time, is THE LOWEST RATE OF FEDERAL SPENDING IN FOUR DECADES. So you say “Obama will increase it, at whatever rate.” Yeah, spending going up by 1% per year is such an insane increase in spending! If you had a choice between four Presidents since 1980 who have increased spending at an average of 4% per year, or a President who has increased spending at 1% a year, obviously it’s important to my argument and something you should ponder.

      And Kyle, I’m not saying anyone wants old people to die in the streets. But many poor people and old people’s standards of living will decrease if cuts are made to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, three programs, by the way, that are three of the most successful government programs in American history.

      And kishke, with the FairTax, nobody will rob Peter. The FairTax is a voluntary tax. I support the FairTax because it will improve the economy and reduce the burden on poor people. The increased revenues are just the cherry on top of the sundae. And if you think more tax revenues equals more spending, then you also must think lower revenues equals less spending. Basically, you adhere to the “starve the beast” ideology. Which is a disproven ideology, because as you point out one sentence later, government can also borrow to get revenues.

      Plus, borrowing is actually cheaper to the government right now than it is to tax. So while the FairTax should be implemented for its economic benefits, the revenue part isn’t totally important. We can continue borrowing for virtually free, or even borrowing with a small lender’s fee (interest rates are negative after inflation).

      And if revenue goes up to 3.6 trillion with the FairTax, and spending is 3.5 trillion, I doubt Obama would feel compelled to increase 200 billion just so we continue a deficit. He’ll use that surplus for political capital and bragging.

    48. kishke Says:
      February 13th, 2013 at 2:57 pm

      spending going up by 1% per year is such an insane increase in spending!

      Any increase is insane if you’re already spending far more than you bring in. In fact, under those circumstances, failing to decrease spending is insane.

      borrowing is actually cheaper to the government right now than it is to tax.

      The problem is that one day it’ll have to be paid back, and we won’t have the money, and then things turn very grim. But you’re okay with that, b/c it won’t happen for another four years or so. Help.

      you adhere to the “starve the beast” ideology. Which is a disproven ideology, because as you point out one sentence later, government can also borrow to get revenues.

      Obviously, those with the gumption to cut spending will do the same with borrowing. That’s the whole point, which you don’t seem to get. Live within your means.

      What do you mean, it’s a voluntary tax? The government won’t force people to pay? But they’ll pay anyhow? Huh?

    49. Kyle Says:
      February 13th, 2013 at 4:55 pm

      “Sure, after gaining 200 pounds four years ago, I weigh 450 pounds, but I’ve slowed my rate of increase to 1 percent a year!”

    50. Zach Says:
      February 13th, 2013 at 4:57 pm

      Now that I’ve seen you acknowledge the facts on point #1 of yours, we can agree to disagree on what a large or small amount of spending is. But we are in agreement, it seems, that Obama has been the best bad President in reality for spending. For you, bad with a capital B.

      As for your 2nd point, borrowing is fine. Interest rates are negative after inflation, which means anybody who helps finance our debt is either paying us to hold their money or we’re holding it for free. We should spend now, while we’re in a crisis, and focus on long-term savings. And long-term fiscal problems are overwhelmingly driven by rising health care costs. So if you’re a deficit hawk, you should focus not on our debtors, who are essentially giving us their money for free, but rather on whether or not a private health insurance industry is truly the best system to stick by.

      The FairTax is voluntary because it is a tax on new goods, which people do not need to live. I suppose it is voluntary with quotation marks, but don’t forget with the FairTax you can invest, make a salary, get a paycheck, purchase new goods, transfer property, and open a business without being taxed a dime. It is a much more voluntary system, but not as voluntary as, say, a check to the government would be. But that’s unrealistic.

    51. Zach Says:
      February 13th, 2013 at 4:59 pm

      Oops. Wrote so fast I wrote debtors instead of lenders….Wish I caught that before.

    52. kishke Says:
      February 13th, 2013 at 10:16 pm

      Which point #1 did I accede to? I said I don’t care whose the best of the bad. I don’t think he’s going to cut spending, I think he’s going to increase it.

      Free borrowing is great when it’s for something you need, and you can afford to pay back the loan. Otherwise, you’re headed for bankruptcy. Which is where the free spending and borrowing policies of Obama and his ilk are taking us. They spend on things we don’t need, for their own purposes, and take no heed of whether we’ll ever be able to repay, and what the consequences of that will be. Go back to your “head of household” analogy. This is not behavior any sensible person would recommend.

    53. Zach Says:
      February 13th, 2013 at 11:01 pm

      Going to cut spending? He has cut spending! In 2010, spending went down 1.86%. He’s been the best President for spending (besides Clinton) since (I know this is going to make your head explode…) Jimmy Carter, who cut spending so much that we would have had a surplus by 1981 had a completely not-Jimmy-Carter-caused-oil-crisis not happened. In many ways, Obama should be more like Jimmy Carter.

      I was using the head of household analogy in a poking-fun kind of way, because conservatives tend to say the government should operate like a household. But they ignore the fact that poor people tend to not have one job. They get three jobs, so they get “revenue” to spend on “programs” that they need.

      Again, after inflation, our lenders are PAYING US 0.25% of the money they give us to use. So essentially, we’re not borrowing anything. We’re getting free money, plus we charge a small fee.

      And our debt problem is not nearly, nearly, nearly, even remotely close to the debt crisis in anywhere in Europe. Our public debt, the debt you’re complaining about, is at 73% to GDP. Italy is at 121%. Greece is at 165%. Most economists agree we can responsibly continue borrowing (again, it’s not technically borrowing due to real interest rates being negative) for another decade. So we have a while to get out of this recession and cut spending responsibly and raise revenues responsibly.

    54. kishke Says:
      February 14th, 2013 at 1:46 am

      Okay, Zach, this is just going round and round, so I’m going to drop out. Here’s hoping the GOP holds Obama’s feet to the fire in every possible way, but I’m not expecting too much.

    55. Zach Says:
      February 14th, 2013 at 12:49 pm

      I agree. Let’s come back in four years and then we’ll have some perspective. Cheers.

    56. Kyle Says:
      February 14th, 2013 at 2:13 pm

      “Government spending won’t cripple the economy until 2018.” — best possible spin a liberal can come up with.

    57. kishke Says:
      February 14th, 2013 at 5:10 pm

      I too thought that was pretty funny.

    58. Zach Says:
      February 15th, 2013 at 11:51 am

      So we should just cut 16 trillion dollars by 2018? 13 trillion? 10 trillion? You know Paul Ryan’s plan doesn’t balance the budget until 2050. 2018 spending levels in his plan are something like 2% less than they are now.

      Go to google and look up: FDR 1937 economy. Unemployment began to fall back down to 14% from 22%, but FDR enacted a politically-inspired austerity program and unemployment went back to 19%. They realized their mistake, spent more money, and in four years unemployment was back down to 10%. Then to 4%.

      Kyle, I know you’ve taken many opportunities to point out that FDR’s policies worsened the economy. The price and wage controls did indeed harm the economy. Very, very, even-too-high-by-liberal-standard tax rates did hurt the economy. Government-induced deflation did. Building the Hoover Dam did not. Glass-Steagall did not. Social Security did not. Farmers’ assistance, federal housing, the SEC, the FDIC, and the WPA did not. (By the way, FDR is not my hero. I’m just saying your past labeling of him as “the worst President of the twentieth century” is a gross exaggeration.)

      Obama’s stimulus didn’t work because it was a one-time payment that was too small relative to GDP. Roosevelt spent money every year on government programs, including WWII. More people, like during Reagan’s recovery, had government jobs. They spent the money and saw results. After Clinton’s recession, government jobs grew. So did the economy. The stimulus kept government jobs around for another six months, and then they disappeared. And the economy saw anemic growth.

    59. Kyle Says:
      February 15th, 2013 at 1:00 pm

      Yep, FDR’s jobs program was great, except for unemployment remaining at or above 15 percent for more than a decade. But never let liberal theory interfere with the facts. Next up: Head Start doesn’t work, so let’s waste billions more on it.

    60. Zach Says:
      February 15th, 2013 at 1:34 pm

      Saying the jobs program didn’t work because unemployment was over 15% is like saying because Barry Bonds got 73 home runs you’re a bad player if you don’t hit more than 50 home runs in a year. Unemployment was so high, 25% at the peak of the depression, that even a recovery would have been 17% unemployment. So you and I both know you’re distorting the context of the situation by saying 15% unemployment would be unacceptable given the circumstances.

      Would you have expected unemployment to go down 10% in ten years? Actually, it would have, had Roosevelt not given in to Father Coughlin and the other Republicans and enacted austerity in 1937. That austerity, which was responsible for a recession within a depression, was a 2 year speed bump in unemployment going down. Actually, it’s very funny you say “decade” and I say the austerity was a 2 year speed bump. It took 12 years for unemployment to go under 15%. Would’ve been a decade.

      You say Head Start doesn’t work. Well, I could say the fact that people who are in the program are less likely to be charged for a crime than other non-Head Start students makes it a success. I could say that the reduction in the amount of children who were held back as a direct result of their Head Start assistance makes it a success. I could praise 22 million poor children getting nutritional, educational and familial assistance who wouldn’t otherwise get it.

      The program costs 8 billion dollars. That’s 0.2% of federal spending. Even if it hypothetically were “waste”, there’s much bigger programs with more waste than Head Start. What exactly does cutting 0.2% of federal spending do for this country, except hurt poor families who depend on Head Start to send their children to school? What do those families do?

    61. Kyle Says:
      February 15th, 2013 at 5:02 pm

      Right. 15 percent unemployment, for an entire decade, is a massive success. If a Democrat is in charge.

    62. Zach Says:
      February 15th, 2013 at 11:21 pm

      Again, utilizing the “15% unemployment” argument is like using a line graph that starts at 100 and goes up by increments of 1000. It’s deceiving and doesn’t provide context. The fact remains that growth was present when Roosevelt was spending money, and a recession came about directly after he enacted austerity. Coincidence? I, and most economists, think not.