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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bush the Liberal

Following up on my post What's Left and What's Right in America I shall demonstrate the liberalness of the much protested leader of all things "conservative" George W. Bush.


A huge federal undertaking, No Child Left Behind was co-sponsored by Senator Ted Kennedy and passed by a vast bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate. Despite its push to increase standards in schools across the US, it also de facto federalized every state's school system by bonding the reforms with further federal funding. It does not violate the Tenth Amendment, per se, but like speed limits and road funding, it doesn't give states much of a choice in an already highly federal-centric relationship. States' rights within our federalist system has been heavily degraded for decades and conservatives, for the most part, are on the side of local and state control. Bush, on the other hand, is happy to set education policy from Washington.


Despite small government being a pillar of most branches of conservative thought and the social programs of FDR and LBJ being the most targeted by conservative reformers, Bush has made it a point to increase those programs. The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act was a huge reform of Medicare. Its purpose was to increase prescription drug benefits for seniors and upcoming seniors (baby boomer generation, which many in Congress are unsurprisingly a part of). Initially set at a price of $400 billion, a sum fiscal conservatives agreed to, it took nary a month for the price to rise a whole 100 billion. Two years later, in 2005, the ten year price tag became $1.2 trillion.


Much blame has been put on Wall Street for its role in the credit crunch, for which some is rightly deserved, but it was actually government regulation (not deregulation, as liberals and leftists pontificate loudly) in the form of the Community Reinvestment Act. Born of the Carter Administration, it was based on the idea that poor people, most of all poor non-whites, are discriminated against in the mortgage industry and banks must be forced to loan to them. The program was expanded largely under Clinton so that loan standards were pretty much non-existent. Unsurprising, since his push for minority "rights" was part of his compassionate conservatism, Bush's administration took a stab at it too, and helped drive a stake into the heart of capitalism and layman perceptions of it for the next decade. Instead of repealing the bill, Bush and the GOP simply modified it slightly so that smaller banks could more easily meet the "community investment" standards put in the CRA. This was just over two years before the first big collapse of the housing market. Even more astonishingly, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke pushed for government-aided Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac (pushers of over 50% of the mortgages that went south) for even more participation in the CRA.


One staple of the fiscal conservative is cutting spending. Bush forgot that. Spending increased over 20% under Bush, and that's the conservative (no pun) estimate. Though the Democrats and liberal complain that if only we brought the troops home we'd have money to fix our country, except that Bush's non-defense discretionary spending sat at 27.9% in 2005. With the economic stimulus package and the bailout, spending is probably through the roof. All this from a "fiscal conservative" for who's name is being used to blame free markets for a government-induced pit of greed that spawned the credit crisis, which is now being overblown for political gain.

As I posted just this morning, ideological lines must be drawn in public and must be adhered to by the intellectual community. We must have honest debating and discussion in this country. You don't call a cat a dog because its politically convenient to call it a dog. If it meows... It if purrs... If it shuns you... Its a damn cat. So call it one.

Related Posts: Elections Make People Stupid, What's Left and What's Right in America

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