Category Archives: President Bush

So they said

huelskamp,tim“It could be well into Hillary Clinton’s 2nd term before ‘deficit reduction’ actually kicks in. #letsbehonest.” – Rep. Tim Huelskamp (in photo), R-Fowler, tweeting against the budget deal Wednesday

“I’ve never met anyone who uses Algebra II in their daily life.” – Kansas State Board of Education member Ken Willard of Hutchinson, questioning graduation requirements

“If you live long enough, you’re going to get a lot of awards, because they run out of recipients.” – former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole, 90, as he was presented with the World Food Program USA’s newly renamed George McGovern and Bob Dole Leadership Award

“Dear Cade (#43), Life has its setbacks. I know! However, you will be a stronger human with time. I wish you all the best. Sincerely – Another 43.” – President George W. Bush, in a handwritten note to University of Alabama kicker Chad Foster, who missed two field goals and had a third blocked during a last-second loss to Auburn

“We’re just going to agree to disagree. It’s like talking to the Republic of Korea or something.” – Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., inadvertently insulting South Korea (rather than North Korea) during testy questioning of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a House hearing

Public opinion of George W. Bush is improving

As George W. Bush’s presidential library is set to open Thursday, Americans are changing their opinion of the former president. When he left office in 2009, Bush’s approval rating was at 33 percent. A new Washington Post/ABC News survey shows Bush with a 47 percent approval rating (the same as President Obama). That is Bush’s highest approval rating since December 2005. The biggest gain was in Bush’s handling of the economy, which went from 24 percent approval in 2008 to 43 percent today. However, 57 percent of Americans still disapprove of Bush’s decision to invade Iraq.

GOP still dealing with wounds of Iraq War

The parade of commentaries looking at the Iraq War 10 years after “shock and awe” include Peggy Noonan’s blunt take on the wounds it inflicted on her Republican Party. Among her conclusions: “It ruined the party’s hard-earned reputation for foreign-affairs probity.” “It muddied up the meaning of conservatism and bloodied up its reputation.” “It ended the Republican political ascendance that had begun in 1980.” And “it undermined respect for Republican economic stewardship.” Noonan also writes that the war was bad for GOP debate: “The high stakes and high drama of the wars – and the sense within the Bush White House that it was fighting for our very life after 9/11 – stoked an atmosphere in which doubters and critics were dismissed as weak, unpatriotic, disloyal.” Meanwhile, she wonders, where are the Democrats’ self-examination and self-criticism about their foreign policy?

Biggest spending surge was before Obama

Former Reagan economist Arthur Laffer, who consulted on Kansas’ tax policy, and Stephen Moore of the Wall Street Journal noted how “the largest peacetime expansion of government spending in U.S. history” occurred during George W. Bush’s administration, not during the Obama administration. The list of spending is long, they wrote, starting with “the 2003 trillion-dollar Medicare prescription drug benefit and culminating with the actions taken to stem the 2008 financial meltdown – the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, the bailout of insurance giant AIG and government-sponsored lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the ill-advised 2008 $600-per-person tax rebate, the stimulus add-ons to 2007’s housing and farm bills, etc.” The stimulus plan and auto industry bailouts helped increase spending during Obama’s first year in office, but since then it has decreased (due in part to the recovering economy and pressure from GOP lawmakers who suddenly cared again about deficits).

Obama mirroring Bush on national security

As President Obama prepared to welcome President Bush back to the White House for today’s unveiling of portraits of the former president and first lady, columnist Eleanor Clift was among those struck by how closely Obama has mirrored his predecessor on national security issues. “Bush, perhaps more than any recent president, must feel vindicated by the policies that Obama has chosen to pursue, many of them forged in the post-9/11 era under Bush’s leadership,” Clift wrote. She also said the reporting “by Newsweek and the New York Times on how Obama personally signs off on a ‘kill list’ of al-Qaida terrorists prepared by the CIA and the Pentagon is chillingly reminiscent of the deck of playing cards that Bush used to keep score of top terrorist targets when he was in the Oval Office.”

U.S. should side with freedom

The risks and uncertainties in the Arab Spring uprisings have led some U.S. leaders to argue that we might be better off supporting authoritarian rulers in order to maintain stability in the Middle East. “But in the long run, this foreign policy approach is not realistic,” former President George W. Bush wrote in a Wall Street Journal commentary. “It is not within the power of America to indefinitely preserve the old order, which is inherently unstable.” Bush added: “America does not get to choose if a freedom revolution should begin or end in the Middle East or elsewhere. It only gets to choose what side it is on.”

Pro-con: Should Bush tax cuts be permanent?

As painful as it may have been to write this year’s check to Uncle Sam, it could be the smallest check you’ll write for years to come. That’s because all the tax-relief provisions passed in 2001 and 2003 are set to expire on Dec. 31, 2012. Without a single vote by Congress or signature by the president, federal taxes could rise by $3.8 trillion over a decade. We’re already stuck in the weakest recovery since the Great Depression. A tax hike of this magnitude could smother today’s slow growth and modest job creation. The prospects are especially grim for small businesses that pay taxes on their companies’ profits at the individual rate – they could see their top tax rates jump from 35 percent to nearly 40 percent. Congress and the president should act quickly to renew all of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts and expired or expiring business provisions. Doing this now would boost confidence, ease uncertainty and reinvigorate our recovery. – Thomas J. Donohue, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

You usually can’t reverse a bad decision by simply doing nothing, but that’s exactly the opportunity we have at the end of this year. That’s when the tax cuts for wealthy Americans passed in the early years of the Bush administration are set to expire. Though some politicians are urging that these temporary measures be made permanent, we should instead allow nature to take its course. When the first big tax cut for the wealthy was passed, in 2001, the federal government was awash in cash. And even though our fiscal situation was drastically different two years later – we were by then involved in two costly wars – still more breaks for the wealthiest taxpayers were passed into law. It’s clear we couldn’t afford these cuts in revenue. Let’s by all means extend the tax cuts benefiting families making less than $250,000 a year – which covers 98 percent of all American households. But for the sake of our economy and standing in the world, tax giveaways to those making more than that should be allowed to expire on schedule. – Will Rice, Commonwealth Project

Wishing they weren’t called ‘Bush tax cuts’

A Republican president should be proud to lend his name to any and all tax cuts, right? But President Bush said today of the tax cuts that passed during his tenure and are set to expire on Dec. 31: “I wish they weren’t called the ‘Bush tax cuts.’ If they’re called some other body’s tax cuts, they’re probably less likely to be raised.” Not that his position on them as changed. “If you raise taxes, you’re taking money out of the pockets of consumers,” he said, as he opened the Bush Institute Conference on Taxes and Economic Growth in New York City. Though he also advocated for the Keystone XL pipeline, which President Obama blocked, Bush declined to join his GOP brethren in criticizing Obama. “I don’t think it’s good, frankly, for our country to undermine our president, and I don’t intend to do so,” he said.

Bush happy to sit on sidelines

Though George W. Bush’s father and brother Jeb have endorsed Mitt Romney in recent days, the immediate past president is remaining quiet and neutral — living in Texas, giving speeches and working on his presidential library, noted Politico. Republican strategist and former Bush administration official Scott Jennings characterized Bush’s detachment as evidence of his lack of “any insecurities that need to be salved by injecting himself into a presidential primary.” Meanwhile, Democrats including President Obama are happy to bring up the Bush-era wars and the economic downturn that began on his watch.

Partisan divide is hardening in presidential politics

Gallup poll numbers show that the disparity between presidential job-approval ratings among Republicans and Democrats is hardening, the Washington Post reported. Of the 10 years with the biggest gaps between job-approval ratings, seven have occurred since 2004. Five of the 10 most-partisan years, including the top three years, were when George W. Bush was president. The biggest divide was in 2004, when Bush’s average approval rating among Republicans was 91 percent and only 15 percent among Democrats, for a 76 percent gap. President Obama, who campaigned on wanting to bridge the partisan divide, has been in the top 10 each of his three years in office, including this past year when there was a 68 percent approval gap.

Glickman praises Bush

Former Wichita congressman Dan Glickman is among those noting how President Bush’s work against AIDS and malaria is paying off. Through the establishment of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, Bush helped deliver lifesaving treatment and support to millions of children and adults around the globe. Glickman, now chairman of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, wrote: “If a lifelong Democrat can step forward to praise a conservative Republican president for his extraordinary accomplishments in global development, hopefully my colleagues — of both political parties — will see that fighting HIV/AIDS and malaria, as well as helping developing countries modernize their economies, agricultural systems and political structures, is something we can all agree protects American interests and values.”

Bush policies driving deficit now and in the future

Much has been written about how specific policy changes enacted during the Bush administration have cost $5 trillion while Obama administration policies have so far cost about $1.4 trillion. But Ezra Klein of the Washington Post contends that this disparity will get even larger in years to come (even without counting the spending cuts that were part of the debt-ceiling deal). “Obama’s major expenses were temporary — the stimulus is over now — while Bush’s were, effectively, recurring,” Klein wrote. “The Bush tax cuts didn’t just lower revenue for 10 years. It’s clear now that they lowered it indefinitely. . . . Similarly, the Medicare drug benefit is costing money on perpetuity, not just for two or three years.” Of course, Obamacare, assuming it isn’t overturned or repealed, also will add costs into the future.

Cheney may not be what you think

Stephen F. Hayes, a senior writer for the Weekly Standard and the author of a book about former Vice President Dick Cheney, wrote a commentary on five myths about Cheney. They are: Cheney ran the Bush administration. Cheney is a neocon. Cheney has never admitted a mistake regarding Iraq. Cheney has never gotten along with the press. Cheney favored a strong executive branch to expand his own power base.

Perry is conservative without Bush’s compassion

Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former President George W. Bush have similar accents, but Perry wants to make clear that they aren’t the same on some key policy issues, the Washington Post reported. Perry contends that the Bush administration’s spending habits betrayed the GOP’s core fiscal principles. Perry also dismisses Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” as government overreach, favoring a more libertarian approach. “The branding of compassionate conservatism meant that the GOP was sending the wrong signal, that conservatism alone wasn’t sufficient or worse yet, was somehow flawed and had to be rebranded,” Perry wrote in his 2010 book, “Fed Up.”

Does Obama have duty to prosecute Bush officials for use of torture?

President Obama has been plenty busy dealing with the present. But, argues Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch, the president and Attorney General Eric Holder have a legal obligation to investigate and prosecute those involved in the use of water-boarding and other torture techniques during the Bush administration. Failure to do so is damaging U.S. credibility with other countries, as well as putting U.S. service members and intelligence personnel at risk. “Obama’s inaction places the United States in violation of its international legal obligations,” Roth wrote. “The United Nations Convention Against Torture (ratified by the United States and 146 other countries), as well as the Geneva Conventions, do more than prohibit torture at all times, even in war. They also require that torture be investigated and prosecuted. The duty to prosecute is no more optional than the duty not to torture.”

The Bush-Obama era of foreign policy

“For those with eyes to see, the daylight between the foreign policies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama has been shrinking ever since the current president took the oath of office,” wrote columnist Ross Douthat. “But last week made it official: When the story of America’s post-9/11 wars is written, historians will be obliged to assess the two administrations together, and pass judgment on the Bush-Obama era.”

Tax cuts, recessions main cause of budget shortfall

Though a large majority of Americans blame the nation’s budget problems on wasteful spending, “the biggest culprit, by far, has been an erosion of tax revenue triggered largely by two recessions and multiple rounds of tax cuts,” the Washington Post reported. “Together, the economy and the tax bills enacted under former President George W. Bush, and to a lesser extent by President Obama, wiped out $6.3 trillion in anticipated revenue.” Other budget busters include the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, which have added $1.3 trillion in new borrowing, and the prescription-drug benefit for Medicare, which added $272 billion. Obama’s economic stimulus plan added $719 billion, and the Troubled Asset Relief Program, though much despised, added only $16 billion and may end up paying for itself. “All told, Obama-era choices account for about $1.7 trillion in new debt, according to a separate Washington Post analysis of CBO data over the past decade,” the Post reported. “Bush-era policies, meanwhile, account for more than $7 trillion and are a major contributor to the trillion-dollar annual budget deficits that are dominating the political debate.”

Bush’s memoir at odds with conventional wisdom

bushdepartingaf1Reading President Bush’s memoir “Decision Points,” former Bush campaign adviser Mark McKinnon recognized the man he knew and admired. “Contrary to conventional wisdom, President Bush is very smart, quietly reflective, often contrite, and deeply humble. He is also a strong leader who, while relying on the strong counsel of many around him, makes his own decisions. He was secure enough to hire a vice president like Dick Cheney, and strong enough that it was never in doubt who was the boss,” McKinnon wrote for the Daily Beast. McKinnon also said the book highlights a key difference between Bush and President Obama. “Bush never complains. He never blames others. He takes full responsibility for his campaigns, his administration, his life. He accepts the cards he’s dealt. That’s the George Bush I know.” Not surprisingly, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd had a different read of both the president and the book: “In his deftly crafted and utterly selective new memoir, W. is the president we all wished him to be: compassionate, bipartisan, funny, charming, instinctive, independent, able to admit and learn from mistakes — and a good dad, who sang his twin girls the Yale fight song as a lullaby. Heck, after I finished reading it, I was ready to vote for the guy. . . . But when I look at the sad eyes of President Obama, buried alive with his party beneath the heedless decisions and reckless spending and tax cuts of his predecessor, I snap out of it.”

Why the GOP loves the tea party

teapartyThere is a reason so many Republican incumbents are donning the tea partiers’ patriot garb. As Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan writes: “The tea party saved the Republican Party. In a broad sense, the tea party rescued it from being the fat, unhappy, querulous creature it had become, a party that didn’t remember anymore why it existed, or what its historical purpose was. The tea party, with its energy and earnestness, restored the GOP to itself.” Not only did the tea partiers spare the GOP the grief of a third-party challenge, she continues, “It got the party out from under George W. Bush. The tea party rejected his administration’s spending, overreach and immigration proposals, among other items, and has become only too willing to say so.”

Bipartisan bashing of Bush a sign of weakness

BushThis election season, Democratic and Republican members of Congress are sharing a common scapegoat: George W. Bush. Democrats are still blaming the former president for the economy’s problems, while GOP lawmakers are trying to blame Bush for the skyrocketing deficits when they were in charge. Though such scapegoating can work at the polls, it is a sign of weakness, wrote Perry Bacon Jr. of the Washington Post. It shows that Democrats lack compelling accomplishments to present to voters and that Republicans still don’t have a governing vision.

Bipartisan ignorance about TARP

duncecapNearly half of Americans incorrectly think the federal financial bailout was enacted by the Obama administration, and only 34 percent correctly know that the Troubled Asset Relief Program was a Bush administration response, according to a Pew Research survey. The ignorance is bipartisan, as Democrats (46 percent) are just as likely as Republicans (50 percent) to say TARP was passed under Obama.

Obama’s approval at new low in Kansas

Bush ObamaThe latest SurveyUSA poll, sponsored by KWCH, Channel 12, finds Kansans less enamored of President Obama than ever. In the survey, only 30 percent of Kansans approved of the job Obama is doing, down from 34 percent last month and 62 percent when he took office. For purposes of comparison: President Bush’s low of 35 percent approval in Kansas came in May 2006, when he was pushing comprehensive immigration reform that included a path to citizenship for some illegal immigrants.
Meanwhile, Kansans are evenly split on the job performance of lame-duck Gov. Mark Parkinson, with 44 percent approving and disapproving. Last month, Parkinson’s approval rating was 48 percent.

Truman and Bush — two of a kind?

trumanSixty-five years after Harry Truman’s inaugural, ex-Bush aide Mark McKinnon counts the ways that the 33rd and 43rd presidents were similar, starting with their low approval ratings (Truman bottomed out at a record-low 22 percent, compared with George W. Bush’s 25 percent) and including their faith, determination and decisions to start wars. As he ponders whether Bush might similarly rise over time in historians’ eyes, McKinnon credits historian Douglas Brinkley with a final observation about the two: “Both Truman and Bush were avatars of direct action. Neither cared much about public opinion polls or pulse-reading. At their best, they were decisive mavericks. At their worst, too-fast-of-draws.”

Not surprising that country is divided on Obama, Bush

bushmissmeNearly as many people wish President Bush were still in office as favor President Obama, according to a survey by Public Policy Polling. The results likely are more a reflection of a politically divided country and frustration with Obama than a rehabilitation of Bush’s image. Not surprisingly, the surveyed Republicans overwhelmingly now prefer Bush, while the Democrats overwhelmingly prefer Obama. Independents favor Obama over Bush by 12 points.

Obama’s trouble fueling Bush nostalgia

bushmissmeThe “Miss me yet?” billboard starring George W. Bush along I-35 in Minnesota is only one visual example of the 43rd president’s rehabilitation, which New York Times blogger Stanley Fish notes is officially under way. The March 8 of Newsweek added the cover line “Victory At Last” to a photo of Bush’s 2003 “mission accomplished” moment on the aircraft carrier. President Obama’s embrace of versions of Bush policies in Iraq and Afghanistan and inability to close Gitmo or deal decisively with terrorist detainees have fueled pro-Bush sympathies, as has the health care battle. As for history’s judgment of Bush, Fish writes: “I will venture to say that it will be more nuanced than anything the professional Bush-haters — indistinguishable in temperament from the professional Obama-haters — are now able to imagine. He will not go to the top of the list, but neither will he be the figure of fun and derision he seemed destined to be only a year ago.”
Meanwhile, here is a photo slideshow of alternative slogans for the billboard, such as “My bad.”