It's More Than the War, George
Among progressives, it's generally agreed that there are two singular reasons that the Bush pResidency has failed on a grand scale: an illegitimate war and the economy. I honestly think that the American electorate would forgive Bush for his illegitimate war - if it had resulted in a different outcome, not the presidential quicksand that Iraq has become. What Americans are not going to forgive Bush for, and they shouldn't, is the impact that the current administration has had on the economy today, and that of tomorrow.
It goes without question that federal deficits extend from here to eternity. Bush took a healthy budget surplus left by Bill Clinton, and has blown it on a spending spree unseen since the time of FDR. The only problem is, unlike FDR, Bush hasn't created job one with the money he's spent. So, not only has he blown a $650 Billion surplus endowed to him, he's tacked another $550 Billion debt - an unprecedented $1.2 TRILLION swing in just over three years.
The tax dollars that have flowed through the Bush administration, like water over a dam, seem to come unencumbered with any accountability. For example, I was absolutely shocked to read yesterday that out of the billions and billions allocated for Iraq, barely any of it has actually been spent. Whatever money has been spent has not been spent on the right things - primarily, Iraqi infrastructure. And like anywhere in the world, a reliable infrastructure is what actually wins the hearts and minds.
But forget elsewhere the world. Domestically, we've been snookered like Nebraska rubes on Bourbon Street. Here's a few headlines from just the past couple of days:
Services Growth Slows More Than Expected
Jobless Claims Rise Unexpectedly
Crude Oil Jumps to One-Month High After Iraqi Exports Halved
Firm says hiring rate fell in June
Delta seeks $1 billion in wage concessions
Right now, the average person receiving a layoff notice doesn't go back to work for more than three months, up from about one month in 2000. When they do go back to work, more often than not, it's at a lower wage/salary than the previous job they held, and perhaps not even within their skillset. And the Bush administration's future commitment to the unemployed? Training for dislocated workers has been cut 15 percent after inflation since 2000. Training funds for welfare recipients are less than half the level of the mid-'90s. And Bush is proposing an 18% cut in retraining / education programs in the 2005 Federal budget.
We keep hearing that inflation is in check. The CPI keeps rising modestly, according to government statistics. The problem is, the CPI is not buying milk or eggs at the local supermarket. The CPI is not filling up the gas tank. The CPI is not paying for prescription meds. In other words, the CPI doesn't seem to be reflecting the reality in our everyday lives, as seen through the window of Grandma Millie's kitchen.
And that's what will decide this election.
The post-9/11 blinkers have been lifted a bit. To be sure, Americans are still worried about terrorism and world events out of their direct control that may impact them in some manner. But, thank God, it's no longer a blind acceptance of the Bush administration party line.
A party line that's being exposed for the bullshit that it is.