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I'd agree that some trends predate Bush, but there are some differences:

  • rather more competent government, including the complete elimination of the budget deficit. No insane tax cuts focused on the rich (in fact, Clinton increased taxes), no out of control pork and MIC spending, no draining wars;

  • monetary policy, while too loose, was not as scandalous as during the Bush years - especially given he respective fiscal positions;

  • the Clinton administration had a real 'strong dollar' policy, and it showed;

  • the dotcom bubble was, in some ways, inevitable, as it was a burst of investment in a brand new technology. A lot of the money was wasted, but it also brought about a whole new industry, new technologies and more. There will be no Google from the Bush/Greenspan born out of the housing bubble.

It was tamed neoliberalism, and it was decent center-right economic policy.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Nov 22nd, 2007 at 11:16:49 AM EST
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I think MiM's point was that it set precedents which the Bush crazies could easily exploit to push their extremist neo-lib agenda.

Without an agreement that off-shoring is acceptable and we're all going to one big happy service economy from now on - q.v. the dot-com economy as the prototype both for Enron and for the housing bubble - Bush would have had to start by dismantling a centrist narrative, and not just by (e.g.) taking offshoring for granted.

The fact that the middle classes did well under Clinton shouldn't excuse the fact that he was still a centre-rightist, whose main interest was always 'the economy' (i.e. Wall St) and not so much other participants.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Nov 22nd, 2007 at 12:54:09 PM EST
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Both major US political parties are "crazy."  The difference is the extent to which they have traveled down the path.  

When two people claim there are evil Martians living in the basement, and you have a XOR decision point, the difference between one saying to placate the Martians the house must be destroyed and the other saying to placate the Martians only the kitchen and bathroom(s) need to be destroyed is important.  With the latter at least the walls and roof are still there.

During the Bush administration the crazies have spent much time and energy tearing down the house.  During the Clinton administration only the kitchen and bathroom(s) were 'reformed.'  People, naturally, look back at the period when the walls and roof were still there and say, "Gosh it was nice when we still had walls and a roof and wouldn't it be great to get them back?"

Expanding the analysis --- ;-)

Since both parties depend on wide acceptance of the proposition there are evil Martians living in the basement for their existence neither looks kindly on those pointing-out there is, in fact, no evil Martians living in the basement but there are problems with the oil heater in the basement, the water pipes are clogging, and summer is coming on and the air conditioner is broke.  Naturally the parties, when getting this looks at the one making the argument and either flatly denies there are problems with the oil heater in the basement, the water pipes are clogging, and summer is coming on and the air conditioner is broke or, the slightly less crazed, says "Yes, there are problems with the oil heater in the basement, the water pipes are clogging, and summer is coming on and the air conditioner is broke BUT there are evil Martians  LIVING in the BASEMENT!"  

shrug

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Thu Nov 22nd, 2007 at 02:33:46 PM EST
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