PERHAPS I SHOULD REFER INSTEAD TO THE ENRON-IZED BUSH ADMINISTRATION. I was impressed today with the “Progress Report” of the American Progress Action Fund that offers a roster of truth and fraud items about Bush economic policy claims.
The fraud list (the lower part of the roster) is the most compelling as the first part of the list is trying to assign blame to Bush for denying that the 2001 recession was his recession. I don’t care that Bush is trying to duck recession responsibility. Gore would have had the same downturn in the economy. What you can fault Bush’s team for is undermining confidence with fiscal recklessness which has helped make the current recovery so pathetic.
I wrote an article in August 2003 titled “The Enronization of the Bush Administration.” Although I published it in the Japan Times, this piece got posted on hundreds of progressive and centrist websites, as well as on several Howard Dean campaign sites. I mention it now because the collective ethics of an administration that continues not only to deny the results of empirical study and reporting but to actively bury their own research ought to be one of the targets of the Kerry campaign.
Fortunately, the American Progress Action Fund is doing a decent job of raising some of these questions. Some tidbits from their list include:
THE FRAUD — WHITE HOUSE CAUGHT REVISING RECESSION DATE. . .the CEA’s Economic Report of the President “unilaterally changed the start date of the last recession to benefit Bush’s reelection bid.” Instead of using the accepted start date of March 2001, the CEA announced that the recession really started in the fourth quarter of 2000.
THE FRAUD — WHITE HOUSE CAUGHT KILLING KEY JOBS REPORT. . .In 2003, AP reported, “The Bush administration has dropped the government’s monthly report on mass layoffs, which also had been eliminated when President Bush’s father was in office. The report by the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded layoffs of 50 or more workers regardless of duration.” Fortunately, Congress refused to go along, and the mass layoff report still exists today.
THE FRAUD — WHITE HOUSE CAUGHT HIDING POVERTY DATA: Recently compiled Census data shows that under Bush, poverty has increased for three straight years and the number of uninsured Americans has hit an all-time high. But instead of being forthcoming about these statistics, the administration did all it could to bury them.
My only friendly criticism of the Progress Report‘s fraud roster is that there were many bigger cases of duplicity by the Bush administration that could have been reported. Some I get into in my article — including burying important Treasury Department reports on the economic impact of the growing fiscal deficits and an EPA study on climate change.
But for a book full of truth and fraud accounting from a one-time insider, you do need to go back and read Ron Suskind’s Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill.
I only know Ron Suskind by phone and email rather than in person (he is apparently a reader of The Washington Note), but he called the other day. I asked if he happened to be disguised but lurking at the Republican National Convention. He said that he couldn’t get away with any normal disguise since he was 4’3″ tall and would be instantly found out. (I may have misheard.)
But that said, I know that next year my Halloween costume for the parties will be me, going as myself, but with a sign saying that I’m Ron Suskind disguised at the Republican National Convention. I know that some of you will not find this funny.
Now, back to serious issues. If I were running for President of the United States, it is hard for me to imagine a much easier target to beat than George W. Bush. Yeah, he has the benefit of family branding. But he has harmed the mystique of American power. His subordinates have blurred the lines separating American faith and American secularism — at home and abroad. His administration has concealed important data and research that would have helped inform our policies. We are in a lousy fiscal condition that is retarding economic recovery. He won a contested presidency and then opted to swing to the far right rather than to heal the wounds opened during the presidential race of 2000. We are occupying a nation that doesn’t want us after a war whose legitimacy is profoundly suspect.
And Bush can only speak in simple sentences — no clauses — sort of like a Hemingway novel, but without the genius.
Kerry and his team need to start attacking and focus not on Bush, but blasting way past him.
Senator Kerry, watch “The Matrix.” “There is no spoon.”
— Steve Clemons