Posts Tagged ‘Bush’
Politico.com has a story that is just downright depressing. Our nation’s debt is about to hit $11 TRILLION. That is a staggering sum. It was half that size in 1996. In 13 years we have added as much debt as it took us to accumulate in the more than 200 years prior.
Back when I was a budget associate in the U.S. House, I always went straight to the appendix of the President’s budget to look at a couple figures: Government spending as a percentage of GDP and deficit as a percentage of GDP. Obviously, if the economy continues to grow, we can absorb some increases in government spending and debt.
For example, in FY 1983 federal spending was 23.5% of GDP. That reflected both weak economic growth and increased defense spending by Reagan. The deficit was 6% of GDP (a post-WWII high). By FY 1988 the percentage of federal spending was 21.3% and the deficit was 3.1%.
In Clinton’s first budget, FY 1994, the percentage of federal spending was 21% and the deficit was 2.9%. The budget following the Republican take-over of Congress dropped to 20.3% and the deficit was 1.4%.
Bush’s budgets tended to be on par with Clinton’s budgets (as a percentage, remember) with the FY 2007 budget at 20% of GDP and the deficit at 1.2%
How does Obama’s first budget stack up? Federal spending as a percentage of GDP will be a whopping 27.2%. And the deficit as a percentage of GDP? Buckle up… 8.3%, which shatters the previous high of 6% in 1983. To make matters worse, that 8.3% is BEFORE taking into account the stimulus package passed earlier in the year.
This is ugly.
Arlen Specter should announce retirement. He has done more damage to this country than we deserve, and he needs to go.
And he also is willing to say anything to cover his tracks. As one of the three Republicans who voted both for cloture and then for final passage of the “de-stimulus” bill, he claims that he will take a look at the bill, “find problems… and cure them.” Uh, Mr. Specter, the whole bill is one giant problem, and the cure is to vote NO.
What Specter was talking about specifically was an issue I blogged on yesterday – about a “National Coordinator of Health Information.” He forcefully said, “We are not going to let the federal government monitor what doctors do.” I feel so much better already. Specter says so, so it must be the case, right?
Think again. This is a guy that played kissy-face with President Bush in his 2004 primary race against conservative stalwart Pat Toomey. Bush’s folks were warned that they better be prepared to be thrown under the bus if Specter won that primary. Sure enough, the DAY AFTER the primary election, Specter was proudly talking about how he differed from Bush on stem cells, judicial nominees and the Patriot Act.
If you are interested in some of the history on the 2004 primary, this is an article in the New York Times right before the primary election. Tim Carney, from Evans and Novak, wrote a blisteringly honest piece for National Review the day after the 2004 General election. You can’t read this stuff without your blood pressure rising.
Sens. Arlen Specter, Susan Collins and Olympia Snow have cut a deal with Democrats to pass a “stimulus” bill in the Senate.
As you may know, in 2004, I spent the last two months of the campaign in Oklahoma running the grassroots, Victory and GOTV effort to elect Tom Coburn to the Senate. We only had four kids at the time, so it wasn’t as much as a burden on my wife… uh, honey… wait, come back… I meant… oh boy, it’s a good thing I got the kid’s playhouse drywalled and painted… (The Washington Post did a profile story on my wife in Dec. 2007 on families of political hacks like me, and the challenges they face and in it she said she was totally on board…really).
Sorry for the diversion.
What you probably didn’t know, is that in April of 2004 I was working to help Rep. Pat Toomey (now the head of the Club for Growth) beat Arlen Specter in a primary. Out of sheer desperation to help in any way I could, I hatched a plan to get conservatives across the country to use their cell phones to call into Pennsylvania and help get out the vote. I figured that most people had free weekends and we could get a lot of calls made, since Pat was creating a lot of buzz with conservatives across the country.
We also organized a phone bank in Phoenix and called around to get people to help. On election day, me and Rob and Marne Haney and a handful of others were there calling away. (Yes, Rob and I have been both in the same trench and in opposite trenches in many a battle).
In the end, we organized and produced about 25,000 phone calls into PA from out of state for Toomey.
But here was the killer. The Bush folks insisted on campaigning for Specter. And I don’t mean the casual fly-in, tarmac visit. Bush went into Pennsylvania at least four times in the last few weeks and also did a TV commercial. The White House argument was that Specter as the nominee gave Bush a better chance to win PA. I argued (vigorously) that if Specter was the nominee, conservatives would be deflated and Bush would lose PA. (Which ended up happening).
In the end, the President’s help made the difference and Toomey’s grassroots army (both in-state and out-of-state) couldn’t overcome it… but they came darn close. Toomey lost the primary to Arlen Specter by one vote per precinct.
So, the next time someone says that one vote doesn’t matter, tell them that it was “one vote” that gave us a nearly $1 Trillion “stimulus” package.
Thanks President Bush.
Obama’s Treasury Secretary nominee, Timothy Geithner
I have an idea. Let’s all decide that we are going to cheat on our taxes. Hey, it’s not going to prevent Timothy Geithner from becoming Treasury Secretary, so what justification would he have in coming after us? None of us are seeking Senate confirmation for a post in the Obama Administration. Seriously, how will he ever, with a straight face, be able to give the nod to the IRS to investigate tax evasion?
The absurdity of Geithner’s pending confirmation proves, yet again, that Democrats are treated different than Republicans when it comes to fitness for important government positions. Can you imagine the screaming that would have ensued had Bush’s first Treasury Secretary, Paul O’Neill, cheated on his taxes? For crying out loud, Leona Helmsley was criminally prosecuted and served almost two years in prison for doing the same thing that Geithner has done.
One thing we should watch closely is what Senators vote to confirm Geithner. We’re going to need their letters vouching for our character when the IRS comes knocking.
I was going to write a post about President Bush commuting the sentences of former Border Patrol Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, but Len Munsil has a post that is way better than I would have written. It is a must read. Here is his conclusion:
“Here is an idea – maybe those who have attacked President Bush so harshly for his support of comprehensive reform could take a moment to send him a “thank you” note for the commutations. And maybe those who have trashed anti-illegal immigration activists as racists could take a moment to acknowledge the work of these activists to gain a commutation for two Hispanic Americans, and apologize for questioning their character.”
Following the 2004 election, President Bush launched an effort to reform Social Security. It has been an article of faith for conservatives since Barry Goldwater wrote “The Conscience Of A Conservative” that Social Security is destined to failure. Goldwater’s position was particularly courageous, given that insolvency was still decades away.
Bush knew that the future obligations of Social Security would far outstrip ability to pay with millions of baby boomers beginning to retire in the next few years. As those boomers retire, the spending obligations will drive our country further and further into unfathomable debt. It’s not like we can’t see this coming. When Social Security was created, there were literally dozens of workers paying into the system for every person receiving benefits. That ratio is now three workers for each retiree and it will soon be two workers per retiree.
Unfortunately, Democrats have used the scare tactic of Republicans wanting to destroy Social Security in every election since 1964, making substantive reform politically impossible. There is a reason Social Security has been called the third rail of politics.
So it was very interesting when, in his final press conference, Bush said, “I believe that running the Social Security idea right after the ’04 elections was a mistake. I should have argued for immigration reform.”
Consider how different that last four years would have been had Bush pushed for immigration reform right after the 2004 election. First, Bush had a strong showing at the polls on Election Day 2004, so while he may not have had a “mandate” he clearly was in a strong position to push an agenda. In fact, pundits figured he had enough mojo to push Social Security reform.
Had Bush picked immigration reform, conservatives would have had a larger role in crafting the bill, and avoided some of the most divisive rhetoric that has created so much angst among party faithful.
Democrats would have been much more likely to work with Bush on immigration reform than on Social Security, and giving Bush a success on a bipartisan issue.
And, how would that have changed the overall make-up of the Presidential race? I’d venture to speculate that had Bush successfully shepherded immigration reform through Congress, the tone in Washington would have been much different, and we would not have had Obama even in the primary. It is clear that the anti-Bush crowd was the driver on Obama, and had that been tempered, we may have seen a McCain/Clinton general and it would be McCain getting sworn in as the 44th President on Tuesday.
This is the kind of mental exercise that makes me wish I could see the parallel universe.
President George W. Bush will give his final address to the nation tomorrow night from the Oval Office. He will follow in the tradition of many Presidents before him. The most memorable of farewell addresses was Ronald Reagan in on Jan. 11, 1989, when he spoke of the “men and women of the Reagan Revolution” and talked about what his vision of the “shining city on a hill” meant to him. (full speech imbedded below)
The past few days when I’ve been at that window upstairs, I’ve thought a bit of the “shining city upon a hill.” The phrase comes from John Winthrop, who wrote it to describe the America he imagined. What he imagined was important because he was an early Pilgrim, an early freedom man. He journeyed here on what today we’d call a little wooden boat; and like the other Pilgrims, he was looking for a home that would be free. I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.
Reagan also gave a warning:
We’ve got to do a better job of getting across that America is freedom–freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of enterprise. And freedom is special and rare. It’s fragile; it needs protection.
He concluded his speech with these absolutely inspiring words:
And how stands the city on this winter night? More prosperous, more secure, and happier than it was 8 years ago. But more than that: After 200 years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true on the granite ridge, and her glow has held steady no matter what storm. And she’s still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.
We’ve done our part. And as I walk off into the city streets, a final word to the men and women of the Reagan revolution, the men and women across America who for 8 years did the work that brought America back. My friends: We did it. We weren’t just marking time. We made a difference. We made the city stronger, we made the city freer, and we left her in good hands. All in all, not bad, not bad at all.
The tragedy of the Bush presidency is that he won’t be able to say the same thing.
Redstate.com is one of the premiere conservative blogs in the nation. It is run by Erick Erickson, a Georgia-based, southern gentleman who happens to be one of the smarter guys in the movement. He had a very interesting post on Sunday entitled “Screw Obama: Pardon Everybody.”
Now, I’m not a lawyer, but it seems a little odd that Bush would (or even could) pardon someone who may have committed a crime for which there has been no formal investigation, charge, indictment or conviction.
I completely agree with Erick that Obama’s posture on our intelligence gathering operations and war agenda are potentially very dangerous to our nation.
However, the claim that one of Obama’s first acts is going to investigate President Bush and his administration for war crimes is off base. Yes, I know that Obama and his AG nominee, Eric Holder have said various things in the last couple years that would give people a reason to jump to that conclusion, but let’s look at the reality.
On Sunday’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” Stephanopoulos pressed Obama hard on this issue. While Obama didn’t explicitly say, “No, I’m not going to investigate Bush” he did repeatedly talk about looking forward and moving forward. He really couldn’t say “no” because he is already having real trouble from the nutcase leftwing of his party. Some are planning to protest his inauguration, others are really, really unhappy that Pastor Rick Warren is giving a prayer at the inauguration.
I would be willing to bet two Italians at Ted’s Hot Dogs (the best dogs on earth) that Obama doesn’t ever come close to doing anything that would resemble an investigation of war crimes by the Bush administration. He is too smart, and too ambitious to create the massive national firestorm that would erupt from doing so. Additionally, Obama’s Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, is THE smartest Democrat operative in the nation. He knows that the United States is still a center-right nation, and he doesn’t want to lose too many Democrat-held House and Senate seats in 2010 nor the White House in 2012.
My prediction is that we will continue to hear the perpetual whining of the crazy left for the next four years, because Obama is going to play it relatively safe. If he then wins re-election in 2012, well, that’s when we should be afraid… very afraid…
When big things happen very rarely, it’s generally considered historic. I think the lunch today in the White House with three former Presidents (Carter, Bush I, Clinton) the current President and the President-elect is pretty darn cool. The last time all living former presidents were at the White House together was in 1981. Think about that. It’s been about 27 years.
Being the political junkie that I am, I’d have loved to been a fly on the wall. Too bad Nixon’s recorder wasn’t still around… (did I just say that out loud?)
Update: A couple people have or have seen pictures of Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan and Bush together in 1991 in what appears to be the Oval office. While I can’t be certain it’s not the Oval office, I believe it is a picture of the five in the replica Oval Office at the opening of the Reagan Library in Simi Valley in 1991. Here is a picture from that day of the Presidents outside the Library:
The old firm … presidents George Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon at the opening ceremony of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley on November 4, 1991. Photo: Reuters/Gary Cameron