Sunday, January 22, 2017

Best since FDR



I hoped to do a more in-depth-for-me writeup, but I don't think that's happening. The post headline both says it all and is pretty obvious IMHO.

The other post-FDR presidents who've had great things happen - LBJ and Nixon - have obvious huge negatives. We've had okay presidents - Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Ford, Carter, Bush I, and Clinton - but their achievements were limited. Reagan, Bush II, and Trump so far - were/are disasters.

Obama led out of the Great Recession, got ObamaCare, and took real domestic and international action on climate change. Lots of other stuff, but that's enough. Lots of mistakes, both his and especially the Democratic Congress for the 6-month period out of 8 years when they had a filibuster-proof majority, but the mistakes don't rank at the same historic level. Obama should feel pretty good.

Trump may reverse much of Obama's top three achievements, but Trump himself is temporary. Those achievements will outlast him.

36 comments:

8c7793aa-15b2-11e5-898a-67ca934bd1df said...

Anybody ever hear of Mike Rogers' (Republican Alabama) H.R.193 – American Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2017 (1 January 2017)?

Didn't think so.

Russell Seitz said...

Barack Obama can take heart that coming between James Buchanan and Andrew Johnson has done Abraham Lincoln's reputation no harm.

Canman said...

Obama was the latest in big Washington's status quo, doubling the national debt, continuing the legacy of Bush W., Clinton, Bush H. W., and even Reagan. This spending, unlike climate, is an actual exponential curve. Climate (admittedly without the methane time bomb) is a flattening logarithmic curve.

I would argue that the reason, it hasn't caught up with us yet, is the countervailing wealth created by the computer revolution, free trade and fracking. I think Obama would look a lot different without fracking. There used to be an author who described the national debt as the "hockey stick from hell", with Mann's blade and handle reversed. This looks like a bigger problem to me than anything the climate will do this century. I think the best hopes are nuclear and nano technology.

elspi said...

Canman, is it possible for you to say anything that is not outright false or wildly misleading? Just judging from your previous comments, I would say no. You might want to get that looked at sometime. Needless to say, your comment is crap, (but you already knew that). Hint: presidents only control the deficit not the debt, and austerity during a depression is like nuking a city to remove the potholes (As the EU keeps proving again and again).

BTW why is it that my spell checker thinks your name is Conman?

rumleyfips said...

The strange thing from a Canadian viewpoint is that American voters hate prosperity. Every few years a Democratic president ( Clinton, Obama ) cleans up the financial mess left by Republicans ( Regan, Bush ). It will happen again in a while as a Democrat mops up the mess left by Trump.

Kevin O'Neill said...

Canman - your argument is torpedoed by facts - anyone surprised raise your hands. OK, seeing none I'll just mention that interest on the US debt is at a 50 year low as a percentage of GDP.

http://cepr.net/images/Interest_percent_of_GDP_28855_image001.png

Don't let simple economic facts bite you in the ass, Canman. I'm sure you were of the class of idiots that predicted hyperinflation, rising interest rates, and mass unemployment when the stimulus package was passed. You know, the program that ballooned the debt after Bush and cronies cratered the economy. At some point you should realize you have no understanding of the actual economy. At some point. Probably not this lifetime.

Please don't let context ruin your story. It would be out of character and we'd all probably go into immediate shock.

Canman said...

Economic history is full of economists of differing view studying a complex chaotic system where nobody gets everything right all the time. I'm just offering my views (you can supply your own grain of salt). Inflation has surprisingly not raged, which doesn't mean it someday won't! Clinton and Obama were lucky with the respective digital and fracking revolutions. Does anyone think that Obama and Paul Krugman could fix Greece, Venezuela or the Weimar Republic?

BBD said...

Economic history is full of economists of differing view studying a complex chaotic system where nobody gets everything right all the time.

Magisches Theater. Eintritt nicht für jedermann.


Brian Schmidt said...

Greece - treat it like a depressed area of the US is treated with lots of financial inflows, and if you don't do that then separate it from the Euro, and make debt holders take a huge haircut.

Venezuela - that's just a political problem due to incompetence. Or was, anyway. Their heavy crude is going to be increasingly uneconomic.

Weimar - another political issue. Thanks a lot, France. Having said that, hyperinflation was so ruinous that Weimar probably should've just defaulted and let France occupy the country.

Kind of off-topic though. N

Russell Seitz said...

Brian, Saxon England kept its silver penny standard bright , thus giving the French good reason to occupy the country

Jeffrey Davis said...

Spending under Obama was dominated by Republicans: W's war and the Republican Congress's love of filibuster and obstruction. For 6 years, the GOP had a veto over spending. If you don't like the deficits and debt, you can blame them. They purposefully ignored all the economic lessons of The Great Moderation and set themselves implacably against ANY positive action for the last 6 years.

Thomas Palm said...

Three bombs dropped every hour throughout 2016 according to official numbers that are almost certainly to low. Perpetual drone war, that may very well be the legacy of Obama.

8c7793aa-15b2-11e5-898a-67ca934bd1df said...

I'm so sorry a US bomb struck your cave and killed your wives and goats.

You have my deepest sympathies. My understanding was that your wives and goats no longer were following your strict orders anyways. So no big loss for you, eh?

Canman said...

Kevin O'Neill, Yes interest rates are low and perhaps some new dynamic might even make them negative, but the normal way to raise the value of a currency is to raise the rate of interest like Paul Volker did in the early eighties. For those who remember the seventies, there was real despair about inflation. Nixon had the wage, price freeze. Gerald Ford had the WIN (whip inflation now) buttons. Jimmy Carter created a misery index that included inflation, which rose and resulted in him losing to Ronald Reagan in a landslide.

Canman said...

The best presentation I ever heard about the debt issue is this one by The Jacket (Nick Gillespie):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sV3HNSnM7dI

I haven't heard anyone give convincing counterarguments, but if you can, please do.

Hank Roberts said...

https://www.caracaschronicles.com/
https://www.caracaschronicles.com/2017/01/20/culturejam/

Tom said...

Rabett, since I slam you (most deservedly) so often, it is incumbent upon me to tell you when you get it right.

You got it right.

neverendingaudit said...

> Rabett, since I slam you (most deservedly) so often, it is incumbent upon me to tell you when you get it right.

I thought Brian wrote the post.

***

> Economic history is full of economists of differing view studying a complex chaotic system where nobody gets everything right all the time.

I thought bunnies were talking about your own crap, Canman.

nowadaysclancycantevensing said...

Mr. Rabett, You are misremembering as Obama had at most 4 months in which Congress was in session for a total of 72 days of a filibuster proof Senate from Sept 24 2009 until Repub Brown replaced Kennedy after the Mass special election. And even during that time he had 15 Blue Dog Democrats, very moderate R leaning Dems, who wrote a letter stating they would not follow his (Obama's) lead on most matters. So he never had a filibuster proof Senate at any time. Also Robert Byrd was 91 who passed the next summer and who missed most votes in 2009 too. On paper it may have looked that way but the political spectrum was very different at the time.

William said...

Hi, I understand why Bush 2 and Trump are equated with disaster, but why Reagan? I don't have an axe to grind, being a British centrist, but I see Reagan lauded by the right. What is legacy from the liberal pov?

8c7793aa-15b2-11e5-898a-67ca934bd1df said...

Reagan, let's see, the destruction of the US educational system and the start of exponential military related national debt growth. Maybe you missed that when you were born. Oh, and the drug war. So yeah, Ronnie killed a couple of million innocent people seeking stress relief.

William said...

I paid no attention to US politics in the 80s. I did pay attention to the UK under Maggie and know that she brought large change, some good some bad. She is viewed as a disaster hate figure by the left and idolized by the right here, when the truth is perhaps more nuanced. Maybe the same is true in the US?

8c7793aa-15b2-11e5-898a-67ca934bd1df said...

There is no 'nuance' in the situation confronting the United States of America right now, tracing it's legacy back through several Republican administrations, Bush II and I, Reagan and Nixon. They were disasters.

Each one bigger than the next. I suspect this will be the last big disaster and will only end in World War III. This is your problem too.

The only way you will escape this is if it ends in another civil war.

Kevin O'Neill said...

Ronald Reagan ran on the promise to increase spending, cut taxes, and balance the budget. His opponent, George H.W. Bush, called it 'voodoo economics.' I trace the onset of the GOP's insanity to buying Reagan's obvious gibberish. Once you decide facts/reality don't matter all the rest falls in place.

Brian Schmidt said...

I agree with Kevin ONeill. Also that Reagan took 2-3 years after Thatcher to realize Gorbachev was for real, despite Thatcher trying to wake him up to the possibility. That was important lost time that could've sent Russia on a different track.

Both of those reasons make Thatcher and Brit conservatives from the time look better than Reagan and his acolytes.

Also worth pointing out that Reagan destroyed Carter's renewable energy policies/technology research incentives that didn't return until the 90s. I won't claim that the world would be 12 years ahead on the solar cell cost curve compared to where it is today, but it would be a few years ahead, and we could've used that.

Bernard J. said...

Something that doesn't come up enough in discussions is that Reagan was most likely demented for a sigificant part of his presidency:

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/31/health/parsing-ronald-reagans-words-for-early-signs-of-alzheimers.html?_r=0

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/jan/17/ronald-reagan-alzheimers-president-son

Some have already started pointing to Trump's signs that may indicate a similar mental trajectory, and this is on top of his obvious narcissism and sociopathy.

One would think that for a job as important as the 'leader of the free (gag) world', there would be greater scrutiny to ensure that only people of the highest mental competence are eligible: after all, these folk have their fingers on the button. How is it that there's not? After all, I have to have to declare any and all medical conditions that might impede my ability to sit behind a steering wheel...

Toby said...

Surely Reagan should be remembered for the pig's ear he made of US Middle East policy?

He encouraged Saddam Hussein to attack Iran, armed Mujahedeen Islamic Fundamentalists in Afghanistan who used the arms to slaughter any moderate faction, started US intervention in the region by sending boots on the ground into Lebanon where 241 US Marines were killed by a suicide bomber. He is also remembered as conqueror of tiny Grenada. Under Reagan you can see the seeds of today's Middle Eastern catastrophe being sown.

Obama's objective (at least one of them) was to keep America from terrorist attack. And (mostly) he succeeded. His successor claims he was not effective, some maybe he will kick out the drones and have reals wars with tanks and US troops getting killed in large numbers.

Russell Seitz said...

Toby should put his other hemisphere in gear, and undisremember that Reagan removed all US troops from Lebanon, and never deployed any in Afghanistan.

There is also the small matter of the Cold War, which imploded along with the Soviet Union after the Afghans popped the Evil Empire's Internationalist balloon.

Complaints about lack of American policy continuity in the 90's may be addressed to President & Secretary Clinton.

Russell Seitz said...

Brian, RWR & 41 paved the first stretch of the infomation superhighway , and handed a full plate of technology initiatives over to their successors- if the money about to be wasted on your bullet train went back into the high temperature suberconductor kitty, we might see a grid smart enough to keep the air conditioners running when the sun sets on solar subsidies.

8c7793aa-15b2-11e5-898a-67ca934bd1df said...

Russell, superconductivity research has been well funded, but the DOE and elsewhere. It's an extremely difficult problem, but the pseudogap problem led to the development of advance spectroscopy and numerical and computational methods in density functional theory that led directly to the quantum topological breakthrough in 2008 that is just beginning to be resolved theoretically, and has led to all sorts of tangential results (axion physics comes to mind), but NOT room temperature superconductivity. The bigger problem is macroscopic ZT=3 thermoelectricity. Therein lies your air conditioning and refrigeration. But certainly now is the time for a Manhattan project.

I just don't think the power that be are that astute anymore. And to me that does include academia in physics, re: the string theory and supersymmetric multiverse disaster. But I just sorted that out too.

Canman said...

We already had a Manhattan Project. It was called the Manhattan project and we have an empirical example of a substantial sized country (France) cutting most of its CO2 emissions -- at least from electricity generation.

8c7793aa-15b2-11e5-898a-67ca934bd1df said...

Who is 'we'? You?

All you got is shit, Canman, and it stinks.

Bernard J. said...

"...we have an empirical example of a substantial sized country (France) cutting most of its CO2 emissions -- at least from electricity generation. "

It must be the season for simplistic thinking about French nuclear power - I commented about the same thing a few days ago at HotWhopper:

"...That France has a current high nuclear capacity does not mean that it was won without a high input of non-nuclear energy, nor without a high indirect footprint in both the establishment and the ongoing operation of the nuclear industry.

And there is the assumption that the French model is scalable to the rest of the world. There is no evidence that I have yet seen that defensibly supports this, and there is actually the evidence of thermodynamics that suggests very much the opposite, especially over progressively-increasing periods of time. And there's also the physics of complex systems, which is in part a corollary of the preceding sentence..."

Chris O'Neill said...

Regan (with Saudi Arabia):

"armed Mujahedeen Islamic Fundamentalists in Afghanistan who used the arms to slaughter any moderate faction"

i.e. Regan and Saudi Arabia financed the military training of the Taliban in Afghanistan which as we all know is still being put to good use.

Canman said...

The great debate about whether Obama was a "great" president between Matt Welch and Jonathan Chait:

http://reason.com/blog/2017/01/19/listen-to-matt-welch-defeat-jonathan-cha

8c7793aa-15b2-11e5-898a-67ca934bd1df said...

Canman ... Mr, Obama is no longer president and our current president and his administration is already in two months easily the worst president and the most incompetent executive administration ever.

Let me explain it to you. Trump and his cronies committed TREASON and SEDITION before they even took office, and now their stated goal is to destroy America. Take it to the bank. Now it just treason and sedition from them EVERY SINGLE DAY. Every single day they continue to remain in office puts the entire world at ever greater and greater risk.

Somebody is going to end your charade soon. Americans simply don't tolerate that kind of in your face fascism for very long, and the win every time. You are going to lose this ... bigly.