With President Bush leading the country into recession at home and serious war abroad, it's been a dreary holiday season. Two years of rule by "pragmatic, moderate" Republicans who believe in nothing except their own careers have left Americans facing unemployment at home and death in the Middle Eastern deserts.
Bush is a creature of big government. He loves the bureaucracy and recently gave the top echelons a 28 percent pay raise for Christmas, just as the unemployment rate jumped in the private sector.If you are laid off, don't worry. Bush used your taxes to hike government salaries into six-digit figures, and the well-heeled bureaucrats will soon spend you back into prosperity.
Bush looks with favor on the growth of government. His recent "budget agreement" with Congress fed the government with both a large tax increase and a record budget deficit that is approaching twice the size of Ronald Reagan's biggest. He has unleashed all kinds of frivolous and expensive regulation that may wipe out all income gains the middle class could otherwise expect in the 1990s, along with their investments in air conditioning and refrigeration systems.
It is the growth of the private sector that Bush frowns upon. Judging from his appointments and policies, Bush thinks too much economic growth is bad because it causes pollution, environmental damage and greed.
Just as the spotted owl outranked the jobs of thousands of loggers and the profits of firms, better to have Americans paying higher taxes to support more people on welfare than to have them working and destroying the environment or creating profit opportunities that might attract crooks.
The philosophy of the Bush administration is a close-down-the-economy philosophy, and that's exactly what has happened. Nothing suits the Bushies better than attacks, especially by Republicans, on Reagan's economic growth policy. If growth is bad, then recession is good.
It is easy to show the decline in the economy since the Bush moderates took over. When Bush was inaugurated, he inherited an economy growing 3.6 percent annually in real terms, and economists were predicting more years of expansion without recession. Soon Bush had the economy on the ropes, but his government denied the obvious until Bush could use the budget deal to raise taxes in a recession for the first time since the Depression.
It was the Bush administration that concocted the disastrous 1989 S&L legislation that destroyed by fiat the values of S&L assets and turned a $50 billion problem into a $500 billion fiasco.
Although they paint a dismal picture, these aggregate statistics are soulless and don't convey the individual suffering caused by Bush's regulatory recession.
To get the feel of what is happening, consider some of the individual cases drawn from a cast of thousands.
The Army Corps of Engineers is trying to kick farmers off land on the grounds that low-lying land bordering rivers is "wetlands" under control of the federal government. Other farmers have been prosecuted for constructing levees to prevent flooding of their farmland.
Sen. Steve Symms, R-Idaho, tried to get farmers compensated for the loss of their land, but the Bush administration lobbied against his bill, and it was defeated.
One man was sentenced to prison for cleaning up a tire dump on his property and filling a ditch, which the government claimed was "wetlands" on the grounds it fed rainwater into a distant stream.
In Florida, a retiree and his son are in jail for trying to build a home on a building lot that the government claimed was "natural wetlands."
Bank owners and depositors are now faced with multimillion-dollar environmental liabilities for having lent to businesses that the government has retroactively declared to be polluters.
Electric power consumers in Phoenix face a $4 billion rate hike because the Environmental Protection Agency is blaming Grand Canyon visibility problems on what is apparently a clean coal power plant nearly 200 miles downwind from the canyon. The National Review magazine reports that this attack on Phoenix's electric power system stemmed from White House imagemakers looking for a good "green photo-op."
That shows where the Bush administration's priorities lie.