Misplaced Rage

July 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

On August 12, 2009, the Daily Beast published The GOP’s Misplaced Rage, a piece by Bruce Bartlett. In it, Bartlett, domestic policy advisory to Ronald Reagan, Treasury official under George H.W. Bush, and leading conservative economist, is highly critical of today’s Republican Party and modern day conservatism.

I think conservative anger is misplaced. To a large extent, Obama is only cleaning up messes created by Bush.

Conservative protesters should remember that the recession, which led to so many of the policies they oppose, is almost entirely the result of Bush’s policies. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the recession began in December 2007—long before Obama was even nominated. And the previous recession ended in November 2001, so the current recession cannot be blamed on cyclical forces that Bush inherited.

As an economist himself, he points out the errors Bush’s economic policies which directly caused the recession and on page two he lists the statistics which disproves what many conservatives have led themselves, or have been told, to believe about the “success” of the Bush era economy. Regarding the tax cuts favored by conservatives today, he writes:

Conservatives delude themselves that the Bush tax cuts worked and that the best medicine for America’s economic woes is more tax cuts; at a minimum, any tax increase would be economic poison. They forget that Ronald Reagan worked hard to pass one of the largest tax increases in American history in September 1982, the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act, even though the nation was still in a recession that didn’t end until November of that year. Indeed, one could easily argue that the enactment of that legislation was a critical prerequisite to recovery because it led to a decline in interest rates. The same could be said of Clinton’s 1993 tax increase, which many conservatives predicted would cause a recession but led to one of the biggest economic booms in history.

According to the CBO, federal taxes will amount to just 15.5 percent of GDP this year. That’s 2.2 percent of GDP less than last year, 3.3 percent less than in 2007, and 1.8 percent less than the lowest percentage recorded during the Reagan years. If conservatives really believe their own rhetoric, they should be congratulating Obama for being one of the greatest tax cutters in history.

He concludes:

Until conservatives once again hold Republicans to the same standard they hold Democrats, they will have no credibility and deserve no respect. They can start building some by admitting to themselves that Bush caused many of the problems they are protesting.

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