This essay below and the three which follow should not be considered an anti-American screed. It is not anti-American to argue that George W. Bush has been bad for America. Indeed, such statements are intended for the good of America and Americans everywhere and, while fully debatable, anybody who considers my work anti-American is being, in my opinion, rather too partisan for their own good. Certainly, nothing stops plenty of Americans from thinking the way I do, and if they can think this way and still be American, I can think this way and not be anti-American.
It has to be said: George W. Bush is the worst president America has ever endured, and America will be much better off if he is defeated this November.
Why the Bush Administration Deserves Defeat, Part I: Fiscal Mismanagement
The Bush Administration's tax cut policies have reversed America's fiscal balance with little benefit to the economy. By continuing down the path they have started, the Bush Administration risks the United States' ability to govern itself and to protect the health and security of its citizens.
The numbers are pretty plain. After taking over from Bill Clinton, the new government of George W. Bush enjoyed a substantial surplus, which was largely the result of unprecidented economic growth through the 1990s (which, as I explained before, few governments can take direct credit for). He campaigned on a promise to substantially lower taxes, including giving individual Americans and households tax rebates running from $300-600. The total cost of this rebate and other tax cuts would reduce government revenues by $1.35 trillion over ten years.
Soon after George W. Bush took office, the American economy started to falter. No problem, Bush said: our tax cut will save the day by getting Americans spending again. Because, you see, a government should always cut taxes whenever the government is in surplus, because the government is overcharging the people and it's only right to give the money back. But the government should also cut taxes during an economic downturn, because it gives the American people money they don't have and the ability to spend their way back into prosperity (putting the government back into surplus as a magical side effect). Although the following statement will put my blog into PG territory: tax cuts are to the Bush Administration what orgasms are to men -- there is no such thing as a bad tax cut.
Tell that to the women, though...
The Bush Administration's tax cuts did not stop the economic downturn. The United States encountered a substantial recession, and unemployment rose. More importantly, the government fiscal balance reversed, and what was once a substantial surplus turned into a record-breaking deficit, which continues to seriously compromise the government's ability to address pressing social needs, not to mention the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq and the global War on Terror. It doesn't look like the deficit will go away soon without substantial spending cuts and tax increases -- both of which the Bush Administration seems loathe to do.
Despite putting the lie to the assertion that Democrats were always reckless spenders and Republicans always prudent fiscal managers, the Bush Administration refuses to see the serious flaws in their tax-cut dogma. Despite the fact that they singlehandedly reversed the government's fiscal balance and failed to pull the U.S. out of recession, their response has been to claim that the recession would have been deeper if they didn't act. Of course it would have: if you cling to their logic that the 1:1 relationship between cut taxes and job growth is self-evident.
It is not self-evident that tax cuts create jobs. Anybody able to look at the math with an open mind will tell you that this is so. Canadians pay higher taxes, but we avoided the recession that hobbled America throughout the early part of this decade. The last time Canadians avoided a recession the Americans suffered through was during the Eisenhauer administration. Tax cuts mean cuts to government spending, limiting the very economic activity we are hoping to stimulate. Tax cuts don't mean an increase in consumer spending when average Americans already find themselves substantially in debt.
Then there is the deficit that the tax cuts caused. The Bush Administration has gone as far to say that deficits aren't important -- a statement which turns its back on years arguments made by Republicans in favour of more prudent spending whenever Democrat leaders run deficits of their own. And a deficit as large as Bush is running has serious consequences for the future of America, especially as the Baby Boomer generation starts to retire. With 43% of American government debt being foreign owned, tens of billions of dollars are being taken out of the pockets of American taxpayers and exported out of the country. This is not fiscal prudence by any stretch of the imagination.
At the rate things are going, the interest charges on America's $6 trillion debt will rival the amount of money America spends on its military. The ability of the government to meet pressing needs in the future, like educating America's children, keeping America's seniors out of poverty, ensuring that health crises don't push average American families into bankruptcy, or even keeping America's military might atop the world order, is going to be seriously limited by the interest charges resulting from the debt that Bush is adding to.
Had the taxation and economic conditions of the United States remained the same coming out of the 1990s, America's national debt could have been paid off entirely by 2010, putting billions of real tax dollars back in American pockets. True, neither Clinton nor Bush had real control over the economy, but Bush's tax policies have not worked to restore prosperity, and are seriously flawed. The administration's dogmatic hold on this flawed economic world-view is going to make the lives of average Americans worse over the next decade. If the Bush Administration wanted a good way to kill every aspect of America's social safety net, they found it, albeit in a rather cynical and duplicitous way (assuming this was intentional). For that alone, the Bush Administration deserves defeat.
Unfortunately, it's far from the only reason.
Next Reason: Polarizing America.