The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


As the Presidential election grinds on, the Obama campaign tries desperately to follow the advice of a good defense attorney—when your client is guilty, change the subject. Over the past two months the President and his supporters have desperately tried to "frame" the election in terms of Mitt Romney's character—he's "out of touch," he's too "rich," he can't fix the economy, his private sector experience is no indication of his leadership ability (as if a background as a community organizer was a key indicator of a successful presidency). In still another attempt at framing, the President plays the victim. His abject failure to address key economic issues isn't his fault, he's the victim of circumstance, of foreign "head winds," of the meany GOP who won't let him get anything done, of ... well, anything that will absolve him of responsibility. Polls indicate that neither of these "frames" have worked particularly well.

You'd think that the President would try to re-frame his own position, suggesting a restructuring of entitlements, serious modifications and simplifications of the tax code, a significant real reduction in government spending. You'd think he'd propose a budget that was not voted down 99-0 by a Democrat-controlled senate. But no — Barack Obama is an ideologue, incapable of modifying an ineffective strategy and unwilling to learn from his own mistakes. He continues to suggest that we need to tax more and spend more — a clear recipe for disaster.

Investor's Business Daily looks at the efficacy of the President's economic recipe from a historical perspective. They quote from a study recently published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The study examines "26 episodes in advanced economies since the early 1800s where gross public debt levels exceeded 90% of GDP for at least five years." Here's what they found:
When countries run debt levels that high, average growth rate is significantly below low-debt years — 2.3% on average vs. 3.5%.

Worse, the study also found that once countries run debt up to that level, it can take years, if not decades, to bring it back down. In fact, 20 of those high-debt episodes lasted more than a decade, and the average duration was 23 years.

Combine the two, and what you get is "a massive cumulative output loss," according to the study's authors.

Where does that leave the U.S.? Thanks to Obama's fiscal policies, the U.S. gross public debt is now more than 100% of GDP. And, according to the Congressional Budget Office, under current policies there's no end in sight.
The President and his supporters would prefer to emphasize the fact that Ann Romney rides a horse or that Mitt Romney is uncool.

The President can run, but at the end of the day, he can't hide from his own abysmal economic record. He can try to re-frame the discussion, but he will fail. The economy and the country's economic health are on the line, and nobody gives a damn about whether his opponent's wife rides a horse.