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Friday, January 05, 2007

Same Old Hopeless Agenda

Bruce Bartlett is not happy with the Bush policy agenda:

Bush Recycles the Trash, by Bruce Bartlett, Commentary, NY Times: George W. Bush has ... never proposed a single [policy] that he doesn’t think deserves repeated consideration, no matter how hopeless or discredited it may be.

Bush proved this again on Wednesday. In an op-ed article in The Wall Street Journal, he laid out some areas ... consist[ing] entirely of recycled ideas that even the Republican-controlled Congress rejected.

Bush’s biggest pitch was for line-item veto authority. ... Bush made exactly the same proposal last year and it sank without a trace — mainly because every budget expert knows that its impact would be extremely limited...

At the very least, the idea of making the line-item veto a key presidential initiative in the seventh year of an administration is uncreative. Even die-hard Bush loyalists see that. For example, former Bush speechwriter David Frum, who wrote a hagiography of Bush in 2003 called “The Right Man,” sees the intellectual bankruptcy of proposing a line-item veto yet again. Said Frum on National Review magazine’s Web site:

Never mind that the Supreme Court has found the line item veto unconstitutional.

Never mind that after six years of presidentially led overspending, it is a bit implausible for the president to try to present himself as the guardian of the public purse against rapacious congresspersons.

Consider only this: Republicans have been suggesting a federal line item veto as a talisman against big government since the middle 1980s. If twenty years later, the line item veto is the only domestic idea a Republican president has to offer — what more emphatic confession of mental exhaustion can an administration give? And if the administration confesses itself exhausted, why should not the Congress elbow it aside? Somebody has to govern after all. . . .

This president has always preferred to retire early for the night. I fear that the whole domestic policy staff seems now to be following the boss’s example, settling in for bedtime two years ahead of schedule.

I couldn’t have said it better myself, and I was fired by a conservative think tank for saying similar things. Perhaps my real sin was saying them too soon.

But proposing a line-item veto isn’t the only thing Bush said in his op-ed that a reasonable conservative would take issue with. He also said that his tax cuts had “fueled robust economic growth and record revenues.” ... No empirical evidence is offered.

However, if you ask most economists, they will more than likely say that the robust growth we have today is simply due to the normal workings of the business cycle — what goes down eventually goes up again. If any governmental action deserves credit, it would be the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy. ... The tax cuts undoubtedly raised the growth rate slightly, but at most their effect amounted to only tenths of a percent of the gross domestic product.

Consequently, there is no possible way that the tax cuts can be credited with raising federal revenues, as Bush implies. ... No serious person believes that across-the-board tax cuts of the sort that Bush proposed ever recoup 100 percent of their gross cost. Not even Bush’s own economists. ...

    Posted by on Friday, January 5, 2007 at 06:45 PM in Economics, Policy, Politics | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (9)


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