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How did “Yes We Can” become “No One Ever Could”?

On Election Night, 2008, a new president-elect called the nation to the ready:

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On the canvas of Ann Nixon Cooper’s 106-year life, Barack Obama painted more than a century of American victories: over wartime enemies, over slavery and oppressive segregation, over financial catastrophe, over travel to a world away. Each eloquently recalled conquest of American resolve brought tears to American eyes, not just in Chicago’s Grant Park, but across the country, and increasingly louder repeats of the campaign slogan: Yes We Can. Each mention built confidence that the nation’s challenges on that night were no greater than those already overcome. The recession would end, jobs would abound, prosperity would increase because America, like the God in whom she trusts, was able: Yes We Can.

By 2012, however, many of 2008’s economic challenges remained; some were worse. The recession ended, but prosperity did not reappear. More than a year after the “stimulus” bill, which the administration said would cap unemployment at 8%, President Obama told the nation 9.6% unemployment wasn’t so bad:

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Labor participation rates decreased; the percentage of Americans working or looking for work hit a 3-decade low. In February 2009, 141.7 million Americans held jobs (see page 2); by August 2012, the number was 142.1 million (see page 4), an increase of less than a half million workers, despite the Obama campaign website’s claim of 4.6 million jobs created in the last 30 months. While CNN and others dispute the Obama claims, the president told the nation, in June 2012 regarding job creation, that “the private sector is doing fine.”

More startling than the Obama economic record was the explanation for it given at the 2012 Democratic National Convention:

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When the current president’s “lawyer” in this case is a former president who once offered to a federal grand jury,

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because of another statement he made,

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the question is just how hard is one’s leg being pulled? And Clinton’s credibility issues include things other than what led to his impeachment.

Wagging the same crooked index finger that assured the nation he did not have sex with Monica Lewwinsky, Clinton excoriated the GOP and said the “Arithmetic” he brought to Washington, D.C. led to 4 consecutive balanced budgets under his administration.


Clinton, like Obama, had Democrat majorities in the House and Senate at the start of his first term. Clinton, like Obama, saw his party suffer harsh defeat in his first midterm election. The 1994 GOP “Contract with America” gave Republicans their first House majority since 1954 and a Senate majority; the GOP maintained both throughout the Clinton administration. Once the GOP held the nation’s purse strings, the Clinton budgets came into balance.

Bill Clinton’s “Arithmetic” did not balance the budget. The American electorate provided adult supervision, in the form of the Republican Party, to balance Clinton’s budgets, and produce surpluses “as far as the eye could see”.

During that long DNC speech, Clinton neglected to mention that, along with budget surpluses, he also left a recession. Clinton’s GOP successor handled that, and the economic turmoil caused by the September 11, 2001, terror attacks…by cutting taxes. Barack Obama mocked the GOP’s use of tax cuts to combat economic ills:

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Yet George W. Bush did take two tax cuts (2001, 2003). When morning arrived, income tax revenues increased; by 2005, Bush’s lower rates generated more annual revenue than the best years of Clinton’s higher rates:

US Income taxes 1997 - 2008

Additionally, employment increased; note job growth from 2004 through 2007:

US Employment 2000 - 2008

Democrats say tax cuts do not work and no president could have handled the 2007 – 2009 recession in one term. But one president, plus 2 tax cuts, IN ONE TERM, overcame a recession and the worst terrorist attacks on record to grow federal revenues and national employment. No economic “stimulus” or “jobs” bill, just the same old “aspirin” Obama wants to avoid. Had the subprime mortgage bubble, which would have destroyed ANY economy, not burst, the US economy might still be humming.

And Bush was not alone. The Kennedy Administration responded to the 1960 – 61 recession by cutting taxes:

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JFK, a Democrat, expected lower taxes to spur growth in his decade as the Bush cuts did last decade. The 1960’s saw the nation flush with enough cash to send a man to the moon, start the Great Society anti-poverty programs, and increase its war effort in South Viet Nam. One president, one tax cut, ONE TERM – a decade of federal largesse.

Ronald Regan took two tax cuts (1981, 1986), responding to the Carter “malaise” and the recessions of 1980 and 1981 – 82. The US economy began the longest post-World War II expansion up to that time, and Reagan presided over reversals of double-digit inflation, unemployment and federal interest rates in ONE TERM.

It is difficult to fathom President Clinton’s argument that no one president could have turned around the bad economy in a single term when at least three presidents did just that. One of them was a Democrat. The Republicans faced circumstances more challenging than Obama: high interest rates and high inflation complicated matters for Reagan; the loss of New York’s World Trade Center not only exacerbated the recession Bush inherited, but dampened the national mood. Still, all three presidents, Kennedy, Reagan, and Bush 43, successfully addressed recessions in ONE TERM…and used income tax cuts to do so.

Bill Clinton, who raised taxes in 1993, may not grasp that concept. Obama has threatened “targeted” tax hikes since before his election, so he may not “get it’, either.

Perhaps what Clinton should have said is, “No one president, who ascribes to the same ideology that I and President Obama share, could have fixed this economy in one term.”

But here’s a question: How can a president, whose ideology blinds him to sound economic policy, fix in a second term what isn’t corrected in the first, given that his ideology remains the same?

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