Why I can’t wait until November

All indications are that the Democrats are going to take a beating in November.   So, in a few short months, we should make a return to one of my favorite policy-making environments: Gridlock!  This will frustrate many, but it will make me so happy.

What economic decision makers (I’m talking about people who make things and hire people, not the pointy-heads in DC who don’t actually produce anything but hot air) need in tough times, more than anything else, is stability.  A Democratic President and a divided (probably Republican) Congress is a strong prescription for nothing happening that decision makers can depend on.  Yayyyy!

I’m looking forward to returning to the era of the most successful Republican president since, well, probably ever.  That would be Bill Clinton, of course.  The signature policy successes of the Clinton Era were 1. NAFTA; 2. Balancing the Budget; 3. Welfare reform.   Name a Republican president who has done better at instituting Republican economic policies.  No one beats Bill Clinton.  If you look at long-term graphs of government expenditures and revenues, the “Reagan Revolution” is mostly a fantasy (sorry, no more graphs today).  Clintonian triangulation actually got us somewhere in key areas.  Because of gridlock, he wasn’t able pursue the leftist policies his wife wanted him to.

So, the Obamanistas were right after all.  We now have hope I can believe in.

[Please note that I’m referring to economic policy defined rather narrowly.  Democratic presidents, including Obama, remain a huge threat to the Constitution.]

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5 thoughts on “Why I can’t wait until November

  1. This is an interesting post on gridlock. I wish I could be as optimistic. In the 1990s, we had a few things that don’t exist today. Clinton, for all of his personal shortcomings, had much executive experience and the Democratic Leadership Council had shaped much of his thinking about “third way” solutions. Moreover, he was elected by a narrow plurality (43 percent of the vote), as Bush (37.5%) and Perot (18.9%) split the vote of those arguing for fiscal restraint. The 1994 midterms brought a principled GOP into power that believed in the merits of fiscal responsibility. The larger context was important as well. As a result of the end of the Cold War, there was a freeing of resources (defense spending fell from 4.8 percent of GDP to 3 percent of GDP). At the same time, the tech boom provided new sources of capital gains. All of this allowed for a balancing of budgets.

    Things are far different today. Obama—while undoubtedly intelligent and politically charismatic—lacks Clinton’s executive experience. The GOP, having discarded principles by the late 1990s, proved that they could spent recklessly and reward every transfer seeker on K Street. Democrats like to do the same, of course, but they have an ideological justification. The Republicans did it for a simple reason: they could. Finally, the growing demand of entitlements and the deep recession have created far greater fiscal challenges then ever existed in the 1990s.

    The 1990s were a golden time. I am afraid that gridlock, while important, was only part of the story.

    1. I’m not sure I buy the Clinton as Executive Guru argument. I think his skills were mostly political rather than managerial (though being president requires both–and more). For all his eloquence, Obama doesn’t seem to be anywhere nearly as savvy politically. For instance, he totally lost control of both the stimulus package and health care to the Congressional leadership. I don’t think Clinton would have done that. Obama believes too much in his post-partisan rhetoric, and he just gets steamrolled.

      I also think we are going to see far less of the reckless spending from the Republicans than we saw during the Bush years.

      And I think we are going to see a resurgence of DLC type thinking among the Democrats that has been missing.

  2. I agree with the previous commenter. It’s not as though gridlock is BAD- it is manifestly what our Framers INTENDED to have for the majority of this country’s life. However, the President is such a rigid ideologue that I would be shocked if he did anything but continue to push his radical agenda into the headwinds of public opinion to score measly political points.

    Also I agree with the economy-is-in-dire-straits philosophy. We’re in for a double dip and then a sovereign debt rating crash.

    1. [However, the President is such a rigid ideologue that I would be shocked if he did anything but continue to push his radical agenda into the headwinds of public opinion to score measly political points. ]

      there have been compromises all over the place. i’m not sure what you’ve been cherry-picking.

      [Also I agree with the economy-is-in-dire-straits philosophy. We’re in for a double dip and then a sovereign debt rating crash.]

      why are we in for a sovereign debt crash? our government interest rates are the lowest we’ve ever seen. claiming bad things will happen if we don’t do something is completely different from saying we are on the precipice of a sharp cliff.

  3. [Please note that I’m referring to economic policy defined rather narrowly. Democratic presidents, including Obama, remain a huge threat to the Constitution.]

    this is either too narrow in scope or outright false.

    either all presidents since the new deal have gone way overboard on constitutionality

    or

    they are all within their powers of office, with notable exceptions not limited to one party or another.

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