Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Shadow of George Bush

With the passage of the ironically titled American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, Congress has avoided—at least temporarily—the severe spending cuts and tax increased required under the Budget Control Act of 2011. In addition, Congressmen loaded the bill will pork to award diverse special interests.

In the course of passing this legislation, Congress retained some of the Bush administration tax cuts. Some conservatives critics of the deal expressed relief that it preserved some of the Bush “legacy.” The fight over the tax cuts created the stalemate that delayed action until the eleventh hour. Although the Republicans tried to put the spotlight on the issue of taxes, the issue was really just a sideshow in our Congressional Carnival.

The Republicans should have conceded immediately the President's desire to let the tax cuts expire. Republicans subsequently should have demanded spending reductions. That way, Republicans avoid confirming the suspicion of many voters that they are for “The Rich.” More important, Republican can focus on the real issue.

Taxes are not the real issue. Its spending.

And how the Bush era tax cuts became such a sacred cow mystifies me. They were the residue of the undisciplined and fiscally irresponsible Bush administration, one of the worst in recent memory.

What was so bad about Bush?

He was a liberal.

He called himself a “compassionate conservative,” bringing a kinder, gentler, conservatism to American public life. Kinder and gentler than who? Well, Ronald Reagan. As George Will put it, Bush set out to “distinguish himself from Reagan by disparaging Reagan.”

While trying to enhance the success of the Republican Party, Bush threw out whatever inconvenient conservative principles

When he came into office, Bush inherited a budget surplus (depending, of course, on who counts and what is counted.) The United States government still carried a five billion dollar debt from borrowing during previous administrations. Instead of attempting to pay off the debt with surplus revenue, Bush introduced tax cuts that eventually amounted to about 1.5 billion dollars. We began running budget deficits.

In addition to cutting tax rates, Bush secured a tax rebate. He promoted this gimmick to stimulate the economy. One shot deals like this never work. Most recipients paid off existing personal debt (thereby exhibiting better sense about their own household budgets than Bush showed regarding the federal budget). Other simply put the money away for some future purchase.

The tax cuts, however, only tell part of the story.

Bush also created a host of tax credits and exemptions including doubling child credit, teacher supplies purchasing credits, health insurance account credits, educational account credits, and a host of others.

The spending side of the budget looks no better.

He increased domestic spending across the board and brought about a large expansion of the workforce of the federal bureaucracy.

The largest of these expenditures was the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 that created the Medicare Part D prescription drug program. In an age in which reform of existing entitlements grows increasingly urgent, Bush saddled us with a new one. Not only did the program saddle future generations with unaffordable obligations, because of the way lawmakers wrote the legislation, billions of dollars in subsidies went to companies who already provided prescription drug coverage, including GM (4 billion), Verizon (1.3 billion), Bell South (572 million), American Airlines (415 million), and United Airlines (280 million).

Bush also bought into the “affordable housing” mantra of the Social Democrats:

 He supported the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to support mortgage lending to those who cannot afford it. Bush's policies partly caused the housing bubble and subsequent crash that brought his administration to an ignominious end and swept the Democrats into power in the White house and in Congress.

His last acts of “compassionate conservatism” included the bailouts.

Republicans should not have been surprised that President Obama blamed Bush for the economic woes facing the country. Republicans should not have been surprised that he continued to run against Bush in 2012. And Republicans should not been surprised that this campaign theme resonated with voters.

Bush has become our Jimmy Carter.

There is a reason behind it.

Bush was, like Carter, simply one of the worst Presidents since the turn of the 20th century.


CW said...

It would be hard to argue with this assessment of Bush. Anyone who governs as a liberal, whether it be a democrat or a republican, is a failure as far as I’m concerned. But I will say this in Bush’s defense. The worst thing about liberalism is that it begets more liberalism. Therefore those who sow the original seeds of it deserve our greatest disdain, in my humble opinion. Bush may not have done anything to reign in FNMA and FMAC but he didn’t start those agencies. They began under FDR. He expanded and continued Medicare but it was originated under LBJ. So it upsets me greatly that Obama was able to successfully lay all of the blame for the dismal state of our nation at the feet of Bush and republicans. In fact, the failure or Mitt Romney and other republicans to answer Obama on that issue was, IMO, the primary reason for why he lost the election.

RightDetour said...

Unfortunately the circumstances required some straight talk from Republicans to distance THEMSELVES from Bush and point out that he governed as a liberal. but there is that party loyalty thing.

I like your observation about how liberalism spawns more liberalism. I wonder what states of affairs would satisfy them to the point that they would call themselves conservative and desire no additional changes.

CW said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CW said...

>>”I wonder what states of affairs would satisfy them to the point that they would call themselves conservative and desire no additional changes.”

The answer is: None. It will never happen.

Liberalism is about two things: ego and power. While true conservatives are motivated by the preservation of their freedom, the state of the country and the Constitution, liberals just need to feel important. Consequently they assume a strategy of always taking the opposite position of conservatives. It is the only way they can differentiate themselves and divide people in order to acquire power.

I deleted my original comment because it contained too many typos. Guess I should proofread BEFORE I post. Sheesh!

RightDetour said...

Power certainly is a driver of political actions. George Bush's liberalism failed to win him any friends from the Left.

As to the inexhaustible drive for change, CW, I guess that one reason why they call themselves "progressives." The drive for change must always move FORWARD, as the campaign slogan puts it.

This is evident in the arguments over marriage that have taken place in Scandinavia. The recognition of homosexual marriage in Sweden was supposed to "end" the marriage question. But now some factions in the historically dominant Social Democratic Party are calling for recognition of gender neutral polyamorous relationships.

Progress marches on!