Quote of the Day

When it comes to things like NAFTA, there seem to be only two possibilities. Either Obama’s anti-NAFTA talk is a ruse to fool the rubes, or his coterie of distinguished economic experts is a ruse to fool a different batch of rubes.

Glenn Reynolds

(I usually don’t quote Reynolds, because I assume that almost everyone who reads this blog reads Instapundit, but this line was too good not to quote.)

UPDATE (2/29/2008): One of the reasons this quote hit home for me is that I watched Larry Kudlow interview Austan Goolsbee, one of Obama’s “distinguished economic experts,” a couple of times. On both occasions Goolsbee came across as a partisan hack, trying to square the circle of Obama’s socialist and populist economic policies by pointing out marginal pro-business positions Obama had taken — e.g., Obama favored accelerated depreciation or whatever. But on the big issue of marginal income-tax rates Obama favors raising tax rates by, at first, repealing Bush’s tax cuts. He also favors raising or eliminating the income cap on the Social Security payroll tax. Why would a competent economist such as Goolsbee favor such anti-growth policies? The obvious answer is that Goolsbee is a partisan. He may also be interested in a government position if Obama wins. Caveat voter in any case.

14 thoughts on “Quote of the Day”

  1. (I usually don’t quote Reynolds, because I assume that almost everyone who reads this blog reads Instapundit, but this line was too good not to quote.)

    Actually .. I don’t. I’ve found that when he has something interesting to say the bloggers I do read will point to it.

    I should come up with a name for a person who performs a service like that. Content gatekeeper? Information Facilitator? Naw. Something short and snappy like Info-manager, Infoter … Editor?

  2. Fred Lapides,

    The point isn’t whether NAFTA is a good idea or not, the point is that Obama is being untruthful about his real position on it just to win votes from the economically illiterate.

    Frankly, I hope he is just trying to smoke the rubes. If he actually believes that (1) we can renegotiate permanent treaties whenever we feel like, (2) that other countries will let us engage in economic imperialism by imposing our conception of environmental and labor laws on them against their will, (3) protection helps more than it hurts, then we are in for a disastrous ride if he gets elected. The damage to America’s reputation and word will be enormous and unrepairable.

  3. Far be it from me to believe just about most things politicians say while in the middle of a debate and rush for a nomination–or election. Today, for example (see Huntington.com) McCain inadvertgently called himself a liberal Republican…he may be this but he is certainly telling folks now he is conservative. Which is he?

    I favor dumping the Bush tax breaks for the very wealthy…to want thios is hardly a sign of being out of step with anything but that which diehard conservatives want. But is that a sin given the deficit we have and the recession and the housing slump et all? I recall how Hoover said all we had to do was just sit tight and all would be well.

  4. I favor dumping the Bush tax breaks for the very wealthy…to want thios is hardly a sign of being out of step with anything but that which diehard conservatives want. But is that a sin given the deficit we have and the recession and the housing slump et all?

    Not a sin, merely foolish. Raising taxes is never a good way to boost the economy, particularly going into a slow economic period.

    (Interesting that you consider it a “break” to allow people to keep more of what they earn.)

    I recall how Hoover said all we had to do was just sit tight and all would be well.

    Hoover raised taxes, and by doing so helped to bring about the Great Depression.

    And I have a vague memory of something. … can it be that this post was, somehow, maybe, not about the evil Republican du jour, but was instead about the current Democratic frontrunner for President and his bogus arguments?

  5. Your uneasiness, Jonathan, may be intensified. Here is Hot Air discussing Goolsbe’s role. NRO also dicusses the exchange and what is likely to happen when someone wants to be all things to all people.

  6. I may be misunderstood here. I dild not say to raise taxes. I said to retract tax breaks given to the very wealthy. Hoover both raised and then lowered taxes, as this piece from the encyclopedia of Economics notes
    […]The depression is often blamed on the passivity of President Hoover and the Federal Reserve. This view is simplistic. True, Hoover’s commitment to a balanced budget—the orthodoxy of the day—precluded big new spending programs. And his decision in 1932 to combat a budget deficit by raising taxes sharply is widely viewed as a major blunder. But it is not true that Hoover and the Federal Reserve stood idly by and did nothing as the depression worsened. After the crash Hoover instituted a tax cut equal to 4 percent of federal revenues. He urged state and local governments to raise their spending on public works projects. Hoover also created the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, which provided loans to shaky banks, utilities, and railroads. In 1931 he suspended collection of foreign-debt payments to the United States, which he thought were impeding recovery of the international economy.

    Nor was the Federal Reserve entirely passive. During the crash the Fed lent liberally to banks so they could sustain securities lending. Interest rates were allowed to drop rapidly. The discount rate (the rate at which the Federal Reserve lends to commercial banks) fell from 6 percent in October 1929 to 2.5 percent in June 1930. The money supply (cash in circulation plus checking and time deposits at banks) declined only slightly in the next year. Tighter Federal Reserve policy in 1928 and early 1929—intended to check stock market speculation—may have helped trigger the economic downturn. But the Federal Reserve was not stingy in early 1930 and was not driving the economy into depression at that time. It was not until 1931 and later that the Federal Reserve failed to act as the “lender of last resort” and allowed so many banks to fail.

    The truth is that, until the summer or early fall of 1930, almost everyone expected the economy to recover, just as it had in 1921. Unfortunately, almost everyone underestimated the forces pulling the economy down. One was the drop in trade that resulted from collapsing commodity prices.[…]

  7. No, I understood you perfectly. Repealing a tax-rate cut is the same thing as raising tax rates. Obama’s saying that he will repeal a tax-rate cut is the same thing as Obama’s saying that he will increase tax rates, because the outcome is the same in both cases: the marginal rate was X% before and will be (X + Y)% after. You and Goolsbee are playing word games. Goolsbee expects to get something for doing this, which is why I called him a hack, but what do you get out of it?

  8. the tax thing is a dodge. If Bush made what many believe a big mistake, you may not agree, then repealing it, might restore what was needed and indeed will raise taxes upon those who got what those who restore it believe ought not to have been given. n sum: you are right that it is “raising taxes,” but wrong in that it is restoring what should not have been giving. But that is mostly a difference between two views.As for Golsbee (univ of Chicago): the Economist–hardly a bastion of liberalism–calls him “sensible and pragmatic. (p. 31, this week)if you do not have this at hand, the Obama economics, NAFTA, etc are all deconstructed, noting, too, that what gets said on the stump is always in need of clarification.


  9. It’s raising taxes, not “raising taxes.” That’s no dodge, nor does it have anything to do with Bush. Obama wants to raise taxes. Obama opposes NAFTA. And now that Obama is being criticized for these positions he’s trying to play both sides by having his people drop hints that he doesn’t really mean it about NAFTA. If Goolsbee defends Obama’s foolish statements it doesn’t mean Obama’s policies are good, it means Goolsbee is willing to prostitute himself. Deal with it.

  10. On NAFTA–read the Economist. Obama, like most politicians, trying to have it both ways but clearly he does not oppose NAFTA but suggests some protection for American workers is needed. I agree.He will be raising taxes if he raises MY taxes.But if it helps the nation and is not for a wrong war, I have no problem with that…I believe in a nation and not just in my own bank account.

  11. Obama can’t keep his arguments straight but you trust him over yourself to spend your money. How reassuring. If that’s how you feel, no one is stopping your from sending some extra cash to the IRS when you do your taxes. Please leave the rest of us out of it, however.

  12. I probably do not have the experience and years of study that some of you have, so–forgive me–I suspect that it is not the president personally who decides how to spend money and where it is to go, though he is of courser a part of the process, vetoing etc or accepting, though, ion the present instance, the President, convinced of the wisdom of invading Iraq has certainly managed to see to it that a lot of what was once a balanced budget got very much out of hand. And that is both your money and mine. But my objection to this expenditure does not rile me so much as to want some one else in charge whereas you are perhaps pleased where your tax bucks have gone for so worthy a cause. Should Obama become president, i. will write him and ask him tol exclude you from his spending.

  13. Bush isn’t running. Of the two likely candidates, you prefer the one who says that he is in favor of raising taxes and repudiating NAFTA. You made your point.

    Now perhaps someone else would like to participate in this conversation.

Comments are closed.