Friday, October 31, 2008

If Only It Were So

One thing that nevers fails to amuse is when Democrats criticize President Bush for doing things that conservatives wish he actually had. In today's WSJ, James Freeman looks at the myth--oft cited by Barack Obama to explain the financial crisis--of the Bush Administration as cowboys of deregulation:

The combination of Mr. Bush's enactment of Sarbanes-Oxley and Mr. Spitzer's Wall Street prosecutions contributed to America's significant market-share loss of initial public offerings -- and the U.S. is yet to return to pre-Bush levels. While government reduced the profit-making potential in Wall Street's traditional bread-and-butter business, it was simultaneously encouraging investment in the housing sector. Neither activity constituted deregulation.

Perhaps Mr. Obama is looking beyond the financial markets and taking a broad view of the economy in concluding that Mr. Bush was a deregulator. If so, it's hard to find evidence to support this conclusion.

Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute tracks regulation across the entire federal government. He reports that the Bush administration set an all-time record in 2004, when it published more than 75,000 pages of proposed and enacted rules in the Federal Register.

Leftists might assume that many of these rules were actually watering down earlier standards -- but where's the evidence of declining compliance costs? Lafayette College economist Mark Crain estimates more than $1.1 trillion in federal regulatory costs for 2004, up an inflation-adjusted 16% from 2000. Overall agency enforcement budgets have increased each year since 2004.

A recent report, "Regulatory Agency Spending Reaches New Height," from Washington University's Weidenbaum Center puts Mr. Bush's regulatory activity in historical context. Co-authors Veronique de Rugy and Melinda Warren say that when it comes to spending on regulatory agencies, our current president is almost in a class by himself, with an increase of almost 68% during his two terms. In constant dollars the Bush regulatory budget increases vastly exceed those of predecessors Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Carter, Nixon and, yes, Lyndon Johnson.

Looking at regulatory spending in percentage terms, Mr. Bush's staggering 2003 increase of more than 24% was the largest in the last 50 years. If Mr. Obama considers this a record of deregulation -- and if current polls hold -- America's economy could be in for a very long four years.

UPDATE-- Tom e-mails:

This morning while watching Joe Scarborough and the Six Liberals on MSDNC, they played a clip of Rachel Madnow interviewing The One. She asked why he hasn't exposed conservatism's failure on the campaign trail and put a stake through the heart of it, etc. The One smiled and said his campaign is about bigger things than finger pointing, etc. While watching this drivel I remember listening to the re-broadcast of the Laura Ingraham Show last evening on 100.3. She was interviewing Newt Gingrich and when she brought up the idea that Liberals are ripping Conservatism based on eight years of George W. Bush, Speaker Newt stopped her short and asks her, "What Conservatism has there been in the last eight years?" He then gives a list of GWB's and a Republican congress' failures to be conservative. That is the shame of the past eight years. GW Bush and Republicans in Congress failed to lead and just acted like Democrats.

PS: Any chance of getting Sisyphus to review the Soil and Water Commissioner races here in Sherburne County? Or are your reviews merely for your urban hipster doofus base?

PPS: Happy Halloween. I'm guessing you already have the stroller outfitted with a cup/bottle holder for making the rounds with the little ones? It's better when they get a bit older and can stay out longer. As the recently passed Mr. Leinenkugel used to say--my favorite beer is a free one.

I believe that Sisyphus is still recovering from the grueling task of preparing his soil and water endorsements for the metro area. Perhaps he can summon the energy to help inform the voters of Sherburne County in what are easily the most important soil and water conservation elections of our lifetimes.

Strolling the kids around the neighborhood on Halloween while swilling a couple of bottles of beer doesn't strike me as responsible parenting. A flask is a much better and more discrete option.

UPDATE II-- Sisyphus has already answered the call:

I checked Sherburne County--everyone is running unopposed.

No one should run unopposed. Heck, even dictators usually find some chump to run against them when they receive 99.6% of the vote. Which means the good people of Sherburne County have a duty to write in someone in each of these positions.

In fact, voters everywhere should use the write in option in unopposed races. Our official Fraters Libertas endorsed candidate for every unopposed election in 2008 is:


Our radio co-host has tried to claim that his past would proclude him from seeking any future political positions. But if this year has taught us anything it's that the electorate doesn't care about the past. We all know that John was a campus radical back in the day, but I doubt if his past assocations can hold a candle (or fire bomb) to Obama's. And John may have used harsh language and acted in an intemperate manner once or twice, but he can't touch Al Franken's history of profanity, pornography, and public outbursts. John Hinderaker: the right man to write in.