His candor, decency, self-effacement, and clear love of country stand in stark contrast to the current antagonist-in-chief at the White House, so it’s understandable that many on our side of the political aisle are feeling a bit wistful and nostalgic as Bush makes the rounds. (Pundit Press has a nice list of Bush positives.)
After two years of incessant demonization, for example, it’s a relief to hear kind words from the former president about the Tea Party and participatory democracy:
Former President George W. Bush says the tea party movement is a sign that “democracy works in America.”In an interview with Fox News’s Sean Hannity set to air Monday night, Bush heralds the grass-roots conservative movement as a “good thing” for the American political system.
The problem, of course, is that Bush nostalgia is indelibly marred by his disastrous domestic policy legacy of big government, big spending, and betrayal of core fiscal principles — the very impetus for the Tea Party movement upon which he now heaps glowing praise.
Take yourselves back to 2007. The headline on my blog on December 3, 2007:
If you thought Hillary Clinton’s government takeover plan for health care was bad, wait ’til you see what she has in store for the housing sector. As always with the Clintons, the market is the problem and Big Nanny is the solution. Unfortunately for taxpayers, Hillary has bipartisan company in the Bush administration on this issue. Their election season prescription? Rewarding bad behavior. Punishing responsible behavior. Doing more harm than good.In case you’ve been living in a cave, there’s a painful credit crunch underway. The culprit is the subprime mortgage — a species of risky home loans to buyers with dubious credit and income. Cash-rich lenders doled out the subprimes hoping rising home prices would compensate for any failed bets. But when housing prices started plummeting and interest rates began rising, many borrowers started defaulting. Insolvency looms for countless lenders.Instead of letting lenders and subprime mortgage-holders suffer the consequences of their actions, politicians and grievance-mongers are riding to the supposed rescue. In a supreme irony, the very same champions of the needy in the Democrat Party who complain constantly about the lack of “affordable housing” are now fighting tooth and nail to keep housing prices high…… Let’s boil this down to fundamentals: Why should the rest of us have to shoulder the burden because some buyers made poor choices, overextended themselves and bought more house than they could afford? Why should other business owners bear the costs of lenders’ failed bets? And why are falling home prices such a catastrophe to be “fixed” in the first place?… Fiscal conservatives ought to be balking at Hillarycare for housing. But President Bush’s treasury secretary, Hank Paulson, is singing a similar tune. He proposed a new safety net to stem the tide of home foreclosures through a bailout plan for homeowners with bad credit scores. They’d be eligible for relief from paying hundreds of dollars in additional monthly payments when their mortgage rates reset. Those who have been responsible enough to maintain good credit, however, will be out of luck. In addition, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has proposed that government-sponsored mortgage enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac be allowed to raise their loan limits and have their debt explicitly guaranteed by the public dole.Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are colluding to protect the reckless and keep home prices high on the backs of prudent taxpayers. Who’ll bail us out from this perversion of the American Dream?
In September 2008, I raised the alarm over the banking bailout from DAY ONE — excoriating Paulson’s pathetic track record on the subprime crisis and calling on fiscal conservatives to stand up against the Bush GOP capitulationists.
Flashback September 19, 2008, a day that will live in infamy:
Bush Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson just wrapped up his press conference announcing the Mother of All Bailouts. He said a “bold” approach was needed to achieve “stability” in the market.Let me translate that.”Bold” = Massively massive, taxpayer-funded rescue.”Stability” = Privatizing profits and socializing losses on a scale we have never seen before in our lifetimes.I have had it with Pollyanna conservatives who continue to parrot the “fundamentals of the market are great!” line.The fundamentals of the market suck. The fundamentals of capitalism have been sabotaged.Yes, yes, crony Democrats are to blame for much of how we got here. You don’t need to recite all the talking points back to me. I’ve been writing about the Fannie/Freddie debacle for years.But it is September 19, 2008. And this is a Republican White House presiding over the Mother of All Bailouts. Every step along the way since stimuluspalooza began last summer, we’ve heard that every bailout step was just a one-off. Each step was supposed to calm the markets. Each new government intervention and allocation of taxpayer dollars was supposed to achieve “stability.” Each new package of goodies rewarding irresponsible behavior and bad financial decisions was supposed to prevent new ones. None did. And now, here we are.This is your Bush legacy — not Pelosi’s, not Reid’s, not Obama’s: A ginormous bailout of every last, failing, panicked financial institution’s illiquid assets that may reach into the trillions — TRILLIONS — when all is said and done.Reader John in Venice, CA e-mails: “Going forward there is no debate a conservative can win when pitted against a liberal wanting to spend money on social programs. What would the argument be against spending money on terrible social programs? Government money does not work? Conservatives who are supporting this welfare bailout are no different than Maxine Waters or Barbara Boxer. We have lost. Conservatism has absolutely no more moral high ground to speak from.”Fiscal conservatism has been on life support for quite some time. Bush/Paulson pulled the plug permanently today.
Bush then oversaw the $85 billion bailout of AIG and prepared the $25 billion auto bailout. In October, the Republicans swallowed the Bush crap sandwich and blindly bowed to naked emperor Paulson, and John McCain proposed a $300 billion mortgage bailout that dwarfed Obama’s campaign proposal.
1) joined with open-borders progressives McCain and Kennedy to try to force shamnesty down our throats;
2) massively expanded the federal role in education;
3) championed the Medicare prescription drug entitlement using phony math;
4) kowtowed to the jihadi-enabling Saudis;
5) stocked DHS with incompetents and cronies;
6) pushed Hillarycare for housing;
8. nominated crony Harriet Myers to the Supreme Court;
9) pre-socialized the economy for Obama by embracing TARP, the auto bailouts, the AIG bailout, and in his own words:
“I’ve abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system.”
— George W. Bush
Some of us haven’t forgotten. And we’re not going to let the GOP leadership in Washington forget, either.