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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Jan. 10, 2013/ 28 Teves, 5773

When big deficits became good

By Victor Davis Hanson



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | As a senator and presidential candidate, Barack Obama said that he detested budget deficits. In 2006, when the aggregate national debt was almost $8 trillion less than today, he blasted George W. Bush's chronic borrowing and refused to vote for upping the debt ceiling: "Increasing America's debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that 'the buck stops here.'"

In 2008, Obama further blasted Bush's continued Keynesian borrowing: "The problem is, is that the way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children ... so that we now have over $9 trillion of debt that we are going to have to pay back -- $30,000 for every man, woman and child. That's irresponsible. It's unpatriotic."

Strong words. But so worried was Obama about the debt that just two weeks after he took office, he promised still more: "And that's why today I'm pledging to cut the deficit we inherited by half by the end of my first term in office. ... I refuse to leave our children with a debt that they cannot repay."

In his first term, Obama has added more than $5 trillion to the national debt, borrowing more in four years than the "irresponsible" and "unpatriotic" Bush did in eight. In fact, Obama is on schedule to add more total debt by the end of his two terms than all prior presidents combined. What happened to worries about leaving our children with a "debt they cannot repay"? And where did all borrowed money go, given that the war in Iraq has been over for more than a year, and we are winding down in Afghanistan?

The recession that ended in 2009 cut revenues, and the population continues to get older and draw more on federal entitlements. But all that said, we have spent record trillions of dollars during the last four years expanding the size of government. A vast 2009 stimulus plan; new Obamacare; new federal employees; vast new expansions in food stamps, disability and unemployment insurance; and spiraling Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security payments all increased government spending in each year of the Obama presidency to a higher percentage of the gross domestic product than at any time since 1946.

Obama, for all his overblown rhetoric in 2006, was once right about the deficits. But the antidote for the profligacy of the Bush administration was not to increase the borrowing even more.

What, then, explains the vast gulf between the prior Obama rhetoric and his current record on deficits?

Either one of two things occurred.

The first possibility is that Obama and his advisors really believed that record deficit spending, near-zero interest rates and expansions in federal entitlements would jump-start the economy into prosperity. In fact, the opposite occurred. Economic growth continued to hover around or below 2 percent of GDP. Unemployment has never dipped below 7.8 percent during Obama's entire presidency. The massive borrowing made things worse, not better.

A second explanation for Obama's "irresponsible" and "unpatriotic" behavior is that, at some point, he began to see political advantages to massive borrowing when combined with near-zero interest rates. The growth of entitlements is popular with many voters, especially given that 47 percent pay no federal income taxes. Politically, it proved wiser to provide free birth control pills than to be demagogued as wanting to throw granny over a cliff. Who wants to run on giving fewer things to voters and making everyone pay more for what they receive?

Perhaps the Reagan-era notion of lower taxation could only be ended through a sense of impending calamity. As former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel once put it, "You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before."

Reagan once advocated a "starve the beast" philosophy -- lower taxes resulted in less money for out-of-control government. Obama flipped that sequence to a "gorge the beast" paradigm of an out-of-control government demanding far more in taxes.

Higher taxes, weighted heavily toward the affluent, spread the wealth and correct the inequities of market-based compensation. They punish the culpable 1 percent. And they remind some that they did not build their businesses on their own. Deficits force income redistribution through changes in the tax code that in any other political climate would have proven impossible.

But beware of what you wish for. Obama has already gotten his dream of a vastly increased government, federalized health care, near-zero interest rates and record debt to force higher taxes. The problem now is that there are not enough millionaires and billionaires to make up for the shortfall. And if interest rates rise just a bit, the debt will bury us all -- fat cats and thin cats alike.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Victor Davis Hanson, a classicist and military historian, is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal. Comment by clicking here.


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