The Bush Economic Record
President George W. Bush came into office with a recession and left with one, but his overall record is admirable. For 24 quarters we had steady growth, a record not matched by any other President. The Bush tax cuts rescued the economy and provided the nation with low unemployment and continued growth for 5½ straight years. The Dow Jones reached an all time high, and the tax cuts got America out of the dot com recession.
According to the CBO, the Bush tax cuts increased revenue brought into the federal government by 37% over projections from the time they were enacted in 2003 to 2006. In 2007, the CBO stated tax receipts were 11% over projected revenue. Bush’s average spending-to-GDP (19.6%) compares to Bill Clinton (19.8%), George H.W. Bush (21.9%), and Reagan (22.4%). It also shows that his deficit-to-GDP was 2%—half that of Bush 41 and Reagan.
Deficits under Bush, as a percentage of GDP, were lower than the average over the past 30 years. Even Bush’s 2008 recession was better than Obama’s “recovery.” Why weren’t even more jobs created on Bush’s watch? Because unemployment was at 4.5% for the majority of his administration. Economists consider a 5% rate full employment. It was a rate that had not been seen since the 1950’s.
Obama has now agreed to extend all of the Bush tax cuts and groups such as Moveon.org are silent. In 2004 the organization sponsored TV ads attacking Bush’s deficit, which now seems small in comparison to Obama. The amount of money the U.S. has borrowed since George Washington through George W. Bush is $9 trillion. The amount of money the U.S. has borrowed these past two years under Obama is $5 trillion.
The cruel attacks on Bush never concerned liberals or the media. No one cared about the tone of the political discussion back then. A popular movie was about Bush’s assassination, but there was no outcry about hate speech. Now the liberals are concerned about “uncivil” talk because their guy is politically vulnerable.
The Bush Impeachment Resolution
The real hypocrisy of the left is seen in the attempt to impeach Bush. At one time this campaign energized the radical liberals but now Obama is guilty of many of the accusations once directed at Bush. The National Day of Impeachment began with these words:
We gather today as Americans who cherish our Constitution. Patriotism is standing for truth. Patriotism is standing for the Constitution. . . The Republic is in danger… Impeachment is a whole and living instrument of US Constitution. When those leaders in high office violate the Constitution, the right of impeachment should prevail. . . . Impeachment is crucial. – Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH)
The first resolution of impeachment was introduced by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), who served as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee from 2006 to 2010. It had 38 co-sponsors and its highpoint was when a similar resolution was supported by 166 lawmakers on a June 10, 2008 test vote. In July of 2007, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said she “would probably advocate” impeaching Bush if she were not Speaker of the House.
The Democratic Party of Vermont and New Mexico both passed resolutions advocating Bush’s impeachment, and over one million people signed petitions demanding his removal from office. Several conservatives also advocated Bush’s impeachment. The most notable was libertarian Bruce Fein of the Heritage Foundation.
He was a founder of the American Freedom Agenda along with former Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA), American Conservative Union Chairman David Keene, and Richard Viguerie. Their 10 point American Freedom Agenda was introduced in Congress by Reps. Ron Paul (R-TX) and Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), and it was in complete opposition to Bush’s war on terror.
Barack Obama never supported the impeachment campaign, but he frequently criticized the Bush administration for its “cowboy diplomacy” and alleged “shoot first, ask questions later” policies. The impeachment advocates said Bush started two wars. The 9/11 attack started one of them, and the 17 UN resolutions Saddam Hussein failed to comply with started the other.
After two years several of Obama’s policies are now an acknowledgment Bush had a valid response to America’s global challenges. At the time the impeachment resolution was introduced, the liberals were claiming the Iraq surge would fail.
Now Obama has kept Bush’s policy in Iraq, and repeated the success of his surge in Afghanistan. The Bush and Obama surges involve the same number of troops. Some of the articles in the impeachment resolution were:
- Articles 1 through 4 charge Bush with illegally creating a case for war with Iraq. The UN Duelfer Report says Saddam Hussein’s WMD production capabilities were completely intact and they could have had another stockpile in about a week. Saddam was interviewed when he was a prisoner, and said he didn’t allow UN inspectors or the US to verify that large parts of his WMD stockpile had been destroyed because he would look weak to his neighbors.
- The 12 hours of taped conversations with Saddam between the first and second Gulf wars revealed “He had not lost his appetite for, or interest in, weapons of mass destruction,” said Gary Milhollin of the Wisconsin Project, a liberal advocacy group working to slow the spread of WMD. “To the contrary, he was almost obsessed by them. . . It certainly shows he was trying to deceive the U.N.” The recent Wikileaks documents also prove Iraq had significant WMD production capabilities and was intending to restart their program. The information was classified until Wikileaks made it public.
- Articles 9, 10, 11 and 13 concern the conduct of the war. All of the U.S. military bases they claimed were permanent have now been turned over to the Iraqi’s. Obama has increased the use of the Predator drone program and the Reaper to launch strikes against identified terrorist targets by 80% over Bush.
- Article 12 says the purpose of Operation Iraqi Freedom was to control the country’s oil supplies. America has not taken any oil from Iraq, and not one U.S. company has received a contract to produce oil. Iraq controls its own oil, and the “No Blood for Oil” accusation was always false.
- Article 14 is about the outing of Valerie Plame Wilson, and claims made by her husband, Ambassador Joe Wilson. The Senate Intelligence Committee in July of 2004 concluded Wilson was a liar. We also know Valarie Plame was not working as a covert operative and Scooter Libby did not reveal her identity.
- Article 16 is about “Reckless misspending and wasted US tax dollars.” The Obama administration has submitted projections showing $1 trillion budget deficits for the next decade. It is amazing Democrats would raise this as an issue.
- Article 17 denounces Bush for not closing the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility. Former Vice President Dick Cheney today said Obama has: “learned from experience that what we did was far more appropriate than he ever gave us credit for, and he is now more sympathetic to the things we did. He’s not going to be able to close Guantanamo. If you didn’t have it, you’d have to create one like Gitmo. You’ve got to have a place to put terrorists who are combatants bound and determined to try to kill Americans.”
- Article 18 concerns the treatment of detainees and torture. We are two years into the Obama presidency, and both rendition and Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EIT) are still legal and available for use. The authorization for EIT was withdrawn by the Bush administration and Obama formally ended the program, but he can bring it back at any time.
- Article 19 says waterboarding was torture, and it was loudly denounced at the Democratic convention. The tone was different in May of 2009 when Attorney General Eric Holder said waterboarding is not torture. No Bush administration officials were prosecuted for allowing torture. Thousands of American soldiers, during training, received similar water-boarding and other interrogation methods over the past 15 years.
- Article 20 claimed President Bush made end-runs around the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to implement a “lawless” Terrorist Surveillance Program (TSP). Now the Obama Justice Department says the TSP can be used under the constitutional authority of the commander in chief. Presidents Lincoln, Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt all conducted similar surveillance by way of the same presidential and constitutional authority.
- Article 21 claims Bush’s goal was overthrowing the Iranian government. Iran was never attacked during the Bush Administration, but Obama has ordered 12 bunker busting bombs which could be used in an attack on Iran.
- Article 24 claimed the Patriot Act was a violation of 4th amendment rights, and Obama was part of the chorus criticizing the Patriot Act. It was set to expire in December of 2009 when Democratic super majorities existed in the House and Senate. Many people thought the Patriot Act would be repealed when Obama was elected, but they surprised us by enhancing it. Obama has done a great favor for conservatives. He has taken the Bush terrorism policies and had them codified in law. Former Bush attorney Jack Goldsmith says Obama’s decision “to continue core Bush terrorism policies is like Nixon going to China.”
- Article 25 charges the President with illegally spying on American citizens because of the NSA’s “warrantless surveillance.” The confirmation of former Bush NSA and CIA Director Michael Hayden was opposed by then Sen. Obama because “he had overseen the illegal NSA spying program.” Now Obama no longer believes the program is illegal. Hayden has reacted by saying: “There’s been a powerful continuity between the 43rd and the 44th president. I don’t think it’s even fair to call it Bush Lite. It’s Bush. It’s really, really hard to find a difference that’s meaningful and not atmospheric. . . You’ve got state secrets, targeted killings, indefinite detention, renditions, the opposition to extending the right of habeas corpus to prisoners at Bagram in Afghanistan, and although it is slightly different, Obama has been as aggressive as President Bush in defending prerogatives about who he has to inform in Congress for executive covert action.”
- Article 26 condemned Bush for using presidential signing statements, but Obama has continued the practice.
- Article 30 says Bush should be impeached for “Misleading Congress and the American People in an Attempt to Destroy Medicare.” The Bush and Obama positions are almost identical. Medicare Part D was a major campaign promise made by both Bush and Gore in 2000. Bush gave seniors a $15 drug in order to prevent a $30,000 operation taxpayer money would be committed to paying.
- The prescription drug benefit was overwhelmingly popular with Congress and the American people. If Bush had opposed it, he never would have been elected President. Medicare Part D is coming in on or under budget. It greatly contributed to Bush’s deficit and it was not paid for. The Democrats advocated a more expensive program with no donut hole. Obamacare closed the donut hole, but it is still not paid for.
- Article 32 charges Bush with “Systematically Undermining Efforts to Address Global Climate Change.” Former Senator Tim Wirth (D-CO) was Bill Clinton’s climate negotiator, and was one of the original authors of cap and trade legislation. He led the Kyoto negotiations and was National Co-Chair of the Clinton-Gore campaign in 1992. Even he says House Democrats went too far with their cap-and-trade national energy tax, and they were “out of control.”
What About the 2008 Recession?
The Bush administration recommended the most significant regulatory overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings and loan crisis. The Bush administration accurately diagnosed the problem in the lending market and they had a plan to address it. Bush wanted to tighten oversight with a new regulatory board for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and other government recipients for the express purpose of addressing bad loan practices, but Democrats blocked it.
The critics were wrong and Bush’s TARP program did not cost the taxpayers $700 billion. All the TARP money lent by his Administration will be paid back with interest, and he saved the U.S. banking system and the American economy from another depression. A free market market should punish bad decisions, but in September of 2008 the fate of our entire economy was at risk.
Where Are The Liberals Now?
The Obama Administration has maintained, renewed or expanded many of Bush’s War on Terror policies. Now that Obama agrees with Bush on these issues, they are all forgotten. The left never really cared about them, it was all partisan politics. Liberal author Glenn Greenwald makes a similar argument in Salon:
Obama has single-handedly eliminated virtually all mainstream debate over these War on Terror policies. At least during the Bush years, we had one party which steadfastly supported them but one party which claimed (albeit not very persuasively) to vehemently oppose them. At least there was a pretense of vigorous debate over their legality, morality, efficacy, and compatibility with our national values.
Those debates are no more. Even the hardest-core right-wing polemicists — Gen. Hayden, the Heritage Foundation, Dick Cheney — now praise Obama’s actions in these areas. Opposition from national Democrats has faded away to almost complete nonexistence now that it’s a Democratic President doing these things. What was once viewed as the signature of Bush/Cheney radicalism is now official, bipartisan Washington consensus: the policies equally of both parties and all Serious people. Thanks to Barack Obama, this architecture is firmly embedded in place and invulnerable to meaningful political challenge. . . I genuinely believe that Obama and the Democratic Party owe a heartfelt, public apology to Bush, Cheney and the GOP for all the harsh insults they spewed about them for years based on policies that they are now themselves aggressively continuing.
Obama has won the War on Terror debate — for the American Right. And as Dick Cheney’s interview last night demonstrates, they’re every bit as appreciative as they should be.
George Bush liberated 50 million people in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the terrorist training camps have been shut down. The 315 million people of the Middle East will eventually have a better life because of him, and the World Health Organization credits Bush with saving over 10 million lives in Africa.
Bush did not spend two years criticizing his predecessor. He made the tough decisions and kept our nation safe. He didn’t always succeed but he worked diligently on efforts such as reforming entitlement programs and trying to regulate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It would have been far better for the nation if Bush’s reforms had been enacted.
For eight years when major decision points were reached, America was fortunate to have George W. Bush as its Commander-in-Chief. Even though his contemporaries were not, the verdict of history will be kind to him.