Home / General / Fairy tales don’t become facts just because you never stop repeating them

Fairy tales don’t become facts just because you never stop repeating them


Or do they?  

In the midst of a screed about how Donald Trump is a real old school Republican in the true sense of the word, meaning he wants to repeal as much of the New Deal as possible, unlike contemporary GOP leaders such as [citation missing], we get this:

Yet President Trump cannot simply ignore the modern conservative movement. For one thing, its two great successes, victory in the Cold War and reigniting economic growth (through Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts, spending policies and regulatory reforms), have made plausible his own visions of post-Cold War foreign policy and a resurgent economy.

Total per capita GDP growth, 1946-1980: 104.2%

Total per capita GDP growth, 1981-2015: 77.4%

Oh but you see that doesn’t count because of the aftereffects of World War II.  Also, the fact that the economy grew just as fast under Clinton as it did under Reagan, despite a hike in marginal income tax rates on high earners that every right wing pundit on the face of the globe assured us at the time was going to destroy the economy and lead to cats and dogs living together doesn’t count either, because of the dot.com bubble.

So the facts never fit the narrative, but there’s always a good reason for that. Several in fact.


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  • humanoid.panda

    The other part of the statement is also problematic, to say the least: Reagan made progress on ending the Cold War when he stopped listening to movement conservatives***, and HW Bush who handled the end of the USSR was not a movement conservative, and tried very hard to keep the USSR alive in some form.

    *** Nowdays some of them said that Reagan scared the Soviets into negotiating, and that was his plan all along. Not what they said in the late 80s..

    • Jonny Scrum-half

      The problem is bigger than you state – the victory in the Cold War was the result of a decades-long, bipartisan strategy of containment and negotiation. The “modern conservative movement” deserves no more of the credit for that victory than does modern liberalism.

      • efgoldman

        the victory in the Cold War was the result of a decades-long, bipartisan strategy

        "Bye-PART-izz-ann"? Wott eet eez?

      • PunditusMaximus

        The racist-but-not-nihilistic wing of the GOP has long since died out, mainly because the amount of change in how people of color are treated in this country since the mid-60s is so vast that their underlying assumptions just aren’t supportable any more.

    • Randy

      There was a long line of conservative thinking that held that the fall of the Soviet Union was inevitable. None of those predictions, however, took into account the rise of St. Ronald of Burbank, so they are discarded from memory.

      • Jake the antisoshul soshulist

        Don’t forget that I F Stone was among those predicting the collapse.
        I think in 1957.
        He said it was too rigid to sustain itself.
        There was also a need by the Congressional-Military-Industrial Complex that the USSR was an implacable and eternal enemy.

    • wengler

      I doubt the Soviet Union would’ve made it past the generational die off of Brezhnev-era Soviet leaders in the early ’80s without Reagan, so we can give him credit for extending the life of the Soviet Union for another half decade.

      • humanoid.panda

        That’s almost certainly wrong: if Andropov had healthy kidnies, the USSSR could have plausibly lived on for another couple of decades. And there were plenty of “don’t rock the boat too hard” politicians of Gorbachev’s generation laying around…

        • PunditusMaximus

          Nixon went to China and the USSR went down about fifteen years later, because that’s what happens once Nixon, who had impeccable racist credentials, got the Republicans on board with the idea that the uppity POCs in China weren’t actually getting their orders from Moscow.

          • humanoid.panda

            You are an idiot.

            • PunditusMaximus

              Which part — that Nixon went to China, that the ironclad conservative belief that the Chicoms couldn’t be their own masters was based on racism, or that splitting China from Russia was enormously effective geopolitically?

        • CrunchyFrog

          No, sorry. The USSR was economically a disaster that was propped up by infusions of hard currency (during the cold war era western cash was “hard” currency” and Rubles and Ostmarks and the like were considered funny money that no one wanted and thus couldn’t be used for non-Soviet transactions) from oil exports. But although they occupied huge oil reserves the western technology embargo meant that the Soviets were incapable of anything but primary oil extraction techniques.

          In 1978 the USSR was a net oil exporter but CIA research forecasted they would become a net importer by 1985. 1985, like clockwork, the shit was hitting the fan in the Kremlin and in a hail mary attempt the Politburo picked their Maverick, Gorbechov, to try and lead them out of the morass they were in.

          The US, by the way, encouraged things along. Old timers will remember that gasoline prices plummetted in 1986 – so much so that oil areas were in local depressions. People in Houston were selling homes for whatever was left on the mortgage. This was accomplished through a coordinated oil supply glut, created by the US in cooperation with a number of key nations (Iraq and Saudi being at the forefront). That made the economic crisis in the USSR even worse.

          Gorbechov was known for his liberal policies like Peristroika and Glasnost, but he also knew that the USSR could no longer afford to pay for the satellites in Eastern Europe and would have to move to a floating currency model to make the Ruble a “hard” currency to give them a chance to compete with exports. He didn’t favor splitting up the SSRs, but knew that was a possible outcome.

          And all of this was just the end game in Kennen’s Strategies of Containment from the late 40s. Don’t help the Soviets, isolate them, keep them from new technologies, and eventually their system would collapse of its own inefficiencies.

          • CP

            And all of this was just the end game in Kennen’s Strategies of Containment from the late 40s. Don’t help the Soviets, isolate them, keep them from new technologies, and eventually their system would collapse of its own inefficiencies.

            Note that all through the Cold War, the hard right from McCarthy to Reagan derided this as “peace without victory” and basically for pussies who didn’t have the stomach for confrontation. (Usually without really clarifying what they wanted to do instead). After the 1980s, it was somehow retconned as something they’d supported all along, and/or something born from the genius mind of Reagan (as opposed to standard U.S. policy for 40+ years).

          • humanoid.panda

            No, sorry. The USSR was economically a disaster that was propped up by infusions of hard currency (during the cold war era western cash was “hard” currency” and Rubles and Ostmarks and the like were considered funny money that no one wanted and thus couldn’t be used for non-Soviet transactions) from oil export

            Sorry, but no. Oil was very important to the Soviet Union, yes, but international trade was only a tiny percent of its GDP- and it had other sources of foreign income to fall on, from gold, diamonds and weapons to foreign credits.

            And the USSR was never a net importer of oil and gas.

            I know that both the extreme left and conservatives love to imagine that the USSR death was America’s doing, but it was largely a domestic affair.

            • Oil was their only source of hard currency,

              They never even tried to match our defense spending increases in the late 1980s.

        • Woodrowfan

          I give RR credit for recognizing that Gorbachev was for real and not some trick of “commie trick.”

          • CP

            Yeah. Both with him and with Nixon’s China trip, I give them some credit if only compared to their brain-dead successors, because I can’t imagine any modern Republican being able to bring themselves to do it. (Bush’s government had a golden opportunity for this kind of thing with Iran in 2003, and they pissed it away because “we don’t talk to evil.” And the teabaggers after them and the Trump admin now certainly aren’t any better).

          • humanoid.panda

            If you want some amusement, find George Will columns from the late 1980s denouncing Reagan for being a dupe.

            • Gingrich called Reagan an “appeaser”.

            • TheoLib

              Really? You’re probably right, but George Will also helped Reagan prepare for the debates. I do remember Will being unmerciful to GHWB when he was president. And his famous column about a science fair project that supposedly proved how ignorant elitist liberals were: Will spoke of “water atoms” rather than molecules in the column.

          • Mike G

            There were plenty of rightards at the time who were pants-passing with alarm that Reagan wasn’t treating Gorby like Stalin, threatening the grip of their perpetual-fear-based ideology.
            Reagan being a facile showbiz guy was charmed by Gorbachev’s smooth Western-style persona.

            • humanoid.panda

              I don’t know about how he did domestic policy, but this is flatly untrue on how he handled Gorbachev.
              Plus, Gorbachev didn’t have a smooth Western-style persona. He, for example, spoke not a word of English.

          • djw

            Whatever else we might say about the man, he had the wisdom to listen to Dick Cheney’s advice, and do the opposite.

    • I eagerly await the pronouncement into fact in the near future of how the Kansas experiment was a roaring success.

    • Mellano

      Per Tony Judt (I think), at least, Soviet failure in Afghanistan is what precipitated the collapse, since it showed that the Red Army could not keep the local systems republics and puppet states in line.

      • CP

        Nice reference.

        Yeah, I’ve heard Afghanistan referenced as a strong contributor to the collapse. It probably was a combination of multiple things – that, oil, etc.

        • humanoid.panda

          Per Tony Judt (I think), at least, Soviet failure in Afghanistan is what precipitated the collapse, since it showed that the Red Army could not keep the local systems republics and puppet states in line.

          Not exactly. There was no organized armed resistance to the Soviet Union either domestically or in Eastern Europe. However, the invasion of Afghanistan was a costly adventure, and the Soviet quietly decided they could not financially afford another Prague-Spring style peaceful invasion. However, during the Solidarnosc crisis, the Polish army did their work for them, without any hitches. Again: there is simply no way to pin the Soviet collapse to anything but the reform process itself.

  • Warren Terra

    through Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts, spending policies and regulatory reforms

    I think the big ones were when he signed laws deregulating the airlines (in 1978) and interstate trucking (in 1980).

    • Paul Campos

      In the end the whole notion of goodness and badness will be covered by only six words–in reality, only one word. Don’t you see the beauty of that, Winston? It was
      B.B.’s idea originally, of course,’ he added as an afterthought.

    • John F

      Don’t forget deregulating the beer industry in 1979…

      It’s overlooked by many on the left and by all on the right, but in many ways the Reagan administration was a continuation/amplification of the Carter Administration insofar as economic matters were concerned.

      • Snarki, child of Loki

        Yeah, but NO ONE will ever forgive Carter for imposing the nationwide 55mph speed limit in 1974.

    • Bloix

      Yes, Jimmy Carter was a major deregulator. Reagan was more of a union buster.

      • Bitter Scribe

        Trucking deregulation gave rise to union busting. Once truckers were free to race to the bottom and undercut companies that paid union wages, the unions were doomed.

        It didn’t help that the major union in question was the Teamsters, led at the time by the thuggish Frank Fitzsimmons, which gave rise to innumerable articles depicting “independent truckers” as brave little Davids being oppressed by Teamster Goliaths.

    • dogboy

      Can we draw a line from the deregulation of the trucking industry through NAFTA to the Trumpista of today?

  • JKTH

    And the Clinton/Reagan comparison gets worse when you consider the fact that non-rich people actually did gain during the Clinton years but got jack shit during the 80s.

    • Yankee

      I like this metric

    • StellaB

      Oh FFS, everyone knows that the growth that occurred during the Clinton administration was the long term effect of the Reagan tax cuts. The effect of the Clinton tax increases was the direct cause of the 2008 recession. Geez.

      • liberalrob

        Hillary Clinton engineered the 2008 financial crisis, you know. It was the culmination of decades of careful planning; Vince Foster had to be killed to keep him quiet after he found out about it. Then Obama showed up and stole her victory.

        • PunditusMaximus

          Heh, every time I wonder if the Establishment Dem belief that the lefties are their enemies and the GOP their opponent is going to be updated…

  • randy khan

    Those tax cuts are working so well in Kansas, the entrepreneur’s paradise.

  • Derelict

    For conservatives, all there is is the fairy tales. No policy they have ever put forth has produced the results they stated as the goal. Not a single one, at least in my lifetime.

    So what else can they do except make up a fictitious past in which Reagan’s tax cuts produced results that did not actually happen, and Reagan’s regulatory rollbacks produced magic in the marketplaces (in the form of disappearing pensions and vanishing unions)?

    • waspuppet

      Does anyone under, say, 40 even know who Reagan was? Rick Santorum, of all people, scared me once when he pointed out that idolizing Reagan in 2016 was roughly like if every other sentence from Reagan in 1979 was about Ike.

      But then again, it’s never about actually helping people who live in America, or even convincing people that they’re helping them.

    • Pat

      Well, when many of them claim that their best imaginary friend is this guy named Jesus who will do anything for them if they ask hard enough, what were you expecting? Critical thinking skills?

      • Warren Terra

        Synthesizing the above two comments: Does anyone under, say, 2000 know who Jesus was? All we have are stories and a collective mythos about who this guy was and what he did, and we know a lot of that is nonsense made up long after he died, not really comporting to the historical record.

        • waspuppet

          Good point. I’ve compared conservatism to religion many times, and Reagan as Jesus fits perfectly.

          • so-in-so

            Particularly as many on the right don’t seem very familiar with what Jesus is actually supposed to have said or taught. It’s pretty much all Old Testiment for them.

          • liberalrob

            Reagan wasn’t Jesus, though. Conservatives are his witless dupes.

            Ronald Wilson Reagan has 6 letters in each name. 6-6-6.

            • LosGatosCA

              That would have helped Mondale back in 1984.

      • Karen24

        They worship the bastard child of Ayn Rand and Anthony Comstock, not the guy described in the Gospels.

  • daves09

    And the fact that the economy has endured one near apocalypse after another beginning with savings and loan and most recently the mortgage mess.
    What is scary right now is that there are no obvious signs as to the next shit show. People who had eyes could see the mortgage crisis comings months if not years before it exploded.
    The finance guys are back to making record bonuses, their arrogance is back to ’04, ’05 levels, the fed. gov’t. has been turned over to them-something terrible is coming-but for the life of me I can’t see what it is.
    Anyone have any ideas?

    • humanoid.panda

      AFAIK, lots of people in the liberal financial wonk world think that Dodd-Frank actually worked much better than expected in terms of limiting the appetites of the most important institutions, so right now the system is relatively healthy. The most obvious bubble: tech, really runs on venture fund money, and those are not that important to the overall structure of the financial world. So, with our luck, the next bubble will start developing soon, and will explode shortly after Gillbrand is inaugurated in 2021..

      • PunditusMaximus

        Yeah, that’s the orthodoxy.

        • humanoid.panda

          Um,no. The orthodoxy was that Dodd-Frank was woefully insufficient. But with the passage of time, most liberal people in the finance-wonk universe came to the conclusion that while it is still insufficient, it worked better than they expected. Because unlike you, they are neither idiots or trolls.

          • PunditusMaximus

            I agree that it worked better than expected and is still woefully insufficient.

            Can I buy you a cookie or something?

            • humanoid.panda

              You could go fuck yourself.

              • PunditusMaximus

                So no cookie then?

                • Ahuitzotl

                  sex cookie, maybe

      • daves09

        The economy has had a major crisis on average every eight years since 1980-we are overdue-and with the finance geniuses of Wall St. being basically told to do what they want, I think it, whatever IT is, will hit in the next 2 years-this time coming without a lot of warning.

        • Pat

          Um, Dave? Have you read about the retail segment lately?

      • guthrie

        What the geniuses don’t bother mentioning is that it’s far better for the economy if the government taxes the rich investors and spend the money on infrastructure and basic research at universities and the cost of students to attend said universities.
        All this venture capital swilling around is basically being misallocated and not producing anything new.

        • cpinva

          “All this venture capital swilling around is basically being misallocated and not producing anything new.”

          now wait a minute here! didn’t it produce a $1,200 $800 $400 juicing machine? ok, you could actually squeeze the juice packs by hand, but still…………….

          • guthrie

            I line them up, and you hit them.

    • PunditusMaximus

      My 3 guesses:
      1) Private debt levels, especially non-dischargeable debt like student loans. They’re in uncharted territory, as they have been for the past several years. We are approaching Hammurabi debt forgiveness legislation areas.

      2) Tech stocks. There will come a point where people will figure out that the current valuations for companies like Tesla, Uber, and Twitter are off by 1-2 orders of magnitude.

      3) Grexit or China.

      • humanoid.panda

        1) Private debt levels, especially non-dischargeable debt like student loans. They’re in uncharted territory, as they have been for the past several years. We are approaching Hammurabi debt forgiveness legislation areas.

        I’m just gonna leave this chart here

        (The deleveraging continued since 2016, and might have reversed a bit last year.)

        • PunditusMaximus

          “As they have been for the past several years”

          Though looking at UK private debt levels . . . Brexit makes more sense now. Holy crap.

      • Mike G

        Retail is going down hard, and the damage will reverberate through commercial real estate, banks and municipal budgets — not to mention a lot of service jobs.

        Student loans and a sagging job market have been grinding away at the prospects of 20-somethings for years.

        • Derelict

          Almost makes me glad that my downtown is mostly empty stores now. Not far to fall when you’re already at the bottom!

    • The student loan bubble is bad too, maybe as bad as the mortgage crisis was, and there a new tech bubble that will burst when people quit buying a new smartphone every 2 years and investors learn that “[regular activity]on a smart phone” isn’t really a business model.

    • daves09

      Possibly commercial real estate? Or luxury housing?
      Around here- Reno, Nv.- at least, mall development has become a zero sum game-new and more spiffy centers drain older malls rather than creating new businesses. But is commercial financial rinky dink comparable to housing mortgages? Information, at least for me, is hard to find and evaluate.

      • SatanicPanic

        But is commercial financial rinky dink comparable to housing mortgages?

        I don’t know about rinky dink, but residential real estate is much bigger. The housing market appears to be leveling off, and probably some foreign investors are going not make as much money by reselling the luxury condos they’re buying, but that + some malls going bankrupt doesn’t seem like enough for a major downturn.

    • NewishLawyer

      Human nature seems to lead to boom and bust cycles. This happened a lot since the 18th century with the South Seas Bubble. Maybe earlier if you include the Tulip Bubble.

      I would say that there are some signs of Tech 2.0 slowing down because of Theranos and Juicero but plenty of tech companies still have no problem getting tons of investment money and possibly more than they deserve.

      Student Loans are another issue. I suspect we could see a mass unability to pay.

      • PunditusMaximus

        You don’t hate Human Nature, you hate Capitalism.

        • Jake the antisoshul soshulist

          How about both?
          I have come to the sad conclusion that Humanity and Capitalism deserve each other. And that Capitalism works to the extent that it does because the Human Race sucks.

      • Mike G

        Juicero could become the signal for the top of this tech boom, the way Pets.com was for the late-90s insanity.

        • Warren Terra

          Or Uber. Uber has no technology or infrastructure advantages, all they have is a large number of people who’ve installed their app, either as customers or as not-technically-employees. There’s no reason Lyft or Google or whoever can’t eat their lunch in short order, yet they’re encouraged to burn through billions of real dollars.

          • NewishLawyer

            True but Uber/Lyft offer a service that people use. A 400 dollar juicer that doesn’t work that well for a diet fad is more silly.

            I suspect Uber will overtake Lyft because of their capital though.

            • PunditusMaximus

              Uber is overvalued by at least 2 orders of magnitude. That’s the same as not having any relative value.

    • Keaaukane

      Frequent commentator Malpocalypse (sp?) once said the whole pension system is going to blow up. It will require a level of attention to avoid that is impossible for Trump to muster up. That could be your next catastrophe.

      • Rob in CT

        Given the problem with pension costs just in my state, I can believe that.

      • jim, some guy in iowa


        yeah, pensions and college debt seem like they have potential to be big problems. too many olds and not enough jobs is a bad combination

      • NewishLawyer

        Pensions are interesting. Last week Derek Thompson had an essay on how the obsession with neutral data and facts is wrong-headed because facts mean nothing without an overall morality and/or ideology to guide them.

        Pensions is an interesting example. I see people all over the political spectrum talking about the pension crisis and the student loan crisis but people come to radically different solutions.

        On the right, these issues are stern warnings against the safety net, promises and obligations, and government bloat.

        Lefties see this as the fault of tax cuts and the government skirting its moral responsibilities.

        I am on the leftie side but we shall

        • Derelict

          All of those righties need to lose all of their money and then face survival into their 80s with only Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

          When I ran the local radio station, I had a bottomless pool of people who wanted any kind of work at minimum wage. The vast majority of these folks were people in their late 70s to mid-80s who simply could not survive on their Social Security. After burning through their meager savings and liquidating their only asset (their home), they ended up in Section 8 housing. They still had many years left to live, but not the economic means to do so.

          Every rightwinger should be forced to face the choices these people face every day. Food, housing, medical care, heat, water: Pick any two because you can’t afford any of the rest.

    • Rob in CT

      Most people don’t see the next crash coming (and some who do see crashes coming that never happen, predicting 10 of the last 2 recessions and all that).

      Anyway, for me the crucial question is whether the next one will be a “normal” sized bump in the road or if it will be another giant clusterfuck like ’08.

      Others have mentioned the student loan problem and/or household debt loads. High household debt loads + sluggish wage growth is not a good combo. But is it merely bad, or will it trigger another major crisis?

      • Linnaeus

        Maybe it’s time to give Hyman Minsky another look.

    • Aexia

      Probably either student loans or used car loans.

      The latter is being now packaged up into securities just like mortgages were.

      • Paul Campos

        The former is as well, in the form of SLABs (student loan asset backed securities)

        • Rob in CT

          Oh fucking hell.

        • njorl

          Any evidence that the demand for the securities is driving admissions yet? That was the problem with mortgage backed securities. The loans had to be made to someone, anyone, because the securities had demand.

          • Mike G

            The Obama Administration did a diligent job of cutting off from federal loans dodgy colleges with poor employment outcomes. A good number of them have shut down.

            Now that the chancellor of Trump University is infesting the White House, I expect scam schools to proliferate again. Because Freedom.

            • PunditusMaximus

              I think that ship has sailed. They made their money on poorly administered GI Bill money, and while the Pentagon dragged its feet a bit, they’re pretty much there now.

              WTAF was with the Obama Admin’s desperation to get pounds of flesh from the victims of the for-profit scams? They were pretty clear-eyed that it was a shitshow…

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        used car loans securities?

        jesus, I *can* still be surprised

        • JKTH

          I’m more surprised if something hasn’t been securitized. They’re like the prop bets of finance.

          • The Dark God of Time

            Lots of folks get upside-down on their used-car loans, so that’s not surprising.

        • Linnaeus

          It’s capitalism. Anything can be commodified.

        • PunditusMaximus

          Once you understand that finance is basically a double-down blackjack scheme where once you finally run out of money to double, the government reimburses you . . .

    • JKTH

      What is scary right now is that there are no obvious signs as to the next shit show.

      I like that much better. It might mean there’s not actually a bubble. It’s not like anybody did anything where there were much more obvious bubbles in the past.

      • ChrisS

        Carbon bubble.

    • waspuppet

      Student loans. I read yesterday in the Wall Street Journal as many people are a year behind on student loans as lost their homes in the housing crisis.

      The number of people who have had wages, SocSec benefits or tax refunds reduced because of student loans went up 71% 2010-2015.

      And you can’t get out of it with bankruptcy. Because reasons.

      • humanoid.panda

        Of course, exactly because college loans can’t be discarded in a bankrupcy, the odds of them creating a general crisis are very low. The music ended for housing because people started simply walking off their underwater homes..

        • PunditusMaximus

          Sorta. The real difference is that the sovereign currency printer has guaranteed all these loans, and that guarantee is credible, because sovereign currency printer. We can extend and pretend pretty much indefinitely there.

        • Mellano

          Right, and since housing price appreciation (i.e., ability to refinance or recoup their debt in a sale) and income shock (job loss) were the two big factors driving foreclosures, one homeowner’s decision / necessity of walking away from their underwater home directly fed the crisis by reducing house prices, which also hurt employment through construction, etc.

          Not sure there’s any similar mechanism that would lead to a sudden collapse in student loan payments. One graduate’s failure to repay doesn’t directly affect someone else’s.

          • LosGatosCA

            The subprime crisis happened because the debt held by the institutions was deemed worthless, because the underlying asset and the credit worthiness of the buyers were both overvalued. When the financial institutions finally had to face up to the fact that the last one holding the paper was stuck they refused to buy more and unloaded their portfolio to the greatest extent possible.

            It’s not hard to see a generation of non-bar passing lawyers, for example saying the debt burden is too great and defaulting, in this case simply saying they can’t pay -truthfully, I can see cram downs happening unlike the mortgages in the Great Recession.

            I think the Fed and Treasury are half expecting such an event to happen. Don’t know if that has translated into a contingency plan though.

    • Ahuitzotl

      the property bubble is already swelling again

      • LosGatosCA

        Correct – but mostly only where the coastal elites live by disrespecting the trailer dwellers in Tornado Alley.

  • PunditusMaximus

    Not to beat a tired old drum, but if we’re allowed to discuss economic growth during a given Presidency and the myths surrounding them, it doesn’t end well for Dems who still want to like Obama at the end of the conversation.

    • humanoid.panda

      You could save so much for everyone if you just wrote a macro saying “I am an idiot” instead of putting so much effort into writing your comments.

      • PunditusMaximus

        It truly is badthink, isn’t it?

        • rea

          It is truly stupidthink.

          • PunditusMaximus

            Help me out here — is the orthodoxy that Obama’s term was successful or that he was forced by Republicans to propose a too-small stimulus and ask them to implement the sequester?

            • Republicans and their Senate allies like Lieberman, Nelson, and Landrieu certainly forced a much smaller stimulus than Obama wanted to propose. The sequester was a consequence of Bush’s tax cuts coming with a 10-year sunset (of the kind Trump’s people are said to be planning for 2027). The only thing that could have prevented it, a working appropriations process, would have required Boehner to stage his political suicide a couple of years earlier than he ended up doing it.

              • PunditusMaximus

                That first sentence is straight-up false. Summers mansplained to the world’s primary expert on avoiding the Great Depression that she was unrealistic and cut the proposal in half before it ever hit the Senate floor.

            • davidsmcwilliams

              2008: “the world is ending!” -> 2016: “well, wage growth is stagnant, but unemployment is down and I don’t have to start eating cockroaches for protein yet”

              Seems like a win to me, given what congress looks like.

              Climate change will get us to the bug-eating stage in a few decades anyway.

              • SatanicPanic

                Why wait? Let’s start eating them now so when it catches on we can be all hipster about it. My artisan roach crepes are gonna be huge.

                • postmodulator

                  We’re there, if you squint. The entrepreneur who got weightlifters eating whey protein is starting to market bug protein.

                • SatanicPanic

                  As long as he doesn’t steal my idea for an internet-connected roach motel

              • PunditusMaximus

                No, that’s pretty much my opinion — I just think “not actually on Snowpiercer” is not the kind of thing that wins elections.

                I’m asking what the orthodoxy is such that it’s utterly doubleplus ungood badthink to say that the Obama economy objectively sucks.

            • sharculese

              Help me out here – every time you use the word “orthodoxy” to avoid having to construct an argument, do you involuntarily orgasm?

              • PunditusMaximus

                It’s funny because Obama-supporting liberals think they construct arguments instead of shouting people down!

                • sharculese

                  Shouting you down would have required you to have said something in first place.

      • cleek

        You could save so much for everyone if you just wrote a macro saying “I am an idiot”

        or ‘i like pie’.


        • humanoid.panda

          Stupid question, but are you the “cleek” in Cleek’s Law?

        • PunditusMaximus

          Pie > groupthink = Tr45.

        • David Allan Poe

          Installing your LGM pie filter is the single best improvement to my experience of the Internet that I have made. I wish that it worked on every site.

          • nixnutz

            For sure, I don’t use it for these types because they change their nyms too often but getting rid of Murc and Dilan has made this place 1000x better.

        • Redwood Rhiadra

          Sadly does not work for everyone. (Doesn’t work for me – even though the extra part of the comment form is working and I can add names to the list, the filtering part just doesn’t happen.)

    • sibusisodan

      It’s funny, you could say something useful like ‘HAMP was a real missed opportunity’ – something you would find broad agreement on, rather than taking the attention-seeking route.

      Also try: how does the US get a Fed chair who pays greater attention to the dual mandate?

      Both of those questions lead somewhere interesting and useful. None of them require putting Obama on a pedastal.

      • PunditusMaximus

        HAMP wasn’t a missed opportunity. They “foamed the runway” just fine.

        And Obama hires lots of Republican daddies. I hear one of them had a real impact on the most recent election.

        Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me about a time a week, engender undying loyalty.

        • sibusisodan

          I’m going with ‘nonresponsive’ then?

          Rather than being willing to discuss the details, you’ve vaulted straight into shoehorning the facts into the narrative you prefer.

          Which you are of course free to do. But you look less daft if you omit your opening move of ‘you idiots are just shoehorning facts into the narrative you prefer’.

          So, elaborate. Who was available to chair the Fed who would have paid greater attention to U6 rather than headline inflation? What structural issues would they have faced trying to change that policy and how could that be overcome?

          Who would your preferred candidate for HAMP have been? What should have been done there?

          • humanoid.panda

            So, elaborate. Who was available to chair the Fed who would have paid greater attention to U6 rather than headline inflation? What structural issues would they have faced trying to change that policy and how could that be overcome?

            The irony of it is that Bernanke, about whom the idiot likes to rail, was, if not the best central banker one could imagine, much better than any other central banker in 2008-2014, and not observably worse than Yellen, a Democrat and liberal that somehow managed to evade Obama’s plan to install republicans everywhere.

            • sibusisodan

              Pretty much. Yellen appears to be in much less of a defensive crouch about inflation, but that may be a sign of the times rather than intrinsic preferences.

              It’s not a responsibility I’d want. There is no room to manoeuvre on interest rates, and while things are broadly okish, kinda, on the whole and taking an overall view yadda yadda, they aren’t exactly robust.

              • PunditusMaximus

                Yeah, Yellen’s on the the glass cliff pretty hardcore.

            • PunditusMaximus

              I definitely agree that Bernanke was the best central banker some people could imagine. I absolutely think that people could literally not imagine believing that housing was in a bubble in 2006.

          • PunditusMaximus

            Re: HAMP:

            1) Treasury itself was extremely clear that HAMP wasn’t a missed opportunity. It did its job. This was known by 2010. It is also when I got done with this St. Obama bullshit.

            2) The outline of a meaningful solution to the housing crisis was long since known — cramdown, a “bad bank” similar to the one put together by Sweden, and S&L-style prosecutions. If this sounds radical, I’m baffled. It’s literally just things that were done in the 1990s in different places.

            3) I am not a person who knows the macro community to know who is both a good administrator against a hostile bureaucracy and who believes in a double mandate, and who was those people in 2010. I do know that a Republican Daddy is bad faith.

            • sibusisodan

              1. HAMP was not so much a solution to the problems people were having with housing and finance as a stopgap to the problem banks were having with those problems.

              It is not impossible that more could have been done to provide greater support for more homeowners. I’m not aware of the political barriers, but the lack of prioritization of HUD goes down as a missed opportunity.

              2. Both haircuts and bad banks sound good, with caveats about the utility of haircuts in the midst of a systemic crisis.

              I remain baffled by your insistence that prosecutions would have solved anything directly. Legislation, yes. Regulation, including of the regulators, most definitely.

              But the idea that prosecutions would even have been successful at convicting is unfortunately not a slam-dunk. I wish it were. As to whether prosecutions would reform the behaviour of the community…perhaps I’m too cynical, but the lesson to be drawn would be ‘don’t get caught’. Which solves nothing.

              3. Ok, so you’re knee jerking. If you’re going to take a position of superiority about Bernanke being a poor choice, it helps cement your superiority to provide an alternative.

              • PunditusMaximus

                1. Yes, you’ve restated my thesis.

                2. Hence “bad banks”

                I am baffled by the meme that rich people simply never go to jail, so we shouldn’t try. It just isn’t even kind of true? It was true under Obama and W, but that’s because it was policy under Obama and W.

                3. That’s ridiculous. I don’t need to know who should have been FBI Director to think that Comey was a Republican Daddy who ended up being disastrous.

          • PunditusMaximus

            I have a substantive link-filled response which is, of course, in moderation.

            Short version:

            1) HAMP was cynical and evil, and this was stated by Treasury in ’10.

            2) Cramdown, bad bank, S&L prosecutions. All done in the 90s in various places.

            3) Dunno who was right to take on the bureaucracy, but Republican Daddy isn’t.

  • cpinva

    “and lead to cats and dogs living together”

    and the bees and snakes sleeping with your wife. those Reagan tax cuts worked so well, he spent most of the rest of his time in office reversing them, along with increasing the FICA tax and establishing it’s Trust Fund. he also basically just outspent the Soviet Union, leading to massive deficits and increases in the National Debt, along with the concurrent increase in debt service.

    “Those tax cuts are working so well in Kansas, the entrepreneur’s paradise.”

    this may end up being the first 21st century use of the guillotine.

  • Kessler wrote a useful piece on assertions that Reagan’s tax cuts (as opposed to his many tax increases) were responsible for growth during the period. Shorter: They weren’t. Fun aspect is that Bruce Bartlett did the analysis.

  • Davis

    That article may just as well have been written for National Review, or maybe Breitbart. Tying Trump to Lincoln was quite the fairy tale.

    BTW, economic growth under Clinton was not “just as good” as Reagan’s. It was much better. Also, job growth during Carter’s one term was better than either of Reagan’s. One might think that I am tired of pointing this out. And Regan signed a tax increase in 1986.

    • Hogan

      And bumped up the OASDI tax rate and started taxing SS benefits in 1983.

    • cpinva

      Reagan signed (I believe) 11 tax increases during his eight years in office. even with that, he still doubled the national debt.

    • Robespierre

      The second claim isn’t really true though.

      Edit: Carter job growth, I mean

      • Davis

        According to the Wikipedia page on the subject (avg. annual increase in jobs):

        Carter 3.21%
        Regan I 1.47%
        Reagan II 2.80%

        • Robespierre

          I haven’t seen the Wikipedia page, but the Bureau of Labour Statistics gives 3,06% for Carter (Jan ’77 to Jan ’81), 1,43% for Reagan 1 (Jan ’81 to Jan ’85) and 2,69% for Reagan 2 (Jan ’85 to Jan ’89), which is almost exactly as you said.

          So I stand corrected, you are right.

          • Robespierre

            This however makes Carter’s presidency the third-highest performer since records begin in 1939, after WW2 (1941-1945: 4,99%) and the Vietnam War (1965-1969: 3,90%).

            Any idea on how to square this with no progress on unemployment (7,5% in 1977, 7,5% in 1981) and the general bad fame of the Carter years? I mean, apart from the fact that all the gains where in his first two years…

            Boomers entering the workforce?
            Women entering the workforce?
            No draft? (NO. This kicks in sooner, and only effects 1.5 million people over a couple of years, and only once)

            • imwithher

              “The general bad fame of the Carter years,” in terms of economics, is probably attributable to high inflation, a mediocre to bad stock market, rising Federal deficits, and, yes, a high unemployment rate. It is true that overall growth was better than average under Carter, and better than under his predecessors. And that job growth was good as well. But I can recall quite well the gloom and doom about the stock market in the Fall of 1980. And the “misery index,” ie unemployment rate plus inflation rate, was, I believe, the highest ever under Carter.

            • PunditusMaximus

              Women entering the workforce, and yeah, if people want jobs and can’t find them, they’re sad.

              The general bad fame is just pure propaganda. Carter did ok. Certainly better than his successors.

              • LosGatosCA

                Carter was a fool who had no idea what was going on with the economy until it was too late, alienated his own party over inconsequential issues, and what’s forgotten, was really unlikable as president.

                He was a disaster. His post presidency achievements are to be lauded, but they shouldn’t be confused with his tenure as president.

                • PunditusMaximus

                  Fair dues re: unlikeable. It does matter.

            • LosGatosCA

              This is where Nixon and his man Burns have entirely gotten off the hook for the gross mismanagement of the economy during his administration.

              Nixon wanted to have loose money to ensure his re-election and Burns obliged only too well. Then inflation started popping up, naturally, so Nixon did price controls. Then the oil shock and ‘petrodollars’ were used to dilute the impact of the price rise on the economy.

              Ford even tried some sort of Whip Inflation Now bullshit that was completely ineffective and then Carter inherited the ticking time bomb. He also appointed Burns replacement who had no idea what the hell was going on and had to appoint Volcker, way too late to make a difference.

              And Volcker set the template for Reagan that Clinton and Bush II used – make the first two years underachieving to set up the last two years to accelerate growth toward the reelection campaign. Bush I didnt do it. Obama had no choice, it was cratering before he took office.

              I’ve seen analysis that shows Democrats have higher, generally more balanced growth in their terms while Republicans have lesser growth overall, but greater growth in the second 2 years of each term. Which means Republican bankers/Fed are supporting their favorite party doing what they can.

              And Bernanke is way overrated. He saved the bankers but he got nothing in return. A Democratic leaning Fed chair could have used discretionary regulatory policy to get concessions from the bankers in return for bailing them out. Early bailouts, like Bear Stearns even returned equity to shareholders. That was complete bullshit.

              Bernanke was as effective as you could hope from a conservative Republican who served under Bush II as an economic adviser. Was he as creative or as aggressive in pushing regulatory boundaries? Hardly. And what would a Democratic Fed chair do in a crisis or otherwise? Who the hell knows because in the last 16 years of two Democratic administrations there has been a non-Randite or non-conservative Fed Chair for exactly THREE years.

              There’s a lot more to why Democrats don’t get the discretionary calls from the refs – they don’t even get the right refs in place when they have the chance.

              • LosGatosCA

                Also, too, see Comey and how the Democrats didn’t get the right calls from the FBI ref.

                Also, too, see Greenspan greenlights the Bush II tax cuts destroying the federal budget surplus FIVE FUCKING days after Clinton is gone.

                Wonder if a Democrat leaning Fed Chair would have done that? Wonder if private citizen, former Fed chair under Reagan/Bush would have had the same impact in providing political cover for weasels like John Breaux?

                Of course, we’ll never know because Clinton kept Greenspan in place so he could do the damage later.

                You have to give it to the Republicans they leave no stone unturned, no public shame in pushing any anti-common good agenda. While Democrats put the Republicans in position to do it effectively.

    • ColBatGuano

      It’s probably not a valuable use of one’s time to dispute the assertions about economic growth in an article whose premise is that Trump has a coherent world view that he designs his policy proposals around.

      • LosGatosCA

        Any article that uses Trump and coherent together as anything but a counter example is by definition useless.

        You might as well ask your local used car salesman what his ethical position is on a person who doesn’t have a driver’s license, just came into a very large lottery prize much of which he has on him, and out of celebratory drunkenness has wondered mistakenly onto the used car lot?

        A. Do you call him a cab to get him home safe before he does anything foolish?
        B. Do you get him a contract to sign buying the most reliable car on the lot take just the right amount of cash and drive the car to his residence at no extra charge?
        C. Same as B except the car is a piece of crap you were planning to tow over to the junk yard and instead you tow it to his house and charge him the regular towing rate as well as the same price as you would for the best car on the lot.
        D. ‘Accidentally’ push him into car door knocking him out, take all his money, and when he comes to ask if he can describe that minority mugger who hit him and then took all his money?

        Scoring this at home:

        A= -10 points, WTF – do you even know what your job responsibilities are?
        B= 0 points, WC Fields would love to play a little poker with you.
        C= 2 points, at least you get the concept of your mission
        D= 20 points, 25 if you also convince him that the world is giving him the message that he needs to change his life by enrolling in a Trump University course that you get a 25% finders fee for

    • imwithher

      True about Clinton.

      But the claim was re economic growth, not job growth, so the bit about Carter is not really on point.

      Economic growth by president, post WWII:

      Johnson (1964-68), 5.3%
      Kennedy (1961-63), 4.3%
      Clinton (1993-2000), 3.9%
      Reagan (1981-88), 3.5%
      Carter (1977-80), 3.3%
      Eisenhower (1953-60), 3.0%
      (Post-WWII average: 2.9%)
      Nixon (1969-74), 2.8%
      Ford (1975-76), 2.6%
      G. H. W. Bush (1989-92), 2.3%
      G. W. Bush (2001-08), 2.1%
      Truman (1946-52), 1.7%
      Obama (2009-15), 1.5%

      So, actually, both Carter and Reagan beat the average, but Reagan did somewhat better than Carter, and finished fourth overall. Which was not only better than Carter, but much better than Carter’s two predecessors, Nixon and Ford, and even better still compared to Reagan’s immediate successor (Bush I).

  • BiloSagdiyev

    There is more evidence to suggest that there is a great ape in North America than there is that the Reagan Administration fostered a fantastic economic boom.

    • LosGatosCA

      I’m not a Reagan fan in the least but somethings are facts, even if they are stupid things from Republican perspectives:

      Unemployment was nearing double-digits in 1980 and the interest rate to buy a house was north of 14%. Due to inflation. Gas was expensive and still trending up.

      By 1988, inflation was under 3%, unemployment was under 7 per cent home loans were under 9%. And gas prices were lower in real terms than 1980.

      So quick recap 8 years later: more likely to have a job, paying less interest on a home gives you more discretionary income. Ditto on gas prices.

      Of course, those economic results were purchased at the cost of quadrupling the deficit and raising payroll taxes for the next 35 years.

  • imwithher


    reigniting economic growth (through Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts, spending policies and regulatory reforms), have made plausible his own visions of…a resurgent economy


    Total per capita GDP growth, 1946-1980: 104.2%

    Total per capita GDP growth, 1981-2015: 77.4%

    I certainly don’t agree with Kesler’s claim, but I don’t see how the quoted statistics disprove it. The argument is that Reagan’s economic policies “reignited” economic growth, not that they invented it. The relevant comparisons, one would think, would not be based on forty year averages, but between the performance of the economy under Reagan and under its performance under his immediate predecessor, Carter. Or between some much shorter than forty year periods before Reagan’s policies were enacted and after.

    The narrative, for what it is worth, is that the economy was stagnate or worse (“stagflation”) in 1981, but by 1989, it had “reignited.” That may or may not be true, and, even if it is, that does not necessarily prove cause and effect. But merely comparing overall economic growth post WWII and pre Reagan to post Reagan doesn’t directly discredit the narrative.

  • burnspbesq

    It’s odd, is it not, that Republicans love to talk about the 1981 “Reagan tax cuts,” but adamantly refuse to discuss the Reagan tax increases of 1082, 1984, and 1986.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      Damn, he was old! I knew he was dying his hair!

      • Davis X. Machina

        Had to pay the Danegeld, somehow…

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