|Washington Post: Mr. Obama, Stop Blaming Bush for the Economic Crisis|
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, October 11 2012
Barack Obama: “Governor Romney believes that with even bigger tax cuts for the wealthy and fewer regulations on Wall Street, all of us will prosper. In other words, he’d double down on the same trickle-down policies that led to the crisis in the first place.”
Washington Post: “Retire this talking point, Mr. President.”
It’s been a particularly rough week for Barack Obama.
First, Sesame Street asked him to cease and desist using Big Bird as a cheap campaign pawn following his disastrous debate performance. “We have approved no campaign ads, and as is our general practice, have requested that the ad be taken down,” announced Sesame Workshop. Rather than respect that simple request, however, the Obama campaign would only say that they “received and will review their concerns.”
Next, the Princeton economist whom Obama names when attacking Mitt Romney on taxes also said, “enough.” An official Obama campaign press released explicitly cited Professor Harvey Rosen as authority for its claim that, “Romney’s tax cuts would require large tax increases on families making between $100,000 and $200,000.” But Prof. Rosen is having none of it. “I can’t tell exactly how the Obama campaign reached that characterization of my work,” he said in an email to The Weekly Standard. Speaking to The Huffington Post, he added, “My paper doesn’t say it, doesn’t imply it.” Professor Rosen continued, “I guess [the Obama campaign] didn’t read what I did very carefully.”
For good measure, the Obama campaign itself was forced to retract the constant allegation that Romney advocates a “$5 trillion tax cut.” Appearing on CNN, Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter admitted when pressed, “Well, okay, stipulated – it won’t be near $5 trillion.”
Now, even the reliably liberal Washington Post is telling Obama “enough already.”
Assessing Obama’s central reelection theme of minimizing his own record of performance and demonizing tax cuts and deregulation as the source of the nation’s ills, the Post says, “It is time for the Obama campaign to retire this talking point, no matter how much it seems to resonate with voters.” The Post observes, “He highlights the tax cuts and then says the ‘same trickle-down policies’ – Democratic code for tax cuts for the wealthy – led to the ‘crisis.’” In remarkably candid language, the Post rejects what it labels that “puzzling” claim:
“The financial crisis of 2008 stemmed from a variety of complex factors, in particular the bubble in housing prices and the rise of exotic financial instruments… In any case, the Bush tax cuts belong at the bottom of the list – if at all.”
Although the Post fails to mention this, there’s another problem with Obama’s demonization of the Bush tax cuts. Namely, that Obama extended those rates in 2010, claiming that our economy was too weak to withstand their expiration. Notably, economic growth then was even higher than it is today, rendering his current position even more illogical.
To its credit, the Post also rejects Obama’s “deregulation” line of attack.
Specifically, when liberals blame “deregulation” for the housing bubble, their most common bogeyman is repeal of the Glass-Steagall’s separation of investment and commercial banking. The problem? That repeal occurred under Bill Clinton, not George W. Bush:
“Clinton signed into law a repeal of the Glass-Steagall law that separated commercial and investment banks – a policy shift that some have said also played a role in the economic crisis. Moreover, Clinton also signed into law the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which essentially removed derivatives contracts from regulatory oversight. By many accounts, derivatives, such as the credit default swap, were at the heart of the financial crisis.”
Furthermore, if Obama believes so strongly that “deregulation” caused the last recession, then why didn’t he reinstate Glass-Steagall’s provisions at any point during his tenure? After all, he maintained House and filibuster-proof Senate majorities for almost half of his presidency, so he cannot cite “Republican obstructionism” as a rationalization.
So what does the Obama campaign have left in its arsenal?
It can’t use Big Bird.
It can’t claim that Romney will raise taxes on the middle class.
And it can’t claim that tax cuts and deregulation caused the last recession and will only bring more catastrophe under a Romney administration.
Short of convincing upcoming debate moderators to allow teleprompters, Obama is beginning to run out of options.
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