Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Bush Rule?

Adam Serwer seems to think there's something strained about the idea that George W. Bush's supporters believe that none of the things that happened on his watch were his fault. I don't know what he's thinking; it seems just common sense to me that the housing and financial crisis and subsequent recession were the direct result of Carter-era housing policies combined with the massive uncertainty caused by the very real possibility that taxes might be raised during a future Democratic presidency.


  1. Actually, the recession is even more Bush’s fault than democrats let on. But they have an ideological commitment to the same neo-keynesian Bush policies that caused the housing bubble.

  2. Isn't it legally the case that for something to be "your fault," youhave to be able to distinguish between (a) what you want to happen and (b) what will really happen? If you can't distibguish between these two alternatives, and if what you want to happen does not, in fact, happen, then how could that be your fault?

  3. If any sort of political problem predates the Bush Administration, it's the fault of Bill Clinton. Now, if the problem predates Clinton, then it's Jimmy Carter's fault. Barring that possibility, it must be Lyndon Johnson. If it's not LBJ it might be Kennedy, but realistically you might want to jump back to Truman. Of course failing that, we can't disregard the big government agendas of Franklin Roosevelt and before that Woodrow Wilson.

  4. I am confused by this post. Is it sarcastic? I mean, Jonathan, you can't be fucking serious?!!

  5. If only Republicans were as eager to credit Bush (and themselves) for the deficit and the economy as they are the operation that killed Bin Laden in year 3 of the Obama Administration.

  6. Midway through the Obama recession, George W. Bush wins the war on terror.

    (headline from a recent blog-post)

  7. This thread reminded me of a hallway conversation at work, mid-2007, when the S&P was rocking along in the mid-1500s. A co-worker casually asked: "Do you think financial pundits are aware that corporate profits are unusually driven by financing effects (e.g. foreign exchange for USD-denominated companies, but also those financial acronyms that are now synonymous with evil)?"

    I mentioned something about that famous Ben Graham observation, that financial commentary tends to be bullish when markets are strong, bearish when weak, so sure these pundits know corporate profits are a house of cards, but marketing tells you that they'll talk up those profits anyway.

    S&P crashes in March 2009; up >100% since then (though falling the past week). Lot of bullish commentary out there, even though the dollar is still sinking, payrolls are stinking, and the quality of profits is still questionable. Will the S&P go back to the 660s? Maybe. And if it does...those of us that are mostly exposed to the markets will be fully responsible for the loss of family wealth that will cause.

    Which, in the abstract, is the genius of Republican ideology. Is Bush responsible for retail investors getting burned by bubbles bursting? Of course not! Republican ideology is tantamount to caveat emptor. If you lose a large sum of money to the ravages of capitalism, well, Republican ideology never promised you a rose garden.

    Which gets right to the heart of the problem with the 21st century GOP: people like to be promised Rose Gardens. While GOP ideology rejects such promises in the abstract, actual GOP leaders give us things like Medicare Part D or unsustainable tax cuts, or in the case of Palin, the biggest transfer payment in the history of a state that loves such things.

    So if Bush were an abstract Republican, this wouldn't be his fault. But it is his fault, because he isn't an abstract Republican, he's a promise-monger like the hated liberals across the aisle. It is his fault. On several levels.

  8. Dear Mr Bernstein,

    Andrew may have gone over some edge, yet will you please answer his question? Were you being sarcastic in your economic analysis in the last sentence, or weren't you?

    Your answer to his comment didn't clarify things.

    If you weren't being sarcastic, could you please explain your economic reasoning a little more clearly. What Carter-era housing policies are you referring to, and how was that bigger in effect than the private-market dynamics that were occurring in the mid-aughts?

  9. Sorry, guys -- yes, I was being sarcastic.


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