The Bush Effect: Economic Impacts

Several historians have referred to Dubya as one of the worst presidents in the history of the United States.  I have no doubt that this will be his legacy in the eyes of objective, rational people (the religious “Right” and conservatives need not apply to that group).  Vanity Fair has provided some statistics and projections in The Economic Consequences of Mr. Bush.  From the introduction:

When we look back someday at the catastrophe that was the Bush administration, we will think of many things: the tragedy of the Iraq war, the shame of Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib, the erosion of civil liberties. The damage done to the American economy does not make front-page headlines every day, but the repercussions will be felt beyond the lifetime of anyone reading this page.

By the way, that’s just the “short list” of Bush’s disasters.  Regarding economics:

The world was a very different place, economically speaking, when George W. Bush took office, in January 2001. During the Roaring 90s, many had believed that the Internet would transform everything. Productivity gains, which had averaged about 1.5 percent a year from the early 1970s through the early 90s, now approached 3 percent. During Bill Clinton’s second term, gains in manufacturing productivity sometimes even surpassed 6 percent. The Federal Reserve chairman, Alan Greenspan, spoke of a New Economy marked by continued productivity gains as the Internet buried the old ways of doing business. Others went so far as to predict an end to the business cycle. Greenspan worried aloud about how he’d ever be able to manage monetary policy once the nation’s debt was fully paid off.

But the Bush administration had its own ideas. The first major economic initiative pursued by the president was a massive tax cut for the rich, enacted in June of 2001. Those with incomes over a million got a tax cut of $18,000—more than 30 times larger than the cut received by the average American. The inequities were compounded by a second tax cut, in 2003, this one skewed even more heavily toward the rich. Together these tax cuts, when fully implemented and if made permanent, mean that in 2012 the average reduction for an American in the bottom 20 percent will be a scant $45, while those with incomes of more than $1 million will see their tax bills reduced by an average of $162,000.

The American government now runs much like the American – we’re not even living paycheck-to-paycheck, and we barely think of budgets when we contribute billions of dollars to disasters such as the unprovoked attack on Iraq.

Perhaps the American people are to blame.  While we’re watching the latest antics of Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan, parts of our nation our crumbling under the weight of inept leadership.  And, studies have shown that we’re getting significantly dumber.  I see a lot of opportunity here – for nations other than the United States.


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