Tuesday Open Thread [6.26.12]

Filed in Open Thread by on June 26, 2012

Bruce Bartlett totals up the damage former President George W. Bush did to the country’s fiscal health. He finds that if the Clintonian policies had continued over the course of the 2000’s (i.e. had President Gore been sworn into office rather than the usurper), then the United States would have had a budget surplus of $5.6 trillion at the end of Fiscal Year 2011.

Let me say that again.

A surplus of $5.6 trillion.

That would have been enough to pay off the $5.6 trillion national debt that existed at the end of 2000, assuming that the wars in Iraq never took place (and it would not have), and the war in Afghanistan was not ignored for 6 years, which also assumes that 9/11 took place, which is in question since President Gore would have continued Clinton’s policies of actually pursuing Al Queda that Bush had dropped in early 2001.

But as we know, Bush did not continue Clinton’s policies. Instead, he reduced tax revenues by $6.1 trillion through his tax cuts, and then increased spending by $5.6 trillion, a turnaround of $11.7 trillion.

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  1. puck says:

    Just in case I haven’t said it enough, Obama has an opportunity to restore Clinton economic policy this December.

    Even I don’t believe we would literally have that much of a surplus. But it’s clear we would have been a lot better off.

  2. Delaware Dem says:

    I agree, because Bartlett assumes that lawmakers would have let the surplus just acculumate for 11 years. That is not happening. So the surplus would have been spent on a couple of things: 1) Paying down the debt, maybe by half; 2) securing Social Security and Medicare; 3) and tax rebates (not tax cuts).

  3. Steve Newton says:

    But to be clear–you are assuming (or Bartlett is) that there would have been NO long-term military response to September 11?

    I could perhaps buy that with respect to Iraq, but do you seriously think that President Gore would not have pursued miltiary operations in or against Afghanistan?

  4. SussexAnon says:

    Yes, Bartlett is assuming Gore would not have pursued Bush’s dumb-a$$ folly. I doubt Gore would have launched into Iraq. I also think Afghanistan would not have lasted as long because of the decision not to go into Iraq. Osama Bin Ladin would have also been pursued in Tora Bora.

    All those would have added up to a tremendous reduction in military expenditures.

    So, yeah, even with 9-11 we would have been better off financially with Gore.

  5. Delaware Dem says:

    You misunderstand. I am saying that if 9/11 occurs under a President Gore, while we would have gone into Afghanistan, the war there would not have lasted until the present day.

    Why? Simple.

    President Bush took his eyes off the ball in Afghanistan and let Bin Laden escape so he could pursue family vengenance in Iraq.

    Under a President Gore, perhaps we capture and/or kill Bin Laden during the Battle of Tora Bora in 2002.

    With no Iraq, we would have either accomplished the mission in Afghanistan much sooner or learned much sooner (as we have know) that there is nothing to be accomplished in Afghanistan.

    This is academic to me, since I believe under a President Gore, 9/11 never happens.

  6. Steve Newton says:

    This is academic to me, since I believe under a President Gore, 9/11 never happens.


    You may believe anything you please. But do you have evidence?

  7. socialistic ben says:

    In august of 2001 President Bush ignored a memo titles “Osama Bin Laden determined to Attack US soil with commercial airplanes”
    Al Gore, who ISNT frat boy idiot, would not have ignored that memo…. MAYBE it could have been stopped under Gore, but it was ALLOWED to happen under Bush.

    With President Gore, there would have been no President Obama

  8. cassandra_m says:

    But do you have evidence?

    For *counterfactual* history? Really?


  9. Steve Newton says:

    cassandra you and others make counterfactual proposition all the time–if we had done x instead of y, then reasonably, based on [evidence], z might have resulted instead of what did happen.

    So shorter cassandra (often employed): when you ain’t got it, ridicule.

    ben: make a case based on 9/11 commission findings on piss-poor handling of general evidence and systemic break-downs that this happens, other than “I think Al Gore was a better person” and you’re on the right track. But the 9/11 Commission found huge systemic gaps that had been years in the making.

    Even for you this is a new low: No Bush, no 9/11?

    How many steps short of trutherism (hello jason “reasonable people” may disagree on whether Bush had advanced knowledge of 9/11) is the contention that had Gore been President you’d all have gotten your ponies?


  10. cassandra_m says:

    Shorter Steve newton: when you get caught out, just spin up as much deflective bullshit as possible in response and hope that no one can see the dance.

    Sheesh. *Proving* counterfactuals is a rube’s game. You can develop all kinds of arguments for them to your heart’s content — with pertinent bits of history, projected expectations, informed (and not so informed) guesses and abit of luck– but that gets you a possible narrative that you can never test.

    Which is why you focused on the portions of the 9/11 commission’s findings of systemic failures, rather than the piece SB actually pointed out from the commission’s report. Ben already told you why he thought Gore wouldn’t have ignored that memo (not evidence to be certain) and yet you danced right away from that bit.

    No Bush, no 9/11 is a counterfactual with alot of currency. Largely based in the belief that a President Gore would not have ignored the memo.

    Perhaps you’ve been working too hard at counting other people’s ponies to even notice.

  11. puck says:

    Two stories:

    Dover Balances Budget

    “I love that we are finally dealing with the long term liabilities. ” – David A.


    Frustrated Dover city workers push to form a union

    A group of Dover city workers is petitioning to form a union to fight a budget squeeze on municipal workers. The News Journal reports a petition was filed last week to seek union rights for 78 city workers.


  12. Steve Newton says:

    cassandra, ok then explain why printing the results of Bruce Barlett’s counterfactual (if Bush had not been president we’d have a $5.6 trillion surplus and here’s the evidence from the CBP) is any less idiotic that what I asked for.

    Give me a break. Make yourself look stupid on this one on your own time.

    DD prints a counterfactual with evidence, argues as if it were fact, then presents his own without evidence and you suggest that it is wrong to ask for the evidence.

    I hope you got a lot of what you’re currently smoking. It’s good shit.

  13. Steve Newton says:

    Ben already told you why he thought Gore wouldn’t have ignored that memo

    Really? Quote him then if you that damn smart. He said Gore wouldn’t have ignore it because he wasn’t a “frat boy” and you think that’s an explanation?

  14. cassandra_m says:

    Al Gore, who ISNT frat boy idiot, would not have ignored that memo…. MAYBE it could have been stopped under Gore, but it was ALLOWED to happen under Bush.

    He told you why he thought this and now that you need to do your caught out dance, you want to grade him for his answer. *This* is the stupid.

    And I *am* on my own time. The fact that you are here trying to sell your usual deflective BS is your problem.

  15. Steve Newton says:


    have a nice day, dear, and a good dinner.

    you’re far too close to dyspepsia over this, as one can tell by your having accused me of fifteen different things and changed your position three time.

    no need to respond. everybody here can watch you dance. you do it so well.

  16. Delaware Dem says:


    It is well known that Clinton aides and Clinton himself warned the incoming Bush administration of their ongoing operations against Al Queda, and how Bin Laden and his terror network were America’s number 1 security threat. Bush and his team did not agree. Read here http://www.nytimes.com/2004/03/20/politics/20PANE.html and here https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/bush/elliott.htm

    It wasn’t until 9/11 that the Bush Administration paid attention to Al Queda.

    The assumptions I make are well founded. President Gore would have pursued the Clinton-Clarke plan. That plan stood a reasonable chance of both disrupting Al Queda and its plans, just like the Millennium Attack had been prevented.

  17. Dana Garrett says:

    I think you all could be more understanding of Steve.Newton’s real problem w/ this post. You see, according to Libertarian economics, the Clintonian surplus was not supposed to have occurred. In fact, it was supposed to be an impossibility. But damn if it didn’t happen. Now we get a post that indicating that that achievement could have been replicated by the end of 2007. That’s like compounding what evidently happened with further evidence. Further evidence means the Clintonian achievement can’t be discounted as a.fluke. That would be hell libertarian analysis. So a lot is at stake for Steve in letting this post stand uncontested. So some attempt to discount it must be made, however ridiculous and petty the attempt might be.

  18. cassandra m says:

    And this is how we know Steve is running out of steam — he does a lame deflection, accusing me of exactly what he has been guilty of all along:

    no need to respond. everybody here can watch you dance. you do it so well.

    Pathetic and completely juvenile. Fortunately for Steve, he has Dana who stops by occasionally to clarify the situation.

  19. socialistic ben says:

    And Im still confused because i only said “maybe” when talking about duly elected President Al Gore and how, if he had been allowed to serve he MIGHT have been able to prevent 9/11 by simply paying attention to the threat…. like we know he would have.
    And yes.. I think Al Gore is a better person than George W Bush and, not that it’s a difficult thing… he would have done everything better.

  20. Liberal Elite says:

    Or possibly that Gore would have pissed off OBL less than Bush did. There are LOTS of ways that Gore could have reduced the likelihood that 9/11 would have occurred. Did anyone look at GWB’s face when told of 9/11 while reading “My Pet Goat”? He already knew something. If he didn’t, then his total-lack-of-curiosity reaction was entirely unnatural.

    DD’s speculation is not unreasonable.

  21. Dan says:

    I’m always amazed at the assumption that Iraq wouldn’t have happened under Gore. His vp pick was Lieberman, one of the war’s biggest cheerleaders.

  22. socialistic ben says:

    that’s a good point. Perhaps “much less likely” should be used instead of “wouldnt have” The point is, that many people “cynically’ predicted as early as dec of 2000 that GWB would try to go to war in Iraq… and he didnt disappoint.

  23. socialistic ben says:

    LE, i cut him slack for that. WHat is he going to do, react in a way that would terrify a room full of little children? They were bound to find out what was going on…. better get home, hear about it from their parents than have the president stand up and run out of the classroom. If you like, you don’t have to give him credit for thinking of sparing the kids the news for a little while, but that is what ultimately happened.
    now call me a teabagger.