#5 It's still the economy, and he's stupid
Four years ago, one of the hot button issues of the Bush-Gore race was what to do with the budget surplus that had developed through the Clinton years. In 1992, when Bill Clinton was elected, the country was in a deficit situation. It took about six years for the deficit to be eliminated, and for the rest of the decade there was an actual surplus.
Both Bush and Gore had different ideas for what to do about the deficit. Gore planned to apply it to Social Security; Bush felt that since a surplus was due to increased government revenues, a tax cut was the answer. Bush won the election, and pushed for a cut immediately.
Republicans pride themselves as being "fiscal conservatives." They believe in less government spending and frequently use the promise of a tax cut in campaigns to get their candidates into office. Hard working Americans like to hear that they are going to get a tax cut. However, when taxes are cut, revenues fall, and that means that there is less funding for programs across the board. The government is then faced with tough decisions; do they raise taxes or do they cut programs?
9 times out of 10, they cut programs. In the past, programs in education, the environment and health care have received significant cuts. Programs that rarely receive cuts are those involving defense.
President Bush was able to get his tax cut plan passed by Congress shortly after his election. Ironically, when he signed the bill there was not a banner behind him that said "Mission Accomplished."
I described the benefits of the tax cuts previously, but to sum it up shortly, a great percentage of the cuts went to the people in this country that make the most money. While everyone who pays taxes received a cut, the wealthy received the greatest benefit by far.
Whether you agree with the cuts are not, it is a fact that these cuts meant that the government had less revenues than before the election of George W. Bush. I'm all for fiscal restraint as long as it makes sense. There is always going to be a need for money as far as the federal government is concerned. People want roads and other services. If you are going to cut taxes, why not make sure that those who need it the most receive it?
When Bush took office, the economy was in a mild decline. Most economists agree that this was a normal adjustment from the high level economic success of the 1990's. In the first eight months of the Bush presidency, the economy remained stagnant, and reports of increasing job loss became public.
Then the country was attacked on 9/11, and like just about every aspect of our lives, the economy seemed less important than it was on 9/10. No one is going to argue about the pros and cons of tax cuts when the country has been attacked. In the aftermath of 9/11 the country went to war. In defense of the President, wars play havoc with a federal budget. You can plan for military spending, but you can't anticipate a war.
What this meant was that the budget surplus that was a popular topic in the 2000 campaign was a thing of the past. It had started to disappear before 9/11 because of the lessening of revenue, but no one talked about that after the war began. By the end of 2001, the United States was back in a deficit situation. The economy suffered greatly after 9/11. The airline industry almost went under, as people scaled back their travels, unsure if it was safe to fly. Business travel was also heavily reduced. These problems snowballed into other areas, and as a result many people lost their jobs.
Independent of other issues, I did not feel that the President was to blame for the economic problems facing the country at the beginning of 2002. There was a war to finance; the prospect of increasing job loss had people curtailing their spending. It was difficult to imagine it getting worse, and in a time like this, the country needed a leader with a plan.
Bush's plan was to pretend that nothing was wrong.
In times of war, the people of this nation have been asked to sacrifice. If soldiers are dying in faraway places to protect our safety and freedom, it's the least the people can do. Franklin Roosevelt was a master at getting people to realize that war brings times of sacrifice. His leadership during World War II is the example for how a wartime president should behave.
I have said many, many times that I would have developed the utmost respect for President Bush if he had said something like this to the nation before submitting his budget in the winter of 2002:
"My fellow Americans, in 2000 you elected me partially because I pledged to give every American a tax cut. We successfully implemented these cuts in the summer of 2001. At that time, we anticipated that these cuts would stimulate the economy through increased disposable income. As we are all aware, our country changed on 9/11 when we were viciously attacked, and as a result we are now at war against terror. We have thousands of brave soldiers fighting and dying in Afghanistan to keep us safe from further forces of evil. War is brutal in many ways, and it brings unplanned expenses that further bend the binds of our federal budget. As Commander-In-Chief, I have asked the service people of this great country to sacrifice; many have left their families to go overseas. Unfortunately some have already paid the ultimate sacrifice; they have died fighting for their country. Before we can be assured that our country is safe from terror, more of our brave soldiers will most likely pay this sacrifice. At this time, I am asking that every American realize that war is a time for all citizens to sacrifice, and I am taking the initiative to suspend the tax cuts that were implemented last summer so that we may apply this money to the war effort. I know that this may be an unpopular decision, but it is the right decision. Our troops need to be fully equipped in order to properly defend ourselves from terror, and this is the only responsible way of making sure that this occurs."
Can you imagine how blown away we would have been by this?
Instead, the President continued to bleat on about how great the tax cuts were, and how the economy was going to turn. And he started another war. Every three months or so, the President went to Congress and asked for billions of dollars for the war effort. How can you refuse that? It is vital that enough funding by available to support our soldiers. Billions of money went to the war, and the deficit grew larger and larger.
Meanwhile, under President Bush, more jobs have been lost than under any other president. He refuses to acknowledge this. He also ignores the fact that more and more companies take advantage of tax loopholes that allow them to outsourcemore jobs to foreign countries.
The country, at present time, has the largest federal budget deficit in its history. Spending under this president is out of control. Certain programs have suffered greatly for this, and to keep them going, the citizens of the country have to pay for it. An example is Medicare. Premiums for this service will increase 17% next year under legislation that the President wanted. Meanwhile, there is no money for health care, Social Security has not been addressed, and the job market is still struggling. All Bush has said about this is that things are looking up. He has not made any economic mistakes. He ignores the projected deficits of the next few years, deficits that will set records for size.
"I understand there are some people hurting in Michigan, but that's not a reason to go back to tax and spend," the president said. "The best way to make sure people can find work is to continue to promote a pro-growth, pro-entrepreneur, pro-small business economic policy, which is what we have done. Our economy is strong and it is getting stronger." Mr. Bush tried to turn around criticism by his opponent that his policies would burden future generations with the bill because of the growing deficit. "The role of a president is to confront problems, not to pass them on to future generations and future presidents," Mr. Bush said. "That is how I have led and that is how I will continue to lead our great nation. We will keep your taxes low so this economy continues to grow."
Is he insane? All Bush has done in the last two years is create problem after problem that cannot possibly be cleaned up if he were to be in office for the next ten years. The people of this country will be paying off Bush's budget deficit for many years. His statement of not passing anything on to future presidents is the single dumbest thing I have ever heard him say.
This Republican president is not a Republican when it comes to fiscal responsibility. It is amusing to hear him label John Kerry as a "tax and spend liberal" when he refuses to comprehend that he is a "spend and spend" conservative. I can't really call him that, because there is supposed to be no such thing. I don't know what to call him-a spending conservidiot? If Bush loses next week, much of the reason will be that there are true conservatives who recognize that he has no idea how to run a federal budget. He is not a fiscal conservative, and some true conservatives have problems supporting him because of it.
There is simply no excuse for the state of the economy as it is today. It has been proven in the last twenty years that deficits can be controlled no matter what the condition as long as there is a committed effort to do it. It's been achieved through bipartisan work. The President refuses to see this. He warns of economic disaster if the country elects John Kerry, yet he doesn't realize that he has brought economic disaster to all but the wealthiest of people here.
If you aren't one of the wealthy in this nation, the President has set you adrift in a leaky lifeboat. When this is pointed out to him, he tosses a bucket, with a rusted out bottom.
Enjoy your swim.