2012 Tuesday: The one thing both sides agree on

There has been one consistent message from both President Obama and Mitt Romney (and, before him, the other GOP candidates) about what’s at the heart of this 2012 election. Everything else revolves around that one thing: the size and scope of government.

In a recent column, the Wall Street Journal’s Gerald Seib put the difference between the two men’s plans — Obama’s for Washington to spend 22.5 percent of GDP in the coming years, vs. Romney’s to reduce spending levels to 20 percent — at $6 trillion over 10 years:

In the view of Obama partisans, it’s the difference between a government that keeps its promise to senior citizens counting on Medicare and one that doesn’t, and the difference between a country that invests in the education, infrastructure and basic research needed to be competitive, and one that falls behind the Chinese and the other roaring new economic powers.

In the eyes of Romney partisans, it’s the difference between a country that trims spending close to the average of recent decades rather than one that eats up resources on government programs, and between a nation that relies on the private sector for a new wave of economic growth and one that slides toward European socialism and declining personal freedom.

Neither side shies away from such dramatic descriptions. Mr. Obama plans a speech Thursday in Cleveland that aides say will help frame the election as a choice between fundamentally different views. Mr. Romney’s economic manifesto’s conclusion is entitled simply, “A Stark Choice.”

This is why it wasn’t surprising to hear Obama last week emphasize the public sector in his remarks about the economy and what’s holding back growth. In his view, government makes choices and “investments” that direct and drive economic growth. (It hasn’t happened yet on his watch, but that apparently is still George Bush’s fault.)

And that’s why it isn’t surprising to hear Romney talk about the morality of capitalism and dispute the idea that we’ll revive the economy by borrowing (more) money to hire more teachers, firefighters and police officers.

This is the whole shooting match. Every other issue is an offshoot of, or distraction from, this fundamental disagreement.

The electorate has split sharply in each direction in recent years — toward bigger government in 2008, and toward smaller government in 2010. It’s hard to say if either side can earn such a clear victory this fall. But the key, as a recent Democratic strategy memo by James Carville’s group makes clear, will be arguing for a brighter future.

In my view, the side that better makes the case for itself, rather than against the other, wins the election. Neither side is really moving in that direction yet. There may be a first-mover advantage to the one that gets there the quickest.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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216 comments Add your comment

Sherlock

June 12th, 2012
11:48 am

Really?

June 12th, 2012
11:52 am

Really Sherlock.. how juvenile…
The Obama view is clearly why there is no choice in the election in November… Obama.. really!

Atlanta Thrashers Fan

June 12th, 2012
12:02 pm

Here is another bi-partisan position of both sides of the aisle:

The Atlanta Spirit Group is the “Jerry Sandusky” of sports ownership groups, and Thrashers Fans, both liberals and conservatives, were a collective 8-year-old who just loved hockey.

real john

June 12th, 2012
12:03 pm

Good article Kyle.

As usual, Obama and the Democrats have promised more than they can actually pay for. If more spending was the solution, Greece’s economy would be on fire right now.

We can’t keep borrowing money forever. Its not different that your cousin or friend who has $50k in credit card debt, yet they are asking you for a loan because they promise “this time will be different.” Its an absolute insane strategy that Obama and the Dems keep trying. Are they really that stupid that they can’t learn lessons from Europe?

Don't Tread

June 12th, 2012
12:09 pm

“government makes choices and “investments” that direct and drive economic growth”

Yeah, like Solyndra and the other companies the government “chose to invest in” due to the owners’ relationship with the Democrats instead of, say, the viability of their products/services or maybe the net benefit to the taxpayer. Political favoritism vs. the merit system…guess which one wins.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

June 12th, 2012
12:21 pm

What both sides can agree on (taking Jeb Bush’s view as the Republican side), is that Romney can’t beat Obama in November.

Ya’ll either need to get on the Jeb Bush Republican party wagon or keep wading in the kiddie pool of the Mitt Romney/Grover Norquist/Karl Rove Republican Prty.

Your choice to win it or lose it in November.

Jefferson

June 12th, 2012
12:22 pm

GOP gives up way too easy.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

June 12th, 2012
12:27 pm

Mr. Obama plans a speech Thursday in Cleveland that aides say will help frame the election as a choice between fundamentally different views.

OMG, can’t you just feel the anticipation hanging thick in the air, can you not sense the nation slowly grinding to a standstill as we eagerly await the wisdom that Iman obozo is sure to lavish upon us, why must he wait until Thursday night before we receive our glorious national education, the suspense is killing us, please, please Dear Leader, don’t make us languish any longer in our abject stupidity, oh hurry and enlight, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzz

Yyyyyyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

June 12th, 2012
12:30 pm

Didn’t the last obozo speech get preempted by a soccer match or some such?

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

June 12th, 2012
12:31 pm

“I think we’re in a period here for the next year of pretty slow growth; I don’t see how we get out, notwithstanding who’s president,” Bush said. “We’ve got major headwinds with Europe and a slow down for Asia as well.”

Jeb Bush, June, 2012

clyde

June 12th, 2012
12:33 pm

This morning I heard that the average American family’s wealth is now equal to what it was in 1992,so I guess we should be cutting spending back a few years also.So.”so long” Obama.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

June 12th, 2012
12:36 pm

We’re not the only country in the world that has to suffer a national disgrace who thinks he’s the second coming of Socrates, chavez and castro can babble for hours on end too.

md

June 12th, 2012
12:43 pm

“Greece’s economy would be on fire right now.”

From all the news feeds I’ve seen, it is……..

The left doesn’t seem to understand that big gov’t always requires a bigger private sector……in a cyclical universe (and economy), basic math dictates gov’t needs to be smaller.

ByteMe

June 12th, 2012
12:43 pm

In a recent column, the Wall Street Journal’s Gerald Seib put the difference between the two men’s plans — Obama’s for Washington to spend 22.5 percent of GDP in the coming years, vs. Romney’s to reduce spending levels to 20 percent — at $6 trillion over 10 years:

Kyle and the rest of the GOP have NO IDEA what Romney is going to do. Just like they had no idea what Bush was going to do. Seib makes stuff up (that’s why it’s an EDITORIAL and not NEWS). And Kyle, you accepted it without any real critical thinking about whether the premise is flawed or based on magical thinking.

ByteMe

June 12th, 2012
12:44 pm

The left doesn’t seem to understand that big gov’t always requires a bigger private sector……in a cyclical universe (and economy), basic math dictates gov’t needs to be smaller.

md doesn’t understand that the economy has been expanding faster than government for the past several years. Look up the numbers.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

June 12th, 2012
12:48 pm

Ohohoh, Tiberius. Come out, come out from under your rock!

If the New York Times had run a story late in the spring of 2008 revealing that the Bush administration, including Karl Rove, met weekly to mull a “kill list” of suspected jihadists, one can be sure that congressional Democrats and liberals would be apoplectic. There might even be people marching in the streets. Now the antiwar left is quiescent.

Can you say 2 in 1,000 articles in salon.com that don’t tow the liberal line? That’s 2 more than Fox News ever ran not towing the Republican line!

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

June 12th, 2012
12:50 pm

Greece’s problems are two sided – spending and massive tax evasion. Like the cons like to say “You cain’t spend money when you ain’t got no money”

getalife

June 12th, 2012
12:53 pm

con children never admit facts showing they are dead wrong so that is the reason this blog is dead.

jefflz

June 12th, 2012
12:53 pm

Obama did stem the tide of the oncoming economic depression in 2009 even if he did not force a strong enough stimulus package in his futile efforts to compromise with Republicans. Furthermore, Romney is a spineless chameleon who will say whatever he thinks needs to be said depending on the audience in front of him and he does not even have the sense to pick a fresh team (just Bush retreads) or come up with a fresh idea for the economy..not one single idea. I can only hope Obama will learn from his past mistakes and is re-elected over someone who tells the Tea Party and evangelists that he is with them while telling the moderates not to pay attention to those comments. He has demonstrated that he is not leader, not presidential in the least.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

June 12th, 2012
12:53 pm

The only thing we need to hear from obozo Thursday night is that he’s resigning his office.

Now that would be a good speech.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

June 12th, 2012
12:55 pm

If Obozo is reelected, smart people will be looking for ways to get their money out of the country or into assets the government can’t reach. Democrats are determined to consume all the wealth keeping themselves in power–eventually the country would be an empty shell with most of the citizenry rioting to keep the benefits flowing.

md

June 12th, 2012
12:55 pm

“md doesn’t understand that the economy has been expanding faster than government for the past several years. Look up the numbers.”

You might want to go back to that basic math class. Expansion rates only matter if the one is always ahead of the other……when the one paying the bills contracts and the other does not, we get the mess we are in.

Gov’t is NOT self-sustaining…….and never will be in a capitalistic society.

td

June 12th, 2012
12:56 pm

ByteMe

June 12th, 2012
12:44 pm

“md doesn’t understand that the economy has been expanding faster than government for the past several years. Look up the numbers.”

And how much is that expansion rate? 1%, 2%? The Private sector needs to expand at a 100 or 1000% faster then the government. How much of our GDP do we need to spend on government and why? Answer those questions honestly and then we can talk about who to vote for.

MarkV

June 12th, 2012
12:57 pm

WSJ: “In the eyes of Romney partisans, it’s the difference between a country that trims spending close to the average of recent decades rather than one that eats up resources on government programs, and between a nation that relies on the private sector for a new wave of economic growth and one that slides toward European socialism and declining personal freedom.”

Kyle,
You lived in Belgium. Tell us about the declining personal freedom there as a result of the much higher public spending than in the US.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

June 12th, 2012
12:58 pm

A glimpse into the Democrat future:
————

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Commission has been providing legal advice to others who are considering possible scenarios should Greece leave the euro, a European Union spokesman said.

Olivier Bailly said Tuesday that, legally, limits could be imposed on movement of people and money across national borders within the EU if it’s necessary to protect public order or public security — but not on economic grounds.

Jefferson

June 12th, 2012
1:00 pm

I hope some go with their precious money.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

June 12th, 2012
1:02 pm

Tell us about the declining personal freedom there as a result of the much higher public spending
——–

You don’t think your personal freedom would decline if the government took half your income?

Slave.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

June 12th, 2012
1:03 pm

Money IS precious…to those who earned it.

Thanks for a glimpse into the entitlement mentality, MaryK.

Don

June 12th, 2012
1:06 pm

I’m for cutting spending to 20% GDP and raising taxes to 20% GDP. The “who” and the “how” matter less to me than the “when.” Which candidate is for that?

Rafe Hollister

June 12th, 2012
1:07 pm

I disagree with your premise Kyle, yes, these positions will be discussed often between the two candidates.

The election however comes down to a referendum on Oblamer. Do you think he is doing a good job and we should elect him to continue, or try something else that may work for a change.

Oblamer, the one note singer, has tried stimulus, it failed miserably, so now he wants to try more stimulus, which will again fail. You can not stoke an economy by hiring police, teachers, and fire fighters, noble people all.

We have to get industry, corporations, and small business hiring again. Romney has the tools to do that, Oblamer has zero experience with the private sector as he has repeatedly shown.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

June 12th, 2012
1:07 pm

If Obozo is reelected, smart people will be looking for ways to get their money out of the country or into assets the government can’t reach.

Umm, that’s called investing. Hey, newsflash! You can now invest in foreign exchanges and stocks! You can even do it from your own computer over the ETrades. You can find that by using the Googles.

Smart people diversify their portfolio and with all the other stock trading markets out there, why just use the three in the US?

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

June 12th, 2012
1:09 pm

You don’t think your personal freedom would decline if the government took half your income?

Confusing personal freedom with ability to afford something? Isn’t this the whole Con take on liberal spending?

joe

June 12th, 2012
1:13 pm

The 1 thing both sides agree on is that Obama has been a disappointing president.

kelly

June 12th, 2012
1:13 pm

Some of the biggest advancements in our history had the federal government as a partner: the Manhattan Project, NASA, the internet, etc. To say that the government has no role and should be left to the private sector is to ignore much of the 20th century US.

This comments section (and many others) have devolved into a debate society designed to tally points like a sports event. And to all of you who like to use slang terms for the President (Obozo, et al.), you are not read.

md

June 12th, 2012
1:14 pm

“Umm, that’s called investing. Hey, newsflash! You can now invest in foreign exchanges and stocks! You can even do it from your own computer over the ETrades. You can find that by using the Googles.”

And Uncle Sugar has his tentacles in all those sites……even my foreign investments are reported come tax time…….

iggy

June 12th, 2012
1:15 pm

Agreed Kelly. The Kenyan CAN save us all!!

md

June 12th, 2012
1:16 pm

“Confusing personal freedom with ability to afford something?”

Sounds like one and the same to me…….an absence of choice. The “nanny” makes those decisions for for those it deems not able to……….

BS Aplenty - All My Friends Just Call Me "."

June 12th, 2012
1:19 pm

Indeed, it is the penultimate question for the 2012 election. Will this country embrace freedom and the market economy with Romney, the one that gave us a high standard of living or will we follow the Dems and Obama down the path to a stagnant or recessionary economy, high unemployment and higher taxes on current and future generations.

Big government involvement in the residential mortgage market led us to the unprecedented destruction of the personal wealth of the middle class. Median net worth of Americans declined from approximately $130,000 to $78,000 from 2007 to 2010. Most of that decline in net worth is the direct result of falling housing prices, 40%+ declines in some markets like Atlanta, which are the result of the failed big-government mortgage policies of FNMA and FHLMC.

It would be a SHAME for the people of this country to become so DEPENDENT on the government that we forget how to inovate, work hard and maintain that fiercely independent nature that so defines what being an AMERICAN is all about.

md

June 12th, 2012
1:19 pm

“Some of the biggest advancements in our history had the federal government as a partner: the Manhattan Project, NASA, the internet, etc. To say that the government has no role and should be left to the private sector is to ignore much of the 20th century US. ”

Can you point to those that say the gov’t has no role…..I seemed to miss that part.

There is a difference between “no” and “limited”………and “limited” should be dependent on how well the private sector is doing………..when one expands, the other may as well, but the reverse should also be the case or we will continue to head down the road traveled by Greece.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

June 12th, 2012
1:19 pm

Lessee, I am free to buy as many yachts as I want…..but I can’t afford a single one.

Yeah, that’s identical…..

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

June 12th, 2012
1:24 pm

The part you don’t miss is that the gov took a chance on Solyndra and it failed, backfired, etc. Failure is a part of calculated risk.

If you folks aren’t for taking risks, pull out your black and white tvs, grab a frozen dinner, and watch as the rest of us try to make this a better place.

HDB

June 12th, 2012
1:25 pm

…for those who keep crying that the economy isn’t improving..here’s more proof that you’re WRONG:

More Atlanta companies look to hire than fire in third quarter

More metro Atlanta companies are looking to hire than fire in the third quarter, a new survey shows.

The Manpower Employment Outlook found that 19 percent of employers in the Atlanta area expect to increase staff from July to September, while 6 percent foresee reducing staff levels in that period. The rest either plan to maintain current levels or weren’t sure.

The result is a net gain in the local employment outlook of 13 percentage points, down slightly from recent periods.

http://www.ajc.com/business/more-atlanta-companies-look-1456366.html

The question I’d be asking is this: Why is the GOP trying to TANK the economy??

md

June 12th, 2012
1:26 pm

“Lessee, I am free to buy as many yachts as I want…..but I can’t afford a single one.

Yeah, that’s identical…..”

Also a very poor analogy……..think more along the lines of what one could do paying 30% in taxes vs 50% in taxes……..20% in ones pocket. Now use that in your silly analogies…….

md

June 12th, 2012
1:29 pm

“If you folks aren’t for taking risks, pull out your black and white tvs, grab a frozen dinner, and watch as the rest of us try to make this a better place.”

Typical misunderstanding of those on the left……there is a huge difference between taking risk in the private sector vs taking that same risk in the public sector…….and again, it involves choice.

It bewilders me why those on the left have very little concept of choice……….

getalife

June 12th, 2012
1:29 pm

Of course, with the corporate media focused on “gaffes” and yellow journalism, if the cons ever did admit the obvious facts, they know they will lose.

So they created a make believe world where their failed party does nothing wrong and it is always somebody else’ s fault.

Our Presidents can play this game too and they do..

sircharles

June 12th, 2012
1:30 pm

Don’t be fooled by either of the Democratics and the Republicians. They play games with all of us as tax payers. We all are falling down over who needs to be the next President of the USA. While we are doing that, we fail to look closely at how we are being treated. If you have a credit card, banks are holding you for ramson. The USA has became a plastic-country where you can’t do anything without one. You do not need a credit card to help you in life; afterall, your tax dollars bail these banks out of foreclosures. Then, when it is your home on the block, you have to qualify…none of the banks qualified; they had your money and even gotten more from the approval of both the Democratics and Republicians. So what we are seeing over and over again is this “who is the better man” to be president; perhaps, America wold be much better off if we knew where we need to go verse just tagging along to see “what is next.” If you listen well, listen to all of Atlanta advertisements, the first thing you will see is something like this. “Have your Credi Card Ready” and called or write in for this or that. I do not buy into things that put me into debt over someone else gains. Do yourself a big favor and live like you need too. Stop talking about “big government” and look at how your next Credi Card payment will be with all of the adds-on and how they charge you for any small thing. The big government is no better because they permit these banks to take us to he river and drown. Before we run into another big mistake without being informed; we all better do our homework and do it well. There are better choices in banking; purchasing food, cars, every day living if we just stop permitting all of this advertisments from getting next to us. All of these “fast-food” establishments have raised their prices for food that you can make yourself; consumers are the heartbeat of the economy, not the businesses; you have a bigger choice of not buying from them; and then, you will see how they will lower their prices to you back in their doors. I guess,like so many other things, we want to part of the consumers who falls for anything! I always look twice and found out that looks is very deceiving. You are paying for more and getting less and less. Next time, you do the math on what you are actual getting…….speak up aboat the woe’s of being a consumer of America’s products while you help others to get rich!

getalife

June 12th, 2012
1:32 pm

No joe.

I knew he was just a politician and corrupt congress will not change.

md

June 12th, 2012
1:32 pm

“More Atlanta companies look to hire than fire in third quarter”

Kin to the proverbial counting of chickens before they hatch?

Using a survey of “intentions” is a bit risky, don’t you think? I’ve been hearing the housing market is on the move for 5 years now……….this is always the year.

Jefferson

June 12th, 2012
1:38 pm

If you think like a dog, you have no future.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

June 12th, 2012
1:41 pm

Using a survey of “intentions” is a bit risky, don’t you think?

more of that risk adverse nonsense. Every company I’ve ever worked for or owned stock in used projections and forecasts. Its it an exact science, no, but you still need it to help plan.

md, go hide under your bed and let the adults keep working on this economy thing. Evidently, you can’t psychologically handle risk.