The economic expertise of Republicans
By Richmond Gardner at Feb 18, 2009
Back during the 1980 presidential campaign, Ronald Reagan got lots of political mileage out of the sloganeering description of much government spending as "Waste, fraud and abuse," making it appear that our government had a single line item "WFA" that could be easily eliminated. Well, investigators have concluded that Iraqi reconstruction accounts for at least $125 billion worth of "WFA."
In one case, an American soldier put in charge of reviving Iraqi boxing gambled away all the money but he could not be prosecuted because, although the money was certainly gone, nobody had recorded if it was $20,000 or $60,000.
In many cases, contractors never started or finished facilities they were supposedly building.
points out about those who are criticizing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act:
Even if we put aside the arguments of WFA, the pure, blatant plunder involved in the war, there is still theconstantly escalating cost
of the Iraq War. It's not entirely clear what the increase in money is for, whether it's for the greater use of airpower or payments for mercenaries, but the cost-per-month has been rising steadily, from nearly $5 billion per month in 2003 to over $11 billion per month in 2007.
The Bush Administration has had otherfinancially-suspicious problems
Those who follow the history of the 9/11 fact-finding movement know that there is a laundry-list of unanswered questions that are just as compelling as those put forth by Bergman.
George W. Bushran two oil companies
as a private citizen back during the 1980s, Arbusto and Spectrum 7 and was on the board of directors for Harken Energy, altogether equaling about four years of deep involvement with energy production. Oil pricesremained relatively stable
until he took office and then really started rising about the beginning of 2003 and reaching a peak at the end of 2008. They then dropped precipitously. Apparently, Bushnever had a clue
as to why that was. In April 2008, he said:
The idea that Bush couldn't fix the high price of oil is something I find entirely credible. What I do not find credible is that someone so deeply involved in energy somehow didn't have a clue as to why oil prices were as high as they were. My own suspicion is that hisconstant saber-rattling
towards Iran had an absolutely huge amount to do with it. As to the effect that the oil price rise had on the economy, a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) paper from July 2006 (PDF
) showed that
Other, macroeconomic effects were more modest, effecting the US economy by a quarter to a half of a percentage point. Corporations were significantly less affected than households were. The CBO study lists a few foreign problems and adds:
In hisState of the Union
Address for 2007, Bush announced:
This entirely accurate assessment was, unfortunately, not followed up with any significant action. A year and a half later, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedmandescribed
Bush's energy policy thusly:
Bush accurately identified the problem, but did nothing to solve it.
Bush's big priority upon taking office in 2001 was tax cuts. Throughout the debate over the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, "tax cuts" were the Republicananswer to everything
. How did that 2001 tax cut work out? Paul Krugman put togethera chart
showing the effects of the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and also of 2003. The effects of the tax cuts? Negligible. If Krugman didn't mark where the tax cuts occurred, we'd never have known that anything had been done. And actually, the Clintontax increase
of 1993 appears to have had a seriouspositive
What's the really primary economic problem of the day? Economist Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) tells Congress (PDF
) that the housing bubble is. He dates it from 1996 to 2006, so yes, the problem originated during the Clinton Administration. In a round table with CNBC (Video
), Baker places the bulk of the blame squarely on Alan Greenspan's shoulders. And what was Republican Senator John McCain'sopinion
of Greenspan's expertise?
So, do Republicans have any credibility when it comes to the economy? Can the party make the slightest claim to expertise? Sorry, but no.