Today we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the inauguration of John Kennedy as well as the second anniversary of Barrack Obama taking the oath of office. So, it seems like an appropriate time to jump into the crazy world of politics.
As a member of the business community over the past 30+ years, I have taken great pains (biting your tongue hurts) at business meetings and client dinners to keep my liberal leanings well hidden.
But now that 2010 has wound to an end and my retirement approaches, I thought it time I respond to all of the angry vitriolic rhetoric that my conservative friends have collectively steeped on me over the past two years, since the election of that Muslim foreigner, Barack Obama.
First, let me say I come in peace. I simply wish to share some well researched liberal food for thought. Therefore, let me say at the outset that I do agree with some of the conservative dogma out there that argues for a decrease in the size of Government. That debate usually gravitates to the subject of spending and its influence on the deficit. And, of course, a constant thread in the Republicans dogma is that they are the voice of fiscal responsibility.
As I look at the numbers I am struck by a great irony. How can it be that the National Debt as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product has clearly been consistently better under Democrat Presidents since WWII (see, I know the rules – I’m not allowed to say “Democratic”). Now, if you are not sure how to score this, keep this in mind - a negative number is good and a positive number is bad.
That said; let’s take look at the actual statistics:
The great peanut farmer, Jimmy Carter lowered the deficit by 3.1% = GOOD (However in the spirit of full disclosure we did have double digit inflation during his last two years in office).
The Great Orator – The Gipper, Ronald Regan, in his first term raised the deficit by 11.3% = BAD
In his second term President Regan was able to raise the deficit an additional 9.3% = BAD
Then, a really nice guy, George Herbert Walker Bush took over and in one term raised the deficit by 15.0% (this is not a misprint) = BAD.
Then we elected Wild Bill Clinton, or Slick Willy as some like to call him. Facing a 3 trillion debt left to him after 12 years of Raganomics (it really didn’t trickle down so well) the Slickster, in his first term, somehow was able to lower the deficit by a very tiny but significant 0.7% = GOOD
Wild Willy got reelected. And low and behold, even with a Republican Congress (compromise is a powerful tool) and despite being pre-occupied by the girl-in-the-blue-dress, he lowered the deficit by a whopping 9.0% in his second term. But wait, there’s more – he BALANCED THE BUDGET!!! Sorry to report this all = GOOD.
Then in a barn burner GWB beat Al “Mr. Environment” Gore and in his first term awarded the balanced budget he inherited by raising the deficit by 7.1% = BAD
Term number two certainly benefitted us all. (?) President Bush II increased the deficit by an astounding 20.0% (also not a misprint) = Real BAD. War is an expensive enterprise. See ya later retirement account!!
So, my friends, there are the numbers. Not my numbers – the Government’s numbers. And, of course it is more complicated than this. But it is fascinating.
We could debate other things like health care, John Boehner’s tan and unpatriotic determination to see Obama fail at any cost, stem cell research (better to throw them out than use them) or whether the recent compromise by Obama on tax issues is weakness, failure or pragmatism.
But it is better to concede that all of my conservative friends are good patriotic Americans. I know they all want the best for our country, for our kids and especially for our grandkids. Please keep in mind that we liberals are also patriotic and really do want the best for the country. It’s simply a difference of opinion – not a battle between good and evil.
So I raise a cup of “tea” in thanks for your kind attention, and may 2011 be a banner year for my many, many conservative friends and their retirement accounts (a subtle dig at W). Mine has improved immensely in the last two years. Who knew?
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