‘Nuff said. But two tidbits anyway.
A Book Review . . . Gary Belis panned The Art of the Deal way back in 1988:
. . . everything you always suspected about the makeup of Donald Trump: the pomposity, the shallowness and above all, the need for more money, more toys and more attention.
Which prompted the Donald to write Fortune suggesting Gary be fired for writing “the single worst review of a book in publishing history.”
A Cartoon . . . Tom Tomorrow’s “Earther.”
(See also, if you have time, from the current Vanity Fair: Buying an election is not as easy as it sounds. It seems Trump horrifies the Koch brothers, too.)
Did you see his Iowa victory speech? Marco thanked his lord and savior Jesus Christ for his third place finish and orated, with polished gravitas:
Each generation before us sacrificed . . . and for over two centuries, each generation has left the next better off than themselves. Now the time has come for us to do the same. Now the moment has arrived for this generation of Americans to rise up to the calling of our heritage. Now the time has come for us to take our place and do what we must. And when I’m elected president of these great united states, we will do our part. We will accept further tax cuts.
That last sentence I just threw in myself, because really, what sacrifice do Rubio and his fellow Republicans have in mind to make for future generations? Not addressing climate change? Not levying the taxes needed to revitalize our crumbling infrastructure?
Rubio’s call to sacrifice sounded Kennedyesque — “ask not,” and all that — but I knew Jack Kennedy, Senator. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. And although that’s not actually true — I didn’t and he wasn’t (I was 16 in 1963) — Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.
And neither is Ted Cruz. Here he is channeling Jack Kennedy — literally trying to do his voice — and, with it, the Kennedy family’s reaction. (They are appalled.)
And here he is Tuesday at a New Hampshire town hall.
I found myself wondering how many in his audience would see the up-is-down flaws in his argument.
At the 2012 Republican Convention, he said, he spoke of how our National Debt had reached $16 trillion — up from just $10 trillion when one of his daughters was born.
And afterwards I went back to my hotel room and began looking at Twitter (that was before Donald was tweeting about me everyday) and Paula Poundstone, the comedian, had apparently been watching that night. I guess she didn’t have anything better to do. She tweeted, “He said when his daughter was born the National Debt was $10 trillion. Now it’s $16 trillion. What the heck did she do?”
The town hall laughed, and Ted went on to say that “just last week the National Debt crossed $19 trillion. In her short life — she’s seven — from ten to nineteen trillion. It is wrong. It is immoral. No generation in American history has ever done this to the next generation. And if we don’t stop it, young people are gonna spend their entire lives simply working to pay off the debts of their deadbeat parents and grandparents.”
(Leave aside that the Debt was ramped up from 30% of GDP to 122% — quite sensibly — to confront the Depression and win World War II. So, yes, it sort of does have precedent, and by the generation widely known and revered, actually, as “the greatest generation.”)
And then he evoked “a movement of people furious with government of both parties … who got in bed with lobbyists and special interests and grow and grow and grow government.”
“So what was the last time we broke the Washington cartel?” he asked the crowd.
No one was quite sure, so after a pause, he told them: 1980. Ronald Reagan. “And I’ll tell you, the Granite State played a critical role in making that happen.” Giving Reagan their votes.
So if New Hampshire votes for Cruz, maybe, finally, he implied, we’ll get another Reagan who can keep from burdening future generations with immoral debt.
Except of course it is Reagan, specifically, who sent our National Debt into orbit.
Under $1 trillion when he took office — two centuries of accumulated borrowing — the Debt then represented just 30% of GDP. In 12 years of Reagan/Bush, he quadrupled it, to $4 trillion . . . then Clinton handed Bush 43 a surplus . . . but Bush 43 got the Debt growing again and handed Obama economic collapse and a $1.5 trillion deficit.
So basically, Reagan — by massively cutting taxes for the wealthy, which Bush 43 compounded — set our Debt to growing faster than the economy, putting it on a trajectory to grow from 30% of GDP to 100% or so, where it is today.
Only the Democrats — first Clinton and now Obama — turned that around.
(Yes, we still have a deficit, so the Debt is still growing. But so did it grow in virtually every year from 1946 to 1980 also. But because the economy was growing faster, the debt in proportion to the economy as a whole shrunk back down from 122% to 30%. Until Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980. That’s when we started borrowing from future generations and began a decades long shift of wealth to the top tenth of one percent.)
It’s okay for the Debt to grow, so long as it’s generally growing slower than the economy as a whole.
Which under Reagan and Bush it did not. But which under Clinton and now Obama, once they had time for their policies to take hold, it did and now again is.
If the National Debt grew half a trillion a year for the next 100 years — while the economy grew at 4% a year (half real growth, half inflation) — it would reach $69 trillion a century from now! Ted Cruz could have a field day alarming people with that.
Yet $69 trillion would represent only 7% or so of what would by then be a $960 trillion GDP.
Like a $28,000 mortgage on a $400,000 house — not alarming or immoral at all, actually.
What’s immoral is to borrow from future generations to slash taxes on the super wealthy.*
What’s immoral is to borrow trillions from future generations to invade and occupy Iraq.**
What’s immoral is to not borrow to put people to work revitalizing our kids’ crumbling infrastructure.
But up is down these days in the Republican Party.
You’re sick to death of my quoting Mitch McConnell — “by any standard Barack Obama has been a disaster for our country.” But here is a more recent example — Jennifer Horn, chair of the New Hampshire Republican Party, on TV Thursday night: “Americans are justifiably angry and frustrated after seven years living under, in my opinion, the most failed administration of my lifetime.”
Really? More failed than, say, George W. Bush’s?
Can she really believe this with gas at $2 and unemployment at 4.9%? Has she noticed how much more dead Bin Laden is under Obama than he was under Bush? How many fewer trillions — and lives — it cost us to get rid of Iran’s weapons-grade uranium than to get rid of the weapons of mass destruction a single-source code-named “Curveball” told us Iraq had? Has she noticed how well Detroit is doing? How much more affordable heating oil is? How much better millions of LGBT lives are — at zero cost to their straight brothers and sisters? Does she not think the hard-negotiated TPP is a major accomplishment (even if she doesn’t appreciate the importance of the climate change accords)?
Really, Jennifer? Really, Mitch? Really, Ted? Really, Marco? Really, Donald? Really Fox? Really Rush?
Does that matter at all?
*The 90% and 70% top rates of Eisenhower, Kennedy, LBJ, Nixon, Ford, and Carter were counter-productively high but Reagan / Bush 43 overshot in the other direction.
**Wars are traditionally paid for by raising taxes, not cutting them.
Quote of the Day
A penny saved may be a penny earned, but it's one boring penny. A penny invested, on the other hand, bounces around. It gets bigger one day, smaller the next. A bit player in the drama of global finance, that penny buys a guy a balcony seat in the theater of macroeconomics.~Susan Stewart
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