In the past year or so there have been many letters to the editor criticizing the president and his administration. One in particular suggested that Obama must go and that he should stop blaming Bush for the nation’s woes.
Most would agree that placing blame is not a solution and the country must and will move on. However, a look back at the Bush administration record is worthy of consideration in order that our nation understand and avoid mistakes that were made in the past.
Let’s not forget that Bush was left with a budget surplus by the previous administration which quickly became a deficit, and during his term the national debt nearly doubled. This was primarily due to two controversial wars, the Medicare prescription drug plan, the Bush tax cuts and interest costs associated with borrowed money to fund these programs. Debts incurred as a result of programs initiated under a previous administration do not just disappear when a president leaves office and neither does a recession.
I suppose we could blame both parties for the wars since both voted for them, although we now know that Congress was lied to about WMDs, yellow cake and threats of mushroom clouds. We also know that the prescription drug plan was written primarily by and beneficial to the pharmaceutical industry and was approved by a Republican-controlled Congress. The tax cuts were supposed to stimulate the economy by the so-called job creators and we now know how well that worked. It makes absolutely no sense to borrow money to pay for a shortfall in revenues due to tax cuts for anyone, much less for the wealthiest among us.
History shows that the recession began in 2007 and we were losing jobs at a rate of nearly 800,000 per month in the final months of Bush’s term, which left behind an economy in free fall, enormous national debt and ongoing tax revenue losses. Some will say “it was not all Bush’s fault” and blame it on legislation that was passed before his time.
Nonsense. When it happens on your watch you own it! Had this occurred on Obama’s watch we would likely be in the midst of impeachment hearings.
This much we do know, at the end of 2008 the major stock indexes were down more than 40 percent and home values had decreased by as much as 50 percent in many cases. Since then, under the present administration, the market has fully recovered its losses plus some and most people have seen their IRAs and 401Ks return to their previous levels, but it does not appear that home values will recover any time soon, if ever.
Job growth, although not strong enough, has gone from negative to positive since early 2010 under Obama. No small feat when we consider that this has been the worst recession since the Great Depression and it took more than 12 years to fully recover from that one.
Although the stock market had seen an amazing recovery by the end of 2010 it did suffer a setback in 2011 as a result of the debt ceiling fight created by Republicans in Congress. This was a completely unnecessary and political maneuver since raising the debt ceiling was not about permitting more spending. It simply allowed the country to pay its existing debts and thereby avoid default on our existing loans.
This needless debt ceiling fight resulted in a lowering of our triple “A” credit rating by the rating agencies and the subsequent tanking of the stock market, once again putting investment portfolios and retirement savings in jeopardy. Fortunately the market has since recovered fully once again, but who knows for how long if this political grandstanding is allowed to continue?
Although Obama seems to get little or no credit for his accomplishments, many good things have happened on his watch. For example, we now have an equal pay for women law, a children’s health insurance law, a food safety act, a Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection act, the American Recovery act and the Affordable Heath Care act, just to name a few. Additionally, our involvement in Libya with our allies rid us of Khadafy in months, rather than years, without the loss of a single American life, and Bin Laden has been eliminated along with more than 20 other high-level terrorist leaders.
The American Recovery act and the Affordable Health Care act warrant further discussion. The Recovery act included funds for the new waste treatment facility in Calaveras. Our congressman was on hand for the groundbreaking ceremonies even though he had voted against the act, but he is not alone, Republicans all over the country are taking credit for the many approved job-creating infrastructure projects which they also had voted against.
With regard to the Affordable Health Care act, Republicans are fond of pointing to polls that show people are opposed to it, however, what they fail to point out is that these same polls include huge numbers of people who are opposed to it because it does not go far enough and they want a single-payer system. Although the health care law is not perfect, anyone who is familiar with it knows that it includes numerous patient protection provisions.
Probably the single most important provision in the new law is its increase of the 15 percent capital gains rate to the 20 percent level that existed prior to the Bush tax cuts. This increase applies only to the top 2 or 3 percent and only to the amount in excess of $200,000 (single) and $250,000 (filing joint).
Republicans now argue that we must extend the Bush tax cuts for all and that it is class warfare to raise only the marginal tax rate on the top bracket. That is a ridiculous argument. The top 2 or 3 percent could care less about the marginal tax rate, they never pay it! Typical evidence of this is the Romney 2011 tax return that shows he will only pay 15.4 percent tax on his $20.9 million adjusted gross income.
It is time to end this myth about tax breaks for “so called” job creators who only create jobs overseas while killing them here at home!
Robert Erk of Copperopolis is a retired manufacturing engineer for the aerospace industry. Contact him at email@example.com.