Blame Hoover

By Jim Morford, cross posted at InTheLobby

When I was a youngster and things weren’t going well in the economy, the Democrats would always claim, “It’s Hoover’s fault.”  Republicans, on the other hand, blamed Democrats for “getting us into war” citing Wilson, Roosevelt (FDR) and Truman.

Today, things have changed. Democrats blame Bush for both the economy and for getting us into war.

But who really should bear the responsibility, if not the blame, for the problems facing our country today? To be sure, there is enough blame to be shared by both political parties for landing us in the deeply troubled economy that haunts us today. Politicians of all stripes and at all levels of government have, through fiscal irresponsibility, over taxed and over spent the public’s money. Truly, the blame can reach beyond politicians to include skillful labor unions who have negotiated benefits beyond the ability of governments and private sector employers to pay for them. Additionally, an apathetic public – perhaps the greatest cause of all our woes – has allowed corrupt politicians, avaricious businesses and organized labor to loot the public coffers.

Since the days of Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, our country has been on a Fabian path to statisim. Some are surprised that the Obama Administration has accelerated the pace.

In his most recent book, The Next Decade, geopolitical analyst and founder of Stratfor George Friedman presents a provocative and insightful look into the next decade. It’s a book well worth reading, as he sees a time of massive change and what the US will need to do to survive.

Before we jump headlong into speculation about the next decade, let’s take a look at the recent past to get some idea of whose policies and actions have put us where we find ourselves today.

From 1949 until 1995, the Democratic Party held majority control of the House of Representatives, thereby acting as a restraint on one-party dominance when Republicans sometimes had majorities in the US Senate and/or the White House. The philosophy of bigger and bigger government, embraced to greater and lesser degrees by both political parties, has dominated the country since the 1930s.

It was the relatively short period from 2003 to 2007 that the Republican Party controlled both houses of Congress and the White House. Even during the “conservative” presidency of Ronald Reagan, at least one house of Congress remained in the control of the Democratic Party and government continued to grow.

The current and dramatic shift in political dominance in Washington did not just take place on January 20, 2009 when President Obama was sworn into office. The shift actually began on January 3, 2007 when the Democrats recaptured control of the US Senate. At that time, the Dow closed at over 12,600; unemployment stood at 4.6% and the economy under George W. Bush set a record of 52 consecutive months of job growth.

It was on January 3, 2007 that Barney Frank (D) became Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and Chris Dodd (D) took over the Senate Banking Committee. 15 months later a meltdown occurred in the banking and financial services sector of our economy, notwithstanding President Bush’s urging repeatedly that serious reform was needed.

One of the most important responsibilities that a member of Congress has is to enact an annual budget for the federal government. However, the US Senate under the leadership of Harry Reid (D) has failed to pass a budget since 2009. The House, under Republican control since 2011, has twice passed budgets and sent them to the Senate, which for purely partisan reasons has failed to enact a budget bill. Unfortunately, Majority Leader Reid and his Democratic colleagues believe that partisanship  is their primary responsibility, rather than fiscal stewardship and sound public policy.

The Federal budget cycle is governed mainly by six laws. Probably the most important of them is The Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 that governs the basic practices of federal budgeting and spending. Because of partisan irresponsibility in refusing to enact a budget and to avoid government shutdowns, Congress gets along by enacting continuing resolutions. Doing so fails the test of fiscal responsibility. However, public apathy (cited above) allows negligent politicians to get away with it.

President George W. Bush was no fiscal conservative or effective small government advocate. During his eight years in office, he increased the federal budget by 104% and the national debt grew by $3.3 trillion.

The Obama Administration has accelerated the pace of spending and debt to unsustainable levels. Today, the national debt stands at over $15 trillion. The debt is dismissed by some as just money we owe ourselves, but the interest on that debt has to be paid out of tax revenues, or borrowed and added to the debt. That interest so far in 2012 is nearly $4 trillion. There are those politicians who see increasing taxes as the only answer to any problem. Others contend that the problem is not that government has too little in revenue, but that it is spending far too much.

Whether it is the fault of Republicans, Democrats or both, it is a useless exercise to simply blame. Rather, we must reverse course and get our fiscal house in order if we are to survive as a nation that resembles anything we have known up until now.

There are solutions, but no easy solutions. Our apathetic and dependant population “served” by corrupt and power-grasping politicians may result in our becoming more like Greece than the affluent land of opportunity we once were.   

In a 2011 interview conducted by economist Donald Luskin, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan observed that he sees the United States as having crossed the threshold, a point of no return, at which we’ve taken on too great a government debt, and at the same time made too great a commitment to government control of the economy. Luskin wrote, “He told us that we won’t recognize America 20 years from now, and that we won’t like what we see.”

Jim  Morford is former Associate  Director of Government Relations for the NJ Education Association, former VP and chief lobbyist for the NJ Chamber of Commerce, former President of the NJ Food Council and is Executive Director Emeritus of the NJ Society for Environmental, Economic Development (NJ SEED). He is a partner in the Trenton-based consulting firm of Morford-Drulis Associates, LLC. The opinions expressed in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any clients or associates. 

Posted: April 26th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Economy, Statism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Lessons From The Freeholder Selection Process

Dispatches From San Juan

First the candidate pushed by the party bosses didn’t win.  Of course I am not sure which candidate was being pushed by the party bosses because different candidates where pushed by different bosses.  Actually the lesson is, there are no more “Bosses”. The process was fair and relatively democratic without some of the histrionics that took place when the process of candidate selection was first opened up.  Yes the chairman had a candidate he preferred as did certain elected officials.  Guess what.  They are allowed to voice an opinion. Just because they do does not mean their candidate is being pushed down our throat.  So there you have it.  All you conspiracy theorists can now go home. Please.

Second we learned some people are better at building coalitions then other people.

In case anyone hasn’t notice there is one guy who seems to be really good at it. Jim “the Shadow” Gianell (visit http://monmouth-bull-moose.blogspot.com/2008/04/who-knows-what-evil-lurks-in-hearts-of.html/ to learn how he earned that moniker) also known by his friends simply as the Greek.

In the last ten years Jim has only failed to back the winner once.  That was John Curley in his second run.  Here is a guy who isn’t even a municipal chairman, holds no elected office, has no cushy government appointments yet he gets people nominated.  Rich tried to get the nomination twice and failed.  It was not until he got Gianell’s support that he got the nomination. 

How does he do it?  He appears to have the confidence of a lot of people and he is good at convincing people to back his candidate. He did this first as the architect of the once influential Two Rivers Chairman Group and more recently by working with like minded chairmen scattered about the County.  He also is a tireless worker for “his Guy or Gal”.

It seems that if you want to get the Monmouth GOP’s backing Jim Gianell is the guy to go see.


Posted: March 27th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Monmouth County | Tags: , , | 5 Comments »

The Big Myth

Dispatches from San Juan by “Teddy Roosevelt”

The recent tragedy in Arizona has once again opened the debate about the “tone” of political discourse.  The media and certain politicians hawk the story that it has reached a new low.

Many have pointed out how those who complain seem to have a double standard or seem to be using a tragedy that had very little to do with politics for political gain.

That however all begs the question, has political discourse reached a new low?  Well any one who has actually bothered to read a history book knows that to be utterly false.

Political rivals Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton fought a duel that ended Hamilton’s life and Burrs career.  Andrew Jackson was involved in numerous duels that at their core stemmed from political disputes. One of those duels crippled his arm. In the up run to the Civil War tempers ran rather high and violence was rampant not only among the common man but among politicians as well.  Preston Smith Brooks (August 5, 1819 – January 27, 1857) was a Democratic Congressman from South Carolina, who severely beat Senator Charles Sumner on the floor of the United States Senate with a cane in response to a rather nasty speech Sumner had given that referred to Brooks’s cousin, South Carolina Senator Andrew Butler. During the attack South Carolina Rep. Laurence M. Keitt held off those who wished to help Sumner with a Pistol. Sumner suffered from the results of the beating for years afterwards.

After the most violent of political disputes, the Civil War, the American political scene continued to be rough and tumble.  The gunfight at the OK Corral was a cultural battle and to a large extent a battle between “business interests” but it was also a political battle.

Did you know the Earps where Republicans and the Clantons and their allies where Democrats?

The Republicans hammered FDR pretty hard until the War started and within more recent memory many of us can remember the heated political vitriol of the 1960’s that sometimes spilled into violence.  This does not even begin to touch on the political violence that runs through out our history.

Now before you start screaming, I am not advocating that it is OK to resolve our differences with gun fights and violence (at least not publicly).

My point is let’s not loose perspective.  Yes there are a lot of passionate people out there. Sometimes they even say stupid things.  However the situation is no where near the worst it has ever been in this country.  In fact historically speaking it is pretty damn tame.

I think we have much more to fear from those who exaggerate the circumstances in an effort to silence dissent.

“Teddy Roosevelt” is a pseudonym for a long term MMM contributor who used to blog at Monmouth Bullmoose.  “Teddy” frequently posts as TR in the comments.

Posted: January 13th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Tucson shootings | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on The Big Myth

Dispatches From San Juan

A Response to Senator Kerry

By “Teddy Roosevelt”

Massachusetts Senator and failed Presidential Candidate John Kerry recently went on a rant before a Boston Chamber of Commerce. Among the things he said was this little bon mot.  We’re in a period of know-nothingism in the country, where truth and science and facts don’t weigh in.”


The Senators little tantrum was brought on by his frustration at the shellacking his party is about to receive in Tuesdays election.


In response I say to Senator Kerry that the on the contrary people are finally looking at the truth.


The truth is that almost every massive Government program of the last 70 years has failed and in many cases made the situation worse.


The New Deal did not end the Great Depression.  Johnson’s war on poverty failed and enacted policies that contributed to the break up of families and the degradation of society (don’t believe me this was pointed out by the great Democratic Senator Patrick Moynihan). Social Security and Medicare are headed for bankruptcy. We just recently saw government housing programs contribute to an economic collapse. The No Child Left Behind Act has not improved our schools. These and myriad other programs had grandiose ambitions and failed.  Yet what is the response of Democrats.  Keep piling on the Government programs.  Increasing regulation and taxes are strangling businesses and killing our competitive edge.  Yet when Kennedy and Reagan lowered taxes we prospered.  Keynsian economic policies touted by Democrats consistently do not produce results while those of Milton Friedman  and Charles Laffer which are touted by Republicans have historically produced stellar results.


What is happening today is the continuation of an argument as old as this great Republic.  It is an argument about what is the proper role of the Federal Government.


The Ironic part is that leaders who the Democrats claim they descend from Jefferson and Jackson where stalwart defenders of a severly limited role for the federal Government.  However even Federalists like Adams and Hamilton would be appalled were they to see our governments reach today. 


No Senator you are wrong.  People are looking at the facts and based on those facts they are repudiating your Party’s policies of bigger government and returning to our Founding Fathers vision of limited federal government.

Posted: October 29th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , | Comments Off on Dispatches From San Juan