Resurrecting W.: Why George Bush Still Matters in 2012

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BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP / GettyImages

Former President George W. Bush speaks during a portrait-unveiling ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington on May 31, 2012

George W. Bush is gone from Washington — and sometimes the city seems to have forgotten him. For all the passions that he inspired, the 43rd President’s legacy has been absent from the 2012 campaign. Mitt Romney’s dog and Barack Obama’s college girlfriends feel like larger presences in this election season than the President who invaded Iraq, bailed out the banks and slashed taxes. Bush’s legacy was strangely absent from the Republican primaries, his name almost never mentioned in the countless debates. Romney seems allergic to Bush’s name, as though it could summon some kind of terrible curse. After Bush blurted a one-line endorsement of Romney from an elevator last month, Romney expressed his gratitude by cryptically referring to W. as Obama’s “predecessor”; his  spokeswoman made a generic reference to “the President.” Maybe that’s better than “whatshisname” — but not by much.

Not that Bush has actually been forgotten. Americans still remember W., just not very fondly. Last week, a CNN/ORC poll found that Bush is the least popular of the living ex-Presidents. His 43% favorability rating may be higher than it was in the darkest days of his presidency, when it bounced around in the mid-30s, but Bush is still less popular than Jimmy Carter, a man Republicans treat as a walking punch line.

(PHOTOS: Presidents in Profile: 20 Portraits from the White House Archives)

No wonder, then, that the Romney camp is loath to discuss Bush. More surprising is how infrequently Democrats have invoked Bush’s legacy. In 2008 Obama’s campaign harped on Bush so much that Sarah Palin complained they were “pretending they are running against our current President.” Today Obama often warns voters about GOP economic policies that “got us into this mess.” But he rarely if ever mentions Bush by name. And his remarks on Friday about the sputtering economy didn’t even include a reference to the former President’s policies.

Recently, however, some key party figures have sought to resurrect Bush’s controversial legacy. “How does Mitt Romney differ from George Bush?” Neera Tanden, an Obama ally and the president of the Center for American Progress, asked on NBC’s Meet the Press earlier this month. Romney’s policies “really do double down on the policies of the Bush Administration,” Tanden argued, saying Romney proposes to slash taxes for the wealthy with no credible plan to reduce the deficit.

Days later, the Democratic National Committee threw its punch at W., responding to an anti-Obama ad from the pro-Republican PAC American Crossroads by noting the group’s ties to Bush’s former political fixer Karl Rove. The ad’s criticism of Obama’s economic policies, DNC spokesman Brad Woodhouse told reporters, was “laughable coming from someone who bears responsibility for the problems that we’re facing today,” adding that “Romney’s [economic] plan is modeled after the same policies.” (On Friday, Woodhouse tweeted much the same point, saying Romney’s economic plan features “the same polices Bush/GOP followed which crashed our economy. Brilliant, huh?”)

(MORE: George Bush Is the Least Popular Living President)

Asked about the relevance of Bush’s record to the current campaign, Bill Burton, a former White House spokesman who now runs the pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action, enthusiastically joined the chorus: “Romney wants to double down on the very policies that got us into this mess,” Burton said. “Romney’s vision is a triple dose of the same deficit-ballooning ideas that President Bush saddled our nation with. He would decimate Medicare and drive up our debt, all to cut taxes for the wealthy even more.”

Obama’s allies are invoking the B word when it comes to foreign policy too. After informal Romney adviser John Bolton last week assailed Obama’s diplomacy with Iran, former Obama Pentagon official Michele Flournoy fired back, “In 2003 John Bolton and other senior Bush Administration officials blew past diplomacy and rushed to war in Iraq.” An Obama campaign official told BuzzFeed that Romney is embracing the kind of “reckless neoconservative thinking” that produced the Iraq war. (Neoconservative, of course, being one of the more electrified epithets of the Bush era.)

To hear Romney’s campaign tell it, the Democratic effort to invoke Bush is backward-looking and a sign of desperation about Obama’s economic record. “The two names on the ballot are Barack Obama and Mitt Romney,” says Romney adviser Kevin Madden. “They can talk all they want about former President Bush. This election is about what’s wrong with our economy today and how Mitt Romney can and will do a better job than President Obama can when it comes to fixing it, so that tomorrow America can go back to work.” (Of course, Romney has taunted Obama at least twice by likening him to Carter.)

(MORE: TIME’s Exclusive Interview with George W. Bush)

But there could be smart strategy behind a focus on Bush. Democrats often cite polling showing that voters blame Bush at least as much as Obama for the state of the economy, a dynamic that political scientist John Sides argues has propped up Obama’s approval numbers. Given that they can’t blame Romney for the economy’s weakness (beyond their broadsides against Bain Capital), Democrats are eager to drive home that point. “The challenge for Romney is that the adoption of these unaffordable tax cuts place him to the right of President Bush — and those policies failed to create private-sector job growth,” says Tanden. “So raising these issues are really about tying Mitt Romney to a failed economic policy that didn’t work before and won’t work again.”

In 1996 Bill Clinton campaigned on the theme of “building a bridge to the future.” This year, Democrats may conclude that their fate depends on making a connection to the past.

MORE: Inside the Presidents Club

4 comments
ajain31
ajain31

The Voting Rights Act (VRA) must be upheld by the supreme court: 


The numerous despicable attempts to restrict voting made during the last election cycle are proof of that. Anyone who truly believes the VRA is obsolete needs to recognize, given last year's voter suppression efforts, the Jim Crowe era is biding its time. 

Now even if you are dumb enough to believe that all is OK with the world and there are no reasons to have the voting rights act on the books. Then why are the the parties at opposite end's on this? Why are the Republicans in America trying to keep people from the poles? 

The argument is that VRA is discriminatory against Southern states to require them but not other states to seek pre-clearance for voting laws; I actually agree. The Voting Rights Act should require *ALL* states to seek pre-clearance. After what we've seen the GOP try to pass in states all across the nation prior to the last 2012 election, I see no reason this safeguard against voter suppression should be limited to just Southern states as suggested by VRA of 1965 but now should be expanded to apply to ALL 50 states.

Ajay Jain
ajain31@gmail.com
Twitter Handle @ajain31.
Mobile: 214-207-9781

ajain31
ajain31

You or I do not have ANY control over Federal taxes. What all pay into Federal taxes is FIXED. We can not change it ANYWAY. If people understand that then it is easy to understand that some States are donor states and some states are recipient states. Most of the Southern States are recipient states by virtue of what they pay INTO Federal taxes (which is LESS) and what they receive as Federal support (which is MORE). 


No state can change the State donor role or State recipient role overnight. Most Republican Governors are just loosing out in that they are refusing the Federal largess (the Federal handout) on Medicaid Expansion because Believe it or not IT IS A FACT: If states choose to expand Medicaid, the federal government will cover 100 percent of the costs from 2014 to 2016. The feds' contribution will begin to decrease in 2017, but will never be less than 90 percent, under the ACA also known as Obamacare. 
So people opposing Medicaid Expansion can cry foul till their cows come back home but they will with their State be the looser in the long run. If history is correct it all started the same way for the very well established system of Medicare in this nation. 
(Check it out!) Many states refused to accept Medicare in the 60's as a way of doing business just like they are rejecting Medicaid expansion under Obamacare a.k.a. ACA (Affordable Care ACT) but in the long run when Reagan got tired of appearing in anti-Medicare Ads all over the country Medicare was established as the way of doing business (taking care of our elder population's medical needs) and to this day it is an accepted wise and affordable way of supporting our Seniors. 
Mark my words in less than a decade i.e. by 2023 Medicaid Expansion will be the accepted norm all over the country and NOT the EXCEPTION. You and I can not beat the economics of fairness. Try your best but within this decade either Governors who accept Medicaid Expansion will be elected or Governors who reject Medicaid Expansion will be DEFEATED. 
And if Medicare is any example MEDICAID will go the same rout. I repeat, Mark my words in less than a decade i.e. by 2023 Medicaid Expansion will be the accepted norm all over the country. And I am saying that proudly as I do not find the need to hide my identity behind pseudonyms.
People opposing Medicaid Expansion have access to Google.com and I believe they are intelligent people. Check it out: IT IS A FACT: If states choose to expand Medicaid, the federal government will cover 100 percent of the costs from 2014 to 2016. The feds' contribution will begin to decrease in 2017, but will never be less than 90 percent, under the ACA.
That's why I created a petition to Governor Rick Perry, Texas Governor, The Texas State House, The Texas State Senate, and Governor Rick Perry, which says:

"Please ACCEPT the FREE EXPANSION of MEDICAID under The Affordable Care ACT."

Will you sign this petition? Click here:
http://signon.org/sign/accept-free-expansion?source=c.em.cp&r_by=7268737

Thanks!

Ajay Jain
ajain31@gmail.com
Twitter Handle @ajain31.
Mobile: 214-207-9781

ajain31
ajain31


Eighth Legacy: Destruction of Retirement

Another Bush legacy has been the destruction of the retirement system established in the immediate post-World War II period. That system was based on the idea of a three-legged stool structure that included Social Security, employer-provided pensions, and personal savings. Bush actively undermined all three, resulting in a crisis of historic proportions for the more than 44 million retirees and the 77 million baby boomers who will join their ranks starting next year.

The crisis in Social Security is not the one described by the Bush administration a few years ago, as Bush desperately attempted to privatize the system. The crisis is the more than $2.3 trillion dollars that has been siphoned out of the Social Security Trust Fund, transferred to the U.S. general budget, and spent in order to pay for wealthy and corporate tax cuts, chronic wars under Bush, and ballooning defense budgets. Social Security payroll tax collections for two decades have actually subsidized the U.S. budget, not undermined it. Every year the Social Security program produces a surplus, at the rate of sometimes hundreds of billions of dollars. And that surplus is diverted in full and spent. Defenders of the historic theft say we owe it to ourselves and can put it all back in the trust fund whenever we need. True. But to replace it requires that the U.S. government borrow back the $2.3 trillion from banks and other private sources, paying interest on that debt, and thus adding at least $200 billion more a year for 10 years to the coming $1 trillion a year budget deficit. In accounting terms it is possible; in economic and political terms it is not. Bush has borrowed over his eight years in office more than $1.3 trillion of the $2.3 trillion Social Security Trust Fund surplus.

Ninth Legacy: Dismantling Health Care

Bush has been even more successful in privatizing, and thus dismantling, the post-war health care financing system. By allowing health care insurance premiums and other costs to double during his term, rising more than 10 percent every year, he has forced employers and workers alike to give up health care coverage altogether or to reduce that coverage in order to afford rising premiums and other costs. There are now more than 47 million Americans without any kind of health coverage whatsoever, an increase of 9 million since 2000. More than 1.3 million working Americans lost their health insurance coverage in 2006 alone. Approximately 12 percent of all children in the U.S. have no health coverage.

Despite this collapsing coverage, the U.S. spends nearly twice as much, about 17 percent, of its total GDP on health care. That compares with 9 to 10 percent for those countries with single payer health delivery systems in Europe, Canada, and elsewhere. It means the U.S. spends more than $1 trillion a year to mostly insurance companies that push forms around while delivering no health services.

For those still with health insurance, the rising cost burden has also shifted significantly from employers to their workers—by as much as 30 percent, according to some studies. Thousands of companies have been allowed to abandon their health plans altogether, most notably the big auto companies which are dumping their health care funds, underfunded by $50 billion, onto the auto workers' unions.

Tenth Legacy: Income Shift

Every year for the first five years of his terms in office Bush pushed historic tax cuts totaling more than $5 trillion. Estimations from sources like Brookings, Urban Institute, and others are that about 73 percent of the cuts benefited the wealthiest 20 percent households—30 percent, or $1.5 trillion, of that 73 percent benefited the wealthiest 1 percent households; roughly 1.1 million out of the total 114 million taxpaying households in the U.S. But these figures don't include tax cuts for corporations. Nor do they include similar massive tax shifting at the state and local levels. Where has all that tax cut money gone, one might ask? A good deal of it into hedge funds, private equity funds, and other forms of private, unregulated banking, thus stoking the fires of speculative investment in subprimes, derivatives, and other unregulated financial securities. Other amounts have no doubt contributed to the explosion of offshore tax shelters. According to the investment bank Morgan Stanley, in 2005 offshore tax shelters increased their funds from $250 billion in 1983 to more than $5 trillion by 2004. More recent estimations by the Tax Justice Network indicate tax shelters now hold more than $11 trillion. A reasonable estimate is that wealthy Americans likely account for at least 40 percent of that total—around $4-$4.5 trillion. Exactly how much is not currently knowable, since there are around 27 offshore tax shelters, according to the IRS, in mostly sovereign nations like the Cayman Islands, the Seyschells, Isle of Man, Vanuatu, and the like that have closed their tax doors and do not cooperate with IRS attempts to investigate how much wealthy U.S. taxpayers have stuffed away in their electronic vaults.

This explosion of income and wealth at the top at the expense of those at the bottom has been estimated in recent academic studies by Professors Emmanual Saez and Thomas Picketty. Based on their analysis of IRS taxes paid over the history of the federal income tax since 1917, the wealthiest 1 percent of households in the U.S. received about 8.3 percent of total income in the U.S. in 1978. By 2006, that wealthiest 1 percent was receiving 20.3 percent of total income generated in the U.S.—not including tax sheltered income or corporations' retained income or profits diverted offshore. This 20.3 percent represents a return to almost exactly what the top 1 percent received in 1928 (21.09 percent) on the eve of the last Great Depression.
These legacies are interdependent, one feeding on and exacerbating the other. It is not possible, for one example, to understand the current financial crisis and emerging global epic recession apart from the massive shift and concentration of income in the hands of the wealthiest household-speculators and corporate-speculators. That is not the sole explanation of the present systemic financial collapse or growing threat of global depression increasing now almost daily. But the financial and economic crisis underway at present cannot be fully comprehended apart from the former either. Reversing the legacies, removing the toxic effects on the future of American economy and society cannot take place without correcting the fundamental causes. That includes reversing once again, as in the 1930s and 1940s, the perverse and distorted income and wealth distribution afflicting society itself. 
Ajay Jainajain31@gmail.com
Twitter Handle @ajain31.
Mobile: 214-207-9781

ajain31
ajain31

History is here and now and it does not bode well for George W Bush the 43rd President of USA.


1) GEORGE W. BUSH oversaw the suffering of millions in New Orleans in KATRINA disaster and did little in a timely fashion! 
2) GEORGE W. BUSH increased our deficit by fighting TWO wars on the credit card, implementing the Medicare DRUG Plan on the credit card and two BIG TAX CUTS on the credit card. 
3) GEORGE W. BUSH presided over the greatest economic meltdown of the American economy since the Great Depression. 
4) GEORGE W. BUSH presided over the greatest terrorist attack on the US soil since Pearl Harbor which was responsible for more than 3000 deaths. 
5) GEORGE W. BUSH's IRAQ war was responsible for more than 4000 American soldier deaths. 
6) GEORGE W. BUSH had Osama Bin Laden in his sights in Tora Bora in Afganistan but he let him escape by not providing enough troops to capture UML. 
7) GEORGE W. BUSH shifted focus from a legitimate war in Afganistan to an unnecessary war in IRAQ. 
8) GEORGE W. BUSH turned a surplus nation into a debtor nation by advocating for so much deficit budgeting.
Ajay Jainajain31@gmail.com
Twitter Handle @ajain31.
Mobile: 214-207-9781