As Kerry/Edwards Gets A Lift, Bush Stumbles And Lies
As the Kerry/Edwards campaign smartly moves its way through battleground states over the coming days, Karl Rove gives every indication that he is running this campaign as if it were 2000 or 2002 all over again. Let’s take a quick trip through recent developments to see some of the challenges and hypocrisies bedeviling the Bush/Cheney effort this year.
First, as I noted last night Bush has begun his counteroffensive by incredibly talking about spending restraint and keeping taxes low, attacking John Kerry’s proposals for being fiscally irresponsible. Yet this criticism by Bush is hollow, given the massive deficits he has engineered with his pathetic stewardship of the federal budget, resulting this year in a staggering one-year deficit of $445 billion. As the New York Times notes this morning, the White House blames a recession they inherited for the deficits they created, yet the recession didn’t begin until after Bush took office.
Mr. Bolten attributed the worsened government balance sheet to "an extraordinary confluence of adversity: the stock market downturn that began in 2000, and the subsequent recession that the president inherited as he took office; the terrorist attacks on America, and subsequent spending for homeland security and the war on terror; and the crisis in confidence produced by corporate scandals years in the making."
Please note the lies here. As I said, the economy didn’t slip into recession until March 2001, and came out of recession in November 2001, so the effects of the 9/11 attack on the economy were limited. The increased homeland security spending could have been paid for if the White House had dropped one or both of its tax cuts, so they are responsible for that portion of the deficit as well. The corporate scandals “years in the making” in fact all happened after Bush had been in office and had turned the SEC through Harvey Pitt into a lapdog for industry. Ken Lay looted his company eight months after Bush had been in office. Bush had given Lay what he wanted in allowing him to help write the secret Cheney energy plan, plunder California, and handpick the FERC. All of these corporate scandal-inducing CEOs were largely Bush and GOP donors. So it is ludicrous for Bush to blame the economy's problems the last three years on 9/11 and these corporate scandals by Bush's buddies, when Bush himself is partially or significantly responsible for both. Therefore, by that yardstick Mr. Bush, you are responsible for the economy's problems the last three years. Mr. Kerry should use Bush's own words and excuses and start saying this.
The White House also does not mention the effect of Bush’s tax cuts in causing these deficits, yet by many estimates anywhere from 25% to nearly 50% of the deficits we now face are a result of the Bush tax cuts. And please note that even these deficit figures are understated because they assume a rate of growth the remainder of this year (5.6% increase in GDP) that will not be met, especially after seeing the Second Quarter GDP figures tumble to only 3%. These deficit figures also don’t include the costs of supplemental appropriations for Iraq and Afghanistan later this fiscal year. And these deficit figures are actually low-balled because Bush is using Social Security surpluses to fund his fiscal mismanagement, overspending, and tax cuts for the rich.
Against this backdrop, as I said earlier, Bush incredibly began his counteroffensive by bragging about his accomplishments in education, health care, the economy, and national security. Let’s go through these one by one. Bush has broken his commitments to fund his sole educational accomplishment, the Leave No Child Behind act, and as a result, states and local school districts are departing the program. As for health care, besides the gap-filled Big PharMa giveaway and resultantly budget-busting Medicare drug benefit, what has Bush done to live up to his campaign promises of 2000 to deal with the plight of the uninsured?
Nothing. In fact, there are millions more uninsured now than there were when Bush came into office. And he still has not worked with a Congress of his own party to do anything. As for the economy, as noted earlier there are signs that the Bush recovery is slowing against a backdrop of lower paying jobs replacing higher paying ones, an increasing wage gap that may lead to slackening consumer demand, energy costs that are driving down GDP growth, and health care costs that increase unabated.
As for Bush’s claims on national security, let’s not forget that 9/11 happened on his watch, and after he did nothing to prevent the attacks during the summer of 2001 even after being told by the CIA and his own August 6, 2001 PDB that an attack inside the US by Al Qaeda was coming. Now, three years after those attacks, our ports, railways, nuclear, and chemical plants are still not safe from attack. White House claims that the Iraq war of choice was about a terror link between Saddam and Al Qaeda are now proven to be lies. The coalition in support of this misguided war is peeling away and leaving us relatively alone in the world, more vulnerable and isolated in this alleged war against terror. And yet the Bush Administration now opposes measures to ensure that nuclear weapons material is kept from terrorists. So exactly how committed is this administration to national security anyway?
So while Bush flails about looking for ways to justify another four years for his ineffective, inept, and corrupt regime, even Republican pollsters feel that Kerry came away from the convention in a very strong position.
"It's so tough for me to say to you on the record, and by that you know what I think," a Republican operative said when asked how Mr. Kerry did on Thursday." I think Kerry had a terrific convention. He presented an image that will be attractive to independents and undecideds. The convention was successful in giving the leopard new spots. For people who are just meeting Kerry for the first time, they made it tougher for our attacks to stick."
Frank Luntz, a Republican pollster who set up a focus group in Cincinnati for MSNBC, said 14 of the 20 undecided voters in the room gave Mr. Kerry high marks, with 4 who cast ballots for Mr. Bush in 2000 switching by night's end.
"When he walked into that convention, most swing voters were anti-Bush, but they certainly were not pro-Kerry," Mr. Luntz said. "He walked out of Boston having moved people to the pro-Kerry camp. It's a big deal."
So there you have it. A successful convention, a flimsy case by the president for election this year, and fear from GOP political professionals.
Let’s get to work and bury this bastard and his awful regime once and for all.