Democratic Underground

W stands for Wrong
January 22, 2002
by Eric Munoz

It's ironic that in the year that George W. Bush has enjoyed such a spectacular approval rating that his political philosophy has proven to be so fundamentally wrong. His conservative philosophy has always held that less taxes, smaller government and less regulation make for a stronger nation. President Bush derided the military as being poorly prepared and poorly trained. George Bush was wrong and has been wrong on just about everything.

In 1999, when the Bush team formulated their budget scheme and tax proposal, the government was coming off of successive years of budget surpluses. Bush proposed that giving some of that surplus back as tax cuts. The rosy scenario the tax cuts were based on never materialized and the surpluses vanished. In early 2000, when all indications were that the economy was faltering, Bush pushed through his tax cut as an "insurance policy" against recession. The recession the tax cuts were supposed to prevent came anyway. Later in the year, when the recession had kicked in, Bush offered another round of cuts, this one aimed at large corporations, that he said would lift us out of recession. This 'economic stimulus' package has been described by many, including the Congression al Budget Office, as having little to do with stimulus.

Recently, George Bush tried to convince the American people that any reduction in tax cuts was an increase in taxes and bad for the economy. In a speech given January 5, 2002 Bush said, "[t]here's going to be people who say, we can't have the tax cut go through anymore. That's a tax raise. And I challenge their economics, when they say raising taxes will help the country recover. Not over my dead body will they raise your taxes."

Bush's speech was in response to a speech given earlier by Sen. Daschle, who said, "the continued high interest rates and the adverse impact on investor confidence, in turn, leads to less investment, less consumption, more job losses, and bigger deficits. That's the hidden tax of the current fiscal policies. So, not only did the tax cut fail to prevent a recession, as its supporters said it would, it probably made the recession worse."

George Bush did not, however, challenge the economics of Alan Greenspan, who made similar comments. The January 12, 2002 LA Times reports that Alan Greenspan concurred that deficits could be slowing recovery by keeping long-term interest rates higher. "Some of the firmness of long-term interest rates probably is the consequence of the fall of projected budget surpluses and the implied less rapid pay down of Treasury debt," Greenspan said.

The massive tax cuts have not only failed to stave off recession but have exacerbated it. During his campaign, George Bush repeatedly claimed that government did not have the all the answers and as a result should be pared back. While it is true that government does not have all the answers, it is wrong to suggest that government services are not needed. The 9-11 tragedy testified to the necessity of government programs. The heroics of public servants have been well documented and have served as an inspiration to the nation as a whole. Government for the people and by the people provides services that will not be undertaken by private enterprise, but are still necessary for the society to function.

George Bush also held that government regulation is bad for the economy. Companies like Enron found the White House to be a willing ally in their struggles to roll back regulations. While the collapse of Enron has mired the front pages, it is the regulation rollbacks that allowed Enron to expand that should be investigated. Deregulation that served the interest of one company at the expense of the nation is wrong.

Regulation was instituted so that private companies could not monopolize commodities, like utilities, that have become essential in our society. Regulation was instituted so that snake-oil salesmen could not cook their books to hide their losses. Regulation was instituted so that investors would be well informed about what they were investing in and what they were getting back. Regulation is essential in markets that are not conducive to competition, it is essential in keeping corporations honest about their earnings, and it is essential in providing a stable securities market.

During the 2000 presidential debates, George Bush criticized the military as not prepared and in a state of decline. Now George Bush is riding on the tailcoats of military success to stratospheric level approval ratings. Donald Rumsfeld didn't even have time to arrange his desk drawers much less conduct a thorough review and implement a strategic plan to improve the ‘ailing' military before it was called into action. The military has done a superb job and it has demonstrated its awesome strength with efficiency and precision. The military has performed remarkably well for being in such disarray.

George Bush's oxymoronic first year in office would seem to be a mixed blessing for him, but eventually the truth will come out. George W. Bush was wrong about the economy, his tax cuts, the strength of the military and the role of government. George W. Bush is wrong about his stimulus package, his military strategy, and his anti-environment, anti-worker, pro-deregulation philosophy.

W is, quite simply, Wrong.

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