Is it a Fiscal Cliff or Curb or Slope or What?

 We have all heard our upcoming congressional budget battle referred to

Cover of

Cover via Amazon

as a fiscal cliff, but some have called it either a “fiscal curb” or a “fiscal slope ”  instead.  What a difference a choice of words can make.   A slope sounds much less scary than a cliff, doesn’t it? Couldn’t we roll down a slope and not get hurt?

Simply put, we are facing in January the expiration of some major tax cuts if they are not renewed along with automatic across-the-board spending cuts in the federal budget.

If congress cannot come up with some sort of compromise between now and January, all of these tax breaks and spending cuts automatically go into effect, which might seem a dream come true to super deficit hawks.  Except for one thing:  Most economists believe such a sharp reduction in tax breaks and government spending  would throw our economy in reverse. i. e. back into recession.

The latter spending cuts are the result of a congressional agreement made in 2011, so that Republicans would allow for the debt ceiling to be raised (in pre-Tea Party days, largely a formality for decades (*1).  These automatic cuts were put into place to supposedly force congress to work together to come up with sensible reductions before this January deadline, but since they failed to do that, the cuts will simply be made across-the-board (though with some exceptions).  This is commonly described as cutting the budget with a hatchet instead of a scalpel.  Another rhetorical flourish.

All that happening at once would be a fiscal cliff, but not likely to play out that way given the well-proven ability of congress to make deals lacking immediate consequences.  Most likely they will come up with some mini-partial deal, while giving themselves another six months or so to work out the details (of which in truth there would be many if tax loopholes, let’s say, were actually going to be broached).

And even if congress doesn’t get an agreement by January, they can make an agreement later and make it retroactive, which might initiate a slip off of the fiscal curb in the interim, rumblings in the  stock market, and an increase in overall national anxiety, but we wouldn’t be falling off a fiscal cliff.

Also,  Treasury Secretary Geithner could freeze paycheck-withholdings — the government’s cut out of each paycheck — even if tax rates rise at the end of the year.   To summarize a report from Bloomberg News, “By letting taxpayers keep about $10 billion per pay period, that would single-handedly curb about half of the economic effect of the fiscal cliff and help the country avoid a recession.”

People who, in contrast to me, actually understand these matters, undoubtedly could suggest other factors that will more or less soften the landing, implying that we won’t fall off a fiscal cliff unless most of the key players become brain dead simultaneously.   My guess is the “cliff” will be ground down to a slope over the next few months, albeit a bumpy one with some potholes added by global economic events.

If I’m right, that’s the good news.  The bad news is the huge iceberg of debt will remain dead ahead.  At best, this will only move the steering wheel slightly.

Also, sometimes there are unintended consequences.  Anyone who saw the movie Rebel Without A Cause (1955) or just know about it through the legend of James Dean, will recall the “chickie run” in which a teenaged Dean and a local hood test their courage by driving jalopies full speed towards a cliff to see who will jump first.

Technically the hood won because he never jumped.  His jacket got caught on a door handle.   Oops.

Let’s just hope the budget negotiations don’t get caught on a door handle.

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(*1)  Why do they have a debt ceiling?  The U. S. government since its inception has operated with varying degrees of debt.  The debt ceiling might be thought of as a periodic pause for thought as to how much debt government is willing to tolerate at a given time.  Raising the debt limit had become almost automatic prior to 2011, but Republicans made it an issue then.  More on that battle can be found here.

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The Lincoln Movie and Confessions of a RINO

This Post combines two unrelated topics as implied by the title.  Why?  Because I want to.   Since writing my last post I ran across a piece titled:  What’s True and False About the Lincoln Movie, by Harold Holzer, a Lincoln authority who served as an adviser to the film.   Holzer gives a much fuller picture of the extent to which the film reflects historical reality than I did.

Also, he makes a point worth noting about the relationship between history and fiction.    As producer/director Steven Spielberg has stated:   While…  “it’s a betrayal of the job of the historian,……One of the jobs of art is to go to the impossible places that history must avoid.”  Harold Holzer adds:  “There is no doubt that Spielberg has traveled toward an understanding of Abraham Lincoln more boldly than any other filmmaker before him.”

NOTE:  I would not read Holzer’s piece until after I had seen the movie as some of the factual inconsistencies, though minor,  might interfere with the viewing experience.

By the way, I have a confession to make.  That last post drew an additional 93 readers who apparently were Googling for information about the Lincoln movie, so besides wanting to point out Holzer’s article, I want to see if the Lincoln movie attracts more attention.  Let me repeat, the Lincoln movie, the Lincoln movie, the Lincoln movie.

CONFESSIONS OF A RINO

English: Crude drawing of the "No RINO&qu...

English: Crude drawing of the “No RINO” buttons used by American Republicans. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In case you haven’t run across the term, RINO stands for Republican in Name Only.   The term is applied by the right to those whom they see as liberals in Republican clothing, a growing number in recent years as the Republican Party has moved further to the right.  Bruce Bartlett is a great example as he has been a Republican lifer as revealed in this piece he recently wrote for the The American Conservative.  In fact, he has so many Republican bona fides the list makes up about one-third of the article.

He goes to such great lengths because he wants to convince readers that he is not a liberal or a Democrat.   He is a Republican who thinks his party has gone crazy, not exactly his description, but close.   Bartlett does a great job of describing his own intellectual journey as well as the rightward movement of his party, which has left him feeling “center-left”.

I obviously like him as that’s where I see myself and much of what he says I have already inferred from other sources.  Though he wouldn’t go this far,  I would say like me he has become a Democrat by default.

David Frum and Andrew Sullivan (links to their blogs in Blogroll to the upper left) also tend to look RINOish from a right perspective, especially Frum, while David Brooks seems to fit there along with Kathleen Sullivan, two other well known columnists.

The others would not likely describe themselves as center-left, but they certainly must look that way as viewed by the far right.  At some point I will do at least one post on them as they are all essentially centrist in nature, a center I would like to help develop through this blog.  In case you haven’t inferred that as yet.

For now,  go read Bartlett’s article.  I think you’ll enjoy it.

LINCOLN: The Movie and a Bit More

I saw the new movie Lincoln a few days ago and recommend it, which probably just puts me at the bottom of  a long list of reviewers who already have.

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln (Photo credit: casually_cruel)

As a film the only point I wish to make is that Daniel Day Lewis is extraordinary.   For me he carried the movie because he was Abraham Lincoln, the Lincoln that fit images I’ve developed through my reading of several books on the period.   His movements, his voice and his personality all seemed Lincolnesque, aided by a weight loss by Lewis, a perfect makeup job and a good script.

For history buffs like me, accuracy is important and I’m happy to report the depiction is very close to historical accounts, not only to that of A Team of Rivals, its primary source, but other historical accounts as well.  While no doubt most of the lines were created, the lines that are most significant in the movie are actual quotes, not something clever dreamed up by the script writer (*1).   A surprising scene at the end of the movie is more rumored than proven fact, but it has not been disproved, either.

While a character study of Lincoln, the movie is about the passing of the 13th Amendment which cemented into law the freedom of former slaves.  The Emancipation Proclamation had only been a presidential decree applying only to the states that had seceded, so it did not settle the issue and could have been overturned after the war without this amendment (*2).

That’s why Lincoln put so much energy and manipulative skill into getting this past and if you don’t already know, it was an unlikely feat which prompted “twisting arms and doling out projects, dangling offices in front of congressmen to help them make up their minds” (*3).

Watching Lincoln in action reminded me of President Lyndon Johnson who was a master of nitty-gritty politics.   President Obama has not been, but not only has he read Team of Rivals but also chatted with author Doris Kearns Goodwin and other historians about it at a White House dinner.  I do not know how much arm twisting I favor, but I would certainly like to see the President become more directly involved in key negotiations with Congress than he appeared to be in his first term.

The movie could hardly be more timely.   We think of ourselves as polarized these days and we certainly are, but we are not to the point of taking up arms and killing each other.   More Americans soldiers were killed during the Civil War than any other war, close to the number of all of our other wars combined.  And we killed each other.

I think of it as the price belatedly paid for our constitutional solution which established our nation but allowed the preservation of slavery in the process.   From the perspective of that life and death struggle, in which the union did prevail at such a high cost over those who insisted ultimate sovereignty remained in each state, the secessionists of our time seem like children acting out.

Our divisions are not nearly as deep as at the time of the Civil War.   However, we do face huge political/economic problems that do not afford simple solutions, like winning a war.  Complexity combined with misinformation has produced an intractable polarization.  A Gordian Knot.

The irony in all of this is despite the loss of some of our previous economic advantages in the world, we still have many things in our favor if we could only overcome our ongoing political stalemate.   Oddly perhaps, I am reminded of the words of President Franklin Roosevelt during the Great Depression:  “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

The difference today is the only thing we have to fear is ourselves.

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(*1)   For me the most memorable political movie line that was made up by a script writer was “follow the money” in All the Presidents’ Men (1976), about Watergate.

(*2)  The 13th Amendment freeing the slaves is supremely ironic.   Shortly prior to Lincoln’s inauguration, Congress passed a 13th amendment which would have had the opposite effect.   To assuage the fears of southerners, it guaranteed that the federal government would not interfere with a state’s laws regarding slavery.  It lost its chance at  becoming law because the Civil War broke out.

(*3)  As quoted from President Lincoln:  The Duty of a Statesman, William Lee Miller.

Seceding from the 21st Century

You have probably heard that after the election numerous petitions for states to secede from the union have been sent to the White House, a few of them with more than 25,000 signatures, with Texas gathering over 100,000 (countered by a petition from Austin, Texas of 5,000 requesting to remain in the union should the rest of Texas secede)(*1).

United States presidential candidate Barack Ob...

United States presidential candidate Barack Obama speaking at Auditorium Shores in Austin, Texas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The petition from Alabama was initiated by the owner of a car wash which was shut down because of its topless attendants.   The city of Mobile closed it down, not the U. S. government, but no matter, secession still seemed the solution to owner Derick Belcher, and about 30,000 other signers used the opportunity to express their discontent, too, though there is no telling how many decried the loss of those topless girls as opposed to other grievances.

I imagine some of the thinking of other secessionists is a bit sounder than Mr. Belcher’s, but I doubt whether a single petition would have been filed had Mitt Romney won.   Not that a Romney win would have saved Mr. Belcher’s car wash, or even likely have made government a smidgeon smaller, it just would have symbolized less government interference in everyone’s personal economy.  Because Mitt Romney said so.

The Texas petition begins with these words:  “The US continues to suffer economic difficulties stemming from the federal government’s neglect to reform domestic and foreign spending.”   Again, I assume these Texans believe Romney would change all that, or at least be a step in the right direction.

I doubt if many of the secessionists read The Economist, a weekly British magazine well regarded world wide.  It has a high estimation of the benefits of capitalism and less government but even they could not back Mitt Romney:    “Many of The Economist’s readers, especially those who run businesses in America, may well conclude that nothing could be worse than another four years of Mr Obama. We beg to differ. For all his businesslike intentions, Mr Romney has an economic plan that works only if you don’t believe most of what he says.”

The secessionists aren’t seceding from the union.  They’re seceding from Barack Obama.   Following four years of his being branded as a foreign born Muslim socialist while black as well, it is easy to see why they feel that way, despite the image being eons removed from reality, except the black part.    Just by not being Obama,  Mitt Etch-a-Sketch could appear to be a big improvement, especially when he said things like “the less government the better”.

Angry people want a target for their anger, someone to blame and spew venom upon.  Those on the right target Obama, but I think he is simply a symbol of rapidly changing times that produce anxiety and fear which lead to anger.   Foremost technological change, but social change as well, and the only thing moving slowly is our economy.  Its sluggishness is likely to remain so for quite some time and many sense that never again will it offer  good paying jobs for those not highly educated, at least technologically so.   Those old high-paying semi-skilled assembly line jobs at the car factories, for example, are never coming back  (*2).  While gay marriage and the non-white populations will continue to grow.

While of course there is a big racial element in Barack Obama’s becoming such a prime target of dislike, even hate, it is only one part of an image of “the other than ourselves” cemented by foreign and socialist caricatures which provide more acceptable reasons to reject him.

He symbolizes a world changing at break neck speed from the much slower, simpler America many of us grew up in.   These newest of rebels don’t want to secede from the United States, they want to secede from the 21st century.  At times I have such cravings myself, but I don’t blame Barack Obama for it all.

Seceding from the union, even if it were to be allowed, won’t counteract these changing times, especially for you and your carwash Mr. Belcher.

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(*1)  What has made this all possible was the White House having a “We the People” response section on their web site.   It is one more example of the law of unintended consequences.

(*2)  While American manufacturing is coming back, many of its jobs are not according to a recent world study:   “Manufacturing contributed 20 percent of the growth in global economic output in the decade ending in 2010, the McKinsey researchers estimate, and 37 percent of global productivity growth from 1995 to 2005. Yet the sector actually subtracted 24 percent from employment in advanced nations.”

What Does the 2012 Election Mean?

Don’t expect me to tell you in a post.  It is the kind of question that prompts books to be written and I’m sure many will be.  For starters, though, liberal columnist  E. J. Dione of the Washington Post touched upon most of the issues in his column yesterday, so I’m handing the ball off to him for those interested.

Here I want to focus on a couple of things the election does not mean and one or two which I hope it does.

English: President Barack Obama signs the Tax ...

See.  They can work together: President Barack Obama signs the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 at the White House. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No Mandate:   When about 121 million people vote and one side ends up with about 3 million more (about 2 or 3%), that’s just a victory not a mandate.   The electoral landslide distorts the picture, revealing mostly that the Democratic organization was more effective than the Republican one in swing states.

This is not to say that the Obama win was not significant in various ways, just that “we the people” are too divided about too many things to really back any one thing, except perhaps higher taxes on the rich.  That is not reflected in the vote as much as in exit polls, and the pre-election polls as well which have consistently listed a 60% plus approval rating. (*1)

Adding to the difficulty of interpreting this election are two things:   Obama was strapped with the image of a do-too-little president given our still weak economy and high jobless rate, which would make the win seem even more significant except for this fact.   He beat a candidate that even Republicans had trouble embracing, but could agree on no one better who was willing to run.   This was the most curious election of my lifetime.

But Not A Split Decision:   Trying to bolster their position, the Republicans argue that their winning more seats in the House indicates a basic “split decision” by the voters.  What they neglect to point out is that this is more a matter of Gerrymandered districts they created when taking over a number of state legislatures in the 2010 elections.

Overall the Democrats received more votes for their congressional candidates this year.   For example, in Pennsylvania, “although citizens cast almost 100,000 more votes for Democratic than Republican candidates for the House, partisan gerrymandering enabled Republicans to 12  of the 18 seats in the House of Representatives.”   So, those increased House seats are not a true measure of support for Republicans.  Just as the Electoral College overstates the strength of the Obama win, the House elections provide a misleading picture of Republican voter support.   Read more here.

A Small Victory for Truth:   I have often bemoaned the  “post truth politics” of our time, but we haven’t seemed to reach “no-truth-matters” just yet.  The Romney camp went with one lie too many and held on to it until the bitter end in Ohio.  The Obama win there might have been clinched by the Romney team not only lying in a TV ad about Chrysler  shipping Jeep production jobs to China, but maintaining that lie in radio commercials even after several newspapers and the head of Chrysler called it a falsehood.

As I pointed out in an August post when the Romney campaign was criticized for a  total lack of truth in an ad, a Romney pollster responded:  “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.”  As I indicated then, this was a final blow for truth in politics.  Distortions and lies have always been part of the political game, but this was the first time I had ever seen a campaign say we don’t care if others call our “facts” lies.   In Ohio this position was taken to its end conclusion and seems to have backfired.     I like to think of it as poetic justice:  A campaign that lived by the lie, died by the lie.  (And yes, the Democrats spun, distorted and lied, too, but not as persistently and consistently and never did they insist that external fact checks don’t count.)

The Hope for a Better Republican Party.   I believe the Republican Party lost its identity during the G. W. Bush years because he ignored issues of overspending while fighting two wars, creating big tax breaks and creating a drug support program that, like the wars, was unfunded.   That, and the Republican refusal to work with the president, rather than Obama ineptitude, is why we continue to run trillion dollar budget deficits.

The Republicans have complained about “tax and spend liberals” for decades, but G. W. came up with something novel.  He was a no-tax and spend Republican, you might say the best of both worlds until one has to pay the piper, which is what we are doing now. (*2)

As many others have pointed out, this post-Bush party has developed its identity as the party of  “no”.    The Democrats are considered the big tent party, but the Republicans have developed a pretty big tent themselves.   Anyone who dislikes Obama, big government and more taxes is welcome, including all the Tea Party folks who are the biggest naysayers of all.  Some extreme examples earned primary victories over more moderate sorts who likely would have won Senate seats for the Republicans.    It is  generally believed that the Republican candidates defeated in the primary would likely have won enough seats to give Mitch McConnell the gavel in the Senate.

This is but one issue that has already begun to prompt soul searching in the Grand Old Party.  Immigration is another.    I do not know what that party will look like in upcoming months, but I think they will not be as easily labelled the party of “no.”   That hasn’t worked for them.

Perhaps they’ll become the party of “maybe” and then maybe they can work with Democrats and actually accomplish something significant vis-a-vis our economic problems.

This, of course, if the Democrats don’t get too full of themselves and think they have a bigger mandate than they actually have.

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(*1)  President Obama insists he will not give ground on allowing the Bush tax cuts to end for the richest Americans, which I think is symbolically important more than anything else.   Allowing their Bush era tax breaks to expire will only raise a fraction of the money needed to deal with our deficit problems.   The key here is to break the hold of the pledge most Republican politicians have made to not raise taxes.   Raising the bar for measuring yearly income for “the rich” to $500,000 or even a million would provide something for both sides and perhaps open the door for various other negotiations dealing with our financial issues.

(*2)  Isn’t it curious how George Bush Jr. could not be found in the election  landscape?  He’s a political version of “Where’s Waldo”.  Both he and his fellow Republicans obviously wanted it that way, acting as if he never existed.  That being the case, it made it easier to blame Obama for everything and forget about Bush.

DEMOCRATS BY DEFAULT?

I must say it’s fun to watch the Republicans turn their knives on each other instead of President Obama, at least for the moment.   They didn’t win, despite a slouching economy and a stubbornly high unemployment rate, so obviously someone screwed up and there is a lot of finger pointing and I don’t see anyone pointing at himself. (*1)    One conservative source concluded:  “The Romney campaign was a consultant con job.”   Carl Rove’s defense is their candidates would have done much worse without the millions donated to Super PACs like his, though they couldn’t have done too much worse as very few of the Rove backed candidates won.

Others blame Romney himself for running a lackluster campaign and, well, being Mitt Romney.    A real conservative, not so easily mistaken for  a mannequin, could have carried the day, someone like Chris Christie.   Oops, he may be more to blame than anyone.  Did he really need to praise the president to the rafters for his response to the devastating storm?  And look like a bosom buddy of Obama in all those photos only two days before the election?

Maybe the storm itself was at fault.  Talk about bad timing.  Romney seemed to be picking up steam when God intervened….ah, no….. not God…..  God only intervenes with storms to punish us for our failure to sufficiently persecute homosexuals and other wanton sorts.  I forgot.  Well, that atheistic storm, then, just plain bad luck.  Certainly not related to global warming in any case.

The slicing and dicing will continue, and I look forward to returning to this topic, especially to the one broad problem that a number of Republicans can see:  The future is not bright for a “party of old white men” in a country whose skin color is tending towards darker hues over time.

Obama crushed Romney in the black and Latino vote.  Rush Limbaugh has described the Democrats as  “the people who just want stuff.”   Or as Ann Coulter might chime in, the “takers”, not the “makers”.    And, while there are certainly a good number of white takers, I believe they see those with natural tans to be even more so, bought off by Democratic largess.  While I’m sure Rush and Ann would find much to blame in the Romney campaign itself, in a sense they defend the failure by indicating the increase of  the want-more-stuff folks makes  winning all the harder for Republicans. (*2)

That’s why the following caught my attention.  On Upwithchrishayes last Saturday Chris made an illuminating point.   In addition to the other two racial/ethnic groups mentioned, Obama did very well with Asians, enticing 73% of their votes.   These surely are not the people Rush and Ann have in mind as the “takers”, accused of just wanting more stuff.   As a group they are more successful than whites, with a higher percentage of them making over $100,000 a year, according to Chris.

Shouldn’t the Republican ideal of rugged individualism and personal responsibility attract a much bigger chunk of these  hard working, finish-your-homework-first, Tiger-mom-driven people?    Who, by the way, according to Chris, make up only 3% of the voters now, but are predicted to expand to 9% in upcoming decades.   Apparently more bad news for Republicans.

This seems to suggest there is  something out of kilter with the right’s theory that it’s primarily the “gimme, gimme” people who are voting Democrat.  I think Chris might have nailed it when he said:  “The beating heart of modern conservatism is its visceral appeal to the anxieties and fears of white Christians.”

Asians don’t identify with those fears, even those who undoubtedly share the party’s conservative values which, by the way, many blacks and Latinos do as well.   Maybe the main issue for many Asians who voted Democratic is they don’t feel welcome in a party of old white men, either.

Perhaps many are Democrats by default.  It is not that they embrace the Democratic Party wholeheartedly and just want more stuff.  It is that they reject you, Rush and Ann, and others who fan the flames of anxiety and fear and, may I add, resentment.   Perhaps they are Democrats by default because the present Republican party has become a grotesque distortion of the “better angels of our nature” to borrow a few words from Abraham Lincoln whom, may I remind you, was a Republican.

Maybe a lot of people of color, Asian and otherwise, don’t want more stuff.  They just don’t want you.

Even some old white guys can identify with that sentiment.

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(*1)  I began this piece two days ago.  Since then I’ve noticed some Republicans pointing fingers at themselves as a party.   For example, LA governor Bobby Jindal has said they must stop being the “stupid party.”  More about this soul searching in a future post.

(*2)  The categories of “makers” and “takers” may stem from a study about to be published by Nicholas Eberstadt, A Nation of Takers: America’s Entitlement Epidemic.  It is a view from the right, and does not seem fair in some ways, as pointed out in a review in the Fiscal Times.

FREE AT LAST! Post-Election First Reflections

Free from all those nasty commercials.  Free from all that political junk

Barack Obama presidential campaign, 2008

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

mail.  Free from all those phone calls pushing one candidate and trashing another, though I did appreciate President Clinton calling me.   I felt honored, but I still didn’t pick up.   I haven’t picked up in two months which have been jammed with so many unwanted calls that I almost cancelled my land line.  Unfortunately I often need it to locate my cell phone.

AND FREE FROM THE TASK OF DEFENDING BARACK OBAMA FROM THE ONGOING ONSLAUGHT OF THE REPUBLICAN SMEAR CAMPAIGN.

Yeah, and don’t tell me about how Romney was smeared as well.  Romney was portrayed as a very wealthy guy out of touch with the average American and our concerns, an image he cemented with his behind closed-doors speech to big donors in which he indicated at least “47%” of us think of ourselves as “victims” expecting government to solve our problems.   That is not smearing him. That’s who he is.

Carl Rove complains that Romney was portrayed as “a rich guy who only thinks about himself.”  O. K., that’s not complimentary, but I don’t think it prompts hatred.   Not compared with Obama being profiled as a secretly foreign-born, anti-American Muslim socialist who made-everything-worse as president.  That’s more than smearing; it’s sliming.

So, despite the fact that this has been a  “six billion dollar status quo election”…….   (Same president, same Democrat “managed” Senate and Republican “controlled” House ) …….   I feel so much better that I can begin to focus on what is happening in terms of addressing our nation’s problems, rather than defend Barack Obama’s last four years in office. (*1)

I have had criticisms of the president;  but I was so busy clearing away Republican distortions and lies I never got around to them.  In any event, I’m glad he has been given a second chance to do better on a number of fronts, and I think he will.   But more of that in upcoming weeks.

And more election reflections, too.   I have plenty to think about.

One more thought for today:

The #1 Issue was the Economy:    I find it ironic that, according to just about everyone, the economy was the key issue, but I found the economy almost never talked about in any real way during all of those months of babble.   Obama didn’t want us to dwell on the slow recovery and Romney didn’t want to detail how he would improve it.   Better to just be the Un-Obama, he seemed to think.   Perhaps he recalled how the rope-a-dope worked for Ali vs. Foreman so many years ago.

I often heard how the Obama campaign had sidetracked Romney from talking about the economy, but when Romney did talk about it, he never really said anything.   Maybe he liked being sidetracked.  He did indicate that he had created 100,000 jobs through Bain Capital, but never gave any proof and stopped saying that when pressed.  (If that were true, don’t you think each of us would have received in the mail a multi-colored booklet highlighting all those jobs?).

Otherwise Romney just made assertions like when he became president he would create 12,000,000 jobs, but never how he would do it.  As it turns out, that is what many economists predicted anyway.  No matter who would be elected.   Maybe even me.  (Thanks again for your vote, reader.)

So maybe Obama will “create” all those jobs, but if so, than Republicans will not give him credit but instead point to the natural cycling of the economy that Obama cashed in on.   And there would be some truth in that.

The booming economy during the Clinton years had already begun to turn around right before his first election, but not enough so the public really noticed.   So, George Bush was out (whom I think of as Bush the Better), and  Clinton was in and got to ride the rising tide.   In short, praising or blaming presidents for the shape of an economy imagines much greater powers than they have and ignores luck, lots of luck. (*2)

Given the shaky world economy, we can’t assume continued improvement in our own, but it would be ironic, and unfair, had Romney been elected and the improvement be called the “Romney Recovery.”  In that case, the Republicans would have forgotten economic cycles.  Fareed Zakaria points that out in a Washington Post piece that should cheer you up about our economic future, if you don’t think too much about it.

His is a lonely view compared to most you might read right now, especially with THE FISCAL CLIFF looming.  But save that other reading until later.  For now, take Daniel L. Reardon’s advice:  “In the long run the pessimist may be proved right, but the optimist has a better time on the trip.” (*3)

Have fun this weekend.

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(*1)   I do realize the election produced significant changes, but not in terms of the balance of power in our central government.   For example, in keeping Obama in office the composition and politics of the allegedly apolitical Supreme Court figure to change down the line.

(*2)  I know Democrats would argue Clinton did a number of things to prompt the growth of the economy and a budget surplus.   My point here is his policies didn’t turn the economy around; it was turning before he took office.

(*3)   I don’t know who he is or was, either.  If curious, you’ll have to do your own search.