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The Difference Between Obama's Fear Mongering and Bush's Fear Mongering.

By John Martin - Posted on 10 February 2009

Michelle Malkin (and the entire righty blogosphere) thinks it's cute to call Obama a fear monger for emphasizing how important it is to get a stimulus bill passed quickly.  Since the left criticized Bush for using fear to get what he wanted, the right now figures it's fair game to accuse Obama of resorting to the same tactics.

But here's the difference: nobody is accusing the current President of cooking the books.  Hundreds of thousands of jobs HAVE been lost, and it's safe to say that hundreds of thousands of more jobs WILL be lost.  Is that not reason to be concerned?  Isn't that a good reason for our president to want to do something?

With our Iraq situation, Bush was criticized for implying that Saddam was building a nuclear bomb that could be used to kill huge numbers of Americans, when the Bush administration did not actually have enough reasons to believe this.  That is fear mongering.  If Saddam had already detonated a few tactical nukes around the U.S. and Bush was talking about what a menace and what a threat he was to our security, nobody would accuse him of misleading us.  It'd be pretty clear that something had to be done.

Here, you know darn well that more jobs are going to be lost.  There is not one dissenting voice out there who thinks the unemployment rate will be lower on March 1st than it was on February 1st.  There isn't one economist (Michelle Malkin-- please prove me wrong!) who isn't positive that the economy is going from worse to even more worse.  Maybe the Republicans are just saying that 10, 15 or 20 percent unemployment isn't that bad a thing, if that's what's inevitably going to happen.  Maybe they're just saying that they never want the government to get involved with anyting, no matter what the costs.  I have no clue at this point.

I don't know John.  My fear is of the consequences of governmental action.  Yes the unemployment rate is high compared to recent years.  However, it is the same as it was under Clinton's first year of office and lower that when Reagan entered the White House. (BLS info).

Using words like catastrophe and playing the class warfare card is unbecoming and giving Republicans definite leverage to use that argument even if hypocritical.  I don't like being fed half a message (completely ignored our monetary policy and it's role). I feel like that is what I got and it concerns me if that is his true feelins as it completely ignores the other macro and microeconomic factors at play.

I hope this situation has been a learning experience on how to handle Congress going forward.  I wonder what could have been avoided if the President had submitted a guideline or plan to the House of what he would like to see. 

I don't know what the best form of stimulus should be but I do like the policy guidelines as stated by Taxfoundation:

Do No Harm

Stimulus should be temporary and/or balanced with longer-term objectives. 

The form of stimulus is less important than its success.

 A diverse set of policies is more likely to succeed. 

I just can't help but shake the feeling I am being sold an imperfect bill of goods (National Health Coordinator?) on this stimulus.

Fact Check about the speech

I'm not even talking about the actual content of the bill as it stands today.  I think most economists would say that the federal government should increase spending during a downturn to make up for the economic shortfall.  I personally believe that much of the spending in the current bill isn't put to the best use and can continue to be cleaned up a lot.  All I'm saying here is that the recession is already worse than we've seen in a long time, and there are strong signs that we haven't hit the bottom yet.  If we can shorten the depth and length of this thing, then we should.

I have no doubt that the Democrats saw and see this as an opportunity to in part push through some pet spending, but to a large extent, they're right-- they did win the election.

Stuff like this continues to bother the crap out of me:

"Never let a serious crisis go to waste. What I mean by that is it's an opportunity to do things you couldn't do before."

I am not talking about bill content either.  Except for that Nat'l Health Coordinator (wth)?

I am saying this recession is being made out to be the next Great Depression boogeyman and clearly we have not yet reached that point (not saying we need to wait for 30% unemployment to do something). 

I do applaud his sense of urgency and acknowledgment that we have a problem but to an extent Obama is fear mongering about doom and gloom and catastrophe.  This is giving Republicans every opportunity to be critical and yes, hypocritical.  The Republicans have no room to discuss deficits and tax cuts and the like.  However, I feel Obama is being just as partisan and disengenuous in his wording and synopsis of our current situation.  He is giving the Republicans quite a bit of fuel.   There is only so many 'I was handed this by the previous administration' that he is allowed before that gets old, even if correct.  Solutions not excuses, please. 

  I shouldn't have clouded that thought with my other bits.  I was just putting forth how I would hope the approach to crafting the legislation would be done.  Apologies for going off track - this whole situation and its handling is really pushing my buttons.  Feeling the whole lot of them are rotten at this point.  Win at all costs (especially the American people) for both Dems and Reps.

Thank you for allowing me my bah humbug moment.

<Except for that Nat'l Health Coordinator>

Yea, Fox News, via Bloomberg, is all over this one this morning.  I wonder who snuck that in there, and don't think it will be allowed to stay.  Like you said, wth???

Beg pardon? The office of the National Health Coordinator is not something new someone snuck in there - it was an office created by BUSH and it's been around for years. Blookberg and Fox et al haven't been doing their homework:

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) provides counsel to the Secretary of HHS and Departmental leadership for the development and nationwide implementation of an interoperable health information technology infrastructure. Use of this infrastructure will improve the quality, safety and efficiency of health care and the ability of consumers to manage their health information and health care.

The National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC):

  • Serves as the Secretary's principal advisor on the development, application, and use of health information technology;
  • Coordinates the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) health information technology policies and programs internally and with other relevant executive branch agencies;
  • Develops, maintains, and directs the implementation of HHS’ strategic plan to guide the nationwide implementation of interoperable health information technology in both the public and private health care sectors, to the extent permitted by law; and
  • Provides comments and advice at the request of OMB regarding specific Federal health information technology programs.

"Blookberg and Fox et al haven't been doing their homework"

If you did not say something I would not have known. These people deliberately throw things out there and hope that people aren't noticing. Way too much misinfo out there.

Misinformation seems to be a specialty of the righties, what's disturbing is how quickly it takes wings and how willing we are to embrace it. I always have to look at who's screaming the loudest and based on that I decide what needs further research. Bloomberg disappoints me, I expect it of Fox.

Just about everything in the Recovery package that has the righties with their panties in a bunch has a sound explanation beyond "Democratic pork." Conservatives are simply all to willing to believe what they're told.

Misinformation seems to be a specialty of the righties  and conservatives are all too willing to believe what their told.

 I don't think it is a right or left specialization or belief phenomenon restricted to conservatives.  Seen plenty of both to go around if it fits an agenda.

I was referring to the insert concerning the cost/effectiveness of treatment determination.

Bloomberg and others completely misrepresents it: "But the bill goes further. One new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective."

It's not "a new bureaucracy", and part of the original task assigned to the office of NHC is "generating better information about the costs and benefits of different treatment options—through research on the comparative ffectiveness of those options."

There is absolutely no language in the bill that would provide for a Federal ban of treatments found to be ineffective or not cost effective. All the hoopla over the issue is simple fear mongering.

Besides, health insurance companies already make determinations of what they deem effective treatments, what is not cost effective, and what kind of treatments to cover or not cover. You can still pursue any treatment you desire even if your insurance company doesn't cover it.

(somewhere around page 170 or so)

Additional clarification from Media Matters: (in relation to Limbuagh's hyping of the bill)

"In fact, the language in the House bill that McCaughey, a former lieutenant governor of New York, referenced does not establish authority to "monitor treatments" or restrict what "your doctor is doing" with regard to patient care, but rather addresses establishing an electronic records system such that doctors would have complete, accurate information about their patients "to help guide medical decisions at the time and place of care."

Can you give me the context of the quote by Rahm Emanuel: "Never let a serious crisis go to waste. ..." I've searched the internet but the only places I find it are conservative sites quoting someone else quoting it. I always like to read statements in context.

Also, a great deal of the line items in the bill came from Mayors across the country, Republican and Democratic alike, when asked what projects they had in the works that would employ people in their communities. They responded with the  United States Conference of Mayors report , called Main Street Economic Recovery - Ready to Go Infrastructure and Jobs Projects. However, all their projects would have to compete with others for final funding based on the best solutions presented.

Yeah, I've managed to draw the same parallels that Malkin is in this situation. Does this mean that Malkin is finally ready to admit that Bush was a bad president though?

I think the real difference here is that Obama's supporters aren't going to take his garbage sitting down like the Republicans did with Bush. The reason Obama is having a hard time getting this bill passed is because there are some pork barrel projects involved that don't make sense. Tax credits for people who buy golf carts? Obama just visited a town that was devastated by the closing of an RV plant, and we're going to try to stimulate the golf cart market? But Congressmen and Senators don't play golf, so I guess no one is going to be effected by that.

I mostly blame Pelosi for what's going on here. She was the one who took the President's stimulus plan and tried to fill it up with items that have nothing to do with stimulating the economy. While it would make sense to me to provide more funding for contraceptives and family planning, to reduce the output of government assistance, it's not a stimulus item and should have been put in a separate bill. I even watched Obama tell her to take that part out to get more Republicans on board, and she completely ignored him.

This bill should be a three-part stimulus plan. Invest in infrastructure, green technology and education. These are the three fundamental areas of our economy where jobs are not only created, but they are created for the purpose of making us an overall more efficient nation. The rest of the bill is just a bunch of fluff that not only won't create a whole lot of meaningful jobs, they do nothing to improve our lives and solve the problems of our future. Obama even said himself, we're trying to create jobs in the short-term, but we're keeping the mind what these jobs will do for us in the future.

Michelle is right, for once. Obama is trying to use a national tragedy to push through bad ideas, just like Bush did. I like to think that it's part of his rope-a-dope strategy though. He knows that Pelosi's version of the bill won't pass, so he doesn't have to risk any perception of party division on the issue. In the meantime, his opposition is going to burn themselves out early, and Pelosi's going to lose ground as she pukes on her own shoes. Mark my words, he will have a supermajority playing ball with him by the end of his first 100 days. He already got Malkin to admit that Bush was a bad president, but she's undisciplined. The rest will follow suit before long.

Great post, but a tiny nitpick:
But Congressmen and Senators don't play golf, so I guess no one is going to be effected by that.

One hallmark of a political or corporate elite is a country club membership-- that was revealed among the executive perks that pissed off a Congress that didn't really look to its own glass house. You won't see Congressmen or Senators driving around in RVs, though (which may have been your intended point).


And there's no sense crying over every mistake
You just keep on trying 'til you run out of cake.

I think the real fear-mongering about the stimulus has been via the right-wingers. They continue to refer to socialism and nightmares about spending so much money. I think Pres. Obama is being pretty straight-forward and realistic. I've been reading all of the above analysis but the truth is if you were the one who woke up today only to lose your job, face foreclosure, struggle to pay a medical bill or tell your child to postpone college for awhile, maybe you'd see the "disaster" President Obama is referring to. There may be no connection but I keep hearing about more divorces/marital problems in my neighborhood/amongst my friends and many revolve around financial issues/loss of job. Such societal/family impact, if widespread, will be just another sad narrative in this crisis. Sure we can put off action for another week, and another, and another...but soon we are sinking into a situation that may be hard to reverse.

As for some of the controversial items (which I'm sure is a small percentage despite what FOX may say) Axelrod did say that about 10% of the bill may be amended or deleted after the Senate passage. I certainly hope Pres. Obama can go line by line and illiminate anything not deemed necessary to fuel the bulk of the bill that will be effective.  Please, please return the state money and education funds!!!

Yep, Bush was the only one in favor of Iraq, everyone else said no.
Erm, you're forgetting Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz. All of whom, incidentally, allegedly cooked the books for Bush.

And there's no sense crying over every mistake
You just keep on trying 'til you run out of cake.

That was sarcasm, many more than that also.

Ah, okay. It's hard to tell online sometimes.

And there's no sense crying over every mistake
You just keep on trying 'til you run out of cake.

If we can believe charts, the economic chart is very eye-opening.  I agree Obama is right that gov't must step in now.  Agreeing with other commenters, fear mongering, the security level chart always being at 'orange' or worse from Bush, the lack of transparency, the huge spending by the GOP and the cost of war is one of the reasons Americans are in this economic crisis. Michelle is always presenting a right-wing agenda which most of the time does not make 'common sense' to average Americans.

Hi TexasCowboy, and welcome to RFO.  I saw this chart being explained on tv last night, and they said it came from the Department of the chart is probably fairly accurate.

double post-oops.
Here's an example of GOP fear-mongering. Stimulus Plan is theft! Obama is a burglar, guys! Need I say more?

The title of the segment on the stimulus package on Hannity:

"The Audacity of Socialism" .   

And they say Obama is fear mongering!  Really now....the right wingnuts are stripping a few threads, methinks.

 Well, what Michelle Malkin looks like in full rant mode isn't pretty either.

Thank You, Misty.  I was waiting for those pictures of Malkin in full-blown Screeching Troll mode to show up.  The first one is the best.  

She used to really piss me off, but now I laugh at her stunning ignorance.  I'd still love to toss a pie at her face if I met her, though.          

It is simple for me, but than I'm a simple person! If we have a emergency at hand , tell me! If I refuse to listen, get in my face an make me listen. If I still refuse to listen, rant an rave at the top of your voice till I do listen! WHY? Because if I had my ear open/ eyes open to problems at hand an reconized what was going on with my dear husband we could have gotten him help earlier. That would have given us ten years to be together instead of the 3 to 5 years they predict! I think Obama is doing exactly what is needed! So many people refuse to listen, or see the emergency here. Some senators/congress thinks doing nothing will solve the problem! Others want to do over an over again what has tested and failed in the past! With this ignorance and deniel faceing this president, he will have to get up in their face and if necessary declair dooms day if they refuse to listen. Bush spew of disaster was different! They cooked intelligence to make it sound like Iraq had WMD's and that of nuclear! If this had been true, Bush's fear mongering would have been justified. But, it was based on lie's and failed intellilgence. Obama info is pretty transparent, and we are liveing through the disaster on our door steps, and banks are closeing all around us! their is a big difference here, and I for one hopes he keeps screaming and screeching at the top of his lungs, till all of America wakes up to the disaster that is before us, and right up in our own face's to see-------If were smart enough to look and reconize it for what it is. For history will either praise his swift action, and cry out to the people------or it will say he cried wolf with no disaster at hand. Rather this stimulus works or not, we will have to wait as we did with FDR when he did a similiar program in 1933 that drew us out the last part of a depression that we had bearly made it through. it is up to us however to give our President our confidence and truest and stand behind him. President Bush  /channey makes us Gun shy to do that. But how we as Americans act and react will also determine if we succeed. I have learned a lot about an the human survival and what it takes this last year. A lesson I wish all Americans could learn with out an emergency or disaster an shear wieght of sadness of tragidy hitting their lives. But to do absolutely nothing, and refuse your imput, idea's and solidarity to this problem as the republicans have seen fit to do is the worse "SHAME" American will have to reconize an face down the road if this stimulus plan works or not! They simply said NAY, and went on their way, as if it didn't concern them at all. All but a few, who to will be remembered one way or another.

Government is the spender of last resort. We could be looking at a shortfall of 1 trillion dollar of the GDP if we decide to ride this recession out. Turning this around will take some time, we'll probably see some effect late this year.

But this is on Obama's watch. He's looking at an unemployment rate that could hit double digits. I love Carter - he was a visionary, but he got eaten, chewed and spat out politically because of the economy. Nothing scares a politician more than approval polls.

Alright Damit U, you have the right to an attorney, if you can't afford an attorney, tough crap. Anything you say can and will be used against you in the court of trolls. Is that understood. Chance, fire up the ship, got one to bring in.

 Hey Blakey, I got the rope!!!!!!!!

 Oh wait! You read him his rights. That means we gotta have a trial before we hang him. Its ok, I will go find a tree! LOL!!!!!!!

 (if anyone takes this for more than a silly joke, SHAME ON YOU! Go get a sense of humor!)

RF, we need to get the towns folk to watch......
Nice post, I think that it can help me with my essay on fear. Thanks for the writing.

The big difference between supposed Fear Mongering of both Dubya and Obama is this:

 No GOP Congressman in the House went along with the fear mongering, so what is there to complain? Oh right, 3 little Senators voting with the White House, right.

This isn't Iraq where many Democrats (most with Presidential aspirations) chickened out to the pressure.

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