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The Mother of All Sequels
January 16, 2002
by J. Mark Batchelor

Like most sequels, Bush II has been working hard to out-do its original incarnation: More tax cuts, more right-wing policies, bigger wars. Like "Die Harder," with its vastly increased body count and exponentially larger explosions than the first movie in that series, Bush II is an inflated version of the original. God help us.

But, like most sequels, there is a vague sense of something missing. Sure, just like Poppy, Junior's approval ratings went to 90% at the start of this sequel's 'war,' yet like a sequel without the box-office staying power of the original, the popularity receipts seem to be dropping off a few weeks after the opening weekend. It may very well be because, unlike the recession and economic malaise attached to Bush I, the economic fireworks attached to this sequel will also be far larger than in the original production.

Even as Dubya struts about with the laurels placed on his emperor's head, a fear, far different than the one spawned on Sept.11th, grows in the country. (I'm not sure what Dubya has done to receive such heady accolades. But statements such as "We'll smoke 'em out" and "We'll get 'em, dead or alive" do not invoke visions of FDR and Churchill in my warped progressive mind.)

People seemed to have noticed that the stock market just crashed with an eerie similarity to the fall of 1929, and Americans are not so brain-addled as to not remember what happened after that little 'market correction.' And it is becoming painfully obvious that Bush II also realizes the economic impact of what has just occurred. Witness the cheerleading the Boy King is now performing.

But it will all be for naught. Like Hoover before him, Bush will be helpless, for the seeds of the coming economic disaster were sown months before the crash. The Bush Tax Cuts are now set in stone (well, almost), yet the bill will not come due really until 2003 and 2004, when they take effect for the wealthy with a vengeance. And we have ALREADY burned through the entire surplus. There will be no surplus to draw on to fund Bush's fiscal irresponsibility, and the impact of the coming federal budget deficits on capital and growth will be enormous.

Those of us in charge of capital budgets for corporations have been here before in 1990-91, and we can tell you, economic growth is directly predicated on the availability of capital and low interest rates. The coming federal deficits will drive up rates, no matter what President Greenspan does at the Fed, and capital will disappear. This scenario, with the collapse of the WTC and the Stock Market with it, is now almost guaranteed.

And like Hoover before him, Bush will be unable to do a thing. This is due to the fact that the people REALLY in charge of this administration believe the failure of the Bush I administration was due to a lack of right-wing ideological purity. They will never tolerate any position that allows that most sacred of GOP beliefs, the Tax Cuts, to be repealed in any way. And so Bush II is doomed, as the country fails to rebound from the recession with any vigor (just like in Bush I), and the Government returns to $200-$300 billion dollar per year deficits.

This future is now more than likely set in stone. The right-wing ideologues now in control, who believe that the Government has no effect on the economy, will allow no talk of heresy. Bush will be legislatively helpless, with his hands ideologically tied, to avert high unemployment and low, or possibly even zero or negative, growth. And if he really screws this up, there may also be a return of the soup kitchens. No victory in a minor conflict in the Mid-East (and believe me, in the end it will in all probability be minor) will save this administration, as was so richly proven with Bush I.

So we will have come full circle, and Bush II will end much like Bush I, with an unceremonious box office close on Jan. 21, 2005, leaving a bankrupt federal treasury and an electorate wondering why it failed to realize that this sequel would be not be better than the original.

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