In what universe is Obama big government?

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Daniel Hurtado

Poor Jim Bowman. He fancies himself a conservative voice-in-the-wilderness in Oak Park-River Forest. (Local GOP leader calls River Forest for Kirk, October 27, 2010.) But he mindlessly repeats the mantra that Obama has "showed his hand as a very big government orientated guy in ways that are unprecedented and the people are saying no, no, no."

I don't really mean to pick on Mr. Bowman. He is merely repeating the demagoguery of the Republican leadership. But I would challenge him to explain what he means by "unprecedented" and "big government."

The bank "bail-out?" That was originated by the Bush administration, and almost all agreed that it was necessary to avoid an economic catastrophe. If Obama were a statist, he would have pushed to nationalize the banks, wiping out the shareholders and investors, and preserving any remaining value for the depositors and taxpayers. At minimum, if he were a "big government orientated guy," Obama would have urged constraints on salaries and bonuses, and would have urged compelling banks to make loans to small businesses.

How about the "stimulus?" Again, this was not something that was part of Obama's agenda. It was deemed necessary by most economists in order to stem unemployment. One can argue that the political sausage-making machine rendered a stimulus package that was less than ideal, but it was not unprecedented, and it was not a manifestation of some socialistic agenda by Obama.

Universal health care might be regarded as "big government" by some, and was certainly part of Obama's agenda. But Obama campaigned on health care reform, and was elected by a strong majority. So health care reform can hardly be seen as a surprise that was sprung upon an unwilling populace.

Surely one could complain about the substance of the reform. It is a sop to insurance companies, and does not provide for universal coverage. We hope it will be an improvement over the prior system, but its inadequacy is not the result of Obama's policies, but of the obstructionist stance of the Republican party.

And then there is the tax break that Obama wants to leave in place for 99 percent of tax-paying Americans, letting taxes go up marginally on the top 1 percent or less. Only people who are unthinking or dishonest could call that big-government socialism.

So what is the "big government" to which "people are saying no, no, no?" Consumer protection laws regarding credit cards and investment instruments? Laws (probably not adequate) to reign in Wall Street? Investment in the environment and new energy sources? Mortgage assistance programs? The corporate sector opposes those initiatives because it believes the measures will cut into corporate profits. With the collusion of Republican leadership, they have convinced are large section of the populace that what is good for the corporate sector is good for the individual consumer, that laws to reign-in corporate avarice are "socialist" and are somehow a threat to individual freedom. So like sheep to the slaughter people will march to the polls and vote against their own interests.

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Reader Comments

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Comment Policy

john murtagh from Oak Park  

Posted: November 22nd, 2010 11:45 PM

ANSWER TO THE QUESTION - all of the names on the list are Party Names used by the VMA over the years.

john murtagh from Oak Park  

Posted: November 21st, 2010 1:51 AM


Steve B  

Posted: November 20th, 2010 11:44 PM

You are absolutely right Gail. Look how many people fell for the lies that Bush only cut taxes for the rich; the GOP had no health reform bill and wanted people to die quickly; Obama "saved" the auto industry, the Tea Party is violent and racist; the rich don't pay enough taxes; Wall street caused the finacial crisis; Bush deregulated the financial industry; 45k people die annually due to no insurance (still waiting for someone to produce a single death certificate as proof).Want more?

Steve B from Oak Park  

Posted: November 20th, 2010 11:29 PM

Dylan-I doubt you did much research beyond the liberal talking points or else you would know how misleading that claim really is. The bill only reduces the deficit because it raises taxes by more than it spends, including revenue from non-healthcare related sources. It also excludes the $250 billion medicare doc fix, which was shifted to the general budget.The CBO clearly states that the reform will not slow the increases in insurance costs and actually increase costs for many.


Posted: November 17th, 2010 4:53 PM

Second, I would like to see evidence that taxpayers have to pay for waivers. You can have subsidized loans DEFERRED, but from my knowledge not waived. What about the other things? Were those already there? Did this legislation really make those changes? Do Taxpayers REALLY pay for lost interest revenue, collection costs etc? Please provide a reference that shows this. Thanks.


Posted: November 17th, 2010 4:51 PM

Nelson, you are principled in your statements, Which I can appreciate. I think my issue is that the Student Loan program is BETTER now, than it was before. Before it was A LOT worse according to your standards because as I said it was structured to subsidize private corporations. Therefore, based on your standards, its a step in the right direction. Keep pushing if you want them to go further.I disagree, as I think the government should invest in it's people, but that my opinion.

Nelson Taruc  

Posted: November 17th, 2010 12:25 AM

Gail, just out of curiosity %u2026 which slogan are you referring to: "Hope and Change" or "Yes We Can"?

Nelson Taruc  

Posted: November 17th, 2010 12:20 AM

Dylan, bankruptcy isn't the problem. Taxpayers are on the hook for debt forgiveness, hardship waivers, debt settlement, lost interest revenue, collection costs and administrative fees. These are significant costs. Second, you guessed right: I am AGAINST federal tax incentives and subsidies for business with two narrow exceptions: incentives that are absolutely vital to our national security, and subsidies that ensure competitive free trade with other nations (i.e. to offset trade war tariffs).


Posted: November 16th, 2010 9:18 PM

Sally, can you please explain what policies we are STILL recovering from that were created in the 1960s?There are countries that have many more socialized programs than we do, and they are doing better than we. You can hardly blame everything on social policy.


Posted: November 16th, 2010 9:15 PM

NelsonFirst off, tax payers, from my knowledge never have to pay for bad student loans, unless the student and the co-signers die. Student loans are one of the only things that CANNOT be wiped away with bankruptcy. In terms of loan forgiveness, if you believe that way, then I would guess you are against tax incentives for businesses?What about the Billions that the government gave to the banks to loan out?Why do you target students?Why not go after those that get the MOST breaks from the gov?

Sally Forth from Oak Park  

Posted: November 16th, 2010 5:22 PM

Gail, you've got it backwards. The election is the left's nightmare; an engaged, educated electorate that saw "nuance" for the statism it is, and soundly rejected it. (except in soon to be bankrupt IL, CA, and NY). The shock you feel is likely the realization that the policies of the 60's American left caused much of the problems we face today, well-intentioned or not. The public is wise to it, and that's what has you and the left frightened. Intellectual laziness is not admitting you're wrong.

gail moran from oak park  

Posted: November 15th, 2010 8:45 PM

I continue to be in a state of shock at the ability of the American voter to be hoodwinked by the latest slogan. We have become a nation of intellectually lazy voters, looking for simplistic answer and not recognizing the nuances. We need to do better - much better.

Nelson Taruc  

Posted: November 14th, 2010 11:20 PM

Dylan, as far as the student loan issue goes, the U.S. government should never have gotten into the student lending business in the first place -- including subsidies. Taxpayers should NEVER be put on the hook for bad student loans, whether they originate from private corporations or government. And specifically in the bill, I oppose the clause that forgives loans after 10 years if they work in the public sector. No loans should be forgiven -- you borrow the money, you pay it back. Period.

Nelson Taruc  

Posted: November 14th, 2010 10:05 PM

Dylan, yes you can be sure that I opposed government spending such as Bush's Medicare drug benefit, for starters. It was not OK then, and I will support any Democrat or Republican who'll vote to repeal it today. I don't care if you're red or blue -- if you can't be responsible for our country's finances, you are bad for our country's future. And for the record, I did NOT vote for Bush. Any of them. Ever.

Nelson Taruc  

Posted: November 14th, 2010 9:50 PM

Lee, you're proving my point. Many of the laws you cite all fix broken government bureaucracy by creating more bureaucracy: "Hey, we have waste and fraud here, let's create more bureaucracy to fix it." Perhaps if government weren't so big in the first place, there'd be less fraud to and waste to worry about. Second, the amount of money these laws would save is chump change compared to the massive spending plans Obama's signed. Save a penny, spend a dollar: Is that how you define lower spending?

Daniel Hurtado  

Posted: November 14th, 2010 9:40 PM

Nelson, my "straw man" argument was tongue-in-cheek. It is the mirror-image of your straw-man argument. They are both absurd, aren't they? So, rather than equate any government subsidy with "nationalization," and therefore bad, how about analyzing each subsidy on its merits?

Nelson Taruc  

Posted: November 14th, 2010 9:31 PM

Daniel, I totally disagree with your straw-man argument. I support ordered liberty, not anarchy. The Constitution requires our government to create and maintain a military for national security. It can never be privatized. Since local police and fire departments play a key role in protecting national security and ensuring ordered liberty, I strongly support government control.


Posted: November 14th, 2010 2:34 PM

Nelson, Would you like to have a discussion or do you want to make a straw-man argument?In terms of Student loans, are you saying you like and support the idea of the Federal Government Subsidizing Private Corporations? Because that is what our Student Loan program was. As Daniel brought out, the Government is there for a reason, and it CAN do some good things. If you think Nationalized Students loans are not one provide a real argument as to why. Lastly, Sallie Mae is being sued.


Posted: November 14th, 2010 2:30 PM

Nelson, since you are so against "Big Government" I can be sure that you were protesting the HUGE government spending under Bush? If not, look at yourself and ask if you see hypocrisy. Again, why was it okay under a Republican but now the Republicans are up in arms when it is under a Democrat?

Lee Darrow  

Posted: November 14th, 2010 7:05 AM

Nelson - here are a few laws signed by President Obama that lower spending and increase freedom: Redundancy Elimination and Enhanced Performance for Preparedness Grants Act, Reducing Over-Classification Act - limiting HSA's ability to hide information by classifying it and cutting spending doing so. Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act, US Manufacturing Enhancement Act of 2010 and the Fair Sentencing Act. Members of Congress shall not receive a cost of living adjustment.For openers.

Daniel Hurtado  

Posted: November 13th, 2010 10:52 PM

Instead, Nelson, since privatization is so good, we should privatize everything, including fire protection, police protection and the military. The ideal state of affairs would be anarchy. Can we agree on that?

Nelson Taruc  

Posted: November 13th, 2010 9:34 PM

Dylan, if nationalizing the student loan program is so smart, why stop there? Nationalize mortgage loans. Nationalize health insurance. Nationalize health care. Nationalize food distribution. Nationalize media and entertainment. Nationalize paycheck distribution. Nationalize transportation and fuel distribution. Let's eliminate private corporations altogether and directly deal with government for all our wants and needs. Can we agree on that?

Nelson Taruc  

Posted: November 13th, 2010 9:16 PM

Dylan, I don't blame Obama for the deficit he inherited. I blame him for creating a budget that doubles the deficit over the next decade. Given the shape of government finance, this spend-and-spend mentality must stop, whether it's Republican or Democrat. Finally, the health care bill only reduces the deficit if current law regarding Medicare cuts is enforced. If it's not enforced (and Congress has voted so far to NOT enforce the cuts), the bill actually adds $60 billion to the deficit.


Posted: November 13th, 2010 5:25 PM

Nelson you say that Obama is to blame for the deficit, so are you saying Obama decided to start two wars? Obama decided to give tax cuts? Obama decided to merge the investment and commercial banks?How come conservatives were not screaming when the Govern. grew under Bush? Does that mean its okay for the government to grow under a Republican but not a Democrat?Lastly, From my research the evidence shows that the health Insurance reform will DECREASE the deficit. If not provide a reference.


Posted: November 13th, 2010 5:20 PM

Nelson,I don't know if you will return, but one note is that The nationalization of the student loan program is an extremely smart move, and saves the government and people. Why would you advocate for the government giving money to private corporations who then loan it out, and then have the government pay interest? That just doesn't make any sense. Individual liberty? Well. Pushing to repeal DADT? Disallowing insurance companies from refusing coverage because of preexisting conditions?

Daniel Hurtado  

Posted: November 13th, 2010 11:10 AM

Nelson, my point here has nothing to do with Bush. It is that the increased deficit is largely attributable to tax cuts either originated by Obama (in the stimulus package) or extended by Obama (extension of the Bush cuts). Tax cuts may be a bad idea, or they may not have been optimally structured (though I am highly sceptical of how the tax cuts could not have been deficit-financed), but they are not part of a leftist agenda.

Daniel Hurtado  

Posted: November 13th, 2010 10:48 AM

Wayne, no one has said that Bush had tax cuts for only the rich. Bush had an across-the-board tax cut (poor, middle class and "rich")that was set to expire under its own terms at the end of this year. Obama proposes to extend those tax cuts for all but the top 1% of income-earners. The Republican leadership wants to extend the tax cut for the top 1% as well. And they are apparently willing to allow ALL of the tax cuts expire rather than except the top 1% from the extension of tax cuts.

kec from Oak Park  

Posted: November 13th, 2010 6:33 AM

How quickly we forget that Bush purposely omitted things like spending for wars from the income statement. Now that Obama's pulled all matters financial into the picture, of course it will look worse. Thank you G. Bush.

Nelson Taruc  

Posted: November 13th, 2010 2:52 AM

Daniel, Obama can't hide behind the Bush tax cuts as the reason for the projected increase in budget deficits. The CBO's conclusion is based on those tax cuts being deficit-financed. Obama could've structured his budget to eliminate deficit financing for tax cuts, but he chose to do the exact opposite instead. So when it comes to doubling the national debt over the next 10 years, that's all on Obama and those who supported his budget -- not Bush.


Posted: November 12th, 2010 9:22 AM

If Bush only had tax cuts for the rich, how could Obama EXTEND cuts for the middle class?

Daniel Hurtado  

Posted: November 12th, 2010 6:57 AM

Interestingly, a March 6, 2010 Washington Post article reported the CBO's conclusion that by far the largest contributor to the projected budget deficits is Obaman's proposal to extend the Bush tax cuts for the middle class. In fact, that proposal accounts for nearly ALL the deficit increase that would result from Obama's proposals. Tax cuts are not exactly leftist ideology, are they?

Daniel Hurtado from Oak Park  

Posted: November 11th, 2010 6:35 AM

Nelson,I do not claim that Obama is a libertarian or a "conservative." I claim only that Obama has not REVEALED himself to be a statist in UNPRECEDENTED ways.The size of the national debt is largely attributable to programs that pre-dated Obama, e.g., Social Security; Medicare; defense (two wars); TARP, etc. And health care reform, though concededly unprecedented, is what the voters said they wanted in 2008.And whether it will contribute to an increase in the national debt is entirely debatable.

Nelson Taruc from Oak Park  

Posted: November 10th, 2010 10:37 PM

Daniel, let me enlighten you. President Obama's spend-and-spend budget plan doubles the national debt to more than $20 trillion in 10 years. That is unprecedented big government. When Obama nationalizes the student loan program and car companies, that is statism. Now I challenge you, Daniel, to enlighten me: Find me a single law that Obama has signed which actually made government smaller and increased our individual liberty.

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