Confession: I really miss Bill Clinton. The past six years have been tough. Not so much because of W, but more because of Bill’s leadership. He was honest and up front from the start (besides the M lady thing). Insisting that the national debt was much larger than most realized, he told the country that he would have to increase taxes. This was the mistake George Bush Sr. made. Looking to continue some of the policies Reagan put in place, Bush failed to realize that the U.S. just finished a decade of cutting taxes for the rich, robbing the poor of New Deal benefits, while increasing government spending to fight the Cold War.
I believe Reagan exaggerated the extent of the government’s involvement in the welfare state. He attacked both the size of government and the size of the federal budget, while blaming New Deal liberals for the mess. Reagan had liberals freaking out over his conservative revolution. This new conservatism was aimed at allowing the government to once again take the side of the wealthy, especially corporations, as seen during the Gilded Age of American history. For example, in order to protect the wealthy, the government took aim at labor. The former president went as far as to fire Air Traffic Controllers who went on strike. Without the tool of strike, workers have little power against the big businesses who exploit their labor. His Economic Recovery Tax Act reduced the maximum income tax from 70 to 50 percent, while it increased the individual exemption for inheritance taxes, an act clearly favoring the upper tier of society. Reagan’s argument was very similar to that of George “W” in that it is the job of conservatives to decrease the size of government.
Reaganite supply-siders had predicted that a cut in tax rates would so stimulate the economy that the government would in time actually be collecting more taxes: a smaller share of the economy, but an economy more than proportionately expanded and therefore yielding a greater sum of taxation. Federal budget receipts did rise – from $602 billion in 1981 to % 909 billion in 1988 – but this was not enough to off set the surge of spending for defense. In 1981 the deficit was $58 billion. By 1986 it was over $220 billion.
When Bill was elected, he had to change the national mentality of allowing economic elites run the country. Bill accepted welfare reform as well as a new commitment to reducing the size of government. Although I did not like his 1996 welfare reform, he promised not to leave those who needed help stranded. Moreover, when he left office, the country saw the deficit reduced and enjoyed a surplus that allowed the country to with stand the 9/11 economic hit. Funny, but if “W” was wise, he would have used that surplus to address social security reform; instead, he launched the country into a pricey war that has increased the deficit.
Bush has done a great job following his Reagan mentor; he has protected the rich, cut taxes, taken the U.S. to war, while increasing the size of government. I ask again, how liberal was Bill? The next president has a lot to deal with. I do believe that the country will see the rate of unemployment increase as well as inflation. The democrats will take the blame this too.