Home > conservative, economics, government > Someone finally addresses the “Bush ruined the economy” fallacy

Someone finally addresses the “Bush ruined the economy” fallacy

Let’s get one thing straight before we start: George W. Bush was not perfect.  As a conservative, I disagreed with “No Child Left Behind” and the prescription drug bill.  Both were liberal policies that were ill-conceived and cost too much.  However, I believe history will give Mr. Bush a lot more credit than many do today.

Unfortunately, the former president has provided the Dems with a couple of straw-men to hide behind that have been left largely untouched by republicans.  These straw-men are that “George Bush wrecked the economy” and/or that it was his deregulation that caused the economic collapse.  On the latter point, there isn’t one actual policy of George Bush’s that anyone can point to that caused the economic collapse.  And the liberal talking point about “deregulation” is just that: a talking point.  It has no basis in fact because there were no regulations that were done away with that had anything to do with the collapse.   The idea that the Bush Administration deregulated anything that led to the collapse is a complete myth, and if you push any liberal on what specific deregulations they’re referring to, they won’t be able to come up with any.

The former point, that Bush generally “wrecked the economy” with his policies, has been trumpeted by our current president since he began his run for the presidency.  Barry has stated time and time again that he “inherited” an economy wrecked by the policies of the Bush Administration and that Bush took a budget surplus from Bill Clinton and created a trillion dollar deficit.  Now, it’s possible, or even likely, that conservatives are ignoring these claims simply because they can.  After a year and a half of unmitigated failure on the part of B.O. and a Dem-controlled Congress, why unnecessarily dredge up the unfriendly past?  Barry isn’t scoring any points by continuing to blame his predecessor.  Nevertheless, I’ve always found the claims that Bush wrecked the economy to be frustratingly over the top.  Well, Brian Riedl of the admittedly conservative Heritage Foundation agrees.  He’s authored an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal about the Bush economy, and I recommend you read all of it.  Since I have read it, however, I’ll provide some highlights below:

1.  Bush tax cuts ruined Clinton surplus.  Simply put, there never was a surplus.  It was based upon CBO forecasts that assumed, as liberals often do, and unrealistic utopia.

[The surplus projection] assumed that late-1990s economic growth and the stock-market bubble (which had already peaked) would continue forever and generate record-high tax revenues. It assumed no recessions, no terrorist attacks, no wars, no natural disasters, and that all discretionary spending would fall to 1930s levels.

And those Bush tax cuts for the wealthy that the libs continue to scream about to this day?

Specifically, the tax cuts for those earning more than $250,000 are responsible for just 4% of the swing. If there were no Bush tax cuts, runaway spending and economic factors would have guaranteed more than $4 trillion in deficits over the decade and kept the budget in deficit every year except 2007.

2.  The deficit is the result of Bush’s policies. You really should read the actual article for all the nitty-gritty details, but simply put, the Bush policies that the libs claim caused most of the huge deficit, i.e. two wars, prescription drug benefits, and tax cuts, amounted to a deficit of $161 billion.  While no small potatoes, it’s a hell of a lot less than where our current deficit sits (projected at approximately $13 trillion over ten years).  And Reidl brings up an even better point: why single out the Bush policies, when they comprise approx. 1/3 of the total deficit?

Third and most importantly, the White House methodology is arbitrary. With Washington set to tax $33 trillion and spend $46 trillion over the next decade, how does one determine which policies “caused” the $13 trillion deficit? Mr. Obama could have just as easily singled out Social Security ($9.2 trillion over 10 years), antipoverty programs ($7 trillion), other Medicare spending ($5.4 trillion), net interest on the debt ($6.1 trillion), or nondefense discretionary spending ($7.5 trillion).

In addition to identifying the source of the majority of our deficit, the foregoing brings up a different argument for a different day: what constitutes a legitimate government function (military spending vs. entitlements, for example)?  Regardless of your answer, it is clear that our current president’s spending dwarfs the spending of Mr. Bush, and is simply unsustainable.

Putting this together, the budget deficit, historically 2.3% of GDP, is projected to leap to 8.3% of GDP by 2020 under current policies. This will result from Washington taxing at 0.2% of GDP above the historical average but spending 6.2% above its historical average.

Entitlements and other obligations are driving the deficits. Specifically, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and net interest costs are projected to rise by 5.4% of GDP between 2008 and 2020. The Bush tax cuts are a convenient scapegoat for past and future budget woes. But it is the dramatic upward arc of federal spending that is the root of the problem.

These points must be remembered come November.  Whether it’s deliberate or not, the current administration is spending us into a hole that we won’t be able to simply tax our way out of.  These policies can be stopped if republicans re-take at least one house of Congress, thereby reviving the checks and balances that our government relies upon to function.

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  1. mary
    July 13, 2010 at 8:09 AM

    Not going to be a problem. You are fussing over nothing. I just heard the head of a group which is joining Obama in the guarantee of providing housing to all the homeless in just a few years. When asked where there trillions of dollars would come from, he said “Just print more of it. We own the Fed, we own the mint, we own the printing presses. This is important work. Print the money.”

    Ah, yes. And who was it again who thought the vote should be opened up to everyone, not just those who pay taxes (i.e., actually pay the bills)?

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