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The Bush disaster

Let me go on record (to the extent someone posting under a pseudonym can go on the record) as someone who believes that President Bush’s domestic agenda has been very nearly a complete disaster, with the sole exception of his tax cut bill. Perhaps the only glimmer of hope for the future is that there seem to be some regulatory relief things happening “under the radar” within some of the major administrative agencies.

On the legislative front, he has not vetoed a single bill, and has signed bills that dramatically increase domestic spending and increase national government involvement in all manner of things. He has refused to confront the Senate on its unconstitutional refusal to vote on his federal judge appointees. Essentially, the Bush White House has adopted a policy of giving the liberal/statist Democrats nearly everything they want in an attempt to neutralize their issues and appeal to their voters. As a political ploy, I think this will prove to be of dubious effectiveness at best (repeat after me: “American elections are won by mobilizing your base, not chasing the uninformed and apathetic “moderate/undecided” voters”). As a source of policy, it is disastrous.

Even his tax cut had the effect of increasing the complexity of the tax code, stank of social engineering via tax policy, and in no way partook of genuine tax reform.

While I disagree with the Bush-haters on their assessment of his intellectual capacity and management skills (the former is adequate, certainly by the standards of politicos, and the latter are quite sophisticated), and on their assessment of the war, I see little reason to support the Bush administration on nearly any domestic issue. I voted for the man, and I would rate this aspect of his administration as a major disappointment.

34 comments to The Bush disaster

  • Theodopoulos Pherecydes

    Me too.

    “The Manchester Union Leader” had an editorial yesterday or the day before describing a meeting they had with the head of the RNC. He led them to believe that the Republican Party has given up on the concepts of limited government and fiscal conservatism. The editorial ended by theorizing that the party has concluded it can move a long way to the left to grab votes and still hold their libertarians and conservatives because they have no where else to go.

    Wrong in my case.

  • Theodopoulos Pherecydes

    Me too.

    “The Manchester Union Leader” had an editorial yesterday or the day before describing a meeting they had with the head of the RNC. He led them to believe that the Republican Party has given up on the concepts of limited government and fiscal conservatism. The editorial ended by theorizing that the party has concluded it can move a long way to the left to grab votes and still hold its libertarians and conservatives because they have nowhere else to go.

    Wrong in my case.

  • Theodopoulos Pherecydes

    Sorry for the band-width gobble. I hit “post” instead of “preview” but thought I’d arrested the process.

  • Robert,

    Very sad but I have felt for some time that the US federal government is heading into a period of considerable growth. What with the Bush administration pandering to left, the looming retirement of the Baby-Boomer generation (with attendant demands of health/welfare) and the prospect of Hilary Clinton in the Whitehouse by 2008 at the latest, the outlook is rather dour.

  • eric

    Perhaps its a two-tier plan.

    1. If the economy improves, and Bush wins in 2004, the deficit will go down (or away), and it won’t be an issue for 2008.

    2. If the economy doesn’t improve, and Bush loses, then the Democrat in office has a mess to clean he won’t be able to, and the Democrats will get the blame in 2008.

    Either way, most people intrested in National Security will vote Republican anyway.

    Just a thought.

  • The Deficit doesn’t matter much and won’t be an issue in next year’s election. Why? Because it isn’t real to most people – unlike the checks and services they receive from the government. Cut those back and you’ll hear the squealing all the way across the Atlantic.
    What matters most to people is the Economy. So far unemployment has been climbing but firms haven’t been hiring – leading to strong productivity gains as fewer workers do more. If this improves over the next year, Bush will win. If not, Bush will be toast.

  • George Peery

    Bush the Younger is the most liberal president since, well, Richard Nixon. No wonder the Lefties hate him so.

  • Zathras

    Well, RCD, I voted for Bush too. I’d do it again, if only because I have such a low opinion of Al Gore.

    But I will not deny that the preference of Republican voters for the intellectual mediocrity, interest group-driven policymaking and preoccupation with campaign fundraising embodied in the Bush family vexes me no end. The elder Bush took the mortal Republican lock on the Presidency he had inherited from Ronald Reagan and threw it away; if 9/11 had not happened the younger Bush would long since have condemned the GOP to permanent minority status.

    And the policy has been worse than the politics. Bush has not even proposed ending a single federal program; his tax policy is moving away from the goal of a simpler, transparent federal tax code at warp speed; he has reversed American support for free trade in agriculture that had been maintained for years by administrations of both parties; and he has not offered a coherent, intellectually respectable defense for anything he has done in the entire field of domestic policy. Not only has he been unarmed on the battlefiled of ideas, but he has not delegated the responsibility for explaining his policies to anyone better able to do so. And the patent dishonesty behind the explanations the Bush White House does put out beats just about anything I’ve ever seen, and I’ve followed politics for a while now.

    And Republican voters just love him. A primary challenge is less likely than in any GOP campaign season since 1984. Obviously the terrorism and national security issues are largely responsible for this, but most GOP voters honestly believe the talk about honor and integrity from a guy who differs from Bill Clinton in this area chiefly because he is faithful to his wife.

  • George Peery

    Zathras, Bush is a Republican politician. He never claimed to be anything else (although events have made him a war president). Unless you just despise politicians for being so political (you wouldn’t be alone), I don’t understand what your problem is with Bush’s “honor and integrity.”

  • R.C. Dean

    I agree that no primary challenge is even a remote possibility (absent some extraordinary events). I cannot imagine voting for any of the alternatives put forth by the Dems.

    At this point, I am powerfully tempted to sit this one out. I’ll have to think about a protest vote for the Libertarian candidate, but really, protest votes count for nothing unless the alternative voted for has some minimal credibility that the Libertarian Party sorely lacks (and I say that as a former Lib Party member).

  • beets

    Domestic politics bore me. You can’t argue them until you’re safe, internationally. My greatest fear has been that the righties will “turn” on Bush over the domestic agenda, split, and open the way for some leftist proclaiming a “Department of Peace”.
    Abortion: not important.
    Gun control: so
    Smaller guv’mint: who cares.
    One of the essentials of American nature is that when the house is on fire, we all join the fire brigade. Still burning, my friend. Smoke breaks over. We’ve work to do.

  • George Peery

    R.C., while you’re contemplating your “protest vote,” kindly contemplate a President Howard Dean nominating federal judges for four years.

  • Amelia

    Voted for GWB too as the lesser of two evils. Gore besides being a loony tune on the environment was indelibly tainted by his association to a man who was so corrupt that I haven’t time to list his foibles in a comment section. I have been very disappointed with Bush domestically on the big government front and on the illegal immigration front. He is so scared of being called racist he doesn’t seem to be doing all he could to protect the borders even after 9-11. I hope that he will win the election and then let his smaller government stripes show. He must have these beliefs. His appointments to the judiciary of strict constructionists (not that his judges are actually being approved) seem to reflect an overall small government individual rights bent. I’ll probably vote for him again as I am not about to vote for any of the likely to be nominated democrats.

  • Earl Camembert

    Frankly, I wouldn’t consider voting again for President Bush (not that I’d ever vote for the ilk of Howard Dean), were it not for one thing – the guy absolutely drives the Left crazy. Serious, frothing, rending-of-garments-and-howling-at-the-moon kind of crazy.

    It’s tough to beat that kind of “endorsement.”

  • Zathras

    I know it has been trendy for years and is almost required among libertarians to be smugly dismissive of all politicians as liars and cheats, and thus all equally justified in defining themselves in terms of honor and integrity. If all politicians actually were like this the Republic would have expired sometime around the War of 1812. Honor and integrity are words that do have fairly clear meanings that do not encompass, for example, the habitual dishonesty with which George Bush has presented his tax policy.

  • George Peery

    …for example, the habitual dishonesty with which George Bush has presented his tax policy.

    Oh my. It’s a real stretch to peg a politician’s “dishonesty” on his tax policy. One needn’t be a simulation modeler to understand that there are hundreds of dicey assumptions that go into this or that tax policy — and when one’s underlings pick the “wrong” assumptions (with benefit of hindsight), it hardly amounts to “dishonesty.”

    Besides, the American economy is irrepressibly robust. I just read today in National Review Online where the market is about the take off. If so, Bush will be perspicacious, not “dishonest.”

    Don’t miss out — buy your stocks and fund shares now!

  • Sandy P.

    George, listen to Bob Brinker. He said get back in in March, 1-3 yr. bull in 8-20 bear.

    He also said GET OUT on 1/11/2000 and I didn’t listen.

  • Sage

    Bush: The first New Deal Republican president.

  • HTY

    Sage, “The first New Deal Republican president” is Eisenhower, not Bush.

    I think some of the complaints are legitimate, others utterly unrealistic.

    Major tax reform (such as flat tax or national sales tax) will ruffle the feathers of so many interest groups, it’s not even funny.

    Bush is the president, not Jesus. He never promised major tax reform. He did promise $1.6 trillion of tax cuts and that he delivered.

  • John J. Coupal

    For those depressed with the big government of W., look at what has been going on in at least one of many quaint – but powerful – federal bureaucracies: the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (equivalent to the Medicines Agency (?) in the UK.)

    FDA is the federal drug approval agency. It constantly reports how it protects the American people from unsafe and ineffective drugs.

    In reality, its prowess at evaluating new medicines is admired by medicines evaluaters in only Ethiopia and Bangladesh.

    Late in his term, Pres. Bush named a new Commissioner for the FDA. The FDA bureaucrats are now being dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

    Keep your eye on actual FDA performance in the next 12 months.

  • HTY

    John J. Coupal is right. The president’s appointees are shredding federal red tape behind the scenes. Just visit the Mother Jones web site and you’ll see the Leftists whining about it.

  • Mr. Camembert, that really is one of the few genuinely consoling things about Bush. The man hasn’t made a serious concerted effort to tackle any Big Government issues, though I’ll certainly credit him for trying to privatize some federal jobs.

    Then again, he allowed the airport screeners to get nationalized. He may have people working under the radar to cut red tape, but I grade politicians on eliminating or drastically reforming the departments and laws that create the red tape in the first place.

    In any event, it’s amazing the man can stir up so much hatred against him. If it’s this bad now, just imagine how things might be if a person who wins the next presidential election even resembles the shadow of someone like Ron Paul?

    I bet the outcry would be so vicious some of them might actually try to revolt. Some have toyed with the idea…

  • Abby

    George “drug benifit introducer, job-czar appointer, tariff erector, federal control of public schools instigator, farm bill signer” Bush, will get my vote our of sheer terror: With a Democrat it would get even WORSE.

  • HTY

    One thing people have to think about the farm bill is this: What would happen if he vetoed it?

    What would happen is that Democrats would’ve used the issue to demogogue against the Republicans and gained seats in the 2002 elections. With full control of Congress along with moderate Republicans, they’ll try to pass it again. If the president vetoes it again, even assuming that veto can be sustained by the then reduced Republicans in Congress, they’ll demogogue against him in 2004.

    Robert Zoellick, the Trade Representative, has proposed an ambitious measure to eliminate most agricultural subsidies provided that Japan and the EU do the same. This is a clever move in tying agricultural subsidies into the Doha Round, thus preventing the Demogogues from exploiting the issue. Unfortunately, the EU and Japan refused to cut their subsidies.

  • Kodiak

    “APRÈS LA PLUIE, LE BEAU TEMPS” (French saying).

    What a remarkable change in tone… At the White House, certainly. At Samiz too, (un)surprisingly? Phony Bliar is slowly –and surely- disappearing into the meanders of irrelevance. George II’s lashing defeat is widely heralded and even David Carr aptly pointed out Mrs Clinton’s plausible return for 2008. Berlusconi, the elegantissimo, honestissimo & efficientissimo sick rightist joke -that is the vainly symbolic proxy for Bush & Murdoch, has been gobbled up by his own ignominy, vulgarity & stupidity.
    The abysmal US defeat in Iraq (not only the stupefying peace losing, but also the dishonourable, mordacious, unconditional surrender from the USA to the French-led majority further to the diplomatic war about UN being the sole & legitimate World authority), is certainly a decisive hurdle for Bush’s first election due in 2004. Even so, the problem is not Iraq. For now the World knows who’s cheating, who’s arm-twisting, who’s greedy, who’s lacking basic principles, who’s inconsistent, who’s incompetent &, above all, who’s losing. Zathras’s appraisal of Bush’s lack of “honour and integrity” as applied to domestic policy is also completely valid with regards to foreign policy.
    Now I understand you all feel disappointed as Bush II’s appointancy comes to an end. Ironically, he has rehabilitated the European ideal: State authority & involvement. Not even 11 September can save Bush from historical oubliettes of contempt: the territorial sanctuary is a concept of the past and, Eric, if “most people interested in National Security will vote Republican anyway” today, tomorrow they will certainly rate Bush’s military performance poorly as minds grow a bit colder once the chauvinistic hysteria vanishes.
    HTY was right about Eisenhower, a successful President of the USA. Bush isn’t even the second “New Deal republican” “Head” of State. He feigns to be the “Bourgeois Gentilhomme”, bedazzled as was the character by Molière. Indeed Monsieur Jourdain suddenly discovered he had always been, unknowingly, so far, conversing in prose, not verse. Remove “prose” for “State”, that’s the idea. Roosevelt & Eisenhower nurtured sensible aspirations. Bush is merely driven by contingency.

  • Sandy P.

    Kodiak, Defeat in Iraq? Hmmm, must be reading the phrench press again.

    Then why does frankenreich want in so badly?

    Go read USS Clueless/Steven Den Beste.

  • Kodiak

    Sandy P,

    Hopefully you sound a bit phrench.

    Otherwise I wouldn’t care not to tell you anything.

    With love fom Frankreich, mein Schätzchen…

  • R.C. Dean

    “One thing people have to think about the farm bill is this: What would happen if he vetoed it?”

    It would not have become law, billions of tax dollars would have been saved, an important precedent would have been set, and the farm economy would have taken a large step toward rationalization and independence.

  • First, keep in mind that even the conservative icon, Reagan, was not really a small government president. Nixon enlarged social welfare programs far more than Johnson!

    Bush is a moderate on a number of issues. He is a conservative on others, including social issues and, thank goodness, national security.

    Bush also has a congress that is just barely Republican – the Senate, which is notoriously independent of what presidents want and also not noted for party discipline, is split right down the middle. And it has some RINO’s in it.

    Furthermore Bush did not get a mandate in the election. He barely won at all.

    Finally, he has a major war to fight. That means he needs to preserve his political capital for the most important battles of all: keeping the left from preventing us from defending ourselves from one of the worst threats the nation has ever faced!

    Under these circumstances, give him some slack!

    And finally, keep in mind that the populace is not conservative on fiscal issues. Lots of people say they want small government, but not if THEIR favorite program is cut. Just check out veterans – a relatively conservative group – and watch how they scream if the VA budget is cut! Its the same with every special interest group.

    I think the best thing we could do is work to end gerrymandering, so that at least the House of Representatives would have to listen to the people.

    Meanwhile, let’s remember that we are in a fight to the death for our lives and liberty, with an enemy armed (or planning to be armed) with the deadliest weapons ever invented, and with a willingness to kill off most of the human race to get their way! If we squabble too much about the other stuff, the left will take over the government and we will be that much closer to both a world government (with no hope of recovering our freedoms) and disastrous losses to the Islamofascists.

  • HTY

    Robert Clayton Dean is too kind. He should emulate the example set by those Leftist anti-globalization people and change the title of his post to: “EU commits mass murder!”

    Anti-globalization Leftists demand debt relief for the Third World. Many of them demand the same. Many of those countries also demand the EU cut back its agricultural subsidies. The EU tells them to go to hell. This is nothing more than liberal racism, the “We are better than you and we know what is good for you so shut up” mentality.

  • HTY

    Sorry, my last post was posted at the wrong place. It was meant for the one on agricultural subsidies.

    I think Dean (no relation to Howard, I presume) somehow failed to read most of my posts. He certainly failed to explain exactly why my analysis is wrong.

  • R.C. Dean

    “Robert Clayton Dean is too kind.”

    You read it here first, folks.

    “I think Dean (no relation to Howard, I presume) somehow failed to read most of my posts. He certainly failed to explain exactly why my analysis is wrong.”

    I read ’em. I agree with most of ’em, in fact. I just think that the issue of farm subsidies should be examined in a broader context than possible short-term negative partisan politics.

  • Johan

    Just for the tax-cuts alone, Bush deserves re-election. And as some has pointed out, the charge that Bush is “big-government” is flawed. Red tape has been slahsed, thanks to Bush directives.

    Listen, Bush has to deal with reality. The US Senate is still leering left depsite a Republican majorty (thanks to RINOs), and major cut in government is at the present time unrealistic.

    And a Howard Dean/Wesley Clark as president would be FAR FAR FAR worse. Not even worth thinking about.

    Johan – Who will cast his ballot for Bush/Cheney at 7 am on Election Day.

  • Tax cuts pander to the wealthy and other greed loving types. There is a good reason for progressive taxation and that is the cost of living which is a greater percentage of the income generated by those less fortunate. The rich do not get there by themselves, the do it on the backs and with the hard labor of other Americans, they are able to take advantage of the sacrifices of all the Americans living and dead that have given them this fertile envoirment to operate thier businesses in. This country was built and defended by the common people, many gave thier lives for it and if you are one of those fortunate enough to get rich- YES you owe taxes and in an amount proportional to what you are gaining form the sacrifices of your fellow citizens who give up their freedom and even thier lives so that you can be rich! If you hate giving
    your share go operate your busines some place else–try Bangladesh or maybe Ukraine!