George W. Bush’s “Growth” Strategy

George W. Bush is back. And he’s got a plan!

From the NYT:

Two months from now, he plans to publish a book outlining strategies for economic growth. And on Tuesday, he made a rare return to Washington to promote freedom overseas.

Freedom overseas? Yes — it would be nice to be free of George W. Bush’s destructive and costly neocon agenda (and I know many people overseas agree) but sadly the current White House occupant seems to be following the same authoritarian script; Bush hit Iraq and Afghanistan, and Obama seems intent to continue expanding the wars into Pakistan and Yemen.

On the economy, let’s judge him on his record:

That doesn’t suggest that Bush has anything much to add to the conversation. But that doesn’t mean I think he should shut up and go away.

Here are a few prominent questions that George W. Bush might want to consider answering before slinking off back to Crawford:

  1. Why did you ignore the CIA’s warnings in the summer of 2001 that al-Qaeda could strike “imminently”?
  2. Why did you pledge in the 2000 election debates that you were against nation-building, and then embark on not one but two nation-building programs in Iraq and Afghanistan?
  3. You increased the Federal debt by 86%; to what extent do you accept the blame for America’s debt troubles?
  4. You reappointed Alan Greenspan as the Fed Chairman;  to what extent do you accept that his easy money policies caused the bubble that burst in 2008?
  5. Were the 2008 bailouts of well-connected banks and financial corporations engineered by your administration compatible with a supposedly “free-market” “capitalist” system? Doesn’t bailing out banks create dangerous moral hazard?
  6. How can a nation simultaneously claim to be a liberator while also practising torture?
  7. You swore to uphold the Constitution, yet passed the PATRIOT Act that authorised warrantless wiretapping, and mass surveillance in contravention of the Fourth Amendment. Do you realise that you violated your oath of office?

That would be a great start. There are, of course, swathes of other questions (including much, much darker ones) that many wish George W. Bush could be made to answer. But there is no real accountability in America today. He can go back to his ranch and his presidential library and act like a carpetbagging good old boy, while kids in the middle east continue to have their limbs blown off, and while the nation remains smothered under a mountain of debt and authoritarian creep.

34 thoughts on “George W. Bush’s “Growth” Strategy

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  2. He increased the debt by more than 86%. If you tack on the fiscal year 2009 (oct 08-oct 09) deficit of 1.4 trillion onto his tally, it is about 118%. That is his debt as the budget and policies and economic collapse were already in place 4 months before obama came into office. the cbo projected in jan 09 ( 2 weeks before obama was inaugurated that the deficit would hit over 1 trillion in fy 2009.

    • Thanks for the clarification, and I think you have a good point (though we would have to subtract FY 2001 from his record, though deficits were much lower).

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  5. Wow, what a post! And what a site. You have a strange combination of right-wing economics and far left foreign policy ideas. I was thinking that you must be a Ron Paul guy (albeit more liberal than is typical) and sure enough, I see you giving him an approving nod or two in a couple of posts. I like your blog, but I must say that this post is horrible. No big deal, and I wouldn’t bother to even tell you, but I do agree with you (and Ron Paul for that matter) on quite a few of your opinions. Therefore, I guess you could say that I am hoping that you succeed.
    First of all, I came here from ZeroHedge wondering who could possibly be saying something so idiotic on one of my favorite sites. Then I looked around and see that you are sort of a far, far, far left Libertarian-not a usual combination! Upon opening the “about” page, I see that you are young (for a blogger anyway) and from England. Well, maybe the mandatory, whacko BBC has poisened your mind beyond repair, but if not, then it is imperitive that you shut off the BBC immediately! I mean honest to goodness, was this post written by them? I see that you prefer to write about economics regarding the USA rather than the UK. That is fine and be true to yourself when writing, but you are insulting a large amount of people (and possibly needlessly) who would otherwise be amenable to your point of view.
    I won’t dissect your entire tediously left-wing post but two things jump out at me. First off, even if the CIA gave Bush 500 “warnings”, what would you have him do? In a free society I mean. After all, later in the post you decry the Patriot Act and all of that “wiretapping” and “surveillance”. Was he just supposed to halt all American flight until Al Queda gave up? You are aware that they are publicly, right this minute, threatening more “imminent” attacks. What are we Westerners supposed to do? Maybe you guys in England have figured out how to have capitalism and freedom without “surveillance” or anything else and still thwart the enemy with ease. Please send those instructions to America immediately.
    It is your torture comments, though, that give your BBC worshiping away (well, that and your reading recommendations–psst Zebigniew Brzezinski is a moron). The average person in America (most emphatically including Ron Paul fans and Libertarians) does not think that pouring water on someone for thirty seconds is torture. And secretly, when you’re out drinking with them neither do a lot of liberals, but they think it is a good “talking point” to say on television. If you are looking for an audience in America, then comparing slight discomfort to torture would be an argument for the pub after attempting to beat the referees of the soccer game to unconsciousness.
    Sorry for the long reply. I wish you success. Oh, one more thing…on your about page, I would have appreciated a line or two of your philosophy. If I hadn’t read a few of your actual posts and just glanced at your book recommendations, I would have dismissed you as just another effete English liberal.

    • Glad to provoke.

      Partisans hate me, Jack. The left rail at me when I attack Obama and when I criticise statism, and the right rail at me when I attack Bush and the wars. I’m neither right wing, nor left wing, I’m just a truth-seeker, and in a highly-charged partisan environment it is inevitable that that will piss off both sides.

      As for my feelings on the BBC, well, I don’t really watch it very often, and I certainly don’t agree with its Editorials. My main news-feed sources are Bloomberg, RT, al-Jazeera, Reuters, AP. I don’t really consider myself to be liberal, or left-wing. My main opposition to the military-industrial complex business is economic; it costs too much, it destroys potential output, it destroys infrastructure, and it creates deeper resource dependency (wars need oil), which of course leads to more resource wars. I agree with George Washington: don’t entangle alliances.

      As for Ron Paul, I am probably more of a Gary Johnson supporter, but yes I do support him more than any of the other Republicans or Democrats. More liberal than most RP supporters? Well, let’s say my readers are a good mixture of liberals and conservatives. I’m a realist and a truth-seeker, not a partisan or ideologue.

      As for waterboarding, well, I’ll believe waterboarding isn’t torture when Sean Hannity gets waterboarded like he promised. Jesse Ventura says it’s torture, and I buy that.

      As for what I would have done in 2001, I think it’s pretty obvious. The intel was there that al-Qaeda were planning a strike on U.S. soil, as they had done in 1993. It didn’t require the PATRIOT Act, or any of the additional surveillance measures to tell us that. You have to listen to your intelligence, take them seriously,and act on their advice. Plus, I think pilots should be armed, and cockpits locked. Israel did that before 2001, and in a free market with the spectre of terrorism, I think most airlines would choose that approach. Right now, the CIA say that excessive American involvement in the middle east is producing blowback. I’d listen to them, and get the heck out, and put our resources and effort into becoming energy independent.

      Finally, as for me, I am mostly American even though I live in England. My family is 70% American. And my book recommendations; take them with a pinch of salt. Brzezinski’s book is good for understanding some of the imperatives of U.S. policy in Eurasia. It’s not really a window into my own worldview.

      • Well, you may be “70%” American, but anyone who uses Jesse Ventura’s opinion (on anything) as a positive needs to visit his relatives more often. Or maybe pick up a phone…we’re a little concerned for ol’ Jesse’s mental health over here!
        If you are ticking off Obama supporters because of your dislike of statism, that is fine. However, a couple of sentences later you say that you are not an idealogue or partisan. Well, of course you are. Capitalism is an ideology as is Libertarianism. From your choice of news sources, I can see where you might think that ideology or partisanship is some sort of bad thing as the left is fond of saying that (usually when they are spouting off about something in an egregiously partisan matter.
        Also, once you change human nature, I will be signing up for your view of the “military-industrial complex”. No successful country will survive long without military protection. Jealousy, greed, envy, embarrassment etc. will prove too tempting to a more powerful country. Unfortunately, for libertarianism (or whetever you want to call your non-statist positions) to survive, one must put up with a military as a cost of doing business. To just use the most obvious example, do you really think that the Soviet Union would have let large swaths of Western Europe to continue outperforming the East right in their own backyard without the USA’s (and some UK) protection?
        As far as “resource wars”, I’m a bit baffled. Are you referring to Iraq? I can only say–I wish! I’m not going to go digging for exact numbers, but as I understand it, America hasn’t taken any oil or money from the oil? I mean if you going to insult Bush or America or whoever, shouldn’t it, you know, be true? If you are saying that America will soon be taking money from Iraq for payment on the war then again, I say–I wish!
        Anyway, I didn’t mean this to sound so negative, I really do like the site.

        • Thanks.

          By the way, I am for strong defensive policies. But defence means defence, not attacking other countries and engaging in nation building. That’s a quick way to go bankrupt. Defence means mutually assured destruction and having a strong military and strong borders and airspace.

          Also I do trust Jesse Ventura as a navy seal who has himself been waterboarded. I have never been waterboarded, so I will trust someone who has before Dick Cheney or John Yoo.

  6. I did not agree with Bush’s policies nor do I agree with Obama’s.

    There is more than one thing wrong with Obammur going to Yemen, the most important of which is that Yemen is the only country in the world that has more firearms per person than the US. A lot of troop will die there. Just imagine someone trying to invade the US, what would be their casualties? SICK!

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    • Uh-oh, it’s Babel….
      you guys may be right on the global economy, China seems to be hitting the buffers. i’ve long been bullish on china, a credit driven mal-investment boom is still a false boom, even if there’s little consumer credit involved.

      As as for Bush, well, “fish in a barrel” is the phrase that springs to mind. The guy was out of his depth from day 1, and Dick Cheney seemed to be makinging most of the (very bad) decision.

      • Ah, the facebook IPO.
        A world famous, classic clusterf*ck. Computer glitches, lawsuits, institutional investors hoping to pump and dump to gullible retail but getting stuck with the crap itself, 2000 all over again except we’re even dumber this time.
        A peak of stupidity to mark the global high? Maybe.

        • Well as ZH reported yesterday, there do seem to be a lot of lawsuits brewing. You never know the peak of global stupidity ’til a few days after… I gave some credence to the possibility FB could soar, maybe even up to 200 P/E. Nope.

  9. P.S. Hunt down Bush, Blair and Howard and trial them in the Hague for war crimes.

    A real leader would have let cooler heads prevail, and prevented war. Americans should have asked. Why do they hate us so much?

    Australians are mostly agnostic or atheist, and drink a lot of Alcohol, and we have a bikini beach culture. Why did’nt the terrorists attack us, blow up a bomb, or murder a large portion of our population?

    Because they did not have a bone with Australian’s. Onky Zionazi’s and Gun Ho US imperialists.

    Wake up USA!

    Bush was an idiot. And you voted him in twice!

    P.S. I am not a Liberal. I hate communists and Obama is all talk and no substance.

    Ron Paul for President. This is your last chance USA.

  10. The US torture record does not just consist of waterboarding, they fly people off to lawless areas to be really tortured. That this is now accptable to the US state lawyers is a dangerous precedent. I suppose 9/11 was an inside job is completely out of the question? We know that some states are capable of false flag operations note the so called Lavon Affair. I know it is unfashionable to say such things and there is a risk of being ridiculed by power.

    • I’m not going to get into 9/11 conspiracies because none of us has proof, plus it tends to just kill the discussion. However I will say that the absolute best we can say about al-Qaeda is that bin Laden seems to have been a disgruntled ex-CIA asset. When the mujahideen won the Afghan war (remember — the mujahideen was trained and funded by the USA) I believe they were promised new lives in America (Harvard scholarships for their kids, Mercedes-Benz, houses in Florida, Massachusetts, etc), but the USA did not deliver, and that is where bin Laden’s great hatred of American came from.

      • Everyone forgot about the Muj as soon as the Russians got beat, but OBL and his organisation alwyas hated us. He fought against Russia in the same way he fought against the US, because it was WESTERN. He wasn’t taking sides in a cold war conflict, he was always fighting for his own ideals

  11. “Why do they hate us so much?”

    The whole Terrorist Threat thing sounds completely manufactured to me. If there were all these terrorists out there who want to cause harm to America, they could gain noterighty with small attrocities they do not have to be spectacular or big in scale. They would get the publicity they crave even with small attacks. In times like these the state or empire always invents ‘enemies’ either external or internal and exagerates the threat…it makes the protective state justify itself to the people. A bully behaves in the same way often making the victim feel the bully is necessary to protect them from other bullies.

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  13. I am no defender of Bush because he didn’t veto any spending bills by congress. I am a Ron Paul supporter, myself. Republicans are almost as far to the left fiscally as liberal/socialists, even though Obama has spent at more than twice the rate as Bush. However, the notion that he should have prevented 9/11 because of the warnings of imminent attack are absurd. What was he supposed to do, shut down the country? Racially profile riders of mass transportation? Wouldn’t the left have stopped cold any such measures?

    • “However, the notion that he should have prevented 9/11 because of the warnings of imminent attack are absurd.”

      It depends on the quality of the intelligence, what did they know , did they have enough information to prevent it. They might have critically looked at why some people want to attack the US and how that might be stopped. All this is assuming that it was not a inside job, or that they did not want it to happen..The Neo-Con group known as Project for the New American Century

      Dick Cheyney and Jeb Bush (the Presidents brother) are members wrote before 9/11 that an event like Pearl Harbour would make the US intervene militarily around the world. From this perspective 9/11 was a god send. Leo Strauss the intellectual father of neo con philosophies also admired the noble lie, the notion that leaders sometimes need to tell lies to get things done for the good of all. The reaction of the US government after 9/11 in terms of its invasion of Afghanistan and the Patriot Act just looked too scripted, as if it was exactly what they needed, just too convenient. The crime of 9/11 has never been investigated as a crime…either because powerful people on the inside were in on it, or they knew it was going to happen and they turned a blind eye to it so they could implement their policies.

      • rom: Or they were just convinced that the next al-Qaeda hit was going to be in Uganda, or Kenya or the Persian Gulf. I won’t give the 9/11 conspiracy theories much credit ’til I see someone explain that if they were willing to pull that off, why weren’t they willing enough to “find” WMDs in Iraq to justify the invasion. Could have easily faked that, too.

        Doug: They should have implemented Israeli-style airport security — lock the cockpits and arm the pilots. They should have well known that hijacking an aircraft was Islamism’s M.O. That’s what I would do today to be honest — minimise the TSA screening (anti-explosives sniffer dogs and the old-fashioned metal detectors are better than body scanners and invasive patdowns) but lock down the cockpits and arm the pilots.

  14. Bush father calls Obama all the time and vice versa. This is par for the course, luckily the murkans don’t really get the paradigm reality, so it’s biz as usual.
    The talk I believe is maybe Jeb in the future so this would play for that. It’s pretty much a given that DC consensus is O for the next term. He still has agenda to do.

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  16. I do believe all of the ideas you have introduced in your post.

    They are really convincing and will definitely work.
    Nonetheless, the posts are too brief for beginners.

    May just you please extend them a bit from subsequent time?
    Thanks for the post.

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