I will talk loudly and late into the evening about my personal disappointments and philosophical differences with both Presidents Bush.
But I believe GHWB41 to be perhaps the finest man to ever hold the office. After I read a sequence of presidential biographies a few years ago, it was my conclusion that there were no better persons -- there were certainly better presidents. But read his All the Best, My Life in Letters and you will be swept away by his integrity and decency.
I ache at the policy differences that have grown between me and GWB43. Yet I remain proud of my efforts to elect him in 2000 and 2004 and hold no illusion that VP Gore or Senator Kerry would have been half as good as W, with all his failings.
And -- as far as integrity and decency. Prof. Mankiw links to this and says "Students often ask me what George W. Bush is like as a person. This story from Dana Perino gives a great sense of what I saw and experienced as well."
He spent too much and trusted Executive power -- and government in general -- too much. But. yes, I miss ol' W.
This week something changed. George W. Bush is back, for the unveiling of his presidential library. His numbers are dramatically up. You know why? Because he's the farthest thing from Barack Obama. -- "Our Margaret"
I don't wish to rekindle the Quantum Theory debate, but it is interesting to speculate on counterfactuals and how the world would have been if... The BBC Show Red Dwarf suggested that if Quantum Theory holds true, there would be a universe "where Ringo was a really good drummer."
And there might be one where President George Bush pursued his domestic agenda without the exigencies of 9/11. This, admittedly, could be a utopian or dystopian tale...
But lost for all time was the campaign coinage "tollbooths to the middle class." I don't know if a domestic W would have fixed them, but it is an important concept that is ignored in progressive politics. It is swell to give $1,000 to everybody who makes less than 10,000, but the marginal rate on a worker making 9,999 is roughly, negative-eleven-billiondy-one per cent. Which is what economists call "a lot."
Professor Daniel P. Kessler details the effects of ObamaCare® on this:
Fixing the notch is not so easy. To phase out the subsidy smoothly for families with incomes of 134% to 400% of poverty, the law would have to take away $22,700 in subsidies as a family's income rose to $93,700 from $31,389. In other words, for every dollar earned in this income range, a family's subsidy would have to decline by 36 cents. On top of 25% federal income taxes, 5% state income taxes, and 15% Social Security taxes, this implies a reward to work of less than 20 cents on the dollar--in economists' language, an implicit marginal tax rate of over 80%. Although economists may differ on the effect of taxes on work effort, it is hard to fathom how anyone could argue that this will not reduce economic activity.
It gets worse. There are also subsidies to cover the deductibles and copayments of insurance policies purchased through an exchange--and like the premium subsidies, these subsidies also phase out with income. There is also the likelihood that federal and state income taxes on upper-middle income families will have to be raised above current levels to finance the cost of the subsidy, the Medicaid expansion, and other provisions of the new law. Both of these effects exacerbate the law's negative work incentives.
And this is just new legislation. These pernicious effects are layered on top of welfare, food support, housing subsidies, and all the other tollbooths Governor Bush highlighted in 1999.
No doubt we differ in our opinion of 43 (who also liked to refer to presidents by ordinal), but Decision Points offers Bush's own view on many of the issues we have beat up on these very pages. You want to hate him for TARP or Medicare Part D, it is certainly your prerogative. I found I could go along with about any of his explanations -- you've heard me make most of them -- but I cannot join him on "when people hurt, government must act." He never questions that. He's essentially a market guy, but lacks Reagan's (and our) skepticism of government. For all of Senator McCain's blather, George W. Bush is the modern day's Theodore Roosevelt. And I do not mean that in the nicest way.
But after two years of his successor, it is hard not to feel nostalgia for his decency, probity, and patriotism. Without saying the present occupant of 1600 Penn lacks these, a few hundred pages of President Bush (and Laura's which I read right before) refreshes because he wears his love of country, freedom and our nation's military on his sleeve.
A mixed bag indeed. Of the 14 chapters, the one I found most difficult to accept was the penultimate on "The Financial Crisis." "Wall Street had a party and we all got the hangover" not only lacks nuance, but also connection to reality. He spins around and expresses cogent thoughts on Fannie and Freddie and comes close to questioning whether Federal largesse should subsidize minority home ownership, but he won't say a word against Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan and one is left -- at the very end of the book -- with the thought that he doesn't get it.
I quibble, and you will too. But it is a fun, interesting, and informative read. ThreeSourcers will know the policy but will enjoy the anecdotes. Four solid stars -- plus a quarter for pissing off Jacques Chirac again. One last time.
Keith Hennessey shares his recollections of the President and people he knew:
Nine years ago today President Bush visited Ground Zero in New York City. One lasting image is of the President, standing on a pile of rubble with his hand on the shoulder of a firefighter named Bob Beckwith, talking to the rescue workers with a bullhorn.
The media tried to paint Bush as the privileged yuppie, masquerading as the Texas rancher, idly chain-sawing on his spread. But at least Bush went to the Texas outback for vacation and got his hands dirty. Obama’s problem is that Axelrod and Emanuel could not stage a chain-sawing task for Obama if they tried — severe injury would surely follow. -- VDH
Surprising Jump in Tax Revenues Is Curbing Deficit
According to the NYTimes, the President's policies seem to be working better than expected:
WASHINGTON — An unexpectedly steep rise in tax revenues from corporations and the wealthy is driving down the projected budget deficit this year, even though spending has climbed sharply because of the war and the cost of [Gulf States] relief.
On Tuesday, White House officials are expected to announce that the tax receipts will be about $250 billion above last year's levels and that the deficit will be about $100 billion less than what they projected six months ago.
You smart kids are way in front of me, aren't you: the date is July 9, 2006. Mister Laffer, Mister Art Laffer, Please call your office!
HT: Insty, showing a startling graph which attributes spending to the Iraq War (Dr. Deepak Lal, please call your office) although Afghanistan seems to be conveniently omitted.
Sir Paul quipped to President Obama at the Library of Congress show that "after eight years, we are Happy to have a President who knows what a library is."
This cheesed me off for several reasons. Umm, he married a librarian. But more importantly, he really was an avid reader. Michael Powell shares a quote from Perfesser Obama with the Columbia Journalism Review:
'Yeah, you have very little chance to really read. I basically floss my teeth and watch Sports Center.'"
I understand Jesse Jackson is not too big on the 20th Amendment:
"All of that talk of bipartisanship begins now," Jackson said. "And the new president deserves his vision to be implemented immediately."
But I will close the last weeks of his administration with a few kind words and thoughts. Here’s Larry Kudlow, with a laudatory review of W's G-20 speech:
Here’s another uplifting passage from Mr. Bush: “Free-market capitalism is far more than an economic theory. It is the engine of social mobility — the highway to the American Dream. And it is what transformed America from a rugged frontier to the greatest economic power in history — a nation that gave the world the steamboat and the airplane, the computer and the CAT scan, the Internet and the iPod.”
Capping all this off, Bush said, “The triumph of free-market capitalism has been proven across time, geography, culture, and faith. And it would be a terrible mistake to allow a few months of crisis to undermine 60 years of success.”
I don't think that sentiment is shared by the 44th -- or, to be fair, his opponent.
He's taken his lumps on these pages, but I have agreed with Jay Nordlinger for some time that we are going to miss President Bush, whoever wins the election. We know now, and I am even more certain.
Terri at I Think ^(Link) Therefore I Err brings us I Love George W Bush Day. It's full of linkedy goodness, but here's a quote I like from former Speechwriter Michael Gerson:
But that humanity is precisely what I will remember. I have seen President Bush show more loyalty than he has been given, more generosity than he has received. I have seen his buoyancy under the weight of malice and his forgiveness of faithless friends. Again and again, I have seen the natural tug of his pride swiftly overcome by a deeper decency — a decency that is privately engaging and publicly consequential.
I'm guessing that a few ThreeSourcers will not be too anxious to participate in I Love George W. Bush Day, but the Gerson quote sums up an appreciation I will keep that goes beyond politics or polity.
Conservatives are down on President Bush, often unreasonably, I believe. I also think they’re a little ungrateful — ungrateful, spoiled, and smug. They will miss him sorely when he’s gone, I feel sure. This is true whether a Republican or a Democrat succeeds him.
One thing they will miss, I predict, is his truth-telling. I don’t believe they realize how rare it is to have a man in the highest office who over and over again tells the truth — boldly and unapologetically. I thought of this, not for the first time, when reading the speech Bush gave about Cuba yesterday. I hope you will want to read it all (here). But let me offer a couple of snippets:
Cuba’s rulers promised individual liberty. Instead they denied their citizens basic rights that the free world takes for granted. In Cuba it is illegal to change jobs, to change houses, to travel abroad, and to read books or magazines without the express approval of the state. It is against the law for more than three Cubans to meet without permission. Neighborhood Watch programs do not look out for criminals. Instead, they monitor their fellow citizens — keeping track of neighbors’ comings and goings, who visits them, and what radio stations they listen to. The sense of community and the simple trust between human beings is gone.
To say once more: The president has told the truth. He has said things about Cuba that you will never hear from the major university faculties, or the major newspapers, or the major movie studios. And I, for one, will not forget it.
Yes, he spent too much in his first term; yes, he had steel tariffs in place for about two seconds; yes, the prescription-drug benefit is sketchy; yes, there have been mistakes on the war; yes, Harriet Miers — etc., etc. But do you realize how rare this president is? If you don’t now — I have a feeling you will later.
I see some truth tellers in the GOP field. Mayor Giuliani and Senator Thompson seem well qualified to continue truth telling (my leftist friends all call it arrogance). I'm not so sure about Governor Romney.
The President does indeed deserve more points for this than he gets. From Conservatives or Libertarians..
President Bush has taken some licks on these pages of late. I offer heartfelt support for his "philosophical" objections to expanding SCIHP. WaPo:
President Bush yesterday rejected entreaties by his Republican allies that he compromise with Democrats on legislation to renew a popular program that provides health coverage to poor children, saying that expanding the program would enlarge the role of the federal government at the expense of private insurance.
The president said he objects on philosophical grounds to a bipartisan Senate proposal to boost the State Children's Health Insurance Program by $35 billion over five years. Bush has proposed $5 billion in increased funding and has threatened to veto the Senate compromise and a more costly expansion being contemplated in the House.
GOP legislators are willing to sell any principles they have left at pennies on the dollar and the President is bucking them up. Well done.
William Kristol "invites ridicule" on the pages of the WaPo today with a guest editorial titled "Why Bush Will be a Winner." Wow. Give the man contrarian points.
Let's step back from the unnecessary mistakes and the self-inflicted wounds that have characterized the Bush administration. Let's look at the broad forest rather than the often unlovely trees. What do we see? First, no second terrorist attack on U.S. soil -- not something we could have taken for granted. Second, a strong economy -- also something that wasn't inevitable.
And third, and most important, a war in Iraq that has been very difficult, but where -- despite some confusion engendered by an almost meaningless "benchmark" report last week -- we now seem to be on course to a successful outcome.
I'll surprise no one around here by agreeing. He lists accomplishments quite a bit like I did. SCOTUS picks, Tax Cuts, Medicare Part D. On his most visible legislative failures, Kristol asserts "And with respect to the two second-term proposals that failed -- private Social Security accounts and immigration -- I suspect that something similar to what Bush proposed will end up as law over the next several years."
Plucked from the wide ranging philosophical discussion around here of late, I still see it as a win. We were spared four years of President Gore (I just watched "An Inconvenient Truth." Score that as a bullet dodged!), and four years of President Kerry (how would the Court look with two of his picks replacing Rehnquist and O'Connor?)
Even with President Bush's abysmal poll numbers, he does not seem to be dragging down the likely GOP nominees. I'll happily debate whether this administration has been good for the cause of liberty (and I'll happily take the affirmative) but I cannot believe anybody 'round these parts would have been happier if he had lost either election.
President George W. Bush on Monday commuted the 30-month prison sentence handed to Lewis “Scooter” Libby, former chief of staff to vice president Dick Cheney, for lying and obstructing justice.
I do not like this decision. Perhaps Libby's punishment was a little too harsh, but I very much agree with the comments of Orin Kerr:
Nonetheless, I find Bush's action very troubling because of the obvious special treatment Libby received. President Bush has set a remarkable record in the last 6+ years for essentially never exercising his powers to commute sentences or pardon those in jail. His handful of pardons have been almost all symbolic gestures involving cases decades old, sometimes for people who are long dead. Come to think of it, I don't know if Bush has ever actually used his powers to get one single person out of jail even one day early. If there are such cases, they are certainly few and far between. So Libby's treatment was very special indeed.
I'm going to call blogger prerogative and promote a comment thread into a new post. To get the current thread, read this post or this for some superb guest commentary. What started a few posts before as a discussion of the debate contretemps between Rep. Ron Paul and Mayor Rudy Giuliani morphed into a discussion of pragmatism and what might be the great question of politics: in a Madisonian system, how far do you go to seek a candidate you truly agree with and when do you tolerate the lesser of two evils?
The newest turn questions President Bush. Perry Eidelbus parries my defense of W:
Besides, what has Bush done to deserve accolades? Tax cuts, excellent. Private health savings accounts, good. Pushing for Social Security reform, fine. But the rest of his administration has been raping the Constitution, whether it's out-Hitlering Giuliani with the "Patriot" Act, or out-Demming the Democrats with everything from NCLB to the prescription drug bill. Bruce Bartlett calls the latter the worst legislation ever passed, and he could be right.
I’ll be one of the 29% or whatever who will defend this President. I don’t claim he has aligned closely with my beliefs, but several aspects of his administration have been very positive. My list of achievements is longer than yours:
You left out the best, my friend: the appointment of Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito. Two inspired choices, confirmed.
The tax cuts are a massive achievement. The continued defense has been solid (legislatively, I think the rhetoric could be a lot better).
Publicly sharing the Senate’s 0-95 vote for Kyoto with the rest of the world.
Toppling the Taliban in Afghanistan
Toppling Saddam Hussein in Iraq (yup, I still score that as a plus. I’m a Sharanskyite and consider an unstable free society a step up from a stable fear society).
Allowing Yassir Arafat’s PA government to fall instead of propping it (and Arafat) up with White House visits, summits, extra aid and diplomacy.
Appointing Mark McClellan to the FDA (sadly, too short lived)
Appointing Paul Wolfowitz to the World Bank, then Robert Zoellick after the professional thieves chased him out. Even National Review took a break from Bush bashing this week to highlight those two exceptional choices.
John Bolton to UN (also, sadly, too short a tenure).
You applaud HSAs and Social Security private accounts then decry NCLB and Medicare Part D. I lump them all into his idea of an “ownership society.” He is willing (too willing perhaps but hang in there) to trade some Federal control or additional spending to infuse a free market incentive structure. This pragmatist imagines that the additional spending and regulation are coming either way. The structure might pay long term benefits.
These accomplishments have come with a narrow Congressional majority, a sharply divided electorate and the most extreme exogenous events that any President since Lincoln has encountered. To return to my Bush vs. Congress argument, I’d say that a braver, more visionary Congressional caucus could have accomplished even more.
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
If I may borrow Mr. Jefferson's words, it is time that I dissolve my political bands with Peggy Noonan.
WHEREAS, Ms. Noonan is a gifted writer and is herein recognized as an eloquent voice for the Reagan Wing of the Republican Party,
WHEREAS, Ms, Noonan has written several exceptional books. "What I Saw at the Revolution" being jk's favorite book to explain Republican ideas to moderates, "A Cross, A Heart and a Flag" being a touching look at post-9/11 America, and "The Case Against Hillary Clinton" being perhaps the best book about the Clinton Years and impeachment,
NEVERTHELESS, Ms. Noonan has now completely descended into the overly personal, hectoring style of punditry that she has flirted with for several years. Her elitist views have come further out on display and she has resorted to personal attacks against those with whom she differs.
The beginning of my own sense of separation from the Bush administration came in January 2005, when the president declared that it is now the policy of the United States to eradicate tyranny in the world, and that the survival of American liberty is dependent on the liberty of every other nation. This was at once so utopian and so aggressive that it shocked me. For others the beginning of distance might have been Katrina and the incompetence it revealed, or the depth of the mishandling and misjudgments of Iraq.
What I came in time to believe is that the great shortcoming of this White House, the great thing it is missing, is simple wisdom. Just wisdom--a sense that they did not invent history, that this moment is not all there is, that man has lived a long time and there are things that are true of him, that maturity is not the same thing as cowardice, that personal loyalty is not a good enough reason to put anyone in charge of anything, that the way it works in politics is a friend becomes a loyalist becomes a hack, and actually at this point in history we don't need hacks.
Pundits need not preserve fealty or obeisance to the administration, but the public "I separated with them on this date, because of ..." is too personal, and should be used cautiously because of the ammunition it provides to political opponents.
Ms. Noonan lunches at trendy restaurants with other Manhattenites. Like Sullivan, I do not see it as courageous to stop defending your principles and to assume the views of others in your peer group. This has been a long time coming, but I declare my Independence from the bands of Ms. Noonan. I wish her well.
President George W. Bush today announced the recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Nation's highest civil award. Established by Executive Order 11085 in 1963, the Medal may be awarded by the President "to any person who has made an especially meritorious contribution to (1) the security or national interests of the United States, or (2) world peace, or (3) cultural or other significant public or private endeavors." President Bush will honor these recipients at a White House ceremony on Friday, December 15, 2006.
Among the 10 on the list?
Natan Sharansky was imprisoned in the gulag by the Soviet regime for his work to advance religious liberty and human rights. He remained steadfast in his defiance of tyranny and has continued to champion the principles that all people deserve to live in freedom and that the advance of liberty is critical to peace and security around the world.
and BB King
Riley "B.B." King is one of the greatest blues singers and guitarists of all time. For more than half a century, the "King of the Blues" and his guitar "Lucille" have thrilled audiences, influenced generations of guitarists, and helped give the blues its special place in the American musical tradition.
There are eight others, but it's at least a ThreeSources two-fer.
Bush's approval is not up because of his speeches on terrorism, or some other baseless, purely conjectural reason. Bush's approval is up because gas prices are down. This is probably related to releasing part of the strategic reserves this spring, just as in 2004 around election time it was related to making a deal with the Saudis to increase oil production. It didn't stop raining because God stopped peeing. Bush's approval is not up because he is using better talking points in his speeches.
That gas prices are dropping around election time is no surprise at all. In fact, I predicted it would happen five weeks ago. When a power-mad administration is this marinated in the oil industry, and when it isn't exactly a state secret (except, apparently, for journalists) that Presidential approval has long been tied to the price of gas, of course the Bush administration was going to do something to lower the prices of gas around election time.
I don't think Chris has any idea about the oil supply line and market reaction times.
If releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in the spring cuts prices in September, how can Saudi production increases "around election time" have an immediate affect on gas prices? Shouldn't they both be instant? or both delayed?
The post begs the question, why "a power-mad administration this marindated in the oil industry" that has enough control over the price of oil, would allow fuel prices to rise? Why not keep us all fat, dumb and filling our Hummers? It's easier for a President to get his way if he's liked.
But don't sweat the details. According to Mr Bowers, there's no need for concern about the numbers unless the Republicans can gain another three or four points.
He doesn't say what that means, but since we're in conspiracy mode, I think it means that Republicans are in Diebold range.
Update: Incidentally, lest you believe that this is a fringe liberal idea... here's a picture of Chris Bowers meeting with former President Bill Clinton the other day.
Just when you thought l'Affaire Plame could not get any stranger, Michael "Spikey" Isikoff and The Nation's David Corn release a book with the miscreants finally identified. Whodunit? The State Department.
Thankfully, Christopher Hitchens and the Wall Street Journal have read the book so you don't have to. Hitch casually mentions that
What does emerge from Hubris is further confirmation of what we knew all along: the extraordinary venom of the interdepartmental rivalry that has characterized this administration. In particular, the bureaucracy at the State Department and the CIA appear to have used the indiscretion of Armitage to revenge themselves on the "neoconservatives" who had been advocating the removal of Saddam Hussein. Armitage identified himself to Colin Powell as Novak's source before the Fitzgerald inquiry had even been set on foot. The whole thing could—and should—have ended right there. But now read this and rub your eyes: William Howard Taft, the State Department's lawyer who had been told about Armitage (and who had passed on the name to the Justice Department)
also felt obligated to inform White House counsel Alberto Gonzales. But Powell and his aides feared the White House would then leak that Armitage had been Novak's source—possibly to embarrass State Department officials who had been unenthusiastic about Bush's Iraq policy. So Taft told Gonzales the bare minimum: that the State Department had passed some information about the case to Justice. He didn't mention Armitage. Taft asked if Gonzales wanted to know the details. The president's lawyer, playing the case by the book, said no, and Taft told him nothing more.
Corn himself, Hitch reminds us, had portrayed the affair a little differently:
The Wilson smear was a thuggish act. Bush and his crew abused and misused intelligence to make their case for war. Now there is evidence Bushies used classified information and put the nation's counter-proliferation efforts at risk merely to settle a score. It is a sign that with this gang politics trumps national security.
The Wall Street Journal Ed page, even less a friend to the Powell State Department points out the mendacity and insubordination of the President's cabinet.
At a minimum, there appears to be a serious question of disloyalty here. By keeping silent, Messrs. Powell and Armitage let the President take political heat for the case, while also letting Mr. Rove, Mr. Libby and other White House officials twist in the wind for more than two years. We also know that it was the folks in Mr. Powell's shop--including his former chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson and intelligence officer Carl Ford Jr.--who did so much to trash John Bolton's nomination to be Ambassador to the U.N. in 2005. The State Department clique that Mr. Bush tolerated for so long did tremendous damage to his Administration.
As for Justice, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft recused himself from the case in an act of political abdication. That left then-Deputy Attorney General James Comey in charge, and he also presumably knew about Mr. Armitage's role as the leaker who started it all. Yet if the book's account is correct, he too misled the White House with his silence. Mr. Comey is also the official who let Mr. Fitzgerald alter his mandate from its initial find-the-leaker charge to the obstruction and perjury raps against Mr. Libby that are all this case has come down to. Remind us never to get in a foxhole with either Mr. Comey or the Powell crowd.
I enjoyed Colin Powell's autobiography and have total respect for his service to country. I've always considered him a McCain-type guy who appreciates accolades from Washington society a little more than his principles.
This episode, however, places him in a different light. He sat back and watched the administration suffer a PR nightmare and key staff be subjected to expensive and grueling legal troubles. Secretary Powell was clearly out of line here. My respect has held up through many things, but not this. He is just another unprincipled politician walking the streets of our nation's capital. More disappointing that he knows the importance of freedom yet will not fight for it.
But it's hard to see anything but politics as the motivation for Fitzgerald's handling of the Plame affair. The facts indicate that Fitzgerald knew early on that the original leaker was State Department official Richard Armitage. So why did Fitzgerald let a cloud hang over White House adviser Karl Rove's head for so long? And why is Fitzgerald continuing to hound Libby, the former vice presidential chief of staff?
The answer seems to be that Armitage, who is charged with nothing and brags that he hasn't even consulted a lawyer, was former Secretary of State Colin Powell's right-hand man and a critic of pre-emptive war in Iraq. Libby, on the other hand, was an architect of that war strategy. Do doves get a pass in Fitzgerald's book, while hawks get an indictment?
Though I am an ardent supporter of President Bush I feel that he could have taken a more brazen position and challenged Congress to secure the borders immediatly with troops and fences. His approval would surely be catapulted into more popular opinion rather than the 29th percentile where he's recently found refuge. His base would have renewed faith in a President re-elected to pass his agenda which he has been less than stellar in furthering.
This was truly a missed opportunity in some regards and an employment of appropriate measures in others. The President surely didn't compromise his already lack luster appeal. But he didn't capitalize on a tremendous opportunity either.
President Bush did exactly what he had to do tonight: Hit the middle, agreeing to the fence, to a large increase in Border Patrol personnel and funding, tamper-proof identification, National Guard back-up of ICE for at least a year, the end of catch-and-release, blunt talk on the impossibility of mass deportation, an insistence on English, and a commitment to a guest worker program that will take pressure off enforcement by funneling large numbers of immigrant workers into the legal line.
In related news, CNN ran Bush's rehearsal "mistakenly."
[N]ew IRS statistics on the taxes Americans pay show that George Bush's tax policies actually soak the rich.
It turns out that the income tax burden has substantially shifted onto the wealthy. The percentage of federal income taxes paid by those who make more than $200,000 a year has actually risen from 41% to 47% in recent years.
In other words, the richest 3 out of 100 Americans are now paying close to the same amount in income taxes as the other 97% of workers combined.
It's also a common myth that the rich are hording all the wealth, while the middle class stays stuck in economic quicksand.
The IRS data show that the share of all income earned by the wealthiest 10% of Americans has actually fallen since 2001. The rich are earning less of the total income but paying more of the total taxes.
During this economic expansion, the middle class is growing and becoming more prosperous. About 4 out of 10 Americans now make more than $50,000 a year -- that's up from 3 out of 10 in 1990.
There's more good news. Tax revenues over the past two years are up more than half a trillion dollars — the largest two-year increase in tax collections in history.
Bush cut the capital gains and dividend taxes, but guess what? Now those tax receipts are through the roof in the last two years.
James Taranto has an interesting post today responding to a blogger who thinks that conservatives are smearing their opponents with the word "liberal." It's a good piece and goes beyond my description.
One comment really hit home for me:
To some extent, too, the pro-Bush sentiment on the right that so upsets Greenwald is a product of the anti-Bush fanaticism of the left. There is a sort of Newton's Third Law of politics, which was at work during the previous administration as well. People on the left who reviled Bill Clinton's policies in such areas as trade, welfare and capital punishment nonetheless backed him, and supported him fervently when Congress impeached him.
For most conservatives, Bush is not perfect but he is far better than the alternatives that were on offer in 2000 and 2004. Those on the left who look at the right and see blind loyalty for the most part are actually viewing a reflection of their own blind hate.
I certainly feel that way frequently. Perhaps less around here, where we frequently take a whack at the current administration.
But out in polite society, I feel it my job to defend President Bush -- in many ways because his attackers are so strident. Politics.
President Bush's "tax cuts for the rich" have boosted Federal Revenue more than 15%. Lower tax rates get more revenue. Freedom pays for itself sometimes, if you let it.
The WSJ Ed page gives props to Art Laffer and his napkin illustration that launched Reaganomics and the Bush cuts in Real Tax Cuts Have Curves
Now we have overpowering confirming evidence from the Bush tax cuts of May 2003. The jewel of the Bush economic plan was the reduction in tax rates on dividends from 39.6% to 15% and on capital gains from 20% to 15%. These sharp cuts in the double tax on capital investment were intended to reverse the 2000-01 stock market crash, which had liquidated some $6 trillion in American household wealth, and to inspire a revival in business capital investment, which had also collapsed during the recession. The tax cuts were narrowly enacted despite the usual indignant primal screams from the greed and envy lobby about "tax cuts for the super rich."
Of course, our beloved legislators have just increased spending to compensate -- but that is another story and another problem.
Making the tax cuts permanent may be the most important issue under consideration today. Too many in both houses still think that you have to "pay" for tax cuts.
I've been pretty kind to the President of late -- it's time for "equal time."
Seriously, I was very impressed with the Russian trip (as was Natan Sharansky -- did you catch him on Kudlow & Co.?) but it is hard to argue with Perfesser Reynolds
[...]but this seems to me to be a purely political fight, and one I'm not terribly interested in. If I thought that Bush were likely to nominate actual small-government strict constructionists to the Supreme Court, perhaps I'd care more, but I've seen no sign that he's likely to do that.
His wife might be the comedienne, but President Bush bas got some serious stones, saying:
"We will not repeat the mistakes of other generations, appeasing or excusing tyranny, and sacrificing freedom in the vain pursuit of stability. We have learned our lesson; no one's liberty is expendable. In the long run, our security and true stability depend on the freedom of others."
Bush singled out the 1945 Yalta agreement signed by Roosevelt in a speech opening a four-day trip focused on Monday's celebration in Moscow of the 60th anniversary of Nazi Germany's defeat.
So...FDR gave away too much at Malta -- the emperor has no clothes -- the President this President has finally said it.
Hold the presses. A Democrat magazine has a beef with a GOP President!
But wait -- I agree. TNR charges that the Bush administration cannot be trusted to put free trade over politics.
It would be one thing if Bush were acting to protect a growth industry. But domestic textile manufacturing has been on the wane for decades--not only because of competition from abroad, but because, as textile industry CEO Gary Heiman wrote in The Washington Post earlier this month, "American textile companies didn't discard failed business models and evolve when they had a chance." Unlike other sectors, the textile industry has been slow to invest in research and development and switch to higher-end products, in which it might hold a competitive advantage. Thus a supposedly principled conservative administration is willing to go to the mat for an industry that has proved unwilling to keep up with the rest of the economy. Bush has often espoused a God-helps-those-who-help-themselves economic philosophy. But, apparently, he's not above giving an undeserved handout to those who can help him politically.
The trade deficit, or as the WSJ Ed Page calls it "The Capital Surplus," will continue to scare average Americans who do not understand comparative advantage. Will W and GOP Senators stick to principles or bow to political pressure?
If George W. Bush were to discover a cure for cancer, his critics would denounce him for having done it unilaterally, without adequate consultation, with a crude disregard for the sensibilities of others. He pursued his goal obstinately, they would say, without filtering his thoughts through the medical research establishment. And he didn't share his research with competing labs and thus caused resentment among other scientists who didn't have the resources or the bold--perhaps even somewhat reckless--instincts to pursue the task as he did. And he completely ignored the World Health Organization, showing his contempt for international institutions. Anyway, a cure for cancer is all fine and nice, but what about aids?
Weekly Standard? National Review? A new Ann Coulter Column? Nope Martin Peretz's The Politics of Churlishness in TNR. Subtitled "Giving George W. Bush his due on Democracy."
I don't know if it gets better from there, but it holds the tone throughout:
So the situation is certainly complex. But complexity is not a warrant for despair. The significant fact is that Bush's obsession with the democratization of the region is working. Have Democrats begun to wonder how it came to pass that this noble cause became the work of Republicans? They should wonder if they care to regain power. They should recall that Clinton (and the sanctimonious Jimmy Carter even more so) had absolutely no interest in trying to modify the harsh political character of the Arab world. What they aspired to do was to mollify the dictators--to prefer the furthering of the peace process to the furthering of the conditions that make peace possible. The Democrats were the ones who were always elevating Arafat. He was at the very center of their road map. After he stalked out of a meeting room in Paris during cease-fire talks in late 2000, Albright actually ran in breathless pursuit to lure him back. It was the Democrats who perpetuated Arafat's demonic sway over the Palestinians, and it was the Democrats who sustained him among the other Arabs. And so the cause of Arab democracy was left for the Republicans to pursue. After September 11, the cause became a matter also of U.S. national security.
It has been heartening, in recent months, to watch some Democratic senators searching for ways out of the politics of churlishness. Some liberals appear to have understood that history is moving swiftly and in a good direction, and that history has no time for their old and mistaken suspicion of American power in the service of American values. One does not have to admire a lot about George W. Bush to admire what he has so far wrought. One need only be a thoughtful American with an interest in proliferating liberalism around the world. And, if liberals are unwilling to proliferate liberalism, then conservatives will. Rarely has there been a sweeter irony.
Strong medicine for the Democrats again from TNR. Will they take it or will they hide the pills in the drawer?
I read Sharansky's "The Case for Democracy" because I had heard how much the President had enjoyed it and believed in its content.
The WSJ Ed Page today gives us two more titles on the Presidential book list (paid site, sorry!): Ron Chernow's biography of Alexander Hamilton, and the surprise entry of Tom Wolfe's "I Am Charlotte Simmons." While many are stunned by the last pick, my buddies at Dow Jones (and I) defend it:
Our reaction is a little different. For starters, it's hard to credit the idea that Mr. Bush is a cretin when Mr. Wolfe is a favorite author. On the contrary, both men have succeeded largely because they are in touch with the kinds of cultural currents the liberal establishment rarely notices (or considers beneath notice). Mr. Wolfe himself noted just before the election that "I would vote for Bush if for no other reason than to be at the airport waving off all the people who say they are going to London if he wins again."
I'm holding my head high because I have read and enjoyed each of these. I am learning just enough history after a life of ignoring it to become intrigued with a specific period. The rise of factionalism and party politics over Jefferson's two terms is full of interesting characters like Jefferson, Hamilton, Burr, George Clinton, &c. But it is also the time when the ideals of the revolution were put into pragmatic application.
And the Wolfe book is important because it is popular. Zeitgeist is a pretentious word even for a pedantic buffoon like me, but Wolfe has captured it in the 80'2 with Bonfire, the 90's with "Man in Full," and now the 00's.
Lastly, I am not claiming that the President is an intellectual, but I think it is time for those who claim that he is not intellectually curious to tame their attacks a bit. So, I'll just sit around and wait for that to happen...