“We’ll borrow it.”
With those three words, retired United States Senator Connie Mack, a Republican from Florida and the current chair of the President’s Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform summed up the economic policy of the Bush administration.
Senator Mack made his comments in response to questions from New York Times reporter Deborah Solomon about where the government would get the money it needed to “run this country,” in an interview published last week in the New York Times Sunday Magazine.
We’ll borrow it? Well, at least he is honest. Since President Bush took office in 2001 foreign debt has risen by $985 billion to $1.99 trillion dollars. And on Halloween, the United States Treasury Department announced that it plans to borrow a record $171 billion from the markets in the first quarter of 2006. And we will need to borrow more. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the President’s budget will result in a deficit of $317 billion in fiscal year 2005 and another deficit of $332 is projected for 2006, and that’s before we spend a dime in Iraq or Afghanistan or pay for hurricane clean up and relief. Between now and 2015, the CBO projects that the President’s policies will result in total deficits of $2.6 trillion. Already under President Bush, the national debt has risen by more than $ 2 trillion and today stands at more than $8 trillion dollars. That means that every child born in the United States begins life with a debt of more than $26,000.
Yet in the face of these staggering deficits, the President continues to push tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, including a permanent repeal of the Estate Tax, which the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates would eliminate a trillion dollars in federal revenues while providing a windfall for the richest one-percent of Americans. Meanwhile the President’s Republican cronies in Congress are looking for savings by identifying deep cuts in the programs that serve the poorest Americans.
Things are no better on the foreign policy front where last week marked the death of the 2,000 soldier killed in the war in Iraq. Apparently built on shifting sands, the reasons for the war have changed from the elimination of weapons of mass destruction, to building democracy in the Middle East, to fighting Al Qaeda. Take your pick. Things are such a mess that Lawrence Wilkerson, the former deputy secretary of state under Colin Powell, in a speech to the New America Foundation and in a later opinion article recently described the foreign policy of the United States as being run by a “cabal” headed by Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. Wilkerson’s scathing remarks made clear that he believes that the Bush administration has “courted disaster” in Iraq, Iran and North Korea and has “seriously weakened the nation’s decision making process.”
Wilkerson’s words were no kinder in addressing domestic challenges where he labeled the Bush administration as “so inept that it could not cope with a major domestic disaster, adding “If something comes along that is truly serious, something like a nuclear weapon going off in a major American city, or something like a major pandemic, you are going to see the ineptitude of this government in a way that will take you back to the Declaration of Independence.” One only needs to look at the response of the Bush administration to Hurricane Katrina to realize the incompetence of those in charge. But their incompetence is not limited to their inability to respond to emergencies. Their failures are evident in almost every facet of government that matters to those citizens who don’t happen to be among the nations richest one percent. Under president Bush, Poverty has increased every year, as has the number of those without health insurance. And according to a recently released report by the Economic Policy Institute, job growth has been anemic, with the United States adding only 1.3% more jobs today than in March 2001. Meanwhile wages and income have fallen for American workers.
The bottom line is that under President Bush and his Republican regime, the citizens of the United States are not better off, and they are not safer. The policies of this administration have damaged our economy and mortgaged our future. Their hubris has squandered the good will of our friends and allies and enraged our enemies, making the world a more dangerous place. Theirs is not a record of accomplishment, but one of incompetence, failure and corruption. Maybe the Republicans should be glad to have the CIA leak scandal in the headlines, maybe it will keep the American people from seeing what is really happening a little while longer. But they shouldn’t celebrate too soon. While Scooter Libby and Karl Rove may yet go to jail for their roles as the chief salesmen of this boondoggle, History, and hopefully voters in the next election, will judge all of those involved harshly.