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Re: Election 2012

Postby Brekkie » Wed Oct 03, 2012 8:30 pm

Those rules are kind of terrible, and clearly written by someone who didn't realize that these debates are themed. This one was specifically focused on the economy.


Anyway,
Romney was incredibly rude and un-presidential. He got defensive early on in particular, practically yelling at the moderator and demanding that he get the last word. He was constantly interrupting, and his smile seemed forced and artificial.

Obama, on the other hand, was really off-form. He kept his dignity, but let Romney jump all over him without really putting up much of a defense. He stuttered a lot, and seemed distracted at some points.


As for substance, looks like my prediction was right:
2) Romney just paints a picture of an entirely different, and contrasting, reality from anything Obama says, and claims that all Obama's statistics are lies and propaganda.

This is probably the best chance Romney has of pulling out at least a draw, and seems to be the strategy his campaign is tending towards (they've issued several statements and articles laying the groundwork for a "Obama is lying about everything! All that stuff about us being in recovery? Don't believe it!" narrative).
If this happens, the liberal-leaning FactChecker sites will declare all of Romney's claims to be bologna, and all the conservative-leaning FactChecker sites will declare all of Obama's claims to be similarly bunk, and no one will be quite sure who to believe.



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Re: Election 2012

Postby Fridmarr » Wed Oct 03, 2012 11:32 pm

Brekkie wrote: So they just borrowed, and covered up how much the war was costing by not including it in the budget, but instead periodically going to Congress for rubber-stamp one-time "Contingency Operations funding". Effectively the entire war was deficit spending within the Federal budget, they just refused to call it part of the budget and take responsibility for it.

When conservatives talk about how "Obama massively increased the deficit" compared to Bush, a big piece of that claim is really just that the Obama administration finally added the War on Terror to the official budget and properly accounted for it and how much it was costing. The remaining deficit spending by Obama have been recession-countering TEMPORARY tax cuts (for example the Making Work Pay tax credit, which was allowed to expire after 2 years) and one-off stimulus.
I got reminded of this today with all the budget talks, and I remember when I read this (and I think it had been mentioned at least once before) it didn't pass the sniff test with me, so I checked into it a bit more and I don't think this is correct.

My skepticism with this comes from the notion that somehow this money wouldn't be included in the deficit. Now, I do realize that there are quite a few articles (and even wikipedia) out there that suggest that it was not, but the data doesn't agree with them. I really think there is just a bit of confusion dealing with timing, and things getting repeated that aren't quite right.

At the time Bush would have submitted any base budget, obviously future supplementals were not known and so they were not included in the deficit projections. Those supplementals weren't hidden however, they were approved by congress and on the books. So after the fiscal year ends and all the financial data comes in, those projections get adjusted by actuals. Since they were asking for these supplementals each year, you could argue he was temporarily trying to dodge responsibility for the cost of the war, but while those supplementals were a lot of money, they were not the bulk of the war spending and any such "dodge" would have been pretty temporary.

The point is, total outlays and receipts are now known, and those supplemental budgets are included because like anything else they are on the books even if they are not part of the regular budget. Probably the best place to get the data is from the White House's OMB webpage ( http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/historicals ) which has plenty of spreadsheets with total outlays and receipts, which do in fact show a large surge in the deficit over the last couple of years. One easy way to confirm that all the sudden the costs of the wars is not now unfairly contributing to Obama's deficit while Bush managed to avoid them with budget tricks is to look at the breakdown by function and you'll see that defense spending on the books does not spike in 2010, like such accounting shenanigans would require.

Ultimately, the conservatives' claims that the deficit has increased greatly under Obama is true and not enhanced by budget tricks from the Bush administration, but I think you and I both know that that doesn't mean Obama is ultimately to blame. Spending is up a bit under Obama, but also receipts are down a good bit too, which is just a reality of a struggling economy, which isn't really the fault of either administration as we covered earlier.
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Klaudandus » Thu Oct 04, 2012 6:14 am

p.s. "Cutting PBS support in order to bring the deficit under control is like deleting .txt files on your 1TB drive to make more room" -Neil DeGrasse Tyson

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Re: Election 2012

Postby Brekkie » Thu Oct 04, 2012 10:19 am

Fridmarr wrote:
Brekkie wrote: So they just borrowed, and covered up how much the war was costing by not including it in the budget, but instead periodically going to Congress for rubber-stamp one-time "Contingency Operations funding". Effectively the entire war was deficit spending within the Federal budget, they just refused to call it part of the budget and take responsibility for it.

When conservatives talk about how "Obama massively increased the deficit" compared to Bush, a big piece of that claim is really just that the Obama administration finally added the War on Terror to the official budget and properly accounted for it and how much it was costing. The remaining deficit spending by Obama have been recession-countering TEMPORARY tax cuts (for example the Making Work Pay tax credit, which was allowed to expire after 2 years) and one-off stimulus.
I got reminded of this today with all the budget talks, and I remember when I read this (and I think it had been mentioned at least once before) it didn't pass the sniff test with me, so I checked into it a bit more and I don't think this is correct.

My skepticism with this comes from the notion that somehow this money wouldn't be included in the deficit. Now, I do realize that there are quite a few articles (and even wikipedia) out there that suggest that it was not, but the data doesn't agree with them. I really think there is just a bit of confusion dealing with timing, and things getting repeated that aren't quite right.

At the time Bush would have submitted any base budget, obviously future supplementals were not known and so they were not included in the deficit projections. Those supplementals weren't hidden however, they were approved by congress and on the books. So after the fiscal year ends and all the financial data comes in, those projections get adjusted by actuals. Since they were asking for these supplementals each year, you could argue he was temporarily trying to dodge responsibility for the cost of the war, but while those supplementals were a lot of money, they were not the bulk of the war spending and any such "dodge" would have been pretty temporary.

The point is, total outlays and receipts are now known, and those supplemental budgets are included because like anything else they are on the books even if they are not part of the regular budget. Probably the best place to get the data is from the White House's OMB webpage ( http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/historicals ) which has plenty of spreadsheets with total outlays and receipts, which do in fact show a large surge in the deficit over the last couple of years. One easy way to confirm that all the sudden the costs of the wars is not now unfairly contributing to Obama's deficit while Bush managed to avoid them with budget tricks is to look at the breakdown by function and you'll see that defense spending on the books does not spike in 2010, like such accounting shenanigans would require.

Ultimately, the conservatives' claims that the deficit has increased greatly under Obama is true and not enhanced by budget tricks from the Bush administration, but I think you and I both know that that doesn't mean Obama is ultimately to blame. Spending is up a bit under Obama, but also receipts are down a good bit too, which is just a reality of a struggling economy, which isn't really the fault of either administration as we covered earlier.


Hmmm...

I dug all through those links, and couldn't really find enough information to clarify. I expected it to be easy, because such a discrepancy would appear NOT under DoD funds, but under "Overseas Contingency Funds". However, nothing of the sort was listed under the budget breakdown.

So, from what I can tell, there are three possibilities:

1) I was mistaken about the entire thing.

2) Overseas contingency funding was not, in fact, included under Bush's budget (as I stated), but Obama's budget has not correct the issue (contrary to what I stated).

3) These spreadsheets simply don't document the relevant expenditures under the breakdown of expenditures by function and subfunction. If this were true, the Total expenditures would add up to be less than those show under the Surplus/Deficit spreadsheet. This is not the case, the two numbers match up. So the only way for this to be true is if the expenditures are not documented AT ALL on the budget site, which seems unlikely.

This needs more digging.


One observation I will make is that the DoD numbers I am seeing on these spreadsheets are very surprising to me. Almost as soon as Obama took office, DOD civilian pay was frozen (and still is), projected procurement was gutted, Training slots were massively reduced, retention spending plummeted, refits and renovations were postponed, and shortly thereafter we withdraw from Iraq.
So am I am having trouble reconciling these facts which I can readily observe, with the numbers on these spreadsheets which state that Defense Spending went UP under Obama. Not a sharp spike, but it went up.

Actually, maybe that is the explanation for the main question. All the cuts and squeezing counteracted the big increase of including Overseas Contingency Funds under the DoD umbrella somewhat, resulting in an increase, but not the sharp spike we were looking for in the data.
It's difficult to tell without a much more detailed itemized break-down, but that is a potential explanation.


At the time Bush would have submitted any base budget, obviously future supplementals were not known and so they were not included in the deficit projections. Those supplementals weren't hidden however, they were approved by congress and on the books. So after the fiscal year ends and all the financial data comes in, those projections get adjusted by actuals. Since they were asking for these supplementals each year, you could argue he was temporarily trying to dodge responsibility for the cost of the war, but while those supplementals were a lot of money, they were not the bulk of the war spending and any such "dodge" would have been pretty temporary.


As for this point...
It is important to make a distinction between "adds to the DEBT" and "adds to the DEFICIT". The Bush supplemental Overseas Contingency Fund procurement bills were treated as one-time things. In other words, not a continuing budget element. Remember that the Bush administrative expected the wars to be over fairly quickly.
Thus, they claimed that such spending added to the DEBT, but not the on-going DEFICIT. Therefore there was no need to account for it in budget projections for the deficit of FUTURE budgets, because the money had already been spent and, in theory, they wouldn't need more.
This IS reflected in the Federal Debt Spreadsheet. Yesterday, Mr. Romney accused Obama of "doubling the Federal Debt", but let's look at the numbers:

When Obama took office, Federal Debt was a little under $10 Trillion. It is currently approximately $16 Trillion.

This is in large part due to the $0.5 Trillion drop in federal yearly revenues when comparing 2009 (the results of the crash) to 2007 (pre-crash). Some of this was emergency tax cuts (some of which have been allowed to expire), but most was simply the economy tanking.
Bush left office with a budget deficit of just under $0.5 Trillion per year, so adding the $0.5 Trillion reduction in revenue equals $1 Trillion added to the debt every year, without doing anything. It is reasonable to assume that a static continuation from Bush's policies would have us with at least a $14 Trillion debt right now, just due to the math. Obama's actions really only account for a minimum of $2 Trillion, and a maximum of $4 Trillion of that increase, depending on whether you believe the economy would have rebounded quicker without the government having spent any money.
At any rate, an increase from $10 to $16 is hardly doubling.

Let's compare to Bush:
When Bush took office, the debt was at about $5.6 Trillion. At the time, he entered with a $0.24 Trillion per year surplus, left over from Clinton.
The debt rose to $7.4 Trillion in 2004, and a whopping $10 Trillion by 2008.
If anyone is guilty of doubling the debt, it's Bush.
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Fridmarr » Thu Oct 04, 2012 2:41 pm

I'm pretty certain that those expenditures would have fallen under national defense. If I remember right, Obama did authorize a troop surge at one point and we also had the egypt/libya stuff. I imagine that, along with the ongoing stuff elevated spending for a time. However, you can see that the projections have that spending drawing down as deployments end in the future.

As far as budget, debt, deficit, I think you are munging terms a bit. It's true that those supplementals were not factored into the "projected" deficit, but there is no real concept of excluding them when looking at a historical deficit. An outlay is an outlay, a receipt is a receipt, the difference at the end (assuming recepits are less) is that year's deficit. What spending is considered on budget and off (debt spending) is a totally different matter.

Bush's base budget accounted for the vast majority of the spending on the wars, the supplementals were to fund (in theory) certain temporary additional expenditures. I can't get to the data from here at the moment, but if I remember correctly the supplementals were just around 10%. That's another indicator that the sorts of fiscal trickery claimed could not possibly yield the results of a massively unfair deficit account.

As far as doubling the debt, I am not able to speak to a claim that it has currently doubled, (frankly I think the whole discussion is of very limited usefulness) but I think you need to at least compare an equal time duration. If you are going to compare 8 years of Bush, then you should use projections to 2016 for Obama, and many of those suggest a debt in the low 20s, which would be more than double.

The only factchecking I read of the debates last night was what the AP had put out late in the evening. In terms of fiscal numbers, it was pretty harsh on both, but particularly on Obama.

I didn't watch the debates at all, although the media is an absolute circus at the moment. I swear that they want this thing to be competitive (it would afterall be in their vested interest) so they are making what I guess many people believe as Romney getting the better of it, into some sort of actual chance of his victory in November. I think that's laughable, but certainly not unexpected.
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Treck » Thu Oct 04, 2012 2:59 pm

Not relevant, but amusing (read the fine print ^^
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Brekkie » Thu Oct 04, 2012 6:02 pm

Fridmarr wrote:I'm pretty certain that those expenditures would have fallen under national defense. If I remember right, Obama did authorize a troop surge at one point and we also had the egypt/libya stuff. I imagine that, along with the ongoing stuff elevated spending for a time. However, you can see that the projections have that spending drawing down as deployments end in the future.


Upon reflection, I've realized something I'd forgotten. The majority of Defense Spending is manpower costs. Towards the end of his second term, Bush authorized an expansion in the size of the military, which took place in 2007-2008. I, myself, joined during the beginning of that surge.
My branch, the Marine Corps, expanded from 175,000 Active Duty troops, to 202,000, and increase of a little over 15%. The increase in the size of the Army was comparable.

This, to me, explains the increase in Defense spending that I had been unable to reconcile with all the belt-tightening I've observed in the DoD over the past 4 years compared to the relative days of plenty pre-2008.
With that comes all the ripple effects on other mandatory spending, such as more Veterans Affairs disability claims and GI Bill payments.

So the bottom line is that Obama inherited a military which suddenly cost significantly more. I know conservatives are tired of the constant trope of everything being Bush's fault, and I know it feels like an evasion of responsibility, but I really think it is true with things like this. Authorizing a big increase in the military with no corresponding increase in revenue to pay for it, and then handing it over to a successor, is not something that Obama would ever be able to undo easily, cheaply, or quickly.

And that is proving to be the case. Opposing any reductions in Defense spending is a key plank of the conservative platform, so accomplishing it is politically difficult. And the service chiefs have been refusing to reduce in size back to the original levels, claiming they "would be unable to accomplish their missions". (So, they were unable to accomplish their missions under Bush? Questionable, at best.)
Again, using the Marine Corps as an example, the Commandant, with the support of congressional Republicans, has drawn a line in the sand at 185,000 troops; still 10,000 more than we had during the twin invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. And the service chiefs have (quite rightly, but inconveniently from a budgetary perspective) refused to implement the draw-down faster than over a 6-year timetable.

It is things like this that make me consider Bush's actions so unforgivable. Turning a 1/4 Trillion dollar per year surplus into a 1/2 Trillion dollar per year deficit was totally, absolutely, flagrantly irresponsible.
It is MUCH easier to piss away a surplus, than it is to claw back a deficit. Even completely disregarding the recession.

Fridmarr wrote:As far as budget, debt, deficit, I think you are munging terms a bit. It's true that those supplementals were not factored into the "projected" deficit, but there is no real concept of excluding them when looking at a historical deficit. An outlay is an outlay, a receipt is a receipt, the difference at the end (assuming recepits are less) is that year's deficit. What spending is considered on budget and off (debt spending) is a totally different matter.

Bush's base budget accounted for the vast majority of the spending on the wars, the supplementals were to fund (in theory) certain temporary additional expenditures. I can't get to the data from here at the moment, but if I remember correctly the supplementals were just around 10%. That's another indicator that the sorts of fiscal trickery claimed could not possibly yield the results of a massively unfair deficit account.


You are right. I think the evidence indicates that I was mistaken. Looking in detail at the itemized DoD budget for the relevant years would confirm. Thank you for challenging my misconception.


Fridmarr wrote:As far as doubling the debt, I am not able to speak to a claim that it has currently doubled, (frankly I think the whole discussion is of very limited usefulness) but I think you need to at least compare an equal time duration. If you are going to compare 8 years of Bush, then you should use projections to 2016 for Obama, and many of those suggest a debt in the low 20s, which would be more than double.


Most the the reason why claims regarding everything from debt to unemployment from both sides differ is what baseline they decide to compare to.
To me, I think the most intellectually honest baseline to compare to when talking about debt is how the the person compares to a hypothetical scenario where they did nothing at all, and just continued the policies previously in place. So, in other words, measure the IMPACT of their decisions, not the CHANGE in the overall situation.

So:
Bush inherited a budget with a $0.25 Trillion/year surplus, and $5.6 Trillion in debt.
If he had done NOTHING for 4 years, and used the surplus to pay down the debt, he would have ended with a $0.25 Trillion/year surplus, and $4.6 Trillion in debt.
IMPACT: +$1 Trillion/4 years, and preservation of the $0.25 Trillion/year surplus. This is his baseline.

So how did he do?
By 2004, the budget had swung to a deficit of $0.41 Trillion/year, and debt had increased to $7.4 Trillion. Compare that to his baseline:
IMPACT: -$2.8 Trillion, plus a -$0.66 Trillion/year impact on the budget

By 2008, the budget deficit was $0.46 Trillion/year, and debt had increased to $10 Trillion.
IMPACT: -$6.4 Trillion, plus a -$0.76 Trillion/year impact on the budget


Now let's run the numbers for Obama.
Obama inherited a $0.46 Trillion/year deficit, and $10 Trillion in debt.
If he had simply continued his predecessor's policies with no change, by 2012 the debt would be $11.84, and the deficit would remain $0.46 Trillion/year.
IMPACT: -$1.84 Trillion/4 years, and preservation of the $0.46 Trillion/year deficit. This is his baseline.

How did he do?
In 2012 the budget deficit has risen to $1.33 Trillion/year, and debt has risen to $16.3 Trillion.
IMPACT: -$4.46 Trillion in debt, and a budgetary impact of -$0.87 Trillion/year.

All of the above makes the following assumptions:
1) The new president faces no new circumstances which require additional spending, whether they like it or not
2) The economy remains equally strong throughout, and therefore revenue stays exactly the same, meaning the only impact on the budget are the president's policies.

Neither of the above are fair, to either President. So putting their fiscal impact in context is important. Obviously Bush HAD to react in some manner to 9/11, and obviously Obama's budget would be impacted by an increased deficit due to decreased revenue during the recession.
But framing things in this light serves the useful purpose of holding the President accountable only for the decisions he made, not the wider state of affairs beyond his/her control.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, a big portion of the increased deficit, and therefore by extension the increased debt, under Obama is the result of decreased government revenue due to the recession. Adding up the difference based on the spreadsheet indicates that, compared to a baseline of 4 years of average 2nd Bush-term revenue, the actual revenue for the past 4 years is approximately $1.24 Trillion less.
I think it's fair to subtract this from Obama's debt impact above, bringing his score from -$4.46 Trillion to -$3.22 Trillion. Still an extremely large contribution, by any standard.

The next step is to delve into exactly where that $3.22 Trillion went.
-About half of it is Keynesian stimulus to save the economy (the ARRA alone represents $0.8 Trillion).
-Another portion of it is increased participation in social safety net programs such as Food Stamps and Medicare, as can be expected during a period of high unemployment
-The bulge of Baby Boomers are all starting to hit retirement age, naturally increasing participation in Social Security and Medicare.
-Mandatory spending requirements went up, such as the DoD spending I mentioned before

For the most part, that is it. Libya was extremely low-impact and low-cost, and while troop presence in Afghanistan was surged by 30,000 troops (at the urging of Republicans and the military commanders), that has since been drawn back down and was compensated for by the full withdrawl from Iraq. We have had no significant presence in Egypt or any other Arab Spring country, apart from foreign aid we were mostly already providing.

After establishing where all that money was spent, the next question becomes: "Was that expenditure justifiable, and the right thing to do?"

From my perspective, Obama's fiscal decisions have been little different from what any Republican would have done. If anything, a Republican would have been more likely to get involved in additional costly foreign entanglements. And there is almost no intelligent argument to be made that stimulus to save the economy was a bad thing, though disagreement over methodology and specifics are reasonable.

This reputation for fiscal profilgacy he has been branded with seems unfounded in data, and unfair. As far as I can see, Obama has been relatively moderate when it comes to spending policy.

Fridmarr wrote:If you are going to compare 8 years of Bush, then you should use projections to 2016 for Obama, and many of those suggest a debt in the low 20s, which would be more than double.

This is reasonable, to an extent, but needs to be compared to the proper baseline context, as I described above.
I don't think it is fair, though, to project a 8-year Obama Debt increase as being a 4-year Obama Debt increase multiplied by 2, as you would have to do in order to arrive at the low-20 Trillion dollars figure. The worst of the recession is over, GPD growth is trending upward, median income is trending upwards, unemployment is trending downwards. So any kind of debt increase projection needs to calculate using those figures projected forward at their current positive trajectory.

Unless you expect there to be a SECOND recession of equal severity, which is different matter entirely.

Fridmarr wrote:The only factchecking I read of the debates last night was what the AP had put out late in the evening. In terms of fiscal numbers, it was pretty harsh on both, but particularly on Obama.

They both said some incredibly stupid and misleading statements in the debate. I walked away from it rather pissed at them both.

I didn't watch the debates at all, although the media is an absolute circus at the moment. I swear that they want this thing to be competitive (it would afterall be in their vested interest) so they are making what I guess many people believe as Romney getting the better of it, into some sort of actual chance of his victory in November. I think that's laughable, but certainly not unexpected.

Romney came out hard and swinging, because it's what his handlers told him he had to do to stay remotely relevant. He was clearly very well rehearsed, and many of his lines seemed prepared specifically to preempt the likely arguments Obama might make, and throw them in his face before he could make them. My Facebook feed will not shut up about the "Mr. President, you are entitled to your own House, and your own Airplane, but you are not entitled to your own facts!" line, as if it was even remotely original. I half expected him to parrot Ronald Reagan's "Here you go again..." from the Reagan-Carter debate.



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Fridmarr,

I want to thank you sincerely for participating in these conversations with me. I value your opinion quite a bit, and value the fact that you help me counterbalance my biases and ensure my positions are grounded in evidence.

Thank you.
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Klaudandus » Thu Oct 04, 2012 6:10 pm

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Re: Election 2012

Postby Fridmarr » Thu Oct 04, 2012 6:43 pm

Brekkie

Yeah that's mostly reasonable not much there I'd disagree with. I don't really hold much value in deficits/debts within the term, most of this stuff has much more long lasting affect, and very few things can generate much of a return in a short time too. I mean most of a president's first year budget is set by the previous session, and since we have all this debt each is inheriting a silly interest payment that is akin to burning our hard earned dollars. I do agree that budgets wouldn't be much different regardless of who is in office.

Those numbers are valuable in a larger sense to evaluate the state of things and projections, but as an indictment or glorification of a single president, I think they are of limited use.

Though I would say, that you have to be careful about the whole surplus coming after Clinton. When Bush took office the economy was in a downward swing that eventually hit a pseudo recession as unemployment crept up (dot com/market burst) which started (after being adjusted re: NBER) Q4 of 99. He inherited an economy that had just peaked, but even with the tax cut, receipts dropped pretty significantly over the next few years as unemployment climbed. Of course, the big war expenditures were his choice, certainly you could argue that the Iraq war would not have occurred without him, though I suspect at least to some extent Afghanistan would have. Also, one of his big domestic expenditures, Plan D almost certainly would have occurred if not more. So yeah, he does have a really really big expenditure on there that you can probably address fully to him, but we were going significantly into the red either way.

One of the difficulties many politicians have is that they want to claim support for some flavor of limited government, lower taxes, spending controls, efficiencies, etc but ultimately that causes a problem with a populace that has, at least indirectly, learned how to vote itself money even money that it doesn't have. I think that's far more responsible for the "starve the beast" sort of data than any real sort of cohesive plan. I don't see that changing any time soon.

I also value your perspective, openness, and level headedness in these discussions. As you know these sorts of discussions are notorious for bad results. But I think most of this thread people have kept themselves fairly objective when their ideas have been challenged and have learned from other opinions. I know I've gleaned quite a bit from your posts and others that challenge me.
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Skye1013 » Thu Oct 04, 2012 7:03 pm

Discussion question:

If we hadn't entered Iraq, do you think the situation in the Middle East would be better/worse than it currently is and would we have wrapped up in Afghanistan before Bush left office?

Additionally, do you think entering Iraq would have been forced at a later date, had Bush not pushed us there when he did?
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Fridmarr » Thu Oct 04, 2012 7:16 pm

That's a really great question.

I think worse. I think having a more open more tolerant government there will be much better for that part of the world in the long run.

Then I think as a whole "we" (meaning all westernized countries) have failed to step in and help when we should have (more so in other areas than the middle east, but there too). It's not an easy thing and it will never be popular but it harkens back to that saying that rings fairly true for me, all that is needed for evil to exist is for good men to do nothing.
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Brekkie » Thu Oct 04, 2012 8:42 pm

Skye1013 wrote:Discussion question:

If we hadn't entered Iraq, do you think the situation in the Middle East would be better/worse than it currently is and would we have wrapped up in Afghanistan before Bush left office?

Additionally, do you think entering Iraq would have been forced at a later date, had Bush not pushed us there when he did?


Oh geez, inbound another big post of doom that I don't have time to write right this second.

Short Answer: Yes, I think Iraq was a relative success story, and our actions there improved the country and improved the stability of the Middle East as a whole.

Whether it was worth the cost in lives and resources, however, is far more dubious.
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Shoju » Fri Oct 05, 2012 8:32 am

I will admit that I'm not keeping up on this thread much anymore, but I just wanted to pop in, and say that my 9 year old asked me why Mitt Romney thought that taking Big Bird off the air would be a good way to save money. He's a generally inquisitive kid. I tried to explain to him the finer points of it in a way that a kid could understand, and his response was:

"I'm pretty sure he'd save more money if he just used a smaller plane, and more normal cars. Every time you see him fly, or drive somewhere it's in a HUGE plan, or with LOTS of Cars. That has to cost more money than keeping Big Bird on TV right?"

I told him I wasn't sure. He left it at that, but it was humorous to me. Sure, we all know that the limos and the jet are for security, but it was still pretty funny.
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Cogglamp » Fri Oct 05, 2012 12:42 pm

Skye1013 wrote:Discussion question:

If we hadn't entered Iraq, do you think the situation in the Middle East would be better/worse than it currently is and would we have wrapped up in Afghanistan before Bush left office?

Additionally, do you think entering Iraq would have been forced at a later date, had Bush not pushed us there when he did?


I think the Middle East is better off in general.

I can't comment on being pulled into Iraq at a later point but I do think our involvement in Libya via the UN was the right thing to do. Can we take credit for what happened in Tunisia? Probably not directly but the more democratic the region becomes the more I think it will put pressure on some of the more autocratic regimes.

Obviously, we are seeing a vile and terrible response from Assad/Syria. It worries me that it's beginning to spread on to Turkey's borders. I think it would be wise to quickly support Turkey, one of the few moderate and relatively stable countries in the region. (Turkey hasn't always been level headed and showing support might be a good way of assuaging the anti-US rhetoric that can creep up from time to time in Turkey.)

However, things have begun to change even in some of the monarchies. Qatar and Saudi Arabia are providing for additional rights. While they're still under a regime of some sorts, the progress shouldn't be discounted. It's a short term fix and isn't a lasting option as both countries seem to keep the majority of its populace quiet by using its vast petrodollar resources in the form of public spending.

It's going to be rocky for quite some time in the Middle East but I think in the long run, what we did in Iraq will come out as a good thing.
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Re: Election 2012

Postby Cogglamp » Wed Oct 10, 2012 9:01 am

lolwut?

http://www.cnbc.com/id/49356069/

I can't imagine how many attorneys that are licking their chops on this one...
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