Candidates for political office usually rely on their party’s previous office holder as a reference to boast how they will govern should they win their contest. Republicans point to Ronald Reagan as their ideal and they deified the man even though his administration began the country’s decline into corporatism and economic inequity between the rich and poor Americans. None of the Republican candidates for the nomination have singled out George W. Bush as their avatar of hope to return the country to, what is arguably, the darkest days of America, and indeed, they have avoided mentioning Bush like plague. However, each of the presidential hopefuls, at some point, promises to return to Bush-era policies that caused a worldwide economic meltdown and the similarities do not stop at financial malfeasance.
There is a reason no Republican wants to be associated with Bush; two unnecessary and unfunded wars, unfunded tax cuts for the wealthy, ballooning national debt, economic devastation of the population, and unfunded bailouts for banks that caused the economic meltdown all portray Bush’s presidency as a catastrophic failure. Many Republicans lament that everything was not perfect during the Bush years. Rick Perry remarked that “The reason we find ourselves in the problem today is because we had Republicans and Democrats – you couldn’t tell the difference in the way they were spending.” Perry fails to admit that spending during the Bush years was for ill-advised wars, unfunded tax cuts for the wealthy, and an unfunded expensive Medicare drug program that Republicans promoted. Bush and his Republican cronies spent money like drunken, cocaine-fueled frat boys who found their rich daddy’s credit cards. In a 2009 op-ed, high-ranking House Republicans Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan, and Kevin McCarthy said Republicans had “lost their way” and that “by the fall of 2006, it had become abundantly clear that Republicans had severely lost our way. We had significantly increased federal spending.” House Speaker John Boehner has said the same thing: “Republicans lost our way on fiscal responsibility.”
Some Republicans believe Bush’s legacy will be vindicated by history, but the candidates still will not mention him by name. Bush’s former press secretary, Ari Fleischer, said, “Sad to say, they’re looking at polling data that indicates they’re better off not bringing him into the campaign. I think President Bush has made America a safer nation and better nation and I’m proud of it. But politics isn’t about what’s fair, it’s about winning.” But wait, if America is better, safer, and if Bush is a source of pride for Republicans, why are they pretending Bush does not exist? It is simply because Americans remember disastrous neo-conservative foreign and economic policies Bush Republicans followed to destroy the economy and America’s standing in the world. So, have Republicans learned what not to do in governing? In a word; no.
Not only will Republicans take the country back to Bush-era economic and foreign policy disasters, they will go farther than Bush in increasing income inequality, killing jobs and job growth, and increasing the deficit and national debt with multi-trillion dollar tax cuts for the rich and corporations. In case any American doubts the lengths Republicans will go to return to Bush policies, they only need examine the GOP’s drive to repeal every legislative achievement President Obama presided over in two years. Indeed, the policies proposed by the candidates would not only embrace Bush’s failed economic agenda, they would take it to such extremes that the country would never recover.
Some Bush policies current Republican presidential hopefuls embrace and plan to increase are ending Medicare in its current form, cut or privatize Social Security, give trillions in tax cuts to the wealthiest 1% of Americans, repeal financial regulations, and continue oil industry subsidies. The worst news is that every one of the Republicans has signed Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge that means America will never enjoy increased revenue and after the GOP cuts programs to help the poor, unemployed, minorities, and seniors, they will begin eliminating large segments of the government until it is small enough to “drown in a bathtub.”
Americans lived through the worst president in modern history and Republicans are panting to return to Bush policies that will finish off the middle class and the poor. The economic danger of returning a reincarnated Bush to the White House pales when considering that all of the candidates except Ron Paul plan to start a war with Iran. Mitt Romney has assembled Bush’s pre-Iraq war foreign policy advisors because they already convinced the country to invade Iraq and are well-versed in drumming up support to kill more Muslims. Romney admires Dick Cheney and said he was the “kind of person I’d like to have. A person of wisdom and judgment.” Romney was not speaking rhetorically, but was signaling to Americans that if elected, he intends on doing Bush on steroids with a new war, trillions in tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, and killing jobs. Romney is not alone in promising a return to Bush policies, but he is the candidate with Bush’s plans already in place if he is elected.
The country cannot weather another Bush presidency, but that is the promise each Republican candidate is making whether they name Bush or not. None of the Republicans has infrastructure improvement plans, green and renewable energy proposals, education improvements, or anything that benefits anyone who is not filthy rich. What they offer is to remove financial regulations that protect consumers, repeal the Affordable Health Act, privatize Medicare and Social Security, give trillions more in tax cuts to the rich and corporations, and never increase revenue to fund any of the wars, wealthy’s entitlements, and corporate tax breaks that guarantee to increase the nation’s debt by trillions while killing Americans’ jobs.
The election season began in earnest after yesterday’s Iowa caucuses and regardless of the eventual Republican nominee, Americans can be certain that if elected, they will take up exactly where Bush left off and plunge the country into another war, crippling debt, and unemployment rivaling the Great Depression. The Republican candidates for the presidency may not mention George W. Bush by name, but their proposals, foreign and economic policies, and evangelical leanings are all Bush. Despite the fact no Republican mentions George W. Bush by name, they loved his administration and promise to repeat his mistakes. Hopefully, the American people see through Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, Bachmann, Perry, Paul, and Huntsman, because if they look closely, they will see George W. Bush and reject him.