April 15, 2005
The Means-Based President
While reading some post-mortems of the just passed Screw The Poor Bankruptcy Bill, I came across this sneaky little stat:
"With 90% of bankruptcies attributable to job loss, divorce or excessive medical bills, it is clear that better economic policies, social services and affordable healthcare is the way to reduce bankruptcy," said Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Petaluma).
Most of us already knew that about half of bankruptcies are precipitated by crushing medical emergency, though I'd no idea such innocuous and understandable trials as job loss and divorce made up for the rest. But isn't it weird that the answer to bankruptcy from medical bills and job loss was to make it, well, harder to declare bankruptcy?
If the Bush administration had wanted to end bankruptcies, they could have offered federal reinsurance for catastrophic medical costs. You would've ended half the bankruptcies right there. If they'd wanted to do more, they could have instituted better unemployment insurance and transitional services and shrunk the crowd of spurned creditors to negligible numbers. But they didn't. When given the choice of achieving X (where X is reducing the costs of bankruptcies) through helping Americans or helping industry at the expense of Americans, they chose the latter.
It's fascinating, though, to look at how often and reliably the make that choice. Think back to Bush's constant mention of the shortened life expectancy for black males. Clearly he thought it a public policy program, but not in the way a normal person would. Rather than putting money towards addressing the causes of the shortened life expectancy, he tried to privatize Social Security on them.
It goes on. We've got a surplus, so we need tax cuts for the wealthy. We're in a recession, so we need tax cuts for the wealthy. Democrats wanted to target the cuts so as to spur middle class investment, but no, make 'em for the wealthy. We've got a problem with terrorism, let's invade Iraq. And that's why, when some of the conservatives on the site ask me why I don't support this or that policy from Bush when I likely would from a Democrat, I can only answer that I don't trust the guy.
Bush's presidency is means-based, he wants to institute certain policies and he'll do it no matter what the facts on the ground are. It's a mistake to conceive of him and his advisors looking at a problem, groping for a solution, and just getting it wrong. It's much more a case of the administration deciding on a policy and then groping for a problem with which to justify it. And since their policy shop is a gathering place for every industry lobbyist in the country, the folks profiting from their a priori solutions are not the ones who need the windfall.
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Tracked on Apr 15, 2005 7:31:15 PM
» What regular Americans want is different than what this government stands for from E Pluribus Unum
Ezra Klein, on the Bankruptcy bill:Most of us already knew that about half of bankruptcies are precipitated by crushing medical emergency, though I'd no idea such innocuous and understandable trials as job loss and divorce made up for the rest.... [Read More]
Tracked on Apr 16, 2005 9:30:41 AM
Yup. They're just full o' solutions, lookin' for problems. Particularly when it comes to economic policy, it seems.
Posted by: TJTJ | Apr 15, 2005 12:45:05 PM
Wouldn't the title "The Mean, Base President" be more appropriate?
Posted by: Doug McKay | Apr 15, 2005 12:49:23 PM
If Bush's policies are so good for business, how come the stock market is going to shit?
Posted by: wvmcl | Apr 15, 2005 1:17:48 PM
Listened to a GOP Senator yesterday defending this - or at least the clips NPR played. Two blatant lies: (1) the claim from this Senator that the rise in bankruptcies is from a rise in gaming (which you gave the counterargument); and (2) his claim that his concern was the fellow who used bankruptcy to shield the $10 million house. But then NPR noted the Asset Protection Trust scheme - one the Democrats wanted to eliminate in this bill but the GOP "never mind".
Posted by: pgl | Apr 15, 2005 1:23:13 PM
Uh, Ezra, this post and the last one re Wal-Mart compel me to ask: Where the heck have you been? This has all been patently obvious to anyone watching for several years now. As for the question above, "if the administration is good for business, why is the stock market doing poorly," that one's obvious too. The Bush administration isn't good for business in general, it's good for well-connected crony capitalists. If they were serious about doing something for the business climate, they'd start cutting the deficit, but they aren't and they won't--and the international business community knows it.
Posted by: Rebecca Allen, PhD | Apr 15, 2005 2:33:26 PM
Given any opportunity these guys always side with the rich and powerful. From environmental legislation to energy policy to Medicare, they always help their big donors. Massive deficits? Cut the estate tax! I wonder if anything will be left by the time this crew is driven out of D.C.
Posted by: Col Bat Guano | Apr 16, 2005 12:40:05 AM
It's simple, we're returning to the days of the robber barons. Doesn't seem much like a coincidence that Treasury Secretary Snow came from one of the nation's biggest railroads.
Posted by: Jade | Apr 16, 2005 3:08:11 PM
Divorced, both then declared bankruptcy.
In my one data point, the divorce didn't cause the bankruptcy, but large financial problems (amongst others) definitely split the marriage. Once the failure of divorce was acknowledged, the failure of bankruptcy wasn't too much harder and made it much easier to start fresh.
My takeaway: policies that are more family friendly during financial crises would keep marriages together and make it much easier for a family to concentrate on their other issues. One data point.
Posted by: jerry | Apr 19, 2005 9:35:08 AM
Debt: "How To Get Out Of Debt By: John Mussi "
Debt: "Eliminating Credit Card Debt By: Alan Barnes "
Debt: "We all know about debt. If you don't have too much as an individual you can increase the quality of your life,"
Posted by: Debt | Jun 7, 2005 12:35:05 AM
The result is that many of the technically trained Americans who could be holding jobs in the Information Technology industry are not. Notice that this situation is of purely political origin. Had there been less foreign competition, more homegrown Americans would be employed in the industry. The average salary level would probably be a little higher, and the number of highly trained workers might be somewhat lower, but our nation would have kept its faith with the thousands of students who took up the challenge and got an education.scat movie post reality show sexdating cafe oriental fuckfree fat pornmature granny sex freeforced rape bizarre sites boys with big cocks watersport hot transexual plump pic posttransgender comicmy first gangbang pantyhose pissing
Posted by: pissing | Nov 10, 2005 4:47:30 PM
I've managed to save up roughly $72785 in my bank account, but I'm not sure if I should buy a house or not. Do you think the market is stable or do you think that home prices will decrease by a lot?
Posted by: Courtney Gidts | Nov 16, 2005 6:57:45 PM
Posted by: peter.w | Sep 15, 2007 7:49:16 AM
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